I’ve got a few quick announcements for you.

Firstly, I’ve mentioned in a previous post that my short story Reading Between the Lines will be included in the Mischief Corner Books quarterly. Well, that quarterly is now available. You can get it now on Amazon.

My second announcement is that one of my novels, Shadows of Tomorrow, will soon be coming out as an audiobook. The publisher has sent me the first lot of audio files for approval. I don’t have a release date for the audiobook but watch this space. It should be fairly soon.

My final announcement is that I will be going on holiday next week. I’m not sure what the internet connection is going to be like at the hotel I’ll be staying at, so the blog will be taking a brief pause. I’ll probably start posting again on Saturday 10th September.

Cover Cross Stitch

Omega Rising cross stitch completeI’ve been continuing my efforts to turn my book covers into embroidery patterns and I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to get brighter cover art – I keep running out of black thread. I have now completed my Omega Rising cover and need to get it framed up to match the Between Yesterdays cross stitch I’ve already completed.

These take a long while to sew. My sister gave me the pattern for the Omega Rising cover as a Christmas present and I finished sewing it in August. I’ve started the Child of the Hive cover now. At this rate, I might just about finish it by my birthday next year.

With the release of the Mischief Corner Books quarterly and the upcoming third book in the Codename Omega series, I’m never going to finish with this project.

Nineworlds Highlights

Last weekend was Nineworlds, a science fiction and fantasy convention held in Hammersmith, which had content around books, movies, games, and more. I wanted to share a few highlights from my experience of the convention.

Indie Author tableFirstly, there was the indie author table. This was in the expo hall and was a place for self-published or small-press-published authors to place their books for sale. I thought this was a fantastic idea, though it could have done with a little more organising. We got an email a couple of days before the event telling us that they needed authors to volunteer to run the table. Five of us did – each taking a four hour stint selling books – but other authors were able to just drop books off to be sold without taking a shift. If this is run in future conventions (which I hope it is) there should be a requirement for all authors to spend at least some time manning the table. After all, it isn’t fair for some people to lose half a day of convention time while others get all the benefits of the table without putting in the same effort.

On the plus side though, one of my books was the first to be sold on this table, so I’m pleased about that.

Geek StitchThis was the first time Nineworlds has run an expo, so the expo hall wasn’t very large, but there were a couple of tables I wanted to highlight. The first was Geek Stitch, who produce a number of cross stitch kits on various geeky themes – from Pokémon to Harry Potter, Steven Universe to Supernatural. Most of these are suitable for beginners.

I was particularly impressed by the cross stitched QR code – which actually works!

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know I’m into my cross stitch, and I liked what these guys had on offer. Hodor Doorstop

Another table that interested me was Scorch’s Pyrography. This is the art of using heat to write on wood and other substances. They had a lot of dragons on wooden boxes, some maps from various fantasy worlds (including the map from The Hobbit) but what got people’s interest (and a lot of cries of “too soon” from the Game of Thrones fans) was a doorstop with “Hodor” written on it.

There were a lot of sessions people could go to, from silly fun ones to deep philosophical analyses (my friend/editor presented a paper on the philosophy of being recognised – witnessed – in Mad Max Fury Road). There were several of these sessions that I enjoyed in different ways and for different reasons. There was a session on neurodiversity in fiction which got quite intense and one of the audience members got fairly emotional at one point. This was obviously an issue that hit home for a lot of the people in the room. If you’re on Twitter, check out the hashtag #nineworldsnd for discussions and book recommendations.

Flash fiction panelA much more light-hearted session was a Flash Fiction challenge. A group of writers were given prompts and expected to write something based on them in only five minutes. The audience then cheered for the one they liked them most. This was very entertaining and it reminded me of the writing games we used to play with my old writing group – trying to create something very quickly from some strange prompts. While the writers were scribbling away, Lee Harris, editor at, entertained us with a quiz on a range of geeky topics – and I was please to be the first to get the Tad Cooper question (I super believe in you, Tad Cooper).

