About martinowton

Fantasy writer, Self-published and Crossroad Press author Real life drug designer and quizmaster. Cochlear implant user.

June – life has changed.

Life is different this week. As of yesterday I am unemployed. My association with Lilly ended on May31st after 35 and a half years. In better times there would have been a retirement event with speeches, toasts and retirement gifts. But the Erl Wood Research Centre is gone, the site sold and my colleagues scattered to the four winds. That is sad; a lot of great work was done there by good scientists.

The reason for this is good news; Lilly’s insurers have determined that I am fit to return to work. A significant improvement from where I was 4 years ago and it should help with getting travel insurance, but there is no job for me. Accordingly I have taken the pension, but also rebuilt my CV and sent it out for a couple of jobs. After all I have 40 yrs experience as a lab-based scientist and you can’t buy that (though the “not worked for 5 years” thing may count against me).

In other news – we still own my mother’s house and I hope it will be sold by the end of the month. It is now empty but our house is full. We have wardrobes – if anyone wants one please get in touch.

We are both now doubly vaccinated and starting venture out seeing people – small steps back to a normal life.

The sequel to Shadows of Faerie is advancing slowly, the first draft currently stands at 66k words.


I had intended to do a new year update, but stuff I was waiting for took longer to come through so here I am a month late!

I am vaccinated as of Wednesday this week. No noticeable side effects and now need to wait 3 weeks before there is a reasonable level of antibodies. That’s if my damaged immune system is going to make them which is not a certainty. There’s no data on the effect of the COVID vaccines on CLL patients taking Venetoclax, though it is known that the flu vaccine works; just not as well as it does for normal patients.

Back before Christmas I became aware that there was a major problem with the paperback edition of ‘Exile’. It took a while but this has now been rectified and a new version is available from Amazon. If you bought one of the faulty paperbacks get in touch and I’ll send you a revised version.

You may recall I subbed my new epic fantasy project to my agent last summer. I have now heard back from him and he does not want to take it on. He stressed that it was a near miss, and in a healthier book market he might have decided otherwise. The market is very difficult at the moment with so many books having been postponed last year. This is book 1 of proposed series so is not a candidate for self-publishing as any sequels would be a long time off. I’m trying to complete the first draft of the sequel to “Shadows of Faerie” at the moment so I’m not ready for a new project. I’ll think about it after my mother’s house is sold which should be only weeks away now.

Exile in SPFBO

Now that Exile is self-published I entered it in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off which is co-ordinated by Mark Lawrence (it was not previously eligible). There’s no entry fee and it has grown a high profile in the years it has been running. This, of course, means there are some very good books entered among the 300 contestants, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Exile did not make the first cut. The review is here: https://lynns-books.com/ (scroll down to Oct 3th) . It is rather disappointing that one of her two main issues with the story concerns a point that is explicitly addressed in the text. However, she found it an enjoyable read even if it did not stand out from the other books for her.

It is still a very worthwhile competition. The books that make the final 10 will all be worth investigating and it will be worth entering next year.

August update

How did it get to August already?

So I haven’t posted for a couple of months and with my health record some of you followers may have been worried. I’m fine, my health is still stable and I’ve been busy working on the next draft of my epic fantasy “Eternal Warrior” (working title). Today’s news is that it is done and I sent it to my agent to see if it will fly. I had to write a synopsis too, which is something every author hates doing, but one got written. I now need to come up with an outline for the second book as this is very much book 1.

Enjoy the summer and stay safe

Another New Year

A new decade even, and well past time I updated.

So what has been going on?

First off my health continued to be stable, see the consultant every 3 months and keep taking the Venetoclax. I get my immunoglobulins topped up every 3 weeks and that has kept me free of infections for nearly 2 years.

Writing-wise, Phantasia ceased publishing and returned the rights to the Nandor Tales books (except the audiobook – that’s a different deal) so I have now self-published them. I took the opportunity to revise them and (I hope) kill off all the typos. The revised version of Exile is now available as Kindle and paperback, the paperback of Nandor will be available soon. I’m about halfway through the first draft of a sequel to Shadows of Faerie, but that may well get put on the backburner as my first reader comments on the new epic fantasy I finished last summer are coming in and I need to begin rewriting (of which they will be lot).

I’m still going to quizzes, and occasionally winning them, and getting a bit better at having conversations in noisy backgrounds; it is still tough though.

Southampton have even picked up and won some games so I look forward to the rest of the season with the hope of a mid-table finish.

Dublin WorldCon

World Con – Dublin

So I went to Dublin for the World Science Fiction Convention 15-19 Aug. A natural choice for me as I could visit my wife’s family in Galway and I have a new book to pimp. My long-time crit pal Patrice Sarath came over with her family, and we endeavoured to show them the best bits of the west in 4 days before going up to Dublin.

This was my third World Con after Glasgow 2005 and London 2014 so I felt I knew what to expect and hoped my artificial hearing would cope. I got scheduled to appear on two panels as well so all looked good. We got to our hotel near Connolly Station early on Thursday afternoon and checked in to the Con by about 4pm. I was impressed with the very modern convention centre and the quick registration (compared to London). This favourable impression was rather dented by our failure to get into panels as they were full. I am used to being able to go from one panel into the next in the 10 minutes scheduled for changeover except for a very few (often featuring Guests of Honour), but this was not the case at Dublin – if you didn’t queue, you didn’t get in except for the most niche of panels and the late evening ones (and the ones I was on, though this is possibly coincidence). When I did get in I was pleased to find I could hear the panellists well most of the time.

You may think, based on previous cons, that after failing to get into panels I spent a lot of time in the bar, but you would be wrong. There are two reasons for this; firstly with the pound at near parity with the euro, it was expensive. 6 a pint is too damn much. Secondly, despite the prices it was noisy, and my artificial hearing doesn’t handle background noise well. The best bit of a con are the conversations you have with people in the bar, but I can’t do that unless I’ve got a quiet corner. Sorry folks, I wanted to talk to more people but I would have been constantly asking you to repeat what you said. Despite this I did have some good converations with people. I also spoke to my agent and told him about the manuscript I’ve recently completed. He was encouraging, though he is finding it very difficult to place debut novels. He also said that peak grimdark is past and editors are looking for more traditional epic fantasy. Good news for me as the new work is more trad epic, but is several drafts away from being fit to send to him.

The most impressive thing I saw was the full contact medieval combat with both longsword and short sword. Next time I write a fight scene I must remember how difficult it is to protect your lower legs. I didn’t get to talk to any of the big name authors who were there, though I did see Steven Ericksen in a corridor. Nor get I get to see much of Dublin apart from a walk around on Saturday evening looking for restaurant. Must put that right sometime soon.