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When The Bard Came Visiting is now out!

Hi everyone, I had some trouble with the internet yesterday, so I couldn’t announce the fact that my short story collection, When The Bard Came Visiting, is now available.

I’m really happy to share these stories with everyone at last (some of them appeared right here on this blog in draft form some years ago), as they cover a range of themes and genres, from contemporary to sci-fi and pretty much everything in-between. There’s even a sour-mouthed fairy.

It’s available in ebook, paperback and large print paperback, and the audiobook should be out later this year.

Please check it out here.

Happy reading!

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Flight: A Science Fiction Anthology

Hi everyone, I just thought I’d let you now that the science fiction anthology I’m part of is now out.

Here’s a link to the ebook, and the paperback should be available by the end of the week.

I’m very excited to be a part of this, and look forward to reading the other stories in it myself.

 

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Flight Anthology Cover Reveal!

I don’t think I mentioned this in any previous blogs, but one of my short stories was selected by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press to be in their upcoming ‘Flight’ anthology, which will feature a multitude of authors from various parts of the globe.

Elephant’s Bookshelf Press has been publishing great books and anthologies since 2012, and I believe Flight will be its fourteenth book (or thereabouts – don’t quote me on that). They’re a small but enthusiastic team that love getting new and established authors onboard, and from my personal experience, they’re a joy to work with.

Flight is currently scheduled for release in mid-November, and I’m very happy to be able to share its fantastic cover with you:

Flight ebook complete

Look out for updates, as I’ll be posting order links as soon as they’re ready!

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It’s publication day! The Origin Stone is here!

Hello everyone, as you probably guessed from the title, my first young adult book, The Origin Stone, was released today!

WIN_20190331_12_09_20_Pro (2)

After some hassle with Youtube, I managed to upload the Q&A video I promised, which also contains a bit of background info on how the book came to be, and a reading of the first chapter.

I’d be thrilled if you could check it out and share it with anyone you think might enjoy the book.

Here’s the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is0-mc8O5Sk&t=1s

The book is available in paperback and as an ebook from the following:

Book Depository

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Foyles

 

Happy reading!

Reviews

Review of Will Save: The Nibiru Effect by G. Sauvé

Earlier this month, I received a copy of Will Save: The Nibiru Effect from the series’ author G. Sauvé in exchange for sharing news of its release with my readers if I thought they would enjoy it. I’m always thankful when other authors share their work with me, and as I’d been sent the blurb as well, I was genuinely excited to read it. It promised time travel, adventure and high stakes, all things that snag my interest.

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The story follows the journey of Will Save, an orphan who knows nothing about his parents until the first hour of his fifteenth birthday, when his friend and mother figure reveals that she has been keeping a gift from his birth mother safe for all these years. Despite being tempted to give it to him earlier, she followed the precise instructions his mother had laid out and finally hands it over as soon as his birthday begins.

The gift contains a ring, with a message for Will to wear it all the time as it may protect him from harm. Alongside it is another note: his mother wants to meet him that day. Encouraged by his friend, he sets out to meet her, but while he’s waiting at the train station, he gets involved in a dangerous conflict with complete strangers who seem to possess a technology alien to his time.

One side of the conflict vanishes through a portal that suddenly appears at the twist of a ring looking oddly like Will’s own, disappearing before the other side can chase them.

Confused by what’s going on, Will ends up on the train tracks just as a train approaches, and with shouts from his new-found associates, activates the power of his own ring, opening another portal. With death by train the only other option, all three of them jump through the portal. The next thing Will knows is he’s in hospital, in a lost city that should no longer exist.

What follows is an engaging adventure into prehistoric times that involves meeting humanoids previously hidden from history, being chased (and nearly squashed) by dinosaurs, eaten by giant worms, threatened by dragons and lots and lots of lava, plus having to navigating the subtleties of teenage love.

The time travel element in this book is very different to others I’ve read in that it relies on the effect the planet Nibiru has on Earth when it nears it. It was a great thread to work into the plot, and was tied with myths of Atlantis (another favourite of mine).

