Through Stranger Eyes to the first beta readers

Through Stranger Eyes is now at the hands of the first betas. I’m really curious what mistakes each will find and how they’ll deal with the questionnaire I sent them. I’m 100% sure that some of the mistakes will be the same ones I spotted in other people’s work in the past. It’s amazing how hard it is to identify simple things in our own work, but once we get someone else’s work, boom! The mistake is there, glaring and annoying. I should clarify here, that when I say mistake, I mean anything that draws the reader away from being immersed in the story. There are no mistakes in creative work.

It’s always strange when others read someone else’s work. As long as the book stays with the writer, it’s protected. Not only that, but the writer is also protected. It’s almost like the two form a symbiotic bond. They’re both barricaded in a safe zone the other creates. The moment someone else reads the material, both writer and book are exposed and vulnerable. And if the writer isn’t used to receiving criticism… It’s our baby, our creation, our vision.

I don’t know how established writers feel about this, if they’re worried of the quality of their work, even with the team of professionals and fans behind them to pick up on continuity issues, spelling mistakes, plot holes etc. I imagine they feel the same. Perhaps their lack of confidence is short-lived, since they have an established reader base and a brand name to back them up. If I ever reach that point in my career, I’ll let you know.

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Call for betas for a cyberpunk novel

I believe I have done all the edits I could think of on Through Stranger Eyes, my current WIP. It’s time for others to have a look at it and identify all the mistakes I have failed to spot. No doubt they’re plenty and will keep me busy for a while. But for me to improve the manuscript, I need you.

So, I’m asking for beta readers willing to take a plunge into my dark futuristic world, into the fears and hopes of Dr Rick Stensladnt (my main character). To try to figure out with him why his life took such a bad turn all of the sudden, who’s behind everything.

Through Stranger Eyes is a 132k word cyberpunk mystery/suspense about Dr Rick Stenslandt who, despite the fact he augments people with advanced cybernetic implants (as is the norm in his world), he refuses to have even the simplest implant in him. Though a purist at heart, he will have to stray from his convictions when an accident deprives him of his sight, and is forced to have an ocular implant. Things take a strange turn for him after the operation, as Rick begins remembering the deaths of influential people, whom he has never met before, deaths that have taken place years earlier. Driven to find out what is happening to him and why, he will risk losing everything that matter in his life; his social status, his sanity, his family, his life.

You may ask, what is Cyberpunk?

“Trying to define Cyberpunk is a difficult task. In short, however, Cyberpunk refers to both a culture and a genre.

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced science and technology in an urban, dystopian future. On one side you have powerful mega-corporations and private security forces, and on the other you have the dark and gritty underworld of illegal trade, gangs, drugs, and vice. In between all of this is politics, corruption, and social upheaval.

High tech. Low life.” (Definition taken from

Though not a prerequisite, often noir style of narration is employed (again, not all the times). I have tried using this kind of narrative.

If this still doesn’t shine any light (understandable, since the world is gritty and dark), consider the film Blade Runner as the epitome of what a cyberpunk world might look like. That’s one side of the cyberpunk spectrum. The Matrix is also cyberpunk, though with a lot of other subgenres thrown in. If you haven’t watched either of these films, and you’re into anime, then Ghost in the Shell and Akira are the first ones that come to mind (if you know more, please let me know. I’m not into anime, but I really like cyberpunk). In terms of books, William Gibson’s, Neuromancer, and my favourite, Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, particularly Altered Carbon. If that also doesn’t help, have a look at my pinterest board, designed specifically for this book.

So if any of you have read or watched any of the above and liked them, you’ll feel right at home (hopefully). If not, but you are willing to read an early work (or as early as any work can be after more than a year of editing and fine tuning), if you don’t mind answering long questionnaires about the book, if you are the kind of reader who understands that the only way to help a writer and his/her work is by being brutally honest and point out as many mistakes as you find (and the occasional praise for the things you liked), then please let me know. And if you’re concerned whether or not you’ll hand it back in time, I usually give two months minimum for the readers, because, well, life happens for all of us. After all, I’m not the speediest reader and I’m known to have taken a long time to return a manuscript (hi Yoann!). So, if you want to help, don’t worry about time. We can always extend the time frame.

A few people – people whose opinion I trust, and whose help I value – have already offered to help me. I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of them. Some aren’t writers, just readers. Others are writers (more skilful than I am) who write in different genres, yet their comments is almost always accurate. Some have a keen eye for details and are more editing-oriented, others see the whole picture and comment based on that. Whatever your skill level, whether you write or not, if you want to help me, please leave a comment or let me know in any other way (use email, twitter, facebook, pinterest etc). Those of you who have already agreed obviously don’t have to do it again, but if I’ve forgotten to contact you personally (I apologise, but lots of things are happening, some health-related issues with close family members), please message me and let me know of your availability.

Please be advised, that Through Stranger Eyes has some adult themes and imagery, as well as mild foul language (in other words, it conforms to most genre standards). Just a heads up 🙂

Thank you all very much!

