Sherlock Holmes Kickstarter Ending This Week!

The Kickstarter for Sherlock Holmes in the Realms of Steampunk is ending in just a couple of days. I’m delighted to share that it’s been hugely successful, passing the second stretch goal over the weekend, but there’s still time to join us and pre-order your copy, as well as some of the other fantastic rewards that Belanger Books are offering to our backers.

My story, ‘The Silver Swan’, will be opening the first part of the two-volume anthology. If the idea of classic!Holmes pitting his wits against mechanised swans in steampunk London intrigues you, then please check out my interview with Derrick Belanger, learn about the other fantastic stories and authors, and join the Kickstarter before it closes at this link.

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KICKSTARTER – Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk

The Kickstarter is now available to reserve your copy of the new anthology from Belanger Books, Sherlock Holmes: Adventures in the Realms of Steampunk! Divided into two volumes – Tales of a Retro Future and Mechanical Men & Otherworldly Endeavours – the Kickstarter is open until March 21, 2019, and has already hit its funding target within hours of opening.

My story, ‘The Silver Swan’, will  be opening the first volume.

Tales of a Retro Future – Volume one of the anthology features stories with a focus on steampunk inventions. See airships cloud the skies, robotic swans attack, and apparatuses appear to raise the dead.

Mechanical Men and Otherworldly Endeavours – Volume two of the anthology features stories with a focus on robotic creatures and otherworldly adventures. See Holmes team up with intelligent animals from an alternate Earth, switch bodies with Dr. Watson, and travel to another dimension.

Take a look at the Kickstarter and see some of the great rewards on offer for our backers – and do let me know if you get yourself a copy of this brilliant anthology. I can’t wait to read all the stories myself!

RELEASE – The Death of Nostalgia

A deeply personal and dark story of mine was recently released in Issue 1 of The Society of Misfit Stories, from Bards and Sages Publishing. I love this story, even though I spilled out far more of my soul when writing it than I first realised. It’s twisted, unapologetically gritty, and I think I’m more than a little bit in love with the two central characters.

Rules were made to be broken. Wings were not.

Those incontrovertible truths had dictated Melusina’s life until now. Forever dancing the line between the two, she had managed to balance the demands of serving in the court of the Fae King with her insatiable fascination for the mortal realm. Until today.

That was why Melusina found herself propping up the bar of a rundown Georgian tavern in the wrong side of London, knocking back neat bourbon like it was going out of fashion as the handful of Monday night patrons flocked around her, drawn in by the glamour she wore like a shield.

If anyone was looking for her, they wouldn’t think to come here. In the paroxysm of her grief she gravitated towards the ramshackle pub, defiantly out of place amongst the modern buildings surrounding it. Like her, it was a relic from another world.
The White Hart was the antithesis of the place she called home until today. Its brash vulgarity and shadowed corners should not have been able to draw her in, but for one thing.

Humans.

Nestled in amongst a whole host of talented authors, you can pick up the anthology for half-price until March 1st, 2019 with the coupon code XL39J at Smashwords. Let me know what you think!

Upcoming releases

Happy New Year to you all! As we look ahead to 2019, it seems an apt time to fill you all in on my writing plans for the coming months. In terms of new work, my main focus is working on the edits for The Strange Case of Doctor Magorian so that I can begin looking for a home for it in the summer. If anyone knows any publishers looking for steampunk novels with a strong feminist backbone, please give me a nudge!

As for short stories, I have a few ideas I want to get started on, but my degree is eating  into a lot of writing time at the moment. On the plus side, it is producing a lot of creative material that might be worth developing at a later date, and whilst I’m taking a brief hiatus from writing new stories, I can devote what little free time I have to promoting my upcoming releases. I’ve signed all the contracts over the holiday season, so I’m thrilled to share with you all that the following will soon be available:

The Death of Nostalgia will be featured in the February 2019 release from the Society of Misfit Stories. This was a story that took a dark and deeply personal twist when I was writing it, but coming in around 8000 words, I was aware that it was at that particularly awkward, in-between length that makes it a hard sell. Fortunately, it found a great home in next month’s release, and I can’t wait to see how the new format works for this issue.

