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Robert Batten

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Author


The vampires of Human Resources

There are many novels featuring some form of vampire, but not all vampires are equal. In some worlds hideous monster lurk, camouflaged under a human veneer. In other worlds, vampires are barely recognisable as human. Some tales will tell you the creatures are undead, whereas others will insist they live, but are... different. There are even stories in which vampires sparkle in the sunlight.
So, I sense you ask. What about the vampires in Human Resources? Where do they sit on the spectrum?
I'm glad you asked. However, as Human Resources is a sci-fi, I thought it would be better to present you with the research, and let you make up your own minds. (more…)

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Human Resources Update — Campaign Week 1

Day seven of the campaign and the crowdfunding competition is now drawing to a close, and it has been an intense week. The support from my friends, family, and the community has been astounding. In seven short days, you have all ordered 125 copies of Human Resources! That is crazy — Human Resources is now 50% of the way to guaranteed publication! What’s more, that has been enough to push the book into first place in The Launchpad Manuscript crowdfunding competition!
Unfortunately, second place has not been idle, and are slowly eroding my lead in the competition, so we can’t slack off now! If you haven’t yet ordered a copy, it would be great if you considered doing so. Other things that are incredibly helpful are all the posts people have been making on social media, and the fantastic reviews and recommendations people have been leaving on Inkshares. Please keep it up!

Judges Top 50

Just today the The Tracking Board announced the second round finalists from the formal judges stream — the Top 50. Guess what? That’s right, Human Resources made the cut!

What happens if Human Resources doesn’t win the crowdfunding competition?

Well, that’s a little defeatist, but I’ll answer the question. If we don’t win the crowdfunding competition (but with all of you helping I’m sure we can do it), the story is not over. There will still be three other ways Human Resources could be published:

  1. The regular crowdfunding campaign will continue beyond the competition — if we gather 250 pre-orders, the book will be published under the “Quill” imprint. If we gather 750 pre-orders, the book will be given the “full-ride” Inkshares treatment. I have an explanation of the difference between Quill and full Inkshares publishing later in this post.
  2. Separate to the crowdfunding competition, the professional judging process continues. Human Resources is still in with a chance of being picked up as a result of this process fingers crossed.
  3. Wildcard prizes. Scott Free and Energy Entertainment have guaranteed to each pick up at least one project / writer. They can select these from any of the finalists, so independent of the first two options, this could also happen.

What happens when the campaign is successful?

A much better question — I like the positive attitude. So many people have jumped up to support me, and I can’t describe what that means to me, but many of them will not be familiar with the Inkshares model.
Right now, Human Resources is a draft. If the campaign is successful, the novel must go through the publishing journey. What does that mean?

  1. The manuscript needs to be finished. I have a first draft, and am approximately (as of the time of this post) 70% of the way through a major rewrite. I need to finish this before I can hand it in for publication. Rest assured I am working on arrangements to ensure I can dedicate the time necessary to complete this quickly. I would anticipate the re-write will be complete early in the New Year.
  2. Editing. Inkshares will need to assign me one or more editors (depending on the level of publishing — see below). I will turn in my manuscript to them and then we will collaborate on the polishing of the novel until it is ready for production.
  3. Design. The Inkshares team will take the manuscript and format it into a beautiful book for you. At this point, you will likely get access to electronic copies of the book.
  4. Printing and Shipping. Inkshares will print the physical books, I’ll sign them, and then they will be shipped to you!

The reality is, the publication process takes time. There are a lot of factors in how much time it will take, so right now I can’t give you a date for when you will receive your books. However, once publication is confirmed, the first thing Inkshares does with its authors is to collaborate on a publication plan and schedule. Throughout the entire process, I’ll keep everyone informed on where we are at, what is planned, and what our expected timeframes are.

What is the difference between Quill and Inkshares imprints?

