Monday, 16 December 2019

Happy Christmas 2019

The most important event of 2019, is happening in the next few weeks.  My wife is expecting our second child.  She and I have been preparing for this event and very much looking forward to it.

But as well as this, 2019 has also been an extensive writing year.
At more or less the start of the year I found myself working hard on the latest re-write of my first book ‘Alyssa’.  From January until May I worked on the re-write, refining the story elements and applying Brad’s excellent suggestions to the character, structure and direction.  The result, as I’ve said before, was the same story just better told.  I once again acknowledge Brad’s excellent help in this; he really took hold of the detail of the story and made it considerably better.  I hope once it’s released, you’ll think the same!
A few months later in July Brad sent through the second edit.  This was a more minor review, with small details picked out here and there.  This was a further refinement what had already been changed.   I duly replied again at the end of August with my modifications.
This final edit was then officially submitted to the copy editors of Boyle and Dalton themselves.

Whilst waiting for Boyle and Dalton to get back to me, I took part in 3 separate writing competitions.  2 of them were ‘Kings of War’ related; a wargame system developed by Mantic games that I have an extensive interest in.  The other was for Black Library, a Sci-fi publisher run by Games Workshop, another wargames company.
I immensely enjoyed writing these pieces, one of which is included below. 
Sadly none of these applications were successful, but It was good to have something to write in between waiting on edits.

At the end of November, I was contacted by Boyle and Dalton with the final copy-edit, that included minor modifications to the book before the transcript is officially sent for formatting.  As of last week, I completed my review of the manuscript and sent it back to Boyle and Dalton.
With Christmas just around the corner, now I play the waiting game for the next stage of this journey.
2020 is going to be an interesting year.  Not only because I will be a father for a second time but also that Alyssa will be re-released, fully rewritten.  Juggling commitments will be hard, but to have both these wonderful events in the same year will be a truly marvellous experience.

I leave you now with my fiction submission for the Kings of War competition.  I hope you enjoy.
A very happy Christmas to you all, and to all a Happy New Year.
Till next time.

Charge of the Fire Elite
“With flaming hearts!” Dorack bellowed, kicking his spurs into the flank of his charger.
“And burning blades!” came the reply as he and his Rhinosaur borne brethren descended on their enemies.

They struck with the force worthy of their ancestors; the charge’s effect on their target was nothing short of devastating.  Skulls were shattered and bones ground to powder as the horns and pounding feet of the Elite Salamander cavalry impacted.  The deathly constructs seemed to simply fall apart, one moment whole the next blasted to oblivion by the monstrous reptiles; Dorack hardly had to swing his sword.
On they rolled, carried by their fearsome momentum through the skeletons.  They might not be the quickest, Dorack thought to himself in those fleeting moments, but they could not be stopped!  The second rank of undead fared no better, and neither did the third, crushed to pieces by the thundering mega-lizards.  Before he knew it Dorack’s cavalry had smashed clean through the undead cohort and was out the other side, trailing dust, shattered bone and broken blades.

Before them, a Balefire catapult lay exposed.

If the undead crew were aware of their peril, they gave no outward sign.  Almost leisurely the dead men were reloading their weapon, dead eyes not even looking in the direction of their coming doom.
On Dorack drove his comrades, his warriors keeping pace and forming a phalanx of vengeance, trailing dust as they rumbled onwards.  At this rate they would roll up the whole of the enemies flank!
“Death and doom to the living!”

The challenge did not come from his comrades; it was not the second verse of their War Song.  Dorack had to steady himself in the saddle as the booming bow wave of the voice struck him, as if a physical blow. 
There, upon his exposed flank, a troop of Soul Reaver Calvary bore down upon him, seeking to blunt his charge.

Bearing his teeth, Dorack roared, and pulled the reins of his mount with all his might.  He hissed burning smoke as his steed fought him, caught by its own momentum, bellowing it’s anger at being denied the opportunity for more destruction. 

