An Early Look at Draw Nine

I’ve been working Draw Nine lately – this game was my entry for IntroComp last year – and am now ready to share my first draft. Originally this was just a perk for subscribers to my newsletter, but I figure they’ve had long enough to take a look so I’m opening it up to everyone!

You can play the game by following this link and clicking “Download (356KB).” The HTML file will run in your web browser with no problems at all.

The story is complete but I’m open to making changes. I may also tweak the way certain elements of the game function, just for balance, but I’ll hold off until I’ve heard what people make of its current incarnation. I’m also planning to add a considerable level of visual flair – I’ve already got some great artwork from Joe Wright – but it seems prudent to tackle the actual content of the game first which is why you’re stuck with plain black text for now.

Play it, (hopefully!) enjoy it, and let me know what you think! You can comment on this post without needing an account or even an email address.

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An Evening With Damon Wakes – June 10th

I’ll be at Waterstones in Winchester (the High Street one) 6pm on June 10th to talk about Ten Little Astronauts.

If you missed the launch last month, this is the perfect opportunity to stop by and celebrate the publication of the book! Tickets are just £2.00 and refreshments will be served.

Do feel free to come along even if you did make it to the launch too! This event is organised as a sort of interview, so it’s likely to be a little different to the last one.

Ten Little Astronauts BookBub Promotion

If you get your books from Apple, now’s your chance to grab Ten Little Astronauts for just 99p!

This is down to a BookBub deal that, surprisingly, has also seen the novella reach its highest ever sales ranking on Amazon, despite it not actually being on offer over there as far as I can tell. It’s also seen a sudden influx of ratings on Goodreads, so if you’ve read it but not left a review (on Amazon, Goodreads, anywhere else) then this would be a great time to do that.

Ten Little Astronauts is getting a lot of attention at the moment – a few words from you would do wonders to help people decide whether it’s something they want to read!

Ten Little Astronauts Launch Party Video

here’s the video from the Ten Little Astronauts launch party, very kindly recorded by Alex Carter (Lexica Films). It all went smoothly in the end, and it was great to see so many people who supported the book while it was crowdfunding, as well as so many who’d only discovered it since!

I had quite a lot of help getting this together, primarily from Crispin and the staff at P & G Wells, but also from Lynda Robertson and (again) Alex Carter who were kind enough to lend a hand on the evening. A huge thanks to everyone who helped make this happen, even if it was just by being there!

Open Mic at the Winchester Writers’ Festival – June 14th

I was recently invited to put together a blog post for the Hampshire Writers’ Society, so here it is! This one covers the free evening events running as part of the Winchester Writers’ Festival on the 14th of June, with a particular focus on its excellent open mic.

Simon Hall at the Winchester Writers’ Festival open mic. He’s also due to appear as the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s guest speaker on the 11th of June, just a few days before this year’s festival!

Whether you’re making a trip to Winchester for the whole festival or live close enough just to drop by for an evening, I can’t recommend the open mic enough. The HWS post includes details of some other similar local events, so be sure to check it out even if you won’t be able to make it to this one in particular.

And if you are coming, let me know – it would be great to see you there!

Flash Fiction Tips from Tonya Thompson

You might be aware that I write flash fiction. A lot of flash fiction.

However, I don’t think I’ve ever really written a how-to on it, which seems like a bit of a missed opportunity given that people seem to be finding my Twine for Beginners series pretty helpful.

Someday I might get around to doing that, but in the meantime do have a look at Tonya Thompson’s How to Write Great Flash Fiction: 10 Things You Need to Know. Someone at ServiceScape actually got in touch inviting me to share it,* and having had a read through it really does tackle a lot of the points I think new flash fiction writers – particularly those who are new to writing in general – tend to struggle with. It’s also a handy introduction to the format, listing some of the reasons you might choose to write it.

The main drawback of the advice in this post is the same as the drawback to most writing advice: good fiction involves more than simply checking items off a list, and plenty of bad fiction ticks all those boxes. I’ve seen people absolutely butcher a sentence to get rid of an adverb! However, there’s a difference between choosing to ignore advice and simply being unaware of it, and if you’re writing for a competition then dropping a dozen adverbs can be the safest way of trimming a 1,012 word story down to the 1,000 word limit.

