‘At the editors…’ the awful wait

One of the most exciting things that has happened to me on my self-publishing journey, is the opportunity of sending my work to the editors. I say ‘exciting’, but what I really mean is ‘nerve-wracking’!

I go through a whole host of emotions when I’m writing a novel: excitement, desperation, frustration, anger and depression to name just a few. This is because I’m what you might call a ‘moody guy’. Some days I take a look at what I’ve written and feel like deleting it all and starting again. Or just giving up. It’s that bad. Other days, I think the polar opposite… I can actually write! I literally dance around like an idiot.

And every other shade of emotion in between.

This makes the discipline of writing difficult. I have to slog on through the moods regardless. And that’s what I do, day after day. In many ways, I actually find the writing process cathartic. Finishing a story that I’m proud of is an achievement that always keeps giving. And that’s all well and good… when it’s just me. 

At some point, though, I have to send it off to the editors….

My first novel, Blue Into The Rip, was copy-edited by myself. It sounds a dumb thing to do, but other than letting a friend read it, who spotted one or two typos, that was it. Luckily, and because I have a robust redrafting process (and because I put the novel in the bottom drawer for six months, and because I was shit-scared of fucking up), the novel was well received with mostly five star reviews. Phew!

But I was lucky. Luck played its part again when I was edited by Indie editing genius, David Gatewood for the short story anthology From The Indie Side. Working with David made me realise that I needed a more professional approach. I advertised on Twitter and found four editors!

The first time I sent my work off to the editors, it happened without me really noticing. I was banging through the three stories for my IronScythe Sagas and it was only when I’d finished and they’d been emailed off that I sat back and thought… oh shit!

It was an awful wait. Should I email the editors to see how they’re getting on? Should I ask if they liked it or not? How many marks out of ten? But I did what I do best, which was nothing.

Why break a winning pattern?

Within a few weeks the manuscripts came back. Reading their notes I soon realised that I was being precious. I found the process invaluable. Sure, there were a few red-faced moments, but at least they had been spotted. Changes were made and the MSS did the rounds again. And it turns out, the editors liked the stories as well, which was a nice bonus. I felt cool, on top of things…

Last week I finished my latest novel, Vatic.  I was writing a short story for my upcoming anthology – just 8000 words – and damn and blast if it didn’t turn into a novel. Vatic is a ‘space mystery murder thing’ written in First Person Present. So it was a big departure for me. It’s now at the editors. And guess what? Nothing has changed. I’m just as nervous as I’ve ever been.

Hopefully, they will read this and let me know…

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FROM THE INDIE SIDE – now at only $0.99/£.077

(OFFER NOW ENDED) Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, “From the Indie Side” brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride—and don’t be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.

INDIE-3DMy short: Gyre-Witchery…
All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island. It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slunk at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…

Edited by David Gatewood.
Foreword by Hugh Howey.
Cover design: Jason Gurley

BUY NOW at $0.99/£0.77

Amazon Kindle US | UK
Barnes & Noble NOOK US | UK
Kobo US | UK
Smashwords (Sony Reader, palm, PDF, etc.)

Description
A man who remembers the future and a veteran haunted by his past. A witch ignorant of her powers and a vampire achingly aware of his emptiness. An unmaimed man, a cursed queen, a troubled marriage, a family just trying to survive.

From an abandoned convent to a Martian classroom, an open-mic reading to a New Mexico mountaintop, these fantastical and imaginative tales will take you on a journey through impossible worlds, all-too-possible futures, and disquieting glimpses into the other side of reality.

Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, “From the Indie Side” brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride—and don’t be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.

Featuring Michael Bunker, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, Anne Frasier, Sara Foster, Jason Gurley, Mel Hearse, Kev Heritage, Hugh Howey, Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Brian Spangler; and edited by David Gatewood. Includes a foreword by Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of WOOL.

“When I read indie fiction, authenticity oozes from the page. Sample some unique and talented voices . . . sit back and enjoy the ride.” – Hugh Howey

“. . . it is a great book. It is one that you will want laying in the stack next to your bed or chair or sofa or desk—wherever you read—because you will want to read it over and over throughout the years.” – Michael Bunker, bestselling author of WICK

Here are the blurbs for the other stories:

The Winter Lands (Jason Gurley)

Jonathan Froestt lives alone in a retirement home. His family is gone. His friends are all dead. For over sixty years, he has been writing a novel, the pages collecting in his apartment in stacks. Nobody has ever read it. Until today.

