Archive for July 2013

Be Nice To Learner Drivers: A Public Service Announcement

For once, a post not entirely about writing! First, a quick update - thank you so much to everyone for all the downloads and kind messages/reviews! The free promotion came to an end a few days ago (boo, Amazon) but during the five days my story was downloaded 159 times in total. For my first ebook, I reckon that's pretty swell. ;>

I'm off to Holland tomorrow morning for a week of sailing, lasting until Tuesday, so I'm having a bit of a break from writing and instead taking inspiration. However, the second installment of City of the Damned is ready for final-minute edits and converting to an ebook, so I will try to publish it pretty much as soon as I get back! I like this set better than the first for sure, so that's exciting.

But this post is not about writing, exactly. If you read my blog, you'll know I'm an eighteen year old living in the United States of Eurasia Kingdom. You may not, however, know that I am learning to drive.

I only started in November last year because I didn't feel I was mentally mature enough to be hurtling around our roads in my own death-box on wheels when the law first said I could (if you could have seen me when I was seventeen, you'd probably agree too.) However, since I've started driving, I have come to understand that this concern was needless.


Yes, this is now a scientific figure. You read it on the internet, it must be true.

But I digress. I took my theory test earlier in the year and passed easily. It was easy because the answer to every single question was a slightly different variation of 'don't be a twat to other people.' Don't tailgate them because that is dangerous and therefore illegal. Don't beep your horn late at night unnecessarily because you'll wake the kiddies. Don't drink and drive not because you might kill yourself, but because you might kill someone else. Preferably drive safely and don't kill yourself at all, but killing someone else through your personal stupidity is really inconsiderate. If you must drive stupidly, do it far away from anyone else and don't come crying to anyone when you die.

Oh, and don't be mean to learner drivers!!

I get it. I really, honestly do. Learners can be real nuisances. They can stop abruptly, stall at traffic lights, or take longer than usual to pull away. They often travel a little bit slower than others. I do, when the road is slippery or there are many tight corners or parked cars, because I don't want to die and my reactions are not as good as someone who has been driving for 20 years.
But this is no reason to be a dick to every learner driver you meet! For one thing, that driver might be very capable and do none of these things. For another, they might be on their test and you pulling something stupid or unexpected can cause them to fail through no fault of their own and cost them a lot of money in needing another test thanks to the really stupid examination system we have!! For ANOTHER, it makes you a raging arsehole. Guess what, peasant - you were a learner driver once too. Cool your jets.

This is a list of some of the idiocies other cars have subjected me to while learning to drive. Warning, it's at once both long and stupid.

♦ Screamed past me at 70/80mph on a national speed limit road (60) when I was already driving at the max, just because I'd actually adhered to the 30mph speed limit all the way through the last village and they GOTTA GO FAST.

♦ Driving towards me on a narrow country road, instead of steering towards the side of the road so we could both get by steered TOWARDS THE CENTRE OF THE ROAD and forced me onto a verge where I then stalled the car.

♦ When I was first starting out I stalled at some traffic lights. The car behind beeped repeatedly and drove right up close so I couldn't see anything out of my rear window... causing me to stall again in panic.

♦ Mercedes Benz vans tailgating me. 90% of the many times I've had some idiot tailgate me when I was conscientiously sticking to the speed limit it's been a Mercedes Benz van. Says a lot about the people who drive Mercedes Benz vans. Panther taxi cabs are almost as guilty. And people who drive BMWs and Audis.

♦ One Mercedes Benz van who decided that no, a learner car cannot possibly be allowed into the fast lane of the A14, and as soon as I pulled out to overtake a lorry aggressively tailgated me and WOULD NOT GO AWAY. I could understand if I'd been hogging the fast lane but I'd literally pulled out 20 seconds previously. Arsehole.

♦ Various idiots who, after travelling pretty slowly and me overtaking them and realising that I was a learner in a tiny red car, sped up on purpose to overtake me back, often smashing the speed-limit to hell and back in their attempts to appease their puffed up egos. Then, proceeded to go really slowly again. Pretty much all BMW drivers.

♦ BMW/Audi/Mercedes drivers that don't seem to know where their indicators are located.

♦ A huge lorry trying to turn into a minor road when it was my right of way as the traffic lights had let me go, temporarily stopped as it saw me but then, just as I started to go, STARTED MOVING AGAIN. I slammed on my brakes of course, and then the other car behind me nearly crashed into my back and beeped me. Not my fault!! Arsehole then drove past me when I parked making rude gestures. I made some back though, so it's fine.

♦ The cyclist who decided it would be hilarious to cycle down the WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD and then not move out of the way when I approached, meaning extreme evasive action on my part was required when I'd only just started out.

