Realmborn 2 Has Arrived!

Realmborn 2 Has Arrived!

The follow-up to my first novel, Realmborn, is now available on Amazon. Well, in eBook format, anyway. The paperback is a few weeks away still, but I am very proud and pleased to be able to say that, after six months of writing, various edits and touch ups, and more than a little blood, sweat and tears, Ranidir’s Heir: A Story of The Realm, is finally completed.

This novel picks up several years after the events of Realmborn, picking up the story of Jake Ranidir, who had decided, rather than returning to his adopted home in good old 21st Century Britain, to stay on in the Realm, the magical land of his birth. He did this in order to save the Realm from the evil invaders who had come so close to annihilating this nation of magic-wielding warrior-mages, and our story begins with Jake just a gnat’s whisker away from achieving victory and being able to return home to the beloved wife he left behind.

Of course, nothing good ever comes easy, and so it is when he is finally so near to achieving his goals that he and his closest friends are whisked back in time to save the Realm of the past, while Jake’s sons are drawn into this magical world and it is up to them to save the new Free Realm of the present.

With a host of returning characters, some exciting new protagonists, and a villain who makes the Realm’s previous bad guy look like a friendly kitten playing with a ball of wool on a bed made of candy floss, Ranidir’s Heir is an exciting return to a fantasy world with oodles of heroism, a smidge of tragedy, and more than a touch of twenty-first century attitude.

If I do say so myself…

On a personal note I am extremely proud of this novel, I think it is more tightly and effectively written than any of my previous works, while retaining the complexity and intricacy of my first book. I’m aiming for a more accessible fantasy novel, so I sincerely hope people enjoy the mix of action, humour and high-fantasy storytelling crossed with some modern-day narrative from protagonists who would be more at home down their local pub than doing battle with other-worldly invaders in a magical land.

I enjoyed writing my two stand-alone novels, Silver Soldiers and Metal Blade (and if you’ve not read them yet they have both been very well received and are well worth a look-see), but there is something about the Realm that is so much more satisfying to write about than anything else for me. In fact I have started some tentative early drafts of the first few chapters of another Realm-based novel, which may well be book number five for me. It’s a rich world, with so many stories to be told, and I hope that people will continue to enjoy these tales as I manage to transfer them from my brain to the page.

Ranidir’s Heir: A Story of The Realm, can be found as an eBook here on Amazon. And it costs less than a pint. Even in Wetherspoons.

Finally, here are the answers to a few questions readers have posed over the last year or so:

 

Q: Is the incredibly handsome, brave, amazing, charismatic and awesome character of Jake based on the author?

A: Yes. Obviously.

 

Q: How much coffee has been consumed during the writing of the Realm novels?

A: 17,356 gallons. Plus an espresso.

 

Q: When is the movie/TV series coming?

A: When enough people have lobbied Hollywood to make it happen (hint, hint).

 

Q: Does the first book, Realmborn, need to be read before Ranidir’s Heir?

A: Ideally, yes, though Ranidir’s Heir is still an exciting story in its own right, and explains various relevant aspects of the characters’ history throughout the novel. But yes, this novel is a direct sequel to its predecessor.

 

Q: Who were your inspirations as an author?

A: David Gemmel, David Eddings, Raymond E Feist, Katherine Kerr, Terry Pratchett, Lee Child and Harlan Coben. Not all fantasy authors, but I like to think I’ve taken a little inspiration from all of them in terms of pacing, imagery, identifiable heroes…I simply aspire to their lofty heights!

 

Q: Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash?

A: Too tough to call. Like asking “Ale or Wine”? Both, just at different times. Or occasionally together, but it can be messy…

 

OK, that’s enough rambling from me, I hope you all enjoy this novel, please do leave reviews, unless you hate it in which case hey, save yourself the time, no worries, it’s cool, go do something else…

And of course thanks for your continued support, it really does mean the world to me.

Stay Frosty, People (Something I find quite poignant now, following the tragic and sad news of Bill Paxton’s untimely passing. RIP, Hudson, game over, man, game over.)

