writing


8 years of Feeding Edge

It is odd that the amount of time it takes the earth to revolve fully around the sun has so much significance to us, but it does. It is 8 years since I started Feeding Edge.
Birthday presents and cake
Of course now it is a little quieter as it has no employees as such just me as a director. It sits as an archive of lots of experiences once I left corporate life and something I am very proud of. A year ago I was just publishing Cont3xt the second novel after Reconfigure and I was in a holding pattern hoping the role I have now as an IoT analyst at 451 Research was going to come to fruition. It was sad to stop delivering projects under the Feeding Edge logo but equally it has a long term product out there in the market place. Both novels are still selling in modest amounts and people are starting to discover what’s in them, always room for more and more reviews though. It’s a long game and as it took me nearly 50 years to get around write them I should not expect them to be found by everyone in a couple of months.
Being deep into IoT taking briefings, giving presentations and writing lots and lots of reports has meant book 3 has had to simmer away in the back of my mind, though being an IoT novel series Roisin’s adventures are never far away. The first 2 books were written as a full time job, as I was lucky enough to have ended up with the time as projects ended, and delays in new projects starting. It was tempting to just sit and goof around, but it was something I had to try and now I am so glad I did as Feeding Edge gets to live on as a publisher of those books. It also provides an interesting intro to people in the tech industry as part of my quick bio chat that we all have.
Reading books is for some people a veracious hobby and for others they just don’t read at all, which is why I would like to explore some of the other mediums in which to tell the story. I would like to go to a more visual platform, but that requires some skills I have yet to master, or need to buy in. A graphic novel or an animation would be an ideal way to share the story. I can see the scenes and pictures still, they are what I wrote from along with the emotions and feelings underlying them.
I wonder what this was about last year in Cont3xt?

“Her personal favourite, that had the most style and comedy points, was one politician who chose to project his power and importance, by appearing with his countries national bird. It was a very large and impressive bald eagle. The entire image was ridiculous in the first place. The politico sat staring at the autocue, that Martin had an override on. The eagle loomed large, to the ebullient politician’s right side, on screen. Before any words could be uttered, Rosin gave the giant bird of prey a small remote poke. She saw the textured wireframe of the bird in her view extend its wings and aim for the nearest living thing that possibly could have hit it in the backside with a pencil. The would-be leader of his party had to wheel his large dominating office chair out of range, holding his hands to his face for protection. As an added bonus Roisin gave his pretend full head of hair a little tweak too. She had dived in before Martin’s carefully written, deliberately non-sensical speech had even started. Martin was not actually annoyed, he saw the funny side. It became an internet sensation, the looping video fitted nicely, in the few seconds of attention span of most people. It made for great animated GIF’s and a multitude of spin-offs. It was even bigger than the #joyhere that Roisin had accidentally created with her first forays into Reconfiguring the World.”

That’s a Feeding Edge legacy 🙂

Reconfigure and Cont3xt free for another few days

I decided to give the books another period of free download on Kindle. I still hope that all the hundred of people who have got the books over this past year find time to enjoy them and potentially write me a nice review on Amazon. The professional review I had from Kirkus and the feedback I have got over the year has been fantastic, so I am pretty sure these pieces of work stand up to scrutiny and are enjoyable.
So if you are feeling like you need to grab a different read, don’t be put off by the sci-fi its is adventure and many non tech have enjoyed it. Of course if you are a techie you are the target for Roisin’s adventures.
Number 3 is bubbling around, having a full time writing and presenting job as an IoT analyst makes it hard to find the sort of blocks of time I used to write the first two, but I will get on with it. Long flights to the US and many hotel room stays may be where this one germinates from.
Anyway, please feel free to download the kindle version in your region. It’s global and both books should just wing their way to you on any device that has an e-reader.
The ad budget is quite low at the moment, so this will have to do as a reminder.
Limited time offer on http://reconfigurebook.co.uk and http://cont3xtbook.co.uk #free
The joys of self publishing 🙂
The book pages are here and here

A successful freebie promotion? Some numbers.

