Chimpanzee Wars

A pair of cheeky chimpanzees. Wikipedia.

Like every writer does at some point during a project, I am procrastinating. My method of choice at the moment for avoiding the novel is writing non-fiction. Here is a short extract from a multi-disciplinary exploration of human conflict, which otherwise might never see the light of day.

Chimps in two camps

This introduces the second barrier to understanding conflict, the question of origins. There are two strongly opposing sides to this debate. One side argues that lethal violence is an innate aspect of human behaviour, while the other criticises this conclusion and asserts that warfare arises from external pressures. A key piece of evidence used in this debate is the chimpanzee.

Chimps have been observed to conduct warfare in a remarkably similar way to humans. There are documented instances of one society of chimpanzees seeking out isolated males from another group, killing them in brutal attacks and engaging in cannibalistic behaviour. Is this proof that conflict is an intrinsic part of chimp behaviour and, by relation, human behaviour?

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The End Of The Road

End of road

The end of the road is in sight. There are now only about five chapters of Servants of Infamy (formerly White Rose) left to complete. Then there will be a process of updating the first three parts (as my writing has changed a lot since I started this novel), editing and trying to design a cover (before giving up and selecting a stock photo, most likely).

With all of that in mind, I will give a tentative release date of some time in February or the beginning of March. However, this could vary so keep an eye out for more updates!

What happens after self-publishing the novel? The picture above explains it quite well. While writing, you follow a road. It’s a set path from start to finish, if not always a straight one. Once you reach the end of the road, you’re out in the wilderness. There’s some marketing, promotion and feedback.

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An Agent Of Principle #4

Minnewaukan ND

They parked outside the station house and Tom led Jessie along the high street. People nodded to them in greeting. Innocent enough, but Jessie saw them cluster together after they passed, whispering behind her back.

‘The agent who got shot.’

‘What’s she doing up and about?’

She was glad when Tom said they were nearly at the morgue. Less so when he led her through the local grocery store’s side door. They stepped into the back cold storage room, where two men were standing over a stretcher set up in the middle of the floor.

The doctor was in his late thirties. White coat, clean-shaven and cropped dark hair. The other Jessie guessed was the grocer. Cut-off jeans shorts, tie-dye t-shirt, white beard trailing down over his bony chest and a pair of thin spectacles propped on top of his smooth, bald head.

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Going It Alone #2: Precision Reading (makes you a better author)

Lone Wolf Alfred Kowalski
Lone Wolf by Alfred Kowalski

This is a narrative of my experiences starting out as a writer, but it isn’t a chronological account. I made this decision because the order in which I did things isn’t the order you should adopt. Due to going it alone, I unfortunately missed out some crucial steps.

In the last post we looked at coming up with an idea for your writing. Now that question has been answered, how do you get on with putting pen to paper? How do you go from 0 to author?

The answer lies in the pages of every work of fiction or non-fiction you have ever read, each TV series or film you watched, and every picture you looked at. You already know what a novel looks like from front to back. Stop there. Do you know it inside out?

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My Washbag

Don't ask...
Don’t ask…

For years I have searched in vain for something to define me as a modern man. The spears and sabres of yore have long passed out of fashion. Dead too are the ponytail and bowler hat.

What then? What next?

I have it. The solution!

One object which will let the world know of my prowess, my courage, my breeding. A simple thing which will make the masses say “Look! There is a man who travels!” even if I don’t.

A washbag, finest accompaniment of the modern man.

Going It Alone #1: “What Should I Write?”

Lone Wolf Alfred Kowalski
Lone Wolf by Alfred Kowalski

I’m beginning this series of posts in the Writing Tips category, but it differs in an important way from my other writing advice. This isn’t a series about how to write fiction or non-fiction. It’s a narrative of my experiences as a writer, with some helpful insights along the way.

When I started writing I made a crucial decision, motivated largely by stubbornness, to “go it alone”. I didn’t ask friends or family to buy my books and review them, or subscribe to my blog. I didn’t seek out editing help, professional or otherwise. I didn’t use my personal social media accounts to advertise my writing.

My marketing strategy

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Writing Tips Index

Now those are useful tips!
Now those are useful tips!

45 writing tips have now made their way onto this blog. A wealth of information at your fingertips. Or are they? You might find it hard to define endless scrolling as being “at your fingertips”.

With that in mind, here is an index of every writing tip from the Useless Book Club, 1-45. If you know of a good way to work an index into the blog’s layout, please leave a comment!

  1. The Prologue
  2. The Process
  3. Writing Faux Pas – Debunked
  4. A Useful App For Writers
  5. Writing The Main Plot
  6. Endings
  7. Writing Historical Fiction And Fantasy
  8. Character Pitfalls
  9. Past Inspiration
  10. Barnstorming For Beginners
  11. How To Write A Story About Anything
  12. How To Get More Readers
  13. Write A Bad Story
  14. Gambling Tip For Writers
  15. Character Development In 3 Steps
  16. Writing Minor Plots
  17. Write Like Shakespeare
  18. Write For Money
  19. Keep Up With The Times
  20. Planning Your Novel In 3 Steps (for NaNoWriMo)
  21. Value Your Work
  22. All About Chapters
  23. Critiquing Your Novel
  24. Writing A Catastrophe
  25. Writing For The 21st Century
  26. Characters Who Do Bad Things
  27. No Good Deed
  28. Know Your Enemy
  29. Sourcing Images For Your Blog
  30. Characters In Conflict
  31. Blogging For Beginners
  32. Understanding The Misunderstood Author
  33. Writing The Opposite Gender
  34. How To Write Fiction (step-by-step)
  35. Writing Evil
  36. Fear And Courage In Fiction
  37. How To Choose A Name For Your Character
  38. How To Write In The First Person
  39. Writing A Realistic Narrative
  40. Hindsight and Self-improvement
  41. Creating Escapism By Genre
  42. And Then This Happened…
  43. “That”
  44. Criticism, Feedback And Commentary
  45. Making A Video Trailer

Wow, there’s enough up there to fill a book!

An Agent Of Principle #3

Minnewaukan ND

Damp cartridges. What a thing to have saved her life. Jessie had woken up in a hospital bed with a bunch of battered yellow flowers on the table beside her. Left by the sheriff, as she found out when Tom came in to check on her. No memories of what happened after she got out of her car.

His eyes were downcast, fixed on a sheet of paper in his hands. Apology written in his lined face. A fax from the state capital. Dangerous, do not approach. Melcom had been talking the big talk in prison. The “I ain’t going back inside” talk. Shooting his mouth about how he planned to go down fighting if they tried to take him in again.

It was just a routine check. Driving out to a tin-roof shack to look in on an newly released felon. Nothing serious. Nothing dangerous. Deputy work. And Tom had sent a special agent out there, waving her bureau I.D. in a paranoid ex-con’s face.

‘Don’t beat yourself up about it,’ she’d said, meaning it. ‘I volunteered.’

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The Wilderness King #5


They were always moving. Never pausing long enough to raise tents or dig wells. Over the dunes and across the desert plains of cracked red earth. One foot in front of the other until their soles were raw and blistered. Not stopping longer than it took to scout the next range of dunes.

Immense mountains of sand. Constantly shifting. Growing into towering ridges of gold and then tumbling down. Ripped apart and blown down to nothing by gusting winds.

Men should not be in this place. We should not be here.

And yet, they were. Far from the sight of gods or civilisation, the meshah forged a path across the wilderness. Danger on all sides in the roasting sun, blazing earth and scratching thirst.

The oasis was close, Captain Pehty assured.

Where? All I see is death waiting to snatch us up.

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