A year and a half is long enough!

Howdi all, it has been too long! Over a year and a half, in fact. So, first things first; I’m still alive. Not surprising really, seeing as I’m blogging. I just thought you ought to know I’m not an imposter.

With that out of the way, I’ll move on to all things writing related. It probably will come as no surprise to anyone who follows this blog that I have now taken down my novels. They are no longer available to buy, or at least they shouldn’t be, so please let me know if you find them anywhere. My short stories are still available as they are mostly charity pieces and/or collaborations with other writers, so it wouldn’t be fair to take them down. No, I haven’t given up on writing. I have neglected my passion for too long now, and so I’m throwing myself back into it and will still blog when I can/remember. I may even publish the odd short story, but I won’t be publishing anything longer for a while. Instead, I will try to take the traditional route of publishing, which can be time-consuming, expensive and heart-breaking. I’ve taken a stab at it in the past but with no real conviction, and so I feel the time is right to try again. If I don’t succeed, I’m not giving up on being an author. Self-publishing is now something I know requires a lot of funding, both in money and time. If I do it again, I’ll do it properly. Everything will be edited by a professional editor, and I will ensure promotion isn’t neglected. But, like I said, that’s plan b. For now, I will edit a novel no one has read, and it will be presented to agencies and publishers alike. And, while I wait with bated breath for them to respond to me, I’ll continue building on the series I hold so close to my heart. Collision Of Worlds will rise again, and it will be stronger than ever.

Here’s hoping.

Born Into Darkness

I was just scrolling through some of my last posts and noticed there was nothing, as far as I could see, on the subject of the release of my latest short story. Strange, I usually would have mentioned it. Perhaps I did and simply missed it, but just in case I’ll write a short piece about it now.

For anyone who hasn’t caught my posts on music, know that I’m a big fan. I’m also very particular about what I listen to as thereBorn Into Darkness are certain elements a band needs to have to appeal to me. They have to be good, for instance. But once a band is in my life, it can empower me, influence me, and generally make life so much better. There are few things in this world that I love more than music, and there is nothing quite like attending a concert of a band I hold dear in my heart. Unfortunately many of the bands I’ve fallen in love with over the years have decided to leave the world of music and travel down new paths, leaving old songs in their wake. I don’t really know why I’m saying so much on the topic, as this post is about a story, not music. The thing is, this story comes to you in an autobiography from the singer of one of my all-time favourite bands. Nathan Leone has led quite the life so far, and has decided to share it with us all in the nicely titled Don’t Love Me, Judge Me. I haven’t given it my full attention just yet, but what I have read has been incredible. His life really does read like fiction, only you can’t make that kind of stuff up. Well you can, but the true essence of the book is knowing this all happened to a real person. Anyway, there was an attempt to raise money to help fund the publication of this book (if only we could all have that kind of help!) and he repaid us with small favours, including handing over a couple of his precious pages to those who have helped and supported him. So I took it upon myself to write a short story for the occasion, adding a taste of fiction to his masterpiece. Born Into Darkness is the shortest story I have ever written, comprising of just over 1,100 words. It was quite a challenge to keep from babbling on and taking up all the space, but I am quite happy with the result. The story is related, as ever, to Collision Of Worlds. It features a character from Jared’s novels, though the novel featuring him has yet to be released. It does, however, revolve around a legend that has been mentioned by Ezra already. If you recall, the only way to abort a vampire child is to kill off the mother carrying said child. And if this is done too late? Well, you’ll have to read Born Into Darkness if you don’t remember what can happen. While you’re at it, the rest of the book promises to be a great read, so I would certainly recommend you buy it. My copy should arrive any day now. Fingers crossed!