*ServiceScape aren’t paying me for this. I don’t even claim this is the best guide to flash fiction out there, it’s just the one that was put in front of me and it covers the topic well.

OLYMPIA TV Pilot Now on IndieGoGo

If you’re into comedy, drama, comedy-drama and/or Greek mythology, I highly recommend taking a look at OLYMPIA, which is funding on IndieGoGo right now:

I actually co-wrote an episode for this series a while back, but the project has grown in scope pretty substantially since then. I’m not sure any of my contributions will make it into its current incarnation (and in any case it wasn’t the pilot that I had a hand in) so I feel sufficiently distant from this to say that it looks like a very impressive endeavour that deserves your support if you can spare it.

Greek gods and selfies: it’s a winning combination!

OLYMPIA has just launched, so if you want to see it succeed then now’s the time to make that happen. You can be the hipster who knew about it before it was cool.

The project has a really solid team behind it, and a big part of the reason they’re looking for funding is so that they can go beyond the standard portfolio project and actually pay the people who are doing all the work, which is disappointingly rare these days. I personally can vouch for Claire Rose (who you may have seen on Yesterday’s Nazi Murder Mysteries) and Alex Carter (who filmed and edited one of my own videos). Other names are new to me, but their previous credits include titles such as Avengers: Age of Ultron, which I feel is kind of a big deal.

Long story short, I’ve chipped in for this and it would be just fantastic if you felt like helping it along too.

I Can Pirate Every Book You Write

Here’s how (and why I won’t).

Not so long ago the whole literary community rallied together to try and take down a particularly brazen (or possibly just particularly dim) book pirate, and while that was truly heartwarming to see, I also got the impression that many of the people involved felt as though the problem would go away if they simply tackled that one site. Just to blow that idea out of the water, I’m going to tell you how I personally – me, the guy who has to copy and paste the £ symbol because he can’t work out how to type it – can pirate any book out there.

1) I can Google  it.

If anybody, anywhere in the world has made your book available on a pirate site, there’s a good chance I can find it. It’s just that simple.

You can hunt around yourself and send out DMCA takedowns to anywhere hosting your book, but the more popular it is the more likely it’s being offered somewhere for free, and I only need to find one copy before you do. Also, good luck getting anything taken off The Pirate Bay: they’ve been running since 2003 despite the best efforts of entire governments.

2) I can ask for it.

Yeah, I see you doing this. Obviously I’m no Suzanne Collins, and by January 7th my book had been out less than a month: chances are nobody had made a pirate copy available at that point. Maybe they still haven’t. Who knows? Continue reading

Flappy Bard

Here’s my first HTML5 game – Flappy Bard! You might be wondering why you’re hearing about this one after April 1st’s Cookie Cracker. Well, there are two reasons:

  1. I made Flappy Bard as a birthday present for my sister and wanted her to have a chance to give it a go before it went out to the general public.
  2. I thought that Cookie Cracker would make a better April Fool’s joke if people weren’t already aware that I could create this sort of thing.

Flappy Bard is essentially a clone of the classic Flappy Bird, but with some small changes to the way in which obstacles are spawned and an overall Shakespearian theme. Continue reading

Ten Little Astronauts Launch Party – April 25th

The launch party for Ten Little Astronauts is coming this month! It’s 6:30 – 9:00pm at P&G Wells on April 25th. It’s a lovely independent bookshop a literal stone’s throw from Jane Austen’s House (though probably not the house you’re thinking of).

I’m hoping to get an idea of the numbers before the event (and a guest list, in case there are more people interested than will fit into the shop), so send an RSVP to the email address in the image above if you want to be sure of a space. I’ve also set up a Facebook event, if you’re one of those people who needs Mark Zuckerberg to send you a reminder before you’ll turn up to anything.

If you’re reading this but have somehow never heard of Ten Little Astronauts at all so far, it’s a hard sci-fi murder mystery inspired by Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It’s got a promotional video filmed on board Britain’s last surviving WWII submarine, a cover by the same designer behind Barack Obama’s paperback memoir, and has gone down well with just about everybody who’s taken the time to review it.

So do come along! It’s set to be a fantastic evening.