Archive for » April, 2014 «

The Hundred Year Wait Release

It’s here! A few days earlier than planned but that can only be a good thing.

I’m super excited about this one, so would love to hear what you think about it. It’s a little bit of a departure from my normal work which is why it’s under a pen name, but I loved the challenge of writing about Mycroft and his younger brother, Sherlock.

I’ve totalled up some figures for the level of sales I need in the next few months to make it viable to write more of them, so here’s to hoping I hit that goal (of course, you’re more than welcome to help me get there by sharing the book and raving to others about it).

If you missed it on my last blog, here’s the blurb again:

Mycroft’s life is perfect, except for one small coded message he can’t quite crack, but this doesn’t bother him. His brother, Sherlock, has always helped out when tasks require more effort than he’d like. He’d never thought life dull, until he found Amelia.

In this novella, a man of extraordinary intelligence finds himself puzzled by someone he knows is inferior. While preventing a terrorist attack he will need all his experience to keep her alive.

Links to buy the shiny – Amazon.co.uk & Amazon.com

Welcome to Promise City: A Review

I love the tv series The 4400 and got quite upset when the writer’s strike meant the series stopped with a bit of an unsatisfactory ending, so you can imagine my delight when I found there were a couple of books that continued the series. I even got excited when I saw Billy Campbell’s Jordan on the cover (my favourite character).

The book starts a couple of months after the ending of the series and I don’t want to say too much because I’d hate to plot spoil, but I was sorta hoping they’d start a little sooner. I really wanted more about Jordan’s last move at the end of the tv series. It was so brief and I still have so many unanswered questions about him and the movement he’d created.

Unfortunately, the book was generally rather disappointing the whole way through. It was still more about characters I love so I didn’t hate the book, I just felt a lot of time was spent trying to explain backstory for the benefit of people who hadn’t watched the tv series that what little plot and action was in the story was entirely weighed down by constantly having to explain who everyone was.

I noticed that several of the descriptive moments read like the short snappy lines found in tv scripts to set the scene. The lines that aren’t really meant to be read by the audience. I felt Greg Cox could have done a better job of setting the scene without sounding so robotic.

Finally, I also felt the plot was weak for a book. It was a single episodes worth of story, spread out too far and leaving far more questions about the character and series than I began with. If I knew there were lots of them I might not be too bothered, but there’s only more and it’s by a different author again. At this point I’m very unsure about spending more money on these and for such a big fan that’s a heartbreaking thing to have to say.

I also feel for one of the first times in my life that I could have done a better job. Not just as a fan, but as a writer. I could have bought this world back to life again in the printed form in a way this author totally failed to do.

Angel of the Sands: Part 3

After a moment to consider your response, you place your hand into his and allow him to lead you through the crowds to a large deep red tent. It’s one of only a few already set up and around it you see many more armed and topless men facing outwards like silent sentinels.

As you draw closer, two of the otherwise unmoving men part and pull open a flap. Your rescuer leads you inside and a small swishing noise lets you know the gap has been closed after you.

Inside feels warmer than outside. A small fire burns merrily in the middle, the thin wisps of smoke drifting up to a small hole in the very centre of the canvas. Spread around this in a circle are many cushioned areas and further back again a large bed with netted curtains drawn around it, and several low tables with cushions for kneeling in front of. Each table has food, cosmetics or jewellery laid out on it, similar to the gifts you have already.

“All this is yours, Angel,” he says, disturbing you from your inspection of it all. “Come, sit, and let us eat.”

Never letting go of your hand he moves with you to the centre and motions for you to sit on a collection of large blue cushions. As soon as you are comfortable he settles down beside you, his skin almost touching yours. Given that there are so many other places to sit you, this seems strange but until you know more you cannot say if it is normal behaviour or not.

Within seconds of sitting, the tent flaps open again and the same female servants as before come rushing in, each carrying platters of food. The smell of roasted meat and other foods you don’t recognise fills the tent as they come towards you. Once the food is placed within reaching distance around you, everyone but one girl leaves. She stands off to one side, a bowl in her hands.

