Through Stranger Eyes – Cyberpunk Thriller – Release date and other things happening

Lots of things have been happening for a while now. First of all, I’m getting ready to publish my next novel. The book’s official release date is October 13, 2019. The genre is cyberpunk thriller. If you’re unfamiliar with cyberpunk, then the best (and simplest) definition is that it’s a futuristic urban dystopia, and practically all things cyberpunk can be summed up as, “high tech, low life.”

If you’ve watched movies like The Matrix, Blade Runner (both films), or the TV show called Altered Carbon, then you have already taken a taste of what Cyberpunk is all about. Or you may have read books like Neuromancer by William Gibson or Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. If you’re a gamer, look no further than Deus Ex and of course the game all cyberpunk fans are waiting (myself included), Cyberpunk 2077. All the above fall under the category of Cyberpunk. As you can understand, the subgenre is quite broad and is tightly related to Science Fiction.

At the moment, the book is with a handful of blog reviewers to get the word out, and of course my trusty team of ARC readers in order to get some early reviews when it goes live. So I’m quite anxious to hear what they think of it. To be honest, out of all the stories I’ve written so far, this has been my favourite and I’m really looking forward to hearing their thoughts.

Hmm, I forgot to mention the book’s title, didn’t I? The book is called Through Stranger Eyes and the series it’s part of is called Matriarchs – Silicon Gods. Through Stranger Eyes is book 1 of 3.

I have also finished drafting book 2, though it needs a lot of work before any of my beta readers get to read it. A LOT!

Lastly, I have been trying to find a decent plot for book 3. So far, I’ve come up with 5 different plots, but none of them impresses me much. I know how the trilogy should end, it’s just that I don’t like the way the events leading to the end unfold. It will come to me eventually (hopefully), but for the time being it feels like I’m churning out sub par ideas, and that is what annoys me the most. To be clear, each book has its own story line and its own heroes. Events take place in different periods, and by the end of the series the reader will have a clear understanding of how the world has evolved and been reshaped from its key players. So each book has to have a strong and independent plot from the previous books in the series.

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more info on the world, the characters, and everything else related to the book.

Through Stranger Eyes to the first beta readers

Through Stranger Eyes is now at the hands of the first betas. I’m really curious what mistakes each will find and how they’ll deal with the questionnaire I sent them. I’m 100% sure that some of the mistakes will be the same ones I spotted in other people’s work in the past. It’s amazing how hard it is to identify simple things in our own work, but once we get someone else’s work, boom! The mistake is there, glaring and annoying. I should clarify here, that when I say mistake, I mean anything that draws the reader away from being immersed in the story. There are no mistakes in creative work.

It’s always strange when others read someone else’s work. As long as the book stays with the writer, it’s protected. Not only that, but the writer is also protected. It’s almost like the two form a symbiotic bond. They’re both barricaded in a safe zone the other creates. The moment someone else reads the material, both writer and book are exposed and vulnerable. And if the writer isn’t used to receiving criticism… It’s our baby, our creation, our vision.

I don’t know how established writers feel about this, if they’re worried of the quality of their work, even with the team of professionals and fans behind them to pick up on continuity issues, spelling mistakes, plot holes etc. I imagine they feel the same. Perhaps their lack of confidence is short-lived, since they have an established reader base and a brand name to back them up. If I ever reach that point in my career, I’ll let you know.

Call for betas for a cyberpunk novel

I believe I have done all the edits I could think of on Through Stranger Eyes, my current WIP. It’s time for others to have a look at it and identify all the mistakes I have failed to spot. No doubt they’re plenty and will keep me busy for a while. But for me to improve the manuscript, I need you.

So, I’m asking for beta readers willing to take a plunge into my dark futuristic world, into the fears and hopes of Dr Rick Stensladnt (my main character). To try to figure out with him why his life took such a bad turn all of the sudden, who’s behind everything.

Through Stranger Eyes is a 132k word cyberpunk mystery/suspense about Dr Rick Stenslandt who, despite the fact he augments people with advanced cybernetic implants (as is the norm in his world), he refuses to have even the simplest implant in him. Though a purist at heart, he will have to stray from his convictions when an accident deprives him of his sight, and is forced to have an ocular implant. Things take a strange turn for him after the operation, as Rick begins remembering the deaths of influential people, whom he has never met before, deaths that have taken place years earlier. Driven to find out what is happening to him and why, he will risk losing everything that matter in his life; his social status, his sanity, his family, his life.

You may ask, what is Cyberpunk?

“Trying to define Cyberpunk is a difficult task. In short, however, Cyberpunk refers to both a culture and a genre.

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that features advanced science and technology in an urban, dystopian future. On one side you have powerful mega-corporations and private security forces, and on the other you have the dark and gritty underworld of illegal trade, gangs, drugs, and vice. In between all of this is politics, corruption, and social upheaval.

High tech. Low life.” (Definition taken from https://www.neondystopia.com/what-is-cyberpunk/).

Though not a prerequisite, often noir style of narration is employed (again, not all the times). I have tried using this kind of narrative.

If this still doesn’t shine any light (understandable, since the world is gritty and dark), consider the film Blade Runner as the epitome of what a cyberpunk world might look like. That’s one side of the cyberpunk spectrum. The Matrix is also cyberpunk, though with a lot of other subgenres thrown in. If you haven’t watched either of these films, and you’re into anime, then Ghost in the Shell and Akira are the first ones that come to mind (if you know more, please let me know. I’m not into anime, but I really like cyberpunk). In terms of books, William Gibson’s, Neuromancer, and my favourite, Richard K. Morgan’s Takeshi Kovacs novels, particularly Altered Carbon. If that also doesn’t help, have a look at my pinterest board, designed specifically for this book.

