Time makes fools of us all!

The frequency of my blog posts gave me a bit of a slap in the face today. It was mid 2015 when I released the last of the Valerious Chronicles and mid 2016 when I released The Storyteller’s Chest. Prior to that I had released a book each year, and was trying to keep my blog updated every quarter or so. I now find myself in mid 2017 and am sad to say there is no exciting new release to announce. Why? As Fry from Futurama so aptly put it, time makes fools of us all.

They tell you when you are young that the years just seem to go faster and faster as you age. I can now fully appreciate that. I look back and consider myself to have been very productive over the last twelve months. Unfortunately, this productivity wasn’t in the form of writing.

I once again travelled across to the British Isles, to immerse myself in English culture, and in particular English Ale! I also found the time to engage in those hobbies which, during my time writing the Valerious Chronicles, suffered from serious neglect. I’ve allocated more time outside of my day job to playing cards (Magic the Gathering), reading, war-gaming (Warhammer), reading comics and even binge-watching TV shows.

IMG_20170709_125530

My writing may has been neglected due to time spent on projects like this.

The truth is that, as a result, Project Isles has progressed very slowly. Do not fear, I will continue to write and finish it. But the truth is that when I wrote my first trilogy, it was difficult to find the time for my other hobbies. And it has been fantastic being able to dedicate more time to them, as well as seeing my friends.

The other unfortunate truth. Writing has done a real number on my body. Ask any writer and they will assure you that neck, wrist and back pain resulting from hours upon hours at a keyboard are no thing to be shrugged off. No really, sometimes it is impossible shrug from the muscle strain. I have been working to strengthen my back to make writing a less strenuous task. But it is slow progress.

IMG_20170712_174626

I have found the time to paint some of the older models in my collection.

So what now? 2017 and no new book to release. I almost feel ashamed! But then I would not want to release something unless I truly believed it was ready. And Project Isles still has a long way to go. My next task is to set myself some small goals to work towards. I fear once again, my other hobbies will need to be understanding and allow me to return to my keyboard. But for the last two years they have had my full attention, and it’s time to share the love. Writing has brought me so much joy. I just need to jump start the engine a little.

P.S Please take advantage of the current sale at Smashwords.com. The entire Valerious Chronicles series is free until the end of July! Hope you enjoy and share them with your friends and family.

Advertisements

Project Isles – A Snippet

You may notice that my Blog and Website have been a tad quiet of late. Do not fear. This can only bode well for those waiting for my new book. I have now begun the actual writing on Project Isles, with the bulk of my planning and world building completed to a satisfactory level. I try never to do too much world building at the beginning, as my characters and places naturally develop as I write. Most of my best ideas come when I am in the middle of a chapter and can have a profound change on where the story is going.

Being a single book I am also blessed with the ability to chop and change a lot more than I was able to with the Valerious Chronicles. There I had to ensure all foreshadowing was 100% complete when publishing the first or second book in the trilogy. Writing Project Isles is a less structured task, with only a brief outline required before I dive right into putting the story to pen.

I foresee it being a lengthy project. So I will endeavour to keep you updated. As a little taster, here is a tiny excerpt from the Prologue, fully unedited and raw. It will give you an insight into what my first drafts generally look like, before they go through the meat grinder.

Until the next time, I hope your nights are full of wonderful stories and great company.

FIRST DRAFT EXCERPT: Project Isles:

Eva could smell her prey on the wind. It swept through the leaves up to her perch and smelt heavily of old sweat and dry mud. She crouched snugly between two of the larger branches, left fingers gripping her bow tightly, right fingers holding her arrow’s feather fletching, the string of her bow stretched fully.  

Middle Earth

bag-end

Bag End

So let’s face the facts. No Fantasy writer could go through life without a visit to Hobbiton. I have visited New Zealand before, but this was in 2009, pre-production of The Hobbit, after which the Hobbiton movie set was left standing. For any fan of the movies this is a must see place. I had high expectations and these were utterly blown away.

green-dragon

The view from the Green Dragon

The detail is mind blowing and having re-watched the movies since returning it has only made me appreciate them even more. You even get to have a cup of ale at the Green Dragon!

sams-house

Sam’s House

I have previously visited the London Harry Potter Studio – which is also amazing, I might add – but Hobbiton actually feels like a real village. Most likely because it practically is, with the exception of there not being anything behind the doors.

