Tuesday, 15 August 2017

What is speculative fiction?


Today, let's have a discussion about what can be one of the most slippery subjects - genre.

Observant readers will have noticed that I recently decided to call myself a speculative author. I was thinking about why I might have done this and what it all might mean. Certainly I never set out to restrict myself to any one genre - previously, I had labelled this blog, quite generically, as "about writing". But I don't think of speculative fiction as a genre, more as a way of looking at the world - or other worlds. Of course, it can hold a whole gamut of genres inside it - including science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, even romance (anyone want to read about the love between an android and an abandoned server?) - so as far as I can see, the field is wide open.

For me, writing is about the imagination - what can't be seen or doesn't exist (as yet). I'm not that interested in writing about the contemporary world. When I did, with my novella, I introduced the sci-fi-ish element of surgery to alter one's personality - so it was contemporary with a speculative twist. Calling yourself a speculative author is liberating rather than restricting, I think. The story possibilities out there are endless. I also think what we read can have a big influence on what we write, more than we sometimes realise. At the time of writing my book, I was reading a lot of real-world thrillers, so that became the kind of story I wanted to tell. However, I didn't really pull it off effectively - that kind of book requires a certain rhythm and intensity to work and be, well, thrilling. I've found a lot of great authors recently working in the speculative realms, many right here in the blogosphere, and it's rubbed off. In my recent work, I've mixed up the action with more descriptive passages that aim to immerse the reader in the world. With a contemporary thriller, the readers are already in that world. You're not going to spend that long describing an alleyway with a couple of overflowing bins in it. People already know what that look like.

So all in all, I didn't set out to choose this speculative journey, but I'm loving it and looking forward to seeing where it takes me next.

What about you? How important is genre and branding to you as a writer? Do you think choosing a genre is a conscious or unconscious process, or a bit of both? What does speculative fiction mean to you?

In other news; just a heads up that I've halved the price of Black & White to $0.99 during the preorder period (so it'll go back up to $1.99 after release). You can find it here: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Goals Update August 2017

Hope summer is treating you kindly. For many of us, next week means back to school, including at the Wilford household. It's going quick, and we're trying to make the most of whatever sunshine we get.

I'm a bit late on updating my goals for this month, after being slightly set back by having our internet cut off. As part of the non-stop construction of new housing in my town, a digger rather overzealously sliced through an underground phone cable servicing over 100 properties. But happily we're all back up and running for now. So time for a quick recap on my July goals to see how I did.
  • Add 20,000 words to WIP.
Managed 15,000; hit a bit of a snag that I'm still trying to work through. This month, I'm not setting a wordcount goal but simply aiming to finish the draft by the end of the month. With good luck and a following wind, I'm confident it's doable.
  • Continue working through CP notes for book 2 and come up with ideas to address significant plot points.
I've made an overview and have a lot to think about. This is going to be my focus once I finish the draft of book 3.
  • Continue promotion campaign for launch of book 1.
This is going pretty well. I had my cover reveal on 31st July and was heartened by the response, especially as this was my first self-designed cover. Thanks to all who commented and tweeted. I also finally took the plunge and launched a Facebook author page, where I'll be sharing snippets and short pieces of news. If you're on Facebook, please like and follow here. I'm also experimenting with Twitter by posting quotes and nuggets of info. I have several ideas outlined for my blog tour and will continue to work on posts this month. My blog also got a new look. For this month, my big thing is to get my newsletter launched. Stay tuned for that!

Another goal for this month is to beta read a friend's new book. I've made a start and I'm already intrigued.

And finally, I was delighted to receive an excellent review for Black & White from the lovely Darla M. Sands. Check it out here!

How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

IWSG August 2017

Time once again for our monthly gathering in which to share our insecurities to do with the writing life. Yes, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as ever by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted by this month by Christine RainsDolorah @ Book LoverEllen @ The Cynical SailorYvonne Ventresca and LG Keltner!


This month's optional question is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I'm just going to keep this to a discussion of my own work - I've no wish to blast anyone else and the thing that irks me the most when reading is excessively poor editing. I'm happy to say I've not come across any book that falls into that category for quite some time!

