Feb – More events and stuff

Eesh, it’s already been a couple of weeks already since my last post. This is going to be a quick one. So book stuff first, then some event stuff, and then some award stuff.

Book 4

We’ve settled on a title for book 4 (the first in the new Age of Dread trilogy). However, now comes the part where the publisher goes away to check it doesn’t already exist, so unfortunately I can’t reveal it just yet. I’ve also sent in some thoughts for the cover and I’m in the middle of my edits. So book 4 continues to roll forward at a good pace and it will be a real, shiny, physical thing by October of this year. That seems so far away and yet also just around the corner.

Events

I’m doing another one with those lovely people at Waterstones in Birmingham. Only this time it’s not a publishing workshop, it’s just an evening of SFF goodness alongside two other local authors,  James Brogden and Ren Warom. It’s on Friday 10th March at 6.30pm, and you need to get in touch with Waterstones to reserve a seat, but the event is FREE. We’ll be chatting about our work, influences, getting published and whatever else comes into our heads. So come along, get some books signed and enjoy!

Don’t forget I’m also going to be at Eastercon in April, 14-17th, at the Hilton Metropole, in Birmingham, which is basically right next door to the NEC and super easy to get to via train from Birmingham International. I’m hoping to be on some panels but no news yet.

Battlemage shortlisted for Hellfest Inferno Prize

Battlemage has been shortlisted by my French publisher, Bragelonne, for the first Hellfest Inferno Prize! Hellfest Inferno is a readers’ choice award launched by Bragelonne and Hellfest, a very famous French metal music festival. Voting is via the following website where you can win a 3 day free pass to the Hellfest festival and voting closes on March 6th with the winner announced later in the month, so get voting!

That’s it for now, I’m off to do some more editing.

Bloodmage tour roundup

I’m back from my UK tour for Bloodmage, the second book in the Age of Darkness trilogy.

The first stop was Sheffield, which was a lot of fun. Samuel, and the other staff at Waterstones Orchard Square, had arranged some coffee and nibbles and after rushing to get there, I was ready for a drink and some cake. There were a few writers in the audience so a lot of the questions were around how to get published, finding an agent, working with a publisher and so on. There was still plenty of time for a reading and to sign a few books.

After Sheffield I went to Middlesbrough where Niel Bushnell and I had a great discussion about our different routes to getting published. It was also a good opportunity for us to catch up as I’d not seen Niel since last year at another event. We shared some more tips about writing and getting published and explored some of the different options that are available today, compared with only a few years ago.

The last stop was my home town of Whitley Bay, where I grew up. I’d not been back in a few years and before the event I had some time to explore what had changed and was what the same since my last visit. Many thanks to everyone at the library for their support and for everyone who braved the awful weather to come and see me.

My presentation about my writing and my journey to getting published was very popular and I received a lot of positive comments. Even more popular was the fantastic Battlemage cake that my friend, Katie, had made for me. It was also chocolate cake, which is my favourite, and at one point I almost didn’t get a piece as it was rapidly disappearing. Overall it was a tiring but enjoyable book tour.

It’s only six months until Chaosmage is here and I start all over again. So let me know if you want me to come and visit a bookshop near you next time.

Battlemage Cake - Whitley Bay 2016

Post-birthday blog

Friday was another birthday for me, not a landmark one, so following that and a few other developments, I thought I’d do a bit of a round-up blog for the end of this month.

Today I just received copies of the French version of Battlemage – Mage de Guerre – from my French publisher – Bragelonne. So if you want more info or to get your hands on copy in French, their website is the best place to start. It looks amazing and I love the cover.

Next month Bloodmage comes out and I’ve got a few signing events around the UK. I’m really excited about this book in a different way to Battlemage. It was my début book and this is now a chance to show readers that it wasn’t a fluke, and I can do it again. It’s a very different kind of book, so there’s some anxiety about how it will be received if people are expecting more of the same. In some ways I think it is a more accomplished book, but that’s just me.

I’m also doing a Goodreads giveaway, and this is open to people all around the world. I will sign and post 5 copies to 5 winners. There’s still a week left, so you just need to be a member of Goodreads to enter which is free to join.

I’ve just sent back the proof amends for book 3, title currently not announced, which means that is the last time I will see it before it comes out in print later this year. So, technically in terms of writing for the Age of Darkness trilogy…I’m done.

So that brings me on to the next thing. I’ve made a start, and I have a stack of ideas and have written several thousand words in notes. Character arcs, exciting tentpole moments from the story, ideas for where I see the story going at a top level. Then I start breaking it down into segments and themes and chunks. I’m writing it all down and then I start to sift it into some kind of semblance of order. I’ve not booked to attend any conventions this year until Fantasycon at the end of September in Scarborough. So that gives me a few months clear to knuckle down and focus on this next set of books and getting some words done on the first draft of book 1.

