The General’s Legacy – Editing progress

Back in June 2016 I posted about The General’s Legacy – first editing feedback where I included a quote “A lady author once wrote on her blog that having your first novel edited is more painful than childbirth – and you soon forget the pain of childbirth.”
The editing of The General’s Legacy has come a long way since then.  As some will know the story is split into Part 1: Inheritance due November 2016  followed by Part 2: Whiteland King soon after (February 2017 is the target).  This has been done so that my first published book (Part 1) can be produced at a low enough price that readers will be more prepared to take a chance on from an author they do not know.
One of the followers of this blog, an author himself, commented: “The editor for my novel was more like a comrade-in-arms—worked with me—explained things well…”.  I’m delighted to say this has turned out to be my experience.  Part 1: Inheritance is close to completion for editing and proofreading.  The professionally designed book cover should be available early September.  Editing for Part 2: Whiteland King is also well underway.
I keep the Books page of this site up to date with progress indicators.I have had more time on my hands recently and managed to catch up on providing feedback to my editor.  That means I have finally got some time to continue planning and outlining four more stories in The General of Valendo series.  I aim to start drafting the next book by the beginning of National Novel Writing Month.  This is an annual event in November that challenges authors to write 50,000 words within one month – get that first draft down faster.  I doubt I can make the time for 50,000 words, but I intend to see how close I can get.

How To Use Wattpad As An Author And My Experience

Joanna Penn from interviews Ashleigh Gardner from wattpad at the end of todays post.

In August 19th, 2015 I signed up to wattpad. For those who do not know, it is a social networking website where you can share your stories (retaining the rights) and with some effort, patience and luck begin to attract an audience. Stories on wattpad are extremely accessible as there is an app for all the major smartphone and tablet vendors that allow people to manage their account, read, comment and vote on stories.

Following wattpad’s advice, I started splitting my long chapters into parts of around 2000 words. I needed to know if anyone in the world, other my one of my closest friends, would like the story. The advice you get is to post story parts a couple of times a week spread over as along a period as you can. Apparently Fridays are a good day as the visitor count goes up, and your work is just a bit more visible than usual. I cannot say I noticed much difference.

In the beginning, there was little or no response except from one or two other writers who would vote on my chapter parts as I voted on theirs. Tit for tat voting proves nothing to me about how readers are receiving my story. There is much advice about how to attract readers, some of it quite time-consuming and not effective in my experience. I found the best option was to follow followers of other fantasy writers, and then the odd one or two people started to read The General’s Legacy. At this time, I had around one-third of the story published, and these readers began voting on story parts within one to two days of me posting them. As I got into the final quarter of the story, I had a few more people on board avidly reading, voting and sometimes commenting on what was happening in the story. It became apparent that people were bonding with the characters. I suspect wattpad gives stories that start to receive attention a bit of a visibility boost to give a story a chance to make an impression. Within days of me completing the story on wattpad, I had six voting readers who had made it all the way to the end and left me some very complimentary comments. I’m excited – six people who used to be complete strangers loved the story and wanted more! A couple of them have agreed to post reviews for me on Amazon etc. once published.
Another author and reader has invited me to interview on his blog – I’m truly honored and will use that opportunity to reveal the professionally designed cover for The General’s Legacy Part One: Inheritance when I have it. Work is in progress on this right now.
I also have an invitation from wattpad to apply for The General’s Legacy to become a featured story in fantasy to help me grow my audience. So sometime soon The General’s Legacy will be listed with other independent and traditionally published authors including Brandon Sanderson.

I have also struck up relationships with a few authors on wattpad and we can provide mutual support for each other during the production of future works.

Anyone searching the internet for help in self-publishing books will inevitably encounter Joanna Penn from sooner or later. Joanna also posts interviews with various people in the industry. Here is Joanna talking Ashleigh Gardner from wattpad.

One way artificial intelligence can help authors with their research – for free

Image credit: Julien Tromeur


You are an author in the planning stage of your latest magnus opus – what are you looking for?




You might need an setting for key events in your story that is out of the ordinary.

Perhaps it ideas for the appearance of major or minor characters in your story.

You think you might have some idea of what the setting or character might look like, but wouldn’t it be great if you could find some pictures to help solidify your thoughts?

