From The Fishbowl

Scribbles about stuff

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

All Quiet On The Western Front

Hello.

Apologies for being so quiet this past week. I’ve been rather waylaid, in a very good way, but still waylaid. I’ll try and muster up some sort of update on either Wednesday or Thursday.

Until then.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

I (Sometimes) Keep My Promises

Hello.

I said yesterday that I would have EXCITING NEWS. I said that it would be exciting to me and probably no-one else, and that remains the case. But I want to say it. I figure that it worked with Not Quite Normal, it’ll work with this.

Basically, I want to tell you what I’m up to.

A little while back, I said that I had several projects to work on. One of these is something only a handful of people will care about. As you may or may not know, I’ve been playing pen and paper RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons for the past few years. One of the stories in Not Quite Normal, The Well of Wisdom came about through a campaign that I was DMing (Dungeon Mastering) and, basically, making up as I went along. Since then, some of the members of my group and I have been playing a different RPG called Pathfinder. It’s excellent, but it would be hard for me to explain why unless you know the intricacies of the D20 system. I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you’re probably not.

Anyway, the long and short of it is that I started creating a new fantasy world for it, completely of my own doing. And as I started to work on it, I realised that it had a lot of potential for all sorts of things. So one of my projects is thus: I am creating an open source fantasy world.

By that, I mean that I am going to create the world in as much detail as I can. But at the same time, a lot of history and so on will be left blank. The world will, in essence, be half-finished. And anyone who chooses to use the world, be it as a campaign setting for an RPG, as a location for short stories, or just to help make it, whatever, all of this will help to build it. In short, the history of that world will be etched by the people of this one. And it will all be available for free under a creative commons licence. I think it’s a cool idea. Whether it’ll work or not is another matter, but I think it can. I don’t have a timeframe on it, it is a massive undertaking, and at some stage I will likely need help with it, but it is still a project I’m determined to see to the end.

Another project I’m working on is slightly more outside my expertise. A little while ago, a friend of mine approached me with an idea for…actually, I’m not too comfortable talking about this one. But it involves scripts and actors and cameras and stuff. The central idea is cool, and we’re hoping to kick it into top gear over the summer. This is probably the shortest-term project, although it still won’t see an end until later in the year at the earliest. Watch this space I guess!

Last but not least is what I’ve been spending most time on over the past couple of weeks. Obviously, it cannot have escaped your notice, that I wrote a short story collection called Not Quite Normal, and released it. It’s gone down pretty well (two copies sold, well over a hundred free downloads thus far – I wouldn’t object to more, mind you, see the Not Quite Normal page on this blog for more info!). I mentioned that in the making of it there was a character that I took a shine to. If you’ve bought Not Quite Normal, you should recognise his name. It’s Ankou.

Ankou is based on a real-life Celtic demi-god who was, essentially, a grim reaper. And that’s what he remains in the two stories that feature him – St. Martin’s Eve and The Helper. As I wrote him, I realised how much potential he had as a character. And an idea started to bubble in the cauldron of my mind. An idea for a novel. My novel. Note the emphasis. The novel that I can shop around, show to publishers in the hope of, well, publication. A pipe dream, sure, but the world would be boring without dreams, right?

The world would be equally be boring without death…

This being me, I’m not going to write it in secret. I want to talk you through every gory detail on this blog, keep a diary of my progress, and generally tell people how it’s all going. For now it is the tale of three characters – Ankou, Kara and Tom – and the devastating impact that death and all its forms plays on their lives, currently called This Immortal Coil. Fantasy world aside, it’s the most ambitious thing I’ve ever even thought about writing. I’m sure, well, I hope, I can do the story justice. I won’t be publishing it as a complete eBook, but I might put snippets up now and then as tasters. It’ll take a while to get done to a decent standard – again, if you’ve bought Not Quite Normal you’ll see how much I draft and re-draft – but it’ll be done. And I hope you’ll join me along the way. That would be nice.

