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Publication date for “Oliver Drummond and The Four Horsemen”

After a slight delay ‘Oliver Drummond and The Four Horsemen’ has a publication date of 31st October, in both eBook and print formats, exclusively on Amazon.

It’s a period Young Adult action/adventure – set in 1926 – and follows schoolboy Oliver Drummond as he tries to prevent the horseshoes from the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse from falling into the wrong hands. If he fails then then Horsemen would be unleashed upon the world and under the control of a man hell-bent on dominion.

And sacrifice may be his only option…

With Kindle Direct Publishing’s new pre-order system people can order a Kindle copy now and up to the 31st, and can be seen here (UK site) If readers in any other territory search for ‘Oliver Drummond’ then they will be able to find the page, and be able to pre-order.


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BristolCon fringe reading event

Monday night saw my first reading event, at the monthly meeting of BristolCon fringe. A friend of mine – Pete Sutton – a fast-rising name of the Bristol writing scene was my only prior contact and I wasn’t really sure what to expect.

I was told that I’d have a twenty-thirty minute slot where I’d be able to read out a piece of work. I chose the opening chapter of Tiberius Found.

The other guest speaker was local writer Ken Shinn and I’m glad that I went first. His comedy-horror short which featured a demon Benny Hill was very, very good and a hard act to follow.
The chapter seemed to be well received and was recorded for future podcast. A Q&A followed, which was also recorded and I think it all went well. Not as scary as I thought it might be.
Hopefully, it will the fist of many such events.

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BeaconLit Writing festival 2014

Yesterday saw the second BeaconLit writing festival in Ivinghoe, Buckinghamshire. The inaugural event last year only consisted of an afternoon but this year the programme was extended to a full day.

The morning programme gave us options ranging from Dave Sivers’ experiences of self-publishing, Creative writing sessions, Crime novelist Alison Bruce giving tips of interesting ways to kill your characters, and Mardibooks founders Martin Godleman and Belinda Hunt talking about publishing pitfalls. 

The afternoon had three sessions – a Young Adult discussion panel with authors Hilary Freeman, Teri Terry and Caroline Green, a talk by Catherine Jones and Mandy Kirkby about the non-fiction book ‘Love Letters of the Great War’, and finally the Crime panel with Stephen Booth, Anya Lipska and Jane Isaac.

What I liked about the panels was the fact that each and every guest had something valid and interesting to say. The YA panel brought a level of depth and credibility to what many see as an ‘easy’ genre (which I know for a fact is not the case), the Great War letters panel brought us all down to earth by the sadness and beauty of the letters, and the Crime panel – despite its gory theme – brought a high amount of humour, as well as interesting viewpoints between hero and villain.

Increasing the programme to a full day was a big step for the festival committee to deal with and I think they did a fantastic job in organisation. The atmosphere was good-natured yet professional, and at no point did I feel the delegates were being harried or jostled to meet a time deadline. All of the guest authors were exceptionally friendly and approachable, as were the other delegates I managed to speak with. A mention should also be given to the ladies who staffed the front door and the refreshments stand, who all did a great job (and with smile). There were a couple of issues which I know Dave Sivers felt as though could have gone better but they were elements beyond his, or the rest of the committee’s control, and didn’t spoil an otherwise enjoyable day.

As a side note – part of the day’s activities was a flash fiction story competition, open to all delegates – max 150 words with ‘beacon’ as a theme. I was very happy, and surprised, to be announced as the winner. Here’s my story:


The Longest of Nights

 They said if I lit the Beacon then help would arrive. They said men would gather and drive the invaders from our lands. They were wrong.

          The Sais chose their moment well. They’d harried our borders for months – killing the menfolk, stealing their cattle, taking their women and children as slaves. Bishop Iestyn said it was punishment because many of us still followed the old ways and hadn’t taken his murdered God to our hearts.


          Some think the dead only walk our paths during Samhain but on this, the longest of nights, the veil between worlds is at its thinnest so we light fires for our ancestors, to guide their shadow bodies to our doors. Together we celebrate the solstice and tomorrow’s rebirth of the sun to our land.

          Yes, the Sais chose their moment well – for who would notice one Beacon when the whole land was on fire?

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The draft is dead, long live the draft.

I think it would be a fair assumption that most writers feel something similar to me when the 1st draft of a new story is finished.

Relieved. Nervous. Knackered. At a bit of a loose end.

