Do you have a tattoo? I'm just curious. Do you find you get 'reactions' from having one? Do people automatically label you because of it?

I had mine done because although I don't need a reminder of my son, I wanted something permanent that said how I felt. The raven is symbol for 'cornwall' and my name means Cornwall. The 'R" at the top of his wings is for Richard and the triple tail to denote all three of my sons. Cornwall is as celtic as Ireland and Wales in many ways, so I definitely wanted to show that ancestory.

But people often presume it is 'tarty' or you're trying to be tough. For some it is a statement, for others it is pure decoration - why did you do it? Or if you didn't, how do you feel about them?

OMGOMGOMG, I just wrote your instead of you're. All my wingeing and I wrote... \0/  definitely been on FB too much...

I decided yesterday to give editing a break and write something new. A while back I began a novel about an eight sided castle, but it didn't go anywhere because, well, at the time, I wasn't sure about it. But as I started re-writing I thought, stop, write an outline so you have clear motivation and conflict and all that stuff novels are supposed to have.
I was writing it this morning and all I could think of was a conversation I had with my grandaughter over the phone that went something like: And then we went to this biiiig house, and then we builded a lego castle, and then we went to nanas and I builded another castle! And then.... so on and so forth, and I ended up tittering away to myself. A only likes princesses and 'pink'. Anything pink. No disney princesses and, booooring!
I also remember her in Chapters. I sat her down on a bench while I searched the fantasy and sci fi section. I said, you may pick up books but be careful of them. Oh, she was - she's only four. I watched her pick up a book and hold it carefully like I'd asked, then she flipped the pages and in a loud voice began - blah blah blah blah blah blah blah, until the pages finished flipping, then she said brightly - The End! Of course, there were no pictures, especially not of princesses.

I did finish the outline and a whole load of questions that must be asked and answered, but I did it with a smile and felt like Bart Simpson in front of his chalk board - must not write blah, must not write blah...

Giving writing advice is a little bit like horse training. Everyone does it differently. This is Merlin being 'trained'. Merlin didn't like being trained. Merlin likes noms and slow meanders through mountains. Do fancy stuff like side-passing, wooo no! But he's a good boy. He grumbled lots and then said, look, I can do it, okay? Do I have to like it though? No. And the point is, although it was good to see him doing the fancy side-passing and stopping on his haunches, it didn't make him happy. Knowledge makes us all more rounded people and while input into anything gets the brain-gears going, it can also stop you dead in protest.

I am a little like that when someone says - you must. I'm like one of those little kids who asks why is the sky blue, and if you haven't got the right answer keeps going - why?

So if someone says to you - you MUST write every day, you MUST write an outline, you MUST do six drafts, I am all, like - why?

You can argue that writing is a professional job and MUST therefore have the discipline of a job and a routine, and you can totally stultify your inner muse. Although, I seem to remember someone poo-pooing that one too. It's NOT a muse dammit; it's not some angel whispering sweet nothings into your ear, it's work!

Er, if I want to call it my muse, my spirit guide, my angel, or those strange scary voices in my head. I will, thanks muchly.

The 'rules' are simple actually. You sit down and write, with clarity and not too many adverbs, and hopefully with the commas in the right place (whistles - blame my english teacher). You write something which you feel passionate about and that you want to share. And then you do it all over again, lots.
Oh, and you have to be stubborn. Very, very, very stubborn. And persistent. And just a little bit crazy.

Todays picture comes to you from Afghanistan. Always loved this one. My son is on the right, a Canadian soldier beneath an American flag and vice versa.

Back to the subject matter.
Just who the heck do you think you are? Yes. You! You may have sweated rocks to write a book. You may have even caused rifts with your obssession. But why do you think anyone is going to read it? What entitles to think anyone should bother?

Really. No, this isn't a poor me, no-one-will-read-my-book-post. Far from it. It is something I have noticed as I have been trying to learn about marketing. Because, I wanted to do it subtly. Not with a shout, but as a gradual build up. Yet I see tweets and FBs and tumblrs and whatever! media, people shouting out 'buy my book'. Why would anyone?

You have to have a reason why anyone would buy your book. Are you interesting? Do you have something positive to say? Is your book such a grabber that people have to read it?

Yes, you have to reach people.

I, for example, am a wallflower. No, seriously. So why would anyone know who I am? Why would anyone shell out ten bucks to buy one of *my* books? I really don't expect it. I am totally grateful if you do. But I am not going to bully you into it.

There are such wonderful opportunities out there for authors. Don't abuse them. Connect and enjoy, because without joy, well, what is there?

Readers often ask writers where they get their inspiration from. Me? I just look out the window. Not quite. This is Castle Mountain near Banff, Canada and is a couple of hours down the road. In many ways the mountains have inspired me to write fantasy stories. "Lines of Betrayal" is set in a world where folk live halfway up a mountain. Not this particular one but Mount Assiniboine in B.C., which is the photo up top.

The opening of "Games of Adversaries" begins with a snow storm and terrible low temps. Yes, I do know a bit about that since sometimes the windchill is -40c here.

Authors are often advised 'write what you know', and while this definitely lends authenticity to the craft, it isn't always essential. Either find someone who does know or reasearch your facts. Having learned the hard way, when I got something wrong, research is now something I will double up on. Because, there is always someone who does know.

The beauty of science fiction and fantasy is that you can invent things that haven't happened, but even then, there has to be a basis in reality and physics for them to ring true. Most novels are written on that what-if factor or a mystery that must be solved. The fun part is finding that solution, along with the characters and all the wonderful pitfalls and triumphs they have along the way.