No, I think I'll stick to my own particular foibles. Some of these are certainly current insecurities - like not getting as much writing done as I would like. At the moment, I'm working a job where I start at 6am - so I get up at 4/4.30 to do my writing done. If I'm too tired to get up then, it obviously limits what I can do. Something else that I still do - and this is actually where I'm at right now - is getting stuck on a particular plot point and being hung up over it for days (or weeks, although I'm hoping that isn't going to be the case). Sometimes, as with now, it's a matter of logistics - how exactly something is achieved. I need to get over it, write a placeholder solution and come back to it in the edit. Why does that feel like cheating? It's a draft, the most important thing is just to get through it.

I'm really near the end of the last book in my trilogy, but that ending feels like it's taking forever to come. I've had this feeling before, but maybe it's magnified because this is a much larger work that has occupied a significant proportion of my life. Getting everything wrapped up neatly is a giant balancing act. Maybe I'm also reluctant to let go, but of course I won't be - there's a lot of editing to come in the future.

I could probably think of other peeves, but I don't want this to become an extended diatribe! There are other IWSG posts to read here. If you haven't already done so, why not join? You'll get a warm and fuzzy feeling of fellowship as well as many other benefits. Speaking of which, let's turn to some really cool news...


Show Us Your Writer Insecurity!

Are you proud to be an insecure writer?

Then show us!

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.)

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved:

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh.

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBooks of Princess of Las Pulgas and Sliding on the Edge by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice of eBook from J.L. Campbell.

Grand prize winner - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers.

We have some great IWSG swag – pens, mugs, magnets, erasers, etc. Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site. Check it out here.

You have two months to prepare – show us your best insecurity!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Black & White Cover Reveal

Happy Monday! Almost time for the start of another month - hope this summer is treating you well (or winter, if you're reading this in the Southern Hemisphere). Today I'm proud to unveil the cover for Black & White, the upcoming first instalment in my YA dystopian trilogy.



Release Date: 18th September 2017

Blurb: What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Pre-order links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Add it on Goodreads

If you would be kind enough to help me spread the word about my cover reveal, I've included a suggested tweet below:

#Black&White Cover Reveal! Take a trip to a world that's not as perfect as it seems. @NickPWilford #YA #dystopian http://amzn.to/2h9SaFP

In other news, today is the closing day for entries to the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology, Guide to Writing for Profit. Feel free to submit a piece! Here's some ideas about what to write. Share experiences about making a profit as an author, what it takes to become a successful writer, the many skills a writer needs to learn other than writing, share the experience going from hobby writer to published author (without making it a self-promotion piece), the fallacies behind writing for profit, the little known facts learned along the way, what you wished you knew when you first started writing, or marketing tips based on experience of what has worked and what hasn't.

The only requirement is that you are a member of the IWSG bloghop, Facebook group or Goodreads book group. It's quick and easy to join any of these groups and membership has many benefits.


Check further details here and submit!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Liebster Award

So I'm back to collect the second of the blog awards for which I was recently nominated. Another honour!

But before we get to that, an important reminder that today is the day of the IWSG's first ever Twitter Pitch Party. It's not too late to join in! Get crafting that perfect Tweet-length pitch and hook an agent or publisher for your next masterpiece. The event runs until 8pm Eastern Time. Check out the full details here.

In other news, there are still a few days left to contribute to the IWSG's next free anthology, Guide to Writing for Profit. The only requirement is that you are a member of the IWSG bloghop, Facebook group or Goodreads Book Club. Details here.

So I was nominated for another award. This time, my thanks go to Sarah Zama of The Old Shelter. Her blog is well worth a visit - steeped in history, her knowledge of 1920s culture is second to none!

The rules for this award are simple:


  • Say thank you to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions they asked.
  • Nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions of your own.
So here we go with Sarah's questions:

1. What is the one reason why you like that author so much that when a book of his/hers comes out you automatically buy it?


Terry Pratchett was that author for me, but sadly there aren't more books forthcoming for obvious reasons. His characterisation and humour was always spot on and that's what kept me hooked!

2. Do you read in just your mother tongue?

At the moment, yeah, I don't read in any other language than English. As a kid, though, I was quite obsessed with learning French (just don't ask me to speak it now!) and picked up a few French editions of Tintin and Asterix books, reading them alongside the English versions to pick up all the nuances. Because of the puns, comedy names and bizarre insults that were rampant, the translators often had to deconstruct the original version entirely and come up with something that would work in a different language.

