A rose by any other name

I was surprised to learn in the latest issue of SFX that Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell had tanked on TV.  I was gobsmacked.  I thought it was the best thing I have ever watched on BBC 1.  Utterly gorgeous, hugely clever, intensely adult, subtly complex characterisation – a story about something that mattered.  It was funny and dark and had so many outstanding moments that I couldn’t begin to list them here though I did enjoy Mr Norrell’s raptures about English rain because I feel the same, though we get so very little of it in the middle of London, just a bit of armpit sweat every now and then to grease the sidewalks.  My daughter and I sat entranced every Sunday night for seven weeks (oh, for it to have been another 10….), too thrilled to wait for the catch-up version without the stupid idiot announcer talking over the end credits.  It was one of the few times my daughter watched TV bolt upright and I’ve promised to buy the box set so that we can watch it all again in delight.  I’ve bought the book too and can’t wait to read it but am saving it.  Having glanced at the first page to ensure that, yes, the writing is as excellent as I thought it would be, I can’t help wishing that I had written it.  I wish I could have such good ideas, could execute them so excellently that awards are showered on me and the BBC creates a lavish, expensive, highly detailed, brilliantly acted TV series out of it.  What utter joy Susanna Clarke (god, her name is even similar to mine) must feel, to have written something so satisfying, so intelligent, so beautiful, so magical, so wonderful…………..while I struggle to churn out garbage that no one reads.  I’m jealous, I’m envious but I’m also thankful that someone at least did write this, even if it wasn’t me.  It seems JS and Mr N failed on TV because people don’t like fantasy.  Really?  Who are those trillions watching Throne of Games?  Well, not me, cos I can’t stand that sort of thing but GOT is hardly in the same league as JS+MrN – the latter is for adults, for people with intellect and a desire for beauty.  I never once thought of it as fantasy.  Nor did I think of it as alternate history.  It seemed to have no genre at all, yet I see Susanna Clarke has won (or was nominated for) some sci-fi awards.  Writing outside of genre myself, I think this book is also outside of genre.  It would be a shame to lump it with the GOTs of the world or the Harry Potters, because it’s so much better.  There are ideas in it that I’ve never seen before, magic that would never had occurred to me.  Imagination is at work here at its very peak.  If you haven’t watched it, do.  It’s divine.

I did, at the very, very least, get a letter published in the Radio Times – quite a feat, I think.  Here it is:IMG_1384 - Copy

Book Review: The Atlantis Gene by agriddle

This book is terrible. Not worth reviewing except to express my utter astonishment that anything can be so bad. How does this kind of garbage get published with such a huge budget while genuinely well-written novels are left languishing in the self-published heap of neglect? Could the publishers not see how badly written it was? I don’t think I’ve ever come across anything quite so badly executed. It makes Dan Brown look like a ten-time Booker Prize winner. The grammar is putrid. A child could split an infinitive with greater skill.

And as for the plot – it’s just laughable. I’m all for the preposterous plot but this is just stupid – badly thought out, possibly not even thought out at all. The author (though I wouldn’t credit him with that title – the moron with the keyboard) claims to have spent two years researching this. More like one afternoon skimming Wikipedia. However, the “author” has, at least, taken the trouble to read a “how to write a thriller” textbook. The chapters are painfully short, sometimes barely a page. This, apparently, is supposed to make it “exciting” – NOTHING makes this story exciting. It was dead before it started. There is no characterisation at all. The names you do get to know at the start of the book are killed off, one by one, until you wonder (or hope) that perhaps everyone in the book will die and there won’t be any more book. The villains can be swapped around at will and are more stereotypical than your average stereotype. Nazis! Really……? Most of the time you can’t tell the characters apart (men or women) but don’t care anyway.

Far, far worse than the travesty of a so-called thriller is that there are TWO MORE of these awful books. It’s also been optioned for a movie – OF COURSE! Because what else are you going to make a movie out of other than a piece of trash writing – books by morons for morons make terrific movies for morons.

There isn’t one single original idea here. Even the main premise of the Atlantis gene has been done before. Hello, Stargate Atlantis, anyone? They did this several trillion times better. With mentions of Star Trek and Indiana Jones, the “author” clearly thinks his story ranks as highly.