How did the freebie week do then? A week of just putting both Reconfigure and Cont3xt out there for download for nothing. Firstly thank you to everyone who downloaded the book(s) around the World, I had figures from lots of countries not just the .com and .co.uk Amazon sites.
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In total there were 373 downloads in those 5 days. It put the book up in the free charts and made for a very exciting few days watching the graph rise. I felt I was surfing a wave of interest in the story.
The cost of that free promo, if i had charged the normal Amazon price where I get 35% of the 0.99p it equates to £130.55. You can see you have to shift a lot of books, or charge a lot more and still shift them to make any sort of money for a novel. The 0.99 price point was.is an attempt at volume.
The free download though is way more effective, in my experience, than regular advertising. With that you pay if someone clicks on your advert, not if they buy you product. It is easy to spend hundreds trying to target the right audience. I even paid Facebook to boost my Reconfigure is free post for the week. That was £11 just to do that one post. It reached 1,018 people and there were 171 actions on it. It is hard to tell if those 171 actions were downloads of the book or not though. The systems are not so joined up as to be able to tell you that sort of intelligence.
Another interesting statistic is that 278 of the downloads were of Reconfigure, but only 95 for the follow up Cont3xt. Both were equally free, though I can understand in a series only grabbing the first. It may be that some of those 278 downloads might get read, and enjoyed and then come back for the sequel.
The World, characters and experiences I created didn’t exist before September 2015, and only started to be available for anyone else to experience in October 2015. Books take a long time to read, it is not a quick 1/2 hour TV series or a 5 minute YouTube. I now know there are lots of copies out there, ready to be taken to the next stage of discovery and enjoyment. That I count as a success. There are books that will ship 800+ a day, but that is a different league. My books can ship that many if need be, it is ultimately an on demand product and does not require me to do anything else to it. They are written, and I love what I have done.
With the excitement and the highs there is always a follow on low. As Amazon switches you from paid to free and back again the book ranking takes a bit of a hit. Obviously when you are free you are racking up free sales, when you go back again you are dropped back in having missed out on any sales, so it starts to tank. Unless lots of people rally and hear about the book and start buying it.As you can see below, the free book was getting right up onto the top line of the rankings in the top 1,000 of all books online, and top 50 of science fiction. Now the rank plummets, ready to start climbing again slowly.
Author rank
I was asked if this was a good way to make a living? Having a good quality product, as the books seem to be really enjoyed by people who get to read them, is only part of it. It is an essential part of course. The rest though requires a lot of luck. I am already very active of social media, and have been for years, and I am I willing to try a share things in an unusual way. I feel for those indie authors that have worked hard on their books and are now faced with trying to establish a social media presence in order to get the books noticed by people. It is why there is a huge industry of people charging money to do the advertising for you. I have explored some of those, the auto tweeting to hundreds of thousands of people. It’s effectiveness is debatable. However, you want to buy the lottery ticket, just in case.
Which convinces someone to download a book more, an advert or something mad like the Marmite jars.
#scifi Marmite
The answer may be neither, but I am having way more creative an intellectual fun trying these things out than the apparent mugging that occurs on regular online advertising. Well it was ONLY 373 and it was FREE so of course people would download it. That may be a though going through someone’s head. However, it is 373 downloads and everyone of them counts. Every potential reader, with it sat on their device, might get an fantastic kick out of reading it. Even one person loving it is a great result. If the book was not there, that would not happen. It is, they are, and it can.
I am still seriously considering how to tell the story in a way that fits the 21st century though. Game, machinima, Augmented Reality experience etc. That is because Roisin and her adventures are just freaking awesome 😉 Enjoy!