The Corsair’s Daughter is in Issue 9 of Broadswords and Blasters, to be released in April 2019. Unashamed fangirling will now commence! I love B&B. Cameron and Matt do a fantastic job of compiling fantasy and sci-fi short stories in the old-fashioned pulp fiction style. I’ve been following them since they were new to the market, and every issue has delighted me, introducing me to many great authors and stories. When I conceived the idea for The Corsair’s Daughter, I knew instantly that I wanted to place it with Broadswords and Blasters. To my great delight, they snapped it up within a couple of days of me sending it to them, and come April, you’ll all be able to read my story of pirates, monsters and the greatest treasure of all…

The Silver Swan will be featured in the Sherlock Holmes steampunk anthology from Belanger Books, with a Kickstarter campaign beginning in April 2019 prior to the anthology’s release. Whenever I think detective mysteries, it has to be Agatha Christie or Arthur Conan Doyle. I started out with Miss Marple, then graduated to Sherlock Holmes as I moved into my teenage years. The universal appeal of Holmes has withstood the test of time, and as much as I like the modern adaptations, it’s the classic stories which truly hold my heart. I couldn’t resist the urge to try my hand at writing in Doctor Watson’s voice (see earlier blog post) with a steampunk twist, and I’m overjoyed to be a part of this project. More to follow!

Anamnesis will be in Moonlit Dreams, Moonlight Nightmares, to be published by Antimony and Elder Lace Press (date to be confirmed). I don’t want to give too much away about this one, but it was probably the darkest and most intimate story that I wrote last year. It really took on a life of its own, growing from an initial one sentence premise into a quietly tragic, horrific tale that stayed with me long after I wrote it.

Finally, The Eyes Have It is to be part of the anthology Behind Eyes of Glass, from Fantasia Divinity (release date to be confirmed). This was one of those stories that grew from a pun of a title into something far less comical and darker than I expected it to be.

And that’s it for now! I’m thrilled to have these five upcoming releases to start the year with. Fingers crossed 2019 brings at least a few more…

RELEASE – Broken Wings

My story, ‘Broken Wings’, was recently published in Witches vs Wizards by Zombie Pirate Publishing.

The ground rumbles ominously, the earth surging and shifting to the iron will of the powers of old. Lightning sparks the air with forked tongue, darting between two venerable channelers, ragged yet regal, each wrestling wicked tempests to do their bidding. Their magicks are diametrically opposed, their powers equally limitless, their intentions shrouded in mystery; theirs is a battle for the ages. This surely means death for any mere mortal looking on. This is the beginning of the end. This is WITCHES VS WIZARDS. Packed with magical tales of pure unadulterated fantasy, this collection of short stories features eighteen authors from all around the world.

The Kindle and paperback versions are available to buy now from Amazon.

In Defense of Fanfiction

My health has taken a downwards turn recently, and now that my university course has resumed with the arrival of autumn, I’ve realised that I need to be more selective with the submission calls I want to write for, only giving my time and energy to those that truly catch my attention and are a pleasure to write. One of those that I’ve been working on this week is this submission call from Belanger Books, exploring the classic Sherlock Holmes characters in the realm of steampunk. As I dived into Arthur Conan Doyle’s world to get in the right mindset for my story, ‘The Silver Swan’, I could not help but remember my first forays into allowing other people to read my writing. Like many others, I suspect, I started out in fanfiction. As an unashamed Potterhead with a vivid and consuming imagination, I could not resist the compulsion to take JK Rowling’s wonderfully deep and detailed world and play around with her characters. The first novel I ever wrote aligned itself with the last three years of the series, clocking in at an immense 110k. That’s 110000 words I wouldn’t have had the confidence or inspiration to write were it not for fanfic.

Fanfic often gets a bad rep, and I think it’s one that’s hugely undeserved. Oh, of course there are a lot of stories out there that could be described as raw and unpolished at best, but they are, nonetheless, the product of someone’s imagination, sparked by their love of the story and world that the original author created. If nothing else, fanfic can be a powerful writing exercise for writers who want to refine their craft. The real beauty of fanfic is that it allows the novice – or even more experienced – writer to take the rich tapestry at their fingertips and use that as a base to weave their own stories into it. As they do so, without even realising, their experiments with plot, dialogue and the individual voices of each character will start to strengthen their own stories in turn. Learning the nuances that authors like Rowling use to distinguish their style and narrative can be a tool to then use when they have the confidence to craft equally rich and detailed worlds of their own.

And so we come back to Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve been writing professionally for seven years. I am (mostly!) at ease with worldbuilding and relying upon my own ideas to spark a story with characters that are as real to me as if they are standing at my side, but something about this submission call and immersing myself in 221B Baker Street was impossible to resist. The story is coming along swimmingly, and even if I don’t manage to bring it in under the upper word limit or finish it on time, it has proved to be an enjoyable and much-needed exercise in first person narrative, something I tend to avoid as a rule in my own writing, but writing as Watson, a character I know intimately through Conan Doyle’s work, has liberated me to try my hand and experiment with the style.

