Sounds of Soldiers


Sale! Get Sounds of Soldiers half price from Smashwords

As I’ve only just started publishing at Smashwords I’d like to get things going with a sale. You can get Sounds of Soldiers for half price if you use the coupon code KA58W on checkout.

Tiger is also available for $1.00 if you use the coupon code UQ93B.

Both offers are valid until March 15th.


Sounds of Soldiers is now available in various formats through Smashwords

You can now get Sounds of Soldiers for ereaders other than the Kindle. Smashwords have it in Epub and other formats, including rich and plain text for those of you who like to just dump a text file onto your phone and read it. The price is $2.99.

Get Sounds of Soldiers at Smashwords.

Here’s the extended blurb I recently wrote-

Five years ago the United States began to self destruct. As momentum toward a nuclear civil war grew at home, US covert kill teams- and then the military- rampaged through Europe attacking imaginary enemies. The USA found itself at war with former allies. Great Britain closed its borders and stayed mostly neutral.

Robert Jones didn’t get on the train out of Paris after it was bombed. He chose to stay on the continent and make a name for himself covering the conflict with reports on his blog. He saw the first blows, witnessed nuclear explosions lighting up the Mediterranean and was present for the final acts.

Now the borders have been reopened and Robert Jones is back from the war. He has returned to Manchester to reconnect with friends and family, to investigate the changes the city has gone through and to find out what life was like away from the warzone. He’s striving for a new, peaceful life, but there are still some ghosts and secrets from his time on the continent which are ready to come back and shake it up.

A novella about what happens when a technothriller goes horribly wrong, Sounds of Soldiers is part travelogue from the future, part war story satire, and takes a look at how the civilians usually ignored by the big war fantasies cope and survive.


Will Amazon ban Switzerland?

Amazon is suffering from user fury again, but on a smaller scale than over their behaviour towards Wikileaks. They have recently been deleting books from their Kindle store without giving a reason beyond a generic statement that “these books were removed from sale for violating our content guidelines.” The content guidelines are very vague about what subject matter would be in violation, but the books removed have been primarily about adult incest fantasies. Not a subject that many people are comfortable with but not one which is explicitly barred from their site. What’s more, the banning of books has the appearance of being arbitrary, as other books with similar, or even more bizarre, subjects have not been banned.

Most likely, after a furore about a self-described paedophiles’ handbook a few weeks ago, Amazon have become more nervous about complaints and are knee-jerk jumping to ban almost anything which is complained about. They’re a commercial entity, they have every right to run their business this way. But it could harm them in the long run if they are seen to be doing the censors’ work for them and harming free speech. If the banning net is cast any wider every one of the independent authors publishing through Amazon would have reasons to be nervous. Sounds of Soldiers could be viewed as anti-American (to paraphrase one of the Dilbert collections, I’m not anti-American, I’m anti-idiot), and goodness knows there’s a lot of very loud, very dim Americans who’d gladly complain about that if they were told to. I reckon I’d be safe, but you never know. The best solution would be for Amazon to either include a list of subjects they will not sell (eg. incest, paedophilia, bestiality, biographies of talent show contestants etc.) and stick to it (not the preferred method, even if it would clear Jedward and SuBo from their shelves) or be more open, and more open to counter persuasion, with the people whose books they do ban.

On the subject of incest, the upper house of the Swiss parliament has drafted a law which would decriminalise consenting sex between adult family members.

Daniel Vischer, a Green party MP, said he saw nothing wrong with two consenting adults having sex, even if they were related.

“Incest is a difficult moral question, but not one that is answered by penal law,” he said.

There are some obvious jokes about a certain bunch of castaways, but does this also put a whole country in danger of being delisted by the world’s biggest bookseller?


