Tag Archives: orbit books

Other Worlds Event – Sat 6th October

Just a quick post to serve as a reminder that next Saturday, 6th October in Nottingham, I will be taking part in the Other Worlds event at the Nottingham Writers’ Studio.

This is a full day of panels and workshops. The schedule and more information about the event is available on the website here, as well as how to buy tickets for the day.

I’m going to be there from mid-morning and I’m doing a couple of panels and a workshop on Fantasy Worldbuilding, with a special subtitle – Consider the Potato. All will be revealed about what the heck I’m talking about in the workshop which is going to be interactive and hopefully a lot of fun. All you need is a pen and an imagination!

Click here for more information about the event and to book your tickets

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Magefall – Time is weird

So, Magefall is published this week. Yeah, how did that happen so fast? On the one hand, it feels like 5 minutes since Mageborn was published. On the other hand it’s actually been nearly a year and thinking back over the last twelve months quite a lot has happened to me in that time. To quote Roy Batty “I’ve seen things….”

I never used to understand keeping a journal but now, as time goes on and the years tick by, I can see the appeal. It’s easy to forget about what you’ve actually done in a month or a year as your brain only picks out a handful of  highlights unless you really dig down and focus. I’ve taken to writing things in my calendar and occasionally I flick back through it to remind myself what’s happened, and to try and make time slow down a bit.

So my first novel, Battlemage, was published in 2015. Also, that feels like ages ago and, at the same time, just like yesterday. As a debut author with Orbit my first trilogy was on an accelerated release of 6 month gaps so we had Battlemage in 2015, then Bloodmage and Chaosmage in 2016. Mageborn came out in 2017 and now we’re here with Magefall in 2018 – plus I had a digital/audio novella, Of Gods and Men, come out in February this year. Mage 3 (no idea for a title yet) is already written and will be out next year in 2019. Currently I’m working on something new, which in theory would come out in 2020 or later.

So my head is constantly split between different time periods. I’m pondering about the past, trying to live in the present and am always thinking about the future. It was a lot worse when I was working on the first three books at the same time in different stages. All of this jumping around is confusing and sometimes it can give me a bit of a headache.

So, right now, this week, I’m going to celebrate Magefall being published, my 5th novel, which is available to buy in the US from here or in the UK from here and leave you with a shiny picture of the two books in this trilogy together. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Breaking all the rules

I’m currently working on my 7th novel (since being published – not including all the trunk novels) and something weird has happened. I’m breaking some of my own rules.

You have to write every day. You have to plan every book. You must not plan the story, let it flow organically. You need to set a daily word count. You should write to music. You should write in silence. Write in different places. Don’t have a set routine, be organic. Write in public. You absolutely have to get scrivener (or another program) in order to write. Use cards on a white board and plan stuff that way.

There is not one way to write a book. I need to make that clear because the most common questions I’m asked by writers trying to get an agent and then get published are focused on the above. Do I have to write a 100o words a day? Is it better to write in the morning or afternoon? Should I write with music? Should I work on more than one book at once?

Find your own way. Find what works for you. My way might not work for you. I’ve included a few conflicting statements above as I know some people who plan and some who write organically. Some who write in silence, some who need music. The following in my approach. It may not work for anyone else except me.

I always write at home, on Word, and nothing else. I plan my books, start, middle, end and milestones. The creative part comes in the leaps between milestones. I make notes in a notebook, on post it notes, on my phone, on scraps of paper, then write them up, and collect them together. I plan my stories. I always write with soundtrack music and can’t write with any music that has lyrics. I tend to write most days but am not rigid about taking a day off and I tend to set a daily word count for myself as I have deadlines. The word count keeps me moving, keeps me motivated and I constantly have one eye on the calendar. All of those are my rules and that’s what works for me. The music and being at home helps get my brain into a familiar space and off I go, sort of like muscle memory.

For my 7th novel, I’ve broken quite a few of my own rules. I found out when I started I couldn’t write with any kind of music. Nothing was working, which at first had me worried. So one day, after I’d revised my notes so many times I knew I had to actually write something I just tried it without any music. And suddenly it worked. The words started flowing. I had a new rhythm. I didn’t care why it was working only that it was working, so I continued. Months later I’m still writing this book without any music.

I’m tweaking my chapters. I never do this. When I sit down to write, I look back at what I’ve done on the previous day, I might tinker with the last paragraph or two, if it’s mid-chapter, or just glance at it if I am starting a new chapter. Then I move forward. Always forward so I finish a first draft and don’t get stuck in the endless cycle of trying to make it ‘perfect’. A first draft is never perfect. It’s always a mess. As Terry Pratchett said ‘A first draft is just you telling yourself the story’ and I absolutely believe that. The reworking comes later to make it flow and make it into more cohesive whole.

