Sunday, 28 December 2014

A festive free gift…

It’s hard to believe that the first SciFi Scarbs was only this year – so much has happened since then that it feels like eons ago!
Since plucking up the courage to go to Scarborough (with a lot of arm-twisting and all that great support from my other half as well as Andy and Steve) for the launch of book three, I’ve been to loads of scifi and comic cons this year and I feel very privileged to have met so many lovely people who have given me so much encouragement. So thank you very much to everyone who came along for a chat!
I made the decision in November to spend the winter writing. Book four is coming together and taking on a life of its own… and, as most people saw this year when we released some preview art, I’ve started on the script and begun to pull a team together to work on the Thieves’ Guild graphic novel.
I didn’t want to disappear completely though, so as a teaser, I've released a peak behind the scenes at the Thieves’ Guild. It’s not a short story, it’s one of the conversations that I write between my characters. Most times they are arguments, often fights, and sometimes it’s a scene just turned around and seen from the other character’s point of view. These will never make it into any of the books but they’re great to delve a little deeper. My characters tend not to talk about themselves much. They don’t like to. So it’s amazing to see what comes out when they are forced to. If you’d like a copy, please sign up for my mailing list - there's a link right here.
As a festive thank you, here are also some eBook discount codes for books two and three (one is still free in eBook format!) so if you know anyone who also might enjoy the Thieves’ Guild stories, please pass them on.
It’s been a great year and I’d like to wish everyone the very best for 2015. See you all at Scarborough or a convention somewhere along the way!

50% off Blatant Disregard (Thieves' Guild: Book Two) at Smashwords with code CW55U

50% off Harsh Realities (Thieves' Guild: Book Three) at Smashwords with code HP43U

(Codes valid until 31st January 2015)

Monday, 17 November 2014

eBook pricing: why my first book is free…

It’s simple. I’ve always borrowed books from libraries. From being a child to a cash-stricken student to becoming a fussy adult reader, I have always raided my local library. If I find a book or an author I love, I troop straight off to the nearest bookshop and buy a copy for my bookshelf, and probably everything else they’ve written too. The fact that I borrowed it for free first doesn’t devalue it in the slightest. When I impulse buy a book at full price, usually at the airport five minutes before take off, and it turns out to be not my thing, either in writing style or characters or dialogue or whatever, that’s when I get a tad ticked off.
My first book is listed as an eBook for free so that you can give it a go. Read it with no other investment than a liking for the cover and the blurb, an appreciation for what other people have written about it, maybe a recommendation from a friend and some time. Then if you like it, great, buy the others knowing pretty much what you’re going to get more of.
I talk to business owners, artists and writers included, about how to value your product and work out pricing structures. Creative work is not like any other service or product-based business. If you calculate in the time it takes you to produce your work and then try to bill it per hour, you’ll go potty. It doesn’t add up. Create for the love of it and then find an audience that loves your work – they’ll decide how much they’re prepared to pay for it.
I don’t want to throw my first book into the slush pile of free books on the Internet, but at the same time, it’s great being able to say to people, “It’s free – try it! If you like it, there are two more and a fourth due out next year.” The way I see it is that it’s no different than borrowing a book from the library, or giving someone your copy to try. Some of the best feedback I’ve had has been from people who tried the first one then decided to buy the others because they’ve enjoyed it so much. So I’ll see what happens next year, but for the moment I’m going to be keeping book one free.

Residual Belligerence (Thieves’ Guild: Book One) is available free in all eBook formats at Smashwords, iBooks, Amazon Kindle, Nook and Kobo.

Hiding away...

I haven’t written a blog post in a while because, I must admit, I’ve been struggling to write and carry on with the promotional stuff I know is necessary as an indie writer.
I’m writing book four. I’m loving it. I’d forgotten how cool it is to have a blank page and endless possibilities… to have the outline certainty of what happens but to have surprises pop out and hit me in the face as the story progresses and characters misbehave.
I need to hide away to write. But I know that sales of your books increase when you promote them. Checking Kindle and Smashwords sales, watching out on Goodreads for reviews and comments, keeping the Tweets up to date (and not all just about Tottenham), blogging… it’s all time consuming. I’ve had a great time at comic cons this year. I’ve made some great contacts and some lovely friends. I’ve had some amazing feedback, for which I am very grateful. But I had to make a conscious decision to spend the winter writing to have book four finished for next year. NG is a lot of fun to be with. And I’m looking forward to Scarborough next March. So I’m going to crack on with it. Here’s to book four…

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sheffield Film and Comic Con: Some FAQs

Do something every day that scares you…

I reckon attending a comic con as a scifi writer is one of the most terrifying things you can do. I want to sit under a tree and write, or throw a blanket over my head and write, or sit on the stairs and write… anything other than being with real people.
But… and it’s a big but (ha!), after being thrown into the deep end thanks to the combined and wonderful connivings of my other half with Andy and Steve of Scifi Scarbs, I’ve found that I love comic cons! For a pure introvert, it’s exhausting but it’s wonderful and as a writer, it’s amazing to meet people who want to read your books or even people who have already read your books and want to talk about them.
So, if you’re a reader, here are my answers to some of the most common questions I’ve come across at comic cons, or if you’re a scifi writer thinking about going to a comic con, here’s a glimpse into what to expect.

