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The Wonderful World of Print

Recently both Sherdan’s Prophecy and Sherdan’s Legacy were moved over to the 2nd edition, complete with the shiny new covers. I’ve also recently published Sherdan’s Country, the third book in the series, and that has a matching cover to the new editions. While I try to get my books in print fairly soon after the ebook it sometimes takes a little while to sort out the logistics, but we’re finally all there.

2015-01-14 14.12.14As you can see the new set look wonderful together, and I’m really pleased with them. They make me want to work on some further plot ideas for Sherdan’s world just so I can have some more with shiny covers like these. It’s just a shame I can’t think of a really good idea at the moment.

As usual I’m selling signed copies of these myself, so if anyone wants one, drop me a message here in the comments or to my email address under about me and I’ll get back to you with how we can make that work.

Now excuse me while I go back to stroking the shiny.

Sherdan’s Legacy

The eBook of this sequel to Sherdan’s Prophecy was published recently so I thought I’d share a chapter from it so you could have a read. If you’ve not read the first book yet you can do so on my blog here.

Sleep was caught in snatches for Anya over the next few hours. Every hour or so someone looked in on her and woke her up. For some reason she was meant to stay alert, although no one else came to question her.

Time was impossible to keep track of. Not a single person wore a watch and the room had no clock in it. They had taken her mobile phone when they brought her there but even if they hadn’t the handcuffs would have prevented her from looking at it.

Her only hope of keeping track of time was counting the number of times someone came to check on her and assuming it was a scheduled disturbance. The same person only bothered her a few times in a row so it seemed like it might be a regular thing.

Her tenth visit revealed Mr Jeffreys again. He had both the folder and recorder with him this time.

“My, my, aren’t we serious, my file and proper documentation of what I say.” She sat down on the chair again, expecting she would be asked if she didn’t.

“So are you going to answer my questions now?”

“Not if they are the ones you’ve already asked me.”

“All right, I don’t like repeating myself anyway.” He opened the file and sat back, “So, tell me what your relationship with Dr Sherdan Harper is?”

“Not as important as the relationship I’d like to start establishing with a lawyer.”

“So you admit you know Dr Sherdan Harper?”

“Seriously? He was all over the news for months, who doesn’t know him?”

“Do you agree with Utopia’s stance?”

“The way the word looks or the ideology of a perfect society?”

“Miss Price!”

“Lawyer, remember. I asked for one of those yesterday.”

“Look, no one wants to charge you with anything. You’re not the kind of person who we feel is a major threat but we do want to make sure we know what we’re dealing with. We’re just asking for some information. As soon as we have everything we need you will be returned home,” he said.

She laughed and stuck her feet up on the table again, narrowly missing the papers.

“I did wonder when you’d try that tactic. I don’t actually believe you. I think you want more than information and I think that you would absolutely love to lock some people up just to show to the British government that you are doing something about Dr Harper.”

“That would be illegal.”

“It would be wouldn’t it, but denying me a lawyer is also illegal so we’re already past that point aren’t we?”

Mr Jeffreys reached forward and switched the recorder off.

“Miss Price. I am sure you really don’t want this to get ugly. You’re a young girl, with a bright future ahead of you. Your art work is fantastic and you could have a very happy life with the right man. We want to help you with that. There’s nothing more rewarding for me than seeing the young people of this nation free to be themselves and enjoy their life.”

“Well, if you care so much about my happy life I suggest you go fetch that lawyer now.” Anya got up and walked off to sit down with her back to the table. She heard the scrape of the chair and a little while later the opening and closing of the door. Repeating the same request for a lawyer over and over again was getting boring for her and she wondered if it was for them too.

As soon as she was sure she had been left alone she swivelled around so she could see the rest of the room again and tried to get some more sleep. Power napping would have to keep her going until something changed.

The rest of the day was a blur of attempted interviews with Mr Jeffreys. He wouldn’t tell her anything about where she was and she wouldn’t answer his questions, insisting on having a lawyer.

