Tag Archives: Imogen Shroud

Neon Bug City

Well would you just look at this. Two posts in two days.  Back to back!  I hope this doesn’t establish some sort of unrealistically expectant precedent.

Anyway, it seems like Neon Bug City is live on evil global megacorporation Amazon dot com, and also on friendly socialistic sometimes broken but always happy Gumroad.  It’s probably some weird amount on Amazon because their pricing thing is bonkers.  It’s whatever you feel like paying on Gumroad, including zero dollars (&zero cents).  Get it from wherever you like, and know that I don’t really mind whether you pay for it or not.  If you read it and enjoy it then maybe tell someone, that’d be nice.

Oh, it’s the latest thing set in the Charlotte Powers solar system.  Giant ants.  Sad old mercenary protag.  Quite a bit of action.  Some feelings.  There’s a few gags I’m pretty happy with.  Overall, definitely a book.

I also put a few more things up on Gumroad while I was mucking around, the Resonances are there, and Imogen Shroud, so if you’re in the mood for a big long vaguely post-apocalyptic dark fantasy kids-with-powers thing, (or cosplaying zombies), then go grab ’em.  Episodic fiction experimentios Bright Battle Story and Death Theory and Remember When are also things that exist.

That’s all.  Don’t expect more posts and you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time,

with love,

BJK White
(The Author Person)

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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Of Writing


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Lovely Feedback, Beautiful Plumage

Goodness, if you want to attract traffic to your bjournal, talk about Game of Thrones. Seriously.

Some lovely, lovely feedback about Imogen Shroud lately, I’m just so grateful for it all. For all of it. I’m grateful for … oh, I give up. I’m a writer, you know!

My favourite bit from the latest review: “I did notice a little odd punctuation in the first chapter…” Maybe I’m just a huge self-deprecation fan (and also a bit weird) (“A bit?”), but from now on whenever I talk about Imogen Shroud I’m going to preface everything with, “Well, the punctuation is a little odd in the first chapter, but…”

Seriously though, a lovely, thoughtful review. That’s what matters to me, I’d rather get a one star review where the reviewer has taken the time to write why they disliked the book, than a five star review that’s just “Great book!”–although with that said, I’d also greatly appreciate that “Great book!” review. I certainly don’t want to sound like I wouldn’t, because I would, but to see that someone’s taken a little of their valuable time to write about something I’ve created, it’s just wonderful. Writing is a lonely sort of thing, even when you’ve got the support of a great community of indie authors, external validation is so important and so very appreciated. As a writer, self-doubt is my constant companion. Sometimes the little snot’s useful, but most of the time he just makes life difficult.

Actually, my favourite comment/compliment about Imogen Shroud so far was, “Are you sure you’re not a secret smoker?”. I’ve never had a cigarette in my life, so I worked hard to figure out what it’s like to be a smoker, and I’m glad that I managed to convey how difficult it is to be chained to that particular habit. When I decided to make Imogen a smoker (not much of a decision actually, at least not on my part, she just took out a pack during outlining and I went with it) I knew I couldn’t be half-arsed about it–if I was going to have a character smoke, then it absolutely had to feel true. Although I’ve never smoked and can’t say I’ve ever been addicted to anything (for example, as much as I joke about tea, I don’t actually need it), I’ve seen how very, very difficult it is to quit (more difficult, I imagine, than anything I’ve ever had to do) and how much the habit can dominate a person’s life. And so even during a zombie apocalypse, Imogen is constantly (even when I don’t state it explicitly) thinking about when and how and where she can have her next smoke. There are dozens of little notes all through the outline–“Imogen would quite like a cigarette” “Imogen would really like a cigarette now please” “IMOGEN NEEDS TO SMOKE NOW DAMN IT NOW”–which, of course, aren’t in the novel itself, but represented by Imogen’s mood getting worse and her getting snappier and twitchier. Another thing about smoking that came up again and again in my research was how when you actually had your cigarette (or fix, I researched general addiction as well) everything else kind of faded away and became unimportant, and so in part this became Imogen’s coping mechanism with everything that was going on, her little bastion of sanity and comfort in this terrifying new reality she finds herself in. And I know this marks me as pedantic and obsessive (ie as a writer), but I had a seperate text file just for ‘cigarettes left in the pack’, and marked them off whenever she had one. It would bug me if, in a novel, a character smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. It matters! It might seem like such a small, insignificant thing, but it matters to me that I got it right.

