Monday, 3 April 2017

Blog Tour - Redfern

I have a blog tour running on Enchanted Book Promotions from April 3rd until May 3rd which I'm hoping will bring my novel Redfern to the attention of lots of new readers. Watch this space for Reviews, Author Interviews, Character Interviews and Promo Posts:

April 3rd: Starter Day Party @ I Heart Reading
April 3rd: Promo Post @ Stormy Night Reviewing
April 4th: Promo Post @ Memories in a Box
April 5th: Promo Post @ Sharing Stories
April 7th: Character Interview @ The Single Librarian
April 9th: Promo Post @ Silver Dagger Scriptorium
April 10th: Promo Post @ Queen of Random
April 12th: Book Review @ Books are Forever
April 13th: Author Interview @ Publishing Spark
April 15th: Promo Post @ Indy Book Fairy
April 17th: Promo Post @ Rising Indies United
April 19th: Character Interview @ The Book Daily
April 20th: Promo Post @ Bright Street Books
April 22nd: Promo Post @ Bookish Madness
April 23rd: Author Interview @ T’s Stuff
April 23rd: Book Review @ I Heart Reading
April 24th: Promo Post @ Just Books
April 26th: Author Interview @ Bedazzled Reading
April 27th: Promo Post @ Mello & June, It’s A Book Thing
April 28th: Author Interview @ Erika Gardner’s Blog
April 30th: Promo Post @ The Pursuit of Bookiness
May 1st: Book Review @ Editor Charlene’s Blog
May 3rd: Promo Post @ Books, Dreams, Life

Friday, 24 February 2017

What Is Realistic Dialogue?

What is realistic dialogue? That's hard to say as to be brutally honest it's a very subjective notion. What I think is realistic dialogue may not be what the next person thinks it is.

The most obvious starting points are accents and slang. Should the writer attempt to introduce these two verbal notions into dialogue? Most of the advice given to me is 'no'. Accents and slang put the reader off because they require deciphering, can date the story, and can be done extremely badly. Using accents and slang can add realism but can also marginalise your audience. Writers tend to want to reach the widest audience they possibly can and to do that communication needs to be clear.
The other argument is that dialogue has to be true to the character. You can't have an eleven year old boy talking like an elderly grandfather about philosophy or a Queen gossiping like a public house landlady. The character dictates the dialogue in the same way character dictates behaviour. I think as long as the writer follows that rule then there shouldn't be an issue of the dialogue being unrealistic.

I've also been given the advice that the more you listen to people the more you can pick out exactly how they speak. A man will speak one way, a woman another, a child another, a drug addict another, etc etc. This is assuming that this dialogue is unique to 'types' of people and can be recognisably reproduced ie stereotypical utterances by stereotypical people. This theory seems suspect to me. Stereotypes are not real people in all their nuanced glory so how can stereotypical dialogue be realistic dialogue?

To a certain extent listening to people allows a taste, a flavour of how dialogue works and adding that flavour makes dialogue better. But dialogue is constructed around a story, it is essentially artificial, an imagined reaction to an imagined situation. You can't sample that off the street, you have to make it up. A writer has to measure their own reaction and subvert it into their character's reaction and translate that into dialogue.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

The Magic Formula

When you start out writing you are inevitably looking for recognition and success. Then, when you receive rejection after rejection you ask the inevitable questions: Why? What is wrong with my writing? How do I get better?

As a consequence you stop reading books as a reader, enjoying the story for itself, and you start pulling apart the internal mechanics. How are pronouns used - How much description is enough description - How much character development is enough - How is the pacing - How is the story following the rules of the genre.

I could go on, but the basic result is a list of things to do and things not to do. It is a list that is ultimately crippling to the writer, creating creative paralysis.

The problem is there are so many people out there that will tell you how to write. It's like the formula for a successful novel can be disseminated and replicated easily. A formula that will aĺlow the churning out of book after book, all the same, all exactly what the given audience requires.

How can I say how unsatisfying this is? I can't start reading a book without seeing the man behind the curtain anymore. It takes something really amazing and unique to keep my attention, otherwise I can almost see that checklist being ticked off.

I know we all write to a formula, we kind of have to, it's called structure. But I believe it should be a formula of our own devising rather than one dictated to us as a requirement for success and recognition. Anyone can write a generic novel, only you can write your novel. That does and does not mean 'anything goes'. There still needs to be structure, order rather than chaos, but that order can be comprised of your own design. It can be everything you want it to be rather than everything someone else tells you it should be.

