Thursday, 26 July 2012

New website

All future blog posts and updates will be available on my new author website - please subscribe and drop by to say hi!


Wednesday, 11 July 2012

A Mechanical Man


As a special treat, I've written a short piece of steampunk erotic romance entitled 'A Mechanical Man'. With cameos from Samuel Taylor Coleridge and George Gordon Byron, it's free to download from Smashwords now.

The Falcon's Chase, my steampunk romance novel, is due for release through Sirens Call Publications in the next few weeks. Keep an eye out on the website for more details.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Back to the basics

The above is a portrait of me drawn by my three year old daughter (for reference, that's two beautiful eyes, a squiggly nose and a big smiley mouth. Yes, I know there's a beard, and no, I don't really have one!). I pinned it on the wall in my writing corner and it struck me how much simpler life is when looked at through the eyes of a child.

So I sat down with her my daughter at lunchtime and asked her what she wanted. She looked at me thoughtfully as she splashed tomato soup all over the place, grinned and then shrugged her shoulders. "Don't you want anything?" I asked in surprise.

She smiled again and looked around the room. "How about Daddy coming home from work?"

And that's all she asked for. In a world obsessed with consumerism, all my little girl wanted to make her happy was for her daddy to come home and give her a kiss. How special is that - and can you imagine how proud I was of her in that moment?

Once she'd toddled off for her nap, I sat there in the silence and her words echoed inside my head. I can't help but think we over-complicate things these days. We're constantly thinking about what we want - a new car, that dress, those shoes that would be perfect for the holiday you absolutely need to have. Yet in spending so much time doing that, we lose sight of what we already have.

Sure, I might not have much in the material sense. The fridge is on its last legs, my husband still hasn't finished laying the floor after two years, there's no way I can justify buying that pair of Irregular Choice shoes this month and I'm praying that the third hand tumble dryer in the kitchen doesn't give up the ghost (thanks, British summer!). But what I do have is a beautiful, funny and loving daughter, a husband who works all the hours in the day to keep a roof over our heads and the luxury to be able to find a couple of hours each day to do what I love - writing. So long as I've got that, what more could I possibly need?

PS. But in case anyone fancies buying me those shoes, I'm a size 6... ;)

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


The whiskey burned ferociously as it snaked its way down towards her empty stomach. Alone in the crowded bar, there was nothing to distract the pale faced woman from the pounding of her head save for the glass in her hand. With a wry smile, she swirled it listlessly and watched the amber liquid crackle and dance in the harsh light of the bare bulb overhead.

The no-good son of a bitch had stood her up again. She should have expected it. He’d done nothing but let her down time and time again over the past year, but still she kept on putting herself out there for him to hurt her once more. She could tell herself that this was the last time she’d let him do it, but what use would it be?

She’d know she was lying.

He wasn’t coming. Time to skulk home and cry herself to sleep whilst awaiting the inevitable phone call full of feeble excuses that showed how little he really cared.

But when she slammed the glass down on the grime-streaked bar and made to slip down from the teetering stool she was so precariously balanced upon, the door behind her swung open. She tensed, nervous anticipation flooding her aching body, but it wasn’t him.

No. Not him. Just someone else; someone she couldn’t tear her eyes away from for even a heartbeat. As the chill air of the winter night outside whipped around him, he shook a curtain of dark hair out of his face and strode forward, effortlessly carving out a path through the crowd.

He was perfect. All heads turned towards him, though he seemed not to notice. His green eyes were fixed upon the bar. Unsmiling, he shrugged off his jacket and took the stool that had somehow become free when he approached it. Too far away. She dared not approach him, but when the crowd briefly thinned she had the briefest of glimpses of him once more.

By the time she could no longer see him again, it was too late. She was lost to him. Nothing she did could free her mind of the grip he had upon it. He consumed her, set a fire raging deep inside her that was impossible to defy. Overcome, she snatched up her drink with a shaking hand and poured it down her constricted throat, ice and whiskey alike.

She slammed the glass back down and choked back a loud sob. Before she could do anything to recompose herself, though, a hand gently touched her arm.

Her head shot up.

The bartender set another whiskey down in front of her and swept her empty glass away. She lifted an eyebrow in question and he jerked his head towards the far end of the bar. “From the guy with the long hair. Says you look like you could do with it.”