(Cue realisation that Imogen smoked twenty-two cigarettes from a pack of twenty. I checked three times but even so…)

Oh, yes! Someone rated Miya Black I & II on Goodreads! I don’t know why but I found that rather exciting. Three stars for each, I think that’s great! I don’t understand people who consider a three star rating ‘bad’, to me that means “I liked it but it wasn’t amazing/had some flaws/didn’t have enough romance” (seriously I should’ve put more romance in those books, it’s the number one complaint about them) (later volumes have more in the way of romantic subplots, I promise, book four has a really dishy pirate captain Miya refuses to think of as ‘gorgeous’) (although it could be said that ALL of the Miya Black books are the story of the love between a girl and her home … no? Worth a try). In any case, I’m perfectly happy with that reaction, and gratified that the reader took the time to rate my books (also to read them both).

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Posted by on April 26, 2011 in Of Writing


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Doing Just Fine

I sold three copies of Imogen Shroud overnight! Yay! YAY! I know this is the honeymoon period, new release and all that, but still, yay! Oh, so exciting. Releasing a new book is great. I’m getting lots of great feedback about ImoShrou’s cover and title, which is lovely–I just had such a good feeling about them, the title especially, and it’s always nice to have your feelings validated. And the idea for the cover came to me pretty much instantly, fully-formed, black-on-white, Imogen standing there with the zombies behind her–it went through several variations but the final cover is close to my original digital sketch. In fact:

Same concept, improved execution. Also, it seems like some people are a bit sick of gory zombie covers–there was a thread about it on Amazon’s ‘Zombie’ community, and a lot of the indie zombie books I’ve seen have used the same photos (which aren’t particularly good to begin with) (but then I don’t really like photo covers for books). I think the non-gory, more abstract, non-photographic cover is a nice point of difference. Hopefully in six months when it (also hopefully) starts showing up on the ‘also-bought’ lists of other zombie books, it’ll stand out as interesting and encourage people to take a look.

Today, more outlining for Against Darker Days, and probably some family activities. It’s a crisp, clear early Autumn day, so maybe a drive to see the changing colours, that’d be fun.

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Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Of Writing


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Imogen Shroud Released (almost), LibraryThing Giveaways (seem to be good), Blurbs, Critiques (dealing with), Lovely Bit Of Muffin

The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud is LIVE … ish. The page is up but it’s not available for sale yet. I’ve spent the morning being assaulted by the usual massive waves of doubt and second-guessing, but I think at this point I just have to push my book out of the nest and let it do what it must.

Meanwhile, I distract myself with my LibraryThing giveaway, which has totally exceeded my expectations. 26 people have already signed up for a free copy! I should’ve just made it a one week limit–but we live and learn. I’m tempted to do another one right now, but I’ll wait until this one’s finished. I think it’s best to do these things one at a time, after it’s done I’m going to have 25 people to email, that’s enough work. These people putting 200 copies up for grabs are nuts! Just thinking about writing 200 emails makes me shiver. I think it’s better to keep it small, manageable, and more personal. One thing I probably should have done is put a link to the Amazon page, so interested people could try a sample. Next time. Speaking of that, I think I’ll do a giveaway of Birds Of Passage next, it’s the book I have out now that’s gathered the most generally positive feedback, and the only one of my books with reviews, even though (aside from The Boy & Little Witch) it’s my lowest-seller (I actually think that says a lot about it; not for everyone, but those who like it really like it). I actually got a critique about the blurb today, basically saying it’s too long and too odd. But it’s a long and slightly odd book, so I think people who enjoy the blurb, who are intrigued enough to try a sample, will more likely be the sorts of people who’ll enjoy the book.