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Been too sad to blog

Been too sad to blog

Now, I realise that whether or not I blog is of little or no importance to 99.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999% of the world’s population, but I do feel an apology is in order.

I am sorry. I’ve been silent for the last week or so, mainly due to a kidney infection which laid me low. (Has anyone ever had a kidney infection? Oh my word, not been in that much pain, or felt that ill, since my previous life as a sufferer of the Black Death who was being tortured at the time.) But also because I’ve just not felt like my particular brand of conversational, light-hearted rubbish was particularly appropriate in the last few days. A friend of mine recently told me I should broaden my blog posts a bit, talk about more general topics than my writing or what films I’ve watched, and I shall, but just recently I haven’t felt justified in speaking about current affairs without sounding as though I’m jumping on a bandwagon.

I’m not normally one to watch the news, because, frankly, it depresses me. I realise that this is a childish attitude, and it is one I am trying to change. I want to be more up to speed with what is happening in the world, I genuinely do, but it really gets me down, to be fair. Generally speaking the news tends to be “MURDER” “TERRORISM” “CORRUPTION” “TRAGEDY”. With an occasional mention of global warming or the possibility of a meteor striking the earth and wiping us all out. And on top of that I’m supposed to give a flying monkey’s left nut about whether or not we are in the EU or not. The propaganda from both sides makes me suspect that whichever way I vote next week, we’re screwed. (Apologies if you are reading this outside of Britain, it’s the current hot topic.)

When I was a child the news always ended with “and on a lighter note…” There’d have been a baby Panda born, or a dog would have learned how to use a washing machine, or scientists would have found fossilised remains proving that dinosaurs had had Playstations…

Nowadays there’s so much bad news that the “lighter note” stuff doesn’t get a look in. There’s just not time. Who wants to hear about baby Panda’s when there’s another tragedy needing to be broadcast to the world? And I’m not saying that in a cynical way, because I do feel that people need to know what is happening in the world, I’m just sad that there is so much bad stuff nowadays that the “and in other news” pieces have been relegated to the internet.

Maybe we need a channel dedicated to the fluff pieces? Bliss News. As in “ignorance is bliss”. I’m not saying we ignore the bad stuff, but maybe we need a channel dedicated to puppies saving drowning kittens, endangered species being given new leases of life, and any other sort of story that warms the cockles of our hearts? Not as a substitute to the harsh, bitter, real news, but as a temporary escape? Something to temporarily distract us from the tragedies we face on a daily basis and remind us that the world contains joy as well as sadness.

I write fantasy and science fiction novels, and while there are bad guys, good inevitably triumphs in the end. I’d like to think that people could also use my books as a temporary means of escapism, a way to see the world as it perhaps should be, rather than how it is.

Anyway, I’ll try to get back to blogging more often, and to emphasise the lighter side of life, but I think it would be wrong not to at least note that I’ve been as affected by recent news as everyone else.

The tragic murder of Jo Cox hit me hardest when I clicked on the various links and learned just how great a lady she was. That her life has been ended so abruptly, and in such an evil fashion, is beyond unspeakable. I highly recommend that if, like me, you were unaware of who she was, what she had achieved, and what she stood for, you spend a few moments just reading about what an amazing woman she was. And that, again like me, you find some inspiration from her and resolve to do more with your own life.

Anton Yelchin was an actor of great talent, a particular favourite of mine, someone I had assumed would go on to be as big a name as Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Bruce Willis. One of the tributes I read, after learning that he had been killed by his own car in a tragic accident, was that cinema would be poorer for his loss. And I think this is very true. Like Heath Ledger, he could have gone on to do great things, and his death is untimely, pointless and bitterly sad.

And amongst these higher profile deaths, I was also incredibly affected to hear about a man dying in a Potash mine in Cleveland. Whilst not a celebrity, I couldn’t help but wonder who he had left behind, whose lives were ripped apart by his loss, who he had left behind? So RIP John Anderson.

