The Hoppit: An Interrupted Journey

Below you will find the prologue to an idea I had to rewrite the story of the first Hobbit movie. I’m posting it here because I keep on losing it (the writing, not my mind). Maybe I shouldn’t. Perhaps it might be used in evidence against me one day or maybe I’ll be Targeted by Tolkien purists (though I sort of lean that way myself!)? Oh, well, so be it. I must warn you: it is really rather silly!

The Hoppit: An Interrupted Journey

Prologue

You asked me once if I had told you everything there was to know about my misadventures. And while I can say I have told you the truth, I may not have told you all of it. Then again, maybe I have. To be honest, I really can’t remember; I am old now, Dodo. Forgetful. Perhaps slightly demented. In any case, I’m not the same hoppit I once was. I think it is time for you to know what really happened…

It began long ago, in a galaxy – er – I mean a land far away to the East, the like of which you’ll not find in the world today. There was the city of Dave. Its markets known far and wide, full of the bounties of chocolates and toys, peaceful and prosperous; for this city lay before the doors of the greatest kingdom in Middle-earth: Haribo, stronghold of Fraught, King under the Mountain, mightiest of the Gnome-lords. Fraught ruled in utter surety, never doubting his House would endure – it was, after all, made of rock candy and a significant improvement over the gingerbread House built by his father. His line, and the future of his confectionery empire, lay secure in the lives of his son and grandson.

Ah, Dodo. Haribo: built deep within the mountain itself, the beauty of this fortress-city was legendary. Its wealth lay in its confectionery; in precious midget gems, its sticks of rock, and in great golden honeycombs, and chocolate running like rivers through the stone.

The skill of the Gnomes was unequalled, fashioning delights of great beauty out of marzipan, chocolate, fudge, cinnamon, honey and toffee. Ever they created better and yet better products. And that is how they made it: The Heart of the Mountain. The Arkenegg. A great solid egg formed from the very finest quality chocolate. Fraught took it as a sign, a sign that his right to rule was divine (for the chocolate certainly tasted so). All would pay homage to him, even the great Alpen king, Fentanyl.

But the years of peace and sugary snacks were not to last. Slowly the days turned sour (much like the milk lollipops), and the watchful nights closed in. Fraught’s love of sweets had grown too fierce and he had no teeth left to broker a deal with the tooth fairies. A sickness had begun to grow within him. It was a sickness of the mind (and, to be honest, also the belly); and where sickness thrives, bad things will follow.

The first they heard was a noise like a hurricane coming down from the North. The pines on the mountain creaked and cracked in the hot, dry wind, and the candy canes swung and melted…

“Bailing, sound the alarm. Call out the guard. Do it now!” cried Foreign.

“What is it?” asked Bailing as he stared out from the lofty battlements of Haribo.

“A thieving dragon with a sweet tooth,” replied Foreign, pulling him within the safety of the inner wall just as a huge belch smelling of rotting teeth and gums enveloped the battlements. Foreign turned to overlook the great hall and shouted in warning, “Dragon!”

It was a Smoke-drake from the North. Smog had come.

Such wanton death was dealt that day, for this city of Men was nothing to Smog. His eye was set on another prize, for dragons covet chocolate and all sweet things with a dark and fierce desire.

Haribo was lost, for a dragon will guard his confectionery long past the expiry date.

Even Fentanyl would not risk the lives of his kin against the wrath of the dragon. No help came from the Alpans that day, nor any day since. Robbed of their homeland, the Gnomes of Haribo wandered the gardens of Men (especially those with ponds and rockeries); a once mighty people brought low. The young Gnome prince took work where he could find it, making confectionery and selling it in the villages of Men, but always he remembered the smell of the dragon’s belch beneath the moon, and the myriad scattered aniseed balls, for he had seen dragon smog and a city broken to pieces as if it were honeycomb (though, to be fair, part of it was). And he never forgave, and he never forgot. But most of all he never lost his taste for a good gobstopper.

That, my dear Dodo, is where I come in. For quite by chance and the will of a sherbet wizard, fate decided I would become part of this tale. It began… Well, it began as you might expect.

In a hole in the ground there lived a hoppit. Not a comfortable, dry hole full of the latest furnishings and thick plush carpets. This was a hoppit hole, and that means slime, smell and a good deal of dry rot…did I ever tell you about the time I got trench foot…?

Update 2014

So OK, blogging’s not something I’m very good at :( Here’s a quick update of the past 5 months:

The audio of The Serpent in the Glass was finished. Thanks to Ben Cummins for his superb narration. The Pied and Prodigious audio, narrated vibrantly by actress Rebecca Roberts, was also finished. You can find both on Amazon and Audible.

Before I go, Happy Christmas and New Year! I might not get back on before then! :)

Blog Tour – June 2014

Blog tour time! I don’t usually do these, but it’s good to do something different every now and again and rebel against my own insufferable habits ;)

First of all, thanks to author Travis Hightower (yes, it is a cool surname) for including me in the tour. You can find his blog at http://hightowerdreamland.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/blog-tour-sharing-our-writing-process.html. He’s into fantasy, like me, and also has good taste in music – also like me ;)

What are you working on?

