Category Archives: Warren Peace
Spurred on by my desire to move away from Lulu’s ridiculous P&P charges for people buying my paperbacks, I’ve been re-editing Warren Peace prior to moving it to a new home. I’ve been amazed at how much there is to change. When I first wrote it I thought it pretty good (and 100% of reviewers clearly agreed, giving 4- and 5-star ratings), but I’ve learned so much in the ten years since I wrote it that I shudder to look at it with my now-wizened author-eyes.
The punctuation is Naff City, baby. That’s the first thing to clear up. Also, the pacing at times lags woefully, becoming leisurely when it should be frantic: I’ll be fixing all that too, while removing a few clichés and instances of head-hopping.
What might interest you most, though, is that I’ll be writing the long-planned sequel, Bunny Prince Charlie, and publishing it NOT as a standalone book, but as an extension of the re-edited version of the original novel. Is this a good idea? Who can say, but it makes sense to wombats.
Oh, and the image there is not the final cover. That will be a LOT snazzier.
On #InternationalCatDay, here are three of the feline heroes from Warren Peace.
I know, it’s a crap word, but I couldn’t think of a clever one. If you do, let me know and I’ll edit this and credit you. They say you should always find a unique title for your book, but given the vast sweep of history and all its words, that’s not always possible. I set out to find out what other books share a title with mine.
First up, there’s a 64-page version of Tolstoy’s War & Peace presented using photographs of rabbits dressed in clothing. It’s called ‘Rabbit Warren Peace’ and it looks BRILLIANT. Also, famed science-fiction writer Bob Shaw has written a couple of comedies about a cardboard-like, sitcom-like hero, Warren Peace, called ‘Who Goes Here’ and ‘Dimensions’.
Warren Peace Title-twins: 2
I expected to find that “there’s loads of books called Fog”, as a visitor told me at Indie Litfest last year but, although a legion of books have the word within a longer title, only James Herbert’s ‘The Fog’ comes close to the singular, and as I pointed out to my surly visitor, his doesn’t have a cool running man in the letter ‘O’.
Fog Title-twins: 1
In my innocence I imagined that ‘Moth Girl’ (even without her bats) would be unique, but no! Here comes ‘Moth Girls’ by Anne Cassidy, so called because girls are drawn to a particular house like moths (that’s light, Anne, not houses), rather than because, like my heroine Thea, they look like a moth when dressed in a weird cloak and flying goggles.
Moth Girl Title-twins: 1
This one surprised me. Who’d have thought there’d be other ‘Blood on the Ground’s? There are, though. There’s Paul Usiskin’s torrid tale of murder, dangerous love, and techno-porn (I know!) across the Israel-Palestine divide. Not a lot of laughs in that one, I’ll warrant. I’d prefer Lenora Rain Good’s ‘Blood on the Ground: Elegies for Waiilatpu’, 22 poems about the 1847 Waiilatpu massacre. Sod it, I’m buying that one.
Blood on the Ground Title-twins: 2
Happily, my other titles – Cubic Scats, Soul of the Universe, Cutthroats and Curses, Human 76 and the imminent The Museum of White Walls – appear to have no title twins at all. Which I choose to interpret as a 5-4 win for me, so ner.
Just found this photo of the time in 1989 that we had seven cats. Meet Malley, Kizzy, Liverpool, Clint, Sherpa, Everton (complete with shaved bum & tail after a leg operation) and Cleo. Readers of my books will know this magnificent seven well, as they all appear in my book Warren Peace. (sorry about the title)
Four years ago today, encouraged by Alex Brightsmith, I published my inoffensive little “Magnificent Seven with fur” tale about rabbits and cats working together against seemingly insurmountable odds. I doubt Alex knew what she was unleashing back then, but I’ll be eternally grateful that she did.
There are now nine substantial books out there with my name on the cover as either author or editor, along with a couple of other small things. These days you can buy some of my stories translated into Russian, and even get yourself a Wombie audiobook to listen to while driving. You can buy Wombie jewellery and stationery, and you can employ me to edit your manuscript and format it correctly for publishing (yeah, I’ve not made that page yet – I ought to get my finger out). The tenth book and fourth full-length novel***, The Raven’s Wing, is well on its way to completion now that I’ve fallen back in love with it again.
