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Celebrating 5 Years Published

I guess today is a bit like a birthday. It’s With Proud Humility’s fifth birthday for sure, but it’s also the birthday of my author hat. Five years has flown by in a haze of words, characters, action, adventure, struggle and happy endings, and I’m definitely not complaining. It’s been a wild ride.

For those who like numbers (I admit, I love them), I now have 25 seperate publications to my three pen names. 14 of these are under my actual name, Jess Mountifield (made up of 13 unique stories), 5 are under Amelia Price (4 of which are unique), and there are 6 under a pen name I keep secret. Of these two are historical adventure novels. Three are novels in the Sherdan series with one short story. There are 6 novellas, two in my fantasy world, one stand-alone Sci-fi and the remaining three are Mycroft Holmes stories. The rest are all short stories in anthologies, my fantasy world, or under the third pen name. All in all it comes to well over 600,000 words, with another 400,000 or so written and on its way in one stage or another.

The books between them have been downloaded, printed and bought a total of over 18,500 times. A little shy of half of these are copies of Sherdan’s Prophecy, making it by far my most widely read book, although The Hundred Year Wait has been catching up lately. Chains of Freedom and Wandering to belong are the other two major players with all four books in the four figures.

More importantly than all these stats I’ve made some amazing new friends in some of the readers who reached out to me and have some great fan mail. Hearing from fans has been hands down the best part of the last five years, even though I love the journeys I’ve been on with my characters.

Story wise, I’ve declared an independent country in a chunk of Bristol, and defended it and the people in it with everything I’ve got, I’ve adventured through the Caribbean and even in the waters off New Zealand, I’ve saved a tribe of Maori people, foiled a terrorist plot to destroy London, rescued a village from goblins (with a little help from a dragon), fought through unknown space to get needed supplies to a planet in desperation and brought the right people together to birth the woman who will, once she’s of age, unite an entire fantasy world in less than a decade.

I’ve cried, laughed, felt my heart pound in my chest, flinched, barely been able to look, slogged and fallen in love alongside every single one of my characters as they’ve gone through their stories. When they were in pain I often felt it too. I grieved for their loved ones as they did. I cheered encouragement when they were in their darkest moments and I knew that dawn was coming. There were even times when I couldn’t stop writing and go to bed because I simply couldn’t leave them in the situation they were in.

The last five years have been a rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t have skipped one second of it, and I’m definitely looking forward to the next five.

New release and New pre-order

The Invisible Amateur is out this Friday! If you haven’t pre-ordered the ebook yet you can do so here and make sure that you get yourself a copy as soon as it’s midnight! Only two and a half days to go.

TheFemaleCharmMediumThe fourth book in the Mycroft Holmes Adventures series is also now available to pre-order here and will be released on February 13th next year. Less than three months away!

Here’s a blurb:

Politics is Mycroft’s focus for the moment, but it calls him to Scotland, somewhere very much outside of London. When Sherlock refuses to help and instead enlists Amelia, Mycroft has to decide if his personal amateur is up to the task.

Despite all the scrapes and bruises, Amelia is still willing to learn from the Holmes brothers, but these latest lessons are on a whole new level. Does she have the skills she needs to survive? And is she really prepared for being in the Holmes world?

I’ve also almost finished the first drafts of 5 and 6 in the series and can confirm both will be out next year. Hopefully around early May and mid July respectively.

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update 2

Just a little over half way through NaNoWriMo now and as of first thing this morning I’m at 48,609 words. If I was doing a normal NaNo count I’d be finishing today. Since I’m aiming for 69,000 that leaves me with 20,381 words to go. Not too bad although I’ve been slower the last week or so. It’s definitely not a level of writing I find sustainable.

I finished Mycroft 5 and have tentatively called it The Knight Who Started a War but I think that’s going to haev to change. As much as I like it it needs to be shorter I think.

As is normal I’ve learnt some intersting things. Not least all the symptoms of hypothermia. But the most unexpected – It seems protégé is the maculine form and for a female student you would call them a protégée. Had no idea about that until two days ago.

The hope is to finish Mycroft 6 by the end of this week or the beginning of next (I might actually take the weekend off). Then finish off a few other bits and pieces to get me towards the 69k I’m aiming for. Either way there’s still a fair amount to be written so I best get back to it.

Two fantasy and sci-fi boxsets: Legends & Legacy

The first of two great multi-author boxsets is out today for only 99p/99c. Legends is a collection of Sci-fi and fantasy stories and has my very own Sherdan’s Prophecy among the 13 awesome books included.