3. Do you think reading in the language a story was written in is the best thing? If yes, why? If not, why?

Well, I don't know if it's the best thing unless you're proficient in that language. But assuming that you are, it's probably the closest you can get to the original author's intentions (see above).

4. Do you read in a preferred genre? Which one? Why you prefer it?

At the moment, I really love reading books about worlds that may be very different from our own, but to which we can relate because of the characters that exist there. So that could be sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian... I'll give most things a go, though. I'm not much of one for pure romance but I have read a few. 

5. Do you ever go exploring genres you don’t normally read?

Again, see above. I don't really actively go looking for them, though, I just go with what comes up that sounds interesting based on the premise.

6. Have you ever being part of a reading group? If yes, how was the experience?

I've never done anything like this, but I wouldn't rule it out. I like the idea of comparing notes because two people can interpret the same thing in wildly different ways.

7. How do you feel about all the new formats available to readers?

I think they're great. I've only got experience with Kindle, and there's nothing quite like the feeling of turning the pages of a physical book, but having as many options as possible for people to read can only be a good thing.

8. I’ve meet people who basically only read in one format (for example only ebooks) Do you? Would you?

No, I don't, but the number of books I read on my Kindle now far outweighs those I read in physical form. The latter tend to be books I win in a giveaway or receive for Christmas, for example. It just offers so much more convenience, not to mention the fact that my bookshelves are overflowing, but I couldn't imagine restricting myself to just ebooks.

9. Today, getting in touch with our favourite authors is a lot easier than before. Have you ever taken advantage of it?

No, this isn't something I've participated in. I'd feel a bit nervous about bothering them if it was a big name, although I'm sure some welcome it. Having said that, some of my favourite authors are fellow bloggers, so technically the answer is yes. 

10. Turning books into movies. This most upsetting practice.

It can be upsetting sometimes, yes. There are occasions when the movie outdoes the book, though I'm drawing a blank on that right now! 

11. Would you ever write the novel you want to read?

Here are the questions for my nominees:

1. If you were to write a historical novel, which time period would you pick and why?
2. Have you ever taken a creative writing class and what did you learn? If not, would you consider it?
3. Describe one thing from your everyday life that inspires you.
4. What's your social media outlet of choice and why do you enjoy it?
5. What's the maddest thing you've done when researching a story?
6. Pick a favourite book character and give one question you'd like to ask them.
7. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
8. Describe one ambition you would still like to achieve.
9. What was the last book to make a big impression on you?
10. Name one musical artist that inspires you and say why.
11. Have you ever been lost and what was the outcome of the situation?

Don't forget to check out the #IWSGPit if you have a book to pitch. It really is a fantastic opportunity!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Friday! I've been nominated for a couple of blog awards recently and I thought it would make for a fun post to play along and acknowledge them. It's been a while since these awards were flying all over the blogosphere, but they seem to have made a bit of a comeback lately. I wouldn't ever disregard a nomination because it's a pretty special thing that you've made enough of an impression on someone for them to pick you. To avoid this post becoming overlong, I'll focus on the first award I received and come back for the other one.

This is the Mystery Blogger Award, which comes with a raft of rules.

Rule 1. Put the award/logo image on your blog. Done.

Rule 2. List the rules. I'm on it.

Rule 3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

This award was bestowed on me by self-proclaimed word nerd and incurable Anglophile Laurel Garver. Check her out!

Rule 4. Also mention the creator of the award and provide a link.

The award was created by Okoto Enigma. Enigma? Mystery? Get it?

Rule 5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.

1) When I was a kid our household pets included male and female Australian prickly stick insects, named Harold and Madge after the well loved couple from the classic soap Neighbours. Unfortunately Madge was rather keen on eating her life partner, a behaviour that we had to vociferously discourage.

2) When I was 18 I appeared on a French TV discussion show as part of an exchange programme at college. I managed to get away with saying little or nothing throughout.

3) I'm too polite to send food back in a restaurant. I don't like mushrooms but I once ordered mushroom soup in a cafe and ate it (by swallowing the mushrooms whole). It was my fault for not asking what the soup of the day was.

Rule 6. Nominate other bloggers.

John Davis Frain
Toni @ Wandering and Wondering
Cynthia @ Read is the New Black
Anna @ Deeply Shallow
Ritika @ Indian Screw Up

Rule 7. Nominate those people. I'll get right on it.

