The Importance of the Committed Reader

I had an old friend visit yesterday, someone who is listed in the acknowledgements of ‘Exile’ for their very considerable contribution. She was one of my first readers back when there was less than half the story written. She read what there was and liked it a lot. Up until then ‘Exile’ was just a project I did a bit on in between writing short stories; under the circumstances there was no reason to expect that it was any good. Her response was among the first to indicate that the story worked and was really worth pushing forward with.

After that she became a valued muse. She would nag me about progress, each new chapter would be sent, discussed with her and reworked, further directions storyboarded. Her enthusiasm for the story kept me writing because I was writing for someone.

I liked writing that way. I know some authors hate the idea of showing anyone their work while it is in progress, but I’m the opposite. I loved being able to storyboard the next chapter with someone invested in the story. There are chapters in ‘Exile’ that would not have been written if not for her input. I’m sure it is a better book for her involvement.

My other books were not written this way, I was on my own. Career, marriage and children have all conspired to take my muse from me. But I still miss having someone to brainstorm the next chapter with.


More reviews of ‘Exile’ have come in and they are still strong but I need more. I can’t get enough. It’s not a problem. Really, I can handle it; but please if you’ve read it write it up.

A narrator for the audiobook of ‘Exile’ has been chosen and the result should be out in November. All the tweaks and edits for ‘Return to Nandor’ have been done and I’m awaiting first sight of the cover art.


My last trip to the Haematology consultant was satisfactory; my blood results are stable so no further treatment is scheduled. I have an appointment with the implant clinic for early October to assess me for cochlear implants.

I’m off to Ireland for a holiday shortly and my chosen reading is ‘The House of Shattered Wings’ by former T-Partyer Aliette de Bodard.



Last weekend was Fantasycon at the East Midlands Conference Centre in Nottingham. I have been to a good number of Fantasycons, but wasn’t able to attend last year’s as I was still under treatment so it was good to get to this year’s.

I drove up on Friday – only took 2.5 hrs in sharp contrast to the trip back, and the venue was easy to find with loads of parking right in the middle of Nottingham University campus. The centre and hotel are both new so the room was of a very high standard and the staff well-trained and helpful. So far, so good.

The first person I ran into was Anna Smith-Spark who I’ve been chatting to online for a while. Fortunately she does look like her Facebook profile photo. She is a truly talented writer who is also a client of Ian’s. Her novel is creating a lot of interest and, having read it, I’m not surprised – this lady can really write a battle scene; her reading was pretty awesome too.

I was scheduled for a reading just before six, but programmed against some really interesting panels. Not a surprise then that only two people showed up, one someone I didn’t know and didn’t get to talk to – so if that was you please get in touch. I read the opening of the contemporary fantasy novel that Telos are publishing and got applause – thanks Anna!

After the reading the only drawback of the con venue became apparent. It’s a business hotel and the dining choices were very limited and pricey as was the choice of drinks, with bottled beers at £4.50 a go! There was also a shortage of seating around the bar area. We couldn’t use the University facilities and anything off the campus was a good long walk away. I didn’t hang out in the bar too late as had a panel to moderate on Saturday morning but it seemed quieter than usual.

Saturday’s panel went well thanks to my roster of smart and eloquent panellists, particularly ‘Tex’ Thompson who I’ve worked with before and is always good value. After the panel I was able to relax and take in a few panels, hang out and take a turn through the dealers room. There were a couple of smaller publishers I wanted to talk to about my orphan adventure fantasy duology and good conversations were had. I met a series of cool people, including several more of Ian’s clients (we’re not plotting honest!), and hopefully have a couple of speakers for the T-Party (who got a great name check from Jo Fletecher).

Didn’t really do that much on Sunday except go out to Beeston for a nice lunch then back in time for the BFS awards. The T-Party folk who were up for awards didn’t win, but as Laura Mauro said, it is fabulous to just be on the shortlist.

Let’s not talk about the drive home – it would spoil what was otherwise a great weekend.

The End

THE END – What a lovely pair of words!

I typed them today on ‘Return to Nandor’, the sequel to my first novel ‘The Exile of Darien’ which no-one wants to buy. It is a lot shorter than ‘Exile’, but it is only a first draft so there’s still a lot of work to do and it may get longer. I’m pleased to have finished it. It is a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time; a story that wouldn’t leave me alone. Have I finished with these characters? I don’t know, probably not but I’m going to work on something else for a while. That may be the sequel to the novel Telos are publishing, or it may be another project. That’s for tomorrow. Today has been a good day.

Long-awaited news

Telos publishing have acquired my contemporary fantasy novel – working title ‘Shadows’ – for their Moonrise line. I have just sent the signed contract to them. It is projected to be published in ~15 months – next summer’s holiday reading.

‘Shadows’ is set in Southampton and the New Forest where I come from and features a half-faerie Southampton University chemistry student – so nothing like me!

Random thoughts on Eastercon

So I was at Eastercon last weekend held at The Park Inn, Heathrow and here are some random thoughts about it.

