Tag Archives: howIwrite

A Snippet of a New Story

A random snippet from the new No Man’s series story…

“I am the Emissary of the Elven Kingdom of the Golden Sycamore.” The sylph turns her head back to Luk. “We wish you to deny Stromberg the lives. When previously informed of this situation, the Merlin was accepting of the urgency and problematic nature of this.”

“Which Merlin was this?” Elise asks, in her sweetest and most confused elderly-lady manner.

The sylph shrugs. “Human names are not memorable to me.”

“Nevertheless,” Luk puts in. “Stromberg is going to, at some uncertain point in the future, try to…what? Kill a bunch of humans? And that somehow powers their Castle?”

“Steal,” the sylph corrects. “We do not know what they do with them, only that they are taken into the Castle and Stromberg’s power is renewed. We do not want this to happen.”

“Yes, I got that. So, the million-dollar question: why should I care?”

Rachel’s sigh is strong enough to blow biscuit crumbs off the plate. Elise reaches out and carefully brushes them up, before standing to deposit them in the sink.

“The previous Merlin considered this-”

“Yes, I’m sure,” Luk says. “But I don’t care. Stromberg can’t have been kidnapping ridiculous numbers of humans, otherwise the rest of Faerie and most of the human world would have taken steps, so I don’t see why you’re trying to get me involved in something that’s obviously a power play between two Courts.”

“If they’re kidnapping people, Luk…” Rachel starts.

“People die every day. The Fae kidnapping humans is nothing new. I’ve got enough to do without getting my ass put on the line by a power that’s perfectly able to deal with it themselves if they wanted to.”

“Do young humans going missing not bother you?”

“Children?” Rachel says, giving Luk a glare. “They’re kidnapping children to somehow power their Castle?”

Luk rolls his eyes. “Go join a charity commission if you’re going to be that much of a preacher! If they’re still powerful it’s obviously not the first time they’ve done it, so there’s still no reason why I should care.”

“If you do this,” the sylph says, “then the Elven Kingdom will consider one of your debts to us paid.”

Luk pauses, and then says, “Well, that’s just fucking bollocks. I don’t think I-”

“Fickin bullcks?” a small toddler’s voice says from the doorway.

Back on the keyboard

So for the first time in a while, I deliberately made myself write last night.

I wasn’t sure what to pick – I looked through a couple of short stories, and eventually settled on the new No Man’s Land story that I was pondering while in Bologna. It’s got a rough layout and so I could write a scene of it, rather than having to try to pick up a story thread that I’d gotten to the end of and then hadn’t managed to get any further with even when I did have the ideas.

I also – reluctantly, in the hopes that it would bring the world back – fired up Moog, who provided my writing music when I wrote the original No Man’s Land. It…sort of worked? It was painful, but it did help.

And….I was writing! Luk is causing havoc, as is Elise, and there’s a cat and a toddler and a faerie and there’s going to be so much chaos. I wrote 2346 words in the end, plus did a bunch of planning and got one thing that’s going to come into the ending nicely (ps. the ending is amazing. By which I mean someone’s going to scream at me. It’s great.)

So yay for a (temporary? longer-term?) end to writer’s block!

The Problems of Covers…

I am having fun with covers for my No Man’s Land series….and when I say fun, I mean a mix of “wow this is awesome” and “why on earth did I think trying to make covers for books was a good idea?!”

I had been recommended Canva, so I had a play with it. It’s a fantastic tool; it lets you either pick a template or you can make your own, and from that, you can pick from a bunch of free images and fonts, move text around, add images and borders, change colours…it’s obviously not up to Photoshop or similar standards, but for a free tool, it’s pretty damn neat.

I had a go with it for No Man’s Land (the title keeps changing as I’m playing with a few) and I did a whole series like the starscape here – and I adore them. They’re absolutely beautiful and they work and…sigh. I really, really like them. Seriously. The entire series together is just gorgeous.


Beautiful as they are, they don’t say “gritty urban fantasy”. They say “cute love story, possibly magic”. And that isn’t what I want – it’s not the market I’m going for.

Karin Lanven sketchbook work

So, back to the drawing board!

Or not. My next efforts were, frankly, shit. My main problem is that the urban fantasy genre is very human-figure-focused. Have a look at Amazon’s bestseller list, and you’ve usually got some sort of pouting, muscular female, probably some flame floating around, maybe a creature or two. It screams magic.

And I can’t find, or make, those sorts of images on a freebie cover creator that’s intended for literary & light reads or possibly, at a push, romance genres. It’s great and all, but it doesn’t do what I want for these books. (I think it would have similar limitations for children’s fiction, and most fantasy.)