There is no surefire way to success. There is no magic formula, and writing a book that way will not satisfy you. The marketplace requires variety above all else. Please yourself and sometimes that will please others too. Try to please others and you may please no one, not even yourself.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

***ANNOUNCEMENT*** New Chapter of 'Hunter No More' Released to Wattpad Every Thursday

I recently decided to serialise my second novel 'Hunter No More' on Wattpad. I've heard a lot about Wattpad and wanted to experiment with reaching a new audience. We will see how it goes, but I'm hopeful the cliffhanger endings in each chapter will encourage readers to come back each week and find out what happens next. This doesn't mean the novel is unavailable on amazon, simply that I've taken it off KDP for the time being.

Reviews For 'Hunter No More'

Below: A reminder of what 'Hunter No More' is all about and why you should look it up on wattpad.


The Hunter Class Spacecraft designated 'The Amberjack' disappeared during a routine mission to Seek, Locate and Destroy the enemy Machine Mind contingent known as ‘The Ochre’.

Conclusion: It was either destroyed by the Ochre or went rogue for reasons unknown. If sighted, approach with extreme caution.

On the planet Borealis, a violent revolution forces Samantha Marriot and her parents to flee their home for the relative safety of ‘The Rainbow Islands’. Once there, Sam discovers a secret her father has been keeping from her all her life, a secret that will change everything. Meanwhile, The Machine Mind Hierarchy of Earth dispatches a ship to rid themselves of the planet’s troublesome human population.

The only hope of a defence lies with a damaged binary Hunter unit that has long since abandoned both its programming and weaponry. In order for the unit to succeed it must call upon the aid of an ancient enemy, and prove, once and for all, it is a Hunter no more.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Announcing My New Novel 'Redfern' To Be Released September 1st 2016 -Cover Reveal and Description-

Yes, I'm finally putting the finishing touches on a new science fiction novel, 'Redfern', out on September 1st and available for pre-order on amazon now.

It's my own unique mix of action, adventure, mystery and a little philosophy, which I'm hoping my readers will like. I also went for a different take on the cover to my previous efforts in an attempt to come up with something a little more abstract and thoughtful.

Anyway, without further ado...

“Humans don’t project past their own frequency. It’s why you’re so isolated as a species. The beings of other frequencies can only witness what you build and feel what you destroy.”

Earth – Tomorrow – The Singularity:-

The machines have taken over and mankind is cast out.

Millennia later, the inhospitable planet of Redfern is in the process of being made habitable for the proposed rebirth of the entire human race. All is going well until Enforcer, Ted Holloway, witnesses the unexpected appearance of a long dead and former friend - A man who can become invisible and immaterial, a man that can penetrate any and all security.

A man whose very existence should be impossible.

As Ted and his superior, Lisa Carmichael, investigate further, they face dangers and creatures that challenge their very concept of reality and along the way meet the colony’s caretaker Machine Mind and the human Security Commissioner, both of whom have opposing and intricate agendas of their own.

For the true nature of Redfern is stranger and more deadly than anything Holloway or Carmichael can possibly imagine.

And it could change or destroy humanity forever...

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Musing About Sequels

The question – to write or not to write a sequel? For me, that’s a difficult question. I can definitely see that there may be more mileage in the characters and situations I’ve written about in my novels. But then, if I really wanted to write more about them, why not just write a longer novel in the first place and use up all the situations I can?

Well, if I wrote a longer novel then I’m messing up the novel dynamics of a beginning, middle and an end. I can’t just keep having multiple beginnings, middle’s and ends, I have to settle on the one, keep the structure tight and create a story that satisfies myself and the reader.

Another reason for not writing a sequel, the best reason from my point of view, is that I don’t want to write sequels. Yes it would be easy to slip back behind the wheel of the same characters but doing that is not particularly satisfying since I’ve only got a limited time on this Earth and I don’t want to keep extending the same story. I want to write new stories.

There’s something amazing about creating new unique worlds and characters, and about saying something different every time. I try to do this although I must admit I am aware of repetitions, of thematic similarity. I suppose because with each book I’m approaching the same problem – Me - I’m writing about what I’m interested in – and I’m trying to approach it from a different angle each time. I’m trying to find something new, uncover some truth, pose the same question but find a different answer. I’m not writing a sequel, I’m not extending a story, but I am extending the exploration of the different worlds I’m interested in uncovering.

You might say – write a sequel then – but it just wouldn’t work for me, and I’ve tried. For me the characters journey is complete in the one story and it feels like I’m somehow betraying them if I send them on another. They’ve found their answers - they’ve experienced their tragedy and triumph and one way or another the world I’ve created is left in their hands. I can imagine how they will continue but I don’t need to say it and at the end of the day, the reader imagines it too.

