Monthly Archives: March 2014



I made a promise (or maybe a threat) a short while ago to give the rather splendid author Sophie Moss a part in 1322 (or The Raven’s Wing, or whatever I end up calling it). Here’s a snippet from her opening scene.

“Oh don’t,” John said.

“Don’t what?” asked Moss, sucking her fingers clean.

“Don’t… don’t do that. It’s very distracting.”

“Cuh! Men.” Moss shook her head and lifted the bowl up to her face. She ran her tongue around the rim then began to lick the bowl clean. She lapped eagerly at the smooth surface of the shallow bowl.

“So, what were you going to ask me earlier?” she said, licking her lips as she looked up at John. “A warning, though. If this involves any suggestion that I might in the slightest way be interested in the plucked quail that flaps between your legs, you can save your breath. Your pathetic dangly bits are a matter for your hand only. Or perhaps one of those cheap whores over there.”

You don’t mess with the Moss…

What you see is what you hear

Moth Girl Episode One Cover_ImageI’m over the parrot to be able to tell you that Moth Girl is now available as an Audiobook. Now you can listen to Thea’s adventures in the car, while you’re washing the dishes, or, you know, anywhere else where you might use your ears.

I am indescribably grateful to the remarkably talented voice artist Matt Thurston for agreeing to read it for me. Episode One is available for download from Bandcamp now. You can name your own price for downloading; pay what you think it is worth (and yes, that does include paying nothing; grab it free, if you like, as our gift to you. If you do think our efforts are worth rewarding, though, the option to bung us something is there).

CLICK HERE to download Episode One now.

The story of the story of Rence Corness

Soul of the UniverseIf you’ve read the newly-released anthology, “Soul of the Universe”, you’ll know that it features a new story of mine: a Western yarn. Now, I’d never considered writing a Western before, although I can tell you that Anthology Club has a possible Western-themed Anthology lined up, so I certainly will revisit ‘cowpokes’ and ‘injuns’ again.

So what inspired me to enter the strange new world (to me) of the cowboy? Last year I was gripped, along with (although later than) most of the rest of you, by the stonkingly good telly series Breaking Bad. The final episode featured the song ‘El Paso’ by Marty Robbins. Chasing down this earworm on YouTube, I stumbled across Rex Wells singing “Blood on the Saddle”. Something about the song spoke to me. Who was the unnamed cowboy, and how did he come to be lying on the ground ‘all covered in gore’? The song’s explanation that a horse had trodden on his head seemed patently ridiculous.

OK, so maybe (so my thoughts went) the singer reporting the event was trying to cover something nasty up. But what could that be? It didn’t take me long to work out an alternative, far more interesting explanation. Pine LeafNow I needed a setting that was slightly askew from normal Western tales, to match the invented event. Two things led me to set the tale above the snowline – the first was my love of the film Jeremiah Johnson, the second was the evocative image of hot blood splashed on stark white snow. Of course, once I had snow, I had to have the Crow, and not only for reasons of rhyme. Looking into the Crow led me to Pine Leaf – that’s her, over on the left there – and everything else slotted into place.

All of the main parts of the story, therefore, led from thoughts originally sparked by listening to this song. Which is the whole raison d’etre of the anthology, after all. Buy the book in these places: Amazon UK, Amazon US or Smashwords.

Sleep is for wimps

2YyM2I awoke at 5am last night, and my mind decided that it didn’t want to go back to sleep. Oh no, the irritating sod decided that it wanted to think about time, death and oblivion. I tried to drag it away to thoughts of dancing ladies, semi-clad in diaphanous nightgowns, but my mind was having none of that and had an aged knight in rusty armour slay them all bloodily and muddily with a huge axe.
The upshot of this is that when time finally did haul it’s slow and sorry arse around to the hour of getting up, I was exhausted and – ta-da! – fell asleep.

