It’s the eleventh hour. Aragorn is making his “It is not this day” speech. The rebels are approaching the Death Star. Neville Longbottom has destroyed the final horcrux and Harry Potter is preparing to battle Lord Voldemort. I’m not familiar with Twilight, but I’m sure there’s some confrontation between Heartthrob McSparklepants and a bad guy of some kind.
The point is, there are just days left to fund Ten Little Astronauts. At 63%, it’s the bulk of the way there and it has a solid chance of reaching its target, but only if the people who want that to happen make it happen.
At this point, you’re either behind the book or you’re not: there’s no time left to “get around to it.” 213 people (at current count) have pledged for a copy of their own. Countless more have shared it, told their friends about it, and generally helped it along in less direct ways. If it’s not your kind of thing, I get it. If you can’t afford to chip in for a copy right now, I definitely get it. But if you’d like to help my career as an author all the same, doing something – anything – to spread the word about it before that Christmas deadline would make a spectacular difference to the book’s chances of success at absolutely no cost to you. Continue reading
There’s a new anthology from JayHenge Publishing, and this one’s all about speculative detective fiction! It’s called Unearthly Sleuths, and it features two of my stories: The Card and Noise on the Wire. The former appears in OCR is Not the Only Font, my flash fiction anthology from 2012, but the latter is a brand new Alterworld story I’ve never shared before!
If that sounds like your sort of thing you can grab a copy in ebook or paperback right now! However, the editor has extremely kindly allowed me to offer the ebook as a reward for supporters of Ten Little Astronauts, so if you’ve pledged for that at the Audio Collection level or above (or the bargain Digital Bundle), you’re already due to get a copy when the book is funded!
You might also be interested in Phantasmical Contraptions and Other Errors, also by JayHenge, which has a steampunk theme and features no fewer than three of my flash fiction pieces.
Back at Winchester Comic Con I was pleased to discover Eagle Island, a procedurally generated platformer with beautiful pixel art and really tight controls. Well, it’s since launched on Kickstarter and I’ve been backing it since the very beginning. I’ve also made an effort to share/retweet any choice bits of news: most recently that there’s now a (Windows) demo available so you can have a go.
There’s now some extra news to share, and this time I think it’s big enough to warrant an actual blog post. The project is now more than half funded but there’s only a week to go. Naturally I’d like to see this game get made so that’s worth getting out there in its own right! However, there’s more to it than that. In order to drum up interest, Nick Gregory, the guy behind Eagle Island is running a draw to design a monster appearing in the game. Ordinarily this would be one of the £250 rewards, but the draw opens up the chance to any backer who either gets a friend on board or backs the project having heard about it from a friend. Long story short, if you support Eagle Island and tell Nick I sent you, both of us have a shot at designing a monster.
Basically, I think this is both a great reward for this particular game and a neat idea in general. I’m tempted to shamelessly steal it for my Ten Little Astronauts campaign, but until then Eagle Island is your best bet for this particular variety of crowdfunding-based fun. Please do take a look! I know from experience that simply making people aware of a project is the hardest thing about crowdfunding. If it’s not your cup of tea, fair enough. If it is, back the project and tell them where you heard about it!
Yes! Ten Little Astronauts has reached 30% funding through Unbound. The last little bit of that came very quickly indeed: pretty much just over this past weekend. You can find the update on their site here.
If you haven’t pledged already, this would be a spectacularly good time to do so. The book has had so much support these past few days that it’s currently trending on Unbound, and if that continues – particularly if it earns a place on the front page of books – even more people are going to discover it. If you’re one of the next 15 people to put in a pledge, you’ll also get your name in an interactive sci-fi story I’m working on as well as the regular rewards.
Harvest Moon, the folk horror story I was offering as the 30% milestone reward, will be going out to supporters soon. For the 35% milestone reward I’m planning to release a never-before-seen Face of Glass myth telling the origin of the elements and the creation of Man. If that takes your fancy, you might also be interested in Silent as Still Water.
And please, even if you don’t intend to put in a pledge yourself, consider sharing Ten Little Astronauts with anyone you think might enjoy it. That 100% mark is creeping closer and closer, but I can’t reach it on my own!
