A funny and gripping story about a tyrannical alien invasion in a sleepy seaside town.
Chirpy YouTuber Nick and his cynical teenage daughter Natasha have their lives thrown into turmoil one afternoon when the walls inexplicably start swallowing people. Over the next week, more and more are snatched away, until the announcement is made: Earth is under new management. Aliens have taken control and they’re not happy with how humans have been behaving.
The new leaders introduce a series of increasingly oppressive rules. Make a single mistake and you’ll be taken away – to be transformed into an upstanding member of the community.
An upstanding, smiling member of the community with a brain like mashed potato.
As their town, and the world, are thrown into chaos, Nick and Natasha each find their own way to deal with the horror. Nick becomes a YouTube celebrity, convincing the public to behave. Natasha joins a makeshift rebellion working out how to dodge the alien demands. Each wants the best for the other, but they end up on opposing sides in humanity’s most vital and bizarre battle.
Will they ever be united against the real enemy? Will the human race become the docile drones that the aliens want? Or is universal niceness an impossible and undesirable dream?
The above is my blurb for my book, Supernice. I’ve mentioned many times that I hate writing blurb. I spent ages fiddling with it and I’m still not sure, so any feedback on that will help me out.
Also, yesterday, I sent out the last four chapters out to bloggers who wanted to read it and which feels quite momentous. To any of you who’ve been reading it, I’d really like to hear your views or if you have any questions. What did you think of Nick and Natasha? Do you think others would like the book?
My plan is to release it in a week or so on Amazon and Smashwords.
Nick woke groaning as usual. His eyeballs felt too large for their sockets, his left foot had gone numb and a line of drool connected his face to his shoulder. He experienced a few moments of the usual suffering before he realised his situation was all wrong. He wasn’t in bed as he should be, but sitting on the floor with a sock in his hand. And the sun was up, which it shouldn’t be unless he was late getting up. Very late. He spent another minute refusing to believe this was the case before finally throwing the sock aside and panicking. He would be late for work. There would be complaints and his boss would sulk. His daughter Natasha would be late for school, then the school would fine him and Natasha would get in trouble. He could already see how these misfortunes could turn to issues, issues to disaster, disaster to catastrophe.
‘Alexa, what’s the time?’ he shouted at his virtual assistant.
Alexa spun a blue light around her perimeter and said in her soothing, unchanging tone, ‘At the moment it’s five degrees. Later you can expect a low of four degrees.’
‘The time Alexa!’ said Nick jumping up from the floor, but one of his feet was still sleeping and he fell heavily across the carpet. Then Natasha, his fourteen-year-old daughter, burst in.
‘Dad! Dad! Why didn’t you wake me? Why are you on the floor? Why didn’t my alarm go off?’
Nick tried to look calm and in control from where he was sprawled, rolling over and leaning on his hand. ‘It’s all fine, noodle, a little over-sleep, that’s all.’
‘But it’s gone one! Why didn’t we wake up? Why didn’t our alarms go off?’ Her voice was a jumbled mix of hysteria and anger. She was clutching her phone and kept looking at it in disbelief.
‘There must have been a power cut, that’s all,’ he said, while gingerly climbing on the bed.
‘But it’s battery-operated!’ said Natasha.
‘This is not the time! Get your things together as quickly as possible and we’ll go.’
Natasha crashed out of the room and he could hear her shouting at her own Alexa.
For the next twenty minutes, time conspired against Nick. The faster he tried to get things done, the faster they went wrong. He put the toothpaste on his electric toothbrush and then forgot to put it in his mouth before switching it on, so white and red paste spattered across the walls. He started shaving with his razor, so ergonomically designed that it shot out of his hands and onto the floor where it split in two. He put the buttons of his shirt through the buttonholes of his cardigan. He got the pin-code to his phone wrong three times and then it wouldn’t recognise his fingerprint.