Feel FREE to download A Lost Fantasy

See what I did there? Smart, I know. Anyone who expects better from me clearly has never read my blog before. If you’re one of those people; run while you still have the chance, for I am about to try and drag you further into my madness. How? By offering one of my novels to you. I’ve put A Lost Fantasy on Amazon for free for a few days in an attempt to get Aled some of the limelight. It’s about time Jared shared the stage with one of his fellow narrators, after all. Here’s the synopsis for y’all to peruse:

If Aled has learned anything through being a doctor, it’s that every patient is worth his time, no matter what ails them. Young or old, intelligent or dim-witted, he knows that everyone is important. It’s all very well in theory, but give him an attractive young lady in need of help and he acts just like any other guy on the planet. He becomes obsessive, so much so that he transfers her into a private room and visits her more than entirely normal. She’s in a coma, so the effort is truly pointless. In falling for this damsel in distress, he has bought himself a one-way ticket into a world he struggles to come to terms with. She’s wanted, and not just by him. Vampires are out to get her. She’s too dangerous to them, even in her fragile state, and so they turn up at his place of work and take her from the human world. Despite her being the newly undead, Aled takes her home. What is his reward? She attacks him, abandons him in his time of need, and then quite-literally throws him to the wolves. And that’s only the start. The story doesn’t truly begin until after these strange going-ons, and nor does Aled’s true life. In discovering the secrets of this new world, he finds his place and, through it, his family. The old saying goes that you never know what you have until it’s gone, but for Aled he doesn’t truly know what he is missing out on until it falls into his life. He’ll do anything to keep his new family intact, even face off with entities that are bigger, stronger, and less mortal than him. Does he have what it takes to survive?

A lost novel…

…Or two. It was around a year ago that I mentioned a double release that was on the horizon, starring A Lost Fantasy and Proving Negatives. These novels cross over with one another and introduce my next narrator, Aled. I came very close to releasing them, albeit later than anticipated, but life got in the way and I didn’t really give the idea much thought. Until now.

Today I rediscovered these novels and have since uploaded them to Amazon and am in the process of formatting Proving Negatives for Smashwords, which will distribute through other websites. A Lost Fantasy will only be available on Amazon for the time being. It being Aled’s first novel, I decided to give it a chance to reach as many kindles out there as possible by including it on the Select programme, allowing it to be downloaded for free once in a while. This is just a trial experiment and it will be uploaded to other sites in due course.

Anyway, the process from uploading a novel to it then being available to purchase is a lot faster than it used to be. I wasn’t expecting the novels to appear until tomorrow, but they’re actually up now. Exciting, right? I’m most excited about the release of Aled into the wild as it’s been strange for me to only have my vampire out there, especially with all the stigma attached to his kind. Hopefully my delightful doctor will bring some new readers on-board. Not that I don’t love my current readers, if there are any.

I’m handing in my resignation…

Yep, that’s right, it’s official. I quit. No, I’m not giving up on writing. That’s far too much a part of me to just walk away. Instead I have made the decision to stop creating covers, other than for myself. Why? Well the free service was started to build a portfolio and master the craft in order to actually make money from it. That was a while ago, and here I am some time later with a lot of covers to my name and just a couple of paid jobs, and neither were exactly decent pay-outs. I’m not greedy and nor was I ever fooled into thinking this was going to be some new calling for me, but I had hoped to at least build on my skills somewhat. I think it’s fair to say that I am now at the best of my abilities in this department as I have no artistic skills off-screen, and have always known my limitations. It was a fun hobby to start with, having just myself to please. It soon built into something much more challenging as people were very specific (or fussy) about certain aspects and extremely hard to please. I rose to the challenge many times and never walked away from a project without giving the writer what they wanted. I discovered some lovely people through doing this, and some right pains in the…temple. All in all it has been an interesting experience, and I have some covers I’m truly proud to have created. Unfortunately I don’t have as much time to spare as I used to and it can be extremely time-consuming. I also feel that some people didn’t quite grasp the fact that I was doing them a favour, and not the other way around. Being bossed around by someone paying your wages is one thing, doing it for free is just a joke. I’m a polite person so put up with it, but to be honest the last straw was seeing someone use one of my designs with a different cover designer. It was my own creation, made with my own time and efforts, yet I recently saw it being used for the second novel of the series under a different title and a change in colour. I would have been happy to make the changes myself, as simple as they were, yet was saved the trouble. That would have been fine had it not been for the new “designer’s” name that accompanied it. So I have numerous reasons for resigning from this duty and hope anyone seeking a cover can find someone new to run ideas by. I will leave you with a few of my favourite designs.

