Exclusive Short Story Pre-order and Sorrow’s Isle Cover Reveal! Ahhh!

Fancy a short story set before the events of THE COPPER PROMISE? On the 29th of January, the e-short SORROW’S ISLE will pop into being, and you can already pre-order it here!

SorrowsIsle_ecover jpg

It’s a tale of dark omens and ancient secrets, and it features Wydrin and Sebastian at the very beginning of their adventuring career. There’s also a little sample of THE IRON GHOST in there in preparation for the big book’s arrival in February. For 99p!

Writing short stories set in this world, and particularly with the characters all fresh-faced and innocent (well, innocent-ish) is enormous fun. I hope you enjoy this little taster!

Name That Tavern! And Win a Signed copy of The Copper Promise

posting cover

As I’ve now handed the second book in to my editor (and got to the end of it without hulking out or chewing my desk to bits) I thought I would celebrate with a giveaway. One of those competition things. I’ve seen other people do them.

Now, Wydrin and I share a few interests. Pointed weaponry, grumpy mages, that sort of thing – but mainly we share an enjoyment of drinking alcoholic beverages. In fact, of all my characters Wydrin is the one I’d most like to share a bottle of mead with, and she hangs out at the weirdest places: The Hands of Fate, The Scurvy Lemon, The Steaming Pot, The Boiled Dog… It’s fair to say Wydrin has an extensive knowledge of dodgy taverns.

And I do love a dodgy tavern name. Tell me a good tavern name in the comments, and you could win:

A signed copy of The Copper Promise that I will probably draw something stupid in as well.

A signed copy of Twisted Histories, a short story anthology edited by Scott Harrison. As well as a story from me, it also contains excellent scary stories from awesome writers such as Gary McMahon and Kaaron Warren.

A signed copy of An Alphabet for Strange Children, a weird little chapbook I made at art college (actually rather rare, and it contains creepy pictures of blank-eyed children. You have been warned).

And anything else I can stick in the parcel.

So name me a tavern in the comments by Thursday the 8th of May, and I could be sending you a load of nonsense in the post. Hooray!

(Be sure to leave either your twitter handle or some other way of identifying yourself, and a winner will be picked at random. GO GO GO!)

The Terrifying Passage of Time, Or, Two Months on from Being Published

Today is the 19th of April, which means it’s been about two months since I launched The Copper Promise at Forbidden Planet. It feels like that was roughly an eyeblink ago, but no, two whole months have zoomed past, and now it’s bloody Easter already.

Forbidden Planet - so bamboozled I forgot to eat any cake.

Forbidden Planet – so bamboozled I forgot to eat any cake.

It’s been an interesting couple of months. I suspect it has gone quickly because I’ve been working like crazy on the follow up to The Copper Promise, with an actual deadline looming over my head, but also because it’s been filled with the surreal experience of people reading my book. Friends and acquaintances have sent me photos of my book in bookshops, which is strange and lovely enough, and readers have got in touch to tell me if they enjoyed it, and who were their favourite characters. Stuff like that. For someone who believed a short while ago that they would probably never be published, that’s pretty amazing.

Clapham Books

Clapham Books

Waterstones Cardiff

Waterstones Cardiff

 

One of the things I didn’t realise before I hit the alarmingly steep learning curve that is being a published writer, is that you have to be thinking about several books at once. While I’m talking to people about book 1, I’m editing book 2, planning book 3, and contemplating books beyond The Copper Promise series. After feeling like writing is such a slow process, everything suddenly seems incredibly fast; after all, this time next year people will be reading book 2, and I will have just finished book 3. No wonder my perception of time is wonky.

Waterstones Milton Keynes

Waterstones Milton Keynes

Waterstones Manchester

Waterstones Manchester

Anyway. I just wanted to say another huge thank you to everyone who read The Copper Promise, everyone who came along to the launch and to the interview at Blackwells, everyone who has sent me a photo of the book out in the wild or sitting on their sofas, everyone who has written a review (you ROCK), everyone who has contacted me to say kind things, everyone who took these characters to their hearts, as I did, all those booksellers who put the book out on display… Basically, everyone. Writing reviews and talking about the book – these things are incredibly important to a debut author, and you have all helped me more than you can ever know.

In a dodgy tavern somewhere, with a leaking roof and a number of swords leaning by the fireplace, Wydrin the Copper Cat of Crosshaven is pouring another glass of mead and toasting your health.

On Editing and First Drafts: Gremlins, Pigs and Beasties

Life sits on the writer and squashes her a bit

So I haven’t done a post about writing for quite a while. This is partly because “writing advice” posts make my brain itch slightly – what is applicable to me is not necessarily applicable to you, after all.

However, it occurred to me that my situation has changed slightly since I last wrote about, uh, writing. I have an agent and a book deal now, I’ve been through part of the process of being published – I am in the midst of learning all sorts of new stuff – and perhaps I have a new perspective that could be helpful. Or not. Either way, it’s useful for me to keep track of things, so here is a brief summary of my recent thoughts on the writing process. Take all with a pinch of salt, or a dollop of BBQ sauce if necessary.

Writing is Re-Writing I doubt anyone really thinks about this bit when they start writing. I know I didn’t. I started writing a book when I’d had a really bad day at work, and spending some time in an entirely different world was a quick way to cheer myself up. I didn’t think, “What I’m really looking forward to when I’ve finished writing this book is, you know, writing it over and over again.” At the time, I had no concept of anyone else ever even reading it, let alone editing it (and to be fair, that particular book has never been edited – just thinking about the amount of work it would require to be beaten into any sort of readable shape brings me out in a sweat).