In the end, I can forgive a great story poorly executed if only it wasn’t so very, very poorly executed. But this isn’t a great story. Lame, derivative, hollow, yes, but not great. Which leaves those awful, flat, bland, ugly, clumsy, clumpy, unedited, unstylish, unimaginative, characterless, proseless, limp, useless, cliched, hideous sentences: they are going to haunt me forever (or at least until I can get my hands on a Real Book…..)

e-publishing doesn’t really work – an author’s experience


More and more people are saying this. All the writers out there might as well curl up and die, which is what I feel like doing.

Originally posted on Metaphysical Fantasy:

The jury is no longer out. I’m successful as a self-published author (Necromancer’s Gambit, etc), a mainstream Gollancz author (Empire of the Saviours, etc) and an indie author (The Book of Orm, etc). I’ve been working with e-publishing and all other types of publishing for 8 years. I’m very IT savvy. HERE’S THE BOTTOM LINE: sales of my e-books have rarely exceeded 10% of my total sales. Let me say that again: 10% In the scheme of things, it really isn’t worth the pretty large effort that I’ve put into it.

Because, to sell e-books, you have to format the thing, get it onto websites, market it, drive traffic, engage in forum discussion, get reviews, constantly monitor information flows, etc. Yes, it all sounds very similar to what you have to do with a regular hard copy book in the physical world… but the point is the hard copy book…

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Self-publishing – why it’s no longer a good idea

I knew this anyway but it’s painful to see it in black and white:


The above blog, belonging to Claude Forthomme, lays out the facts as barely as possible and it’s caused quite a bit of fury.  The problem, as I’ve seen it for quite some time now, is that there are too many writers.  I myself feel like a teeny tiny voice in a vast ocean of teeny tiny voices, while the loud, ugly ones get to smash up against the shore.  Why bother to carry on writing when when the whole world seems to be at it and getting their crap out there more successfully as well.

It’s at this point that I remember why I write:  I write because if I don’t, I will go mad.  I will be a lunatic in an asylum smashing my head against a wall over and over and over just to make the pain of living stop.  I don’t want to be that person.  I don’t want to be a robot in a robotic job.  I want to be me.  And I am only me when I write.  Even if no one ever reads it.

Sometimes you just have to say fuck’em.

Extract of “Reflected” on YouTube

Overcoming immense personal horror of myself on film, I’ve made a video of myself reading an extract of “Reflected” which can be viewed here:  https://youtu.be/lHqKh9wH8kM  It’s part of a contest to win promotion for my work and by golly miss molly, do I need some promo.  I’ve haven’t done very well at it so far and need every bit of help I can get!  Please view the video – it’s less than five minutes.  As a writer, I really just want to remain as anonymous as possible and quite utterly invisible.  And I really, really don’t want people to know what I look like, let alone what I sound like!  So it’s taken immense courage on my part to even enter this contest – so please support my efforts!!

REFLECTED ~ free giveaway

I’ve been saying “free giveaway” in various promotional strands all morning, realising wholeheartedly that the words are synonymous.  Oops.  Will anyone notice?  Aren’t giveaways usually free?!  I’ve taken the week off work to really push ahead on my new novel but started the day in a wild panic because my damn Broadband is down.  This was FATAL.  I had organised a free giveaway (erk, I’m doing it again) and needed to promote it like mad.  So phoned up Virgin to shout at them but all I got was an “I don’t know.”  God, thanks a lot, guys.  However, the little flashy blue light came up on my modem thingie and it has stayed on since so I’ve managed to do all those promotional things I’m not very good at:  tweets, FB post, GoodReads comment, LinkedIn promo.  I gave away 33 “units” (free books, it’s called free books) when Wired was free back in February but since then I’ve published the entire Exodus Sequence collection and was curious to see what would happen to the [non-existent] sales of that if one of the stories was promoted as free.  Well, we’ll see.  I feel as if I’m wasting valuable writing time doing these promotions but this is what I signed up for as a self-published no-hoper.

Anyway, if your interested is piqued, REFLECTED is available here:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BWT4WCU

It’s about a woman who witnesses an invasion on Mars in a bizarre afterlife.

My favourite selling line is this one and I’ve pinned it on Twitter:

“Just what exactly is a post-death installation?”

Be warned – this novelette is the most incomprehensible thing I’ve ever written!