I’m Not Here (Reputation)

Hi everyone,

As you read this, I’m not really here (spoooookyyyyyyy).

I’m in Lincoln, probably talking crap to a fellow author or artisty type in the Assembly Rooms as we wait for the hordes of people who will definitely buy our books and artwork…

…sure, sure they will 😀

Anyway, there isn’t much to tell you this week except where I’ll be and what I’ll be getting up to, just in case you feel like popping along to say hi and enjoy the event. At the end is a tip that has come to me out of this week. But first:

Steampunk Asylum is in it’s tenth year, this year. A full decade of taking over Lincoln’s historical quarter with Victorian Science Fiction splendour. I’ll be in the Assembly Rooms (timetable of events here)  with all the other authors and artists, trying to pretend I’m as smart as them (and failing :D).

And now the tip! It’s dead simple, but fundamentally important.

Be Nice

To every author who gripes, complains, or gets involved in things they shouldn’t, this does nothing for your professional reputation. I’m not perfect by a long shot, but I try to always be nice to the organisers of events, I’m flexible as to where they put me and infinitely grateful when they offer a free table or opportunity to do a reading or a talk (even though I still get nervous as hell, years into the job). I also don’t get involved in competitiveness and politics that can sometimes surround our work. There will always be a teeny group in your medium/fandom trying to be the Grand Overlord. No matter what your geeky sub-culture, there will be an elitist caste. These are not people to associate with. Be civil, and move away. It’s easy and good for you to just say, “I’d rather not get involved, thank you”. I’m here to enjoy my writing and have a chat with like-minded geeks and enthusiasts who come to say hello. That’s where the joy comes, and where my attention stays.

Your professional reputation is your entire existence. Be true to your principles, your ideals, but be the most civil and open-minded version that you can possibly be. People appreciate that. And, after you’ve been you for a while, the word spreads. I have had zero editing work from random people on the internet. I have had a lot from people I’ve met at conventions, had friendly chats with on Twitter, or from friends of those people. My requests tend to start with “Such-and-such who you met at time-and-place said you help people with their writing”. Word gets around, you see. And those little editing jobs are how I pay for travel costs, food, table fees and accommodation (I tend to sofa-surf where possible, mind you). Without the editing work, I wouldn’t be able to get to events. Without being friendly, non-competitive and avoiding the BS, I wouldn’t be able to follow my dream.

So, being nice is not only a way to live, but a huge boon to you being able to follow your dream, and possibly make a career out of it.

 

Thanks for reading!

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The (extended) Adventures of Alan Shaw

Hi everyone!

This post is mostly for those who have read The Adventures of Alan Shaw and the sequel, Old Haunts, and who are eagerly awaiting the third and final instalment.

Yes, they exist! The voices in my head told me so! Sheesh.

 

Anyway, I have news.

I’ve been asked many times “what happens between the adventures? Sometimes Alan references things that have happened, but we haven’t read about them.”

It’s almost like he’s a real person whose life doesn’t end when you turn the page! And that was the way I always intended it. Alan continues to have adventures outside of the books, between the other stories. What you read in the Adventures trilogy are just his most stand-out, life-altering excursions.

“But, that means that there are potentially hundreds of adventures that we’ll never read.”

That’s very true, reader. And there are even stories from the other characters between Alan’s own. The whole world continues to turn whether you’re reading about it or not.

I think this comes from my love of being a D&D Dungeon master. Whatever the players choose to do, whatever adventure they go on, the rest of the world continues to change. It means that there are real consequences to the decisions that our fictional friends make. And that’s insanely fun to write.

With that said, I’ve recently been given an amazing opportunity. I’ve been contacted by the lovely C.G. Hatton, a sci-fi author worthy of your attention, who is putting together an anthology of stories with fellow indie authors. As we were chatting about it, we decided that I should write a new Alan Shaw adventure. And so, that’s exactly what I’ve done.

