To Self-publish or Not to Self-publish?

My novel has been published with a small print publisher, but at conventions and so forth I’m often asked if it was self published. Self published books, vanity press, has long been regarded as cheating, that anyone with money could get a book published, regardless of quality of the writing, or the plot. Publishers offer security, that at least someone liked the book enough to invest in it, to edit and print it. that’s the theory at least.

And i generally agreed with it. Until recently. After reading a new book i had long been looking forward to, and finding it daft, contradictory and just poor, i can no longer say with confidence, that a properly published book is any better than some thing someone prints for themselves. So, i am considering this route myself. Not for my novels. The idea of having to edit 120k worth of words alone is terrifying, but for a collection of short stories. The collection I have been trying to write for years. I’m going to try and get some other writers involved, one or two stories from each of us, and then if a few publishers don’t want it, i will self publish it myself. Working out royalties between all the writers will be fun, so i hope to keep this project between friends, for ease, but i think it’s a go. A chance to get my name out there a little more, and for new writers as well, and perhaps the only way i will get my collection of faerie stories!

As for my novel, well, back to the start of the third book. After faffing for so long, with festivals and trips to the village, i realised that the reason it wasn’t working is because it’s all wrong. So, back to the start for me.I can still use a lot of the later work, but the beginning, that has to be redone. But far better it’s done right, than done wrong and fast.

New year, same problems.

Well it’s a new year. I had hoped to finish the Children of the Shadow by now, but I’m still struggling with it. Writing is hard. I know what is wrong with it, but not how to fix it. It all concerns the gods, the dark gods, the demons. Working out their nature, and how their worship would follow is surprisingly difficult. Are they all ‘evil?’ Do they all inspire fear? Spirits of nature, that means they have a light side too, right? Nature is, after all, dangerous, but also the source of life. So, how would their festivals be? What form would their worship take? Working it out is actually rather difficult. So i’m not! I’m leaving it alone for the moment and finishing off a faerie story for the collection. Of course, they also have their problems. Many faeries had a penchant for children, they are offered up as a tithe for the devil, they are eaten by water creatures, or drowned. But I’m not sure how well a book of faeries killing children would go down! So I’m trying to come up with alternatives, but still remain true to some of the original aspects of the faerie myth. I’m also trying to have a mix, stories from the faerie’s point of view, stories from the point of view of those who encounter them, and stories that have happy, and sad endings. But so far I only have three, and two of them end rather badly! But I want to get another 4 together, so hopefully i can still find that balance.

So this is where i am. New year, new start, old problems on old projects.


Fellow fantasy writer, Joanne Hall, tagged me in a meme thing, the next big thing, that has been going around, so here are my answers to the questions put to me.

1) What is the working title of your next book/short story/project?

Children of the Shadow.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

It just popped into my head. I was on the train, can’t remember where I was going, probably home to see parents, and I realised that I needed some sort of wacky cult, and the Children of the Shadow were born. It’s only when writing the book that they have taken real shape and purpose. It certainly wasn’t something that I planned when I wrote the first book the series, the Shadow Seer, but, back then, I had no idea I would have reason to write the entire series. I never really saw beyond that first book.

3) What genre does your book fall under?

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

My dad thinks Johnny Depp for the lead, Candale, but i think that’s all wrong. I’m not sure there is an actor tall and thin enough to play him, though there are certainly many pretty enough . . . I rather like Xavier Samuel, who i saw in the Loved Ones (fab film) He’s pretty, thin, and looks good with curly hair. Not tall enough though. Though, to be honest, I would probably forgo how much they look like characters and just fill the film with actors i like, Tim Roth, Alexander Skarsgard, that sort of thing. Well, it’s my film, why not!

