Author Interview – Aaron Hodges

The campfire crackles in the cold night and a shivering figure emerges from the forest. It’s Aaron Hodges, the epic fantasy author from New Zealand. Unlike his homeland that is now enjoying the fruits of spring, the camp is in the grip of winter. We pull up a stool next to the fire and chat.


  • Hi Aaron tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Well I’m a fantasy author from New Zealand and I have to say I’ve always been inspired to write. I think in a similar way I love to read fantasy, writing gives me ability to go off into my own world for a while. I really love having that ability to escape real life for a bit—and especially when I get to share it with others!

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

I think that it can both give us an escape from real life, but also that it often mirrors the same struggles we have in the real world, albeit in a simpler way.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Well my latest project is a series set in a fallen world, where humanity is at war with the inhuman Tangata, creatures with superhuman strength and speed, which are determined to destroy humanity. I’ve just about finished off the third book, Age of Gods, which is due to be published on the 8th November. In this book, the two main characters are completely separated, and their individual plots and discoveries about the past are both quite complicated. That’s made it really difficult to keep everything in line in my head, and I just hope I’ve managed to write it so that I bring the reader along!

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love characters that are able to rise above their circumstances. I often have characters based in normal settings, without any particular special ability or skill, but who are determined to lift themselves up, to face the challenges of the enemy and save the world. I’m not sure how much of that they get from me though 😉

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

The value of time management. I really force myself to have fixed times that I go and write and work on my advertising etc. I’ve found without that strict schedule, I don’t get half as much done, and would never be able to keep on track with my releases! Equally, making sure I give myself time off is important too—something I got out of the habit of doing during the pandemic, since I got bored without my work!

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

I know about how much time each phase/edit of my work takes, so I pencil in a release date when I first start a project—usually about 3 months from when I start. Then I just use the time management I used above to make sure I am working on it and keeping to schedule!

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

A bit of each, I generally write a general plot outline, then pants the bits in between as I go!

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I am considering dipping more into the scifi genre soon, after reading Skyward by Brandon Sanderson and really enjoying it (before I really had no interest in space ships!). I’m still brewing the story in my mind, but it would be based on a planet where humanity is enslaved by a technologically superior race of aliens!

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

Gotta enjoy the good triumphs over evil, but not without sacrifice. Nothing good in this world comes easy.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Harry potter!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/fantastic.adventures

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14713614.Aaron_Hodges

author@aaronhodges.co.nz

Latest series: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08653PM1L/

            (Book three is out now!)

Thanks for taking part!


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Author Interview – Nikki Nelson-Hicks

Writing by the flickering flames of the campfire I see all sorts of shapes and tales cast by the light. Adventures and heroes, villains and horror. A twig snaps in the woods nearby and I look up to see my latest guest. Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks.


  • Hi Nikki tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

Hi! I’m Nikki Nelson-Hicks and I think my interest in writing started because I am a reader. My childhood was chaotic and I found solace in stories. That is still where I find peace and the place I flee to when I need some guidance and a cosmic head rub.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

The world building. Creating entire civilizations, races, religions, universes, all from the static medium of ink on paper. Think about that. It’s magic.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

This past year I’ve been putting together all the stories from the Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective series into an Omnibus. My first intention was to put them all into one volume but, yikes….it turns out the first one was 300 pages long. I had to split it into two volumes.

The first volume is already out on Amazon in paperback and Kindle. The second one, will be out hopefully in November.

The biggest obstacles I faced while writing…well, I should say re-writing, reformatting and re-editing, these stories was coming the grips that, although they were originally published by another small press company and did pretty well….they weren’t very good. Oh my. Especially that first story. Yikes. What a mess. I’ve grown as a writer and I was able to go back, make corrections, add some meat to a very decrepit skeleton and make the series not only flow better but more enjoyable for the reader.