So. A fantasy world. A script. And a novel. Three completely different chunks of creative projects that will earn me absolutely no money (at first, anyway!) but will certainly keep me occupied. Does that make me a proper writer? That would be nice.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

Procrastinating from Procrastination

Hello.

I meant to write a blog post tonight in order to procrastinate from doing what (I decided) I was meant to be doing. But then I got distracted. Is that possible? I guess it must be, since I’ve just done it.

Anyway. I will tomorrow. I have NEWS. EXCITING news. Well, I think it’s exciting. It’s probably not surprising, but definitely exciting. For me.

I’ll shut up now.

Back tomorrow. Maybe. Hopefully. Sort of.

Ish.

Thanks, as ever, for reading (even if this one was incredibly short).

On Sport

Hello.

I thought I might write a blog post that’s not about Not Quite Normal for a change. That’s in the past, man, time to look to the future.

A little while ago I wrote about the impact video games have had on my life. Essentially that they are to me what music is to most people. But one thing I didn’t mention is how that all relates to sport.

Growing up, I was not a sport fan. At all. My dad enjoyed watching football (he remains a Liverpool fan) and I think he wanted me to get into it – although he didn’t force me. I have memories of owning a Tottenham away strip when I was about seven (although I rarely, if ever, wore it), and of claiming to be a Manchester United fan to fit in with a couple of guys at school. Other than that, I took some swimming lessons when I was about 5 or 6 and, obviously, had to do some sport during PE and Games lessons. And that was all the contact I ever had with sport. I just wasn’t interested in the least.

And then Nintendo brought out a game called Mario Tennis.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Mario Tennis taught me the rules of tennis, and, for the first time in my little life, got me vaguely interested in a sport. I never played it until years later at secondary school, but I watched it on TV. I still do. It’s not like I’m a monstrously huge fan of it, but I do enjoy it. And all that is thanks to a video game.

The big one happened a few years later, though. I was at a friend’s house sometime in late 2006. During that evening, he introduced me to one of the most famous sport video games ever – the Madden NFL series.

Now, being British, my knowledge of American football at that time was, to say the least, slight. I knew that there was a player called a Quarterback, who said some random words and then shouted ‘Hut!’ I knew, vaguely, what the Super Bowl was. Also being British, I had been given the assumption – both actively and passively – that it was just ‘rugby for pansies’. And that was about it, really.

But I thrashed my friend during that first game. It was immensely fun. And, to cap it all, it was nothing like rugby. It blew my mind that a player could be tackled (well, blocked) even if he wasn’t carrying the ball. Something about the violence and, in particular, the strategy, struck a nerve with me. And thus began my slow crawl into being a fan of American football. I bought the latest Madden the next week. A year later, I watched the Super Bowl. A year later, I watched the play-offs and the Super Bowl. And then I watched an entire season. And now I love it. It is the only sport that I have ever been properly into.

Around this time I did, briefly, flirt with football – soccer football, I mean. That was entirely down to me owning FIFA 10, which, despite being based on one of the world’s least interesting sports (ooh, I went there 😉 ), is actually a brilliant video game. It’s very fun to play. The most recent editions declined in quality, though, in my opionion at least, and thus my relationship with football ended almost entirely. Although, my dad seemed to hook onto me being more involved for that one season, because ever since then he still talks to me about it when a match is on, clearly expecting me to give a shit. Example: “Suarez just scored a cracker, have a look.” To me, it just looked like he was doing what he was paid – an extortionate amount of money, I should point out – to do. (Incidentally, I also hate the way that fans of clubs talk about the team in the first/second person. For instance, ‘We’ve got Rooney, but you’ve only got Terry to stop him.” Sorry, do they live in your back garden or something? I could write a whole blog about why I dislike football so much, actually, but I fear the repercussions.)