For existing readers, the story will fit into Alan’s life between the first and second stories of Old Haunts which means that all you fans of his straight-talking ace-pilot partner, Merry. You’ll also get more Alan, of course, at his most sardonic and there will even discover more about Harrison Stanhope, the Privateer from Alan Shaw and The Lovelace Code.

So there you have it. I’ll obviously keep you all posted on the anthology’s title and release date as they become available. But that’s been your heads-up, so to speak. I’m pretty excited to delve back into Alan’s past as I’m writing the final book of the trilogy. I hope you’ll enjoy reading both when they hit shelves.

 

Thanks for reading!

Con Report: Whitby Steampunk 2018

Hi everyone,

On a lovely weekend in July, I had the esteemed pleasure of attending the Whitby Steampunk event. While I’d heard excellent things about his event, I’d never managed to make it until this year. Boy, am I glad that I did!

Set in Whitby Pavilion, which overlooks the very waves on which the Demeter brought Count Dracula to England (spooky spooky) the event is the perfect in a lot of little ways.

Ran by an excellent team who were as pleasant and helpful as they were frazzled, the event was off to an excellent start before I even arrived. It’s always nice to know what’s going on before you arrive at an event and the Whitby Steampunk team made sure that you knew.

The pamphlet for the weekend was stacked with exciting and informative content including talks by the authors in attendance (Leesa DeVantier, Gareth Clegg and myself), Bartitsu demonstrations, and practical workshops by McSkelly Leathers on how to make your own steampunk gadgets and attire. As usual at these events, there was a host of market stalls for people to fill their eye holes with the awesome aesthetic that is Steampunk, and there were plenty of the uninitiated who came to see what it was all about (and left as converts, of course).

The main thing for me, as always, was the atmosphere. Every single stallholder, organiser and attendee was in great spirits, helpful, pleasant and an absolute pleasure to be around. My whole weekend was made by standing stall-by-stall with the excellent Lurcher Gallery ran by Allison and Marcus who had my jaw aching and mind exploding from the riotous fun we had. They also make excellent Victorian clothing.

On a selfish note, I did very well, selling over 50 books over two days. I’m incredibly grateful to the people of Whitby and all of the Steampunks who either bought their first of my books or who came back for another.

Fun stories:

  • Starting an argument between two avid readers who both wanted to read The Adventures of Alan Shaw first which had to be settled by Grandma (hilarious).
  • My usual nerves at doing talks was met with relief when, on the first day, no one came (secretly pleased that I got out of it, I know that makes me a terrible person). The second day I had a small audience of four people that I already knew. I did a little reading and we had a nice chat about writing and steampunk in general which was lovely.
  • Scaring the bejeezus out of two Whitby tourists. How? I’ll tell you. The scene is shortly after midnight. I’ve had a few beers and I’m heading up the famous 199 stairs to the hostel next to Whitby Abbey. To get there, I had to pass through the graveyard that Dracula made his home on his arrival to England, and where thousands of Goth photos have been taken ever since. I, as usual, was dressed in monochrome Victorian attire, and a little giddy. So, when I hear voices from between the gravestones, I realise that there are tourists in the graveyard, making spooky sounds to each other and giggling at the scariness of it all. I slow my pace, remaining hidden for as long as possible, before stepping out from behind a gravestone at the pace of a lost soul. I’m a bit pale at the best of times, and the moonlight must have almost gleamed from my skin. Walking past the couple, I turned my head, slowly, and gave them an emotionless nod of greeting as I drifted on by, straight toward the abbey. Suffice to say, they weren’t giggling when I left. Mwahahahahaha. I felt utterly evil and it was very, very funny. Those poor people.

Shenanigans aside, the whole event was very enjoyable and I’m already looking forward to attending again next year. Maybe I’ll get to scare some more folks in the graveyard (hehehe).

 

Thanks for reading!

Aethertide

Hi everyone!

Last week, as an apology for a period of bloggio silence, I promised that I’d talk about the comic book I’ve been working on. So here it is!