Oh, and 2020. That pretty much got in everyone’s way.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I love to write heroes that take on the bad guys and fix wrong and make everything right. It’s the Fury in me. I put a lot of my hopes and dreams into my characters. I wish I were as strong as they are.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

I have a poster on my wall above my desk that reads:  QUIT YOUR COMPLAINING. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S FAULT THAT YOU WANTED TO BE A WRITER. IT’S NOT THE WORLD’S JOB TO ENJOY THE STORIES YOU WRITE AND IT’S CERTAINLY NOT THE WORLD’S OBLIGATION TO PAY FOR YOUR DREAMS. NOBODY WANTS TO HEAR IT. STEAL A PEN IF YOU HAVE TO BUT STOP WHINING AND GET BACK TO WORK.

Oh, and get a chair with good lumbar support.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

When I have a deadline, everything else in my life gets put on hold. The house turns into a pigsty. Meals are whatever you can put together in a pantry. Showers are on a need-to basis. My family learns to deal with life all on their own. Momma’s got work to do.

If I’m not a deadline, I force myself to work at least two hours a day on a story. Hey, I have a day job, a family, 5 cats and 2 dogs to take care of. Two hours is a lot to carve out of my day.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

I’m a hybrid. I loosely plot. I need to know the Beginning and The End. The middle bit can be a bit more muddy but I can make my through it as long as I know The End.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

I write in all sorts of genres; I don’t like to get pinned down inside one box. (Although I’ve never tried Romance. I’m not sure I have the stomach for it.)

When I finally put the Jake series to bed, I have two stories I want to work on.

 One is called “Crown of Feathers”. It is based on the Appalachian legend that a crown of feathers can be found underneath the pillow of a dying person. If you find it, it means they are going to heaven There are actual examples of them in an Appalachian Folklore Museum in East Tennessee. In my story, set in the turn of the 19th century, a boy steals the Crown of Feathers from beneath his dying mother’s pillow so that Death won’t be able to take her away. Shenanigans ensue.

The other is a modern day thriller called “Hand Me Down”. Short and sweet, it is about a woman whose dark deeds from her past bleed into her present and threaten to destroy everything. There’s lots of murder in it. It’s gonna be fun.

  • With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

I want my heroes to win. I want the bad guys to get what they deserve. It is bourgeois but I don’t care. If I wanted stark, dystopic reality, I’d watch a freaking history channel. Fiction helps me see a world the way it SHOULD BE and, maybe, it can teach us how to create a better one. If something can be imagined, it can be created.

  • What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Did you know that an interview question posited by the FBI is: Would you rather be a serial killer or a terrorist?  It’s a way to tell if a person is an individualist (serial killer) or team player (terrorist).

I feel the same way if a person asks if I like Star Wars or Star Trek? It’s a way to tell if a person is a team player/bureaucrat (Star Trek) or if a person is more of a rebellious streak (Star Wars).

Confession time: I have never read Lord of the Rings.  I have what I call a Tolkien Block. When I was a teenager, a group of girls started up a coven and wouldn’t allow me to join their group because I “wasn’t their type” because I didn’t read Tolkien. Ever since then, I can’t stomach it.  I didn’t even like the movies. I got bored. I mean….don’t even get me started on those damn eagles. WHY DIDN’T THEY JUST USE THE EAGLES??!?!

So, we’re down to Harry Potter or Star Wars.

Huh.

Harry Potter is fun but if you really stop and start to think about the idea of a Wizarding World that, for some stupid reason, lives in a Dickensian dystopia and doesn’t use their obviously laws of physics bending powers to aid the world at large, it starts to fall apart. Seriously. Quills over a ballpoint pen? Owl mail over Email?

Star Wars has a very warm, fuzzy spot in my heart because I was there at the beginning, sitting in the theater, 1977, when that Imperial Cruiser pulled out overhead.  My heart still races when I think of the opening overture.

Yeah. I gotta go with Star Wars (despite the terrible prequels and then even sadder sequels). At least we have The Mandalorian. #itistheway

My blog is:  https://nikkinelsonhicks.blog/

My Amazon author page: amazon.com/author/nikkinelsonhicks


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Author Interview – John B. Rosenman

The flames crackle and the light flickers as the campfire finds new vitality from the fresh kindling I’ve thrown onto the fire. The night is cold but that doesn’t stop another author making their way to warmth of the flames. Tonight I am joined by prolific sci-fi and fantasy author John B. Rosenman.


