Category Archives: My Books

I Hold the Tide (Unveiled book 3) Sneaklet

Okay so earlier this week, I said that if I got a certain number of likes, I would post a sneak preview of my third Unveiled book – I Hold the Tide – which is due out on 20th October 2017. So here you go, this is an excerpt from Chapter Two, which doesn’t give too much away. Amy and Emlynn are staying at a guesthouse in Cornwall and there’s strange doings afoot. Enjoy 😉 

 

My eyes snapped open. I was curled up on the broad windowsill, the first golden fingers of morning stroking my face. I felt vile. As if I’d been out drinking all night. My head ached, my eyes were scratchy-hot and my upper left arm near the shoulder throbbed. Pain deep in the bone. I groaned and sat upright, fingers seeking for the small hole left by a lead ball in my upper arm. They met only smooth unblemished flash. No injury. Nothing there. No reason to think there would be – except that I knew I’d been dreaming some long dead person’s memories.

I didn’t want any of this again. I wanted to be left alone. But a deeper part of me still craved the excitement and mystery. Craved danger? Never had a dream where what I experienced as somebody else left me in physical pain, though. I tried to close my left hand, but I couldn’t get all my fingers to meet. As soon as I bent my thumb inwards pain screeched up my arm into my shoulder socket. I bit back a cry. Could you accidentally break your own arm in your sleep? Ridiculous, but the pain was real even if the cause wasn’t. Eyes watering, I rubbed my upper arm. Gradually the pain faded, lingering only in a slight numbness of my left hand. Eventually that disappeared too.

When I tried to make a fist again, my fingers obeyed with only a slight stiffness. I swung my shoulder in a full circle. No phantom pain. Which left me with only one question. What the hell was going on?

Are you alright, Em? 

That’s what Amy should be saying about now. It was a weird thought to have but Amy’s version of the Touch nearly always meant she knew when something was wrong. Which meant she turned up. Was she okay? In sudden panic, I stumbled to the connecting door and threw it open.

Amy was sitting cross-legged on her bed, typing away on her laptop with her headphones firmly plugged into her ears. I stopped, deflated. Whatever Amy was doing, it was engaging enough that she’d been able to ignore the Touch. I tried to smother the little voice that said Amy had moved on. That I mattered less. I tried to drown it with logic. Amy’s gift worked differently. It was less strong – and less of an affliction – than mine, so I couldn’t expect her to react to every bad night I had.

Yes but I was shot. 

No, the person you were in the dream was shot. Get a grip. Amy probably didn’t even know anything was wrong. Were you going to tell her anyway?

No, but

But nothing. It was a dream not the end of the world.

No, it’s just meant that pretty much every time in the past so far…

Do you want your little sister always on call in case you decide to let her in on your paranormal shenanigans? Do you? Doesn’t Amy get to have her own life, her own friends?

Her own boyfriend?

The guilt was hot, acidic and immediate. Everything I kept expecting to feel when I thought about what had happened to Rhys, but that had never come. I felt it now. And I’d named the evil. Amy has a boyfriend. Why should that feel like the world was dropping out from beneath my feet?

“Em? Are you coming in or is there something magical about the doorway?” Amy pulled out one earbud and cocked her head to the side. She looked impatient. The sinking feeling in my gut grew worse. I relaxed my grip on the doorframe.

“Yeah,” I said illogically. I meant ‘I’m coming in’ but I didn’t feel welcome and the word turned to ash in my throat.

“Could you whack the kettle on then?” Amy turned back to her laptop. She left the ear bud out but it was clear she wasn’t paying attention to me.

I mechanically went through the motions of filling the kettle and laying out the complimentary tea and coffee. A tight band of pain circled my head. A sidelong glance showed Amy reading something on her screen, her mouth curving in a smile so unconsciously tender, I felt as if I was spying on her. She looked up when I shoved a cup of tea under her nose, her smile more open and less intimate now it was aimed at me. I couldn’t help noticing that she rested one hand on the lid of her laptop, ready to slam it shut the moment I tried to take a peek. If Amy was aware of the cords of tension strung across the room she gave no sign of it. Feeling childish but unable to stop myself, I ostentatiously stirred sugar into my own tea. It was stupid, attention seeking behaviour. But Amy knew I only took sugar when I was particularly shaken after a bad psychic storm. If she was going to notice anything…

Amy typed one further sentence, then started shutting the computer down. She was oblivious to both my battle to keep my mouth shut and my shakiness. I sipped the sweetened tea, torn between wanting to know what Amy was up to and a thin, constricting pride that tightened around me, forcing the words back in my throat. If she wasn’t going to notice that there was a problem, I wasn’t going to tell her.

“Good job we’re at the top of this house,” Amy remarked. “The wifi is dreadful. I bet you can’t get any signal at all on street level.”

“Y-yeah well that’s C-Cornwall for you,” I muttered, still trying not to sulk. But Amy had given me an opening. “What were you up to anyway? You c-can’t have sk-school work already.” My attempt at teasing came out flat. Amy gave me a sharp look but didn’t comment on my tone.

“Just chatting to someone,” she said lightly.

“Muh-must have been some chat.” It was there again. The coldness in my voice. I couldn’t stop myself.

