A New Chapter

Hi, everybody! (If you read that in the voice of Doctor Nick from The Simpson’s, you’re awesome)

As I announced earlier this week on my Facebook page, I’ve been in the middle of a hard edit on the Reaper Series to fix a few minor errors that made it through the initial editing stages. Like I said on my Facebook page, as an independent author, I don’t have the time, money, nor the team to publish a book the way that a professional publishing firm can. BUT the good thing about it is that if mistakes are made, I can fix them whenever I want. Publishing houses would have to recall thousands of book units if they wanted to fix a printing error in their publication, but not me! I can just click a button.

Anyway, while the hard editing I’m doing is just for those minor little grammatical errors that slipped through, and the story itself doesn’t change at all, I also wrote a new first chapter for Angel of Death. So I’m going to share that with everyone now, so that the people who have already bought and read Angel of Death can enjoy (hopefully) the extra chapter without having to mess around trying to either update their current ebook version or download a new one, and maybe it will even encourage those of you who haven’t read it to go and give it a try. Remember, Angel of Death is free forever, people!

So without any further ramblings, here it is. The brand new first chapter to Angel of Death. If you have feedback you’d like to share with me, please do, I love hearing what my readers have to say. 😀

 

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THE FINAL SUNRISE

The prisoner never raised his head all night, not until he felt the warmth of the sun on the back of his neck. As he sat on the edge of the bed and peered out the barred windows, he saw the sun beginning to rise, the light peeking back through the iron bars at him. He knew it was the last dawn he would ever see.

He never thought before that this was how his life would end. It was 1775, he was still a young man, and his life was to be suddenly cut short, just because of one foolish evening.

When the American colonies decided to go to war with England for independence, he had thought it was only a concern for those who called themselves his owners. But then those same people had “donated” him to the cause, making him a soldier, fighting to defeat the oppressors of his oppressors. So then he had thought his life would end with him lying facedown on some blood soaked battlefield, having died fighting for a cause that was never going to be extended to him.

Freedom.

Darius clenched his fists to stifle his fear as he felt it swelling inside once more. He stared at the irons they had locked around his wrists and slowly counted to ten to calm down. He remembered when they had put the irons on him. He remembered he had never struggled, never argued, just stood there and allowed himself to be imprisoned. As a slave in Boston, he was used to wearing chains. He had worn them his entire life, both literally and metaphorically.

Darius turned his ear to the door of his cell when he suddenly heard footsteps approaching and a tense conversation.

“Do we have to shoot him?” asked a soft, nervous, voice.

“What’s wrong, Thomas?” an older, gruffer, voice replied. “You never shot a colored boy before?”

“Darius took a deep intake of air and slowly exhaled. They were coming for him. It was almost time.

“I just mean,” Thomas began, “that wouldn’t it be better to hang him? Isn’t that more… traditional?”

The older one, who Darius could now identify by he gravelly voice as being named Raymond, snorted with derision.

“Hangings are for thieves and common crooks,” Raymond growled. “Traitors, though, you gotta shoot ‘em. Firing squad. No less than they deserve.”

At that moment, Darius saw Thomas and Raymond appear on the other side of the cell door. They were both dressed plainly, but Darius could see their muskets on their backs and their pistols at their hips. The two militia soldiers glared in at him, both judging him, both condemning him. Though Darius noted that Raymond looked at him with far more contempt than young Thomas did. Thomas had always been one of the nicer ones. Not exactly nice, but nicer, which was always the best Darius could ever hope for.

Raymond unlocked the heavy door and pushed it open, sill glaring at Darius with disdain.

“On your feet, boy,” Raymond barked. “It’s time.”

Without saying a word, Darius slowly rose from the side of the small bed he had been sitting on, his chains jangling at his wrists. Without argument, without struggle, he allowed the two militia soldiers to lead him out of the cell.

Once outside, with Raymond and Thomas standing on either side of him, Darius came face to face with the rest of the small militia squad, all staring at him furiously, looking as though they longed to draw their pistols and shoot him in the head right there and then. Darius almost wished that they would just get on with it already, but his fear of what was to come was close to overwhelming. It was a struggle just to keep his hands from shaking and he felt as though he might be sick. However, he kept himself composed. He didn’t want these men to know his fear. He wouldn’t give them that. They could take everything else, had taken everything else, but they couldn’t take his pride.

“Let’s go,” Raymond grunted to everyone.

They all then began marching out of the small town. Darius refused to look around, but he could feel the eyes of the locals on him. Watching him march away. No one spoke up for him; no one tried to defend him, which Darius had known from the beginning that they wouldn’t. It wasn’t the way the world worked. Not his world, anyway. But the stoic faces of the locals were soon left behind and Darius found himself, all too soon, standing before a small forest just on the outskirts of the town.