‘Of course it’s my finger! Who else’s would it be? Look! It’s attached to me!’ he wailed, showing his hand to the phone in the hope it would see the error of its ways. He tried shouting instructions to Alexa to tell him the traffic situation and to stick the kettle on, but she kept saying, ‘I don’t understand what you want me to do. Do you want me to sing a song?’
‘No Alexa, call my boss!’
‘You’re the boss!’ said Alexa agreeably, then she began to sing. ‘Bring me sunshine, in your smile.’ Unshaven, with drops of toothpaste on his mis-buttoned shirt, Nick ran downstairs. Natasha was standing in the porch in bare feet, staring out, not moving.
‘Right, I’m ready,’ he said, realising he wasn’t. The he started looking for his phone. ‘Come on Tash, get your shoes on,’ he said, then realised he’d already put his phone in his pocket, but now his keys had vanished.
‘Dad,’ said Natasha.
‘What? Where are my flipping keys? I had them last night.’
‘Dad, come and look.’ There was urgency in her voice, but it was focused out the front door instead of the crisis at hand.
‘Did you move them?’ Nick lifted up all the items on the table: the book that should have been put away, the plates left out from dinner, his small toolbox. His keys weren’t there.
‘Would you like me to make a sound like a pig?’ asked Alexa from the kitchen unit.
‘Dad!’ said Natasha.
‘What?’ Nick said angrily, annoyed that Natasha wasn’t panicking.
‘Look,’ she said. He walked to the front door and looked out. The cul-de-sac would normally be empty at this time. Apart from the stoners at number twenty-six and Mrs and Mr Wollstaff next door, they should all be at work or school. Instead, everyone was in the street. Most were looking at everyone else in the street. Many had shirts flapping or held pieces of toast in their hands. Some were making frantic calls on their phones, not having yet noticed the others around them.
‘It was everyone,’ said Natasha. ‘None of us woke up.’
You think this sounds entertaining? To start reading properly for free, just contact me on petra_jacob@ outlook .com (minus spaces) letting me know what format you want 🙂
For those of you looking for a free book to read who haven’t signed up for Supernice yet. Here’s the start of the book. It starts from a bird’s eye view, but actually follows the lives of Natasha and her dad Nick when a particularly strange alien invasion occurs.
The deal is if you write to me at petra_jacob @ outlook.com (remove the spaces) I will send you the first 12 chapters, and then 3 more chapters every 3 days (it’s not actually released yet). All for free, with no tricks or obligations. I just want people to read my book and those already reading seem to be enjoying it, now I want MORE!
Supernice by Petra Jacob
In New Delhi, Mr Patel was halfway through explaining Pythagoras’ theorem to class 12B when he fell asleep. He gently slumped into the white boards, smearing the bottom angle of a red triangle across his face, his blue-striped tie rumpling up to his chin. This would have caused delight to his students, except that they too were all asleep. Some gently snoring, some hanging from their chairs, but every one blissfully unaware of the world around them.
At the Zenith Heights Casino in Las Vegas, it was nearly midnight, but instead of the usual bustling drama, customers were folded and crumpled across fruit machines and tables. While Celine Dion wailed over the speakers, a young, balding man had fallen against a slot machine, his fingers around a pork rib taken from the buffet. Just out of sight of the machines, a hostess wearing a glittery costume, a peacock headdress and a thick coating of makeup was lying with her face in a line of coke, straw dangling from her nose.
Although most of Mexico City was asleep since it was two in the morning, the red-light district was still filled with punters. Car horns were blaring non-stop as sex workers had fallen back from the policemen they were straddling. Late night clubbers and early morning delivery drivers in London had all collapsed where they stood. And fifty miles away, in Icking, near Worthing, Natasha had stopped getting ready for school. Halfway through putting on her socks she had tipped sideways onto her bed.
The minutes ticked by and the sleep continued. The insomniacs, the busy, the lazy – all united in slumber.