Even from the distance between them, it seemed her misery was palpable. Her heart pounding, she slowly leaned forwards and ran her hands through her hair as she glanced in his direction under the cover of checking the dusty clock behind him.

He was staring directly at her, and their eyes met along the length of the bar. Her breath hitched as he slowly raised his glass to her before, still not smiling, he lifted it to his sinfully full lips and downed the whiskey in one.

Her head spun for reasons that were nothing to do with the alcohol rushing through her bloodstream. Dazed, she hastily dropped her eyes and breathed in deeply before following his example and slamming back her drink. She revelled in the warmth that spread through her body, for it brought with it a clarity of mind that had been lacking for far, far too long.

When she looked up again he was gone, but it was okay.

Tonight when the phone call came, she knew she wouldn’t meekly accept whatever excuse her boyfriend fabricated for her. He wouldn’t be staggering in blind drunk to share her bed, and he wouldn’t be the reason for her to hunch over the bathroom sink, tears streaming down her flushed face as she etched out the marks of her misery on an arm already criss-crossed with a year’s worth of scars.

He wasn’t worth it. She finally saw the truth of it. There was far better out there and she had already wasted a year of her life not seeing it. She wouldn’t waste even a moment more.

With a decisive nod, she wrenched the diamond ring off her finger and dropped it into the empty glass before walking away.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Time to take my own advice

After the recent illness that’s taken up much of this year, I found myself in hospital for some tests and I got chatting with one of the nurses on the ward. After exhausting discussions of the glorious British weather, talk turned inevitably to that other conversation stalwart – work. When I mentioned that I was a writer, her eyes instantly lit up.

I’m sure those of you who write have experienced it before. The moment you mention that you’re a published author, you brace yourself for the inevitable announcement that they, too, have a fantastic story. Unfortunately, for now it’s just inside their head. In the next breath, you find your wide-eyed and star struck companion begging for advice on how to get published, ignoring your many protestations that it’s sheer bloody hard work, not glamorous in the least, and that you need to prepare yourself for a hundred rejections for every sniff of interest in your writing. Even if you do succeed, it’s the exception rather than the rule that becomes the JK Rowling, George RR Martin or even those who, whilst not universally famous, are able to make an exclusive living from their words.

I liked this nurse, though, so we sat down with a cup of tea and I gladly answered all the questions she fired at me. The one that stuck in my mind above all others, though, was when she asked me how to sit down and write a novel from start to finish. "It's simple, really," I told her with a smile. "Just sit down every day and write something - anything. You have to make writing a habit."

But when she left, I realised that since for the last few months, I had let that habit slide. On a good day, I'd normally write upwards of 2k, but of late I often hadn't even bothered to open up the files and look at them, let alone write anything. Half a dozen stories laid on the hard drive untouched, to the extent that I lost track of my plots - and then lost the motivation to sit back down with them and hammer them out again.

It wasn't until I thought over the advice that I'd given to that nurse that I realised just how essential it was. I write because I love it. Not for money, not because someone tells me to do it - but because it makes me happy. However, it's still hard work. Some stories come more easily than others. I can start a sentence and then look up again an hour later to find two or three thousand words have come with almost no conscious effort, but more often than not it's all about finding the self-discipline to push through those tricky plot twists and persuade an errant character to do as I had intended them to. So one day of not doing so turned into two, two into three and then a week went past, and then a month.

Working on the final edits for the Falcon's Chase, though, proved to be the much-needed reminder of just how much I love writing and how strong the sense of achievement is when I type that final word of the fourth of fifth draft. And that feeling is worth fighting for. 

So no matter what distractions you have around you or how many other demands you have on your time, you have to remember just why it is that you started writing in the first place. Once you learn how to hold onto that, nothing can take it away from you. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I'll Never Go Away by Rainstorm Press

My story, Idolatry, is featured in the new release by Rainstorm Press, "I'll Never Go Away". Available now on Amazon in Kindle format, with the paperback release to follow shortly.


Monday, 19 March 2012

Guest post with Days With The Undead author, Julianne Snow

I'm delighted to introduce to you all a supremely talented author, Julianne Snow. As part of the indie writers community, I've found the relationships I've formed with other writers to be invaluable, both for the knowledge and support they offer. Julianne is one of those whose friendship I treasure the most, and I was thrilled to be able to offer my help with editing her debut novel, Days With The Undead, which is published by Sirens Call Publications.