Legends-SherdansprophecyThis is a total steal for that many fantastic books so grab a copy here.

Legacy promoAlso out in only two days time (and available to pre-order here) is the sister boxset with another of my ebooks in. This boxset has Wandering to Belong and is one of 10 great stories. Several of which feature dragons! What more could you want?

NaNoWriMo 2015: Update 1

I know I’m only a few days into NaNoWriMo but here’s an update of where I’m at so far.

Somehow in only two days I’ve managed to get about a third of the way into Mycroft 5. Still not a clue what the title is but I’ll probably figure that out soon.

As often happens my character’s keep surprising me and even themselves. Amelia turned out to be claustraphobic and it turns out Mycroft and Sherlock can sort of work together, but there’s evidently some history there I don’t know about yet. Daniels, the chauffeur, is also even more awesome than even Mycroft realised, and I even discovered that Mycroft does have a sense of humour! Who knew!

Research wise I plotted one heck of a route thanks to google maps. One of the most amazing tools as a quick way to be able to explain places. I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have access to such a detailed map of pretty much everywhere in the world. Here’s a link for those interested. Yup Russia is involved.

Over the next week I want to get this novella finished so I can take a day off to plot the next one, as I have no idea what happens except for a few series related scenes. It does sorta need its own plot as well. After that we’ll see. I’d like to be about this far into the next one in two weeks time, maybe a little further. It all depends exactly what trouble Amelia gets herself into between now and then!

Two New Pre-orders: Fantasy boxset and Mycroft 3

So today I’ve got some very exciting news because there’s not one, but two more publications up for pre-order.

Legacy promoLegacy is out on Nov 12th as the very pretty picture says! That’s just over two weeks away. Not only is Wandering to Belong one of the favourite fantasy stories I’ve written but it’s also with 9 other great stories and all of them for only 99c/99p! You can pre-order in the US here and in the UK here. There are some really awesome stories in this set, including a full trilogy so don’t miss out on the bargain.

TheInvisibleAmateur_mediumAlso available to pre-order and being released a month today is the third ebook in the Mycroft Holmes Adventures series.

You can pre-order the ebook on Amazon here. If you haven’t yet read the first book in the series, that’s also on offer at the moment and is only 99c/99p! You can pick up a copy of that one here, and the second book is available here.

People Watching

I have to admit that this is one of my favourite past-times. I love watching other people, especially people I don’t know. There’s this great café near where I live that has loads of really antique special mirrors on the walls, all over the place. I always try and sit on table 13, mostly because it’s the best table to view the rest of the café, but I also quite like the number.

This is often where I write but I also do a lot of people watching. I watch the two mums with their new babies and how they do a lot of multitasking, talking almost constantly while they feed, burp and rock their precious bundles to sleep.

I watch the students having a debate on some philosophical issue. Occasionally it seems to get heated and the two guys at one end of the table start using their hands to gesticulate. One of them shakes his head a lot when he’s frustrated, the other interrupts a lot (which is probably the source of frustration) and the poor girl with them can barely get a word in.

People come and go and I soon find myself wondering about them. There’s this one middle-aged guy, with a beard, who’s sat and read a paper for ten minutes then got up and walked out, leaving an almost full drink, and I find myself wondering why he might have done that. He didn’t check his phone so there was no message from a shopping wife to summon him to her side.

When another similarly aged and attired man sits at the same seat and picks up the abandoned paper I can’t help myself from wondering if something was passed on. Did the first guy leave a message tucked in the folds of news-stories, and time the exchange to make it perfectly anonymous?

This is the place where quirks that add to the depth of a character are discovered. Where innocent people become the backdrop for convoluted plots. And where I get to learn about total strangers.

The Unexpected Coincidence: New Release

It’s only three days until the second book in the Mycroft Holmes Adventures series is released and it’s already up for pre-order here.

TheUnexpectedCoincidence_mediumHere’s the blurb for this shiny new book (please don’t read if you’ve not read the first one, instead go grab that here while it’s free):

Amelia Jones has turned Mycroft’s world upside down but he’s oddly satisfied. For a woman she’s in control of her emotions and eager enough to learn that he finds enjoyment in teaching her, but she’s not perfect and Mycroft isn’t used to people making mistakes.

Spending time with the Holmes brothers came with a threat Amelia expected, but when the danger comes from her own line of work, she doesn’t know where to turn. Can she keep Mycroft happy with her progress, while also keeping herself safe?

To celebrate the launch there’s a facebook event on Friday with plenty of opportunities to win prizes, including having a character named after you in the fourth book of the series and you can check that out here.