“This is it,” Raymond said.

He then grabbed Darius’ shoulders and forced him to turn around and face him, then shoving his back against the nearest tree.

“Any last words, boy?” Raymond growled.

Darius remained silent and looked past Raymond at a point far in the distance. He focused on the sunrise and swallowed his fear, taking in the glowing pink and gold of the sky.

“When you get to Hell,” Raymond sneered, “tell Myles we sent you. I’m sure he’ll be real glad to see you again.”

Raymond stepped back and stood with the other men, spitting on the ground at Darius’ feet.

“Ready!” Raymond shouted.

The other soldiers all drew their muskets.

“Aim!” Raymond boomed.

The soldiers took aim and Darius offered a silent prayer to God, but didn’t hold much hope. He knew Hell awaited him for the things he had done. So instead of more prayer, Darius just set his eyes on the horizon, taking in the colors of the morning, and lifted his chin slightly, almost in defiance of the men about to end his life.

“Fire!”

The sunrise was the last thing Darius saw in his life.

Plagiarism and the Indie Opinion of the Indie Author

As some of you might know, I’m relatively new to the whole independent author world, and there have been a couple of things that I’ve learned. The first thing I learned was:

I freaking LOVE it!

The second thing, however, is that there seems to be a stigma attached to indie authors. Over the past couple of years, I’ve found that a lot of readers don’t trust that an independently published book can actually be good and entertaining. As well as a lot of “officially” published authors don’t think of indie authors in the highest regard. I read one interview with a particular, widely-known, author who referred to indies as “bottom feeders.” Only slightly insulting, but let’s move on.

The reason I began thinking about the opinion people have of indie authors lately is because it was brought to my attention on my Facebook page that there is another indie author out there who has written something I’m told is remarkably similar to my own Reaper Series. One of my readers picked up this ebook on Amazon as a recommended book, having just completed the Reaper Series. They told me they couldn’t even finish reading the sample chapter because they found it to be so similar to my own story.

So I went and checked out this book, which was written by another indie author. I initially imagined it to be a coincidence, but even the description of their book sounded a lot like the premise for the Reaper Series. This author had even titled their own series, Reaper Series! Still, I didn’t want to pass judgement until I read it. And I quickly learned one thing while reading the first book in their series.

No wonder indie authors have a bad name. Seriously, if people like this are the standard, it’s no surprise at all that indie authors are looked down on. I’m not saying at all that all indie authors are like this person, because I am an indie author, why would I insult myself? I seriously hope this type of author isn’t the standard of indie authors, but if this was the first book someone read from an indie, I couldn’t blame them if they were hesitant the next time they saw an independent book.

I was shocked at the similarities this story had to my own. Not to mention that it was released about six months after mine, giving the “author” plenty of time to read and rip-off my own story premise. I had a look at this author’s online presence, checked out their social media, their web page, their Amazon author page, all of it. And my immediate impression is that they have no original concepts, just stuff that they steal from successful books and movies and then jam them all together into one poorly written book. I started reading one book that, based on the description, sounded like a patchwork quilt of Armageddon, Cowboys VS Aliens, and The Terminator. The series that seems strangely similar to my own was mixed with Mortal Instruments, the Fallen Series, and maybe a little Twilight.

What I took to be particularly awful about this author wasn’t just how they took concepts from successful art forms and twisted them to use as their own stories, though. What really annoyed me was how blatantly obvious it was that they were only writing because they thought they could make money out of it. That’s all they cared about, the money and the attention. They would constantly blog about how quickly they wrote and published a book (less than a month), they would post screenshots of their Amazon sales charts, even post how much money they made in a month. It was like a child standing on top of a slide screaming at her parents, “LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME!”

I don’t want to just complain about this author, who I won’t name, but seriously, here’s a little advice about what to look out for in the indie world of books. Firstly, be wary of books that have lots of reviews, but only 4 and 5 stars. Even the greatest books of all time have negative reviews, just go and look up Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings, I guarantee there’ll be a bunch of 1 star reviews of them. I don’t do this, because I refuse to sink to that level, but many indie authors will buy positive reviews. There are plenty of blogs and websites that will honestly review your book in exchange for a free copy or a small fee, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there are just as many who will guarantee a positive review for some money. I view that as false advertising. With X amount of 5 star reviews, people who are looking for a good book would see that rating and think that it must be a good book, only to then part with their hard-earned money to buy a book they most likely won’t finish, because it’s just too God-awful! That’s clearly what this author has done, as all of the reviews on their Amazon page are about as long as this blog.