But this time I’m…tweaking things. Not to the point where I’m frozen and stop, but overnight, or when I’m away from the keyboard, I’m running conversations or bits of the previous day in my head, then I rush back and fix it that day, or first thing the next day. I’m still making good progress but this is very new and different. It might be because it is set in a new world, and I am still discovering it and the characters, but I also think it’s partially because this is a new style for me.

No music and polishing as I go. The first draft is still going to be rough, no doubt, but I’m happy with it so far. Ask me again in 6 months when I start to revise it and I will have a different answer, but it’s good to feel that way right now. I’m still planning and I have a skeleton plot which I’m following. I still set daily word counts and I still take a day off when I feel like it, especially if I’m tired or the well is getting a bit dry. A rest and complete break really can help me recharge the batteries.

So, somehow this time, it’s all new and different and fresh, despite it being my fifteen or sixteenth novel. I’ve honestly lost count at this point. But the important thing is it’s working and I will finish this first draft as planned. Stop worrying about how other people do it. Find what works for you and just finish the book.

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That’s a wrap….for now

The first draft of Mage3 (currently untitled), the third book in the Age of Dread trilogy, has now gone off to my editors at Orbit. So that’s it, I’m done….for the time being at least. In a few months’ time the next round of hard work will begin with edits and so on, but for now, I’m finished.

Looking back I think it will be about 10 years since I first sat down and started writing the first draft of Battlemage. I worked on that book for about 3 years on and off before I finally thought it was ready to submit to an agent. After that there was more work on it with my agent and then the publisher, and then I started work on the subsequent books in the first trilogy, the second trilogy and the novella.

I hate how everything is now ‘a journey’ and I’m not going to say I’ve been on one but these last 5 years in particular have been very interesting. Whenever you enter a new industry there’s always a lot to learn. In my case there was the perception of publishing from an outsider’s view and then I discovered the reality once I sat down with people like my agent, my editor and so on. It’s been eye-opening and thought provoking experience, that’s for sure.

Over the last few years I’ve definitely learned a lot from professionals in the industry but also from other writers. Those who have been in the business longer than me and have more books on the shelves. People have been happy to share their experiences and although everyone’s is unique to some degree there are patterns you can learn from.

When I started trying to get published (many years ago) self publishing was purely a phrase that meant vanity press. Now it’s transformed into something totally different. Many people prefer self publishing. Some have moved from self publishing to more traditional publishing and I know of a few authors who have gone the other way, preferring more freedom and control over all aspects of the process. I also know of a few hybrid authors who do a bit of both. So the landscape has changed dramatically in the last ten years, especially with the growth of ebooks and the internet.

So what’s next? I’ve already got some ideas, but I need to sit down to discuss them with my agent before being able to share any news. I can say that whatever I do next it will not be set in the same world. It will be something different and fresh in a new world. I need a change. That’s not to say I won’t ever come back to the same world, just not right now. I have two very distinct options at the moment but I need to mull them over and talk them through before deciding.

So at the moment I’m having a little bit of a break, I’m going to put my feet up, catch up on all the TV I’ve missed, maybe see a few films and then get back to work. So watch this space for any news!

 

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Fantasy Authors in Conversation – Tuesday 24th April – Stafford

Fantasy authors in conversationIn a couple of weeks time I will be in conversation with GX Todd and Storm Constantine at Stafford Library on Tuesday 24th April.

Last week I joined Brad Beaulieu and Anna Stephens at Waterstones in Birmingham for a similar event where we talked about a range of topics including world building, creating characters and planning stories. As it turned out we all have a slightly different approach so it made for a fascinating evening  talking to them about our differences and similarities.

The next event at Stafford library is from 7-9pm on Tuesday 24th April and tickets are priced at £3.

If you would like to reserve a ticket you can contact the library on their web page here.

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New Podcast Interview – The Functional Nerds

I recently chatted to John and Patrick from the Fuctional Nerds podcast and had a great time. We talk a little about the books but mostly we just geek out about some TV and geek news from recent headlines.

The Functional Nerds Podcast – Episode 351

The Functional Nerds

 

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Stuff this week

Of Gods and Men

Of Gods and Men novellaThe new digital and audio novella has now been published!!!!!

Of Gods and Men is a prequel to the entire series so far, it is set before the events of Battlemage, so if you’re brand new you can read it as an intro to my style of writing and the whole world. If you’re an existing reader then it gives more info on a favourite character that people often ask me about, Vargus, and it has easter eggs that feed into the second trilogy. It’s available on Amazon UK, and Amazon US, with links from there to the audio Audible version.

