Nov 27, 2014

Am I Thankful?

Honestly, a year ago today I would have said I had no doubt that I'd be thankful right now. Setting aside for a moment its origins, and the awful mess of consumerism surrounding it, I love that there's an entire holiday dedicated to being thankful and surrounding yourself with loved ones. It's like an extra Christmas.

As I look around, it seems that almost everyone I know has had a rough year. Beyond that, I've witnessed hate grow and grow across the world. Whether it's Gamergate, ISIS, or Ferguson, you could be forgiven for thinking we're all sinking into the biggest dystopian fiction mashup ever.

But I have to remind myself what I can be thankful for. As bad as things look, the world will still be here when these events pass. People will still be here when these events pass. And those people, whether they are strangers to us, or our closest friends, need to keep on living. They can't do that if there aren't things to be thankful for, things to hope for.

So I'm thankful that my daughters are happy and healthy. I'm thankful my wife can look after them while I'm at work. I'm thankful I've completed my Occupational First Aid training. I'm thankful I have four novels out and am working on my fifth. I'm thankful for the family, both friends and relatives, who've stood by us and supported us this year.

I remind myself that light will always come after the dark, so long as people are willing to spread it, and I am thankful for that.

Nov 25, 2014

Let Books Be Books

Ladybird Books, one of the biggest publishers of children's books in the world, recently announced that they would be doing away with gendered labels on their titles. So no more will there be particular Ladybird books aimed at girls, and different ones aimed at boys. Instead, all of their books will be marketed as gender-neutral.

Some apparently consider this a bad thing, "pandering" to feminists.

I love the Let Books Be Books campaign, and the great things it's achieving. As an author, reader, and a parent, I want to see as many stories as possible available for all children, and all grown-ups, too. There's absolutely nothing wrong with writing a book with a particular target audience in mind. It's not possible to write a book that appeals to everyone, so you hedge your bets, so to speak, and focus on making the story the best you can. But I wholeheartedly believe that everyone should have the right to make the decision for themselves whether or not they enjoy a particular book, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.

It's hard enough getting kids to keep reading, without outright telling them that there are certain books that aren't meant for them. Reading is universal. It's something anyone can do. It's a joy to get lost in a world and feel characters come alive in your imagination, so I say, let everyone read whatever they want, and not get caught up trying to enforce the same old "this is for girls, that is for boys" attitude.

Who cares what some curmudgeonly old sods think? The cycle has to be broken at some point, and if that starts with a publisher no longer telling boys and girls which stories they should be reading, then so much the better. It makes the job easier for everyone.

Nov 17, 2014

Supernatural - The Genius of Who God Is

This post contains spoilers for Supernatural, at least up to Season 9. You have been warned, and now I'm just going to fill up space so that there's no risk of social media link previews giving anything away. Note that I haven't seen any of Season 10 yet, so no spoilers in the comments!

Nov 6, 2014

Moving Forward

We're coming to the closing weeks of 2014, and I'm not exactly sorry to see the end in sight. It's been a rough year, but instead of looking back on the negatives just now, I'd rather look forward to the things I have planned for the future.

Lady Raven is here, at long last, along with the epic conclusion to the Memory Wars Trilogy. I'm thrilled to say I'm past the 10k mark on Red Skies, the second in the Lady Raven Series, and have plans to, surprise, return to traditional publishing as well.

A little while ago, I was dared to write a YA novel about a mother-daughter team of monster hunters.

As it happened, I was already working on notes for a series called The Long Road, which was to be about a trio of travelling monster-hunters. I've been able to adapt this idea, and I'm excited to get stuck into this book once Red Skies is done. I like the idea of playing with the traditional gender roles in this kind of story. I've got ideas for separated parents, the father being the one to stay home and reject the monster-hunting lifestyle, while the mother is the one who stuck to her duties to keep the people she loves safe. I'll keep everyone posted on that.

I'll be looking at new ways to boost sales on my books, too. So be on the lookout for events, promotions, and ways to lend a hand, if you feel so inclined.

I've got a new website in the works, and those of you who've read Lady Raven will have seen at the end. Currently the website redirects to this blog, but I'm looking forward to the launch of the new site.

