Ahoy March! Surgery, The Ninth Rain, Mass Effect & Bats. Bats!

How did it get to be March? How did it get to be the middle of March, in fact? Timey wimey nonsense.

Actually, for me personally I will blame this particular space/time cock-up on the fact that I spent much of February recovering from surgery, and then the last bit of it launching a book (and having a birthday) which is a lot to fit into one month. Having surgery was interesting. I am, at heart, a coward, and I remain faintly stunned that I went through with it at all, and there were a few days afterwards, where Marty still had to help me in and out of bed, that I was convinced that I was in much more pain than was usual and it was all a bit outrageous. However, that proved to be me being overly dramatic and I must express my gratitude to Marty and my mum for looking after me, and all the lovely friends who sent me books and sweets and DVDs – what lovely people you are, I don’t deserve you.

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Me, signing like a boss, in my new favourite jumper.

Luckily, I was up and about in time for the launch of The Ninth Rain, which was handy because it was a brilliant night, with so many people in the queue at Forbidden Planet I suspected more timey-wimey shenanigans. Thank you again to everyone who came out to celebrate the publication of this epic fantasy with bats, bad-ass ladies and explosions, I had a completely amazing time and was very moved by all the support.

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So how’s it doing? Quite well, it seems, which is a lovely surprise. Everyone worries every time a book comes out, I suspect, but The Ninth Rain was quite a different beast from the Copper Cat trilogy, and a riskier undertaking in lots of ways. There have been some lovely reviews, and yesterday it popped up in a ‘best recent SF, Fantasy and Horror books’ round up in the Guardian, which you can see here. The word ‘eldritch’ is used! Hooray! If you have read it and enjoyed it, a review plonked up on goodreads or Amazon is always hugely appreciated – it does make a difference and helps get the book in potential reader’s faces. IN THEIR FACES.

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In other news, Den Patrick and I have stepped down from running Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. We have wrestled with the decision for a while now, but ultimately we are both horribly busy at the moment and we didn’t feel we could put in the time that SRFC deserved. The good news is that SRFC isn’t going anywhere: the running of the thing is being passed over as we speak, and you can expect monthly events of fantasy fun and booze to continue for the foreseeable future. We’re very proud of what we’ve built, and the little community of SRFC regulars should be very proud too. Watch out for updates on twitter, via @SRFantasyclub.

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I will be spending late March with these awesome dudes. YESSSS.

So, March then. March will see me working furiously on The Bitter Twins, which is the sequel to The Ninth Rain, whilst also furiously playing Mass Effect: Andromeda, which I am ridiculously excited about. The original Mass Effect trilogy is my favourite piece of SF ever, and I can’t talk about it for any length of time without staring moodily out of windows, heroically holding back tears. If you don’t see me on social media much, this will be why.

See you on the other side, and remember, Isaac Newton is the deadliest son of a bitch in space…

Holy crap it’s THE NINTH RAIN pre-order competition! UPDATED

So. The Ninth Rain, the first book in the Winnowing Flame trilogy, is out next week, on the 23rd of February. Starburst said it’s ‘fantasy adventure at it’s very best’, SFX gave it 5 stars, an ‘SFX LOVES’ badge and said it’s ‘a sublime read’, while SciFiNow said The Ninth Rain is ‘a fast-paced and vibrant fantasy romp’, and also walloped it with 5 stars. I am pretty chuffed, as you can imagine!

To celebrate, I am doing a little pre-order competition. It’s pretty easy – if you’ve pre-ordered The Ninth Rain (any edition) just tweet a picture of your pre-order confirmation/receipt at me (with private details chopped off if they’re on there) and you could win a little signed art postcard thing that I made myself. Think of it like the little dragons I draw in signed copies, only I made a bit more effort this time. There will only be one such thing in allll the world, and I’ll write hello on the back and such. I’m @sennydreadful on twitter, if you’ve managed to miss me waffling on.

