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Showing posts from April, 2015

On (mostly) accidental darkness.

I wrote a book that I knew was a little dark in places, but considered to be not outstandingly so, especially in this age of Grimdark.

I've read my share of GRRM and Lawrence (barely got through the dog scene). I've enjoyed @Lord Grimdark's books a lot, but I didn't consider that I might be writing something that mirrored the darkness of the genre, albeit in a flashy Space Opera setting with zippy space battles and futuristic palaces.

Then, I started to get reviews. And there was a theme:

"In places this book is dark and disturbing, dragging the reader in to share the trials Kare endures, but I found it impossible to put down." (Miss Moppitt)

"This is a dark story, which was a bit unexpected: to me. It's a tragedy wrapped in a dark world." (J.L.Dobias)

I'm a big believer in reflection, so I had to have a stop and think about why I'd written something so dark. I'm a pretty bright and breezy person. Heck, I barely even wear black. (…

So, what is Abendau?

Taking a break from my promotional advice - part two, coming soon, I just wanted to let it brew for a day or two - and instead wanting to share something of my world.

1. It's dark. It's not for those looking light stories. Abendau is a world where actions are important. Things are predicted, which might come true. Paths are hinted at but may not be the right ones. Good characters have their flaws and do unforgiveable things - bad characters occasionally surprise and will more in future books.

2. It's epic. I didn't mean to write an epic but it grew and grew and now it is. It has dynasties and politics. Multiple planets. People with histories. Some of it is only hinted at for now, but it's all there to be built on.

3. It tackles hard subjects. What we can do to others. How weak we can be in adversity. How hard it is to shake things off. It's epic with humans in. It's an epic story told from real people's point of views, allowing subjects to be explored…

In which I rant

Today I did a search on Amazon, asking to see books in a specified genre based on average customer ratings.
So far, so good. A sure-fire way for me, as the customer, to choose how I selected a book. Just like going to a bookshop and looking through the Top 10 in a section and deciding if they appealed. A way of not having to trawl through reams of reams of books but use a search to narrow that.

Then I looked at the search results. The top book was a 3.5 star, followed by the 5 star book. There was a 4 and a no-rating on the front page. Turning to page two, there were more no-ratings, with some 4s and 3s mixed in there. That wasn't what I had asked for as a parameter to make my choice.

So, I looked up my own book. It's sitting on a pretty good star rating - 4.75 across 3 reviews on Amazon UK, 4 across 2 reviews on US, and 5 across 4 ratings on Goodreads. Pretty consistent. A good parameter, maybe, as to whether the book is worth picking up. (There are others, of course, many…

You don't have to be mad to do this but it might help....

So, are we all fools for trying this writing lark? We go at it, embracing the skills acquistion needed, visiting writing forums as if they're mouth pieces for our new religion.

This month, I got to that point we all hope to. I was published. All the work and there it was. And I wanted to share the moment that made it real.

Some kids go into their school bringing flowers to show teacher. Whatever gets brought in from our house is treasured and discussed and suitably important to show. Last year, two bird's nests, one complete with dead, desicated, grub, were proudly carried in and displayed.

This week, my ten-year-old wrapped her copy of mum's book in a padded envelope and carried it in. She proudly told the class they couldn't read it until they were 18 but it was hers and had her name on the first page, that it was dedicated to her.

And that made it all worthwhile. The moment when I thought, no matter what happens next, I'm proud. :)

Check out the other blog…


I put a shortened version of the posts I'm going to do over the next few weeks up on a private blog and the consensus was that a longer, more detailed version of them would be good. (Also known as Blame Someone Else.)

For context: I live miles away from any centres of sff-dom, but I've released my first book to a reasonable buzz, and thought I'd share what has worked for me in terms of getting my name out there. I'm far from a success story yet, but I've done better in terms of profile than would be expected at this stage, so some of it might be useful to someone.

So, here we go - from sff hermit to something-a-little-better. What I did. (Clue - it took work. Lots of it. This advice is not for those who hope fortune will come knocking.) What I did, point one:

I joined online communities.

There are limited conventions and sff specialist writing groups where I am. (But they are growing, go NI!. So, seeking honest critique and some writing company, I reached out t…


Years ago, I worked as a manager in a chain of bookstores. I started when I was in my early twenties, in what was my first 'proper' job - salaried, permanent and managerial.

I have happy memories of my time there and, despite not working as a book manager during my tenure - even though I applied because of my love of reading - a lot of my fondest memories are of signing sessions.

I'm a back-room kind of gal. I do organisation and I'm not so good at the front of house stuff. Still am't, so the book launch is a huge learning curve for me. Mostly, I looked after the shop and staff and allowed the store manager and book manager to be free to look after the authors. And I used to watch the authors sign and think one day...

Life happened, I didn't write the book, kids happened, priorities changed and I moved into a more child-friendly role (retail covers a lot of hours.) Finally, about a decade later, I wrote the darn book.

Yesterday the paperbacks arrived. They …

Week one

So, what really happens when the book is launched? Is it as incredible as you imagine? Better? A let down?

I've been lucky enough to have it happen this week. My book, Abendau's Heir, is on kindle. Physical stock gets to me this week (Easter is incoveniently on its way) for signing and for stores. Reviews have started to come in - this is a live book, not just to my betas.

So, first, my reservations - Abendau's Heir is a dark book and I am not a dark person. People will be surprised. My first reviewer has likened it to grimdark. I knew this would be the case, that some would find it too grim. But book one sets up a trilogy - and this one starts dark. I hope, as the series goes on, that darkness gets eroded a little. I hope to satisfy the reader in more ways than just a dark creation, but things take their own time and stories have their own pace, and this one started where it needed to, in the deep secrets which set things in motion.

My other big reservation was reader …