Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simon & Schuster Christmas recommendation!

If anybody visiting my blog were in any doubt about what thriller to buy this Christmas, here's the recommendation of Simon & Schuster's Editorial Director of Fiction, Maxine Hitchcock!

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Being published.

It's been just over a year since my debut novel, "Covenant", was bought by Simon & Schuster after a fiercely fought auction that lasted over a week. The manuscript was sent to nine publishers by my agent on Thursday September 9th, 2010 - I'll never forget the date because it was also the day I was made redundant from my job of 12 years. So much has changed since then, all of it for the better in my case, but for the benefit of those who may not have followed my long ( LONG ) journey from hopeful, aspiring author to happily published and best-selling novelist, here's the heavily abridged version:

Started writing in 1994, after realising I would not be allowed to train in the RAF as a pilot due to my eyesight not being absolutely perfect.

Wrote two historical epics, Frontier and Man 'o' War, spending five years on them. Multiple submissions - no takers.

1999, began writing screenplays. Completed four of them, over six years. Multiple submissions - no takers.

2005: Wrote a contemporary black comedy novel, 'Four Fridays'. Multiple submissions - no takers.

2007: Wrote "Genesis", a converted screenplay from 1999 ( originally titled "The Nemesis Origin" ). Multiple submissions - one taker. Rejected as full MS after 4 month wait.

2007-2009: Re-wrote "Genesis", twice. Multiple submissions each time - no takers.

2010: Completed fourth version of "Genesis". Submitted to ten literary agencies. Eight rejections, two takers. Asked by one agent to re-write an entire third of the novel to suit the market. Agreed. Was signed to Luigi Bonomi Associates as a result of willingness to edit the novel.

Sept 2010: World rights to now re-titled novel "Covenant" sold to Simon & Schuster in a major deal for three books.

The reason that I'm posting this now is because, of late, I've heard a number of heart-rending tales of disappointment from aspiring authors who, for one reason or another, have been unable to gain a contract. Some have come achingly close to doing so, only to have success snatched away at the last moment. The heart-ache and frustration that this causes hopeful authors is undeniable, and having been there myself before now I do feel qualified to comment on such disappointments. I'm one of the lucky ones who got through and achieved the unthinkable, a major publishing deal that changed my future. However, it took me sixteen years to find myself in the right place at the right time, and good enough at writing to be signed up. I suppose my point to all this is that, despite all of the joy and delight of making it through, all that really changes is the next step on the author's journey.

There are many published authors whose book sales dwindle ( for far too many reasons to go into here ), who find themselves back to square one. The market is incredibly tough, and I've come to learn a great deal about that in the last few months. The sale of EVERY single copy counts, and can be the difference between success and obscurity. Margins are down, the rise of digital publishing is changing the market at an incredible pace, and publishers and agents are all struggling to keep up with and adapt to the changing environment. Things are changing fast and nobody really knows how it's all going to end up, so gambling tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds on unknown names isn't on the gameplan of many publishers right now. Agents are struggling to gain deals for authors on their own books, let alone newcomers. If it was hard to get published before, it's even harder now, but that doesn't mean the situation is hopeless at all.

The bottom line is that both agents and publishers would love to have to struggle to choose which authors to represent and buy because they were all so good. The harsh reality is that most of the work sent to them is rejected because it isn't quite right for the market yet, either in terms of quality or content, not because it's rubbish. My advice is to remember that writing is a hobby. It is something that we all do because we can't NOT do it. We'd get bored or frustrated if, for some reason, we couldn't write. Getting published is not just about being the best writer anybody in the industry has seen that year: it's about the right time, the right place, the right subject, the right tone, the right people seeing the work and the right publisher having the cash and the business plan to find a place on their books for your much treasured manuscript. It's a business, and if they're not sure, you're not going to get through. It doesn't mean you're not good enough, it means that now's not the right time for what might have been the perfect debut last year, or might be in three years' time.

But if you persevere, if you don't quit and stick with it for long enough, sooner or later the odds come down. The market shifts in your favour. The economic downturn ends. The digital revolution becomes everyday technology. Your novel now looks like it could be next year's BIG THING. And suddenly, unbelievably quickly, everything you've just read becomes a thing of the past.