Dear sir or madam, would you read my book? It took me years to write, would you take a look

Dear sir or madam, would you read my book? It took me years to write, won't you take a look

Eleven copies of Sounds of Soldiers arrived on Wednesday. I am a paperback writer. The copy on the back cover is much too big- I’ll do a revision to change that at some point- but I’m happy with the rest of the package. You can buy the paperback from Lulu.com or you can get a signed copy direct from me for the same price. See the ordering details below. Most of this batch is earmarked already, so I’m initially only offering two. Be quick if you want your signed copy. (More signed copies will be available in the future, never fear.)


The Sounds of Soldiers cover competition is cancelled

Due to poor take up the competition to win the original cover art from Sounds of Soldiers has been cancelled. I shall be using the artwork to generate publicity in other ways, if I can, but this one just wasn’t working.

You can buy Sounds of Soldiers as a paperback or pdf download from Lulu.com or for Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader from Amazon UK or Amazon US.


Press release: Manchester author creates a dark Green future for the city

Manchester based author Ian Pattinson imagines a Green future for Manchester after a cataclysmic war rips apart Europe and destroys the United States in Sounds of Soldiers. Returning to the city after five years on the continent reporting on the war, Robert Jones sets out to reconnect with friends and family and find out how life has changed away from the front line. Presented as a travelogue with flashbacks to the war, Robert finds recycling projects, a new sense of community and shadows and ghosts reaching across the Channel for him.

The novella was written as a reaction to the narrow focus of technothrillers and the overblown rhetoric coming from the United States since the 2008 election. “There are a lot of books which create ludicrous wars to make a, usually rightwing, political point. They always concentrate on the politicians and military personnel, the USA always wins and everything returns to normal afterwards. I used
to read a lot of them, but they often left me unsatisfied. I wanted to create a story which looked at the effect on civilians, where there was an aftermath and where the USA didn’t win. Some of the wilder commentary coming out of the States before and since the election of Barack Obama gave me a basis for the war- what if a US government believed some of this stuff and went overboard in reacting to it?”

Sounds of Soldiers is available as a paperback and ebook and can be purchased online at Amazon. Details of all the formats it is available in can be found at http://www.spinneyhead.co.uk/books/

High resolution copies of the book cover image can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/spinneyhead/5123539218/


Sounds of Soldiers

SoundsofSoldiers-cover_thumb

Five years ago the United States began to self destruct. As momentum toward a nuclear civil war grew at home, US covert kill teams- and then the military- rampaged through Europe attacking imaginary enemies. The USA found itself at war with former allies. Great Britain closed its borders and stayed mostly neutral.

Robert Jones didn’t get on the train out of Paris after it was bombed. He chose to stay on the continent and make a name for himself covering the conflict with reports on his blog. He saw the first blows, witnessed nuclear explosions lighting up the Mediterranean and was present for the final acts.

Now the borders have been reopened and Robert Jones is back from the war. He has returned to Manchester to reconnect with friends and family, to investigate the changes the city has gone through and to find out what life was like away from the warzone. He’s striving for a new, peaceful life, but there are still some ghosts and secrets from his time on the continent which are ready to come back and shake it up.

A novella about what happens when a technothriller goes horribly wrong, Sounds of Soldiers is part travelogue from the future, part war story satire, and takes a look at how the civilians usually ignored by the big war fantasies cope and survive.

Sounds of Soldiers is available from Amazon and Smashwords.


Creating the cover for Sounds of Soldiers

When I first published Sounds of Soldiers, as a print on demand book available through Lulu.com, I created a cover for it that I just wasn’t happy with. I’m not sure why. I did do some planning, which I then went and threw away when I did the artwork. A couple of days ago I found some of the sketches I did when casting about for ideas.

Roughs

Take note of the fourth image on the top row, we’ll be returning to it.

This idea appealed enough for me to get the coloured pens and do some shading.