Inkshares offer two different tiers of publication; Quill, and Inkshares. Quill can also be considered “publishing light.”
Books that attract at least 250 pre-orders qualify for Quill. These books receive a copy edit, are published on your major online stores, and physical copies are printed on demand. The books are available for bookstores to order wholesale, but aren’t actively marketed to bookstores. With Quill, the author is responsible for providing the cover art for the book.
Books that attract at least 750 pre-orders qualify for the full Inkshares service. These books receive multiple layers of editing, from developmental edits (which look at the overall story, character development, and plot holes) through to copy edits seeking spelling and grammatical errors. Inkshares also provides professional designers to create the cover and fully tailor the “interior design” of the book. Finally, the Inkshares marketing team gets author recommendations and markets the book to bookstores, arranges signing events, etc. These books go into mass production, rather than being print on demand.
Inkshares have more detail on their business model here.

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Pre-orders now available for Human Resources

Pre-orders are now available as part of The Launchpad Competition
My sci-fi novel Human Resources, has been selected by the industry as a finalist in a major manuscript competition — but there is a public support element to getting further.
What do I need? Pre-orders!
That’s right — you can now pre-order my sci-fi novel Human Resources. There are two ways this can lead to me being published:

  1. I attract more pre-orders than the other finalists.
  2. I attract a minimum of 250 pre-orders (regardless of how the rest of the competitors go).

Pre-orders start at just $10 (eBook). If you can afford it, I would be hugely indebted to you — by pre-ordering you may just make my dream a reality.
I have a second ask (I know, I’m greedy).
If you can afford to pre-order my book, ordering early in the campaign is more helpful than ordering later in the campaign. To win this, I’ll need to attract orders from beyond my network. That will be much easier to do if people see a bunch of orders on my project page when they look it up. Getting a stack of early orders will help me build momentum and bring this home.
Please, take the time to check out the novel page — there are excerpts you can read to see if you enjoy my writing.
And please consider putting in an order.
You can also help by spreading the word:

  • Share the novel page on facebook / twitter / etc.
  • Share the novel with friends in real life.
  • Leave a review or recommendation on the Inkshares site.

Thank you for any support you can give, even if you can’t afford to order a copy at the moment.
Robert Batten

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Recommendation: Throne of Glass Series

My “WIR” posts are not reviews, but rather short recommendations for books I love.
I’m writing this post having just finished Empire of Storms by Sarah J Maas. Empire is the fifth book in the Throne of Glass series, the five books being:

  1. Throne of Glass
  2. Crown of Midnight
  3. Heir of Fire
  4. Queen of Shadows
  5. Empire of Storms

Sarah J Maas has two fantasy series which I have been reading, and both have proven to be tales told with a sure, deft hand. If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t yet picked up one of her books, I strongly recommend grabbing a copy of either Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses (first book in her other series).
The Throne of Glass series is set in the fantasy world of Erilea and follows the heart-wrenching adventures of Calaena Sardothien, the most renown assassin in the realm. I want to be careful not to give away too many spoilers, but from the start these books grab you by the scruff and drag you along behind wild horses. The pacing is fast, the dangers grand, and the myriad of schemes and plans intricate. I have yet to find fault with any of the books and am now destitute waiting for the next as the primary story ramps up to a climax of world-shattering proportions.
What type of fantasy are we talking? Humans (as you would expect), fae, witches (these are not the bubbling cauldron type), wyverns, shape shifters, daemons, and more.
You can find more info on the series on goodreads here, or pick up the first book on Amazon.

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Using em-dash in iOS

Using em-dash in iOS

As a writer, the em-dash is one of the most common characters I use that isn’t available easily on keyboards. Most word-processor applications will automatically convert two consecutive  hyphens “- -” (no space between) into an em-dash, but there are lots of other scenarios where you might want to use one.

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Red Eye

I wake.

Eyes snapping open, I seek familiarity in my surroundings, reassured by the comforting glow of charging devices on my bedside table.

Why did I wake? Ah.

Early start. Right.

What’s the time? Have I slept in?

I roll forward, careful to keep my movement slow and smooth, to not disturb my slumbering companion. It takes two attempts to find the home button on my phone, and when I do the screen screams at my eyes, indignant I’ve woken it.

3 am. Fuck, way too early.