I hate when that happens. It means that I’ve lost a morning which I had promised to devote to writing, and I can scarce afford that at the moment, given the number of project balls that I am currently juggling:

  • Firstly, here I am listening to the first chapter of the ‘Moth Girl’ audiobook, which is stupendously good. The reader has achieved a slightly off-kilter tone to his delivery which perfectly matches the tale. It will eventually be available for download on Bandcamp.
  • Secondly, I continue to promote ‘Soul of the Universe’, which to my delight has been extremely well received.
  • Thirdly, I have a shipful of pirate tales waiting for me to edit them into the next anthology, now tentatively entitled ‘Talking The Plank’.
  • Fourthly, the ever-patient ‘1322’ (which really needs a different title lest it be mistook for a history book – ‘The Raven’s Wing’ being the current favourite) sits back and awaits my attention.
  • Fifthly, I continue to tend my secret project as it simmers away. You may or may not get to hear about this towards the end of the year.
  • Oh, and sixthly, I ought to submit ‘Fog’ once more to a few publishers. Self-publishing is enormous fun, but a professional publisher could give a book far more of a push than I alone ever can. Although I love my readers dearly, bless you, of all my works ‘Fog’ at least deserves a wider audience.

So you see, I don’t have time to sleep. Sleep is for wimps. I must stop being a wimp.


Soul of the UniverseI am delighted, nay elated, to announce that “Soul of the Universe” is OUT NOW! I am as excited as a bottle of Dandelion & Burdock that has seen shaken very hard. Editing this musically-inspired collection has been a hatful of fun and a barrowload of work. It’s also been a bus ride of discovery, and I have learned a lot about myself as an author, things that will only help me to improve. Things like avoiding idiotic metaphors like ‘a bus ride of discovery’.

Now, yes, there are a couple of my stories in there, but I’d rather tell you about the superb tales that you will find from my fellow authors, some of the most talented indie writers around. First up is a science fiction story from the delectable Michael S. Manz which has a delightful skew that will have you chortling into your cornflakes (if, that is, you eat cornflakes while you are reading). Add to this a brace of emotionally exercising tales from Michael A. Walker that will make the hairs on all sorts of body parts stand on end and you begin to realise that you hold something special (no, not that, I mean the book). Finally, bucking the wave of Michaels that is threatening to overwhelm the anthology world, the beguiling Marissa Ames crowns this marvellous collection with a thumpingly thrilling story set in the world of Tir Athair, familiar to all readers of her hugely successful medieval fantasy novel Minstrel.

Please do click on any of the names above to discover their own thoughts about this remarkable gathering of new worlds for you to explore through your reader. All of these stories are hand-picked for your enjoyment and lovingly wrapped in a cover by exciting new illustrator Kit Cooper that I could wax lyrical about for paragraphs, and probably will in a future blog post.

So fly, my pretties, fly like a well-flung frisbee and buy Soul of the Universe from one of these places:


Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

Amazon Can:

Amazon Aus:

You can also find it on Goodreads, should you be a Goodreader:

Scrivener Review

DSCF1117I blame that Michael Manz. There I was, perfectly happy with my six Word documents open at once and a desk covered with relationship diagrams, sketches, little plot cards that I could shift about, books, photocopies of research snippets I’d found, my tablet with notes & pics of interesting research material that I’d found in the library, and coffee. That is how I write, usually, perched in the middle of a big old web of paper and tech and hot beverages.

Then right in the middle of a Skype conversation PLOP! he inserted into my brain the idea that Scrivener might be worth a look. OK, Mr. so-called Michael so-called Manz, I’ve had a look now, and you know what? It’s a bit bloody good.

What it is, at heart, is an organiser. Yes, you can type in it, but far far over and way way above the fairly basic word-processor capabilities, what it gives you are the tools to organise everything (and I mean everything) you might need for your writing, in whatever order you see fit. You can write non-sequentially, and drag your various scenes around until you achieve the perfect order. You can keep all of your notes, sketches, and references handy in Scrivener, and can view them alongside the text you are writing.

