I think it’s fair to say that my third novel has proved to be tougher than the second.

Granted, this year has thrown a great many obstacles at me to try and de-rail my progress but it’s been hard work getting the words down.

Which is why I made the decision to take this week off work with the express purpose of getting some wring done.

We all say about practically anything in our lives, that when we have problems completing a given task or role, “If I only had more time”. When I worked in the fitness industry all those years ago, it was a common gripe that I heard when people described the issues that were stopping them being able to exercise and it’s the easiest thing to fall back on in every situation.

Time is a precious thing and we all have to make sure that we spend the currency wisely but that is a very different thing to spending it as we should.

I know, for example, that during the busiest periods in work, my working day can stretch to ten or twelve hours quite easily and there’ll be a great deal of mental gymnastics required to keep all of the tasks and requests heading in the right direction. I also know that after that, I SHOULD be heading to do some form of physical activity as I once did. More often than not, I WISELY (for me) choose to spend time with my wife relaxing at home.

I recognise that the chance to unwind my mind after the working day in the way I do with my wife is more valuable to me that heading off to the gym. If there were more hours in the day then it’s likely that I’d head out and train later on but for me, the available hours of an evening can be best spent doing something else. I become better doing what I do because I value my time with my wife.

We don’t fit that stuff in that there never seems to be time for because we value doing something else more.

I noticed that I needed to do something stronger than normal to get the writing moving again and taking a week to become a full writing week was the perfect idea. I’m showing myself as much as anybody, that I value my writing. I place a real value on what I do at the keyboard and being able to set aside a complete block of time for the sole purpose of working on the next book is reinforcing that very fact.

And after day one, I can certainly say that I’m getting the old machine moving again.



It has often been said that us men are incapable of multitasking. Everyone knows that us lads just focus on one thing at a time and the fairer sex are the ones who can juggle all of the various different balls that can get thrown at them during the every day life we all experience.

Now aside from any scientific question marks which are raised from the idea, when I write, I find myself actually enjoying the challenge of doing many things at once.

Now it’s not a question of me having a different computer under each hand and a pen grasped in my toes, rather it’s me having lots of projects going at once.

I’m working on the third book in the Circle series but also on a second collection of short stories so I’ve found myself working on four different short stories and the novel all at the same time.

On any given day I could be writing about almost anything and I bounce around between the topics and just go where the various stories take me. Now it could be easy to say that I should be focusing on a single project at a time and not spreading my creative juices about but for me, being able to move where my imagination takes me, where I have the ‘oomph’ on any given day gives me a great deal more flexibility to be able to aim my creativity at the topic that I feel most drawn to means that I can keep the wheels of writing turning regularly even if I don’t ‘feel’ a particular story on any given day.

Oddly, I find it helps that I put a particular set of characters and situations away to allow me to work on another, by giving me the chance to relax about them. If I’d only ever worked on a single topic at a time, and I have in the past, when you have a dip in creativity, you’re stuck with nowhere to go and aside from the lack of words, the feelings of frustration just make things worse. You can try to force the point but that just pushes you further away from where you want to be. With just the one topic, a bad day can turn into a bad week and a bad month and all of a sudden there’s been an age where you’ve done nothing at all.

By keeping lots of irons in the fire I’m able to change the focus as and when I need to so not only will there be something that I can work on on whatever day, but by removing the risk of getting stuck in the barren wasteland of no inspiration, I’m able to stay away from frustration. I can maintain a pace in my writing even when a particular idea needs to be left fallow for a while.

We all need to have focus on the important things in life but it’s important to make sure that don’t become too cycloptic and risk getting stuck in the creative mud.


This weekend just gone saw us head off to the Sci-Fi Weekender in North Wales. Jo won the tickets and after having last year off, we headed to the convention looking forward to all things sci-fi.

We didn’t go last year after the event shared the space with a prog. rock gathering and the amount of things going on that we were interested in became watered down a bit but this year was back to the full compliment so it was easy to make the choice to return. The addition this year though, I had a table in the trader zone.

All in all, this was the best convention I’ve been to in a while.

I didn’t get the chance to see as much as I would normally have done at this event, being at my table all day, but I did get the chance to speak with a huge number of people. All in all, I was able to chew the fat about all kinds of things and spread the word of my books with loads of people who had a shared enjoyment of the same kinds of things I enjoy. The mood of the event was wonderfully inclusive and the traders around me all said that they had a blast.