“You know how I get when I start talking ‘science nerd’,” Amy said but there was an edge to her tone. Leave it alone, the edge said. I couldn’t.

“D-don’t think you’ve t-told me anything about Geneva.”

“Really.” Amy’s expression shut me out.

I hated it. I hated this distancing. Was this a new thing? How had I not noticed? Anxious frustration laced even more tightly around me.

“Are y-you actually g-going t-t-to?” I demanded. The tenser I became, the worse my stutter grew. I didn’t mean to sound like I was interrogating her but something had snapped inside me. I was desperately trying to claw down the walls between us that I’d only just realised were there.

Amy shot me a look that was so cold and disappointed, I sucked in a breath. For a moment she wasn’t my little sister but a formidable woman I didn’t even know. “For your information I’ve told you pretty much everything about Geneva. If I’ve kept anything back it’s because it’s private. Can’t I have anything that’s mine? Or do you have to approve all my friends and everyone I talk to?”

“Amy…I…I–”

“I haven’t finished,” Amy said. “You of all people know how horrible it is to be talked over!”

I stared at her, mortified. If anything she was only getting angrier, which meant this had been building for a while. I shook my head but not in denial.

“Have you told me everything? Or even anything? No. You’ve been stuck in your own little world like always.” Amy’s frostiness cracked. A pleading note crept into her tone. “What happened in Dorset, Em? Why won’t you talk about it?”

“Nuh-nothing happened! I t-told you everything.” Everything I can tell you anyway.

Amy’s face was closed and cold. “No,” she said very calmly. “No you didn’t. There’s something going on with you. Why won’t you let me in?”

“There’s nuh-nothing going on!”

“Oh really,” she flared. “Then what happened with Ciarán? What’s going on there? He came back and you’ve spent the last two weeks acting like you wish he hadn’t!”

“That’s n-not f-fair!” I said, stung. “And h-how is that your b-business anyway?” My own temper was rising now, molten lava through the ice.

“It’s my business because I like Ciarán. And I hate watching you hurt him by dangling him and stringing him along when you’re supposed to be together. I don’t know what happened with that Lucas bloke, but he’s not someone you ditch Ciarán for.”

“H-how is th-this about my love life?” I snarled. “I’m n-not with either of them. Wh-when d-d-d-did you become the kind of girl wh-who thinks someone is f-f-failing unless they’ve got a sodding b-boyfriend?” How dare she say I was dangling him! I had reasons – good reasons – for not getting involved with Ciarán again. I don’t deserve him I squashed the thought under a layer of fury. Who did Amy think she was? After everything I’d been through, I was selfish?

“H-has it occurred to you that m-maybe there’s m-more to it? That we’re n-not supposed to be t-together? Or were you so b-busy with your great n-new life you n-never th-thought?!” I snapped in a tone I would never in a million years have thought I’d ever use on Amy.

Instead of recoiling, Amy leaned into blast. “I know that you’re frigging everything up for some stupid reason you won’t explain! I know you’re so busy playing the martyr you don’t care you’re hurting anyone else!”

“Shut. Up.” The words whipped out of me on an electrical charge that left a burnt taste in my mouth. I saw them hit my sister. I saw them work. Her scowl went from anger – and a certain reckless enjoyment that we were airing the things that bothered her at last – to surprise and consternation when she opened her mouth and no words came out. Amy shook her head as if to clear it and tried again. Mouth open. Mouth closed. No words. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so awful.

Two weeks ago, I’d told someone else not to speak and they never had again. Admittedly Rhys had died soon after. Maybe it would have worn off. But what if I’d robbed Amy of her voice forever?

Amy looked up at me, mouth still working. Her anger had collapsed and she seemed to be trying to laugh but there was a hint of panic in her eyes.

“Amy? Oh shit. Amy sp-speak to me,” I half-reached for her and then let my hands drop. “Speak.” The word sizzled on my tongue. I closed my eyes in shame.

“Okay. That was weird,” Amy said, sounding freaked out.

“Um…” Relief mingled with the horror in my twisting gut.

“You know when you have something you want to say on the tip of your tongue and you just can’t get the words out?” Amy said, disturbingly calm.

I raised an eyebrow at her, feeling sick. My hands were shaking.

“Of course you do,” Amy went on conversationally. “Well that was nothing like that.”

I forced myself to meet her gaze. “W-what do you m-mean?”

“I mean it was like someone was actively stopping me from talking.” She gave me an odd look and I wilted under her scrutiny.

Now. Tell her. Now is the time. Explain about Rhys and his ability which is now yours. Tell her what you did and why you can never be with Ciarán. Make her understand…

“Wuh-weird,” I murmured.

Amy looked disappointed for a moment, then set her shoulders as if steeling herself. “Did you… you didn’t…do that? …did you?”

“What?” I vacillated between coming clean, explaining about the unwanted extra ability – that using it had been an accident – and saying nothing because I wanted Amy’s good opinion. I was horrified at the evidence of Rhys’ evil ability within me. But there was something else stopping me. That same stiff pride that quelled my horror, which told me I had made my decisions and did not need to explain myself to anyone. That I knew what was best and since I was the one who had to live with everything I’d done, it was my business, no one else’s.