Here’s a video by Alex Carter (Lexica Films) explaining a little about the anodised aluminium necklaces I’m offering as a reward for supporters of Ten Little Astronauts, as well as a rare opportunity to see how they’re made! There’s also a little more information going in this Shed post on Unbound’s site too.
If these catch your eye at all (or you’re looking for an extra-special Christmas gift for someone), do consider putting in a pledge for the book. The entire necklace reward level (which also includes signed copies of Ten Little Astronauts and Face of Glass, all the ebooks I’ve ever released, and an audio collection of my most popular fiction) is actually going for less than the usual cost of the necklace alone. That’s £50 worth of book rewards, plus a £90 necklace, for £75.
If that’s not good enough for you, Unbound are also running a promotion at the moment that gives 20% off your first pledge: the code is snowman16, and naturally it’s best used for a big reward like this. There’s little point using it to shave £2 off an ebook when you could be getting £15 off a huge bundle of stuff! To use that offer, just hit the “Pledge £75” option under “Anodised Aluminium Necklace” on the book page and enter the promotional code when prompted.
Ten Little Astronauts has now reached 20% of its crowdfunding goal, which means – as promised – the audio version of the first chapter is now available to all my supporters! If that link just takes you to the standard book page, you either haven’t pledged or you’re not signed in: either way, there’s an easy fix. 😉
One thing you might notice (and may already have noticed if you read the excerpt very closely) is that the first chapter of Ten Little Astronauts is in fact titled “Eleven.” This is because the title of each chapter corresponds not to the chapter number, but to the number of crewmembers alive on board. As a result, the chapters count down rather than up.
This is the first recording made using my new equipment – a condenser microphone connected to a mic preamp and voice processor – that I’ve released online, so I’m hoping it’ll hold up favourably to the audio I’ve put out there in the past. I’m still learning how to make the most of the equipment, and I expect that the next few recordings will rely less on editing the sound in Audacity and more on finding the right settings to use on the hardware itself. “Eleven” does feature quite a bit in the way of ambient noise added in afterwards, however. If you’ve already pledged and you fancy having a listen, I recommend using speakers if at all possible: if you’re just using earbuds, chances are some of the detail won’t come through. Continue reading
You might recall that I promised to release My Name Algernon – a never-before-seen work of interactive science fiction – if Ten Little Astronauts reached 25% of its goal by the end of September. Well, that hasn’t happened. Partly I think that might be because I underestimated how much of an influence the initial surge of pledges had on the book’s overall progress so far (20% would probably have been the target to go for), and partly it’s because I made trips to both Torquay and Birmingham this month and being out of town left me with a lot to catch up on. Book-wise, not a whole lot happened while I was otherwise occupied.
Ultimately, it looks like it’s mainly up to me to get the word out about the book, and with that being the case it seems a shame to have rewards for supporters depend on how much I can do in any given month. Instead, I figure it’s best to simply break the big 100% goal down into nice, manageable 5% chunks with a bonus for supporters each time we reach one. My Name Algernon will still go out at 25%, but there’ll also be something else at 20%, coming up imminently!
I figure this’ll help keep things moving – get your friends on board and you’ll all be that much closer to getting some neat stuff – without having to make it all-or-nothing each time. It also has the added bonus that if things go especially well, the bonus rewards will come out extra quickly: they won’t be limited to just one a month!
So that’s the plan from now on. Just a handful of pledges is all that’s needed to take Ten Little Astronauts up to 20%, so that first milestone reward could be out very quickly. My plan is to make it an audio version of the first chapter of the book – already finished besides a final polish – so if that sounds like something you’d like to get hold of, pledge your support if you haven’t already and tell your friends if you have!
The campaign to get Ten Little Astronauts into print has now hit 15% of its goal! A strong start, but to keep up the momentum I’ve got something new in mind: if we hit 25% by the end of September, I’ll reward all supporters with a new, polished work of fiction immediately.
Ten Little Astronauts might have been the final project for my MA in Creative Writing – and it was definitely what earned me a Distinction overall – but it wasn’t the only project, and it wasn’t even the only reimagining of a classic work of fiction.