“Try this,” Temullgei says as he lifts the nearest platter and presents it to you. An almost blackened meat sits in a thick mush of something that smells sweet. You hesitate a moment unsure about using your fingers before you take the plunge and lift a small piece to your lips.

The taste of apple and chargrilled pork fills your mouth. While you chew he gazes at you, his eyes searching your face for a reaction. You smile, not sure what else to do while you’re eating. He takes your gesture in the affirmative and takes a handful of the meat as well. His hunger is evident as he barely chews before he swallows, but he doesn’t take any more until you do.

The same ritual of him following your lead is passed through several more times as he offers you the other dishes. You try everything at least once, although some of the fruit dishes are too tart for your likes. Most of the platters are meats, but one tastes a lot like a sort of sweet potato. At no point were you given utensils so by the time you have filled your stomach you have sticky fingers and aren’t sure where to place them.

“Done?” he asks when you shake your head at the next platter he offers you.

“Yes, thank you.”

Leaning back a little he says something to the girl at the side. She gets up and brings the bowl she’s been holding the entire time over to you. As she kneels he says another few curt words you don’t understand. In response she hands him the bowl and gets back up.

With the bowl of what looks like water between you, he takes your hands and washes them for you. His hands feel rough to yours but every motion is gentle and deliberate. The water is cool, but not too cold.

Once he’s done, he quickly scrubs his own. Just as he finishes the girl hands him a cloth and he dries your hands as gently as he washed them, caressing each finger with the soft material. When both of you are clean and dry the girl comes forward again and takes the bowl and cloth. With a small bow she hurries from the tent, leaving you alone with the clan leader.

“Drink?” he asks as he gets up from beside you.

“Yes, please,” you reply. Not sure what you’ll be given but aware of how little you’ve drunk the last few days. You watch him as he pours two chalices of a liquid you can’t see from a pitcher standing on one of the small tables nearby.

He hands you your drink as he comes back and retakes his position at your side. While staring at you he waits. It occurs to you that he might be waiting for you to drink first, just as he’d eaten after you had, so you lift the chalice to your lips and taste the red liquid. You’re pleased to find it’s a wine that tastes sweet and refreshing.

As you suspected he now drinks and almost downs his entire chalice. Silence falls between you and you fidget awkwardly. After a little longer your mind picks up on something you can say.

“Thank you for finding me,” you say and notice he’s still staring at you.

“Do not thank me. I came as soon as I knew.” He smiles again. “An Angel such as yourself is important to our people. My tribe will take you back to our home city. There you will be safe, at least for some time.”

You nod, not sure what to reply to this statement. Although he is being kind and courteous so far, you know so little about him and his people that you worry about saying something wrong.

“I must say, I am honoured to have found you. And relieved. If one of the other Khaads had got to you,” he looks away and shakes his head, before continuing. “I offer you my protection, Angel. My tribe and I will keep you from harm, at the sake of our own lives if it comes to it.”

“Thank you,” you reply.

He lifts his hand and strokes a stray strand of your hair away from your face, before pulling back and frowning.

“Forgive me. I… I shouldn’t have touched you.” He gets up and bows. “I will let you rest now, Angel. I hope I can receive the honour of your company again soon.”

Without waiting for you to reply, he hurries from the tent. You watch him go and frown once you’re alone. A minute later the same girl who gave you food and clothes when you were found comes in and bows. Behind her several more servants come and take away all the left over food while she opens the curtains on your bed and pulls back the blankets. Afterwards she bows again and hurries after the retreating servants.

You’re alone again and you suspect the maid was hinting you should go to bed, but you’re not sure what you want to do. You feel tired but you’ve learnt very little about the people you’re with and even less about how you got here and why you’re thought of as an Angel.

What do you do?

Go to bed.

Leave the tent and try to find Temullgei to ask a few questions

Leave the tent and take a look around.

Stay in the tent and investigate its contents.