So if any of you have read or watched any of the above and liked them, you’ll feel right at home (hopefully). If not, but you are willing to read an early work (or as early as any work can be after more than a year of editing and fine tuning), if you don’t mind answering long questionnaires about the book, if you are the kind of reader who understands that the only way to help a writer and his/her work is by being brutally honest and point out as many mistakes as you find (and the occasional praise for the things you liked), then please let me know. And if you’re concerned whether or not you’ll hand it back in time, I usually give two months minimum for the readers, because, well, life happens for all of us. After all, I’m not the speediest reader and I’m known to have taken a long time to return a manuscript (hi Yoann!). So, if you want to help, don’t worry about time. We can always extend the time frame.

A few people – people whose opinion I trust, and whose help I value – have already offered to help me. I’m eternally grateful to each and every one of them. Some aren’t writers, just readers. Others are writers (more skilful than I am) who write in different genres, yet their comments is almost always accurate. Some have a keen eye for details and are more editing-oriented, others see the whole picture and comment based on that. Whatever your skill level, whether you write or not, if you want to help me, please leave a comment or let me know in any other way (use email, twitter, facebook, pinterest etc). Those of you who have already agreed obviously don’t have to do it again, but if I’ve forgotten to contact you personally (I apologise, but lots of things are happening, some health-related issues with close family members), please message me and let me know of your availability.

Please be advised, that Through Stranger Eyes has some adult themes and imagery, as well as mild foul language (in other words, it conforms to most genre standards). Just a heads up 🙂

Thank you all very much!

Finally, it happened. Again.

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Through Stranger Eyes is finally printed, and the red pen is anxious to have a go at it. Isn’t there something magical when you transfer the thing of your labours into a physical medium? I mean, when you type it and store it in the cloud or wherever, you know it’s there, it’s accessible, and if anyone ever doubts you wrote a book all you have to do is go online, access your files, and voilà! You can easily say, “Ha! In your face, nameless person who doubted me.”

But you have to admit there’s something so much better when the object of your desire, the reason you locked yourself away for weeks, months, or years and allowed people to think you’ve turned into a deranged hermit, is tangible and in your hands. I mean, it’s been three days since I printed it, and I’m still giddy and excited. Hell, I feel as if I can take on any one and any thing, maybe even tackle another one…

Just kidding. I will not start another story until I’m through with this one.

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So this should keep me occupied for a few days (weeks or months, more likely). As I mentioned in an earlier post, once I fill this bad boy with as much red ink as I can fit on the margins of its pages, I’ll transfer all the changes into the digital copy, then turn on the macro function and sweep away all the nasty adverbs, filter words, etc that I have missed on all previous editing rounds .

My only concern at the moment is that the story came out at 140k words (!!!), which is 20-25k more than what I wanted it to be, and I doubt if I cut every adjective and adverb from the manuscript it would reach my intended word count. The funny thing is that the first draft was 128k words, but I needed to replace some of the scenes with new ones and ultimately had to add one or two extra, and that’s how I ended up with so many words.

Regardless, this ought to be fun!

Beta Reading for a friend – Lessons I learned

I finished beta reading for my friend I told you about in an earlier post, and it amazes me how much I have learned about my craft in the process. Believe it or not, this was my first beta read/critique outside of flash fiction and short stories on Scribophile, and even that hasn’t happened for a long time. I’ve critiqued a bunch of them, but I had never done a beta reading for a book. Even though I knew how important it is for writers to read the work of others who are also on the same experience level, I had never tried it. The reason was that I was too afraid of making a mistake in my critique/review and ultimately be a hindrance to the fellow writer. I mean, can you imagine if you’ve written something you were very proud of, have a trusty beta reader tell you that you should murder your darling, then have an editor or someone else more experienced than both you and the beta tell you that you should add it back? What would that say about the beta’s worth as a writer?

Point of the matter is that we learn to identify what to avoid in our own work by seeing it in someone else’s. For example, I know what exposition is, I’ve read a hundred articles and posts about it, and yet, if you were to ask me to identify it in my current project (Through Stranger Eyes), I’d most likely fail to find every single instance of it in my work. As I was reading my friend’s work, I came across a small section where I was certain beyond any doubt (in my mind at least – remember, I’m still a newbie) that what I was reading was pure exposition that slowed things down and was unrelated to the story, the plot, and the characters. I immediately made a note of it, so my friend would notice it and choose whether he wanted it in or not. As I was writing the comment to the side, it occurred to me that I had included an almost identical piece in my work. So I turned to my novel, found the page, and there it was. I had read this part of my story well over ten times, nine of which were pure edit rounds. And there it was, staring at me. It never crossed my mind that I had consciously chosen to keep it, because I failed to identify it as an expository piece that slowed things down, just as it was the case with my friend’s plot. If I hadn’t beta read, I would have never spotted it and I would have given my betas a less-than-acceptable story to read. Maybe they’d point it out to me, maybe they wouldn’t notice it or consider a big deal, maybe they’d be afraid of hurting my feelings by pointing it out. But I bet an agent or a publisher would see it and judge my work based on it.

I’m not going to go over on how many more sections like that or other problems I spotted in my works thanks to my friend’s novel. Suffice to say they were plenty.

Dear betas, when the time comes, you’ll be receiving a somewhat tighter and slightly fewer-in-words novel. Thank my friend for that 😉