I slump back into the welcoming divet in the mattress, willing myself to drift off and snatch an extra precious hour of rest. The sensation of drifting caresses me, lifting my body in its loving embrace, then receding like an outgoing tide. My brain rejoices, enthusiastic to commence the day’s thoughts.

It’s going to be a long day. Focus. Empty. Calm. Sleep.

I drain the noise from my mind, calming myself.

New episode of Supernatural tonight. I wonder what it’ll be like?

My right brow lowers, declaring its displeasure like a bull preparing to charge. The left is too weary, choosing not to engage.

Empty. Calm. Sleep.

Deep breath, air rushing in, expanding my chest, disturbing the covers. Exhale — slow, steady.

Seriously. Will it be a monster feature? Or meta-arc? I hope Crowley is in this one.

I hate you.

Hurt, my mind recedes. The tide rushes back in, sleep wrapping around me, sheltering me in its sweet cocoon.

Dun du dun, daa du dun. Dun du dun, daa du dun.


Oh, right. Alarm

Orienting myself, I war against conflicting demands — I must shut off the noise before it wakes my wife, but manage to move without waking her myself.

Somehow, in the nanosecond I was asleep, I’ve turned to face away from the bedside table. I roll, contorting as I do, grasping with a twisted arm to silence the infernal gadget.

Swipe. Miss. Swipe. Miss. Swipe — got it.

The relief is short-lived as I teeter on the edge of the bed — teeter, then drop, my knees arresting the fall when they greet the floor.


A statue. I am a gauche statue, resplendent in my nudity, frozen on the floor in an awkward pose. I am Jack, stumbling noisily whilst stealing the magical goose and now fearful I have woken its giant owner. My audience stirs, twisting into a new position, breathing deep and even.


Goosebumps rising in the chill morning air, I stare, a forlorn puppy put out for the night as I fantasise returning to the warm embrace of the blanket.

Unplugging my phone from its charging cable, I navigate the room using the meagre glow of its lock screen, reaching the bathroom triumphantly, only to trip over the tiny tidy bin — again.

“For the love of—”

Silence. Miraculous, sleeping silence.

With glacial progress, the door rolls shut. The noise a grinding roar.

Somehow I am still the only person awake. That anyone could have slept through my clumsy thundering movements defies belief. It deserves celebration, but such enthusiasm escapes me. Relying on muscle memory, I prepare; teeth, beard, hair. Each item of use finding a home in my travel bag as I go.

Clothes are next, blessedly prepared for the journey ahead and awaiting me in the closet. Dressing proves a plausible task — during which I only slam my arm into the wall once. Success!

Gathering up my things — toiletries, phone, tablet, chargers — I shamble down perilous stairs to the living room. My overnight bag lies waiting, packed but for the final supplies cradled in my arms.

As I traverse the carpeted floor, checking the time, my foot discovers the lego piece I hadn’t been looking for. Tears well, and I must scrunch my face to hold them back.

It doesn’t hurt.

This early in the day, the lie is half-hearted.

I take a deep, cleansing breath. The glowing numbers on my watch read 5:00. Time to go.

The roads are near empty – the one token blessing of consciousness at such an hour. The trip to the airport saunters by in an auto-pilot haze, no memory of the drive lingers.

Someone is parked in my spot.

There’s no sign, no marker painted on the bitumen. But it’s my spot. Opposite the pay machine and the arrivals hall, it’s where I always park — perfect for making a swift escape on my return. A large four-wheel-drive squats there, daring me to make a move.

I glide by, coasting into a spot further down. In my mind, the offensive vehicle explodes in flames and justice.

Joining the security line conga, I dance through the routine. The moves are familiar, friendly. Soon, I am deposited on the far side, collecting my detritus and stacking it back in my bags. I am so close now I can feel it.

Coffee waits around the corner.

Overpriced. Mediocre. Glorious. A jolt of happiness to light my way just as dawn begins peaking over the horizon.

The burgeoning light outside reveals the first plunging drops of a downpour.

They call my flight.

The wonderful thing about small city airports? You walk across the tarmac, rain or shine…

It’s going to be a long day.

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