Mar 31, 2015

Taking a break

Tomorrow kicks off the A to Z Blogging Challenge, when the blogosphere explodes in people furiously keeping pace with the demands of writing one blog post a day (except for Sundays).

I know I promised I'd have some Hero's Journey posts ready for you guys but some new projects came my way and I've had to jump at the chance to go for them. This means I'll have to delay the Hero's Journey posts, unfortunately.

I figured, with the other work I have to do, and given that most people will be caught up in the A to Z  Challenge anyway, I may as well take a blogging break for April. Don't worry, I'll still be around, reading blogs and posting on Twitter and Facebook, and you should see some new things from me soon enough, as well. Aside from that, catch you guys in May!

Edit to add: I tell a lie. I will be posting here if anything newsworthy crops up that I feel the need to comment on, but I won't be specifically planning or scheduling posts.

Mar 25, 2015

This "Clean Reader" Business

You may have seen some articles on a new e-reader app called Clean Reader. It's showing up all over my social media feeds and well, authors and publishers are not impressed.

You see, this is the fine line between an editorial creative decision, and censorship. When a work of art is presented with certain content that others might find offensive, that's a consensual choice on the part of those who create it. When that work is crafted, and then the creators reconsider, deciding to remove certain content, or amend it, so that it might be less offensive, that's a consensual choice on the part of those who create it.

An outside party, removing or changing content against the wishes of the creator, to suit their own sensibilities, is censorship. And it is a dangerous thing.

Art should be uncomfortable - If the artist wants it to be.

Art should be easy - If the artist wants it to be.

Art should be challenging - If the artist wants it to be.

Art should suit the demands of the market - If the artist wants it to.

We should be able to write the books we want because we are willing to accept how those books will be regarded by our readers, not because we know that if they don't like something, they'll just download some app to remove the icky parts. 

Readers should be able to choose what to read because they want to be challenged, because they're willing to accept that some books will push boundaries. They should be able to decide what they don't want to read, as well. And those decisions should be made based on the material agreed on by the author and their publisher. Not sanitised by an unrelated third-party. 

If an author/publisher decides to release a less-profane version of their work, that's cool. There are plenty of examples of classic literature released in versions edited for younger readers. But that's the decision of the people who hold the rights to those books. 

Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Mar 20, 2015

Time to start new things

Today is a remarkably rare celestial event. We're experiencing a solar eclipse and a supermoon on the same day as the spring equinox.

The spring equinox is a time of new beginnings, when day finally becomes dominant over night. Here in the northern hemisphere, it is also World Storytelling Day, making it particularly significant for authors like myself.

An eclipse or a supermoon would, in and of themselves, make this day all the more auspicious. To have both, resulting in three celestial events coinciding at once, is a once in a lifetime occurrence. While all the universe moves along its course, right now, on our little world, our solar system has aligned in a unique way, one which none of us may see again.

The gods are watching.

This is a good day to start something new. To take on a task you've been putting off. To take a risk you've been afraid to face. I know what I'll be doing.

Let's see what greatness we can accomplish.

Mar 11, 2015


(Update: The feelings expressed in this post, while true at the time, were enmeshed in complicated issues which came to a head a couple of years later. I am no longer on positive terms with my family of origin.)

Today is my Dad's birthday, and this Sunday is Mother's Day, so I thought this would be a good time to pause for a moment and say how much I love my parents.

Sure we've had our disagreements, but they've always had my back, especially during particularly difficult and painful challenges I've faced. When it counted, they were there for me. And they've always been there for the small things, too. Whether it's putting up with a small child prattling on about He-Man and Transformers, or that day they realised their quiet, withdrawn teenage son actually wanted to spend his life writing stories and expecting people to pay him for the pleasure of reading them.

So, given the themes of parenthood present in Lady Raven, and the complex relationship Cora has with her mother, contrasted to that between Laden and his father (to say nothing of Idella's parent issues...), there was only one thing I could say in my dedication:

To my parents, who taught me to fly

My parents nurtured my every interest. From the toy crazes and hobbies that lasted maybe a month, to the long-term stuff like gaming, theatre, and writing. They put me through college. They gave Jen and I place to live when we came home from Manchester. They taught me to believe in myself and to never, ever stop fighting for the things I wanted.

Thank you, Mum and Dad. I wouldn't be the man I am today without you.

And, as it's Mother's Day this weekend, why not pick up a copy of Lady Raven for yours?

Mar 10, 2015

Teaser Tenth

Welcome to #TeaserTenth, a monthly chance for authors to share snippets of their work. It's organised by JA Belfield, and this is my first time taking part.

With the release of Red Skies coming up in a few months, I've decided to share an excerpt from Lady Raven:

She rose from the water, taking a deep breath as she climbed out of the bath. Standing once again before the mirror, she studied her reddened flesh, already fading to pale, milky white. She grimaced against the sudden cold and reached for the clothes she had picked out.
Black trousers, made for a young man; loose enough to move in. A white shirt which she buttoned up with mechanical repetition. Next a black waistcoat, then the long overcoat she’d taken from the White Raven. 
Finally, watching her face in the mirror, framed by short ebony hair, Cora took her grandmother’s black tricorne and placed it on her head. She nodded.
“It’s time to fly.”

Mar 9, 2015

April Hero's Journey Challenge

Those of you who've been following my blog for a while may remember that I did a Hero's Journey Challenge a while ago.

That was one of the most fun and challenging series of blog posts I've ever done, and I've decided I'd like to do it again. So, for the month of April, while the rest of the Internet goes crazy with the A to Z Challenge, I will take on different movies and show how the Hero's Journey fits into them. And, like last time, the challenge is up to you. From now until the end of March, I will take suggestions for movies to watch as part of this challenge.

So if there's a movie you've always wanted to see broken down into this universal story analysis, or you think you know of a movie that the Hero's Journey can't possibly apply to, send me the title.

The rules are as follows:

1: English-language movies only (or ones with very good subtitles)
2: Animation or live action are both acceptable
3: I reserve the right to turn down a challenge if it's something I haven't seen and I'm not able to buy or borrow a copy to watch.

Towards the end of March, in preparation, I will tackle Kung Fu Panda 2, to give you an idea of how the Hero's Journey works if you're not familiar with it. 

Mar 5, 2015

What Are You Reading?

Today is World Book Day!

I can't think of something that's brought more undiluted joy into my life than books and stories, so the idea of a day just to celebrate books is at once exciting and, I admit, confusing. Why isn't every day World Book Day??

I'm reading RF Long's awesome A Crack In Everything. Forget your Ulysses, this is the Dublin Book. Fairies and angels and a wonderfully haunting modern view of Dublin.

What are you guys reading? What do you think of it? Stop by and let me know.

If you're currently between books, or looking for something to read next, why not grab a copy of Lady Raven? And remember, whatever book you're reading, nothing says "thank you" to an author like a review. ;-)

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, 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,, 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)