First post of 2017

I know that, obviously, you’ve all been waiting with baited breath for my first post of 2017… well wait no longer. This is it! (pauses to allow tumbleweed to blow across scene in total silence).

One of the reasons for the delay is simply that there’s not much different going on than at the end of 2016. But, that having been said, let’s lay out what’s ahead for the first months (at least) of 2017.

My current work in progress is The Offspring, the final book in The Szuiltan Trilogy. While sales and response to the first two books has not exactly been overwhelming, I have a story to finish telling so I’m going to tell it! If I was writing to make money, I’d have given up a long time ago. My reasons for writing go far deeper than that.

All drafts of the two novels, Eyes Of The Raven and The Demon Guardian are finished and both are now looking for homes. More news on this as I have it. Keep your fingers (and everything else) crossed.

I have still to make a final decision on whether to self publish The Risen(Book #1 in The Givers Of Life). As it’s a novella I do have that option (see earlier posts and interviews about my children’s despotic ruling on my self publishing activities) but I also keep edging towards the idea of shopping it around. The problem, as I see it, is that, #1, it’s a zombie tale, and there’s a surprising number of publishers (including ones I’ve previously worked with) who won’t even look at anything to do with zombies, and, #2, it’s the first novella in a series that’s not yet written. That’s a lot for a publisher to take on from a small-time author like me.

The situation is similar with Vampire Worms, although as it’s a short story I have put it out there and am currently awaiting a decision. What makes it similar is that, although it is self contained, it certainly has the possibility of being the first in a series. If I do eventually decide to go down that route, and it’s not already been published by that time, I may well look, again, to self publishing for very much the same reasons as with The Risen, although in this case vampires, rather than zombies (they’re not actually vampires as such… you’d need to read the story).

The Offspring marks a return to science fiction, after pretty much a whole year of writing horror. Should I decide to remain in this genre following The Offspring, I do have several ideas with beginnings and basic stories sketched out to choose from. I also have a completed pulp novel, The Frihet Rebellion, to shop around. This was held back almost 18 months by a publisher who, after all that time, decided to reject it, albeit with some positive and nice comments along the way. Now that’s over, I can get on with approaching other publishers and hope to generate some interest. News as it happens, as always.

After releasing the complete novel, A World Of Assassins, for free on Wattpad last year, I will be looking at possibly doing something similar this year. Nothing concrete yet, and I’m partly waiting to see the kind of response A World Of Assassins gets, but it’s a different way of getting some of my older work out there – and possibly newer stuff too. If people enjoy it, they might decide to read more of my work.

In news other than writing – The 1850 Project (the musical collaboration between my son, Jonathan, and myself) remains on hiatus due mainly to recording and financial issues. There’s also an issue with increasing arthritis in my fingers, making prolonged playing of the guitar stupidly painful. Nevertheless, we have songs, we have ideas, and we will return! Talking of songs, I have a large back catalogue of poorly recorded stuff which I would really like to cherry pick from and re-record in good quality, before I’m unable to play anymore. We already have demos of some of the those, and they could be released either under The 1850 Project or as solo projects – that depends on whether Jonathan likes them or not!

After returning to painting at the end of 2016, I am working on a second picture. I’m not rushing these, there’s no need, and tend to do painting in small bursts as a way of relaxing from other things, but I intend to continue precisely because I do find it relaxing and, other than Cathy constantly telling me how she would do it, no pressure.

My real job, of course, is looking after my daughter (whose myriad of conditions and issues are not for this post) but I still have time for creative pursuits – and both things are equally satisfying, in different ways. Both can also lead to serious lack of sleep.

So, that’s it. Hopefully there will be plenty of writing, music and painting ahead for me. Most of all, however, I hope my daughter gets the therapy she needs (we’ve been waiting a long time) and that she improves to the point where she can have a life outside of the safe zone of her bedroom.

Whatever else happens (and despite horrors such as Trump, Brexit, and more Conservative destruction of our society) it has to be better than 2016, doesn’t it? Come on 2017, surely you can manage that!

Free Serialisation Of A Novel

A few weeks back I began a process of putting various complete older short stories/novelettes, and excerpts from new, currently unpublished novellas and novels, on Wattpad, where people can read them for free.