Rule 8. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, plus one weird or funny question.

1) What made you decide to start blogging?
2) Do you have any schedule for posting or is it spontaneous?
3) Have you ever been in a situation that seemed bad but ended up leading to something positive?
4) Ever given up on reading a book but then gone back to it later?
5) Name one main goal that you want to achieve in the next year.
Funny/weird question: What would be your current protagonist's go-to song in karaoke? If you're not working on a book at the moment, name a song for your favourite book character.

Here's the questions I was asked:

1) What are three things on your "bucket list"?

- Visit the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt.
- Have a book traditionally published, perhaps via a small press. I don't think this is any better or worse than self-publishing. It's just an experience I want to have.
- Have a go at script writing - a movie or TV series.

2) Which authors have influenced you in terms of genre, style, or theme?

Well, for my current project I'm immersed in the world of dystopia. I didn't know I would write anything like that at the time, but at a young age I read George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and they made enough of an impression that they're still with me. I would say my new series is heavily influenced by both.

3) What book's milieu (place, time, culture) would you most like to live in?

Not 1984, for sure! I could see myself settling down and enjoying a very quiet life in Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings). As long as I wasn't dragged off on any dangerous quests.

4) What are your favourite writing resources?

Not anything too specific, unless the dictionary and thesaurus count! I would recommend Stephen King's On Writing to anyone just starting out, and it's always good to dip into for a bit of inspiration. Of course, the IWSG website features a whole host of great resources, including lists of publishers and agents, contests, and conferences (plug, plug!)

5) What's the best book you've read recently?

Mark Noce's Between Two Fires is an excellent and atmospheric read, set in 6th century Wales and featuring a strong and feisty female heroine. I don't read much historical fiction, but this makes me want to read more. And I got to read it in hard copy, which is always nice!

Rule 9. Share a link to my blog's best post.

Lessons from Journalism and the Joy of Non-Fiction

I think I shared some good advice here. I would advise everyone to have a go at some non-fiction at some point. Perhaps it will refresh you if you're struggling on the fiction side. It also contains advice that I still need to remember to follow myself!

Before I go, a couple of things to remind you of:

The first IWSG Twitter Pitch Party is in less than two weeks! Get your 140-character pitch sharpened and honed and don't miss your chance to snag an agent or publisher on July 27. Details here.

And you've got until the end of the month to submit to the next anthology which is all about the secrets of writing for profit. You can share what did or didn't work for you. Details here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

IWSG July 2017

Time for our monthly installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which allows us writers a place to vent our worries and doubts, with the addition of an optional question. Hosted as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's co-hosts are Tamara NarayanPat HattPatricia LynneJuneta Key and Doreen McGettigan!


Today's optional question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Hmm, this kind of plays into what I've been thinking about over the last couple of days, especially after reading this awesome post yesterday by Sarah Allen. I've got the usual insecurities that come along with releasing a book or any piece of writing into the world, and with my launch coming in September and sending copies out to people in the hopes of getting some positive feedback, it's at that stage where it all feels much more "real".

I'm not naturally very forthcoming, so all of this takes a big effort for me. Asking people to take time to read something I've read - there are all sorts of other ways that time could have been used, surely? Why should people be interested in anything I do? I've always felt like I've just "got away with it" - anything that goes down well must have been a fluke. But I need to stop feeling like that. I need to listen to and trust those who are giving an honest opinion, while benefitting from the insightful advice they offer.

Because deep down, what I've learned since I started writing is that I can achieve things if I stick at them long enough, and I should be proud of that. I put off writing a book for long enough because I didn't think I had the discipline. Now that I've done it, I need to back it up by taking ownership. I want to be a lot of good things - good husband, good father, good writer. I work at them all the time. If I can make a difference to how someone else feels, that's a great achievement - something real.

What lessons have you learned from writing?

You can check out other IWSG posts here. Meanwhile, there's lots going on with the group as it goes from strength to strength. Check out the exciting news below and get involved!

Submissions are open for the anthology The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit. This will be a non-fiction book like our Guide to Publishing and Beyond.
Word limit: 500-1000 words.
Submission eligibility: All members of the IWSG Blog Hop, IWSG Facebook group and/or members of our IWSG Goodreads Book Club. It’s free to join any of these groups and a great benefit to be a part of these communities.
Deadline: July 31, 2017
MORE INFO HERE.