Last year at the Weekend at the Asylum Steampunk event, I had the pleasure of meeting Katherine Ellis, the excellent artist responsible for the Crankrats webcomic. We got to chatting and, as usually happens when two creative types got together, we started talking about our future projects. Kat had just released a new graphic novel, Nix, which is released for her scores of Patreon followers before being put together into hard copies.

Anyway, I said that I’d always wanted to write a comic. She, very graciously, suggested that we work together on it.

Jackpot!

I got cracking right away. You see, I had the idea already in my head. It goes a little like this:

In Steampunk worlds, there are a few things that you see quite regularly:

  • Steam-powered thingies (obviously)
  • Difference engines (clockwork computers)
  • Tesla-style electricity
  • Aether (sometimes spelled ether, but that’s not as cool)

Aether is often used as a “magic did it” explanation for how Victorians might keep their dirigibles aloft, or how they might travel to the stars. It’s all very much in keeping with the 1800s aesthetic, as aether had a huge buzz around it in Victorian times with the surge in study around electro-magnetism.

That’s the boring pseudo-history bit. You can always read more in-depth about the real word stuff. But that’s not what we’re here for!

I wanted to play around with the idea of aether as a power source. In The Adventures of Alan Shaw trilogy, I had shown the passage of time from Alan’s childhood where steam was in its infancy and Automatons were a brand new science, through his young adult life where steam and clockwork powered airships and all kinds of mechanica. In the third book (I’m still working on so…spoilers, I guess) you’ll see a progression into using electricity. Time moves on.

So, I’d been there and done that with the other Steampunk power sources and how they could change the world. But there was no room in Alan’s story for aether. I’d have to write something brand spanking new. What a shame!

Aethertide is still set in the 1800’s. It’s still very much a Steampunk setting but our story begins after steam power has risen, and after Faraday’s experiments with electro-magnetism. In the world of Aethertide, his faffing with electricity led to an even greater discovery. In this story, Aether is an electrically charged gas which lays just beyond the realm of our perception. It’s the insulation between parallel dimensions that stops universes colliding together. And it can be drawn into our realm, from that extra-planar space, by using electro magnets.

I think that’s pretty neat. What do you think?

But that’s not even the cool part. Enter our lead character, Doctor Olivia Heward. As a black, female scientist int he 1800s, she’s had to fight for everything she’s got. Every book she’s read, every exam she’s taken, has been a battle to achieve. Because the old boys of the British Institute of Science aren’t a fan of women knowing too much, and her race just makes them hate her even more. That doesn’t stop her.

We meet Olivia at the culmination of her research. You see, while aether is in use the world over, no one has ever asked a vital question. Where does it come from? A world obsessed with power doesn’t think that far ahead. [That’s my link to real history and the destruction caused on the environment by the Industrial Revolution, you see? I do think…sometimes] But Olivia does. She’s studying the extra-planar space where the aether is found in its natural state. And, in an effort to observe that place directly, she’s about to be thrown through the barrier between worlds and into a parallel dimension beyond.

That’s where Aethertide really got fun for me. Because having an incredibly intelligent scientist from a Steampunk world thrust into parallel dimensions is the best story-fuel I could ever wish for.

Olivia will be thrust into the world of An-Mor, a jungle filled with aether-conducting crystals and a Magi overlord with an unhinged apprentice. She’ll come across creatures like nothing we’ve ever seen. She’ll find out what lies beyond our little world, and realise that it’s not all good. She’ll make a friend in the An’Morian warrior, Raisa, and enemies of creatures who live outside of time that have been to Olivia’s world once before, and who will do anything to get there again. Aethertide is such a fun mix of Steampunk and Fantasy, with a nod to Arthurian legend. I’ve had an absolute blast writing it.

Anyway, that’s a brief synopsis of the idea that hopefully you’ll be able to read soon. I’m waiting on Kat getting back to me after reading the script. I hope she likes it and feels as enthused by it as I do. I can’t wait for you to meet Olivia and Raisa in their Steam-fantasy meets Sliders (anyone remember that show?) adventure.