This story is entirely free to the reader and will continue to be throughout, but as you might have gathered from the website around this I make my living from writing fiction. This post is over 1000 words long and took me a few hours to write and polish. Although it’s definitely not a must, if you enjoyed this and want to say thank you in a monetary fashion please consider becoming a patron of mine at Patreon (a lot like kickstarter but more of a pledge per episode/installment sort of thing). You can also say thank you by sharing this with friends who might enjoy it or dropping me a message here or through my email address.

The Hundred Year Wait: Cover Reveal

It’s here! This is the cover for my upcoming release, The Hundred Year Wait.

Synopsis:

Mycroft’s life is perfect, except for one small coded message he can’t quite crack, but this doesn’t bother him. His brother, Sherlock, has always helped out when tasks require more effort than he’d like. He’d never thought life dull, until he found Amelia.

In this novella, a man of extraordinary intelligence finds himself puzzled by someone he knows is inferior.  While preventing a terrorist attack he will need all his experience to keep her alive.

If you want to make sure you hear about this ebook when it comes out (hopefully about two weeks time) just head on over to my mailing list subscription page. I’m super excited about getting this one out so I’ll be putting a lot of effort into finishing it off as soon as I can.

There will also be a chance to win an advance copy of the ebook in my Easter weekend hunt/trail/giveaway/competition/thing so check back tomorrow if you’re really keen (there will also be other prizes).

Who We Are by Boyzone

So this is the latest single by one of my favourite boybands. I grew up listening to these Irish lads and so there’s still something special when they bring out a new song, but this one, well this one’s extra special. Catch it on youtube here

As usual with songs it’s the lyrics which really grab me (I’m a writer, words are a big part of my life) so here’s the songs lyrics.

We make mistakes
We rise again
We choose the road we shouldn’t take

We bend the rules
We cross the line
It’s just enough to feel alive

But it makes us who we are
Tonight,

Every battle, every scar
We are warriors
Hear us shouting from our hearts
This is who we are

We have travelled near and far
Fought a  thousand wars
Hear us screaming from our hearts
This is who we are
Aaaaare,
Aaaaare,
This is who we are

We play with fire
We laugh and cry
We taste the dark to see the light

We’re wild and free
Without a clue
We put our trust in someone new

But it makes us who we are
Tonight,

Every battle, every scar
We are warriors
Hear us shouting from our hearts
This is who we are

We have travelled near and far
Fought a  thousand wars
Hear us screaming from our hearts
This is who we are
Aaaaare,
Aaaaare,
This is who we are

Every battle, every scar
We are warriors
Hear us shouting from our hearts
This is who we are

We have travelled near and far
Fought a  thousand wars
Hear us screaming from our hearts
This is who we are
Aaaaare,
Aaaaare,
This is who we are

As a writer this pretty much sums up everything I write about. My characters go on these journeys where they explore, make mistakes and fight (often physical battles, but also often metaphorical ones as well) and learn from them, becoming stronger people because of what they’ve been through.

I suppose this is what life is. it’s the journey we go on and who we become because of it. It’s the glorious amalgamation of our scars, flaws, achievements, fears, discoveries, lessons and conquests in one body and personality. So many of my characters, that I’ve written about, writng about and yet to write about could sing this song.

Amazing Spider-Man 2: A Review

You may be wondering how I can review this film when it isn’t out until next week and the premier was only last night. Well, I happened to get free tickets to the premier showing. Unfortunately, not the premier showing in London, but the movie was streamed into several cinemas around the country at the same time and I got to see it in Bath.

I enjoyed the first one of this reboot series and knew Andrew Garfield was doing a great job of spiderman so that wasn’t a worry when I went into the cinema. I also thought Emma was great as Gwen and again she didn’t dissapoint. Really faultless performances from both of them. The greatest surprise on the acting front was Electro/Max pictured having a face off with spiderman. He was brilliant.

