Tag Archives: God

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!

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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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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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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:

Justin's review 2

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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The rise of religious comedies and satire…

So, last summer I self-published my debut novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’, through Amazon and Smashwords. This novel is a humorous look at what happens when God, who has become ensnared in the bureaucracy that Heaven has become, travels to Earth to convince humans to stop ravaging our planet and the only person who can help Him is an atheist. Hilarity obviously ensues. I am also in the process of completing the sequel, Jesus Returns: here he comes again, and will self-publish this at a later date.

Now both are obviously satirical and not that serious and are meant to be taken as anything as the silly fun that they are intended to be and since publishing the novel a small, but growing, number of people have read it and written me some lovely reviews (see here: http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z). I will also soon be appearing on some atheist podcasts, something I am very much looking forward to (though they will require some very late nights which I am less keen on) to talk about the novel, as well as my experience of being an atheist. I hope you will take the time to listen to the shows and enjoy them!

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Yet, when I had self-published the novel a funny thing happened: I began to notice an increasing number of other religious comedies around. When I travelled on the London Underground I would see posters advertising them as well as reading articles in newspapers. Things like, the Book of Mormon, from the creators of South Park, that is still playing at the Prince of Wales Theatre in London and that I intend to see this when I can find the money. Then I saw a Guardian article about the new play from Gary Sinyor, NotMoses, that is playing in London at the moment and which features a not-too-bright God. Then I saw an advert for ‘Hand to God’, the play currently running at the Vaudeville Theatre and I began to wonder about the increasing prevalence of plays, books and movies that openly satirise religion.

Hand to God

Now, comedies that mock religion are nothing new, the obvious example being the brilliant Life of Brian from Monty Python. Hilarious and eminently quotable, this movie has obviously influenced much of what has come since. Kevin’s Smith’s Dogma is another excellent and very funny religious comedy and an obvious comparison to my novel given the subject matter. Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s wonderful ‘Good Omens’ also plays with religious characters in a way that only that pair could and provides many laughs as well as the humanity that was apparent in so much of Pratchett’s writing.

Good Omens

But it got me thinking that maybe we might be entering a new era where we see many more comedies that are not afraid to openly mock religion. And I have to say that it’s about time, for satire is one of the best means by which you can strip something of its power. You only need look at something like the brilliant ‘Spitting Image’ to know how effective humour can be in doing this and to realise how badly the UK needs a show with the biting power that this one had. Or an equivalent of the Daily Show, Nightly Show or Last Week Tonight that focuses on mocking our current politic scene for there is surely much to mock and an abundance of material to work with.

Life of Brian

I really hope that this trend keeps going and that we will continue, no matter how tricky it can be at times, to mock and satirise religion and all that is inherently silly in these mythologies, concepts and institutions. I am hoping to finish and self-publish ‘Jesus Returns’ and that by promoting my work and the satirising of religion, that I am contributing, in some small way, to this discussion. For Jesus will indeed be returning to Earth and hilarity will again ensue. Until then, I will go and see The Book of Mormon and guest on atheist podcasts and contribute to the going mockery of all religions. For they really, truly deserve it! Oh, and I’ll be reading Justin Lee Anderson’s ‘Carpet Diem’ when I can find the time. I might even review it too! Cheers!

EDIT: Balls! I completely forgot to include ‘An Act of God’, the play brought to us by David Javerbaum, the writer behind “The Last Testament: A Memoir by God”, another to add to the growing list of religious satires and comedies…

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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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Ramblings : the unique relationship between self-published authors and their readers…

In this week’s blog post I’m ‘rambling’ about the relationship between indie authors like myself and those who choose to read and review their works. So my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ has now been live at all electronic retailers for a few months and in that time I have managed to sell a few copies, expand my twitter following to more than a thousand and, most importantly, garner a small handful of very positive reviews from my readers, which I then use to promote my novel. Most of these can be found here (http://tinyurl.com/pgjd68z) and the latest review I received was prefaced with a tweet that simply said “brilliant! loved it.” in reply to one of my tweets advertising my book. Since beginning this process, I am slowly realising how unique the relationship between indie authors and their readers really is.

What strikes me about the relationship is how personal it is and how, in the case of these (rather lovely!) reviews, I know who wrote each of them. Well, I know which Twitter account is attached to each review anyway. Some of my readers even kept me updated with their progress through the book as they read it and when they reached the end, each of them has contacted me to let me know how much they enjoyed the novel. I find that this is a very nice thing indeed! Now, as I’m not an author published via the traditional route of finding an agent who then finds you a publisher and thus your book is released into the world, I can’t comment on that relationship. I tried that route and didn’t get anywhere, mostly because (I think) my novel is so hard to categorise, and I’m also sure that these authors get positive feedback from their fans when they meet them in person. But something about this relationship feels unique and I doubt I am the only indie author to think this.

The first time someone (my wife) read through my novel I was very nervous. Gradually, I learned to manage that feeling and since then the novel has had many read-through’s and edits so it is far more polished than the version that she first read. Friends and family have also read my book and given me feedback, but there is only so far that you can trust the words of those who love you and are likely to be nice about your work, even if it is not working. I trust those reviews to an extent, which was why I self-published, but having done so I waited to hear what other, unbiased people thought of it. Obviously hearing from strangers who have read it can go a variety of ways. They might love it, they might not. And a bad review can leave a very sour taste. My worst review (so far) is this: “didn’t work for me” which left me more than a little amused. First, I wish it had worked for them. But, given that it didn’t, they still gave the book 3 stars, suggesting that is wasn’t THAT bad. Unfortunately, I don’t know who it was and so I cannot ask.

Now, I am still hopeful that my novel will take-off and reach a much wider audience than has happened so far but, even if it does, I will still treasure those first few, rather lovely reviews that I received. And if you are one of those reviewers (and you all know who you are) then I thank you for taking the plunge with an unknown author and for taking the time to let me know what you thought of the work. It is a truly wonderful thing to hear back from those who have read and enjoyed your book and, should I become the world-wide smash-hit author that I am surely destined to become (hah!) then I will thank each of you in person when I meet you on my world-wide tour. Until then I shall enjoy the reviews as they come and continue to be immensely grateful for my readers and reviewers! Cheers!

 

Check out my other “Rambling” blogs posts for articles on comics, politics, self-publishing and my novel, ‘Only an atheist can help God save the world’ which is out now at all electronic retailers! Also follow me on Twitter @onlyanatheist1. Cheers!

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