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Showing posts from January, 2017

A Tale of Firsts

The fabulous Juliana Spink-Mills has her debut novel, Heart blade, coming out on 14th February this year from Woodbridge Press. I'm partway through it and it's a fantastic YA treat. 
Anyhow, Ju came along to the blog to talk about the challenges of getting your writing - and yourself - out there, and how she's gone about squaring her shoulders and doing so. 
I’m shy. Probably not that many people know this, because I’m great at faking it in public, but there it is. I’m a shy person. There are lots of us shy folks in this world, and writing probably sounds like a dream career for many of us. Work from the comfort of your own home! No need to interact with any co-workers! It’s just you, and the words on the page.
Except, it turns out that writing is less of a blanket-fort comfort zone, and more like jumping off a cliff. Headfirst. With a blindfold. Over and over and over a…


This week a theme has emerged over my conversations and interactions, almost organically. That theme is about communities and how they can give a voice and strength to the individuals within it. I’m a member of a range of writing communities. Some, such as Women Aloud and the SFFchronicles, I’m pretty central to. Some, less so:
Despite having a reputation for writing some dark scenes, my work isn’t dark enough to be classed as grimdark*. And I don’t read a whole heap of Grimdark books (the odd one slips through my eclectic book-selection part of my brain, but so does the odd macho-man romance.) But I like the Grimdark community grimdark fiction readers & writers – they’re funny and warm (I know, I know, they really need to up their grim credentials) and very welcoming. And moderated as tightly as a group needs to be. So, I hang around and post the odd comment and chat with the odd member – not that they’re all odd, of course – and that’s as far as it needs to go. The group have …


Anyone who has been around the for a while might have heard a little bit about one of the regular member's (@harebrain, on the forum, Bryan Wigmore when unmasked) book. Any of us who were lucky enough to read an early copy raved about it. So to see it published by Snowbooks is exciting.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the shamanic rituals, using animaths and I wanted to know how that came about and how it affected the writing of the book. I think it's a fascinating subject and one that merges well with fantasy.


Few will believe me, no doubt, when I say that my entire writing ‘career’ was orchestrated by Otter to get himself a bit-part in a book. But with hindsight, the evidence seems incontrovertible.

I never learned to swim as a kid, hating the chemical warfare zones that passed for municipal pools in those days. But I loved and was fascinat…

On forums.

I am an inveterate forum hopper (I am including my regular facebook groups as forums, simply because they have the same feel). I have about four I'll post something every day in and another eight or so I'll bounce in and out of.

Why? I like forums. I like getting to know people (except the odd arsehole you meet) and I type fast so can interact smoothly on them. But I like some better than others and - because this is a blog about writing - I find some more in tune with me as a writer than others. And that's all perfectly normal.

I will admit to getting lucky. The first forum I tried - the - is still my most central one. I met my writing group there, my first publisher, my editor, my first readers. I got hooked right about then.

Forums are about culture. They're about a particular mix of people who make a particular little community. You can't predict what you'll find when you first join - I've been surprised in both ways about a commun…

right. You wrote it. Now sell it.

This a rant. A complete and utter rant on a Friday night. It's a rant to all my lovely, kind, clever author frienda who aren't natural sales people (so, Dan, walk away now. Or, better yet, comment with some tips!)

1. You have one big chance to promote your book unless you're with a big publisher. Your e-book. Your paperback will be lucky to shift 50 copies - your ebook will shift ten times that and more. Amazone start assessing your sales potential the minute you are live. Wait two weeks and you have lost your chance. Their algorithms will have you labelled as a slow seller and you have a mountain to climb to get thst back. Don't wait.

It is too late when the ebook is out. It is too late when the paperback arrives days, or weeks, later. You need to promote before it comes out, when it is out, when something happens with it. You need to hit All the chances.

Fun fact - it takes about seven mentions for a person to register a product. And no one will see all your posts…


This started as a jokey little blog that might raise smiles, a caricature of writing journeys and paths that, as I typed, became less funny. Why? Because those caricatures were me and my writing mates, and we're facing a quagmire.

This game used to be easy. We used to need to get an agent. We used to have to keep writing books until we wrote one that got us an agent. And then we needed them to find us a publisher, who gave us an advance which mostly went towards writing the next book for the agent.

And some people still go that route. They want a Big 6 publisher and nothing less will do. Worse, anything less equals failure. No matter how many stats appear showing this route is harder than ever, no matter how much that writer understands the market dictates what gets interest just as much as talent does, they hit for the big one. They try agent after agent (but only those who have a record of Big 6 sales). They enter open windows and sit for months. They trunk perfectly good manu…

New year, new focus (and a first sneak peak...)

The mince pies are done. In a couple of days the kids are back to school and I'm back to the desk.

2016 was the year of Abendau, with the final books of the trilogy released (and gaining great reviews, thankfully - many of which mention my maturing as a writer over the books - which is a relief after 4 years between writing book one and book three). But for now, Abendau is finished. It is a world I may return to sometime. But not yet.

2017 has a new focus - in more than one way. Firstly, it will be a slower year. I have a release in July but nothing before. I might, time allowing, have another later in the year, a sf collection, but, really, I'm in no hurry.

Why not? Me who is normally hell for leather? Well, firstly, my job must come first for a while - it pays while writing, frankly, does not. There is something in this, perhaps, a message to those who love books. Writers get a tiny amount of the book's value (even on Amazon, where 75% sounds great but where overheads m…