Saturday, 16 April 2016

Risk Return is live!

I'm happy to announce that Risk Return, the sequel to Return on Investment, is now live (Amazon first, and later I'll wrangle the other retailers and get the book into "wide" distribution).

This one is a lot more about the relationship of Francis and Martin than the first book. And to celebrate the release, I've pushed down the price of Return on Investment. :)

Six years ago, young and bright investment professional Martin David got exactly what he wanted—a relationship with Francis de Bracy, his boss at investment fund Skeiron Capital Partners. Having now started their own business in Germany’s banking capital Frankfurt, Martin and Francis’s life is sweet and easy. 

Until the Jesuit Emanuel, Francis’s former mentor and teacher, shows up unbidden and unwelcome. Emanuel brings with him a devil’s deal: Charles de Bracy, one of Francis’s most unforgiving enemies, has sent the Jesuit to broker peace between himself and Francis. And Emanuel does not come empty-handed—Charles is offering Francis the family fortune if Francis travels to the US and reconciles with his estranged father. 

Martin knows how proud and headstrong Francis is. No amount of money will bend his will. But as toxic as the past is, maybe facing it will finally give Francis peace. Yet, if Charles is anything like his son, he’s a formidable foe, and Francis’s scars and bitterness run so deep a billion might not be enough to even the scores. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

The big decluttering

I have a friend who's very into Feng Shui, and she mentioned how good it is to clear out some old stuff. Lets the energy flow better, etc.

So, I just spent a few hours de-cluttering my website and this blog. I deleted quite a few blog entries (lots of them were really boring), and edited others. Mostly, I removed names and mentions of entities that cause me pain/anguish/anxiety or that I simply do not wish to be associated with any longer.

They are no longer welcome in "my space", where they block energy and remind me of awful times in my life, massive mistakes I've made, my naive belief in some people or things. I've also gone through the files on my computer and deleted files - editing and proofing I did for publishers, now ex-friends, and assorted people I no longer want in my space. I've already thrown away the books written by those people, and that already had a huge positive effect. I've most definitely deleted those books from my Kindle account. Deep breath and sigh of relief. Getting there.

If possible (and feasible). I'd have put all that to the flames. If this were a paper diary, I'd most definitely have burned it.

I've removed a great deal of my books from my website - all this is in preparation of the big relaunch. Other books no longer reflect who I am as a writer/person, so those won't re-appear. I'm also sorry to announce that some sequels won't be written, and some series will be suspended - I expect to relaunch the Scorpion series in late 2018, but Market Garden has no date yet.

2016 is definitely a transition year for me. A lot of stuff will be very different when I look into 2017, and I'm looking forward to it.

My day job remains intense, and I like it that way. My company is great, my team is great, my pay is great, and things otherwise continue happily and pretty smoothly. I hang out more on Twitter than Facebook, and I fully expect to go exclusively self-published now - I've had too many awful experiences with publishers, and the insecurity about the future of some publishers I DID like and respect only adds to that.

That said, Risk Return is definitely moving ahead, and I'll write a new contemporary series once Risk Return is published. And there's a prequel that I'm looking at, but one step at a time.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Nightingale audio released

And, much sooner than expected, ACX/Audible has made Nightingale live. You can now buy it on Amazon, Audible and i-Tunes.

(Audible UK is running a 40% sale, so it's really cheap at the moment).

Next projects up: Return on Investment in Italian, Return on Investment audiobook, and the ebook for Risk Return. :)

Happy Easter/Ostara, everybody. :)

Friday, 18 March 2016

Current projects update

So, I'm in the last few stages of wrapping the Nightingale audiobook. Some scenes were genuinely difficult to listen to, and I know what was coming. Also, a book that's all about sound being interpreted by somebody who's so much better at sound/voice than I am was a revelation.

Then we've released Missionary, which is the pre-story of Joshua/Julien from No Distance Left to Run. It's all about that encounter with the Legionnaires that changes his life.

And we've been re-leasing Market Garden books as they come out of contract. The last one was If It Flies. Regarding those re-releases - there won't be massive changes. I tend to clean books up again when I re-release them, just to deal with typos and other issues I spotted on a re-read, but generally, I'll let you know when there's a massive change.

In writing news, I've broken 72k on Risk Return and should finish it before the month is over. I've taken a couple long weekends off work over the next six weeks, so that should definitely help.

Today though is my partner's birthday, so we're both off work and taking it easy. And then later tonight we'll watch the second season of Daredevil, which we've been waiting for since it was announced.

So everything is still going according to the prophecy.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Slightly derailed (Risk Return, conventions and events)

Day job is being crazy busy again, so the second half of February wooshed past and I barely felt it. Some months, apparently, you only notice that they're past when the salary arrives in the bank account. So that's February done.

Luckily, these days I'm tracking all the things I've achieved in a month - best way to stay realistic about a) how much I DO achieve and b) how much CAN be achieved while doing all the things I'm doing. It's still only a fraction of what I WANT to achieve or BELIEVE I can achieve, but every little bit is progress.

