2017 Review


Only two things published this year, and none planned for the foreseeable future.

Soul Food was out in January, and the novella, The Book of a Thousand and One Destinies was out the middle of the year.

The couple of days spent trying to solicit reviews for Soul Food has yet to prove fruitful. I emailed thirty reviewers/sites. I had six replies. Four declining – mainly due to overfull to-read lists – and two expressing interest. Eleven months later, and still only one review from my arc reader.

There’s no point paying for advertising until I have more reviews, and I see no way of getting them. Or any likelihood of publishing anything else with expectation of more success. So for the moment I have no intention of going through the extra effort of preparing them for publication.

I’ve begun trying the traditional publication route, and submitted one story to an agent in October. They declined yesterday. I’ll try a few more now, and Angry Robot have an open submission period that ends in a few days, so I guess I’ll go ahead and query them (I ‘m going through a period of not expecting positive responses from anything, if I receive any responses at all – in my experience, not common in the publishing industry).



Writing has gone fairly well this year. Six novels, and part three of a longer piece, though most in first draft form. 450k new words written. Most of those words will have to be rewritten before I’m happy with them, but I have something to work from.

First of all was the third part of Dwimmerfall (working title). Which looks like it may be four parts. I’ve been working on it for a few years though, and have only vague ideas of what happens next. And a panel at this year’s Bristolcon gave me ideas to add to what’s already done, so I need time to properly consider how to implement them. But part three is done.

All Roads Lead to Hell is a short crime novel. Potentially the first of a series, though since it’s probably too short for the market I doubt it’ll sell, so probably won’t get around to doing any more.

The Border Guard is a urban fantasy novel. This is the one currently trying the submission route. While that was submitted, I started working on the sequel for what will apparently be a trilogy. I wrote book two for NaNoWriMo, and finished by the 9th of November. I spent most of the rest of the month planning the third book, and started that by the end of the month. So I now have rough drafts of all the trilogy to work from, and have made a couple of minor adjustments to the first one already. Now I just need to find someone interested in it, which is always a problem.

I also did the first couple of books in a (possibly) open-ended urban fantasy/crime series, Ghost Bullets. It’s an attempt to make a series I can avoid getting bored with by centering it on the Ghost Gun the first book is named after, with the mortality rate of its wielders being high. The basic premise is that the titular gun fires ghost bullets which kill any target they hit, their soul held by the gun, and their ghosts haunting their killer. Technically, no part of that is actually true, yet it still makes an accurate précis of the idea. I have vague ideas of where the series could go, but want to tidy the first two stories up before pushing on any further.


Life in General

My depression continues in bouts, and a couple of times I’ve come close to breakdowns this year. I don’t see any change coming in that, and I’m worried it’ll interfere with my attempts to get published, since I am currently defeatist about it.


2018 Plans

Mainly revisions of the aforementioned, at least for the first part of the year. I need to try and finish Dwimmerfall at some point, since it has been in progress since 2015.

There are a couple of other long works I’ve been planning on doing for a few years now, but realistically I don’t see myself getting much done on them next year. Maybe some thinking, possibly even research, but most time I need to focus on clearing away my works in progress. Then I should probably look at sequels to them, where appropriate. Series are supposedly what the market seems to want, even though they don’t come naturally to me.

Not sure whether I’ll post here more often, but I tend to doubt it.


September Update: Ghost Bullets, New Covers, & Fantasycon

It’s been a while since I did one of these. Mainly because I seldom have much to report.

First off, a progress report on stuff I think I’ve mentioned before:

All Roads Lead to Hell isn’t doing much at the moment. I thought I’d submitted it somewhere, but can’t find the email confirmation. Having done other stuff since, I have little enthusiasm to do anything with it until I decide my self-publishing future. It’ll at least be one stored up if I want to do a fast publishing schedule.

The Border Guard is with the editor, and should be back next month. I’ve a rough outlines for the second book, and even rougher for the third (it’ll probably be a trilogy, because that’s what the story seems to want), but I don’t want to break them down too much until I see what needs changing in the first one.


Ghost Bullets

This’ll be the title for the new series, unless I swap it with the title of the first book, The Ghost Gun.

It’s an attempt by me to come up with an open-ended series that I won’t necessarily get bored of. I’m hoping to achieve that by setting it up so that the central character can be replaced whenever I feel like it. It centers on the Ghost Gun of the initial title, and whoever happens to have possession of it at the time.