Now the crux of what I want to talk about this week is connected to the event but more about the trading side of things.

When I attend these events as a trader, I dress in a very specific way. If you happen to drop by my table at an event you’ll most likely find me wearing a tweed waistcoat and jacket, adorned by my pocket watch with my dragon headed cane at my side. I have a specific pair of jeans that I wear and I’ve recently purchased a new pair of boots to go with the rest of the ensemble.

When I ready myself for an event, I’m all about the visualisation of actually being in the thick of things and speaking with everyone about anything and everything, and I find that donning the ‘uniform’ of my author persona helps me overcome any nerves I may be feeling and surround myself with the mindset and attitude I need to be able to go out and do the business.

Clothes can play a vital part in how we perceive ourselves and others. We make decisions based on what people present to the world. How someone is dressed can affect the way they walk, the way they stand and therefore, the way that they are seen by everyone else. When I dress as ‘The Author’ I do find myself feeling very different. I become more able to channel all the energies in the correct way and, you know what?, dressing well in smart clothing makes me feel more confident. I stand a little taller (I’m already over six feet tall) and almost become someone else.

We all wear different clothes depending on the situation we’re going to be dealing with.

We go to work in specific clothes that fit the role we’re going to be paying that day. On a daily basis I live in jeans and a polo shirt, safety work boots and a hi-viz jacket. These things have an effect on me as well. I take on a different set of qualities when I go to work wearing the ‘uniform’ of my usual day to day. I feel the difference on my face although whether that difference is clear for all to see is still yet to be seen.

If we play a sport. If we don’t. If we work in office. If we don’t. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, we all know that dressing in a certain way comes as standard for all of the various things we do and that we can feel the power that comes with the addition of certain clothing as an almost tangible force running along our skin.

Could this be why cosplaying is such a popular activity?

We have the chance to become someone else – totally. By dressing as a character from a show, film or game, we suddenly find ourselves able to take on characteristics of said character and a once timid person can become the super confident Wolverine, any fear of wearing just a vest over a potentially less than Wolverine physique banished, because they’ve got the claws to do some damage.

Fans of sports teams don the shirts of their beloved sides and the closeness of that group bond is there for all to see. Businesses of all kinds have their staff wearing a set uniform to show that they all belong to the same group, all working for the shared goal. These things have an effect on everyone on both sides of the equation, changing how people behave in the clothes but also how people behave towards the clothes. I try to make sure that I include the garb of the characters as a vital part of who they are. Different people wear different things and these uniforms can be a touchstone for a reader when deciding what they should be feeling about people in any given situation.

Just another example of how the way we think is potentially twisted or nudged depending on certain details. It’s all extra flavouring for any story we tell so we have to be sure to always get those details right.

Yet another thing to keep in mind.



Friday last week saw another first for me.

I was interviewed as part of the Speculative Fiction Cantina on BlogTalk Radio by S Evan Townsend. A relaxing chat about my books and why I write was shared with another author, Aran Jane, and all in all, I had a blast just chewing the fat.

I encourage everyone to have a listen and enjoy.



I know it’s not too long since I released The Circle of Duty but I’ve been kicking about loads of ideas for short stories over the years which, you know what, I’m going to release later this year in an anthology.

Stories about the supernatural, horror and lots of other juicy topics will be stitched together to be presented at the end of October, just in time for the excitement of Halloween.

I’ve almost finished the final story for the book, I’ve got a few creepy ideas for the cover design but there’s, as always, one thing I don’t yet have.

The title.

So I turn to you brave followers.

I’m asking for suggestions for the upcoming collection of short stories but it’s more than just a call for help.

If you are the creative mind who is responsible for the selected title, not only will you receive a signed copy of the book but you’ll also become one of the characters in one of the stories.

You’ll become a vital part of the world of my short stories and surely the bragging rights for that are worth a suggestion.

To enter your suggestions (you can make more than one you know) either leave a comment with your ideas on here or visit my Facebook page and comment on there. If you haven’t ‘Liked’ the page yet, don’t be shy, I don’t bite. Honest.

The winning suggestion will be announced on here next week at 9pm GMT.

Good luck all.


As I let everyone know last week, our cat Baggins died the previous week and we had a very rough few days dealing with the loss but we’ve since been to the rescue centre and have adopted another cat.