And I think writing ca 45k of new words isn't too bad.

As I'm breaking into March, I do plan to finish up Risk Return this month. I think I have only about 10-15k left to do, which can be easily done. Then letting it sit for a while and then edit the piece. I'm currently not sure if it's any good, but it's been pretty therapeutic.


I'm also planning con appearances. So here are the LGBTQ literature events I will most definitely)*** attend:

Euro Pride Con (Berlin)
UK Meet (Southampton)

And then there's:

Italian m/m event (Verona) - that's an "I want to and need to book".

I doubt I'll make GRL this year (again). It's a really far trip, it'll cost me ca $1,500 to go, and I have a very limited amount of holidays, so "cost plus stress plus distance plus #s of holidays" is kind of counting against that. Also, I'm not keen to run into certain people, so I'm sticking to the "safe" side of the Atlantic for the moment. Mostly, these European events only take a long weekend, GRL with the flight and everything is a week's investment.

That said, next year things might look very different. I do want to meet my American readers again and hopefully soon. But while the day job is necessary, the amount of time I can spend jet-setting is sadly limited.

Saturday, 13 February 2016

"My Method"

Today I had my bank account upgraded to HSBC's super special thing. I mostly booked that meeting to close down some accounts I don't really need and get their extra special ISA (which for all non-UKians is our local tax-free savings account - if you do save cash, an ISA is kind of the government-approved way to do it).

In any case, this young guy at the bank is setting all that stuff up for me and while we talk about all my sources of income, obviously the writing comes up. Mostly he seemed impressed that there's a noticeable cash flow from writing. And it emerged that's he's a writer, too, though one of the "I really need to get back into it" kind of writers. A baby writer. (Obviously I gave him some pointers about self-publishing and warned him about shitty contracts. Start'em young, is what I'm saying.)

One of the questions that keep coming up when writer meets writer, is "so do you outline?" - that put me back to a discussion I had on Twitter the other day, where I summed up "my method" in around 8-10 tweets.

Now, I teach writing, I coach writers, I own more creative writing books than I'll ever be able to read, so I am aware of the whole spectrum from "vade retro, SATANAS" to "I'm not writing one single line without having written five pre-outlines". I know some of the most productive writers on the planet (people who write 5-12 novels per year) tend to outline.

Outlines are awesome. They sound like a great tool. I HAVE outlined a few of my novels and I've stalled horribly on some books where I haven't - going from "shit, I didn't expect this" to an 18-month writers' block. The "outliners" even claim there's no such thing as "writer's block", but I don't think it's QUITE that easy.

So, what I'm saying is listen to what I say, not do as I do.

Because even with all those tools at my disposal, I don't outline - not in 90% of all my books. Maybe it's because I consider a story largely a living organism and I have the basic schematics very firmly embedded in my mind ("mammals - two sets of limbs each, apart from the head - we only need one of those").

So while I'm usually flying by the seat of my pants - and sometimes I'm a supersonic speed-freak of a pantser, and sometimes I'm more a blimp, lazily drawing my circles until something happens, I do usually arrive at my destination. That said, I have a couple outlines - it's just that I still need to write those books. So yeah, books I have outlined are the books that tend to not get written.

So, here's my "pantsing" process, which brought you the following stories: Skybound, Dark Soul, all of the Scorpion books, Return on Investment, Risk Return, Incursion... (it's clearly working)

1) Hear voice. A character voice emerges and at that point I barely know who they are, but they start talking and tell me about their problem/issue/situation.

(Addendum: If I already HAVE the character, as is the case with a prequel/sequel/spin-off, I'd call this "flash of insight" - it's something like, "what if Kendras realised that Adrastes isn't quite the man he thought he was", or "I think there's some kind of ambassador involved somewhere, and I knew stuff is going to move and we learn who Kendras's parents are, because all fantasy novels work like that" - bang, we have two more Scorpion books)

2) Commune with voice. At that point, I need to sit back and listen and also start asking question. Note: The more paranoid characters won't reveal all their cards or might not answer. That's fine. They'll eventually show who they are by what they do on the page.

3) Moment of commitment. I finally shove everything else (including other deadlines and projects) out of the way and sit down and start writing.

Thus endeth the "preparation phase".

4) Set-Up/Act 1. Usually at this point I have the character, their situation/problem, and the setting in the widest sense. This means I'm writing - fairly quickly - anywhere between 5,000 and 18,000 words, in chronological order. I write the books exactly in the order you guys read them - even when there's a flashback at the start like in Return on Investment, or pretty early in the book like in Scorpion.

5) THE FIRST WALL. This is my Roadrunner moment when I realise I've run so fast I've left the cliff behind and am standing on thin air. And there's always that delayed "double-take" "oh-shit" moment. Needless to say, that's not a very productive moment - I tend to seriously consider abandoning the book - the usual excuse is "I love this, but I have no plot."

