Sunday, 19 October 2014

Putting the novel out: What I've Learned

So, my debut full length novel came out on October the 6th. A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 as a screenplay outline and some storyboards, and then over the years it became something I would toy with here and there whenever I wasn't writing something else. In 2007 I went legit and became a writer for a national music magazine, which I'm still with to this day, but that (along with a lot of other writing gigs, day jobs and life stuff) meant I never got around to writing much of the novel.

That changed when I started taking part in NaNoWriMo, and suddenly I had 50,000 words of the novel done and ready to be completed. The other stuff continued to hod the novel back, but I did finally finish it a little while back and decided to publish it myself as an experiment. I'd already put seven books out, but never a novel. I wanted to see what the experience was like, and what I could learn from it.

I actually learned a fair few things, and I'd like to share some with you that might possibly help you with your own projects.

With A Stolen Fate, the story was part of my life for so long that a lot of it was set in stone, but I found that breaking out of that set concept now and again was very liberating and made for a better experience for both myself and the readers who have checked it out so far. I wrote a number of the scenes out of sequence, which helped me direct the flow of the action towards later scenes and also allow me to add some foreshadowing of events during the climax.

I wasn't sure if I would ever write another book (long story) and thus I also wanted to have this one be as complete as I could make it, but allowing for enough loose ends for there to be a sequel if the demand was there (right now it seems there is, but we shall have to wait a little longer for the final decision). Your novel, even if part of a series, still needs to be able to offer a complete and satisfying story to readers, as not all of them will pick up the other volumes which might follow.

The main thing I learned though, which I learned through my own mistakes, is to make the book as professional as you possibly can, and not just visually. The cover is a hugely important thing. If it looks amateurish and unable to stand next to professionally published books, then a lot of readers will just scroll past it. I tried to make A Stolen Fate look great, even though all of the tools I used (Pixabay, Pixlr and Cooltext) were all free.

However, the cover and blurb aren't the only thing to do to a high standard, which is where I made my mistake. Despite several passes through the book, hours upon hours of editing and reworking it, there seem to still be errors that I missed. I didn't get it checked over by a fresh set of eyes, and as such while the book looks brilliant, there are typos in it which I missed. I'm saddened by this and annoyed at myself, as I could have easily sorted those out. The book is getting a great response, but those typos are a downer for me.

Thats the thing though – the book really needed to be looked at by another reader. I am doing this now, and will put out a new edition of the book with corrections in the near future. If people are going to keep buying it, then they deserve the best version that it can possibly be. I've let myself down with this and will ensure it won't happen again. My wife (an incredible writer whose columns and fiction are far more widely appreciated than mine so far) is now proofing the book again so I can put things right. However, I really should have done that I the first place.

Also, make sure you read it in print as well as digitally, as you'll always spot things you need t change in a print copy that you may miss digitally.

Another thing I learned is that the book will take you to unexpected places that will dictate changes to your plans for the future. When I finished A Stolen Fate, I had already written 43,000 words of a possible sequel, but those 43,000 words are now being almost entirely scrapped. Why? Because once I'd completed the 83,000 words of the first book, a lot had changed with the characters and what they had to do. Still, it's a starting point.

So to recap, write well, write what the story needs you to write, and make sure you get it checked over before publishing it. Good luck with your own projects. I'll see you next month for this year's NaNoWriMo adventure, where I'll be starting the sequel from scratch.

Next time, I'll do things much better, for myself and my readers. Thanks for being there.

Monday, 6 October 2014


A STOLEN FATE, my debut full length novel, is available to order now! Paperback and Kindle editions are available from Amazon sites around the world.

It's been a long and strange journey completing this story and being the only person who has been around these characters until now, and it's a weird feeling finally sharing Louise, Mercy, Veil, Vincent, Brandon, Eve, Fate and the others with you now. It's a good feeling though.