  • Hi John tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?

 Hi. I’m John B. Rosenman, and I’m a retired English professor who writes speculative fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal (and one young adult). I’ve published a couple dozen books as well as two hundred and fifty stories in places such as Weird Tales, Whitley Strieber’s Aliens, Fangoria, Galaxy, Endless Apocalypse, The Age of Wonders, and the Hot Blood erotic horror series. My novels include action-adventure scifi novels such as Beyond Those Distant Stars, Speaker of the Shakk, A Senseless Act of BeautyAlien Dreams, and the Inspector of the Cross series (Crossroad Press). I’ve also published a four-book box set, The Amazing Worlds of John B. Rosenman  (MuseItUp Publishing). Recently I completed a science-fiction novel Dreamfarer which is the first in a new series.

I love ideas and story concepts. In fact, I always have.  When I was a small child I would say to my father, “Tell me a story.” His stories by my bed at night planted the seed. I like to create alien worlds, fascinating characters, and prose and something poetry that is as good as I can make it. I also like to revise, though sometimes it’s a struggle.

  • What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?

Fantasy makes the invisible visible. There are other worlds, other realms, other universes with beings as wild and as beautiful as I can make them. So-called objective reality is not the only reality. I recall a line from a movie that said you can live in the Imagination. That’s the most beautiful nation of all.  My favorite title for a science fiction / fantasy magazine was If. If you can imagine it, in some way it must be true and exist somewhere.

  • Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?

Crash is due out in mid to late November. It’s the sixth novel in my Inspector of the Cross scifi / adventure series and reflects a new approach to the adventures of my hero because the alien enemy, the Cen are no longer involved. Also, Turtan loses his memory and no longer knows who he is. Oh, he faces all sorts of challenges, and I had to reimagine the whole series. Plus, I faced other challenges because circumstances required me to pack up the whole series and move it to a new publisher, Crossroad Press.

At the same time, I resurrected a novel I wrote nearly forty years ago. Dreamfarer is about a world where machines give people dreams that are so much more beautiful, exciting, and fulfilling than real life.  At the age of thirty-two, you can have yourself “interfaced” and dream the rest of your life away. What could go wrong? What’s wrong with that? Dreamfarer will be published by Crossroad Press, but I don’t have a date yet. I’m also at work on a sequel, Go East, Young Man. Like Dreamfarer it focuses on the adventures of Sam Adams, a man who had the misfortune to wake up forever from his wonderful dreams and who is determined to destroy the dream industry because of its terrible impact on humanity.

  • What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?

I’m addicted to noble, tormented heroes who battle evil and sinister forces. Sometimes they’re Christ-like in nature as in my Inspector of the Cross series, and occasionally they have godlike powers of healing as with Dax Rigby in Dax Rigby, War Correspondent. I put a great deal of myself in them, particularly my desire to be like them. In my mainstream, coming-of-age novel, Johnny Roth embodies two traits I yearn to have. They are to be a great boxer AND a great artist.

Sometimes I try to see things from girls’ or women’s POV. Sky in Skyburst is a fifteen-year-old girl dying of cancer. What must it be like to be a young girl faced with such a problem? Ah, but as with others of my heroes, she has great, even transcendent abilities. Stella in Beyond Those Distant Stars is turned into a cyborg after she has a radioactive accident. Like Sky she’s tormented and apparently doomed, yet she manages to find love and fight against an alien enemy that seems invincible.

  • For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

Above all, never give up or let yourself be defeated by rejection and negative thoughts. If you’re a writer, you will be strong and forge on.

Beyond that — Read, read, read; write, write, write; revise, revise, revise. If possible, join a good writers’ group where expert criticism and critiques are supplied on a regular basis. Analyze everything. If a work of creative fiction astonishes you, try to identify some of the elements that make it work. Read critical articles discussing them and take a course or two in creative writing.