Amy’s composure was being overtaken by bewilderment. I was sure she knew it was my fault, but she couldn’t see how it could be and doubted herself. Before she could reason her way through it, I leapt on that doubt. Encouraged it.

“S-sometimes I g-get so angry I l-l-literally can’t speak,” I offered. Maybe that’s what happened to you.

“Yeah but…” She shook her head again. We both heard the unspoken words. Yeah but you have speech problems.

“I’m suh-sorry,” I said miserably. Sorry I can’t tell you. Sorry about Ciarán. Sorry I just silenced you. Sorry I was angry and scared and possessive. Let her take it anyway she liked.

“Me too. I’m sorry I yelled at you. If you want to tell me anything…” She shrugged. “I’m here, is what I’m saying. When you’re ready.”

“Th-thanks.” I tried not to sound sour. “Th-think I’m going to go for a walk. Clear my h-head. It’s hurting today.” Maybe if I made it sound like one of the headaches I got on a fairly regular basis, Amy would put my bad mood and the resulting argument down to that.

“Do you want me to come?” Amy said.

“I’m n-not good company r-right now.”

Amy looked at me properly for the first time. “You’re mega pale, Em. And your eyes… Did you sleep alright? You don’t look well. Are you sure you should be going anywhere?”

“M’fine,” I murmured. “R-really. J-just need some fr-fresh air.”

“O-kay,” Amy said doubtfully but I was already returning to my room.

Looking at Both Sides – Adventures in Co-writing and Historical Fiction

 

Around the end of September 2015, my friend, historical fiction and non-fiction author, Matthew Willis, said the immortal words ‘Hey, does anyone want to write a book about the battle of Hastings with me?’ (I’m paraphrasing but that really was the gist of it.) I hadn’t studied anything to do with the Norman Conquest since a school trip to visit the Bayeux Tapestry, when I was twelve years old. I’d never attempted to co-write so much as a piece of flash fiction with anyone. And I mostly write speculative fiction and find it really quite hard to keep dragons, ghosts and genetically modified dinosaurs out of my stories. With that impressive list of qualifications, I immediately said ‘yes’ because, really, what could possibly go wrong? With a blithe disregard for the amount of work involved on research alone, I jumped in with both feet.

Have you ever seen the Disney film ‘Frozen’? I have two writing buddies who at regular intervals present me with ‘Do you want to build a snowman?’ moments and I find myself rashly agreeing to take part in all sorts of crazy schemes. Matt is actually the more restrained of those two friends. Just saying.

Back to co-writing. We threw around a few ideas. I think Matt may have had half the book mapped out in his head already, which was handy. One benefit of writing historical fiction is that you know how the story is going to end. You have a destination. Working out by what route you’re going to get there is the interesting, and occasionally difficult, process of producing a book. We both agreed early on that we didn’t want to present a single perspective. The Battle of Hastings on 14th October 1066 was one of those pivot points in history that changed the course of events forever. It certainly changed the face of England, and by extension Britain. And by further extension, the world. So many of the events we take for granted now as historical fact, would not have happened – or at the very least would have fallen out differently – if the Saxons had not lost the Battle of Hastings. Of course history is written by the winner, who if they have any sense, put a bit of gloss and spin on their own actions and scuff up the reputation of their vanquished enemies. Not as if said enemies would complain – they’re dead after all. We wanted to present both sides of the story and for both the Saxons and the Normans to have a voice. (In hindsight this is possibly why we ended up overshooting our word count target by 110,000 words but then hindsight is always 20/20 isn’t it?)

We’d already decided that William of Normandy himself should be one viewpoint character. But should Harold Godwinson be the other? For one thing, when a viewpoint character is dead, that’s it. No more Saxon voice. You lose that perspective. Another consideration was that while William and Harold Godwinson were undoubtably two of the most powerful and influential men of the time, they were both male. Recorded history often forgets or downplays the female perspective, taking the attitude of the time and valuing their contributions less. This isn’t a plug for gender equality by the way, merely a statement of fact. And yet there were many women of the time, both Saxon and Norman, who were important political players, who did influence events. It wouldn’t be as complete a story as we could make it if we didn’t include a female perspective. But who? It needed to conceivably be someone who was close to Harold Godwinson, so we could deliver his perspective without using him as a viewpoint character. It had to be someone who could conceivably have been at various different places, including on the fringes of some important battles. For authenticity, it needed to be someone about whom little was factually known. Which is where Ælfgifa came in.

Harold Godwinson had eight acknowledged siblings – in other words, brothers and sisters who shared both Gytha Thorkilsdöttir and Godwin of Wessex as parents. (In the Saxon tradition he probably had many half brothers and sisters as well – powerful men kept mistresses and had dalliances, and any offspring produced were usually acknowledged. It wasn’t considered shameful until the Latin Church really got a grip on Britain post 1066.) We know what happened to most of those acknowledged siblings. Harold’s brothers gained Earldoms in their own right and later died at the Battle of Hastings. The youngest brother, Wulfnoth, spent his life as a political hostage in Normandy. The oldest brother, Sven, was originally Godwin’s heir but got himself into some very hot water resulting in his banishment and Harold taking his place. Harold’s sisters too, were influential. Gunhild became abbess of the convent she joined – abbesses wielded a lot more power and influence politically back then. Edith of Wessex married Edward the Confessor and by all accounts is the reason he came to be known as ‘the Confessor’ since she ruthlessly scrubbed her husband’s public image and set about a careful, thorough and successful campaign of propaganda, the echoes of which we still feel today. Which just left Ælfgifa, one of the most shadowy branches on the Godwin family tree.