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EDIT: There are now two cards to win! The winners will be picked at random on the evening of the 22nd of February. So tweet me! And if you’re in London next Thursday, please do join me for the launch at Forbidden Planet.

2016 is over… and thank fuck for that

Well. I felt that I should write an end of year post, because that’s what you do with a blog, isn’t it? But how do you talk about 2016 without a lot of very energetic swearing? I won’t rehash the horrors and disappointments of this year, or the heroes we’ve lost, because I feel like I’ve spent months being alternately angry or sad. What I will do instead is poke myself with the great stuff that happened, selfishly, for me – because with these bits of glittering salvage I will build the good ship I’m Fucking Coming For You 2017.

2016 was the year I finished the Copper Cat Trilogy

The Silver Tide was published in February, bringing to an end my journey with the Black Feather Three. Lots of lovely people turned out to launch it with me, and I had a high old time. I will miss Wydrin, Frith and Sebastian a great deal (although not really, they’re with me all the time in my head) but I was very pleased to give them the ending I felt they deserved. Ye gods and little fishes.

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I didn’t manage to eat a single one of those bloody cookies…

The Copper Cat made her debut in the US and Canada

Thanks to Angry Robot, the Black Feather Three can now be found across the pond, with The Iron Ghost to follow in the first week of January. Surreal and exciting to know that my books are popping up in Barnes & Noble, and every time I look at the fabulous, almost movie-poster style covers I am filled with absolute glee.

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The Ninth Rain is imminent…

Starting a new trilogy is hard. Much of this year was taken up with writing the first book in the Winnowing Flame series, and it has been an interesting journey (interesting in this case can be taken to mean: difficult, alarming, nerve-wracking, thrilling, confusing). The Ninth Rain was a tough book to write; partly from the sheer terror of writing something new, and partly because I spent much of the period feeling quite unwell, and had to deal with a fair amount of physical pain and anxiety. What fun! I got there in the end though, and it’s a book I’m very proud of. It’s published on the 23rd of February, and I’m terrified.

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How amazing is this cover? *actual heart eyes*

Award nom nom noms…

To my genuine enormous surprise, The Iron Ghost was nominated for Best Fantasy Novel in the British Fantasy Awards 2016. To no surprise whatsoever, I didn’t win, but like The Ninth Rain, The Iron Ghost was a very tough book to write, and the fact that people loved it enough to put it forward for an award was hugely significant to me.

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SRFC continues to go from strength to strength

Super Relaxed Fantasy Club has had an excellent year. We moved venues to the very lovely Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road (check it out! It has a bar!) and guests included award-winners such as the brilliant Zen Cho and Adrian Tchaikovsky, and effortless entertainers such as Sarah Pinborough and Joe Hill. More to the point, our little community continues to grow and I hope to see you all back there for 2017. (Big thanks to my partner in crime Den Patrick, and all our excellent guest presenters).

There’s more I could write, but as usual when I come to construct these posts I realise what a terrible memory I have. Reading wise this year I have loved discovering Temeraire for the first time, and I loved The Flame Bearer, The Fifth Season, Station Eleven and The Lie Tree. Films I adored this year: Rogue One (oh Star Wars how you have my heart these days) and the new Ghostbusters, which was warm, clever, and really fucking funny. Here’s to more brilliant books and films in 2017 – I think we will need them, more than ever.

Happy New Year, my lovelies – let’s get out there and make things! 😀

Notes on surviving Nanowrimo AND KICKING ITS BUTT

It’s Halloween! Which not only means it’s time to eat lots of novelty shaped chocolates, it also means it’s practically Nanowrimo: that special month of the year where a bunch of very enthusiastic people attempt to write 50,000 words or more in 30 days.

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This pleases Skeletor.