Other things are ticking along in the background, comic book projects are still going and also I’m still doing two podcasts a month with Bags of Action and Comic Book Outsiders. There will be an announcement next month about the podcasts, and an adjustment, but generally not a lot will change. I still love doing it which is why I’m still doing them 8 years on from when we started.

Spring is here so that means it’s time for me to start planting stuff out again in the garden, fruit and veg. I never thought I’d become a bit like Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, but hey, it’s happened. I enjoy it, it keeps me active, and home grown stuff tastes yummy.  That also reminds me, now that I’ve moved to a new area of the country, there are a lot of different local breweries to try. So I might be posting a few more real ale reviews on the website soon.

My reading has been pretty slow lately as it’s been busy with book 3 work, but I’m gradually getting to the end of Assassin’s Quest. I am enjoying it, but the book is very dense and about 800 pages, so it is taking me a while. My to read pile is mocking me, so I’m going to try make more time to read as it becomes a bit quieter for the next few months. Right, time to get back to pondering the next big thing.

First Bloodmage event of 2016

libraryIt’s now only a few months until Bloodmage comes out in April and I’ve already got one event booked. There will be a couple of signing events to mark the publication of Bloodmage and as soon as they’re sorted I’ll post the dates and details on the events page. They will likely be around the publication date of 14 April.

In the meantime, the first event booked in the diary is on Thursday 28th April I will be going back to my home town, Whitley Bay, to speak at the local library.

I haven’t been back to my home town for a few years. I moved away over 15 years ago to work in another part of the country, as did many of my friends from school. I’ve been back every now and then, noting the changes and improvements to the town, including the library itself. The old library was a pretty battered concrete building on the sea front and it was kind of an extended portakabin, but despite its unglamorous exterior, I spent a lot of hours in there. The staff were always excellent and it helped foster my love of reading and stories. I saw all of these amazing books and aspired to write one myself. Fast forward about twenty years and here we are.

library2The new library is right in the town centre and it is very modern with lots of glass and shiny metal and I am thrilled to be returning home to talk about my journey to publication.

No doubt there will be some familiar faces in the crowd and probably some people I can’t name as it’s been many years since we last met!

I’m really looking forward to going back to Whitley Bay and seeing my book on the shelf in my home town library. If anything I hope that my visit sparks the imagination of some local children who also want to write and perhaps in another twenty years they’ll come back to see their book on the shelf.

Updated Appearances

I’m hoping to have some news in the next couple of weeks about events closer to the time of publication for Battlemage. However, I’m going to be appearing in a few places in the meantime in the run up to the end of September and publication date. So I’ve added details as I have them below and dates on the Events page.

First off I’ll be at the Goldboro Books Fantasy in the Court Event on Thursday 6th August. This event is run in association with Hodderscape. More information is available about the event here.

I’m also attending the Nine Worlds Geekfest on Friday 7th August to Sunday 9th August in Heathrow. As well as co-running the Podcasting track, I’ll be appearing in a couple of places.

I’m on the New Voices Panel on the All the Books track on Saturday night from 10.15pm to 11.30pm. Last year this involved a short reading so I’d expect more of the same.

I’m also on the Writing the Other panel on Sunday 9th from 3.15pm to 4.30pm. More information about the event is available here, and you can access the full programme here and start planning your panels. With so many tracking running in parallel you really need to plan what you want to see in advance.

 

Eastercon – Dysprosium

This bank holiday weekend I’ll be at Eastercon or, Dysprosium, as it is called this year, the 66th annual event where SFF fans gather to drink, I mean, talk about books and stuff.

This year there are some exciting and interesting guests of honour that I’m looking forward to meeting, but I’m actually more excited about meeting up with friends. These are people I only get to see maybe once or twice a year. You can’t choose who you work with and I have often ended up in an environment for my day job where I’m lucky if one person shares even one of my passions and most often the number is zero. At a convention I have something in common with almost everyone and it’s a great place to just geek out, relax in good company and have all of those important conversations like, why Batman is so much cooler than Superman. It means I can get into the nitty gritty on certain characters or novels, and rake over stuff with a fine toothed comb if I want and no one will suddenly switch the conversation to their children, or pensions, or football, because they can’t join in and have no clue what I’m on about. Conventions are a great place to belong and find your tribe. They are a great place to relax where I can be myself and I don’t have to hide what I enjoy as there’s no mockery.

I can’t choose who I work with, but I can choose who I spend my free time with and, geek conversations aside, I find the people at these conventions are always well read, thoughtful and intelligent. Sadly there are always a few bad apples, and the convention organisers work very hard to prevent issues so that everyone can have a good time, but generally the atmosphere is relaxed.

So if you’ve not been to one of these events before I would encourage you to do so, as you’ll probably meet a lot of like-minded people who share your passions, and you’ll come away with some new friends. If you see me at Eastercon at the weekend, come over and say hi and we’ll sort out once and for all which is better, Marvel or DC comics.