Very little is known or written about Ælfgifa. So little in fact that we can’t be sure of the dates of her birth or of her death. Contradictory accounts say she died in childhood, that she joined a convent and later died after the Norman Conquest. That she died around the time of the Battle. Did she even exist at all? It’s odd considering how well all of Godwin’s other legitimate children were documented. Either way, we had our second viewpoint, a Saxon and a woman. Matt and I were good to go.

As with writing alone, there are many ways to go about co-writing. Matt and I decided to work out our general direction – The Battle of Hastings – and then alternate chapters. We’d set aside October for research – again I was displaying my blithe disregard for my sheer lack of knowledge – and had decided to use 2015 NaNoWriMo to get the bulk of the book written. We both felt we could easily come up with 50,000 words each in a month. That would be the first draft more or less written. We were determined. We were geared up, raring to get started on our new project. We were confident.

We may also have been just a little bit nuts.

However at the end of November 2015, we did indeed have 100,000 words. The problem? We were only about a third of the way through the story. You see, the thing with the Battle of Hastings, is that it doesn’t actually start with the Saxon and Norman armies facing off. (Actually it doesn’t really end there either but that’s another story.) To give that pivotal moment in history context, you need to go back further in history, past the battle of Stamford Bridge. Past the battle of Fulford. Past the shipwreck that delivered Harold into the hands of William of Normandy and the subsequent uprising of Conan II. Further back, through sieges and skirmishes and assassination attempts – in fact at times you have to wonder if William the Conqueror, upon his death bed, looked back and saw he’d spent the vast majority of his life laying siege to one city or another. Even further back than that, because what caused a situation where the English crown was so precariously situated on the head of a childless king? Why were there so many claimants to the English throne? What made William, who lacked almost all the advantages Harold was born into, claw his way up from upstart boy Duke, to the formidable war leader he became? In the end, because while history doesn’t have a designated start date but a book most definitely needs one, we started in 1045 – twenty-one years prior to the Battle of Hastings.

One of the things we probably should have done from the start, rather than when we were both about 20,000 words in, was to create a timeline of events. Basically, beats that we needed to hit or be aware that one viewpoint character was hitting. When you’re spanning twenty years and two different peoples in a book, or two books as it became, you really do need a clear map of where you’re going and when. The broad strokes at least. Still once that was in place, we really took off.

Some of the best bits of co-writing are related to division of labour. I imagine if you don’t have absolute trust in your writing partner or if you’re a writer who just can’t let go of control, then our method of co-writing might not be for you. Matt and I had worked together  on creating anthologies of short stories before this and we’re both founding members of a writing group – the Random Writers – so there was enough confidence in each other to do due diligence on research and be sure that no major gaffes were included. Having someone who is writing the other half of a book with you is very motivational for just getting the words down too. And of course you’re less likely to get bogged down or stuck or really hung up on the ‘what am I doing, it’s all crap’ stage that all authors go through on every single book. And when it gets to contract signing time, and then to publication, you are once again not alone.

The worst part of co-writing, in my opinion, is a worry that you’ll let your partner down. That perhaps you’ll allow an error through or that maybe your writing won’t hold up to theirs, becoming a weakness in the story. Natural enough fears obviously and all writing has its downs as well as its ups. The downs were never enough to stymy me for long.

I might never have tried to write a straight historical novel, devoid of fantastical elements, if it hadn’t been for Matt’s suggested collaboration. It wouldn’t have occurred to me that I could write historical fiction engagingly, let alone keep up with someone who is far more knowledgeable on the subject than I am. You learn something new with every book you write, collaborating on this duology has probably taught me enough for five or six books. (So if you are an author and you like working with other authors maybe give co-writing a try.) The end result was two epic historical novels that Matt and I felt pretty justified in being pleased with. Hopefully you’ll enjoy them too.

 

 

An Argument of Blood (Oath and Crown book 1) is available in ebook and paperback from all major retailers now.

 

A Black Matter for the King (Oath and Crown book 2) release date TBC.

 

See www.facebook.com/oathandcrown for more details

Launch Day – And a Free Book!

Ok, it’s finally here. Launch day for the second novel in the Unveiled series. I have been a bit rubbish about promoting ‘I am the Silence‘ here  – possibly giving in to my natural urge as a writer to hide whenever a book I’ve written is released.

Anyway, the usual anxieties around book releases aside, I am really excited that Book 2 is now available. I feel that I’ve really found my voice with this book and that it’s even better than ‘I Belong to the Earth‘ – and it appears there is a growing consensus of opinion to that end, so it’s nice to know that I am not entirely delusional 😉

Released 19th January 2017 ebook and paperback

“Have you found your inner darkness, Emily Lynette?”

