Sneak Preview

There is a great website for YA readers out there called "D. Renee Bagby Presents YA First Chapters"

Aspiring writers like yours truly (or perhaps 'perspiring' might be more appropriate after the mini heatwave we just had) get to post some interesting facts about themselves and their current work of genius, and then the whole first chapter is available to read.

OK, I know Amazon do this too, but Renee's site is way more accessible and isn't top-heavy with names from major publishers. I've already picked up two more books for my 'to read' list from it.

Aphrodite's Dawn gets a mention today. Click here to have a look. Click here to buy it if you like it, or even click here to drop along to my facebook page and give me a like :)

Hope you enjoy it or, if  'Aphrodite's Dawn' isn't to you taste (although I can't possibly think why), maybe you'll find something else you like. It will be up there for a week or so. Just scroll down if its not at the top.


Help! Wanted: Review

I'm relatively new to horror, at least horror for its own sake. Its growing on me, though, and I'm even writing some myself - which is a surprise. Help! Wanted is right in the niche that I like. Not into slash/gore fests, and not really into Lovecraftian stuff. I guess I like my horror a little more psychological, thought provoking.

Help! Wanted pretty much delivers there. In any antho there are some stories you just skip across; its the nature of the beast. Having said that, there was more than enough variety to keep me reading through my lunchbreak as well as at home (thank you Kindle Reader for PC). However, anthos dont give you much scope for detailed review as its too easy to drift into spoilers.

Special mentions to Lisa Martin for 'Face out' and Gary Brandner for 'Words,words,words', to Gregory L Norris for 'Carpool', and Adrian Chamberlain for 'The Interview'


National Disgrace - Part 2

Tony Nicholson, paralyzed from the neck down after a stroke and abandoned to a living hell  by his government and his judiciary has starved himself to death

David Cameron, the 'Pro Life' brigade, and the court of appeal who left him to rot in hell - hope you all sleep well tonight.

I couldn't

Want to be a reviewer?

I recently found out that Goodreads they have a program where members can get free copies of books just for doing a review on them. Seems a great idea to me. There's an index for different genres.

Of course, I signed up for this straight away, so if anybody is interested in reviewing my SF story 'Aphrodite's Dawn' click here. If you might be interested in a different story, or different genre, you can still use this link and work your way up the menus to something that tickles your fancy. Lots to chose from, nothing to lose but your inhibitions.

Go on, give it a try :)


Too Tough on Trolls?

That apparently is what the UK is being accused of by some in the article on the bbc website

I'm kind of torn. I do believe that anybody guilty of cyber-cruelty should be nailed, and the full force of the law landed upon them. If you are racist, or threatening, or act in a way to deliberately cause real hurt, you should face the consequences. Our society generally is over-tolerant of random acts of cruelty.

On the other hand, the police swooping on the 17 year old who tweeted about Tom Daley's father was utterly ridiculous and an over-reaction beyond all reason. It smacked of 'if you cant catch the criminals, criminalize those you can catch'. Much of seemed to be because of a backlash hysteria against the 17 year old.

And perhaps that's the problem. Its the hysteria of the next that governs the action of the police, and governs our opinions of what is happening online. There was a recent feeding frenzy around a site called LendInk. Somebody reported it into the Facebook Writing Community as being a pirate site. In fairness, there had been two genuine alerts weeks before, but the attack on this guy was immediate and lethal, with so many complaints being registered with his ISP he was taken offline.

The internet, and social media, are so immediate too much gets said before we think about the implications. Perhaps there should be a universal, mandatory 5 minute posting delay to allow our forebrains to catch up with our hindbrains.



There is a movement, or at least I've heard it said, the YA has to be non-stop, pacey, because its for the teen market. There is some truth in this, and 'Variant' by Robison Wells is a good example of that. Apart from periods of slightly over-repeated internal angst by the main character, the pace is pretty relentless. The guy cant even pause for a snog without getting smashed by a pipe-wielding maniac.

But just what is 'pace'. Does pace equate to action? I don't believe it does. I just finished 'Forbidden', the second book in the Demon Trappers trilogy, by Jana Oliver. Now, this is the second book of the trilogy, so I was prepared to accept a little 'part 2 slump' ( and if you don't know what I mean, think about 'Empire Strikes Back' and 'Matrix: Reloaded') and it was not, frankly, as good as the first book.

But it was still a damned good read. The action was more spread out, and there was a lot of 'positioning' for the third book,  but it was still thoughtful and engaging, and to me that's what is important. So long as what is going on is relevant, and still moves the story forward, that's fine. There are no infodumps, no passages that are boring, so in my opinion Jana Oliver has done a dmaned good job again. The last half dozen chapters led up to an unexpected climax and a superb end-twist in the last few paragraphs.

Excellent job, and I'm really looking forward to the last book. 4 stars on Goodreads


Tony Nicklinson - A National Disgrace

For the three of you how may not know, Tony has been paralysed from the neck down by a stroke. He can communicate only be looking at letters on a board. He describes his life as 'torture' and 'a living hell'.

Tony want to end his life, but he cant, because he cannot move. Dignitas will not help him, and the law in the UK says anybody who assists him is guilty of murder, a position repeated by the Court of Appeal, who chose to duck the issue and pass it back to the government to deal with rather than being big enough to deal with it in law.

This country's continuing cowardice in coming to terms with this issue is disgusting. We spend millions on court cases whining about terrorists human rights and worrying about them being deported to countries where they might be tortured, and yet we inflict this deliberate horror on our own citizens in this supposedly civilised country.