This is not even a comprehensive list. These are just the incidents that I can think of off the top of my head now. I have also come to the conclusion that tractors should be banned from driving on the roads during rush hour, and that tourists to Cambridge should not be allowed to rent bikes under any circumstances. I used to get road rage badly on my bike - it's 1000 times worse in a car.

I don't get it. Would you people rather learner drivers sped along like you lot, going super fast when their reactions are still poor so they crash, potentially crashing into you? Do you not remember when you were a learner driver and stalled a lot? Do you not understand that harrassing or intimidating a learner driver makes them MORE LIKELY TO PANIC AND STALL AND CAUSE AN ACCIDENT?

I wonder how many of these people would pass a driving test if they took it now, especially having to deal with other arseholes like them. I also hope they all get arrested for speeding and dangerous driving.

Rant over, I guess. :> I'll see you guys after Holland! I've got a couple of things to post about, and the second installment of COTD will be out sometime after then. Exciting!


Aah! I just checked on amazon and my ebook has received 50 downloads after just two days of being up! I don't know what kind of numbers are good for a first ebook, but this seems like kind of a lot to me and so I'm really happy ♥‿♥

(It's still free for four more days, download HERE! Also, if you have no kindle or iphone/ipad/android with a kindle app, you can download a kindle reader to your computer free from here.)

Thank you so much to everyone who downloaded my book, and to everyone who will download it! It means a huge amount. I really hope you enjoy it, cause I had fun over the last year writing it. As for part two, it'll be out just as soon as I get the final edits done! That's Quantum Entanglement, We've Lost Our Moral Compass and Spidermusings. I personally think these stories are better than the first lot, but I did write them later on after I improved a lot. So, I'm starting to get excited for them too.

At the moment I'm actually working a little more on my big project, The Light Age, and I'm finalising the plans for that. Super-happy with it so far. But I guess now might be a good time to talk about why exactly I chose to do this kind of project over my gap year, rather than attempt to get published traditionally.

Getting a book of mine into actual book shops as a real, paper book is obviously my ultimate dream. But I did a lot of research about the publishing industry and it just seemed next to impossible to break into it. Publishers want you to have an agent, agents want you to have been published already... As an unknown, you really have such a little chance! But the main thing I didn't like is that as an author in the publishing industry you seem to get very little control over your book. They can edit it however they like, make you edit stuff out, make you add things in... And when I write, I guess I see it like painting. I'll try and explain.

I'm really picky with the words I choose and the sentence structures, because it's like choosing colours and tones and every subtle shade of a painting. Everything builds up into this whole piece, this whole scene and then eventually the whole story, and if someone were to chop it about too carelessly I feel as though it would lose the effects I've tried to achieve. Of course, everything needs editing - I edit my stuff relentlessly, and ask people all the time how I can improve! But throughout I am careful to keep the feeling for the story that I intended. I would also worry about my actual content and scenarios, not just the way I structure things but the things themselves. The publishing industry has been known to pull stuff like this too.

I guess a lot of my content can be seen as uncomfortable, unpleasant - my stories don't always have a happy ending. In fact, a lot of them have really quite horrible endings. And that's okay, because how many happy endings are there in real life? I'm not going to tack on some happy-happy-la-la-obnoxious ending on the end of a story about courage in the face of impossible adversity because it makes it hollow - it cheapens it. And besides - writing is art! You should write things that you want to write, that you feel are important - not what people have to want to hear. Of course, it'd be really nice if people did enjoy your work; I really, really hope that people like my stories. I actually teared when I turned on my computer and saw how many people downloaded it (even if it doesn't seem like much to most authors, it's a lot to me!)

Basically, I don't want someone else having creative control over my stuff. I also wanted to make my own cover, make sure my stories were presented exactly how I wanted to present them to people. They don't let you make your own cover in the publishing industry very often. Sometimes authors end up with a horrible one, or one that doesn't match their book - or even a downright offensive one. And they may not be able to change it.

That really worried me. So, I decided to go it alone. I guess now I have to deal with the label of 'vanity publishing', but I'll just have to hope that my work can stand for itself and people will find it worth something. I like to think my work is good enough to be read by people - and surely, it can't be any worse than certain books that actually were published! At least, I hope not. If my stuff is as terrible as certain things currently out there, I don't want people to read them! I'd be so embarrassed.

Mostly, I thought it'd be a bit of fun. A little experiment, something to do with my gap year. I'm on my own, but that's kind of fun. ♥‿♥ I can do what I like, it's an adventure that could have any kind of ending. Entrepreneurial! That's the word. I might not be a proper, legitimately published author like I always dreamed, but I can certainly be an entrepreneur until I get there. If that doesn't sound too pretentious, that is. And maybe, by the time I get there, authors and the art they create for people will be a little bit better respected by the publishing industry as a whole.

Once again, thank you for any downloads! Please enjoy.