What I truly loved about this book was the sheer imagination behind the world building. The detail was very vivid, and I had no problem picturing it all. I also enjoyed the characters and how they developed throughout, particularly one of the prehistoric humanoids, called Korri. I think out of everyone, he was my favourite.

Will himself is quite unusual as a protagonist, because he fully acknowledges his cowardice, selfishness and lack of empathy throughout most of the book, and yet despite knowing that, he struggles to change. Only when the stakes are well and truly high does he finally bring himself to step up and push through all of that. At times, I found him to be repetitive in his whines and complaints, but overall I thought he was quite well developed and believable.

There were also a few points in the book where I laughed aloud at some of the situations the group found themselves in. Some were so unpleasant I could feel it, and yet they were hilarious at the same time. Not to mention, there were several nights in a row where I found myself reading into the early hours of the morning because I was so wrapped up in the story that I didn’t want to let go.

The only complaint I had was that some of the writing was a bit clunky, but it wasn’t enough to put me off. It did take me a few chapters to come around to the idea that the story is told through memories discovered on discs by Will’s son, Will Jr., as at first I couldn’t see the relevance of including the son’s timeline, but the ending tied it all in for me and I was left with the right kind of questions the first book in a series should leave.

In conclusion, this is a fantastic debut and I’m truly looking forward to the next installment of Will’s adventures.

If you’re interested in finding out more about the book, here’s the author’s website:

http://gsauve.ca/

 

 

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In case the New Year brings that dastardly task of editing your novel: Kathryn’s Guide to Editing Fiction

Knowing what to do after you’ve *finally* finished the first draft of your manuscript and have mopped up all the blood, sweat and tears that went into it can be a bit of a mystery if you’re new to the game. You know editing comes into it, and you may have heard about beta readers, but what comes first, and more importantly, how do you go get started?

To help with the cacophony of questions littering your head, I’ve made a general guide to help you get going. This is very much based off my own experience, and is not an exhaustive list:

  1. After you’ve written that last word on your manuscript, put the whole thing away somewhere and leave it for a good amount of time (I personally leave it for about three months, but others leave it for longer) and get on with other things. Start a new project; finish any others lurking around; if you’re thinking about publication, research which avenue might be best for you and what that entails; basically, anything to keep your mind stimulated but doesn’t involve that first draft. This is to make sure that when you do eventually go back to it, you can view it with fresh eyes – meaning that plot holes, weak characters or lack of world building will jump out at you and therefore be easier to fix.

 

  1. Don’t focus on spelling or wording on this initial edit. Look at the big picture instead. Are there any holes in your plot? Do your characters feel flat or serve no purpose? Does the story start in the right place, or are the first few chapters unnecessary? What scenes work, and what don’t? If you’re finding it hard to tell if certain points of the story are unnecessary, try removing them and see if it affects the overall plot. If the plot still flows, then those scenes (however beautifully written they are/despite how much you personally love them) have to go. Nothing ruins a good book more that scenes that jar the pacing by adding nothing.

 

  1. Once you’ve fixed the big issues with your manuscript, you can either put it away again, or continue on to the next stage. Again, I personally leave it for a bit because I know I get far too close to my work.

 

  1. Now it’s time to really focus on your characters and world building. Your characters need to feel like real people – give goals and dreams, flaws and bad habits, and don’t hole them up into stereotypes. If they’re from very different backgrounds/circumstances to you, make sure you do your research – not only to make them realistic, but to avoid being insensitive to readers. (If you’re worried about your representation of people from different walks of life to you, you can always hire a sensitivity reader at a later stage.) When working on world building, think about the social structure of each place, use all five senses to describe things and make sure you don’t fall into the pit of info dumping. Also, in dialogues scenes, look out for ‘white room syndrome’, when no description about where or when the scene takes place is included.

 

  1. Next, we get in to the more technical aspects of writing. Tense, point of view and grammar. (If you feel your manuscript is shaping up nicely, you can start looking at spelling, over-use of words and continuity, but I would leave that until last.) It doesn’t matter what point of view you use, or what tense, as long as you keep them consistent throughout the manuscript – unless you have a very good reason not to, like an intentional stylistic change to illustrate a certain point. If you struggle with grammar, there are a lot of helpful books and forums, as well as YouTube guides. (I have a book on grammar that’s actually written for kids, but the language and examples are so clear that it’s the one I go to most.)

