Archive : Author

Five Reasons To Cast Your Novel Article At Fantasy-Faction

POSTED ON July 14th, 2014  - POSTED IN Writing

This month over at Fantasy-Faction, I’m giving you five reasons why, instead of creating characters from scratch, you should instead ‘cast’ the roles with actors and actresses.  From the comments it seems a lot of you are doing this already.  But if you are not there’s some compelling reasons to try!

News Report On Burlington Bunker

POSTED ON July 10th, 2014  - POSTED IN Writing

If you’ve read The Four realms, you’ll remember the underground bunker where Darwin & Cassidy find D’Toeni.  As some of you are aware, this location is loosely based on Burlington Bunker in Wiltshire.  The location isn’t open to the public and there are very few photos of what was intended to be seat of government in the event of a nuclear war.  However, this news report I found on the BBC talks about it being utilised as a data centre and shows some of the site.

What do you think?  Could you imagine Mr West and his fellow aliens prowling those halls?  I still reckon it would be a good lair to re-establish the Vampire Council.  If only the aliens hadn’t got there first!

New Article On GPSTrackLog On Caching Abroad

POSTED ON July 7th, 2014  - POSTED IN Geocaching

My latest article for GPSTrackLog is now live.  This time I talk about caching abroad and the challenges it causes.  There’s some good tips there based on my experiences of geocaching in Oklahoma so if you are going on holiday soon and thinking of taking your GPS, be sure to check it out.

Some Four Realms News

POSTED ON July 3rd, 2014  - POSTED IN Publishing, Writing

With Black As Knight out the way, I spent some time last night scheduling the remaining work needed to get the final draft of The Thieving King done.  It’s a huge, complex book and I really started to appreciate all the planning I put into this draft which should make it easier now I’m in the meat of the novel.  Still, I reckon I can get it done by my internal deadline, even allowing for all the other craziness that’s currently going on in my life.

But, as if to remind me Thieving King needs to deliver as much as its prequel, I got a couple of bits of good news about The Four Realms.

It appears that The Four Realms is current on offer at Amazon for just £1.02 in the UK and 99c in the US! So if you’ve been considering picking the book up then now is a good time. I have no idea how long the promotion will be running for, so best not delay.

The Four Realms also recently got voted as one of Reddit R/Fantasy’s Official Underrated and Underread Fantasy. Whilst the main vote is now over, there’s an ongoing poll over at Goodreads.  I’m currently sitting at #16.  So if you loved the book (or indeed loved any of the others listed), please be sure to go vote.

Which leads me to the last point. If you’ve read the book and love it, or even if you didn’t, please be sure to go and rate the book at places like Amazon and Goodreads.  Aside from being a major ego boost when someone posts how much they loved your novel (and trust me on days when you discover massive plot holes and have unco-operative characters, you need it!), small press books like mine really, really depend on word of mouth and reviews at places like Goodreads or Amazon.  You honestly have no idea how much.  False platitudes aren’t going to help anyone but honest reviews might just help someone find a book they love.

It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation.  You need honest reviews to get people to consider your book and possibly buy it.  But you need people to buy it so they can review it.  So if you have two minutes to either rate or review, I’d really, really appreciate it.

The Edit Is Done!

POSTED ON June 30th, 2014  - POSTED IN Writing

It’s done!

After a mammoth effort, the edit on Black As Knight is done! And a day ahead of my self-imposed deadline as well.

There’s a weird feeling when you complete a massive piece of work like this – an emptiness accompanied with a massive sense of accomplishment. I almost don’t know what to do with myself.

This is the first of four novels I’m looking to complete this year, and whilst, at first glances, it may look I’m behind schedule, I have one novel completed, one half-way through the final draft, one awaiting to be edited and another still being planned. Not bad when you consider this year has seen me plan and go on a top secret trip of a lifetime and buy a house in another part of the country.

I’m especially proud of Black As Knight. This is a novel that reads like it’s written by a much better writer than I give myself credit for. I might be the only person who loves this novel but I honestly don’t care – I’m so proud of it. If writing is an activity you primarily do for yourself, I’ve written myself my new most-favourite novel.

I’m incredibly hard on myself as a writer. I’m my own worst critic but I’m really proud of the work I’m turning out this year. I’ve still got a long way to go but this novel really pushed me. I’ve worked really hard and it’s almost quite emotional seeing all that hard work come together in a completed novel.

I have a few final bits to tidy up and then it’s off to beta readers. I hope they love it as much as I do. But that doesn’t mean I won’t continue to polish the hell out of it before submitting it to agents and publishers around Worldcon.

No rest for me though. I’m straight into finishing the final draft for The Thieving King. It’s going to take me a few days to get my head around the change in style but I’m hoping to get that novel done by the autumn when I move onto Thunder which has turned from a SF Storm Chasing Thriller to a Supernatural Storm Chasing Thriller. I’ve promised myself that book will come in well under 100,000 words.