Why Amelia Price?

I’ve had quite a few people ask me recently why the new Mycroft series is all under the new pen name, Amelia Price, especially given that it says on all the covers ‘Jess Mountifield writing as’.

I’ll start with the first part of that question that’s sort of implied. Why am I using a pen name? It all comes down to one thing really. Up until recently, I only wrote books that I thought Christians would be comfortable reading. This didn’t mean the books I wrote fit into the Christian genre, absolutley none of them do, not even the Sherdan series, although that comes closest, but they were lacking any serious swearing and have no described sex scenes.  A few of them have some praying and generally are about character’s bettering themselves.

Recently I realised I didn’t always want/feel like I ought to write books that fit that mold, and from the fan mail I get about the Sherdan series, it is quite evident that fans are already very particular about what they expect from books (expectations is probably a topic for another day but every single message I have ever had about the Sherdan series has included a section about how I did it ‘wrong’ because it doesn’t match up with their expectations of a Christian person).

Writing the Mycroft series under my pen name, Amelia Price is simply me saying, ‘whatever your expectations of my work are, check you’re going to like this new stuff’. You probably will. It’s still me writing it, it’s still mostly my voice, but the characters aren’t Christians. They’re trying to be good people, I think pretty much everyone in this world is, but they’re going to be different and if that’s not okay with you then no worries, I’ll still be writing under Jess Mountifield too.

So why the name Amelia Price? This was simply that I have a character called Amelia Jones in the Mycroft series and she’s one of my favourites. I also totally adore Anya Price in the Sherdan series. They’re like two halves of what I feel like I ought to be writing, so I smooshed their names together and thought Amelia Price sounded better than Anya Jones (I literally put that little thought into it, so please don’t read anything more into it).

Finally, why am I making it obvious it’s me on the Amelia Price covers? Because I think a good chunk of you won’t care that it’s different, or at least you won’t if you give it a try. It might not be quite what you expect, but when is anything really ever? And because I don’t want to pretend I write all clean happy Christian stuff and that there isn’t another side to what I write. I don’t view anything I’ve written as any more or less ‘right’ than anything else. Each book has characters learning about life in them. All of them make mistakes, all of them learn something and all of them begin in different places. I learnt something about life and how to live it writing all of them and in that respect they all have the same merit.

So in short, because they’re me, but a different side to me and you might like it, but you might not.

Kindle Unlimited: Why I Don’t Like It When I Should

Kindle unlimited in essence is a wonderful idea, just like netflix and sites like spotify it allows people to pay a monthly set fee and listen to as much music or watch as much tv as they’d like. It’s affordable and it makes it easier to find the things you want to enjoy. As a reader I think it’s the way the industries ought to be going.

None of the models are perfect. Spotify pays 70% of subscriptions to musicians but it does it based on listens over all not listens per subscriber so the money is pushed towards the sorts of musicians who have people repeatedly listening to their songs. Netflix pays outright for streaming deals and this often means it can pay way too much for some shows and not enough for others.

The one thing both do, though it pay a reasonable amount of what they get from subscriptions to the makers. Spotify especially have at least pegged the figure at a percentage that pretty standard for entertainment. Kindle pass on 70% of ebook royalties to the publisher/author when one is bought.

But that’s where Kindle Unlimited loses its appeal for me personally. Kindle Unlimited costs $10/£8 which is only a little more than netflix and it provides access to the books in the Unlimited library for free. It’s a great deal for someone who reads a lot. But the author has the raw end of the deal. The author only gets a share of an arbitrary pot Amazon decides upon 15 days after the end of the month (worked out by pages read of all books by all readers). There’s no percentage or total gross subscription revenue to give an idea of if this is even a fair amount and has the same flaw that the spotify model has in that it’s not a single persons subscription broken up by what they read, but pages out of the total of everyone.

On top of that Kindle Unlimited demands exclusivity of the ebook. It literally can’t be offered for sale anywhere else. Now in some cases Netflix also does this, but they pay more to get a show exclusively.

In the past Amazon has been heralded as the saviour of the author. Giving the author way more money per sale than a traditional publisher does and giving far more literary freedom. There’s whole new waves of fiction that exist thanks to what they’re doing and a whole load more authors making enough money to live of their writing. In comparison to ten years ago it’s a great time to write books (although still way harder than your average career), but Kindle Unlimited needs work, and I have to admit, I’m kinda hoping someone else comes along with a more transparant pay scale and competes with Amazon, because as it is, it’s a return to keeping authors out of the driving seat of their own career.