The con was sold out with ~1300 people attending so why did only 11 people sign up to the FREE T-Party writing workshop? Are we that scary? A lot more than 11 people went to the ‘How to get an Agent’ panel, and presumably they’re all writing novels that would benefit from having their opening chapters critiqued. Did no-one look at the Con website which had details of the workshop on the front page?

The 11 people who did sign up had a very good and useful session (except for the one unfortunate no-show who got sick on the morning of the workshop). “Best part of the convention” one person said. Thanks to all the critiquers who gave their time to make it a success, especially our guests (hi Tex!).

The selection at the real ale and cider bar was excellent even if it was a bit pricey – £4 a pint is steep – but there was nowhere near enough seating around the bar.

The arrangement of the Dealers’ room was novel – there wasn’t one. Each dealer had their own small room (or shared one). Didn’t think this worked too well, it eliminated the possibilty of finding something interesting while looking for something else and it meant they couldn’t carry as much stock as usual.

Jim Butcher is a very cool guy

Really excited about the film version of ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ which starts shooting next month using Mike Carey’s screenplay.

Had a productive talk with an independent publisher who are now looking at ‘Shadows’ (the ‘faery serial killers in the New Forest’ contemporary fantasy  novel).

Parking around the Park Inn is a complete pain.

Had a long-overdue catch-up with various T-Party folk and other writers I haven’t seen in a while – great to see them.

Must sign up for FantasyCon

Christmas is upon us!

I went back to work briefly at the end of November, but I’ve been at home for most of this month using up the holiday I didn’t take while I was under treatment. This means lots of writing – doesn’t it? Well, as I’ve mentioned before, lots of time does not for me equate to lots of words. I have been pushing on with the sequel to my adventure fantasy novel. I’m up to 61k words and the end is certainly in sight confirming that it will be substantially shorter than the first book.

Goodreads tells me that I’ve read 14 novels this year (which will be 15 before the end of 2014) which is a pretty good number as many of them were chunky old beasts. The best novel was clearly ‘The Girl With All the Gifts’ by Mike Carey – not a comfortable read but one I could not put down. I thoroughly recommend it to any of you who haven’t read it.

Had a great trip to St Marys’ on Saturday with some mates from work. Southampton had, just like last season, passed through a slump in December, losing games they should have won (Burnley, Man Utd) or drawn (Arsenal) and picked up some injuries and suspensions. I was not expecting this to change for the Everton match, but I was most agreeably surprised by how well the whole team played to win 3-0. A 19 y.o. midfield player named Harrison Reed made his first start and looked like he had played in the Premiership all season – another star from the Saints Academy.

I wish a happy and peaceful Christmas to all my readers.

It is tough out there

I’ve been keeping a secret from you for the last month and I can keep it no more.

For the last month I’ve known Angry Robot were interested in my contemporary fantasy novel. Back in October, I exchanged a couple of e-mails with an editor there who promised an imminent read. Then the lines went dead; until Tuesday when I had an e-mail from him. He was enthusiatic, he took it to the rest of the team. They were less enthusiastic and they’re not buying it. It is thematically too similar to something they’ve already got. There was a bit of other stuff too that could have been sorted in editing, but the ‘too similar’ thing is the killer.

Bummer. This is the second novel of mine that has got this far with AR. My fellow writers, it is tough out there.

February already?

Is it February already? It must be because I just ran my quiz for the first Sunday of the month. Where did January go? I was going to write so much more. That’s not to say nothing got written, the sequel is now past 20k, but I had intended to get more done.

Some of the time was devoted to watching football. Southampton have really picked up and are playing well. I went to the Arsenal match, which was drawn 2-2. I had gone in fearing they would get a real spanking, but they played well enough to win. Great result against Fulham on Saturday too.

The organisation for the writing workshop at Worldcon is moving forward. There should by now be a page up on the con website ( with details of what we’re doing and how to apply. I’m working on some other workshops and masterclasses too, more on those later.  

Nerve-wracking week

Been an interesting and nerve-wracking week to be a Southampton supporter. With Cortese resigning there seemed for a while to be a fair chance of Pochettino going too, followed by an exodus of our best players. Hasn’t worked out like that, but I was worried. As the architect of our rise from -10 points in League 1 to (currently) 9th in the Premiership, Cortese will always have my thanks, but he did appear to be a man who wanted to do things his own way and damn the consequences. The dismissal of Nigel Adkins typified that and left many feeling that it wasn’t the way the club should do business. Still he’s gone and the new regime is being installed, promises have been made about continuing commitment to the club. I have tickets for the next 2 home games and hope to see us holding on to the position we’ve gained.

In other news, the T-Party have been approached by the organisers of Loncon, the 2014 World Science convention, to run a writing workshop (and possibly other workshops) at the convention. I very much hope we’ll be able to do this as it should be a huge con. 

Note for writers out there: Simon & Schuster (US) have started a new SF/F e-book and print imprint called Simon451. Currently they are open to unagented submissions at , this is a good opportunity to send them something. I did.