The Æther Collection – OUT NOW!

The Æther Collection is out now!

That’s right, as of today you can now purchase my new horror anthology in both e-book and paperback.

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Æther. The fifth classical element. A theory. A myth. A joke. A fringe theory no scientist in the modern age would ever take seriously.

That is until 1898 when Professor Goldfarn proves its existence and the possibilities it offers. Soon æther permeates every aspect of the of the scientific world, with research providing new technologies in power and communications the likes of the which the world has never seen.

But sometimes… sometimes things happen that can’t be explained by technology. What if æther could be more than simply a power source. What if it played a far greater part in human evolution that anyone has considered? What if is has other properties? What if it could be used to affect human emotion and thought?

What if could it even be a link between this life and the one that comes after?

 

Those of you lucky enough to be selected as winners in my GoodReads and Twitter giveaways should have already received your copies in the post. I hope you’re all enjoying them.

And for the rest of you, you can get your copies here:

A quick note; currently there is a glitch on Amazon stating that the paperback is temporarily currently out of stock. If you’re looking to buy from here, please ignore and go ahead and order. The warning should be gone soon. 

And please, once you’ve finished it please leave reviews or recommendations on places like Amazon and Goodreads, or any online reading forums you might use. Reviews and word of mouth are the self-published writer’s best friend. The more reviews I have online, the more likely it is people will discover my work. Even if it’s just an anonymous star-rating, every single one helps.

And, of course, I just like to know what you all think.

So go out and spread the word. Word of mouth is my friend, as are you, so let anyone you know who enjoys reading that The Æther Collection is available now.

The Æther Collection Cover Reveal!

We’re almost there!

The story is locked down and I’m now just waiting on my last two copy editors to finish running through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb. Once that’s done and I’ve gone through it myself one final time, The Æther Collection will finally be ready for publication!

And, in honour of this, I thought it was time to officially reveal the cover art, provided by my wonderful designer (and sometime organ-donor) Emily.

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Eagle-eyed followers may well have spotted this image before, as it’s been going up on my various forms of social media recently, and has actually been the banner for this website for a couple of weeks. But this is the “official” launch, so take a moment to enjoy it.

Now begins the painstaking task of completing the manuscript and getting it published. This weekend has been spent sending things out to agents, but while I am waiting on responses the process of preparing everything to self-publish will begin. So, barring an agency picking this up and taking the tasks of publication out of my hands, or any unforeseen events that might cause further details, The Æther Collection should be out in August.

So, if anyone out there is interesting in maybe getting their hands on an early review copy, now’s the time to let me know.

 

2015: Looking back, then forward

Happy New Year, folks. How was your 2015? I think I can safely say that mine was definitely one of the more eventful years in my life.

2015 and things that have been

So, looking back at this year, was there possibly anything that kept me a little too busy to get as much writing done as I would have liked?

Oh yes, my wife going through a kidney transplant. That was it.

It has to be said my family started off 2015 on a bit of a stressful note. On February 9th my wife went through a transplant to receive a kidney from my sister. Understandably, this took all my focus and energy for quite a while. Between the build up, preparations, the stress of the day of the operation itself, visiting them both in hospital and then looking after Frankie during the recovery period, I think I can say the first 3 months of the year were a write off, writing wise.

And then this autumn I’ve had a massive project at the day job that completely absorbed all my mental energy. I’m not complaining as such. I like my day job, and bigger projects means more responsibility means more chance of advancement. But between working through lunch breaks and coming home exhausted I essentially lost another couple of months of writing time.

So I think I can say I lost at least five months of 2015 for writing. That’s not to say I didn’t get anything done in that time. It’s just that I had other things on my mind that had to take precedence.

One thing I did get done was producing the paperback edition of The Serpent’s Eye. Like the e-book, putting this together turned out to be one hell of a learning curve, but I’m happy at how it turned out. Especially as I had very little idea what I was doing. There are a couple of small things I would like to tweak, but they’re tiny in the overall scheme of things. But my designer tells me there are a couple of little things she can see now it’s a physical book she would like to fix, so there may be an updated version sometime in the future if we get around it it. And at the moment that’s a big if, as there are plenty of more important things to get done first.