My image, confidence, general wealth and good health. I’ve just started up jogging again and – oh, you mean writingwise? Ah, well that would be the third part of Dreamwalkers. I’ve put it off long enough, I’m going to have to decide how it ends – or how I get to the ending I should say. I’ve known the ending since the beginning. Wrote it, in fact. I try to do that: write the final or climactic scene first. Anyway, next question…

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure what genre I am. I would say I write for those aged nine or older (that includes adults). I like fantasy, but I also like to be different and try different styles. Dreamwalkers for example, is a Young Adult story set in modern England but most of the action takes place in a fantasy dream world based on Renaissance Italy. I also like humour, usually in the form of parody (I have two parody books, one of which is Pied & Prodigious – a parody of Pride and Prejudice, if you couldn’t work it out). My writing is for all the family and I’m a member of Clean Indie Reads.

Why do you write what you write?

There’s nothing quite as thrilling – or scary – as inviting someone into a world created by your own imagination. When I read reviews from children and adults who have enjoyed that world it gives me a nice feeling inside. As a reader myself, I know the power and effect of a good story. Movies have nothing on them.

How does your writing process work?

Very badly. I’m easily distracted, find it hard to write when it’s too warm (above say 20 degrees), and find it hard to concentrate unless I have a large block of time to write at my disposal. Even if I’m going out in the evening I can find it hard to write during the day because I’m thinking about the evening! Generally, I work best when I focus all my attention on something in large bursts. It’s not very healthy or very balanced, I’m sure. I like to listen to music to get me in the mood sometimes. Usually it’s movie or videogame soundtracks, though sometimes I might listen to artists such as Lindsey Stirling and others who have a strong melody/emotion to their music.

Can you share an example of your work?

Cal poked his head around the sandstone pillar and let out a silent breath of relief. The girl hadn’t seen him. She was still looking around the chamber in wide-eyed wonder, lost in the beauty of the marble floor and the domed ceiling decorated with peacocks. The girl’s dress, like her hair, flowed long, and both were of the deepest black. A shard of midnight in a sunlit hall of gold and white. The stark contrast unsettled Cal, as did the fact that he’d already encountered her three times this week, and yet never once had he sought her out. Coincidence, Cal thought.

He pushed away from the pillar and made his way silently back to the arched window through which he’d just come. Climbing out onto the ledge, he eyed the paved ground thirty feet below. After balling his hands three times to psych himself up, he dropped to the street and landed on his feet, a hand thrusting out at the last moment to keep his balance.

He stood and straightened the denim jacket his mum had given him for his fifteenth birthday. It was too small for him by now, two years later, but here in the city it fitted perfectly. Everything here was perfect.
He surveyed the city’s edge and saw no one. As he had done a dozen times before, he sprinted toward the city wall. A flight of stone steps stood between him and the walkway high above, but he leapt up them, taking eight steps in his first bound. A few seconds later, he reached the walkway.

Cal looked down and smiled. Eight. His best yet. Moving toward the wall, he gazed out over the verdant landscape below. Serried vineyards and pink-blossomed orchards punctuated the green hills and lowland forest, but in the distance it all blurred and, a little farther out, faded into nothingness.

- from Dreamwatchers, Part One, by D.M. Andrews

And who will be continuing this blog tour?

I’ve invited Andrea Pearson, an author of fun, exciting, and clean adventures for adults and young readers alike, of www.andreapearsonbooks.blogspot.co.uk and Jennifer Lynn Alvarez, who writes middle grade fiction focused around animals (and who has recently picked up a publishing deal!), of www.jenniferlynnalvarez.com/ to carry on the tour…

The Serpent in the Glass – audio in the works!

I really must post here more often. Well, a couple of projects are still unfinished (not wholly my fault I might add), but major news is that The Serpent in the Glass is going to be coming out as an audio this year. More details to follow.

In the mean time, check out this site which has listed my book along with other dragon-related indie books!
http://discoveringnewadventures.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/book-blast-dragons-of-lore-may-14th.html

More soon (I’ll try!)

Merry Christmas!

My apologies for not posting for a while. I’ve been busy in other areas of my life, but still doing a little writing! Expect a new book very soon ;)

By the way, Dreamwalkers (Part One) is now free on all digital platforms! Let your friends know.

And a big Happy Christmas to one and all!

90-day Challenge & Serpent Hits 100 Reviews!

I’ve been setting fitness goals for myself lately. With a healthier body and mind, I hope to be able to focus on writing a little more!

Over the last few years I’ve had quite a bad back. I can walk and sit OK, but any lifting, bending, etc. really stiffens up my back and hurts. It’s been very limiting. Due to this lack of activity my fitness level has gone down.

As of May 27th I gave up eating chocolate and I also stopped eating sugary things in the evening. I’ve now committed to having some work done on my back – osteopath and pilates.