These are just a few of the stories that, like my kidney infection, have brought me low this past week. But in the same week, a student awoke from a coma and his classmates re-held a graduation ceremony for him, a Muslim community near Detroit, Michigan broke their fast in order to be able to give blood following the shootings in Orlando, and the lady who became famous for her joyous, infectious laughter over her Chewbacca mask has now been given her own action figure by Hasbro. There is still joy in the world. I’ll try to get back to writing more regularly about that joy.

Apologies if this post was not my usual inane rambling, sometimes even an idiot writer with his head in another world like me has to acknowledge the world he lives in.

Stay Frosty, People, or as Frosty as you can.

Amidst the Excitement, Writing

Amidst the Excitement, Writing

So, my third novel has hit Amazon (yesterday) and I am ludicrously excited about that. The anticipation and nervousness, wondering when the first review will arrive, will it be a good one or not, will people like it…I think I could be forgiven for letting all this distract me, but I am pushing on and continuing to write Realmborn 2.

Which is difficult, because I keep finding myself checking the Amazon page to see if there’s been a review yet…which is pointless! The work has been done, it is out there in the world now, no more I can do at this stage…but still I keep checking! (And have been doing since about five minutes after Metal Blade became available on Amazon, as if someone was going to speed read it and immediately leave a five star review)

So today I decided to knuckle down and write chapter eighteen of Realmborn 2, which I am very much enjoying, although I am finding it a very different process to writing Silver Soldiers or Metal Blade. Oh, the basics are the same, I’m still typing words into a computer, still making notes on each chapter and then fleshing those out into proper prose, still rewarding myself with a beer when the chapter is done, but the actual writing is very different.

For one thing it’s a different genre. Silver Soldiers was basically an action thriller, Metal Blade is pure sci fi, whereas Realmborn 2 is going back to the style of its predecessor, my very first novel, Realmborn. Very much a fantasy novel, a la Lord of the Rings, but with one of the protagonists being from 21st Century Britain, and so a large number of the chapters have a much more modern spin on the narrative style. This means chopping and changing the style chapter by chapter, depending on which character’s point of view that section is from. Which requires a lot more brain power…

There’s the complexity of the whole thing, as well. Silver Soldiers and Metal Blade had maybe ten or twelve main characters each, and they were both written as punchy, very linear, straightforward slices of entertainment. Short but exciting. Quick and fun. Fast and furious. Much like the way I make love. Well, Short, Quick and Fast, anyway.

Realmborn 2 is much more complicated, an epic fantasy novel with a huge cast of characters, interlocking storylines, and far more complexities to draw the reader in to a (hopefully) engaging and engrossing read. Which is all well and good, but it does mean that each chapter is about twice as long as those in my previous two books.

More words. Lots and lots and lots of words.

This is making the process of writing each chapter a little more gruelling, because I like to do a chapter in a single sitting. This is not always going to be possible with Realmborn 2, and I need to accept that. I need to accept it and persevere with a new writing process. Burning the midnight oil to get a chapter done is all well and good, but burning the 4 in the morning oil is just taking the ****.

So, from now on I am going to attempt 2000 words a day, Monday to Friday. Weekend working optional. This should equate to roughly a chapter every other day. Or three a week, maybe. Which would still allow the world to see the Realmborn sequel by about mid August, I think. I shall persevere.

It’s a target, I’m aiming for it. Successfully today, because Chapter Eighteen got written, yay for me!

Oh, and apologies to anyone who doesn’t find today’s image all that funny, that’s very much one that I must be the exact perfect generation to be amused by…

As always, my friends, Stay Frosty, People.

Overcoming Writer’s Block

Overcoming Writer’s Block

No, not with beer! Although as anyone who knows me can attest to, the beer pictured combines two of my great loves – the beers of Brewdog (Five AM Saint is my current favourite) and the great Elvis Presley. Happily I quite like the beer as well, it’s fruity and refreshing but still quite potent.

However, this is not a post about beer (leave a comment if you’d like some beer reviews, more than happy to sample a few over the course of an evening and let you know what I think), but about overcoming writer’s block. And here it is, my secret.

