Big News!

Books Twitter image - paperback.png

I can finally reveal why I’ve been silent here for so long, and the reason is, I’ve been hard at work prepping my novels for release in paperback form. All you old skool book lovers (and in all honesty, I don’t blame you if you are) can now get your hands on a physical copy of my first two novels! Woo-hoo!!

And boy, has it been a labour of love…or should that just be ‘been a labour’…to get them ready. First, I updated the ebook editions, giving them another thorough once-over with various grammar/spell-checkers, plus giving in, and introducing the Oxford comma to the text.

Next was the preparing of the covers for Amazon CreateSpace. The cover for Warriors Made of Glass wasn’t too much of an issue, as I’d saved it with excessively high dpi for the ebook. It was A Candle Amongst the Stars which was the bugger, as its size and dpi was the minimum for an Amazon ebook; therefore, too low for the cover, so I had to go about manipulating it in GIMP to try and up the count without distorting the image noticeably. Hopefully, it’ll come out alright in print.

Then there was the formatting of the manuscripts themselves, and I used Amazon’s Kindle Create Add-in for Microsoft Word to automate the process. The app is in Beta, and though it streamlines the process nicely, it crashed A LOT, so if you’re thinking of using it for your own books, save your work regularly! Again Warriors Made of Glass behaved itself, and I got it exported as a pdf pretty quickly. A Candle Amongst the Stars, not so much. For some reason it wouldn’t behave when it came to page numbering, choosing to start at page 2 instead of 1. After several hours of swearing, I found a simple (typical!) solution (I manipulated the footer by hand) and managed to export the pdf before it changed its mind.

So there we have it. My novels are now in printed format. You can find them on Amazon here: A Candle Amongst the Stars and here: Warriors Made of Glass. The links take you to Amazon UK, but they’ll be available from your national site too.

Also, I’m planning to do a freebie offer on the ebook versions soon in celebration, so stay tuned for that!


Monthly Reads – January 2018

20180118_123659.jpgSo I managed to finish off Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles, #1) just before the New Year, and I have to say, I enjoyed it immensely. The narrative switches between early fifteenth-century France and modern-day London as we learn about warlock Nathan Garrett’s past, as he tries to remember it in the present to save the lives of himself, and his friends, after a job he takes to steal a scientist’s laptop goes monumentally awry.

The story itself is full of action, is well written, and the characters are all fleshed out. The genre is urban fantasy, but even though it contains vampires, werewolves and gargoyles, they don’t seem at odds with the setting of today’s London.

Steve McHugh’s Hellequin Chronicles has quite a few more books to it, so I may well read more of them in the future. I hope there’s more on Thomas the werewolf, as out of all of the side characters, he seemed the most interesting to me.

That done, I worked on my comic and manga backlog. I’m still enjoying the Deathnote series, although L’s asides do leave me a little lost as he second guesses second guesses that second guess second guesses. But confusion aside, I’ll continue to buy instalments anytime I need to make up a free delivery on Amazon.

January now sees me doing a complete change of pace, thanks to one of the books I got for Xmas, namely ‘What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins
by Jonathan Balcombe. It’s all about intelligence and behaviour in fish, and why they’re not just dumb, unfeeling things only suitable for being overfished for the dinner table (vegan rant over). Interestingly, the author is on the advisory panel of one of the charities I volunteer for; The Aquarium Welfare Association. Given that it’s quite long, it’ll probably take me at least until the middle of next month to read, but just a couple of chapters in and I’m already enjoying it, so that bodes well.

Monthly Reads – November & December 2017


Apologies for the lack of a post in November, but the book I started at the tail end of October took me until the beginning of December to finish off. What took me nearly two months to wade through was Pax of Wildly Women, by V.C. Bestor. It was part of my old mass free e-book download, and in all honesty, it wasn’t good. The story’s general premise is that a group of women have come together under the moniker ‘Fanged Wilds and Women Program’ to protect the world’s predators in a bid to repair its ecosystem. The overarching premise itself is believable: more predators means fewer grazers (and those that survive are healthier), leading to the equalisation of habitats. It was the way the story was written that made it hard going.

First off were the play-on names of some of the more ‘famous’ characters. Politician Hillary Clintown, billionaire Richard Brimstone, media mogul Murdrech, celebrity Lady Gagg, fashion designer Stella McPaul…you get the idea. I found this very distracting, and personally, I would have been okay with entirely fictitious names with no bearing in today’s news, after all, this story is set in the future (climate change has caused the sea levels to rise, and there are Dick-Chainey clones!).

Secondly, the sheer wealth of side characters became a problem. It ended up getting more confusing than a Game of Thrones novel, and as the narrative jumped from India to Texas to England to Oregon to a dozen other places, I completely lost who was who, and when one guy sacrificed himself to a tiger, I had absolutely no idea why, as I couldn’t remember what, if anything, he’d done.