A final layer to my plan has been my enrolment in the 90-Day Challenge. You can read more about it here… http://dmandrews.bodybyvi.com

Feel free to join me!

In writing news: after publishing Dreamwalkers (Part Two) last month, I’ve been working on a couple of side projects (still far from complete) and also promoting a couple of my books. It was a big day for The Serpent in the Glass this month – it hit 100 reviews on Amazon.com! I still get little attention on Amazon.co.uk, however. No idea why :( Thank goodness for US sales is all I can say! ;)

My first in-car vlog

My first vlog. Testing things out. Need to get the lighting better! Suggestions?

In other news, Dreamwalkers (Part Two) is out on Kindle! :)

May update & Lindsey Stirling!

Well, I really should post more on my blog. I get caught up in social media! :(

So what’s been going on in May? Well, Dreamwalkers (Part Two) is with the editor and should be back with me in a couple of weeks – which could very well mean a June release!

I’ve also spent rather too much time watching Lindsey Stirling videos, and attended one of her concerts on Monday night. Brilliant! Look her up, follow her! She’s great!

Oh, I also met her in person around the middle of May and gave her a signed copy of The Serpent in the Glass. Check out the picture on my facebook author page at www.facebook.com/AuthorDMAndrews – oh, and please like the page, too! ;)

KDP Select Promo Results March/April 2013

As promised, I’m posting today about the after-results of the KDP Select campaign (22nd-24th March) mentioned in my last post (where I reported the download results). Again, if you want to know how I got a good number of downloads for a book not in the mainstream, then please go to my page:
How I Got 10,896 Downloads on the First Day of my KDP Select Promo with a Non-mainstream eBook

Starting paid rank before campaign: about 35,000

Highest free rank recorded during campaign: 7

Paid rank after campaign: 105,000 (ranks always drop severely after a campaign due to no sales or borrows during the campaign)

Now, with that in mind, let’s look at the data for the end of each of the listed days (rank, sales, borrows) below:

DAY 1 (MON): 13957, 17, 13

DAY 2 (TUE): 5461, 14, 11

DAY 3 (WED): 5713, 15, 18

DAY 4 (THU): 3482, 17, 37 (gets into top 100 for children’s books)

DAY 5 (GOOD FRI): 3395, 18, 18

DAY 6 (SAT): 3182, 25, 22

DAY 7 (EASTER SUN): 4141, 16, 5 (drops out of top 100 for children’s books)

DAY 8 (BANK HOLIDAY): 4730, 12, 23

Total sales/total borrows: 134 / 147

Best rank recorded: 3040

Best “best seller” ranking (allowing for only one subcategory level) recorded: #77 in children’s ebooks

(Note that ranking reports are delayed, so lag behind sales/borrows. These stats are for Amazon.com only, other stores had little traction, totalling perhaps 15 sales combined, with no borrows).

KDP Select Promo – March 2013

I’ve just finished a KDP Select campaign for my debut novel, The Serpent in the Glass. One of the reasons for running the campaign was to see the effect compared to past promo campaigns. In short, could KDP still deliver a solid punch if done properly?

1. Preparation

Firstly I should say that my book, The Serpent in the Glass, had 48 reviews with a 4.2 average rating as of campaign start. The cover appeals to both young and old, probably around age 9+. Campaign ran from Fri 22 – Sun 24 March 2013.

I contacted (mainly by filling out forms) over 30 sites that you can notify, for free, about your free promotions on Amazon Kindle. This doesn’t mean they will list your promotions, but some will. You need to start doing this about 3 weeks before your campaign runs.

I spent somewhere in the region of about $200 on various services, including a book-tweeting service and two modest adverts in a couple of the high-profile sites.

2. The Campaign

I tweeted, retweeted and replied to personal tweeters as they appeared. I tried to use some @ and # on twitter to help visibility, though I’m not very good at that. I posted on a dozen or more facebook groups.

3. The Results

12 hours into the first day: 4117 downloads and ranked at #111
16 hours into the first day: 7675 downloads and ranked at #30
Start of second day: 10,896 downloads and ranked at #10
4 hours into second day: ranking at #7 (PEAK)
6 hours into second day: ranking drops to #9
12 hours into second day: 13,469 downloads and ranked at #9
16 hours into second day: 14,382 downloads and ranked at #14
Start of third day: 15,392 downloads and ranked at #16
8 hours into third day: 15,882 downloads and ranked at #16
14 hours into third day: 16,680 downloads and ranked at #16
End of third day and campaign: 17,561 downloads and ranked at #37 (first-page position lost :( )

Breakdown of downloads per Amazon store:

Brazil: 2
Italy: 2
Spain: 6
France: 12
Japan: 19
Canada: 60
Germany: 152
UK: 464
US/India: 16,844

I shall report any sales/ranking changes in the next post, probably in early April.

Would you like to know exactly how I got so many downloads on day 1? Then go to this link.