Cheeseburger Gothic

Next book

Posted November 16, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I started blocking out the plot and character arcs for The Cruel Stars this week. I'd been tossing up whether to write WW3.1 first, but Cruel Stars is due in New York in April next year and with the holidays coming up my productivity will soon fall off a cliff. We're scheduled to spend some time in Sydney during January (I will try to set aside a day for a Burger catch up) and the getting kids back to school is usually a week's worth of faffing around too.

Long story short, I'm going to knock over this traditionally published title first, then swing into 3.1 in February. That should see it released in April/May.

Meantime, I have the Hooper fanfic project to release for Xmas. It'll go free to everyone in the bookclub, then probably sit at two bucks in the stores.

Come January I'll release all of the Stalin's Hammer books in one volume. Including Rome. I can't release my own copy of Rome, because the rights remain trapped with the legacy publsihers. . But I can rerelease it as part of an 'anthology'. I think it'll make a nice one, and I'll do a print on demand version too. Audible have made an offer on the audiobook rights.

I'm enjoying the rapid fire project switching of the last few months. Paris, Girl in Time and now Cruel Stars are all very different projects and I've found each to be a pleasant change from the other.

Not sure whether to put Cruel Stars through the beta process. It really does improve the story, but I'm mindful of not overloading everyone and, to be honest, it's the publisher's job anyway.

Happy to take counsel on that.

Also keen to here from the beta crew how they found Dropbox Paper. Some hated it. Some liked it. I had one or two scarifying moments when it seemed to delete the whole project.

27 Responses to ‘Next book’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted November 16, 2016
DB Paper was ok but that was highly dependent on the platform. Desktop/laptop were fine, the iPhone was also ok but so tiny I was crosseyed afterwards, and the Android tablet failed to provide me with a cursor on many occasions which made editing simple things difficult.
With the tablet I had a select all moment where I was not entirely sure what to do next just in case I deleted everything. I know you keep the original safely tucked away somewhere but do you occasionally backup the beta copy?
I'm happy to use either Paper or Docs.

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WarDog asserts...

Posted November 16, 2016
I found the latency on DropBox, both via Desktop and Android tablet to be extremely frustrating. To the point that I almost didn't read through the final third.

I like the anthology delivery for Stalin's Hammer.

And I also find switching tasks every couple of months a much more relaxing way of working. I fond it gives me fresh perspectives on prior projects too.

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jl ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
What's the premise for "The Cruel Stars"? Sounds interesting.

Loved dropbox, I used it on my Mac and had no problems. Very intuitive and fun to work with. Considering using it myself for my next book, great way to get real-time feedback from your betas. I really enjoyed it.

Also, good concept releasing the novellas as an anthology, especially like the print-on-demand part. Electronic books are fine, but every now and then I do love a paperback.

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Surtac ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
Yeah, what the sleepless one said.

With no prior experience of the product, I worked out how to use DB Paper relatively easily but its performance was highly dependent on the platform. Safari on iOS on iPad was unusable due to app latency times; Firefox or Chrome on a Windows 7 laptop was nearly as bad; the only decent response I could get was on Chrome on a Win 10 desktop. And I was using the same network infrastructure for all of these - VDSL2 broadband router hardwired to the two Win machines and wifi to the iPad.

Anyway, I was happy to be part of the process, and would do so again.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
Yeah, it does seem very dependent on platform, with mobile devices being the worst.

AuntyLou asserts...

Posted November 20, 2016
Yep Android tablet was hard work. One thing that no one else seems to mention is that Google Docs allowed a much smoother experience for glancing through comments. I like seeing the thought processes of others...even if it is only to kick myself for missing typos.

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Don Bagert is gonna tell you...

Posted November 16, 2016
It's hard to complain about 3.1 being delayed when you're saying it should be finished by six months from now, and also be available to everyone at the same time! I remember that one book that was delayed so long in the U.S. (maybe Final Impact?)