 

  1. The stages of editing can get a bit murky here – some writers have to repeat steps until they’re happy and end up with a good number of drafts, others breeze right through and end up with relatively few. However, whether you’ve done a lot of back and forth on your work or not, this part is important. Read your work aloud. I’ll say it again: READ YOUR WORK ALOUD. From start to finish, until you’re sick of the sound of your own voice. This is so you can clearly see problems with sentence structure, missing words, typos, continuity, repetitive description and all that jazz (as readers we’re always pleased to spot others’ mistakes, but are far less pleased as writers if someone kindly points them out in our own work).

 

  1. Finally, when you are happy with your manuscript and can’t find anything else to work on, it’s time to send your work to beta readers. These can be other writers, friends, family or simply people you know love to read. What is important to note, however, is that it’s far more helpful to send your work to readers who readily consume books in that genre than ones who have never read/rarely read within your genre, as the feedback you receive will be more relevant. When you do receive feedback, look for trends in what people are saying. If eight people say a scene isn’t working, then it’s probably wise to take another look and see if it truly does need revising. If one beta reader hates a character but the others love them/make no comment, then perhaps that’s just their personal taste. Consider all feedback, but remember that it is still your work, so you have the final decision on what to change.

 

So there you have it. Where you take your work from there is completely up to you. Whether you opt for traditional publishing, self-publishing or somewhere in-between (be absolutely sure you don’t head down the path of vanity publishing – an old but good rule on how to tell a vanity publisher from a real one is that money should always flow to the author, not away) make sure you do your research.

Poetry

Cyborg

Gears and cogs may structure my mind,

but the blood that pumps through my veins

from that tireless muscle called my heart

is not so falsely refined.

 

It carries the courage and kindness of the past,

from centuries of ancestors steadying themselves

in the ever changing mechanical world,

learning and embracing developments that last.

 

Through the uprisings and scandals they stayed,

never shying away from the outcast and feared,

those deemed less than human by kin,

keeping hope alive in the darkest of days.

 

So don’t be deceived by the whirs and the grinds

that sound from my body as I move to stand

for I am greater than my wiring,

I am one not easily defined.

 

 

 

Extracts/ Flash Fiction

A scene from a new idea

Tia’s arm flinched as Lannah adjusted the mechanism at her wrist, using a red-hot needle to inscribe the Tsa markings needed to reinforce both the spellwork and metalwork holding it together. Unable to stop herself from smirking, Tia analysed her friend’s serious expression despite the Elvis Presley track blaring through the spellcrafted speakers on the walls. Although the song was six hundred years old, she couldn’t deny Lannah had good taste. ‘You always get that same look of severe concentration on your face when you fix me up.’

Lannah finished the Tsa she was working on and sat up, rolling her shoulders back with a sigh. Her eyes were dark with lack of sleep. I probably look just as bad, Tia thought. ‘That’s because you are particularly hard to repair,’ Lannah said. ‘Do you have any idea how many extra enchantments I have to put on your arm just so it can keep up with your raiding antics?’ She stretched her arms up, adjusting herself. ‘Of course, if you didn’t feel the need to keep ripping it off every time you get in the slightest bit of trouble, my job would be much easier.’

Tia made a fist with her metal fingers, testing them out. Satisfied, she sat up, facing Lannah. ‘If I didn’t yank it off, then me and the team would be toast right now. My magic isn’t half as powerful with it on, and the colonists down on that planet aren’t the friendliest of people. And they’ve got two witches of their own. I nearly got spell-speared in the back.’

She jumped off Lannah’s white operating table, nearly hitting her head on the lamp the engineer had been using. She shivered. Now that she wasn’t focused on the pain from her metal arm being fixed, she noticed how cold it was in the room. She grabbed her jacket from the coat rack and zipped it up to her chin, grateful for its cosy warmth.

