I have a plan...

Not a 'new year's resolution'. Don't believe in them. If you want to do something, do it - don't wait for Jan 1

So, there I was, trying to relax of the holiday and just feeling edgy because I wasn't 'working' on something. Aphrodite's Dawn will hopefully be out in January, Warrior Stone is out looking for a home, and I'm catching up on reading - but that's not 'working'.

So the grand plan is that I will write at least three short stories from my 'ideas pile' and do at least three book outlines before I start on my next novel. Looking forward to it. It will be a nice change, and you know what they say about a change being as good as a rest.

Have a wonderful New Year, and I sincerely hope the next twelve months moves you smoothly towards your next life goal


Review - "Demon Trappers: Forsaken" by Jana Oliver

Right, lets get this out of the way here and now. Up front. Before we get in to anything else. I refuse to let jealousy taint this review. Got that? Fine, then I'll continue.

I finished this, literally, thirty minutes ago. It impressed the hell out of me. It pushed every button, and I have just ordered the next volume and downloaded it to my Kindle. That I have to wait until March for the third volume is intolerable - but at least Jana seems to write quickly and Pan-Macmillan are churning them out with only a six month gap.

This story has everything a YA story needs (at least, in my opinion). Riley is a wonderfully strong female lead, instantly visualisable and you identify with her before the middle of page 2. The male supporting characters are all believable and extremely three dimensional and, despite being surrounded with eye-candy and potential relationships, Riley doesn't descend into gooey-heartthrob-land. Don;t get me wrong, the boys are most certainly not ignored - it just romance isn't the main focus. The threat's are all very real, and the tension high.

The story is tight, very well paced and expertly balanced between action and introspection. Riley is confronted with the boss from hell, a new school and a new bitch-squad, family problems, boy problems, and still wants to catch demons in between. Only, it seems the demons have something similar in mind for her, and that's not good.

Wouldn't say I couldn't put it down, but it was real easy to pick it up again and I read it in a week. Five stars, and more, please :)


Deadly Dares

I've just finished 'The Deadly Dare Mysteries' by Malorie Blackman, and I read it mainly on the recommendation of my 10-year-old niece.

I have to say it was something of a revelation. I don't read children's books. I guess properly this would be classed as 'MG' (middle grade). I loved all three stories in this book. It was pacey, humorous, and neatly wove in messages about trust, honesty, anger management, and being their for friends.

But, as a writer, it raised a couple of questions. The first of these was that sometimes the 10 yr old protagonists spoke with vocabulary or phrasing that simply didn't seem appropriate for their age. Two examples are boys saying "satisfy your need for concrete and absolute proof" and "was not as spontaneous as it looked". I may be out of touch- not having boys of that age - but it seems out of character. I've always been told that its a no-no. Its certainly not something I would expect the target audience to pick up on, though, and I guess it develops their vocabulary. So here I'm wondering if it was deliberate.

The second thing that struck me was differentiation. In three stories we have threats of extreme violence, being threatened with a gun, several kinds of verbal intimidation, attempted murder, lying, cheating, being deliberately run over, burgalry... I think there's more but I can't remember all of them. So where is the differentiation? OK, so perhaps here is less graphical description of the gorier bits, but the only thing that seems missing to me is any deeper relationship (or pre-sexual context).

I'm not cocking snooks at any genre, or any book or style of writing. I'm genuinely curious what - apart from the ages of the protagonists - makes this MG rather than the younger and of YA, and I'd be more than happy to enter into a discussion here or on facebook about it, if anybody felt the urge


Publishing news

Proxima , who are publishing Aphrodite's Dawn, have recently announced 'major changes' for the new year. Can't wait to see what they are. Its almost like an extra Christmas present.

Both House of Murky Depths and Angry Robot have launched new YA focused imprints (called Murkee and Strange Chemistry respectively). Have to say I'm very impressed with Strange Chemistry so far; very positive and active, with a busy discussion board already. Worth a visit at strangechemistrybooks.com

My new novel is all finished. Its got a working title of 'Warrior Stone: Underland' and I'm taking a break now until the new year. I want to catch up on some reading, and then I'll start trying to find a home for 'Warrior Stone'.


New Blood

I was doing the Santa Run this weekend, delivering Xmas cheer to relatives in Wiltshire. Whilst its always a pleasure, especially to see my niece, on this occasion she was even more animated than usual.

She had discovered books :)

While the rest of the family bustled and jabbered around us, I spent more than an hour in a one-2-one with this astonishing 10-year-old, talking about her favourite authors (currently Michael Morpurgo and Malorie Blackman) and how the teachers were pacing them, what she was allowed to read, what she didn't think she was old enough to yet. Her face lit up as she told me of characters and storylines (I went out and bought Blackman's Deadly Dares on her recommendation) and I cant remember having a more rewarding time for ages.

But what I walked away with (apart from a new reading list) was a worry; and that being what - if anything - I can do to feed these tiny flames of enthusiasm. I see my niece maybe twice a year. I dont want to interfere with what sounds like a good job by her teachers, but before long she will be going to senior school.

Maybe the best thing is to do what I did on Saturday - and listen when she wants to talk.


New Feature

During a conversation with the excellent new YA imprint 'Strange Chemistry', I realised I hadn't carried over one of the features from my alter ego's blog; namely my 'what am I reading' box. I know its something of a vanity, but why not.

Like I've said elsewhere, though, don't expect me to review everything I read. For one thing I don't always have the time, and for another I'm chicken. Being a new writer, I really don't want to go around annoying the very people I may need to be networking with. Does that make me a bad person? I don't think so. Its pretty much the same policy as Stephen Fry.

Still no update on a publication date for Aphrodite's Dawn. As soon as I know, you'll know