The actor wasn’t one I knew and due to me seeing a premier I got shown the red carpet stuff before the film and he seemed a little, well, odd, so I was a little worried he might not have pulled the role off but he was perfect. The first scene in Max’s home is going to go down in my books as one of the best crazy scenes ever. He wasn’t quite so good as Electro, but I think that’s down to him being used as a supporting role for spidey and the Osborn corp lot, which meant he set up a lot of the one liners for the others.

The other new character was Harry Osborn. He was back from travels and boarding school to see his father and stuck around for the rest of the film. I also didn’t know what to expect from this actor and worried that he’d made it into this film because he looks a lot like a pre-titanic Leonardo DiCaprio, but the casting held out once more and throughout the film he delivered exactly as he needed to. I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles the next one.

The rest of the film was a pretty standard spidey movie. Plenty of scenes of him slinging his way around the city, getting the bad guys and generally making the people around him feeling special. There’s no doubt about it, spidey is one of the friendliest superheroes out there, and appeals to the kids.

Then there was all the jokes. While not as funny as most Marvel superhero films, Andrew Garfield’s spiderman is definitely one of the quirkiest sense of humours out there at the moment, and the film used plenty of this to keep people laughing. He took a lot of phone calls at awkward moments, including at the front of a truck, and his one liners, as well as Harry’s were fantastic and had me and many people around me chuckling out loud.

So to round up, pretty good superhero film so if you like most of the others you really shouldn’t be dissapointed in this one. I’ll definitely be going to see the next one and might even go see this one again when it’s properly out next week, with some more of my friends.

Angel of the Sands: Part 2

Not wasting time on trying to request a spoon or fork you pull your body into a semi-upright position and lift the wooden bowl to your chest. The oaty substance cools the burning skin as you scoop it up to your mouth. The first few mouthfuls barely register with your senses as you chew and swallow them as swiftly as you can, unable to slow even if you wished to.

By the time the bowl is half empty your stomach loosens its control of your pace and you give your mouth time to taste the substance. It has a similar texture to porridge, but more creamy, with a subtle after taste much like goat’s milk.

When you finally feel full you notice you’ve wiped the bowl clean, and you spend the next minute making sure you have every last morsel off your fingers. Satisfied, you sigh and lie back. It makes you feel a little better that you’re enclosed and no one saw the ungraceful eating, but you’re not sure you’d have cared even if someone had been able to see. One taste of the food had overridden everything but your survival instincts anyway.

The tent like structure domes above you and helps keep the worst of the sun off but you still feel hotter than you’re used to or comfortable with, but you can’t be bothered to move and try and remedy the situation. Now that your hunger is satisfied and you’re no longer in immediate danger your body lets you know it wants to rest by making it difficult to keep your eyes open. Combined with the gentle rocking that only lulls your senses further, you lose the battle and slip into a peaceful sleep.

***

Several hours later you wake to find the same brown woman sitting beside you. Your little tent is darker than it was and significantly cooler. It’s also stopped rocking back and forth, but you can still hear the sounds of people moving and talking outside. Your companion smiles at you and takes your arm to help you sit up.

As soon as you’re half-vertical she scoots around you and you feel her brushing your blonde hair. A moment later she braids it in one length down your back.

“Thank you,” you say when she finishes and comes back to your side. She just smiles and holds out what looks like folded clothing. Not knowing what else to do you take it. Before you can try and ask her anything she leaves again, pulling the flap shut behind you. You’re fairly sure you’ve been given the clothes to change into so you unfold them and find a single gown-like piece of clothing from a very light, almost see through material as well as a contrasting sash.

Hastily you pull off your top, trying not to irritate your burnt skin and wrap the gown around you, realising it only goes over one shoulder while the other is held in place with hooks attaching it to the top flap just underneath your armpit. The deep blue material would have looked good on you had the burning of your otherwise pale skin not been made more obvious by this change in clothing. You sigh as you remove your shoes, socks and jeans, and smooth down the skirt so you’re decent once again.

Not sure if the woman is going to come back, you move towards the flap and lift it to see out. Instantly she notices you and comes rushing over to help you out. Once you’re standing she takes the sash and wraps it around your waist, tying it in an elaborate bow at the back. While she fusses over your appearance you gaze at your surroundings.