A reminder about the upcoming IWSG TWITTER PITCH PARTY IN 3 WEEKS' TIME!

Hashtag #IWSGPit
DATE: July 27, 2017, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time
All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favourite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. MORE INFO HERE.

And finally we received fantastic news recently that the IWSG website placed 19th in the Writer's Digest Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers! This is a clear recognition that the group is making a difference to the lives and careers of writers, which is all down to its many wonderful contributors. 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Goals for July 2017

The start of another month, and time to look back at how I did on my goals from June and look ahead to what's on the agenda for July.

  •  Add 10000 words to WIP by the end of this month.
I was a bit hit-and-miss on this but I did add another 5000 words. On a good note, I hit my stride at the end of the month and I'm hoping to keep up that momentum by adding 20,000 words this month at least.
  • Continue working through CP notes for book 2.
Some. Need to continue this and start coming up with ideas to address significant plot points.
  • Start working on a promotion plan for book 1. This is taking shape, including putting ideas together for a cover, which for the first time I'll be designing myself. I'm hoping this'll be fun!
This went well; I organised a sign-up for my September blog tour and was very pleased by the response. Thanks! I've also contacted book bloggers re sending ARCs and have had some positive responses. This month, I need to start working on guest posts and will be sending ARCs in the next day or so to those who requested them when signing up for the tour. The cover is also nearly finalised and will be revealed on 31st July.

So, I'll be pretty busy. How about you? Any writing or holiday plans? To my American friends, hope you have a great 4th of July tomorrow!

Monday, 19 June 2017

Black & White blog tour signup

Happy Monday everyone! The sun is shining in Scotland and I'm hoping it's going to be a great week for everyone. I spent some of the weekend brainstorming marketing ideas for the release of Black & White, part 1 of my YA dystopian trilogy, and I'm pleased to announce that I've set a release date of 18th September 2017. This will be nearly five years since I started writing this book during NaNoWriMo 2012, so it's been a long haul, but it's finally ready to see the light of day!


As part of my launch celebrations I am planning a two-week blog tour, to end on 30th September, and I would love it if you could help by hosting a post from me (or one of my characters). I've embedded a Google form below to make it easy to respond. As I'm actively seeking readers for ARCs, there's an option to receive one as well as being a tour host, but don't worry if you can't do both. Alternatively, you can let me know in the comments if you can't do the tour but would like an ARC.

In related news, cover design is proceeding apace and I'll be ready to reveal this at some point next month. I'm surprisingly pleased with the results!

Friday, 16 June 2017

The Last God by Jean Davis

Happy Friday everyone! Today I'm helping out blogging friend Jean Davis with the launch of her new book, which releases on Monday. Here's all the details you need to know - it sounds like a really good one.


Blurb:
The General of the Unlata Kai has decreed that the time of her people is over. Jane’s race of god-like beings has caused enough chaos, leaving floundering hybrid races and war-ravaged planets throughout the universe. Kaldara, their home, is about to fulfill her wishes. When the planet goes, it will take her and the last of the Unlata Kai with it.

Logan Klevo sets out with the crew of the Maxim on a mission to warn the leaders of Kaldara of their imminent demise. Their announcement triggers a violent battle between gods. One of them holds knowledge that could restore the Maxim to its full strength. The possibility of a defense against the ruthless army of Matouk that destroyed Logan’s homeworld fills him with something he’s been missing, hope.

Abducting an angry and suicidal god might not be a wise choice, but if the god of war can learn to love they both might discover a future worth living for.

Excerpt:

Logan watched in horror as the king left the side of the queen and erupted into a towering being of light.

And then that’s all there was, heat and light. He shielded his face with his arms. Huddling against the wall, he blinked rapidly and waited for the ringing in his ears to subside while he got his bearings.

Beside him, Colonel Rice swore. “What the hell was that?”

Logan had no answers. He could only attest to witnessing the woman he’d seen when they’d entered the massive chamber cover herself in the same golden suit of armor they’d spoken with. Then she grew taller, brighter, glorious. Though his mind reeled with what he’d seen and he was only half certain this wasn’t another one of his nightmares, he hazarded a glance to where the king and queen had been.

