Jul 31, 2013

Silent Oath Cover Reveal!

Here's a bonus blog post for you guys, the cover for Silent Oath! I swear, my jaw dropped the moment I first saw it. It's like the designer read my mind. Only a few days before I saw it, I was saying to Jen how it would be awesome if they put Elena on the cover in the same style as Nathan on Locked Within. I love how it establishes a consistent theme for the series. Couldn't be happier with it.

Hope has returned to New York City. Nathan Shepherd leads a small band of dedicated fighters against the Council of Chains and the city's supernatural masters. But it's not enough. Because from the shadows of Nathan's former lives comes an old enemy, one who knows terrible secrets that Nathan has not yet remembered, secrets that could undo everything he has fought for.

Nathan's only chance to uncover the memories of his previous existence, and to conquer these new forces of evil, lies in Elena DeSantis. A woman he has fought beside in past lifetimes. A woman he has loved.

Together, Nathan and Elena are the only future their city has.

Incidentally, Silent Oath is now also up on Goodreads, so you can add it to your shelves, and it should be available for pre-order on Amazon in a couple of days.

Jul 30, 2013

Silent Oath Street Team

I have created a Facebook group for the Silent Oath Street Team, and I'm recruiting. Members will be responsible for sharing my updates about Silent Oath as we draw closer to the release date. So, if you use Twitter, you would have to re-tweet my posts, or tweet links to my blog updates. If you have a blog yourself, you'll need to share cover reveals, countdowns, reviews, etc.

Members will also be responsible for asking local bookstores to stock copies of Locked Within and Silent Oath if they don't already, as well as generally promoting the series whenever you can.

It'll be pretty informal, and I don't expect everyone to be able to help with every kind of update. Though one thing I will ask is that members are completely open about being affiliated with me. Whether you're a regular on a particular forum or dealing with a bookstore, let people know that you're speaking on my behalf, and feel free to direct people here if they want more information or to contact me.

If you'd like to help out, head over to the Facebook group and ask to join. If you're not on Facebook and would like to help anyway, let me know here and I'll be sure to pass on whatever updates I need you to share.

Jul 25, 2013

Silent Oath Blog Tour

For those of you who live in Ireland or may be in the country at the time, I have scheduled the book launch for Silent Oath. It will take place in Dubray Books on Grafton Street, in Dublin, on October 17th, and all are welcome!

Today's post is a call-out for volunteers to host me on the Silent Oath blog tour. The tour will run for the month of October and include multiple stops along the way. Some have volunteered already and I have your details on file. But if you haven't yet, or you have a certain date in mind for when you'll be able to host me, please let me know. In particular, if there are certain things you'd like me to write about, whether your bog has a specific focus, or you do author interviews, let me know and I'll make sure to provide an appropriate post.

My blog tour last year was a lot of fun, and I got to share so much about my writing and Nathan Shepherd's world. In Silent Oath I reveal much more about Nathan and his past lives, and I introduce his most dangerous enemy yet; a man who has hunted him and his lost love throughout their lifetimes.

I'm also looking for people who can post release day announcements on their blogs on October 8th.

If you can help out, I'd love to hear from you!

Jul 23, 2013

Two and a half months

That's how long until Silent Oath is released.

It's getting close to that hectic time when the normal slow pace of bring a writer jumps to warp speed. Things start happening so fast you don't realise how quickly time is moving on until you wake up one morning and realise there's a book out there with your name on the cover, and people are paying to read it!

Soon I'll receive my ARCs and get to see my new cover. I'll have to send in my dedication and acknowledgements. It'll start to feel real.

I was worried I wouldn't be as excited this time. Everyone's nervous and excited the first time they earn an achievement or try something new. All too often, the thrill can be just a novelty that fades a little the next time. But I'm feeling that little knot in the pit of my stomach. My heart beats faster thinking about what I have left to prepare. I wonder what people will think? Will it be successful? Will it encourage new people to read my books, or will it mostly only be read by people who picked up Locked Within last year?

Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be planning my promotion for Silent Oath, including getting back to volunteers for street team duties and early reviews. I'll be preparing blog posts discussing the new book, how writing it differed from writing the first one, and how I feel about the way Nathan Shepherd's story has evolved over time.

If there's anything anyone would like to see me discuss in relation to the book, or questions you'd like to ask, now's the time to let me know.

Jul 18, 2013

In Which I Rave About Fate Core

I'm not a massive Kickstarter person. I only back the odd project and typically only ones by companies I've already dealt with somehow.

A while ago I backed Evil Hat's Kickstarter for Fate Core, and my copy arrived the other week.

This book is so pretty, you guys. It's a wonderfully compact size with a gorgeous blue cover with a matte finish. The artwork is all new and the interior layout makes everything so easy to follow and understand.

As a fan of the Fate system, I'm thrilled to see it presented so cleanly. There are lots of subtle changes and clarifications to make the system easier to understand and explain. I think my favourite adjustment is that Evil Hat have provided the single best description of Aspects I've ever seen. They are the reasons we should be interested in your character.

Wow. So simple.

That's something you can apply to so much. Not just any tabletop game, but also to writing. Every character should have several reasons why people would want to see more of their story. Without that, they'll never reach their full potential. It's not what a character can do or what they look like that sets them apart. It's the reasons we find their story compelling.