  • What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?

If I have a deadline, I will make it because I want to be published. I guess you could say my desire is my writing trick. If there’s a deadline for submitting a short story, and I have a good idea or like the subject, well, then, I will get my story or stories in on time. The same goes for a situation in which a publisher indicates that a certain date is the deadline for getting my novel in. In this case, NOT BEING PUBLISHED is my writing trick.

Also, if a story or novel is going well, if my inspiration is hot and flowing, I tend to harness my inspiration and keep scribbling. This is especially true with a novel, which requires dedication and the long haul. Skip it for a few days or weeks, and I may never go back.

  • Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?

       I’m a pantser. Often it’s like I’m wandering in a fog and only gradually does the road ahead become visible to me. I may have an idea of the eventful conclusion but no clear, overall plan of how I’m going to get there. I used to walk through a local Barnes & Noble that I found particularly conducive to inspiration and sometimes the slightest thing there would suddenly spark a story. For example, I saw a book titled The Calm Technique and instantly a story leaped almost full-blown into my head. The Death Technique is about a man who has the       gruesome ability to make his body rot and resemble a corpse. I sold it to a pro anthology.

  • What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?

      I plan to finish Go East, Young Man, the sequel to Dreamfarer and see it published.  I’ve       been thinking of shifting my focus after that and concentrating on short stories. They take less time and sometimes can be written quickly. There are various publishers I’ve published with before and various anthologies and magazines that have published my fiction. It would be nice to submit short fiction to them. I also love “theme” magazines, newsletters, and anthologies. Recently I published revised, previously published stories in Flame Tree Press’s Endless Apocalypse and Dying Planet collections.  In addition, I hope to generate some new stories. Will I try Romance? I doubt it. Nor do I see myself getting into elves and faeries. But you never know. It’s better to be fresh and try new things. 

With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?

   I used to like horror and dark fiction more than I do now. Heck, I was Chairman of the Horror Writers Association. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve come to prefer tales where the sun occasionally shines and good tends to triumph over evil. My science fiction / speculative fiction novels feature heroes who ultimately conquer or prevail over villains.  But I do love my villains, whose darkness sometimes threatens to overshadow the goodness of my heroes because it’s more compelling and interesting. I do continue to like subtle, atmospheric dark fantasy or horror, where darkness is suggested and hinted at rather than shown. Please, no extreme, gory horror, though I used to write some.

What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?

Star Wars, I think, primarily because I sometimes write space opera novels with swashbuckling heroes and larger-than-life bad guys. I read the first two Harry Potter novels. They were okay, but I never went back.  I read the first 560 pages of Lord of the Rings and then stopped reading. Please, somebody, tell me why and where I’m wrong!

Visit his website at http://www.johnrosenman.com

Blog: http://johnrosenman.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/Writerman1

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JohnBRosenman?ref=hl   

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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/John-B.-Rosenman/e/B001KMN69E

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/938855.John_B_Rosenman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-b-rosenman-50287218

E-mail: jroseman@cox.net

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An Interview with Damien Larkin – Author of Big Red

Big Red

 

Q1. Tell us about your upcoming new book Big Red, what’s it about and who will enjoy it?

In a sentence, it’s about an Irish soldier in the British Army on Mars!

Big Red is a military sci-fi told from the perspective of Mars Occupation Force soldier Darren Loughlin. After waking in a highly traumatised state following a year-long tour of duty on Mars, it becomes a race against time for the authorities to piece together what happened to his shattered battalion and what caused the sudden loss of communication with all of Earth’s off-world colonies.

With time running out, Darren is forced to recall his year in the Nazi-founded New Berlin colony and his part in the vicious, genocidal war against hostile alien natives. But as his memories return, he begins to suspect he is at the centre of a plot spanning over forty years.

Big Red is an ideal read for fans of Robert A. Heinlein, Joe Haldeman and David Drake.

 

Q2. How long did the book take you to write?