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Candale finds himself stuck in the mountains with a bunch of nuts and has to get away.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

My publisher will print it, I’m hoping! Small print.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Sadly, I’m still doing i. I started it 18 months ago, perhaps. I spent 6 months trying to write a standalone book, but then realised i really had to get this done and out the way first. And here I am, still trying to get it right. The first book was done in a year, and was a big fat monster of a thing. It’s been harder since then, trying to battle plot lines and a few personal brain issues.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I would most like to compare this to Carol Berg’s Lighthouse Duology and Song of the Beast, as they are my favourite books. But I’m not sure I’m anywhere near her league. I think that, other than my character, Dale, being caught up in stuff that is beyond him, like Valen and Adain, and it being in first person point of view, it’s probably not that similar. But her standard is my aim.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

No one and nothing.  I’m always writing, and I had the first two done so I had to get on with the last one in the series. The beginning of the Shadow Seer was inspired by Hush by Paula Cole, the idea of a boy slowly dying, created images in me that I used. Other parts of the book have been inspired by Asian horror films, their love of creepy girls with long dark hair, and things that I have seen, places I have been. Also, Assassin’s Apprentice, which i was reading at the time of writing, and the idea of having a character who was a prophet, as the fool in that book was. I think they’re under used as characters, though prophecies often exist in fantasy books.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope people will want to read it because they’ve read the first two. I hope they want to read the first two because it is different from other fantasies, it’s not driven by lots of violent action, but by the characters, it features a prophet, a dark prophet, as the main character and it also has some spooky, dark things in it.

Pain and a beginning

Well i have  a trapped nerve, and as of yet, still no books, so I can’t do a panel at Bristol Con after all, though i will still do a reading. Hurts too much to sit still for too long and I’m not inspired enough to give a book justice or put other books down as they deserve! So that’s a shame and a pain, rather literally.But hopefully i can put the pain to good use in some written way . . .

Anyway, still having some trouble getting the ritual/festival part of book 3 sorted. So i fiddled with the start instead. And as I’ve never shared the beginning, here it is, the beginning of book 3, Children of the Shadow. No real spoilers i think for book 2, so you’re all right to read it :)


The ground below me was always hard. Sometimes it was rough and would rumble along, rocking my body from side to side, with the occasion sudden jolt that would make my head thump on the ground before jarring my entire body. Always there was the sound of thunder, with the ground moving. A distant rumble that sounded beneath my head. Something heavy lay over me all of the time, smelling of animals. At times I felt like I was suffocating, drowning in that rich, musty smell. But at others, when I heard the harsh voices, unfamiliar and terrifying, like the voices of giants, sounding near to me, then I would burrow into those heavy covers, wrap myself in the musty smell and hope that the voices didn’t come near to me. Nothing good ever happened when they came near to me.

At other times the ground was smooth, thick, but I could feel something beneath it that was uneven. Still that musty smell was with me, thick and heavy, covering me, pinning me down. Though my mind was fogged, heavy, my thoughts slipping and sliding away from me as I tried to shape them, a part of me had come to understand that this time, when the ground was smooth, was the dangerous time. The time when the owners of those voices would come to me, when they would hold me up and force something down my throat. Sometimes it was hot, sometimes it was cold, always liquid and always leaving me to feel as though I was drowning. Sometimes I would choke, cough, and try to move the heavy parts of me that I could vaguely feel attached somewhere. Once those parts had worked well, letting me move where I wanted, how I wanted. But now they just seemed to flail around, on the edge of my vision, useless heavy lumps that wouldn’t work at all.

Always these encounters ended the same way. A rough hand over my mouth, the smell of something sweet and heavy, which flowed through me, bring with it a darkness so total and complete it was as though I was dead.

Candale. Candale!” The voice in the blackness was strangely urgent and insistent and, with it, I was vaguely aware of a hand on my shoulder, shaking me, trying to stir me awake. But a part of me knew that being awake was loud and scary and it hurt. I rather stay in the darkness.

But then my body was moving beyond my control, the darkness rolling backwards, as I was pulled up to my feet and supported by two strong arms and, against my best efforts, the waking world slammed back around me.

