Category Archives: Indie authors

My atheist comedy has been offered a review by a Catholic blogger…is this good?

So, every now and then in the life of a self-published, independent author like myself something interesting happens. It could be getting your first great review, as recently happened to a friend of mine and fellow indie author Rachel Shaw (she’s the writer of a fantasy novel called ‘The Raveller’s Guild’, http://tinyurl.com/kqxnrhu), or it could be going on a podcast and talking to people about your book or maybe starting up your own blog up and finding things to talk about that you hope your audience will enjoy. For me recently it was being offered a review, something that seems to be increasingly difficult to get due to the ever increasing number of indy authors out there, and the not-that-large pool of available reviewers but the interesting part was who the offer came from: a former atheist, now Catholic blogger.

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I should explain. ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ and the sequel ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again!’ are satire novels where religious icons travel to Earth to convince us to stop destroying our world. In the first book the only person who is able to help God is an atheist and in the sequel, Jesus treads God’s well worth path making somewhat of a fool of himself along the way. Now, these clearly make fun of the various religions and of the iconography of Christianity, and I have a lot of fun lampooning what God is, who my version of Jesus is, the role of the Heavenly Bureaucracy and The Committee, a group of angels who are now in control and so on and so forth and you can find an example of the sort of humour that this book contains below.

God was in a meeting...

But these books are definitely not aimed at a religious audience. Despite that I have always wondered what someone of that persuasion would make of them and so, naturally, lots of questions start swirling around my brain. Do they really want to review my book, a satirical poke in the eye for religion, and if they do how come? I mean, it’s light-hearted fun and I certainly haven’t set out to offend anyone but I’m still left with the question of why would they want to do this? Well, they say that all publicity is good publicity but I was still confronted with the choice of whether I should I do this, do I send a review copy to someone who may, in all likelihood, give me a very bad review indeed. They could always just buy the book but in the end I did send them a free copy.

 

Either way, it draws attention, right, even if the opinion given is not a good one. And if the review is very poor indeed I shall still tweet excerpts from it in the same way that I do with the good reviews that I have received (like the one below). I will simply ensure that the tweet contains the words ‘Catholic blogger’ and then my atheist followers will know that the review may be somewhat biased. If he says that the book is a piece of atheist trash, that’d work for them, right? At least I hope it will. Still, I can’t help wondering whether I have made a mistake in engaging with this person.

 

Now all I can do is wait and see what they make of it and what it is that they say in their review. And wonder, as we indie authors endlessly do, if this is one of the things that helps to pull in the publicity that launches the book to a bigger audience. Here’s hoping, even if takes the outrage of the religious to help move things along. Cheers!

 

‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ now has TWELVE reader reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers including Amazon UK here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z. The sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Finally, follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

Indie author? Lost your cover artist? Don’t panic…

I self-published my comedy novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, last July having spent the previous three years trying to find an agent who would represent me without success. Given that my novel is a religious satire where God comes to Earth to try to save us from ourselves and then finds that an atheist is the only person who can help him, I should not have been surprised that the agents I contacted were less than enthusiastic. The book may be something of a hard sell 😉 Despite this, I was certain that there was an audience out there who would enjoy my work. While I was repeatedly editing the novel and considering the self-publishing route I realised that I needed a striking cover, as all independent authors do, for that is the first thing that a potential reader will see and so a stunning image that grabs their attention is absolutely essential. I made some enquiries and found an artist who was willing to work with me and the image that you see below was the result.

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I was very happy with the cover, I’ve had many people ask me about it and so, when it came to writing the sequel that I never thought I was going to write, ‘Jesus Returns! Here he comes again’, I knew that I needed something that complemented the image that I already had. Unfortunately, this was when my cover artist decided to go AWOL. The last time I had checked in with her, there was a note on her website saying that she was taking time away from her business to improve her skills and come back afresh. Now she seemed to have completely gone off the grid. I emailed her, politely asking whether she would be interested in making a cover for my sequel and that she at least reply to let me know either way. I received no such reply. I waited a while, worked on the manuscript and then emailed again. And then finally, one more time just to be sure. Nothing. Eventually I came to the realisation that I needed to find another artist, that mine was truly out of the game, and that I would just have to accept that I would probably not get another one like the first and that whatever I ended up with would have to suffice, even if it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. What else could I do?

So I again began the tedious process of sending out emails and searching for her replacement with little hope of success. I contacted some artists who never got back to me and then some kind person on Twitter sent me in the direction of Natasha Snow. I sent her an email explaining what I wanted to see if she had any interest in the project as well as a link to the previous cover image. Natasha replied that my last cover was indeed quite spectacular and that she would look into finding suitable stock images and I continued to wait and see whether she could help me.

