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On genres and reading

I've never talked about the importance of reading to being a writer. It's something I hear mentioned all the time, that you can't be a writer if you don't read. Now I don't like can't statements and I am sure there are writers who buck the trend. But, for me, reading and writing go hand in hand.

I was the child who walked into a lamppost because I was reading. Who has missed many, many train stops. Who brings anticipated reads on holidays because it's a treat to have time. I read - everywhere. In the bath, in the bathroom, in bed, in the car. I read the back of cereal packets if I have nothing else.

I also don't always read science fiction and fantasy but I have read a lot. For instance, I say I'm not a big epic fantasy fan but I've made my way through Lord of the Rings, some Sanderson, Rothfuss. I've read Grimdark (ironically far from my favourite genre, although I like the humour), portal fantasies, young adult stuff, mythic stories, Iris…
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3 little things

I have so many writing thoughts whirling through my head that I haven't even titled this blog yet. I'll see what explodes first, before I do.

The sort of things that have been traipsing through my mind this week are related to the writing business, to brand and markets and to reviews. Perhaps the three are linked. If so, let's see -and then we might have a title.

1. Brand. I am brand Jo Zebedee, just like every writer is brand xyz. But brand Jo Zebedee is a bit mixed up at the moment. There is sf writer, who writes Abendau, there's a YA writer, who wrote Inish Carraig and a few other unreleased goodies in that demograph (and never markets themselves as YA, one of the biggest book markets there is) and there's the Irish writer, who writes fantasy with an Irish touch that would probably appeal to that market.

Which means that, when someone moseys off to my author page, my range is becoming increasingly confused. Do I expect a lover of Abendau to love Waters and the W…

On Stickability

Sometimes the going - at anything - gets tough. In my day job (a management consultant when we're being swish, a management nerd when we're not) stickability is identified as a key requirement in the modern workplace and one not always met.

I think I'm quite lucky with my stickability - which is, I think, sometimes mistaken for drive. It has been my long-held belief that trying hard is only one part of the equation - keeping trying is the other, and bigger, part of success.

Of all the areas of my life where sticking at it has been most needed, it is with writing. I've set up a business and that was easier than finishing a novel, and then a trilogy, and then more novels. Honestly, getting an agent only to lose them (careless I know) led to probably one of the most bleak days of my professional life. Sending out the emails to tell people what had happened, letting the news out on Social media, was all hard enough to make me slink off.

And yet I didn't. I brought the …

When the Middle Ages and Modernity collide

Today I'm joined by Thaddeus White, one of my favourite indie writers. His new book, Traitor's Prize, a sequel to Kingdom Asunder came out this week. It's his fourth novel in that world, mixing the fantastical and a realistic version of a medieval world, guided but not constrained by history. Even then, there are some conflicts between what most people think today (or how they perceive the medieval world) and what actually happened and this blog is an interesting one, exploring that. 
Mercy and brutality is a difficult area to try and grasp. We live in a very civilised world (not perfect by any means, but compare it to a time when beating a pig to death was considered a fun game and it’s not hard to appreciate the difference). There were often strong reasons to exercise mercy or be brutal in medieval warfare. The former could encourage people to switch sides, knowing they’…

Non-agented writers - how does that work?

Just last week, a great writing chum of mine, who knows his way around a bit of PR, commented that I'd done well to get as much visibility for my new book, Waters and the Wild, (you have bought ten, right? You should because it's getting the most awesome reviews) without being agented.

Let me very clear, right from the start. I wanted to be agented. I'd still quite like to be agented. This is not an agent-bashing blog, far from it. I am not anti-agents: it seems they're rather more anti-me. This is frustrating - my books have all done well, for being with indie publishers/self-published but, more to the point, the reviews are stellar. People, when they find the books like them and recommend them. But still the agented world and I are not linked, probably for the simple reason that my books and a big publisher are not seen to be a good match.  

Let's go back a couple of years. I was, as is quite common, agented for my second novel. I then received a publisher's…


I remembered this today. The original 300 word story that became Waters and the Wild

Song of the faerie.

There's a boat on the beach and it’s not of this world. 

“Do you see anything?” I ask.

Gary’s the most grounded person I know; he holds me where I’m safe. “Yeah,” he says. “Beautiful.”

I hadn’t expected that. “Why here?”

He shrugs. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Yes. A faerie boat from the underworld. My breathing tightens. Prickles cover my skin, great welts that itch and fade a moment later. “Why now?” 

He puts his hand on my arm. “Amy, what do you see?” 

I point at the ark and it sings a faerie song to me. Gary holds me so tight that it hurts. “Amy, what is it?”

I shake him off. Amy, amy, amy; a dangerous lullaby. I reach out and touch the ship, run my fingers over its rusted edges, take comfort in its solid form. 

“Amy!” He takes me in his arms and smells of coffee and orange. He kisses me, even though he knows I’m bad. “What do you see?” 

His voice, heavy with fear, rips through me and brings me…

The Last Seer - chapter two: Space Princess

The planet hung below, a shimmering cast of sea and cloud. This was an old planet: Kerra could feel it in the bones of her body, in the dry aged knowledge of them. Silence hung around her, waiting her decision. “Anything from the planet?” she asked. “An old distress signal,” Rana said. He flashed her a smile, one that she knew the promise within, but she ignored him. A mission was not the time to indulge, no matter how pleasant that indulgement was. Especially a mission that she hadn’t filed a flight-plan for, had taken out of the mesh, and which had taken her far beyond the Seven-Stars. A mission she hadn’t, truly, expected to succeed in. Excitement bubbled. She’d spent the last weeks imagining returning to her father and telling him what she had achieved. This was his mission, although he did not know of it, carried out on the back of their last meeting, on a planet deep in the outer zone. Her father was so different to the one she’d known as a child. He ma…