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?

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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

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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

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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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Relevant to recent conventions and topics. Which I’ll be posting on myself soon…

Andrew Knighton writes

Conflict is common over the depiction of race and gender in speculative fiction. As a middle-class first-world white bloke I recognise that I’m in a very privileged position and over-represented in popular culture. But as a nerd I also recognise why people get defensive about challenges to a frequently mocked subculture. I’ve written a post about this and recent superhero films over one Curnblog. Here’s the start of it…

Where Did Storm Go? Representing Race and Gender in Superhero Films

Superhero films and the comics that spawned them are famous for their traditionally white male fan-base. It’s a fan-base to which the creators play, with the vast majority of superheroes, and particularly the high profile ones, being white men.

This raises issues for the balanced representation of gender and race and for the diversity of perspectives possible within these stories. It becomes even more problematic as these stories reach out to…

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Only a week after the event, here’s my event report. Just like back in school. The short version: a great time was had and lots of new and interesting people were met, including some heroes of mine in within fiction writing. Can’t say fairer than that…

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So I arrived on Wednesday evening, and stayed through to Sunday evening. We managed to get in early on the whole registration thing, which was good because it got kind of lively when the convention proper commenced. All told, this one had 10,000 guests which makes it the biggest World Science Fiction Convention held yet! So it is just as well the ExCel Centre in which it was held happens to be HUGE. Seriously, this thing is so big, it has TWO Docklands Light Railway stations for access.

Now, I’ve never been to this particular type of convention before, and discovered rapidly that having that word in the title can mean many different things. I looked at the event and thought it looked interesting, but got a nudge to do some stuff for it several months back by some good friends in Emma and Esther and said, ‘sure, I’ll happily do a panel or two’ (having never done panels before). By the time I reached the event, I had signed up for six, and a book signing spot. I approached initially with a fine combo of eager excitement and a degree of terror, but actually found the sheer scale of fixtures a great help on this one. I spent more time on the Wednesday night finding my way around a wonderful iPad app, which essentially provided a scheduler for me, choosing which other events and panels I was provisionally interested in attending, that I kind of forgot about the pre-panel prep.

Well, apart from the first one, for which I needed to source good examples and stories behind fiction and film which ‘got London wrong’. I had a little chat over a tea with Michael, (who was kind enough to put us up for the duration, even lending us his bedroom. Hero!) and between him, Joy  and myself, we managed to add a couple of examples to the reserve. For the record, I now need to watch the Guy Ritchie Sherlock Holmes at least twice, so I can finally get round to watching it, and to spot everything we cited both at home and at the panel . Thor’s rather curious London Underground travel route in Thor: The Dark World I knew about already.

The first panel I attended was amusingly titled, ‘LOLcats in Space: Social Media, Humour and SF Narratives’, and had a frankly brilliant line-up, including Jean Johnson as moderator and Charles Stross on bass guitar (the instrument part may or may not be an untruth).  Energetic, insightful and packed, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to have got started on my little tour.

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Then, very relevant to my current chosen path and equally entertaining, The Changing Face of the Urban Fantastic. Another cracking panel team including none other than Paul Cornell and Robin Hobb, moderated by the excellent Liz Bourke. Good as this panel was, migration started quite early, though I soon remembered why. Straight after this, A Conversation with George R.R.Martin, Connie Willis and Paul Cornell. Yep—that did mean Mr Cornell needed to run, or figure out how to co-locate. He chose the former. Luckily, that meant he could go straight in, whereas when I left at the end, I got into the first very large queue to get into the double suite that this popular fixture hosted. That was a lot of people. Paul did a great job keeping the conversation and the questions flowing, and a good time was had by all. I finally got to my panel that evening and for a first one, I was happy enough with it. I did discover a thing though; being on panels with other authors often just helps you part with money as you seek out their work. Mike Shevdon was on this one with me, and I am now the proud owner of a copy of Sixty-One Nails, following a fascinating conversation about some of London’s more interesting traditions still kept today. The source of that book title is one…

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Two readings concluded the day, catching some from Frances Hardinge, as usual sporting her trademark stylish hat, and Adrian Tchaikovsky, reading cool new things.

And that was only Thursday!

On Friday, I arrived to be overwhelmed with panels I wanted to attend, and ended up not making either of the 10ams I wanted to see. I will keep checking for transcripts. However, this was because I was queueing for a Peter V.Brett signing with Joy. Well worth it, and got Sixty-One Nails signed by Mike Shevdon in the same hour. Being there got us a chance to catch Paul Cornell just before his signing and say hi too.

