Peter Laurent's Blog

June 17, 2015

Neglected Child

Yes I'm still here, but I haven't been writing. The next book has been a neglected child, but I still love it.

It's hard to believe it's been over a year since my last blog post!

In 2013 I took some time off work to write The Covert Academy, then Scout's Honour, and in the following 6 months pumped out a 100k draft of the next book by February 2014. That's just shy of 200k words in around 15 months, not to mention editing it myself and the creating the cover art.
It burned me out.

When I began to go over the new draft I got to the point where I just couldn't read another word. It was overly complex, I needed a break, and I felt I needed to get a real job.

In the year since mid-2014 to the present I've concentrated on a new venture, entirely unrelated to writing, doing architectural visualisations.
If you're interested check out some of the work I've been doing here: www.virtualrealtystudios.co.nz

I've also been helping out with the animation on an upcoming PC game 'Cross Fate', which will be launching a Kickstarter soon-ish (it's out of my control as to when). Keep an eye out for it here: https://www.facebook.com/CrossFateGame

So the next book in the Covert series has been on the backburner.
It's sad but I'd rather not release it until I'm happy with the quality, and I hold myself to a high standard. There are some chapters in the next book which I think is some of my best writing yet, far better than The Covert Academy (there's some real stinky parts too which need re-writing)!

So if there's anything to take away from this post is that I haven't forgotten about my writing, and I aim to get back into action as soon as I can.

Cheers,
-Petes
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Published on June 17, 2015 15:46 Tags: covert-academy, cross-fate, scout-s-honour, writing

May 19, 2014

The Subplot Thickens

I admit I've been hesitant to continue writing. It's not so much writer's block since most of the creative work has been finished.

I'd been inching along the 2nd edit until I had come to a place where I looked at the page and I didn't know what to do. And I've finally figured out why.

My rushed first draft of the next book contains far too many subplots. Even with my notes I find it difficult to keep track of it all.

One of the biggest subplots revolves around a computer program which becomes self-aware. I thought it was a good idea at the time, and that I could bring something new to the concept. Now I'm not so sure. The old "rogue AI" idea has been done to death.

The payoff for this subplot came in several turning points in the story. But looking back, it comes off as feeling like a cheap "get out of jail free card". I'm considering dropping the whole idea, which means re-writing at least several thousand words, not to mention finding new ways to move the plot along without this thematic device. It might all fall apart.

There are certain passages of writing about this rogue AI which I am very proud of, but I'm hoping the book will be better off with these massive cuts.

Has anyone else looked back on their early drafts and felt the sting of regret when seeing a wonderful part of your work that needs the chop? Did it work out in the end?
I remain hopeful!
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Published on May 19, 2014 16:57 Tags: covert-academy, editing, rogue-ai, subplot, thematic-device, theme, writer-s-block

April 23, 2014

The State of my Writing

Far past time I wrote a new blog post here!

I recently published The Covert Academy through Smashwords, finally taking down the three separated versions (Recruitment Drive, Freshman, and Graduation Day) to make room for the original complete one.

At first I put it up for free, but since changed it to $0.99 after a week or so, but now Amazon has caught on and price matched it to free as well!

I have no way to confirm this, since living in New Zealand means that Amazon's regional pricing still shows the price as $1.00, which is somewhat frustrating. I might need to invest in a VPN.

On a positive note, The Covert Academy shot back up the charts as a freebie to the Top 10 in all its subcategories! Woohoo! Thanks everyone, I hope you enjoy the read!

As for my next book, while I blitzed through the first draft to finish before Christmas 2013, I have not done much editing since then (around 1/3 of the way through the 2nd edit).
This is because I'm constantly on the job hunt at the moment. So if anyone wants to give me a grant to finish the sequel to The Covert Academy, you're more than welcome haha!

I've got a few tricks up my sleeve as far as my money problems are concerned, so hopefully I will be able to get back to writing very soon!

Stay tuned,
-Pete
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Published on April 23, 2014 15:44 Tags: amazon, covert-academy, freebie, sale, sequel, smashwords

December 3, 2013

Previously on...

A pet peeve of mine is when an otherwise excellent series of books don't include a "Previously On" chapter.
When you've been waiting a year or more for the next part of the story, a quick refresher is incredibly handy for the reader.
So I wrote up this today, which summarises the important plot points from The Covert Academy and Scout's Honour, and will be published right at the front of the next book. I think I've covered everything (but please comment if you catch something I missed!)

