26/08/2016

Very Proud To Announce.....

I am most monumentally proud and happy to announce the publication date of my new novel,and to share the cover with you.

Amunet will be published by Kristell Ink, and launched at BristolCon on October 29th

We are also announcing a free-to-enter competition to wind a hardback copy, signed by myself and the cover artist, Ken Dawson

Simply follow this link to http://eepurl.com/b_XpVX

Can't thank Kristell Ink enough for their support and this wonderful opportunity.


Amunet is a gritty blend of urban fantasy and steampunk; fast paced action for all readers

19/08/2016

A curse of writing...

Bit of a ramble today.
One of the downsides of being a writer, or an editor (although saying you are one usually implies you are also the other), is that it is very difficult to 'switch off' when you read. Apart from that initial creative eruption as you lay down the first draft of a novel, every time you pick it up after that, you are looking for errors.
So, by extension, when you pick up someone else's book, you do the same. It can make something you used to enjoy suddenly become toxic and unreadable. This may be why I don't read my old favourites as much as I used to.
For some reason - I think mainly because my wife asked to read it again - I recently picked up the Belgariad, by David Eddings. I first encountered this author in my early teens and its no exaggeration to say he changed my life. Eddings wrote fantasy in a way nobody had ever done before; approachable and free flowing, not like the high-Tolkenian stodge most people were churning out.
Anyhow, after much deliberation, and because we were on holidays and the books I had taken with me weren't engaging me, I picked up the first volume.
It wasn't until I was starting the fourth volume I realised that something was wrong, and it took me some time to analyse exactly what it was. When I figured it out, it came as something of a revelation, but not realy a surprise.
There were no errors.
Not one.
Now I figured I must just have my rose tinted reading specs on, so I put some real effort into looking for anything I could pick at.
Still nothing.
Not an awkward phrase, nary an echo, nah-ah on the typo.
The damn books were perfect.
Which surprised me. So much of what I read today, even by big six houses and very widely known authors, keeps kicking me out of the 'fictive world' of the novel by stuff most people would overlook - but as I writer I can'. And here was Eddings, absolutely clean.
Part of me suspects thats why I fell in love with the Eddings (as his wife Leigh was always involved but rarely credited). Think I may have to extend the experiment to see if the same is true of any of my other first loves. 
I feel an urge coming on to read Magician, by Raymond E Feist.

22/07/2016

Bracing Skegness

Just a quick post. I shall be at Skegness on Sunday, plying my trade at their very own and first Comic con, orgaised by the wonderful people who bought you EM-Con. Great trip out for a Sunday, and I believe there may still be door tickets available (check the site for details on that, at http://skegnesscomiccon.com/tickets/

I shall be on table 3, right next to the inimitable Crafty Miss Kitty, purveyor of fine jewellery and stuffed things made of yarn.

29/06/2016

The Devil's Detective, Simon Kurt Unsworth

Well this is a first. I’m writing a review for a book before I’ve even finished it. I’m currently audiobooking The Devil’s Detective by Simon Kurt Unsworth. I was drawn to it because I recognised the name from Facebook and could have sworn at some point we had been ‘friends’, so having a social media presence obviously works, folks. Apparently.

When I read the description, I was even more intrigued. Hell is no longer a place of fire and brimstone torment, but has become the epitome of the worst of modern life; an eternity of waiting in limbo, only to be en-corporated (and yes I did spell that right) in a hell of drudgery and oppression, fear of the Demons who still wreak terrible violence on humans at the slightest provocation. Nobody knows what their sins were, only that they are being punished. Death sends the soul back to limbo, and the worst torment of all is that there is a hope, just the slightest sliver of lottery-rare hope, that you might be pardoned and elevated to Heaven.
And then come the new murders. Killings so dreadful, so horrific, that the soul is ripped from the body and consumed – but by what nobody knows. Not even Thomas Fool, the Devil’s Detective, and head of the Information Department.
Right from the opening words, this tale grips. From the opening description of the new Hell, the subtly ordinary yet disquieting ways of tormenting sinners, and the parallels with societies run by capitalist, brutal overlords the reader is drawn in to a world of remarkable richness, simultaneously unexpected yet familiar. I was very forcefully reminded of the first time I audiobooked The City and The City, by China Mieville.
If I had to throw any flies into the ointment, there is one character I felt the narrator had got wrong, and the tone used grated on my nerves and ears. I was left perhaps inappropriately pleased when the character was killed, which is why I haven’t named him, her, or it.
Through Unsworth’s characters, the sense of hopelessness, of fear, or desperately trying not to get noticed, soaks in to you. The constant terror of showing any enjoyment, lest it is taken away, nor loathing, lest it be heaped upon you, grinds the characters down. Punishment is crafty and cruel. But, grind at the end of a worm and eventually, it will turn, and we find that Elevation is not the only source of hope in Hell.