I needn’t have worried. The first indication I had that I might get the cover that I wanted was when Natasha sent me some links to some stock images that looked remarkably like how I imagined the Jesus of my novels might look. I knew that his image was the key to the whole thing and that, once that was right, everything else could be figured out. So, we agreed on the image and on the details of the design and I sat back to await the arrival of my new cover. When I received the first draft it confirmed that I had made the right choice and that this whole thing was going to work out. I loved it, only minor revisions were even needed to finish the image and, once they were done, I received the rather wonderful image that you see below…

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So, if you’re a self-published, independent author like me who’s lost your cover artist (what are the chances?) then my advice is this: don’t panic, send out some feelers, know what you want and it will most likely work out well, as it did for me. You could also check out Natasha’s website (http://natashasnow.com/) and send your business her way, if you wanted to 😉 You never know, she might make for you as striking an image as she did for me. Here’s hoping!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, now has TWELVE reviews with an average of 4.4 stars and is available from all electronic retailers. It’s sequel, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’, will be out soon! Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘rambling’ review of Terry Moore’s ‘Rachel Rising’…

So, in case it’s not clear by now, I absolutely love comics. I read as many as I can get my hands on, I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (which is well worth the money (http://tiny.cc/m2s3cy)), I borrow what I can get from my local library (which, unfortunately, isn’t much compared to the last city I lived in) and I buy what I can afford to. My preferred means of collecting is in big, beautiful hardcovers, though I am now buying more trades in an effort to support creator-owned series like Bitch Planet, Rumble, Monstress and quite a few others. And every now and then a series comes along and stuns you with its brilliance, like this one. Anyway, onwards…

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Rachel Rising (I’m gonna call if RR for the rest of this post) is a wonderful, independent comic series written and drawn by Terry Moore and I just love it! And one of the best things about it is that my wife also adores it, even more than I do I think. There aren’t that many series that we agree about or where she refuses to let me read the latest volume until she has done so even when I was the one who ordered and paid for the bloody thing! Anyway, RR recently concluded and, when I received the last volume, I started the entire run from the beginning again. It reads incredibly well this way but I had to wonder where Moore had found the time to do everything that he does on this book and release it in a reasonable schedule! It’s staggering how much of his work has gone into this one man show from the writing to the drawing and the covers (as well as, presumably, the editing). His work rate puts the rest of us to shame!

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RR follows our titular character as she wakes up in a grave having been strangled to death. Well, wakes might not be the right word and the question of whether she’s actually alive or dead is never really answered during the series. Not that that is a problem, Moore simply keeps that issue in the background as he explores the rest of his diverse cast from Rachel’s best friend, Jet, to her aunt Johnny to Zoe, a homicidal little girl. RR isn’t afraid to show the darker side of the world and features the highest body count in a small town that I think of besides a movie like The Crazies. And I love the inventiveness that Moore displays in dispatching his characters in all manner of ways. And, oh, the ending of the series. This is how you stick the landing, people! RR reminds me of other brilliant horror comics like Locke and Key where the writer understands exactly how much time they need to tell the tale and they don’t feel the need to go any further. And then you miss it so much when it is done…

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If you like horror comics, or series that are a little different, ones that aren’t afraid to do unusual and epic stories, then you’ll like RR. If you’re a fan of creator-owned tales where the writer is free to cover whatever material they like and do with their characters as they wish, then read RR. As a writer of atheist fiction that explores ancient archetypes, I especially liked how Moore played with religious characters like Lucifer and Lilith and how the entire story tied into tales eons old.

You may have to go a little out of your way to find RR as it’s not available at the usual online sources but you can find it on the Forbidden Planet website. Or you could, you know, go out and find your local comic store and support them instead. RR is well worth the effort! Now, I just need to meet Mr. Moore at a convention, get my trades signed (consider parting with more hard earned cash to get the hardcover) and get a convention sketch of Rachel or one of her co-stars and all will be right with the world. I look forward to it!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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One year on: an update on writing, sequels and interesting developments…

A few days ago was the one year anniversary of the day that I self-published ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ and so now seems like a good time for some thoughts, some reflection and for me to post an update for all that’s happened and that I have been doing since then. The first thing I should say is that I can’t believe that it’s been a year already! It has flown by, as it always seems to do, and what a fun ride it has been including getting some great reviews and appearing on a number of atheist podcasts. The sequel is also proceeding nicely, I’ll talk about this more below, as well as an interesting aside that happened in the past week. Anyway…onwards!