I have never been to a place so motivating to a Fantasy writer. I felt like purchasing a Hobbit Hole to live in for the rest of my life, with a pen and paper and nothing else.

the-dead-marshes

The Dead Marshes

I also spent a bit of time seeking out other locations used in the filming of the movies such as the Dead Marshes, and Fangorn Forest.

fangorn

Fangorn Forest

And this doesn’t even cover the unbelievable beauty of the rest of New Zealand. Everywhere I went I had to stop myself from wearing out my camera.

bay-of-islands

Bay of Islands

I am continuing to work on Project Isles, though the going is slower than when I was working on the Valerious Chronicles. My blog posts may be less frequent than before, but rest assured I am still writing and hope to have something new to present to you in good time. For now, enjoy the photos of Middle Earth.

P.S. No trip to New Zealand is complete without a picture of Frodo made out of jelly beans.

frodo

Bean Frodo

The Storyteller’s Chest

I am very excited to announce the release of a new book. The Storyteller’s Chest is a collaboration between my wife, a close friend and myself and collects a series of Fairy Tales to delight readers of all ages.

IMG_20160612_115929~4

There are new friends to meet and wonderful places to discover. Whether it be in the depths of the ocean or a castle in a magical kingdom, our heroes are waiting for you. So pack your bag and get ready. It is time for you to join them on their adventures. And maybe at the end, you’ll have a story or two of your own to tell.

You can purchase the hardcover through lulu here.

The Valerious Chronicles are available in hardcover.

I have several projects on the go at the moment. It’s with great pleasure I can announce that one of them is complete. Since finishing the series, I have been wanting to release, what I would consider, the special edition of the Valerious Chronicles. Now the dream has become a reality and the hardcover editions are available for purchase.  

 
IMG_20160213_094248 (1)
I think the benefit of finishing a trilogy is that, from a creative perspective, you are feel as though you have just come out of seclusion and are able to see the rest of the world again. Whilst writing the Valerious Chronicles I rarely had time to work on anything else. So I am making sure that I take advantage of this time and work on different things.

I’m really happy with how the hardcover versions of the trilogy have turned out. For me it is a fitting end to a project that took up such a large part of my life. You can find the hardcovers for purchase here.  

I am sure that in the future there will be some more tales to be told from Kovi, but for now I am pleased to move onto bigger and better things.

In the next six months I will be releasing another book, something quite different to the Valerious Chronicles, but at the same time with a hint of the same flavours. I look forward to sharing it with you all soon.

Project Isles

meteora

Sunset at Meteora

What do you do after almost four months of travelling? Apart from shake the inevitable post-holiday depression, you either quit your day job and decide you want to travel for the rest of your life, or you try and find something to fill the void. As much as I loved my post trilogy trip, I am glad to be back on home soil, catching up with familiar faces and sleeping in my own bed! So my eyes have turned to the future. To the next project.

I have been asked many times since returning home whether my journey through the UK and Europe sparked a wealth of new story ideas in my over imaginative mind. My response is generally along the lines of, “Does a cow moo?” How could a fantasy writer not be inspired by the mists hanging over the Scottish highlands, or the clouds casting shadows over the many castles in England and France?

Scotland 1

The Fairy Pools – Isle of Skye

I have always loved Europe and nothing has changed. Everywhere you look there is history. Each corner turned presents stunning landscapes and ancient ruins. The entire continent has such an air of ‘significance’ that I could spend years exploring and learning. I say significance in that so much of the modern world was shaped by actions and events which began in central Europe. Australia is a relatively new country in the eyes of the human race. We have outstanding landscapes and architecture, but we cannot compete when it comes to the cultural wealth of Europe and the UK.

Granada

Stop everything you are doing and go to Granada!

In the time since finishing the Valerious Chronicles I have made a point of turning my mind away from writing. So much of my mental effort and time has been spent on working on these books over the last few years that I had almost forgotten how to relax and enjoy my other hobbies. I’ve been reading more books and comics, playing video games again and finding more time for board games and other social activities.

Downton abbey

Yes – This is Downton Abbey

Nevertheless I cannot help but continue to take notes and email myself the ideas that pop into my head at random times. My inbox is full of them. So I am happy to announce that my next book idea has already begun to form. All I will say at this stage is that it will be a single novel in the fantasy genre, and that it will in no way be linked to the Valerious Chronicles.

I will be referring to it as “Project Isles” for now and as the idea develops I will try to document my progress from idea to novel in this blog. It is highly exciting for me to have a completely clean slate and I am truly looking forward to engaging in new world-building. I foresee “Project Isles” being a long project. It may be that in the meantime I will work on short stories or novellas to publish intermittently. Additionally I am keen to see the Valerious Chronicles made available in hardcover with all new cover art. This is something I have already begun working on and will be excited to reveal in coming months.