I am, in my own small way, a Nano veteran. When I first started taking writing seriously, I decided to try Nanowrimo as a way of teaching myself some discipline, and much to my surprise (being an inherently lazy person) it worked! In 2008 I reached my wordcount with an odd little fantasy book for younger readers called Bird and Tower. In 2009 I won with a YA book called Ink for Thieves, and in 2010 it was with an oddly named SF crime romp called Dead Zoo Shuffle. 2011 was where it got complicated – I intended to write the rest of this odd little serial I was writing, called the Copper Promise or something, but then the first section of it received a lot of attention and Nanowrimo dropped off the radar for me…

I was back in 2012 with another YA book called London-Under-Sea, with which I did reach the 50K goal but the novel itself remains unfinished, alas. By then, The Copper Promise was on the verge of being a real book, and what I found was that publishing schedules neatly elbowed Nanowrimo out of the way. I never seemed to be writing a first draft when November rolled around – I was always in the midst of edits. Consequently, 2013 was a miss for me, but with 2014 I squeaked in with 50K words of The Silver Tide. Similarly, history records that last year I registered The Ninth Rain as the novel I would be working on, but edits for The Silver Tide put a stop to that.

This year I have decided, with a heavy heart, that I will not make the attempt. I love Nanowrimo dearly, but I am in the middle of the copyedits for The Ninth Rain now, and there is no greater antithesis to the spirit of Nano than the dreaded copy edit. However, I thought it would be fun to have a think about all the things I have learnt about surviving a month of super-fast writing, and collect some of it here. If you are about to experience the strange adventure that is Nano for the first time, it might be useful. Or it might at least indicate what not to do…

No edits
It’s the most obvious and tiresome piece of advice, and if you are doing Nano you will have heard it 800 times already but: take your inner editor by the hand, give her one last hug, and then give her a sharp shove down the basement steps. Ignore her squawk of outrage and snapping limbs – for the next 30 days, you don’t need her. Soz, lady.

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Stop! Put that editing pencil DOWN!

Time is precious
Nano is brilliant because it teaches you to give yourself periods of time dedicated solely to writing. This time is precious. It must be offered up in sacrifice to bring your characters to life. But with Nano I would also suggest looking closely at all those bits in your day where you briefly have nothing to do, and snaffle those as well. Write bits of your novel on the phone when you’re on the bus. Scribble a section on your lunch break. Stuck in a waiting room? Get those words out. It sounds a little, uh, over the top, but even 20 words or so will help when you’re dragging yourself towards that 1667 words a day.

With that in mind…
I almost always write in a linear fashion these days, with scene following scene, etc. But with Nano, all rules are out the window. I highly recommend, particularly when you’re on the bus or stuck at work, scribbling little extra scenes, snatches of dialogue, conversations that pop up out of nowhere. The beauty of these little isolated fragments is a) they add to your word count and b) they can often lead to unexpected things – a secret about a character you didn’t know, a piece of worldbuilding that suddenly slots into place, and so on.

Sweets
A more responsible writer would tell you to eat healthy snacks, and if you like them, go for it, but I am not a responsible person and I like sweets. Snickers Flapjacks are bloody amazing, and there’s always the trusty Peanut Butter Chunky Kit-Kat. PLUS I highly recommend buying up all the cheap Halloween candy on November 1st.

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Shredder cannot *wait* to get his mitts on those tasty kit-kats.

The Desk of Awesome
If you can, make yourself a base of operations for November. I like my desk to be quivering under the weight of a thousand toys, but you might like a more minimal approach. I dunno. I guess some people like that. Jeez. I found that having a dedicated space to return to for writing sessions made more of an occasion of the whole process, and helped to get my mind into the right head-space.

Share it
Get other people to do it with you. Or, at least tell other people that you’re doing it. Abandoning the project halfway through November is much easier when it’s your secret challenge – if you have friends and family asking you how it’s going, that little flicker of guilt can be enough to get your bum back in the writing seat. And with Nanowrimo the little things count.

Incentivize!
Decide beforehand some landmark word targets, such as 10,000 words, 15,000 words and so on, and treat yourself when you hit them. An hour playing videogames, a special cake, a big glass of booze, or a giant Lego set. Or all of the above.