Outside Natasha’s house a light rain had started, speckling the cars. A black cat sat licking its paws at the side of the road. Then it stopped, looked at the ground in alarm, and in one graceful movement leapt onto a wall, making a low yowling moan, its tail waving as it sniffed the air. Nothing happened for a moment, and then with the faintest creaking the road lifted up and a small tarmac wave rolled down the white lines. The cat bolted along the wall and disappeared over a fence. Then another wave lifted and rolled beneath the cars parked along it. A large removal truck sailed down the road towards the battered Ka belonging to Natasha’s dad. As the truck hit the bumper, another wave lifted and carried it away.
Not only the tarmac was morphing. Cars wobbled and bulged, small bubbles of paint were popping and settling. Lampposts bent as if the weight of light was too much, bowing to the liquid road. With a slight shiver, and the smell of freshly mixed concrete, paving slabs shifted as if they’d been laid on molten lava. Then the slabs themselves became square pools of concrete with insects skating on the surface between stones that popped up and bobbed. Natasha didn’t wake when the mattress she was lying on bulged and collapsed beneath her, the material oozing into her mouth and around her eyes. She didn’t wake when the walls bowed in, squashing the furniture so it dented like marshmallow.
At the local supermarket, the shelves creaked as the metal struts puddled on the floor, then slowly rose again, leaving only a few packets of cornflakes spilled onto the now liquid ground.
The postman of Icking was leaning against a wall, three bills and a package containing a hairdryer still clutched in his hand, as the bricks against his cheek became as soft as dough and oozed around him. His nose was slowly sinking when with a pop he bounced back out, unharmed, still sleeping.
For three hours the streets, buildings and vehicles across every continent wriggled and floated as curious, intrusive intent took control, flexing and claiming. As the hours moved on, the movement slowed. All distorted objects came to rest exactly as they had been.
When everybody woke up four hours and sixteen minutes later, the world looked virtually unchanged, nobody suspected all life was now waiting to upend. Nobody knew that the Wave had begun.
penetraliain – most parts of a building or temple; innermost secrets
pismirism – hoarding of small or insignificant things
There’s a tradition round my way, that when you want to get rid of furniture or bric a brac, you stick it out on the pavement. Right now you can tell people are stuck at home, because the streets are full of evidence of their clear-outs. Over the last week, I’ve seen clothes, cupboards, kids’ toys (a line of cuddly toys on the wall like they were waiting for a bus) and now cassettes. I’m not sure it’s the wisest idea with the plague going on (I wonder if they did the same in the fourteenth century), but I guess it can all be washed.
I’m releasing up to chapter 9 of Supernice today. A science fiction story of a girl and her dad trying to survive a bizarre alien invasion. It’s got dad jokes, aliens that get inside your brain to change your personality, and lots of fake smiles.
Here are some comments I’ve received so far:
“I read the first 3 pages and was hooked!!!”
“Read the first three chapters last night and loving it. Looking forward to the next three – intriguing concept.”
“I am enjoying your book a lot! It’s veryyyy engaging and I honestly cannot wait to see where you take your characters next! Making this quarantine so much more bearable.”
“I am hooked! …And I love your way with words. Brilliant.”
So maybe it’s time YOU had a read. Or not if it’s not your thing. But if you’re intrigued, it’s free, involves no obligation and no spreading of germs. The ultimate Covid19 experience!
Just contact me on petra_jacob @outlook. com (without the spaces). Let me know what format you want it in (PDF, ePub, Word etc) and I’ll send the first nine chapters.
When aliens invade the sleepy town of Icking, Natasha and her dad struggle to keep up with the increasing demands of their new overlords. They know that one mistake is enough to devastate their lives.
A story of family and friendship during an unfathomable crisis, when nobody knows the solution.
Note: I promise I am better at writing fiction than I am at writing blurb.
So the next three chapters of my book, Supernice are out! If you’re looking for something free to read, just drop me a line and let me know the format (PDF, MOBI, ePub or Word) and I’ll be happy to send the first six chapters, with three more released every three days.
petra_jacob @outlook .com (minus the spaces).
