Sep 27, 2013

Blog Tour Schedule

And we come to the end of this series of Silent Oath blog posts. From next week, I'll be travelling around various blogs, giving interviews and discussing various in-depth topics relating to the Locked Within Trilogy.

I hope everyone has enjoyed these posts so far. I promise you there's even more to come over the next several weeks.

Here's a run-down of where I'll be stopping along my blog tour, and the topics I'll be dealing with in each:

I hope you'll join me as I discuss the challenges and opportunities Silent Oath has offered me, and share in my excitement as we get closer and closer to the continuation of the Locked Within Trilogy.

Sep 25, 2013

Taking Sides Sample

Earlier this month, I announced the release of Taking Sides: Cynthia, a short story set between Locked Within and Silent Oath.

Today I'm posting an excerpt, to give you a taste of what's been happening to Cynthia since her experiences in Locked Within.
Cynthia Keller sat in her car, listening to  the rain hammer down on the windscreen. She checked her watch. Five minutes late. Typical.

Give him a break. It had been so hard for him. Not that she’d come through unscathed, but at least she had her job and her home. 

A dull ache had been growing deep inside her leg for the last hour. It had spread from her femur through her knee and shin, up into her hip. Enough was enough. She searched her purse for her pills. Her hand passed over her  revolver and lay on the handle for a moment. The cold  metal was comforting.

She grabbed the first bottle she found and grimaced. They weren’t her painkillers, they were the ones that were supposed to help her sleep. The first night she took them she had awful nightmares, but she couldn’t wake up. Her neighbours asked her, the following morning, if she was all right. They’d heard her screaming. She hadn’t taken them since, but liked knowing they were there. The same applied to the anxiety pills. She rarely took them anymore, but it was good having them to hand, just in case. 

The painkillers were long, plastic-coated things in red and white capsules. She took them with some water and closed her eyes while they did their work, diverting her mind from the oncoming pain and providing an added sense of calm.

Her phone vibrated in her bag and she fished it out. Laura’s name appeared on the screen.

“Hey,” Cynthia said, followed by an awkward silence.

Available now for Kindle

Sep 23, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: End Credits

We come to the end of my Silent Oath Soundtrack series. I hope you've enjoyed listening to these tracks as much as I valued the inspiration and motivation they provided.

Before I give you the final piece, I'd like to invite you all to share what songs and instrumental pieces you feel captures Nathan Shepherd, his world, his friends, his enemies, and his story. I love learning how others read into my work, so I'd be delighted to hear from you guys on this.

This final piece is another repeat from last year. At the end of the book, when all has been done, despite his new scars, Nathan still has to get back up and keep fighting. As his dad said to him, "You'll always have New York," and that means New Yorks needs him. Nathan can't let his city down. No matter how hard the struggle, he has to keep going, as the city's protector. Only this time, hopefully, he won't have to do it alone.

Sep 20, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: Heroic Moments

For those of you coming to the Silent Oath Book Launch, there have been some changes to the venue and the format. Check out my updated details here.

The Goodreads giveaway for a signed copy of Silent Oath is picking up steam. You can check it out here.

Nathan Shepherd is a hero. This is because I write books about heroes doing heroic things and defeating evil villains. Every hero needs heroic music to back them up, and Nathan is no exception.

I used two tracks, primarily, to keep myself focused for the action scenes where Nathan needed to be at his best.

Many of you will remember this one. I posted it last year for the Locked Within soundtrack series. This is still Nathan's heroic theme, the track I use to gird myself for his "save the day" moments.

This is such a rousing piece, by the amazing Jeremy Soule. Composed for The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, even without the lyric translation, you can feel the building emotion and power behind it. I listened to this piece, obsessively, while fine-tuning the final climactic scene of Silent Oath. It was perfect for the kind of desperate, brutal conflict I was writing.

Sep 18, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: Unbroken

This is a busy week! I have two bits of news.

First, Silent Oath is now available for Kindle! If the wait for the print edition is too long, you can grab it right now at a special low introductory price.

And as if that wasn't enough, I've listed a Goodreads giveaway for a signed copy once the print edition is released. Just click on to enter and be in with a chance.

And now, on with today's soundtrack.