The two beings of light exchanged blows of massive proportions. Bombs of energy exploded against their bodies. He couldn’t fathom how either remained standing.

“I’m pretty sure the queen exploded,” he said, knowing how absurd that sounded but having no other explanation.

Everyone else in the room had gone to their knees when the king had stood. The uniformed men that they had followed back here, now had their arms outstretched and their faces plastered to the floor.

While beings of light danced in his vision and bombs exploded against his eardrums, he achieved a single glimpse of clarity. Everyone who had been near the throne was blackened. Dead. Bile rose in this throat.

A thunderous clamor claimed his attention. He tore his gaze from the bodies to see the being of white light, what had been the king, sprawled among the remains of the thrones. He dimmed and then was nothing more than a battered and bloody man. His crown lay at the bottom of the stairs.

A shimmering sheet flowed from the General to hover over him and Rice. The ground beneath them rocked and the walls shook. The ceiling above began to crumble.

The colonel didn’t move. He found he couldn’t move either. He wasn’t easily scared, but he had no idea what was going on here and safety anywhere on this planet was questionable.

Without taking his eyes off the General, he said, “We’ve overstayed. The planet is going to go with us on it.”

“Maybe.” The colonel also stared at the giant golden glowing figure.

Debris thundered down on the sheet above them. A shield of some sort.

Logan prayed their ship wasn’t being crushed where they’d left it with the rest of their team inside. Then he wondered if he should hope that they’d left. He and Rice might not make it back. The shield didn’t look able to stretch that far. In fact, it didn’t even go as far as the archway.

A giant explosion struck the General. For a moment he was blinded again. Another blast of scorching air blew past them, though it seemed the shield protected them somewhat as the heat wasn’t near as intense as the first time.

“Holy shit,” muttered Rice.

The King was gone. Only a large scorch mark on the floor where his body had been. The General lay sprawled on steps, her feet just below the thrones. Her armor missing the golden glow and blackened. Blood dripped down the steps from the seam at her neck where her head was suspended over the edge of one of the stairs. She lay on her back as if she’d been blown over, unable to catch herself.

She was still moving. Slowly, but twitching enough to indicate she wasn’t as bad off as the rest.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

“Agreed.” Yet, Rice crept forward instead of back the way they’d come.

Following behind, they checked the bodies of the others as they went. All of them had burnt to death. Pain on his own arms registered. He glanced down to find them blistered. Rice’s face and neck was red. He guessed his was too by the tightness that hit him now that the shock had worn off. His clothes were singed.

“Good thing we weren’t any closer,” Rice said, working his way toward the armored woman.

Logan rushed up the stairs. He knelt beside the General, who seemed to have returned to her original size. She weakly pushed him away but said nothing beyond a faint moan.

“Let me help you.”

She pushed at him again. He tugged on the helmet, trying to free her head so he could better assess the damage.

The voice that came from the blackened metal face was a ghost of the powerful voice that she’d used earlier, barely a whisper. “Leave me.”

He pushed her hand aside and felt up the back of the armor, searching for a lever or latch of any sort. There was nothing there but blood. He wiped his hands on his pants. “How do you get this thing off?”

 “You don’t.” Her voice grew slightly stronger. “Now go, I can’t hold the shield much longer.”

Rice crouched down beside them. “You’re coming with us.”

Pre-order sales links:
Amazon / Nook / Kobo  Also now available in Paperback

Release e-book sale price is .99

Author Bio:
Jean Davis lives in West Michigan. When not ruining lives from the comfort of her writing chair, she can be found playing in her garden, enjoying a glass of wine, or lost a good book. Her novels include The Last GodSahmara, and A Broken Race. Hershort fiction has appeared in Theian JournalBards and Sages Quarterly, Acidic Fiction, Tales of The Talisman, The First Line, Allegory, Isotropic Fiction, Liquid Imagination, Brewed Awakenings II Anthology, and The 3288 Review.
Follow her writing adventures at www.jeanddavis.blogspot.com
Special offer:
In celebration of the release of The Last God, Jean is also offering her fantasy novel, Sahmara for .99 for a limited time.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Goals for June 2017

Time to do a roundup of my goals from May and look at what's coming up for June. I'm trying to get back to posting these nearer the start of the month!