Get involved with the community
Although I was always more of a lurker than a poster, I spent quite a bit of time on the Nanowrimo forums. It’s comforting to know the struggles other writers are facing, and I was always fascinated to see what other people were writing. It goes without saying that the forums are packed with advice themselves.

Above all, have fun! The spirit of Nanowrimo is wild abandonment, so write whatever you bloody well like, and relish the freedom! FREEEEDOOOOM!!!*

*Wild spelling and outrageous use of exclamation marks are an inevitable side-effect of Nanowrimo.

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Look! Mumm-Ra believes in you!

Writing a Fantasy Trilogy Part 4: The Edit

Disclaimer: Ye gods, this is no how to guide. This is just an on-going collection of thoughts as I work my way through the process. They may or may not be useful or entertaining to people; it is more likely they may well end up providing a great deal of amusement to me when I look back over my posts and realise what a load of nonsense I was talking. So please do not think I am laying down rules here or instructions – I am just laying out some writerly jams. Or something.

(Here are the first three parts, on ideas, planning and writing the first draft. For this post, the great Captain Picard will be assisting me. Please note: this post covers editing a single book within a fantasy trilogy, not editing a whole fantasy trilogy in one go because, sweet Christmas, I am weak)

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Jean-Luc is so ready for this.

So here we are. You’ve battled your way through the first draft and have emerged blood-soaked and steaming, and clutched within your shaking fists is the raw material of your book. Bloody hell. Well done. Seriously – lots of people talk about writing books, lots of people even start them, but only an awesome few get to write ‘The End’. Buy yourself some sort of ridiculous present and bathe in the glory. Enjoy it.

Because this is where things get sticky.

Now, the first thing I need to address upfront is that your editing process will vary wildly. Fine, everything about writing varies wildly, but in particular, your editing process will look different depending on whether you are a published writer or not. In the end, of course, you’re doing the same job and the work will look very similar, but if you have an awesome editor helping you, your support structure will be different. So here is the process as I am experiencing it currently (this may or may not be helpful, but it might at least be interesting):

Editing The Ninth Rain, or, How Clever People Poke Me onto the Right Track With Big Sticks

1 Draft zero sits before me, a heap of words and mistakes and adventure and banter. Here and there, I have already highlighted sections that need work, or stuff that needs to be removed and rewritten. I take a notebook and write down everything I already know needs to change. There will be a lot of things, from the very large (‘restructure this fictional religion’) to the very small (‘change this guy’s name, it sounds too much like penis’). All of these things will have been bugging me, and it will be enormously satisfying to get them out of my head and onto the page. Then, I will go right back to the beginning of the book and do a big, speedy, rough-and-ready edit. At this stage I am attempting to get the thing into some sort of readable shape so someone else can lay their eyes upon it without me having to die of shame. At the end of this draft there will still be problems, but its okay, because there’s plenty of time to sort them out.

2 Draft number two goes off to my agent, the brilliant Juliet Mushens. I specifically wanted Juliet’s opinion on The Ninth Rain, because it was the first in a new series and I was having the severe wibbles over it. Not all agents are so involved editorially, but Juliet is a) brilliant b) knows what makes a book work and c) reads faster than any other human being. Once she had read the book – sending me the occasional dramatic text message exclamation as she got to certain bits – we had a chat over the phone about what things needed changing/tightening up/flinging into the sea.

The role Juliet has here is the key to all editing: A FRESH PAIR OF EYEBALLS. As you will know, when you’re thigh deep in first draft, it is very difficult to zoom back out and see it from a distance again (especially when you have word-guts all over your trousers), and near impossible to spot all the flaws. Bringing in someone who can look at it afresh can give you a whole new perspective – and if it’s someone who knows their literary onions, even better.

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Drink lots of tea during the edit. Picard knows about tea. One teapot is not enough for Captain Picard.

3 Draft number 3 includes Juliet’s tweaks, and all the other tweaks I’ve thought of in the meantime. After a bit of hysterical double-checking, this draft goes off to my brilliant editors at Headline.