Actually, let’s talk about that for a moment. There seems to be a general trend towards imposing these rules on blurbs–make it short, make it punchy, and generally I think these are good ideas. Certainly Imogen Shroud’s blurb is very short and fairly punchy, but it’s a short(ish), punchy book, fast-paced with a lot of external conflict (it’s a zombie story, so, well, yes). But sometimes a book isn’t short or punchy, sometimes a book is more of a slowburn kind of thing, and when that’s the case, my (unqualified) feeling is that a short, punchy blurb is almost like false advertising. I could write something for Birds Of Passage that presented it as, I don’t know–a blurb that focused on the more exciting aspects of the story, the powers, the external conflicts, the ‘quest’. But the book is more about relationships, the powers are important and interesting, yes, but the characters form the core of the book. Characters, and mysteries.

Another point that was brought up was that potential readers wouldn’t read a blurb that long (it’s not THAT long, actually, I think less than four hundred words, I’ve seen far longer), but really … if you’re not even going to read a slightly-longer-than-usual blurb, you’re not going to read this book. And for me personally, it’s not the length of a blurb that puts me off, it’s the content. I stop reading when I start getting bored–which could be in the first sentence. But I’ll read a thousand-word blurb if it keeps my interest–or more often I’ll stop halfway through to grab the sample, because it’s convinced me to give the book a try.

Still, it’s good to think about these things. And yes, full disclosure, it hurt to have my blurb challenged. But the pain fades, and the usefulness of external opinions remains.

Even so, I’m not going to change the blurb. I guess what it comes down to is this: I believe that it accurately reflects the book. It’s not the punchiest or hookiest in the world, but neither is the book the punchiest or hookiest–Birds of Passage is a hard sell, I accept this, and not for everyone, so I think ‘intrigue’ is a good angle. If I read that blurb, I’d be interested enough to grab a sample. Others won’t be. But that’s fine. What’s the second rule for indie authors? “Your book isn’t for everyone.” Birds of Passage will never be, I predict, a huge hit. But I think out of all my books, it’s the one that certain people will like the most. My ‘cultiest’ book, if you will.

Time for a lovely bit of muffin?


Posted by on April 16, 2011 in Of Writing


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Giving Giveaways Another Go, Don’t Write Kid’s Books (if sales are important to you), Awkward Sentences, Nearing Release (exciting)

I’ve decided to give giveaways another go. That sentence was appalling, let me try again. I’ve decided to try doing another giveaway. That was even worse, third time’s the charm. I’m doing … although previously … LibraryThing …

Oh, cuss it. I’m doing a giveaway on LibraryThing. Once they confirm my ‘author status’ (fancy!) I’m going to give away a potential twenty-five copies of The Boy & Little Witch. Why this title? Because it doesn’t get any love and that makes me a bit sad. I haven’t sold even a single copy to anyone outside of my family, and I know it’s not an exciting story of pirates or superheroes or gloomy girls and zombies (The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud, releasing soon, zombie fans!) but it’s … it’s really just a nice gentle story about friendship and innocence and forgetting and I think people would enjoy it if they’d give it a chance. I know MG and kid’s books are the hardest sell on Kindle right now, but maybe if it’s for free and brought to the attention of the wonderfully ravenous readers of LibraryThing (those guys do have a reputation–a GREAT reputation!) then maybe it’ll find a home … a home … in their hearts.

*waits for literally everyone reading this post to finish throwing up*

So anyway! Imogen Shroud is going well. I’m over the usual ‘this is rubbish I’m rubbish everything I’ve ever created is rubbish I can’t find my socks where are my socks there was a cup of tea here a minute ago where is it now oh a-bloo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo’ stage and I’m through into the cold, clear, ‘this is what all of your efforts have produced, this is what you have ultimately created; judge it’ stage. There are a couple of things I’d probably change, if I had access to a way-back machine. There are a few aspects of the book that I’m not entirely sure about.

But overall I like it a lot and I think other people will, too. It’s good. It’s a good book. It’s worthy of publication. I’m proud to have my name on it, and I’m excited to release it into the wild.