A year after breaking the Pattern, Emlynn no longer fights her gift. She’s become adept at sending the Dead on to rest. Perhaps a little too good…

Sent to investigate reports of a haunting, Emlynn finds herself facing a crushing embarrassment, and worse, a deep betrayal. Deciding it’s time to leave the supernatural alone for a while, she travels to Dorset to stay with her childhood best friend, Beth. The Milton Abbey festival of music should take her mind off everything; Ghosts, betrayals and disappointments. Except Beth has changed. She’s definitely running with a new crowd – a cooler, dangerous group whose leader, Rhys, has an unhealthy interest in Emlynn.

As if that isn’t enough, Emlynn’s violin tutor turns out to be a young man she used to know. Lucas has definitely changed – hostile, volatile and rude, but also intense and disturbingly compelling. That’s one mystery Emlynn can’t leave alone. Torn between her connection with Beth’s troubled younger sister and the terrifying black beast that stalks Emlynn in her dreams, there’s no rest for the weary psychic. Facing the reality of what Beth is mixed up in, Emlynn may have finally picked a fight she cannot win…

I’ve mentioned in the acknowledgements that this was a really hard book to write and it’s no exaggeration, so I am also strangely relieved that it’s now available for general consumption. I am looking forward to hearing what you all think.

Also available for those who enjoy the Unveiled series – two novellas and a short story. You don’t have to read these before you read ‘I am the Silence’ – or at all for that matter, but there are easter eggs and snippets of back story that give a richer reading experience if you decide you want to. (Only available in ebook at present.)

 

 

 

Free Book – Ciaran’s Chance

Anyone been wondering what Ciaran has been up too since he exited stage right at the end of ‘I Belong to the Earth’? This companion novella to ‘I am the Silence’ will tell you all.

There are things we do in life that we can’t ever take back. Bad things that follow us, no matter how we wish we could change them. So I needed to find him. See the man. And the monster.’

A year after the events in Arncliffe and Ciarán is giving up hope of ever being able to return. Marked by what he did that night, he is no longer the person he thought he was. Surly, directionless and irritable, he reconnects with an old friend whilst staying with his sister. Somewhere between friendship and hatred, he starts to pick apart the strands of whatever darkness hides inside him.

A trip to find his father and confront his past turns into a nightmare that dates back centuries. Because something hunts the men of Ciarán’s family. Something ancient that cannot be reasoned with or bribed. Amongst the O’Connors, the sins of the father really are visited on the sons. If Ciarán ever wants to be able to see Emlynn again, he must succeed where all his ancestors have failed and stop the creatures that have stalked his family for generations.

This book is ONLY available through my website BUT I am giving it away FREE.

All you need to do to claim your copy is join my Readers’ Group . 

(I send newsletters around once a month or less, no spam – promise. And if you don’t like the content then you can always unsubscribe. You’ll still have the free book 😉  )

That’s it for now but there will be more updates in the days to come. I’ve been silent but extremely industrious – there are many more books on the way. Thank you for reading and to everyone who’s been part of the journey so far, and to everyone who has contacted me to ask about writing or for book recommendations or just because they liked something I’ve written. I love hearing from you – you all rock.

An especially big thank you to everyone who has reviewed my books. Seriously, authors live and die by word of mouth so every time you recommend one of my books or write me a short review (or a long one!) you are making a difference and ensuring I can write more books for you.

Ok so back to finishing book three it is then…

 

 

Back in Print and Better than Ever!

Just a quick update post to say that I Belong to the Earth is now once again available as an ebook (Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk). The shiny new print version will be available around mid October 2016 – I’ll keep you posted. This second edition has been tidied up, given a new and improved formatting and interior design, any errors eradicated (hopefully!) and includes the FREE and exclusive short story ‘Friendly Fire’.

All for the special introductory price of £0.99 or $0.99 -depending on where you live.

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In addition, Unveiled #1.2 – Girls’ Night In (a short story) is also available for the princely sum of £0.99/ $0.99. (Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk)

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Happy reading 🙂

(And if you can spare the time – whether you love it or hate it – I really appreciate an honest review – just a line or two would be great! 😉  )

P.S. Look out for this week’s episode of Dissecting Dragons on Friday 29th September 2016 – I’ll be talking about the inspiration behind the books in the Unveiled series and just why I wrote such an unusual and in many ways, disadvantaged, MC – all with my fabulous co-host, M.E.Vaughan.

Cover Reveal – I Belong to the Earth

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Artwork copyright – J.A.Ironside

Cover Design copyright – M.E. Vaughan

From the back cover:

“There.” Grace pointed towards the moor and I saw it: there was a shape in the dark. A tall, masculine shape. No, not a man; a piece of darker darkness in the shape of a man. We were being watched.

