Mar 3, 2015

Lady Raven Kindle price reduction

As some of you saw, if you follow me on Facebook, last week my own print copy of Lady Raven arrived in the post. And I am thrilled with it. The book looks stunning, and I can't wait for people to read it.



To celebrate, I've decided cut the price of the Kindle edition almost in half.

I've set the list price for Kindle to $1.50*, and this will take effect by tomorrow. So keep watching Amazon. For those of you buying from Amazon.co.uk, the price will drop to £0.99.

*Remember this is the pre-tax amount, so the exact price will vary.

This is a permanent price drop, folks. With Red Skies due out this summer, I want to make it as easy as possible for anyone to get started on the series. But, Amazon ratings are all based on volume of orders within a 24-hour period, and can mean a huge difference in discoverability.

So if you haven't got your copy yet, watch for the price drop and then grab the book on Kindle, or in print, and tell everyone you know to do the same. Let's see how high we can take Lady Raven up the charts!

And if you're buying the print copy, believe me, you won't be disappointed. It's a gorgeous print.

Yo ho!

UPDATE: The price reduction is in effect. You can pick up your copy on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, or any other regional Amazon site.

Mar 2, 2015

Leonard Nimoy, 1931 - 2015

Like most of us, I was saddened by the news of Lenoard Nimoy's death on Friday. 

I grew up on Star Trek, and as a kid Spock was my favourite character. I can still remember a plush Spock doll I had, which I held onto until the painted Starfleet emblem had long since worn off. Spock's death and funeral in The Wrath of Kahn was the first time I'm aware that I broke down and cried during a movie. I suppose I'm at an age now where I'm far more conscious of my childhood icons passing away. Leonard Nimoy was no exception, but it's only as I look back at the science fiction genre that I fully understand how important he was to us all.

Star Trek and Star Wars represent two sides of science fiction. Where Star Wars embraced the mythic, the epic struggle between good and evil, drawing fantasy and mythology into space battles, Star Trek looked inward. It challenged us to question things, and held a light up to society's issues. It's famous for featuring the first on-screen interracial kiss, and inspiring countless advances in science. 

While Lenoard Nimoy's career was broader than Spock, he embraced his role in science fiction, once tweeting that he would be happy for any sci-fi fans to consider him an honorary grandfather. He understood how much influence he had, and how people looked up to him. And he lived up to that.

He gave a gravitas to science fiction that had perhaps been lacking. He was one of the ones who helped bring it from camp adolescence into maturity. And, importantly, he did it without delving into the cliché of gritty, dark storytelling that too often serves as a substitute for maturity. He was to science fiction what Christopher Reeve was to superheroes. The one everyone could look to and think "that's what we should aim for." With one raised eyebrow he could show intense humour. With a tilt of his head he could change the mood of an entire scene. His presence and sincerity set the bar for every great science fiction actor to come after him.

He will be missed, but the world is better for having had him.

A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory.  LLAP - Leonard Nimoy (final tweet)

Feb 17, 2015

Onwards and Upwards

We're nicely settled into 2015 now, and it's definitely set to be a busy, but productive, year for me.

My freelance editing work is moving along. I'd like to get some more clients, so if you guys know anyone looking for an editor, point them my way :-)

I'm making progress on Long Road, my new YA series about a mother and daughter who hunt monsters. I enjoy origin stories, and I think there's a great story to be told in how a girl, striving to be accepted as a regular teen, has to come to terms with the realisation that her mother is some kind of wandering monster-hunter. My writing pace has picked up, thanks to Jen's regular gym sessions in the evenings and settling for slightly lower wordcount goals. I can't wait to see where this book takes me.

Only a week after Lady Raven returned to print, I've received my first editorial letter on Red Skies, so work on that will continue soon, as well. This means I get to flex my design muscles again for the cover, and we're definitely on track to have the second of Cora's adventures available in time for summer.

I think Origin should be making its transition to Amazon in March, as well. I'll be making some tweaks based on feedback from those who've read the first part on Wattpad, and we'll see how things go.

The year has started off strong. May this continue.

Feb 10, 2015

Lady Raven is Back in Print!