But editing is the reality of writing. And that’s okay. I’ve lost count now of the number of edits The Copper Promise has been through – there was the edit when I thought I was self-publishing four novellas, the edit before I sent it to Juliet, my agent, the edit I did with her before it went out on submission, the edit I did after discussions with John, my editor, the edit that has just been sent off to the copy editor… *gasp* There are a lot. And with each one, the book becomes a sleeker, stronger, more kick-ass beastie. More than ever I now understand the importance of seeing your book through the lens of another pair of eyes, because as the writer it is so easy to become blind to it. Somewhere in your subconscious is the slovenly gremlin that whispers “Nah, I mean, that sorta works as it is, we can get away with that, right?” when really, we all know that isn’t good enough.

The Precious Sanctity of the First Draft Yes, all of the editing. I’ve just come out of a long period of editing (about to go back for more, very soon) so right now I’ve thrown myself back into the first draft of the second book. I am normally the Queen of First Drafts, storming through them in a devil-may-care manner, forging onwards with a fairly solid plan and lots of room for let’s-see-where-this-goes. But ye gods and little fishes, getting back to that after nearly a year of editing is hard. The editor in my head is awake and lively, and worse, has had loads of exercise recently and is being a right dick about it. Every line I write is subject to the worst kind of scrutiny, so that I keep stumbling to a halt. “But this is awful,” I think, opening another packet of Percy Pigs to distract myself. “I’ll have to cut all this out anyway. What am I doing?”

The last few weeks have been about remembering that you need to go easy on yourself with the first draft. You need that freedom to explore, to make mistakes, to follow paths that might not go anywhere, or that might lead you to a gem of story-magic that you’d never have found otherwise. I’m chucking in dialogue that I know probably won’t make it to the final cut (my favourite this week was Wydrin’s embittered cry of “I don’t care about your ironing!”) and introducing secondary characters who may or may not get killed off horribly later on. The first draft should be fun, it should be joyous, and the editor in your head needs to keep its trap shut, just for a little while.

This is why, in my opinion, the first draft should always be private. It’s often tempting to show your first few chapters to someone else, to get their opinions (and let’s face it, gibbering praise) and feel justified in what you’re doing, but it doesn’t really help you in the long run. For a start, a lot of that stuff in the first few chapters will go anyway (take it from someone who has done a lot of editing recently) or it will at least change a lot, and it’s really important that your first draft is free to be whatever it wants. You need to write like no one is watching. For now, anyway.

And that’s it for now! I trudge back to the story-mines, a pick in one hand and a short sword in the other. I’ll see you on the other side.

Scribbles and Sketchings

wyd1

I bought a graphics tablet! Whee! It’s something I’ve wanted for a long time, actually, not having the patience or the room for a scanner, but the price has always been a little prohibitive. However, Andrew Reid pointed out that you can get reasonably inexpensive ones now, and they’re dead handy for storyboarding and whathaveyou.

Okay, so I haven’t done any actual storyboarding yet but I am enjoying being able to draw directly into an art programme. It took a bit of getting used to – I believe at one point I said to Marty, scowling and indignant, “This is the worst thing I’ve ever bought!” – but I think I’m starting to get my head round it. I won’t be using it for anything serious, just the occasional sketch and web comic, but there is something infinitely soothing about coming home from a slightly hectic day and spending an hour or so making marks on paper – even if it is electronic paper.

Writing and drawing have been the two big driving forces of my life; both creative activities, obviously, but for me they have always satisfied quite different parts of my personality. Writing feeds my need to control – what could be more satisfying to a control freak than creating whole worlds and controlling their destinies?* It’s a fierce, frantic creation, an act of mental juggling that requires you hold multiple fictional balls (ooer) in your head at once. Drawing, on the other hand, has always been more of a blankness for me. There is only the page and the line, and little thinking involved. Mind you, that might explain my slightly erratic career at art college.

So expect this blog to be peppered with the occasional sketch, just to liven things up a bit!

Oh, the picture is of Wydrin, by the way. Looking smug.

*I’m aware this makes me sound as loopy as a box of frogs. I would point out that half the time I also listen to the characters and let them decide, but that hardly lessens the crazy.

Two Adventurers Walk into a Tavern…

A short story for you today, featuring Wydrin and Sebastian. It’s short and quite silly, and I hope that it might make the wait for Part 2 a little less annoying (big thanks to everyone on Twitter who wanted to hear more about the Scurvy Lemon). If you’ve not read The Copper Promise and would like to know more about this pair of rogues, you can get a copy here

Horn

scurvy_lemon.doc
Download this file

Important Copper Promise Update/Unusually Serious Title for Blog

Cp_pic

I expect it’s about time I gave you an update on The Copper Promise. Well, the main piece of new is: I have made An Important and Serious Decision. *cue ominous music*

 

Actually, it’s not quite that bad. Recently I have been editing Part 2 whilst planning and writing Part 3, and I have noticed that events in Part 3 have been influencing the previous part. In other words, decisions and events happening in Part 3 (and even, sometimes, part 4) have changed some aspects of Masks of Ruin. Writing is odd like that. It exists in a weird timey-wimey non-chronological mush, so that you are continually adjusting and updating your own timeline. Confusing, but also fun, in a cheerfully manic sort of way.

 

My decision is this: I won’t be releasing Masks of Ruin until I have finished Parts 3 and 4. Obviously, this wasn’t my original plan, but while The Copper Promise started out as a quick little dungeon-romp, it has actually grown into something else – something that I want to get absolutely right, because I think I love it a bit. Maybe a lot.

 

So, please bear with me, lovely people. I will be working my bums off for the next few months so that Wydrin and the gang can be back with us as soon as possible. Keelah se’lai!*

 

*obscure Mass Effect 3 reference (which was amazing, by the way)