I don’t know how to overcome writer’s block.

I’ve been going great guns on this latest novel (the sequel to my first novel, Realmborn, which can be found here along with its reviews), happily bashing out a chapter a day for the last couple of weeks, and even deliberately taking a couple of days off here and there so as not to burn out too quickly. And it’s been going well, I’ve fond myself easily slipping back into the world of Jake Ranidir and his Mage-Knight cousin Rayne, enjoying the complexities of the Realm they live in, and particularly pleased that I know how the overall story arc goes, so I don’t need to come up with any twists or plot devices, it’s all there already, just waiting to be told.

Until Chapter Fourteen.

Chapter Fourteen is an exciting chapter, with one of my favourite new characters, some action, a little bit of exposition…should have been a really quick one to type up and put in the “happy with that” pile.

Nope. Nothing doing.

I hit a real wall, just couldn’t get past a certain section, and so did what I usually do when inspiration isn’t forthcoming. Slept on it. Normally a sure-fire solution for me, but on this occasion (four days ago), I woke up the next day and (when parenting permitted) sat down to write with the same damn results. Typed up a paragraph, re-read it, deleted said paragraph. Rinse and repeat. Over and over and over again.

This time, instead of sleeping on it, I drank more coffee than is probably healthy and pulled an all-nighter, determined to push through and finish the chapter no matter what. I awoke at three in the morning with my face in the keyboard having last typed “fdcdhlrieyqfdhlhfdggieu”.

So, sleeping hadn’t worked, not sleeping hadn’t worked, and this chapter was now in its third day. Two days overdue. Threatening to blow my own self-imposed schedule out of the water and make me -gulp – work at the weekend. What was I going to do? Try persevering? Take a break and forget about it? Pay a vastly more talented writer to pen the chapter for me?

As it turned out the choice was out of my hands anyway. What with one thing and another the first chance I had to write yesterday was at about 10PM, and in fact I did do so with a beer, so maybe my opening statement was wrong. Because it was last night that I broke the back of the chapter, leaving me only a little to do today. And today I finally finished it!

Phew!

Last night it was like the clouds had parted and allowed me to see the chapter in the sunshine again, and today finishing it off was simply a formality. And I have no idea what made the difference, although re-reading this blog entry it appears to be beer. Not that I am condoning the use of alcohol in any way, shape or form! Well, maybe a little bit, it does seem to be my go-to reward for finishing a chapter…but only in moderation, people!

And why do people say “everything in moderation”? Pretty sure there’s quite a lot of things that aren’t ok even in moderation…genocide, suicide, fratricide…any of the “cides” really. Also heroin. And any kind of bigotry. In fact, the next time anyone says that everything in moderation is ok, punch them square on the nose and ask them if that was ok. I mean just the once, that’s in moderation, right?

Anyway, I digress, which may be why Chapter Fourteen took me four days to complete. Too much digressing! I think the upshot of my rambling is that there is no sure-fire way to beat writer’s block. You can take a break. Might work. You can try pushing through it. Also might work. You can have a beer/cake/cuppa/poison-of-your-choice (in moderation). Again, might work. Who knows? The thing to do is keep believing in your ability to finish it eventually, and to remember that, at the end of that day, it’s only writing. It’s not the end of the world if it doesn’t happen. Continents won’t crumble, mountains won’t topple, the seas won’t rise…and yes, I am terrible at remembering this, and treat every chapter as though Armageddon and Ragnarok might have a child, presumably named Armageddarok, and if I don’t finish a chapter on time then that child would not only end the world but spit on its remains afterwards. But for Pete’s sake don’t use me as an example of what to do!

(Who is this Pete, anyway?)

Right, it is late, I am tired, and I have written far too many words today. Stay Frosty, People. Unless you are a writer with Writer’s Block, in which case do whatever you need to do to get those next 1,000 words written. Whatever the hell that turns out to be.