The corkboard feature provides you with index cards for salient features that you can move around a virtual, yes, corkboard – no more making little index cards for the cats to knock on the floor. It will export to Word and other formats for final formatting, or directly to a .mobi file for upload to Amazon. You control which parts are included in the output file and in what order. Tags, Labels and the ability to save Searches give you great power over which parts of your document you see, and allow detailed analysis. For instance, I can look at only the scenes that mention ‘Ralf’, say, and check through his timeline for consistency.

Image1A big bonus for me is that it’s British, with British spellings (hurray!) and occasional exhortations in the tutorial for you to take a break and have a cup of tea and a biscuit. That tutorial is chatty and comprehensive, and reads like it was written by your mate. For example – “When you’re ready then—after a stretch of the legs, a glass of wine, a good curse at the prolixity of this tutorial’s author, whichever helps—let’s move on to Step 10”.

To sum up, Scrivener’s purpose is to provide a sort of writer’s studio; a place where you throw everything, all of your research, ideas and scribblings, with the aim of mashing it together into a draft which you can then either print for posting off to a publisher, or export, whether to another program for tweaking or to an e-book format for self-publishing.

You can try Scrivener free for 30 days – that’s 30 days of use, which don’t have to be consecutive; I strongly recommend that you download it, take an hour to go through the tutorial, which will immediately spark ideas of what you’re going to use it for.wombicon5

I give Scrivener FIVE HAPPY WOMBATS.

Brunhilde observing Gunther, whom she has tied to the ceiling

Another in my occasional series of exhibits from Wombat’s Imaginary Art Gallery. This was painted in 1807 by Swiss artist Johann Heinrich Fussli, and can be found in Nottingham Art Gallery.

Brunhilde Observing Gunther, Whom She Has Tied to the Ceiling - 1807

Three more days…

…until “Soul of the Universe”, when you will be able to find out what this woman has to do with my story.

Blood on the Ground - Pine Leaf

“Soul of the Universe” cover reveal

1901160_276107002566027_1489326342_nFinally I can show you all what I’ve been drooling over for the last week or two. *blows a squeaky trumpet*

It is my immense pleasure to present to you the splendid cover for my new book, “Soul of the Universe”, which will be available to buy on March 18th. I feel properly proud that it has been chosen as the first book to be published by Anthology Club, a growing collective of writing talent that has been causing something of a stir, and is predicted to become quite the thing over the coming months. Already Anthology Club have eight further collections in the works.

As for my collection, it runs to a hundred and sixty pages and six tales set in a widely varied range of genres. The title derives from something that Plato (you know Plato, right?) said –

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.”

I’m sure that from that you can work out that all of the stories in this book are inspired by music. Each story has a YouTube link to the song that inspired it, so that you will be able to listen as you read. I’ll tell you more, and introduce you to the individual authors, over the next few weeks. For now, let us just bathe in that glorious work of art up there, and the many symbolisms therein. From the design, can you guess what genres are represented in the book? Go on, have a wild stab and tell me in the comments.

The cover was commissioned from a young artist named Kit Cooper, who was told the theme “Music is the soul of the universe” and nothing else, and given the seemingly impossible task of interpreting that theme. Now, I may be biased – hell, of course I’m biased – but I think Kit did an incredible job.

“Soul of the Universe” will be available for purchase on March 18th. You can see more of Kit Cooper’s work, including his own books, at

“Soul of the Universe” cover responses

ACLogo_Small_GreenI can’t show it to you yet because it won’t be officially revealed until tomorrow, but at a private viewing of the cover design for my new Anthology Club collection, these were the responses:

“I adore this cover. It’s a work of art.”
“Fab! Major props to Kit Cooper for this cover.”
“I love this!”
“It’s a perfect fit for the Soul of the Universe Anthology.”
“Congrats to Kit, this is beautiful!”
“Just gorgeous.”
“I absolutely love that cover.”
“Love it!!”

These are all the reactions to a remarkably good design; they were all positive without exception. I think you’ll like it too.

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