Then there was the author’s habit of having the characters try and say something insightful about the state of womanhood and the environment. Unfortunately, it often was out of place with the characters and scenes and ended up sounding disjointed, and truth be told, it wasn’t often clear what the point was the writer was trying to make. They tended to be just clipped abstract sentences that no person would really say in a conversation.

The story ended with the women doing stuff with Chernobyl radiation. What they did and why was again lost on me, as the narrative tended to go off on a tangent. Plus there were several story lines that seemed to go unfinished. What happened to Vimvole? What happened regarding the juicy information the journalist just happened to find lying on the ground? Too many questions left unanswered, or if they had been, it wasn’t entirely clear. In the end, I found this story chaotic, and at time nonsensical, which is a shame, as like I said, the premise itself sounded good.

Anyway, that finally done, I got to catch up with a couple of outstanding comics before starting another novel in December (and which I’m still reading as I write this). This was another freebie, but of a different kind, and of a considerably different quality.

Over a year ago I stayed at a Holiday Inn, to attend yet another interview that bore no fruit. But because of that, I was enrolled in the company’s IHG Rewards club, who began offering two free kindle books per year back in November. Of course, this here bookworm couldn’t say no to such an offer. Unsurprisingly, given that it was a free offer, the book choices were slim, but in the fantasy genre Crimes Against Magic (Hellequin Chronicles, #1) by Steve McHugh had good reviews, so I picked that. Thankfully, I haven’t been disappointed by this one, and I’ll give it a review in the New Year (jeez it’s nearly 2018!)

These last two months have been the months of the freebie books, as I got myself a further freebie in December, but this one was a ‘coffee table’ book, which I came into possession of in a different way to the two novels. Basically, I filled out a survey for the job website Countryside Careers, mainly as my name would go into a draw for this book. Amazingly, my name got picked, thanks to a random number generator, and a copy of British Wildlife Photography Awards: Collection 7 winged its way to me. They’re great pictures, and the book is cool to have around for the occasional flip-through.


So that’s it for 2017. However, I’ve got plenty to read in the New Year thanks to a backlog of comics, manga, and some Xmas presents. So see you all the other side in 2018. Hope you had a great festive holiday, and have a Happy New Year!

Monthly Reads – June 2017

I’ve decided to put my re-read of Harry Potter on hiatus (I’m half way through the Goblet of Fire) and try something. What with seeing Ghost in the Shell a while back, and studying Information Computer Technology with the Open University, I had a hankering to try a Cyberpunk novel.

I’ve never read Cyberpunk before, so didn’t know where to start. Cue a lot of Googling of recommendations and reviews, after which, I decided that Post-Cyberpunk sounded like my kind of trope.

“Whereas cyberpunk is/was a Darker and Edgier riposte to older Science Fiction, intended to portray what might happen if we don’t all destroy ourselves, Post-Cyberpunk is intended to present a less pessimistic and more realistic vision.”

Actually, Ghost in the Shell is considered Post-Cyberpunk(ish), so that helped affirm my choice. The TVTropes page also had a helpful list of media in this genre, and amongst the books was a title I’d seen elsewhere: Snow Crash.


“The only relief from the sea of logos is within the well-guarded borders of the Burbclaves. Is it any wonder that most sane folks have forsaken the real world and chosen to live in the computer-generated universe of virtual reality? In a major city, the size of a dozen Manhattans, is a domain of pleasures limited only by the imagination. But now a strange new computer virus called Snow Crash is striking down hackers everywhere, leaving an unlikely young man as humankind’s last best hope.” Amazon

So this is what I’m reading this month. The main character’s name is Hiro Protagonist, which is as daft as you can get, but I’m trying to look past that. I’ve only managed to get a few chapters in so far, but I’m holding myself to reading a chapter a night before bed. It’s been quite entertaining in places so far, so I’m hoping for a good read. I’ll keep you posted as to what I thought of it.

Anyone out there read Snow Crash? If so, what did you think?

Novel Update


Well, I have finally managed my first readthrough of my 3rd novel’s typescript, so now comes more typing. I’ve done a few edits here and there when time allowed, but with the reading part out the way, the process kicks up a notch as I focus all my attention on adding, subtracting, moving, and fretting over passages. It will be the first of around six re-writes, possibly more, but with each one becoming less a ‘slash and burn’ job, and more a ‘tweak here and there’ job.

Quite frankly, the whole editing business of writing sucks. You get to a point where you start hating the very thing you gave birth to, and begin second-guessing everything you’ve written. But for me, it sucks in a different way.

