Friday, 31 January 2014

The Glass is Out

Good news! My novel "The Glass" has just gone live in ebook form on Amazon. Yes, I know you're meant to spend months planning these things, but I realised I could do that and put things off forever, or I could just get on with it, so I decided to do the second one.









The biggest questions in Mark Tilesbury’s life have generally been fairly straightforward: How exactly did he end up as the assistant to celebrity psychic Greg Rambler? If the dead are getting in touch, why are they always so happy about things? Why is it always him who buys the drinks after the show?

Things get a lot more complicated when a chance meeting with a very strange man lands him in the middle of a war between the last remnants of the angels and the creatures from the other side of the mirror. A war in which it turns out Mark might very well be the ultimate weapon. Kidnapped by a woman who seems far too ready to pull knives out of thin air, he must travel the length of the UK, dealing with crazed angels, estate agents with afterlives for sale and occasional VW campervans, trying to find a way out of this mess before either the angels kill him for his own good or the Glass catch up with him. Ultimately, he has to decide if perhaps the scariest thing in the mirror isn’t… well, him.


I'm working on getting it out on Smashwords, and in paperback, but for anyone who wants to take it up nice and early, it's available on Amazon or Amazon uk

I hope you enjoy this one, as it's my first adventure in indie publishing, and it's a story I like a lot, with a nice balance between the funny stuff and the real story. If you do like it, please let someone know, whether it's on goodreads, a blog, telling them in a suspiciously decorated pub or anywhere else.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

My Cover


This is the cover for my novel "The Glass" (cover by Duncan Eagleson). I'm not going for the big cover reveal, because I'm told that things are a bit flooded on that front at the moment, so I'm mostly showing it to you now because it's pretty. Here's the cover blurb that goes with it:



The biggest questions in Mark Tilesbury’s life have generally been fairly straightforward: How exactly did he end up as the assistant to celebrity psychic Greg Rambler? If the dead are getting in touch, why are they always so happy about things? Why is it always him who buys the drinks after the show?


Things get a lot more complicated when a chance meeting with a very strange man lands him in the middle of a war between the last remnants of the angels and the creatures from the other side of the mirror. A war in which it turns out Mark might very well be the ultimate weapon. Kidnapped by a woman who seems far too ready to pull knives out of thin air, he must travel the length of the UK, dealing with crazed angels, estate agents with afterlives for sale and occasional VW campervans, trying to find a way out of this mess before either the angels kill him for his own good or the Glass catch up with him. Ultimately, he has to decide if perhaps the scariest thing in the mirror isn’t… well, him.




At this stage, I'm looking to start putting together the promotion that goes with putting this out. I'm planning a couple of giveaways to get things in the mood, but would anyone be willing to help me out with... well, just about anything really? Interviews, mentions, or quick stops on a blog tour would all really help. I'm looking to get the book out in a couple of weeks and get on to the next thing, so I'd ideally be looking to do promotional things at the end of February/start of March.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Things I used to do

I used to write poetry. I say this, not as an attempt to find an excuse to inflict any of it on you, or because I'm trying to look arty, but because of those words "used to". Just a few short years ago, I took it into my head that I was going to be largely a poet who also did other things. I studied formal and free poetry, I wrote computer files and notebooks full of the stuff and I set myself goals about trying to write a poem a day.


I know this because the other day, I found my files full of poems. Many of them are silly, while some of them really aren't. While all of them represent a strand of writing that I don't really do today. In the course of about five years, I've gone from writing lots of poetry to writing none.


This is, I suppose, a post about the ways in which we all change. As writers, but in general too. You know that awkward question they always ask in interviews: where do you see yourself in five years? Isn't it true to say that we don't know? That no one knows? Think for a moment about all the things that you used to do, as a writer or more generally. They probably felt like the most important things in the world at the time. Now, what you're doing feels more important. A few years from now?


