2013 and all that jazz

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You know, I think it’s only during this Christmas mini-break that I’ve realised exactly how exhausting this year has been. I can tell I’m tired, because I’ve spent roughly 80% of my time at home asleep. Take today for example – dragged myself reluctantly out of bed at midday, watched Man of Steel, tried to figure out what Minecraft is about (I exploded twice! I’m not normally that bad at video games, honest), ate a load of Christmas cheese with Marty, immediately fell asleep for about two hours. And I’m still tired. Most days have been like this.

Looking back, it’s not that surprising. After all, 2013 was the year that my fabulous agent sold my book to Headline, and that meant that I hit the ground running in January – by then I was already knee deep in the structural edit laid out by Juliet, and then once the book was with my publisher, there were many more edits to work through. It’s the part of the business I don’t think you really grasp until it’s happening to you; that a book is so much more than the first draft. I lost track of how many edits The Copper Promise went through in the end, but I can tell you that I know that saucy little sword and sorcery romp back to front, up and down, top to tail. Good lord do I ever.

And while I was doing all that, there was all the other stuff, of course. I went to Nineworlds and did my first public reading and had a fabulous time. When the edits were finally handed in on The Copper Promise I started work on book two (and book two is not easy, not least because suddenly you’re getting paid to do this stuff and it’s all alarmingly serious). I spoke on a couple of panels at EdgeLit and managed not to cack myself. We spent a few days in York and I looked at a Viking poo. I volunteered as a Red Coat at World Fantasy Con, which turned out to be one of my more foolish decisions. I seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time being ill this year too, and to add an extra layer of frothy stress to my aggravation trifle, I ended up in a new position in my day job that meant longer hours and more time staring at computer screens.

It has been quite a year. I saw my face on the Bookseller homepage (right next to Maggie Thatcher’s, alarmingly), I saw the cover of my book for the first time, I learnt what editing was really about, and I held a physical copy of The Copper Promise in my sweaty little mitts. I stood with a bag of proof copies at a bus stop, marvelling at the sheer weight of the things, and how all the words inside were mine.

And next year is likely to be another corker. On the 13th of February, The Copper Promise will be out in the world, possibly in actual bookshops, and people will be reading it and getting to know my characters. Once they’re out there, they will belong to the readers, at least a little bit, and that is amazing and scary. I will sign copies, and get my first bad reviews (and good ones, hopefully) and I’ll have achieved a dream I never really thought was possible. And I’ll finish book two, and start all those exciting edits again!

2014 is where it gets real, my lovelies, and I’m rather looking forward to it. I just need a few more days sleep first…

Writing: The Beginning of All That

I’ve been working very hard on The Copper Promise lately (no, really, stop laughing), typing away until my fingers are nothing more than shiny little nubbins, so consequently I haven’t come up with any interesting blog ideas lately. So in lieu of something good, I thought I would do one of those self indulgent posts about how I started writing.


I’ve always loved stories, of course. When I was very wee, I asked for a desk for Christmas, and the year after that I wanted a typewriter (gods, I have always loved having a desk). I wrote lots as a child and then tons at school, and then it tapered off somewhat and I got distracted by art college, with its poshery and paint and dodgy vodka in the union bar. I started writing seriously, I suppose you could say, on one random day in my early twenties.


I came home from work in a bad mood. This was back when I worked for a certain bookshop, and I know some people will say: “You worked in a bookshop! How could you possibly have had a bad day? You whinging numpty.” – believe me, it is possible to have a bad day, particularly when you’ve heard a lot of “Have you got that book? It was on that table last month and I can’t remember what it was called or who it was by. Don’t you know any of the books?” This happens more than you would believe… But, anyway, I was cheesed off, and I decided, in a desperate act of therapy, that I would sit down and write a scene that had been stuck in my head for some months. It involved a girl becoming a witch via a really rather nasty and brutal ritual, and once I’d written that I found that, a) I felt better, and b) I wanted to know how the girl came to be in that situation in the first place. Those were the seeds that became the book Bad Apple Bone (still the best title I’ve ever come up with, I think) and over the course of a couple of years, writing in fits and starts, I eventually finished it.


This was a big deal for me. I’d thought about writing books before, but I’d always considered it beyond my abilities – I wrote short stories, picture books, and essays, but not books. But I’d started one and finished it, which proved that actually, I did have the attention span for these things. After that I got involved in NaNoWriMo, where I wrote a short children’s book called Bird and Tower, and the next year I started writing a much longer book called Ink for Thieves… Somewhere along the way I realised two things; that writing books made me happy, and that I couldn’t stop. In fact, writing seemed to satisfy two very basic needs of my personality; the need to make things, and the need to control everything (Yes, writing is a control freak’s dream: “You will all do as I say! Dance my puppets, dance!).