With every book, I pick a single song which becomes my primary motivator, the book's theme song, so to speak. This is the song I listen to at the start of every writing session, in the mornings when I'm off to work, and in the evening to keep my mind focused.

This song, from the Avengers soundtrack, perfectly captured what I wanted for Silent Oath. This book sees Nathan face his most dangerous adversary, and discover threats he never knew existed. The odds stack against him with each turn of the page.

But he's not alone. He has his friends. Cynthia and Cadence return to help. He recruits new allies to join his fight against the Council of Chains. Most importantly, Elena deSantis, the reincarnation of a lost lover, joins him and together they discover new strengths. If they stand together, they can save New York.

Sep 16, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: Santa Fe

I love westerns. I can't get enough of the pseudo-mythological themes to most of the best westerns, the idea of the West as this last bastion of heroes and legend. While not to everyone's tastes, two of my favourites are Young Guns and Young Guns II. The soundtrack album for the second movie was put together by Jon Bon Jovi.

The songs on the Blaze of Glory album where some of the first to tear into my heart as a child. Perhaps because of my love for the movies. Perhaps because of the stunning lyrics. Either way, they have a special place in my heart.

In particular, this song, Santa Fe, tells of a gunslinger looking back at his sins and resigning himself to either damnation, giving one last plea to his maker, not for forgiveness, but to be allowed to live, since he sees his only choices are to go to Hell or live forever.

I'll leave you to discover how this song relates to Nathan, as he deals his nemesis, and remembers the things he has seen and suffered in a newly-remembered lifetime; his most recent life before his current incarnation.

Sep 12, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: If You Were A Woman (And I Was A Man)

Next up on the Silent Oath Soundtrack, we have the following track from Bonnie Tyler.

More cheese, and a bit tongue in cheek given that this series is about reincarnation and both Nathan and Elena have had at least one lifetime as lovers with opposite genders to their current ones.

But I think this song does express the conflict they feel. They're meeting each other after decades apart, decades in which they've lived their own separate lives. How would you handle that? How would you cope with jealousy over other lovers from before you both found each other again? What about unresolved problems from your previous life? What if your lives have made you so different that you're not sure you can make it work in this lifetime?

Nathan and Elena may have been lovers before, but that doesn't mean the road ahead will be easy, or even all that clear. There are things they have done, and more choices to come, that they'll have to overcome if they stand a chance of being together again.

Sep 10, 2013

Silent Oath Soundtrack: All Coming Back To Me Now

Welcome to the first post in the Silent Oath Soundtrack series. These posts will take us through most of September, letting me share the music that inspired and motivated me to write key scenes and themes for Nathan's latest adventure.

I know it's a bit cheesy, but I love this song. It has obvious parallels to Nathan and his new love interest, Elena. It speaks of memories, allowing two lovers to almost rediscover each other, but with a bitter tone that suggests a painful rift between them. The song asks whether the two can be together, but never provides an answer. The fact that Meat Loaf's cover version features both male and female voices singing to each other seals it in my mind.

This is Nathan and Elena's song for this book, hands down.

Sep 5, 2013

The Book That Wasn't

Without spoiling anything for Silent Oath, the book you will read is not the same as the book I originally wrote.

Anyone who follows me online, or has read my bio, knows that my wife and I lost our first child, Conor, when he was three days old. It was a painful time, and the months leading up to it were stressful because in the back of our minds we knew there was a possibility that he wouldn't survive. Everyone, from our friends to our relatives, coped in their own way. I coped by writing. Losing myself in writing, to be exact.

I worked on two novels around this time. One was a young adult story about a boy cursed to turn into a monster every night. I haven't finished that one yet, and will likely come back to it down the road. The other was the sequel to Locked Within, which went through a number of title changes. Unlike Locked Within, and whether due to never having written a sequel before, or the emotional state I was in, I was never fully clear on what this book was supposed to be about.

Like me, Nathan ended up in a muddled state. He tried to shoulder his burdens alone, pushing away attempts to help, and generally being a bit of a self-righteous jerk :-) This was a story about a man who needed help, but wouldn't take it, even when he was in serious trouble. At face value, not a terrible basis for a novel. That is, if it hadn't been for me validating his decision at every turn by turning Nathan Shepherd from a strong, but vulnerable, man, still human and fallible despite his strengths, into a grim vigilante who was always right and always able to come out on top. The story lacked focus and heart. I set aside the characters who helped bring out Nathan's humanity and decency, replacing them with people for him to beat up.