On the other hand, though, don’t assume that because someone is independently published, they’re a bad writer. Some big name authors actually started out as indie authors. Matthew Reilly self published in 1996. Mark Twain started his own publishing press because no one else would take his work.

Really, don’t just think because you had one bad experience with an indie author that all indie authors are the same. Because as authors, we’re all different, just like “officially” published authors. Some are great, others not so good, some have expensive marketing backing up their work, others rely solely on reviews and word of mouth.

Oh, and if you’re an indie author, DON’T plagiarise! Seriously, what the hell is that author thinking?

UPDATES!!!!

I capitalised the heading because, based on a lot of messages I’ve been getting through Facebook and Twitter, people are DYING for intel. Specifically in regards to the third Reaper book, Angel of Judgement, and when it will be released.

So here it is. At this point, I am expecting/hoping for Angel of Judgement to be released in July of this year (2015). I really hope this doesn’t change, because I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I mean, look at how annoyed everyone is at the delays in the PC release of GTA V! It’s just not worth the hassle. So, that’s the deadline, I plan on sticking to it, but I’m putting it out there as a precaution that nothing is a guarantee in life, so don’t be too upset if the date changes. Hell, for all I know, it could end up being sooner! Best thing to do is just follow my social medias and wait for intel.

ANYWAY… all that aside, sorry for the huge gap in posts. I know, I said previously that I’d post more regularly, but what can I say? I’m an author. I get distracted. I do have some big news, though. Book one of the Reaper series, Angel of Death, is doing really well in the United Kingdom. In fact, it is now the number one free epic fantasy novel on Amazon UK! I know, it sounds like I’m bragging, but as amazing as this news is, I’m just relieved people actually like the damn book at all! And Angel of Vengeance is still selling more and more every day, so thank you everyone! Special shout out to my Twitter and Facebook followers who have been tweeting me their enthusiasm and sending me really nice and positive comments. You guys will be the first to know when Angel of Judgement is ready. Hell, I’ll even make you some cookies! I mean, you’re all from overseas, and cookies wouldn’t make the trip… They’d probably break in transit… Might even get lost. You know what? I’ll just keep them for myself, but I’ll think of you when I eat the cookies.

So, that’s basically it. No major developments, as of yet. Just still writing away. Oh, but Angel of Judgement, in case you don’t know, is going to be the LAST book in the Reaper series. Hopefully that doesn’t gut too many people. Don’t worry, though, because I have a lot more books in mind that I’ll be writing once Reaper gets the send off it deserves.

My First “Book” Ever & Thank You!

Today was quite the day! There I was, just casually checking out the sales stats for my Reaper series on Amazon and Kindle, when I happen to glance at the current ranking for Angel of Death. That’s about the same time my jaw punched a hole in the floor as it dropped so hard. Angel of Death, Book 1 of the Reaper Series, is currently ranked as number 10 in its fantasy genre!

WHAT?!

Not only that, but book 2, Angel of Vengeance, is ranked in the top 100. Insane! The interest and response to Reaper has been so much more than what I ever expected as an indie author. People seem to be genuinely enjoying my books as of late. You have absolutely no idea how much that means to me. It is a huge deal and I am so grateful that so many people are reading my stories. And looking at the location sales, the United Kingdom seems to like Reaper a lot!

Hmm, I wonder if the Queen has read Reaper?

Anyway, I just wanted to express my gratitude to those people who have read my stuff, shown support and just continued to read my other books. It is really a dream come true for me. I’ve wanted to be a writer for, literally, my entire life, so this is just mind-boggling. The first thing I ever wrote was when I was maybe 7 or 8 years old. It was a children’s book, complete with illustrations! It was about a frog who wanted to be a comedian, but his friends (an elephant, a lion, and various other animals) didn’t think he was at all funny. But then he found other animals who shared his humour and he was happy. Yay!

I’ve definitely come a long way since then. I wish I still had a copy, though. My drawings of the frogs and other animals were exactly what you’d expect from an 8 year old.

In closing, I’d just like to once again say thank you to my readers for simply being there. You are all amazing people and I thank you for every minute you spent reading my books and I promise I will continue to write for you all for years to come. In fact, I just might dedicate my next book to every single one of you! You all rock!

PEACE!

Smashwords Author Interview

Hi everyone,
In case you’re interested, I have posted the interview with me on Smashwords.com below for you to read. Enjoy!