Last week (or was it earlier this week? I forget!) I began a new project on there: the serialisation of one of my older novels – the science fiction thriller A World Of Assassins (click here for full info on the book). So far I have uploaded four chapters and, although there is no regular schedule, I will continue uploading chapters on the basis of “several a week” until the full work is there. For free.

I want to see how this works, and if it generates any interest. If it does, I may consider doing the same with other self-published novels and, perhaps, even a work in progress (second draft at least… I wouldn’t want to inflict a first draft on anyone!). I know others have done similar things with some success, over time. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

Click the cover image below to go to Wattpad and get started.

Thank you for reading.

A World Of Assassins

 

The Risen Dead

Tidying up The Risen Dead, a novella, the first in a series called The Givers Of LifeAt the moment, with the sad demise of Screaming Dreams (who it was placed with), I have no publisher and am having difficulty finding one willing to take on a series of zombie-based novellas. Therefore (and with my children’s permission… read old blogs to find the relevance of that!) I may consider self publishing it.
 
No absolute final decision yet, and I am still looking at publishers (anyone know any zombie and series friendly ones out there?).
 
I thought I’d take this unexpected and unfortunate opportunity to go over the novella one final time… it was originally finished over a year ago, and I haven’t read it since then. Fresh eyes will always find things to change.
 
The novella does stand on its own, but I really wanted to go further into its world, which is why I plan to do a series. And there are some questions deliberately left unanswered, or at least vague. Lots more to write on this.
 
And if you don’t like zombies? Give it a try anyway, when it comes out from whatever source. I hope I’m bringing a slightly different slant on the genre, rather than retreading the same old themes, but ultimately you, the reader, will decide that.
 
Thank you.

Celebrate Spring With The Village Witch

Omnium Gatherum, publishers of Hard Winter:The Novel, The Village Witch and The Last Harpy, have launched a contest to win some goodies for The Village Witch – including ebook and paperback copies. Entering is as simple as sharing the good news.

Take a look at it here… and good luck!
Celebrate Spring with The Village Witch

VillageWitch_250

Award Winning?

Here’s a question. At what point is a writer justified in calling themselves “award winning” or “prize winning”?

It’s a common enough claim on social media. “So and so, award/prize winning writer/author.”

(For the rest of this blog, if I say “award winning”, think of it as “award or prize winning”. It’s less clumsy than stating it every single time!)

Now, I’m not questioning any of those writers’ claims to be award winning. This is not a rant about people claiming to be award winning when they’re not. I’m sure the vast majority of the claims are true – I just wonder what counts as “award winning” in these cases, and where to draw the line? If I won a school award for a story back when I was 9 years old, does that mean I can claim to be “award winning”? Is a “prize” the same as an “award”? Does there need to be a monetary value to the prize or award? Lots and lots of questions that I don’t have the answer to.

In my own case, I could confidently call myself a “prize winning” writer (I don’t think “award winning” would be right in my case) because in 2004 I won the oncewritten.com Midnight Hour Halloween Fiction Contest with the story “The Midnight Hour”. Then, in 2006, I won the Writing Prompt Contest, also on oncewritten.com, with the story “Conversation”. Both of these contests had cash prizes, and the proof of my winning is still there on the website. But I don’t tag myself as “prize winning” because these prizes were some time ago and I’m not sure they’re relevant to me as a writer now. Am I right to do that? Or am I missing some great marketing potential by not telling everyone?

I personally think that the best way to do this is that all claims of “award winning” or “prize winning” should be accompanied by the particular prize or award won, and its date. That way the visitor/reader can judge for themselves whether the claim is relevant or impressive enough to be taken note of. I know some writers already do this, but I think all such claims should be accompanied by those details. As long as the claim is genuine, where’s the harm?

If you’ve won an award or prize, be proud of it. If it’s relevant enough for you to tell everyone, tell us which particular award or prize you won, and when. Boast about it. Why not? I personally love to know that a writer I’m looking at is a past Stoker or Hugo Award winner (or similar). It’s shows they have some ability as a writer and are worth a closer look.