Ouch…everything hurts

Ouch…everything hurts

So, first things first, once I finish writing a chapter tonight I will still be on course for my five chapters a week target for the sequel to my first novel, last year’s well received fantasy epic,  Realmborn. The writing is going well, flowing nicely, the story taking shape, the returning characters having matured nicely, the new faces proving very interesting. All in all I am well pleased, and looking forward to carrying on and hopefully having it finished by August.

I am also in the process of releasing my third novel, a scifi action adventure called Metal Blade. So far test readers are telling me, and I’m paraphrasing one of them now, “it’s so good I’ve been sneaking off to the toilet at work to read just a little bit more”.  I’ll let you know as and when it is available.

Now, the reason for the title of today’s post…I went to boxing training for the first time on Thursday evening. And now everything hurts! Yesterday was pretty bad, today is excruciatingly awful!

I’m not in terrible shape, I run a few times a week (not to blow my own trumpet, but I did run the London Marathon a few years back…ok, I’m totally blowing my own trumpet), and I casually assumed that I’d be in good enough shape to cruise through an hour and a half of boxing training at the local amateur club.

Oh, how wrong I was.

First off was skipping. With a rope. For twelve minutes (three minutes skipping, one minute of rest…four times). And kids do this for fun?!!?? Well, in days gone by, now they probably play a skipping game app on their phones instead…

After the exhaustion of an antiquated schoolyard playtime activity, one actual boxing occurred. Well, me against a heavy bag, and then me against Barry the trainer and his pads. Who knew boxing was so complicated?!?? My off hand to his off hand, always protect the chin, but also always protect the torso, keep your feet apart, soft knees, punch through the target…it was a mental workout as well as a physical one.

Finally, after the muscles in my shoulders and arms had been stretched beyond all recognition, we finished with what was described as “light circuit training”…if that was light I’d hate to see intensive.

I actually felt good afterwards, energised, strong, accomplished. But the next morning…trust me, a little light jogging does not prepare you for the intensity of rigorous boxing training, not even nearly, and I take my hat off to all those who do this on a regular basis, and in fact to athletes everywhere of all persuasions. Healthy people, I salute you!

The next session is Tuesday, giving me another three days to recover…could be dicey, but what the hell, I think I’ll give it a go. What’s the worst that could happen? Well, sudden cardiac arrest, I guess, and there’s almost certainly the prospect of more pain the following day, but you know what? I got two chapters written the next day, I was more focused, and even remembered to Tweet. So maybe healthy body means healthy mind? Or maybe it was too painful to move from my writing position and as I wasn’t able to stand up I was forced to just work…who knows?

Right, my weary bones have got another evening of writing ahead of them, hope everyone is enjoying their weekends. As always, Stay Frosty, People.

Back to Writing

Back to Writing

Today was a productive day. In fact the last few days have been productive, writing-wise.

Having proved to myself that I can manage a fairly gruelling writing schedule I am pressing on and working on the sequel to my first novel, Realmborn. My plan for my third novel, Metal Blade, was a chapter a day, and I almost managed this, completing the whole  novel in 28 days (and this should be released on amazon in the next few weeks, watch this space!). Realmborn 2 will take longer, but then it is a very different beast of a book. Think fantasy epic as opposed to something you could read by the pool in a day.

However, in the past 9 days I have written the prologue and the first seven chapters, and will be hopefully pressing on at this pace until it is finished, which would make it ready for release by about the end of July…ish. It’s going to be a fantasy epic, just like the first Realmborn, so it won’t be short!

It’s been really good breathing new life into some of the characters from the first book, and hopefully taking some of the lessons I learned from the reviews of the first Realmborn and putting them into practice in the writing of the second. Retaining the humour and voice of my debut novel, but injecting a bit more pace. That’s the goal, anyway…

I’ll get the prologue and first chapter up on this site tonight, hopefully, though I will stress again that there are major spoilers contained for anyone who hasn’t read the first one.