Along with a new website and new writing projects, I've been looking at trying my hand at professional editing. I've got my first job and it's going well so far. I'm going to ease myself into this, but if anyone would like to ask about rates, get in touch.

Of course, even pushing sales on my existing books and trying to bring in some extra income with editing might not be enough to quite cover the costs of continuing to self-publish the Lady Raven Series. So, depending on how things go, I may have to look into crowdfunding in the new year.

Time to strap in for the last stretch of 2014.

Nov 4, 2014

Lady Raven Book Launch

Two book launches in the one year? Yes, I'm a glutton for punishment.

To be honest, I could probably have done with a break from organising this kind of event, but I put a lot of work into Lady Raven and I want to celebrate it.

The launch will be held on Sunday, November 23rd, in the amazing Liquor Rooms. Doors open from 5pm, and I'll be reading from the book and doing a Q&A session.

If anyone wants to attend, if you've already got a copy, bring it along and I'll be happy to sign it. Or, you can order directly from me, though the deadline for this would be November 10th, as I can't guarantee the books would arrive in time after that.

Oct 31, 2014

Happy Halloween, Lady Raven is here!

Today marks the official release date for my fourth novel, Lady Raven!

There's so much I want to say about this book, but I'm worried about how much I could give away if I did. A lot happens to Cora Ravenell in the course of her first adventure, and her journey will see her ripped from her sheltered life, changing her in ways she can't imagine. I wanted Cora to be a relateable hero, one whose vulnerabilities could be exposed and targeted by her enemies, but who could gain strength from her own determination and decision to fight back.

I haven't had time to organise a blog tour for Lady Raven, but I'll be having a book launch later in November, and of course I'll be keeping things updated as I work on the second book.

If you pick up a copy, please consider leaving a rating or review, either on Amazon or on Goodreads. It's only through the support of my readers that I'm in a position to do what I do, and I am so thankful that I can live the dream I first had when I was twelve years old.

You know what's crazy is I can get a single copy for myself faster and cheaper by ordering from, instead of ordering author copies through Createspace. Still, if that's my only gripe with the process, I think I've done well.

Oct 24, 2014

Books at Gaelcon

So folks, just to let you know that I'll be at Gaelcon Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, selling copies of my Memory Wars books. I've got a price list here:

Locked Within - €11
Silent Oath - €12
Memory War - €13

Buy all three as a set and get them for the special discount price of €30. That's a saving of €6!

I'm also happy to chat about the books and answer any questions anyone has, even about my newest series, Lady Raven. Unfortunately I won't have copies available as it's not out until October 31st, but I could be convinced to take a few pre-orders ;-)

Hope to see you all there!

Oct 22, 2014

Lady Raven Takes Flight!

After a lot of hard work, many restless nights, and more help from friends than I could have ever hoped for, I am thrilled to announce that Lady Raven will be released on October 31st!

Cora Ravenell has already lost her father. Now she stands to lose so much more. With no male heirs, her father's estate is stripped away, and Cora's only chance to remain in noble society is to marry a childhood friend.  

But when her mother is accused of treason, Cora's world is shattered, and she becomes the target of a ruthless hunt. Chased through the darkest corners of the city, Cora discovers that not everything about the Empire is as it seems. In the darkness, Cora will find the truth, and a power she has never known.  

The law calls her a criminal. The church calls her damned. 

Her enemies call her Lady Raven.

This is the first of a 4-part series, and the start of a whole new chapter in my career. My first self-published novel. First steampunk fantasy. First Young Adult. First female protagonist.

Join Cora, as she embarks on a dark and dangerous journey in search of revenge and redemption. She will face the wrath of a corrupt Empire, the hidden potential of a magic she does not yet understand, and the threat of losing the most precious things she still has left.

The adventure begins this Halloween, in Lady Raven.

Oct 20, 2014

Kathleen Hale Is No Hero

Not everyone is going to like your books. Not every fan is going to like every book you write. Tastes differ, and what one person loves, another will hate. I'm perfectly aware of this, and have seen reviews of my books range from 5 stars down to just 2. And always, I keep in mind the golden rule:

Never respond to bad reviews.

There is simply no way you can do it without looking bad. There are so many things that can go wrong responding to bad reviews, even to thank the reviewer, that I could run an entire month of constant blogging just on the different problems that can arise. So don't so it.