Our new monster, and he is a very big cat, is called Sausage and is a really affectionate little thing. We were sure that we were ready for a second cat despite it being relatively soon after we lost Baggins and we’d reconciled it with ourselves that we wouldn’t be sullying his memory by taking on a new cat. We recognised that there are so many stray or abandoned cats that we were now in a position to help another one find their forever home.

We met Sausage and he took to us as we took to him. He is a very different cat to Baggins but there in is our point. By caring for another cat, we’re able to continue dealing with the loss of such a massive part of our lives, while moving forwards. Sausage has been helping us through the grief of loss by just being himself and we’ve been able to give him a new home.

When we all go through grief of any kind each and every one of us will have different ways of dealing with the pain. People have been known to rely on drink, on drugs or on food to take the edge off. Casual liasons on one end of the emotional spectrum to turning to family for help on the other can all help us conquer the issues we have in our lives.

For us, the act of welcoming Sausage into our family was an act of catharsis. It allowed us to move through the pain towards the acceptance of the loss of Baggins.

When I write, I use the story I’m working on as a way to break through any problems I may be having in the real world. I can shut myself away into a world that I’m creating and forget about all of the problems which may be banging on the door trying to  get in.

It’s also possible to go one step further as an author.

When I was doing my English Literature A-Level, one of the books we read was The Prologue to The Canterbury Tales. Written in old English it was a journey of translation as well as being a piece to study. I enjoyed it and there was a very interesting point which came from the writing itself but which was explained beautifully in ‘A Knight’s Tale’ the film. The characters in the stories are caricatures with the wife of Bath being well described as being a ‘broad’ frame with gapped teeth who was oft married and not afraid of going after what she wanted but it’s the characters of The Pardoner and The Summoner who get the lashing.

Chaucer gives his opinion on all manner of things which would have been going on around him, making comment about religion and gender roles to go for two of the biggies, but is happy to swing his eye onto a great many other details. He draws images of what was taking place at the time and makes comment through his work, as so many writers do. And it’s this point which gives us the line in the film which I love. Deftly delivered by Paul Bettany, we’re treated to, “I will eviscerate you in fiction. Every pimple, every character flaw. I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.” We get to see that a writer will exact a revenge on those who have wronged them and turn those poor souls into creeping and shuffling beasts. The brutality of the real world can be re-written to place the bully under the boot heel and we authors can be happy in the knowledge that we worked through our issues while turning our tormentors on their heads.

We all have problems which rear their ugly maws on occasion and it can take all manner of weapons for us to beat back the pain. As a writer, I have an incredible well of resources to help me keep my mind together should it fracture and putting those most awful people to cross my path into the most delightful agony is wonderfully freeing.


Any fans of algebra out there?

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting to have waves of response in the affirmative for that question but stay with me.

I’ve just started reading a series of books which fall into the bucket of ‘YA’ or Young Adult and on many occasions, when I tell people what I’m reading, I get treated to the furrowed brow of confusion and the, “But why are you reading a kids book?”

If I’d been reading a Janet and John book, then I’d say they would have had a point asking why but why is it people are so quick to jump onto the negative?

Young Adult books span all manner of literary genres and deal with all kinds of topics, most, if not all, are fodder for books for us crusty old farts as well, but as soon as the hint of it being aimed at those with slightly fewer years on the clock appears, noses get turned up and they’re discarded as kiddies nonsense.

Now I appreciate that thanks to books like the Harry Potter series, Divergent and The Hunger Games there is now a wider understanding that amazing stories can come from anywhere and aren’t just the sole play thing of grown ups but the term Young Adult still carries baggage.

I’m reading the books for many reasons. I have a novel of that flavour in mind and I think it would be a good idea to try to get an understanding of what’s out there at the moment. The series is by an author I admire and takes place in space which is always going to be fun so why wouldn’t I want to read them? Having started, they’re great and you’d never consider that they were somehow lacking.

Getting back to the algebra question I asked at the beginning of this post, I think the issue is that so many people don’t follow the rules of algebra when deciding on books to read. They don’t treat both sides of the equation the same, placing more emphasis on the Young rather than the Adult. That’s something I’m going to always keep in mind when I start my own YA book.

Make sure the story works and don’t try to talk down to the reader and everything should sort itself out from there.