Your character is a woman who plays the electric guitar – how will you find pictures of her?

Your setting is a coastline with rock stacks or maybe a disused petro-chemicals plant?

Maybe you need some reference pictures to send to your cover designer – say a detective wearing a deerstalker hat.


How can artificial intelligence help you here and for free?


There is a good chance you have already benefited from artificial intelligence, but might not have been aware of it.  If you haven’t, your missing a trick. 

Google image search.

Let’s try it for something of those examples above, for me and note that I had “Safe search” enabled for this test, the setting is in the top right area of the google image search page:

The disused petro-chemicals plant:…98.15534.0.15643.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.15.1286…0j0i30k1j0i5i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.OOVZTE4098g#safe=active&hl=en&authuser=0&tbm=isch&q=disused+petrochemicals+plant

Detective wearing a deer stalker hat:…98.15534.0.15643.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.15.1286…0j0i30k1j0i5i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.OOVZTE4098g#safe=active&hl=en&authuser=0&tbm=isch&q=detective+wearing+a+deerstalker+hat

Here is one I am using for my next book – coastline with rock stacks:…98.15534.0.15643.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.15.1286…0j0i30k1j0i5i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.OOVZTE4098g#safe=active&hl=en&authuser=0&tbm=isch&q=coast+line+with+rock+stacks

Let’s go for a really challenging and specific example – purple haired woman who plays the electric guitar:…98.15534.0.15643.….0…1ac.1.64.img..0.15.1286…0j0i30k1j0i5i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.OOVZTE4098g#safe=active&hl=en&authuser=0&tbm=isch&q=purple+haired+woman+who+plays+the+electric+guitar

A mixture of purple haired women and women playing electric guitars in there.  Now try “red head women playing electric guitars” for yourself.


How in the world does google image search do this, since there is no way so many people are tagging their pictures with titles that allow a key word search to produce this result?


There is an artificial intelligence query processing “engine” between your search keywords and the world of pictures online that is actually able to analyse the picture itself to understand the subject – fast.  If the image is in a web page with more text around it that can help too.


Have a play with some very specific searches and see what you get.


I’m going to get back to my own research now.  I wonder if I will find an ancient ruined city in a red desert?

Only The Dead – book review

I’ve been busy writing my novel The General’s Legacy novel recently which is now about 75% complete for the first draft. The blog has been a been neglected so time to pay it some attention.
Last week out of the ‘Twittersphere’ this novella came to my attention.  The author M W Duncan had it on free promotion via Amazon so I thought I would grab it and may be read a little of it later to see what it was like.  That plan soon changed, here is my review and this is relevant to story structure discussions.

Enter the Liberian Jungle… (a five star review)

I was planning to read this after finishing another longer novel I’m reading. I thought I’d read just the beginning out of curiosity. A few days later having spent any spare moment I had reading it I’d finished.
There is an immersive writing style at work here which I prize in a writer when I can find it. This writing style along with plenty of interesting events happening all the time (a fast pace plot) quickly drew me in.
You feel like you are in the Liberian jungle with Mark.
It is often the case that an immersive writing style comes coupled with plodding slow plot progression. That is not the case here.
The real treat in this story is the well observed and well-developed characters. It’s all about Mark (sometimes called Mak) a private security operator (an advisor, don’t call him a mercenary) and his relationship with Kyle a journalist in the Liberian jungle during a civil war. Things go bad and they have to escape to civilisation. A simple enough concept done well and infused with human psychology. The story is told in the first person from Mark’s perspective. The way the relationship evolves between the two men as their situation becomes darker is beautifully handled with turning points in the action and their relationship coming at well-timed points in the story. It feels realistic and believable. It is sometimes quite touching without going over the top with sentimentality. Perhaps the presence of violence in the story highlights this further.
From an academic perspective, I am fairly sure I can see a story structure I recognise at work here. The right things are happening in the right phases of the story which are complete with plot points in the right places that keep up the dramatic tension. It is very well done.
M W Duncan has another “post-apocalyptic” novel out “Carrion City” set in Aberdeen Scotland I believe. I’m not normally drawn to this type of novel but after reading Only The Dead I think I need to add it to my “to be read list” for sometime next year.