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Follow Your Dream - Just Don't Ditch Your Day Job Yet.

Updated on July 21, 2022
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Voice actor, author, sound engineer Ant Richards is also an avid traveler, and music geek who loves sharing his travel & music experiences.

Blackheath, the backdrop of IN YOUR DREAMS
Blackheath, the backdrop of IN YOUR DREAMS | Source

Dreaming an idea

...The Thai Airways Boeing 737-200 made its way to the head of the runway at Koh Samui Airport. Inside the cabin, a ten year-old boy sat with his parents and two siblings, his nose and forehead glued to the window as he tried to take in the last sight of the island where he had spent the past seven days.

As the aircraft rolled lazily on the bumpy tarmac, Jack Parsons gazed at the scenery around the airport’s perimeter that suddenly brought not-so-distant memories of his holidays spent on the beach playing with his dad, building complicated sculptures on the sand, or crashing into the gentle waves that rolled into the well-manicured beach.

Jack wished he were still on one of the beaches, watching the balmy afternoon turn into night under the watchful eye of his mother, while his father talked away with other European holidaymakers and sipped strangely shaped drinks carved out of unpronounceable and exotic fruits.

For young Jack, this had been the closest thing to paradise. With these surroundings, what need had he for school, summer camp, or even football?

Book monster

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So begins the first lines of IN YOUR DREAMS, my debut novel, released in 2014.

Yes, I was over the moon. Why lie? It took me almost two and a half years to write. Then, once I submitted the manuscript to my publishers, another eight months of changing, fine-tuning, rearranging, re-writng, and of course, paying lots of hard earned dollars to get it live. Not to mention the waiting, nail-biting, email exchanges, hair-pulling, and God knows what other kinds of nerve-wrecking habits I developed down the line while waiting for my book to get published. I tell you, not even my closest and dearest have an idea what was brewing inside my head during those months.

It is sometimes a wonder they still agree to be my closest and dearest!

As any first-timer, I had expectations, illusions, and fears about where this new journey would take me.

During the inception and subsequent development of IN YOUR DREAMS, there were many happy, anxious, doubtful, sad and weird moments. So many of them that I could even write a book about the whole experience!

Anyway, it was all worthwhile. Yes, my first serious literary, and why not, artistic project was out on the loose, and I was damn proud of it!

Reactions? It made people laugh, cry, cringe, at times even want to report me to the literary police.

Challenging crossroads

I did not have a strong literary background - actually, NO literary background at all - so all this was new to me and a real learning curve.

After finishing my secondary education – or whatever I managed to salvage of it – and failing to really make up my mind as to what I wanted to specialise in professionally, I realised I had a slight inclination to the artistic side of life.

A stubborn dreamer in my younger years, as many kids, my professional aspirations ranged from being an airline pilot, a professional footballer or a rock musician.

These dreams were unceremoniously quashed due to poor eyesight, growing up in a predominantly baseball loving nation and my inability to adhere to discipline.

Within years though, I went through the professional sieve and what was left was definitely my unwavering love for music and everything that moved around it. The lack of discipline however, stubbornly stuck to me like that odious rash in the you-know-where’s.

I trained as a recording engineer, took up some bass lessons and life was rock n roll!

Work found its way into my life, not necessarily in the music field but in audio post-production, voice-overs, dubbing and sound special effects, which, mind you, was not a bad thing. I met a barrage of great people, some of which, twenty something more years down the line are still dearly close. One of them even agreed to marry me.

In terms of musical greatness however, again, the lack of discipline probably deprived the world of what could have been a great bassist. At least, that is what I like to believe. I always considered I had interesting musical ideas, but just never developed the discipline to acquire the skills to express it and for that I blame no one but me.

I did however, write some pretty good lyrics...

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Living dangerously

Carl Manning had crossed that thin and delicate line that separates trust from betrayal. It was not his family this time. On this occasion, he wronged his good friend, who was now like a raging bull in a china shop.

A calming and somewhat soothing effect befell upon him the farther he went inside the church. This was now between him and God. At least there was no need of lengthy explanations to his maker, for He was supposed to know it all.

Inside the safety of the house of God, Manning started praying furiously. For the first time he felt his prayers had a special resonance, and that had nothing to do with the high ceilings of the church.

'Pray the police find you before I do, Carl, because if I do, I will f****ng kill you, you little piece of sh*t . . .' Those final, chilling words he’d heard from Jack Parsons still resonated inside his head.

Something from Nothing

After some life changing events, I moved countries and sadly, changed profession as well. That however, only helped fuel my other passion – travel.

Travel on the other hand, triggered an apparent talent I had dormant and admittedly, very well hidden.


Thanks to the exponential growth of the internet in the early days of the 21st Century, I found that sharing my travels with far-flung friends and relatives by writing chronicles of any interesting trip I’d made catapulted my love for writing.

After my first humble attempts, they got more sophisticated and improved in quality.

One of the turning points was the discovery of Hub Pages, which effectively served as a platform to share my writing with a larger audience and not surprisingly, things slowly gained momentum from there.