The question: What’s it all about?
It’s terrifying to stand behind a table laden with your books, hoping someone will stop by and talk to you, and then when they do, they ask, “So what’s it all about then?”
They’ve probably read the blurb on the back of each book and scanned over the snatch quotes you’ve printed off from your Amazon and Goodreads reviews, but they want to hear, first hand, from you, what it’s all about. That’s when it’s really fun to talk about your books.

My answer: My Thieves’ Guild universe is set in a far-flung future where the Earth Empire is stagnating and the biggest corporate-run colonies have formed a coalition. In the Between is a neutral zone, where the colonised planets are a law unto themselves. There are constant rumblings of war. The guilds are neutral and cross the line between the two power bases. My stories are told from the point of view of Thieves’ Guild field operatives. They’re the guys on the ground who are used to working in the shadows, invisible, but they are thrown into the spotlight and find themselves being chased by assassins and bounty hunters. Throw in pirates and aliens, political intrigue, war and betrayals, and there you have my books!
I don’t get caught up with long drawn out descriptions and I don’t get into big in-depth analyses of technology. It’s not hard science science fiction, it’s fast-paced action adventure scifi. If you like that, then give it a go – book one is free in eBook!

How many main characters do you have?
Aha. All you can do here is be honest. Know your point of view. Different people like reading different styles so be honest about how your books are written. I hate reading books where there are so many ‘main’ characters that you’re switching point of view every couple of pages, or even worse, within a paragraph. If I like a main character, I like to stay with that guy throughout the whole book… so that’s how I write.

My answer: There is one main character in each book. Hil in the first, LC in the second and NG in the third. The books follow one big story, each told from a different point of view character but I write in close third person – you stay with the main character for the whole book. That gives me problems as a writer. There’s no switching scenes to see what the bad guys are doing. But it means that you stay with that character through thick and thin. I love my main characters and I love being with them while I throw them into pickle after pickle.
I’ve been writing about these characters for twenty odd years. I have loads of first person stories written as NG. He was always mischievous, always fun and always difficult. I always thought that LC was my real ‘main’ character. He’s the one the stories centre around. He was supposed to make an appearance in book one but when it came to it, I was too intimidated by him to write him in. It took a lot to start writing book two. Hil is the one character who turned up most recently, who took me by the scruff of the neck and said, write this. And that’s what turned into book one.

Is it a trilogy?
You never know what the ‘right’ answer is when someone stands across the table and asks this. Some people love series, the more books the better. They love thinking that it will never end and they love waiting for the next instalment, however infuriating that may be. Other people hate having to wait. They like to know that a book is a one off. Or they want a trilogy where they know that the story will be wrapped up nice and neatly in book three. Again, be honest. Your books are what they are. Mine…?

My answer: No. It’s a series. The end of book three left me feeling like I was standing on an edge looking into an abyss. I was bereft for weeks. But then I started on book four and I’m giving NG a hard time again so all is well…!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Love summer…

Quick update on everything I’m doing or planning to do this summer: write, entertain two munchkins, write, go along to the Sheffield Film and Comic Con, watch Transformers 4 (even though I’ve seen the reviews), work with Rachel and Graeme on artwork for the graphic novel, sit under a tree and write some more, watch the start of the football season with the usual unbridled optimism that goes with supporting Tottenham, paint pirate maps on the beach and write.
I’m taking a break from drinking rum, but I’m not sure how successful that venture is going to be yet – it’s early days.
On the book front, I’m supporting Smashwords’ summer/winter sale. Residual Belligerence is up there for free at the moment anyway ( on a bit of a whim because I realised that I rarely download anything these days unless it’s free or unless I already know that I like it. It didn’t seem fair to hope that other people would reach into their pocket to give my stuff a go – although I really appreciate it when they do.
Blatant Disregard ( and Harsh Realities ( are up there on a 50% discount for the rest of July. So if you like the first one, you can get the others at half price. And if you do like my stuff, please let me know – it means a lot to hear good feedback.
Work is progressing on book four. It’s NG again, and as usual, he’s being difficult but a very cool difficult. I love the comment that Rachel from York posted on Goodreads about NG: “I really liked him as a character, flawed enough to be likeable, mysterious enough to be intriguing and ruthless enough to be a little bit scary!”
So that’s my summer planned. The husband is being very patient and just tells me to go write him a book… and reminds me about my deadline for SciFi Scarbs next year!