This is it! The double-sized fiftieth chapter of Hobson & Choi, as the first case finally comes back to bite our heroes in the face. Can Hobson get out of this, or is that whole redemption thing just not going to happen?
Click on the above link to find out. Meanwhile, since it's the glorious 50th episode, a pretty big achievement and very round number, this seemed a good time for some thoughts on the serial, how it's gone, where it's going, etcetera.
So that's all below - beware, spoilers for the story so far. I'll refrain from spoiling the new episode itself but anything up to #49 seems fair game.
Planning Secrets Of The Ancients
If you want some basic H&C/Jukepop talk, this interview from the Online Novel blog last July is probably a good bet. This time, rather than the introductory stuff, I'm going to try and talk about where we've gone since then...
Because yes, we finished Case One, the #HobsonVsWolf arc, and moved into such a complicated mesh of other cases, I'll probably have to stop numbering them case-by-case.
First, though, there was Case Two, in which I unveiled Hobson's dark secrets and start dealing with them. This is a bump I've heard other writers talking about hitting in their serialised fiction - the subplot which was designed to run for a while suddenly shouted out at me and made it clear that now was the time. I could've (and indeed was planning to) drag that out revealing the Rush Recruitment material and getting stuck into it, not continuing to dangle the secret in front of readers until they attacked me like frustrated cats.
This has, however, driven me into darker territory than I envisaged going at this early stage - perhaps at all, to be honest. As we enter the new age of social conscience, I concluded I probably couldn't introduce human trafficking into the plot and use it as a springboard for more jokes about bums. Avid readers of my promotional material for H&C may note I started calling it a comedy-drama rather than just a comedy during that storyline.
Aware that we'd gone grimmer than planned, the premise of the following mini-storyline - Street battles with street fundraisers! - was designed for fun and games. So we had awkward conversations, slinging rubbish about, generally a few laughs. I enjoyed writing that stuff, it was slight therapy for me after the darker moments of Case Two, when poor John Hobson was faced with a deconstruction of his character that probably won't stop there.
In fact, oh look, Lettie's turned up to drag him back towards it. The funny trash-throwing will continue, don't worry, and if I can pull it off, there will be some good larks in the Vole family storyline too, as well as more grim dissection of consequence. Anyway, getting into spoiler territory now. Keep reading, it'll be fun.
Promotion insights - GOOD REVIEWS IN "HELPFUL" SHOCKER
Based on the voting data I get from Jukepop, H&C's readership has leapt up in the last couple of months, which I'm going to take partly as my reward for keeping it going and trying to improve, but mostly thanks to some very kind reviews on our Web Fiction Guide page.
I don't pretend to have a vast amount of insight about promotion - I'm not sure tweeting relentlessly has much value, because truth be told, I only have so many followers, and they probably got the point about Hobson & Choi after a while. After damn near a year of at least two or three tweets every week, they've got the idea, and they're either going to read it or ignore those tweets and wait for another joke. But actual promotion that sticks around, on a site containing genuine webfic enthusiasts? Yeah, that helps.
So if you feel generous, like H&C and want to help it grow, leaving a review here is the most direct way to do that, or perhaps posting about it on your own website/blog/social media. Let me know if you end up doing that, I'll happily drop the link in a few places.
Or if you want to quickly assist in a couple of clicks, you can go to Top Web Fiction and vote for us. That's good too. If you're a webserial author looking for brilliant promo ideas, I do recommend signing up for WFG, even engaging with the community a bit. There's not just potential readers there but good people with interesting thoughts, experiences and insight.
Lastly, after a chat with a friend the other day, I am starting a mailing list as another way of trying to get a direct line to folk who genuinely give a damn, and maybe don't have time to memorise their entire Twitter feed. The brief sign-up form is both in the lefthand bar of this blog and embedded just here. Do it.
Thanks to anyone who signed up. Messages will be infrequent, only when something genuinely interesting/unusual is happening (you will not just get an inane email every week announcing that H&C is out) and if I ever have free fiction/books/stuff to dispense, that is where it'll go.
Elsewhere in H&C, the Podcast is still going. While we're being honest, audiences are modest compared to the regular prose serial, so if you particularly love it, do leave a review on iTunes/tell your friends/tweet about it. Although I do enjoy recording it, right now it would probably be the first thing to get killed if writing time became scarce.
And that probably is that. Hope you've enjoyed the first fifty Hobson & Choi chapters, and indeed this blog post. Thanks to everyone who has read/reviewed/commented/voted/retweeted. I may have given up by now without you, and that would be a shame, as H&C is fast becoming one of my favourite things I've written.
Happy fifty to us. To celebrate, let's torture the shit out of the lead characters again.