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Showing posts from 2014

First roll of the die

"Wait for me!" Averrine ran round the battlement, hair falling into her eyes, but stopped to catch her breath. Simon had hidden and it wasn’t fair. "Slow snake!"His words echoed around the red-stone courtyard, the walls bloody where struck by the low sunlight of the dying day. She straightened, each breath burning her chest, and cast her eyes over the courtyard. She wished there was someone else to play with. The pilots’ kids, over by Bendau’s space port, had let her join their shoot-‘em-ups until Mama had found out and stopped the game, claiming the children were Space Roamers and dirty, and odd. She stamped her foot; for now, she was stuck with Simon. “Where are you?” "Got to find me!" He wasn't being nice. She was only six to his eight. Her fists bunched; when she found him, she'd tell him she was never going to play again. Better to play on her own than this. A soft clicking made her spin round and he was there, his new ri…

What? No Christmas

Here I am a couple of days before Christmas and am I wrapping, or shopping, or singing carols? No, I've got a shiny new facebook page - thanks, Gary! - and I thought I'd write about Christmas in the world of Abendau.

Then I had an oh-no moment when I realised there was no mention of a Christmas in that world. No Winter solstice. And it came to me that, by and large, in all my books the matter of religion isn't cut and dried.

Don't get me wrong; religion features. When I'm not writing Abendau I write a lot about Ulster and there are many things you can get away without mentioning, but religion isn't one of them. It's never a main theme, though.

So, is there religion in my Abendauii world? Yes. The main characters aren't believers - they grew up on a rebel base with no defined religion. In the marriage ceremony I show, the prayer is to a non-named force. It was written, as it happens, with the help of a sf loving Parson of my acquaintance and I hope carrr…

A NATURAL HISTORY OF GOBLINS - a guest blog by Teresa Edgerton

Some fantasy writers like to write about elves, others prefer werewolves, vampires, or zombies. I have a penchant for goblins.

In folklore, the word "goblin" has been applied in myriad ways. A goblin might be a mischievous sprite like Puck, a hideous, vengeful ghost, or even a beneficient house spirit such as a brownie. Sometimes it was used as a synonym for fairy, sometimes applied to a separate race: small, ugly, and malicious. I've taken advantage of this ambiguity, and in each series of books I've written where goblins appear, I've reinvented them.

In the second Celydonn series (sequels to The Green Lion Trilogy) they are fuathan, bad fairies if you will. I like writing about fairies. Even the best of them are not nice; they are not benevolent. On occasion they may be extravagently generous. Grateful for small favors, they return them with magnificent gifts and spectacular rewards. But you cannot trust them. Their morality is not our morality, their laws…


Like most women I know I’m juggling. I have kids and all their myriad bits and pieces they need from me – support, and clean clothes, and food, and taxi-ing, and more support, and reading their stories, and tidying their rooms, and checking homeworks, and buying Munchy seeds and chocolate doughnuts and the list goes on and on. I have a dog to see to, and fish to remember to feed, and a cat to occasionally say hello to (we’re not sure where he now resides, but it’s not here. Unless he decides it is. And then he goes again. I like the cat…)
I have my house and the need for it to be at least hygeinic and have the beds made, and some sort of attempt at dusting, and the recycling cleared, and the bins emptied. I have a weekend trip to plan for and dogs to get to kennels and injections had so the kennels will take the dog.
At the house I have the garden (and until recently an allotment) – with onions to be weeded and broccoli to be netted and raised, …

Gender matters


When I first started writing my main character was male. I didn't think much about it, or question why, I just wrote about him. The idea of writing a female main character didn't occur to me. So many of the books I'd read, especially in sff, had male main characters - Paul Atreides, Sparhawk, Aragorn.... Sure, I'd read books with great female characters - Scout, and Scarlett O'Hara and their ilk - but very few in genre. So, setting out to write my book, my main character was a genre character - a bloke. To be fair, not a terribly macho bloke, but still he had all his bits in appropriate places and he had a male voice with a male outlook.