 

Thanks for reading, everyone!

It’s Been Quiet…

Hi everyone,

As usual, a gaping void of blog posts exists between us. And, as usual, I’m sorry about that. I’ve been super-duper busy, though, if it makes it any better? What have I been up to? Well, let’s see…

Since Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw Book 2) has been released, I’ve been trying to hit as many events as possible, spending more time online marketing and suchlike and, of course, I’ve been writing!

The third Alan Shaw novel has been started, with the first story complete (barring edits, of course). I’ve also been contacted by Katherine Ellis, the artist and writer of the Crankrats and Nix webcomics. We chatted about maybe working together on a comic when we met at the Steampunk Asylum weekend last year. Some of you might remember that I was working on the script. Well, Katherine’s workload has finally made a gap large enough to work on something new and so I’ve been working on finishing that comic so that it can become a reality! I’ll do a proper post all about it, soon.

I’ve also been doing some editing work for a local magazine, Doncopolitan, which has taken up some of my time. As I’m sure you creatives out there know, paid work has to come first and that has meant that the blog has had to take a back seat to a lot of other things.

So, how am I going to make this blog post void up to you?

Like this!

Coming up soon, I’ll be sharing some guest posts from fellow Inspired Quill authors Dorothy Windsor and Mark Cantrell. And I’ve also had the idea to do some posts on tips for new authors. Surviving the first signing, rejection slips and balancing the whole work/life/writing/signing colossus on the head of a pin. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to talk about, yet, but I guess we’ll find out together.

With that, I will leave you once more. I’m off to put some more words to Alan Shaw 3.

 

Thanks for reading!

New Book Cover!

*puts on ominous voice*

The time has come.

It has arrived.

On a shelf near you.

*cough* *cough*

As promised, gentlefolk. Another exciting moment in the life of the Adventures of Alan Shaw series. Not only was the second book (Old Haunts) published just a few weeks ago, but now the first book has had a long-awaited makeover.

Guaranteed to look even sexier than a sexy thing while adorning your book shelves. I share with you, the new covers side by side for the first time!

 

Now THAT’S a series!

What can we spot in there?

Alan looking badass. London skyline. Airship. Automaton. Creepy villain. A few cogs thrown in for that Steampunk feel.

Oh yes. It is fair to say, my friends, that I’m feeling pretty good about those covers.

But what do you think? Feeling their mesmerising awesomeness compelling you to read? Eager to find out where that airship’s heading? Intrigued by what lies beneath that villainous shadow? Let me know!

 

Thanks for reading!

 

Old Haunts Update!

Hi everyone,

So my latest novel, Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw book 2) has been out in the world a whole week!

It’s an odd thing as it seemed to take aeons to be released and now that it’s here time is flying once more.

I mostly wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared, commented and of course bought the new book. You have no idea how much your support means to me and how extremely helpful it is to have people spread the word to their own circle of family and friends.

A few folks have said they’re waiting to catch me at one of the events on the Tour Dates page so that’s something to look forward to. Scarborough Sci-Fi convention at the end of April is always a highlight of my authoring year with so many fun and friendly people there to meet and re-meet (our group came only a point away from winning their annual grand geek quiz last year. So close!)

So, Old Haunts has been doing well and held a pretty high Amazon ranking for the first few days of it’s release. That’s great for a little indie author like me and I’m very pleased with it. A few people have even got back with reviews already! And they’ve all been very kind and made me feel, as always, like telling Alan’s story is worthwhile. It also helps me get over the next hurdle…

I should probably write the next book! Eek!

While I have plenty of ideas, I’ve barely touched Alan’s third outing. After finishing Old Haunts I worked on a couple of novellas that have been scratching away in my head. Now they’re done which is great but I really need to get back to Alan, now. I just need to find a name for a very important character and then I’ll start, honest 😁

Anyway, thank you all again for your constant support. I feel very lucky to have you all

Thank for reading!

(This blog post was typed thumb-wise on my phone so apologies for the lack of pictures etc 😊)