Tag Archives: ebooks

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!

Reaching ‘peak stuff’ and how it has changed my view and what I want…

So, the feeling has been building for a while but I think my wife and I have finally reached ‘peak stuff’, that is the notion that we now have enough material possessions in our lives and that we no longer wish to keep gathering more. This makes us very bad citizens in the current age when you are encouraged to buy more and to consume more and to not think about the environmental cost of all this and instead to think about the benefits to the economy. It also causes issues at Christmas with all the gift giving and receiving.

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But the reality is that we really do have enough stuff. We live in a small apartment and, unless something dramatic changes (which it actually might be, if some newspaper reports are right), we won’t be buying a house anytime soon. Therefore we can only buy and keep the stuff that we can fit into said apartment. We have moved several times in the past decade (another increasing trend among my generation and the next), including to and from Canada and this required us to shed the vast majority of our stuff (and to buy new, which was quite fun), the rest was stored to await our return. But even those things, those possessions that we decided were worth keeping, are now looking like unnecessary junk in our lives and we are considering losing more and more of what remains.

 

In addition to this, I have sold off the majority of collectibles that I owned from many years spent building a substantial Transformers and Star Wars Black figures collection. Losing that feeling of needing to own stuff means that these figures would inevitably be heading out the door, and selling them actually paid for our car. I have also stopped buying graphic novels, which has been a passion of mine for a long time (though I still buy beautiful hardcovers of series I love, my last remaining weakness). I had gradually been moving to digital for my book and graphic novel needs anyway so replacing them with electronic versions when they have been available for a good price is a good move. Most of my physical books are borrowed from the library, breaking the link between owning and reading, and subscriptions to online streaming services have ended the need to buy physical copies of movies. All that we have left are mostly mementos of our lives and our travels and I am realising more and more that we need little else.

 

So then the question changes from what do I need to buy and own to what else do I want? I want an electric car (something else that seems right on the cusp of becoming mainstream) for I do not want to keep contributing to our humongous carbon dioxide output. I want less plastic to pass through my hands simply because I have a need to eat (why does a cucumber now come wrapped in this?). I want to eat well (our Riverford Farms weekly veg box helps with that http://tinyurl.com/j58aep6). I want the world to stop consuming fossil fuels when alternatives are finally reaching the mainstream (higher plastic use is clearly a by-product of oil consumption when we have significant quantities of oil derivatives to use) and I want renewable energy to become the norm, as I was told as a kid that it would be. My wife and I recently switched our energy supplier to Green Star (website: https://www.mygreenstarenergy.com/) who source their energy from renewables and that felt like a step in the right direction and a very good thing indeed. I also want everything that I discard to be recycled, though the rates of doing so are still dismal.

 

Finally, I want a political system in my country that works, one that meets the needs of the people and not of the elites and the Corporations who fund them. I want a truly representative Parliament, one that listens to us when they express ourselves and our concerns and then acts to help. I want enough houses to be built in the UK so that those who choose to buy are able to do so. I want a properly regulated financial system that doesn’t always seem like it’s about to bring about financial apocalypse (http://tinyurl.com/zgjg8ll). I want a powerful and well funded environmental agency that will police the actions of those who seek to destroy it, which we currently do not have (http://tinyurl.com/hszoort). And I want a forward looking political system that actually addresses the changes that are coming in the near future, like driver-less cars and ever more insecure working conditions.

 

It sounds like I want a lot, huh, but I really don’t think that I do, and I also think that many of you out there would agree with this point of view. Let me know if you do, eh. Cheers!

 

 

My debut novel, ‘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. 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! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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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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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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Thank you to my followers, retweeters, and most importantly my readers and reviewers!

So, having recently published several entries to my blog where I review either for a non-fiction book or the recent Star Wars movie, I think it’s time for something a little different. This entry is talking about some familiar themes: being an Indie author, the relationship that I have with my followers and readers, but more than anything it is a big thank you! Thank you to those who follow me, to those who retweet me, and especially a HUGE thank you to those who’ve chosen to buy and read my book! And if you’ve written me a review, then you get an even bigger THANK YOU! As an indie author the only means that I currently have to persuade people to read my book is through social media so if you’ve read and reviewed my novel you have my gratitude. I also think it’s time for a little reflection on the past few months…

Right, so, my book was self-published at the beginning of July 2015 and since then I have amassed a following of around 1300 people, most of whom I also follow. I am aware that I could’ve pursued this more quickly and aggressively, as I see other indie authors doing, by following many more accounts but to do so would be somewhat missing the point. I’ve tried to engage with as many of you as I can, though I have doubtlessly not done so with everyone, and I have enjoyed the majority of these interactions. In 7 months I’ve only had to block one account and have in turn been blocked by a small number, some of whom have turned out to be rather unpleasant characters, but at least one of which was down to my own stupidity. And being blocked by fellow atheists is quite a strange thing! There are lessons to be learned in the art of using social media to promote your novel and I feel I have learned them well!