The first thing I want to say is thank you to many people, from the guys and girls who first took a punt on my novel and were then kind enough to write reviews for my book (you all know who you are and how grateful I am to you!), to those who invited me onto their podcasts for chats about atheism, politics and of course my novel. These people have all been remarkably generous with their time and I currently have ten reviews of the book, including three five star reviews, with an average of 4.3 stars out of five. That’s fantastic and you all have my thanks!

As well as writing and appearing on podcasts, one of the other things I have also done this year has been to post as often as I can to this blog on everything from comics like ‘Rumble’ and ‘Mind Mgmt’ to reviewing non-fiction books like Johann Hari’s ‘Chasing the Scream’, George Monbiot’s ‘Captive State’ and many others. I’ve also written about my appearances on atheist podcasts, my recent experience of working in retail again after many years in science, and other random bits like my reviews of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Captain America: Civil War. Basically, anything that’s caught my interest or that I love I’ve written about in the hope that I can persuade others to enjoy the things that I do.

I also wanted to post an update as to the sequel to ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, ‘Jesus Returns: here he comes again’ which is again back in production now that I have been able to find some time to actually do some writing! I am having a blast working on this book, which is now more than halfway done, and I hope to finish it soon now that I have the time to do so (though the real possibility of a decent full-time job in the near future would make this more complicated!). Of course, once the writing is done, the editing process will begin and that often takes as long as the writing, so the release of this novel might be further in the future than I hope. But unlike when ‘Only an atheist’ was released (and I was more than a little apprehensive), I can’t wait for people to read ‘Jesus Returns’ so I certainly have the motivation to keep going!

Finally, I wanted to end on an interesting note that also seems to warrant some discussion. My brother’s fiance is Australian and, on a recent trip back to her homeland, she sent me and my family an intriguing message. She said that she was having a conversation with a friend about atheists like Sam Harris, a fellow neuroscientist and author, and she happened to mention me and my novel (for it is always good to have friends and family willing to proselytise on your behalf). Then something interesting happened. It seemed that her friend had already heard of me and my book and had even seen the cover (which he thought looked like Socrates) but not via me, my twitter account or my appearances on atheist podcasts. There was a brief confusion where it seemed that Penn Jillette may have been the source of the information (I have since confirmed with him on Twitter that he was not) but nevertheless my brother’s fiance’s friend had heard about the book from somewhere, some podcast that was seemingly talking about it.

And this is truly exciting for if people other than myself are now talking about and suggesting my novel to other people then suddenly it feels like this thing might be taking on a life of it’s own. I am aware that this could happen, that the novel might be found by the right person, someone with the right connections  and then things could escalate. And even if this wasn’t that moment, I am still intrigued and I know that event still could happen and that is an exciting thought indeed! So if anyone knows of any podcast or outlet that is talking about my novel (without me as a guest), then please get in touch so that I can make contact with them directly. That would be very helpful.

To sum up, it’s been an exciting year with some standout moments and I hope that the next one is as enjoyable. I’m hoping to finish ‘Jesus Returns’ in the near future and then the novel will be released when I am happy with it. Which will undoubtedly take some time! And then I’ll have to see what happens next in this series and whether or not it will continue (I’m already thinking of a sequel so it probably will). Hopefully the journey that I am on as an Indie author will and bigger things are to come. Here’s hoping!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

 

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My ‘Ramblings’ on Rumble!

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about any comics on this blog and so it is to them that I now turn my attention. I’m a huge fan of comics and I’ve been reading as many as I can get my hands on for the past ten years or so. I have a subscription to Marvel Unlimited (which is well worth the money in my opinion, more here: http://tinyurl.com/hayjok2) and I use my local library to get my hands on the series that I am less interested in buying but would still like to read. I then purchase as many graphic novels as I can afford but, as my money only stretches so far, I am very careful with my choices. So, it is not often that I take a risk on a series that I haven’t seen reviews for. But that’s exactly what I did with the comic book series that is the subject of this week’s blog post: Rumble.

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Rumble comes from co-creators John Arcudi and James Harren who previously worked together on a volume of the Hellboy spin-off, BPRD, and this series is, in my opinion, an excellent comic book. Hellboy, and all the Mignola associated spinoffs, are also brilliant comics that are, if you’ve never given them a go, well worth your time and this was where I was first introduced to this creator pairing. Rumble is published by Image comics, whose reputation for supporting creator-owned comics is well-earned, and their tactic of releasing the first trade of a new series at a low-price point is very smart indeed. I picked up Rumble on the strength of the creators previous works and I am so glad that I did. Besides his work on BPRD, I am also familiar with Arcudi’s phenomenal, ‘A God Somewhere’, a brutal and vivid tale of superheroes that is far removed from the relative tameness of most of DC and Marvel’s output. If you’ve never heard of that story, hunt it out too and read it, it’s great! So, onto Rumble.

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Rumble is a fantasy tale where two guys, Bobby and Del, are caught up in a “ten-thousand year old grudge match” between ancient races, as the blurb puts it. The story combines fantasy and humour to good effect and this is one of those comics where both writer and artist are truly in synch. Harren’s kinetic and expressive art complements Arcudi’s story remarkably well infusing the fight scenes, of which there are many, with dynamism and brutality, and this serves the story well. Arcudi’s characters are well-drawn and fully-formed including our human protagonists and the warrior God Rathraq who now inhabits the body of a Scarecrow, which tells you the tone of the tale quite nicely! The creators bring together the fantastical with the ordinary in this series and I very much like the way the reader is dropped straight into the story and forced to keep up as matters are eventually explained.

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Rumble reminds me of several other stories. BPRD, obviously, it’s hard not to see a little of their previous collaboration in this tale, but I am also reminded of Jeff Smith’s wonderful ‘Bone’ series in the way that the tale is told. And that is huge compliment, Bone being one of the best series of recent decades (seriously, if you haven’t read that, go and do so right now!). But Rumble is also something unique and it stands out as an individual and gripping tale. So far two trades have been released, ‘What Colour of Darkness’ and ‘A Woe that is Madness’, and both are great. Arcudi and Harren now have a loyal reader in me not only for Rumble but for any other series that they produce in the near future. I highly recommend that you hunt this series out and give it a go (and at the cheap price of the first volume, you really should!) and help support fabulous creator-owned series like this one. For the future of comics is truly creator-owned!

 

Next time I hope to review the superb ‘PostCapitalism’ by Paul Mason. If I can find the time to finish it, that is. Till then, I hope you enjoy Rumble! I am!

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Update: atheist podcast appearances and my 5 star review!

For my 25th blog post (has it really been 25 already?) I thought I should turn my attention away from comics, book reviews and other matters and focus on the actual reason that I began this blog: my life as an independent author, and that I should post an update on recent happenings. So, two significant things that can occur in the career of a writer like myself occurred in the past few weeks. The first was that I made several appearances on atheist podcasts to talk about, among other things, my novel. The second  was that I got my first FIVE star review from a reader! Both of these events seem like significant milestones in the career of a self-published, independent author like myself and I’m going to talk a little about each. First, the podcasts!

In the past few weeks I’ve been on three atheist podcasts: Atheist Human’s show, the Ehtheist podcast and Cellar Door Skeptics. I’ve had a blast doing them and you can find the links to each show below. During our conversations we talked about religion, atheism, politics and of course about my novel, and all of the hosts of these shows have been remarkably generous in the amount of time they’ve allocated me to ramble about ‘Only an atheist’. Everyone involved has my thanks and I very much look forward to talking to you all again soon! Thanks guys!

Having appeared on these shows I am also struck by what they are and what they can be. They are outside of conventional media and a way of directly reaching an (admittedly small, but steadily growing) audience of listeners and conveying your message without the bias of the conventional media. OK, so most of the information discussed in these podcasts has been informed by interactions with said media but I am still impressed by the discussions that I have been a part of and how well informed my hosts have been. I have already arranged several more podcast appearances that will hopefully be lined up in the near future and I very much look forward to them. The one downside to this is that most of these shows record in the middle of the night for us here in the UK, but a few hours sleep is a small sacrifice for something so enjoyable.

The second thing that happened in the past few weeks that has truly stunned me is something that every indie author hopes will happen to them: I got a five star review from someone who read and obviously enjoyed my novel! Here it is:

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Now, clearly I hoped that I would one day get a review like this and each previous review posted for my novel gave it four stars (except for the one person who didn’t like it and gave it three). But I have to say that this felt like a significant moment and I have, unsurprisingly, been enjoying telling people and retweeting this review out as often as I can. I am incredibly grateful to the person who wrote the review (they know who they are ;)) and I am sure that my first five star review will eventually be balanced out with a very negative review (probably from someone with religious tendencies). Little puts the bounce in the step of an indie author, however, than something like this! It was a very special moment and one that I treasure.

So, onwards…There will be more podcast appearances in the coming weeks as well as (hopefully) more positive reviews as there is now a significant number of people who have told me that they have bought my book and are reading it. I hope you guys enjoy my appearances on these shows now and in the future and I can’t wait to hear from all of you who’ve read the novel and reviewed it. Cheers!