It took three and a half months to write the first draft and a further six weeks of editing, proofreading and re-writes. I’ve since done at least six rounds of edits over the last few months to get it just right. It’s amazing that even with all that effort, you can still miss things from previous rounds, so I’m trying to be as thorough as possible.

 

Q3. How much research did you do for the book?

Loads! I wanted the Mars Occupation Force to be a British-led organisation, so I delved into everything I could find about the British Army’s organisational structure and operational methods. I also researched everything I could find about Mars and current colonisation plans, to get a better idea of what would work and what wouldn’t. I looked into a lot of conspiracy theories too. Over the last few years, there’s been several claims from ex-service personnel about secret off-world colonies, which really helped me with developing the back story and the universe of Big Red.

 

Q4. What inspired you to write Big Red?

A really vivid dream! I’ve always had an overactive imagination and because of that, I tend to have vivid dreams (or nightmares…) The first two chapters are based loosely on that dream. After waking up, I remember trying to work out why these soldiers were so traumatised and that became the seed that grew into Big Red.

 

Q5. What genre do you prefer to write in, Sci-fi or fantasy?

As long as there’s a military element, I enjoy both. My first project was a Military Fantasy called “Children of the Dying” and allowed me to explore sword and shield style battles, as opposed to the modern warfare shown in Big Red.

 

Q6. Where can people buy Big Red?

Big Red will be available on Amazon and all good bookshops from 14th May. You can also check out the link on my website which links to several different online stores:

https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/preorder-big-red

 

Q7. How can people follow you online?

FB: https://www.facebook.com/DamienLarkinAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/damo_dangerman

IG: https://www.instagram.com/damo_danger_larkin/

Website: https://www.damienlarkinbooks.com/

Thanks Damien!

Author Bio

Damien Larkin is a part-time Planning Analyst and a full-time stay-at-home father of two young children. He enjoys turning terrifying nightmares into novels and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland

Tips for Indy Authors part 1: Planning

Hi everyone, I was working on my latest book and being distracted by social media (Damn you Facebook!) when I realised that there are so many writers out there that don’t have a clue how about getting their work out there. In this new series of blog posts, I’ll be covering some of the basics.

Now you may be thinking that it might be a bad idea to help other writers. After all the competition out there is fierce and I myself would be classed as a struggling author. In reality, however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt over the years is that helping one another is really important.

One of the most common questions I see on social media is about how authors go about getting started and planning their books.

It all starts with an idea

A muse, creativity, imagination call it what you like but there has to be something that creates that initial spark. Not everyone possesses such a thing whereas others can be consumed by it. In my case, I get inspiration from the world around me. The news, hobbies such as gaming, people watching (not in a creepy way) and history are great sources of inspiration. It’s hard to describe the feeling when an idea takes root but you know it’s a good one when your mind constantly goes back to it. This where the idea of a muse comes in, a little voice in your head that nags you to look into it more. Sometimes an idea can be tenacious, other times it can hit like a lightning bolt or a Eureka moment.

In fantasy especially, I often start out by creating the world the story will be set in. I’ve written about world building before so check those posts out here. At this phase, you can get lost in creating a history or lore of the world and its during this phase that planning rises to the fore. I have notebooks and word documents filled with timelines, character and place names. I find it helps to write them down by hand first and then compile them onto a computer later.

Once this initial burst of creativity has occurred the actual story is the next step. Now, this is where being an author gets a little weird. In effect, you become something like a god. You create characters that in your mind might be as real as you or I and then you plop these ‘people’ into the world you created. I myself have experienced and been told by other writers that once they do this their characters often do unexpected things that shift a story into an entirely unexpected direction.

I’ve been experiencing this in my current project and while interesting such detours can put a spanner in the works of the story you’re trying to tell. This is why planning is so important.

Pantsing vs Plotting

I am what would be considered a pantser writer which means aside from having a broad outline of how I want a story to go I just let my mind run free and make it up as I go along. Others really struggle with this method and instead intricately plan out every page of a story. No method is better than other as a pantser can often write themselves into a corner thanks to troublesome characters not behaving and a strict planner can become stifled and trapped by their plan to the point of feeling trapped. The perfect method would be to incorporate the two, which is something that I myself am trying more and more.

raybradburyplot

In my current project, I still have a beginning and an endpoint that the story has to reach but whereas before I would wing it and see what happens to reach that end, I am now creating strict plot points that each chapter has to hit. How they are hit however is left to my imagination and it can be tricky reigning in a plot that is trying to go off on a different tangent.