But by a supreme battle of wills, impossibly, Dorack the Ancient of Clan Fire Peak, turned it.  His muscles straining and eyes blazing white fire, he pulled the mass of enraged Rhinosaur round toward its new enemy.  Those warriors on his left and right did likewise, seeing their pack leader twist toward the danger.  There’s was the easier task now that their leader had shown the way.
Dorack took up the second verse as the two forces rocketed toward contact with each other.

“Winter’s woe!”
“Her doom in fire!” came the reply.
With a thunderclap, the two forces met.

To his right one of his brethren’s steeds reared up, the Rhinosaur kicking it’s legs before crushing down on a Reaver steed and rider, obliterating both in a burst of smashed bone and hissing vampire dust.  On his left a Salamander ancient took a lance to the heart as his opponent avoided the horns of the Rhinosaur and struck the killing blow with frightening speed.  Dorack’s mount rammed a skeletal horse casually out of the way, and they both came face to face with the vampire leader.  Helmetless, the war leaders pale features regarded Dorack with cold fury from atop his undead mount.

“Some sport at last!” He hissed, dropping a broken lance and drawing his sword, a heavy steel blade that trailed icy blue mist as it left it’s sheath.

Dorack willed his inner-flames into his axe blade.  The flame sparked from within the blade, crackling with power and burning white hot for a moment before cooling to a hissing orange glow.  Dorack rolled his shoulders before allowing his eyes to blaze.

He spat a globule of fiery flame in contempt.
“You are wrong.” Dorack said.
He smiled, showing sharp teeth.

“I shall prove myself more than mire sport!”
Both rider and mount leapt forward, and the blades of the Salamander and the undead met in a shower of sparks.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Mega progress update!

So last week was a momentous one. Last week, I completed the 2nd edit of my 1st novel ‘Alyssa', and sent it in for final review. This completes the final draft of the rewrite of the novel.
This follows the 1st edit (received in November 2018 and completed May 2019) which was the most extensive part of the rewrite. The 2nd edit, by contrast, was more of a tidy up and improving basics such as descriptions, individual scenes and dialogue.
Regardless, that’s it. The novel is done!
The work now passes to my publishers and I await the next phase.

Its been a massive undertaking.  I have put a huge amount of effort into following the edits and suggestions of my editor and making the original story 10 times better.  Hopefully, this is reflected in this new edition when it is released.
As for a release, that’s up to the publishers now.  Like everyone else, I will now await their word on what comes next.

But that’s not all.  Last week I also submitted two short stories as part of writing competitions. 
The 1st I submitted to Mantic Games, as part of a competition to have a short story featured in the upcoming new rule book for their wargaming system ‘Kings of War’.  The prise is a Mega army box (a big box of toy soldiers) which I am keen for!
The 2nd story, character bio’s and the summary was sent to Black Library, as part of a big competition to seek out new author talent for their line of Fantasy and Sci-fi stories set in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40k universes.  Again, I’d be very keen to be writing for Black Library so have given it a good go.

We will see what happens, but I can satisfactory say that my writing muscles have been thoroughly exercised.
I will likely post up my short story submissions onto this blog sometime in the future, but meantime, that’s you all up to date.  Till next time.

Monday, 15 April 2019

Where have you been?

Ah yeah, it’s been a while hasn’t it?  I’ve a good excuse though.

Boyle and Dalton sent through a developmental edit of my book ‘Alyssa’ back in November 2018. They did an exceptional job of diving deep into the style, characters, narrative and flow of the book. Brad, my editor, sent through extensive notes and since November 2018 I had been working my way through those notes.

Alyssa was my first book, written in 2011 and self-published in 2012. At that time, I was still developing my style and Alyssa was very much the test bed for future books. Returning to the book, I found Brad's comments to be right on the button.

Just over a month ago, I finished my editing and rewriting of the novel, and resubmitted to the publishers.

I will now wait and see if my edits are what they need. 

Strange as it may seem, I enjoyed the experience.  I had expected the process of rewriting my novel to be more painful, but instead I knew already that it was badly needed.  Looking at the writing style I used in ‘Anna’ (my fourth book) and looking at the style in ‘Alyssa’ before the edits, the books were very different.  I took the experience as an opportunity to bring the earlier book into line.  It also gave me the opportunity to develop the characters and world a little more, adding much-needed detail.