Going Gray (Brian Spangler)

When their community is engulfed by a deadly, caustic fog, sixteen-year-old Emily and her family decide to escape to the one building they can think of that might be able to withstand the fog’s corrosive force: the shopping mall. But a trip to the mall has never been so desperate, or so terrifying.

Queen Joanna (Kate Danley)

Thrust into a loveless marriage of state, Queen Joanna soon discovers her new palace is home to many dark secrets. And when a face in the mirror confronts her with a dire warning, she realizes her life is at risk. Has she awakened a curse—or been struck by madness? “Queen Joanna” presents a haunting twist on the legend of Bloody Mary.

Mouth Breathers (Hugh Howey)

Moving to a new town, starting off at a new school, meeting new kids… it’s never easy. And it only gets harder when the new town and the new school and the new kids are on a different planet. But sometimes, something happens that makes it worth all the trouble.

The Man With Two Legs (Ernie Lindsey)

Many winters ago, the man with two legs managed to escape the oppressive maiming rituals of Tritan’s government. Now he stands on a hillside overlooking the city, a bomb in his rucksack, determined to bring about two impossible results: his mother’s rescue and freedom for his people.

Cipher (Sara Foster)

When Beatrice leaves her family behind to visit her father, she never imagines she might not see them again. But then a bomb goes off close to home, and Beatrice must rely on a stranger’s help to find out what’s happened—and whether or not her husband and children have survived.

Made of Stars (Anne Frasier)

A genius vampire named Sinclair creates an alternate world where vampires can experience a traditional human life of love, marriage, and children. Sixteen-year-old Gabriel is Sinclair’s beta tester and volunteers to fall in love with a coffee-shop girl. But when the pain of love becomes overwhelming, Gabriel questions his decision. “It’s too real,” he tells Sinclair. “You made it too real.”

Gyre-Witchery (Kev Heritage)

All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island. It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slunk at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…

The War Veteran (Susan May)

For seventy years, World War II veteran Jack Baker has endured vivid flashbacks to that horrific June day on Omaha Beach. But tonight, the flashback will be terrifyingly different. Tonight it becomes real. Tonight, Jack’s seventy-year-old secret will come back to claim him.

The Greater Good (Mel Hearse)

When Lanie wakes up in a hospital bed with no idea how she got there, she tries desperately to work out why she was on the old loop road that’s been all but abandoned by the locals. Thinking there must be an obvious answer, Lanie leaves no stone unturned in her quest for an explanation. But when all is revealed, she is left with only one question—and no good answers.

REDOUBT (Michael Bunker)

Phillip is a militia commander who has planned for a decade to defend the pacifist Vallenses of Central Texas with his army if ever the world tips over and goes to hell. He never thought he’d be on a skiing trip to New Mexico when the end comes.

The Man Who Remembered Today (Peter Cawdron)

Kareem wakes with a headache. A bloody bandage wrapped around his head tells him this isn’t just another day in the Big Apple. The problem is, he can’t remember what happened to him. He can’t recall anything from yesterday. The only memories he has are from events that are about to unfold today, and today is no ordinary day.

ENJOY!

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Why I need NOT to know – a post of pure discovery

Presently, as I write this sentence, I’m at Gatwick airport, near London in the UK. I’m not ready to jet off to warmer climes for the purpose of chatting to excited fans about my collected writery works. Instead… I’m on a train.

Brighton-Gatwick-ExpressGatwick is a daily stop for me on my commute up to London. And it’s on this train, that I usually do my writing. Today, I’m taking care of blog business and writing something for my Ozzie author friend, Susan May, the force behind best-selling Indie anthology, FROM THE INDIE SIDE. Susan contacted me last year and kindly asked if I would be a part of the project, and of course, I said yes.

She’s asked me to write a blog about writing in general and to answer a few questions as part of a blog hop for FROM THE INDIE SIDE—more on that later.

