Marcellus: Origins – Page 4 Preview

The terrifying images of yesterday’s fight came rushing back in the morning, causing his heart to beat very fast.

He knew he wouldn’t survive another harsh beating. It was likely that he already had severe internal head damage, or at least it felt as if he had, though his knowledge of the extent of damage was limited to his physical perception.

The Tekromun Guard unlocked the cell door and beckoned Marcellus out. Marcellus felt timid, and was slow to respond. The Tekromun Guard yanked him out and dragged him by what was left of the fine black hair on his head. Small tufts of hair had been falling out, presumably because of the swelling on his face. Marcellus submitted, if only to avoid further harsh treatment or physical violence.

Marcellus was led outside, in broad daylight, and then up a flight of concrete steps to a higher level, where there was a spacious chamber that had windows that were open to the air. Marcellus was ushered inside and thrown before a Tekromun sat on a large luxurious brown couch, at odds with the dull appearance of the grey featureless chamber.

He lifted his heavy head to see the figure on the couch, which was set against the wall.

The Tekromun was muscular and lean, wearing only a loin-cloth and golden bracelets and anklets. His white eyes spoke of violence and murder, having only a small black pupil in the middle.

‘My name is Aerol. I saw you enter the building of my headquarters. Are you a spy, and if you are why wear that distinguishable black cloak?’

‘I’m not a spy, I entered without knowing whose building it was,’ Marcellus spoke softly.

‘We tried to rip your cloak off, but it wouldn’t be removed. Is it a weapon?’ Aerol spoke threateningly.

‘I don’t know what it is,’ Marcellus confessed helplessly.

‘Wrong answer!’ Aerol said icily.

‘The cloak doesn’t come off. We have tried everything possible,’ the Guard behind him grunted in a deep voice.

Aerol nodded and began to speak in guttural tones. He raised his mottled purple fingers to his pink thin lips, and looked speculative.

‘If it is a weapon, then it is one we know nothing of. The other Warlords have not developed anything this advanced that we know of.’

‘It could be sorcery, Mighty Warlord!’ the Tekromun Guard boldly suggested, promptly bowing afterwards to signal his subservience.

‘Yes, it could be…’ Aerol pondered. ‘The Sorcerers of Banuk are potent and secretive. It is conceivable they could have created such a cloak.’

They spoke as if Marcellus was not there to hear their words. Aerol wasn’t even looking at him. It was the cloak they were interested in. As far as they were concerned it was only an accident that it was attached to him, or at least he hoped they thought that.

Aerol’s face pressed close to Marcellus’, and he breathed his next words in rapid succession:

‘I need that cloak, or a weapon that can help me defeat the other Warlords. You will be the key to achieving my aims. Do not cross me!’ he finished, sitting back up and looking back at the Tekromun Guard he had been speaking to earlier.

Marcellus did not even consider betraying Aerol. There was something sinister about his threats and his bearing. Besides, it wasn’t as if Marcellus had any other option, for he knew very little of this world and its inhabitants, though their appearance was similar.

Marcellus nodded briefly.

‘Good,’ Aerol cooed in mock humour. ‘Summon Commander Cress here immediately! Take this individual back to his cell, and double the guard; he will be very important to us I am sure.’

The Tekromun Guard nodded and roughly yanked Marcellus by the neck to lift him up.

‘Wait!’ the steel tone of Warlord Aerol resounded.

There was a palpable stillness in the air.

‘What is your name?’ Aerol demanded.

‘Marcellus,’ he replied obediently.

‘Ensure Marcellus is not harmed!’ Aerol commanded, switching his glance to the Guard.

The Guard nodded meekly, and instead gestured for Marcellus to follow, which he did.

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Marcellus: Origins – Page 3 Preview

When Marcellus came to his senses, he found that he was in some darkened cell. It was night again, he could tell from the window set in the ceiling, which was far out of reach. There were no glorious stars to behold, only a chill wind to make him feel more uncomfortable. His face felt numb, and he had a nasty stomach ache whenever he sat up or bent.