27  21  30 

28  8  29

Gone but not forgotten

I realise the title of this blog reads like the opening to an obituary, but thankfully no one has passed away. Or no one I know, anyway. It’s quite a long shot to hope that no one has died whilst I type this. And if I keep these ramblings up, someone could very well die of boredom.

Anyway, I digress. From time to time I will follow the links on here to ensure everything is working and to check for feedback on my novels, and in doing so I have discovered just that. I assume that when I’m not busy writing and/or promoting, the novels that are already published just sit and gather cyber-dust, but apparently that’s not the case. Or not entirely, anyway. I’m happy to say that Plead Insanity has received a five star review, and it reads as follows:

Nice twist

I really enjoyed this novel about Jared. It was a new twist on how vampires can procreate and also about their “deaths”. The main character was portrayed very well and it was easy to see his POV. The other characters were interesting and the plot kept you going from beginning to end. There was violence, gore, suspense and action throughout so it was never boring which can sometimes happen in longer novels. I will definitely be reading the sequels. I have noticed that only two of the sequels are available on Nook so I hope that the others will be available soon.

It’s always great to have feedback, and even better when it’s as positive as this. In celebration of this and in the hopes of helping my anonymous reviewer continue reading Jared’s novels, the following code can be used over on Smashwords for Minority Rules and is valid until March 1st, entitling the possessor to download the novel for free: PR97B

Enjoy!

A new endeavour

Hey all,

It has been a long time since my last post, and if truth be told it has been even longer since I’ve sat down and tried to piece a novel together. My last feeble attempt was a few days ago when I brought up a document containing Sole Mate (the first novel from my shape-shifting narrator), read a paragraph or two and then deemed the task too difficult. It’s no secret that I hate editing. It drives me crazy, and unfortunately it’s an extremely important part of writing and I have a  lot of novels in need of scrutiny. Aside from the odd attempt to edit, I have started a couple of short stories and toyed with some ideas for novels that were started an age ago.

And so what, you might be wondering, is this new endeavour? Well an idea surfaced at the end of last year, one that seemed both great and terrifying to someone whose comfort zone is contemporary fantasy. Many people probably think that if you can write, you can write anything, but that really isn’t true. Not that it stops people from trying. So, sitting with up and coming photographer Aron Murray one day whilst he was busy arranging to attend a concert where he could put his talents to good use, it occurred to us both that we could team up and start a music blog. Okay, so it’s not the most original idea in the world, but it had a certain pull to it. Enough of one to spur us into action, anyway. And by that I mean create empty blog, facebook and twitter pages in anticipation for what I could only assume was going to be a failure. Don’t get me wrong, I had every confidence in my comrade’s ability to produce great photos, it was my own task that worried me.

Due to the bands being so small and so there not being much information on them on the internet, it fell to me to ask them for some very basic information. This meant stating my reason for contacting them, which naturally led them to asking for a link once the blog entry is ready. So before I’d even stepped foot in the venue and discovered whether or not I have the ability to write about live music, I had people waiting for the result and eager to assist me in my task. Great. It’s fair to say that I was extremely nervous as I settled down at the back of the venue and loaded the notes section of my phone.

But then the first band came on, and I found myself writing. And writing. And soon enough the band was done and I hadn’t even paused in my note-taking. The same happened for the next band, and the next, until my thumbs were hurting and my battery slowly draining. It seemed that this wasn’t such a horrifying challenge after all. Well at least not until it came time to write the damn thing.

