April Already?


So it’s been a while since I’ve used this blog. Moving country took a lot more out of me than I realised, and I had to just take a step back from a lot of things because I was getting really overwhelmed. A lot has happened between my last post and this one, not least of all is that we’ve actually moved all the way across the country to Nevada!

It’s a lot different here than Florida, but strangely Nevada is much more similar to what I’m used to in England – being close to stores, variety of restaurants, events and shows to see. Basically, we’re back in civilization lol! And it’s nice.

Since arriving in Nevada about a month ago I’ve definitely felt the writing bug bite me hard. I lost it Florida (which is weird considering how many other bugs there are in Florida), but now I’ve got it back it’s great to feel motivated about writing again.

My novel, which was tentatively titled Broken, is still going to be my focus. It’s a story I really want to get written and share with everyone who loves urban fantasy. The title is still uncertain – I have a couple of ideas bouncing around but I think the title is going to be finalised after the novel is finished.

The blog itself is going through a few changes – I’ve completely changed the theme (this one is much more sleek, I think), and will be making the menu and whole site easier to navigate. I’m also debating about starting a serial story on the site too. I have a novel I started a long time ago, it’s about half way finished and something I do plan to finish, but it could work really well for a serialised novel on the site. I’m just not sure if I’m trying to take too much on before I’ve got into any kind of routine, or if it would be worth the extra time/editing.

What do you think? Do you enjoy serialised novels on blogs?

NaNoWriMo 2014


It’s that time of year again – National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.  Some of you might remember I didn’t get very far with it last year. I hated the words I wrote, and didn’t like where the plot was going either.  So much so that I haven’t actually looked at the novel again until last month…and it wasn’t any better than I remembered!

So this year I’m starting fresh.

Normally in NaNoWriMo you have to write 50k words of a new novel/novella, and if you decide to work on an already existing project (even if it’s a complete re-write) you’d be a rebel.  Woo rebellion! But this year that isn’t the case. This year you can work on whatever you want, with the same goal of 50k words.  But even with my rebellion ripped away from me, I’m re-writing Broken – with a possibly new title to come later – because I really do believe in this novel.  I know it can be good, I just have to get it there.

It can be disheartening to start a project with such enthusiasm and end up hating the way it’s coming out.  I know a lot of people try editing (I did!) and re-editing (that  too!) and sometimes that can help. But what happens when it doesn’t help?  What happens when you’re still left with words that make your face crinkle up in disgust every time you think about them?  Well, most of the time what happens is the document is filed away and never looked at again, because we don’t know how to fix the problem.  And I’m here to say, don’t do that!  There’s an important lesson I learned in university:

Don’t treat your work as precious.

If you don’t take anything else away from my blog, take that one thing.  It’s an invaluable lesson to learn!  I didn’t study writing at university, but it’s something that spans across all creative works and I’ve been trying to bring it to my writing a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a hard lesson to learn and even harder to do!  You have 9000 words of a novel.  They suck and you hate them, but it’s 9000 words and deleting them is a HUGE obstacle to get around!

But there is a way.

I couldn’t get over the “don’t delete all of those horrid sentences!” mindset, so what I’ve done is just move it to a different folder, and started a new document in a new folder.  Fresh start, old sucky words out of the way, clear mind to focus on the re-write 🙂  If you do this, don’t go back into that other folder! It is now quarantined!  It’s tempting to think “Well there was that one sentence that wasn’t too bad…” but no, don’t do it!  Work on your fresh start and let the words come naturally, not forced to fit around a sentence from something which had sucked away your motivation.

So that’s what I’m doing for this year’s NaNoWriMo, re-writing Broken.  As soon as you can get your mind to accept that your work isn’t precious – and that it can be edited, deleted, shifted around and crossed out many times – you’ll be amazed at how freeing it is 🙂

Setting Goals

From the moment I started novel writing, my goal has been to become a published author.  But it’s only over the past couple of years that I realised what I really meant was, I wanted to be published by one of the “big five” publishers.  I’m sure I’m not alone in that.  Most writers, for a long time, will have had the same goal in mind.  Self publishing was for those who “failed” at being accepted by the big five.  Self publishing was dirty, and the big five were the only goal that any “serious writer” should be aiming for, with small presses falling somewhere in the middle of the scale.

Then came the breakthrough of e-book self publishing.  More and more people were able to get their work out there without needing to go through any publishing house, not just the giants.  And with that came an overwhelming amount of bad writing – not all of it, possibly not even most of it, but enough that it still kept self publishing as an entity to be shunned by those “serious writers” with their serious goals.  Big name authors, and the big five, were vocal in bashing the self published ebooks, saying they were drowing out the “real” talent and should be shunned accordingly.  That alone should have been a warning bell for us all, that a publisher would be denouncing a technological advancement in publishing.  But, I still held onto my goal of being published by one of the big five. That goal was the ultimate in writer goals, the dream of all dreams…

But recently I’ve been rethinking all of that.  I’ll start off by saying I’m not a big reader of ebooks.  Not because I think of them as lesser things, but because I love holding a paper book in my hands.  E-readers just aren’t the same as feeling the crisp paper as you turn a page, running your fingers over the cover to feel the shiny and matt finishes, with raised lettering of the title. There’s something intimate about it, a softness that ereaders just don’t have.  I’ve never been against ebooks for everyone else, but for me they just aren’t at a point yet to compete with the comforting feeling of reading a paper book.  And I think that had a lot to do with my mindset about self publishing for a while, because I want my work to be available in print format as well as being an ebook, and the only way I could see that being feesable was through the major publishing houses.

But that isn’t true any more.

My focus and drive for my writing has been wavering, ever since I started to wonder more about self publishing vs submitting my work to agents and publishers (when the time comes for that).  My goal of becomming a published author was wavering because really I’d been thinking “become a published author through one of the big five publishers”.  Every self publishing success story, every article or blog post that talked about the advances in self publishing, had shaken my goal without me realising it.  But it’s only today that I realised: I haven’t been doubting my goal overall, I’ve just been doubting if traditional publishing is really the way to go.

As I said, I want my work to be available in paper as well as ebook format, and the doubt surrounding the paper side of things from a self publishing point of view had made my goal uncertain.  Not because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be published – I still want that – but because I wasn’t sure how I want to be published, because I didn’t have all the information about both options.  Well, now I have a lot more information and it’s really helped my goal become a firm point in my mind. No wavering, no uncertainty.  I know I want to be published.  But now I realise that no matter which way I decide to go – traditional or self publication – I don’t have to “settle” for anything.  You can publish print books as well as ebooks through self publication, and on the flip side of that some authors are starting to retain their e-rights through the big five publishers.

Self publishing isn’t the lesser form of publishing.  A self published author can take charge of their work, and not settle for second best when it comes to paper books, marketing and distribution to brick-and-mortar stores.  Things have changed in the world of publishing, and people’s outlooks are changing as well as their buying habits.  It’s important for us as writers to get all the information we can so that our goals can be unwavering, and our focus devoted to writing (and editing!) the best books we can.

I’ll talk about the different research that I’ve done, and my findings, on future blog posts.  And more importantly, keep working on my first draft so that I can get to the stage of reaching my now firmly planted goal!


I Love Mythology – A Guest Blog by Author Steve McHugh


Bio: Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A.
It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic.
Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.

Author links: Facebook / Twitter / Website


I love mythology. I find it fascinating, exciting, interesting and more than a little weird. And I don’t think I can emphasise that enough. Mythology is weird. Some more than others, but all of it deals with the fantastical and some of it feels like the random assortment of ideas that someone once wrote on a brainstorming session and was found years later by someone else who thought it would make a great story.

I’ve always enjoyed mythology, ever since school, when we did work on the ancient Greeks and Romans, the idea that there were all these gods, goddesses and monsters that the people at the time believed in, was something I wanted to learn more about. To be fair, that whole time period was very interesting (mythology or otherwise), and it woke a love for learning more about these creatures of power who people prayed to or feared, sometimes in equal measure.

When the idea for Crimes Against Magic started to bounce around my head, I knew I wanted to use mythology. It was such an absolute certainty that I couldn’t envisage the story without it. First I had to think about what mythology to use, which became quite hard work. A lot of books only use Greek mythology in their novels and I wanted to do something different.

The solution was fairly simple in the end. I decided that all mythology was real, or at least that the characters were real. Okay, there were some, like Roman and Greek, which I decided were basically the same people who had changed their names so as to still hold onto that power that they’d enjoyed for so long, but for the most part the mythological characters were all going to be real.

I’d decided that in book 1, so as to not confuse people with a mass of different names, that only ancient Greek and British mythology would be used. I plan on introducing the rest during the series, but wanted to keep it simple in the beginning. Then I came to another problem. Most of the mythological stories are batshit insane.

Zeus seducing people in various animal guises, people having sex with their sisters/brothers/parents/various other weird stuff, and that doesn’t even start on those born from someone else’s head or bones or such. I wanted to ground these stories in reality, I planned on using magic in the story, but the magic I wanted to use was much less all other the place than what is used in the original stories, where what they can do appears to change depending on what the situation is.

So I came to a realisation that to get around that I had to give each of these characters a basis in my created world. After a lot of playing around, I thought I’d come up with good (and in many cases, obvious) ideas. Merlin was a sorcerer, Hades a necromancer, things along those lines.

That only left me with the problem of the stories themselves. Some of the main characters don’t exactly come across as sympathetic; the myths regularly had the characters kidnap, rape, murder and act like spoilt children on a number of occasions.

So, the presidential elections of 2008 to the rescue, I came up with an idea. Propaganda. They didn’t have TV back when these myths were created; they had stories and rumours passed from one person to the next. I decided that those myths, although they would have truth somewhere inside it, were twisted and used against someone. So instead of Hades kidnapping Persephone and taking her as his wife against her will, I changed it to Demeter (Persephone’s mum) making the story up because she was so angry that her daughter had run off with someone she disproved of.

