Free Book Giveaway

Hello, you lot.

To celebrate, well, nothing, I’m doing a special competition where three people can win a copy of one of my books. The winners, chosen by me on July 1st, will be able to choose one book each from my catalogue (I have a catalogue, that’s weird).

So, how do you enter? That’s easy: you just need to navigate to the contest tweet on twitter and follow the instructions. Easy peasy.

If this goes well, I want to start doing more giveaways semi-regularly and the best way to keep an eye on when I’m doing this would be to sign up to my newsletter. Basically, free stuff for days to make you remember me – I’m very vain.

Love you all. Please enter.

Beta Readers, I need you (very soon)

Beta Testing

So things have been a bit quiet around here, and that’s because I’ve been working on SNIDE. It’s been a bit of a pain in the arse, and some of it has been like pulling teeth just trying to get words onto the page. Books are never as straightforward as you would imagine, and SNIDE has very much been proving that to be true.

BUT now I’m definitely, definitely, reaching the end of the book and I need fresh eyes to tell me what needs fixing. Not typos or grammar or any of that business — I should be fixing them anyway — but important things such as pacing and characters and plot.

Were you confused? Was something too heavy handed? Did I get a character’s name wrong for three quarters of the book before I noticed? Continuity errors! That sort of thing.

Basically, I want you to read the book and tell me if it’s good and what needs fixing to make it better.

If you are interested, hit me up on twitter or any other means of contacting me that you have. I’m more likely to let you do it if you’re someone I know, or someone who did the beta reading for Lore and Order, and if I don’t send you the book it’s nothing personal, I’m just completely arbitrary and fickle.

Also, a couple of provisos: It sounds daft to give deadlines for something that is a favour, but ideally I would like the notes back by the end of the month. I want to get to work on the next draft as soon as possible, you know how it is.

It would also be helpful if you were good at constructive criticism. Chances are, I’ll already have an idea as to whether you are or not, but still. Be nice 🙂

So yeah, do you want to read my book and stuff?

Basic writing tips: heroes


Yeah, okay, let’s do this one today.

You get a lot more leeway when it comes to the motivation of a hero. It’s a lot more justifiable to have heroes out doing good for the sake of good because, at its core, humanity is basically good. Most individual humans, despite their flaws, would probably step up to proper evil if they had a chance to do so. At least, this is what I choose to believe when I’m writing because I tend to go for worlds that haven’t been totally mashed by jackbooted authoritarians or corporate shitheels or the like.

But what if you are building one of these worlds? In a world where oppression and misery are the norm — think 1984 — then a hero for the sake of being heroic won’t work. They need a reason to fight against the bastards that are grinding them down, something more than just them being subjected to a horrible way of life. This horrible way of life is all they know, so there needs to be something else to push them to fight. Again, in 1984 this is Winston’s love for Julia, but it can be anything, so long as it gives the hero a look behind the curtain.

Of course, just because they don’t live in a hellscape, doesn’t mean your hero doesn’t need these reasons. The way to make a hero interesting is to give him flaws, cracks in the veneer. The reason I can’t get on board with Superman as a hero, for instance, is because he’s so bloody perfect. The big blue boy scout. Truth, justice and the American way. That’s flat, dull, and for me not very compelling. Contrast that with the dude at the top of this post, John Constantine.

Constantine is best described as an arsehole. At his core he’s a good guy, but he’s selfish, often cowardly, a chain-smoker, rude and downright abrasive. He has a habit of sacrificing his friends if it will give him an advantage in a fight — which happens a lot — and never speaks plainly when a lie will do. This is a man that recently vowed to let the world burn and let billions of people die if it would let him save his own life and that of his ex-girlfriend.

But he is, ultimately a good guy.

That is the sort of hero I can get behind. Conflicted. Everyone has doubts about what they are doing, if your hero doesn’t then he’s not a person.