Don't let rejection get you down. Keep writing because you want to, not because you want to be the next Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling. You don't want to be anybody's 'next', you want to be the first 'YOU'. Enjoy your hobby, don't endure it, and you'll get through eventually. Fifteen months ago, I was exactly where every other aspiring author was. Hopeful and determined, yet often disappointed and disillusioned. Letting 'failure' get me down was my only mistake, because in writing there is no failure, only the next step. Covenant peaked at #26 in the Sunday Times Bestseller list and is selling fabulously worldwide. It happens. Stick with it, just like I did.

Happy Christmas!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Matt Hilton takes a new direction.

Fellow thriller writer Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter series, has taken a bold new step into the world of self-publishing via e-books and Amazon with his new label Sempre Vigile Press. HIs first novel in this venture, Dominion, is available on Amazon:
Why not head on over and grab yourself a copy? As a successful and internationally published author, you'd be crazy not to if horror is your thing!

Friday, November 25, 2011

COVENANT #1 in Bookseller's Fiction Heatseeker list!

I'm delighted to announce that having hit the Bookseller's Fiction Heatseeker list at Number 3 after only a few days' worth of sales, COVEVANT has now soared into the Number 1 spot!

The list is for 'rising stars' who have yet to chart in the official Bookseller's Top 50. As COVENANT has only been on the UK's shelves for fourteen days it's a huge achievement and I'm absolutely thrilled with how well my debut novel is doing!

There will be much celebrating tonight!! :o)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Get in!!

In awesome news received this afternoon, COVENANT has hit No.26 in the Sunday Times Paperback bestseller chart! It's a fabulous result for me, made all the more exciting by the fact that above me in the list are Christmas specials, celebrity books and global best-selling authors such as Clive Cussler, Lee Child, David Baldacci and Michael Connelly. Even Peter James is only a few places ahead. All of these authors have huge fan bases and long back-lists of titles - yet COVENANT is my debut!!

Simon & Schuster have done a fabulous job of launching me in the UK, and I'm incredibly fortunate to find myself so high on the bestseller lists so early in my career.

It is possible that I may drink some alcohol this evening :o)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

UK Publication day!

It's finally here! COVENANT hits the shelves across the UK in all major bookstores and most supermarkets. Fingers crossed that the launch of my debut novel in my home country will set me off to a good start, paving the way for the Ethan Warner series of books.

Best wishes to all my followers and fellow bloggers, and if you've been waiting for your copy of COVENANT, or you've bought it, I hope that you enjoy it!

I'd also like to thank my agent Luigi Bonomi, without whom I wouldn't be typing these words, and my publishers Simon & Schuster and Touchstone USA, who have done so much to promote my debut novel. Today, I'm pretty sure I'm the happiest author on the planet :o)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Win a signed copy of COVENANT!

Covenant has been named CBS Action Channel's Book of the Month!! As well as running adverts on their Sky channel, CBS Action are giving readers the chance to win a signed copy of my novel. Details below, and watch out for those adverts on the TV!!

Monday, November 07, 2011

UK Publication week!

It's here! Finally, after what feels like several decades, COVENANT is due for release in the UK this Thursday. After great launches in both Australia and the United States, this is still the 'big' one for me, my debut novel on my home turf.

Watch out for it in all major stores and supermarkets, as it's going to be everywhere! It's the WHSmith TRavel Read of the Week; a WHS Great Read Guaranteed promotion title; A Tesco 'Books We Love' title; Amazon are running a promotional e-mail campaign, and Sainsbury's and Asda are promoting it as a 'chart' title.

Finally, I'd like to thank everybody who has followed my blog since it began about five years ago, long before I had an agent or publisher, and was writing in my spare time ( when I had any! ). I know many of my followers are aspiring authors themselves, and I'll mention again that my debut's publication just proves that it CAN happen to you, just like it happened to me. Stick with it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Reviews for COVENANT from the USA and Canada!

Had some great reviews appearing after Covenant's launch today in the USA and Canada, really exciting to see such positive responses from well respected newspapers and bloggers.

This one from the Wall Street Journal:

And this one from blogger Luanne in Canada:

Friday, October 14, 2011

My first sales news update!