Forgetting the writing angle, as a reader, do I like sequels and has that informed my writing? It’s true to say that I’ve read a lot more books than the three I’ve written so far and I’ve read many a series among them. What I hated reading a series when I was younger was that I would read book one and then find myself waiting two years for book 2, three years for book 3, etc, etc. I started reading ‘The Wheel Of Time’ in the 90s. I think I read the first three books thinking it was a trilogy and then discovered to my horror that it wasn’t. Starting a series without being able to finish it is reader torture. There are some series I’ve read in one go, ‘The Belgariad’ ‘The Dark is Rising Sequence’ and generally speaking if I could finish a series in a few weeks or months I was on cloud nine. When I started Game of Thrones, I wasn’t happy. Give me George R.R. Martin’s standalone novels every time. ‘Fevre Dream’ is a masterpiece, and it doesn’t have a sequel.

But as I’ve got older, even the ability to finish a series has paled. I start a series and then book 2 just seems too familiar. You read enough books and you see patterns, even in your favourite author, so I can’t even read two standalone books by the same author without detecting the author’s fingerprint. I find the best thing I can do is leave a gap between an author’s books, standalone and series alike, because that way I just enjoy them more. I forget how they write and I discover them all over again. A case in point, I’m reading book 2 of the mistborn series at the moment, three years after I read book 1. I am enjoying it. So I suppose as I’ve got older the publication gaps actually help me out, although I still like that solid feeling of knowing a series is finished before I start it. Maybe that’s just me, but if the destination doesn’t exist yet, I don’t want to start the journey.

Some books have sequels that you don’t need to read. I don’t need to read the fifteen sequels to Raymond E. Feist’s ‘Magician’ to enjoy it as a standalone book nor do I need to read the fifteen sequels to ‘Ender’s Game’. They work by themselves. Equally, John Scalzi’s ‘Old Man’s War’ doesn’t need a sequel but it has many with more to come. I enjoy book 1’s that don’t need their book 2’s and when I see that I suspect that the author’s in question never intended to write a sequel but later on thought they had to. I don’t mind that so much.

Anyway, musing over. Who likes sequels anyway, unless it’s Empire Strikes Back?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

The Creating An E-Book Experience

Strange as it seems there doesn't seem to be a very straightforward way of converting your novel into an e-book for Amazon. When I first tried it out way back in 2012 with 'Threshold Shift' I believed it was just a case of doing the word doc, putting in some chapter links and then submitting it to the Amazon Kindle website referred to as KDP. The resulting Kindle mobi file was readable, but for some reason you had to use enlarge the text as by default it was very very small with no apparent option to change it and there was no proper alignment or chapter breaks to make for easy navigation.

This lead too much head scratching at the time. You'd think there would be a simple way of converting the word doc to kindle using some sort of step by step program with lots of 'next' buttons. But for some reason there wasn't and after a few weeks of on off trawling of the internet, I found out that the KDP site doesn't actually like word docs, instead it wants you to use HTML, and apparently word docs don't convert into HTML very well even if you attempt to save them as HTML files. The result was the same, readable text but too small and not aligned correctly. Hardly a great experience for someone reading the book.

Then someone at my writing group told me about a program called calibre, a free piece of downloadable software that could do the conversions for you and make them look professional. Unfortunately, Calibre like KDP did not accept word docs either, you still had to save the document as HTML and that was still problematic. Enter more free software, OpenOffice. I found that if I opened my word doc in OpenOffice and saved it as an HTML file, that file was good and ready for conversion. Onto Calibre, convert to mobi file, use the option to create a Table Of Contents, and Voila, the resultant preview on my Kindle was amazing. I then jumped back onto the KDP site and tried to download my new good looking and working mobi file. KDP wouldn't accept it. Something in the file, while compatible with my Kindle, was not compatible with KDP. More frustration and a deep questioning of why Amazon didn't make this experience easier and a better understanding on why professional formatters charged money to convert your word document into a mobi file.

The solution at last presented itself on a discussion page. Don't create a mobi file using calibre, create an epub file instead. Then use the kindle previewer to open the epub file and it automatically converts into a mobi file. This is a mobi file that is compatible with KDP, does look good, is the a good size, is aligned correctly and if you have created a Table Of Contents it puts in Chapter breaks which you can use the arrow keys on your Kindle to navigate. So, got there in the end, but well aware that I may need a different solution in the future. All things being equal KDP may change in time.