I’ve met numerous authors, attended signings and book fairs, and made a lot of new friends. I’ve had “Oi, Wombat!” shouted at me in a busy town centre. Perhaps my favourite meeting, though, was in Michigan when I was introduced to a stranger whose first words to me were “You asshole, how could you end Fog like that?”. In short, I’ve had the BEST bloody time, and it’s down to you lovely buggers who read all my blather. Thank you *snogs your faces off*. And if you don’t like my writing (a) what are you doing here? and (b) blame Alex.
***if you can’t actually count four, that’s probably because you’re not aware of the privately published novel called ‘Murder at Wombat Towers’ which was written about and for a dozen Americans to thank them all for their remarkable hospitality and friendship over the years.
It feels a little like whispering into a hurricane on occasion. You write, realise that what you’ve written is crap, delete 90% and write again. You spend countless hours recording the story that’s in your head, giving it flesh, making it real. You fall in love with your characters, even the ones who betray you when you most trust them.
Then you polish, you rearrange, you edit. You wake up at 5am suddenly realising what horrible thing must – simply must – happen to your protagonist, and you tiptoe out of bed to fire up Scrivener and make it so. You polish again, and again, and when you think you can’t make it any better you dive back in and try anyway. Eventually the day arrives when you publish the remarkable thing that you have painstakingly created.
You show your baby to the world, proudly. Maybe you sell a few copies (yay) and garner a few good reviews (even yayer), but then the fuss dies down and you move on to create new protagonists to torture, haunt and romance. After a few years, you might even forget about characters once so vivid to you. Out of sight, see? But then just occasionally, you get a small reminder.
This just turned up on my Author Facebook page, an unprompted comment from a stranger. It’s given me an enormous smile on a dark, pissing-down hooley of a day. Good old Cuetip – I wonder what did happen to him, in the end?
“A little over a year ago my employer suggested I read War & Peace, but I thought he said Warren Peace so I bought this by mistake. It’s one of the best mistakes I’ve ever made. Cuetip remains a personal hero of mine to this day. Michael Wombat, thank you truly for this gem.”
Anyroad, I apologise to those of you who have been queueing outside Wombat Towers breathlessly awaiting the release of my new collection of tales, but I’m delaying publication of ‘Blood on the Ground’ by just one day. The reason for this is purely sentimental. Two years ago on the 11th September my first book, ‘Warren Peace’, was published. That’s right, just two years. Seems hard to believe doesn’t it? It feels appropriate that, in a kind of half-arsed celebration, I should release my eighth book on the second anniversary of my first. Such is the way of wombats.
Eight books in twenty-four months – I won’t be keeping that pace up for the next two years, I can tell you. Currently I have a couple more short stories to tell, promised for new anthologies, and then I’ll be giving full throttle to ‘The Raven’s Wing’, my weird medieval-adventure-mystery-history-murderfest (working title ‘1322’). That’s like to take me until well into 2015. After that I have been commissioned to write the story of Rollie Bucholz, an American pilot who volunteered to fight for Britain in 1939, long before the USA entered World War 2. My present thinking is to make that a biography written like a novel.
Keep watching the skies.
I watched The Desolation of Smaug today; wonderful film. I particularly liked the way Thorin was written, as his urge to complete his quest began to overturn his decency. Yesterday I saw Django, and was struck by how well-written, how real, the title character was. A man who happily kills three men who were befriending and about to help him. I do wonder about my own characters. I thought I made Finn believable, and was happy with him. White was a bit too wry, though, and actually had moral reasons, albeit twisted ones, for what he was doing. Thea turned out a bit two-dimensional, but then Moth Girl was a short book. Cuetip was a rabbit.
You can probably tell that I’m currently fighting my tendency to make everyone I write likeable. Even my baddies aren’t without wit and charisma and an internal moral compass of some kind. It’s about time I handled a completely amoral character, one who respects no rules, or life, or anything but their own selfish desires. Chaotic Evil if you like. TOTALLY not me. Now THAT will be a challenge. And great fun. And probably happening in 1322.
Herewith an update on my current Works in Progress. This post is as much to help me keep track of what’s going on as to inform you, dear reader.
1322 is still being grown, almost organically at times. It’s long been my ambition to write a long chunky book, and my medieval baby is lending itself to that aim perfectly. When it finally appears you will find in its pages humour, shapeshifting, horror, a tantalising mystery, everyday life, action, a one-eyed mistress of fire, sex, weirdness, a fight in a cabbage patch and a whole lot of fascinating and minutely-researched 14th century detail.