Somewhere in the long line of early beta readers one suggested that I should have had my main character's sister as the focus of the book, as my female point of view was stronger, and I pooh-poohed the notion. I didn't write females. I didn't know how to, despite being female. Books in my genre…


I’m a bit like Hong-Kong-Phooey. In fact, most writers I know are the same: mild-mannered by day, clandestine scribblers of something weird and wonderful by night. (Admittedly almost all the writers I know write science fiction and fantasy, so that perhaps explains a lot about the weird, but hey-ho.)
Most of the time I worry about fitting my work around my children, or what to make for tea. I’m known as Joanne rather than this odd Jo creature, and I’m shockingly normal. If you met me in the street, we’d say hi, walk on and you’d think nothing of the encounter. A perfectly ordinary person going about their day…
In my screwy mind, other things are happening, though. I might have smiled at you while thinking about someone else. Someone who doesn’t exist, who isn’t of our world, our planet, our time. If they are of our world, they’re seeing fairies, or fighting aliens, or stuck in a forest with a crashed UFO, 10,000 words written, and no resolution in sight. I might be thinking about a to…

Goblin Moon - Teresa Edgerton

In which the Reader is Respectfully Advised to invest in a Good reading light.
Goblin Moon, recently re-released by Tickety-boo press, is unlike any fantasy book I’ve read. Its swashbuckling setting gives a vibrancy and unique feel, and the light handling of the scope of the story and intertwined storylines, makes for a book that’s easy to read and keeps the pages turning long after lights-out.
We start on a river under a Goblin Moon, with the discovery of a coffin and the body it contains, and follow a story that stays intimate to its characters but expands to fill a richly created world, where fae, dwarves, goblins and humans intermingle in polite society. The descriptions of the world are lush, with details of the clothes, food and manners all adding up to a convincing world that fully pulled me in.
The plot follows several strands: what happens to the body found in the coffin; Sera’s tale as the impoverished companion to a sickly heiress; Lord Skelbrooke’s derring-dos as a vigi…

Shiny and new and lovely.

On shiny new lovely things Published by springs in the blog springs's blog. Views: 0 I love new work-in-progresses. They sit in my mind, like a promise you'll get back to, taking shape over a few months. I've been dilligently working on older stuff, ready for reviews and edits and now I'm up to date and can play. And so the shiny new thing is taken out and looked at and oohed and ahhed over by me.

I can't say too much about it, mainly because it is so shiny and new and will no doubt change lots as I write it. I got the feel for it on holiday this year, in a forest. It was a beautiful day and the forest around me stretched still. Birds were flying from tree to tree, fat woodies, a little tame robin, a family of ducks waddled past, and I had the lovely magical thought of 'What if...?'

Sadly, a story needs conflict. So the what-if doesn't bode well for Ms Puddleduck and kids. But I just knew the setting had to be used and the sense of that place turned abou…

Looking in the right place

I loathe description. I have to be forced to the writing corner and told to write it.

Unless it's a place I know well. Then, I don't describe, exactly, but drop the feel of it into the piece. I did a short recently on a canal I've sailed and I think it worked well in it.

Abendau, my space opera world, isn't a real place. But I've been living there in my head for years and know it well. My next novel was set in Belfast, the one I'm editing at the moment in the Antrim glens, a new baby deep in a forest I've visited and loved. I've stolen train tracks I've got lost on, hotels I've stayed on, beaches I've stood and counted waves on. In fact my two currently trunked books are those with no distinct setting. The stories are good, but they need their place in the world to become real.

So, serendipity. Listen up, all you who have your dream agents in mind. My agent didn't state that she loved stories with a sense of place in her wishlist when I su…



I’m a lucky lady. I have loads of friends. I have childhood friends, friends in my family, I have people by the school gate, people I chat to at various hobbies. Loads of friends, or certainly as many as I need.

And I have friends who are writers.

This blog is about them. Because here’s the thing – writing isn’t only a lonely thing to do, it’s also an obssessive thing. I don’t know anyone who has got to the end of a novel without being obsessed by it to some degree (some are better than others.)

The lonely thing – I don’t think that bothers writers overly much. Because whilst we might look like we’re sad and alone, tapping away in the corner, we’re not. We’re with a whole bunch of people we know as intimately as only their creator can. We’re in a world we made. We’re not alone. We’re just not with you right now, thanks.

But the obsession. That’s a whole different game.

Now, my family and friends are very lovely and tolerant of my obsession. My husband is well used to conver…

Effective habits for writers

When not writing space opera with sexy pilots and what-not, I am a management consultant. It's about as scintillating as it sounds.... 
One of my favourite management gurus is the late, great Steve Covey. I've argued many times that his seven habits could be applied to any field and I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is and apply if to writing.

These habits are to promote effectiveness. They're useful for beginners to begin to think about what might lie ahead when learning to write, and useful for the more established in honing writing practices and continuing our growth.


1. Be proactive.

It's easy to sit back and hope good things will happen, but it's a bit of a shot in the dark. Frankly, as a writer, if the impetus does not come from within, you will produce nothing. So be proactive in choosing what you might want to write, in how you want to be published, in what you want to achieve. Once you have a clear idea of what you want and an inter…

To trilogy or not to trilogy....

When I started writing I didn't question writing a trilogy. That was what every sci fi/fantasy writer did - wrote three books. So that's what I set out to do. Since then, I've also written two standalone novels and trunked another, so I have a bit of knowledge of both processes.