Speaking of, why not read the first one? You can find it on Amazon here, and it’s available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited. If not, the electronic version is only £1.99 (or the equivalent in dollars), so less than a pint, and in most places these days less than a half…

Alternatively you can read my second novel, Silver Soldiers, here, it is likewise free on Kindle Unlimited or at the bargain price of £1.99, and is more of a sci-fi action thriller. One reader said they couldn’t put it down, but as that was my Dad I think you should maybe make your own minds up. (I’m genuinely proud of it, and it does have some good reviews on Goodreads.com, should you care to go looking…I’m just not much of a one for blowing my own trumpet, which might be quite a detriment as an aspiring independent author!)

As always, if I can beg anyone who has ready either of my novels to post a review on Amazon, that would be amazing and much appreciated. It is genuinely reviews which drive other readers to give novels a chance in this bizarre world I’m making a go of, so please, please, please, if you’ve read either of my novels and have a spare five minutes…honesty is appreciated, flattery will get you a pint the next time I see you, outright praise will make me blush.

Right, if I’m going to create a whole new page on this website I’d best get cracking, hope anyone reading this is well and enjoying life, and takes some amusement in my epic new facial hair statement!

Oh yes, as you can see in the pic (if you can drag your eyes off my wonderful new moustache), today’s reward for completing a chapter was a glass of wine. A Shiraz. And it was very nice.

As I always say, Stay Frosty, People.

Totally shaved off the beard

Totally shaved off the beard

After a flurry of interest and opinions (thank you again you lovely half dozen people who read my blog), I decided that I couldn’t keep my beard, not after teasing the internet with the prospect of me shaving it off for something more interesting.

There were several differing opinions, the Downey Jr/Tony Stark look seemed to be quite in favour, but I decided that it look too groomed for me…let’s face it, Iron Man probably has a personal barber who sorts his facial hair out every day, whereas I usually have a case of I Hate Mornings Syndrome…the odds of me managing any kind of regular upkeep on a moustache/beard combo that sculpted, that defined…was never gong to happen!

The Sam Elliott got some good votes too, I’m just not enough of a manly man’s man, a gravelly voiced Silver Fox, a macho cowboy, to be able to pull that one off.

There was one vote for the Kurt Russell Hateful Eight look, and I’ve tried my best, but my lack of a mane of good, thick hair means I’m not quite pulling it off. In the end I’ve gone with something in between Kurt and Sam, I think, I reckon I’m probably more cowboy than superhero in any case, and  seriously, who has the time to groom their moustache and beard every morning?!?!? And so, for at least a week (I shall withstand any mockery I am subjected to), I am going to let this bad boy grow, and see just how awesome a moustache it can become.

My suspicion is incredibly awesome.

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Ideally I will get to the point where I can plait it.

I have no doubt that I will wake up in the morning with a bad case of Beard-Shavers-Regret, but for now I am quite happy to see my chin again, while retaining enough facial fuzz to hide a multitude of sins. And sometimes food, for later. And retaining the ability to strain my coffee while drinking it.

I’m just sorry I couldn’t achieve this:

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Still, I’m going for the eccentric author bit, I’m also going to buy some leather patches to sew on the elbows of all my jackets, start smoking a pipe and referring to myself in the third person.

When Dave finishes this blog tonight Dave is going to reward himself with – actually scratch the third person thing, that’s just annoying. I’ll consider the moustache enough!

Speaking of being an eccentric author, don’t forget to buy/read/review my books, please, the two currently available can be found here (for fantasy lovers) and here (for those who prefer a quicker-paced action thriller set in the near future), and it really is reviews which make the difference for indy authors like myself. Don’t forget that both books can be read for free with Kindle Unlimited, so anyone with Amazon Prime, dive on in there!

That’s about it from me for tonight, no writing occurred today but I did think abut the next chapter a lot, so that counts, right? Still, I’ve done a prologue and four chapters in the last 6 days, I’ll take that. As long as I get something done tomorrow. And not the tomorrow I usually refer to, the tomorrow of unfinished DIY, but the actual tomorrow, the 24th April 2016. Trying to maintain a level of at least five chapters a week was the goal, I’ll stick to that.

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Good night, Stay Frosty, People.