Short-story wise, it wasn’t a prolific year. The thing with so much else going on simply did not have the time to work on any independent projects. I had to prioritise. Annoyingly, the anthology with which I was involved, with Thomas Hill Publishing, fell through, so that story is now looking for a new home. However I was included in Verto Publishing’s Halloween Celebration. Those of you who caught it were able to read the first story in The Æther Collection, complete with a wonderful illustration from P. Emerson Williams. It’s still up, so head over if you want to check it out.

The rest of the year got taken up by working on The Æther Collection. 

And I feel I do have to mention that this year we lost possibly one of the greatest English writers, and the man who got me into reading; Sir Terry Pratchett. I’ve written about my feelings on his passing here, so I won’t go into them again. But it’s sad that 2016 will be the first year since I was born that there won’t be a new Discworld novel to look forward to.

Terry&Death

I will keep you all updated on my sister’s campaign/project to get a permanent statue of Sir Terry erected in Salisbury. I think we can definitely call it a project now as everyone involved seems onboard. Watch this space for updates.

2016, and things that are to come

So the big project for this year is, of course, completing The Æther Collection. At the start of last year I had hoped to get this done for Christmas, but obviously with everything going on it has been pushed back. I do have the first full draft completed and with my Alpha Readers (you can read more on that here) and should hopefully have notes to begin redrafting by the end of January. I’m not sure how many more drafts it’s going to need, but my gut is telling me a least four more; one from readers notes, another just from myself, a second round of notes, then a final polish and copyedit.

The Æther Collection - 4th Draft

Of course, now I’ve said this, it will take far longer. At this point I’m hoping for a June release at the latest. I want to have time to get it out to agents and small press publishers, but I will put this out myself if this process takes too long. June would be two years since the original release of The Serpent’s Eye, which would be nice timing. But of course I don’t want to rush anything. Watch this space for more updates.

Outside of this main project I do have other plans. I would like to get a couple more short stories done this year and get them into anthologies. I have one I’m finally getting to finish at the moment, and at least two more in early draft stages, waiting for their turn. Possibly these will be palette cleanser projects between drafts of The Æther Collection. I would really like to get these done early in the year and start submitting them, but we’ll see. The Æther Collection has to take priority.

I’m also beginning to get annoyingly excited about my next big project. It’s a haunted house story, filtered through the views of an adolescent girl trying to fight to discover her place in the world while insisting that she shouldn’t have to fight for it. Over the last couple of months various ideas have begun to slip into my mind, fleshing out the main concept and I’m ready to start writing. This is great, but not quite so much when I need to get the previous project completed before I can get started. But hopefully I’ll have a least a first draft of this done by this time next year.

I’ve had a great little break over Christmas. I’ve kept away from the keyboard almost completely to allow my brain to rest. Now I’m itching to get back to work.

See you all in 2016.

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The Æther Collection – latest draft

So yes, it’s been a while. As I laid out in my last post, I’ve been a little busy recently. Would you like to see what’s been keeping me away?

This.

The Æther Collection - 4th Draft

The Æther Collection – 4th Draft

I present to you the latest draft of The Æther Collection in all its glory. A collection of 13 short stories coming in at just under 80,000 words. I can’t really say what number draft this is, as the redrafting process has been a little haphazard. At the start, when I was posting each story on here as it was completed, I worked on one story until it was done and then moved onto the next. Later I began working on several at a time and the process became more linear. And so this means that different stories at at different levels on completion depending on when they were written. Some of the entries are basically done, while others will still need work. But for the sake of clarity I’m calling this the 4th draft, as it’s the forth version I’ve exported and saved in its entirety.

Now I’ve handed copies of the manuscript over to my usual Alpha Readers to make a start. Hopefully in the New Year they’ll start getting back to me with their notes and I’ll begin the next stage of revisions. Hopefully I won’t get any points back along the lines of “this one is awful, get rid of it”, but we’ll see what they think. Then comes the traditional fooling myself that I only need one more draft…

So what do I do while I wait?

  1. I have several more ideas for short stories than just those that fit into this collection. The problem is when you are focusing on one project you work on any old idea as you’ll never get anything done. But now I finally have the chance to work on these for a change. I have at least one that’s half done and has been sitting on my desk for months waiting redrafting. Hopefully I’ll that one done and still have time to at least get one more into decent shape before I need to get back into the Collection again.