Great news from Australia! My editor revealed to me in a phonecall today that COVENANT is selling at a tremendous rate - some 3,000 copies gone already. More importantly, the rate of sale is not tailing off ( at least not yet ) which is incredibly promising. COVENANT, I am reliably informed, is currently the best-selling debut novel in the country.

It's great news to hear, and bodes well for the novel's future releases in both the United States ( October 18th ) and the UK ( November 10th ). Can't wait to see how it performs in those markets, especially when the promotional campaigns kick off!

In other news, my second novel, ELIXIR, is entering its final phase, with edits nearing completion. Apparently, I have only minor changes to make to the MS before it goes to print, which is nice to know. Cover art is just around the corner, as is the possibility of a title change, to IMMORTAL. Any thoughts, anyone, on which seems like the best title...? Bearing in mind that it needs to have the greatest impact, and immediately reveal something of the novel's content?

Friday, October 07, 2011

Writing injury!!

It's been a tough five weeks for me. I tore a muscle in my left shoulder, right where the nerve travels between the rhomboids and down into the arm. Incredibly painful. At one point I was on doctor-prescribed anti-inflammatories, Diazapan and Co-Dydamol at the same time - to no effect. My physio, who has done sterling work on the damage, has said that most likely writing in awkward positions on a laptop computer caused the muscle to become stressed, setting me up for the injury. The ironic thing is that I keep fit with both running and regular bodybuilding - I currently do chest-flies with 20kg dumbells in each hand and have never hurt myself. So what caused this final, epic muscular disaster....? Towel-drying my hair after a shower. Won't be doing that again ( using a towel to dry my hair, not showering, obviously ).

Over that time, I've also moved house, a stressful experience in itself.

The bottom line is that I haven't been able to write a word for those five weeks, due to the pain. This is probably the longest in fifteen years of writing that I've been away from a manuscript that I've been working on. With deadlines in effect, this is far more of an issue now than ever in the past. Fortunately, I've gotten far enough ahead of schedule to still have plenty of time to complete Book 3 in the Ethan Warner series before Jan 31st 2012, but it's still a hell of a set-back and it's been driving me up the wall ( along with said pain and resulting lack of sleep ).

Happily, I'm on the mend now and with a proper desk and fancy chair installed in my own office in our new house ( courtesy of my parents, bless them ), I finally have everything I need to work as a professional author. I can't wait to get stuck back into my work, as CONTINUUM was progressing really well before disaster struck!

So, for those reading this, be aware: RSI can affect all muscles, not just those in the hands. If you're a laptop user who likes sitting writing in armchairs , as I did, or at a desk that's not quite right for you, then get something more appropriate sorted. Believe me, it's really not something you want happening to you.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Early reviews for COVENANT

Had some early reviews appear recently on-line, from bloggers sent Advance Review Copies of COVENANT. Am happy to say that it's looking good so far!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Publicity meeting.

I had a meeting yesterday with the team at Simon & Schuster, along with my agent Luigi Bonomi. They detailed the global campaign planned for COVENANT, and it is utterly awesome. I learned a huge amount about how the campaign is designed to produce 'tail-off', maintaining a book's prominent placing on the shelves, along with all sorts of details involving the television adverts, posters, on-line and supermarket promotions. The list was immense, and apparently regarded as one of the biggest and best debut launch campaigns ever seen ( in Australia ).

The team at S&S and Touchstone USA have done an incredible job of giving my fledgling debut career the best possible start, and it's unbelievably exciting to see everything coming together and how every little detail is carefully considered.

Perhaps the most amazing news I heard was that, despite the Australia campaign not actually launching in full until next week, COVENANT has sold around 1,000 copies just six days after hitting the shelves! I don't believe that word of mouth could have achieved such widespread sales success, and can only put it down to the incredible efforts made by my publisher and their respective teams over the past few months to produce the perfect cover, style and impact for my debut novel.

They even let me take some cake home for my other half - how nice is that?!

Fingers crossed for more good news soon!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Australia competition!

For any and all readers in Australia, where COVENANT launches tomorrow, there's a competition in place to win a 50" plasma TV, X-Box Kinect, controllers, games and other prizes in the bundle. If that sounds like something you'd like, then just copy and paste the following link!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Author interview!

