Apologies for the delay but a small not to say that there’s an interview with me over at Jeanz book read n review blog –
I did the interview a couple of months ago and it’s starkly honest. Discover about my inspirations, motivations and past. The site itself is something I check out frequently and is a good resource for discovering new authors.
Had a few odd searches for “E L James” or “E D James” author ending up here this week (including one “auther”). Just to be clear, I am not E L James, author of the “mommy porn” Fifty Shades trilogy, even though there’s one letter separating eljamesauthor.com from edjamesauthor.com.
Anyway, thought I’d give an update from last week about what is going on with me and my world just now. I posted last week saying that I was picking FUTURE SHOCK up again to dust off and release. Well, I’m not. I love the concept and the idea, but the execution is not my finest hour. There are two schools to writing – 1) start writing and see where the characters take you and 2) meticulously plan it out. I am of the second school, and this was written from the first. If I ever need to remind myself why I need the weeks of planning then that is a solid reminder. I will dust it off in the future and do it properly.
What I have been doing is working on DEVIL IN THE DETAIL, the sequel to GHOST IN THE MACHINE. I wrote the story about 18 months ago as a sequel novella. Now I’ve picked it up and looked at it, it’s so much more. There are ideas that are sketched in, whole strands of police investigation and plot complication that haven’t been added. It’s a strong story which can carry the weight of a full novel. So, I’m at the planning stage, going through my copious notes and revisions and battering out a revised plot. It’s turning out to be a good exercise in how I should write – get the loose skeleton written and then expand it. It gives the best of school 2, but also adds in the fun and innovation of school 1. Anyway, I hope to get properly writing it this week – got a five hour train trip back from London on Friday that would be good to fill up with Scott Cullen’s world.
Sales going well, too – strangely, over a quarter are from the US. Hopefully they’re actually people looking for Edinburgh-based police procedural rather than sadomasochistic erotica.
Had the first review from a “proper” website today, as opposed to reader reviews. They tend to be harder and more critical, so I’m very pleased to receive a high rating.
Ghost in the Machine by Ed James is a well thought out and well conceived police procedural. The fact that we see events unfold through the eyes of one of the lowest cogs in the policing wheel makes for a refreshing change. Scott Cullen, just a lowly DC, has many things to worry about, not least of which is his career path. But his desire for promotion doesn’t stop him from following his hunches, even when told categorically not to do so by his very annoying boss, DI Bain. I’d definitely read another one in the series.
In my defence, I suppose I did rush the proofing and will fix it for the printed version and will issue a revised Kindle file. On the Bain note, I’m glad that Bain provoked a reaction that strong – he is supposed to be the archetypal embittered DI but portrayed as an antagonist in an unflattering light. While the police force is now the police service and more caring, the pressure is much higher.
Also, another Amazon review:
I’ve just finished reading this book and I enjoyed it so much I didn’t want it to end. Ed James description of his characters is so clear that they jump out of the pages as if they are real. The attention to detail that he has put into this novel is incredible, not only to the characters but also the buildings and locations, fictional or otherwise you can actually picture them in your head.
This would make a great TV show, up there with Rebus and Taggart. Download it now, I can’t wait for his next book, Scott Cullen is definitely my new crush!
Comments below to indicate who you think could play Cullen or Bain…
Quick note to say that a preview of GHOST IN THE MACHINE is available now on Indies Unlimited at the following link:
They are a really good site, offering a lot of good articles for writers like myself and for readers as well. I can’t speak highly enough of them and have had a lot of good support from them so far. Go check it out!
Just a comment from a reader on twitter –
@EdJamesAuthor just finished ghost in the machine and I loved it. Have a bit of a crush on Scott Cullen now.
He’s a bad boy and he’ll just break your heart.
Very amazing to get that sort of reaction!
So that’s me finished WHISKY IN THE JAR, a 3,000 word Scott Cullen short story. I’d love to publish it here for you all to read and enjoy but I’ve entered it into the competition on http://www.bloodyscotland.com, the first Scottish Crime Writing festival.
In the end, I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s a short story and quite a lengthy tale so I’ve had to cut a few corners that I’d normally keep squared off. I did a ton of research for it and it’s been a good exercise in getting something new done pretty quickly (in amongst finishing GHOST and picking DEVIL up again) – if I fail in the competition, then I’ll do something with it, either publishing it as is or expanding it out into a novella length. Who knows.
I’m going to pick up FUTURE SHOCK next – it only requires a week or so of effort to publish and it’ll cleanse my palate of Scott Cullen, ready to get the pedal to the metal on finishing DEVIL IN THE DETAIL.