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a very small town in the smallest state of Australia. It was so small, there were more cows than people. As a child, I was often bored with the lack of entertainment around town, so I usually turned to my imagination. People always told me that I looked like I was in a world of my own, but they didn’t realize I actually was!

When did you first start writing?
I started writing from a really young age, I was no older than 8 years old. It started as a class project, we were supposed to write a children’s story that we would like to read ourselves. I got really into it, I spent a long time on my characters. The protagonist was a frog. Now that I think about it, it’s not a surprise that I ended up writing the genre I write, because even in that story, the frog faked his own death. I think I got a good grade for my work, but also a concerned letter from the teacher to my parents.

What are you working on now?
It’s a very dark-fantasy trilogy, where the protagonist is a portrayal of the Grim Reaper. I’ve taken a lot of old folk-lore and legend and combined maybe a thousand years of mythology with my own imagination and created a world of shadows that exists beneath our own. The Reaper is one of many and is torn about his role in the universe. This Reaper, Darius, discovers that another Reaper is consuming souls of the innocent, before their time, all in the pursuit of limitless power. When Darius finds out the identity of the next victim, he steps in to save her, triggering a series of events that results in him being the only thing standing in the way of humanity’s complete annihilation. I won’t give away too much, but I think a lot of people will really enjoy it.

Describe your desk
Oh, it’s a mess! There are papers scattered everywhere, pens strewn across the whole thing, open notebooks full of my chicken-scratch handwriting, it’s a disaster. At least, it looks that way. I think of it as ‘organized chaos.’ It is impossible for anyone else to find anything on my desk, but I know exactly where everything can be found. It’s all exactly where I put it.

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I’ll let you know when I’m a success. Right now, though, I’m just enjoying the chance to get my writings out there, so people other than my friends and family can read them.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
That’s like asking, “What do you most like about chocolate?” or “Why is your favorite color green?” It sounds like a simple question, but it is not so simple to answer. I suppose, for me, the greatest joy comes from seeing the story that once only existed inside my own head now exist on the page, where others can enjoy it as much as I did. Well, hopefully as much as I did.

What do your fans mean to you?
I don’t really consider myself as having “fans.” So far, I think of them as readers who happened to enjoy what I wrote. That alone makes me feel pretty pleased. Although, I did get recognised on the street once. Apparently she had just read a bunch of my short stories and wanted to tell me how much she liked them. That was a bizarre experience, having a stranger praise me like that, but it was also very humbling. It meant a lot to me and I’m so appreciative of everyone who has shown their support.

Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King, obviously. Then Edgar Allan Poe, John Birmingham, JK Rowling, the list goes on!

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Inspiration. If I were to stay in bed all day long, every day, where would I find the inspiration to write? Where would I find the inspiration to set and achieve goals? Where would I find the inspiration to do anything?

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
Well, reading is a big hobby of mine. I also really enjoy the cinema. I spend a lot of time with my wife, chat with my friends online and via text, and I am occasionally known to try and play the guitar. I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit of a gaming geek. I really enjoy adventure games on Xbox.

How do you discover the ebooks you read?
The same way everyone does: I search for them. I take a look at whatever might take my fancy, scrolling through the newest listings, the most popular, highest rated, that sort of thing. If I’m after a particular genre, then I search for that genre. I try not to be too picky, it’s important to have an open mind.

I’m Back, Baby!

It has been a long freaking time since I posted anything here! So much for regular blogs, right? Don’t be mad, though, I’ve been very VERY busy. And now I’ve discovered this magical thing called “Time Management,” so these posts should be regular from now on.

I can here you asking, “So, what have you been doing?” Well, dear reader, I shall tell you. I have been writing like crazy. In 2014, I wrote TWO epic fantasy novels. Both are part of a trilogy and I am currently smashing out the third and final epic conclusion. What’s that? You want to know more? Fine, if you insist.

The first two books are part of the ‘Reaper’ series. The first is called ‘Angel of Death’ and the second is ‘Angel of Vengeance’ (notice the pattern?). I could go on and on about the plot and characters and everything, but rather than do that, I’ll just leave the links to the Amazon pages where you can buy them and read the descriptions. By the way, book one is less than $1 if you buy it in eBook format. Better than that, book two is FREE! Well, for the next few days, anyway, so hopefully you read this blog quickly and click that link to score your free copy while you can. Here are the links. Also, both covers. They look pretty damn awesome.

http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Death-Reaper-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00MMUHTZ0/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Vengeance-Reaper-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00QCD5JCI/ref=pd_sim_sbs_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=02N9T9BKYQ16VBHS57AD

The third and final book, ‘Angel of Judgement,’ should be released some time this year, so keep an eye out for it!