I am not looking forward to finishing this book, and I only have about 2 hours to go. On the other hand, I can then try out another of Unsworth’s novels, although I believe there is another volume in this series. Silver linings are where you find them, I guess.

23/04/2016

And the award for Best Sunday Afternoon Read goes to... Green Sky and Sparks

That sound s a bit precriptive. Could be Sunday evening, or even Saturday evening if you're not a party person and cant be tempted by Ant or Dec.
I was flicking through my kindle, through a bunch of new e-books, and having a disappointing time of it (three books in a row I had not managed to get past the first couple of pages). Then it felt like I'd take a dive into a refreshing, sparkling sea off the coast of some medittereanean beach... OK, so I'm stretching the metaphor. I'm trying to say the contrast was almost shocking.
Folks who have read my reviews before will know I rarely say much about the story. I dont get the kind of reviews that precis the book for you and tell you about all the charcters. I mean, then whats the point of reading it? I'm much more about style, about the way the book is engineered. This is a gem.
You know instantly that its going to be an easy read, you may even pause for a moment to make a mug of something and grab a packet of biscuits. You know this one is going to be a long ride, probably a single sitting. Now that I think about it, I believe the last time I got 'that' feeling was when I opened up the first volume of The Belgariad, by David Eddings. It's accessible and open and could be used as the definition for 'easy read'.
That's not to say its simplistic. Characters grow quickly, and the descriptive passages are intense without being laboured. There are always one or two characters in any book that don't seem to flesh out, but given this is the first novella in a series (currently of three), I have my suspicions they may be being saved for something else.
One of the things that intregues me about the setting is
I cant decide if its an emerging technology, or a declined one. Kate Coe, like myself, seems to enjoy mashing tech and magic, and here it really works well.
Looking forward to the second volume. And the third. Find it here on Amazon

08/04/2016

A little bit of what you fancy...

...in the sense of not a particularly focused post but, for the first time in a while, I actually have a little free time. Now that in itself is a novelty.
Also a novelty is that I haven't written a word in a whole month. Can't remember that happening for about the last six years.

I mean, I'm not a believer in the 'a writer must write something every day' diktat. If you are working with your editor(s) prepping a book, you often don't have time to write, and sometimes, you just don't have anything to say. But still, its odd.

And its not that I haven't been busy. We went to SFW7 earlier in the month, where the ever awesome Sam Stone organised some great panels and we picked up some great ideas from other traders there. I suppose most of the month has been taken up with implementing those changes (and decorating, over which we will draw a discrete veil). Our next con is EM-Con, over the Mayday bank holiday weekend, where we will be sited next to Crafty Miss Kitty (best friends and purveyors of wonderful handmade jewellery). The event promises to be spectacular, and we will again be carrying a selection of books from my new publisher, Kristell Ink

And as for writing? Good point. I really should be picking up the third Warrior Stone book, but something is stopping me. Not sure what it is yet, but 'writers block' tend to be trying to tell me something is wrong somewhere. Perhaps my muse thinks I need to change something, or even that I need to write something else first. Either way, I have faith in my muse. It will tell me what I need to do when it's ready. In the mean time, where did I put that saw? There's decorating to finish off

10/03/2016

Dresden Rides Again: Cold Days

Seems I have a bit of a bromance going on with Harry at the moment - though it seems inevitable ti will come to an abrupt end as there are no more Harry Dresden books, at least for a while. I have to wait for my next Audible credit.

This is the second Dresden book I've listened to in 6 weeks, and I have to say its considerably better than the last one (Ghost Story). In some ways it feel that Ghost Story was actually nothing more than a setup piece, akin to the second Matrix move or Empire Strikes back. That could account for all the introspective whining - filler.

Setting Ghost Story aside, I admit I approached Cold Days with more than a hint of trepidation. After all, nobody really likes the realisation that a formerly favoured writer has taken the silver penny and is writing ground meat for the publishing machine.

Fortunately, Cold Days is a vast improvement, and very much more Dresden-esque. It is not without its flaws. I dont know if it is because I am listening to it rather than reading it, or perhaps because I have just finished going over my latest novel with an editor. Whatever the reason, I'm finding the reptetitions of 'Hells Bells', 'Stars and Stones' and whatever his brother uses for a catchphrase that for the moment escapes me, very annoying and obvious. I get it that this is the purpose of a catch phrase, but there are limits. Or should be.

As I mentioned, just about every string Butcher has set up in Ghost Story get pulled here, and it would be a little bewildering if you hadnt read the other book first. It still works, Harry still blunders about making bright flashed, loud noises, and getting the bejazus kicked out of him yet still miraculously staggering to his feet and fighting off the bad guys. There are the usual collection of misdirections during the first 90% of the story, and a flurry of explanation and exposures at the end.

In fairness, though, the end is unexpected, very dramatic, and 'wanna know what happens next'-y. Which is pretty much what I want out of a book. So it worked. For me at least. Enjoy.