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New eBook Release: When Ai Met Yu

After being published in five parts on my own blog, it's time for this story to come to a wider audience. My first attempts at both a re...

Thursday, 25 August 2016

New Release: Alexa of the Kingdom of Scales

I am pleased to announce that a new short story, titled "Alexa of the Kingdom of Scales", is now available exclusively through Amazon. A short story set in a time of wonder and fairy tales, it's a short and sweet read for anyone wanting some new light distraction.

Amazon UK


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Endings - Part 2: What Comes After...

Hello, readers. This is the second part of my new experiment: a two-part blog post coming over two weeks. As I come to the end of a new book, I found myself experiencing and pondering the mechanics of being an author who is coming towards the end of a story. I've been working on this since December last year, and not withstanding self-publishing three other titles since then, it's been a difficult run. But now I'm approaching the end of the road, and that's the time you've got to be most careful. (PS: Sorry about the wierd font display, Google Blog editor is being wierd.)

This week, I'll talk about actually coming to the end of a piece of work. It's the end of the long road, you've seen your characters through to their conclusions, you've settled down and look back over the months/years you've worked on this project. And personally, what I felt was a sudden emptiness and anxiety. This work had given me a sense of purpose for the past nine months, it had been infuriating and infatuating all at once. I have faced weeks of being stuck because of the story not flowing properly, or considering carefully where to take the story so as to properly make use of the themes and content without it becoming gratuitous.

It's only been two days or so since finishing this work (perfect timing for this blog post), but it already feels like an entire month. That sense of distorted time also comes with finishing a big project. It came with Crystal and Sin, and it's come with this. It's so momentous that you don't want it to end. A bit like a period of your life that you sorely miss, it seems to haunt you. But that's when you need to step back, look at it from a distance. Personally, I'm taking the rest of this week off, then finding a new project to work on and getting back to the normal business of managing my writing business. But that's just me.

And then, what next? Inevitably, the proof reading. where after a suitable amount of time you have to go through the entire thing and check for errors large and small: from continuity mistakes to the always-pervasive spelling and grammar mistakes. The entire thing as it stands is over four hundred pages, written in a style that hearkens back to an idea of archaic speech intended to contrast sharply against the mature tone and themes. I have to go through all that, ensure that every character's dialogue is convincing, make sure everything is where it should be, and try not to kick myself in the proverbial perfectionist posterior when I find a very obvious mistake.

So now, I close on this final thought. No-one is perfect, no-one should be expected to be perfect. And at the end of such a large project, and with (fingers crossed) a whole life full of similar events in front of you, you have every right to sit back and be human. Once a while...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

New upcoming release: Alexa of the Kingdom of Scales

Hello everyone!

I am pleased to announce that a new short story by yours truly, "Alexa of the Kingdom of Scales", is currently up for pre-order. It is set for release on August 25 exclusively on Amazon Kindle. Experience a new, modern take on the princess fairy tales of old...

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Endings - Part 1: Pacing Yourself

Hello, readers. This is a new experiment, a two-part post over the next two weeks. As I come to the end of a new book, I found myself experiencing and pondering the mechanics of being an author who is coming towards the end of a story. I've been working on this since December last year, and not withstanding self-publishing three other titles since then, it's been a difficult run. But now I'm approaching the end of the road, and that's the time you've got to be most careful.

This post is about, as the title probably informed you, pacing yourself. This is something I haven't actually seen talked about that much in blogs or other such writers' help articles. It's about creating stories, maintaining a positive outlook, getting and handling agents and publishers. Never about something that can prove a writer's downfall: writing too quickly.

You may have a chapter thoroughly formed in your head, especially if you've been working up to it across upwards or twenty or thirty other chapters. It's the denouement, or a major turning point in the story. An event you have been visualizing and planning for who knows how long. And then you're on the other side of a chapter, you're staring at it, and you can't believe you did it in such a short time. The day seemed to fly by. But what's the matter? Why am I so frizzled? It's because I've burnt myself out with my enthusiasm.

This is a problem that can sneak up on you like a serpent approaching its prey. It's only the next day, when you settle down to write again, that you can't write another word. All your energy has been poured into one thing, leaving no room for anything else. This applies to many things, but when you're trying to write a quality book, it's the very devil. When you go through it in proofreading, you realize the price you paid in quality. Misspelled words, clumsily-constructed sentences, mismatches in terminology, and a general feeling that it's the direction for a script. You need to go through it, and in the worse case it needs rewriting.

A means of getting round this is forcing yourself to pace your writing speed. I've found that three to five pages each day is a more than adequate means of balancing writing output with writing quality. It also enables you to remember things like in-book terminology, and keep each character's mindset and personality in mind so there are no classic gaffs of that variety. This means that, though you may be bursting at the seams to write the entire think in a few hours, you're able to preserve what is most important in a readable product: quality and pacing.

Of course, this is my opinion. Anyone can agree or disagree. It's just my own take on what I feel is an underappreciated and underrepresented problem for writers.

Next Week: Coming out of the other side, and facing the end of a beloved project...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Characters... and their ends.

When creating fiction, it is important to consider characters. They are the medium through which a story is told, they are the means by which someone is immersed in a piece of fiction, or even in a historical account. But the latter has pre-set debuts and destinations, while fiction is entirely under the control of the author. And that presents a key difficulty.

There are many ways to create a dramatic story event or turning point within a story, but one of the most widely used and effective is death. Death, by popular consensus a great leveler in real life, is something that can bring you to a sharp halt and take stock of what has happened. There are any amount of sudden deaths done badly, but there are equally deaths that are skillfully introduced with little warning, or even something that is part of a character narrative due to it being slow or destined or something equivalent to the above.

But there is a problem. If you are creating these characters, who are your creations, there is always a risk of getting attached to them, so you may negate any need for death or an equivalent fate to a side character that would not have the same impact. But hey, at least your character survives. That is not the wisest course if you have settled on death as a part of your story. True, there is such a thing as being overly cruel to characters (A Game of Thrones has a fairly brutal example), but there is also such a thing as coddling them or letting them have a presence within your mind as if they are real and breathing.

I have used death in my narratives both for main characters as side characters, and together with maintaining a kind of moral ambiguity, it creates a multilayered impact. Whether you decide on a character death early in the process or decide to direct the narrative that way halfway through, it can be more than useful. Take my own work, "Crystal and Sin". At the end, a key character dies so that another character can escape from their own corrupted existence and live a free life. Other deaths, told in flashback or seen in real-time, show how my characters change.

Another problem is with character death styles. That of course is when your chosen genre must come into play. You may want a character to die peacefully, or for them to suffer a gruesome or ignominious fate. If you put a graphically described execution somewhere in a children's book, then you run the risk of the reader putting the book down in shock or disgust. Conversely, if you have something weighty, then treating characters gently can be a double-edged sword: you both create tension, and can deflate the experience if nothing happens by the story's end. For recommended reading on how to handle violent death in children's literature.... read J K Rowling's Harry Potter series. She is a master at describing the macabre within a family-friendly narrative.