Yep, that part kind of fled from my mind. Of course the notes weren’t enough to post as they were. That would have been humiliating at best. So then came the monotonous task of trying to use my notes to paint a picture of the gig. My aim was to describe what I’d seen like it was a scene of a book, taking the reader through the gig so that they could envision what had happened. Think, if you will, of someone describing the scene to a person both deaf and blind, if it’s possible to do such a thing. I didn’t seek to put my opinion of the bands across or criticise them in any way. It wasn’t meant to be a review, not exactly.

So what did I achieve? A  review, and a poor one at that. I soon realised that I know nothing about music other than whether I think it is good or not, which is not at all helpful when trying not to give an opinion and wanting solely to describe. My aim was lost along the way and the result is something that’s lengthy and not at all up to the standard I’d hoped for. My worries of being a terrible writer seemed to express themselves in every terrible line I was writing. But did I stop? No. In fact, not only did I keep writing, I have since posted my piece on the blog that I’d so eagerly created. And why not? Blogs are meant to be about expression. Actually blogs can be about whatever the hell you want, so I figured I might as well put it up. I am a writer and this is something I wrote. It might be bad to me but it could well be good to others. I’ve always been my own worst critic, which it why I dislike editing so much. My new  endeavour may not have panned out as I’d hoped, but it is a learning curve. If I am still wanted to continue with the blog and write about future concerts, I will, because there’s a learning curve that I’m more than  happy to navigate. And it gets me writing, which is something I’ve sworn to do more of this year. Perhaps this new project will be so trying that I’ll run back to fiction with my tail between my legs. If I’m lucky, my characters will welcome me back with open arms. Here’s hoping.

vextended3

Dreaming of a lost life

It has been a long time since my last update as there isn’t much to really update you all on, if truth be told, my writing having come to a halt some time ago, but I feel compelled to post about the loss of a fellow writer, cover artist and all-round great guy. Though many writers don’t meet with one another, we often talk and share insights into anything and everything, and Matthew Fish was someone I discovered a lot about. I shared with him many messages about writing, covers, and life in general. He was referred to as my ‘modern pen-pal’ as we neglected the use of pen on paper but still had a similar relationship to that of pen-pals. I would often have to set aside quite some time to reply to him as to do so was to read a very lengthy message and match it with one just as long. It almost seemed like a competition. It had been a while since any messages from Matt had landed in my inbox, so it was quite nice to see one bearing his name this morning. Unfortunately it wasn’t him messaging me, but instead a relative. The following was posted on a page in memory of him:

Matthew was an author and musician.

Also a gentle soul, and a caring friend. We spoke of poetry, of music. And history.

A lover of nature, Matthew hiked whenever weather and other circumstances permitted.  Waterfalls fed by rains were a special delight.  He’d planned to trek the entire canyon system in Illinois.  He was never to complete that goal.

He’d been hospitalized, and at last contact seemed to be doing okay. Much better, at any rate.

Happy to be alive.

On August 23rd, he died from complications of a surgery that he’d thought had saved him.

His girlfriend granted me permission to post this, to let people know.

Matthew truly enjoyed talking with many of you. (Us.)

I can’t really say much more than that. Below is a cover I created for one of his novels that has been altered slightly to honour him. It seemed appropriate somehow. Please click on the image to be taken to his novels, as his talents shouldn’t go unnoticed all because he is no longer here. Oh, and the title of this post came from the title of one of his works. Again it seemed fitting, and I’m sure he wouldn’t mind it being used.

Matt

Indie Bites has landed at Oxfam Mill Road

That’s right, anyone in the Cambridge area can now purchase their copy of Indie Bites for just £3 at Oxfam Mill Road. It might not seem like a big deal to donate a couple of novels to a charity shop and have them sold on, but as this is my place of work it has actually become a bit more than that, as a system has been set up to ensure that the novels can be restocked just as they would in a regular bookstore. The collection can be found toward the centre of the shop on a small table. If £3 is too steep a price to pay for you (as someone who volunteers as opposed to earning any money, I can relate), the shop does have a place where customers can sit and read. These being short stories, it would be easy enough to fit the odd new author into your schedule. Hopefully this small endeavour will not only help draw people into the world of independent publishing, but will also bring people into a shop that is truly one of a kind. Don’t believe me? Come in and find out!

