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How to keep churning them out

Two people this week have indicated to me (following my last blog) that I’m a pretty prolific writer. This is not the first time such an observation has been made. (In fact, compared to many writers I know of, I’m not wildly prolific. In six years (almost to the day) I’ve written and released five novels, have another two trunked for now, and a sixth pretty well at completion. That’s not jaw-droppingly prolific – twelve would be getting there.)
But I also have a day job (I run a consultancy), have kids to run after and a range of pets and what-nots, and don’t really have a lot of time to fit writing in. Which means, when I do write, I have to make the most of my time.
Now, I’ve been self-employed for years and one thing you have to be able to do to succeed when self-employed is to sit down and work, in my case amid the distractions of a busy house. I apply much the same approach to my writing.
Here, then, is how I churn out whatever I do churn out:
I work at one project at a…
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On sequels

On Sequels

I've written two sequels to date and, by and large, I enjoy writing them. One of the hardest things for me, when beginning a new book, is getting to know the characters. Once I have them nailed - as in they live in the dark hole in the back of my brain that seems responsible for writing books - I can, generally, happily write a new book about them.

Up until now, however, my sequels have all been in the Abendau world. Not only do I know the characters insanely well - I can slip into any of their point of views easily - but the first book hadn't been released so there was no weight of expectation. If I write another in that world - and my plan, eventually, is a second trilogy based around the younger generation - it will be because it has exploded out of me and I'm writing it because I need to and I love to.

The sequel I'm starting to work on is different. It's to Inish Carraig, it's been asked for and will follow up a book that is popular and the one …

What’s in a cover?

This week, and coming soon to an Amazon near you – honest! I just have a few hoops to jump through first – I updated the cover to Inish Carraig. I’ve also, a few months ago, had a new cover designed by Gary at Tickety boo for the Abendau trilogy – and this is the cover I think best represents the trilogy.
Here’s that cover: 


I’ll talk about why we went from a spaceship to a picture of a person, looking determined and dogged first.
A spaceship is a great cover image for many Space Opera books. It tells, clearly, what genre the book is in, it states who its target audience is. But! There are a zillion Space Opera books with space ships on them and, frankly, they don’t tell the reader much about the story. Which is fine if you’re playing with the SO tropes and writing a conventional, space-based, story.
Which Abendau isn’t. It’s a big sprawling story about people, centred on one man. Anyone picking it up to read about space battles will be sorely disappointed. Which is why, when it c…

Filtering things

I apologise in advance of my rant. Feel free to have a cuppa, go and vote (if you're in the UK), read a book, whatever, and completely ignore me.

My long-suffering critique partners will assert that if there is one thing bound to annoy every writing gene I have on my radar, it's filter words. But, generous soul that I am, I can tolerate them in critiques - that's why we go through the hell of such matters, after all - and in my own first drafts. But when I read published books absolutely full of them, I get a rant on.

Now, let's get this out of the way. I know there is, sometimes, a place for filter words. If you want to keep the reader distant from the character, they're a tool for that. If you want to ape an older style, yes to keeping them in (remember, omnipresent narrators used to be the norm). And if you want to write in omnipresent, filter away.

But! If you want to write a book with close character interventions that will pull a reader into the character,…

Writing a sense of place

Capturing the sense of a place


'It feels very rooted in its landscape' - Bryan Wigmore

'Take this book to the Glens of Antrim and read it with the waves crashing on the shore' - Annie Rose


In my first reviews of Waters and the Wild, a theme is emerging of how strong the sense of place is within it. I'm pleased about that, and relieved. I love books with a really strong sense of place* and hoped to achieve the same when I set out to write Waters and the Wild. I hoped to capture not just the look of the Antrim Glens but the feel of them too.

How does a writer go about capturing the land in a book? How do they make it real enough that a reader can imagine being there?

Here's what works for me:

1.
It's not enough to just describe. To pull a reader into the story enough that they can feel part of the setting, the writer has to play with the senses.

Take this passage from Waters and the Wild:

'The hill was bleak, the wind raw. What heat there had been from th…

On Belonging

This is a blog that's been circling me for a day or two, about themes and the like, and where they come from. What we take from our own selves and put into our books, sometimes unconsciously.

As many of you know, I'm from Northern Ireland, that divided little part of the world that challenges and rewards, often in equal measure. Many people think the divisions here are over religion - and they do, indeed, follow religious lines - without realising the deeper rifts that drive them. Our culture, our upbringing, our beliefs. Our need to belong.

Belonging is important here. You belong to a community. You might well belong to a religion. You belong to the UK, or Ireland or, increasingly it seems, Northern Ireland (where I have always put my identity and sense of belonging). It's important to work out where you belong, here, in the maelstrom of myriad beliefs. And it's important to recognise others have their own right to belong to wherever - or whatever - they chose to.

I s…

LAUNCH PAD!

I’m in the middle of launching my fifth book, Waters and the Wild, and I thought I’d talk about what goes into a book launch – not just in the interest of shameless self promotion, but also in the hope of sparking a few thoughts in others facing the same thing.

I think this whole launch-thing is easier with later books but they do miss the crucial buzz of a first book where people find out about your shady existence as a writer and are excited to try the book. For book one my family and writing friends were the main cheerleaders and sources of the ra-ra-ing that went on.
For later books, I find that has expanded somewhat into actual – get this! – readers. I also have an awful lot already in place. Goodreads page, check. Amazon author pages, yes. Which makes getting reviews in early a little easier – and thanks to everyone who has taken a review copy.
So how did I go about deciding what to do with this book and who to approach? Apart from my now patented method of blag-say-yes-panic-…