A free offering for World Choi Kwang Do week

This week is, for our martial art, Choi Kwang Do, starting to be known as World CKD week. Primarily that is because March 2nd is the anniversary of Grandmaster Choi founding the art, originally in 1987. The week is being themed with the tag line Science meets Martial Arts. This is one of the main reasons Choi Kwang Do works for me. In class we learn, practice and teach things based on the reason they work.
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I have written about our family’s martial art of choice many times and my exploration of technology in the art and how I arrived at the art via technology and serendipity too. There is also the more formal article in my writing portfolio about Virtual athletes
All this has led to Choi Kwang Do being a huge part of our family life and we have made so many good friends through it. There is a bond we all feel in the positive spirit of the art. It was shown this weekend as we celebrated with Master Scrimshaw the 5th Anniversary of BasingstokeCKD Our dohjang was full on Saturday with fellow students from Basingstoke, but also some good friends, old and new from other schools. We had black belt tag grading, colour belt grading, an incredible set of routines to go through in class and then a great social event with food and cakes. It was incredibly uplifting, and an ideal lead into World CKD week too!
To celebrate this World CKD week I have made Cont3xt free to download. It has an awful lot in it, pivotal to the story inspired by Choi Kwang Do as an art and a state of mind. It fits with the Science (Fiction) meets Martial Arts tagline for the week. Whilst I am doing this to encourage my fellow practitioners to see ways we can introduce Choi Kwang Do in many different ways, and as a way of saying thank you to them all there will of course be other people able to download and experience the books for free. All my author bio’s mention Choi Kwang Do.
We pledge Humility and Integrity, amongst other things, in the art. So promotion of one’s own work like this could feel a little uncomfortable. However I really want to share how CKD inspired elements fit into a science fiction techno thriller in a very positive way. It was the just getting on with it unbreakable spirit that we learn, that even got me to write these two books.
As Cont3xt is the follow up book I have also made Reconfigure free for the week too. The martial arts arrives in Cont3xt but not in the way you might think to start off with, in Reconfigure (book 1) Roisin has no such skills, but the book is there for free too for completeness.
I hope a few people get a chance to take a look, maybe even pop a few stars of reviews on Amazon. I would also love for someone to have read the Cont3xt, who doesn’t do CKD yet, and to look up the art , find their nearest school and start to train. It’s a long shot, but every person in the World is a potential student to join us, have some fun and learn something really useful about themselves.
Choi Kwang Do is practical self defence, but we aim to never need to use it, and we also don’t fight and hurt our fellow students via competition and sparring. I believe the quote is “It is better to be a warrior in a garden than a gardener in a war.”
So there we have it, the books are available free on Amazon, to be used in whatever way works for whom so ever needs it. Cont3xt and Reconfigure here.
Pil Seung! (Certain victory)

Lucky 7 years – Feeding Edge birthday

Wow. It is seven years since I started Feeding Edge Ltd. That is quite a long while isn’t it? The past year has been a more difficult one with less work in the pipeline for most of it. It has meant I have had to take stock and look to do other things, whilst the World catches up. It does seem strange given the dawn of the new wave of Virtual Reality, and Augmented Reality that I have not managed to find the right people to engage my expertise and background in both regular technology and virtual worlds. In part that was because I was focussing on one major contract, when that dried up suddenly there was no where to go. It is starting from zero again to build up and sell who I am and what I do.
My other startup work has always been ticking along under the covers, as we try and work the system to find the right person with the right vision to fund what we have in mind. It is a big a glorious project, but it all takes time. Lots of no, yes but and even a few lets do it, followed by oh hang can’t now other stuff has come up.
On the summer holiday, I had a good long think about whether to give this all up and try and find a regular position back in corporate life, I was hit with a flash of inspiration for the science fiction concept. It was so obvious that I just had to give it a go. That is not to say I would not accept a well paid job with slightly more structure to help pay my way. However, the books flowed out of me. It was an incredibly exciting end to the year. Learning how to write and structure Reconfigure, how to package and build the ebook and the print version. How to release and then try and promote it. I have learned so much doing it that helps me personally, helps my business and also will help in any consulting work I do in the future. I realised too that the products of both Reconfigure and Cont3xt are like a CV for me. They represent a state of the virtual world, virtual reality, augmented reality and Internet of Things industry, combined with the coding and use of game tech that comes directly from my experiences, extrapolated for the purpose of story telling.
Write what you know, and that appears to be the future, in this case the near future.
This year I have also been continuing my journey in Choi Kwang Do. This time with a black suit on as a head instructor. It has led me to give talks to schools on science and why it is important, with a backdrop of Choi Kwang Do as a hook for them. I am constantly trying to evolve as a teacher and a student. Once again the reflective nature of the art was woven into the second book Cont3xt. I did not brand any of the martial arts action in the book as Choi Kwang Do as that may mis-represent the art and I don’t want to do that, but it did influence the start of the story with its more reflective elements, later on a degree of poetic licence kicked in, but the feelings of performing the moves is very real.
I have continued my pursuit of the unusual throughout the year. The books as a product provide, rather like the Feeding Edge logo has in the past, a vehicle to explore ideas.
I still really like my Forza 6 book branded Lambo, demonstrating the concept of digital in world product placement.