Seventeen-year-old Emlynn knows all about grief and guilt, not to mention secrets. Being able to sense the Dead wasn’t so bad before the accident which killed her mother. Now it’s taking over her life. Broken and shut off from the world, Emlynn is horrified when her father moves the family to a remote Yorkshire vicarage: a house that stands at the centre of a centuries-old curse born of betrayal, jealousy and poisoned love. A curse that feeds on the lives of young girls. A pattern about to repeat itself once more… When her older sister, Grace, gets involved with local bad boy, Haze, Emlynn knows she has to act fast. Somehow Haze is connected to the curse. Is Grace his next intended victim? Hurtling towards another family tragedy, Emlynn must find the strength to stop running from her gift, or risk losing the rest of her family for good. Only the dead have the answers she needs. If she can bring herself to speak to them…

 

Available from Amazon on 25th September 2016 (Paperback to follow October 2017)

 

Announcing the third Random Anthology

The Random writers have not been idle in their silence. And here it is – the new anthology!

Stalking Leviathan – A Bestiary of Tales 

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“It’s out there. I can feel it in my water. I can hear it…”
 
Twelve tales that go in search of creatures of myth, legend, and the spaces between the real and the imagined. From the overwhelming confusion of the Irish Civil War to the eerie expanse of modern day Bodmin Moor; from Elizabethan England to the skies above Persia, the Random Writers quest for an answer to the question – What is the nature of the beast?
I am proud to have been an editor on the project, and I and my fellow dragon -co-host, M.E.Vaughan, as well as historical fiction co-writer, Matthew Willis and long term writing buddy, Shell Bromley, all have stories included in the collection.
Get ready for creatures that personify the wild, guard and guide the dead whilst helping the living out of grief, non-binary Unicorns, beasts that personify the madness and destruction of war or the gift of life and nature itself.
Release Date: 29th September 2016 in ebook and paperback formats.
(Special thanks to M.E.Vaughan for the fabulous cover.)
Final bit of news: Tune in the same time tomorrow for the grand cover reveal of
I Belong to the Earth – second edition.

I am the Silence – Get your free esampler now!

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(please note – not final cover)

I am the Silence – Unveiled Book 2

My feet refused to move. I was going to die a horrible death right here, right now, because I could not run.

From the other side of the fire, a huge dark shape slunk forward. I gasped in smoke and hacked it out. The shape from my nightmares. I watched as its mouth opened, lips peeled back over teeth as long as my fingers. The beast snarled and sprang…

A year after breaking the Pattern, Emlynn no longer fights her gift. She’s become quite good at sending the Dead on to rest. Perhaps too good – her overconfidence is about to lead to a fall…

Sent to investigate reports of a haunting, Emlynn finds herself facing a crushing embarrassment, and worse, a deep betrayal. It’s time to leave the supernatural alone for a while. Get away from it all. Staying with her childhood best friend, Beth, for the Milton Abbey music festival should take her mind right off everything. Ghosts, betrayals and disappointments. Except Beth seems to have changed. She’s definitely running with a new crowd, whose leader, Rhys, has an unhealthy interest in Emlynn.

As if that isn’t enough, her violin tutor is a volatile, hostile and rude young man, whom Emlynn knew a long time ago. Lucas has definitely changed and that’s one mystery Emlynn can’t leave alone. Caught between her connection with Beth’s troubled younger sister and the terrifying black beast that stalks her in her dreams, there’s no rest for the weary psychic. Facing the reality of what Beth has got mixed up in, Emlynn may have finally picked a fight she cannot win…

I am the Silence is book 2 in the Unveiled series. You can get a free downloadable esampler of the book by clicking on either of the links to join my Readers’ Group. This will also give you access to other freebies, competitions and release dates.

This book is available for limited time only.

Happy reading 🙂

(Since I am trying not to irritate my subscribers with needless mail, if you are already a member of my Readers’ Group and would like this free esampler, please get in touch via the ‘contact me’ page and type ‘Silence’, your name and your preferred email address and format – mobi or epub – into the message field. I will be happy to send it out to you.)

I’m temporarily out of print but…

WINTER

I decided after much soul searching that it just wasn’t working out with my old publishers, so we have amicably parted ways. (Since then, they have shut down. Pretty sure it wasn’t anything to do with me – more in a future blog post maybe?) So I have my rights back but I Belong to the Earth is temporarily out of print. I say temporarily because I will be releasing all of the Unveiled books, short stories and novellas under my own imprint. This means that those of you waiting patiently for book 2 – I am the Silence have just had the release date brought forward by 18 months. Can I get a whoop whoop?

Anyway, for those of you interested, I thought I’d provide a release schedule of dates to keep an eye out for:

 

Unveiled Book 1- I Belong to the Earth (second edition, new content, new artwork) release in ebook – 20th September 2016, in paper back – 10th October 2016 (roughly).

Unveiled short story – Girls’ Night In ebook release – 27th September  2016

Unveiled Novella #1.5 – Amazing Grace ebook release – 1st October 2016

Unveiled Novella #1.9 – Amy’s Academicals ebook release – 30th October 2016

Unveiled Book 2 – I am the Silence – ebook & paperback release – 19th January 2017

Unveiled short story – The Black Dog of Lyme – ebook release – 25th January 2017

Unveiled Novella #2.1 – Ciaran’s Chance – ebook release 2017 … or is it 😉 (Check back, you won’t hear Ciaran’s story anywhere else!)

Unveiled Book 3 – I Hold the Tide – ebook and paperback release June 2017 (approx)

Unveiled Novella #3.5 – untitled – ebook release July 2017

Unveiled Book 4 – I Rule the Night – ebook and paperback release December 2017

There will be regular cover reveals, short stories, other novellas and freebies coming up so keep your eyes peeled!

