Blog Archives

Books, Work and WIP

Work and life do have a habit of catching up with you and I will admit that after the busy day job, there is nothing more satisfying that settling down with a good read.

My current WIP (work in progress – yes, another Carentan book), has been completed in as far as a first draft has been written and I’m now working on a second draft. Lots of plot holes that need fixing, but I hope to get it out to an editor some time soon.

In the meantime I am getting continually distracted by reading (and work, of course), which I am excited to share with you. I’ve been exploring different types of writing and particularly classics which I have not yet tried. Some of my recent reads, include Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca, which is an extraordinary psychological thriller. I’ve also just finished a biography of Angela Carter, whose work The Bloody Chamber has been had huge influence on my writing over the years – particularly my short stories. Deerskin by Robin McKinley (another of my favourite authors), has the timeless quality of a fairytale with the page turning quality that I have come to expect from the author. I’m currently reading Tess of the D’Ubervilles by Thomas Hardy.

The curious thing that I have noticed about classics, is that the authors employ a variety of techniques and styles that in time have become out of vogue and in some cases, a red flag for novice writers. Some (not all) of these works are littered with exclamation marks, for example, and a proliferation of adverbs, rambling narratives and over descriptive paragraphs. The other thing that I have noticed as a reader, is that I am willing to forgive these stylistic foibles (according to modern editorial standards) if the author gives me the one fundamental thing that keeps me reading; a damn good story!

So there you have it. Story eats Style for breakfast. But then I may well just eat my own words for breakfast as I’m off now to edit the living daylights out of my second draft.

Kemal’s quote here is quite apt and can be applied just as neatly to story craft as well as martial arts.

Happy Reading!

When They Came For You

The shrieking siren of the police car gets people making the same comment, ‘they’re coming to get you’! Ha ha, very funny, but what if ‘they’ were coming to get you, what if you had a threat of retribution hanging over your head, what if you disregarded the warnings that they were really coming to get you…this set of stories will show you just what some people have been through when ‘they’ were about to interfere with a life…

New horror anthology available from Fiction4All, which includes my short story Just A Woman

Running from a terrifying past of government experiments and conspiracies, Jade was so close to realise her dream of freedom when they came for her…

27 stories from various authors present you with their unique take on When They Came For You

Available now from a variety of retail outlets – read an excerpt here.

Discounted e-books and a new release!

To celebrate a new release of book 3 in the Carentan Series, I am offering a ONE WEEK ONLY discount on books 1&2 – available only on the Double Dragon website here for £1.33 ($1.80).

Book 1 follows the adventures of Geriente Andolin, as he grows from a boy prince into a king-to-be. Book 2 sees two new characters arrive in the Western Isles who develop to aid Gereinte in keeping his beloved Carentan from falling into a bloody battle for control of the Western Isles. Stories of love, loss and coming-of-age reverberate throughout.

If you’ve read the first two books, I’m delighted to announce that book 3 – The Prince and the Assassin – has now been re-released with a new cover designed by my talented nephew, Adam Laval. You may still see previous versions of the book cover at various retail outlets, but I think you’ll agree, this one is a huge improvement!

Finally… a sneaky heads up that there is a book 4 in progress – currently with beta readers and if you want to know more, sign up here for my email updates and I will give you priority notice of publication dates. As a special gift, you will also receive a free fantasy e-book.

What are your favourite epic fantasy shows?

Okay, so I’ll admit up front to being a die-hard GoT fan (I’m not going to talk about the ending to the TV show, as it just makes me cross). What a perfect way to spend a bank holiday weekend, tucked up with a great book or re-watching an epic series like Games of Thrones. Actually, that might take several weekends and a few fights over the TV remote! You know already that I love The Witcher and can’t wait for the next instalment. I was pleasantly surprised by Shadow and Bone, the new Netflix adaptation of Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series – mainly because I’ve tried a few times to read the books but found it difficult to get hooked. However, the style of writing and the world the author has created lends itself perfectly for the screen, so it is definitely one to look out for. If you’re lost for some ideas this weekend, check out this article in Paste Magazine:

https://www.pastemagazine.com/tv/shadow-and-bone/best-fantasy-series-streaming/

Or… you could just go and sit outside in the sunshine with a good book – I’m reading The Thirteenth House, by Sharon Shinn. What are you reading?

Happy May Day!

Amazing e-book deals

BookbubIf you love reading and you love deals, have you discovered Bookbub yet?

It is free to join and you can choose to follow all your favourite authors and get regular updates on deals and notifications on new releases for their books. I love reading as much as I love writing, and this is a great way to keep up to date with what is being published and who is new on the scene.

As well as listing my favourites, I am also discovering new authors who write the kind of fiction I want to read. What is not to love about that? As an author, I have also created my own profile so that my fans can easily find me and keep up to date with my books. It is also a great way to do market research, try out book ads and test the market.

Check out my profile here.

Discount deal for one week!

Prince of Carentan

Grab your e-copy of The Prince of Carentan at the discounted price of £1.31.

Double Dragon Books are offering this deal for one week only – expires on 12th December 2020. Discounted only on the publisher’s website, please follow this link

Enjoy this Coming-of-age story which has a young protagonist, Prince Gereinte, who goes on a journey to find meaning to his life. We follow his moral and psychological growth from youth to adulthood with all the barriers he faces along the way. He makes mistakes and faces life and death encounters, but he learns from his experience and changes, growing into the monarch that his country so desperately needs.

