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.)

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.

Daddy Day Care

Daddy Day Care

A subtle shift in my life, as today was my first day of juggling being a full-time Dad with being a full-time writer, hence the bottle and baby wipes by the laptop.

So far it has been…different. Not sure I can describe I any better than that, because I don’t want to say it’s better than when I was working full-time, and I certainly don’t want to say it’s worse, but it is very definitely different. Very.

The advantage of a full-time job (for someone like me) I that you have a definite routine, things that need to be done at a certain time, tasks that absolutely have to be completed on a certain day, it provides structure. Being a full-time Dad is a lot more fluid (and I’m not just talking about some of the nappies I have to deal with), there’s a lot less of y being needed to be done by x time, a lot more of “sooooo…what am I going to do today?”

To begin with the day does have some structure, as my eldest needs to be at school by 8.45, which means he needs to be dressed and out of the house by 8.35. Wait, dressed and breakfasted. And washed. And his teeth cleaned. Damn, those tasks are starting to mount up. None of them are big tasks, but have you tried getting a five year old to do what you want when you ask him to? Without getting distracted? By and large we make it, meaning the time between waking up and 8.45 has some semblance of order to it. But after that? When looking after a much, much younger infant?

I am discovering that you need to create your own structure, or else go insane. More insane. I’m also discovering that being a full-time parent involves embracing a level of insanity simply to stay sane. Sounds wrong, I know, but I also know that most parents out there reading this will agree. Hopefully, otherwise I’m doing it wrong.

Anyway, today my youngest and I had jobs to do. And I got lucky, as he fell asleep soon after the school run, allowing me to get the first job, Exciting Trip to Supermarket, fifty percent completed with him dozing in his pram. Result! And I found everything I was looking for in the shop without getting stressed and having to walk up and down each aisle three times (being a man I can’t ask for help, and would rather spend an extra forty minutes in a shop trying to find something myself).

So, so far so good. Jobs remaining, feed youngest, go to post office to send off a birthday present, do laundry back at house, cook dinner ready for the evening.

Feeding the youngest was something I had planned to do in some sort of coffee shop (probably rhyming with car-trucks) so that I could feel all twenty-first century parent cool. We didn’t make it, his screams echoing down the street and forcing me to cut the journey short and feed him on a bench in the sun. Which was more than pleasant, and saved me a couple of quid. Still feeling like I had a handle on this whole parenting thing.

Go to the post office. Did that. Computer failure meant that going there was pointless, but I did go. And it was there that I discovered that I wasn’t quite as on top of this whole thing as I had thought…I’d left the changing bag back at the house, and my child’s nappy was looking more and more full. Full to bursting point. To the point at which the Isle of Wight was at risk of being submerged in a great wave of infant urine…

New plan, go back to the house, change the nappy, do the laundry, go to an alternative post office. And getting back to the house needed to be done fairly swiftly…my problem with doing anything swiftly was that I was out and about in the middle of the morning on a weekday. So it was basically me (with my giant pram), other parents with their giant prams, eight thousand year old people with an assortment of zimmer frames, mobility scooters,  and walking sticks and with an average speed of Sloth-like, and a host of the unemployed who vaguely resembled extras from The Walking Dead.

Speed of movement was almost impossible, but somehow I managed it, making that pram almost fly down the street. I made it, by the way, avoided the urine flood, saved the island. Yep, I’m a hero.

He was also happy to play on his playmat and coo quite happily at me while I did the laundry. In retrospect if I had known that that was the only four minutes and fifty two seconds he’d allow himself to not be physically attached to me all day I might have done something else. Like make myself a coffee. Or sit down. (He’s teething, hence the clinginess today. And probably tomorrow.) Anyway, laundry done. Tick!

He then fell asleep on my shoulder (and was very resistant to being moved), keeping me trapped on the sofa for half an hour (poor me), but I was some distance away from my laptop, but did manage to catch up on some tweeting. Yep, I tweet. And retweet, on occasion. And no longer think a hash tag is a label on a breakfast potato item.

When he awoke we just had time to dash to the alternative post office and queue for twenty minutes to get the birthday present posted, allowing a little time for an explosive nappy (won’t go into details) before the school run, and then it was back to having two of them. I’m a man, I can’t multi-task, s then next four hours before bedtime were basically a write off. Oh, and dinner did not get prepared during that time, eldest had leftover spaghetti Bolognese from yesterday, I had a biscuit.

And then it was bedtime, which went smoothly, and the full-time Dad bit was done for the day. I’d hoped that full-time writer might have made a few appearances during nap times and what have you, but for the moment I’m content that I didn’t screw up the Dad part too badly. I guess it will just mean some more midnight oil than usual being burned for a while.

Speaking of the writing, a 5* review appeared today for Silver Soldiers, very exciting! You can read it here.

And now it is late, I’m tired, and determined that tomorrow will include both awesome parenting and Chapter Ten of Realmborn 2. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. And I am aware that plans can be changed at any time without notice…

Hope everyone is well, and stays that way.

Stay Frosty, People.

How I Started Off As An Author

How I Started Off As An Author

A friend of mine last week suggested I might let people know how I started off as an author. I’m dubious myself as to anyone will have an interest/care/ever read this, but here goes…

One of my earliest memories of writing was as a child in school, taking a story idea in a project I was doing with a friend, and being told halfway through that I really needed to make it simpler…at twenty five pages (yes, twenty five whole pages!) it was quite a bit longer than anyone else’s in the class. Got a gold star, mind.