Obviously, if you haven't read those two books yet, do that first because what follows below is one big SPOILER!
Ok here we go:

Previously, in “The Covert Academy” and “Scout’s Honour”…

After a brutal public uprising against their own governments, the world’s population is brought under the heel of an army of attack drones controlled by a group of powerful men and women, known as the Confederacy.
     In the decades that follow, the people of the world are left destitute and desperate under the Confederacy’s autocratic rule. Many freely submit to slavery or military service to avoid a life scraping a living off the streets.
     General Withers, a Confederate High Council member, orders the creation of a new technology called the bio-ID, capable of reading people’s thoughts. Simeon Warner, another Council member, kills General Withers. The bio-ID becomes lost, but a young street urchin called Joshua finds it while searching for his abducted younger sister Lucia.
     The Confederacy mounts a search for the bio-ID, but Joshua is rescued by Sarah Jenson. She invites him to join the Academy, an underground school for the resistance. Joshua is introduced to a wisecracking pilot, Richard; and another student, Hashi Ichiro. Upon arrival at Wake Island he meets their leader, Casey Jayne, who takes the bio-ID for safekeeping.
     In the months during Joshua’s training, Simeon commissions a new bio-ID from his specialist, Dr Brock. Simeon tests the device on the doctor, causing him to go mad.
     Joshua hatches a plan to infiltrate the Colonnade to recover Dr Brock. Another student, Ryan, betrays them to the Confederacy. Ryan is overheard to have been working with another group called the Fletchers.
     Joshua and Sarah foil Ryan’s plot, and infiltrate the Colonnade with the help of Richard and Ichiro. They find Mr Meyrick, who was Ryan’s contact, and Dr Brock, and bring them both back to the Academy.
     When Mr Meyrick is interrogated they learn that Lucia is with the Fletchers on Oahu. Sarah realises the Fletchers are the same group of assassins who attacked Jayson Georgiou and killed his team. She is determined to exact revenge, though Joshua suspects she has a more personal motive.
     In his madness, Dr Brock reveals the location of the Academy to Simeon Warner. The Academy goes on high alert for the inevitable attack.
     Joshua convinces a small band of students to attack the base on Oahu and buy time for evacuation, though Casey refuses to help and instead prepares their defences.
     Upon arrival in Oahu, the base is revealed to be a staging area for a full-scale invasion by the Confederacy. Joshua and his team fight their way to one of the dropships and hide aboard.
     On the return journey Joshua finds a supercomputer, then Lucia appears and reveals that the invasion has been staged by the Fletchers. She appears crazed, claiming she will build a dynasty in her name.
     When the fight between the Fletchers and the Academy students begins, Lucia is thrown clear of the dropship but survives.
     Casey is mortally wounded in the battle. He leaves Joshua a cryptic message to find someone called the King, a photo of all the High Council members, and General Withers’ original bio-ID.
     Simeon arrives to the battle with his private fleet of drones. Their attack accidentally ignites a failsafe bomb, destroying both Simeon and the Academy.
     Joshua realises he can now monitor the High Council members using the bio-ID with the supercomputer. Though he’d asked Sarah not to kill anymore, he silently vows to himself that he will kill them all…
     Meanwhile, Jayson Georgiou has no hope of escape as a Fletcher ship closes in after a disgraceful battle, but he is determined to redeem himself…
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Published on December 03, 2013 15:25 Tags: covert-academy, plot, previously, scout-s-honour, summary

November 27, 2013

First Draft of The Covert Academy's sequel is DONE!

Yes! I can come into the sunlight once more. What a marathon.

And what a rough draft it is too! Last time around all I really needed to do was tidy up a few continuity issues, fix up lots and lots of punctuation and grammar mistakes, and formatting for publication. And that still took over a month with help from my parents.

But this draft is a mixed bag of scenes that I'm really happy with and scenes that are either going to be outright deleted and/or rewritten. I've got far more subplots than I ought to, haha.

It's going to be a big job since this first draft clocks in at 83,110 words. That's around the same length as The Covert Academy combined with Scout's Honour. I expect it will be around the 90k mark by the time I'm completely done.

The name of the book will probably change too. I've got a new front-runner which I'm going to try out on a few people I know before announcing it.

Time to start editing!

-Pete
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Published on November 27, 2013 18:24 Tags: editing, first-draft, the-covert-academy, writing

October 13, 2013

Book 2 - Prologue

Hello sexy people,
I thought I'd share some of my latest writing for some light weekend reading! This is from a scene around three quarters of the way through Book 2, and I am considering using this as an action packed prologue at the very start of the book.
My one major regret with The Covert Academy was to call the first chapter a prologue when it really wasn't.
What follows below, however, is very much a prologue. Which means you won't miss anything if you skip it, but sets the tone of the book nicely.