Standalones are wonderful. They hit the ground running, their strands are easy-ish (er?) to hold onto, they have a lovely focus on the main story and don't meander so much. I doubt I'll write anything other than standalones in the future, maybe two books at a push. I'm not an epic lover, I'm happy with something neat and tidy.

But I wouldn't change having written a trilogy. I finished the good draft of book three today. I have editing and work ahead, but the bones are there. Could I have told the story in one book? No, absolutely not. Book one laid the groundwork, the point of reference. In two? I thought about it when the road to the third was hard. I even had a version that wrap…
I blog a lot on another site and I've been able to link those posts that are about writing to public view for the first time. Anyway lots of witterings here:

The process

Michael Ranson, when asked to describe himself usually dodges the question and tells a story, instead. He is, after all, a fiction writer and it can be a hard habit to break! On his new website, Ranson writes, he indulges in his life-long love of word craft and has a lot to say about how to get published and plans to follow his own advice later this year with the release of his first fantasy novel. In the meantime he writes reviews, publishing editorials and shares his views on everything from natural history to space travel. He has also kindly passed this blog-tour over to me.

 What am I working on?

Final edits of the first book of my space-opera trilogy (the Abendau trilogy), before publication in the autumn by Tickety-boo press. I have a few other irons in the pan which are based in Ulster, so when I jump between wips I have to take care not to bring the accents with me! And I've just started a fun new YA sci-fi project.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

For sc…

Character blog-tag

A big thank you to Thaddeus White for handing over to me. Thaddeus is one of the best fantasy writers I know and his knowledge of the genre is used to fantastic comic effect in Sir Edric's Temple, quite simply the funniest fantasy story I've ever read. Here's the link to his blog:

And now to the questions:

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Kare Varnon is the heir to a fictional galactic empire. We first meet him as a child and follow his progress through to adulthood.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the future, in a galactic cluster governed by an Empress. The centre of power, a great city of green surrounded by desert, is called Abendau, and is where Kare was conceived and born, and where he's been running from ever since.

3) What should we know about him/her?

He's the only child of the Empress and should be her assured heir, but his Seer father warn…

Romance is icky. But I like it.

I cheated this week and asked if my fabulous critique partner and writer friend Emma Jane (aka E J Tett) would like to blog about love and romance, and what makes her so good at writing it. And she is good, she has two novels coming out this year: Otherworld with Liz Powell from Torquere press in November and Shuttered in December from Dreamspinner. Em's writing is amazing, I couldn't shout loudly enough to recommend them. And now I'll stop waffling, and hand over to Em:

Romance is Icky. But I like it.

A question I see often on book forums is, "what genres do you read?" and you'll invariably get answers along the lines of, "I'll read anything! Except romance." I can almost hear the sneer through their written words.
It's a weird kind of snobbery. "Oh I don't read romance! Urgh. That's just for the silly wimminz."
But… is it? I'm fairly confident the writer of the most famous love story of all was a man.
Romance novels …

Invoking Ulster

Ulster’s myths are bloody ones. Cu Chulainn, the Hound of Ulster, took the place of a guard dog and defended Ulster at the age of seventeen. He was known to have battle frenzies, and was one of the key legends of the Red Branch Cycle, one of four key Irish folklore cycles. Finn McCool fought the Scottish giant and won using guile and might. Even our flag shows the red hand, from a legend that tells of a race for the land. The losing combatant cut his hand off and threw it onto the land to claim it for himself. The Ulster I know – the North coast facing Scotland, and Belfast – has a harsh accent to go with the legacy of divisions that run as deep as the land its people share.When I had the idea of a novel about Earth resisting an alien invasion, I decided to set it in my Ulster. This was no political undertaking, but instead a wish to show something of the people I knew. The people who, despite all the violence of my youth, maintained a sense of humour – black though it undoubtedly is …

The Master of Time

Like anyone else I struggle to fit writing around life, so I decided to ask John J Brady, one of my brilliant critique partners, for advice. He has a fabulously busy life yet manages to regularly produce fantastic, honed, stories and novels. I'll hand over to John for some practical, motivational - perhaps a little scarily so - advice.

You, too, can master time...

It's taken me two weeks to write these 816 words. Not because I have to search for hours to find each successive key, but because I have to find the time to do it. Take right now, for example. My five-year-old child is furiously colouring in a sheet of paper as if he despises the crayon he's using. Another child is watching the Australian Open men's tennis final. Yet another is playing Minecraft in his room. None of these activities have happened by accident. Rather, they're the product of careful planning, all geared towards getting me ten minutes free to write on my phone because I know there's no …