A FOOL'S HOPE has been out for a few weeks now and has been universally liked so far. I can't tell you how much of a relief that is because I really struggled writing this book. At one point I had two different versions on the go as I wasn't sure what was the more exciting story to tell but I'm so glad I went where I did.
But, as ever it would seem, while I'm celebrating AFH existing in the world, I'm neck-deep in writing book 3. Again this has been a struggle, not helped by real life issues - not least of which is COVID - but I'm making great progress and the end is hopefully in sight.
In this crazy world of ours, it's hard to concentrate on the good stuff like books and being creative. Today, for example, it's Saturday and I should be hard at work on Book 3 and yet I keep checking the news to see the latest on Trump in hospital. None of what we are experiencing every day is helpful to being creative.
Still, I am making progress on Book 3 after a long time of going nowhere. I spent a weekend pulling everything apart, threw out 40k of words and got back on track. Painful but the right thing to do.
I should really put a sign up above my desk that says 'If you have writer's block, you have gone wrong in the story.'
A FOOL'S HOPE is up on Netgalley for reviewers in the UK and people are reading it. This is a terrifying thought. I know we write books for people to read so why be scared? It's this point where the 'what if it's crap' haunts me.
Luckily, the first review was very good.
First of all, I'm amazed anyone would go to that trouble to show off my book. Butthen I read "I have to admit I enjoyed reading A Fool’s Hope even more than its predecessor We Are the Dead." And, just like that all was well in the world.
Lily also said "So far -and I expect it to stay this way- this is my most favourite book I have read in 2020. And this series is on the best way to turn into one of my absolute favourites." Whoo hoo.
You can read the full review at the link below.
I've also been doing quite a bit of drawing. I toyed with doing Inktober this year — a drawing a day for the month but the first one I did got out of control very quickly and I can't afford the time suck to do more!
I'm really happy with how it's turned out though. No doubt I'll do more of this cheerful chap as the weeks go on.
That's all for now — take care, stay safe. Love is all.
Book 3 is coming along slowly and surely. I'm at the lovely point where I'm doubting everything but, no doubt tomorrow I'll be loving it again. (I hope).
I've also been putting together some designs for cards to send people and bookplates to sign
The two character paintings are Tinnstra and Dren. I'm really happy with how they turned out!
I've been doing a lot of cartooning since we entered COVID-19 isolation. It started really as a way of escaping the fear and dread I had about everything. Then it became just a fun thing to do.
Here's one I made about finding the time to write.
I had a lot of fun yesterday taking part in a virtual con, organized by the amazing David Walters of FanFiAddict fame. He arranged seven panels throughout the day with the most amazing list of authors. I was lucky enough to be on a panel discussing world-building with Justin Call, Brain Naslund, Andrea Stewart and Luke Arnold. Here's the video
It's a strange experience when you see your cover for the first time - you've sweated and strained for months and months on something that lives in your brain so clearly and now it's someone else's turn to interpret your vision into something that hopefully will stand out on the shelves and attract people to buy it.
Then there is the utter joy when you see something so wonderful, you have to do a happy dance... Needless to say I love this cover.
I've been bad at updating this blog but that doesn't mean nothing's been happening! I'm making slow progress on Book 3, Book 2 - A Fool's Hope - is all done and waiting for the copy edits and We Are The Dead continues to get good reviews. The paperback is out on May 5th everywhere in the world, including the US and Canada and is a thing of beauty.
Hopefully this one will be more readily available in the shops!
We Are The Dead has also been nominated in the prestigious Booknest Fantasy awards in both the Best Traditionally Published Novel section and the Best Debut. I doubt very much that it will progress to the short list but chuffed that my little book has this recognition.
You can vote here
The sequel to WE ARE THE DEAD is now available to pre-order on Amazon. It's a big book — 195,000 words of epic adventures. All the favourites are back — Tinnstra, Dren, Jax and Yas plus some new faces as well.
War takes everything.
From Tinnstra, it took her family and thrust her into a conflict she wanted only to avoid. Now her queen's sole protector, she must give everything she has left to keep Zorique safe.
It has taken just as much from Jia's revolutionaries. Dren and Jax - battered, tortured, once enemies themselves - now must hold strong against their bruised invaders, the Egril.
For the enemy intends to wipe Jia from the map. They may have lost a battle, but they are coming back. And if Tinnstra and her allies hope to survive, Jia's heroes will need to be ready when they do.
The sequel to the darkly fantastic WE ARE THE DEAD: with more unflinching action, A FOOL'S HOPE sees Jia's revolutionaries dig in their heels as they learn that wars aren't won in a day.
Surprising no one, I'm a massive Star Wars fan. I have been since I was 8 years old and saw A New Hope in the cinema, right back when it was just 'Star Wars'. It blew my mind and obsessed my imagination since then. Didn't enjoy the prequels that much (but who did) but I've really enjoyed all the new Disney films. So as you can imagine I was desperate to see Rise of Skywalker.
I saw it for the first time a few days ago and loved the experience as I watched it. It was so fast, it gave little time to think or catch your breath. I left the cinema a very happy man. But the more I thought about it, the more problems I had with it. Big problems.
I saw it a second time and those problems started to outweigh the enjoyment because my brain wasn't saying 'What's next?' but 'Huh?'
But was fun was had and I'll be just as excited when the next one comes around. Because I'm Star Wars for life.
rAs it one of those times for looking back, I thought I'd share my decade in writing.
2009: abandoned my third attempt to write a book
2010: Started writing Cry Havoc, concentrating on 500 words a day, after getting a kick up the backside from my wife.
2011: still writing Cry Havoc, wonder if I'll ever finish it.
2012: Finish Cry Havoc, submit to agents, get lots of nice rejections. Start writing Switchblade.
2013: Finish Switchblade. Submit to agents. Get nice rejections, then get an offer of representation but told Switchblade is uncommercial. "Can you write something else?" Yes!
2014: Start writing He Who Fights. Star this blog. Six months in, lose agent.
2015: Writing HWF. Get introduced to another agent, who may have a deal for Switchblade. Get ghosted by that agent when deal doesn't happen.
2016: Finish HWF. Submit to agents, nice rejections, etc etc. Demotivated. About to give up. Discover Bestseller Experiment Podcast. Start Writing We Are The Dead.
2017. Finish WATD, send to only one agent, sign with him. Hear Mark Dawson on BXP, release Switchblade. Proves to be uncommercial. Rewrite Cry Havoc. Get into the top ten in US, UK and Australia. Release HWF, get into top ten in US, UK, Australia.
2018. Sign three book deal with Gollancz. Write Cry Fear, sequel to Cry Havoc, and Cry Witch, a novella. Start writing A Fool's Hope. Think I've got this writing thing sussed. Then abandon first two drafts of AFH at 65,000 words each. Wonder if I'll ever write something good again.
2019: Turns out AFH is bloody difficult to write but get it done and everyone is very happy. Write and draw my first kid's book. Print only one copy for my daughter. Start writing Book 3 of WATD. Appear on a panel with my heroes. Appear on BXP. WATD goes to number 1 on Amazon. Sit back and think wow! This is an insane journey — and I'm so glad I didn't give up!
Happy 2020 everyone.