In addition, thanks to Mr Zuckerberg and one creation he devised, I was able to torment more people with my writing.

I then decided to go bolder and started my first attempts in story writing. Two failed attempts only served to rethink my path, hone my abilities, discover and develop my style.

Then, and this is no publicity stunt or pun, I had a dream. Mr Wong came up to me while I was standing in an airport queue, and that was the beginning of a great storyline.

Sleeping just became more dangerous

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Sleep with your eyes wide shutBack cover & blurb
Sleep with your eyes wide shut
Sleep with your eyes wide shut | Source
Back cover & blurb
Back cover & blurb | Source

A troubled past, a scary present, a cursed ability...

Kyra had been awake since about three in the morning. It was almost five, and Claus, that disgusting excuse for a man, would soon be home to start the daily torment. Today, however, she would put an end to the abuse. Whatever the outcome, today was liberation day. She would not reach her twentieth birthday living like this. Kyra only had this one opportunity; if she blew it, hell would definitely be a blissful wish. Kyra was also convinced God would understand and have mercy on her. God was different to monsters like Claus.

One or at most two matches would suffice. With the right ingredients, fire travels fast.

To Publish or to Sef-Publish?

One of my greatest dilemas was whether to go the traditional path and look for a literary agent - risking countless rejections, waiting idle for replies that may or may not arrive - or self-publish.

In the end and after many hours of research, I decided to self-publish. Now the task was to find myself a reputable Self-Publishing company. More research beckoned.

Once I penned my last chapter, almost 28 months after I scribbled the first words, it was time to submit my manuscript to the publishers who had been 'supporting' me along the way.

This support however did not come cheap or easy, and I mean this in no derogatory way. I went through iUniverse, a US based Self-Publishing company, which in hindsight was probably my biggest mistake.

By self-publishing, it pretty much meant you have to pay for all the production process, which was no cheap feat.

Yes, not only did they publish my book, they also offered editorial support, proofreading service, content polishing, and other services to ensure that authors publish quality material.

The production process was not shy of anxious moments, but although they managed to polish my initial mansuscript, with time I discovered it had all become too robotic, mechanic, basic, and why not, soulless.

Even the cover was generic. But at the time, I was too raw, over-enthusiastic and inexperienced to realise at the time.

The blurb...I am still embarrased to talk about it.

The distribution process, well, it may have gone better - at a price, and then no guarantee how succesful it would have been.

That's when I learnt the meaning of Vanity Publishing. iUniverse were not interested in marketing and helping me selll my books. They only wanted a quick buck out of me.

Again, that was such a great learning experience. iUniverse’s support, experience, feedback and expertise has produced a product that sent shivers up my spine.

For all the wrong reasons.

In the meantime, I built my own website; finally learned to use [and discovered the usefulness of] twitter and expanded on my social media skills! All this of course, trying hard not to become conceited or fall into the diva trap.

I will not deny it, I felt a mix of pride, satisfaction, immense happiness every time I clutched the first copy of my book in my hands.

The first night, a few hours after the first proof was delivered, I went into the living room before going to bed and had a good look at the book. Again. It was beautiful. So shiny, so new, so mine.

It reminded me of a similar situation I went through twelve years earlier almost to that date. I was just about to leave the hospital room where my wife and newborn baby were to spend their first night together. I looked at my newborn son. So shiny, so new, so beautiful. So me!

Reaching the finishing line

Unfortunately, this exciting process has not been shy of difficult moments. Yes, I have had to juggle my writer’s dream with an increasingly dissatisfying day job, not to mention family responsibilities. That has meant attempting to write well into the late hours, staying away from the comfort of my own bed and all the company that comes with it.

It has also meant, taking my dream with me on holidays, trips, much to the understandable annoyance of my better sides.

Sometimes, when pursuing a dream, I have learned, one has to become selfish, sometimes aloof and to a degree pragmatic. As with every new project, enterprise or experiment, there always is a fair degree of risk. If all goes awry, the consequences can be dire, but then again, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

For my next literary project, bruised by experience, possibly more cynical, definitely less trusting of outside influences, I changed strategy.

In late 2017, I released my 2nd book; a collection of short stories called DAMNED IF I DON'T.

This I did, availing myself with a proper designer for the cover, an independent editor, and a few beta-readers to give me honest, brutal, and uncompromising feedback and suggestions. All this, at a fraction of what iUniverse would have charged. The quality, I may add, was far superior too.

With that in mind, in 2018, older and, why not, wiser, I decided to re-edit, re-design, and to an extent overhaul IN YOUR DREAMS using the same formula. This time, resulting in a much leaner product editorially, a more accurate and appropriate cover, and a blurb that really did justice to the story. True, it may have been too late to remedy the initial damage of publishing with iUniverse, as sales figures were not what I'd hoped for - I had already lost the momentum for that tittle - but this time I had in my hands a product I was now really proud of.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2014 Ant Richards


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