There is software that provides plenty of planning functions and options but for me, a good old-fashioned notepad works best.

Writing is a learning experience and we all develop our own ways of planning out our projects. I’d love to hear what techniques you use. Are you a pantser or a strict planner? Let me know in the comments.

In part 2 I’ll be covering the common question of ‘How do you find the time to write?’.

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The Lake District- A Land of Fantasy

Hi folks, I’ve just got back from a few days away to the Lake District, which is in Cumbria. I’ve been there a few times over the years but this was the wife’s first visit and as it was her 30th birthday we wanted to do something special for it. We stayed at a cozy little inn just south of Lake Windemere and travelled across the district taking in the sites including an ancient stone circle. The hills and lakes evoke a sense of fantasy that is similar to the stunning landscapes seen in the LOTR movies.
As I looked out across Derwent Water I couldn’t help but think of the legends of King Arthur and Avalon. If you want inspiration, then this is the place to get it. I’ve a few pictures below for you to enjoy.
Now that we’re back in Worcester I’ll be cracking on with the Empowered Ones Book 2 and I’ve finished the outline for Sundered Crown book 4.

Happy Reading!

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I’ve moved to Worcester

Hi folks, apologise for the lack of communication over the past month but me and the wife have been undergoing the very stressful experience of moving to a new house.

At the start of this year I began a new job role at a company based in Tewksbury which was over an hour drive away from where we previously lived in Bristol. That the daily commute was not only tiring but also worked out as very costly in terms of petrol costs. So, we started looking about for somewhere that was closer to my work and had a store that my wife could transfer too.

Worcester fit the bill (not to mention the cost of renting is a lot cheaper than the now massively overpriced Bristol). We now live in a nice 2-bedroom townhouse which is a huge improvement over the tiny place we’d been in before and what’s better is that for all that extra space the rent is only £40 per month extra than our old place!

We’ve had a bit of an exploration of our new home and it’s a lovely city. Plenty of history combined with all the modern amenities we could need. The surrounding countryside is also beautiful with the Malvern hills just on our doorstep. We’ve not had a chance to explore them yet but will do very soon!
Naturally the upheaval of moving to a new city has put m writing on hold for a bit and with work picking up the time I have spare is restricted. Nonetheless I have been making slow but steady progress on the Empowered Ones Book Two and am still optimistically hoping to get the first draft finished before the end of the year.

In other news, I’ve begun the search for a narrator for the audiobook version of The First Fear. I’m hoping to get that done sometime in the new year and I hope many of you will pick up a copy. Sales wise things have slowed right down after the usually good summer period so if you or anyone you know enjoys fantasy and hasn’t picked up a copy of one of my books I would appreciate it massively. You can view all my available titles below.

SPFBO contest wise it’s a bit quiet as the judge tasked with reviewing The First Fear is slowly working her way through the list. Once I know the outcome I’ll share it with you all, (hopefully she’ll enjoy it!).
If you want to discover some of the SPFBO entries click on the banner pic at the bottom of this email.

Happy reading,
Matt

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Happy New Year – What’s to come?

Hello, everybody, I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year! I thought I’d write a post about my plans for 2018.

So last year was a bit of a rollercoaster for me jobs wise and was one where I learnt some tough lessons, both about life and writing. Life wise I learnt that we are all just a paycheck or two away from disaster and that if life decides to kick you in the nuts you can’t afford to wallow in self-doubt and give up. Instead, you must keep going and has happened to me in 2017 you will move on to better things. You just have to keep fighting and not give up!

Writing wise I took part in the SPFBO competition along with many of the brightest and most talented fantasy authors in the world of indy publishing. Alas, I didn’t make it through the first round but I did make some great new contacts and hope to try again next year.