Although I think I will either move up or push back the release date. Putting a book out on the exact day that Portal 2 gets released just isn’t good sense. Probably I’ll move it up, I’m ahead of schedule and I’m confident I can have everything finished and polished and ready by the 16th. April 16th … that seems like an auspicious date. And people have got to do something while they’re waiting for Portal 2, right? They might as well be reading a chuffing grand book about a gloomy (but savvy) girl and her dealings with those pesky ol’ undead. 16th here would be the 15th in the US, or near enough. Sounds good to me! Maybe I’ll just finish this proof before I commit myself, though. I might discover some hideous plothole or something in the last 40% and need an extra day to properly flagellate myself.


Posted by on April 15, 2011 in Of Writing


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The Possibly Final Cover of Imogen Shroud

I quite like Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face”, but mostly because the graunchy music at the start reminds me of a C64 intro.

Further fiddling and faffing and mucking about has produced a new version of ImoShrou’s cover (old on the left, new on the right):

Lots of tiny little adjustments, like the ‘e’ in ‘White’ wasn’t right, too small and squashed, and the title is a lot more balanced now. Additional layer of texturing made a difference, too, although it’s subtle. I think this is pretty close to what I’ll end up using, although I might make the three ‘layers’ of zombies more distinct, make the back ones darker and the ones in front lighter. The byline is a bit dark, too, it needs to be brighter to contrast properly against the black.

Thinking of series-linkage, I might do a different colour theme for each book–this one is red, obviously.

I also managed to do some editing tonight, almost by accident (“I just tripped over and I rewrote this sentence!”). I found a nasty little insidious error too, the wrong tense on a word–I actually read the sentence three times before I caught it, my instinct was that there was something wrong but I didn’t catch it until the third read. That’s one good thing about editing, the more you do it the better you get, and the sharper your instinct becomes. For Miya Black: Adventure Dawns I think I did about twelve edit/proofing runs before I judged it ready, and even then two errors slipped through (fixed in the e-book, not in the print, which is why I cringe every time one sells) (also because the cover is terrible) (well not TERRIBLE but not as good as the new one) (that’s the problem with getting better at something, everything you did before seems worse in comparison). Now I feel comfortable after doing three edits and two proofs. I know mistakes will slip through, but there’s a point after which the improvement you see isn’t worth the time expended, especially when you have so many other projects to move onto.

Still in a graphic design mood. Maybe I’ll take at look at Resonance, that could use a makeover.

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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Of Writing


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The Alternate Covers of Imogen Shroud

Seeing as I worked extra-hard to finish the editing run of Miya Black III yesterday, today I’m taking it easy with some nice relaxing cover work. I’m still not completely happy with the Imogen Shroud cover, I think it needs tweaking and fiddling to make it really good, but I think the basic concept is sound. Here’s what I came up with today:

There’s not that much difference between the two, just a texture overlay on the second and some minor colour adjustments. It’s interesting, to me, designing covers for Kindle books–I’m constantly thinking “Yes, but how will it look in a thumbnail?”. Details become less important, it’s the composition, the shapes, the clarity of the title and design elements, you really have to focus on the basics.

I think I have to reposition that ‘of’ a little.

Anyway, I think I’ll put this aside for now and come back to it later with fresh eyes.

The font I used for this cover, by the way, is Grumble, by Blue Vinyl Fonts. I’m also using it for chapter headings throughout the book.


Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Of Writing


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No Sales (but that’s okay), Character Songs, Slowburn, Pointless Javascript (is annoying)

No sales today … yet! That’s fine, because I now know what Imogen Shroud’s song is. This isn’t a big deal or anything, it’s not like I have to find a song for every single one of my characters, but it’s fun when it happens. I just recently ‘refreshed’ my playlist, put literally every song I have back in there (after a few months of deleting songs off it basically there’s only Suicide Mission and Investigation – Overtaked! left), including all the Stellar* mp3s I made, oh, years ago. And I was editing and listening to music and Slowburn came on and I thought “this song would be good for a slow, thoughtful, tense action scene like the one I’m editing right this instant POP”. That ‘POP’ was a Sudden Realisation, by the way. So now Imogen’s song is Stellar*’s Slowburn. Ironically, she probably wouldn’t even like it. But then she’s not really a music sort of person.