6) Wandering the Plotless Wastes of Doom. This is when I tend to be annoyed with myself for abandoning whatever I've temporarily abandoned in step 3. As words are usually not happening, I notice I buy a lot more stationery and get some reading done. Extra points if those are books relating to whatever project I'm struggling with. This is when I read books on plotting, creative writing books and hang out on the internet.

7) Surrender/Travelling Without a Compass. Eventually I get over myself and keep writing. This is the moment when I'm "just following my characters" who know better than I do what they want and how they'd deal with the situation. I just let them get on with it. It's their lives, after all.

8) Moment of crisis/THE SECOND WALL. Either my character or I (or both of us) are about ready to give this stuff up and leave the book. Somehow, though, there's another 10-20,000 words on the page.

All this is roughly "the middle" of the book.

9) BREAK INTO THREE - suddenly the shutters come off, the sun climbs over the horizon, the stars align - I can see where I'm going. The missing puzzle piece shows up, and seen through the lense of THAT, everything now makes sense. That character I introduced ONLY because I found him wandering the Plotless Wastes of Doom with no idea what he was good for has the answer or said something clever, and suddenly IT ALL COMES TOGETHER. This is how I know I'm in the last third of my book. Shit's beginning to make sense. I usually even have a rough idea how it'll all end.

10) The I'M A FUCKING GENIUS/WRITING IS EASY phase. So I'm writing hard and fast to put in all the pieces I have. This is usually when my writing speeds up quite impressively - I'm writing 5-10,000 per weekend, that kind of speed.

11) The "Maybe this is shit, but at least it's done" moment. As the exhilaration of the previous stage wears off, I'm approaching the ending. This is the last 10-20 pages of the book. The ending is so close I can see it. This is the moment when I'm seriously wondering whether the book is actually any good - what I do know is that it's a poor shadow of the book I  WANTED to write. But at least I'm almost... and then done, so phew, it might be a crock of shit, but it's written and it kind of all makes sense.

12) Betas. I usually send books to a couple readers, but more intensely so towards the ending of the process (because then I know I'm much more likely to finish it). Usually, while I'm still coping with the disappointment/non-genius of that book, I start getting feedback from my betas who indicate it's not a flawless emerald of rare value, but at least it's readable/entertaining and has some decent to good lines.

And then I edit - realising that I'm a decent writer who can actually write. That's nice and gets me through the edits/proofing/layout.


So, right now, with Risk Return, I'm very firmly in stage 9, bordering on 10.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Circa halfway on Risk Return

So the new year has started very nicely for me - this is yet another year where I start with a big spreadsheet to track my wordcount and even bigger plans, but so far, the tracking (and wording) is going well. I only skipped three days so far in terms of writing, and two of those were devoted to editing Broken Blades. Other than that, I've been racking up wordcounts from anywhere between 125 and 1,800 per day.

And just like any slow, painstaking work, constant effort is beginning to pay off. This is a book that is built around just two ideas - not plotted, so it's growing organically. With that kind of book, I tend to roughly at 1/3 understand what the story is about, and roughly at that point I know what needs to happen and also in what order.

I'm now beyond that point - Risk Return has circa 31,000 words, and I expect there will be 20-30,000 more, so it looks like a short novel from here - in any case, I expect it's about 50% done.

My self-imposed deadline of 3 February might be a bit too tight, but I would expect to wrap it not much after that date. Publication I think in March - I do have a cover but I'm saving that for a "reveal". It's very good. :)

So, no pressure. It's mostly that I want to write what else I have to say about the characters, and how their relationship develops. Much of what reverberates through this book is stuff that happened 10 years before Return on Investment - Martin is picking up the pieces and begins to understand what events, factors and people have shaped Francis.

After that, I'll write the prequel (QOI) - so yes, I'm writing book 2, then book 3 and then book 1.

After that, I kind of see a spin-off happening with a minor character I haven't actually met on the page yet, but he's pretty cool in my head, and there's an Easter egg in Risk Return that points towards Unhinge the Universe.

The true miracle is that the characters are still so "fresh" that I can summon them up even after so many years - Return on Investment is a really old book and I've lost touch with much more recent works.

Anyway. I do post a lot of snippets on my Facebook wall, so Facebook is the place to read my messy first draft pieces if you're interested.


And there's a fun question from the comments a few days back - specifically if I was going to write more books in the sci-fi universe of Incursion and Dark Edge of Honor (yes, they relate to each other).


The answer is - absolutely. There will be a sequel to Incursion where the Glyrinny meet the Doctrine.

Let's put it this way - both parties really could have imagined a better, happier way to spend their time. I've wanted to let those two clash for a long time.

Timing-wise - I don't really like setting deadlines several projects ahead, but I'd *like* to work on that towards the middle/end of the year.

2016 looks like a year so far where I wrap up my past and move into the future - so all the prequels and sequels and projects I've had in mind for so many years will get wrapped up when I relaunch the books that return from my ex-publisher - and I'm going to write completely new books with completely new characters too, just to keep the balance and because they've been pestering me.