Writer’s Retreat

I am spending the next five days at a writer’s retreat and I plan to get a lot of words done. I’m not restricting myself to a single project or setting myself a specific word count target but I do have a few goals of things I want to achieve in the upcoming week.

Polish the short story Circle of Memories and submit it somewhere.

Write something of Ridiculously Long and Complicated Urban Fantasy Thing. This story has been stalled far too long and I really want to get back into it so I’m going to read back over some of the previous writing to try and get things moving again. Even a few hundred words will be something.

Write the next chapter of The Third Way. This is a WIP on AO3 that’s been hiatus for far too long and people keep asking if it’s abandoned. I want to make it somewhat less dead.

Write a significant portion of the second draft of the fourth Codename Omega book. I finished the first draft ages ago, so now it’s time to go back through it and see if I can do anything about that slow chunk in the middle where I had no idea how I was going to get my character out of the trouble I’d got him into and it starts to drag. I also need to work in the dramatic backstory reveal I discovered during a random bit of writing after I’d finished the first draft. I don’t expect to finish the second draft in a week, but I can make good headway into it.

See if the as yet unnamed potential sequel to Wolf Unleashed can be made to go anywhere.

If I have time, write a few hundred words on one of the many other half-written beginnings of stories I have floating around.

The Codename Omega book is probably the most critical of these, but we’ll see how it goes. I will be posting word count and other progress updates as I go along. Wish me luck.

A Monster’s Kindness

A Monster's Kindness cover art

Long ago, the village of Shrind sacrificed people to the monsters in the forest. Now the howling has started again, and a village elder has chosen Parton to be the next sacrifice.

Left to die for having shared a kiss with the elder’s son, Parton receives more compassion from the supposed monster than from those who had been his friends and neighbours. In the heart of the woods, learning to accept himself may be a harder lesson than learning to accept the monster.

Available Worldwide

Amazon UK, Amazon US (These are affiliate links – I get a small commission if you buy the book from there)
Apple Books
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
And other ebook purchasing and subscription platforms

A Monster’s Kindness

A Monster's Kindness cover art

Long ago, the village of Shrind sacrificed people to the monsters in the forest. Now the howling has started again, and a village elder has chosen Parton to be the next sacrifice.

Left to die for having shared a kiss with the elder’s son, Parton receives more compassion from the supposed monster than from those who had been his friends and neighbours. In the heart of the woods, learning to accept himself may be a harder lesson than learning to accept the monster.


A Monster’s Kindness is now available for pre-order. UK link, US link. The book is officially released on 19th Oct.

For some reason the cover art isn’t showing up yet on the Amazon page.

A Monster’s Kindness

Several months ago, I was really excited when my novella, A Monster’s Kindness, was accepted by Less Than Three Press. It was due to come out in a couple of months.

This week, the publisher announced that they are shutting down operations. I think this is really sad for many reasons. A large number of the book recommendations on the Queer Reading List were published by this company, so this is a loss for the fans of queer sci-fi and fantasy in general, but it’s upsetting personally to me because of my book.

Thankfully the edits have been done on the text of A Monster’s Kindness, and I received a sketch from the cover artist who was hired. The folks at LT3 have said that they will pay editors and artists to finish projects that have been assigned, so it looks like I will get a cover design alongside the edited manuscript. Given that all this hard work has been done to get the book ready for publication, I will probably self-publish A Monster’s Kindness. It was always going to be ebook only because of its length, so I can take that final step of publication myself.

I think it’s a huge shame about Less Than Three Press. Most of the books in their online marketplace will only be available until the end of the month. If there was anything of theirs that you were considering buying, I guess now is the time to do so. While you still can.

Watch this space for news of A Monster’s Kindness.

Patreon

I am launching a new Patreon if you want to support my work. I’ve looked into Patreon before but never made a serious effort at it, so this new Patreon is me starting afresh.

You can sign up for as little as $1 and that will get you access to the patron-only feed, updates about upcoming works, early information about things like cover art, and, probably more importantly, an ebook copy of The Adventures of Technicality Man. Higher tiers will also give you access to my other books. If you sign up to the $5 tier, you can get ebooks of my Codename Omega series, and the higher tiers will get you physical copies of those books and my other works.

For most of the tiers, I will be sending the books out one a month until you’ve received all the rewards for that tier, and then new books as they are published. The reason for this was that I didn’t want someone signing up for a higher tier, receiving all the reward books, and then backing out, since that could end up costing me a lot of money.

I will also be offering book-related merchandise like bookmarks, tote bags, and printed cards. These will be sent out as regular rewards if you sign up for the higher subscriptions, so you will continue to get rewards between new book released. You will also have the option to prompt me and receive personlised short stories based on those prompts. Some of these may get published at a later date if I feel they’re good enough, but others may remain as patron-only.

I will be posting some bits of writing exclusively to patrons, including short-stories, background pieces of writing, and bits that ended up being cut for the published books. For example, in the Codename Omega series, I attempted a few different starts to that series, including one version that started the story from Navy’s perspective when he first meets Nuke. I plan on dusting off that piece of writing and making it available to patrons on the Patreon.