So, I’ve put my hands up (in glee!) and asked a friend about a commission. The incredibly talented Karin Lanven is having a look at my notes  and rough ideas, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she comes up with!

(On a side note: two people I’ve now spoken to about the covers have said, “Oh, then you need to write the books for those covers!” ARGH. Ok, they’re on the list…)

How to Writer: Blogs and Social Media – Part 2

I got kinda long in my last post, thinking about the basics of using social media, so I’m splitting this into a separate post! This is basically thinking about how you manage your overall social media presence – and how it looks to an outsider. I’m going to focus specifically on writing as that’s obviously my experience, but I suspect a lot of this could work with other areas.

So…I’ve just had your book recommended to me by a fellow reader. I picked it up, and it was awesome! And now I think, “I’m interested in this writer.”

There’s a couple of different facets to this;

  • interested as a reader: what else have you written?
  • And as a subset to this, if you have multiple books or series; what should I read first? Is there anything in the same universe? Is there anything not in the same universe? (aka. am I going to get really confused if I pick up the odd one out?)
  • interested as a future reader: what’s your news? When is the next book out? What are you currently writing?
  • interested as a fan and/or peer: who are you? What do you like/dislike? What do you talk about?

So what steps can you take to make sure that as a fledgling fan, I stay interested and purchase more of your work?

1. Claim your books.

As an easy first step: make sure you’ve linked all your books up on Amazon (use Author Central if you haven’t already looked at it), and claimed them on Goodreads. There are other sites (LibraryThing?) that are worth checking too.

Basically, if I click your name on the site where I buys the stuffs, I want to be able to find your other books. Make it easy for me to buy more, damnit!

2. Have a central point.

Have a website – even if it’s just one page with a picture of you, a picture of your book(s), and a link to where I can buy them. When I type your name into a search engine, I want to be able to discover what you’ve written – or at least verify that I haven’t accidentally picked up a book from Dream’s library that I’ll never be able to find the sequel for.

This central point is also a good place for making it clear what’s first to read, or what books belong to what series. If I’ve found you through an anthology, where should I start for novels in that world? Or haven’t you written anything else in that universe yet? Make it simple for me to pick up the right book, and not – as I have unfortunately done a few times – pick up the 4th in a series, get horribly confused about who’s who and what is going on, and give up on that author.

3. Don’t have too many central points.

Slightly counter-intuitive, I admit, but think about it. If I type your name into a search engine and I find an author website (one page, with photo and rambling bio that’s a year out of date), a blog site under a different web address (with some old blogs from 2010), a second blog site called “News!” with a couple of posts per year and a suggestion that you’ve written two more books than your bio mentioned, two Twitter accounts and a short bio on an obscure promotional site…

What does that say about you?

To me, it says, “I can’t get organised”. Plus it’s making it hard to know where to look if I want information about any other books you might have written.

In the case above, I’d consolidate your website and blog. Put news in one place. Delete old accounts. Update any old bios you have. When I look for you online a few odd things aren’t an issue, but give me one thing to click on to find out about you.

4.Link your social media.

This is a bit of a different beast from the idea above. If you’re using various social media platforms, you will be spread out – and that’s not a problem! Different people are on different platforms, and they’re used for different things. But make it easy for me to find you, or at least follow the threads back and forth to that central place.

If you’re on Twitter or Instagram etc, give me a link to your website on your bio. If you’re on Facebook, tell me if you’ve also anywhere else (although admittedly Facebook is crap for letting you do this.) On your website, tell me what other sites you frequent – if any. If you don’t, then that’s not a problem – I just want to be able to check if you’re on any of the other sites that I hang out on!

5.Do a yearly (or six-monthly) checkup & update.

This is a good chance to update your central point (or various platforms) to what you’re currently doing. You don’t need it up-to-the-minute; you just need to check that your bio and photo still reflect you, make sure your latest book or writing is up to date, claim that last novel on Amazon to make sure it’s linked to your profile…

It’s also a good time to potentially cull. If you haven’t really used Twitter this year (read: not at all) then take the link off your website. If I want news then I want current news – not from a year ago. Same with the blog or news page; if you don’t use it, then…well, maybe don’t delete it (as archived posts can be useful and interesting) but maybe make it less prominent. If you start using it again then that’s great, move it back to prominence at the next six-month review! But if you’re sitting there thinking, “oh yeah, I really should have blogged”…then maybe accept reality and just readjust your online presence to reflect that.


The idea is to make it as simple for me as possible to find out about you – and buy your books!