And if you’ve never won an award? Don’t worry, there’s lots of us out here. Doesn’t mean we’re any less as writers, just that we don’t tick certain boxes or simply haven’t been “discovered” yet by the people who vote in these things. Show how good you are through your writing. Ultimately, that’s where it counts.

As for tagging myself a “prize winning writer”? I don’t think I’ll bother. Doesn’t mean I won’t mention it somewhere in my profile or in interviews though 🙂

Sequels Vs Something New

With writing still being an uphill struggle through loose sand in a sandstorm while the worms of Arrakis close in on all sides and I’ve forgotten my thumper… basically, it’s not coming easy at the moment… I find thoughts turning on what I should be expending my ineffectual efforts on. Sequels or something new.

There are several sequels I could be thinking about:

I still have the 3rd book in The Szuiltan Trilogy to write (The Offspring) – this is the only novel my children will allow me to self publish because the first two books in the trilogy were self published.

The Szuiltan Alliance

Liberation Of Worlds

I know there is interest in a sequel to Hard Winter: The Novel, and there is certainly scope for one where I left it.

Hard Winter: The Novel Cover

Similarly there is some interest (and scope) for a sequel to The Village Witch. In fact, there is scope for a whole series of novels around these characters if I want to write them.

VillageWitch_284

… there’s already been a short prequel!

Last HarpyWS

For that matter, I always had, in the back of my mind, the idea of doing a sequel to A World Of Assassins

A World Of Assassins

And finally (on the sequels) I have an accepted for publication but not yet published novella which has been designed as the first in a series.

Then there’s the new stuff, either my current work in progress (which I am struggling with) or something completely new. There are certainly ideas floating around.

Trouble is, both have their appeal. Sequels can be nice because characters and backgrounds are already set and it can be comfortable to return to people you liked to write about. On the other hand, I love creating new characters and backgrounds and finding new people to write about. I have not yet come to any kind of decision on this, and in the meanwhile nothing moves forward, neither sequel nor new. The stalemate must and will be broken soon.

Writers and readers who may see this blog – which do you prefer (from either angle), sequels or brand new stories? Let me know if you want – you should be able to leave comments below (or on facebook or twitter).

Thank you for reading.

 

Still writing… slowly

Long time since my last blog post I think.

Despite the lack of contact, I am still writing, albeit very slowly. My main WIP is fighting me every step of the way, and my complete mastery of procrastination isn’t helping. But I know if I keep working at it, and accept that a lot of what I’ve written might need to be thrown away and the plot rethought, I will reach the breakthrough it needs.

It’s not the first time a book has proved difficult. In fact, most of my books hit that wall at some point – The Village Witch (published last year by Omnium Gatherum) hit the wall numerous times during its creation. Plot lines changed, characters came and went, thousands of words were written, dumped and then rewritten. It’s all par for the course. The one exception was Hard Winter: The Novel (also from Omnium Gatherum) – that one just flowed. But it’s unusual for it to be that easy.

I still write the occasional short story, because it’s nice to see something completed in a relatively short time. I’ve about 10 or 11 out at the moment, waiting for acceptance or rejection (mostly rejection based on experience) and I keep an eye on upcoming themed anthologies in case one just catches my interest. But I can’t deny that my main focus is on the longer pieces of fiction – novellas and novels. That’s where I get the chance to develop characters and more complex storylines. It’s the type of writing I enjoy the most.

In a potentially soul destroying decision, I’ve engaged the services of my son and his English Literature degree to rip my writing apart – which is something he takes an inordinate amount of pleasure in doing. The hope is it will improve my overall writing, if my ego allows me to survive it! Through working with the excellent editing skills of Omnium Gatherum’s Kate Jonez, I have become completely convinced in the usefulness of having someone who knows what they’re talking about look at my writing. A good editor, and I’ve been mostly fortunate, can really help improve the writing and the flow of a story (I’ll ignore the bad ones who think editing means rewriting – they can crawl away and die). Both my wife and my son are very good at improving the readability of a story, finding those lines that are clumsy or just suck! But my son currently has the time, and can bring the skills he picked up doing his degree to the task. If nothing else, it should be interesting.

If you’ve liked some of the books I’ve written so far, stick with me. More are on the way. It just takes time…