 

Atheist Human podcast appearance: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/atheisthuman/2016/03/22/all-atheists-have-a-voice-1

Ehtheist podcast appearance: https://www.spreaker.com/user/ehtheist/live-with-matthew-james

Cellar Door Skeptics appearance: to be released.

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help Godsave the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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My ‘ramblings’ about the pitfalls of using social media to promote your

So, for my twentieth blog post, I thought I should actually ‘ramble’ about something that is directly relevant to the purpose of this blog and to the reason that I am on social media: the promotion of my novel ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’. That is, after all, the main (but not the only) reason that I write this blog and why I am using Twitter, and having recently reviewed several non-fiction books, I realised that I really should try to post on relevant topics more often. This time I am talking about the pitfalls that indie authors like myself can fall into when using social media in an attempt to find an audience and to convince said audience to actually read the work that they have produced. For it is not an easy thing to do so here are my thoughts on how to do so with a little grace.

Now, I am hardly an expert in the use of social media to promote your work, but I do feel that I have learned a thing or two since engaging with this medium and in the past few weeks I have had a few interesting exchanges that have increased my knowledge and actually changed the way that I have been using it. As many others do, but to a lesser extent, I follow accounts in the hope that they will follow me back and if they choose to do so, I then take the opportunity to tweet them an advert for my novel. So, I have carefully crafted this tweet to be upbeat and friendly and I have had far more positive responses to it than negative, but still it doesn’t always work out that way. On the positive, sometimes I will be told how stunning the cover is and that opens up a conversation nicely. But I do still I get the occasional bad reaction.

One such reaction came when I tweeted at one of my followers and they responded immediately with an unpleasant retort and then blocked me. I thought that was more than a little harsh when a simple unfollow would have sufficed but what can you do? Another reaction occurred when I followed a fellow atheist, they followed me back, I tweeted my greeting and they expressed their annoyance at me ‘shilling’ my book to them. Now, this is not the only reason that I follow people, but it is the principal one, and I can hardly complain when I was doing exactly that. This person then asked me (somewhat indirectly) to unfollow them and I obliged for I am not trying to piss anyone off. Still, the exchange left a somewhat sour taste though I was still glad they didn’t block me. But it left me wondering how I could refine the way in which I use twitter and since then have I reduced the number of times per day that I send out my tweets about my book.

So, I am again struck by the delicate balance that Indie, self-published authors like myself have to strike between advertising their works to their audience, and not pestering them too much and thus driving them away. I followed an author in the past few weeks whose time-line was an endless stream of thank you messages to their new followers that completely dominated my feed and so I quickly unfollowed them. But I am also aware that the time immediately after someone has followed you is the best chance to say hello, let them know about your novel and to show them the book cover. I know that my cover image is one of the best things that I have when seeking to advertise my book, along with short excerpts and highlighting the reviews that I have been given, and I know that I have a truly memorable cover, but the line between someone seeing this image enough times to snag their interest and being annoyed can be quite thin. And no matter how good your cover image is, your followers are likely to get tired of it eventually. I know that I would in their shoes.

In the past few weeks I have also taken to trawling my list of people that I am following in an attempt to remove those who have recently chosen to unfollow me. I am still trying not to expand my following list too quickly and this allows me to remove those who no longer have an interest in my novel and replace them with others who might. I don’t blame those who do so as it must become tiresome following an author who is using Twitter for promotional purposes, and actually I am now more aware of how many times some of my followers must have seen my cover image, and so I am grateful to those who choose to stay. I recently noticed several of my followers had chosen to leave and I was very sad to lose a few of these accounts, including someone who is a tiny bit famous and who’s work I admire and who followed me despite having little reason to do so, but there is nothing you can do once they choose to leave.

As ever with these things, you have to take the good with the bad and accept that you are using twitter for a purpose and that sometimes people you follow will not like what you are doing. I am aware that popular opinion writers for newspapers and magazines that I read have it far worse than I do (though I have received a little bit of that flack from time to time when tweeting about their articles) and I know that I have relatively little to complain about. I am also aware that this may change as more people read my book and I am still waiting for the day when someone religious reads a novel in which God comes to Earth and the only person who can help Him is an atheist. I am certain that it will happen and also that that will be an interesting day for I am very curious as to what they will make of it!

Next up, either a review of the brilliant comic series Mind Mgmt by Matt Kindt or Owen Jones’ ‘The Establishment’, I haven’t decided which yet. And yes I know that my staying focused on writing about being a indie author didn’t last very long. Oh well 😉

 

My debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, is available now from all electronic retailers. Also check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on being an indie author, comics, politics, and reviews of books and movies! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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