By the time the day had drawn to another close and she could rest again she was feeling very hungry. There had been plenty of water brought to her but no food at all. No one offered her any and she didn’t ask. Instead she focused on God and prayer. If she was fasting, even if involuntarily, she might as well make the most of it.

Night came and went, although the only reason she knew it was not day was the lack of interrogations and the regular waking from the other people on duty. Despite the lack of food and the very broken sleep she felt fine the following day. She had been working hard over the last few weeks and actually stopping and resting had made her feel less stressed.

Anya was thanking God for this when someone completely new came in to talk to her. She watched the grey haired man walk over to the table and pull a chair out. After looking at her he motioned for her to sit on it and waited.

At first she just stared at him but he met her gaze and held it for some minutes. She grinned at the boldness of this new person and decided to see what he had to say.

Once she had sat down he even helped her tuck the chair in. He then poured her a drink, added a straw so she wouldn’t need her hands and sat down opposite.

“Good morning, Miss Price, I’m Jacob Schmidt.”

“Good morning.” She took a gulp from the water, pleased her voice worked after being unused all night.

He clasped his hands together on the desk and sat waiting, but she couldn’t figure out what for. When she raised her eyebrow and he still did nothing she assumed he must be waiting for her.

“Are you a lawyer?”

“No, I’m a psychiatrist.”

“Oh, do the government think I’m insane?”

“No. You appear rational enough.”

“Good. I may well be an artist but that’s not full blown psycho territory.” Surprisingly, he chuckled at this statement.

“I’m here out of concern for your well being, that’s all. I want to make sure you are emotionally well and functioning normally. I take it you are a Christian?”

“Yup, born and bred a Jesus Freak.” She grinned again. Having a psychiatrist sat opposite her had tickled her somewhat and coupled with the rebellious attitude she’d felt like, so far it was having interesting results. So much so she was talking without really thinking.

“Jesus Freak is an odd term.”

“It’s in a song by a Christian band.”

“Interesting.” Mr Schmidt started making notes as he nodded his head up and down a few times, “And do you ever question your faith?”

“Sometimes, I mean who doesn’t in their darkest moments but mostly God gets me through stuff. He’s pretty awesome like that.”

“You’ve been through things where you’ve needed God then?”

“Of course, I think all Christians do.”

“Like being held a prisoner in another country?” he asked.

“Smooth. I like how you slipped that in there. I assume you’re referring to Utopia?”

“You tell me? Were you trapped there?”

“You’re assuming I was ever there.”

Mr Schmidt put down his paper, pen and took his spectacles off, also laying them down on the table.

“I think it’s acceptable of me to say that we know you were there, Miss Price.”

“Can you prove it?”

“I’m sure we can or you wouldn’t be here.”

“I’d like to see that proof then.”

“Did you enter of your own free will, Miss Price?”

“Mr Jeffreys already asked me a very similar question. I told him I wouldn’t answer without a lawyer.”

“Well thank you for everything you’ve told me so far, Miss Price. May we continue this discussion later?”

“You can try.”

Mr Schmidt left her alone and oddly no one came to see her at all for the rest of the day. No food or water came and no one checked up on her. After a few hours she settled down to get some sleep but found she couldn’t.

Before sleeping she always said a prayer of thanks to God, for whatever she thought she had to be thankful of that day, and she found as soon as she started talking to God that she felt wide awake. Instead of sleeping she paced the room, talking to Him and pondering over the conference she was missing.

The people would have all flown in by now and be staying in the church’s accommodation. None of them would realise she had vanished until the meeting she was meant to lead and that was sometime this afternoon.

She prayed that their journey wouldn’t be wasted and hoped they would all stick around so she could meet with them when she did get back. For the first time since being locked up she felt tempted to use her ability and escape. If she left in the next few minutes there was a chance she could get back in time to see everyone and do a later conference.