~There follows a brief rest period, where I wander about aimlessly trying to remember what it is I do when I’m not writing, until I remember it’s video games and get briefly obsessed with Dragon Age again~

Then the editors come back to me. This will take the form of an editorial letter, which basically sums up all the stuff you need to do in a friendly and pithy manner, and then there will be the manuscript itself, with comments marked up in track changes. You read the notes. You read the comments. You have a little sit down.

This stage is always a bit odd. It is exciting, because through those comments and changes you can glimpse the gleaming spires of your finished novel. It’s also really satisfying to see all the ways in which the thing can be made better. It may also make you feel like a bit of a berk, because inevitably there will be problems you have missed, continuity errors, character motivations that didn’t quite land, etc. So you might feel the need to sulk for a little while. I usually do, but it’s all part of the process of absorbing what needs to be done. Sulk for a bit, grumpily eat some cake. Maybe re-arrange all of the toys on your desk. And when you come back you’ll be ready to kick some ass.

From there onwards, things are fairly simple. You attend to the areas that have been flagged as needing attention, you fix your cock-ups and you smooth down the rough edges, working your way through the document. As I said before, your editors are the fresh pair of eyes you need, but more than that, they are the EXPERT pair of eyes, the eyes that can also see the gleaming spires of your finished novel and know how to get you there. Listen to them, push back when you have to and be prepared to learn a lot. From the big edit (sometimes called the structural edit, because this is where all the big shit goes down) I move on to the copyedit (beloved of all writers everywhere… cough) and then the proofread, and then, BAM. It all moves much faster than you think.

Editing when you’ve yet to be published

So how does this all work when you don’t have an agent and an editor waiting to help wrangle your words with you? As I mentioned before, you’re essentially doing the same work, you just might need some different (or extra) tools to do it with. Some writers looking to start submitting their books do employ freelance editors to look over their work – I don’t have any experience of that, but I would definitely advise checking out what you’re getting before you lay down any moolah (perhaps people could recommend decent freelance editors in the comments?). Outside of that, here are some bits and bobs I have found useful in the past:

The Chapter-by-Chapter edit
This is brilliant for when you’re not working to a deadline. After the first, brutal edit, the one where I fix everything obvious, I get a new notebook and go back to the beginning. Each chapter gets a page in the notebook, and under the chapter heading I write a brief summary of what happens. Then, in a different coloured ink (red for me because, you know, edits) I write down everything that still needs changing.

Then I move straight to the next chapter, and repeat the process, all the way to the end. Then, and only then, do I start a second edit, and as I work through all that red ink, I tick off each section so that I know it has been addressed. Job done.

It’s a long process, and I don’t really get time to do it in such detail now (hello, deadlines!) but I think it’s a great way to avoid being overwhelmed by the edit, especially if you’ve written a very long book: looked at chapter by chapter, your book becomes easier to digest, with a small set of problems to be solved for each section. Totally doable. Also an excuse to use more notebooks.

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Look, this is just a random picture of Angry Captain Picard I found, so it had to go in.

Beta readers
When you don’t have an editor or an agent nearby, these can be vital. Again, it’s the FRESH PAIR OF EYEBALLS necessary to get your book into shape, and chances are if you are writing seriously you already have a little group of people who help you out with this. We all have different needs from our beta readers, and I suspect we all approach it a little differently, but for what it’s worth, here’s some stuff I learnt about it over years of forcing friends to read my work:

– It might take a little while to find the right bunch of people. I know that initially I had quite a few friends who were very keen to read my work. I sent out the document to a range of reactions – some people never ever mentioned it again (possibly horrified by the book and what a terrible hack I am), one or two came back with ‘yay this is great!!!’, and a precious few sent me back detailed notes…
– Keep the note givers. The ones who enjoy your work but are happy to tell you what does and doesn’t work, to point out the bits they felt were lacking.
– Be wary of any who tell you exactly how you can fix it. That job is yours, in the end.
– I had a very low number of beta readers, no more than four, because I felt like more opinions than that would start to muddy the waters. However, again, other writers like whole roaming packs of beta readers to feast upon their novels.
– Remember that you can disagree, and that you don’t have to take every opinion as the ultimate truth. If more than one beta reader sees the same problem, you may well need to fix it. If one beta reader has a gigantic rage against beards and demands that you remove them all from your book… well.