In "Games of Adversaries" the main question is - how would you survive if you landed on an alien world? At least, an alien world to you. In "House of Faegrim" it is, what if there really is another world layered alongside this one? In the Warriors trilogy it is, what if someone really did genetically alter humans?

See how much fun authors have?


And you get pictures because animals are a huge part of my life. Makoiyi is my eleven year old Irish Wolfhound, who is here enjoying an empty peanut butter jar.

So excited about the interviews. I've already had many responses. Such articulate and well-thought answers, so that I know people are going to enjoy the 'series'. People talk about their own role in the industry as well as their novels, so there is something for everyone. I talk to mainstream authors as well as indie and self-published authors,  to cover a broad spectrum of people.

Meanwhile, I have added a short story to my 'about the author' page here, so feel free to wander over and have a read.
I had one of my 'ideas' the other day. I thought it would be interesting to talk to authors across the board about their experiences within the publishing industry and how much it has changed. I intended to do a week long series, but it maybe longer than that thanks to the generosity of authors.

So far I am excited to have:

  • Janny Wurts, acclaimed fantasy author of Wars of Light and Shadow, To Ride Hell's Chasm and many more.
  • Giacomo Giammatteo, mystery author of Murder Takes Time & A Bullet For Carlos
  • Alma Alexander,  fantasy author of WorldWeavers
  • Greta Van der Rol, science fiction author of Iron Admiral & Morgan's Choice
  • C N Lesley, fantasy author of soon to be published Darkspire Reaches
  • And possibly, if she can take time out of her busy schedule, D Kai Wilson Viola, author of Glass Block and an experienced marketing professional.

Such an exciting line up. Huge thanks to everyone for participating.

I will let everyone know as soon as I have a date scheduled to begin.
Just read an article via Twitter on friends reading books. I mean books that their friends have written. I thought about this when I posted on FaceBook today. I asked for some feedback on Games of Adversaries, because although I've had two wonderful reviews and friends have told me they loved it, I've had very little feedback so far. So far, because the book has barely been out five minutes, that is wonderful. I am just impatient to know what people think, that is all.

But that article certainly made me think. Because you are placing people you know in a dilemma. I am pretty thick skinned when it comes to my writing. I have never expected everyone to love my stories or my style and in truth it shouldn't matter too much what other people think because an author always writes for themselves *first*, and we do, no doubt about that, but if you want to keep writing even for pleasure, it takes time. So a little bit of reimbursment does not go amiss.

I am not talking money here, although I won't deny that helps enormously. A writer writes, it is what they do because somehow they cannot help themselves. But it is nice now and then to know that others enjoy your work. It gives you even more incentive to keep going.

So, in a few words. You certainly don't have to like my novels, even if you are my best friend :) Healthy criticism is just great. Question why I wrote something by all means. My vision isn't yours and sometimes it is great to brainstorm or thrash a few issues out.

Any author worth their salt (in my opinion not neccessarily anyone else's) can only improve and they do that by keep writing and listening.
Imagine a couple of these about five feet high. I stumbled across two in a gem store in Banff, Canada and just fell in love. Naturally I couldn't afford them, so I wrote a story around someone who could and the consequences of that purchase. Thus "The Crystal Gate" was born. I've renamed it to become 'Lines of Betrayal'. But finding those crystals became a catalyst to learning about crystals and to a lifelong love of them and their powers.
Crystals make me feel good. I can feel their vibrations and they make me happy. I have several dotted around my house.
I set  'Lines' in Glastonbury UK because back when I lived close by there were a dozen crystal shops in the High Street alone. Then of course there was Glastonbury Tor and the ley lines. If I couldn't write a story around that then I am not much of a writer.
I've set myself a few goals this year. I am a good way into it already while I wait to see how "Games of Adversaries" pans out.  I still don't know what people think of the novel barring a couple of reviews, so I am waiting with bated breath. Meanwhile: what I have been working on.

  • The Warriors of the Land - trilogy
  • The Voice of the Land - done
  • The Discovering of Demons - done
  • Strangers Bearing Gifts - 3/4 done
  • Army of Unalterable Law (parallel to "Games") - 3/4 done
  • A Distant Light - (sequel to "Games") Only just started.
  • Lines of betrayal (The Crystal Gate) done bar some final final
  • House of Faegrim - done bar a LOT of editing.
  • Vicadia - gimme a plot please...
  • Short story for anthology - done, done done....
  • The Broken Sword - thinking....

Finished 106k words on Lines of Betrayal today. Yes, it was already
written but it still needs a tad more editing. But it captured my imagination
the other day and I had to do it. Editing is mainly in the latter half. It was
longer but I cut some stuff out. In this story however, I don't think I can cut
more. The characters are too complex for that and it is quite a cast. I probably
need some Beta readers.

Many agents and editors will advise you to leave the old stuff where it belongs. In the trunk or entertaining the dust bunnies. To a certain extent I totally agree with this because, that old stuff is often terribly written and poorly thought through. It is an author's learning curve. What she/he practises upon and to take old work and try to revive it is often impossible.

I read an article about this this very morning.

There are things I've trunked. Horrible romances that I wrote years ago. Short stories that refused to be short or just didn't go anywhere. The odd novel which just wouldn't work. But that still leaves quite a few that do deserve to see the light of day. I am working on one of those older ones now. It is interesting because you can't really work from old scripts except as reference, because the language needs a total update. Which in turn creates new scenarios and gets rid of older ones. Like why on earth did I keep swapping point of view every five seconds? Not head hopping but brief interludes which threw even me out of the story. And really, that complex character you created? If even I don't understand him, what hope a poor reader?


It is still a damned good story though.