The Snowflake Method

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I have come to the conclusion that my natural writing style is the snowflake method.

I posted the first two chapters of my Roman story on the blog over the last month or so, but they now have changed (not beyond recognition!!) since I went back over them, adding characters and changing the dynamics somewhat.

It seems I’m perpetually working on the first few chapters as they increase in size due to added layers and plot expansions. It makes the story better, of that there is no doubt, but sometimes I despair of ever finishing as my endless tweaking and tinkering keeps me in thrall.

I think I’ll have to just accept that this is how I write my best stuff. Be patient with myself and let the story expand and breathe and I will eventually get to the end and have a far better work of fiction than if I had ignored my natural bent and ploughed ahead just to get finished.

Oh well, back I go to first century Hibernia as Sadbh and Marcus battle it out!

 

 

 

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Artist’s Exemption from tax in Ireland

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Well.

I’m surprised I can tell you.

I applied last week for the Artist’s Exemption from taxation. More information on the scheme here. Basically, if you have written a book, a piece of music, hewn a sculpture or painted a picture, you’re entitled to a tax break on the first €40,000 you earn from it.

Of course, I’m nowhere near earning that with Faerie Apocalypse. That little baby brings in enough to cover about two of Lidl’s cheapo coffee pods per month.

I e-mailed the revenue commissioners providing a link to the book, screen shots of my KDP Reports dashboard and a PDF copy of the book. I had to post them a hard copy of the claim form.

And today in the post, I got my tax exemption certificate giving me tax free status on any profits (under €40k) I make on this or other works of fiction. Simples!

Excerpt from short fiction – Heart of the Banshee

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Here’s a short piece of fiction I’ve been working on, the premise of which is: What if a banshee is unintentionally seen by someone destined to live a long life? Tradition says that if you see one, it means you’ll die soon, so what if you see one by accident and assume the worst? Maybe you’ll make different choices once you know your days are numbered….

 

Fintan moved quickly through the forest, habit keeping his footfalls light and silent despite his boiling frustration. A noisy hunter seldom returned with a kill and Fintan was the best hunter in the clan. He wasn’t surprised when his feet delivered him to the shady glade deep in the forest’s interior. Here, all was peace and beauty, where a man could ease his mind and find sanctuary from the world’s demands. And Fintan was in sore need of a quiet place to think.

A narrow stream trickled in a steady flow near the edge of the glade and Fintan knelt to drink from it. The cold water sprang from deep within the earth and was easily the most refreshing water in the kingdom. Priests came to collect it to use in church as holy water, some said the stream was likewise favoured by those who held to the old faith. But today Fintan was blessedly alone, free to drink his fill in peace.

His mother’s words still burned in his brain.

‘You will marry the daughter of Bran Ui Choilean,’ she had said, ‘the match is agreed whether ye like it or not.’

Fintan had met his intended bride the previous summer. She was a slip of a girl, of an age with him but appearing much younger than her years. God knows, he’d tried to like her but it was hard, even for a character as affable as his. Nothing pleased her. Nothing displeased her. Nothing seemed to make any impression on her whatsoever.

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I used to write fan fiction

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Over ten years ago, back when I was still at university I wrote a 20-something chapter fan-fiction based on Lord of the Rings.

I created an original character and placed her in that world, giving another view of the events in the books. Actually, come to think of it, I created two original characters and had a lot of fun with them as I re-lived the story through their eyes.

To this day, I still get mails from Fanfiction.net with reviews, favourites or story alerts from readers. Funnily enough, these always seem to come in at times when I’m doubting my ability as a writer. They really pick me up when I see them and I go back to the site, using my ancient login and marvel at the number of people who have bothered their collective arses to follow those 20-something chapters through to the histrionic end.

I loved writing it and to this day it might just be the most fun I’ve ever had at a keyboard.

I want to have that same fun when writing now. Having examined my conscience, I think what I loved back then was writing a story that was already well known. There was no need for tedious exposition and descriptions, everyone already knew the world and the characters. All I had to do was give it a fresh take through new eyes. What security! To be writing in a world familiar to and loved by so many.

And now, I create my own and I fear my imagination and descriptive powers are simply not up to the job. Oh well, that’s every writer’s worry, isn’t it? That one’s words will not live up to the worlds in your head.

Ah those magnificent palaces of the mind, how marvellous they seem as you stroll through them in your day dreams. But try to describe them in the waking world and your descriptions fall far short of the magnificence you know is there. And worse, as you age, you get more cynical with yourself, you look back at earlier work and wonder how you could ever have come up with those ideas. You would never think of them now. Settings and plots that would’ve filled me with enthusiasm and excitement then seem trite and childish to me now.