Please keep in mind this is only (updated to 2nd) draft material! That means everything is subject to change between now and publication.
Please be kind :)

So without further ado:

The Covert Academy 2

Prologue

     ‘Oh, I don’t think Sarah Jensen will be leaving us any time soon,’ a silky voice, emanating from behind Ichiro, interrupted.
     Sarah tensed, reached for her sword, but it wasn’t there. Liam! He’d lifted her sword. Deal with him later. Movement from behind the sphere. Someone walking toward her. A dark shape. That voice, that calm, neutral accent, unforgettable after all these years…
     ‘Now we don’t need any undo fuss,’ said the voice. ‘In fact, Sarah, I wanted to thank you personally. You’ve delivered the last of the resistance right into my lap.’
     ‘Not the last,’ Sarah said. ‘Show yourself!’
Rhys walked into the light of the pulsing purple sphere and stood a few short steps from Sarah, hands clasped behind his back. The light-bloom from the sphere cast long shadows over his face, lending him a demonic aura.
     ‘Fletcher,’ Sarah growled. Her eyes darted around the room for a weapon. It was too dark even for her iPC. Something was interfering, or else there really was nothing to see… for all she knew the universe ended where he stood. ‘Rhys Fletcher. You knew I’d come for you one day,’ Sarah said, balling her hand into a tight fist. ‘I would, or the Academy would.’
     ‘How poetic,’ Rhys mocked. ‘Don’t be absurd. You’re not important, none of you are. There is no prophecy to be fulfilled. No secret bloodlines. It’s all just a matter of control. Control and efficiency... many hands make light work,’ Rhys chuckled at his bad joke then buttoned up into a grim smirk once more. ‘It’s for your own good, you can count on that. Now hand over the bio-ID.’
     ‘Count on this.’ Sarah charged him, aiming to get in close, fast. Rhys let her come. She ducked his oncoming elbow then dodged his outthrust leg. She twisted, using her shoulder stump as a shield to try and open a gap and plant her one closed fist on that smug face of his. Sarah rained down blow after blow in a flurry of rapid one-hand attacks. Rhys Fletcher blocked her every move with seemingly careless precision. He was a machine.
     No one is this good. Sarah gasped for air, utterly spent, and Rhys pushed her backward into the purple sphere. It flicked off just long enough to admit her inside the bubble.
     ‘Impressive, for a cripple,’ Rhys said. ‘Well if you won’t surrender the bio-ID then you can’t do any harm in there,’ he added patiently, and turned to go, fading into the blackness of the room. ‘I have all the time in the world. You will break soon enough. Let’s see how you handle the other one,’ he said, then he was gone.
     Sarah looked at Ichiro. ‘What did he mean, the other one?’
     ‘You,’ Ichiro mumbled through broken teeth. He pointed toward the transfer panel where Sarah had come aboard. ‘The other you.’
     Sarah gasped as her twin walked into the room. But it couldn’t be; Fletcher had seen to that long ago. Sarah could never forget, she’d seen it with her own eyes, had it etched onto her retinas forever.
     The woman wore a jumpsuit so new it could have come straight off the Academy factory line. Her skin was perfectly unblemished, unnaturally so, as if she’d applied too much makeup. But her eyes were bleeding - two red tears streaked down her cheeks.
     My cheeks.
     The woman scanned the room, at a loss for direction until some unseen order had been processed. Her gaze drifted onto Sarah and locked in place. Sarah stared back into her cold, dead eyes.
     My eyes.
     The woman smiled, but her eyes remained vacant. When she spoke it was in Sarah’s voice, but with Rhys’ accent. The same bland accent which had haunted Sarah’s dreams.
     ‘Hello,’ she said, cracking the knuckles on her hands.
     My hands. Two hands.
     ‘Shall we begin?’

***
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Published on October 13, 2013 01:11 Tags: amalgamation, covert-academy, draft, prologue, writing

September 5, 2013

Kindle Matchbook, I'm in.

All my books are now signed up with Kindle Matchbook!
They're now free if you choose to buy the paperback version.
Scout's Honour
The Covert Academy

Amazon sure don't give up on their constant innovation do they? Gotta love it!
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Published on September 05, 2013 15:05 Tags: amazon, kindle, matchbook

August 30, 2013

Retroactive Fracture

Everyone likes free stuff, so I decided to split up The Covert Academy into thirds, offering Recruitment Drive permanently FREE!
Freshman is $0.99 and Graduation Day is $1.99

At the moment the entire thing is still $0.99 on Amazon because they were price matching my previous sale, but it will be going back to $2.99 as soon as they notice the update, which should be within the week.

That will bring it into line with the price of all three parts. But then what's the incentive to get the whole thing in one go up front?

Well, the complete version of The Covert Academy now includes Scout's Honour for free! That's some sweet value.

If you haven't yet got Scout's Honour, but you already have The Covert Academy through Amazon, you can get it by updating your book through "Manage Your Kindle" in your Amazon account settings. Set your Kindle to update books automatically or just update this one and it should work.
My sincere apologies if you've bought them both separately and feeling short-changed... it's my first time...

Scout's Honour is still exclusive to Amazon until early October, when I will publish it elsewhere for you non-Kindle toting folks.

