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Franken-plotting, or The Indecisive Gardener

George R R Martin calls them architects and gardeners; most other writers call them plotters and pantsers. Either way, there’s general agreement that all writers fall somewhere on a spectrum between detailed up-front planning and complete seat-of-the-pants improvisation. I fall towards the latter end of the spectrum. I wish I could plot a novel before I start writing—it seems much more efficient—but that doesn’t seem to work for me. Instead, I’ve gravitated towards what I call Franken-plotting. Read more

Mini blog tour – and mega giveaway!

The other day I realised it was almost two years since the publication of The Alchemist of Souls – time flies when you’re chained to your desk writing sequels! As it happens, I also started getting invitations to guest post on various blogs, which has turned into a mini blog tour.

Plus there’s a big giveaway on Fantasy Faction this month, with three copies of The Prince of Lies and one full set of the trilogy up for grabs!

Here’s the schedule:

It’s good to be blogging again after a slow winter – hope you enjoy the posts!

The end of an epic adventure

Today is release day for most editions (ebook, audiobook and US paperback) of The Prince of Lies, the final volume in the Night’s Masque trilogy. An adventure that began just over three years ago, when I finished the manuscript of the first book and started submitting it to agents, is almost over already; something that seemed barely conceivable when I set out. Read more

Share my book with the Boosh app

Love ebooks? Have a smartphone? And a Facebook account? If so, and if you’re in the UK or Republic of Ireland, you can participate in the pilot programme for Boosh, a new ebook-sharing service, and read The Alchemist of Souls for free!

The free app is available for Android right now, and will be in the Apple AppStore in a couple of weeks (the release of iOS7 has resulted in a bit of an approval backlog!).

Important: the free copies are on a limited, first-come-first-served basis. Half are being released now along with the Android app, the other half will be available when the iOS app launches. When the free copies run out, you’ll still be able to use the app, but you’ll have to pay to download books. Read more

Unexpected Journeys: an epic fantasy anthology

I’ve been sitting on (and occasionally hinting at) this news for weeks now, and at last I can spill the beans: I have a short story in an upcoming anthology of epic fantasy, edited by Juliet E McKenna and published by the British Fantasy Society. W00t!

Unexpected Journeys has an awesome table of contents, with contributors including Kate Elliott, Gail Z Martin, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Stephen Deas. The anthology will be launched on 31st October at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, and will be given away free to all current BFS members.

My own story is titled A Thief in the Night, and is set in the world I’ve been developing for a new series of novels, but several centuries earlier. It’s given me a chance to play with a really cool idea that didn’t quite fit into the novel series, and also stretched my short-story-writing skills (this is only the second short story I’ve had published, as I so seldom write them).

Please note: you will not be able to buy the anthology in shops or online; it’s a BFS membership exclusive. The electronic rights will revert to me in early 2014, however, at which point I will decide when/how to republish it.

Previously on Night’s Masque…

Copyedits, procrastination and paranoia

This week’s post is a bit late, mostly because I seem to be in serious procrastination mode at the moment, at least when it comes to anything writing-related. Heck, I even hoovered under the bed on Saturday rather than knuckle down to it…

The thing is, I’ve had the copyedits back on The Prince of Lies, which I have to hand in by 4th August. Not only is this the last chance I get to fix any problems with the book before it goes to press, it’s also the last in the trilogy and hence the last time ever that I’ll work on Mal’s story—the story that I’ve obsessed over for the past eight years. Eight years! A thing like that is hard to say goodbye to, and I think that’s why I’m finding it so hard to get started.

Well, that and the fact that this was the hardest book for me to plot, so I’ve been a little scared that a re-read would reveal flaws that I don’t have time to fix. That’s where the paranoia comes in. Have I really done my best job on this book? Does it wrap up the trilogy in a satisfactory manner? What if fans of the first two hate it?

Yesterday I decided I just needed to trust my editor when he says the story is fine, and focus on fine-tuning the prose, so I made a PDF of the Word file (Angry Robot has a paper-free production workflow – no hard-copy galleys or page proofs) and put it onto my iPad for easier reading. I got two chapters done in my lunch break yesterday, so if I can fit in a few more chunks during the week I should be able to get the whole thing done before the deadline.

I’m not making any drastic changes: just a word or phrase here and there, the occasional line of dialogue amended to be more in-character. Things I would have caught on the previous draft if I hadn’t run up against earlier deadlines. After that there’ll be the dread moment of pressing “Send”, when the book leaves my hands for the last time and goes off for layout and printing. I’m excited at the prospect of sharing the completion of this story with you all and yeah, just a little bit scared!

Mal Catlyn’s last stand

As has become traditional, over the next few months Mal will be tweeting a “prequel” to his upcoming adventures in The Prince of Lies. Previous tweets ran in real time, connecting us with events 420 years ago, but owing to an unexplained phenomenon that Mal is in the process of investigating, there’s some kind of wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing going on that means his latest batch of tweets are arriving some months out of sync with our timeline. For clarity, the date at Mal’s end will be appended to all tweets.

Please feel free to tweet back to him with your questions, but bear in mind that for reasons of national security he may not be able to answer frankly or in full. Also, please be aware that Mal is being followed by @SirRobertCecil, the queen’s new secretary of state and alleged spymaster, and that any potentially seditious tweets may result in a closer acquaintance with the Tower of London. (Do not be fooled by any “page not found” messages when looking for Cecil’s Twitter account – you think a man with his influence can’t hide his activities from public view?)

Mal’s Diary

Want to read the original “Mal’s Diary” tweets, the prequel to The Alchemist of Souls, all in one convenient free download? I’ve compiled an ebook version of the feed for your reading pleasure:

ePub | Kindle | PDF