An anthology of 3 novellas that just happen to all be in the same universe with a continuing story line. Sound good if the Paris publishers buy it. (This made me think of when this "anthology" of 8 previously published short-stories plus one new story was released a some time back. You may have heard of it - the Foundation Trilogy.) LOL

The DB Paper could be a little fickle in some places, but overall it was very useful. A Girl in Time was my first time with the betas, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't believe you think we'll be overloaded by this - we're getting to see John Birmingham working at his craft! Also, I don't know how your publishing editors have been but I've seen many books by others where it was obvious the editors didn't understand what was going on. Do you want the betas, after the book is released, to be telling you "Look at these continuity errors, JB! WE would have found all of them!" LOL

Finally, I'd also like to know a bit of what Cruel Stars is about :)

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Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
"Come January I'll release all of the Stalin's Hammer books in one volume"

Literally a volume, like on paper?

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 16, 2016
Yes.

Lulu mumbles...

Posted November 16, 2016
Excellent!

dweeze ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
Come January I'd be purchasing such a volume then.
Yay.

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DarrenBloomfield swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 16, 2016
1. DB Paper is worth sticking with - even though I'm one that used my ipad almost exclusively, and as above, yeah it's not without its frustrations.

2. We betas get at least as much in return for what we give. So I selfishly say go for it. But will understand if you don't (your publisher may also have a risk-averse view).

3. Lots on JB - well done. Is it safe to say in 29 days you will be rich?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 16, 2016
I wouldn't go that far.

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insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
I think there will always be enough alphas available at any one time to cope with any potential overloading. I feel like it's ok to dip in or out depending on our individual workloads, or is that just lazy slave talk?

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Dave C mutters...

Posted November 16, 2016
Dropbox was good. There were a few fuggly moments using it on my android, as stated above, but generally it was excellent.
If you're asking whether to beta The Cruel Stars, I'd describe it like this; everyone's got their favorite bands, right? And their albums are the mint, polished, end-product. But come on, who wouldn't want to hang in their studio while they're laying the tracks?

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted November 16, 2016
Not a fan of the Dropbox Paper. I found it pretty maddening to work with.

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Jeats would have you know...

Posted November 16, 2016
Just out of interest you mentioned the rights to the audiobook... have you ever had interest for a movie? The time does seem ripe for a "Final Countdown" style movie - you know to make 'merica great again!

I am really looking forward to reading "The Cruel Stars" when it is released.

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted November 16, 2016
A girl in time is perfect for a netflix production. And the Dave for that matter (SFX budget might be a bit high!)

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Alastair mutters...

Posted November 17, 2016
What about a burger meetup in NYC? I'm in!

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Turlogh Dubh O'Brien ducks in to say...

Posted November 17, 2016
Dropbox Paper took me a second to get used to, but overall it was good. As others said, it wasn't without its shortcomings, but it did the trick.

As far as doing beta for "The Cruel Stars," I would do it in a heartbeat. But it's totally up to you (and the publishers).

The anthology sounds good too, and I am sure all of us are looking forward to WW3.1.

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Rhino mutters...

Posted November 17, 2016
DP was rough on IPad Pro. One thing that I didn't like (or figure out) was how to bookmark my progress so that I didn't have to do that entire scroll from the top thing every time. Probably a PIFOK error.

I'm always up for a beta ... mainly because I can lord it over the untermenschen.

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted November 17, 2016
We do not mention the untermenschen

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Ceramic swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 17, 2016
Never mind, just emailing you now.

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Rhino mumbles...

Posted November 18, 2016
But. But. But ... the sounds they make when taunted are like music for the soul.

But, my Master has spoken ... no more more mentions of the U-word.

Sudragon is gonna tell you...

Posted November 18, 2016
They have become...

Untermentionables.

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Oldy is gonna tell you...

Posted December 1, 2016
If you're worried about overloading the betas, you can always increase the pool...