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 I really enjoyed a swordplay for writers workshop, of which I was sure to take photos and odd notes here and there. Definitely educational. I sat on two panels, Developing LARPs—World vs. Character and got plenty of interest out of that, then Urban Fantasy: London, which I enjoyed immensely. There was a lot to talk about in an hour, including the obvious question of ‘why London’? and mentioning a bunch of other cities, with Manchester coming up too thanks to certain questions and myself and Tony Ballantyne being resident there at present. Learned a lot, talked even more, both after the panel and throughout the con. I also managed to get to the Titan/Tor party thanks to Tony, and enjoy a beer and a chat with a bunch of people in the publishing world. Finally met artist Sarah Anne Langton thanks to Ian Whates and a natter with Peter V.Brett, to name a few. Also, got a bit of tasty birthday cake.

Saturday, I went wandering around the gallery section and chatted to Ade Brown after seeing some tremendous artwork. He has the Where Angels Fall website currently under development, but I’ll be sure to check in once it is done. There were many other incredible exhibits, but no photos of course from me. However a chance wander helped me bump into none other than Ben Aaronovitch, author of the Peter Grant series [Rivers of London/Midnight Riot in US) being the first]. We ended up going for a coffee and effectively a small kaffeeklatsch, which was about as pleasant a way to spend a morning as I could ask for.

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I sat on two panels, Race and British Speculative Fiction, which may have run from 13:30 to 15:00 on the programme, but I was still talking with panellists and guests two hours later on that one. And enjoyed every minute of it. Then LARP Safe: Building Inclusive Worlds in the evening. Perhaps my smallest-attended panel of the con, but that wasn’t a bad thing. Also, I collected a surprise moderator badge for this one due to the original not being able to make it. I would like to say now that this wasn’t anything to do with me seizing an opportunity and bundling the original moderator into a cupboard for an hour. That’s not how I roll.

Finished up the day with a top-quality 80s Night Dance. No, really. It had exactly the right level of cheese for my tastes, though they almost killed this poor chap by seguing several 80s wolf-themed or mentioning songs in. Go on. Think about it. There were a quite a few. In fact, perhaps a competition is worth thinking about…

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Though the con did run to Monday, Sunday was my last day there, regretfully.

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The morning schedule proved relentless, with a signing first thing, sharing a table with the delightful Melinda Snodgrass, straight into a kaffeeklatsch with Adrian Tchaikovsky,  great fun, and then a rush out to my final panel, Representation, Whitewashing and Internationalism in Fandom. My last panel, and a superb one, thanks to a brilliant audience and a top panel in Zen Cho, Mark Oshiro, Eylul Dogruel and Andrea Horbinski. I felt we all had something different to bring to that table, and we again had a long chat afterwards. Sadly couldn’t get into the Charles Stross reading because I’d been beaten to it, and my final official thing was getting along to the Robin Hobb signing.

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A note on that signing. I thought I was mostly going along to help Joy carry some books at first, but over the panels and events attended where Robin was present, she very much sold me on reading her books. So by the time I got into this photo, I was very definitely a fan!

I didn’t attend the Hugo Awards, just because we had a long drive back that evening, so had to content myself with reading the results. But we did stop to quickly chill before we left, reminding me that I hadn’t mentioned any of the many parties going on in the evening. As well as advertising future events in the Fan Village, some other entertainments were laid on including the Tolkien Society running a big quiz, bidders for future WorldCon events giving us a flavour of their nation and city, quite literally in most cases. I’ve tried a salty liquorice liqueur courtesy of Helsinki’s bid for 2017, Kansas fed us several times some delicious pulled pork, and Japan introduced us to several fine whiskies and the wondrous green tea flavoured Kit-Kat, to name but a few.

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Overall, this was a truly amazing experience in which I got firmly bitten by the convention bug. I’m already setting plans in motion for next year! Next up this year, an entirely different affair by way of the Labyrinth Literary Festival up in Stockton, where I shall have a reading and be happily to sell you and/or sign books. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

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Labyrinth Literary Festival

Posted: August 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

I shall be here too, with readings ready and copies of both Oblivion Storm and Primal Storm! Come along 🙂

Lurking Musings

On September 6th I will be in Stockton on Tees attending a book festival. Click the image below for more details. There will be readings both from Transitions and Lurking Miscellany and the chance to get signed books from a range of UK based authors.

If you are a UK based author and you want in on this festival, there are still spaces. Bring some books, some swag and prepare to do a reading to an appreciative audience.

literary festival

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Back from LonCon 3, and a post on that is coming up soon. Short version: it was ace.

However, as may have been guessed from the title, I have a bit more work following my post on the How I Write tour, originally linked from Andrew Knighton Writes. If you need a recap, my own can be found here.

First on the ‘next up’ from me is Author Ben Ireland, with a cracking post on his writing process. Read, enjoy, and if you wish, join in! 

Keep watching, I shall have more to report in the coming days…