♡ Published My First Ebook! ♡

Yep, that's right! My FIRST EBOOK is available to download from Amazon right now! My friend Artemis Timms was the first to see that it had gone through review and been put up, and after a period of intensive stress where I couldn't find it on Amazon (apparently I am smart enough to write a book, but not smart enough to select 'kindle store' on search options) I saw it too. I instantly got that horrible feeling when you're really scared and pre-emptively embarassed in my stomach, but I was also grinning like an idiot so I guess I didn't feel that terrified.

It's the first three shorts in my collection, City of the Damned. I'm excited and nervous to have people read them! But it feels like my work all this year has paid off at last. However I'm new to this whole marketing thing, so I'll leave you with this nifty list of reasons why downloading my book would be a good thing to do.

Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Should Download My Ebook:
1) It is my first ebook and it'd be cool if people read it (even cooler if they enjoyed it!)
2) It is, from the 21st-25th of July, 100% free! (Damn you Amazon, for not letting it be always free)
3) It means my downloads page actually has a purpose.
4) I promise it's not completely awful. In fact, I like to think it's rather good.
5) It has a pretty cover that I made. I'm rather proud of the cover.
6) If you read it and tell me what you think about it, I'll be able to improve my writing and create better stories for people to enjoy ♡
7) It's the summer holidays, you might be the type of person that likes to read miserable things as-of-yet-undiscovered great new works of literature on your holiday :>
8) It has guns and robots and corrupt politicians and mysteries and deals with the metaphorical devil, and these things are fun to read about ♡
9) If you like it you can tell all your friends to download it too, and that totally isn't me pushing my own agenda upon you ;>
10) You might legitimately enjoy it. I hope you enjoy it! I had fun writing it, so I hope you have fun reading it too.

Publishing Update ♡

Just a quick one.
My book is now in the process of being uploaded to Amazon! After much stress and unnecessary, overwhelming rage and finally happiness as the evils of bureaucracy and online banking (the most counter-intuitive thing since forever) were defeated, I figured out the numbers I needed to type in the boxes and it's all moving along nicely!
It should be up on Amazon in between 12-48 hours. However, a wild problem appeared.
Amazon will not let you sell an ebook for free. 

I had to set the price as $0.99 (in proper money, 65p ;V - otherwise known as the lowest price I could set) but I've also enrolled my book into this thing called Kindle Direct Publishing Select, where every 90 days I can promote my book as free for 5 days. I'll try and figure it out so it can be promoted as free as soon as possible for everyone. I'm really sorry! I honestly intended this ebook to be 100% free. I'd downloaded free ebooks before - a collection of Sherlock stories, and Oliver Twist - but I suppose those are public domain works. Maybe it won't let you sell things for free that aren't public domain works. I don't know. It's all a bit pointlessly complex for me. :/

I mean, I guess the money would be nice - I've got uni fees to pay! But I really did want this to be free, so everyone could have an example of my work. I'm really, really sorry. Hopefully you guys can download it for free during the 5 days it will be available every 90 days - I'll be sure to point them out! I think I still get money if you download them then, hahaha.

Thanks for understanding.

Ebook: How To?

It's the long-awaited how-to-format-your-ebook post! First, I've got some explaining to do. I just received my ISBN numbers in the post; so my first set of shorts will be available on Amazon any day from now! Exciting 

So, you ask, as an aspiring author who's feeling entrepreneurial and adventurous enough to set out on their own - how do I make an ebook??
Or, more likely, I have tried to make an ebook and it looks horrible on whatever-ebook-reader-I-have, please help??

For reference, I have a kindle paperwhite. My ebook looks fine here, and from the looks of it on amazon's own emulators, it will be fine on other models too. I don't know how it will look on other devices.


The first thing you must do is formatting. It's boring to the max, but suck it up. You already (hopefully) went over your story a ton of times, so what's one more? One thing that I have learned from my gap year is that writers spend a hell of a lot of time going over their work to make sure it's perfect.
Here is what you have to do, if you want to do this how I did. Tried and tested, works a charm!

First, your story must be in a Microsoft Word .doc file format. If you have saved it in any other format - .txt, .odf - change it.
Then, open in Microsoft Word.

Remember, an ebook is different to a regular book. It has no pagebreaks, not even for new chapters. Because every ebook reader model displays things differently, even if you think a pagebreak looks good on your reader it won't be the same on others. You should get doing pagebreaks out of your head right away - it should all be one document, single spaced, though you can get away with a double linebreak between chapters or titles/subheadings. No more than that. Really. So, if you've been merrily starting each chapter on a different page to the one before, go and take that out. Yes, I had to do this.

The first thing you should do, perhaps, is write the title section. You know how a book always has a little bit at the front that contains the copyright and makes sure everyone knows you didn't make fun of real people with your book? You get to write that!
This is mine. You can write something similar, if you like. It's also the only part of my book that is centered. Don't bother centering chapter titles, it doesn't look so great on the ebook reader.