“Read the first 3 chapters of your book and I’m hooked. Your writing is amazing!”
I woke at three this morning with a sudden knowledge of the best way to give my book to those who want to read it. I’m going to send it to anyone who wants it, but in large chunks (three chapters at a time). So it’s like a quicker serialization, straight to your email.
Anyone who wants to read Supernice can send me an email with information on what format they want to read it in – PDF seems to be the most popular, but I can also do Word, Mobi and Epub.
My email address is petra_jacob@ outlook. com (remove the spaces to mail)
I will send the FIRST THREE CHAPTERS.
And then THE NEXT THREE every THREE DAYS.
It costs nothing, and I won’t use your email for anything else. Or sell it to anyone.
I’ll put up extracts on here over the next week too, so if you’re not sure, you can make up your mind when you’ve read some.
Supernice is a soft science fiction story about a bizarre alien invasion set in a sleepy seaside town in England. The plot centres around teenage Natasha and her dad Nick. They both want to do what’s right to survive, but end up on opposite sides of the battle. Meanwhile the aliens are laying down more and more rules, altering anyone who defies them by squashing their personalities so they behave.
Note: I can, in theory send the whole book in one go, but I prefer to do it this way. If you hate this idea, let me know in the email and we’ll sort something out.
So, my lovely fellow bloggers, are you interested? Then email me!
Habromania– insanity featuring cheerful delusions (I’m fairly sure I have this, but I refuse to get it fixed.)
“And I for one would like to be the first to welcome our new alien overlords…”
Some of you reading this will know I write books and stuff like that, and maybe you know I’ve written a new one. Well, it’s called Supernice. It’s gone to beta readers and the feedback is that it’s a good story, funny and gripping, so I like to think some of you would enjoy it.
It’s soft science fiction, the story of a bizarre alien invasion set in a sleepy seaside town in England. The plot centres around teenage Natasha and her dad Nick. They both want to do what’s right to survive, but end up on opposite sides of the battle. Meanwhile the aliens are laying down more and more rules, altering anyone who defies them by squashing their personalities so they behave.
I’m going to go the self-publishing route, but that will take time and fuss and I’m impatient, I want you to read it now! Especially since everyone is locked down and bored.
BUT HOW WOULD YOU BE MOST LIKELY TO ACTUALLY READ IT?
This is the problem, I want to make it available in a way that is enjoyable to read.
I could serialize it here. (I know some people do that very well (eg Samantha Henthorn with her Curmudgeon Avenue series, plusRandom Walk with his intriguing science fiction) but I don’t think it’s something where you could miss a few chapters and pick it up again.
Would it be better to just stick up a little of it here and then send it to whoever wants to read it? (I can do PDFs and Mobis now, techno genius that I am). Or I could even stick it up on Smashwords in its slightly crude form (it’s getting a professional proofread now) and anyone could pick it up from there.
So what do you think? What makes it easiest for you to read a book? And would any of you be interested?
Now this is almost like a real inspirational poster, although I’d say exercise and doctors are also useful in the pursuit of health.
London today was soggy. It was ok, I have waterproofs, but the biggest problem was trying to not to destroy the squeaky cleanness of the messroom when I was coated in mud. And the toilets in the new block are too small, which means just getting past the concertina door meant I painted the wall with a layer of mud from my coat. Then I’d turn around to clean it up and decorate the other wall behind me. And everything I touched, from bog roll to door to sink taps became streaked with brown, I felt like a shitty Midas.
When we were getting ready to go home, Mike said to Dan, now you need to find an umbrella you can hold over me so I don’t get wet. I looked at him quizzically and he said,
There is lots of information around the internet on self-publishing, but what I found difficult was that all the information seemed to start in the middle, assuming that I already knew what all the programs were, and terms meant. To try and help any of you new to this to avoid the same confusion, here’s a glossary.
Publishing programs and files
Ebooks can be published in a number of different formats, each of which can be used on different ereaders and devices. Other file types here . I’ve just referenced the ones I know.
Mobi – a file used on Kindle ereaders
Epub – a file for kobo ereader and Blackberry
PDF – a type of file often used for other documents, but sometimes requested from reviewers to play on Acrobat.
Kindle – refers to the electronic book reader made by Amazon or the type of file for that reader.
Calibre – a program that can be downloaded for free to convert any of the above files (or a word file) to any other of the above files.
Createspace – the program that can be used on Amazon to create a paperback. Most simply it involves downloading a template and then putting your book into that template and releasing it online. Once up, Createspace is the website you use to check your book, sort out blurb, price etc, and then shows you how many books you’ve sold. You can use this website to make changes also.
KDP – like Createspace, but for ebook publishing. Note: you can use KDP to publish paperbacks, but I have no idea how good that is.
Sellers of ebooks
Kindle Unlimited – a subscription to Amazon ebooks that allows readers to download a few at a time for free. A little like an online library that you pay a monthly fee for.
Kindle Select – you can choose to enrol in Kindle Select. The downside is you can’t use any other publishing platform, like those below. However you can get a higher percentage of the profits of each book you sell (but only if it’s $1.99 or above) People who are paying a subscription to Kindle Unlimited can download it for free, and you are paid for page views.
Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks, Gardners – I’ve not used these, because I’m enrolled in Kindle Select. There are more publishers, but these are the big ones. You can upload to each one individually, but it’s easier to use a distributor.
Distributor – InGram Spark, Smashwords, D2D. Each of these will distribute your book to multiple platforms, like those listed above.
Categories – a word to broadly describe the book eg ‘Thriller’ or ‘romance’. Used on KDP and Createspace (and no doubt on the various publishing platforms)
Keywords – More detailed words or phrases used to help a reader find the kind of book they’re looking for, can be titles/authors of similar books. Eg ‘Female protagonist’ ‘George Orwell’. When the reader searches for these phrases, your book comes up in the results.
Teasers – short quotes from the book or blurb, with a photo/image background. Used to advertise the book
Blurb – a description of a book’s plot, usually a paragraph or two. Focuses on being catchy, rather than complete.
Synopsis – a more complete explanation of the plot. May or may not include the ending (depends on who is asking). Usually more focused on being clear rather than being catchy.
Video adverts – short videos to promote a book. Often with music, pretty scenery in the background and with quotes or ideas from the book overlaid in text
ARC – author review copy, a copy of the book usually sent out to reviewers/promoters before the book is published.
Blog Tour – a service an author signs up to. The book is sent to various review blogs, who write about it. It is also tweeted about, and plugged on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform.
Author spotlight – Attention paid to one author, often with an interview, review, photos of the author. Used for promotion, usually on a review site.
AMS – Amazon Marketing Services. A paid for promotion. The author chooses ‘keywords’ that will lead to their book being inserted into searches by a reader. The author pays a set amount for ‘click’ (every time someone clicks the link to their book) although this doesn’t guarantee a sale.
KDP Rocket – a program you can use to help you get AMS keywords. Since you need a thousand keywords, this program is invaluable.
Click rates/click-through rates – how many times a link to the author’s book is clicked (but not necessarily bought) on a site or in an email.
Countdowns – a promotion whereby a book is cheaper, or free, for a limited time. Mostly an Amazon thing.
Giveaways – a promotion whereby a select number of people get free books and/or other goodies. An Amazon and Goodreads thing.
Kindlepreneur.com – a very helpful set of videos with information about publishing
Beta readers – people paid or unpaid who read through a book specifically to look for flaws, whether grammatical or structural. Like an amateur editor.
Goodreads – a very informative site. Primarily created for readers, but has become a place for self-published authors to discuss the trials and tribulations of getting their book finished and read.
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know, the more information the better.