A dark urban fantasy story with a UK edge, it follows the young lady called Louise and the strange world she uncovers when she wakes up after her own murder…

Check it out at the links below, or at the Amazon local to you. 

Dear retail stores: Feel free to stock the book! You can find it via Createspace's wholesale service. 

A Stolen Fate: The Soundtrack 

 Ok, so it's not an official soundtrack as such, but these are some of the songs which helped to me to finish the novel. The bias is towards alternative rock and gothic metal, which fits the book perfectly. You can purchase the MP3s from the widget below the playlist.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

A STOLEN FATE: As one journey ends, does another begin?

After seven books, seventy-or-so issues of a national magazine and a bunch of other stuff, the time felt right to get one of my most precious projects out there. All writers have those special save-it-for-the-right-time project, and this year it felt right that one of mine should come to fruition.

A Stolen Fate began life in 1998 under the title of THE SHADOW CHILDREN, as a screenplay and some storyboards, all stemming from a script cover image I made in a library, of a young Goth lady merging from a tunnel, the title below it and the slogan “Even hell has its angels” over the top. I've always liked to start a project with a visual reference, be it images I've found or something I've made. Once there is some kind of visual representation of a project it can start to develop for me. Yeah, that's not how a lot of people work but it's been a method which has often worked very well for me with other projects.

This one was inspired by the Goth subculture I was part of, X-men comics, films like Highlander and The Crow, novels like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, Clive Barker's Cabal (filmed as NIGHTBREED) and other such delights.

I wrote 43,000 words of the novel's first draft a few years ago, 2010 I believe, but it remained unfinished for years due to the growth and development of my career as a rock journalist, changing day jobs and in 2012 becoming a father. I always told myself I'd keep that project safe until the time was right to take it to someone, but then it dawned on me that I'd had some success with putting things out myself, such as with my previous book, VHS Ate My Brain.

This realization also brought to light a fear I'd had about the project since starting it. I'd never put out a full length novel before. This is uncharted territory. My other books have been short fiction, novellas and non-fiction.

This was a big step, and I realized I had been scared to cross it. I had to change that. I'd submitted early samples of it to publishers, but I didn't push it enough. Now the time had come to take a chance, to prove to myself I could complete a full length novel and get it out there. So I have, and I am doing so. I revised the original 43,000 words and wrote a further 40,000, revised the whole thing and trimmed it. More new scenes came, and more trimming. Suddenly it was finished, and I was uploading it to Createspace and KDP with covers I'd made online.

Why take this approach? Because I'm curious. I want to see what happens. I would love to develop my career further, but above all else I want this story out there and being read. It's lived in my head for long enough, and now it's time to share it. Where do I go from here? I don't actually now. Will this be a one-off? The figures between now and the end of the year will dictate that. There is already a sequel at 41,000 words, and other stuff too.

This is a new adventure for me. A new journey emerging from another which lasted 16 years. I know where the story of the novel will go next, but I have no idea where my own will go now. We shall see. What do I want from the release of A Stolen Fate? I want people to enjoy it. I want people to share the characters and story I've played over in my head for my entire adult life. I want to see what happens next.

Please do check out A Stolen Fate and let's find out together.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Hey all! Wow, I haven't posted here since August? Time flies when your life changes. My second son was born in late August, and thus with the day job, the freelancing, the novel and a very full family life, posts here became hard things to maintain.


My debut full length novel, A STOLEN FATE, is coming out on Monday on Amazon sites worldwide! The pre-order for the Kindle edition is currently live at this link, and the paperback will be available to order on the day of release, Monday the 6th of October.

The Kindle version of the book will remain at that loooowww price until the end of the year.

I would be massively grateful to you if you'd be kind enough to check it out. If the book sells a certain secret number, then future stories in that universe, and indeed the rest of the things that make up my writing career, will be able to continue.

There's so much I want to tell you in future titles. I really look forward to you continuing to join me on this journey.

Thank you so much. For everything.