  2. I need to start working on designs. I’ve already got Emily – my sister and designer – to put together the first version of the cover image for The Æther Collection, and it looks awesome. When I’m at home over Christmas we’ll go over this and start working on the final versions. This time I have a far better idea of what I’ll need. One of the problems I had with The Serpent’s Eye – it being my first self published bookwas that I didn’t know what I needed until I needed it. This meant that every time I wanted to put the cover image on a new website I had to go back to Emily and get her to work on it fresh and send me a new version in a different layout or resolution or some other strange variation. This time around I can make a full list of everything I used last time and get her to create everything (hopefully) in one go.

  3. In preparation for book completion I need to start working on my Scrivener-foo. I absolutely love the programme for writing, and I know that in theory it’s great for laying out a manuscript and exporting it however you need. However, at the moment my abilities are pretty much limited to trial and error, which leads to hours of frustration as I desperately try to work out how to make it do what I want. I’ll definitely be spending some lunch hours watching online How-To guides.

  4. I’ve spoken on here before about how advertising and promotion are not my strong suits. However project management is. Therefor I’m intending to make my promotional efforts far more of a structured project this time around. This one is the hardest, as (a) it’s not directly linked to the creation of the book, and (b) I don’t enjoy it. But just because something is hard doesn’t mean I shouldn’t put the effort in if I want to get my work out there. So, time to start thinking in advance about these things.

I think that’s probably enough to be getting on with. I’m also hoping to give my social media a bit of a kick and get connecting with people again. Focusing on redrafting does tend to put you in a very inwardly focused world. But then I suppose writing as a whole does that. I just have to get my head around the culture shock of wrapping up the writing side of things and focusing on the other aspects of life.

Fun.

The Serpent’s Eye – Paperback Out Now!

So if you take a wander down to Amazon, you can now get your hands on the paperback version of The Serpent’s Eye. 

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It’s taken me a little while to get the physical copy of the book done, since the original e-book came out back in the summer. I would like to thank everyone who has already downloaded and given it a read. Getting so much honest positive feedback helped me move forward with my work and getting this final version out.

You can find it on Amazon (UK and US), or directly from the CreateSpace store.

There have been a few changes made since the original came out. The plot and the story are the same, I’ve just cleaned up a few typos that slipped through and made a couple of tweaks to real life fact that have been spotted in the text. (In retrospect I should have got my in-laws – who grew up in Buenos Aires – to check those sections before publishing, but it’s all fixed now.)

I have also updated the e-book version, so those of you who have already downloaded it should – if I understand how the platform works correctly – receive an automatic update. (But of course the only way to be safe will be to buy a physical copy)

One thing I have not been able to work out yet is how to combine both versions of the book on Amazon. Currently if you search on Amazon you get two different entries, one for the e-book and one for the paperback. I’m trying to figure out how to combine them so things like reviews show for both. It’s not a major sticking point in the release, but I would like to get this tidy. If any of you out there know a little more about how Amazon works, please drop me a comment to tell me.

I’m also working on getting it up onto the iTunes store, but currently it doesn’t want to play. Apparently my cover image is either far too big or slightly too small. I’ll keep you all updated on this epic battle as it progresses.

EDIT – That’s all done now, and can be found here.

 

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who’s helped me get this put together; those who’s have an active part in proof reading and giving advise, and those who’ve downloaded it already, read it and given me their opinions. It’s all helped push me through the last few stages to get this done. I love writing, but have discovered that I do not have the same passion or knowhow for layout or designing. Trial and error is all well and good, but it doesn’t half take up a lot of your time.

Anyway, enough from me. Go get yourself your very own copy of The Serpent’s Eye right now.

Out Now: The Serpent’s Eye

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I write these words in warning. Do not make my mistake. I fear, should anyone start along my path, that they will find their fate inexorable. As I have.

In the summer of 1816, George Sandings is sent to Buenos Aires to investigate the death of the late Earl Edgar Leer; the infamous explorer and hedonist. He has a month to uncover what he can, in order that the Leer family might put their disgraced son’s memory behind them.

But soon the words of George’s own journal begin to show him that the fate of Earl Edgar may not have been so simple. That Edgar may have uncovered things that should have been left alone and forgotten. As he digs deeper into the secrets that surround Edgar’s final years, George finds his own mind is becoming entwined with some power that cannot be explained.

A power that may prove impossible for any sane man to overcome.

It is done. The Serpent’s Eye is out.

You can download The Serpent’s Eye as an ebook from Amazon right here. If you have a Kindle and you’re looking for a slow-burning horror story to enjoy over your holidays, pick it up now.