I’ve resolved to get as much stuff out there as possible – I’ve written so bloody much in the last seven years, that it’s worth publishing it. I’m a lot more mature now as a person and a writer and I can make some of the stuff work a lot better.
Had some nice five star reviews on Amazon for GHOST IN THE MACHINE and I thought I’d reproduce them here for “posterity” (ego):
A good read
By Mr Tommo
This book really flowed well from the openning page till the last. It was a change to have a crime novel that had a lowly Detective Constable as the main character rather then a DI or DCI. The culprit was well hidden untill the end and the discriptions of Leith and Edinburgh well done. All of the characters felt real and the interaction between them true to life. I cannot wait for Dc Cullens next outing, I’ll be buying it for sure.
Accessible and entertaining crime fiction
As somebody who struggles with the plot in most crime novels, this was a breath of fresh air. Easy to follow but still with a sufficiently complex plot, reading this book was as entertaining as it was rewarding. Characterization was excellent and I had several laugh out loud moments, not laughing at the wit of the narrator but at the characters themselves, who feel so real that when I drive past the location of the police headquarters, I’m surprised not to see the building so vividly brought to life in this novel. A real page-turner, there was no problem forcing my way through this and none of the ultra-violence that can be so off-putting. For those of you who, like me, are “hard of understanding” and need plots of TV series and films explained at regular intervals, this book is for you. I hope to read more from Cullen, Bain and company in the near future.
great new entrant to Scottish crime fiction
Well imagined and thoroughly thought-out crime novel. Interesting and refreshing take on Scottish policing from the bottom rung of the CID ladder, with good insight into modern office politics thrown in. Looking forward to Ed’s next (hope it’s not too far away!).
I’ve had some good sales in the last month and I thank everyone who has bought it – I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as it infuriated me writing it… If you’ve bought and read GHOST, I’d appreciate some honest feedback and a review either in the comments here or on Amazon or Smashwords.
Just a quick update… I’m actively working on Devil in the Detail, which will probably be a novella length thing. I’m using it as an exercise in getting a really tight plot; I’ve spent a lot of time focusing on style recently in the two other projects I’ve got going – a literary/Irvine Welsh thing, and a sci-fi thing – so this is a chance to step back. It’s very easy to DO, i.e. write, but it’s easier to change a 600 word txt file than a 90,000 word novel, so get your PLAN sorted first. It can be slightly fluid, after all, that’s the fun in writing, but your story needs to be nailed on, at least for twisty-turny crime fiction anyway.
I update my twitter account a lot, so look at that for updates.
So GHOST IN THE MACHINE has now been on sale for just under two weeks. I’m pleased with the sales – 29 copies, including six in the US. I’ve been doing a lot of publicity – I’ve done an interview and it’s with about ten or so blogs for review. I’ve had three five star reviews on Amazon which is fantastic. I’ll let it rumble for another month or so before I do some other promotion.
The main idea is finalising FUTURE SHOCK and giving it away as a freebie. There is probably another couple of thousand words to finish it off. It is crime scifi so it’s got a decent hook into GHOST.
I’ve been getting stuck into revising DEVIL IN THE DETAIL. At the moment it’s pretty much a 28,000 word sketch and I’ve got about three or four big ideas to expand it. I’ve spent a while sorting out the start of the book and I’m really pleased with it do far. As a story, I’m really happy with it – it’s tight and full of twists. All it needs is more complication. And more Bain…
Less than a week on sale and I’ve now sold ten copies. Not earth shattering but it’s a long game I’m playing here.
I’ve sold ten through amazon uk, one through amazon us (work colleague from Seattle who lives in London) and one on smashwords (plus three sample downloads). I’m pretty sure of eight of the purchases (friends, family and coworkers) so two are ransoms.
My uncle posted on my Facebook – “now on chapter 23 and loving it. You are an excellent writer.”. I hate seeing family based quotes but fuck it, I’m having that!
The easy bit of writing is the writing. It’s hard, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the most difficult bit. The hardest part is publishing. One, trying to go down the traditional routes – get an agent, get a publisher – well, I tried that and almost got somewhere. Two, go the self-publishing on Kindle route – I’m trying that and I don’t think I’ve got any more hair left…
Seriously, though, I noticed that the formatting of the book looked a bit crap so I’ve spent the last two days trying to fix it. The method for publishing is not easy – you write in Word, you export an HTML file, you upload that and Amazon do some shizzle to it and you can download it and review it. After several iterations, I’ve FINALLY managed to get it looking good.