My current pet peeve is lyrics sites that–what is this song? This is really pretty, “Misekai no Arika”, I think this is from Haibane Renmei, it’s in amongst a bunch of other HR songs anyway–don’t just show you the lyrics but instead put them in a silly little javascript app, just show the lyrics! They’re plain text, you couldn’t GET more plainerer! Why do you have to complicate things? It used to be so simple, back in my day– (Quite enough of that, I think -Ed.)

Today’s schedule is fairly loose. Mostly just editing, and maybe take a look at some cover stuff sometime. Apart from–oh my goodness the Chinese version of Eyes On Me is AWFUL, why do I even have this? Um, as I was saying, apart from that, I’m free. Free!

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Of Writing


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They Go Up

I read some of The Boy & Little Witch to Miya tonight (and Luna too, she was there, peeping through the bars of her cot), and couldn’t help but do it in the voice of the BattleBlock Theatre narrator/announcer. It made it even more fun than usual.

I’ve been reading through parts of Imogen Shroud tonight, taking a little break from Charlotte Powers. I know that I resolved to be positive about my own work, I know that I said I wouldn’t self-deprecate about my writing, only about myself, but I still feel uncomfortable and arrogant when I say things like, this is really got-damn good. Towards the end especially. The first part is gloomy and lonely, the second part is horrific and fun, the third part is tense and exciting, and the fourth part is … it’s sad. Really, really sad.

There’s a rule with my books. If a character’s name is on the cover, they’ll probably live. Otherwise, well …

Sometimes being a writer makes me feel really evil. I do such horrible things to my characters. I don’t like doing it, I don’t enjoy doing it, I’m the sort of person who always takes the ‘good’ path in games if it’s offered and can’t understand people who enjoy being ‘evil’. People who drown their Sims or starve them to death, how is that fun? I just don’t get it. But as a writer I have a responsibility to the story, I feel that if I’m going to write a book then I have to make it the best book I can possibly create, and sometimes–often–that means putting my beloved characters through terrible things. Because how are they supposed to show who they really are, except under such hideous stress? And sometimes, sometimes there’s just no good way out of a situation. Sometimes you fight your hardest and you lose anyway, sometimes bad things happen to good people. As a writer I have the power to change this, to make it so fighting your hardest is always enough, that if you’re a good person then you’ll survive terrible hardships no matter what. As a writer I could make it so those things are true. Except they’re not true. They’re lies. Being a good person isn’t always enough and it doesn’t mean you’ll always survive. Fighting your hardest does not ensure that you will win. Maybe my duty isn’t so much to the ethereal ‘story’ as it is to the truth. That’s what I always try my hardest to show; truth. And that doesn’t mean realism, because let’s face it, a lot of the stuff I write about isn’t realistic at all. But just because something never happened–just because something couldn’t happen–doesn’t mean it can’t be true. I know I don’t always completely succeed and I know I have a lot to learn, every day, almost an impossible amount to learn. But I always try my hardest and I like to think that I succeed more often than not. Above all else, I care, and I hope that shows. I care about writing and I care about my books and I care about my characters even as I put them through hardships–even as I kill them. And I care about improving myself, about improving my skills as a writer. Every day that I sit down and pour out any number of words I get just a tiny bit better, and I hope that never changes. Did anyone ever say, “All right, that’s it; I’m good enough at writing now, I can stop learning, I can stop trying to improve”. Even if they did, I hope that I never say that, or anything like it. Right now I feel that I’m a good writer. I’ve certainly put in the hours and the words towards achieving at least a basic mastery of writing. At last count it was something like 1,750,000 words of fiction written; who knows how many hours. But I’ll never be perfect, because nothing is. And no matter how many books I write I know, I KNOW that at the end of each one, no matter what else I think, no matter how proud I am of what I’ve created or how good I feel it to be, there will always be some part of me thinking, “The next one will be better”.

I don’t take myself seriously–except, of course, when I do. But I take my writing very seriously. Imogen Shroud is a good book. Once I’ve finished editing, it’ll be great. I’m proud to have written it and I can hardly wait to share it with the world.

I think it’s one of the best things I’ve ever written.

But the next one will be better.

By the way, this factoid is 100% true, I’m not even trying to be funny:

BJK Factoid #227: I am scared of balloons.

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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Of Writing


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