Hopefully I’ve given you all something to look forward too. However, if you’ve read book one and you just cannot wait until January, I will be giving away an e-sampler of the first five chapters of I am the Silence free, here on my website. (If the ‘Get your free Sneaklet’ button isn’t up on the main menu yet, please check back later. Otherwise, click away and find out what is in store for Emlynn in book 2.)

Finally, in the next couple of weeks Emlynn will be visiting haunted houses and other spooky areas all over Britain. Check back for more details or follow #EmlynnsTrail on twitter, instagram and tumblr.

 

Throwback Thursday: A Debut Author’s A B C of Publishing

Whether you want to be published traditionally or not, most of us are interested in what happens when you’ve crossed that fence. There have been some excellent posts on the mechanics of the publishing and I’m certain I can’t do any better. So here for your amusement is a series of observations from my first experience of publishing, told not in chronological order but as a series of alphabet snippets.

(Warning – shameless mention of new book contained within)

 

Enjoy!

 

A – is for agent or in my case agentless. It can be done without one, depending on which publisher you hope to be picked up by. However, having done the trapeze act without a net, so to speak, I think it’s probable that most of them earn their percentage!

 

B – is for balance. I’ve found it is really easy for your life to skew over sideways until everything is revolving around the new book/ writing/ edits. The book is not going to sprout legs and run off like the ginger bread man. Before your eyes start spinning like fruit machines, put it down and do something else. Ideally something mindless or at least different. Your brain (not to mention your significant other) will thank you.

 

C – is for contract. Possibly the scariest document I have ever seen in my life, full of esoteric phrases like force majeure. Even if you have a background in law get someone who has experience with publishing contracts to go through it. The Society of Authors are brilliant.

 

D – is for dread. That feeling you get when your mum says she is going to read your book. Yeah. And I’d already killed off the mother before the book starts. That led to an interesting conversation where I, quite justifiably, got laughed at by my mother for being daft.

 

E – is for edits, by extension editor. Depending on where you are published, this could be a really significant relationship for at least this book if not others as well. My editor is lovely but I still have to admit to a fair amount of initial dismay when my book came back covered in red writing detailing areas that needed attention. There was only one bit of major re-writing (about 300 words) but it was a hard one to swallow as I’d had it fixed in my head that the book started with this one particular line. As it turned out, my Editor was right. The next two re-writes were much less heavy. (Oh yes my MS went back and forth three times before my editor was happy!) While we’re talking about edits, lets bear in mind that I did seven edits (that’s within a six month period – see what I mean about balance?) before I sold the book. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking the first draft is the finish line.

 

F- is for first draft. Having sold the series rights it was less than pleasant to start book two only to find that, guess what? The first draft of that was crap, just like the first draft of book one. I don’t know if there is a vital capacity for writing crap first drafts, but if there is I’m a long way from exceeding it yet. Still, it’s ok for draft one to be rubbish. And that’s what you have to keep telling yourself as having got one book to the publishing stage, a little imp pops up in the back of your mind telling you that you are losing your mojo. Not true. You’ve just started a new cycle. Which begins with a crap first draft.

 

G – is for gatekeepers. Actually I’m not sure if these really exist to the extent they are supposed to. There’s an amount of luck involved in being published but you can maximise your luck by writing the best book you can at that time in your life. You can maximise it further by trying and trying again. And you can max your luck to +10 luck armour of awesomeness by taking on board any feedback you get with rejections and making changes if necessary. Or by putting that book aside and writing another one and trying with that. Never give up, never surrender is the best and most long lasting form of luck.

 

H – is for ‘hang on a minute…’ there will be a moment, maybe several moments,  where you will be convinced everything is going to go pear shaped. Or that your publisher/ agent/ hitherto best friend is trying to get one over on you. Or that you shouldn’t have written that scene thatway. Hang in there. Be sensible and try not to rush in half-cock, flinging accusations. Chances are there are good explanations if things really are off and it’s just that nobody has told you yet.  Or perhaps that you are paranoid because there is nothing like the whiff of success to setthose juices flowing. If there really is something wrong, then make sure you address it directly and politely straight away. In my case the ‘hang on a minute’ moment came when I found out the editor-in-chief who had picked up my book was leaving. I had no reason to think that was the end of the road; it was done professionally, notice was given, a handover period established… But I’d heard enough horror stories of books vanishing from the ‘to be published list’ because staff had changed. This was not the case I’m happy to say but it does feel hopeless when you think you have to do the whole dance again.

 

I – is for ignorance. You’re only just learning about how many stages a book goes through at publication. It’s a lot. So when a family member asks for the 40th time ‘when’s your book out? You said it would be out in…’ take a deep breath, smile and say ‘one of the funny things no one tells you, is that unless a publication date was agreed in the contract, the author actually doesn’t know exactly what date a book is coming out and even then it can be subject to change. It is on its way though.’ Or something similar. Ignorance also goes between publisher and author; don’t assume they know you’re unhappy about something, tell them/ your agent. If you’re lucky you’ll get a publisher who communicates with you. Mine does.