So after a lot of thought and planning, I’m using this time today to chat about:

<INSERT TOPIC HERE>

Yes, I‘ve no idea what this blog is going to be about just yet. But, as I never know where I ‘m going when I start writing a short story or novel, I thought I’d do the same on my blog and see where I ended up.

Here we go… Writing, for me, is a solitary exercise, disconnecting almost. Of course I’m surrounded by interesting events and characters, and I lose myself in them, but it’s still me sitting at my laptop on my own, tapping plastic, making stuff up and sometimes drinking tea.

It’s my single force of will that drives this behaviour—no matter how irritating, frustrating or, quite frankly, depressing. It’s me who writes myself into annoying corners, me who sits staring at timelines and character motivations, at plot and my quite awful prose with a look of hopelessness. Me who wonders why I keep doing this to myself.

More than often, my stories descend into confusion, becoming a crazy splat of random ideas, characters and events. And I’m pretty sure this is where some of the other guys who use this, for want of a better word, ‘technique’ might just give up.

I know I do, over and over again.

Or I would do, if not for my dogged sub-consciousness, which is always working away, even when I’m on the PlayStation, boozing or watching Columbo. Every now and then, it drops a little solution into my cerebral cortex as if from nowhere. And CLANG! There I am, full of problem-solved excitement, sitting back in front of the laptop. A little step is made to help me find a way out of another frustrating Cul-de-Sac. These are magic moments. I’d go as far as to say these moments are better than finishing, or even holding the printed version. It’s the main reason why I write.

Blue Into The RipSomeone once asked me how I managed to create such a tight, self-contained plot for my debut novel, BLUE INTO THE RIP. They couldn’t imagine that I’d started without any structure. They were perplexed that nothing was planned—that instead, I found the story along the way.

But that’s my technique. I start writing, make a terrible mess, tidy it up and we’re done. I’m always surprised by the result.

Of course, I have ideas for certain events that I want to include—sometimes very random stuff—sometimes plots points etc. But a hefty 90 or so per cent is voyage of pure discovery.

Now onto the blog hop.

INDIE-3DWhat’s a blog hop, you ask? Well the answer mostly goes along the lines of—I didn’t know either until I’d had it all explained to me (it took a few emails granted) by the antipodean force behind the Indie Author Anthology, FROM THE INDIE SIDE, Susan May.

It’s a sort of linked blog to those included in the anthology, allowing you to hop from one author to another to get a flavour of those who took part. There are a few similar author questions that I’m required to answer, but other than that, I’ve pretty much free reign to witter on about writery stuff, which is what I’ve now done.

The anthology is a wonderful read. It takes me back to my youth. Anthologies were great ways to find new authors, and this anthology is no different. It is crammed to the gills with some fantastic stories. I have my favourites, but I can’t tell you which ones! I’m sure you will find your favourites as well.

Find out more about FROM THE INDIE SIDE here.

So let’s get the blog hop started.

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

The Cowl (IronScythe #1)I’m presently writing in three genres. As a new author, I should be stamping myself upon a single genre and style. It makes sense from a marketing perspective. But I can’t be doing the same thing over and over. I crave variety. So I’ve my sci-fi series INTO THE RIP, my very soon to be released epic fantasy adventure THE COWL (Book #1 of the IRONSCYTHE SAGAS) and my upcoming paranormal sci-fi London thriller, male-melodrama, comedy horror: KILLER PICCADILLY.

My problem as a consumer of films, TV and books, is that I get bored. I’ve always had this affliction. It’s a terrible admission, but I find it impossible to finish the lion’s share of any of these without losing interest half-way through. I like to be startled. I like to have no idea what is going to happen next. Cosy fiction is fine—but it’s not for me. This is reflected in what I write—or at least that’s what I’m aiming for. But clichés still slip in here and there, and when I spot one, I try and turn it 180 degrees.

I also presently write exclusively in Third Person Omnipotent. This makes my stories harder to get into. Readers will always be one step removed from the main character. But I have always liked this disconnection, it makes me try so much harder to draw the reader in—it stretches me as a writer. And there is something about the statement ‘it was hard to get into, but once I did, it was a great read’ that I like. Nearly all my favourite books were like this.