He took a tour of the cell, but there was only a wooden bench.

Why? Why was I burdened with the cloak? Why can’t I even take it off?

Marcellus was very confused, just as much as he was by the actions of the Tekromun Guards. Who would have ordered the activities of the day to be ceased in order to attack a lone Tekromun who happened to wear a black cloak?

It didn’t make sense.

It was true that he hadn’t seen anybody else wearing a cloak, but Tekromuns still wore contrasting clothes.

Possession: they must have wanted the cloak for themselves.

The truth of it hit him like a wave. He wondered where all these truths came from, and why they seemed to be self-evident in hindsight. Was it to do with the cloak, or was it just how he was? He hadn’t lived long, so he couldn’t make an accurate assessment.

As Marcellus sampled the material of the cloak between his fingers, he realised that it was fine, of a high quality and very nice. It was therefore understandable why somebody would want it…

Marcellus pondered many questions in his imprisonment. Food and drink were pushed through the bottom of the cell door, which was too thin to crawl through. Sometimes he heard the thudding feet of guards outside. Besides the chill wind, Marcellus spent the night alone, huddled in the quiet on the wooden bench that was his one companion.

When day came Marcellus’ face felt ruined. Parts of it would drip blood, and the aches it gave him were unbearable. The sharp pains sometimes caused him to yell in agony. The pains and aches gave him headaches, but overall his head and mind still felt numb.

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Marcellus Origins – Page 2 Preview

He woke alive, to a bright new day. The sun shone powerfully through the layers of grey mist that swirled in the sky above. Marcellus sat up and rubbed his head. It took a moment before he remembered the nightmare that had assailed him last night.

He jolted at the creepy silken sensation at his back; and leapt upwards, staring behind at the long black cloak, which swept by his ankles, and was fastened to his neck by a chrome clasp. It was unbreakable, he realised with consternation, tugging at it with his primitive hands.

It took time for Marcellus to realise that he could hear voices, and even see purplish beings moving on the balconies of grey buildings all around him.

Am I one of them?

He walked to the entrance of the building on his left, still struggling to rip off the chrome clasp that bound him to this unknown evil.

Everything was going fine before this burden…

It appeared that he was standing in a lobby that was bustling with creatures that looked as he assumed he must to them. After all, what else would he look like?

Around him, there were slender females standing behind desks with easy smiles on their faces, and large muscle-bound brutish guards positioned around the circumference, with implacable expressions painted on the sculpted musculature of their faces. The contrast between the two types of creatures was confusing to him at first, before he realised how much shorter and slimmer he was than the guards, despite having their body hair.

Am I a third type?

He glanced at the females first, and their smiles elicited a pleasant uplifting sensation in his heart, before it was momentarily cut off by the dangerous glare of a nearby guard. As with the other guards, he proudly hefted a large pole-axe, and while Marcellus’ eyes were meeting his, he looked like he was going to move the weapon into an attacking stance if eye contact was maintained for a moment longer; and so Marcellus shrunk away from the bad emanating aura of intimidation, which he could somehow sense, because he didn’t know how to react safely..

As he proceeded further into the lobby he realised that he felt quite exposed. Groups of these purple creatures started to point or gesture to their friends.

Marcellus felt like he stood out.


He had just realised that was his name.

Powerfully aggressive Tekromun Guards closed-in on his position, hefting great silver pole-axes and bearing armour that resembled silver exo-skeletons, which hid the hues of their skin behind the bright reflective flashes that rebounded from them.

There was a dozen of them, surrounding him and muttering curses. Their slow and ponderous gasping breaths were marked by their large chests repeatedly pushing the armour up and down.

Marcellus was much shorter than these Guards.

Why do these Guards wear exo-skeleton armour?