And that’s how I came to be writing a sword and sorcery serial that’s getting longer and more complicated by the minute… I look back at the years when I wasn’t writing books and I worry that I lost time there, that I should have been working on it ever since I got my first typewriter and that little desk with all the stickers on it. But the important thing is, I got there in the end. And art college does get you access to some really cool libraries.

The Copper Promise All Over the Web


Recently I have been taking up space on other people’s websites, talking about The Copper Promise and fantasy writing. It’s been rather fun. First of all there’s a guest post from me over at fellow writer Alan Baxter’s blog, where I waffle on about the difficulties of writing fantasy in the short form. It features evil rabbits so I’m quite proud of it.

Secondly I did a wee email interview with the lovely Megs Glasscock, and you can read that over at her site, Nomad Chronicle. Poor Megs did a fabulous job of dealing with my wafflings, especially when I got overexcited about picking my favourite character, and I drop a few hints about The Copper Promise Part 2.

Speaking of which, The Copper Promise: Masks of Ruin is currently taking shape, and is starting to look like a whole, complete thing. More news when I have it. Back to the studio!

The Copper Promise: Some Post Publication Thoughts


The Copper Promise started, in my mind at least, as My Small Self Publishing Experiment. The idea was to produce something longer than a short story that I could pop up on Amazon as an ebook – it would be written, edited, re-drafted, edited, edited some more, and then it would go out into the world and I would see how it would do. Originally this was going to be a horror novella, but that idea became The Snake House instead and was much too long in the end.


Well, in my usual tradition of making everything more complicated than it needs to be, My Small Self Publishing Experiment turned into a serial, and then a series of novellas, and then a series of fantasy novellas that will be, once they are all finished, as long as your average fantasy book. So the project wasn’t so Small anymore; in fact, it had become The Self Publishing Experiment That’s Going to Take Up About Six Months of my Life, Crikey, How Did That Happen?


And so, the first part has been out in the world for about a month, and part 2 is busy being poked into readiness for a release date hopefully at the end of February. And so far, it has been an almost entirely positive experience. Mostly the people who have read it seemed to have enjoyed Ghosts of the Citadel, and I’ve had some overwhelmingly lovely feedback, including blog posts and reviews that have made me very happy indeed. I’ve also received a tremendous amount of support from people (through buying it, spreading the word and general encouragement) which has been genuinely touching and confirms that the writing/reading community online is one of the best around.


One of my favourite parts of having a novella length work out there to read rather than a short story has been watching how people react to my characters – what sticks in their minds about them, which ones are popular with readers and why, and what they hope happens to Wydrin, Sebastian and Frith in the future. It’s exciting, and scary too, because beforehand these characters only really existed in my head and on tattered bits of paper, and now they exist in other people’s heads too, which is a strange and marvellous thing. And it is nice to know that I am no longer the only one who cares what happens to them.


Yeah, it’s been good. So thank you everyone. J And I’m looking forward to sending part two out into the world very soon.

The Copper Promise Part 1: Release date!


I am pleased to announce that the ebook of The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel will be available to buy from Amazon on the 22nd of December.

The Citadel of Creos: silent, forbidden, haunted. No person in their right mind would attempt to explore it, but then, as Wydrin was fond of saying, adventurers are rarely in their right mind, especially when large amounts of coin are involved.
For the young Lord Frith, the secrets within are his key to a bloody revenge; for Sebastian, exiled from his order for crimes he’d rather not talk about, thank you very much, it is a distraction from his recent disgrace. And Wydrin? For Wydrin it means fortune and fame, or at least the seeds of a good story she can embellish later.
But something ancient and hungry lies restless in the hidden depths of the Citadel, and the long years of its imprisonment are nearly at an end. The three adventurers are about to find out that ghosts are the least of their problems.

The first in a four part novella series, The Copper Promise: Ghosts of the Citadel is a sword and sorcery adventure full of danger, discovery, and dubious ale.  


Ghosts of the Citadel is the first of four novellas, but it will not end there. Next year I will be releasing a number of short stories set in the same world, featuring events taking place before and after The Copper Promise storyline.

If you have any questions, thoughts, suggestions or sexy fanart (please send me your sexy fanart) then you can contact me at copperpromise@sennydreadful.com Email me also if you would like to be included in the Copper Promise mailing list; this way I can tell you exciting things, like when the second part is coming out, and sometimes send you lovely things, like snippets of artwork, competitions and exclusive short stories only available to people on the mailing list. Eventually, I hope there will be badges.