Today the internet is exploding with news that Spider-Man is returning to Marvel Studios, and will feature in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So I'm expecting my news to be completely overshadowed. But what the hell, it's been a lot of work to get to this point and I want to get word out.

Lady Raven is available in print once again!

The Amazon listing will update and come into line with the Kindle edition over time. Note that due to how Amazon works, this is a separate listing to the original edition, so you'll still see the old version in search results, you just won't be able to order it.

So there is is, folks. Place your orders, and get stuck in before Red Skies is released in a few months.

Feb 6, 2015

Be Honest In Your Writing Decisions

The author is the sole source of the books they create. Crit partners suggest ideas. Beta readers offer feedback. Editors request changes. But when you get right down to it, it's the author who has final say. Much like the director of a company must accept responsibility for the company's mishaps as well as its triumphs, the author bears the ultimate responsibility of what transpires in the pages of something they write.

Take, for example, this (spoiler-filled) article about the relative lack of women in The Name of the Wind. Why do we regard the inclusion of women as a choice, but the inclusion of men as a default? Whether the author realises it or not, having a predominantly (or entirely) male cast is a choice, one that can just as easily be made in favour of better roles for women.

With that in mind, I'd like to address an issue which has been on my mind for years, and is particularly relevant now that the movie adaptation of 50 Shades of Grey is being released.

There are two common responses when you point out something problematic in a book, movie, or tv show. The first is denial: "No, it's not, and here's why." The second is justification: "It's just being realistic."

Note that both of these tend to shut down discussion, rather than get to the heart of the matter. Instead of saying "I didn't think it was, can you tell me what you see that I missed?" or "I can see how that interpretation is possible, but it wasn't my intention. Perhaps we can discuss this and I can do better next time?" We get "No." Those who point out the issue are told they understood the story wrong, or that they don't have a right to find it problematic.

Sometimes we see: "Yes, that is a problem, and I was hoping someone would object to that character's behaviour." But it seems to be quite rare these days. We authors are a defensive lot, really.

Why did I mention 50 Shades of Grey before? Simply, because the book is not about what the author claims it's about, and it's an incredible worldwide phenomenon. People are buying their teenage daughters copies of the book because they believe it to be a fantastic love story. However, there is plenty of evidence that Christian Grey, far from a romantic hero, is actually an abuser, grooming his latest victim, Anastacia Steele (trigger warnings for emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, and rape):

@50shadesabuse on Twitter

A chapter-by-chapter analysis of the abuse in 50 Shades of Grey

50 abusive moments in the 50 Shades trilogy.

Yes, you read right. Rape. The course of the first book, there are four occasions where Ana does not consent to having sex with Christian, and yet he has sex with her anyway. And that's on top of the stalking, emotional manipulation, and other things that show Christian Grey as a dangerous, abusive, man.

But, in interviews, EL James has defended her choices, going so far as to say that calling Christian abusive is a disservice to people who actually live in abusive relationships. However, a great number of critics pointing out the problems with the series are, themselves, survivors of abuse.

So what's the problem? Should people read this book? Or see the movie?

People should read and watch whatever they want. But I feel that authors have a responsibility to be honest, and aware of what it is they're actually writing. To say that 50 Shades of Grey is a romantic story is to show either extreme ignorance or extreme denial. There is nothing romantic about a man who illegally traces your cell phone or denies you the right to speak to your friends.

Of course, there's nothing at all wrong with writing about an abusive relationship. This only becomes a problem when the abuse is portrayed as a positive thing. And that comes down to not only the author's response to comments (see above) but also how characters in the book regard the behaviour.

This article presents excellent guidelines for writing about sexism, without writing a sexist book. The advice can be easily applied to just about any difficult subject. If you've got a character with negative character traits, it takes little effort to have another character call them on it, or discuss the problem with someone else, or even give it a passing thought. That little bit of effort makes the difference. Can you imagine if 50 Shades had been written that way? With one or two characters telling Ana they were worried about her, or didn't like the way Christian treated her? I'm not going to pass comment on EL James' writing talent here, because much as I might criticise her, she's the one with the multi million dollar movie deal, and I'm not. People love her books, and unfortunately, because of the way she treats Christian and Ana's relationship, and the way she defends her choices, a lot of people are reading (and will soon watch) abuse, sexual assault, and rape, and think it's something to be desired in a relationship.