I was recently asked to give an interview for Shearer's Bookshop: the link is below.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Publication day for COVENANT imminent!

Had some great news recently, after receiving the press release material for Covenant's launch in Australia. The fab news is that the launch date is September 1st 2011, just a couple of weeks from now! I'd not realised this, so it's hugely exciting as the next launch is in the USA, and that's not till October 28th.

I'm due at the offices of Simon & Schuster early next month for the global publicity briefing, where I'll learn what's going to happen regarding both USA and UK launches, so will have more news after that. Can't wait to see what happens in two weeks time, fingers crossed for a successful launch and maybe even some good sales figures....

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beating "Writer's Block".

I've read on quite a few blogs recently about aspiring authors who suffer from writer's block quite regularly, and who often struggle for some time before overcoming this most frustrating of obstacles.

Almost all authors have a unique approach to their writing; some like to simply start with a blank page and no idea of what their next story will be about; others like to plan every single stage of the journey before ever applying fingertip to keyboard; others still like to let their newly created characters lead the way, essentially plotting their own stories via their individual personalities. For what it's worth, I think that its these varying approaches to creating a complete novel that sometimes cause the author's block to appear.

In sixteen years' of writing, I've never had writer's block. That may possibly be because my imagination is especially broad, but many others can lay claim to an equally vast internal universe of creativity, so I don't think its the cause of my good fortune. I reckon it's in my style of creating a novel, so I thought I'd share my own personal method - it might not work for the next person, but if another author sees something that they like, takes it, and says goodbye to writer's block, then it will have been worth sharing.


1) The idea. I'm not somebody who wants to just sit down and start writing away about, well, nothing. My novels are plot driven, as are most thrillers. So first of all, I need to know what the main, core idea will be. Once I've got that down on paper, even if it's just a few scribbled notes, I know I'm on my way. If you're a writer, you'll know your core ideas whenever you find them: they'll be the ones that instantly excite you, and make you want to write about them.

2) The basic plot. My method is simple: sit down for a few weeks, and thrash out ideas on paper and in my head. One good technique I use is to play movie soundtracks on my headphones whilst thinking about what would be really cool to have in my novel: it's surprising how your imagination comes to life when you're listening to Pirates of the Caribbean or similar blazing away in your head. It helps if you're a visual sort of thinker for this technique to work. I sometimes also use coloured cards, each with major plot points, and arrange them in the order I think might work. They can be re-arranged easily, letting me play 'God' with the plot-lines.

3) It's here that you can add major events known as Turning Points. Anyone familiar with screenplays will know about these, but essentially they're the points where Act 1 becomes Act 2 and Act 3 etc etc. In the centre of the story it helps to have a MAJOR division called the Point of No Return, where your hero / heroine generally starts fighting back against whatever problem the story demands that they solve. By the time you've finished writing the novel, these points should not be obvious to a reader, but should none the less be present and essential.

4) The Chapter Layout: As the general storyline forms itself through the basic plot, I then begin the chapter map. This usually is a 'guideline' as opposed to a rigid structure: its purpose is to provide a map that I can follow as I write the first draft, and it's this above all that prevents writer's block. No matter where I am in the story, I know where my characters have been, where they're going and why. The reason I say that this is only a "guideline" piece is that if you try to force characters into plot developments, it can come across as cliched or force the author into contrivances that spoil any sense of discovery for the reader. So, as I write and new ideas come into play I keep everything fluid: sometimes the idea for a major twist comes half-way through writing a draft, or maybe a new character trait develops unexpectedly and just 'fits' right - I always leave these natural developments in, and alter any preceding storyline to match during the redrafts. It pays to keep notes of these changes, to remind you of what to do later on. My chapter layouts are usually on two sides of ordinary A4 paper, one line per chapter with a brief note of the scene and who's in it. Simples.

5) Research. If your story needs it, then get your story straight now. Locations, facts, historical background: whatever it is, find it out and have it ready saved somewhere so that when you're powering through your first draft, it's ready to go. The ubiquity of the Internet makes small details like the name of a road easy to grab on the go, but have all detailed research ready so you're not bogged down halfway through trying to work out how your hero can valiantly create a nuclear bomb from a shoelace, a daffodil and a tube of Smarties.