I used to be a poet. I used to write urban fantasy. Maybe I'll look back one day and say I used to write comic fantasy. Looked at like that, it seems almost silly to say "This is what I am and what I do", doesn't it? Because who knows what we'll say we used to do tomorrow?



Monday, 20 January 2014

Reborn by Cherie Reich



To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.

 

On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess.

 

Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.

 

Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.

 

Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.

 

Reborn, book one of The Fate Challenges, by Cherie Reich will be released on May 23, 2014. For more information about Cherie Reich and her work, please visit her website or blog. The cover art is created by Laura Sava. To add on Goodreads, click here. If you’d like to be notified when Reborn releases, please sign up for her newsletter here.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Ideas, and their importance (or otherwise)

Thanks to an incident I won't go into, I find myself thinking about ideas. As in "Where do you get your..." No, I'm not going to answer that, because we've all got better things to do, but I did want to ask the question people often don't bother with: how important are they, really?


Obviously, people generally seem to think they're important. The popular image of an author is of the idea getting being the hard part. Hence the thing you sometimes hear about writers being pestered with, where people offer authors their ideas for a share of the profits.


And on one level, ideas are important. It's ideas that create that initial buzz, that excitement. That moment where you go what if. That moment that gets you excited enough to write something in the first place. So what if I could relentlessly make fun of the standard "someone is secretly a faerie noble" plotline? What if I did a kind of vaguely humanist take on angels and demons, with a fake psychic as the lead character? What if I write some urban fantasy where the lead character happens to be a changeling, whose main power is her ability to lie? What if I did something vaguely Arthurian, set in the modern day?


Those are all ideas I've had. Three of the four are ideas I've written. The fourth, I'll probably get round to shortly. And here I am, putting them up on the Internet. Why? Because the world isn't as full of idea thieves as people think. Because in UK law, it's the execution of an idea that's protected rather than the idea itself when it comes to creative works. And because this is one area where the law actually has it right.


You see, I would be perfectly happy if someone who read this chose to go down one or more of those routes. Because I'm sure they wouldn't write it the same way I did. I'm not saying there that I will write it the best way, but I will write it my own way, just as you would write it yours. Because ideas aren't as important as people seem to feel they should be. It's not the idea itself, but what you choose to do with it that matters. Indeed, in a lot of literary fiction, where big plot is distinctly frowned upon, it's the way in which you choose to make the journey rather than the overall point of the book every time.


People don't read ideas, but books. They read those marvellous characters you've created (good job there, by the way), and that snappy dialogue. They're excited by the sudden plot twist, or at least gripped by the panache with which you did it if they saw it coming. They might get swept up in the sheer beauty of the language, or in my case by the fact that someone can try to cram quite so many jokes into the first chapter.


They might even, at some point, say "what a great idea", but don't let that fool you. There are probably another hundred authors who've had the same idea you've had, at least. But none of them, none of them, has ever written your book. It's what's so beautiful about writing. And what's so weird about people who get completely paranoid about their ideas.





Wednesday, 15 January 2014

What's it about

I typically don't know what my novels are about until I've written most of them. That probably sounds utterly back to front, so I should clarify a little. I know what it's about in general terms. I know the shape of the plot. I know roughly who the characters are and what they're doing. I just don't really know what it's all about until I've written something.


I'm talking about theme here. Theme or issues, or whatever you want to call it. Message, maybe, although that's probably putting it a bit strongly, since you can bring up points on a theme without having a defined message to convey. You can ask questions without providing answers. Indeed, there's a case for saying that's the more interesting thing to do.


But it's often hard to be clear about your themes in the first draft. You can take the same story and make it about a dozen different things through the way you tell it. The things you choose to concentrate on. I've got this vaguely Arthurian idea knocking about at the moment, and have had for a while now, except I can't decide which way to go with it.


With the ones where I've made an effort with theme, which means novels like Court of Dreams or the Glass, it's only come to me quite late in the piece. That moment where I've sat down and thought 'okay, I have a novel, but there's nothing much to it. It's just not coming together right'.