Tower bridge

Tower Bridge at night

In the meantime, if you are looking for some excellent reads in the fantasy genre I cannot more highly recommend the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. I am reading ‘The Wise Man’s Fear’ at the moment and cannot put it down.

A Journey: the creation of a trilogy

2015-01-07 14.49.28-1

Today marks the release of the last book in my fantasy trilogy The Valerious Chronicles. The original idea for the story was sparked over fifteen years ago, whilst sitting on a bus through central Australia. Since then it evolved many times before finally being put together as a published trilogy of books. And in that time there have been many things I have learnt as a writer that changed my outlook on life. It has been a long journey, one that was difficult but fun. It was rewarding, daunting and trying. But I made it and now is the perfect time to look back and share my thoughts.

 

1) Don’t undertake something this big unless you love it:

Without fail the question I am asked the most is, how do you find the time to write these books? I work full time and write in the hours between my everyday life. At times it can be difficult to fit the writing in, but I have found that as I got further into the trilogy I was able to make time whenever I could. And the only reason I was able to do that was the fact that I absolutely loved writing.

Everybody has hobbies. We all have things we do when we get home and have a spare half hour. Whether it’s watching TV, reading books, baking, painting, playing games or sport, we make the time to fit these into our lives. Mainly because we enjoy them. Writing gives me the most enjoyment. It excites me. If it didn’t I would have never succeeded.

 

2) Start small:

I look back now and wish I had started with a single book. A trilogy was a tough project to begin with as a new artist. I have had the chance to speak with a lot of new writers and one thing I say to all of them is start small. Write a single book, or a novella to begin with. Write a blog, short stories, articles. Do anything to build your skill and learn the ropes first. I jumped straight into a fantasy trilogy and in a way bit off a larger mouthful than I was ready for.

I believe this is reflected in my writing, which most readers will noticed progressed and improved over the three novels. I have had readers say to me that the third book actually feels like it is written by a different writer. I think that this is a natural occurrence for new writers/artists, as with each piece of work we build on our skill. In hindsight starting with a single novel would have let me iron out some of those early creases.

 

3) You will always be critical of your own work:

It is hard for me to go back and read my own work without feeling I could have done better. I do not think I will ever be 100% happy with something I produce. That is not to say that I am not pleased with my books. And no matter how many great reviews and positive feedback I receive I will always doubt my own work. The key, I believe, is allowing myself to be comfortable with the fact that I will never ever be fully happy. I will always feel that I could have done better. In a way, if I didn’t feel that way I wouldn’t be improving as a writer.

 

4) Success is subjective:

Let’s be honest, to become a household name is every writer’s dream. If you go out with the mentality that the first book you write is going to fill the shelves of every bookshelf from Sydney to Washington, then you are likely setting yourself up for failure. However, success can be defined in many ways. When I self published my first novel I did so with the goal of having a single random person in the world buy and read my book. I measured this by awaiting an online book review from someone who I had absolutely no connection with.

The day I received my first review from a complete stranger, I felt an enormous sense of relief. I had achieved what I had set out to accomplish. And the fact that it was a highly praising review made continuing my writing all the easier. I knew that by finishing the trilogy there was at least one person out there in the world who wanted to know how the story ended.

That allowed me to set achievable goals for each book. I never believed that I would become a New York times best seller with these books. But I was able to celebrate my success by having realistic goals. My long term goal may be to hit the bestseller list, but I will be doing it one small step at a time.

 

5) Publishing is difficult:

The world of publishing has changed so much over the last decade it is almost impossible to predict where we will be next year. It has never been easier to publish your books. Arguably as a result of this there has also never been more competition. The market, in particular eBooks, is overflowing with content and having yours noticed is an unbelievably daunting task. I am still amazed every time I see my books in the top 100 of an Amazon category. I think to myself, ‘How in the world did people find my book in the ocean of available books out there?’

I approached multiple publishers with Dawn of the Valiant before opting to self-publish. I have no regrets that I didn’t try harder to get traditionally published. I personally believe that I wasn’t ready to be published by a traditional publisher. I still consider myself a writer who is learning the ropes and hope that one day I will write a novel which a publisher will like and be willing to support.

However, I am under no illusion as to how difficult it is to find success in traditional publishing in today’s market. It is a combination of talent, the right idea, right contacts and luck. It can be depressing not hearing back from a publisher. You spend thousands of hours working on a novel, pouring your emotions into it and then do not even get a reply to say, thanks for sending us your synopsis. It would be enough to cause many artists to give up. But in the end it is all about what you have set out to accomplish. The answer will be different for everyone.