6) Take a week's break, then sit down and get cracking on draft number one. You're all set to go, you know where you're going and why, and with your headphones soaring with whatever epic score you like you'll see the movie of your novel streaming before your very eyes.

7) When your first draft is complete, probably after several weeks or even months, put it away and take a month off. It's hard to do, but I can tell you I wish I'd done it more often. When the month is up, get the novel printed out and read it as though it were something you'd bought off the shelves. Make brief notes about the mistakes you'd made ( there will be plenty ) as you go along, and then you'll be ready to get started on the SECOND HALF of writing a novel: the editing, polishing and perfecting, which will no doubt take some months.


8) Editing. This is down to you. The point is, by this time you'll have a first draft that is much closer to the hoped-for final version than you would otherwise have been able to create working 'blind', typing whatever came first into your head. You'll have something that has structure, purpose and characters that have a reason to exist and direction in their lives. Every edit you make from this point on will bring you closer to the finished product and improve what already exists, instead of you still chasing rainbows trying to figure out what your novel is 'really about'.

9) Months later.... Congratulations, you've finished! Take a well earned rest, and start planning your approach to literary agencies ( see earlier posts for information on this ).

There will no doubt be those who say that such an approach as mine stifles impulsive creativity, the spark of true genius etc etc. It doesn't - those sparks still arrive, and you can always find somewhere to put them in your story. The bottom line is that if you don't have at least some idea of what your story will be about and where it's going, you're making yourself vulnerable to writer's block. If your current, different method isn't working, give mine a try, or at least elements of it. You'll never know until you do....

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Advance Reader's Copies of "Covenant"!

I received four copies of COVENANT in the post yesterday from New York City, USA. For the first time, after fifteen years of effort, I can read an ACTUAL printed copy of my own work! An awesome surprise for the weekend, am absolutely thrilled!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Amazing quotes for COVENANT!

Had some great news over the past few weeks, as Simon & Schuster and Touchstone USA have been working hard on the launch publicity for "Covenant": two great quotes, both from best-selling authors!

"Get the cameras rolling—Indiana Jones meets Alien. What a combination of mystery, suspense, and unspeakable horror. I loved it!"

R.L. Stine, best-selling US author with some 400 million sales worldwide.

"Earth-shattering intrigue, hyperdrive action and a desperate race to save humanity, cranked up to the max with scarily realistic science and apocalyptic religion thrown in for good measure . . . a major new talent has hit the mystery thriller scene!"

Scott Mariani, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Lost Relic

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Well, the verdict on my third book's title came back to me recently, and I'm delighted to say that the team at Simon & Schuster love it! CONTINUUM is now under way with the first few chapters written, and the synopsis for the story was given a huge thumbs up by my editor Maxine Hitchcock.

Currently, I'm working on the edits for book 2, ELIXIR. They're not too extensive, mostly involving character development and some general tidying up. I'm aiming to have them complete by early July, at which point I'll focus on finishing the first draft of CONTINUUM. I've also been informed that a meeting at the S&S offices with my agent, Luigi Bonomi, is on the cards around the end of August, which will involve the planning for launch publicity. I'm not sure what this will entail, although I have already heard that adverts on the CBS Action channel are confirmed ( as per a previous post ). Other news is that S&S are already working on the cover artwork for ELIXIR. The publisher generally gets to work on such things around ten months in advance of publication, and with ELIXIR due out in May 2012 this means that they're on the case already.

For my part, after much graft I'm ahead of schedule by a few weeks at the moment, giving me the opportunity to take my time with the current editorials. It's a great relief, as we're house hunting right now and everything that entails. Fingers crossed for the perfect home!!

Friday, June 03, 2011

Dodgy Literary Agents.

One of the disadvantages of working from home right now is that my partner watches a lot of daytime television whilst she looks after our daughter, Emma. From time to time, as I'm working, I'll wander in and see her watching something completely useless to humanity: however, yesterday I saw her watching Fake Britain, and wanted to share with my followers what I saw.