With the latest draft submitted, I have now found time for other writing and non-writing activates.  My sister-in-law and family got me a Writing Magazine writing course for Christmas, and I have been slowly working my way through the course material.  This has been a very interesting experience, as I’m learning a lot about aspects of the craft I may have neglected, such as keeping a writer’s notebook and Commonplace book.

I’ve also taken the time to write a little fan fiction, writing some stories for some tabletop wargames that I play.  Whether these stories ever see the light of day or if they ever remain just an exercise to keep my writing skills sharp, I don’t know.  We’ll see.

My Instagram account has seen much more posts around painting models and wargaming than it has writing but this has been a good distraction.  Rest and recovery from an intense period of editing.  As enjoyable as I found the experience, it was intense.  I feel I may have put myself under more pressure than I should have to get it finished.  I have learnt from the mistake and will be pacing myself better next time!

The next stage will come after the latest edit comes back from my publishers.  I don’t know when that will be but I’m looking forward to moving the story along a little further upon the publishing path.
Until next time.

Monday, 3 December 2018

Other Interests: Table Top Roleplay

A new blog post, just not within a month of the last one as originally planned.  Ah well, next time!
This one, is on a very different topic.
Whilst I love writing, it is not my first love.  I’ve found myself involved in a variety of weird and wonderful interests over the years and I’d like to tell you about some of them in some of my blog updates.

The first was what partly inspired me to write in the first place; tabletop role play, or pen and paper role play.  Basically, it involves a bunch of people sitting around a table and effectively acting out the lives of a variety of characters created by themselves according to the rules of the game they are playing.  Depending on those rules, they might be a group of adventurers exploring a dungeon, a spaceship’s crew, or even a group of vampires.

I started tabletop role play with an old classic by the name of ‘Vampire; the Masquerade’ by White Wolf publishing.  This game casts the players as a variety of different kinds of vampire, all attempting to survive in the World of Darkness; the game's setting a world much like our own, only worse.  It was an easy introduction, as the game rules were easy to follow, particularly the rules for creating my character.  I favoured assassins and combat centred characters.  It was a good introduction.

After this, I got into another game by the same company; ‘Mage the Ascension’.  This was when things became interesting.  Mage was as deep background-wise as Vampire, except the magic rules in it were wonderfully free-form.  It was also the game that encouraged me to ‘GM’ my own games.  GMing stands for ‘Games Mastering’.  It’s always left to one person in a roleplaying game to keep things going; to introduce the players to the background, story, notable non-player characters and objectives.  I took to this and started crafting my own stories, writing them within the games background and allowing the players to run free within the narrative I created.

With the experience of Mage under my belt, I took a chance on a new roleplay game that had just come out.  A tactical RPG, which involved models as well as the player's imagination.  This game was called Cadwallon; it was amazing.

True, the edition my friends and I picked up was a direct translation from the original French.  As such, the English was a little ‘unusual ‘ and it required my good friend Gavin to go through the book and re-translate the rules to our liking.  Despite this, we loved the setting and the opportunities.

Over one year, we played 28 separate sessions of Cadwallon, all from stories I had created.  Over a dozen players were involved, sometimes all at once!  One night, I had three separate sessions going with three separate groups.  One in my kitchen, one in the living room and one briefly in my hallway!  It was a mammoth undertaking and I was immensely proud of the stories and situations we created from the game.

So much so, that it formed the nucleus of my own fantasy world that, in turn, would lead to writing my first Haldred Chronicles book ‘Alyssa’.

After Cadwallon I continued to play RPGs.  Rogue Trader, from Fantasy Flight, was particularly good fun and was played on a scale like Cadwallon.  It encouraged me to apply my writing style to several short stories that I subsequently submitted to Black Library, albeit without success.

Today I don’t get to play the games as much, but I still find myself collecting the rule books and background.  These still very much interest me.

Next, I’ll let you in on another passion.  Wargaming…

Sunday, 23 September 2018

Exciting news!

And when I say exciting news, I really mean it.