In my early teens I started a fantasy novel (by this point I was addicted to the novels of David Gemmell, David Eddings, Raymond E Feist, Katherine Kerr and of course, the late, great Terry Pratchett),and I think I actually managed to write about twenty thousand words or so before being distracted by the things that teenage boys get distracted by…that novel probably died along with the hard drive of the Windows 3.11 computer it was written on. Although now I think about it, there may have been some legs in the storyline, I might revisit that at a later date.

I remained a voracious reader, but didn’t write again until my early twenties, when I managed to complete a novel, A Coward’s Tale, again a fantasy novel, one where the main protagonist was a coward. Imaginatively titled, eh? I was fairly proud of this one, but in hindsight it was really not that good. Great practice, though, for the hours and hours and hours of dedication needed to actually sit down on a regular basis and complete a whole novel, start to finish.

Finally, while on holiday quite a several few years ago, I was lounging by the pool and came up with the basic idea for my first novel, Realmborn. A young man, on holiday, whisked to an alternate dimension, of which it turns out he is the long lost king and only chance of survival against a ruthless alien enemy…I scribbled down the basics, and when I got back home I wrote the first chapter. I then wrote down some notes in CAPITAL LETTERS underneath for the next chapter. And then some for the next. And the next. Before I knew it I had worked most of the night, but I had a whole storyline in note form, all built off the basic concept I had come up with by the pool. My mission became to expand each section of notes into a chapter, occasionally adding more notes as ideas occurred to me, but basically sticking to what I had written down.

Took me just shy of six years. In my defence a lot of life occurred in that period, including parenthood for the first time, and Realmborn was put to one side for quite large periods of time. But never forgotten, not completely. I came back to it with a passion a couple of years ago, stuck to it, and created a true fantasy epic, 220,000 words and a book big enough to serve as a weapon in the case of a home invasion.

I tried the literary agency route but, as any aspiring author will tell you, it is notoriously difficult to get published that way. Then someone suggested I try self-publishing on Amazon.  investigated, found out it was actually fairly simple, and not only that there are companies out there who will help you do the legwork, and then help market the book for you…for a price. I paid that price, and I am so glad I did. Realmborn made back the initial outlay within two months, and now a year or so on has done well enough that I have taken the plunge to focus on writing full time, and am hoping my second novel, Silver Soldiers, will do as well. If it does I have a third novel almost completed, a sci-fi actioner called Metal Blade, almost ready to go, and will release that on an unsuspecting world soon.

Having found my voice (that sounds really pretentious, sorry, I don’t know how else to say it) with Realmborn I found that the entire writing process had become easier. Same basic principle, come up with a central theme, idea or character (the main character in Silver Soldiers was dreamt up while I was out running), write the first chapter, complete the rest of the novel in note form (in CAPITAL LETTERS of course), then flesh it out chapter by chapter. Sounds simple, requires quite a bit of dedication and midnight oil burning, but so far I have felt that intense feeling of achievement at having created something real twice over, so as far as I’m concerned it is well worth the lack of sleep it brings with it. And I look forward to that sense of achievement for a third time soon…then a fourth and a fifth, and so on and so on until I run out of words or people stop wanting to read them.

Of course, this whole model kind of relies on people buying my novels, so please do feel free to, details on the relevant pages on this website. Go on, they’re pretty good, promise!

I hope if anyone with a passion for writing who has read this finds something useful in it, if not at least entertaining, and I thank you all for your attention and interest. Going by the stats on my previous few posts, all five of you.

Right, chapter 19 done, blogging done, time for a beer.

Stay Frosty, People.

Planning for the Future

Planning for the Future

When I was leaving my job I was fortunate enough to have a really good group of friends there who made my parting gift something suitable, appropriate and thoughtful, a beautiful, leather-bound, cotton paged notebook for me to use in my new career.

As you can see I am yet to write in it, partly due to the breakneck pace at which I’m writing at the moment, and partly because when I do write in it I want to make sure I get it right. This is not the sort of book you want to just scribble in!

I do have a plan, though. My plan is to put an idea for a novel on each page of this beautiful tome, and a tick next to each when I’ve written them. So far I can very definitely write the first two pages (including a tick) with the details of my first two novels, and the third page can be filled out as the next book is already 50% completed (and mapped out in note format all the way to the conclusion) and I can put ideas down for at least another four pages/books that are my next projects. But what really excites me is the idea of coming up with something and then immediately getting it down on paper. As opposed to what I’ve done many times in the past, had an idea, thought it sounded really promising, then forgotten about it a week later when I tried to recall details…

Generally I have a single idea, a good character, or a particular situation, or a finale that I think would be amazing to write, and I build the rest of the book around that. Adding in supporting characters, a villain, a quest/mission/objective, fleshing out the original idea until it is a real story. I’ll write the first chapter, or sometimes the first two or three, and then add in the rest of the story in note format in sections written in CAPITAL LETTERS underneath. I then flesh out a section at a time from notes to prose, sometimes changing things as I go, but mostly sticking to the notes I’ve written.

An architect rather than a gardener.

So from now on I fully intend to write down each and every promising idea that pops into this old noggin of mine, and I will strive to turn each and every one of them into an entertaining page turner. And when each of them becomes a bestseller (as they obviously will, he says with a confidence borne of sheer delusion) I am going to go back to my old colleagues, and take them all out for a celebratory drink. Watch this space, I’ll hopefully be able to show that I am filling those pages very soon.

Oh, and a friend of mine suggested I bore you all with y process/journey as a writer, which I will make the subject of this online ramble in the next few days.

Stay Frosty, People.