Noise. A roar. It was all around me and it took a moment before I could separate the sounds, identify them as screams and shouts, the whiny of horses, the clash of metal against metal and pop and crackle of a fire. But I couldn’t understand them. It was usually so quiet, nothing but that familiar rumble or those harsh voices. Never this much noise, enough to make my, already, aching head want to split.

And then, as I was dragged forward, light and movement and smells joined the noise. Shadowy figures were moving all around us, the source of the shouts and screams, and swords glinted and reflected the dozens of fires that were burning all around us. The smoke was thick, it stung my eyes and set them to watering, and made it hard to breathe. I started to cough and the movement set a lance of white pain shooting through my already pounding skull. My vision was swallowed in a flurry of bright stars and spots and my legs collapsed beneath me. But I didn’t fall, the arms supporting me held me firm and continued to drag me through the roar of noise. Panic gripped me and I tried to pull free, to back away from the chaos all around me, but the arms held tight and continued to carry me on.

Wait . . .” I managed to gasp, despite my dry mouth and thick tongue and a brain heavy with fog.

We can’t,” said a male voice, the owner of the arms to my left. “We need to get you out of here, to safety.”

Safety. A magical word, one I had dreamed of, in the clearer moments of my captivity, one that meant freedom and warmth, my friends, my family, my home. Just hearing it made my legs feel weak and I nearly collapsed again this time from relief. Thankfully the arms were still there, holding me.

Sorry,” I whispered, and forced myself to focus, to scramble for the elusive words. “Drugged. Been drugged.”

It’s all right,” said the same man again. “We don’t have far to go.”

It might not have been far, but it certainly felt that way to my aching head and dead weight body. By the time we reached our destination, a group of horses standing still within earshot of the roar of sound coming from the camp, I was more dragged than walking. They had to lift me onto the back of a horse and, when the man who had spoken to me swung up in the saddle in front of me, I found it so difficult to keep my head upright that I pressed it to his lean back. For a moment I was still and the pain was eased, just a little, by that support.

And then the horse lurched into movement beneath me and we took off, galloping into the night. I tightened my grip, squeezed shut my eyes and prayed that I wouldn’t be sick.

Bristol Con, reading out loud and favourite books

Well Bristol Con is next saturday!!! And at this moment I still haven’t received my book order, so i have nothing to sell, which is a little worrying! I will be doing a reading from the Shadow Seer, and sitting on a panel to discuss my favourite book, also worrying! I have never done a reading before and it’s a scarey thought. What if people don’t like it? What if i pronounce my own characters names wrong and sound a tit? What if i read too fast? I have chosen what i hope is a dramatic bit, Candale’s attack in the Square Garden, and practiced to make sure that it’s the right length, but still, it’s all a bit scarey.

And my favourite book? It’s hard to narrow it down. There are lots in the, i enjoyed this but it’s just ok, pile, and a few in the, this was great I’m going to reread it lots, pile, but favourite? best of the best? That’s a lot harder. I’ve gone with Flesh and Spirit, by Carol Berg. First of the lighthouse duology. I’m rereading it for the fourth time maybe, and it’s something i can say a lot about. It has faeries, conspiracies, crazy people, magic, a world that is falling apart, and a hero who is rather likeable, fanciable even.Valen. A rogue, just looking for somewhere warm to stay for the winter, who ends up caught in all sorts of trouble. Berg is certainly one of my favourite writers, along with Lewis Carroll. Her world’s are varied, her characters are as well, although they all seem to be tortured, physically, in some way. And though there are a few books that i don’t care for particularly, the ones that i do like, I come back to time and again.

So, I’m sorted, other than the missing books, and working onwards with my own. Shaping a festival, including some mad prophets, but still looking for the right end . . .


Well it appears to be October. Most of the year is gone and Bristol Con is in two weeks (just under) I’m still waiting on book stock to appear, so that’s a little nerve wracking, but also facing the end of the year without anything finished, which is just depressing.