I like to read. I like adding to my reading goal list in Goodreads (didn’t do one this year, unsurprisingly). I like being able to show the world that yes, unlike President Trumpf, I read….and enjoy reading. I am a bookworm, loud and proud! Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to put that I’ve read my typescript for the umpteenth time. No, I may not be reading someone else’s novel, but I sure as hell #amreading.

Disappointment City


Welp, I wasn’t wrong, I didn’t get the job. Some guff about different visions. Though, to be honest, their vision could quite easily become mine, so I’m hitting the Bullshit Button on that. The final kick in the teeth is that I won’t get any reimbursement of my travel expenses. That means I’m near £260 out of pocket, with absolutely nothing to show for it. If I was reliant on Jobseekers allowance, I wouldn’t be able to pay any bills, or buy food, for around a month. Utterly ridiculous!

It really is hard to stay motivated when at every turn the universe knocks the wind out of my sails. All I want is a career to make me happy, and put money in my pocket. But the universe deems me useless and I that I should embrace unemployment. I’ve failed as a marine biologist, I’ve failed as a novelist, and now I’m failing as a social media editor. A few years down the line I’m just going to end up having to become an over-experienced toilet cleaner or shelf-stacker. It’s a very depressing state of affairs, and one I don’t see overcoming any time soon.

Anyway, to cheer myself up, went to see Logan in the cinema. Though, to be honest, it’s not the most cheery of films. It was dark, it was depressing, and it was brutal. Without a doubt, it was the swansong Logan deserved. It broke my heart, but it did the character, and Hugh Jackman’s time as the character, justice. I’m gonna miss ol’ Adamantium Claws.

To be honest, I’m not sure how I’d feel if Hugh Jackman gets replaced in future X-men films. The part was his, just like RDJ is Iron Man (or more accurately, Stark ;)), and Chris Evans is Captain America. Better to have a completely new character filling the slot. Like the Falcon becoming the new Capt., if such a need arises, or X23 becoming the new ‘Wolverine’. That way, the character can continue, but not by re-booting their previous incarnation. But I guess that’s something that’ll happen a ways down the line.

Novel Update:

I’ve broken out the red pen. Now it’s time to try and slot in 5 pages a day, whereby I doodle over them with corrections. I estimate it’ll take me about a month and a half to get through the first review. So may the slog continue.

Panic Stations!


Well these past couple of weeks have been a bit of a freak out. After a stream of application rejections, one suddenly came up golden, leaving me to plan a trip up to Edinburgh, and create an award-winning presentation all in one week. Why is it the jobs I REALLY want, a) accept my application so I have to make a fool of myself at an interview, and b) require me to do a presentation. As if interviews aren’t bad enough for the socially anxious/awkward. It was like the St. Andrews University job all over again, and ho boy, did I die a death there!

Still, for a week I juggled a university TMA assignment with creating a presentation on critiquing the company’s social media account, and what I would do to enhance it. That was all fun and games!

Then this socially anxious bundle of nerves headed north for a stress-filled visit to my favourite city in the UK.

First came train problems. A signal failure down the line meant my connection in Llandudno was delayed by 10 minutes. I had a second connection at Warrington Bank Quay, with, you guessed it, a 10 minute gap between arrival and departure. I don’t know how the driver and conductor managed it, but he made up six minutes, giving me enough time to arrive and pee before my next train. Phew!

The weather was dry, but clearly cold, as the snow-capped mountains en route attested to.

The evening saw me at the Holiday Inn, eating hummus sandwiches using a chocolate wrapper as a plate, while I caught up with my social media stuff, and occasionally reviewing my presentation. That was until the power suddenly went out at 8:45. What was even more fun that the hotel’s water supply seems to be reliant on electric, so I had no drinkable water either. Defeated, I went to bed early. Was woken at 5am by the one light I’d accidentally left on suddenly springing to life. 8 hours it had taken them! The water took a little longer to recover. Brown’s okay only if it’s hot chocolate or coffee. Still, at least the radiator wasn’t reliant on electric, and I stayed toasty, while outside it hit zero. And as I lay in bed, the gibbons in the zoo next door began their eerie dawn chorus. Kinda like this….

The interview happened. I’ve had worse (*cough* *St Andrews* *cough*). Could’ve done a whole load better. Did learn one thing, and that was the zoo had a power cut too, so I doubt I’ll be able to get a refund for my shitty night.

So now it’s a waiting game for the next week until I hear back that I haven’t got it.

Novel update:


That’s a whole load of paper!

After giving my manuscript the once over with the spellchecker and grammar checker, I’ve finally printed it out for its first read through. Ah, the first read through…when you’ve realised everything you’ve written sounds like crap! The joys and self-doubts of being a writer!