Indie Bites Oxfam

Peril and tension

The hot topic for the Guild members at the moment is peril and tension, and it certainly has been an interesting experience. I almost missed the chance to be part of this one due to being fully submerged in the real world for once, but managed a quick piece on the topic and hope it gets my point across. Before I settled on a piece to use as a sample, I was close to using the one below, taken from Minority Rules. It’s pretty obvious why I didn’t use it in the end, but why not share it now? This is a piece where there should be plenty of tension and whatnot, but instead it’s nothing more to Jared than a nice day at the spa. If you want to read my real sample for this topic, it can be viewed here. In the meantime, here’s my first thought:

A proud man would have stood still and let the wall engulf him. A weak man would plead for release. Though it was useless, I struggled, but I did not plead. What does that make me?

Terrigena’s retreat was the last thing I saw as the wall swallowed me. Her mocking face would be my last sane memory. The same tingling sensation from consuming Terrigena’s blood rose over my body as I was sucked into a denser wall of red. I was hotter than I have ever been in my life, but it didn’t hurt. Yet.

I closed my eyes and bathed in the sensation. It was curious. The coldness of my mother’s ghost had been unpleasant, but this was soothing. Maybe it’s what it feels like to sink into a hot bath. The heat soaked into my skin and soothed away the injuries that I’d sustained. Any tension in my body was released as the heat pressed in against my body. For a moment I was worried that the pressure meant it was about to get hotter, but it turned out to be the opposite.

The temperature dropped, but not dramatically. It was as though somebody had decided that to continue having their oven at such a high temperature would burn the food within, and had turned it down a fraction. As I was the thing being cooked, I should have been grateful for the slight reduction, but it actually irritated me. The heat had been soothing and enjoyable. I didn’t want that to end, however insane that made me.

I tried to continue enjoying the heat, but it felt wrong. Of course it felt wrong, I was burning at an extremely high temperature, after all. Everything was disintegrating, though it still wasn’t uncomfortable. There was a tugging from somewhere deep inside me as though my body was either trying to stay intact, or another force was trying to pull it apart. It was difficult to tell whether it was one feeling or the other. Maybe it was both. An internal game of tug-of-war, the winner either owning my sanity or earning my appreciation. Was it better to be insane and unknowing, or to be sane and entirely aware of the situation? That was difficult to answer. At things were it would be best for my sanity to stay intact, but that was only because the heat was still quite enjoyable. If I lost that, the bliss of being unaware and uncaring would be appealing.

There was nothing to be seen within the confines of the lava. It was unclear to me whether this was because there was actually nothing to see, or because my eyes were unable to function. I didn’t try to open my eyes. If they were closed, they could stay that way. The thought of them being nothing more than dust within the heat was repulsive. Surely if something quite so significant had happened I would have felt it?

The enjoyment of the heat was evaporating as I sat (or was I standing?) and contemplated the many disfigurations that could be happening to my once-functioning body. Did I even have a body? It didn’t feel like it, but then where else would the tugging sensation be coming from?

It was all too confusing for my heat-fogged mind. There were so many unanswerable questions that seemed important. At least to me. Life is precious, and mine was burning away. Even being immortal wouldn’t help me in a place like this. With that thought I gave in to the tugging deep within my psyche, hoping that doing so would help me lose my remaining sanity. It was the best I could hope for.

The heat turned abruptly from a pleasant radiation to almost nothing. My body resumed its normal temperature, and my sanity didn‘t seem in any immediate danger. For that reason I chanced opening my eyes a fraction to see what had caused the change, and found myself staring at high blackened walls. It actually disappointed me to see that I was back with Terrigena and no longer about to be incinerated. Maybe I had lost my mind prematurely.