Back to work

stolen from

stolen from

So recently I had a nearly catastrophic computer cock-up, which coincided nicely with me taking a few days off to recharge my creative batteries. With both of those now sorted, I can finally get back to work on SNIDE.

It always feels a bit like a copout to take a few days off writing. I set myself a quota, and when I don’t meet it, it does tend to feel like I’m slacking. Once I get back to work though, that notion is gone. It’s hard to explain, but I can feel a change in the writing, like a great pressure has abated. Once that pressure starts building, so it feels like every word you type is being forced, that’s when you know it’s time to take a breather. Writing, for me, always feels a little like that anyway — usually because I get myself so caught up in jesus, I have so many words left — but when you start running dry it gets so much worse.

But now the reservoirs are full, and I can get back to it.

Also, in other news, I’m holding in my hands right now a printed copy of Lore and Order. It’s the preview copy to make sure it all looks good in book form, and I am pretty happy with the result if I’m honest. Hopefully you will be too, once you can get your hands on it. I’ll have more information about that in the nearish future I should think.

Finally, still planning on doing audiobooks on both Diplomancer and Lore and Order when I get a minute. Reading your own stuff aloud is quite daunting actually, especially with regards to something you wrote so long ago like Diplomancer, just need to psych myself up for that.


What does a writer do when he’s not writing?


The answer is that he prepares things he’s already written so you can get to read them!

So while I might currently be in lazy-mode when it comes to finishing off SNIDE, that does mean I can do some stuff with getting Lore and Order ready for you all. Largely, in this case, it means getting the print version all formatted and everything, which is a longer job than it sounds. To be fair, most of the job is waiting to get a prototype in my hands so I can see it for myself and know that it’s ready, but even then, I can’t release it right away. Once that’s all ready, then the real work begins.

And by real work, I mean someone else’s. That’s when all the PR mumbo jumbo can happen. I’m pretty sure it takes longer to put a book out than it does to write the bloody thing, but I’m also sure that it’s well worth it.

I’m pretty excited to see the cover on an actual book too. It’s such a beautiful cover on a screen, it can only be better on a book!

I had a week off


I did a bit of writing, but I’ve found myself slightly burned out. Not that this is an unexpected thing.

Normally, the books I write have a large gap in them somewhere. More often than not, I write the first chapter or so, and then it sits untouched for a few weeks while my head fills in the gaps. Then, when I come back to it, I’ve got most of the rest scribbled down inside my head. Of course changes happen and the story wanders off on its own, but I have plenty of stuff to work with.

I think that what has happened with SNIDE is that, as I didn’t do that this time, I’ve hit the limit of what was already sorted in my head. So, the simple solution is to slow down for a couple of weeks. Instead of 10k per week, perhaps two weeks of 5k. Let the well refill.

Besides, I have other things to do this week too, like get a haircut and get some photos done. These things clearly require my full attention…

Light Touch: Progress!


Things are starting to move forward on Light Touch, I am assured, so I thought I’d talk a little about the book today.

It sits in quite an odd place in my heart. Diplomancer was my first book, put together as the conclusion of a university course, and as such I have very strong memories of it. I can recount almost every moment where I was sat in front of a computer screen, writing it down. I don’t have that with Light Touch.

This is not to say that I don’t have a fondness and love for it, because I do. I have improved in the craft with each subsequent novel, and I truly think therefore that Light Touch is better than Diplomancer, as Lore and Order is better than Light Touch, and SNIDE will be better than them all.

But the creating of Light Touch is a dark spot in my memory. Outside of it having been sparked from a sudden and intense love of the Thief series of videogames, I can’t recall much of the construction. What I do remember, however, is that there was a definite drive to not do what so much steampunk has a habit of doing – place the awesomeness of the technology above the story. There may indeed be a steampunk aesthetic, but it has to be tempered to serve the plot.

But it is, in my mind, steampunk. A steampunk heist story. With a cowboy and a thief and political intrigue, and maybe a tiny bit of magic, because I can’t leave that behind now can I? Hopefully it won’t be too long now before you can have a look!