  • Add 5000 words to Book 3 of my series. Accomplished this and hit 50000 words; aiming to add 10000 more by the end of this month.
  • Start working through CP notes for book 2. Check. I'll be continuing this in June.
  • Start working on a promotion plan for book 1. This is taking shape, including putting ideas together for a cover, which for the first time I'll be designing myself. I'm hoping this'll be fun!
That's about it for now. Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

IWSG June 2017

It's June already, and time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as ever by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The aim of the group is for writers to support and encourage each other over whatever woes they are experiencing, in a safe and supportive environment. Today's co-hosts are J H MoncrieffMadeline Mora-SummonteJen ChandlerMegan Morgan and Heather Gardner.


So, as with every month, we have an optional question to answer and this month it is "Did you ever say 'I quit'? If so, what happened to make you come back to writing?"

OK, this might be a corny answer, but without this online community being here I probably wouldn't still be writing. I spent two and a half years writing my first book - something that I poured my heart and soul into but without really having any idea what I was doing. I hadn't yet realised the importance of showing my work to other people and gaining those insights and advice that would lift it into something much greater. A family member arranged for an editor in London to have a look at it and it took a year for the feedback to come back - when it did, it was less than favourable. At this stage, I'd never heard the terms "critique partner" or "beta reader", let alone understand their significance to the overall process. Although I did get a few short stories published in the year before starting my blog, I wasn't sure if I would ever try writing another book - after the monumental amount of time and effort that went into it, it seemed it wasn't up to standard in the eyes of the industry. Of course, with hindsight and the knowledge I've absorbed during my time spent blogging I know there were many problems with that book and I was also incredibly naive to believe I could break through with my first effort after getting no outside eyes to point out the issues with the structure, voice, characterisation, pacing...

So yeah. If this community and its wonderful and knowledgeable inhabitants weren't here, it's doubtful I would still have the same large-scale ambitions or be pursuing them at all. Here's to all of you!

As to insecurities this month - I'm not doing so bad. Due to a range of issues I haven't had as much time as I would have liked over the past few weeks, but things are coming under control and I should get much more done in the remainder of this month. I'll do a recap of my May goals and post those for June in a couple of days. Don't forget to check out the other IWSG participants here!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Snowman blog tour


It’s a pleasure to be participating in author Yolanda Renée’s THE SNOWMAN Blog Tour through MC Book Tours today.

This is a prequel to the author’s Detective Steven Quaid Mysteries. This story tells of Steven's first case as a rookie detective. It takes place 10 years before the events in MURDER, MADNESS & LOVE, the first book in the series.

The author is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring both print and eBook copies from her series. More information on the giveaway is listed below.

◊ THE SNOWMAN

◊ by Yolanda Renée
◊ Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
◊ Publisher: TRACE Enterprises
◊ Series: Detective Quaid Mystery
◊ Novella
◊ Print & eBooks
◊ Contains explicit sex & violence

It takes a true artist to pursue his victims in the art of seduction, and Stowy Jenkins is no exception, especially with blood as his medium.

          Stowy Jenkins, aka, Stone, and as Alaskans refer to him, the Snowman, is a true artist. His muse, Gigi, is the ultimate inspiration for his painting. Her rejection inspires him to use a very unusual medium…blood.
          While art may be his passion, the taste for blood is his obsession, and multiple murders, the result.
          Rookie, Detective Steven Quaid, is no fan of the Snowman’s murderous exhibitions. A twisted and deadly relationship bond the two men and neither knows who will come out of it alive.

I also got to ask Yolanda a couple of questions:
1.   Where did the idea come from for this book?
When writing the first book in the series, Murder, Madness & Love, I introduced Detective Steven Quaid to the readers, through a discussion of his first case, The Snowman, and how his reputation had been formed when he solved that mystery. In the second book, Memories of Murder I mentioned the case again and how Steven was bothered by the fact that it had been the case that made his reputation. He felt that it wasn’t deserved and that his native background and rookie status had been used as a public relations ploy.
Those factors all played into the story I told in the prequel, The Snowman. I felt I had to stay true to the initial and yet very short explanation of Detective Quaid’s first case that I’d made in those first two novels.