So, I have set myself the aim of finishing book 3, the Children of the Shadow, in rough, by the end of the year. That’s first rough draft. And to finish the whole thing, properly and fully, by my birthday in May. Sadly, this is a target i set myself for this year, and clearly didn’t meet, but I have more reason to do it, as ideas are forming for my new book and i can’t do that at all until this is done. Would also like to finish my short story collection by end of year, too.

So, there we are. Most of the Children of Shadow is done. The main bulk. I have gaps to fill, still, and an end to put on. The problem is, i keep fiddling with bits. At the moment I’m working on a festival. A festival i had done. A festival that could have waited until the whole thing was done. Perhaps i just don’t’ want to finish, really, because i worry about its standard, or because I’m not ready to leave Candale and his friends. I have been with them for 8 years, or so, so it will be a hard thing to leave. But Sylan, the hero of my new series, and his cats, have a tale (or tail) to tell as well. And I may have another story for Candale, in the future, I can’t rule it out, so it doesn’t have to be a goodbye.

Or so I tell myself. :)


Ideas. They come from random places. While listening to Paula Cole’s Hush, about a gay boy dying of aids, I got the start of the Shadow Seer. And while watching Sky’s Sinbad, I have ideas for expanding and excitifying my Forest of Ghosts, (though the title is now the City of Ghosts) sadly, I have two projects to finish before I can get on with that. But when I do there will be an abandon city and more ghosts than you can shake a stick at, not to mention the zombie ghost type creatures, and plenty of cats.

As it stands those other projects are moving slowly, due to my love of procrastination. The Children of the Shadow is on hold until i finish my faerie short story for the collection. But then I’m going to push on and finish it. Target is the end of the year, but as previous targets have been May and my holiday in September, who knows if i will do it! When i do a little robot necklace will be my reward. So if i want that necklace, and if i want to write my new project, with all its cats, I’d better stop writing this and get on with it!

Before then, Bristol Con, less than a month. Books are ordered, but until they come I can’t order flyers or poster, so it’s all a little last minute stress. Nothing new there though!

The Seer’s Tower

The Seer’s Tower is now out! In ebook, kindle etc. You can buy it directly from the publisher:

And through amazon and so on, at some point. Print will follow. When I get dressed and some food, I will settle down to spend the rest of the day promoting and bothering people to review it, which is always a fun thing to do :) (i enjoy promoting a lot, just have to try and remember what I’ve done!)

Will also fit in some work on Children of the Shadow. Struggling with mountain life, at the moment, working out the best way for them to live and how that can appeal to Candale.


Just found an interview with me that I don’t remember doing it (must have been ages ago) so here it is, if you’re interested.

Have had some thoughts on how to develop book 3 and so that’s what I’m working on, festivals, burning things and masks, all fun things, just a little difficult to get on with when the weather is so nice. it is Candale’s first time in the mountains, first time experiencing a wild, traditional sort of festival, I’m not sure how he will take it!

Next week I’m in Bristol, hopefully selling lots of copies of the Shadow Seer parts 1 and 2. I enjoy selling, meeting people, talking to people, but I hate leaving the cats and always fear that no one will buy anything. I’m there with my friend, fellow writer Joanna Hall, so hopefully the appeal of two writers, plus other books for sale, will attract people and their wallets.

Trailer for the Shadow Seer

A friend of mine has made me a trailer for the Shadow Seer. I could have used more images, but as I don’t have any relevant to the blurb, other than what was used, I think a good job was gone. You can see it below. Please let me know what you think, constructively!

Children of the Shadow needs a bit of a rewrite at the beginning, and if the weather wasn’t so nice that is certainly what i would be doing! But as it is I’ve been outside with Claudia cat, enjoying the sun, thinking deep thoughts about how nice it would be to have someone bring me a chilled coffee. But the weather will change soon enough and back to work i will go.