And as a special offer, this week only, it’s free. This offer lasts until Sunday 3rd July.

It’s a strange feeling, finally getting this out there. The internet and ebooks may have made it easier to get a book out, but it’s still a chunk of work if you’ve never done it before and you want it to have a level of quality. I’ve been working on this story for the last year. The first draft was just two pages long, written as part of the background for the characters of a roleplay group I was part of, and wasn’t intended to be anything longer. But the idea stuck with me, and when I was looking to start a new long term project it came back into my mind and just started developing and growing.

It’s been interesting to write. In the past I always used to plan my writing projects out in minute detail before starting. And looking back I think this stifled me. This time I decided to work more organically. I started with the basic idea and worked things out as the story progressed. It was a lot more freeing. I write most things this way now. It can mean more revisions, but it allows a freedom I didn’t have before.

I’ll write more about it later. For now, I’m simply going to encourage you to head over to pick up the book on your Kindle right now, for free! Did I mention it’s free and you should pick it up now?

Once you’ve read it, then we’ll talk.

Getting back to it

One of the most basic tenets of time management in your personal life, which I have heard mentioned in more than one writers “How To” guide, is: “You always have the time. You’re just using it badly.”

The idea is that if you find you don’t have time for something, in this case writing, then you have to look at your life and see what you are doing with that time instead. There are things you have to do; eat, work (if you have a real life job), look after children (if you have any), etc. The rest is free time.* So if you don’t have time to write, what are you doing with your time instead? Are you not getting writing done because you are always playing computer games? Then cut out playing computer games. Are you not getting writing done because you spend all evening with your family? Bite the bullet and put aside half an hour every evening or morning to write, no matter what.

I’m not saying it’s always easy. It all comes down to how much you want to write, and how much you are prepared to give up to do it.

And this is what I’ve had to face for the last few weeks. I have had other temporary commitments. In June, Purple Theatre Company put on their production of Noel Coward’s Hay Fever, and I was Stage Managing. This meant that for the last few weeks more and more of my time was taken up with planning. I had set to design, and costumes to find, and so many other things to sort and arrange. And time I spent planning on the show, I couldn’t spend writing.

Now this has been causing me some distress. I wanted to write, but had a commitment I had to fill. I wanted to be part of this show. It’s not like anyone forced me to do it. But that meant writing took a back seat and I had very little free time left. What writing I could get in had to be on my main project, finishing The Serpent’s Eye, and so short stories and blog posts took a back seat.

But now I’m free. The show is over. This means that a huge section of my time has been freed up again! Writing is once more my pastime of choice, and I am able to take the time to face what I have in the pipeline.

I have short stories that need finishing. I have one story I was writing for a specific submission deadline, which I ended up missing. But I love the story and feel it will fit in most places. Once I get it polished up I can start to submit it around, and hopefully you’ll all get to read it soon.

I also have two stories for the Æther Collection that need finishing, and a third in my head ready for a first draft. I’ve let the Collection slide as a priority, and I’m angry at myself for that. I meant to have it completed by now, but let it sit on the back burner. I mean to fix this. I now have more time, and my main project, on which most of my time has been spent recently, is now complete and I am free to work on other things.

That’s right, The Serpent’s Eye is finished, finally coming in at 42,590 words. Now I am in the stages of making sure it is all formatted correctly and setting up the methods people will have to buy it.

And let me tell you, formatting this thing was no easy job. Scrivener is an amazing programme and has made the process so much easier, but it’s still something I’ve never had to do before. It’s taken a frustrating amount of trial and error to get it right.

But more on that soon. I am determined to get the ebook on sale before the end of the month, at the latest. Keep your eyes open.

So that’s where I’ve been. I will keep this blog updated more often from now on. I promise.

 
*If you can examine your life and in all honesty say you have no free time, and that everything you do between waking and sleeping is essential, then you have issues that may need addressing. Everyone needs free time.

Cover Reveal

So I’ve finally finished the last draft of The Serpents Eye. This one comes in at 42200 words. That’s a 2700 increase. Which I do think it needed. Once it was pointed out to me, I could definitely see the second act was a little sparse. It had been written as I had planned it, but sometimes you can be so focused of seeing something out as you planned it that you don’t see there is a slightly better way of doing it until someone else highlights it. I hadn’t done these bits badly, they just could have been better.