I start a new job in January so the vast majority of my time will be focused on that, but in the time I can spare and most weekends I will still be forging ahead with my books. As things are set to become a bit hectic over the coming months I am going to be realistic with you all regarding my works in progress.

Unconquered Series

I’ve started book 2 in the Unconquered series more times than I can count but so far haven’t found a beginning that I’m happy with. Historical fiction also takes a lot of time up due to research and ensuring that it is as historically accurate as I can be. I’ll be working on this in phases throughout the year but in all honesty, I’m not expecting a first draft to be completed until 2019 at the earliest.

Progress so far – 5%

The First Fear

A first draft of The First Fear is still a few months away from completion, but I am still hoping to get it released sometime in the Spring or early Summer.  The bulk of the story has been written and I’m now working on the final quarter of the novel. I’m expecting the first draft to come in at around 100,000 words.

Progress so far – 75%

Sundered Crown Saga book 4

I’ve been planning out the remainder of the saga and have come up with something a bit different for books 4,5 and 6. As the second trilogy is set in a different land to that of the first 3 books I will be introducing a whole new set of characters and a storyline that will tie both trilogies together. Now, I’ve asked other authors about this strategy; some have warned me that doing this may upset my readers whilst others have said go for it. I would love to know what you guys think and I’ve set up a poll on my Facebook page.

Progress so far – 10%

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What I’ve Learnt About Self-Publishing – Is getting a traditional publishing deal better than going Indy?

Is getting a traditional publishing deal better than going Indy?

As a member of many writing groups online I’ve seen more than a few authors brag about landing traditional publishing deals. I have debated and in some cases outright argued with some who claim that landing such deals means that they are superior to us Indy authors.

Sure, landing a deal with an internationally recognised or genre leading publisher is fantastic! Well done you, but in this post, I’m not going to be talking about the big players but rather the small presses of which there are hundreds. Now, some of these are fantastic at what they do and genuinely support their authors with marketing etc., but far too many don’t provide those they ‘sign’ with any support at all.

The thing I think that needs to be made clear is whether going the traditional publishing route will indeed prove more effective than self-publishing. I’ve seen many authors delighted to land a deal, but then their book disappears into oblivion as the publisher does not promote the book at all. I’ve been in arguments with some authors who look down on Indy publishing and believe that because they’ve landed a deal with some obscure publishing house, they are better than those going alone. A simple look at their books ranking on Amazon however soon proves that in reality, their book is doing terribly and that for example, my Indy book sells better than theirs. I get that there are some kudos for landing a deal but at the end of the day if we truly want to be true authors our writing has to make us some form of income.

There are countless scammers out there posing as publishers. (Read my blog about vanity publishers here.) Unlike vanity publishers who demand an author pay them to publish there are some that offer contracts and even pay the author for the rights to their work as well as promising to market the book. I’ve seen many authors fall for these small presses who often turn out to be one man shows or run by people who don’t really seem to know what they’re up to. The number of books ‘signed up’ to these publishers that then go onto to vanish without a trace is quite frankly shocking.

Publishing is a gamble either way

A good friend of mine in the USA wrote a fantastic Sci-fi novel that exploded in popularity on a writing forum. He was then approached by a ‘publisher’ who paid him an advance and promised him to support the book. This was over 8 years ago, and his book has still never seen the light of day, and he is now embroiled in a legal battle with the publisher to get the rights back from them. I know for a fact that if he’d taken the Indy route and published it himself, then that book would have done well, and no doubt would have made him more cash then he’d earn via the small press. In short, he took a gamble and lost.

With Indy publishing, everything is down to you. You control the rights, you control production, and you control your marketing. In my view, its better for your book to be out there then locked away gathering dust. By going Indy, there is always a chance that your book could take off, whereas if a small press is mismanaging it or refusing to publish it, then there is no chance at all and you could end up in a legal battle to get back control of your story.

What do you think? Have you had a bad experience with a small press? Have you achieved success going Indy? Let me know in the comments or get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter