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I’ve spent just about the entirety of 2015 in a perpetual state of turbulence. Some seismic shifts have occurred on a personal basis and obviously, this has, as a thing, been rather time intensive.

So here’s the thing. This month is the start of a promise to myself that I’m going to get back on track with what I want to be doing in life, and by necessity, changing up a bunch of less positive matters that have been going on around me.

Day job is an enforced all change. My geographical location has a good chance of changing. A fresh start is due. And if you’re reading this, the odds are that you’ll follow my writing in some capacity. This is an important thing to me which has rather brutally stalled as a bunch of hard work has led me up blind alleys elsewhere. That needs putting right too.

Those of you who have read bios of mine in the past will know that I rather like my cars; a trait that at least one of my novel characters has thoroughly inherited. This featured vehicle is not as it may first seem in its iconic shaping, and is in fact not exactly a Porsche. Some of you will already know this is in fact a RUF CTR, known as ‘Yellowbird’ due to the famous colour and model.  It is this that I have named a list of personal objectives after, for reasons that I’ll tell you in person if you ask me. Think of it as my own personal Mockingjay.

The start of this operation is well marked with a concerted effort to get back on with blogging proper. And to make some important appearance updates. Thanks to the kindness of several people, including Con or Bust, I am getting to Nine Worlds this weekend, a convention I have not previously been able to attend due to a regular clash with one of my two trips to Atlantis in a year. Only three to go ever, so I want to make them count. I’ll be speaking on three panels in the Race and Culture track, about videogames, about dystopias and one called ‘I Don’t See Race’. I will also be joining my pals at Radio Book Worm, which I of course guest present from time to time, and The Missing Monkey Geek Podcast Quiz, which I have competed on and will again!  Have a look on the panel info if you want to know more! And incidentally, I’d love to see most of you there.

At month end, I shall be attending Mancstercon, and the panel I shall be sat on there will discuss Irony In Fantasy.

In between times, as well as working out where this tornado lands, I will of course be catching up with the third instalment of The Grenshall Manor Chronicles. I’ve been looking forward to this project for a while, though up to now there have been disruptions like none I’ve known since I picked up this writing business.

Finally, I just wanted to offer my gratitude to you all for bearing with me. I’m not going to say ‘normal service will be resumed shortly,’ because that simply won’t be true. New service begins now. Those of you who have been along for the ride thus far, thank you for hanging on!

A brief Xchyler Publishing Service Announcement.

A J Campbell, friend and now accomplice at Xchyler Publishing, has a release for Sigil of the Wyrm.

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Out on August 25, this is one you want to be around for. Enjoy the trailer, spread the love.

And here is the trailer. Enjoy!

Welcome to a special guest post from another member of my Xchyler Publishing stable, Joanne Kershaw! The Vanguard Legacy draws to a close with Fated, so if you haven’t already picked up Foretold and Reflected, what are you waiting for?

Fated title

The rest of the tour schedule is here, so you can follow the full event as follows:

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And now, over to the Q&A! Take it away, Joanne…
  1. If you had 3 wishes, what would they be?

First, that all the dreams my children have come true. I just want them to be happy and healthy (and that the teenage years aren’t too awful!). Second, that more and more people fall in love with this series! I love to interact with fans and am so eager to hear what they have to say about Fated! And third—this is tough—I guess that I just want to write new things, different things, and still be able to teach, because I love my ‘proper job’!

  1. Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

I guess, I would love a small hut at the end of my garden. All I really need is a wireless connection and my music, so I don’t need much beyond that! Windows—so I can see the children while I work!

  1. Where do you actually write?

Either on the sofa, wrapped in a quilt my mum made for my when I was sixteen, or at my desk in the playroom (which is actually our conservatory, so is either roasting or freezing with no real in between!). Our cat is usually curled up next to me and it’s always late – so dark.

  1. How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

Five to seven weeks is the usual timescale. It’s the only time I have in between school terms. This is the first draft, of course. Depending on the availability of my editing team, it can take another eight to ten weeks to edit, but that is far less intensive. (Well, now I don’t make all of the awful mistakes I made before my awesome editor, McKenna Gardner, got her hands on me!)

  1. What are your inspirations?

I read a lot of YA literature, which made me realise more and more that I wanted to write my own—that I could write my own! I write for my children as well. I wanted to show them that anything is achievable if you work hard enough. If I can inspire them to go after their dreams, then I have done something  right in terms of parenting!

  1. How did you come to write this particular book or series?

The series started many years ago, when an unexpectedly free summer holiday gave me time to just put fingers to keyboard and hammer something out. The series came about because my publisher, Xchyler, took a chance on me. They saw the diamond of my story in the rough of my first novel and were the best support I could have asked for. Honestly, Fated exists because of the incredible editing team at The X.

  1. What was the hardest part of writing your book, and how did you overcome it?

I knew what had to happen in this novel. The hardest part was knowing that the right ending, the ending that had to happen, was going to upset people. As part of the process, I wrote an alternative ending, but it was such a disappointment to read. I hope that my readers can see why it has to end the way it does, and the come and interact with me to discuss it. (Bet you’re all intrigued now, aren’t you?)

  1. What is your writing drive? The power that keeps you going when your writing gets difficult?

I think that because my time is so limited, that is my drive. I don’t have the time to get stuck or lose focus—I just have to get on with it! It does help that there’s been a long gap between books, so there has been time to write the story in my head before I sit down to type it. It makes the whole process much quicker.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

When I signed on with Xchyler Publishing, part of that was an agreement for the full series. When we were getting ready to release Foretold, we brainstormed titles in series. With all three of books already penciled out, the titles had to link them together. Honestly, I think my editor in chief came up with the titles!

  1. Name one entity that you feel supported your writing, outside of family members?

My friend, Karen Banks. She might as well be family, but isn’t! She supported the books from the very beginning, encouraged me to submit to publishers and agents, and has generally been my cheerleader! I don’t think that the series would exist without her. I wrote the second novel (in its original form) for her as a Christmas present. She spent the whole of her Christmas Day that year sat on her sofa with the book and an editing pen! Her husband didn’t complain once.

  1. What is your favorite late night snack while writing?

Sweets, biscuits, chocolate, crisps. Pretty much anything! I’m not a very healthy snacker.

  1. What was the most surprising part of writing this book?

I don’t think anything was surprising. The novel had been planned out for over three years, and I’d been writing it in my head for two of those years, so writing the novel was actually the easy part!

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The internet has been abuzz in recent days with the discussion as to whether the presenting team of one of the BBC’s flagship shows is staying together, given a high profile exit I feel no need to mention here. Given my own motoring inclinations, and an eventual link this year to other things, I thought I’d weigh in. Please note, what I’m NOT doing here is discussing what has already happened, the hows or whys, just a bit of meaningless speculation for now, with the knowledge of two things:  1) there now has to be a shake-up of the presenting team, whether it’s one person coming in or three and 2) the show has been in this position before , in a way, before the 2002 revamp.

So I got talking over lunch with a good friend of mine and we looked at it a slightly different way. Assuming the entire band decide they can’t go on as is, there are certain opportunities to make a new show for a new time. The show had changed from a fairly standard motor show to an action comedy series, along the way garnering a loyal bunch of fans mostly wondering what the hell the team were going to do next.

But for Top Gear, the show must go on. And so the inevitable question is, ‘with whom’? Here is a shortlist of people I’d personally love to see.

Jay Kay

Jay Kay TG

The return of the Space Cowboy may be a bit of an outside choice, not being a presenter and instead coming from a musical background. However, the Jamiroquai lead singer with huge success in the 90s and early 2000s has a well-known passion for cars, and a typical millionaire’s car collection. He’s even been a guest on the show four times, which practically makes him a co-presenter already.

With Chris Evans (no, not that one) categorically ruling himself out of the gig, perhaps our man Jay could be the better pick from the 90s. And he could certainly bring something new to the show by sporting a new hat every week.

Jodie Kidd

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[Image from http://www.motoringresearch.com]

Another previous guest on the show. Unlike Jay, Jodie does have previous experience with this sort of thing. She’s currently on another channel co-presenting The Classic Car Show, so it’d likely have to be quite some offer to coax her over to the BBC. But with acting experience on top of that, I can’t think of anyone better qualified to be part of any possible new team.

Idris Elba

Idris

AKA Driss, probably the longest shot on the list simply due to the whole Hollywood thing. But he finds time to come back and feed my Luther fix, so there’s hope yet. That’s of course if he isn’t already down to succeed Daniel Craig as the next Bond, which I’m not talking about here because there’s plenty of discussion of that happening already. But a friend of mine coincidentally shared this post about that exact same thing in a fit of comedy timing just as I’d thought of this post.

Previous experience? Well actually, I thought of him because of a show I happened to catch and enjoy immensely: King of Speed. He’s another one who is more than keen on his motors, and it goes without saying he’d probably find a show such as this second nature, given his big screen forays and playing to big crowds behind the decks too.

Given the BBC already brought us King of Speed and Luther, he’s already got a strong BBC connection, so it’s not perhaps as long a shot as I first thought. And naturally, he’d bring some genuine star power to the show.

Phillip Glenister

“Fire up the Quattro!”

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[image from iTelegraph.co.uk]

Like Idris, he has had a specialist car show already, For the Love of Cars on Channel 4. He’s another big enthusiast and thanks to that show, he has the background of renovating vehicles that need a bit of TLC and restoring them to their former glories. And as we’ve established, he has a very specific relationship with certain classic cars.

Of course, the great thing about picking all these busy people who are already well established in their various careers and positions, is that at least one will likely have to turn it down. Well, BBC, if the time passes and I turn out to be right with any or all of this business, I’d like to throw my hat into the ring. I’ll drive anything you want, likely be entertaining when you send me abroad, and I like to think I can write a little too. And I’ll probably work relatively cheap, long as you let me loose on the occasional Aston Martin. But that’s another post…

P.S. Any of you petrolheads out there want to tell me about cars you either have seen in your favourite reads or would like to? Drop me a comment, I’ll be keen to have a natter on that matter too!

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Since before the turn of the year, I meant to get a post up on here again other than a share or re-blog. Though I haven’t been around much, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes pretty much everywhere. Bear with me, especially as I won’t be back with just one post in the upcoming days, but several. Try not to get too excited, will you all? Also, I can be found on Facebook quite a bit, I should probably remind you, and occasionally on Twitter nattering with richer authors than I. Usually all updates happen on the same day, but not always. You may be missing out on things…

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Great news though—conventions and the like appear to be filling up fast! I’ll endeavour to keep this updated with my likely whereabouts, though if this month is anything to go by, things shall be, to some extent, subject to change as a result of real life and all that.

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  • This very week, I shall be at Dysprosium, or EasterCon if you prefer, with the hope of bumping into Jim Butcher at some stage. I’m down for a panel on Unseen London, likely as no great surprise to anyone if you’re this far. Revision on my historical Underground knowledge, and a couple of other fun things I’ve discovered, is underway! WBN 2015 Logo
  • April 23 is World Book Night, of course. This year, that will see me at Fab Café in Manchester, whereby I should have some books with me and will certainly be partaking in some form of fun activity, as well as possibly having some remaining copies from the rest of the day of Street Cat Bob, if you want one.
  • Just arranged, I shall be appearing at Nerd East 2015 in Durham on 30 May for general socialising and to do a talk, subject currently to be confirmed. Might even have some books with me if we’re all lucky!
  • 7-9 August–I’ve been asked very nicely to go to Nine Worlds this year, which I shall as it doesn’t clash with an event I never miss for once!
  • 29 August – I’m heading to MancsterCon. Another panel awaits, expect a fantasy-related conversation there.

Some unconfirmed plans I’m holding out hope for reaching:

  • 11 July Edge-Lit in Derby, probably just as a nice day trip, but come and say hi, it’d be great!
  • [Edit] Almost forgot Octocon, but being regularly asked to go…
  • 23-25 October—FantasyCon
  • Various–Leeds Steampunk Market. I am quite frequently at these as some of you will know! Dates as I confirm them.

As I say, the first of several posts I have in the pipeline. And if you’d like to read some guest posts I have done of late, stop by D.A. Lascelles‘ page. I finally got an invite to the prestigious Vampire Month club, in which you can catch an interview with me and a bit of geekery on my part in relation to the fanged fiends. It was an awful lot of fun.  There are actually 9 or 10 posts up there in total, with some other authors I know, Elizabeth Morgan, A.J. Campbell and Jen Ponce. It was Vampire Month, after all.

Primal Storm front

Catch you soon I hope! You now have a number of opportunities, and there will be more. . .

*Which needs a cool name.

As a contributor to the show amongst other things, this is very much relevant to my interests 🙂 Many thanks, folks!

How I write – a blog tour

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Another response from the blog tour I took part in some weeks back!

Adventures in writing

I’m running very late on this blog tour thingy but here goes.

Thanks to R.A.Smith https://projectshadowlondon.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/how-i-write-blog-tour-thingy/ for linking me on it and giving me the opportunity to have a play.

If you haven’t read the Grenshall Manor Chronicles (books Oblivion Storm and Primal Storm) yet then you really should.

Also thanks to I C Publishing www.ICPublishing.ca for starting this.

There are four things I’m meant to be talking about .

  1. How do you start your writing projects?

Well for me it’s usually to do with a voice. A character will start talking to me and won’t let me go until I write for them. For my current project this was as I was walking through Manchester in a thunder storm. A slightly depressed, wacky and very capable young woman crept into my head and wouldn’t let me go. She’s still there and she is very upset with me for not…

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