So – there is a new version of GHOST IN THE MACHINE getting uploaded right now, should be up tomorrow morning. I believe that anyone who has bought it will get notified – I hope this doesn’t piss you off, but believe me, it’s less than the mental pain I’ve just gone through. ; )
I’ve just published to Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/152297
They are a really good service that publishes their own books but acts as an aggregator for other services – Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, etc, all for no upfront money.
Up to four sales on Amazon, which is probably more than I expected at this stage, so I’m reasonably please.
In actual writing news – Whisky in the Jar is off to my editors, and I’ve started the next draft of DEVIL IN THE DETAIL (adding a prologue which frames the story, a follow-on from GHOST) so I’m not letting up.
I’ve finally finished it. GHOST IN THE MACHINE is now on the Amazon Kindle Store. Visit http://amzn.to/IoEQBg to buy it, or even just preview it.
To say I’m pleased with it is an understatement, or even an overstatement. The fact of having published something that people can buy is immensely pleasurable, but the relief in just having finished is staggering.
Been a slightly frustrating experience getting it up as the Amazon international banking server kept crashing – my own bloody fault for not doing it earlier when I set the account up.
Anyway, it’s been a tough week of editing – considering that I’d only done 1/3 of the book from my girlfriend’s edits this time last week, to have got up to publishing this week is amazing.
It’s taken we since January 2009 to get this book done. It’s by no means perfect but I think it’s bloody good, way better than the draft I submitted to literary agents in October 2009. I’ve learned a whole lot from the process, and become a much stronger writer and plotter.
Now that I’ve got it out there, I can keep the momentum up. I might not be getting paid a fortune to do it, but I do control this series and the writing. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into DEVIL IN THE DETAIL and I aim to get that published by mid-July or mid-August. It’s a stronger story than GHOST, I think, but it needs a bit of effort to extending and fleshing out to book length. There’s some good stuff to add that comes out of the back of GHOST and will lead into its sequel DYED IN THE WOOL but it’s very much the mid-point of the initial trilogy of Scott Cullen.
Anyway, enough for now – I’m off to do something other than writing for a bit.
So that’s it – finally finished GHOST IN THE MACHINE. Two months of writing, two months of editing from my editors then a few weeks of me finalising.
Got some stuff to close out – cover, formatting – but I hope to have it up on the kindle store this weekend.
Some wine, I think.
I’ve got two editors (my dad and my girlfriend, but they are pretty aggressive and honest) and I’ve had them doing a proof read. I’m just finishing off the edits from the first of them. I anticipate a publication date (finally) of two weeks time.
It’s very very useful having people go through it and it’s something I’ve used to eke out my strange writing habits (right, sigh, smirk, etc) and has made me much better as a writer, over and above my development as a plotter and my own self-criticism.
So, yeah, two weeks. Ish. I do need to get this out there – it’s been an ordeal. The next ones will be much easier.
My blog was down for a week or so due to an admin error. Fortunately it’s back up. The post from yesterday was actually from two weeks ago but it didn’t get reinstates till last night.
I really like wordpress – it’s free, has a great iPhone app, isn’t google and is widely customisable. That was very frustrating so I’ll let them off this once.
Anyway, normal service is resumed.
Spent yesterday researching a short story idea for a competition to support Bloody Scotland, a tartan noir crime writing festival.
While the limit is 3,000 words I think I’ve come up with a satisfying little tale. I’m struggling to cut it down in some ways but it is good discipline to get into. Also creating a backstory and plot from scratch flexes muscles I haven’t flexed in a good while. If it goes nowhere then I can dust it off and expand it to a novella but I think it’s good as a short.
Revision on Ghost based on editor comments is 1/3 complete…
So that’s me finished draft 5g of “Ghost in the Machine”, the penultimate one. I’m just printing it out now to give to my girlfriend to proofread. I expect it’ll be ready to go in a month’s time.
I am very pleased with it – it’s been an ordeal but I’m so happy to have taken it to this point. Some times I never thought I’d get there and I had given up on it. It’s much stronger for the persistence and I’m a much stronger writer for it. It’s not perfect but I need to publish it and just move on.
Time for a break. After I finish some notes for the redraft of Devil in the Detail…
Not quite ready for 14-Feb then…
I’m at 75% just now of the latest draft which has been a fine tooth comb edit.
I’m not going to rush things and set some unattainable deadline but the tasks are:
Pass to editor
Redraft devil in the detail
Finalise ghost in the machine
About a month, but I’m not rushing it.