We do not live in the dark ages any more. Our laws should not be influenced by religious hysteria. It is cruel and inhumane to force people who have a good reason for choosing to end their lives to suffer on. Suicide, or this sin of taking ones own life is irrelevant. There is no argument to support 'well it could be used to force old people to die'. Sufficient safeguards can be put in place to prevent this. Palliative care is an option, but should not be forced upon people who dont want it.

This is cruel and petty, and at the bottom of this and every other story like it is a human being in torment who is being abused by their government and their society. It has to stop.


Pride vs Greed

Wasn't sure about posting this, but its been on my mind for days now and wont leave me alone, so I guess that's a 'yes'.

Main Olympics are over, and everybody is quite rightly heaping plaudits on those who made it happen, with special applause for those who volunteered, and people who went out of their way to be nice, polite, funny, helpful. I take my hat off to every last one of them and thank them for making the Olympics and, vicariously, Great Britain, shine in the eyes of the world.

And then I think of the unions who stood there with their hands out, driven by blind greed and political leverage, trying their damnedest to bully us into doing what they wanted by threatening to make the  Olympics and, vicariously, Great Britain, an utter shambles and disgrace, and to humiliate us in the eyes of the world.

I hope they are ashamed by the examples of others. I hope their membership is ashamed. I doubt it. Greed and politics are powerful motivators, and these days it seems much more so than pride.


First Draft Finished

Just finished the first draft of my current YA project 'Amunet'. 82000 words. W00t!

Its a hell of a feeling when you get to the end. Even though you know you still have to edit it, probably more than once (who am I kidding, way more than once), its still a buzz to get to the end of a first draft. For me, that's when it become real, when it becomes a book. It's whole. There's no more worries about 'can I/will I finish it'. Its there and all you can do now is make it better.

But now to put it away for a bit, and let it stew for a while. I have two books currently in Schroedinger Submission status which I may need to query, two short stories ditto, and there's been a submissions call for an anthology I would really like to get into.

Plus, I should be chasing up some marketing options for Aphrodite's Dawn, my first publish novel. Time to stir the pot on that again, too, I think

Most of all, I want to do some reading. Proper reading, not 'just before bed' reading. Lunchtime reading.

All good :)


Curse of the Trilogy

I just finished listening to 'Variant', by Robison Wells (narrated by Michael Goldstrom) As this book came to an end I was so furious I could have spit nails, and I actually swore at my phone. Seriously.


Another damned TRILOGY. Worse, there was nothing in the description on Amazon or Audible to suggest it was a damned trilogy. If there had been, I wouldn't have bought it. I am, at the moment, fed up with trilogies, and I am fed up with publishing houses making sure we all pay £25 for a story rather to £8 or £10.

The conclusion had been working up nicely, then there's an odd twist, and with a growing sense of horror I hear the cheesy hook-line: "tune in next week, folks". Worse, if thats possible, than a Dan Brown chapter-end cliff-hanger

But what makes it really, really, really annoying is that it was a damned good story. OK, the main character was a little monomaniacal, and now I understand why he kept repeating the same rant over and over in such depth (padding), but it was essentially excellent. The pace was good throughout, original storyline, very believable characters. If it hadn't been for the trilogy/cheesy hookline I really would have given this five stars

(Note: I fully expect this to come back and bite me on the butt when somebody finally bribes me into writing a trilogy :). I don't have an issue with trilogies per se, but I hate trilogies that are not self contained in their parts)

I'd still recommend it as a read, though


7 Weeks

Holy Smokes, its just seven weeks to FantasyCon 2012. A weekend of debauchery and schmoozing with the Genre cognoscenti and literati while indulging in serious liver abuse and highly questionable disco dancing (which last year went on until 5am).

Then four weeks after that, Bristolcon. First time there, but Bristol is my hometown so it will be nice to take a trip back. Sure there will be much of the same going on, just slightly smaller in scale. Sometimes small is nice. One of the best cons I ever went to (and my first) was NewCon5 (organised by Ian Whaites of NewCon press), and the least fun I had was at SFX this year, where there were 4500 people.

For me, the whole point of Cons is to meet people. Sometimes, you simply end up with a friend, which is great. Or you could find yourself chatting to a personal hero, or someone who can help you in the business, or someone who wants to read what you've written and just doesn't know it yet. Big cons tend to be impersonal. The talent gets hidden away in 'green rooms' and 'queue here if you have the right colour wristband to talk to this level of celeb. Hell, they even charge for autographs. Not my scene.

Keep it cosy. Keep it personal. :)


ARIA trailer

My good friend and mentor Geoff Nelder has a new book out. Take a look at the trailer here , then drop over to his blog 


Tea From An Empty Cup

This was my first Pat Cadigan book, and although I know its a teeneager now (first published 1998) I enjoyed it so much I felt I had to say something.

It felt 'old school', and in the best way possible. Even the physical book, which is quite slim, made me nostalgic for the days when books didn't all come in trilogies and you could hold them in one hand without flirting with tennis elbow.

Conceptually, the book was right up there with the best of Gibson's cyberpunk, but - perhaps in keeping with the Japanese theme - some of the more philosophical discussion in the book reminded me of Masamune Shirow's 'Ghost in the Shell'

With the basic outline of the story involving two individual but linked investigations inside a virtual environment, there was an option for the virtuality to be either ridigly policed or anarchic, and I'm glad to say Pat chose the anarchy, and the 'Alice Down the Rabbit Hole' mutable logic and reason of the place comes over really vividly.

Nice to see more of Pat's eariler works seem to be about to re-release, and I will be looking out for 'Synners' eagerly