Click on the picture to see a larger version. ♡ I also added a table of contents.

Now you've got the important part sorted, it's time to get onto the actual formatting. Note, my subheadings here are already formatted. Before you format, all your document should look like regular text.
To help you, if you have the latest edition of Word, you should click this button here:

You'll see a variety of symbols pop up on your page. It'll look somewhat like this:

¶ means a paragraph, or single linebreak. You may also see a character that looks like an arrow pointing to the right too, similar to this: →. This shows an indent.  You want to remove all of these. Every single one. Yes, it looks nice in the word document to have indents for paragraphs, but it looks ugly on the ebook reader because the linebreaks themselves are slightly indented on there - just like a real book. This part's the boring bit, and it may sound weird. But it needs to be done. The final thing that needs to be done is formatting your headings, and/or subheadings. You don't just change the sizes for these - you have to change the styling.

This is done by paying attention to the styles bar in word.

You can edit these styles as much as you like by right-clicking and choosing modify. But the trick is, to be consistent! I only used three styles when making my ebook. The first was only for the title. Then, I had another for chapter titles/other headers. The third one was for the quotes that I have beneath each chapter title.

Why can't I just change the font size? I hear you ask. Because without styles, ebooks aren't happy with double spacing. I tried SO HARD to get double spaces below my chapter titles, my quotes, just to separate them from the main block of text a little. It wouldn't work. Styling was the only way to beat this. So, on the modify panel, I made my header styles have extra space above and below. The circled buttons edit this space.

Once you have accomplished all this, save your document. You're mostly done!

The next thing you will need is to download mobipocket, to get your ebook converted to the .prc file Amazon requires.

You can download mobipocket from here. ♡ Follow the installation instructions, and it's fairly self explanatory from there. Choose 'Import from Existing File' and then 'MS Word Document'. You can then upload your cover, add author and publishing information, and once you're satisfied you should click 'Build'. The resulting .prc file can then be dragged straight into your kindle's 'documents' folder, and is ready to read!

Congratulations - you're done! ♥‿♥ Hopefully without stress like me.


My dad is currently destroying our house in order to fix it, and the noise is drilling through my head wtf. Cannot hear myself think any more. I'll work on a post about actually publishing an ebook next, because now you've got one you probably want to publish it. I also want to write about my gap year itself - why I chose the self-publishing and ebook routes, and why I think it's been worth it. Screw £9000 uni fees, at least for one year.

But, seeing as my first ebook is being published imminently, expect one about that first! I'll now have to think of creative ways to get people to download, whoops. I am terrible at this.

Rework Complete ♡

✎ It took longer than I anticipated, but the rewrite of short story five: We've Lost Our Moral Compass is done! ♥‿♥ I'm really proud of it; the concept as a whole is a million times better, and I guess I really got into the story as a whole because it now ties with nine: Viral Heart for the longest. Assorted thieves, fences and other criminals, oh my! I've also edited a couple of others along the way, mostly to replace the old concept entirely but also to add a couple new tidbits to the storyline, a handful of new connections. I think I can finally say that I'm proud of the story overall. ♬♪

I've also gone back and characterised the twelve ministers some more. Without giving too much away, these are some of the people involved in the Government of the city. This was because the reworked story five allowed them to get a scene of decent length, and I got to explore the character of the Minister of Media. Out of all the Ministers he's arguably the most powerful, and I personally feel he's also the most creepy. He's handsome, he's charming, he's always smiling, and he's ever-so-friendly and sincere. His actions in the fifth, I hope you'll agree if you read it, will dispell this masquerade rather quickly.
The other Ministers I've gone into detail with are Defence and Science. Defence is cold, stern, always serious, and the Minister of Media does have a bit of a laugh at his expense every now and then. Science, on the other hand, is a different kettle of fish. He doesn't refer to himself in the first person, choosing instead to talk about things in terms of 'This Minister'. Only once will he break this habit. Essentially, the Minister of Science does not exist as in individual entity with his own thoughts and concerns. His only goal is that of his Premier. He was also extremely frustrating to write.

The final Minister that gets properly introduced is actually the Minister of Justice, and unlike Media, Defence and Science he does nothing to drive the plot. For the most part, he is silent. Ancient and decrepit, he looks on at events through bleary, dishwater-eyes, and the only time he speaks is to condemn. ♡ I wish I'd been able to go into the other Ministers more and develop them, but there simply wasn't the time or the space - I'm proud of those I have, though. They make rather good nasties, I like to think.

My ISBNs have also been ordered and paid for, as soon as they get here my first ebook will be up for free! That's the first three shorts. I will have to think up ways to trick people I know into downloading it ;v Hopefully it will be within the week! It's really exciting now OTL.

Ebook formatting post is next, hopefully tomorrow if I can get it written up in time. ♡

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