Like Pulling Teeth

You’ll have to bear with me on this one – I’ve just returned from the dentist with two less teeth than I left with. Blimey, it took two dentists and about four sets of dentist pliers (forceps?) to remove these stubborn teeth. Way to go molars, you let the whole team down.

Funnily enough, it put me in a blogging mood.

Let’s talk what’s happening on the writing front.

  • The Rig is going through final edits now and is on track to be published September 5th, by Hot Key Books. Keep an eye out for that one, it’s one of my finest works to date.
  • Knight Fall, RE#3, is floundering but persevering. Should be done in a month or two, then edits, then release.
  • I’m working on two brand new projects, as well. Young Adult fantasy and Young Adult… contemporary? I dunno, YA – dragons = project 2. One involves floating cities, fish and tree people, magical gauntlets, and an orphaned protagonist fallen on hard-but-magical times. The other doesn’t have dragons, and remains a vague, somewhat vaguer than vague, blur in my mind. Only have about 10,000 useful words of that, but there’s something there. Cider Promises.
  • And, happy days, I just signed with the wonderful Eugenie Furniss at Furniss & Lawton. Not only am I published, but I have a literary agent.

That about does it for now. Just gotta keep tip-tapping away in the word mines, searching for glittering story. There’s plot in dem dar hills!

Long days and pleasant nights,

Joe

In which Joe wins a prize…

Good news, everyone!

I am pleased, humbled, rather giddy, and just generally excited to announce that I am a proud recipient of the Guardian and Hot Key Books Young Writer’s Prize! Huzzah–huzzah indeed!

What does this mean, you ask? Well, along with a bit of a skip in my step, it means I’m stepping onto the clear, crystal shores of traditional publishing, with my first novel geared toward a Young Adult audience – The Rig!

Check out the cover and synopsis:

the-rig-300dpi

(click to make biggerer…est)

Catchy, no? The blue is blue and the hand rather handy. I love it. Here’s a bit about the story:

Fifteen-year-old Will Drake has made a career of breaking out from high-security prisons. His talents have landed him at The Rig, a specialist juvenile holding facility in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one can escape from The Rig. No one except for Drake…

After making some escape plans and meeting the first real friends of his life, Drake quickly realises that all is not as it seems on The Rig. The Warden is obsessed with the mysterious Crystal-X – a blue, glowing substance that appears to give superpowers to the teens exposed to it. Drake, Tristan and Irene are banking on a bid for freedom – but can they survive long enough to make it? Drake is an action hero to rival Jason Bourne and the CHERUB team in this debut author’s fantastically imagined sci-fi nightmare.

And then awesome things happen that you can read about in September – the 5th of, to be exact – when the story is released. Until then, here’s the first chapter.

My story was selected out of hundreds, along with a story from my fellow winner Katie Coyle. The judging panel included YA author Will Hill, Julia Eccleshare, John Newman, Elen Caldecott and students from Evelyn Grace Academy and Thongsley Fields Primary School. I’m told they liked ‘The Rig’, so that’s encouraging.

So my thanks to all involved, for choosing my story. It is a good story, if I can say so myself. One of those that came out on the page almost as clear as I saw it in my head. Rare, that. Coveted, even, among creative types.

Roll on September!

-Joe

 

 

The cover for ‘Knight Fall’ – Declan Hale’s third foray into misadventure!

Well, ain’t she a pretty sight:

 

knight fall_design (1)The cover was designed, once again, by the incomparable Vincent Chong! Praise be to him.

Now my rough estimate on the release date for this bad boy is July/August of this year. May be a touch sooner, if I can work out a few kinks. I’ll keep you posted.

Steak and beer are calling my name, so I must away.

Cheers,

Joe

 

 

Broken Quill – Reminiscent Exile #2 Now Available!

Happy days, ladies and gentlemen!

The follow-up to my immensely popular and universally loved urban fantasy story, Distant Star, is now available from Amazon. Check it out here.

Broken Quill - Titled“Broken Quill, the second volume of ‘The Reminiscent Exile’, is considered Outstanding in Genre (Urban Fantasy).” ~ Red Adept Select

*~*~*~*

Morpheus Renegade has fallen and Declan Hale, the Shadowless Arbiter, has returned from the dead.

But scores are still to be settled. A creature from Forget stalks Perth, taunting Declan, drawing him out of his bookshop and forcing him across worlds once again. The last time Declan broke his exile, it cost him his life. Worse, the Knights Infernal have done the unthinkable and withdrawn from True Earth—leaving humanity unprotected against the Void.