As time went by, however, the idea faded from her mind. Using her ability and going back home would arouse suspicion and then take that attention right back to the people she was trying to help. Staying put would be best for now.

When her legs grew tired she sat and rested but continued praying. Somehow she kept finding things to pray about, despite nothing changing in the immediate vicinity of her world.

She remained in a cycle of pacing and resting for longer than she could estimate, until she saw and heard the door handle rattle. Despite the movement, the door didn’t open. After a few minutes she got up and walked towards it.

She stood only four feet from it when it opened a crack and a head appeared around the edge.

“Julie!” Anya rushed forward and squealed. Julie wrapped her up in a big hug, letting her see the others who had come to rescue her. Nathan stood there, as well as four other men she didn’t recognise. She smiled at them all.

“Can you get the handcuffs off?”

“Not yet, we’ll get them off in the car, we’ve got to hurry.” Nathan ushered her into the middle of the group.

“Thank you for coming to get me.”

“We couldn’t have left you, but why did you not escape yourself?”

“I didn’t want to give your secret away. If I had just disappeared they would be even more suspicious. At the moment they appear to think Utopia is some kind of cult.”

“Well thank you for being so careful. But quickly now, let’s go.”

“Lead the way.”

Anya smiled and jogged along, flanked by the bulky Utopian security guards. Her heart felt light. Sherdan had sent his men for her and that meant he still cared.

They led her down many corridors, always checking if people were coming when they got to a junction or corner, but no one disturbed them. After several minutes of this process Nathan and Julie stopped. Everyone else ground to a halt behind them.

After a brief pause Julie beckoned for them to follow her through the nearest door. As soon as they were all inside the store cupboard she shut the door as softly as she could. They huddled in silence as the sounds of footsteps came closer.

The small room soon felt claustrophobic and hot as she had to stand stock still to avoid awkward contact with the men around her; a task made more difficult by the handcuffs still holding her hands behind her back. She wished Nathan had removed them already so she could rub the aches out.

To try and keep quiet she inhaled her breath and held it, counting past the seconds and listening to any and all sounds from outside as the person came closer and closer. Just as Anya thought she could stay silent no longer the sounds receded down the corridor, the way they had come.

After a few more minutes Julie opened the door and everyone hurriedly filed out. They led her to the elevator and strapped a harness around her waist.

“What’s this for?”

“We came down a maintenance shaft by the elevators to avoid the cameras. We need to climb back up so you’ll be strapped to Nathan to help you. We have to go quickly before they notice you are gone and lock down the building.”

She nodded and gulped. Her harness was attached to Nathan’s so she hung below him and he climbed up the rope first, using ascenders.

“Use your feet to steady yourself against the sides and stop the spinning,” Nathan said when he noticed her flailing and twisting around. She did as he suggested and he pulled them both up the fifteen floors. All the other men came behind and then Julie last.

They paused at the top before emerging from a hatch and packing away the equipment. Rather than going out the very obvious front door right by them Julie and Nathan led the group down another intricate maze of corridors, many of which were dark and empty. Whenever it got too dark to see well enough, one of the extra men lifted a hand and a faint glow emanated from it, lighting the way for everyone.

Eventually they halted outside a fire door. Another of Anya’s guards crept forward and after fiddling with something she couldn’t see for a moment they pushed the door open. There was a pause as Julie listened for something.

“All clear.” She led them out the door and down a dark alleyway. Right near the end, two of the men pulled on black masks and rushed off into the night.

“What are we waiting for?” Anya whispered in Nathan’s ear.

“They’ve gone to get the cars.”

She stayed right by him while they waited, shivering in the cold air. As soon as he noticed her reaction to being outside he shrugged off his jacket and wrapped it around her. She muttered her thank you and moved even further behind him to use his body to block the wind that whistled past them down the alley.

The cars weren’t long in pulling part way up the alley, one after the other. Right away she felt Nathan’s hand on the small of her back, guiding her towards the back of the nearest car. He opened the door for her, helped her inside and followed after her.