See, games aren’t all bad. As well as igniting a fire in my belly like nothing else can, said fire can be spread quite easily onto other things. Like the time Rock Band and Guitar Hero convinced me to get a real guitar. Yeah, that worked well…

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

The Road

Hello.

I’ve been meaning to write this blog all day. Actually, for the last two. Sorry for my tardiness. (I nearly mis-spelt that ‘tardis’ – I think my inner Doctor Who geek is clawing his way out!) I’ve mostly been panicking about the very thing I’m going to blog about. So maybe this’ll help me vent a little.

Obviously, on Wednesday, I released Not Quite Normal, my short story anthology, at long last. As I write this, it’s actually doing pretty well. The free edition has had 61 downloads and somewhere in the region of 200 page views. That’s a pretty decent return! The actual, paid version, has had one sale. Now, this might not sound like a lot – because technically it, uh, isn’t – but I can’t accuarely put into words how happy that has made me. Someone, out there, has spent actual money on something I’ve made. It just…blows my mind. If the person who bought it reads this, I can’t thank you enough. It’s just incredible. Even if it’s the only copy that gets sold, it’s validated me a little. Made me feel that, with enough hard work, dedication and (more than a little) luck, I can start to make a life of this. I know it’s one sale of $2, and I’m probably overstating it, but it’s how I feel right now. Maybe I’ll feel differently in the morning. Who knows. But thanks.

ANYWAY.

To what I’ve been panicking about. Obviously, I’ve been using a site called Smashwords for my epublishing needs. And great they are too. But there have been some…issues that I want to clear up with y’all.

Firstly,Not Quite Normal is currently exclusive to Smashwords. But Smashwords operates a distribution network which means that it will eventually end up on sites like iTunes and Amazon’s Kindle Marketplace (although I believe they’re having some issues with Amazon at the moment). This process can take a little while, alas. But what’s been worrying me is the fact that my freeNot Quite Normal samples have appeared on Amazon. Seriously. Search Shane Rynhart on either amazon.com or amazon.co.uk. You’ll notice something is a bit…odd.

Amazon are charging for them.

This is a HUGE problem. They are free on purpose. They are samples. I want to make absolutely clear right here and now that, if someone purchased one of them, I would not see a penny of the return. I don’t know who would. Presumably Amazon. Hell, the copy ofMirrors on there doesn’t even have the cover I made! I’ve gotten in touch with Smashwords about it, but they haven’t gotten back to me yet. Which isn’t helping my worry. Obviously talking about it here isn’t going to make any difference either, but it makes me feel happier knowing that it’s out there.

Basically, what I’m saying is that currently if you want to buy or download any of my stories, please do so exclusively through my Smashwords page. I appreciate that that makes it pretty awkward – I’ve had a couple of messages saying that it being on iTunes would make things easier, and I totally accept that – but it’s the only way I know that everything’s alright, if that makes sense. I can keep track of how many people have downloaded things, how many copies of Not Quite Normal have sold and so on. Smashwords does have some information about how one can transfer downloads from their site onto various devices (like the iPad or Kindle) – I highly recommend having a look if you’re interested but concerned. I can also verify that Smashwords is also safe to put card/PayPal details into.

I am looking at other methods of distribution. I can manually put Not Quite Normal on Amazon, but I’d rather not until the whole thing with my ‘free’ eBooks is sorted. And, alas, manually uploading to iTunes is going to be impossible, since you need a US tax ID. You can get one from within in the UK, but with the amount of red tape involved it probably wouldn’t be on iTunes until about Christmas…by which point, I’d like to think, everything is going to have been sorted with Smashwords anyway. But I will look at other ways over the weekend – maybe other eBook distributors or, if it came to it, some sort of manual purchasing system right here. If I could work out how to sort something like that out, o’course.

I’m sure I’m boring you now, so I’ll leave it at that. But please keep reading my stuff and, if you like it, do consider buying a copy of Not Quite Normal. You’d make me the happiest man alive.

Thanks, as ever, for reading.

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