Having said that, I’m presently writing the sequel to BLUE INTO THE RIP, which starts off with a hefty First Person section, and I’m loving it. And I’m thinking of a Third Person Limited short, just to try it out. Maybe for the next anthology if I’m asked.

How does my writing process work?

I think I might’ve accidentally stumbled into answering this question. I really should’ve read these questions earlier. But let’s do a sort of switch-a-round. How about… what doesn’t work for me?

After my first attempt at novel writing died a painful and predictable death, I thought the way forward was planning. I downloaded a lovely planning program. I planned and thought and planned again. It was the way forward, I was convinced of it. IT WAS PLANNED! The only problem? The writing. Almost immediately, it was like the worst maths homework imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, I can do maths, it’s just that I don’t want to. It’s awful, tedious stuff. I found that I’d lost the spark for the story. Once I knew what I was to write, I’d no desire to write it.

So that’s why… I need NOT to know.

Read these great blogs from superlative writers in FROM THE INDIE SIDE:

GET HOPPING! 

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Official Launch: From The Indie Side!

Tomorrow is the official release date of ‘From The Indie Side’ – a great new sci-fi anthology featuring award winning and best-selling Independent Authors …and me! I know, what am I doing rubbing shoulders with such Indie stars as Hugh Howey and others? 

FROM THE INDIE SIDEI’d love you to get a copy while the prices are so low: 99c/77p and to give it a great review. Print versions are also at reduced prices for a limited period.

The Blurb!
A man who remembers the future and a veteran haunted by his past. A witch ignorant of her powers and a vampire achingly aware of his emptiness. An unmaimed man, a cursed queen, a troubled marriage, a family just trying to survive.

From an abandoned convent to a Martian classroom, an open-mic reading to a New Mexico mountaintop, these fantastical and imaginative tales will take you on a journey through impossible worlds, all-too-possible futures, and disquieting glimpses into the other side of reality.

Packed with original short stories ranging from sci-fi to thriller to the supernatural, “From the Indie Side” brings together some of the biggest authors in independent publishing today. Be prepared for a great ride—and don’t be surprised if you discover your new favorite author in these pages.

Featuring Michael Bunker, Peter Cawdron, Kate Danley, Anne Frasier, Sara Foster, Jason Gurley, Mel Hearse, Kev Heritage (that’s me!!), Hugh Howey, Ernie Lindsey, Susan May, and Brian Spangler; and edited by David Gatewood. Includes a foreword by Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of WOOL.

“When I read indie fiction, authenticity oozes from the page. Sample some unique and talented voices . . . sit back and enjoy the ride.” – Hugh Howey

“. . . it is a great book. It is one that you will want laying in the stack next to your bed or chair or sofa or desk—wherever you read—because you will want to read it over and over throughout the years.” – Michael Bunker, bestselling author of WICK

Here are the story blurbs:

Gyre-Witchery (Kev Heritage

All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island. It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slunk at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…

The Winter Lands (Jason Gurley)

Jonathan Froestt lives alone in a retirement home. His family is gone. His friends are all dead. For over sixty years, he has been writing a novel, the pages collecting in his apartment in stacks. Nobody has ever read it. Until today.

Going Gray (Brian Spangler)

When their community is engulfed by a deadly, caustic fog, sixteen-year-old Emily and her family decide to escape to the one building they can think of that might be able to withstand the fog’s corrosive force: the shopping mall. But a trip to the mall has never been so desperate, or so terrifying.

Queen Joanna (Kate Danley)

Thrust into a loveless marriage of state, Queen Joanna soon discovers her new palace is home to many dark secrets. And when a face in the mirror confronts her with a dire warning, she realizes her life is at risk. Has she awakened a curse—or been struck by madness? “Queen Joanna” presents a haunting twist on the legend of Bloody Mary.

Mouth Breathers (Hugh Howey)

Moving to a new town, starting off at a new school, meeting new kids… it’s never easy. And it only gets harder when the new town and the new school and the new kids are on a different planet. But sometimes, something happens that makes it worth all the trouble.

The Man With Two Legs (Ernie Lindsey)

Many winters ago, the man with two legs managed to escape the oppressive maiming rituals of Tritan’s government. Now he stands on a hillside overlooking the city, a bomb in his rucksack, determined to bring about two impossible results: his mother’s rescue and freedom for his people.