I’ve also talked before about the relationship between Indie authors and their readers, yet every time I have a conversation with one of my followers who is reading my novel and they tell me how much they are enjoying it, I am again struck by how utterly unique this relationship is. Recently one of my followers tweeted me to tell me that they had bought my book and for someone like me that is always a good day indeed! Then, a short while later they again messaged me to inform me that, although they were very busy working, they were trying to find the time to read it when they could. They told me that they were “enjoying it immensely” and that they thought I “really out did myself”. This has happened a couple of times now but the days when I receive a message like this are truly wonderful. I am also eagerly awaiting the message that informs me they have finished the book and what they thought of it…

So, every time this happens, every time someone messages me to say that they have enjoyed my novel I get the feeling that this entire endeavour is worthwhile. I experience a small sense of satisfaction, and I know that, regardless of the number of books I have sold so far, I am glad that I am doing this. Then it happened again with one of my followers messaging me, someone who had previously told me that they thought my blog was “excellent”, to say that they had bought my book. Each time this occurs I am a little bit astonished and incredibly grateful. I am starting to get the feeling that I am getting somewhere, that this process is getting a little easier and that the next sale will be easier than the last. Yet I am not quite sure what has changed or why I feel like this and I shall have to have a think about it! Hopefully this feeling will continue and my sales will also do so!

Finally, I’ll end where I began with a thank you! Thank you to all of you who have followed me and seen my adverts for my book and then retweeted to help me reach a wider audience. To those of you who have taken the chance and actually either bought my book or grabbed it when it has been offered for free get double thanks! I know that doing so is taking a risk on an unknown author and I am immensely grateful to those who have done so! And even more gratitude to those who’ve finished the novel and then messaged me to tell me how much you’ve enjoyed it, and left me such lovely reviews on Amazon and Smashwords (you can find them here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z and http://tinyurl.com/pu46r2b). Your comments keep me going and I know that I owe you guys. You know who you are and you have my gratitude! Indie authors cannot be successful without the support of their fans and so I offer you one final THANK YOU! Now, onwards…

 

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, self-publishing! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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Welcome to the blog of Matthew James, author of “Only an atheist can help God save the world”!

Hi there and welcome to the blog of Matthew James, author of ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’! Now, if you’re here because you have been redirected from either Twitter or Reddit then I hope you will give me a chance to convince you to give both my blog and my satirical novel a go. Hopefully you’ll find something you like. My blog is entitled ‘Rambings’ and on it you’ll find articles about comics, movies, politics, and of course my novel, as well as the self-publishing process and Indie authors, of which I am one. Anyway, onwards!

So, my novel asks the question of what does God do when he finds out the extent to which humanity is destroying the Earth? Well, He travels to Earth to talk to us and try to persuade us that we should stop what we are doing and save ourselves and our world. Unfortunately, Heaven has become a bureaucracy that He, due to His somewhat fiery temper, is no longer in charge of and now God must obtain permission from The Committee, run by His former voice, Metatron, to even come to Earth. And when He gets here He finds that the only person who can help Him is an atheist called Jeff. This is as much as I wish to say for I do not want to spoil anything.

I recently self-published this novel on Amazon and through Smashwords and you can find it at all electronic retailers for whichever device you choose to read it on. In an effort to convince you to give the novel a go, here is the opening lines from the book and a review from someone who follows me on Twitter who did just that and really enjoyed it. If you would like some more then there is a sample chapter (about the first 10% of the book) available to read for free at these sites and if you also enjoy that then I hope you will buy it 😉

“Chapter One

In which we meet God and explore the situation He now finds Himself in, we find out who the power behind the throne is, and a decision is reached

Meetings, endless meetings or how God got into this situation in the first place

God was in a meeting. God was always in a meeting and these days they seemed to stretch to eternity. And God could tell you a thing or two about eternity. But these meetings were necessary.

In the beginning it was just Him and He didn’t have to suffer meetings. But the Universe had continued to expand and God, even as all-powerful as He is, had needed help. So he’d created the angels and, for a time, they had all gotten on famously. The angels had carried out His will and pitched in with all of the necessary management tasks that continued to endlessly pile up. They had even helped Him to keep His temper when it all got a bit too much.

So the angels were necessary and God had accepted that. He knew that a smaller Universe would’ve allowed Him more time by Himself but a larger one produced so many more interesting things; worlds to explore, creatures and creations to investigate.”

And here’s the review that someone left me…

“I really enjoyed this book, it’s witty, intelligent, and it has a good pace to it. If you like Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett you will probably enjoy this book. Don’t take this book too seriously though, it’s a comedy caper, not a religious book, but it might have you thinking about life the universe and everything in a couple of places.”

You can see the review, as well as a couple more, here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z

Now, I’m an atheist and this book is very much written with a sense of fun and only a pinch of seriousness. I hope that it combines a little of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with some of Good Omens and Kevin Smith’s Dogma thrown in. And thankfully that is what those who have read it have been telling me. My pen name is Matthew James, but this is not my real name, for when you publish a book that satirises religion, even relatively gently, it seems a good idea to maintain some distance between yourself and your work. So if you do like what you have read and you buy my book and you enjoy it then let me know on Twitter or Reddit or at the email address below. I’d love to hear from you! I’d also love it if you told your friends and family about the book and helped me to spread the word for that is the only way someone like me can succeed. Cheers!

You can find me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1 and I’m on Reddit as MatthewJames1. You can also email me at onlyanatheist@mail.com if you have something to say.

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