Tornado Tuesday: Driving Towards the Bazemore EF-1

POSTED ON June 24th, 2014  - POSTED IN Travel, Weather

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I really enjoyed my storm chasing trip this year.  So much so, that I decided to go ahead and book again for next year!  In the meantime I’ve got a huge amount of video and photos from this year’s trip that I plan to share over the course of the next 12 months.

This was my first Tornado, near Bazemore, Alabama.  We’d set off from Oklahoma City at 5am to catch up with a storm system that only the night before had destroyed the communities near Mayflower.  Indeed, one of our guides was late because he’d been in Arkansas until the late hours helping with search and rescue.  We had a long drive ahead of us with a good chance of seeing tornadoes on our first day.  The only downsides were that A) It was a long way away.  B) We’d be chasing in Dixie Alley, an area with a lot of hills and trees making it difficult to see tornadoes.

As a stark reminder of the dark side of tornadoes we drove through the damage path of the previous night’s Mayflower tornado.  It’s hard to describe the damage.  It just looks like someone has scattered indiscriminate rubbish everywhere until you see a single brick wall standing and realise that this was once a community of homes.  Not ten miles down the road, in Bebe, one of our vans had a slight prang.  Everyone was OK but the wing was bent enough that it might not be safe to drive.

What struck me was how friendly everyone was.  In a community probably not that different to Mayflower, the man living opposite opened his house to us for bathroom breaks, the garage nearby helped get the van out the ditch, and the salon over the road offered us somewhere to sit out of the sun.  They were so nice I joked it was for some nefarious means (especially after I found out that Bebe has been the location of birds dropping dead in their thousands on a couple of occasions) but it really drove home how these tornadoes destroy not only lives but communities as well.

We quickly sourced a replacement van and continued on, but by now we were way, way behind.  The area we had been targeting, Tupelo,  got  hit by a pretty bad tornado and we thought our chances were over.

But we were determined and we caught up with the storms a little south as we entered into Alabama.

The video shows us as we race towards our first storm.  There’s a hush in the van.  We’re chasing in Dixie Alley at night.  That’s dangerous (as we later found out).  We’re excited and nervous.  I mean, we’re actually driving as fast as we legally can towards a tornado warned storm.  As our phones send out automated alerts, it’s quite creepy, and then, as you can see, we spot something.  We stay calm and quiet because we want our guides to be able to do what they need to do, but inside we’re all racing with adrenaline.  You have this image in your head of what constitutes a tornado and so when you spot something that is even slightly outside of that, you question the reality of the situation (It’s probably just a storm cloud, I’m not sure I did see a funnel, etc.)

The downside of the GoPro is that it’s all about wide vistas.  Often spotting a tornado seems to be about just making out a line of color differentiation in the clouds some way off.  I proved good at doing it, others just can’t see it.  We could only see our tornado when it was lit by lightning, and I’ve taken a few screengrabs, zoomed them in, and put them together to give you an idea of what our first tornado looked like.  You can just make it out to the right of the lightning.  In reality, it was about that difficult to spot.  Is that it, you might think?  We certainly thought that… until we ran into the damage path!




Miscellania For A Sunday

POSTED ON June 15th, 2014  - POSTED IN Writing

A lot’s happened in the last couple of days, but none of it really detailed enough to constitute its own post.

I appear to be buying a house.  Have found a dream property, complete with its own writing building at the bottom of the garden.  Will constitute a move to Wiltshire and a little work to get it all ship-shape but at the moment it’s all subject to contract and I’m full of a mix of excitement and terror.

Simon let me know about his piece for the Daily Dot on Jay Lake.  Well worth a read.

Not sure if this will work or not,  but the people I went storm chasing with had an intense hail intercept last night.  Incredible video and photos my friends have since posted to facebook show them all smiling so they seem to all be OK


The Benefits Of Being Busy

POSTED ON June 10th, 2014  - POSTED IN Writing

I used to think that I worked best when I had no interruptions, that my best writing was achieved when real life wasn’t getting in the way.  These days, I’m not so sure.

Of course, there are those bits of real life that really derail you, like Leggedon did me.  This year is all about trying to regain that lost year.  But I’m finding I’m at my most productive when writing is “something else I do”.

It’s possible that I’m more organised now, that my ToDo list resides somewhere other than my head allowing me to crack on with work.  It’s also possible that I’m not as anxious about things as I once was, that I’m more confident in my abilities.  But there’s a lot to be said for being just busy enough that I still have time to do the work but not enough time to spend hours worrying about it.

Case in point:  I’m currently trying to edit Black As Knight.  I want to get it to beta readers before the end of the month, and despite a load going on with life and day job, I seem to be managing it.  I’m editing it as stringently as I did The Four Realms, yet I seem to be whizzing through it.

Part of me worries that I’m being slapdash, but if I am, it’s as slapdash as I was on The Four Realms.  Yet whereas I stressed over the editing of that book, I seem to be enjoying this one.  I’m still finding plenty to change, but it’s nothing structural – it’s all a description here, a subtle change to character there.  Maybe this is a product of all the planning I put into the front end?  Or maybe I just don’t have the time to stress about changes I never end up making.

Whatever it is, I’m enjoying the editing.  I’m loving the hell out of this book and I think you will too.