A fake literary agent, running his so-called "business" from a spare room in his elderly mother's bungalow ( where he lived, in his forties ) had conned roughly three-quarters of a million pounds from aspiring writers across the country over several years. His method was to charge a nominal reading fee, but then coax hopeful writers into parting with ever larger sums of cash by promising them Hollywood film deals and such like. This individual, who was ultimately jailed, had literally thousands of untouched manuscripts littering his property, all representing the dreams of hopeful authors, discarded without even a glance. One poor woman, who had written her father's life story and sent it to this supposed agent, was promised a £100,000 advance and a film deal. Sadly, she spent the money on her elderly and disabled mother before she'd received the promised advance, which of course never materialised. She lost her home as a result.

For any aspiring writer dropping by here, whatever you do, follow the below guidelines to ensure that you're not about to be taken for a ride. Anybody can set themselves up as a literary agent, and some perfectly respectable agencies do charge a small reading fee. Frankly, you don't need to pay this as there's plenty of excellent agencies out there who do not charge anything. Finding, signing and getting deals for writers is where they make their money...

1) Start always with agencies who are members of the Association of Author's Agents, an organisation designed to protect author's rights.

2) Never pay a reading fee. Why would you, when the best agencies don't charge one?

3) Search the Internet to see which writers the agency in question represents. A fake agent won't have client list. Likewise, look for a website and agency connections that prove their validity. If possible, contact one of those authors - connections never hurt and it might even let you know what the agent in question is like to work with.

4) Don't send work to a suspicious looking agency just because everyone else has turned you down. Tempting as it may be, it won't further your chances and you might well be wasting your time.

5) Be patient. All reputable agencies are extremely busy and take time to process the hundreds of submissions they receive every week. Check their websites for a guide to how long you may have to wait. If that time passes, make a polite phone call just to find out how things are going.

6) If you discover a fake agent, tell EVERYBODY so that others can learn to steer clear.

7) Don't quit. Most agents are brilliant, and if you're a good writer, sooner or later somebody will notice your talent.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

We have a winner!!

Many thanks to all those who submitted entries into my Title Competition! I didn't realise that there were so many people watching my blog from so far afield - nor did I think I'd have to sit and really think hard about which title to pick from so many great ideas!

However, after much pacing, chin holding and pulling of hair, I'm delighted to announce that Dean Owen from Newbury has won with the cunningly thought-out title of "CONTINUUM". Dean also suggested the title "Spacetime" along with it, but Continuum suggests connections to spacetime in the public perception anyway, and the title fits well with preceding novels Covenant and Elixir.

There were a LOT of entries, many from readers who put a lot of effort into explaining their suggestions. I'd like to thank everyone for all of their efforts, and please do keep reading my blog as I approach my first publication date as I'm sure there will be much more happening in the coming months...

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A word says a thousand pictures: COMPETITION!

As an author who has yet to see his first title hit the shelves, my humble blog probably doesn't have thousands of avid followers hanging on every post. However, the internet's a great resource, and I've decided to make an effort to see whether those who are reading my posts would like to win a free signed copy of COVENANT when it's released in the UK on November 10th 2011.

The task at hand for anyone valiant enough to undertake it, is to think of a single-word title for my third novel. Currently, it's under the working title of EVENT-HORIZON, which is highly apt for the novel's content. However, my publisher thinks that one-word titles have more punch, and also that the current title makes people think of the horror movie of the same name released back in the 90s.

The novel will be about time-travel, the paradoxes that it creates, and the hunt for a man who has the ability to see both forward and backward in time. I've been advised that the title should have the word "Time", or something obviously related to it, somewhere within it. It's a tricky task, and one that I haven't conquered myself yet. The winner, as well as getting a free signed copy of Covenant, will also get a mention in the third book's acknowledgements for coming up with the title - something that might just help a budding author's chances of getting noticed....

I look forward to seeing what ideas appear in the replies. As this competition concerns a globally published novel, the publisher may decide later to change the title in one territory or another. I'll pick the winner of this competition at the end of May 2011, and use it for the work. The winner will get their signed copy and a mention in book 3, even if ultimately the title isn't used upon publication.

Best of luck!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The publicity drive begins!

I've had a hell of a week, with so much happening that it could take a few posts to fit it all in!