For the last year, I have been contacting agents and publishers, hoping that one of them would pick up Haldred Chronicles.  It has always been my ambition to become a fully published author.  Sadly, whilst many have praised the writing and style, none have been interested in taking on the series.

Until now.

The wonderful people over at the hybrid publisher Boyle and Dalton have very kindly agreed to publish my first book ‘Alyssa’.  I had contacted them a while back and after a few emails, the exchange of manuscripts and the official signatures, they have agreed to take me on.

This is fantastic news, and both my family and I are overjoyed.  We hope to publish in 2019.

With this news, planning has gone into overdrive. 

I’m researching extensively how to market the series anew, as well as looking into fresh methods of getting the word out.  I’ve set myself a number of goals, such as more regular blogging (I know, you’ll believe it when you see it) and blogging about more than just the books (expect wargaming, sword fighting, airsofting and more to start appearing on the blog).

All the while, I will continue to work on book 5 of the series.  I hope to use the next few months to really get my teeth into the book, and then concentrate on getting the word out about ‘Alyssa.’

So exciting times are ahead, and 2019 will be the year of Haldred Chronicles!

Monday, 6 August 2018

Seeking publishers and writing book 5

It’s been a few months since I released the 4th book, ‘Haldred Chronicles: Anna’, so I thought it was about time I let you all know how things have been going since then. 

Glad to report, I’ve been busy.

After many years of meaning to but never getting around to it, I have at last started submitting the book series to publishers and agents.  I have spent the last few months submitting to about 8 separate publishers and agents, and I’ve a few more on the cards. 

I have had 3 rejections so far, but I’ll see what happens with the rest.  Can’t say I’ve not been trying.

I have been meaning to do this for a long time, but what was standing in my way was a lack of a covering letter and a synopsis.  I knuckled down and wrote both of them, checked them over, and have sent them on their merry way.  I choose ‘Shade’ as my main signature book, as I consider it my best work.  It’s mid-way through the series so hopefully will be an advertisement to publishers and agents interested in seeing the rest of the books.

As well as this, work is now well on the way on book 5.

I’ve written 4000 words already and progress is good.  Originally, book 5 was going to explore the Courier-Fey of the series, with one of the primary characters being one of the said Courier-Fey.  However, after a trip to Scotland that involved walking through a beautiful forest park up near Stirling, I changed my mind.

Book 5 will instead feature the people of the northern kingdom of Trima (strongly Scottish and Irish influence) and their efforts to defeat a monster that threatens the peace.  Victoria and team will travel to this new land and lend them aid.

I’m already enjoying new characters and the chance to create a new culture for the series.

Anyways, I’m off today so I’m going to take advantage and get more writing done.  Till next time! 

Monday, 9 April 2018

What next?

Haldred Chronicles: Anna is out.  2 years of work and book 4 has at last been released.  I am happy with the result and it seems so are my readers!  So, after more than a month of resting, what now?

I’ve already completed one big task, and that was to submit a short story to sci-fi and fantasy publishers Black Library as part of their call for submissions.  With the able help of my wife Deborah, who proofread the submission, I sent off the 500-word extract and summary a couple of days ago.

The second big task now sitting on my to-do list is, of course, book 5.  I have taken some time to look through my various story ideas and have decided to go with ‘Haldred Chronicles: Twig’.  This story will concentrate on the Courier-fey, message passing creatures that have been a staple of Haldred Chronicles since the first book.  Now, with book 5, readers will learn a little more about these creatures.

I have a few other plans as well that I’ll work on when I have time.

 I hope to go over my first 3 books and reformat the look of them.  Each of them featured slightly different font and paragraph design so I now want to re-edit them so that they are all the same.  In addition, I hope to use the re-formatted work to create better-printed copies of the books via Kindle Direct Publishing.

I’ve also been working on a synopsis of book 3, ‘Shade’.  Together with a recently completed introduction letter and the first 3 chapters, I hope to use this package as my way to advertise the series to potential publishers and agents.

There is plenty planned for the next few months.  I feel like the Easter holidays have allowed me to get back into writing and make my plans for the future of the series.

Till next time.