Aaah and Moth Girl, bless her heart, is almost finished. This steampunkesque (it is so a real word) slice of fifties-matinee-serial adventure was begun as a whimsical tribute to Thea Gilmore, and is now destined for a forthcoming anthology of stories based on favourite songs. I’ll be editing the anthology, which will be called “Soul of the Universe”, from Plato’s quote “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
I’ll also be editing a second anthology; this one a collection of timber-shivering tales about Pirates. I will be making my own contribution, yes, which is already plotted out and includes a treasure map, a parrot, and not a few selkies.
On top of that lot I have four other short(ish) stories all plotted and ready to write. The one I am most excited about, being a complete departure from anything that I have done before, is a Western, tentatively titled “Cowboys on Ice”. That’s all the hint you’re getting about that one. Other tales that are gasping to be written are a comedy about a Dragon dentist, a very strange piece based on Shakespeare, and a spooky horror thing with the working title of ‘Descent’.
Another exciting possibility is a collaboration with the supremely-talented Alex Brightsmith, including a collection of our respective short stories and two new jointly-written pieces. This is one that I am really keen on, being a bit of a fanboy where Alex is concerned.
And then there are a dozen ideas that may never see the light of day before I shuffle off this mortal coil, including a tale that I want to write that bounces off this delicious photograph, taken by the very lovely @Leontia2001.
Other backburner stories are one told by a beach, ‘Heidishire’ my weird erotic fantasy thing (for which I may have to find another collaborator), and the hinted-at sequels to ‘Warren Peace’ and ‘Fog’.
I’m never going to get round to all that, am I?
In case you were away, let me just tell you that I made Warren Peace available on Kindle free of charge for three days around my birthday, the aim being to increase readership and get my name as an author more widely known. This is what happened. (Let me first say that I adore those of you who went and bought a copy of the book earlier. You are true fans and supporters and I want to have your babies).
OK, my overall impression of the free promotion? Vague disappointment mixed with delight at my Twitter family. Over the three days that the book was free I bombarded Twitter, Facebook, G+ and Goodreads with (as I thought) varied and amusing reminders. I was given sterling help in publicising the offer by many followers, which warmed my heart, and for which they have my undying thanks. Chief among these, and deserving of particular mention, is @MrsAshborosCat who never stopped working in Cuetip’s cause. I also received greatly appreciated assistance from more high profile followers, such as Nicky Campbell, Sharon Corr, Steve Baxter and Norman Lovett. These lovely people hare followed by tens of thousands – their pimping could only increase uptake significantly, surely.
Despite all of the above, however, downloads remained comparatively low. I can only conclude that the general public don’t like either rabbits or punning titles. Perhaps too everyone thought the book was a Watership Down rip-off – an easy mistake to make. I suppose I might also conclude that I design crap covers. On top of all that, I did make a few mistakes during the weekend, such as failing to ask some folk who I’m sure would have helped, and being in an unaccountably bad mood on Saturday night. Maybe my gin had gone off.
In the end I was disappointed that the take-up didn’t get close to a thousand, with roughly 900 free copies downloaded. Most of these were in the UK, with a fair wodge in the US. Four German and two Japanese stalwarts also added to the total, bless them. Don’t for a second think that I don’t love those 900 people of taste with all my heart, and clasp them metaphorically to my bosom.
A further wish of mine was that at least the book might briefly poke its nose into the Top 100 Free Downloads chart on Amazon, and it got mighty close to that, reaching a high of #104. Mind you, it did climb to Number Two in the “Action & Adventure” category, only kept off the top by a true classic – Treasure Island. There’s a joke there somewhere about the book being a number two.
So, was it worth giving away the Kindle version of Warren Peace? Hell yeah, for all these reasons:
- I did reach new readers and new followers, who are all lovely people.
- I was given immense help by my Twitter family, which warmed my heart.
- I learned a lot from my mistakes for any future event.
- Several more people reviewed the book, all of them very complimentary.
- We had a lot of fun over the three days talking about the book.
- New followers FINALLY took me over my old glass ceiling of 1900, off which number I’d been bouncing for nine months.
I have two more days of Free Promotion available before I drop the book out of KDP Select (and I will do that, so that I can make an ePub copy available) – maybe I’ll offer it as a Christmas present to those who were unconscious this time round. And the next book? I’m thinking of calling it “Sex”. That’ll sell, surely? (I’m not really going to call it that).
Thanks again to everyone who helped.