Rough2

So when I decided I was going to do a Kindle version I vowed to create a new cover for it. The image of death after a battle appealed, and knowing I couldn’t possibly do the idea justice in a drawing or painting I fell upon the idea of building a diorama to depict the scene. Initially I was thinking of the tank graveyard or post ambush sequences in the book, but the gun as a grave marker came back as an idea after a while. After a bit of Googling, but no more sketching, I had a good idea of what I wanted to do. I ordered 1:6th scale action figure accessories from EBay (a quick shout out to cbtoycollectables and qqmodels, the two merchants I used), ordered a display case from Hobby’s and picked up most of the other stuff I needed from my local model shop.

The components

The wooden stake was weathered by hitting it with a hammer and then holding it over one of the rings on the cooker (it’s good to be on gas). The ground was roughed out using polystyrene packaging from the ever growing pile in the corner of the room. With stake and base glued down I set about building up the ground. The first layer was Woodland Scenics flex paste, which I painted with first their earth undercoat and then Tamiya’s diorama texture paint. Ground cover is real leaves. I spotted a load of these tiny leaves on the ground one day and just scooped them up. I don’t know what they’re from, but they work. Much careful fixing with wood glue later I had a good looking earth mound covered with autumn leaves. Further detail was added using more Woodland Scenics stuff.

Basic set up After adding flex paste A coat of Earth Undercoat With Tamiya diorama texture paint Dead leaves added

I painted some bare metal onto the gun, and weathered it, the boots and the helmet, but the photos I took of that are all quite blurry. The only one that came out is of the smashed lens I put into the lamp on the gun. I lost the lens which came with the gun, so I cut out bits of clear plastic and glued them into the lamp.

Smashed lamp

Put everything together and, after a bit more weathering, I had this-

The finished piece

After a little resizing, and with another shot of blue sky to put on the back cover, I dropped the image into the template I’d used for the original cover. I failed to do any images of the various steps I took in Photoshop, so straight to the finished cover image-

Sounds of Soldiers full wrap cover

I put more effort into the lettering than I have in the past, and I’m much happier with the result. The title and my name on the front cover have an aluminium pole texture under them courtesy of photoshoptextures.com.

Sounds of Soldiers will be available for the Kindle, and with its new cover from Lulu, from next week. I shall be running a competition to win the model used in the original cover artwork. Check out spinneyhead.co.uk/books for details in the next few days.

My gun as grave marker idea puts me in very good company.

This is Peace and War, the omnibus collection of Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, Forever Peace and Forever Free. I haven’t read Free and Peace, but I have read War. It’s a very good book, using relativist effects as a metaphor for soldiers in a distant war become ever more alienated from the people they are supposedly fighting for.


Post and Unpublish

I’ve unpublished Post and Publish, the novella bundle on the Kindle. It wasn’t selling. Actually, worse than not selling- the two times anyone bought copies they turned around and cancelled the order.

There’s no feedback to tell me why the collection proved so unpopular. I wasn’t happy with the cover, I don’t think it is attention grabbing enough. And the contents were a mixed bag- everything from technothriller satire to romance/sex comedy. I can just republish some of the contents in different formats and see what works. I’ve already done that with So Much To Answer For, even before I’d killed the anthology.

Sounds of Soldiers will be published as a stand alone on the Kindle at the end of October/ start of November. The current version- still available from Lulu– has another cover I’m not happy with. I’ve got a concept for the new cover and will begin putting it together when I have all the elements.

I’ve also removed Global Weirding from publication. It had a cover I really liked, the premise was quite neat and I enjoyed writing it (who wouldn’t with all those sex scenes?), but it just didn’t work as a published book.


Sounds of Soldiers is out now

Available in print or as a download through Lulu. Soon to be available from Amazon.com.

Robert Jones is back from the war.

It’s been five years. Paris has been flattened, nuclear explosions have lit up the Mediterranean and the US military has destroyed itself fighting imaginary enemies. And Robert was there through it all.

How can a man who witnessed some of the most important events of recent history adapt to peace? Reconnecting with friends and family, Robert investigates a newly green Manchester and finds out about life away from the warzone.

But there are still some ghosts and secrets from his time on the continent which are ready to come back and shake up Robert’s new peaceful life.