If you have read the books, and if not why not? they are only 99p, you will know that Roisin like Marmite. Why not ? I like Marmite, again write what you know. It became a vehicle and an ongoing thread in the stories, and even a bit of a calling card. It is a real world brand, so that can be tricky, but I think I use it in a positive way, as well as showing that not everyone is a fan. So the it is just another real world hook to make the science fiction elements believable. So I was really pleased when i saw that Marmite had a print your own label customisation. It is print on demand Marmite, just as my books are print on demand. It uses the web and the internet to accept the order and the then there is physical delivery. I know its a bit meta but thats the same pattern Roisin uses, just the physical movement of things is a little more quirky 🙂
Http://www.cont3xtbook.co.uk meets #marmite
I have another two jars on the way. One for Reconfigure and one for Roisin herself.
I am sure she will change her own twitter icon from the regular jar to one of these later as @axelweight Yes she does have a Twitter account, she had to otherwise she would not have been able to accidentally Tweet “ls -l” and get introduced to the World changing device @RayKonfigure would she?
All this interweaving of tech and experience, in this case related to the books, is what I do and have always done. I hope my ideas are inspirational to some, and one day obvious to others. I will keep trying to do the right thing, be positive and share as much as possible.
I am available to talk through any opportunities you have, anytime. epredator at feedingedge.co.uk or @epredator
Finally, last but not least, I have to say a huge thank you to my wife Jan @elemming She has the pressure of the corporate role, one that she enjoys but still it is the pressure. She is the major breadwinner. You can imagine how many 99p books you have to sell make any money to pay anything. She puts up with the downs whilst we at for the ups. Those ups will re-emerge, this year has shown that too me. No matter how bleak it looks, something happens to offer hope. I have some new projects in the pipeline, mostly speculative, but with all these crazy ideas buzzing around something will pop one day.
As we say in Choi Kwang Do – Pil Seung! which means certain victory. Happy lucky 7th birthday Feeding Edge 🙂

Memory and depth of experience is a fascinating thing

I like to explore how things, usually tech related, end up feeling. The human experience is a central one that often gets ignored in any apparent automation or solving of a problem with tech. Products that we all get to use on a regular basis, or trends we buy into are obviously engineered into the user experiences and adverts and branding appeal to a sense of belonging too. Memory though, and how ‘into’ something you can be at any point in time is fascinating.
Many of us have had a few weeks away from training in Choi Kwang Do, classes are starting again this week. Four years ago, this month, predlet 2.0 and I knew nothing about it
Choi kwang do
Constant practice, and constant learning maintain the philosophy, the physical flexibility and the combinations of movements in our brains and bodies. We are all aiming for it to be something we don’t have to remember, just something we do. The form and shapes are built to remember though. They have start and end points that match, making it suitable chunk for memory to deal with. It knows where it is going. Different belts layer upon the foundation, but the circular nature of memory and practice continues until it starts to become automatic. Though we all know we can always improve and there is always more to learn. It is still in there, ready for instant recall. I know I draw a blank sometimes in practice, when the subconscious and conscious get all mixed up with one another. The importance he is structure and pattern, and where it then goes awry with other types of activity.

Today I was back into my role as a writer/author/publisher/publicist for the first time for a few weeks. The holidays I had pretty much shutdown mentally on the subject. I was still very much following tech, seeing what was going on in the World, but my own self made World was on hold. Maybe there was the odd tweet or response to a reader, but in general I wanted to experiment with walking away from it for a few weeks.

My return needed a kickstart, that has been one that for the next few hours (until about 9am UK Wednesday 6th Jan 2016) of having Reconfigure available for free download. The Uk version is here US version is here

I had to do this to patch back in the feelings of urgency I had for people to read this story. It was still selling over christmas, even copies on xmas day which is humbling. It is still being read on the free library that Amazon runs to Kindle Unlimited. I needed to feel, and be abel to share what was going on and be back in the moment with it though. Obviously I hope I get more readers and reviews too.
This was also to cause a cascade kick start to editing the book I finished just before the holiday. To then start re-reading and editing Cont3xt, the follow up.
Now this is where it got a bit weird. As I started to read it again, I felt like I was returning home, filled with the buzz of the first book. I also though had not spent as much time going over the words as I had with the first one. So in many ways I had just written it and then forgot it.