As soon as every door was shut the cars reversed back out of the alley and set off towards home.

“Thank you very much, Nathan. You all risked a lot coming to get me.”

“Don’t mention it, Anya. You’re important to us.” He grinned and ran his hands through his hair, something he often did when she thanked him or made a fuss over something he had done, “Here, let me get those handcuffs undone now.”

She turned so he could access her hands and waited as he pulled out an odd looking instrument and picked the lock.

“These are much easier than those room doors,” he said as the cuffs slide open, only a few seconds later.

She rubbed her wrists to try and stir some life back into them. They hurt as blood reached the places that had been restricted, but it was a bearable pain and she knew it would soon fade.

“So, is Sherdan here somewhere or are we meeting him in Utopia?” Anya’s eyes lit up with the idea of seeing him after so long.

“He couldn’t leave Utopia and we’re taking you home.”

“Oh. I’m not sure home would be safe for me. Whoever took me did so less than two-hundred metres from my flat. I expect they know where I live. Surely Utopia would be the best place for me?”

“I can’t take you into the country without orders. Sorry, Anya.”

“Will you let me grab some stuff from home and take me to a friend’s house then?”

“Of course, anything we can do to help you stay safe.”

“Except take me to Sherdan.” Anya didn’t phrase it like a question.

“Except that.”

She knew it wasn’t Nathan’s fault Sherdan didn’t want to see her but it felt like all her relief from being rescued and crushed it under the weight of a thousand elephants.

“Does he hate me, Nathan?” She asked a few minutes later.

“No, I don’t think so. But he’s hurt, very hurt. Give him time, I’m sure he will talk to you again.”

“I didn’t want to leave but I had stuff to do. One day, I think I’d like to come back. Bath… well… It’s just not the same any more. Sherdan and Utopia changed something and I’m not sure it can change back.”

“I know, I understand. You had a duty to do for your church, but he loved you, he loves you. That’s important too.”

“Thank you, Nathan. That helps, I think.”

 

If you enjoyed that and want to read more, the book is on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and all the other Amazon eBook stores.

Character Spotlight: Sherdan

This is one of my special characters. I love all my characters but a few always stick out in my head and this is one of those. He’s my first male leading character and although he’s far from perfect he’s still one of my favs.

I have two books out with him in now and I’m putting together the plot for a third, which feels kinda nice. I really like writing sequels. I suspect I’ll get bored of the characters eventually but for now starting a sequel feels a lot like visiting old friends. I just pick up where I left off.

Sherdan comes across as a complete meglomaniac at the start of the first book. He doesn’t care who gets hurt in his quest for the greater good. Has people tortured on almost a whim and is more than happy to bribe people or even blackmail them to get what he wants. He also even plays God a little with his enzyme and the people he gives it to.

Despite all that though, there is a softer side, he just tries to push it aside, thinking it’s weaker. He’s a scientist who, until recently, bought into the idea that we evolve and life is purely survival of the fittest. Compassion, love and mercy are often considered to be weaknesses by people in those schools of thought.

However, I love throwing my characters curveballs and seeing how they react. Sherdan soon falls in love, as all my MC’s often do. This is a really good thing for him and softens him in all the right ways.

Through Anya he does also get challenged about the idea of a God and what that might look like as well, which is a new thing for him. Whatever he decides he believes in it starts making him think about what he’s doing and whether he wants the destination he’s heading towards.

Overall Sherdan is one of those characters people love, despite all his many flaws and imperfections. You just can’t dislike him, even though you know you ought to. And no matter what he does I think he’ll always be one of my favourites. Maybe because he’s my first male lead. He’s just… rather special.

New Stuff in the Sherdan World

The anthology I was part of recently has finally been made free on Amazon.co.uk, so all those kindle readers out there can grab a copy and check out the 30+ authors contained therein.