And yet, look at Middle Earth and its enduring appeal. It’s basically rural England with a few dragons thrown in. LOTR is a tale of good versus evil, the basic plot of countless books and films. But decades after publication there are writers all over the world inspired to write fan-fiction just like I did. And the original books still sell in their droves.

Maybe the earlier plots and settings I devised in my youth were not so silly after all, maybe there is something to be said for simplicity and telling a familiar story well.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself when I look back on earlier efforts.

Learning the business

It’s been two months since I released Faerie Apocalypse and I have to say I have learned an awful lot since then.

I thought I knew it all really.

I’d purchased Catherine Ryan Howard’s awesome Self Printed book and read it religiously, taking notes and referring to it and other internet self publishing gurus like JA Konrath, Hugh Howey, David Gaughran and Lindsay Buroker.

But then you never really think about how much time you’re going to spend on the admin/business side. Honestly, you’d need an assistant to get through all the possibilities/opinions floating around for promotion and getting your little book visible.
I’ve just realised, two months in, how much time I’m wasting on KBoards (though they’re great there!) you can spend so much time surfing the threads and absorbing so much information.

All the chat about Kindle Unlimited in the last few days is a bit depressing as well. Why are Amazon making fish and flesh between trad pubbed and self pubbed authors? Seems a but unfair to me, see this article for what I mean.

I’m not in Select, I’m on D2D and Smashwords (sold 2 copies so far on these platforms – awesome!), but I never expected to sell anything at all, so I’m chuffed I even sold that many there.

I’m coming to the conclusion that the best thing I can do is simply forget about doing any promotion and keeping up with the latest hot new thing in self publishing, in favour of getting on with some writing. I’ve really let that go lately, which is ironic as it’s the reason I ever started on this crazy path in the first place.

So from now on, I’ll try to stay away from the lure of the Kboards and all the various blog updates and try to keep going with Part 2 of Faerie Apocalypse and my little Roman story.

When they’re ready to publish, I’ll do another Bknights promo which netted me 9 sales when I ran it last weekend.

Look not for me on the forums (or should that be fora?), I shall be scribbling away at home instead….

Excerpt from WIP – Chap 2 of Roman and the Goddess

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Chapter Two

Sadbh knelt on the hut’s earthen floor to examine the bodies more closely.

Pity engulfed her when she saw how young the boys were, not even old enough to grow warrior’s beards. The mournful keening of the mothers filled her ears. Their jagged solo wails and shrieks cut the autumn air with grief, audible through the clamour of an outraged clan outside. Sadbh heard the mothers’ agony as though they keened for her ears alone. It was overwhelming, the tearing pain of loss as a future was ripped from the woman who’d given it birth. Sadbh blew out a long breath and drew another in an effort to slow her heart’s racing.

The cruel wounds inflicted in a style she knew all too well stirred memories of an old loss to the surface. Her vision blurred and then darkened as a wave of panic crashed over her. Not here, not in the land of Eire, dear goddess, let it not be so.

The Morrigan’s divine presence threatened to come to the fore as it always did in times of great distress. Black wings beat at the edges of her mind, a rage that no mortal could ever hope to bear began its corrosive journey through her veins. Sweat ran down her back as Sadbh exerted every drop of mortal strength she possessed to keep the goddess from taking control. Over the years she’d learned how to stop the Morrigan from using her as she saw fit and sometimes, if Sadbh caught the onslaught in time, she could force the divine presence back into its customary place deep inside her heart.

There must be vengeance!

There will be, my goddess, with you by my side, the guilty cannot hope to avoid it.

After a few moments of intense effort, the tide of the Morrigan’s great strength receded within her and Sadbh set about her duty.

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Excerpt from WIP – The Roman and the Goddess

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Hi All,

haven’t updated in a while and just wanted to share a draft of the first chapter of my other series – The Roman and the Goddess, which I hope to have available in a few months time.

It opens in Hibernia in 81AD, a small force of Romans have landed to reconnoitre, prior to launching an invasion from Brittania.

Chapter One

‘Kill them all.’

For Marcus, it was the first order he’d balked at in twenty years of loyal service to Rome. Had it come from a seasoned commander who’d earned the rank, Marcus would have thought twice about refusing. But Gnaeus was a jumped-up legion reject hopelessly under qualified for command. Added to which, he was the easiest man in the Empire to offend and had a streak of cruelty that would put a Persian to shame. Marcus eyed him with distaste, his hands itching to unsheathe the gladius slung at his side and put an end to the man.