Swordpunk Laura Swordpunk meI unexpectedly got a ticket to attend a Swordpunk session. This was a hands on introduction to medieval sword fighting that involved us trying very hard not to stab each other or whack the ceiling while practicing moves with real swords. I say this was unexpected, because this was a session that required tickets and the tickets had sold old almost as soon as they’d been made available. I got in because my former kung fu instructor and his partner were attending and they’d managed to get tickets. Alex decided a few days before the event that he would rather go to another session that was taking place at the same time, so they offered me the spare ticket.

In the photos, I’m cosplaying as Abby, one of my own characters from the book Between Yesterdays. Laura is cosplaying as a ghost from a web comic I’d not heard of – complete with hand sewn intestines.

Madalena cosplayOn the subject of cosplay, I got a lot of compliments for my Queen Madalena costume. Wearing an outfit like this makes you appreciate how practical jeans are. I was worried every time I got on an escalator that the dress was going to get caught and either cause a painful accident or just get torn off me, leaving me naked in the hotel. I made it through intact but I was very happy to change into my jeans at the end of the event.

Not a lot of people recognised who I was but I had an amazing moment where I sat next to someone in a panel who turned out to be friends with the costume designer on Galavant. We had an interesting conversation and she was the one who took this photo to send to her friend.

On the subject of cosplay, there were some great ones, though I realised I didn’t get many photos of them. I do have a couple I can share but this is just scratching the surface of the awesome outfits that were there.

Tardis dress Lady Sybil costumeOverall, I had a lot of fun. It was an exhausting weekend but I enjoyed it immensely. Where do I sign up for next year?

August’s Diverse Book Giveaway

Fourth World coverI’m continuing my series of giveaways on Tumblr with Fourth World by Lyssa Chiavari. I chose this book because as well as having a racially diverse mix of characters, it has a protagonist who is demi-sexual – and who actually uses this term to describe himself. This shouldn’t be a big deal, but it is. The other protagonist appears to be asexual but this isn’t explicitly stated in the text (mostly because she would have no context for the term).

If you want a chance to win this book, go over to Tumblr and reblog the giveaway post.

Nine Worlds 2016

Nine Worlds logoThis weekend, I will be at Nine Worlds, which means I won’t post my usual Saturday blog post (hence this early post). It should be a fun event with talks, panels, cosplay, and catching up with fellow geeks. The editor who’s working with my on my Codename Omega books will be there, so it will be great to catch up with her (she’s just sent me the edits for the third book in the series).

There is an indie author book stall in the expo hall. Myself and several other authors will be selling our books on this stall. If you want to come and meet me, get a book signed or just chat about books, I will be manning this stall on Friday afternoon in the expo hall. Let me know in the comments if you’re going to be there and want to meet.

I’m sure I will have some great photos and stories to post after the event. I will keep you posted.

Reading Between the Lines

Mischief Corner Books 5th QuarterlyLater this month, Mischief Corner Books will release their next quarterly and one of the stories included will be mine. Reading Between the Lines is a little different from what I usually write, and not just because I very rarely write short stories. It’s a contemporary romance about two boys falling in love as they argue about books – one likes sci-fi and the other reads classics. I got to have fun with references to some of my favourite books in their debates.

Overall, it’s a very light hearted piece (though it touches on a couple of dark issues in places) and the editor described it as “very sweet”. As I said, it’s different from my usual work but sometimes the inspiration hits and you just go with it.

I will be posting a pre-order link when it becomes available and adding it to my books page.

Author Interview: Helen Comerford

Afterlife coverPlease start by telling us a little bit about yourself.

Hi! My name’s Helen and I have an afro. I’m not sure whether I’m growing it or it’s growing me… I live in London and spend most of my time trying to figure out how I could have a dog.

Now please share a little bit about your books.

The first instalment of my young adult ‘Afterlife’ trilogy is now available. It’s a fast paced, action packed story based in a future Britain ruled by a fascist Christian government. A minibus of teenagers are scattered across the Afterlife. They wake up in paradise and what reviewers have called ‘inventively nasty’ hell sectors. It’s fast, funny and free (on my website) so you can make your own mind up…

Do you have a favourite character in your books?

So many favourites! I adore my main character Eve, I’ve put a lot of my little sister into her. I’m loving writing Hannah, the first main character of the second book, she’s turning into a master manipulator. Actually- my favourite favourite is Grace Gupta, who is just angry all the time. She’s great. If I’ve had a hard day there nothing like writing a bit of Grace as a way to vent.