Once the central idea was in place, the story came fairly easily. The outline wasn’t too detailed before I felt compelled to write it, so revisions will probably require a bit of work.

Then the ideas for the sequel came quickly. And in just over a week I had that outlined and calling to me to start writing.

The initial drafts of the first two books in the series were done in under a month, and I’m forcing myself not to go any further until I have them revised into some kind of shape.

The second one, The Redacted Man, in particular needs more work. I went in with a vague shape of the mysteries I needed to point at, and just threw clues up when appropriate, to be tidied up and made to work in revision. So there’s that to look forward to.

Ghost Bullets will be an urban fantasy series, with a heavy crime influence. In fact the second book may be a bit too light on the fantastic at the moment, but I need a bit more distance to judge it properly.


New Covers

I’ve redone the covers for the Grey Revolutions series. They were starting to irritate me.

Here are the new covers:

I’ve also reduced the prices for the rest of the year, with the first book, Grey Enigmas, set to free. Even on Amazon (apparently you need to go through KDP to do that, not the report a cheaper price button on Amazon, which never seems to work).



I’m not starting any major projects at the moment, with The Border Guard due back next month. And I’m attending Fantasycon in a fortnight. It’s the first multi-day con I’ve attended, and I’m not sure how much I’ll get out of it. I have trouble talking to people at the best of times, which is supposed to be a big part of these things. It’s entirely possible I’ll go the entire weekend without having a single conversation, which would feel like a waste. But I suppose attending is the first step.


Other than that, I’m trying to knock a novella, The Entropy of Ideas, into some kind of shape where I can try submitting it. And the Glyphpunk series needs new covers (the first book of which is also free at the moment), if I can come up with an idea for them.

I may provide another update before the end of the year. If there’s any progress to report.

Newsletter, Pre-Order, and New Cover


I now have a newsletter. At least in theory. I haven’t actually sent any out, since no one’s actually subscribed yet, so it’d be kind of pointless. I’ll probably, initially, use it just for notifications of books out, sales, and any other sundry announcements. I’ll also provide progress reports on stuff I’m working on at the time, but will otherwise not clog it up.

This is mainly because a popular piece of advice from many authors is to have a newsletter, so I may as well try it. I can see it’s more useful for basic notifications than twitter, where tweets can easily be missed, and is less passive than hoping readers visit your blog or website soon after you announce stuff. It’s the kind of thing I really hate doing though, since writing in my own voice is a painful process (hence this blog’s slow death).

Signing up gets you a free novella, Contractual Obligations. It’s one that after finishing I happened to read another novel with fairly similar elements, so I’m reluctant to try selling it. But it was in a releasable state, so it’d be a shame to let it waste.

If you’re interested, you can subscribe to it here.


The Book of a Thousand and One Destinies Pre-Order

This novella will be out of it’s Amazon exclusivity period next month, and available more widely from the 3rd of August. It’s 99c for it’s pre-order period, rising to the regular price of $1.99 thereafter.

As it has been free on Amazon (and will be again on the 29th-30th of this month) you can get it for free on Smashwords using the coupon code GM96U (valid until the end of August). I don’t know whether the coupon works on pre-orders, or whether you’ll need to wait until publication day.



New Cover for To Hunt Monsters

While fiddling with other covers, I produced a new one for To Hunt Monsters. It had the oldest remaining novel cover of my stuff, and while the general design was okay, I’m less happy with the execution as time goes on. So I reworked it, coming up with this. I’m not sure I’m entirely happy with it, but it’s an improvement, and something to work from in the future.

Progress Report

I’ve finished an initial tidy up and review of the state of Paragon Protocols. The main bugbear must have cleaned up the last time I revised it (seven years ago), but there’s still a couple of things (at least) that need addressing.

First of all, there’s too much plot packed in there. Too much background detail on stuff that happened, which was sometimes a problem with some of my early work (shut up). I’d include too much detail to avoid plot holes, which then slowed down the story. So I’ll need to do a pass to pare that back. Not so much dumbing it down, as clarifying the main points and then getting out of the way of the story.

Secondly, it doesn’t feel all that novel, and I’m not sure how much of that’s down to my familiarity with it. Stories need an element of originality, even (or especially) if they aren’t really. As a result, I’m not sure how much time to waste on polishing it.

I might do the pass for the plot cull and see how I feel about it then. It’ll at least be a useful exercise. (Not that I don’t have other, more productive, work I could be getting on with.)