Firstly, my agent Luigi Bonomi loved my manuscript for ELIXIR. He had just a handful of minor suggestions to individual pages, and one or two scene improvements. The work has been done and the MSS is now with my wonderful editor Maxine Hitchcock at Simon & Schuster.

Secondly, I was hugely honoured to be invited to the Simon & Schuster 2011 conference at the Paramount Hotel in London. This was a major event for the publisher, with many celebs invited, and I learned a huge amount about what's happening behind the scenes with COVENANT. Probably the biggest news is that it will be getting not just national print publicity in the USA and UK / Commonwealth but that it will be advertised on television, on Sky's CBS Action channel in October, with ads running for a month around major crime and drama shows. Add to that the first hints that the MSS is doing the round with production studios and things are looking very bright for my debut launch. The novel is also to be a lead title in Australia, another major breakthrough market if things go well.

It was fantastic to be invited to such an event, which involved a lot of work as well as fun. I had to talk to dozens of booksellers, buyers, representatives of major chains and supermarkets and so on, trying to do my bit to help the team at S&S reassure potential stockists that I'm a long term bet with more novels on their way. As far as I can tell it went well, and I finally got back to my superb hotel at 4am after a few after-party sherbets with the S&S team! I had a great night, and if every publicity event is as much fun, I'm signing up for them all!

Monday, May 02, 2011

Draft complete!

Finally, after several weeks of furious editing and re-drafting, I have finished writing my second novel, ELIXIR. Or at least, I've finished the very first stage of writing my second novel.

What happens next, for those aspiring authors following this blog, is the beginning of the rest of the hard work. I'm fortunate to have a very hands-on agent, Luigi Bonomi, and he likes to have a read of his client's novels before they are sent on to the publisher in question. This is a sort of safety-buffer, for reasons that any experienced author, published or not, will understand.

No matter how 'good' a writer I may ( or may not ) be, there comes a point where I can no longer see the woods for the trees in a manuscript. I'm not the sort of person who finishes a novel, looks at it and thinks: "Wow, fantastic, that's going to sell millions. I'm a genius." Mostly, I realise that I've gotten to the point where every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed and I can't think of anything else I can do to improve the script. This is where the ever present editing work begins, and Luigi provides that first-glance to ensure that I haven't done anything blatantly stupid, that the story runs well and so on. He'll suggest revisions, flag-up any slow-spots where I've waffled or lost direction in any way, identify character flaws... the list can be endless, but hopefully will come back relatively manageable. Notice I say "will" come back. There's always changes, always something that won't be quite right. When it's one person writing 110,000 words, nobody can get it perfect first time, and when it's going to be on shelves across the English-speaking world and perhaps beyond, 'okay' isn't good enough...

Despite all of this, I'm really excited about ELIXIR. I reckon the story is an equal to that of COVENANT, that the main characters are developing really well and that my chief villain is quite possibly the best I've managed to create yet! There's plenty of action, a great new high-concept scientific core to the story that I hope will get people talking and great locations throughout!

Now for a well earned rest, my first proper break since Christmas. Next week, I'll start planning for book three, EVENT-HORIZON. Can't wait!

Monday, April 11, 2011


So, COVENANT is now completed, with all of the copy-editing done, acknowledgements and dedications fulfilled and cover artwork given a BIG thumbs up. Which means my focus is now entirely on book two, "Elixir".

It's quite a daunting prospect, given the attention lavished upon Covenant by my brilliant publishers Simon & Schuster. There are now expectations to live up to, a bar which has to be equalled or beaten, for if the publisher isn't duly impressed enough by book two then the reading public probably won't be either.

I've been hard at work despite everything that's been happening over the last few months ( see previous posts ), not being the type of person to rest on my laurels now that I've achieved one of those elusive publishing deals that allows me to write full-time. When I signed the deal, I'd already provided a one-page synopsis for books two and three to accompany Covenant, so I knew the subject matter at hand in advance. I've now almost reached the stage where Elixir is about ready to go to Simon & Schuster - probably about a month's more work to do. Book three, however, is still at the one-page synopsis stage: the deadline for the completed work is December this year (!)