Marcellus scanned the lobby for the explanation. He noticed that the general populace was scurrying out of the exits, as if aware that something dangerous or violent was afoot. The slender female receptionists were escorted out of the spacious lobby discreetly, leaving the place empty.

‘Take that cloak off!’ one of the brutes barked, before Marcellus was able to ask why he was being accosted.

‘Why?’ Marcellus challenged back boldly, his back upright.

The closest brute stepped forward and slashed downwards in a heavy arc. Marcellus stepped to the side easily enough, just avoiding the vibrating hum of the axe.

The attacker paused, as if at a loss because he had missed. The others narrowed their eyes, and their perverted breathing increased in tempo.

‘Take the cloak off now!’ a slightly taller and more commanding Tekromun Guard ordered with an imperious finger pointed at the chrome clasp.

Marcellus considered taking the cloak off, to avoid further confrontation. His hands grappled with the chrome clasps, but it was futile. The chrome was too hard and solid, and the black cloak seemed to be magically bonded with it.

His struggle continued for a few moments, while the Tekromun Guards watched quietly.

‘I can’t,’ Marcellus breathed in frustration, giving up and letting his hands fall to his sides.

‘Take him!’ the commanding Tekromun Guard ordered.

They converged forward. Marcellus felt threatened, and didn’t want to be handled against his will. He prepared for combat, spinning on his toe and evading the first oncoming assailant.

The remainder crossed the floor in swift large strides, their pole-axes crashing down upon his space. Marcellus stopped the progress of a pole-axe by grabbing its handle and using force to try and wrestle it away, but the Tekromun was too strong, and threw him off. Marcellus landed to the floor painfully.

A pole-axe smashed the floor beside his head, causing splinters to avalanche to his left. Marcellus rolled forward, and was back on his feet. He used his thumb to attack the eye of a Tekromun Guard, and then rolled backwards. But a brute grabbed his waist and squeezed tightly. A moment later the handle of a pole-axe thudded heavily into his stomach, winding him.

Marcellus looked downward, not even seeing his attackers as he fought against the tidal impact of the pole-axe handle. The Tekromun who had grabbed him threw him powerfully to the floor, and stood on his shoulder, pinning him.

They turned him around and pummelled his face with their wide fists, using their full weight to smash his face in. Marcellus couldn’t even feel the blows, but he could feel his face becoming a distorted mess as each blow landed too quickly for him to count.

He blacked out.

Marcellus Origins – Chapters 1-5 PDF

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Marcellus Origins – Page 1 Preview

From a distance it was beautiful, like a shining beacon of tranquillity and hope. Its lighted ambience caressed the near distances of the long thin bridge upon which it sat. Its brilliance showered the dark empty depths beneath, as if suffusing the area with something too pure to exist. The bright rounded egg began to pulse, shadowed by the odd few brownish splotches. As it hummed and glowed with warmth, it altered colour; changing from a pinkish-white, to a blood-red, and then to an indigo colour. The glowing lime-green mucus membrane of its surface stretched tentatively. Progressively the stretches became more forceful. There were mild tremors close to the bottom of the egg. Then there was suddenly a “plop” noise.

Out came a limb, darkly indigo and hairy, with ivory claws at the end. The long pointed claws ripped the wall of the lime-green mucus egg shell apart. These were claws with a purpose.

The hand-shaped purple protrusion reached out far. It rotated a few times, and then grasped at the cool atmosphere outside.

Coughing and spluttering with all the mucus spread over his exterior, he hatched.

The thick black birth hairs on his arms and chest began to recede, fading into the tough purplish skin of his young and supple body. He had toned muscles all over, coating his body with bulk. He was now stood erect, and he regarded his impressive physical stature with pride.

His sharp teeth cut into his lip, his nose felt chunky, and his jaw was heavy like a jutting cliff. It was as if ages of physical change had occurred. He stretched his wide shoulders and broad chest a few times, and roared loudly to express his might.

It was night, and the stars twinkled invitingly.

Marcellus considered them, and thought about a word, but it didn’t rise to his perception immediately. He had to think the concept over, for the juices inside his brain were not used to moving.


His feet rested upon a long thin bridge, connecting two tall floating grey buildings; floating because of the black chasm that existed below. All of the grey tubular buildings he could see in the distance floated side-by-side. It was how things appeared, he concluded.

There was a faint peach colour on the horizon, marking the start of a new day.

A flicker at the corner of his eyes made him snap his gaze to the right, and then the left. He was acutely aware of some presence close to him that he couldn’t see. It was still dark, but he knew he wouldn’t even have seen this presence during the day.

A cool silky sensation slid down his back, and he spun in fright. A black presence clung to him, enveloping him from behind and clasping together in front of him. He thrashed viciously, suffocated and oppressed by this alien object. It throttled him painfully, and he moaned like an animal; a call for help. Still the silky blackness pushed inwards, cutting off the beauty of the night and hurtling him backwards.

Onto his back, his repeated punches into the black fabric failed to change his situation, and he gasped. The resistance stopped, and he rested in a black cocoon, mental oblivion replacing the cool serenity he had felt upon being born.

Marcellus: Origins – Chapters 1-5 PDF

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Marcellus: Origins – Chapters 1-5 PDF

Marcellus: Origins – Chapters 1-5 PDF:

Marcellus: Origins by Alex James


In a time of warlords and warriors, of ceaseless military might and struggle, where the muscle and experience of soldiery made the difference between life and death, prosperity and subjugation. Welcome to Great Barbarism!

On a lone bridge an egg hatches. A being rises, unique in intelligence and moral standing. Born fully-grown, he will soon learn his name is Marcellus. He is suddenly assailed and held captive by a fathomless cloak, which he can’t remove. To understand it, he must first learn sorcery, but it becomes the bane of his existence when an especially intimidating and ambitious Warlord wants to use it as a weapon to conquer the home-world.

Destined to be the ultimate legendary hero and galactic warrior, Marcellus’s fate is entwined with that of the home-world, the entire Tekromun race, and the Nebulou Galaxy!

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Kroll: Magnificence – Part 1 – Chapters 1-5 PDF

Kroll Magnificence Image1 (2)





Part 1 – Chapters 1-5 PDF:

Kroll: Magnificence by Alex James


Fantastical sword-and-planet fantasy about mortal struggle against immortal tyrant sorcerer Kroll, who has extended his hold over the realm, causing the mortals to fight back with desperation in what they see as a hopeless battle.

Afraid of losing his immense control and his immortality, Kroll subjugates the realm and empowers himself with sorcery, but doing so brings undesired consequences: ancient buried memories, ghosts of those he killed, and truths that shouldn’t be truths!

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Nonsense Writing 2016 – 1

Nonsense unchecked writing. There probably isn’t ‘air’ in space, right?

The gargantuan ships came within proximity of each other, lambasting shell after shell of explosive matter, amid crashing systems and tumultuous tremors. The vacuum of space seemed thick with their presence, stuffy, and with volatile air.

System failures resounded, giving the interior of the ships a voice they didn’t have before. The metallic purple of their hulls glinted in splashes of sparks and ruptured at the slightest impact, puncturing the curved shape and forcing it ever inward, threatening to crumble.

Face-to-face, the enemies could see one another through the gaping mouths of the front of their ships, which were the same model. However, no shells or missiles could penetrate the space-glass panels. Despite the scorch marks and minor dents, the array of panels, which stretched for a kilometre, stood proudly intact and resilient against the unleashed weaponry.

Similar panels, though grey and ceramic, coated the floor on the inside of each ship, where enemy could stare at enemy, as they worked cohesively to undermine one another via an assortment of buttons on blocky misshapen  machines stripped with the bright colours red, blue, and yellow.

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Inspiration and 2016 Works

Have you been writing more than one book or series at a time, perhaps to give yourself a break? If you have, it’s easy to get confused about the focus of each book or at least to understand why you write about specific themes in one as opposed to the other.

For that reason, I thought I’d make it more clear how I channel my inspiration and differentiate it between my science fantasy Marcellus series and my epic sword-and-planet fantasy Kroll series. In both series, I have a main character and the series is both from their perspective and ‘about’ them from the perspective of other characters.

Kroll series

Kroll Magnificence Image1 (2)

The Kroll series is specifically about my difficulties with Asperger Syndrome where they relate to inflexibility of thought, obsession, social inadequacy, and isolation or exclusion. When I understand something new about the problems I face, I write it into the Kroll series. In this sense, the series is a record of the major mental difficulties I have fought or been through, and in the stories it’s not always apparent if you are the victor or the loser for undergoing changes in perspective.

The main character Kroll wants to shut out all truths and his acceptance of the outside world that he detests so much, and relies solely on his skills in sorcery to create his own system that his more acceptable to him. His anxiety is over whether he is skilled enough to have the control and satisfaction he desires, both of which are ever changing desires.

Marcellus: The Mantle by Alex James
Marcellus: The Mantle was published January 2015 and was written as an introduction to the concept of Marcellus. At the moment it could be considered to be a standalone novel or spin-off of my planned Marcellus series.

Marcellus series

When I’m worried or concerned about my strengths or weaknesses in comparison to people who don’t have Asperger Syndrome, I include it in the Marcellus series. My first book, Marcellus: Origins, focuses on the strengths of naivety and optimism, while the second book Marcellus: Legend focuses on the infectious problems caused by cynicism. The main character Marcellus has anxiety about his differences to the Tekromun around him. He knows he was born as an adult Tekromun in an egg, and never went through the experience of growing up as a young Tekromun or ‘tyke’. Marcellus wants to understand his differences and his place on the home-world.

It could be argued that he is not talented, ruthless, or confident. His successes are either attributed to him by others, or exist simply as rumour. As a sorcerer, he cannot unleash overwhelming force or complex spells to achieve his aims, instead relying on his ‘humanity’ and moral compass to guide his actions, making him slow to fight and react against unscrupulous enemies.

”’The Mantle” is the physical manifestation of Asperger Syndrome’

‘The Mantle’ is a mysterious cloak: an alien force that besieges Marcellus upon his immediate birth, attaching itself to him for what he fears will be the remainder of his life. He doesn’t know what the Mantle is or why it has attached itself to him, but it has made him want to rid himself of it. However, at times he does begin to trust and ‘listen’ to its powers and how they can help him get out of disastrous situations. At other times, it betrays him.

The Mantle is the physical manifestation of Asperger Syndrome: a constant worry, and major factor in Marcellus’ experiences. The Mantle acts, and causes Marcellus to react accordingly. It’s like being wrapped in the embrace of a life form that unceasingly flinches or responds before you can, and so informs your responses to both it and the external environment. The external environment is therefore in some way secondary in Marcellus’ consideration.

Marcellus is born an adult and can see the Mantle so he knows it exists, while many humans do not know about their Asperger Syndrome until later in life. Sometimes even humans only fully awaken in young adulthood to understand the world around them, particularly experiences and sensations that have been there for a long time.

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Is Inkitt the right platform for writers?

Kroll Magnificence Image1 (2)Are you a writer looking for reviews or thinking about getting published? Actively approaching reader communities is a good way to get feedback on your complete story, or for a sample or excerpt. Engaging reader community websites might be your next step towards adding those finishing touches, reaching new readers, or getting published. The following blog post will cover my experience of data-driven publisher and reader community Inkitt, and their recent Story Peak Contest, where three writers can win a publishing offer from them. I’ll address the positive and the negative aspects of the contest and what my thoughts are on Inkitt as a publishing company, which will hopefully give you some insights into how to make the most of the contest in achieving your writing aims or book marketing aims.

Should I enter the Story Peak Contest? That was the first question on my mind. A little research on Google on what other sites say about Inkitt leads to quite mixed results, and there wasn’t enough convincing information on either side to encourage me to fully decide one way or the other. The sites that were positive cited how amazing the platform was for connecting with readers and getting their stories noticed, and that some writers were going to eagerly upload their latest story to future contests. However, I spent more time looking at the negative points on sites, to see if there were any valid concerns before I entered their latest contest. Some cynical sites will tell you they are notorious spammers, that you’re giving away first English language rights by uploading your content to their site, or that it’s silly to ‘publish’ your story on Inkitt for them to maybe offer you a ‘publishing’ deal afterward. Some of us have become so suspicious of new start-up publishing companies that our attitude is to dismiss them out of hand, and based on what I’ve experienced or seen I can understand.

Before I entered their contest, I asked a few questions to see if they could clear up some of my concerns about the above points. The responses I got were prompt and friendly, though perhaps a little vague. Sometimes different people would answer my questions, which was confusing, but at least they had names and job descriptions. I was soon wondering if I was asking stupid questions. The reason for this is because the instructions on their website are short and simple, Spartan one might say and we writers like to ask questions and worry about the details. A few things came back to my mind to reassure me: All Rights Reserved was posted beside the writer’s name on every story uploaded to the Inkitt website; and on the few occasions in the past when they have contacted my writer website, they have been friendly and reasonable. I haven’t been spammed by Inkitt on Twitter.

I entered the Story Peak Contest early August 2016, with my title Kroll: Magnificence, in the hopes of getting feedback from prospective readers. In the contest, only 100 readers can reserve copies of your story, so if you’re concerned that the entire reading community out there are going to read your latest creation, then don’t be. Those who don’t reserve a copy can only see a short sample. Your job is to build your readership from the ground up, persuading your already existing fans or maybe new fans to reserve their copy, read your story, and leave feedback on the Inkitt site, in the space of about a month. No, you don’t have much time, and if you haven’t got many friends and family who are willing to read your story, you’re going to really have to put in the legwork if you’re going to get anywhere. Indeed, my experience in this contest taught me the same lesson again about reaching readers: the onus is on you. Readers aren’t going to magically gravitate to your story, and then go out of their way to read your story and leave feedback; they need a reason and you need to give them that reason. As a result, getting through the ‘first round’ is not the cakewalk you’d expect it to be. 15 copies of my title disappeared like hot cakes, and I had a real belief I was overtaking the other titles and would get through with ease, but I was wrong. After my preliminary efforts, only 3 more copies were reserved for the remaining three weeks, and I only had myself to blame for my lack of effort. I don’t see it as a failure because it gave me an excuse to ask for feedback on Kroll. More on that below…

Okay, so the positive

Inkitt do take on board writer feedback. Their contest rules, including prior and existing contests, have changed in response to writer feedback, which shows they are prepared to listen and adapt accordingly. Despite their supposed reliance on an objective algorithm, they aren’t uncompromising with writers.

During the contest, I was emailed to be informed I was given a second chance to build my readership when a ‘second round’ to the Story Peak Contest was going to be added, extending the contest. Inkitt also gave writers more control over who was allowed to reserve a copy, encouraging a system whereby only those who submit feedback/reviews would keep their copy. I welcomed this change because it meant writers could control their involvement in the contest and build reader loyalty. After all, 100 readers is the official aim of the contest, but reviews are the main goal of every writer and could well determine success if you manage to get your 100 readers and move to the second round.

Inkitt does provide a handy dashboard for analysing your analytics, and a promotion to-do list that points writers in the right direction to build a readership. It encourages you to succeed, and doesn’t discriminate (at least until the second round).

Whenever I asked Inkitt questions, the people responding would reply in a friendly and efficient manner, and were happy to address my issues. I was under the impression Inkitt were a writer-friendly company determined to adapt to succeed. Though some have doubted their publishing experience and background online, they have a drive to succeed by interacting with a multitude to writers and they seem to be catching on how to we think and responding positively to our needs by changing contest models.

Entering the contest was a worry for me at first. Do I upload my whole unpublished story? Is it wise to do that on a website I know so little about? However, it gave me the motivation to ask friends and family for feedback, and some were more than happy to be asked, for which I was thankful. In a publishing industry where there are no guarantees with book marketing, the simple goals of the contest gave me the push I needed to make an effort on my own behalf to get some reviews. Thanks Inkitt! I went into the contest with nobody having read more than a chapter of Kroll, and came out of the contest with over five people having read at least five chapters, if not the whole thing. It doesn’t sound vastly impressive for a writer, but considering Kroll: Magnificence is an unpublished story that I haven’t shared, I did feel I made reader connections with friends and that I came out of the contest with a sack (of reviews).

The negative parts

When you have your 100 readers, and hopefully, some well earnt good reviews, you advance to the next round where Inkitt will decide who gets published based on their algorithm/system for measuring reader engagement. ‘Algorithm’ can be off-putting for writers, who many mistrust exactly how Inkitt will perceive your story’s success to make it more of a success… Furthermore, it is a source of anxiety what will become of your story if you make it to the next round. Do you just sit tight and wait, and how long do you wait for? How will the second round be carried out? These questions are not answered on the Inkitt website.

Personally, I like to see a publishing company that specialises in certain types of books because it gives me the confidence that my story, and me as a writer, would fit with what the publisher stands for or publishes. Inkitt’s positive every-writer-is-welcome was nice, but if I was offered a publishing deal would I be convinced I was with the right people and company? In their contest description, they do imply they can act as a bridge between A-list publishers and writers, but there are no guarantees here. I’m sure the arrangement would work very well if your story has an exploding readership. Coupled with Inkitt’s promotion, it could work to your advantage. But if readers and reader engagement ebbs then you’re going to see the contest, or your efforts in promoting the contest, as being the main reasons you built a decent readership. I suppose in some ways it depends on the publishing contract and what they can do for you.

Some readers I was in communication with felt it was inconvenient to read from the Inkitt website, which is a problem that may be somewhat rectified once the Inkitt app has been released. Some also were put off by the idea of reading a whole story in approximately one month, but for the sake of a contest I don’t see how this feature could be improved.

On the Inkitt website, I had overlooked the fact that they imply that in a publishing contract you would give your rights to Inkitt, presumably instead of licensing them, and you would get them back if Inkitt didn’t sell 1000 books in twelve months. Some writers might be uncomfortable with this arrangement, but this is only if you are offered a publishing deal. To reiterate, you don’t surrender any rights by uploading your excerpt or your entire story onto the Inkitt website.

Overall verdict

The people who work at Inkitt are writer-friendly in that they listen to writers’ needs, change their contest models, and are happy to explain any issues with prompt replies. This gives me confidence and trust in their company. Their contests are amazing concepts for bringing readers towards their website, and therefore for fostering a future reading community, like Wattpad perhaps. Not only are the contests improving, but they keep targeting different types of readers, which is smart of them.

The people I reached out to were curious about Inkitt, and wanted to learn more. Writers end up being advocates for Inkitt in the hope they can translate this into advancement in the contest, and crucially, more feedback for their complete story.

If you’re looking for a fast way to gain new readers automatically, forget it! You must put in the time to promote your story and reach out to existing or new readers, even if you’re using Inkitt’s handy dashboard. Though it doesn’t state that the reader must read the entire story to write a review, I would recommend asking them to read the first five chapters, especially if they have to read on the Inkitt website.

What happens if you have 100 readers and some decent and positive feedback, after all your efforts? You might get a publishing deal with Inkitt, which might be a good thing, once you’ve seen what it entails and how they can help you reach even more readers. They do the editing, design, and even run the marketing campaigns. Unfortunately, more details or at least an FAQ section isn’t available to view, so I’d recommend to Inkitt that they write something to that effect. Their new website design states that they are a revolutionary literary agent, which is a well-considered angle, if they hope to pitch your story to A-list/traditional publishers, where your story would be published a second time and Inkitt would be the middle-man. If you trust Inkitt, they could work well as literary agents, but you need to be sure they can deliver as literary agents, who usually have a lot of connections and past experience in publishing or are members of an association. They also need to write why they are best placed to become your literary agent. At the moment, there is no guarantee that an A-list publisher would make an agreement with Inkitt, though they have done for past titles published by Inkitt (Bright Star by Erin Swan for example) as is currently visible in a slideshow on their website. As a writer I assumed popularity would interest A-list publishers, but exactly how much popularity is necessary? No, I’m sorry but we writers need more than just a “maybe” made clear to all of us. We need to know in detail what’s great about being published by Inkitt, what’s great about Inkitt as our literary agent, and what’s great about our chances of being published by an A-list publisher in terms of what they can do for us. It might give us writers more motivation to succeed in the contests.

Kroll: Magnificence five-chapter excerpt on Inkitt

(If you liked this article, please consider reading my five-chapter excerpt of Kroll: Magnificence on Inkitt and providing me with feedback.)

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The Unlucky Man by HTG Hedges – 4/5 Stars

The Unlucky Man by HTG HedgesI don’t know what my expectations were for The Unlucky Man – I was looking for something dystopian, dark, and that I hadn’t read before – and believe it or not that’s what I got! I’d classify it as an urban dystopian fantasy with supernatural and thriller elements. Ultimately, it’s about ordinary man John Hesker who is talking with best friend Corg when a body smashes on top of their car. They’re questioned by an investigator called Whimsy, who is a man only half-interested in what they are saying and seems to ask his questions ‘on a whim’, so he was well-named. However, it’s not long before the dark elusive organisation called Control will send its most accomplished assassin Wychelo (like a witch with dark unnerving pools for eyes) to kill Jon and therefore hide its secrets. When a disturbing supernatural force is injected into Jon, he goes on the run, over Old Links bridge where there is no law and only savagery awaits.

Well, HTG Hedges has an eye for atmosphere and setting, which places the reader into a three-dimensional world that brought clarity and richness to every description of setting, and was applied consistently throughout. I’d say this was the best feature of his writing, and made me feel as if I was reading something new or rare. The writing from 76% captured me fully, immersing me into complete disorientation, which was the intention, into a graphic hell that was also somewhat pleasant on the senses to witness.

Criticism: it took me a while to remember who the villains were, especially their names and what distinguished them, because they had small parts and mainly from the point-of-view of Jon. Closer to the end there was a touch too much background information on the villains, which though missing before to add mystery, was inserted a little late in this relatively short novel. Third-person omniscient was used to re-shine a light on the villains at 67%, which though I worried the plot was crumbling at this point it did actually put things back into perspective where they had been missing in the car-chases and well-directed action scenes. Third-person and first-person point-of-view was mingled, which lent the story inconsistency and did become more noticeable as it progressed. On that same note, the author was adept at using first-person to add depth, colour, and contrast that I haven’t seen before when reading from first-person POV, but his use of third-person omniscient from 76% was a display of incredible writing. It seems the author needs to decide on where his strengths lie and how to use point-of-view with consistency to deliver maximum impact. I would have enjoyed this more if it was better balanced as well: two-thirds action and one-third background/conclusion didn’t move events forward in a way that I had hoped.

Overall, I don’t think HTG Hedges’ readers will be disappointed by his writing. The atmospheric descriptions, combined with metaphor, worked consistently well throughout. I was often curious where the plot was going, and when things turned chaotic I was utterly absorbed, with mouth agape. Piecing together the sub-elements of the plot didn’t come immediately to me, but when parts did they made sense and piqued my interest. There’s some terrific writing in this.

HTG Hedges’ Website

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