They also pointed out a plot point that made no sense and needed removing. But let’s not talk about that. Let’s just say I need to buy an atlas…

I’m confident that the rewrite has improved the book as a whole. As much as the rewrite involved much changing of past to present tense, and then much double checking I’m done this correctly, its done its job.

So while it’s going through its final proofread, I thought I’d do a reveal of the cover art, as done by my talented sister Emily.

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I always hoped she’d come in useful one day. I’m loving the image she created. I think it gives a great vibe of the old 18th Century books that have inspired this story, but with something more modern mixed in with it.

And so now with the cover finished and the last copyedit on the way I can refine my timelines a bit. Depending on the speed of my copyeditors, I’m now looking to get The Serpent’s Eye out by the end of May. I will keep this blog updated to any changes, but hopefully I’ll finally get to see this story out there in the real world.

And then we’ll see what people think. That’s actually the scary part.

Working hard, or hardly wor… no, definately working hard

So yes, there’s been a bit of lapse between posts. Sorry about that. I really don’t like leaving so long between updates, but sometimes life gets busy.

The main reason I’ve been this lax is that I’ve got a new day job. I’m not complaining. As much as I enjoy getting to write full time, until I can start earning proper money through doing so I need a dayjob. And this one is great, and so if I can’t be writing full time I’m glad I’m doing this instead of some terrible wage slavery.

However is does mean that the amount of time I have for writing has plummeted. From as much time a day as I wanted, I now have little more than an hour a day. And that’s if I don’t have something come up that takes up my lunch break.

So what does that mean for my current plans. Well, I’m definitely not going to stop writing. I’m still going to be working on The Æther Collection. I fully intend to finish that collection, but there will be a longer gap between them now. I have one story waiting for a final draft, and another two all planned out in my head. They will come, but currently they are on the back burner.

The reason for this is that I’m currently working on the latest draft of The Serpent’s Eye. My last alpha-reader got back to me with some very interesting notes that have lead me to do a little bit of rewriting. It’s not a massive change, just smoothing out a couple of points to make the story flow a little more organically. And it has meant breaking up some sections and reordering them. This has meant more effort and restructuring than I was planning at this stage, but it’s all worth it. Before, when I was writing full time, I probably could have got it all done in a week, two at the outside. Now it’s taking a little longer.

And of course this means that there are fewer updates coming up onto the website. I’m looking forward to working on short stories again. With my truncated writing hours, the short story format is a very appealing form to me right now. Shorter work means it gets done sooner, and I can post more updates.

But the novella is my main focus right now. I really want to get this out in the next couple of months. My sister has put together an amazing cover design, and I’m excited about having it in its finished form and getting it out there.

But things can’t be rushed. There is no point in sending stuff out before it’s ready. There are so many terrible, half finished books being self-published these days, and I refuse to let myself join the ranks of wannabe authors with no quality control.

So my apologies for the delays, and please keep reading.

New Æther Collection story up: Echoes

For the last twenty years, æther-powered telephones has been keeping the entire world connected. The greatest leap forward in communication in recent history, ‘Ashphones’ have given people the ability to talk directly to anyone, anywhere in the world.

But the world has once again plunged itself into war, and every Ashphone in the world has stopped working.

Bernard Galbraith is one of the leading experts on æther-communication. He was part of the team that first developed the technology, and now it is his responsibility to get them working. As the British Army struggles to adapt to wired communication, Bernard has to solve this riddle before the Germans do, or the Allies hopes in the war could be over.

But as the years move on, Bernard and his team stumble on a discovery that might well change how people think about the æther forever.

(Go here for the full story)

Well, I know I said I would be aiming for a new story at least each fortnight, so I’m afraid all I can do is apologise for this six week gap. This was party due to Christmas, and partly down to the size of this one. Coming in at just under 10,000 words, it’s the longest piece of the collection to date, and straining the word-limit of the short story format.

Hopefully none of the other stories I have planned will reach a similar size, as I personally prefer them that way, but this story simply needed more time to tell. It marks a turning point in the history of æther, and one I wasn’t planning when I began the collection.I had to spend some time thinking it through in my head, making sure that the direction I was taking it both fitted with the previous tales, and how it would affect future stories.

The stories that follow on from this one are going to start taking a slightly different feel, as the characters start to unravel more of the nature of the æther, but I will hopefully be able to keep the same feel as the previous entries.

Have a look. I hope you all enjoy it.