Matt Gemmell

Sponsor: Updatey

My sincere thanks to Updatey for sponsoring my writing this week.

There are tons of project management apps out there. Aside from finding one that works well for you, the challenge is to also get everyone else on your team using the same platform.

Raw Materials is free today on Kindle

My anthology of personal essays, Raw Materials, is free today (Thursday 28th August) on the Kindle Store. This is a one-day promotion, so be sure to grab a copy unless you desperately want to pay for it later. It’s on:

Leaving a review on Amazon would be hugely helpful, if you enjoy the book. Those reviews influence eligibility for Amazon’s various recommendations systems, popularity lists and so forth – so your reviews make a big difference, and help me reach new readers.

I hope you’ll enjoy the book. As ever, feel free to get in touch with any thoughts.

Sponsor: Direct Mail

My sincere thanks to Direct Mail for sponsoring my writing this week. Newsletters and email marketing are important promotional tools, where you’re making apps or writing books. Direct Mail is an email campaign tool that’s at home on the Mac.

Create and send great looking email campaigns with Direct Mail, an easy-to-use, fully-featured email marketing app designed exclusively for OS X.

Start your newsletter by selecting from a gallery of professionally-designed templates, then customize to your heart’s content. Design Tests let you see how your email looks in a wide variety of email clients, including live previews sent to your iPhone or iPad. You’ll love not having to hassle with a slow, clunky, web-based editor.

Raw Materials: Collected Essays

I’m excited to announce that I’ve compiled an anthology of some of my most popular personal essays, and made them available as an e-book.

The collection is entitled Raw Materials, and includes revised and updated versions of each piece, with new author’s notes after each one, plus an exclusive extra essay written especially for the collection.

It’s around 90 – 100 pages long, and you can read it either on a Kindle device, or in the free Kindle app on your Mac, PC, iPhone, iPad or other device. I do hope that you’ll take a look.

Raw Materials is now available on the Kindle Store, and also on and your own local Kindle Store.

I put this anthology together in thanks for your readership over the years. These pieces are the ones that have consistently generated the most moving email and personal feedback. As I mention in the foreword, I think that sharing our own difficult stories has the greatest potential to unite us.

There’s something you can do to help me, too: if you enjoy the pieces, please write a review on Amazon. Those reviews are the lifeblood of Kindle books, and promote visibility for the author. This isn’t a money-making venture for me, but rather a lead-in to publishing my first novel later this year, and fully embarking on my new career.

If you’ve found relevance or enjoyment from my words over the years, this would be a meaningful way to let me know. I hope you’ll enjoy the book.

Raw Materials: Collected Essays

Once again, Raw Materials is available on the Kindle Store, and also on or your own local Kindle Store.

Thanks for reading.

Sponsor: Mental Case

My sincere thanks to Mental Case for sponsoring my writing this week. I’m a big fan of The Mental Faculty and their apps. Flashcards are an excellent way to learn, and I think you’ll love Mental Case. I’ve also always found the name amusing.

Mental Case is an app for getting stuff into your head, and it syncs seamlessly thanks to the new Ensembles framework.

Whatever it is you want to learn, Mental Case can help.

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues e-book

I’ve spent the weekend extensively updating and expanding my technique for resolving plot issues in fiction, and tackling the second draft. It’s designed for writing novels, but it’ll also work for novellas, short stories, vignettes, fan fiction and pretty much anything else with a narrative flow.

Resolving Plot Issues is now available as an e-book, for maximum convenience and reading pleasure.

Writing a novel: resolving plot issues

I’m currently just over two weeks into the second, or revised, draft of a novel (I recently wrote about the lessons I learned while writing the first draft), and I’d like to talk about my approach for identifying and making revisions.

Writing a novel is a huge undertaking, and at the end of the rough draft you’ve written tens of thousands of words. You’re faced with a manuscript that you know has flaws, but it’s a daunting and shapeless task to try and identify them, determine what the problems are, and then fix them.

I have a system that I use which takes a step-by-step, simple approach to the problem. It works for me, and perhaps it’ll be helpful to you too.

Sponsor: Tower 2

My sincere thanks to Tower 2 for sponsoring my writing this week. Even as a writer, I use git repositories to hold various source code projects, and indeed this blog itself. Tower 2 is a beautiful, feature-rich git client for your Mac.

Version Control is an essential tool in today’s web and software world and a fundamental part of the workflow in teams large and small.

We believe that version control with Git should be easy. And why not beautiful too?

It’s not about the command line or a GUI. It’s about how to be more productive, avoid mistakes and make your life easier.

With Tower 2, we’ve worked hard to make the best Git client even better. Completely redesigned and reengineered, Tower 2 comes with more than 50 additional features, a brand new design and outstanding performance.

Genre shame

One of my favourite aspects of being a writer – probably the favourite part, honestly – is getting messages from readers. It’s a profoundly satisfying and validating thing to hear from others who have read my words. If you’re one of the people who has written to me, I’m deeply grateful. If you haven’t, I’m still grateful to you for reading. It’s a sunny day here in Edinburgh, and there’s plenty of gratitude to go around.

Most of the mail I get is about my more intimate, reflective pieces, such as the personal essays here. The sender often talks about their own analogous experiences, which is a touching demonstration of trust, and very moving for me. It’s my belief that we ought to be sharing these difficult, vulnerable parts of ourselves, because they have the most potential to unite us with others.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been writing a novel. The first draft is complete (I wrote about what I learned while writing it), and I’m now embarking on the second draft revisions. After the revised and final drafts, I’ll be self-publishing it on the Kindle store, and perhaps in other formats later.

The day that the novel is released into the world is now distantly visible to me, after being shrouded in fog for many months. As that day draws closer, a certain buried feeling of unease increases.


In a way, it all started with the Start button.

On Tuesdays, in whatever year of high school I was in at the time, I had a double period of Computing broken up by lunch. I don’t remember the year, though it would have been the mid-nineties, but I do remember that it was a Tuesday.

I was the kid who volunteered to help out in the computer labs during his lunch break. On this particular day, I was carrying a batch of software manuals from one lab back into the department office. It was a square room between two labs, and its windows looked out onto both.

My high school was one of those schools where uniform was mandatory, and the computing labs were fully stocked with row after row of Macs – at that time, gorgeous little beige-grey-green boxes with dramatic lines and vents. Macs were the norm at our school, which was an exceptionally rare thing. I’d been using them in classes for a few years, and it had never really occurred to me that there was anything else out there.