Thursday, 28 May 2015

BLOOD WITCH cover reveal

I have been more or less gagging all day to show this off, but I didn't think I'd get the final files for a while yet. BUT HERE WE ARE! Courtesy of the very talented Jay Aheer, I'm delighted to show off the gorgeous, moody cover for BLOOD WITCH.

I love it! I can't wait for this to come out so you can all love it as much as I do. Because you will. You must! How can you resist this cover?

Monday, 25 May 2015

How to Handle Your Editing Hangover

So I spent the past couple of days working on the first round of edits for BLOOD WITCH. It was a relatively smooth process - I added in a couple of scenes, tightened up some sloppy prose, and generally polished up the manuscript. In the next couple of days I should know if there'll be a second round. For all that it was a pretty stress-free process, I feel strangely exhausted and hungover today. Moody, listless, and blah. I always feel like this after finishing either a first draft or an editing session, though - I think it's probably similar to an adrenaline dump, but of the mind rather than the body. Before I open the manuscript to check the required edits, my mind is all geared up and ready for battle. Ready to defend my deathless prose to the...death, I suppose. Ready to argue and fight over the placement of a comma or whether or not this witty piece of dialogue is really necessary. Or ready to accept that my story is awful and I'm awful and everything is awful and what was I thinking? Because I always expect editing to be a battle between me and the editor.

And it never is. My editors are always lovely and they get my work and their suggestions are always helpful. So then all this mental energy I've amassed in order to deal with the Epic Battle of Wills I'm subconsciously convinced is coming...It has nowhere to go. I power through the edits and then I'm left with a surplus of energy and nothing to do with it, and generally the people around me assume I've slumped into a terrible depression.

But today I was prepared! Knowing I'd be kinda crappy and at a loss today, I made myself do some stuff. Kyle and I went into town for a bit of light Ingressing this morning, then I stopped off for fancy chocolate and came home alone for a little "me time," which has largely consisted of watching Destination Truth and eating said chocolate whilst drinking fancy tea. Because I am nothing if not fancy.

Artist's rendition of Naomi in relaxation mode

I've also been working on my Master Plan to buy a tarantula (which is totally Ally of Word Vagabond's fault). My plan is not particularly complex, as it mostly consists of "buy tarantula, enjoy tarantula ownership," but we're waiting for a couple of other things to happen before we actually buy one, so in the mean time I'm researching Mexican red knees and their care, and making short lists of possible tarantula names, because I know what matters when it comes to buying an exotic pet (and since Kyle named the snakes, I intend to name the spider. It's my turn).

This. This is what my house is missing.

With the edits temporarily on hold and my moodiness mostly under control, I'll give myself the rest of today off and get back to writing tomorrow. I'm planning to finish an Amber Morgan project, which should be done this week, and then turn my attention to a new Ethan Banning short story. Hopefully, if there are no more edits for BLOOD WITCH, I can start thinking about release dates, cover art, and which time I may well own that tarantula.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Build Your Own Dystopian Future - Today!

No, don't worry, I'm not going to talk about politics.* I'm going to talk about gaming!

I'm a casual gamer. I have an obsessive love for the Legacy of Kain games (ask me how I feel about Rahab! Please!) and Guild Wars 2 (probably don't ask me how I feel about GW2 because there are only so many hours in the day), but Ye Olde Arm Problem** keeps me from gaming very much these days. This makes me sad, but I have found a solution! Ingress.

Ingress is basically virtual Capture the Flag - you play on your smart phone, you wander the wilderness (or the city, whatever), hacking virtual portals, capturing them, and looting them for virtual goodies, and then getting unreasonably angry when someone on the other team does it to you. It's stupidly addictive, easy to get to grips with, and has the added bonus of making you walk places. For someone who's idea of exercise is "walking to the kettle and back," this is pretty good for me. Plus you end up finding things in your city you never knew existed, because someone has made them into a portal and you need to go hack the shit out of that.

But the BEST PART is that you can pretend you live in a high-tech dystopian future as you walk around your village hacking pubs/portals and collecting virtual loot. Honestly. If you can play Ingress without pretending to be a secret spy who's part of an underground movement that opposes the evil, shadowy Tory government that wants to access all your communications*** then you are a better person than I am. Because I basically spend my bus rides to work at the moment pretending I live in a futuristic anime. (Kyle always wears a black hoodie with the hood up when he's playing. It helps him get into character.)

So while I wait for my physiotherapist to decide if I have neuropathic damage or am just a massive drama queen, I'm staying away from computer gaming (and saving my arms for writing) and Ingressing instead. If you're a walker anyway, or you like roleplaying or screwing over strangers by destroying their carefully maintained portals, this is something you would probably like. You may also find yourself engaged in deep philosophical discussions about transhumanism, in which case I also recommend you check out the Mysterious Universe podcast.

Also you should join the Enlightened team. Trust me.

*Although seriously, we need to talk about politics.

**My current physiotherapist is telling me to do all the things my last physiotherapist told me to avoid, so...That's happening.

***Oops, I politcked.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

"...all the magic I have known I've had to make myself."

Shel Silverstein

Earlier this year I got a new tattoo on my forearm. It's the first part of one of my all time favourite quotes - hope begins in the dark. I named my blog after that quote, so it was probably only a matter of time before I went one step further and had it inked onto myself.

Note also the attractive bruise above "dark" from where Remic gave me a love bite last weekend

It's an important quote to me, massively so, and one I've recited to myself daily over the past few years when personal griefs and family tragedies seemed to come one after the other. But it's really the last line of the quote that's been playing on my mind lately:

You wait and watch and work; you don't give up. Oh sweet Cthulhu, this. This! You can't just sit around waiting for the world to change. You have to make it change. I laid a lot of groundwork for myself in 2014. I bloody well worked to get back to where I wanted to be.

And in 2015, the Year of the Basilisk, that work is paying off. I've already produced more new stuff than I did for the past two years. I've signed three publishing contracts, two under my pen name, and I'm writing more regularly (almost daily, which I really never thought I'd be able to manage again). I'm writing in new genres, as well as the one I love most, and I'm having a shit-ton of fun on both fronts. 

I'm so excited about BLOOD WITCH, I can't even tell you! A brand new world, new characters that I adore, and a story that made me really fucking love writing again. The provisional publication date is June, so I'm expected all the fun stuff like edits and cover art to start appearing soon. My first Amber Morgan title, THROUGH HER EYES, is out on 8th May, and my second, EXILED ALPHA, will be appearing in a summer-released anthology. I've got a new Ethan Banning short story brewing in my head, and plans for at least two more Blood Canticle books. I used to feel like I had to have a set schedule for my writing - "I will work on A, and then B, and then C" - and if I didn't stick to that, I'd feel like I was failing at something. I'm trying to shrug off that attitude and I'm stumbling into new stories and worlds along the way.

Spring is here. There's no denying there's something magical in the air at this time of year. But I'm inclined to believe it's magic we've created through our own hard work. The first few months of 2015 have been pretty awesome. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year brings.