IMG_20150523_095615~2

Writing these books has changed me as a person. I have a different outlook on life, a different opinion of myself and those who helped me along the way. I will always question the path I took, but I will be thankful for the lessons I learnt along the way. For now I will take a deep breath and celebrate. And I know it won’t be long until I set my next goal.

 

The Valerious Chronicles are complete!

FOS alternate cover

Today is the release day of The Fleet of Sinsai. After years of writing, editing and publishing, the Valerious Chronicles have finally come to a close. It is with a great sense of relief and excitement, as well as an almighty exhale that I can present the epic conclusion to the tale of brothers Christill and Thibalt.

I hope you join with me in celebrating the end of an era. No series of books is ever completed without the efforts of many. I want to thank all those who were involved in the creation of the Chronicles. My wife Melina, who suffered through all the revisions and allowed me to lock myself in my study for countless hours over the last years. To Tom and Steph who showed so much enthusiasm and went through my writing with a fine comb. To all the beta readers who gave up their time to help. To everyone who encouraged me along the way.

And finally to those who have picked up my books and read them. Without you there would have been no Valerious Chronicles. Thank you all.

You can find the Fleet of Sinsai at Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, the Book Depository and Smashwords.

The Fleet of Sinsai Pre-orders are up!

All three covers

The release date is set. June 20th is the day the Valerious Chronicles come to a close. The conclusion of the trilogy is complete and I hope you all join me in celebrating what has been an amazing journey in bringing this world to life.

You can find the book to pre-order at amazon and smashwords.

Blurb

The Shrine is destroyed. Yet, Christill’s quest is not at an end. He must now find a way back to Feldom, and quickly. Kahnustus is hunting and soon he will find the last of the guardian gods. For even they may not be powerful enough to protect Kovi.

Across the sea, Thibalt fights for the allegiance of the Miirvkin, with the hope of a dying nation on his shoulders. Here, in the shadows of his childhood, he will endure his greatest test as he battles his past to protect his future.

Back home, the Fleet of Sinsai sweeps down the coast and the shattered remnants of Feldom gather for one final stand. They are surrounded, outnumbered and fragile. But by the courage of a few, they will stand together and face extinction united.

The final chapter in Thibalt and Christill’s journey will see them meet their destiny and, through their sacrifice, forever change the fate of a world.

Review: Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

IMG_20150519_185019-2

Yes, I should have read the book first and then seen the movie, but when Starship Troopers was released in the cinema I was only eleven years old. And at the time my reading list wasn’t quite as extensive as it is now. But I have finally managed to get to this one and let’s just say it wasn’t what I was expecting after having watched the over the top action movie more times than any person really should over the last fifteen years. The names are the same. That is pretty much the extent of the crossover … Thankfully I will add.

I will say this to begin. I fully understand why this book is so highly rated. The ideas, especially when put into context of when the book was written, are thoroughly thought provoking. The battle scenes are presented like a scene from a blockbuster movie and really put you in the driver’s seat for the action. The philosophical questions posed in this future earth have not dulled with age.

Reading this I constantly found myself stopping to think that the arguments Robert A. Heinlein is presenting are very convincing. His characters talk of our time with disdain and even mock our system of government. And although the world they are living in seems so utterly ridiculous, you end up nodding along as they discuss why the way we do everything is wrong.

There were a couple of times when I actually thought I was sitting in a classroom myself hearing a lecture/debate on morality, civil service and the best way to govern a country. Those bits of the book were the highlight for me; the discussions and thoughts conveyed regarding personal sacrifice for the greater good. And when that is wrapped up in an action packed military fiction, you just can’t complain.

The description of boot camp and life in the mobile infantry is so gritty and thus, to its core so real. I have never served in the military but I imagine that anybody who has could relate to this book. The story follows Rico as he joins the mobile infantry and travels the stars to battle the Bugs. In many ways this book didn’t need to be science fiction. The Bugs could have been replaced with foreigners from another country, and the spaceships with planes. But it wouldn’t have been the same.

Heinlein’s words are a pleasure to read and have you drifting through pages with ease. Some classic works of SF can be a tad dry. This was vibrant, full of slang which helped to make it feel like our society and, most of all, believable.

If I had to point at something I did not like I would say that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the way it ended. However, I cannot in any way suggest a better ending, so I will say he ended it well. I feel that this book could easily be one that students should study in high school. I know that many of the books that I read in my schooling did nothing to get me thinking differently. Yet, this book achieved just that, and all the while had marines splattering aliens across distant planets. What more could you ask for?

 

Rating 5/5