Current state of the Sounds of Soldiers cover

Sounds of Soldiers cover

I’m still not happy with it, and it’s missing blurb on the back and the title and author on the spine, but it’s getting there. I’ll still be unhappy with the version which goes to print, but I’m trying to adopt a policy of getting stuff done and released.

Yesterday I pencilled and inked two pages of Point of Contact. They’re not detail rich, and there’s a lot of shading to be done to them before they’re complete, but it’s better than spending days worrying about layout and stuff. Point of Contact will premiere here on March 1st with a page a week until I’ve got enough pages in hand that I can move it up to two a week.


A quick look at the political blogosphere

With an election due soon I thought I should start looking for good British political blogs. I had some fun, found out a lot and worked out some of the background to Sounds of Soldiers through reading US political blogs in the run up to the 2008 election. Perhaps I can do something similar for the UK. A while ago I started adding poliblogs to my Bloglines account and following their updates. Some I’ve been reading since before Christmas, others I haven’t even looked at yet. Here are my impressions of a few of them-

Worst first, I think. I’ve been reading Guy Fawkes’ blog since before Christmas, though it quickly descended into waiting for something worthwhile to read. It hasn’t arrived yet. GFB is a very popular blog, as ‘Guido’ won’t fail to tell you as often as he can. It may have done something to get into that position in the past, but nowadays it’s all about throwing out red meat for his ravenous commenters to rant about. He also has a habit of referring to himself in the third person, which is about right for an obnoxious, self important blowhard. And a dumb one at that, he jumped right on the ‘Climategate’ non-story before Christmas, pretending that the hacked emails somehow negated all the evidence about climate change. I’ll carry on following Guido, but I’m not expecting anything interesting.

And another thing…. is the blog of Tom Harris MP. Unlike Guido, Tom puts some thought into the point of his posts rather than how to score cheap points with them, even if they do occasionally read as if he’s gone through them with an eye for spin. Whilst I don’t agree with many of his points it is nice to see an attempt at communication.

Harry’s Place is full of long, dense posts that probably reward careful reading. It’s just a shame my attention span’s so

Iain Dale is what Guido might be if he wasn’t so desperately trying to impress people. He’s very obviously of the right, and has the occasional point scoring jibe at Labour or the LibDems, but does it with a much lighter touch. You get the feeling that if you were dining with him at Le Caprice the conversation would about something more interesting than how wonderful he thinks he is.

Enough for now. I shall return to this subject again soon. And probably even more until the election.


Sounds of Soldiers cover design ideas

Over Christmas I’ve been doing a final draft and layout for Sounds of Soldiers, because I’ve been faffing for too long and it needs to get published. Admittedly I’ve been using Word, which will cause proper book designers to spit, but this is entirely text so I didn’t feel the need for a DTP program. It’s looking good. 124 pages, before I start putting frontispieces etc. in.

So now it’s time to start thinking of a cover. I sat down and did a few sketches yesterday. Above is the “anti-techno-thriller” cover. As Sounds of Soldiers was written partly as a reaction against techno-thrillers- with their drooling over technology and lack of concern for casualties- this is a vision of the aftermath of battle. Imagine it redone in a painterly style and letterboxed between the title- which would be in big big letters.

I like it, but it’s not really what the story’s about. There are bits about the war, and it’s the reason the characters are in the situations they are, but it’s not the main driver. So I tried a bunch of other ideas out as thumbnails-

Sounds of Soldiers cover design thumbnails

A more minimalist cover is the way to go, I think. The windmill kept coming up as an image, because it reduces down to an icon more easily than solar thermal, composting or biodiesel do. So I’ll probably develop a few variations on that.

The book should be finished and ready for print on demand in early January if I keep up the work.


The American Right are revolting!

That’s revolting as in disgusting, nauseating and horrific. They think they mean revolting as in starting a revolution but, as usual, they’re wrong.