2.  How much research goes into a story like this?
    Quite a bit, I’ve researched such items as the names of clubs, restaurants and bars, (I was told by an editor the more real names you use the better). From bow hunting moose to the codes police use to communicate via radio. I research locations for accurate descriptive terms, even though I lived in Anchorage, it’s been a few years and I know things change. For The Snowman, I researched the trees Stowy used as body dump markers, the Hemlock tree. For instance, the Hemlock, three different varieties are native to Alaska, but only grow so far north. I had to make sure that tree would grow in the area Stowy used as his dumping ground.
        I researched major details, such as the real serial killer Hansen, but also minor details, so I use the correct wording in descriptions. And I always check for the right sunrise and sunset times especially in a city that boasts a midnight sun! I enjoy research, and try to make my stories are real as possible even though the story line is pure fiction. (Each hyperlinked word goes to a research site that I’ve used.)


At one time Alaska called to me, and I answered. I learned to sleep under the midnight sun, survive in below zero temperatures, and hike the Mountain Ranges. I've traveled from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, and the memories are some of my most valued. The wonders, mysteries and incredible beauty that is Alaska has never left me and thus now influence my writing.


Despite my adventurous spirit, I achieved my educational goals, married, and I have two handsome sons. Writing is now my focus, my newest adventure!

You can connect with me here:
Blog    *     Facebook     *     Twitter     *     Pinterest     *     Email

The other books in the Detective Quaid Series include:




          A killer plays cat and mouse with a young widow against the snowy backdrop of an Alaskan winter. Branded a black widow after the suspicious death of her millionaire husband, Sarah Palmer flees Seattle for Anchorage. However, the peace and quiet she hoped to enjoy in her hometown is soon shattered. A killer is murdering Sarah look-alikes on the 14th of each month, taunting Sarah with a valentine of evidence. After her experiences in Seattle, Sarah is slow to go to the police. When she finally does, she finds Detective Steven Quaid—Anchorage P D’s hotshot investigator—has not only heard the rumors, he believes them. Worse, her aloofness and composure only confirm his suspicions. Is Sarah a victim or a very skilled manipulator?




World damnation is a psychotic man’s goal, but two obstacles stand in his way, greed and a dedicated detective.
Catching Alaska’s most notorious serial killer as a rookie made Detective Steven Quaid a hero, but falling in love with the victim of his last case tarnishes that status. While attempting to repair both his personal and professional life, he stumbles upon an unusual case–and an even more extraordinary foe: a man who believes he is Lucifer. An insidious man who delivers Quaid the ultimate choice: save his fiancée from an assassin’s bullet or stop the sacrifice of a young girl.




Flames burn between a hardboiled cop and a gifted artist, but soon extinguish as another man’s obsession ignites into an inferno of desire, driving him to destroy the object of his madness.
Detective Steven Quaid is ready for new challenges as Anchorage's top detective, but not until he marries the woman of his dreams on New Year's Eve. Determined to give Sarah the wilderness honeymoon she desires, he turns his grandfather's cabin into the perfect honeymoon retreat. After the final details are complete, Steven treks into the mountains to hunt. On his return to the cottage, instead of Sarah, he is greeted by several police officers and a bloody crime scene. Accusations fly, and Stephen flees into the wilderness, his heart racing and thoughts etching into his soul. The wilderness is unforgiving, but Steven faces it head on: Caught between a massive grizzly and a black bear in a deadly tug of war, he is barely saved from death's door by the fortuitous appearance of his uncle. Despite surviving multiple injuries, Steven continues his investigation as he recovers, but answers don't come quick or easy. Having enlisted the aid of his number one suspect, Steven faces a struggle that has become more than personal. This one just may cost him his heart.

You can find out more about the books and the author by following the tour HERE. You can also include your chances of winning in the giveaway.


This tour-wide giveaway features both print and eBook copies of the four books in the Detective Quaid Series. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, June 6.

The prizes include:

* Grand prize - Winner receives a print copy of all four books in the Detective Quaid Series (U.S. and Canada only).
* First place - Winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift certificate.
* Second place - Winner will receive eBook copies of all four books in the Detective Quaid Series.
* There will be 3 runner-up winners and each will win an eBook copy of THE SNOWMAN or one of the other books in the series (winner's choice).

To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. If the widget doesn’t show up, just click HERE and you’ll be directed to the widget.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to follow Yolanda on her month-long tour. You never know what you might find out.


a Rafflecopter giveaway