‘Maybe they felt that a team of raiders suddenly appearing to take all their tech away was a touch uncalled for?’ Lannah suggested, making a quick Tsa in the air with her finger. Immediately, Tia felt the air in the room get warmer. She chewed the inside of her check, quenching down the familiar pang of envy that rose up inside her. If she’d been born with witch gene zero, she would be able to use Tsa marks too. But she hadn’t. She had plain witch gene zero one, like the majority of witches aboard the Merlin.

‘It’s not their tech anyway. It’s Cosmic Witch’s,’ Tia replied, running her fingers through her short hair. Still feels weird to have it this length, but I guess it’s practical. ‘Anyway, we’re only following orders. They want it back as quickly as possible, we had no time to negotiate.’ More like we were told specifically not too. The truth disgusted her just as much as it did Lannah, whose mouth had stilled into a thin line.

The engineer turned away to her desk and began typing up her report, absently flicking the music from ‘Love Me Tender’ to ‘A Little Less Conversation’. ‘If you’re ready, you can sign out on the module. The form should already be on the screen.’ She shot a slight grin over her shoulder. ‘Try to be more careful next time.’

Reviews

Book review: Around the Universe in 10 -43 Second by Manu Breysse

A few weeks ago I was sent a copy of this book by the author as a prize in a draw I’d entered by offering my opinion on which cover he should use for the English edition (which mine is), as the original was written in French. Now, sci-fi isn’t one of my go-to genres, but when I do read it, I quite like it. And I liked this book. A lot.

The basic premise is that Earth (or Terra, as it’s called in the book), mysteriously vanished a loooong time ago, with a few surviving humans still lurking about elsewhere in the Universe. However, on a very small planet, there is a country similar to Ancient Egypt, which is home to a humanoid species. In fact, their King, Sareth, is very much like a Pharaoh, and is not the nicest guy around, due to the fact that he’s very quick to put people to death.

Anyway, just as Sareth’s about to have someone killed, a portal appears and he’s transported to another planet, where the technology is much more advanced – in fact, they have an enormous library which has the history of just about everything, including how his species came to be. But Sareth, knowing nothing of science, simply can’t get his head around the fact that it was a stray food container and not God, that started life on his planet. Then he happens to see a button claiming to take him to the meaning of life. He presses it – and error 404 pops up. Their is a bug in the library database, and all knowledge of the meaning of life has disappeared. Depressed, Sareth stumbles into a bar where he meets Jah, a memory-less alcoholic, who later introduces him to his psychiatrist, Sigmufred. Sigmufred is appalled that the meaning of life has disappeared – after all, most of his clients come to him for help after they’ve learnt what it is. So, to stop himself going out of business, Sigmufred, his daughter Straecia, Jah and Sareth all get on board the Flamboyant, an old ship with an occasionally sassy on-board computer, to travel around the Universe in search of the meaning of life.

As my not-so-brief synopsis might allude, this is a rather crazy book that in no way attempts to take itself seriously. However, it does touch on some quite philosophical questions and there is a lot of subtle (and not so subtle) political and social commentary. What I really enjoyed is that the narrator is treated as a character, and as they directly address you to explain the details of how things work, there is a lot of fourth wall breaking going on. This made all the info dumping (there’s lots of space-time continuum, pandimensional and 5th dimension explanations) actually relevant and interesting, and didn’t interrupt the flow of the narrative (because a narrator can’t really interrupt themselves, I suppose…).

Now, there was one thing that made me stumble a few times while reading, and that was the dialogue tags – in this case, there is a distinct lack of them. And with a big group of characters as Around the Universe boasts, there were times when I had no idea who was saying what. Whether in the French version, it’s made clear who’s talking by the vocabulary and style they use when speaking and that that’s simply been lost in translation, I don’t know, but it was definitely a setback in my enjoyment of the story. There were perhaps one or two characters that could have had a bit more development, but it was such a whirlwind of a story that I’m not sure how that could have been achieved.

Overall, I am glad that I had the opportunity to read this, as I probably would have passed over it otherwise – as I said above, sci-fi is not normally a genre I think about reading. Now I can say that this book has certainly inspired me to widen my scope. The whole thing was fun from beginning to end, and as this is the first book in a trilogy, I am absolutely looking forward to the next book.

Great job, Manu!