In forgetting it, I was actually able to enchant and surprise myself at things I had created. I started to think if I had actually written the words. Obviously I did, but in such a state of Flow my conscious mind had not really taken it all in. It must have been there a little. Having read the first 1/3 of the book I remember the story board I did. However, my characters have said and done things that almost seem autonomous. That is a bizarre feeling.
Or at least is was until I related it to code. All my fellow techies out there will have felt the same. Even with code comments, returning to an intricate piece of code after a time away from it, maybe witting something else completely different, there is a sense of ‘did I write that?’ It can be dread at how bad it is, or elation at how clever or elegant it is. Code of course is built from some design or architecture, though that may be a mental model lost into the depths of the brain on the individual who did it. Code is an expression of that, but equally its an abstraction. You can exercise the code and read the code, plus look at the comments. So there are multiple ways to patch it back into your brain.

With a book its a bit different. You have to fund the emotions you felt, the tricks you were playing, with twists and turns, pretty much through the text itself. The storyboard certainly helps, but it seems a good test of the story if you can surprise yourself.
I had seen some writing help suggestions to metaphorically put the book in a drawer and leave it, before going back to it. It is an approach I think I can recommend. Whilst it has been a bit strange, I have gone back to something I like. That could of course go horribly wrong the other way or I am just delusional. Still I don’t have time for that sort of imposter syndrome problem that we all get.

Just got to try it – Book time

We just spent the past 2 weeks in a villa in Mallorca on our family holiday. It was, as with all holidays, great fun and a change of scenery and pace. Though I still was on the look out for some interesting new projects and had a few calls to discuss things. It is a time to reflect though.
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I spent a lot of time doing my Choi patterns out in the sun, as well as us all swimming, eating and playing games like Exploding Kittens and Forgotten Dessert. We travelled around a bit in the hire car and visited some interesting places. Caves, mountains and beaches. I managed to read an entire book too. I finally go to reading Andy Weir – The Martian. It was an odd dichotomy to read the claustrophobia of being stranded on an unforgiven planet, but having to use maker and engineer wits to overcome the problems the faced. The technical detail in it was superb, the maths and calculations around how much water, oxygen, fuel, soil, potatoes etc that he needed kept whirring in my brain whilst in this baking heat and relaxed family atmosphere.
We were not cut off completely, we had WiFi in the villa. So the predlets were constantly streaming minecraft and other vloggers. Of an evening I found CBS Action on the TV and got the predlets into watching Star Trek The Original Series, followed by MacGyver which they had never seen before.
Somewhere this all seemed to come together in a blinding flash of inspiration and I suddenly realized I had a scifi story in my head. One I needed to write.
I know, its something loads of people do, but I do love writing. I realized that my technical know how spanning so many years had a value in bringing some genuine flavour to any story. Also I specialise in the near future with emerging technology. Often in articles, and in posts and tweets I extrapolate a little further. I have played a lot of games, watched a lot of films, and like to riff on ideas. My book reading is of course not great, I am not an avid reader, but I think that means the things I have read have a bigger impact on me.
So I came back home, sat down and started. Having mused over the idea for the second week of the holiday I thought I best storyboard it first. After all this is like trying to build software. You need to architect it first, based on the requirements. This requirements I had, mostly. The base premise, some of the development and potential end.
Yesterday was just day 1, it may take years but I got 2 chapters worth of 5,500 words in total out. As I wrote it flowed, it was like watching a boxed set on the TV. I didn’t totally know what was going to happen and things cropped up and needed to be addressed. Again this was very much like coding. You just do it, find the flow and ride it. I hope I can continue to find the flow. I didn’t have a specific character in mind but yesterday they just arrived on the virtual paper I was typing into.
Of course there is no money in this, but whilst I wait and chase those customers and even potentially a regular job I might as well try something that I should have done a long time ago.
It seems that despite my wide ranging experience both technically and sharing with people and doing the right thing I am not finding the right avenues to express those talents and get paid properly.
So my plan is to get it done and just self publish on Amazon or some such place. If it works great, if not then its another experience. I also get to keep my tech skills without writing too much software as the book needs to use the right tools and work in the right way. So I figured this is another excuse to keep up to date with everything.
I started off with Feeding Edge thinking I would write the book about the virtual world experiences in corporate life, some great positives to share but also some ridiculous negative human behaviour in big organisations too. It is the latter that stops me writing that factual book. I may do after this fiction on but I think the scars are still to fresh to want to open those up again.
So here we go, lets see what happens on this little experiment. If a massive piece of traditional work appears requiring my full undivided attention, well at least I have started 🙂
The working title of this is “Reconfigure”. I have not checked out if this already is used in places but I am not married to the title. It’s a real world sci-fi thriller. Full of true technical detail and science fact but asking some challenging questions of the world.
Right, time to write 🙂