In this collection I’ve got a short story about Sherdan and some of the people close to him, called Sherdan’s Road. It’s not long but it gives a bit of a glimpse at his future and the people in it at that time.

The rest of the collection is also pretty awesome and they are all themed around the title. That does mean quite a few of them are sad but they are well written and there’s more than a few that have happy moments and other awesome things in them.

It also gives a great overview of the sort of stuff all the authors write so it’s a great way to find more authors in different genres without risking any money.

The other piece of news in the Sherdan world is book 2! It’s being launched this Saturday via facebook as usual. There’s going to be the normal party with some quiz type stuff and prizes. The full list will be posted in the event when it’s finalised.

Here’s the blurb for anyone interested, although you don’t want to read it if you don’t want some of the first book’s plot spoiled:

Now that Utopia is established Sherdan has a full time job as a diplomatist. Everyone wants to know how his country is protected and whether they can persuade him to part with his secrets, but he has other things on his mind. Has Utopia come at too high a price?

When Anya left Utopia she expected to fit back into her old life, but too much has changed and God is not finished with her. Did she make the right choice in leaving, and will Sherdan let her return, even if she wanted to?

The second book in the Sherdan series continues the journey Sherdan’s Prophecy started, bringing the world closer to the end and whatever might follow.

So there’s the two new Sherdan things and Saturday is the big launch day. Do come join the fun!

The Plan: February 13

So it seems my plans for this year were derailed slightly already.

Last month I didn’t get sat down to plan a marketing strategy or anything quite so sensible. Instead I found my self having three new ideas, one of which I started writing immediately and have already finished. Yup that’s right, I dropped everything for a brand new idea. So my releases this year have probably gone up by one, although they’ve all been shifted back a little.

I managed to write over 22k words last month which makes it my best month other than a November yet, so there was some merit in just writing the story I was most excited about.

This also meant I hit that 200k in 12 months benchmark I was hoping for (not including blogs or anything not intended for publication). I am really pleased with that so far but I still think I can up it even further, so over the rest of this year I want to try and beat each month’s word count last year by about 1k words and keep clawing up the numbers bit by bit.

So the plan for Feb is pretty much two things, marketing as I really haven’t done much in ages and write the end of Sherdan’s Legacy. I’ve got a 19k word count for Feb last year to beat so this month’s target is another 20k count. I’ll start with trying to chip away at that and see how it goes then allocate the rest of the month to some serious marketing, especially as there will now be an ebook release some time this month.

NaNoWriMo 2012: Update 2

It’s the 26th of November so time for update 2 (yes I know this was due two days ago and the really observant of you saw this go live as a blank post on Saturday. I forgot about it until too late to do anything about it on Sunday)

So far I’ve managed a total of 47,391 words, comprising of over 21 chapters and 67 A4 pages of text. In the second week of Nano novelling I managed to write 14,619 words, about 1k more than I wrote in the same week last year. As I expected my third week was a low week. I had hospital tests as well as a trip to Cornwall for a couple of days and it meant I took two of the seven days off from writing and had really low counts for two of them so I only got 6,127 words written, 3.5k less than the same week last year. According to the stat calculator on the main Nano website I’m due to finish tomorrow at my current average per day, but I think I can write the last 2.5k today if I really crack on.

I still feel really positive about the story as well. There’s even more good dialogue and the plot is moving along nicely. I’m going to need to do some editing of a few particular events and maybe swtich some chapters around but so far it’s still moving along the plot nicely and still looking like a reasonable 75k novel give or take a few k.

Originally I actually hoped to get 60-70k written this month but the low word count from week three has made that pretty much impossible now. If I feel inspired all week I might hit 60k but I think it’s looking more like 55k or so, meaning I won’t finish the book this year but I should manage to in January.

I’ve also finally decided on a title I like so this year’s NaNo Novel is Sherdan’s Legacy and as you’ve probably noticed there’s now a little progress bar on the right for it, along with all the other in progress books. I have a feeling most of next year is going to be devoted to finishing novels.