Many men and women are scurrying here and there, erecting large tent structures that look a little like yurts. In pens here and there are many horses, far more than you’ve ever seen before. The sun is setting in the sky, casting an orange glow over everything and making the brown and grey canvases look alive with colour.

Everyone who notices you stares until you look in their direction, and then they glance away, seeming embarrassed and hurry about whatever activity you’d distracted them from. As soon as the woman is finished she pushes you back to sit in the opening of the litter. As you sit the dress lifts enough to reveal your feet. Within seconds she kneels in front of you and places a bowl of cool water at your feet. One by one she uses cloth to clean your feet and then another to dry them off before slipping them into matching shoes.

When she’s done she helps you stand again. You glance up to see the man who’d rescued you stride through the crowds. His eyes never leave you. Judging by the stern look on his face and the way everyone else scurries to get out of his way, he is the leader of these people. Behind him are several more men, but they hang back and allow him to dictate their path. All of them are topless, and tanned deep bronze colours and have the front and sides of their hair short with long braids down their backs, not too dissimilar from your own.

As the men get closer you notice women scurrying after as well, each of them carrying a package of some kind. When your rescuer reaches you he sinks down to one knee and bows before you, everyone else follows his example You gasp. The stern look on his face vanishes as he gets up and allows his eyes to look over you. For a moment no one says anything and an awkward silence develops.

“Forgive us, Angel. We came as fast as our horses could,” he says in his strange accent, his eyes still never leaving your face or body. You open and close your mouth, having no idea what to say in response. One by one the girls come forward and offer you the packages, opening up the plain cloths to reveal more clothing, clay jars that look like perfumes, jewellery and furs. No one else speaks until the gifts have all been laid at your feet.

“I hope they are to your liking, Angel. You’re the first… woman to ever arrive. We weren’t prepared.”

“They’re fine,” you reply, still overwhelmed.

“I am Temullgei Khaad, and these are my people.” he motions to the girls and men waiting with him, taking his eyes off you for a brief second. “My Gerd is being made available for you to use, another gift, Angel. If you are not too tired I wish to have your company during my night meal.”

He smiles and offers you his hand.

What do you do?

Decline his invitation and ask to rest for the night so you can find out more about these people before you interact with them socially.

Accept but be guarded with what you say and do.

Accept and ask lots of questions about where you are and why he keeps calling you Angel.

Accept and tell him everything you know in the hope he can help you get back home.

If you want to re-read part 1 it’s here.

This story is entirely free to the reader and will continue to be throughout, but as you might have gathered from the website around this I make my living from writing fiction. This post is over 1000 words long and took me a few hours to write and polish. Although it’s definitely not a must, if you enjoyed this and want to say thank you in a monetary fashion please consider becoming a patron of mine at Patreon (a lot like kickstarter but more of a pledge per episode/installment sort of thing). You can also say thank you by sharing this with friends who might enjoy it or dropping me a message here or through my email address.

A Girl Named Sandy: A Review

I’ve read and reviewed quite a few books by Paul Kater now and this was one of the books I was really fortunate to get to read an advanced copy of the story. The book is finally here.

I’ve mentioned this particular book a couple of times and that it was coming as it’s set in Bristol, at the University about 5-10 years before the first events of Sherdan’s Prophecy, and fans of my Sherdan series will be pleased to know the gorgeous Dr Sherdan Harper does make a cameo in this story.

The story itself is an amazing combination between a fairly typical sci-fi and a gorgeous romance between the two main characters. The Sci-fi part is epic, and encompasses all sorts of interesting, subtle plot lines, and combined with the love interest makes for one awesome ride.

Over the course of the story a good couple of years passes, but the narrative handles the jumps well and helps make the life decisions more believable. I’m not used to a story spanning so much time but I’m definitely not complaining.

When I reached the end I definitely wanted to know more. Seriously hope there’s a sequel to this one.