 

J – is for joy. Not just being happy that your book has made it half way to the public but fun in general. Have fun with your book. It’s ok to talk about it on your blog or with your friends (as long as that’s not all you talk about.) If you really want to go crazy set up a dedicated website to that book’s universe and put up quizzes and cartoons and other bric-a-brac. I didn’t do any of this but I can see now that I would have had more fun if I had done. And I might have been able to relax and enjoy the process more.

 

K – is for karate. Or any martial art will do. Somewhere you can legally get into a fight under controlled conditions. Excellent stress buster.

 

L – is for launch and by extension launch party. I wasn’t going to have one of these but I had a good think about it (remembered item J) and decided ‘what the hell? When am I next going to launch my first book again? Plus wine!’ So I will be having a launch party later in the year. Watch this space…

 

M – is for *whispers* Marketing…considered a dirty word by most of us and I used to include myself in that group. It’s not actually a bad thing and ,newsflash, no matter who you’re published with, you will be expected to do some if not all of your own marketing. It doesn’t mean auto spamming people about your book on twitter. It’s about being the best version of yourself you can be and making connections with people. Think about it; if you ‘con’ someone into buying something once, they’re not going to come back are they? That earns you nothing. Far better to make friends and be open. Be willing to do some reading and critiquing for others without thinking ‘ah and now they will feel they owe me one.’ It doesn’t work like that. But in writing what goes around really does seem to come around. Aside from writing the best book you can, and then writing the next one and the next, the best marketing you can do is to make lasting connections. No one likes a hard sell or a grifter. Just be a decent person and willing to talk about your book if asked. Any strategy is secondary to that.

 

N – is for no way! As in (small brag) within 48 hours on pre-release my book made it onto number one new releases on Amazon! Ok it was a kick for me watching in disbelief as it rocketed up the charts. (Update: it has now occupied this spot six times and is staying fairly steadily high in the amazon.co.uk charts!)

 

O – is for obsession. You said you wouldn’t watch the ratings on the amazon book charts. You said you weren’t going to bother with them and yet here you are opening up amazon on your laptop again…yeah…no. It’s time to stop. That way madness lies!

 

P – is for paranoia. What if no one buys my book? What if no one reads my book? What if I get a negative review? Or a lot of negative reviews? What if no one reviews it at all? Or worse, what if it is really successful and I can’t EVER DO ANOTHER ONE… GAHHH! No. Again with the deep breathing. You’ve controlled everything within your control. You like the book you wrote. It’s out there. It’s gone. Too late now. So stop. And anyway what are you doing worrying? You should be doing that other ‘P’, you know? Project? You should be so busy writing your next book that you don’t have time for this. Well? Go on then!

 

Q – is for quiet. Specifically mental quiet. Some days it can feel like it gets pretty crowded in your own head while all this is going on so find ways to get away from it. Have designated times where the internet is not on and do something else.

 

R – is for Readers! Yes we all want a lot of these but in the end having just a few people really love your book is worth it. You won’t please everyone. There’s a good chance that you will get at least one negative review. But it’s nothing compared to getting a few lines from a complete stranger saying they loved your book. Remember B for balance! As in keep yours.

 

S – is for style. In this case ‘house style’ with regard to the publisher. It’s funny but you’ll notice little things that don’t necessarily matter which don’t go where you expect. I’m stretching things a bit here but I’m including cover design and artwork in ‘style’. Your publisher should consult you on the cover of your book although they have no obligation to go with what you want. I was really lucky and got consulted on every aspect of it. I still think the artist is psychic since I got what I wanted but didn’t think to ask for!

 

T –  is for terror I mean trailer?! It wasn’t something I’d ever considered but I’ve seen some really good book trailers now and in keeping with my decision to have more fun with this whole thing…well I might just consider it…

 

U – is for universal. Writing is personal. Reading is subjective and publishing is is a business. Once your book is out there it belongs to the public; to the readers. It isn’t just yours anymore so – like sending a child off to school – you have to get a bit of distance and perspective because what other people think of it, and its journey now, (by and large) isn’t up to you anymore.

 

V – is for victory. So what if you only sell two copies. So what if only your mum reads it. You still did it. You wrote a book and got it published. Many people never finish a writing a book. Many people say they want to write a book and never start. You’re in the top 5% of 5% of 5% already. Enjoy that. (I’m working on it.)

 

W – is for Wine. One glass, apply as needed when situation is stressful.

 

X – is for Xperience…yes I am blatantly cheating now. Still it is all experience and there isn’t anything quite like it. And if you decide to do it all again, it will be less horrific the second time. (Or more horrific because you know what to expect but less surprising for the same reason.)

 

Y – is for Y not have some more wine?

 

Z – is for zzzzz. I don’t sleep much but I reckon I still lost out on some sleep with this publishing malarkey. I intend to learn from that, And if you are still with me and haven’t surrendered to the zzzzz yourself, thank you for reading.

 

And this is what all the fuss is about;

 

 

 

My debut YA novel is now available for pre-order from amazonsmash words etc. Print copies will be released soon.

Release date is 25/04/15

If you know anyone who might be interested, I’d be grateful if you passed it on. Many thanks 😉