I do occasionally submit stuff to the olden publication routes. Mainly short stories and such, since few of my longer works are long enough for the traditional markets. I usually try and put it out of mind until the inevitable rejection.

The anticipation gets more assertive when the story stumbles across themes that happen to become topical. Such as the alternative facts that kind of play a part in the novella I wrote in November. I submitted it to Tor.com’s novella imprint back in December. Their reviewing, of course, slowed over Christmas, and my weekdaily checks of its position say it hasn’t moved in a few weeks.

Not that there’s necessarily much I could do with it when they reject it (it’s easier to just assume stuff will be rejected, rather than get my hopes up every time and face the deepening of my default state of depression). I could possibly revise it to enhance that element, although I’m not sure how far the story will stretch in that direction. Then I’ll try submitting it to one place I know will accept something of that length (and then wait for them to reject it).

But even accepting there’s little I can really do with it, it’s frustrating to have a story that’s vaguely topical and not be able to do anything with it.

Although, now I consider it, probably not as frustrating as having it available to use and no idea what to do with it.

Take your time, Tor.com.

November Updates

I finished my NaNoWriMo stuff for this year a few days ago. Three novellas, each around 20k. The first is unnamed, the second is The Entropy of Ideas, and the third is The Book of a Thousand and One Destines. They’re all fantasies of various flavours.

The Book of a Thousand and One Destines has, as you might be able to tell from the title, an Arabian Nights flavour. So I may submit it to Tor.com’s current call for non-European-based fantasy novellas. Since that closes in January, this’ll be my main (though not only) focus for the next month.


Soul Food

I’m waiting for the Createspace proof of this, so it’ll probably be out early next year (barring realisations of gaping plot holes).

It’s a detective story with paranormal elements. It came about from a thought experiment regarding the existence and nature of the soul, and in tone is close to what I discussed in my interpretation of cosmic horror.

I don’t have a description blurb worked out yet, but here’s the working cover:









The Sin of Hope

This has had a polish and a facelift, for a couple of reasons. Mainly I was skimming through trying to get useful quotes to use on twitter (since I really should try and use it for something), and as usual I can’t do so without feeling compelled to fiddle with the text. It is nearly five years old, and some of the sentence structures really irritated me.

Secondly, Soul Food is kind of a spiritual sequel to it. Different characters, but both detectives in modern, unidentified, settings, who run across what may be paranormal stuff. More explicitly in the case of Soul Food, whereas The Sin of Hope can work fine as a non-fantastical story if you assume some of the characters are crazy.

The cover also started to irritate me, so I’ve updated it. It’s also down to $0.99 for the rest of the year.




Update, Progress Report, and General Proof of Life

Progress Report

I think we can forget me posting here with any regularity in the foreseeable. I have very few things to share, and plenty of writing to get on with. At the moment, I have in progress:

  • Soul Food, a short mystery/urban fantasy novel. It may veer towards horror. I’m really not sure how to classify it. It’s in a fairly good state, but I’m not sure if it needs more work. The cover’s also more or less done, and I should have enough images to post a cover creation process when the book’s due out;
  • A currently untitled fantasy story I have plotted. Probably a short novella, at best. Just about ready for a first draft;
  • I have the third part of Dwimmerfall (working title) just about worked out. I think it’s been over a year since the first couple of parts were done, and I still only have a rough idea of how the whole thing ends (probably in part four). Still having trouble breaking down one of story strands though, and then I’ll need to plot it out;

And I’ve started actual research for a longer novel, but that’s in very early planning stages.

I’m not sure I have enough in a suitable state to do NaNoWriMo next month. I might start off with the untitled one, then take time off to finish breaking Dwimmerfall into something useful. Given I can generally finish the 50,000 with weeks to spare, it should be doable.


The Folly of Miss Harrow

On the publishing side, the novelette, The Folly of Miss Harrow, is now available for pre-order. It’ll be released on the 14th of November.

miss-harrow-smallAn account of Miss Alyssa Harrow, an alchemist of dubious repute, yet impeccable breeding, as she mounts an archaeological excursion on the edge of the empire.

A fantastical fiction in 12,000 words.






I’ve also fiddled about with the pricing again, reducing the novels back to $2.99. Since raising them earlier in the year, I haven’t noticed much difference in sales numbers, though most sales have been for the lower priced stuff that wasn’t changed. So I’m bringing them back down as we approach the holiday season, not that I’m really expecting much change.