Julianne joins me today to talk about a subject that is both pertinent and intriguing to the both of us. I hope that you enjoy her words just as much as I do - and on that note, over to the Zombie Queen herself!

Today I have the pleasure of guesting on the delectable Kate Monroe’s blog. Kate and I have been friends and mutual supporters since my arrival on the Indie scene almost a year ago. A fabulous writer in her own right, she has helped me to fine tune Days with the Undead: Book One and her friendship and guidance mean the world to me. As women writing in the horror genre, I’ve often wondered how our experiences differ from those of our male counterparts. On that note, let’s discuss –

Women in Horror

Is the average horror reader discriminatory?

Can female authors gain the same level of respect for their work as male authors?

They are both interesting questions; ones that I have wondered about since releasing my first horror/science fiction novel Days with the Undead: Book One.

Looking through history, the horror genre is one that has been dominated by men. I have to wonder if that is a product of how society has viewed women as the weaker, fairer sex. Women have been seen as needing protection and guidance from the men in their lives and in some cases weren’t allowed to vote or speak their minds publicly until the 19th and even the 20th centuries. Yet, despite all of these forms of societal censorship, women have managed to gain popularity in the circles of horror writers and horror readers.

Horror has had a long history in literature, mainly in part because readers enjoy being scared. Society has had a long interest in all things supernatural and it’s absolutely no wonder to me that supernatural horror was the prevalent form until the advent of Gothic horror. A lot of the gothic horror coming out of the 18th century was from women writers and it was written to appeal to a largely female fan base. Women like Ann Radcliffe, Marjorie Bowen, Elizabeth Gaskill, Regina Maria Roche and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley have entertained readers with some of the most well-known and well recognized works of literature in the horror genre.

The trend for strong women in horror literature has only continued since then. Authors such as J.M. Dillard, Susie Maloney, Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Gemma Files, and Sarah Pinborough along with many others have only helped to propel the female voice further in horror literature as a whole. With the advent of the self-publishing revolution, many female horror authors have stepped up to the plate and delivered astonishing reads as well.

But are horror readers reading women horror authors? I think the answer to that question is yes but there is a bigger question – are they reading female horror authors as frequently as they are reading male authors who write in the same genre? That is an infinitely harder question to answer. If I look at the books shelves of my male friends, they are filled with male authors almost to the point of excluding the women. Conversely, the bookshelves of my female friends show a definite appreciation for both genders. That is not to say that men only read male authors, it’s just that some of them have yet to discover the strong and terrifying voices of the women writing in the genre.

As a woman who has just released a novel in the horror genre, I have found that the reaction to my book has been very favorable. While I realize that it may appeal to a sub sect of horror fans, I feel like I have been warmly welcomed into the fold. I had the unique opportunity to wet my feet prior to releasing a full length book so I believe that has helped me to cull a small fan base. In that regard, I am lucky and very grateful.

Given that women appear to have strapped themselves firmly into the passenger seat of the horror genre, it only serves to note that their notoriety will expand within the next ten years. With horror set to make a huge revival in the future, women authors are primed to make a distinct mark on the genre. So pick up one of the many wonderful tomes written by a woman and prepare yourself for a stellar scare.

It was watching Romero's Night of the Living Dead at the tender age of six that solidified Julianne’s respect of the Undead. Since that day, she has been preparing herself for the (inevitable) Zombie Apocalypse and while classically trained in all of the ways to defend herself, she took up writing in order to process the desire she now covets; to bestow a second and final death upon the Undead. As the only girl growing up in a family with four children in the Canadian countryside, Julianne needed some form of escape. Her choice was the imaginations of others which only fostered the vibrancy of her own.

Days with the Undead: Book One is her first full-length book, the basis of which can be found in her popular web serial of the same name. You can find Julianne’s The Living Dead of Penderghast Manor in the anthology Women of the Living Dead and an upcoming story in Sirens Call Publications first anthology Childhood Nightmares: Under The Bed.

Get your copy of Days With The Undead: Book One in paperback or eBook via Amazon US or Smashwords, and to catch up with the rest of Julianne's blog tour, stop by the Sirens Song for all of the links.