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We all know that TNG got good when Riker got a beard, right?


Developing your own Eyeballs of Insight

Learning to think critically about your own work is vital. You also need to be able to balance that with a confidence in your own abilities. So much of writing is about walking a tightrope – if you fall to your left, you sink into the stinky bog of My Writing is Worthless Why Do I Bother; fall to your right and you’re oozing through the treacle-like Hey I’m Pretty Much a Genius I’m Going to Send my Magnum Opus to an Agent Immediately and Get Really Salty When They Reject It. Keep your eyes on the far cliff edge, Brave Writer.

Read published books and ask yourself: does my book sound like this? Can I imagine opening a book in Waterstones and reading my prose there? Look at the books you love and ask yourself what it is that makes you love them. Take that knowledge and apply it to your edit. There’s no easy way to develop a critical eye (and in a way it can be a pain in the arse – when I’m mid-edit, I suddenly find it very difficult to settle on a book to read. My critical eye is awake and blazing like bleedin’ Sauron’s and I can’t enjoy anything) but it will always take time. Writing is a long game (soooo very long) and behind most published books are a little queue of books that never made it to the light of day because the writer was still learning.

But. It. Is. Worth. It.

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Interloper!

So, apologies for the rambling nature of this particular post. I feel like I’m learning about editing every time I go through the process, and everyone has a different method. One of the biggest surprises to me since being published is how much truth there is in the saying writing is re-writing. It really, genuinely is. The terrible and brilliant reality is that the first draft is the tip of the work-iceberg, and the edit is where all the serious blood and sweat is shed. But it’s also the stage that leaves you with a book at the end… and that’s what we’re all here for.

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Captain Picard is reading your book! In his jimjams! How good is that?

Fantasycon! And my general lack of geography skills.

I dimly remember doing reasonably well at Geography in secondary school. I was pretty good at drawing maps and pictures of volcanoes, and even in the year when our teacher was a fraudster who claimed to be a) an ex-cop from the mean streets of Chicago and b) a geography teacher (and was in fact neither of those things), I was still getting A-grades. However, planning my train tickets to Fantasycon the other day I realised that I actually have no idea where Scarborough is exactly, other than, you know, on a bit of the coast somewhere. As it turns out, Scarborough is really quite far up north, and may well be as far north as I’ve ever been! Exciting! In my defence, I am London down to my soot-and-jellied-eel-encrusted-bones and generally get a bit confused about anything north of Luton.

So! Fantasycon. I’ll be there, mooching around and haunting the bar, so if you are also there, do come and say hello (I am always happy to sign books and doodle dragons in them). I will also be doing a panel on killing off your main characters!

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(quick answer: only kill off your main characters when it would be especially hilarious to do so)

I will also be there cheering some mates on for the Gemmell Award, and awkwardly fiddling with my napkin during the British Fantasy Awards (amazingly, The Iron Ghost is up for Best Novel, against some really genuinely incredible books). I am looking forward to the profiteroles.

This week – where to find me, plus sneaky mini competition!

Welcome to August, the month of either boiling to death or vaguely regretting the lack of a jumper in your tote bag. It’s also the month that seems to kick off a lot of EXCITING BOOK ACTION, as it were, so this is where I’ll be popping up this week:

Fantasy in the Court at Goldsboro Books

I do love Fantasy in the Court. If you want to observe writers in their natural habitat, i.e. hanging around drinking booze and gossiping, then this truly is the event of the year. Come along and have a chat, and if you have books with you, I’ll happily draw dragons in them. There will be more fantasy authors there than you can shake a magical stick at.