Read an excerpt here

Fairy Tales and Fantasy Fiction

FairytalesSo, I have binge-read fantasy during lockdown (well, why not, eh?) and I’m halfway through writing my own next novel, what else is there to do?

I’ve always been fascinated by fairy tales, myths and legends. You might even have noticed a fair degree of inspiration in my stories, so when I saw a course about Fairy Tales on FutureLearn, I jumped at it. There are some great short courses, by the way, in so many different subjects and interests that I challenge anyone not to be able to find something of interest. Anyway, I digress… the course Fairy Tales, Meanings, Messages and Morals, delivered by the University of Newcastle in Australia, was a delightful dip into the world of literary analysis by exploring the meaning of fairy tales.

The course takes participants on a journey from the early origins of sixteenth century French writer, Charles Perrault, through to the more recognisable tales of the Brothers Grimm. We studied some familiar stories, starting with Little Red Riding Hood and Bluebeard, exploring the significance of cultural context and looking for meaning. It was fascinating to then delve in and discuss the relevance to a modern audience, also spreading our writerly wings with our own versions.

Analysis of my all time favourite, Beauty and the Beast, led me to revisit some more modern versions, including; Beauty by Robin McKinley – an extraordinary retelling that is close to the original, but will enchant fans and A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J Maas – a gritty and romantic Fae Fantasy that departs somewhat from the original, but still holds its own. My all time favourite, which also departs significantly from the original, but I deem to be of the same ilk, is Robin McKinley’s Sunshine – a modern version with vampires and a hauntingly romantic tension that grips you from the start and just won’t let go long after you’ve finished the book.

I am currently reading Mageborn by Jessica Thorne, which is a gripping dark fantasy with all the familiar elements that drew me to love this fairy tale inspired genre. Check it out… now I’m off to continue my binge before the workday steals me back to reality.

 

New Release: The Prince of Carentan

Alliance quoteEasy-reading fantasy adventure for all ages. Follow the exploits of Gereinte Andolin as he travels across the Western Isles, trailing mishaps and assassination attempts along the way.

I have joined a new publisher, which has taken over the Double Dragon imprint. So my books are still published under Double Dragon Books, but are now part of the Fiction4All publishing company.

Great news for wider distribution and a re-release of my titles at a reasonable price. Available now on Amazon and also in paperback.

On Writing Groups

Newham Writers WorkshopVery proud to have my work featured on the Newham Writers Workshop – published authors page. I was a member of the group in the early days of my writing career, when I was just working out what kind of a writer I wanted to be. It was an inspirational experience and one that I could highly recommend to any writer who is looking for a like-minded group of people to hang out with. I would also say that getting feedback on your writing progress is fundamental to the journey – wherever your writing goals may take you and is essential to the creative process. As a writer, you are often blind to failings in your own work that others with a more impartial view are able to see.This is how we improve our work.

Here are my top tips for receiving and using feedback from anyone and it is relevant to any genre of writing:

  • If someone tells you that something is wrong, they are probably right. If they try to tell you how to fix it, they are probably wrong.
  • Try to forget feedback at least for a couple of days. If you can’t forget it, then there is probably something in it. If you can’t remember the feedback, it probably wasn’t useful.

I’ve been a member of a few different groups over the years, always seeking out the opinion and expertise of others and sometimes, it is good just to know that other people face similar challenges and setbacks along the way.

These days, due to work commitments, I mostly hang out online – the British Science Fiction Association has some very good online groups, as well as regular face-to-face meet ups. I also used to spend quite a bit of time with the wonderful folks at the Litopia Writers’ Colony, which I can heartily recommend. But Newham Writers was my first experience of giving and receiving feedback in a workshop environment. So I am especially delighted to have my books listed on their website.

The Prince and the Assassin (2018)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

The Gone Gods (2017)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com

The King of Carentan (2016)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

The Prince of Carentan (2015)
Amazon.co.uk/ Amazon.com/ Barnes & Noble/ Kobo/ Apple

Carentan Series Update

Map of Western Isles

Map of the Western Isles

It has been a while since my last book, The King of Carentan, was published and I realise I have been quiet – various reasons for that; the length of time it takes to write a book, the length of time between writing a book and it being fit for public consumption and… new job notwithstanding… multiple other personal distractions. So I owe my readers a long overdue update on progress.

Yes – you heard right, I am eight months into a new job which comes with its own challenges and priorities. But despite that, I have been busy on the writing front (check out my urban fantasy stories featuring Dryads in London).

Book Three of the Carentan Series is due for release in June 2018 and will resolve some unanswered questions from Book One (no spoilers). If you are now scratching your head and wondering what or whom I am referring to, I have provided links below for you re-read the books and refresh your memory. Or if you are new to the series, the first two books will provide you with a good backdrop to Book Three – although not necessary to enjoy the book in its own right. Indeed, I have been most careful to ensure that each book is a stand-alone story – not dependent on reading the rest of the series.

For you die-hard fans and those who badger me at opportune moments (I am not complaining as it keeps me on my toes!) – you may be pleased to hear that I am getting stuck in to another book in the Carentan Series. Completely independent of the first three books, but explores another character’s story in more detail. I’m saying no more.

So, on that note, I leave you with some links where you can buy the books in the format of your choosing to update or if new to the series prepare for the release of the next instalment in 2018; The Prince and The Assassin.

The Prince of Carentan
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple

The King of Carentan
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.com
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Apple

Comments, complaints, compliments and reviews (good, bad or indifferent), are always welcome and much appreciated.

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