Anyway, you can get the three separate parts on Smashwords and Amazon right now, they should be coming to the other stores soon too.

One last note, Recruitment Drive is not yet free on Amazon. If you could do me the favour of asking them to price match it to the Smashwords edition (https://www.smashwords.com/books/view...) that would be grand.

Cheers,
-Petes
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Published on August 30, 2013 17:40 Tags: amazon, free, scout-s-honour, smashwords, the-covert-academy

August 18, 2013

Book 2 - Progress Report

Hello dear reader,
I've just passed the 40k word mark on book2! Yay!

I feel like this next book is a marathon, but I know it will be worth it in the end. It is far more epic than The Covert Academy (which was 65k words).

But being a bit longer, there is time to explain lots of little details in the universe, including most of the main characters' backstories and how they became the way they are. And some of the future tech has cool explanations of how it could work in real-life (so it's not confused with magic!).

Between juggling my animation jobs (that iPhone game should be coming soonish... all the art is now finalised at least!)
and writing Scout's Honour, I've made it "almost" to the half-way point of the story. So I'm right on track for my goal of 80-90k words. I'm very pleased with this so far!

Now to lock myself away in my mancave and get this 1st draft done!

Cheers,
-Petes
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Published on August 18, 2013 21:12 Tags: progress, scout-s-honour, sequel, the-covert-academy

August 5, 2013

Book Advertising - My Results, Part Duex

Recently I organised a promotion, for both of my books, through Kindle Nation Daily and World Literary Cafe with the intention of breathing new life into my books' sales 7 months after publication.

I had enjoyed 2-3 solid months of sales starting back in Feb 2013, I have a suspicion that Amazon go out of their way to promote debut authors who sign up to KDP Select, but I have not much to base that on other than my own experience so far. I recommend KDP Select if you are publishing your first book at least. Check my older blog posts on how successful it was for me at first.

Anyway, I paid around $100 each to Kindle Nation Daily and World Literary Cafe for two one-day promotions, to promote my book being discounted from $2.99 to $0.99. They each kindly threw in an extra, by adding me to their partnered email sendouts, BookGorilla and BargainBooksy (respectively), since my eBook met their requirements.

So in effect I had 4 promos all running on the same day, August 1st 2013.
What were my results?

The Covert Academy did make it back into the Bestseller charts on Amazon, around #39 in SciFi Dystopia and #89 in SciFi Adventure, and in the top #5000 overall.
Not bad at all.

However, either because the promo finished at the end of the day and KND and WLC moved on to the next day's promos, my book stopped selling the next day. It's now slipping back down to where it sat before the promo, around #200,000 overall.
I also suspect that putting the price back to $2.99 put a lot of people off, and helped to cause the slip back down the charts.

Too long, didn't read: Advertising with Kindle Nation Daily and World Literary Cafe got my book in the bestseller charts again, but didn't last longer than one day.
And I didn't make my money back through sales either.

But I don't consider it a loss. More people got their hands on my book, hopefully the type who will read it, rather than the type who simply collect free books for their library.

One last note, I also signed up for a promo with The New Kindle Book Review. I got an email saying the date I'd booked was unavailable. I've sent several emails back asking to either change the promo type to another (and I'd pay the difference) or to just refund my money if that's not an option for them.
I haven't heard back at all. Not impressed. These guys ran a promo for me earlier in the year without any hassle, but this time they've taken my money and not done a thing. Very poor service. I recommend staying away from them!
UPDATE: They finally got back to me (almost a month later) and threw in a little bonus for my trouble. So no hard feelings and there's a happy ending eventually :)

I hope that helped you to decide on a promo for your book! Feel free to ask me any questions.

I'll be doing another blog post next week (see the "EDIT" below), because I got an interesting email from Amazon that has lead me to believe there is a loophole in their KDP royalty system that not many people know about. I'm putting it to the test now and will report back!

EDIT: The loophole does exist. It involves setting your list price's 35% royalty higher than your "Kindle Price", by price-matching through another sales channel. It works too.
(e.g. List Price= $5.99, 35% royalty= $1.74
Price match it to $0.99 and Amazon effectively pay you $0.75 per sale on top of the sale itself.)

The problem is, Amazon state that they pay 35% of the list price, not the price-matched Kindle Price (when using the 35% royalty).

But do NOT do it!
I got an email from Amazon asking politely for me to match my list price with my Kindle price, or they'd take it down themselves. We don't want that!

Still, Amazon probably ought to adjust their royalty terms and conditions to close that loophole. It's asking for trouble.
(e.g. What if someone listed their product at $200 and price matched it to $0.99 before Amazon caught on? They'd have to pay out $70 for each sale)

I'm not advocating this at all. Just pointing out an interesting flaw in the system!

My own list price is comfortably back at $0.99, and no harm done.

Cheers,
-Peter
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