So far I'm really happy with Elixir, and feel reasonably confident that S&S will love it too, but you can never be too sure about how a fresh pair of eyes will respond to a new work. Fingers crossed that the feedback will be mostly positive, and I can start looking at beginning the plotting process for book three, "Event Horizon". I've only 8 months to write the novel, but it's taken me just 6 to write Elixir... It's not easy to create a page turner at the same time as doing so much research into the relevant science, but when it comes together it's the best feeling in the world. Can't wait to see what people think!

P.S. I'm also developing a synopsis for books 4, 5 and 6. Great new ideas and a real sense that this series has a long future ahead of it!

Monday, April 04, 2011

COVENANT UK jacket art!

Well, I think it looks absolutely awesome! Simon & Schuster have done a fabulous job and it really looks like a blockbuster novel's cover should. I love the blurb on the back too - all in all, I couldn't be happier!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Emma Grace Crawford.

Apologies for recent replies to my posts not being acknowledged, but had a busy few days. Here's the result, and she's beautiful! Born at 18.28pm on Monday 21st March. Will get back into the swing of things in a few days...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Final Copy-Edit hard copy.

The latest news in the COVENANT saga is the arrival a few days ago of the copy-edited hard copy. This represents the novel's final layout, printed on A4 but with the layout scaled to the hardback sized font and format. It looks awesome, especially as it contains all of the pre-lim pages, the acknowledgments, dedication etc. In addition, the first few chapters of my second novel, ELIXIR, are also presented as a teaser for readers who pick up copies of the novel.

It's pretty much the final stage of the process as far as my writing goes on COVENANT, with any final last minute requests to be submitted before the print is locked down, all ready to go into production later this year. All that's really left for me to see is the UK cover-art, and then it's full-steam ahead on books 2 and 3.

I've just finished the first-draft of book two, ELIXIR, so I'm well on my way, but it's quite daunting seeing teaser pages for a novel that's not yet complete. However, publisher Simon & Schuster and Touchstone USA know what they're doing, and having 3 novels published over a 12 month period will hopefully cement me a prominent position on the shelves and the Internet. Can't wait to see it happen!!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

COVENANT: US Edition jacket art.

Had a fantastic surprise yesterday, when into my Inbox arrived a message from Stacy Creamer at Touchstone USA, the American publisher of my novels. With it came the above image, which is the first cover-art that I've seen for COVENANT as it's being published initially in the United States ( October 2011 ).

I can't begin to describe how utterly awesome this design is, as it says such an incredible amount about the novel's content! Everything about it is fantastic, and after having been ever so slightly nervous as to how my various covers might look, I now can't wait to see the UK version. To say that Touchstone have done a fabulous job would be a massive understatement, and I reckon that this cover alone will attract real attention from browsers in bookshops across America. So much so, in fact, that one of my friends has pre-ordered a copy based on this artwork alone! Thanks Mel :o)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Copy-Edit: "Covenant"

Not much has happened over the past few weeks, hence the lack of posts since the middle of December. The holiday period intervened, obviously, but also I've been working away on the first draft of my second novel, "Elixir".

However, yesterday the copy-edited version of Covenant arrived. It's quite exciting to see how another professional editor views the work. The document is peppered with seemingly small but on reflection very astute observations, where the editor has recognised that I've used a particular word twice in two pages, or that a character has accquired a small piece of information twenty pages before they could possibly have. None of the adjustments required are at all labour intensive, usually requiring either deletion or a simple tweak to make everything fit together seamlessly.

It's been an understanding of mine that many authors ( at least in the past ) have resisted with some effort the work of editorial teams and their advice. Many, apparently, have not achieved new contracts, or have seen 'uneven' sales due to their reluctance to alter details in their work. I fail to understand why they do not see the advantages of following editorial advice: my novel was, if I blow my own trumpet, pretty good as it was, and both my editor and agent stated so. But it's so much better now for all of the tiny tweaks, the polishing of each and every page, and I've even identified one or two little bad 'habits' of mine as a writer that I can watch out for in future work, thus making the next editorial easier for all.

My advice; take all editorial notes, and act on them. Throw yourself into it and put aside any pretence that you're already an 'experienced' author. Everyone's work can be improved, and the better it gets, the more an audience will enjoy it. And that means they'll buy your next great best-seller!