Only Gnaeus was stupid enough to order the needless killing of three captive boys. With a leaden heart Marcus studied them, huddled against each other, bound and unable to run. Their eyes held unmistakable fear but also anger. Despite their perilous situation, Marcus discerned an air of entitlement about them that set all his instincts tingling.

He turned his glare on Gnaeus but the man was oblivious, peering into the misty drizzle for imaginary foes. Marcus snorted, they had seen precious little in the way of native population since they’d arrived. Gnaeus whipped around at the sound, scowling at the three boys.

‘Why are they still drawing breath?’ he said, his face screwing itself up into a parody of distaste, ‘did I not just order their deaths?’

The order could have been for any of the five legionaries in their compact little unit, but it was upon Marcus that Gnaeus’ vicious gaze alighted. Such was his luck of late, always catching the wrong eye at the wrong time. But then again, Gnaeus always had the wrong eye out for him. The autumn wind that whipped around the exposed hillside was less frigid than the atmosphere between Marcus and his commander.

The sea voyage and the last three days floundering on foreign ground, had whittled away the traditional deference due a superior officer from a subordinate. Anyone who spent more than five minutes in their company would divine who the real leader of the expedition should be. Marcus’ natural ability and past experience as a senior officer with the legions made him a man the others instinctively looked to for guidance. Gnaeus was just bright enough to realise that, while also painfully aware of his own shortcomings as a leader. And so he duly perceived Marcus as a threat to his command. Shunning the common sense of using Marcus’ talents for his own gain, the petty little bastard had instead chosen to put upon Marcus at every opportunity.

Ah, Gnaeus, what an utter and complete shit for whom the skills of leadership would be a perpetual mystery.

‘Are you deaf? Cut their throats!’

With a jolt, Marcus realised he’d been openly glaring at the commander whose countenance was growing darker by the second. By the amused looks on his comrades’ faces, his thoughts had been plain to read. To add the general air of tense misery, the drizzle that had been their constant companion all day now turned to rain.

‘What’s to be gained by killing these striplings?’ Marcus asked, playing for time.

Maybe Gnaeus could be persuaded that not all foreigners should be executed for the crime of not being born Roman. Maybe something could be rescued from this disaster of an expedition, a pax formed with the boys’ tribe even. Would the man be made to see the practical sense in that?

‘We don’t even know who they are,’ Marcus continued, ‘what if they’re princes of their tribe? What then? We’ll open ourselves to reprisals and we don’t have the men to repel an attack…’

A quickly stifled laugh from one of the boys made Marcus’ heart sink. Gnaeus’ eyes narrowed dangerously as he swung about to face the three captives.

‘They understand us,’ he spat, ‘and thanks to you they now know our strength. You fool!’

Marcus sighed as the leaden weight in his chest seemed to grow even heavier, the boys had all but signed their own death warrants. They’d played innocent when captured earlier that day, betraying no trace of comprehension when he’d caught them spying on the Romans’ scouting the area. He’d got nothing from them but shrugged shoulders and smiles. Expressive, but hardly illuminating.

The other soldiers exchanged nervous looks, plainly the idea of revenge attacks had not occurred to them. Marcus was a veteran of many foreign campaigns and as a general rule, he tended not to immediately murder the first natives he encountered. It unfailingly engendered ill will with the local populace. But Gnaeus was well past listening, his face had turned a dangerous shade of puce and he’d worked himself up into an almighty froth of rage at the turn of events.

‘Cut their vile throats and be done with it!’ he screamed, spit flying from his mean little mouth.

Marcus nodded wearily, it’s what he’d expected to hear. He’d known from the moment they’d caught the three lads what their fate would be, but he’d be damned if he’d play the executioner and do Gnaeus’ dirty work.

‘Fuck you for a lazy bastard, Gnaeus,’ he said, ‘Kill them yourself, I’ll have no part in it.’

The boys’ eyes darted nervously between Marcus and Gnaeus, waiting for the next riposte.

Gnaeus remained perfectly still for a moment, an idiot’s grin stuck on his face. The colour faded so quickly from his cheeks that Marcus had a cheery moment thinking the Fates had intervened to cut the thread of Gnaeus’ life with apoplexy. His cheer died quickly however, as a dangerous glint sparked into being in Gnaeus’ beady eyes. It was a look Marcus had seen but once before and that had led to a great deal of pain.

‘Fuck you then, Marcus, l will,’ said Gnaeus, his voice almost too low to hear.

Marcus swore quietly, berating himself for pushing his luck so boldly.