Among demonic serial killers, malevolent gods, old girlfriends, and pressure from the local cops, Declan stands at the heart of a conflict ten thousand years in the making.

The Knights may have abandoned Earth to enemies as old and as cruel as time, but Declan won’t let his world—or his favorite pub—fall without a fight.

*~*~*~*

Y’all go pick up a copy and tell me what you think!

-joe

 

Shortlisted for the Hot Key Books & Guardian Young Writer’s Prize

Some excellent and rather humbling news, everyone!

My young adult novel, The Rig, has made the short list (top five out of hundreds) for the Guardian and Hot Key Books Writer’s Prize next year at the London Book Fair. This is exciting on many levels.

But also deliciously validating.

My time spent in the word mines chopping away at this story was not in vain.

Now, unfortunately there’s a bit of a wait to find out if I come out on top – around March, 2013 – but to have made it this far is simply wonderful, and taking a look at some of the competition, I fear I am in remarkable company. I am also the only dude in my category, which is somewhat intimidating on certain levels.

So yeah. Good news is good.

-Joe

 

On QR Codes and Marketing Stories

These days, marketing and getting the word out about my stories feels kind of like cramming a book onto an overstuffed shelf and watching the whole thing collapse under the weight of a thousand other writers doing the same. On a shelf wrapped around the circumference of the earth. In a thunderstorm. I’m lost to the white noise of the infernal Internet machine.

Marketing can be darned expensive, too. Sure, there are free and valuable options out there – such as blogging, interviews, blog tours, readers’ forums, genre spamming, and what not – but paid advertising? Facebook ads? Things of that nature? Expensive, and not guaranteed to succeed. The cost can quickly rocket beyond the stratosphere, pinging off Felix Baumgartner, on its way to Elysium.

So here’s one little thing I’ve been doing to spread the word – using QR code stickers. A scanned code that directs folk straight to my web site.

For those living under a rock for the past decade, this here be a QR code:

I’m sure you’ve seen them about, strewn haphazardly in everything from books, to street corners, to shops, to the arm rests on chairs at the airport (Note: all places I’ve left QR code stickers directing folk to my website). Using a smartphone equipped with a scanner app, the phone ‘reads’ the code and directs the phone to whatever is encoded in the image. In this case, my site.

I love QR codes, think they’re great – hybridising the physical world with the digital horizon.

According to comscore, an average of 20 million Americans scanned a QR code every 3 months in 2011. Now, that’s not HUGE in the grand scheme of things, but it does suggest a trend toward more and more folk utilising this technology. I think the trick is to leave the code somewhere unobtrusive but obvious. I don’t just slap them down on a table at the pub, but I may leave one on a lamppost out front of a restaurant, or somewhere else where people queue and have nothing better to do than play with their phone.

I’ve only been at this a month, and it’s hard to say whether anyone has scanned one of my codes. I’m currently living in Banff, Canada, and I walk past a half dozen of my codes everyday. On noticeboards, lampposts, and what have you. But I’ve left them all over Australia and a few cities in the U.S. Again, the stickers are unobtrusive but obvious, and most of them may have been removed, but not all.

For the next campaign, I’m creating a special ‘QR Code’ page, which can only be accessed directly through scanning a QR code out there in the world. The scanner will be directed to a page with promo codes and discounts for purchasing my stories, directly from this site. I’m excited to see just how many, if any, hits that page gets once I start dishing out those special stickers. Or whether my twitter followers increase, or whatever. I’m also working on designing a more appealing code, something literary themed, to catch the eye. We’ll see. Using Google Analytics, I’ll even be able to discern which hits can be attributed to a scanned code. Exciting.

The logical step from here, of course, is to get the code printed somewhere with a high volume of traffic. Location, location, location. Some ideas:

  • Print media (newspaper)
  • Billboard the code
  • Product packaging (imagine the hits if I could get my code printed on 10 million Coca-Cola cans! AND DAMN THE MILLIONS I’D HAVE TO SPEND!)
  • Accessories – t-shirts, jewellery.
  • Edible codes

All options that would cost, no doubt considerable, funds, probably better spent elsewhere, but I’m trying to think outside the box here. We’ll see how far I can take this, while keeping costs well within the scope of the benefits.

All in all, this is a very small drop in the marketing ocean, but at around $19 for a hundred stickers from moo.com, I’m willing to give it a shot.

Back to the word mines,

joe