I started the final chapter in The Emperor Initiative series – Tiberius Crowned – during a self-imposed NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote 55,000 words in a 30-day period starting mid-March. And it’s taken from mid-April until now to finish it off. It turned into a bit of a slog but Saturday (3nd May) saw it finished. It felt good to have it finally down in black & white, waiting for the real work of editing and rewriting to happen.

However, I was left with the age-old dilemma of what to do next. I’m itching to start work on a WW1 thriller that I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks now – but to tell the truth I’ve already been making notes and jotting ideas down. It’ll mark a departure for me from straight YA adventures to a full-blown adult thriller and I know it’ll be a whole different ball-game. But fun, I think.

I knew what I needed to concentrate on first though – the next edit of my 1920’s-set YA supernatural adventure Oliver Drummond and the Four Horsemen. I originally wrote it as an adult piece but realised that wasn’t working, so re-jigged it with a fifteen year old as the protagonist. It’s still far too wordy and needs heavy trimming. Okay, maybe full on surgery. But has, I think, great potential. The edit started yesterday and the word drop has already proven substantial.

Does it hurt other writers cutting good writing but knowing it just doesn’t fit the bill so has to go? Hope so.

I’m looking to publish Oliver Drummond and the Four Horsemen mid-to-late summer, so will post updates as they happen.


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Tiberius Bound on Smashwords

Tiberius Bound sailed through the Smashwords loading process and got accepted straight away into their Premium Catalog.

It seems that I learned from the issues I had with Tiberius Found. Actually, following their style guide helped a little too.

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Tiberius Bound

Tiberius Bound_Kindle versionThe second book in my Emperor Initiative series – Tiberius Bound – is now available as an eBook, priced at a giveaway cut-me-own-throat of $0.99 / £0.99 / €0.99. Available for the Kindle and other multiple eFormats, you can find it via the links below:

This is a darker book than Tiberius Found and does feature elements of torture and swearing.

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My NaNoWriMo challenge – Days 26-30

After having reached the 50k word target on day 25 I continued to write out the full 30 days of the challenge. In the five days (26-30) I wrote an extra 5,681 words (average 1,136) bringing the total to 55,737 words, 11% up on target with an average words count over the 30 days of 1,858.

To be honest I’m not sure if I could have accomplished this had I been working.

Tiberius Crowned is, roughly, about two-thirds written (first draft) and coming along nicely. There were a few sequences and mechanics that were proving to be awkward but I’m pretty happy with how they’ve worked out and it’s looking in good shape.

From my experience of doing two NaNoWriMo challenges (one official, one not) is the importance of having a plan. If I had to think each day of what area or sequence I was going to write then I doubt if I would have done half as many words. The plan acts as the stepping stones and allows me to concentrate on the writing, not the thinking. 

I hope that if you haven’t already given the NaNoWriMo challenge a try then you do so in November.


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My NaNoWriMo challenge – Days 21-25

It’s been a few days since my last NaNoWriMo update post on writing 50,000 words for Tiberius Crowned, but here are the totals for days 21 – 25:

Words       +          Total        Remaining

  • 21) 1,887      220        42,637        7,363
  • 22) 2,074     407        44,711         5,289
  • 23) 1,776      109        46,487        3,513
  • 24) 1,738      71          48,225        1,775
  • 25) 1,831      164         50,056        -56

So, SUCCESS!! The 50k mark was achieved five days early but that doesn’t mean that I’m going to stop. I might not crank out the 1,667 average but I’ll still add words to the total. The finished word count for first draft will be in the region of 75k-80k so it’s about two-thirds written (theoretically).

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My NaNoWriMo challenge – Day 20

So coming up to 5.30pm on day 20 of my NaNoWriMo 30-day challenge and today I wrote an extra 2,059 words, 392 words over the daily average target, for Tiberius Crowned.

So the tally reads:
Target amount : 50,000
Previous total  : 38,691
Today’s total    : 2,059
Total so far       : 40,750
Remaining        : 9,250

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Ny NaNoWrMo challenge – Day 19

So coming up to 7pm on day 19 of my NaNoWriMo 30-day challenge and today I wrote an extra 2,346 words, 679 words over the daily average target, for Tiberius Crowned.

So the tally reads:
Target amount : 50,000
Previous total  : 36,345
Today’s total    : 2,346
Total so far       : 38,691
Remaining        : 11,309

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