I don't believe in censorship. And I don't believe in authors being afraid to tackle taboo subjects. What I do believe in, is authors accepting responsibility for their work. There is nothing within a book that the author did not choose to include. They may not have been aware of it. Their unconscious prejudices and desires may have led them there without them even realising. An author should take this into account when they hear feedback, and sees whether they can avoid an unintentional interpretation in the future. Even better, is to do your research beforehand, and made sure that you know what it is you're writing from the start.

Update: An abuse survivor called out EL James for the rape and abuse content in her work, being passed off as romance. This is how she responded.

Feb 5, 2015

Call for a blog tour

With the new Lady Raven available on Kindle, and work close to completion on re-releasing the print edition, I want to try and get the word out about the series. I'm thinking of a blog tour in March/April, to get people talking about this, and about the upcoming Red Skies.

If anyone would like to help out, drop me a line.


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.

Feb 3, 2015

The New-Look Lady Raven

A couple of months ago I pulled the print edition of Lady Raven from sale because I'd made mistakes with the cover design that I hadn't realised, such as the trim dimensions I'd chosen. This necessitated the development of an entirely new cover image.

I've been working on things, and I am finally able to reveal the new look:



I'll be updating the Kindle edition of the book very soon. Anyone who has already bought the book for Kindle will be able to update their copy for free.

This also means that the print edition will become available again, soon. More than a few people have mentioned to me that they've been waiting on that, so I'm looking forward to being able to bring it back.

Jan 27, 2015

Should Your Avoid Topical Issues in Your Writing?

Today I'm once again visiting my friend Janice Hardy, talking about tackling topical issues in your writing.

Stop on by!

Jan 21, 2015

Seeing Women's Issues From a Male Perspective

It's been over a week since my last post. I'm sorry about that. I've been dedicating a lot of my time to completing Red Skies so I can send it to my editor.

With this post, I'm fully expecting to receive some flak. And honestly, that's okay. I'm only human, and I'll say some things the wrong way. I'll own that, and try to correct myself if I don't manage to say this right.

I'm also about to get back into a topic which was a source of much debate for me last year; sexism. And I'm about to address a particular response to women's issues that I'm frankly tired of seeing. To preface, this is not directed at All Men (I can't tell you how much I hate even having to make that clarification, but it seems I do), but rather at any man who has seen an article shared detailing the experiences of women, and the negative consequences of those experiences, and felt compelled to comment with anything along the lines of "not all men do this", "this happens to men too", or any variation thereof.

Feminism takes a lot of heat. When it began, it was because women were generally seen as having a particular place in society and a role to fulfil, and if they stepped out of that place, it would be detrimental to humanity as we knew it. Years, decades passed, and we saw many feminists naturally become more frustrated and aggressive, as women were still not taken seriously in their issues. This was the start of the "RadFem" or "Feminiazi" movements that we sometimes hear about today. The perception of feminism shifted from "women stepping out of their place" to "women hating men and blaming them for their problems."

But therein lies the problem. Men, seeing a woman express her concerns, needs, and fears, and thinking "how does this affect me?" Guys, we're all horribly insecure. How could we not be? We have the media telling us how many women we're supposed to sleep with, how good we're supposed to be in bed, how much money we're meant to make. When we see someone with a problem that might, in some way, relate to us, we go into defensive mode. So "how does this affect me?" becomes "are they blaming me for this?"

We don't stop and think "how can that person's situation be made better?"

There are three fundamental obstacles that hinder a person's ability to help another with an issue:


  1. The issue does not affect them directly
  2. Inability to see from the other person's perspective how the issue affects them
  3. Inability to understand the difference between "I want you to understand my problem" and "I want to blame you for my problem."
Now imagine you're a straight white man. All other issues of economics, health, and education being equal, a straight white man has a significant advantage over a person of any other gender, skin colour, or sexual orientation. The circumstances of your life have told you one of two things: (1) You are supposed to strive for everything you desire, and/or (2) you are entitled to have everything you desire. These carry with them certain pressures. We want things, we feel we deserve them, and we worry that we'll be judged if we don't achieve them.