I like that the book is presented as a toolkit rather than a strict rulebook. You are given the pieces with which to create whatever game you want, leaving the grittier details like magic or superpowers to the players, and advising groups to decide for themselves what rules they want to take as written and what rules they want to tweak. I can imagine that really helping to give a particular game its own idenity, rather than, for example, just another fantasy game, but with the Fate system.

Included in the book is a Veterans' Guide at the back, where players with previous Fate experience can see what's new at a glance. Brilliant idea, and again, such a simple thing that makes things so much easier for players.

As a bonus, there was a high quality bookmark included which features, on one side, a concise, but complete, summary of the base rules of the game.

If you're a Fate fan, buy a copy. It's worth having for the rules clarifications alone, many of which I'm porting over to my Dresden Files campaign.

If you're new to Fate, check it out anyway, or pick up the streamlined Fate Accelerated Edition. If you're into games where the focus is on character development and narrative over XP and loot, you may find what you're looking for here.

Jul 16, 2013

Surprise News

Hey everyone. As many of you know, my wife has just returned to work after her maternity leave.

Well we recently got a bit of a surprise. She's pregnant again, and due in January!

It was a shock, and we're still coming to terms with the fact that we'll have a third baby in the house in a few months. But we did want to have another baby at some point. It's just happening sooner than we expected. On the plus side, the children will all grow up so close in age that we shouldn't have to worry about jealousy at a new arrival. So in the long-run, this will be a good thing.

We've had a scan, and confirmed it's just one this time, so at least we should have room in the house, for the time being, and we may not need to consider upgrading our car (though Jen already has her heart set on a Land Rover). And we'll still have all the stuff needed for a new baby.

It's going to be a busy few years.

Jul 11, 2013

Happy Birthday Conor

Today our son Conor would have been two years old. We should be getting ready to celebrate with him and his two sisters, but we can't, and it feels so utterly unfair.

I know you could make the point that if we'd been able to keep Conor, we might not have had the girls. You can certainly say, and we agree, that losing Conor has made us more committed to being the best parents possible for Amy and Erica. We're stronger for it. Nothing could possibly be as painful as losing our son, so we're able to face bigger challenges.

But it doesn't change the fact that we miss him and it breaks our hearts that he's not with us.

I know that, with time, this will get easier. For now, we'll carry on. As hard as this time of year is, we refuse to let it break us. We have too much else to be grateful for, like our two wonderful daughters who will grow up knowing that they have a big brother always watching over them.

Today we're bringing Amy and Erica down to the beach, where like last year, we'll sit and talk to Conor, and release a balloon for him.

Happy birthday, Conor. We love you.

Jul 9, 2013


It's been a busy few days. It's Jen's last week of maternity leave so I've taken the week off work to spend time with her and the girls.

On Saturday we had the girls' christening. It was a good day, with perfect weather and lots of friends and family around. Come over to my Facebook profile to see some pictures

I warn you; there is much cutness.

Jul 4, 2013

The World is Saved

I've been thinking a lot about endings again...

Anyone else feel like reading a new book or playing a new game?

Jul 2, 2013

Writing the Dark Side

I've been working on the third book of the Locked Within Trilogy and getting close to the end. While writing some of the darker scenes, those moments where all hope is lost and we're exposed to the true extent of the villain's depravity, I got thinking about the dark side of writing. The twisted part of the writer's mind that desires to see the hero suffer because it knows that makes the eventual victory all the more satisfying.

How do you balance the desire to entertain with the desire to make the reader truly fear the villain? How far can you push before you cross the line and start to bore, or disgust, your readers?

The other concern is just how much do you break the hero? Every story needs the hero to have that "end of all hope" moment, the lowest point from which the hero must rise to claim victory. But if the hero is too hurt or too broken, how can they believably turn that around?

One of the things I've been conscious of in my writing is gratuity. I dislike gratuitous violence or gore. I like leaving a lot up to the reader's imagination and letting the reader own the experience, both in violent and non-violent scenes. It can be a challenge to really get across how dire a situation is, or how much a hero is suffering, and manage to hit that sweet spot between not enough detail, and so much graphic information that the reader is turned off.

The really twisted part of it, though, is that I love writing this stuff. I love putting the hero into situations where they're backed into a corner and made to suffer. The moment when the hero begins to turn the tide is often my favourite part of any story, and for that moment to have any meaning at all, the reader has to feel like they're suffering along with the hero.

Granted, there are some lines I don't want to cross, and for the time being I can't see myself including certain plot points in my work. Rape, for one. I imagine I would have a hard time writing a scene where a child was made to suffer, too. I don't want to say I'll never look into those darker areas, because at some point I may want to explore them. But I'll never use them as a quick and easy way to create tension.

That's actually a good rule of thumb for any dark scene. Is it just in there because you needed a quick way to create tension or make the reader feel a certain way about a character? If so, it's a good idea to reconsider it and see if you can't find a less disturbing way to achieve the same thing. Readers will never feel they're missing out if you hold back on the graphic content, but they may feel put off if you show them more than they're ready for.

And that's really what I've tried to keep to while working on Book 3. In Locked Within and Silent Oath, I establish a certain level of violence, profanity, and sexual content. I don't want to shock my readers by going too far outside of their expectations, so I keep what I've already written as a guideline for the tone and content of the final installment.

Have you guys got anything to add? Any preferences as regards darker material and subject matters? Has a series ever surprised you by unexpectedly shifting in tone? How did it make you feel?