Okay, if you've read that, and are still determined to ignore my advice, then please, for the love of everything, do not do what Kathleen Hale did.

If you want a really good analysis of what happened, including a breakdown of what Blythe Harris actually did, and the steps Kathleen Hale felt were an appropriate response, read this article on Dear Author. To sum up, a Goodreads user who liked to post anonymously (as all internet users are perfectly entitled to do), ended up with an author cyberstalking her, running a background check, using false pretenses to obtain personal information, visiting her house, and calling her at work, again using false pretenses when speaking to her.

All because "she hurt my feelings."

Let me be utterly clear on this:

You are not entitled to harass people over hurt feelings. 

I'm not a legal expert, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that Hale violated several laws in the course of her actions.

What does surprise me, what absolutely astounds me, is that the Guardian ran her piece and described it at "An author confronts her number one critic" (emphasis mine). These words paint a picture of a hounded writer, nobly standing up to a bully subjecting her to unfair torment. We like stories like this. We enjoy seeing bullies taken down. But Blythe Harris is not a bully. She's certainly not Hale's "number one critic," since her book has numerous 1-star reviews on Goodreads. She's just a reader who gave an honest opinion of a book she didn't like.

Hale, on the other hand, admits to stalking and brushes off "the biggest breach of decency [she'd] ever pulled" like it was an okay thing to do. There's a scary emotional disconnect in her writing, like she understands, objectively, that she's crossing lines, but it doesn't matter as much as her hurt feelings.

Please be advised that the following links include trigger warnings for sexual assault (not of or by Hale), assault of a teen (by Hale), and animal abuse. But, this is seemingly not the first time Hale has freely admitted to causing physical and emotional harm in such an irreverent, almost justified, manner.

I've seen people post in support of Hale, and it genuinely concerns me. I'm still a pretty new author. I depend on readers, whether they blog, post on Goodreads, review on Amazon, or tell their friends about my books. I depend on honest opinions. I most certainly do not want to see reviewers (or anyone, honestly), have to fear that they'll become the victims of stalking, harassment, or assault just because the author doesn't like what they thought of a book.

Oct 16, 2014

Have Games Lost Their Innocence?

When I was a kid, a game was running around with my friends playing Ghostbusters. Video games were something very different, something you tended to play alone, or maybe with one extra player. The pinnacle of "social" gaming was to have a tournament of something like Street Fighter, where you'd each pick a character and take turns playing.

Today it's become something of a beast, and every aspect of video games is scutinised on the internet. Budgets for AAA titles rival big-budget movies. Marketing is off the scale. There's an entire second industry in telling people how to play games right.

And there's the hate.

This stuff started off small, and people dismissed it. Trash talk during tournaments and online play. Arguments over which console was superior.

Today, a video game critic can receive what amount to threats of domestic terrorism so frequently that it's regarded as being ordinary for them, and no longer considered a viable threat.

Let that sink in.

Anita Sarkeesian receives so many threats of being assaulted, raped, murdered, and blown up that the FBI didn't think that someone threatening the worst school massacre in American history was to be taken seriously as a danger to Sarkeesian and to the public.

This is what hate brings us. A world where the more someone is threatened, the less their safety is taken seriously. Where the response of many who hear that such violence has been threatened is to accuse the threatened person of falsifying the threat (see the comments to the article here).

I don't know when things started to turn so dark in video-gaming*. What I do know is the video-game industry is changing. More diverse people than ever are playing games of all kinds. They are becoming an ever more mainstream form of entertainment, and as such will, and should, be subject to a broader range of criticism than graphics and gameplay. Whoever these people are, who think they're entitled to hurl accusations and mount hate campaigns and send terror threats, if they're serious, they need to be arrested. If they're "just kidding", they need to wake up and realise that the world doesn't revolve around them and their insecurities. They're not champions protecting anything precious and sacred. They're selfish children, desperately clinging to a pastime which is no longer exclusively theirs.

Games have already lost their innocence. Now it's time for them to grow up, too. No-one, anywhere, deserves to be threatened and have their lives disrupted just for expressing an opinion or critiquing a game.

*As a roleplayer, I tend to think of "gaming" as referring to more than just video games