Working out what it's about seems to work like a kind of glue for the story. Or maybe a way of seeing what works and what doesn't. Because it can help you to be ruthless with your story. To cut out bits that aren't relevant, not because they're not good (we wouldn't have written it if we didn't think it was good) but because they don't quite fit with the rest of it.


So what about you? Have you ever written something, looked back through it and only then realised what it was really about?

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Medieval Vision Literature and The Glass

When I was writing The Glass, I put in a couple of bits that were weirder than the rest of it (which is saying something) essentially because I wanted to do something with Medieval Vision Literature. I did my MA on the stuff, back before I wandered off into other branches of history for my PhD, and I felt like there would never be a better opportunity to make fun of the often very odd things the likes of Bede included in theirs.


Which is why I included things like an estate agent giving my main character a piggyback over a fiery lake, while providing him a table tennis bat in case the locals decided to lob sulphur their way. Aside from the estate agent, and the bit where it was clay jars rather than a racquet, this is almost directly from Bede's Visio Drycthelmi.


It's the sort of thing that was going to make about three people in advanced medieval studies laugh when they got it, but since I was writing what amounted to a comedy version of a lot of the paranormal/urban fantasy stuff with angels and demons in, it seemed to fit. Literary references=depth, right? Well, no, but we can pretend, while we're going through the standard parts of the genre...


And then it occurred to me that actually, your basic medieval vision of the afterlife has a fairly well defined structure too. Odd events rip someone out of their normal life (usually following an injury or illness) they meet a guide. That guide shows them a series of events/characters, while often the MC gets things wrong. Typically the MC is then left without the guide temporarily. When the MC gets them back, they're more in control of the experience, even as things often seem to spiral out of control. They have a moment of seeing things perfectly, before they're dumped back into their own life, completely changed.


Put like that, there wasn't any reason why I couldn't follow that through my novel. So this one owes a lot to medieval vision literature. Even some of the jokes.


Friday, 10 January 2014

Back Cover Copy

Because I'm nearly ready to go with my novel The Glass, I thought I'd start the ball rolling a little by posting the back cover blurb. Here goes:




The biggest questions in Mark Tilesbury’s life have generally been fairly straightforward: How exactly did he end up as the assistant to celebrity psychic Greg Rambler? If the dead are getting in touch, why are they always so happy about things? Why is it always him who buys the drinks after the show?


Things get a lot more complicated when a chance meeting with a very strange man lands him in the middle of a war between the last remnants of the angels and the creatures from the other side of the mirror. A war in which it turns out Mark might very well be the ultimate weapon. Kidnapped by a woman who seems far too ready to pull knives out of thin air, he must travel the length of the UK, dealing with crazed angels, estate agents with afterlives for sale and occasional VW campervans, trying to find a way out of this mess before either the angels kill him for his own good or the Glass catch up with him. Ultimately, he has to decide if perhaps the scariest thing in the mirror isn’t… well, him.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Trying to get organised.

This one is for the IWSG. A few hours late, but I've been a bit rushed. And it's that rush that I'd like to talk about. You see, I'm putting out my novel 'The Glass' myself, and today the wonderful Duncan Eagleson, who is doing my cover, got back to me with the final image. At which point it occurred to me that I could have the novel uploaded and out there in a matter of days if I wanted. It brought home to me just how unprepared I am for all this. I should probably be organising a big cover reveal and blog tour thing, getting the word out about the novel and everything else. But I have no idea what I'm doing. This is the one part of the writing process I've generally had very little to do with, since I'm a ghost writer by trade. My job is to keep myself out of the publicity.


So I'd like to ask for your help and advice. What should I be doing, and how? Would anyone be interested in helping me out if I do the whole big reveal bit? I know it's a bit strange asking for this in the middle of an IWSG post, but this is very much what's making me insecure, the thought that the one book I've felt strongly enough about to put out myself, and my first experiment with the self-publishing route, might not work out if I don't get things a bit better organised.