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Writing prompt 41

Danny! Danny, I need help. I’m at my aunt’s house. No, my aunt’s, up on the hill. Listen, I’m freaking out. The houses disappeared before my eyes. Disappeared, man. No, all of them. One by one. Oh, shit. Danny, get out of the house. The city. The city down the hill is disappearing, man. You hear me? Get out. Get ou-

Danny? Hello? Danny?

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Discoverability is directly related to readers

New and seasoned writers alike read all the time about the importance of promotion and marketing. The necessity for discoverability. Of how to tap the readers’ shoulder and politely (hopefully) let them know of their presence.

Since I decided I wanted to publicise my work and earn money from my words, I’ve bookmarked and read tens of articles and advice on the process, what is needed, what should not be done, about the hurdles a writer has to overcome. And still, until recently, I couldn’t picture me actually doing it. I couldn’t put my mind around what it would be like. I expected it would happen at some point, regardless of the path I’d choose – self published or traditional. I wanted it to happen, to have people read my work, but when it came to picturing it, it eluded me.

Discoverability is directly related to readers. Vague concepts. Readers. Plural. Impossible to see their faces, impossible to reach them, yet, they’re there. I guess it’s one of those things that no matter how much you expose yourself to the theory behind it, you can never fully grasp it until you get your hands dirty with it.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I self-published my first short story on Amazon and let me be honest with you; since I did it, most of the time I feel like a Lilliputian creature, hopping up and down, waving my arms like a drowning man begging for help, squeaking in my barely audible tiny voice, for the readers’ attention. Tap on their shoulder? I can’t even reach their toes to get their attention. And you know what’s worse? The more I read and try to implement the theory to practice, the theory, the less sense it all
makes, and the less everything seems to work. For me, at least, since others are doing fine.

Then again, it could be the reason behind my seeming ineptitude in making marketing work for me, is because I expect things to happen instantly, even though I keep reminding myself that the publishing process is a marathon (if not a super marathon), not a sprint. I recently added myself to two author promotion communities; iAuthor and Allauthor. My flawed mindset told me I should witness results of some sort within the first couple of days. My rational side said, “nah. Not the way it’s going to happen.”

Guess which one won?

I’m not sure if it’s my educational background to blame. Hard sciences (Geology is part of them, or so I was told) deal with experiments, observations, and results (yes, even though geologists can’t exactly experiment – when was the last time you moved a continent to see how it collided with another? – we do come up with observable results). You do the math, you apply the theory, et voilà! You get the answer, the result, the number within the little square of an Excel sheet, or a blown up lab (hello, chemistry folks!). To a certain extent, even Management and Economics (my postgrad education) made it sound as though all I had to do was to apply the theory to practice, and the results would be measurable immediately. Especially in the case of Economics (cut down salaries and pensions, see how fast people starve – it made sense).

Perhaps part of the blame lies with how our demands are met nowadays; we sit behind our screens, click a button, clickety clack, and boom! We just bought a book, just downloaded a movie, just bridged the gap between
Europe and America and talked to our friends. Click, click, click. Results, results, results. All before our eyes before we blink them.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, the tiny squeaky voice, this small part of me that flails his arms to draw my attention, reminds me that it’s a marathon (a super, duper, freaking long marathon), not a sprint. But the voice is faint and the clicks happen one after the other. So fast.

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Free copies of The Man Behind The Bar

Hello everyone!

Apparently it’s World Book Day today. I’m not much for world days personally, but I figured this is a good chance to give something to story lovers around the world (and increase my readership, of course). So, starting from today (Sunday, April 23) my Amazon-hosted short story, The Man Behind the Bar, will be free for two full days (until Monday, April 24). It’s under 3500 words, so it shouldn’t take you more than 10-15 minutes to read it (most likely, less than that). Grab a cup of coffee and relax. Did I mention it’s free?

You can find it here. Enjoy, and please consider leaving a review. If Amazon gives you a hard time reviewing it, try Goodreads.

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Writing Prompt 40

Minor changes to the blog. There’s a static homepage now, where I show my published work. Yes, I know. My web design skills are appalling. On to the writing prompt then.
Barry rushed to the living room.

Little Cathy removed the hand axe from Mr Wilkes’ chest. She titled her head to the left a little and let the heavy killing thing drag her arm down.

Barry’s face turned ashen and his mouth opened for a scream that never escaped his mouth.

Cathy smiled. “What? Oh, this?” she said. “That’s nothing.” She took a step closer to him, dragging the axe on the floor where it left a trail of blood. “Did I tell you the story of how I finally became an only child?”

Little Cathy’s Story

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The Man Behind The Bar – Available for purchase!

My first self-published short story, The Man Behind The Bar, is out and waiting readers and reviews. You can find it here.

The past never really stays hidden or forgotten. Ben Stingler left his past for a quiet life, until a young man steps in his bar, and brings with him all the things Ben tried to put behind him five years ago. An overdue debt is back on the table.
I hope you enjoy it. If you do, consider leaving a review.

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