Terror dawned on their young faces and three pairs of eyes turned to Marcus, wide with pleading.

Marcus sighed, his hand dropped to the hilt of his sword. They were fourteen at most, they’d done nothing to deserve a painful death at the hands of an alley dog like Gnaeus. A recent memory surfaced of the fate of a young Silurian slave, unlucky enough to displease Gnaeus by spilling wine on his tunic. The poor boy had been made to suffer most agonisingly at the commander’s hands, his flesh sheared from his slight body piece by piece by a thin cruel blade wielded with relish by its owner. Marcus’s stomach roiled at the memory. Gnaeus licked his lips and withdrew a long thin blade from the depths of his cloak, a feral glint in his eye. Continue reading

I have Amazonitis

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I first read about this condition on Catherine Ryan Howard’s blog in this article. I’ve always had a great immune system so I never thought I’d fall victim to such a disease, but it has me in its grip, oh yeah!.

(Just for the technically minded, the defintion of Amazonitis is that one’s Amazon is inflamed

Hourly KDP Dashboard checks, watching my recently published book’s ranking on Amazon. It’s compulsive stuff!

And normally I’m so good! I never get colds or flus, I shake off infections that bring strong men to their knees blubbing and wanting Lemsip brought to them in bed. Ah well, something was bound to bring me low at some stage.

I hope it passess quickly, I’m starting to bore myself…<furtively checks sales dashboard>

Faerie Apocalypse – Aoife’s Tale available on Smashwords

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So I formatted and uploaded to Smashwords yesterday, Faerie Apocalypse – Aoife’s Tale available here. It’s easy enough, the formatting guidelines do take a bit of getting used to, but I reckon if you do it once successfully, it’ll stand you in good stead for the next time.
So far, I’ve had one sale and about five people checking out the sample. Not too bad!
My Amazon sales have fallen through the floor, no sales for the last 6 days, but I was very excited to discover I now have two Australian readers. It’s really amazing the far geographical reach that digital selling has.
For me, it’s not about the number of sales, it’s about the fact that total strangers now have access to stories I thought up all by myself. They’re no longer just stuck inside my head with nowhere to go. Every sale, even if it’s just one a week is one I celebrate. A bit Pollyanna-ish of me I suppose, but if those few readers enjoy the story than that’s all I really want.
In the meantime, I’m 4000 words into Faerie Apocalypse – Aidan’s Tale. It takes up the Faerie Apocalypse story from the very start. Aidan, the brother of Aoife O’Neill from the first instalment, is at Newgrange when the Faeries explode out of the ancient mound on Dec 21st 2012 and start their reign over the mortal world.
And seeing as it’s a bank holiday weekend here in Ireland, I’d better get on with it as the full time job awaits tomorrow, sigh!

My Writing Process Blog Tour

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I took up the open call from Jami Gold on her blog, Jami Gold Paranormal Author, about the writing process. Thanks Jami!

Without further ado, here are my answers:

What am I working on?

The second part of my Faerie Apocalypse series. Blurb for the first part published last week, Faerie Apocalypse – Aoife’s Tale, below:
“December 21st 2012, the day the world as we knew it ended.

Ireland’s ancient inhabitants, the Tuatha Dé Dannan, are free from the subterranean prison in which the Celts trapped them thousands of years ago. And the Tuath Dé, or Faeries, waste no time in making the world theirs again.

Aoife O’Neill, a former surgeon, lives on the rugged west coast of Ireland. She lies low, using her wits to avoid the cruel faerie courts that roam the country. Mourning the death of her younger brother, killed by the first explosive wave of Faeries to escape confinement, Aoife researches the Celtic lore for a way to bring an end to the Faerie Kingdom.

Dallada, a powerful arrogant faerie obsessed with Aoife, learns the hard way that she is stronger than she appears. He will stop at nothing to exact revenge for her insolence in refusing him.

Andrew Tyler, a seasoned British Army officer, leads a small band of soldiers in the Yorkshire dales in hit and run missions. Andrew can see no end in sight, but he’s determined to keep fighting.

When Aoife stumbles onto Andrew’s battlefield, he has a choice. Join her in a desperate attempt to defeat the powerful Faeries, or keep the Irish surgeon against her will as part of his military staff.

‘Aoife’s Tale’ begins the fight against the devastating power of the Faeries.”

Aoife’s Tale was published on Amazon last week. Part Two is Aidan’s Tale and I’m about 2,000 words in. It’s tough enough going given I have a full time job and can only write in my spare time. But it’s something I enjoy and so on I go.

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