Sounds of Soldiers was based upon the premise that McCain/Palin stole the 2008 election then McCain keeled over and left the mad woman to play out her apocalypse fantasy with the world’s biggest military machine. Glenn Beck’s wet dreams, if realised, could plausibly lead to the same catastrophe.


How will the USA end? 2

Slate asked the Global Business Network to come up with scenarios for the end of the USA as it currently exists. With Sounds of Soldiers I’ve already put forward my version of the collapse scenario. I have no plans in the near future to examine any of the other possibilities, but I may come back to them in the future.

via io9


Help me edit my novella, Sounds of Soldiers

I finished the first draft of Sounds of Soldiers a couple of days ago. Now I’d like to ask your help in getting it ready for publication. I have uploaded the editors’ draft of Sounds of Soldiers as a zip file (or you can find it on Scribd). Please download it, read it and tell me how you think it could be improved. Together we can make it a better novella.

The first draft of the completed story includes at least one chapter that has not been published in the serialisation on Spinneyhead, and several that have been rewritten. If you’ve been following the story, this is the best way for you to find out how the story ends. It’s in rtf format, so any text editor should be able to read it.

As a thank you I’ll find a way for everyone who sends a suggestion to get a discounted or special edition of the final book.

If you’d like to support me as I take Sounds of Soldiers to final draft please use the Donate button below.


Sounds of Soldiers – Drop

I spent a long time staring at the body of the man I’d strangled to death. I didn’t feel sick. I glanced at the bodies of the three man who’d entered the forest with me and felt glad not to be one of them. After a while I began to get a detached feeling, like an out of body experience. That was the point where I knew I had to start moving or I’d be a zombie’d sitting target for any of the American’s friends who were out there.

His gun lay close by, where it had dropped from his grasp as he passed out. I picked it up and studied it, but took a minute to realise what was strange about it. It was brand new. There was almost no wear on it, except where it had hit the ground as he thrashed around. It still had the thin sheen of oil it had been wearing when it left the factory.

Studying the body I could now tell that the webbing he wore was new as well. The pouches that hung off it held spare magazines, boxes of ammunition and a tracking device. I rolled him over and, without looking him in the face, removed the webbing. After a bit of adjustment it fit me. I reloaded the gun and surveyed the hollow.

It was obvious where we had entered from, the path came down from the trees, ran around a small boulder then headed out again. A shallow gouge, and the wounded tree, showed where our attacker had fallen from. Crouching, and with the gun at the ready, I climbed to where he had been standing.

I hadn’t expected to find anybody at the top of the short climb, but a little paranoia was appropriate. I scanned the trees and soon found the direction he had come from. Branches had been broken and the ground was disturbed, he had run to the vantage point so he could be waiting for us. I turned tracking device on, it indicated that something was slightly to the right of where he’d come from. I started to trace his steps back.

The paranoia resurfaced and I tried to keep the gun at the ready. That didn’t work with the tracker in one hand, until I found how to mount it where the sights would normally go.

The pod had been slowed by a parachute, which had tangled in the branches to hold it upright with the tip jammed between roots. This wasn’t a bomb or a fuel tank, it had panels which opened along its length to reveal the cargo inside. Weapons, lots of them. I approached slowly and checked inside. There were more submachine guns like the one I carried, grenades, slabs of what was probably C4, sniper rifles, webbing and lots of ammunition.

I’d carried a hunting rifle early in the conflict, and become quite good with it. It would be nice to have another one, so I shouldered one and grabbed a few boxes of ammunition.

The beacon had to be somewhere inside the pod. Not the nose, because that would hit the ground first. Somewhere in the tail then. The skin was thin, and the pod was hollow all the way to the end. I craned my head round and stared up the inside. There was a red light up there. It took a bit of fussing to get the gun in and aimed, then I let off a couple of bursts. They were horribly loud in the confined space, but the light went off. The tracker wasn’t detecting anything any more.

I made myself absent, jogging back to the clearing as fast as possible. It was only when I was back with the bodies that I realised I should have tagged the location with my GPS.