Monday, 6 January 2014

5-0

So, England have lost the Ashes 5-0, and the press are looking for people to blame. Even the way we phrase it over here, that England lost them rather than Australia winning them, says a lot. It's apparently not about their bowlers bowling tremendously well, or about Brad Haddin counter attacking brilliantly in the middle order. No, we lost it, and everyone must go.

Yes, there probably will be changes made after this, but I'd like to point to a couple of things to come out of this that have been positive signs.

Ben Stokes. Let's face it, everyone has said how well he's doing. He's played four tests, and already he has both a hundred and a five-for to his name. He averaged more than any other England batsman, and looked to have a good combination of pace and persistence with the ball.

Stuart Broad. Broad led England's attack in conditions that limited Anderson. He took wickets consistently and even managed to chip in a few runs here and there.

Michael Carberry. This is probably a more controversial one, because there were commentators expecting him to be dropped for the final test, and because he has gotten out for a few low scores. But he has also chipped in with, if not world beating, then at least workmanlike scores on several occasions. Often while his team mates were getting out for single figures around him.

Scott Borthwick. And this is the one where people think I've gone insane. Geoff Boycott referred to him as a 'club standard leg-spinner', but the day I agree with Boycott's opinion on anything... no. This is a man who thinks he knows better than anyone about cricket, when his own cricketing cowardice ran to avoiding tours to the West Indies and his own average consistently counted for more than the team's success. Who has recommended that England's batsmen must bat less like one day players, when it has been Australia's scoring speed and one day players (Warner, Watson, Haddin) who have pulled them away from us.

As for his opinion on Scott Borthwick, it just isn't justified. So the Australian batsmen attacked him and hit him for runs. So what? They did that to Graham Swann, who didn't seem to have an answer. They tried it with Monty Panesar, whose answer seemed to be to tie things down a little while not taking wickets. Borthwick kept tossing the ball up, and if the Aussies got themselves out for three of his four dismissals in the final test, then at least he gave them the opportunity to. He attacked and kept attacking. With the result that he currently averages just over twenty for his wickets. He gives it a proper rip, he doesn't bowl darts, and he's not afraid to keep bowling even when people are hitting him. The great Shane Warne took 1-350 in his first couple of tests. Borthwick has 4-82 ish in his first along with a stunning catch Panesar could never have taken. He has real potential as an England player, and should be given an extended run, unless England are planning on giving Monty one last chance to cement his place. Which would be fine. I like Panesar. But Borthwick is probably the future.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New Year Thoughts

There's a peculiar kind of megalomania that comes with watching cricket. It says that you must keep watching, because otherwise things might go wrong while you aren't looking. It's that abiding sense of responsibility for the fortunes of professional sportsmen thousands of miles away at ungodly hours of the morning. And England still collapsed.

I have some of my ghosting work arranged already for the next year. I said this last year, but it's a good feeling to have, knowing that the work is going to be there. It's not a field where you can build a huge reputation, a lot of the time, so it's more about the individual relationships you have with people as you go along.

I'm still building towards self-publishing my novel the Glass at some point in the early part of the year. If anyone has any ideas about things I need to watch out for, or things I should be doing to promote it, let me know. It's an adventure, based mostly on the realisation that while I can get traditionally published, it isn't currently by the very big people whose presence automatically adds something. Plus, the Glass doesn't entirely fit anyone's idea of a sensible thing, being a comic fantasy, vaguely humanist take on the whole brand of angels and demons filled paranormal stuff that's out there.

I'm also currently revising an urban fantasy thing. That's a bit weird for me. I've gotten UF published before, but I've kind of moved away from it, so I'm wondering whether to pursue this one under a pseudonym, if only to separate it out from any expectations that attach to my normal style. Or maybe that's silly, since people would have had to hear about me for that to be an issue.