I will also be bringing along a copy of the US edition of The Copper Promise – not easy to get hold of over here. The first person to find me and utter the secret phrase ‘Have you got any chips?’ gets it (with attendant dragon drawings, of course).

Nineworlds

I will be at Nineworlds on the Saturday, hanging out and burbling nonsense on a couple of panels. Again, I will be bringing a copy of the US edition of The Copper Promise, so find me and murmur the secret phrase ‘moon-faced assassin of joy’ and you can have it. Below is my schedule, and of course I’m always happy to sign books and chat the rest of the time too (hint: I’ll probably be in the bar).

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Stuff! Plus – Win a signed and be-dragoned copy of The Silver Tide!

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Blimey, July is busy. After months spent squirrelled away indoors working on The Ninth Rain, I am abruptly going to be out and about a bit, AND my books are also spreading their wings and venturing further out into the world.

On the 5th, The Copper Promise made it’s debut in the US and Canada. Here I am over at Barnes & Noble, talking about writing and how the Copper Cat novels came to be.

On the 16th, I shall be at Edge-Lit in Derby, appearing on panels and hosting a special edition of Super Relaxed Fantasy Club with the marvellous Peter Newman. Edge-Lit is a great, friendly event full of good people, so I hope you can make it.

On the 23rd of July, me and Pete and Den Patrick are heading to Birmingham Waterstones (yes it’s true, I am sometimes allowed out of London) and we’ll be having a chat about fantasy, publishing, and probably signing books too. So much fantasy awesomeness, for free!

And on the 14th, the teeny weeny paperback of The Silver Tide will be available. The final part of the Copper Cat trilogy, it features pirates, dragons, old and terrible gods, and more mayhem than you can shake a stick at.

In celebration, I’m giving away a new shiny copy – signed and scribbled with dragons and other nonsense. To win one, simply tell me: if you had a magical sword, what would you name it? – let me know on twitter (@sennydreadful) with the hashtag #SilverTideSword or tell me in the comments here 😀

 

(UK only I’m afraid, and I’ll pick a winner at random on Wednesday the 13th of July )

*gibbering noises* THE IRON GHOST nominated for Best Novel in the British Fantasy Awards

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Totally over the moon to find out this morning that The Iron Ghost is on the Best Novel shortlist for the British Fantasy Society awards. Not only that, but it’s rubbing shoulders with a completely stonking bunch of excellent novels, and the nominations in general contain lots of dear friends and people I admire a lot. What an unexpectedly great Tuesday!

I am especially pleased because The Iron Ghost was such a hard book to write. Full of anxiety and self-doubt, I sweated blood over the thing, starting over twice and chucking away over 60,000 words at one point. That I made it out the other end with an actual book felt like a miracle at the time, so the fact that people appear to have enjoyed it makes all the sweat-blood worthwhile. Now I shall eat a giant cookie. 😀

EDIT: Bonus! Mentioned in the Guardian 😀

The Gemmell Awards and a Fox Pocket story

Oi oi! Just some quick bits and bobs. I’m very chuffed to say that The Iron Ghost has made it on to the long list for the David Gemmell Legend award (for best book) – alongside some incredible writers. Patrick Insole, the clever chap who designed all my covers, has also been nominated for the amazing Iron Ghost cover. If you should feel so inclined, voting is free and open to everyone, so CLICK HERE TO VOTE FOR AWESOME BOOKS.

If you need a reminder of the awesomeness of The Iron Ghost cover, with the icy mountains of Skaldshollow and fabulous wyverns (and ridiculous pun), here you go!

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The Piercing the Vale fox pocket anthology is out now from Fox Spirit books, and I’m very pleased to have a short story in there. Short stories from me these days are as rare as griffin teeth, so I am quite proud of The Ghost-Trap, and this tiny wee book is bursting with fabulous tales. You can grab a copy here.

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Gorgeous cover design by Sarah Anne Langton

And a quick last minute plug – myself, Ed Cox and Den Patrick are off to Colchester on the 28th of May. I hope to see some of you there!
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