Sunday, 30 March 2014

One Worm - Free to a Good Home

Please click below for your free copy of my demonic courtroom comedy Worm. The story was pasted onto the site a while back as an entry in Reddit's r/fantasywriters monthly writing challenge. I've now slapped a cover on it so you can carry it with you wherever you go :-) Enjoy!

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Day 2 of productive, serious writer Steve.

It's day 2 of the program, and I've done almost 2,000 words of writing today, just over 3,000 total. I've hit a minor narrative snag, but that's no problem, I'll think about it tonight and tomorrow at work so that I can just sit down and get on with writing tomorrow evening. Good times.

Exciting news! I sold a copy of Licking Walls in the Dark at Smashwords. The useful Dashboard tells me that that sale earned me $2.45. Exciting times :-D

Also, with regards to the new plan I've embarked on, I forgot one avenue for new series: my loveable demon lawyer, Worm. The first story in Worm's tale is on this blog, and was entered into the Reddit r/fantasywriters monthly challenge where it earned joint second place. Worm will always be free, but I had an idea for a second story in the series set some time after Worm is released from prison. He must go back to university to earn his law degree all over again. I imagine it will be like the show Community, but with a demon.

So, in short, it's day 2 and I've managed not to fuck it up. Good times. It's hump-day tomorrow, so we shall see what it brings.


Monday, 24 March 2014


I'm feeling productive.

But then again, I'm blogging instead of writing, so perhaps it's a Jedi mind trick…

Anyway, from what I've been reading in other writers' blogs, having a writing schedule, or a goal, is the key to being a good writer who has lots of books out there.

So, henceforth, from this moment on, I, Stephen James Adolf Magill, shall write 1000 words every day.

No going back now. It's on the internet. That shit can't be undone. Nope.

I've done my 1k for today, and shall do more tomorrow!


S.J.A. Magill

Hammering Away

The draft of my first series is now into its second part.

The Hammer, which will be a three-part series about war, expectations vs reality, inaccuracy in the recording of historical events, and snotty grandchildren, is coming along nicely.

The first part came to a natural end at about 15,000 words. I think that's a fine word count for a story that will be priced at 0.99c, or free if I can get away with it. The second and third parts will be longer, and will be priced slightly higher.

This is all part of my businessman-plan. Because although I love writing for the joy of writing, and would still do it if I knew that there wasn't a penny to be made, I hate my day job. I hate having to get out of bed every morning before the sun rises, and I hate having to defend stupid clients (only a small rant this post, promise!)

I enjoy writing in the evenings so much that I keep thinking about how amazing it would be if I could just spend my whole day doing it instead of my day job. Unfortunately, and it's a first-world problem, my writing isn't very profitable, and my lawyering is somewhat profitable.

Therefore, in order to give up the day job in favour of writing for a living, I have to make money. Barring a lottery-win, that means I'm going to have to work jolly hard in order to do it.

Although, is 'working hard' really the key to success? Of course not. Well, it is, but that's not the whole story. I must also be working smart.

And how do I intend to do that? Well, I believe I've already begun. I was thinking to myself: how can I make more money from the writing? Sell more books of course!

No shit, Batman, but how do I do that?

I believe that I'm on the right track with The Hammer: one of the things that a lot of my favourite authors have in common is that the books they write either continue an already established story, or start a new adventure with the same characters. Adams had the Hitchhikers Guide series, and the Dirk Gently books. Tolkein obviously had LOTR, which was really one long history ('long' being the operative word). Pratchett has many series going at the moment.

The only real exception I could think of, where an author I like doesn't tend to write series, but starts afresh each time, is Stephen King. King's stories tend to be about the monsters though, and not so much about the protagonists. And it wouldn't be a very good monster story if there was no element of surprise. So to an extent there's not much scope for series in his work. But that's besides the point.

Ok, so now I've started a series. Very good. Where do I go from there? Do I start another series from scratch? No! I already have jumping off points for new series in the seven stories I already have.

Roland Erhoff's vampire adventure ended on something of a cliffhanger. Where did he go from there? (I'll tell you: he went to the Vampire Tower, where they did some not nice things to him, but that hasn't been written yet).

The insidious Dwarf culture on Terra, first explored with Pon, has a LOT more to be explored.

Finegold, the alchemist, is always capable of getting himself up to mischief.

And of course, Frank Novak and Thorn Middleton's latest adventures are underway already.

The other three: Mir Jonas Mir, Rhylay Dul, and Vorn the battlemage may, unfortunately, stay retired for now. I don't have any major plans for them, nor do I really see a way of taking their stories forward, as much as I liked them. Someday though.

SO: there you have it. My plan to make money. Given that it's taking me a VERY long time to produce any work, this is going to be a 'long game' plan. Hopefully not TOO long though. I'd like to get all of the above done in the next year or so.

In fact, that's it, I'm making myself a challenge. One year from now, I will at least have drafts of:

The Vampire Horse (The Werechicken Part 2)
Technically a Dragon (The Werechicken Part 3)
The Vampire Tower (The Head Vampire Part 2)
A new Pon story
A new Finegold story
The Hammer Parts 1, 2 and 3.

I'm underway already with some of them, and have ideas for the others. If you're reading this, PLEASE, keep me motivated, and keep me sane.

Warm regards,


Sunday, 16 March 2014

Here's to my Russian Readers.

Through the magic of this website's spying capabilities (no doubt inspired by the NSA's own efforts (bloody Capitalist pig-dogs!)) I have discovered that a lot of my traffic has been coming from the great nation of Russia.

Now, we all know Russia has been in the news recently for playing a TEENSY WEENSY bit too roughly with its neighbours. That's not what I'm here to post about. Anyone in any country can tell you that we're embarrassed by the actions of our politicians on a daily basis, and that we have not a goddamn bit of power to stop them. That goes doubly so in Russia. So, for this post, I shall be posting my favourite things about Russia:

Dmitry Glukhovsky

Probably the most successful Russian writer's story is pretty close to my own heart. His breakthrough novel, Metro 2033, was originally posted online for free, until someone realised how good it was and threw lots of money at Mr Glukhovsky in order to publish it.

The Metro series of books are now popular worldwide, and have been adapted/ formed the inspiration for two fantastic video games.

For those not familiar with the series: some form of disaster has caused the inhabitants of Moscow to seek shelter in the metro system. The survivors of the disaster have learned to adapt to life underground well, and in some cases, life is fairly bearable. However, although some communities have managed to develop systems of peace and order, there are other settlements which are more chaotic. And of course, between the settlements there are long, dark tunnels which one must not venture into alone if one ever wants to be heard from again.


What kind of writer would I be if I passed up this opportunity to reiterate my appreciation for alcohol. Vodka has led to some of my worst examples of decision making, but has consequently given me lots of good stories to tell at parties.

English Russia .com

My number-one source of information and culture about Russia. The site is presented without bias (or at least it used to be before they installed the hammer and sickle in the header) and lets outsiders see the Russia that Mr Putin would rather you didn't.

Mr Putin Himself

Not as a politician, but as a martial artist:

Presumably about to throw those two children?

So there you have it, my favourite things about Russia.

Do svidaniya,


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Publishing at Smashwords

I consider myself to be a writer, and not a salesman.

Does expecting to write some stories, put them up online, and expect everyone to flock to them like JK Rowling has just released Harry Potter 8 make me naive and arrogant? Probably. Okay definitely.

So, in an effort to be more salesman-like, I have registered The Werechicken on Smashwords. As those of you in the self-publishing community know, Smashwords is the biggest Indie-publishing website, and acts as a gateway to sites like the Apple iBookstore, and the stores for Kobo and Nook. It ensures listings on a lot of High-Street (or Main Street if you're in the USA) retailers' websites, which would be seriously challenging to get onto otherwise.

So there you go, I'm being businesslike with my writing. As I said, I'd much rather everyone else made the effort to find me, so I don't have to find them, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So what is the Smashwords process? Well, let me tell you:

First, as you would expect, you have to write a book. Smashwords are very good at providing assistance. Unfortunately, there's little they can do to help you with the content of your book. So that part is all down to you.

Next, you register with Smashwords. It's a simple step. If you've ever signed up to anything online before: Amazon/ Reddit/ Porn websites then you already know how to register with a company online.

Next, there is an option to make a profile page. This is recommended. If someone reads something you have written and thinks 'what kind of jerk writes trash like this?', then they can go back to the site, click on your profile and see EXACTLY what kind of jerk you are! Ah, the internet age…

Next there's the hard part. The formatting. Smashwords are on their game here. They know that publishing a book in a format that works great on a Kindle may look like shit on a Nook, so they have the solution: The Smashwords Style Guide. The Guide will ensure that you format your book document in such a way that you can download it on any device, and what comes up on the screen is what you intended.

The Guide is detailed, and uses features of Microsoft Word that you likely have never even heard of.

Oh Essjay, you loveable n00b, I've been using Microsoft Word for years, and I think I know my way around it; my novel - The Great Heffalump - will hardly need any formatting changes at all, I hear you say. WELL YOU'RE WRONG! Unless every time you want something centred on a page you've been assigning a different paragraph style, then you're going to have to do some editing.

That being said, although there are complex steps to follow, they are all explained in a mostly idiot-proof way. Even better, for the REALLY complex bit: creating a chapter-table at the start which links to the chapters in question, there is a video to show you what to do.

So, the end result? Thankfully, once the fourteen-thousand steps in The Guide have been followed, your book will actually look pretty damn professional.

So there you go, that is Smashwords author-handholding process to try and make them a bit of cash.

I'll let you know how it goes.