Reddit Fantasy AMA

REDDIT LOGOI’m doing an AMA tomorrow on Thursday 7th February. What’s an AMA? Well, it’s an Ask Me Anything thread where fantasy fans can log on and ask any question they like about the books, characters, my writing technique, publishing, my hobbies, computer games, my favourite cheese, pretty much anything really. For about 24 hours I will periodically log on and answer all questions on there.

Reddit is free to join and free to use if you’re not already on there. And the Fantasy section is where fans, and many authors, gather to geek out about all things fantasy related, be it books, TV, films, games or whatever.

 

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The Year Ahead

A new year and already I’ve got a number of plans, events and books plotted out for the coming 12 months. It looks as if it is going to be a busy one.

Books

In less than a month in February, Of Gods and Men is published, a digital and audio novella. It will not be available in paperback or hardback. Maybe, perhaps, if I wrote a number of them then they could be collected in the future. But at this stage, it’s only ebook and audiobook, but the good news is we managed to get Matt Addiss back in to record it. He did the audio books for Battlemage, Bloodmage and Chaosmage. He’s also coming back for the new trilogy and has already recorded Mageborn.

So, Of Gods and Men, what’s it all about? It’s a prequel to Battlemage, and it focuses on Vargus. If you’ve never read anything by me before it works as a great intro and standalone story. It gives you a taste of my world, characters and style while also being a complete story.

If you’ve read everything then it provides more background on a popular character, but it also has info for the current series buried in there too. Yeah. So it was a bit tricky to write but was also enormous fun. The title is a direct nod to Steinbeck, as this story also focuses on two drifters moving from town to town in search of work. And yes, before someone says it, I know the original quote comes from Burns.

Magefall – Book 2, in the Age of Dread trilogy is being published on 6th September this year. This trilogy is much more integrated than the first. It focuses on the same main characters and there isn’t a time gap between them like there was with the previous trilogy.

Mage3I’m currently writing the last quarter of the first draft of Mage 3 (working title) of the Age of Dread. This will be published in 2019, probably around September or October time again. So later this year I will be editing it and then sorting out the proof.

Something New – Once Mage3 is done I will be getting stuck into something completely new and different. It’s already planned. The first chapter is already written but I need to look at it with fresh eyes, rewrite it, write a few more chapters and then send it off to my agent for her opinion. If all goes well we’ll pitch it to a publisher later this year and by Christmas I’ll be well on the way with book 1 in this new trilogy. New world. New characters.

Events

There are a couple in the pipeline already, a couple in the planning stages and I’m really excited them but can’t talk about them just yet. More info on them as soon as I can share. I might be looking at doing a more northern signing event for Magefall later this year too. Just an idea but as well as hopefully doing one in Birmingham (my now-adopted home city), I might be drifting up to Manchester or even further north to Liverpool. If anyone reading this is up that way let me know.

 

 

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December update

Somehow it is December already. It seems like only yesterday (actually February) when I was in Paris, picking up an award for Battlemage in French. The year has gone by really quick.

So, December 1st and I’m now working on the first draft of book 3 in the Age of Dread trilogy. The copy edits for book 2, working title and probably real title Magefall, are done and were sent off about a week ago. I’m now trying to keep all 3 books in my head, focus on what happened in book 2 and make sure book 3 works well and lands properly, plus I need to make sure I tie up as many loose ends as I can, because this is the end.

I’m writing something different next, not set in the same world. That doesn’t mean I won’t come back to this world, and I have a couple of seeds of ideas in the back of my head already, but after 6 books and 1 novella, and about 10 years, I need a break. Battlemage came out in 2015, which is only 2 years ago, but I was working on it for 2 years before that with my agent and then my editor, and before that I was working on writing it for a few years. So a change is good. It will keep me fresh, stretch me to do something different and new.

Publishing schedule
At the moment, the novella, Of Gods and Men, (available digitally and in audio) will be coming out in February 2018, then Magefall in October 2018 then Mage3 in October 2019. So in theory, the new book I am going to start writing next year in the summer will be coming out in 2020. I’m Doc Brown without trying somehow, with half of my mind here in the present and half somewhere else in the future. I constantly find myself travelling back and forth in time. When someone asks me about a book it can take me a couple of seconds to work out which book they’re talking about and this is the reason why.

Christmas
As is my tradition, and as is right at this special time of the year, I will be writing one or more posts on my favourite sports, World’s Strongest Man. The qualifiers, the heats, and then the glorious final. There won’t be any more writing updates this year, so happy holidays everyone and I’ll see you in 2018.

 

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SciFiNow Interview

Recently I did an interview with SciFi Now where I talk about writing Mageborn, how it the first trilogy feeds into it, influences and world-building.

Read the full interview here

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