It was endless fun (and still is) to make changes to the stories so that they fitted the viewpoint of the person telling them. (I mean, basically they were propaganda anyway, told by people to make their gods sound more impressive, and other gods sound less… well, godly.).

That’s why I love mythology so much. Despite the stories we all know, there’s so much leeway to interpret them, much like people have been doing ever since they were created and told for the first time.


withSilentScreams With Silent Screams: Hellequin Chronicles: Book 3

His name is Nathan Garrett, but he’s also known as Hellequin. And murdering one of his friends and trying to blow him up is a good way to get this centuries-old sorcerer’s full attention…

An old friend’s dead body, a cryptic note, and an explosion that almost costs him his own life propel Nate headfirst into a mystery involving a new threat from an old foe. Now he must piece together the connections between a grisly series of tattooed murder victims, an imprisoned madman, a mysterious alchemist, and a deranged plot to usurp the throne of the hidden realm of Shadow Falls, rival to the power of Avalon.

Can Nate avert the coming slaughter, or will he become the latest to fall in this clandestine war?

Amazon US / Amazon UK

Creating Interesting Secondary Characters – A Guest Blog by Author Jaye Wells


Bio: Jaye Wells is a USA Today-bestselling author of urban fantasy and speculative crime fiction. Raised by booksellers, she loved reading books from a very young age. That gateway drug eventually led to a full-blown writing addiction. When she’s not chasing the word dragon, she loves to travel, drink good bourbon and do things that scare her so she can put them in her books. Jaye lives in Texas.

Author links: Facebook / Twitter / Website



Main characters get a lot of attention. Makes sense, I guess. But some of my favorite characters in fiction have been secondary players. Ones who walk into a scene and make it leap off the page.

In my own books, I have heard from lots of readers who want to know more about these characters. Most notably has been Giguhl, the Mischief demon sidekick from my Sabina Kane series. He provides a lot of the comedic relief in the series, so it’s easy to understand why people love him.

But Giguhl’s role in that series wasn’t just to be a jester. To me, he was an agent of benevolent chaos. His job was to force Sabina Kane, the main character, out of her comfort zone and not take herself so seriously. In short, he was an active agent for change. If you paid close attention, he also had his own story arc in the series.

The best secondary characters are three-dimensional—meaning they have their own goals and obstacles and backstories. But more than that, they have to be believable products of the world they inhabit.

I write speculative fiction, which means I play fast and loose with magic and monsters and add with glee to our world. While all of my characters have to have identifying and empathetic human traits (even if they’re demons or faeries), they also have to have believable issues that someone living in a world where the arcane and paranormal are commonplace. That impacts the types of characters you’ll create. A world where magic is used by most people will produce different personality types and archetypes than our own mundane world. Use that.

The best example of what I’m talking about is from my new Prospero’s War series. Little Man and Mary are technically two characters, but since they’re conjoined twins they’re also kind of a single unit. Mary is a large woman who has the mental capacity of a child. Her bother, Little Man, is a homunculus who grew from a mole on Mary’s chest. Fully grown, he is carried around in a custom-made baby carrier by Mary, who protects him. Little Man, despite his size, is the brains of this operation.

Little Man and Mary are the way they are because their mother was addicted to fertility potions. She died in childbirth because Mary was so large. And then, later Little Man came along and Mary never had to be alone again. After surviving a screwed up foster care system, they became hustlers of a sort—trading information for money. IN fact, they are the go-to informants for the cops in DIRTY MAGIC.

Little Man and Mary aren’t just memorable because they’re disturbing. They’re memorable because they deepen the reader’s understanding of the world. They also are victims of their world, which makes them more empathetic and sympathetic even if their choices are not always good.

So my advice to you, if you want to create awesome secondary characters is to really think about how the world they live in and their personal stories have shaped who they’ve become. Try to play with tropes and combine ideas in new ways. Also think about the kind of people your main character needs around them. What kind of lessons do they need to learn and what kind of people can best force them to learn those lessons?

But most of all, try to have fun. The more you enjoy your characters, the more your readers will. Happy writing!


dirtyMagicAbout Dirty Magic:


The Magical Enforcement Agency keeps dirty magic off the streets, but there’s a new blend out there that’s as deadly as it is elusive. When patrol cop Kate Prospero shoots the lead snitch in this crucial case, she’s brought in to explain herself. But the more she learns about the investigation, the more she realizes she must secure a spot on the MEA task force.

Especially when she discovers that their lead suspect is the man she walked away from ten years earlier – on the same day she swore she’d given up dirty magic for good. Kate Prospero’s about to learn the hard way that crossing a wizard will always get you burned, and that when it comes to magic, you should never say never.

Amazon US / Barnes and Noble / Apple / Indie Bound