The higher price was mainly to try to give an impression of greater value, anyway. Any profit from having them priced higher may be significant at lower sales levels, but higher sales levels, even at a lower price) are what I need for this to be a career (the ideal situation). So if the lower price attracts even one more customer who then considers buying more of my work, it’s useful.




Progress Report

Remember the plans I outlined in my last post. Not so much with the getting them done. I tinkered with the cover, and had some rough ideas for Dwimmerfall. But another story intruded on my thoughts.

It follows on from ideas I’ve had percolating for a while, and from some elements in Monstrum ex Machina. Since it’s finally started to coalesce, I’m at least making notes.

Soul Food (Working title)

It’s stuttering a bit at the moment, as I start to lay out the rough outline of events and realise the fantastical element doesn’t really come in till about a third of the way through. Prior to that it’s pretty much a detective story, the fantastical elements fairly vague, which could be a bit jarring to a reader who paid little attention to the genre (not sure whether it’ll be urban fantasy or horror).

The brute force solution would be to start with the encounter then flash back to the earlier story. But I dislike flashbacks. Alternatively, the story could be written in the past tense, presaging the fantastical elements in the narration, which is currently planed to be first person. That’d be preferable to a flashback, but I’m not yet convinced it’ll work.

Monstrum ex Machina

In the meantime I’ve done the first revision cycle of Monstrum ex Machina, and found… actually very little. Which is worrying. There’s usually at least a few things that need changing in the story. But so far I’ve just been tinkering with the text. Maybe I need to leave it another month and come back to it. That certainly seems more likely than that I got it pretty much right on the first draft. I might do another cycle and see if anything reveals itself.

Progress Report

I’ve finished the first draft of Monstrum ex Machina, the third novella in the Grey Revolutions series. So that’ll go aside for a few weeks. Probably a bit of work to do on it. I was experimenting with not doing quite as detailed an outline (mainly because I was getting the urge to write it before I did the final cycle of breaking it down), but it doesn’t feel quite as comfortable, and I’m sure it’s going to require more revision time than it would have taken outline time. I think I’m closing in on my preferred working method.

Next up I’ll have a look over the first two parts of Dwimmerfall as I try and plan out the rest of the story. It’s been close to a year since I last worked on it. I’m going to rewrite the first chapter, since it isn’t quite working and I’ve had an idea of a better opening.

I might have a look at redoing the cover of Allegiances, on the assumption I’ll ever get around to the other stories in the series. Maybe.

Glyphmaster Pre-Order

Since I’ve received the proof copy, I’m making Glyphmaster, third in the Glyphpunk series, available for pre-order. It’ll be out June 1st. I should be able to get it prepared by then.

It’s currently only available on Smashwords and associated sites, because Amazon require some form of text provided, and I can’t be bothered formatting a version of it just for that. I should get it done by the end of the month anyway, so it’ll still be available for pres-order for a month or so. Not that I expect many actual orders.

It’ll be $2.99 until publication day, at which point I’ll put it up to the regular price point of $3.99.

It might not be out in print initially, since I’m not happy with how the cover came out. It’s a different cover to the eBook version anyway, since that wasn’t going to work for print. Not sure what to do instead, and I’m reluctant to order another proof just to check the cover. Unless sales pick up (or start) on print copies of the earlier books, I doubt it’ll matter.


Other Stuff

Proofing it and preparing the final version will put on hold the current project, the third in the Grey Revolutions series, currently with the working title Monstrum ex Machina. The story is pretty much broken down, with only another pass or two of outlining before I’m going to have to start writing.

And after that maybe I can finally get back to work on finishing Dwimmerfall. Although that’s looking like it may be more than just a third part of the story that needs doing. One of the features of pantsing the writing.

Pre-Order: The Monster in the Mirror

The Monster in the Mirror, the sequel to Grey Enigmas, is now available for pre-order on Smashwords, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and other retailers, due to be published on the 1st of March.

The Monster in the Mirror smallWhile technically the third part of the Grey series, I’ve also classified it and Grey Enigmas as part of the Grey Revolutions series, since it carries on the story of the characters (there’s at least a century between Grey Engines and Grey Enigmas, with only the setting in common).

Places that allow multiple series allocations, like Smashwords, will have both, but for other places, such as Amazon, Grey Enigmas is now part of the Grey Revolutions series.


I’ll probably set the pre-order for Glyphmaster for the middle of the year, once I settle on the blurb (often the most excruciating and least satisfactory part of writing). That should give me enough time to get it finished (mainly dependent on how long my proofer takes, and how long the Createspace copy takes to arrive).