It was, perhaps, a cathartic exercise. It helped me expunge all these negative feelings. And besides, I figured, it was just the second book out of a 6-book series. I could allow it to be weak and less character-driven, surely?

No, of course I couldn't. A bad second novel could have been the end of my career. Certainly the end of Nathan's story. No reader is going to keep reading a series if they just feel "meh" about the story and the characters.

It was Allie, the submissions editor at WiDo, who was finally able to make me see what needed to be done. Her simple suggestion, to combine this second book with my ideas for the third, got me really thinking, analysing what I'd written for the first time. Faced with this re-write, I realised that what I'd written was far from my best work. It wouldn't cut it. So I sat down and went to work. Again, I dived right in. I worked every spare moment to complete the revised manuscript, all while in the middle of preparing for the release of Locked Within. But this time I made sure to keep my head above water and really think about how the story fit into the grand scheme.

The 6-book series became a trilogy, one where Nathan's arch nemesis and his love interest would both be introduced in the second book, the perfect time to shift focus. I didn't just have a new book, I had a plan. Locked Within introduced the setting, the city in need of a saviour, and Nathan himself as the hero. Silent Oath evolves from that, introducing more allies, more reasons for Nathan to fight, and reveals the true enemy, the one who will test the limits of Nathan's every strength.

To find out more, and see what trials are to come, you'll have to wait a little longer.

Sep 3, 2013

The Road So Far

Supernatural fans will get the reference ;-)

Here we are, just over a month away from the next chapter in Nathan Shepherd's story. Where to begin preparing for this? With Locked Within, I had 20 years of hopes and dreams fulfilled and all that emotion just rushed from me in every post. This time it's different. Not any less exciting, but I'm much more aware of what's to follow once the book is released. There's still a lot of work to do just for Silent Oath, not to mention getting ready to conclude the series with the third book.

So how did I get here?

It's all Nathan's fault. I swear. The moment he went snooping around those murder scenes in a dark alley in Manhattan, he, and I, were doomed. He opened a door into a new world that would change the both of us forever.

You see, like Nathan, I learned something about myself when I discovered the world of writing. Much as Nathan can't stop fighting, no matter what toll it takes on him and the people he cares about, I can't stop, either. Granted, I hope to balance my work and my personal life a little better than Nathan, but then, I don't have to deal with vampires and ancient gods every day.

By the time Silent Oath is out, it will have been about 11 months since the release of Locked Within. By this stage in my preparations last year, I was caught between the thrill of my first release and the stress of trying to get the bookstore to order stock in time for the launch. I was looking forward to my first time at Octocon, Ireland's sci-fi and fantasy convention, at which I met the wonderful Ruth Long, who'll be officially launching Silent Oath for me. I, honestly, had no idea how much more work lay ahead and how my own series would change beyond what I'd imagined.

You see, Silent Oath is not the book I originally planned as the sequel to Locked Within. And it certainly wasn't going to be the mid-point in a trilogy. I'll talk a bit more about that next time, but seeing how I was able to make the book stronger, when faced with the terrifying prospect of a re-write, has made me stronger, both as a writer and as a person.

It's been a hard road. I don't talk about all the low points I've felt on this journey, or the things I look back on with regret. I try to keep my public profile positive, because I believe that brings more positive things into my life. And really, there's enough negativity out in the world. I would rather share my joys than my sorrows.

That said, I've come through many fears and challenges to get to this point. Despite all I've been through, I still get scared. Whereas Locked Within was the realisation of a lifelong dream, Silent Oath is me throwing down the gauntlet. I've made my dream come true, and now I want more. I want this to be my career. I want to get up in the morning and know that my two jobs are to look after my kids and to write great books. I don't want to be a flash in the pan, and fade from peoples' thoughts. I may have to accept a career on a slow burn, but I'll take a slow burn that lasts and lasts over a burst of success, then nothing.

Whatever it takes, I will keep writing, keep telling these stories. Silent Oath is my way of declaring that I'm here to stay, and I hope everyone enjoys what I've got in store.