One module of the course pretty much just invited us to do something a little unconventional and, having already been tinkering with interactive fiction for quite a long time, I knew what I wanted to do from the very start.
My Name Algernon is an interactive work of science fiction that places you in the role of Algernon: an ordinary chimpanzee who, through experimental drugs, it is hoped will gain an extraordinary level of intelligence. Being an interactive story, however, whether he does – and if so, what he does with it – is up to you.
As you might have guessed, My Name Algernon draws inspiration from Daniel Keyes’ Flowers For Algernon, in which mentally handicapped man Charlie Gordon is given experimental surgery to significantly boost his intelligence. The story is told through a series of reports, and as Gordon himself changes the style of these reports changes in kind. My Name Algernon follows a similar format, though being interactive the text displayed is generated by the reader’s computer in response to their actions so far.
I think My Name Algernon will be an interesting read for anyone who’s already following Ten Little Astronauts, and particularly for anyone familiar with certain other stories of mine. I’ve chosen 25% as a goal for this not so much to push things further as to continue the progress that the campaign has made so far: if everybody who’s already pledged found just one friend or family member to join them in supporting the book, we’d be there right away!
So to sum up, My Name Algernon is an interactive science fiction story that, like Ten Little Astronauts, borrows from a well known work. If the campaign to get Ten Little Astronauts into print reaches 25% of its goal by the end of September, I’ll be sending it out to all supporters the moment that happens.
Until now, if you wanted anything other than just an ebook version of Ten Little Astronauts, you’d also have to pay for shipping on the paperback included in the next pledge level up. Since that may not be ideal for supporters outside the UK, I’ve just added two new options geared specifically towards anyone for whom shipping costs could be a problem:
£25 Digital Bundle:
This reward consists of absolutely everything I can send you without sticking it in the post. You get all the digital rewards: the ebooks of Ten Little Astronauts, Face of Glass, and all my flash fiction anthologies, plus the audio collection that’s normally introduced at £35. That means you’re getting £10 off the audio collection, and not paying a penny shipping on anything at all.
£30 Read With A Friend:
If you do want a paperback but don’t want to pay the full cost of shipping, this may offer a solution: two paperbacks, two ebooks and two names in the back of Ten Little Astronauts, but all in just one parcel. That means that if you can find a friend who’d also like a copy, you can split the cost of delivery and still get your futuristic sci-fi murder mystery in tried-and-tested dead tree format.
Though I’ve included these rewards with international supporters in mind, they’re still available within the UK. You’ll still save on postage if you want to read with a friend, and if you’re particularly keen to hear my brand new audio collection but aren’t fussed about getting a paperback, then the Digital Bundle could be for you.
If you’ve already pledged but would like to take advantage of one of these new options, you can do so by following the advice in this FAQ guide. Essentially, it’s just a matter of emailing email@example.com and asking them nicely: they’ll be able to return the value of your original pledge, which you’ll be able to put towards the new one.
If you initially went for the £10 ebook to avoid the cost of shipping, please do consider upgrading to the Digital Bundle. You’ll get greater rewards, Ten Little Astronauts will be that much closer to publication, and by my reckoning it’s still cheaper than a paperback and postage.
Flash Fiction Month 2016, Day 24
“I can’t believe you’re eating poutine for breakfast,” said Mike, staring at Joe over his huge stack of pancakes.
“I can’t believe you’re not!” said Joe, setting the mountainous pile of food down on the tree stump they’d taken to using as a breakfast table. “Fries, cheese curds, gravy…it’s got everything a growing lumberjack needs!”
“Yeah. Because nobody in the history of the world has ever associated pancakes with lumberjacks.”
Suddenly, as if enraged by sarcasm, a moose charged out of the trees and straight through the lumberjacks’ breakfast.
“Well that was something, eh?” said Joe. Then he noticed the state of his breakfast. “Aww. That moose got maple syrup all over my poutine. Could you lend me a toonie for another?”
Mike was about to say “no,” and follow it up with, “but is it seriously just two dollars, because that’s either really good or really suspicious,” but he was drowned out by the sudden appearance of a helicopter descending into the clearing. Continue reading