And if you found this helpful, then please share or reblog!
As promised, here are some further tales of my adventures into self-publishing, I hope you find them useful. I’m pretty atrocious at self-pubbing, I’ve made mistake after mistake, and the different programs and websites I use all clash and crash and do totally nonsense things. I don’t know if that’s just me being hopeless, or it’s a corporate plot, but either way, I’ll list a few of the problems that I’ve had, with solutions that I’ve come up with.
You don’t need them. If you publish a paperback you can get an automatic ISBN generated by Createspace. Ebooks don’t need them at all. And ISBN’s aren’t cheap. I paid £160 for ten (I thought you needed at least two, one for ebook and one for paperback) and ten is cheaper than two. They say you absolutely can’t get a refund, but I hadn’t assigned them, so they refunded me anyway which was much appreciated.
Don’t trust Word. Don’t trust Mobi. Don’t trust Createspace. Don’t trust KDP. Each program will take your careful and consistent formatting and throw it up in the air, letting it fall randomly. Problems I had – pages disappearing (although they reappeared again). Page breaks working in only some formats (in one, the dedication became the first paragraph in the story.) Page numbers being at one height on some pages, then at a totally different height on others (fixed this by making the left and right pages the same). Often I would find that a problem with formatting only occurred on some uploads, so it was possible to just reupload and the issues would go away.
Doing everything the way the programs requested didn’t help at all. You need to check through the book each time, all programs do have facilities for doing this, they are mostly slow, but essential. Once the book is published, download it and CHECK IT AGAIN. TRUST NO ONE.
I set my price in the UK at 99p and my price in the US at 99c. I then went to Amazon.com via their link to check the page and found my book to be at $1.31. Once I’d checked I’d completed everything right, I wrote to Amazon. They wrote a vague confusing email telling me that the extra money was tax. Which: a. Seemed like a lot of tax and b. Didn’t help me put the book at the right price. After checking on Goodreads to see if anyone had the same problem (Goodreads is excellent for solutions like this) I learned that the price probably IS 99c in the US, but costs more when seen from the UK. Then Amazon wrote me another vague confusing email that sort of confirmed this.
Searching the title
When I first put the book up, I could only find it via a direct link. If I searched the title it insisted that I had misspelled ‘Paddling Doomsday’ (wtf? That is a scary paddling pool) and that there was no such thing. I thought it would take a few days to right itself. It still wasn’t showing up after a week, so I wrote to KDP. I got a nice clear email saying they didn’t know what the problem was, but would have it fixed in ten days. When I checked again the next day, the title could be found. So I guess they fixed it.
I had a promotion running from the 7th of June. When I was first planning this, I figured I’d publish the book on the 5th, just to allow for any problems to show up, so I could fix them before the promo started. DON’T DO THIS, A FEW DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH TIME. In the end, I didn’t do this, luckily I published about a week before. Firstly it takes up to 72 hours for an ebook to be available. Then there are all the problems I’ve described above, that each take up to 72 hours to change. The paperback version takes much longer, I think it was another week before that was up, but I reckon that’s ok. The paperback is maybe for people who have an interest in your book specifically.
Uploading the paperback from Createspace to KDP
Ebooks are created in KDP, and paperbacks can be KDP or Createspace. I used Createspace. Once the book was ready, I set the price of the paperback (the minimum is $9.99 wtf? That seems awfully high), then pressed the button to send the book to KDP (you can create a paperback in KDP, but rumour has it, it doesn’t do a great job with paperback formatting). It came up with a little box saying Your book is uploading to KDP and will be ready in a few moments. It said that for a few hours, then I left it running over night, it still said that. I wrote YET ANOTHER message to KDP and they replied asking for a screenshot of the uploading page (although I told them exactly what it said, and it’s their screen, they must know what it looks like). I gave up trying. Anyway, having looked, the paperback is available online, which is the main thing.
Any problems and/or solutions of your own, I’d love to hear them 🙂