So when a woman says she's suffering unfairly, it's a common instinct to go "Hang on, I've worked hard to get where I am, why should she be treated better than me just for being a woman?" 

What many men don't realise is that for as hard as we work, most women have to work harder, or with obstacles we're not aware of, to achieve the same amount.

Another common reaction is "Well I didn't do that to her, so why am I being blamed?" This comes from that insecurity I mentioned before. If a woman is telling us about a problem, she must think we're to blame, right? But that's not what's going on. The single biggest thing standing in the way of equality, no matter which group you're dealing with, is getting other people to take your issues seriously. That's the goal, here. When you see someone sharing an article about how women frequently avoid walking home alone at night, or have a friend informed when they go on a first date, just in case they're assaulted, they're not saying "I blame all you men for this." They're saying "I wish you could understand why this happens, and why it's a problem."

So what can we do? Not Men, as a collective, but men, as individuals? If we're not the ones to blame, and we're compassionate enough to realise that another person's problems are important even if they don't directly relate to us, what can we do?

It's not about us

We don't have to (and shouldn't) bring every conversation on women's issues back to how men are affected by similar things. Yes, men suffer from unique issues too, and those things should be addressed, but there's nothing constructive, when a person says "I've got this problem" by responding with "Yeah, but what about my problem?"

It's not all-or-nothing

It's not all men that are rapists, but it's certainly enough men, and enough women are held to blame for being a victim, that there are serious problems with how we address the issue. It's not that every time a woman expresses an opinion on a comic book cover or video game that she'll be persecuted, but it's enough times that we should examine why it is that a man's opinion on these matters is given more credence and leeway than a woman's. It's not that men never get raped or abused or the victims of violence, but that these are usually in different enough circumstances that the problems and potential solutions are not always the same. 

It's about listening

There's nothing to be gained by speaking over someone who's trying to speak up for themselves. Step back and let the woman speak, see what she has to say, without jumping to conclusions. When you really listen to someone's problems and try to understand how this effects them and why they're coming out with it, you can learn some amazing things.

It's about compassion

If you'd been attacked or hurt, and you went to someone for help, you'd want to be treated with compassion. If someone you loved was hurt, you'd care. Give the compassion you'd like to receive, and spread the care you'd give to others, regardless of their relationship to you. It's incredible the different a simple "That's awful, are you okay?" can make to someone who's been through a traumatic incident.

It's about working together

I'm a member of HeForShe, the UN's new movement to get men and boys involved in women's rights. I was once, long ago, the kind of guy who thought feminists were all killjoys who wanted to blame men for their problems and take all the fun stuff out of movies and games. But I started listening to women and realising that what they were asking for was no more than I'd want for myself, to be treated fairly, without their gender becoming a deciding factor in their career or social situations. And I learned that if I didn't want to think that women were blaming me for mistreating them, then I should start by not being the kind of guy who mistreats women, whether that be by my actions, my words, or even how I think about women's issues. I stopped getting defensive and trying to explain how I was "not that kind of guy" and started responding to what was actually being said. 

Guys, most of us are basically decent. Let's start making sure that enough of us act that way.

Jan 12, 2015

A Turn of Events

Last week I was talking about trying to raise the money to pay for Red Skies to be edited.

This week I'm delighted to say that, thanks to a refund of overpaid tax, I have the money to get the edits done! This places me nicely on schedule, as work on the manuscript is going well, and I'm on track to have the first draft completed before the end of the month.

I still need to see how the edits themselves go, and have a cover designed, but all going well I think the book should be ready for release some time in the spring. I'm very excited. This series means more and more to me every day I work on it, and it's been an exciting challenge to push myself into a new genre and to tackle new themes. More than anything, I think Lady Raven was what really made me realise that I wanted to write stories to show that monsters can be beaten.

I'm hopeful that I'll get the print version of Lady Raven re-released soon, too. I'm planning some promotional stuff to go with it, and if anyone would like to help, by hosting me for a guest post or interview, or doing a review of the book, please get in touch.

So stay tuned and sign up to my mailing list to keep up with the latest news and promotional info.