How about a favourite moment?

Hard to answer without spoilers… It’s probably when Mare and Joel kiss for the first time just before the tidal wave… Although all of part two of my book is a contender for that honour- I actually got addicted to writing it!

What made you decide to go down the e-book publishing route?

I am not the most patient person (see Grace) and I quite quickly decided that I’d rather publish as an ebook, and start building up my fan base and my brand, than send letter after letter to literary agents. Once I’m making enough noise they might come to me- if not, never mind, my book is out there for the world to enjoy.

Is there anything that’s surprised you since getting published?

Maybe how difficult it is to get yourself out there. I do events, social media, blogging… marketing a book is harder than writing a book.

Are there any authors who particularly inspire you?

Malorie Blackman, who wrote my favourite book growing up ‘Thief’. She also campaigns for greater diversity in books which is so important. I am of mixed race heritage and Eve, my main character, is too. My character Hannah is gay, Grace has Indian heritage, Peter is Scottish… I feel like Malorie would approve.

Do you have a special place for writing?

Would you believe that I do my best work on the London Underground? There was one job where I had a particularly long commute and I wrote most of my first book travelling to and from work. I have a twitter site called #creativecommute, so if you do writing on your journeys tag us and we’ll share.

What advice would you give to someone who’s just getting started writing books?

Set yourself an unrealistic deadline and then try and meet it. I decided I wanted to write a book before I turned 29. This was 3 months before my birthday, but I actually did it- my first draft was ready for April (17th if you want to send a card) and I released the novel digitally on my 30th. There’s a lot to be said for challenging deadlines.

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m working on book 2 of my trilogy! I’m just finishing Hannah and about to return to Eve. It’s going well! A lot of questions asked in book one are answered in book two, which is very satisfying as a writer. Getting time to write is a proper treat. I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, but it’s basically going to be the best thing you’ve ever read :-p

If you want to find out more about Helen’s books, check out Afterlife on Amazon or go to her website at

Line Editors

I have a short story, Reading Between the Lines, which is coming out in the next Mischief Corner Books anthology. It’s spent the last week going through line editing, so I thought this would be a good time to talk about what line editing is.

There are different types of editors who might get involved with your writing, particularly if you get books traditionally published. Two main types are Developmental Editors and Line Editors. I won’t go into detail about developmental editors in this post, but they essentially look at the big picture of a book. Line editors, on the other hand, go down to the details of the writing. They work through the story line by line, looking for any point where word choice is unclear, where the grammar is non-standard, or where the phrasing is clunky. They go through and make corrections or changes to the text.

I had someone ask me once if having editors work on my stories made them feel like they weren’t really my stories anymore, and the answer to that is a definite no. Line editing is a collaborative process. When I got my short story back from the line editor, it was as a document with track changes turned on. I had to go through and look at each change and decide if I wanted to accept it. If I thought the change was an improvement, I accepted it. If I disagreed, I wouldn’t accept it and I would leave a comment explaining my  point of view. One sentence in this story, the line editor and I went back and fourth on a few times before he agreed to stick to my way of doing things. In the first Codename Omega book, I used the phrase, “after an unbearable eternity” which the line editor objected to because eternity is forever so there could be no after. I was using the word as a hyperbole – when someone says, “that line took forever” or similar, people know it’s being used as a metaphor. I was confident that my readers would know I was using the word “eternity” in the same way to imply the character’s frustration at the length of the wait. As the author, I could say that I wanted that sentence to stay as it was.

At other points in a story, a line editor might tell the author that a change needs to be made, but leave it up to the author what the precise change should be. For example, if I use the same word three times in two paragraphs, the line editor would probably point this out and suggest I find a synonym, but not necessary pick the synonym for me. Another time, they might point out a potentially confusing section and suggest a rewrite, but let the author do the rewriting.

At the end of the day, the author still has control over the changes that are made but the line editors polish the story up and get rid of the rough edges. It’s an important part of the publishing process. If you’re self-publishing a book, I would strongly advise that you bring a line editor into your project.