Cipher (Sara Foster)

When Beatrice leaves her family behind to visit her father, she never imagines she might not see them again. But then a bomb goes off close to home, and Beatrice must rely on a stranger’s help to find out what’s happened—and whether or not her husband and children have survived.

Made of Stars (Anne Frasier)

A genius vampire named Sinclair creates an alternate world where vampires can experience a traditional human life of love, marriage, and children. Sixteen-year-old Gabriel is Sinclair’s beta tester and volunteers to fall in love with a coffee-shop girl. But when the pain of love becomes overwhelming, Gabriel questions his decision. “It’s too real,” he tells Sinclair. “You made it too real.”

The War Veteran (Susan May)

For seventy years, World War II veteran Jack Baker has endured vivid flashbacks to that horrific June day on Omaha Beach. But tonight, the flashback will be terrifyingly different. Tonight it becomes real. Tonight, Jack’s seventy-year-old secret will come back to claim him.

The Greater Good (Mel Hearse)

When Lanie wakes up in a hospital bed with no idea how she got there, she tries desperately to work out why she was on the old loop road that’s been all but abandoned by the locals. Thinking there must be an obvious answer, Lanie leaves no stone unturned in her quest for an explanation. But when all is revealed, she is left with only one question—and no good answers.

REDOUBT (Michael Bunker)

Phillip is a militia commander who has planned for a decade to defend the pacifist Vallenses of Central Texas with his army if ever the world tips over and goes to hell. He never thought he’d be on a skiing trip to New Mexico when the end comes.

The Man Who Remembered Today (Peter Cawdron)

Kareem wakes with a headache. A bloody bandage wrapped around his head tells him this isn’t just another day in the Big Apple. The problem is, he can’t remember what happened to him. He can’t recall anything from yesterday. The only memories he has are from events that are about to unfold today, and today is no ordinary day.

Buy Here:
Amazon UK
Amazon US

ENJOY!

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‘From The Indie Side’ – Cover reveal!

FROM THE INDIE SIDEVery, very excited to announce the release date for great new Indie speculative anthology, From The Indie Side and to showcase the new cover.

From The Indie Side is a short-story compilation by New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors and award winners. I’m thrilled as a relative unknown (and the only British writer) to join such awesome company. Honoured.

I’ve always loved anthologies, they are a great way to discover new authors and different worlds. This anthology is no different, I heartily recommend it.

From The Indie Side will be available 1st Feb 2014 – links available very soon.

Introduction by Indie guru and one-man publishing success: Hugh Howey, author of the award winning WOOL series.

Contributors:

“REDOUBT” by  Michael Bunker
“The Man Who Remembered Today” by  Peter Cawdron
“Queen Joanna” by Kate Danley
“Cipher” by Sara Foster
“Made of Stars” by Anne Frasier
“The Winter Lands” by Jason Gurley
“The Greater Good” by Mel Hearse
“Gyre~Witchery” by Kev Heritage
“Mouth Breathers” by Hugh Howey
“The Man With Two Legs” by Ernie Lindsey
“The War Veteran” by Susan May
“Going Gray” by Brian Spangler

Edited: David Gatewood
Foreword: Hugh Howey
Cover design: Jason Gurley

My story is…

‘Gyre-Witchery’
All Tam wanted was to be loved. Was that so hard? Made outcast because of her green eyes—the sign of witchery—Tamina, a well-meaning simpleton, is shunned by a superstitious people who blame her for the ills that have overtaken their small island. It was not her fault that she put on weight while the others starved, or that wild animals slunk at her side, or that men and women both desired and despised her. But change was coming, brought upon the back of a terrifying squall…

From The Indie Side Cover

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The Return of the Edits

Got the edits back from David Gatewood who is subbing my story ‘Gyre~Witchery’ for forthcoming anthology From The Indie Side. Pleased to see that, apart from a few minor changes, nearly all the edits were to amend my British spelling to American English to keep it in line with the other authors. Nice and easy. Looking forward to the launch at end of February. Foreword is by none other than Hugh Howey of Wool fame.

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