...just sayin'

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted December 1, 2016
Old, if you want in, just let me know via the mailing list email.

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Alphas, your beta is good to go

Posted November 9, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Just loaded ACT 3.

I'm writing the epilogue today, and maybe tomorrow, but there's a complete story arc ready to go now.

Enjoy.

You can search the document for ACT 3 or for Chapter 26 to take you to the start.

7 Responses to ‘Alphas, your beta is good to go’

Surtac would have you know...

Posted November 9, 2016
Sir! Yes sir!

Will get to it this evening after work.

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insomniac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 9, 2016
Do we have a time limit?

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted November 9, 2016
Early next week it goes to the production edit.

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Yank across the sea puts forth...

Posted November 9, 2016
Are you going to make any adjustments to AoT if Trump gets elected since in the novels Clinton was president in their future timeline?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 9, 2016
Well, it is an alternate history.

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Dave C asserts...

Posted November 9, 2016
Clinton hadn't quite been confirmed in the book though, had she? It was just assumed that Clinton would win. Sound familiar? Kinda liked it better as fiction.

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DaveC has opinions thus...

Posted November 9, 2016
AoT... D'Oh! Lost in the quantum foam.

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The end is nigh

Posted November 3, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm about to delete a chapter that I spent most of yesterday writing. A chapter I was pretty pleased with too. It's unavoidable. Having intricately plotted out the final act of A Girl in Time, I was walking my dog this morning when I realised there was a simpler, more elegant way of bringing all of the story threads together. I hate that.
It's taken me an hour this morning, of muttering under my breath, stalking around the house, cursing myself, but I finally got to a point where I can do what needs to be done.
Delete the chapter, and rewrite it to set up the simpler, more elegant finale.
As much as it will hurt cutting out those 3000 words, it'll save me somewhere between eight and ten thousand words by the time I'm done. I originally planned for this book to top out at 90K. It was heading towards 100,000 as of yesterday.
Hopefully, this means I'll have Act 3 ready for beta late on Friday.

12 Responses to ‘The end is nigh’

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted November 3, 2016
Save the material. Might be useful for recycle later.

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insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2016
Serendipity is a wonderful thing

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Dave W swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3, 2016
Could be a good deleted-scenes or alternative ending easter egg on the DVD extras.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3, 2016
There is a lot of that laying around, Dave.

Dave W mutters...

Posted November 3, 2016
The Director's Cut, double dvd special edition?

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2016
On a purely selfish note: Friday is perfect for me. Driving the fam up your way(ish) to Southport to see in laws for a couple of days. Never has there been better timing :)

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BostonJoe mutters...

Posted November 3, 2016
I second the deleted scenes idea.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3, 2016
Once again, the 'in the moment' zen of a canine brings clarity. Don't forget to mention your dog on the acknowledgements page.

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WarDog reckons...

Posted November 3, 2016
I often have the same experience when coding.

A good step away from the project (or a night of sleep/alcohol) and the fresh perspective turns mountains into gold plated molehills.

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2016
Elegant Ending = Introduction of The Rhino. I figured as much.

Can't wait to see this ... very curious as to where this is going.

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted November 4, 2016
Put it up, put it up, PUT. IT. UUUUUUUUPPPPP!!!!

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Gutz mutters...

Posted November 12, 2016
I just hope that walking your sometime disappearing dog has not given you pause on how you treat your disappearing characters. lest a large portion of the narrative given to never to be seen again instruments of assistance. Bruce from unit 38 ' i am sure he was here with my Fifi.!, wont our children be gorgeous!! ' all that superfluous rubbish can become cannon fodder Wendy!!

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Girl in Time, Act 2 beta is available

Posted October 26, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I planned to hit Act 3 around the 60,000 word mark, but in the way of these things, it took me until 70,000 to get there.
Worth it, though.
Anybody who's reading the beta will see the change in perspective immediately. I shifted Point of View from Cady to Smith, partly to hide some of the narrative scaffolding away where nobody could see it, and partly because I wanted to spend a bit of time inside the head of my other protagonist.
Smith has a very different perspective, and a pleasingly arcane way of expressing himself.
It's now going to take me a day or or to get out of the habit of thinking like him.
Thanks to everybody who's been reading along and offering edits and suggestions. The manuscript is really tightening up. I found myself having to take a break from checking the edits yesterday because I was starting to enjoy reading the text too much.
Always a good sign.
I have the last Act sketched out, not blocked out scene by scene. The next couple of days will go towards that. I hope to have the final Act ready for beta by November 4.

10 Responses to ‘Girl in Time, Act 2 beta is available’

Steve ducks in to say...

Posted October 26, 2016
Not related to AGiT, but thought you would be interested in the following

I was watching a new NBC series called "Timeless", as a result of some WWII time travel, the heroes get back to their present and find out about an Ian Fleming book that was not in the original timeline.

The name of the book is "Weapons of Choice", clearly one of the writers is a fan.

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted October 26, 2016
Hah, that is pretty cool.


John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 26, 2016
I am officially chuffed.

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w from brisbane swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 26, 2016
I guess your family worked out you were deep into character POV when you said tea was going to be ribeye, soda biscuits and grits.

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted October 26, 2016
Amazing effort.

I was listing to the 'No such thing as a fish' podcast and did you know at a gala held in Agatha Christie's honor when asked how she was able to churn out so many books, Christie once called herself “a sausage machine, a perfect sausage machine.”

For many years she was on a tight schedule of two books per year, including one that was always released right before the holiday season, which was marketed as “Christie for Christmas.” Except one particularly prodigious year when she wrote four novels, a collection of short stories and two plays.

Don't know what made me think of that.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted October 27, 2016
the school boy in me sniggers at her comparison

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted October 27, 2016
It's a thing of beauty. I'm finding it really hard to stop reading it for pleasure and fulfilling my beta function.

Also a good sign.

Can't wait for the "who will play Them in the movie version?" Thread.

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted October 27, 2016
I'm having great fun writing it.

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Don Bagert has opinions thus...

Posted October 29, 2016
LOL, I went to correct a typo in your post, before remembering that I'm not reading the beta ;-)

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted October 29, 2016
This made me chuckle.

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AGIT Beta update

Posted October 21, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

Decided to split the upload into three. There's little reason not to let everyone have at the 1st Act later today. I have a chapter to finish writing first, but then I'll post the copy so it's avialble over the weekend.

12 Responses to ‘AGIT Beta update’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted October 21, 2016
Will the master alphas still get 2 weeks for each?

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted October 21, 2016
I send it to edit on Nov 11.

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DarrenBloomfield reckons...

Posted October 21, 2016
I meant to respond in earlier thread. Personally i think the drop feed works best for me as a beta reader. Lets me focus on the task assigned and not get swept up/distracted by the story!

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DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted October 21, 2016
*drip feed

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Don Bagert is gonna tell you...

Posted October 24, 2016
I'm still available :)

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted October 25, 2016
Invite sent.

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DarrenBloomfield ducks in to say...

Posted October 24, 2016
Just finished my first full sweep through.

Hats off my friend. Hats off.

jl would have you know...

Posted October 25, 2016
Agreed. JB has done something completely different with this work but the effect is the same as his other books- riveting reading.

DaveC asserts...

Posted October 25, 2016
Majorly kicks arse.

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Robertkocsis puts forth...

Posted October 27, 2016
Well, I'd love to peruse this if still possible :)

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted October 27, 2016
Your invite should be in your email.

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Vallon Davis asserts...

Posted November 4, 2016
Where can I access the AGIT beta post??

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A Girl in Time Beta is coming

Posted October 20, 2016 into Writing by John Birmingham

I'm still trying to decide whether to push hard and get this out before Christmas, or take a couple of extra weeks and release in mid Jan when things are very quiet with the trade publishers.

To give myself the former option, I'd have to do the beta in two parts. Releasing parts 1 and 2 (which luckily are quite self contained) and finishing Act 3 while the betas read them.

If I wait until January to publish, it's less of an issue.

I'm interested in hearing from anyone who'd like to see the early version, and particularly what they think of a two part process.

The first part of about 60-65K words will be ready in a couple of days. The second of approx 30K words, maybe a fortnight later.

Also, I'm thinking of calling the betas my alphas because they're that awesome.

15 Responses to ‘A Girl in Time Beta is coming’

FormerlyKnownAsSimon puts forth...

Posted October 20, 2016
if you want to add an extra beta/alpha, my timeline has freed up with the aligning of the planets. I'm trying out Damon Young's #nowhitedudes . . but . . . well there are always exceptions and i'm currently inbetween lovers . . . i mean books at the moment. A two part process shouldn't be a problem? The beta's would have the first 60k to get through anyway. I can only offer you my services as a reader of pure enjoyment not encumbered by the fine details of the laws of physics and credibility, although there is a point where that wears thin (i have done maths at uni) : )

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Leftarc swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 20, 2016
I was going to say take the time. This is not an agile project, throwing out iterations like nameless drugs to mad monday footballers at Surfers.
But I have re-read the question, and you have to ask yourself, do you want to be writing part three, knowing that there maybe some changes required based on the feedback you will receive in parts one and two.

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Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted October 20, 2016
Send it. I should have some time soon to read it.

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Turlogh Dubh O'Brien would have you know...

Posted October 20, 2016
If you wish to entrust me to be a beta, I will gladly take it on. I will submit my CV and references if necessary ;-)


As far as the two-part process, I think it will work. We read 1, then 2, then you finish 3 and tie it all back together with the feedback.

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John Birmingham asserts...

Posted October 20, 2016
Yeah, on further consideration, a little consultation with industry insiders, I'm leaning towards pulling a few late nights and getting this sucker into play before Christmas.
Anybody who'd like to be in on the beta, let me know via email.
My initials at jbismymasternow dotcom.

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Surtac reckons...

Posted October 20, 2016
I have some time in my reading schedule, while I wait for Dave Hutchinson's 'Europe in Winter' to drop in a few weeks time. And I'm saving the new Peter Hamilton for my Christmas break.

So I might put my hand up this time.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted October 20, 2016
Personally I will have more time in December but if you command I shall deliver, even though 65K words in two weeks will be a stretch, especially while still being giddy at the thrilling, world record beating, largest ever margin victory by the mighty All Blacks over the hapless Wallabies.

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Brother PorkChop has opinions thus...

Posted October 20, 2016
I like the idea of pre-Xmas and I finally have some time I think. Beta away!!

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AuntyLou mumbles...

Posted October 20, 2016
Excitement! And of course you can call us anything you like...except master betas...

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted October 20, 2016
OH GOOD GRIEF!

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AuntyLou mumbles...

Posted October 20, 2016
What?! Grandma can be rude too you know! She ain't all milk and cookies...in fact this one is more wine and vodka!

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Rhino mutters...

Posted October 21, 2016
Get it done before Xmas. Every day that it is not online is a day that you don't get money.

Ship it.

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Don Bagert reckons...

Posted October 21, 2016
JB, I'd like to see the early version, and would suggest waiting on publication until January, since it seems you have so much in the pipeline right now.

DaveC is gonna tell you...

Posted October 21, 2016
Like Red Dead Redemption 2?

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she_jedi reckons...

Posted October 21, 2016
Ship it! I'm in project deadline hell at work at the moment (we're opening a new hotel AND re-lauching our loyalty program at the same time, so no pressure) but will commit to beta reading this one, as I failed so miserably on Cairo and Paris :(


And then I can buy myself the finished product for Christmas. Win win.

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