Knowing When to Use Each Tense and Perspective

When starting a story it can be difficult to decide what tense and persepective to use, and as a reader it can be very confusing if you pick up a book and find it’s not in the sort of style you expected, so I thought I’d talk a bit more about what to use, when and what all the different terms actually mean.

Tense

Books are usually written in two tenses. Predominantly past tense (there will often be a smattering of present tense parts of sentences, usually attached to a past tense action with a comma somewhere in the middle) or present tense. Future tense is something I’ve never seen used as a predominant style and I’m actually not sure if that would work anyway so we’ll ignore that as an option.

Past tense is my favourite and probably the easiest. Here’s an example sentence:

She pulled back the organza sleeves that covered her wrists and most of her hands and showed him the black rose tattoo on the soft inside.

Everything is described as if it happened and isn’t happening any longer. This is pretty much how most standard novels are written. It’s comfortable and not too driven, but it has a few limitations. Here’s the same sentence again in present tense:

She pulls back the organza sleeves covering her wrists and most of her hands and shows him the black rose tattoo on the soft inside.

As you can see it’s not entirely natural sounding, but it can lend a sort of immediacy to a book and drive it forward. As far as I am aware, the example just given of present tense isn’t one commonly used because it’s also in the third person perspective.

Perspective

There are three perspectives to choose from, third person (where events are narrated by someone outside even if limited to a single characters perspective), second person, and first person.

Third person is the most common perspective to use, along with past tense. The first example sentence is both of these and it’s the style I usually write. It’s what most of us are used to reading and I find it the easiest to write. On top of that there are some readers who refuse to read anything not in this style.

Second person is probably the least common, and I’ve only seen it used in the pick your own adventure type stories, with the subject being you. Here’s a present tense example:

You pull back the organza sleeves covering your wrists and most of your hands and show him the black rose tattoo on the soft inside.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen second person in past tense, mostly because it’s useful to give the sense of urgency to make a decision at the end of each chunk of narrative.

Finally there’s first person, which combined with present tense as well, makes a popular choice of style for a lot of young adult novels. The Hunger Games is written in first person, as is Fifty Shades (also present tense) so they seem to be getting much more popular in the main stream as well. In this style the main character is talking about himself or herself in a sort of diary like way. Here’s an example (again present tense):

I pull back the organza sleeves covering my wrists and most of my hands and show him the black rose tattoo on the soft inside.

Occasionally first person might use past tense but it’s less common. Just so it’s a complete picture of all the types you could use, here’s the example.

I pulled back the organza sleeves that covered my wrists and most of my hands and showed him the black rose tattoo on the soft inside.

In terms of which style I’d recommend people use, it entirely depends on what you want to write. As I mentioned earlier the pick your own adventure type story uses second person present the entire time (I’ve got one blogged here), and I’d recommend anyone who tries to write that format of book to use that style as well. For those who write for the young adult or new adult audiences (especially paranormal stories) it’s very common to use first person present, but it can also work very well for those punchy stories from strange perspectives where you really want the reader to engage in the mindset of the main character and get into their head. If you’re a relatively new author and you read a lot of first person present you will probably find this format easiest as well, although it’s not easy to get right. For everything else, mostly because that’s what those genres expect and because it’s easiest to get right, use third person past.

There are some writers who mix. Having chapters from one character in first person with other characters in third person, and also having the book mainly in present so flashbacks can be in the past. These are all good reasons to switch things up a bit, just be careful not to switch in the wrong places and confuse your readers.

Personally my favourite is third person past, probably because I grew up with it, but I also quite like second person present. I don’t enjoy first person, but I can see why people do. What’s your favourite to read and write? And what style puts you off books?

This blog is entirely free to the reader and will continue to be, but as you might have gathered from the website around this, I make my living from writing fiction. This post is just under 1000 words long and took me a few hours to write and polish. Although it’s definitely not a must, if you enjoyed it or found it helpful and want to say thank you in a monetary fashion please consider tossing a few coins into the tip jar (via paypal). You can also say thank you by sharing this with friends who also might benefit from it or by dropping me a message here or through my email address.