This is all pretty new for me, so I would appreciate any support you can give. If you are unable to support financially, I would really appreciate if you could share the Patreon links on social media.

If you can sign up, I will send you your free ebook of The Adventures of Technicality Man. I’m running a special offer for the launch. If you sign up at the $1 level before the end of August, I will also send all patrons a free ebook of Omega Rising, the first book in the Codename Omega series, which would normally be one of the higher-tier rewards.

Support me here: https://www.patreon.com/user?u=512163

Shadows of Tomorrow Book 3

I got some good news this week. A while ago, I sent the third book of the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy off to the publisher. This week, I got a response and they have accepted it. I had hoped that they would, especially given that they published the first two books in that trilogy and even produced an audio book of Shadows of Tomorrow, but I still wasn’t sure. The contract I signed for the other books only gave them first rights of refusal on the book, not any sort of guarantee that they would publish it.

It would have been really awkward if they’d said no at this point, because finding a publisher for the third book in a trilogy that’s already had two books published would have been a real challenge. Anyone I approach would probably wonder why I wasn’t going with the publisher of the first two, so I’m really glad that I don’t have to be in that position.

We’re a long way from the book coming out, which I’m sure will upset one of my coworkers who has been asking for news about this book’s publication since about five minutes after she finished reading the second book. It takes a while for a book to go through the publishing process, with all the stages of editing that involves, but I will keep the blog updated as I get more news. Watch this space.

Draft 2

I finished the first draft of the next Codename Omega book a while ago and I took a break to give myself some distance, so that I could come back to the story with fresh eyes. The problem is that I’m now struggling to find the inspiration to pick it up again when there are other shiny, new stories I could be writing.

This is a problem I have, because I always find the first draft the most fun part of the writing experience, as it’s the part where I’m figuring out the story and see how it all works. A second draft is an essential part of the process, but it’s more about fixing things, and I know with this book that that’s a large chunk in the middle that will need strengthening in a serious way. It will either need to be given more emotional impact or trimmed down so that the section doesn’t last as long. Or both.

I’m hoping that by publicly admitting on my blog that I need to get on with the next draft will nudge me into doing just that. After all, the book will never be finished unless I sit down and work on it, and I do want it to be finished because I had a lot of fun with a shift in perspectives in this book, compared to the rest of the series. I want to see how other people react to this change.

But I can’t publish it for readers until I’ve finished the writing process.

So this is a message to myself: get on with draft two.

When I was at Eastercon, I had a conversation with David, my editor at Guardbridge books, about book submissions and the process from his perspective. I did a video interview on the subject for my YouTube channel, but there are a few points of advice I thought it was worth highlighting here.

  1. Send Your Book to the Right Publisher

Guardbridge Books publish science fiction and fantasy, usually books that have something a little bit weird or different about them. Yet, I was told that they receive quite a lot of submissions from authors of Christian fiction. I once attended a talk by another editor who talked about how the publisher she worked for, which produced educational books and text books, received loads of fiction submissions despite the fact that their website and information clearly stated they didn’t publish fiction.

If you submit a book to a publisher that doesn’t publish your type of book, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. These days, a lot of publishers accept electronic submissions, but you might also be wasting paper, printer ink, and postage if you submit your manuscript physically. When you’re sending your book out to publishers, do a little bit of research to find out what publishers are likely to be interested. Check who publishes books that are similar in style to the one you’ve written. Don’t waste time sending your book out to publishers that will never in a million years publish it.

  1. Read the Instructions

Pretty much all publishers have submissions guidelines on their website. These include information on how to approach them (inquiry email, sample chapters, full manuscript) as well as information on the formatting they’re looking for. Most publishers like double-spaced, left-justified, 12 point font, and things like that, but once in a while, you’ll come across a publisher that has a particular format they want to see. You’re shooting yourself in the foot if you don’t follow their guidelines.

There are similar variations when it comes to synopses. Some publishers want a 1 page synopsis, some a 2 page, or 2-3 page. Some will ask for 1000 words or 500 words. And so on. When I was sending my first novel out on submission, it felt like every publisher had their own rules for how long the synopsis should be.

You want to follow the guidelines of the publisher you’re submitting to. After all, if you can’t read their instructions, why should they trust you to write?

  1. Proof-read your submission

This was one that David didn’t mention in the video, but he did mention to me afterwards. The submission doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect, especially since editing and proof-reading is part of the publishing process, but one thing an editor is going to do when looking at a submission is think, “How much effort is this going to take to get ready for publication?” A first page that has two or three typos in it is probably fine. A first page with two hundred is another matter entirely.

If the editor looks at your story and it seems like you don’t understand how to punctuate speech or spell common words, they’re likely to think that your book will take significant effort. If your book is absolutely mind-blowing in other ways, you might get away with it, but you are definitely stacking the odds against you. Publishers put a lot of time and effort into getting a book ready to be released into the world, and the more you can do to convince them it won’t be a trial, the more likely they are to be interested in your book.

Check out the video for the other suggestions and comments David had about the submissions process from an editor’s perspective, and good luck with your publication efforts.