Authors must never be content to rest on their laurels. There are always lessons to be learned and ways in which we can refine our craft, and maybe by going back to the basics and using fanfic as a framework, we can do so without the added pressure of starting from scratch with the blank page staring at us balefully and the flashing cursor a potent reminder of a story that has to be pulled, line by unwilling line, from our heads onto the page.

RELEASE – Dark Voices

I’m excited to share with you all that the charity anthology Dark Voices has been released by Lycan Valley Press! Originally titled Her Dark Voice Vol 2 and put together by Theresa Derwin at Quantum Corsets, the project moved to the team at LVP and is now available for you all to buy.

Featuring my story, ‘Under The Skin’, amongst a whole host of hugely talented female authors, the paperback is now available to buy from Amazon US/UK, with the eBook version to follow.

In other news, I was thrilled to sign a contract with Empyreome to publish my SF story ‘Tabula Rasa’ in their October 2018 issue. More to come on that soon, but suffice it to say that this story is particularly close to my heart, and I’m delighted that it’s found such a great home with Randy and the rest of the team at Empyreome.

Crescendo of Darkness – RELEASE

The new horror anthology from Horror Addicts, Crescendo of Darkness, was recently released. Featuring my story, ‘Six String Bullets’, among a whole host of talented authors and twisted tales, the anthology is available through Amazon, and my story notes are on the Horror Addicts blog.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with the team at Horror Addicts. If you get a chance, do check out the rest of their blog and the podcasts as well!

Upcoming Release and Raffle – Her Dark Voice Vol 2

As previously announced, my story, ‘Under The Skin’, will feature in Her Dark Voice Vol 2 from Quantum Corsets. I’m excited to share the news that pre-order links for the charity anthology are now LIVE, along with tickets for a raffle organised by editor Theresa Derwin that features some fantastic prizes! 

The anthology will be launched at Edge-Lit 7 on July 14th, and the raffle will be drawn on that date. Follow the link to Theresa’s website to see the prizes, pre-order your copy and pick up some tickets for the raffle! The more that is raised, the more we can donate to Breast Cancer Now – a truly brilliant cause.

http://www.theresaderwin.co.uk/her-dark-voice-2/

Why You All Need To Take Heed Of Faleena Hopkins and #Cockygate

So, as it often does, a storm has blown up on social media these last few days.  If you’re active in the writing community on Facebook or Twitter, you can’t have failed to hear about Faleena Hopkins and #cockygate – hell, even the Guardian here in the UK has picked up the story today, running a decisively biting assessment of her attempt to prevent other authors using a titular word that she’s laid trademark to (even if they have crushingly failed to spell her name correctly throughout!).

If you have somehow managed to miss the furore, Courtney Milan has written a thread with a succinct summary of precisely how this all went down.

The long and short of it is that an erotica author by the name of Faleena Hopkins managed to file a trademark for the stylised word ‘cocky’ as a series title, and by a succession of strong arm tactics and downright bullying behaviour, has tried to stop other authors using that word in their own titles – even those whose stories were published prior to her series, which incidentally, seems to have been referred to by Hopkins as ‘The Cocker Brothers’ series until she filed for the trademark. Even if the trademark can stand up to the separate legal challenges being prepared by author Kevin Knuepper and the RWA, to attempt to retroactively prevent authors like Jamila Jasper from using the word in their title with threats like the one below are, quite frankly, abhorrent.

And it isn’t only about the titles, even though Hopkins is surely on shaky legal ground with those alone. As of today (8th May), authors are reporting that even the use of ‘cocky’ as a keyword is resulting in their book being removed from sale.

This is people’s livelihoods at risk, and quite rightly, the romance community has rallied around each other to support authors who have been targeted by Hopkins, who, at the time of writing, has refused to apologise or withdraw her threats, claiming instead to be the victim of a sustained bullying campaign. However utterly delicious it is that the community has come together over a controversy by the name of #cockygate, the mere fact that at this moment in time it seems to be possible to trademark a word means that authors and publishers across every genre need to sit up and pay attention.

Imagine how many sci-fi books have ‘stars’ in the title? Fantasy books with ‘tower’, ‘mage’ or ‘witch’? Horror books with ‘dark’ or ‘shadows’? There’s a reason why those titular words are so prevalent, and that’s because they work. They clue the reader in as to the genre of the book, tell them what they can expect and stand up in the search listings as a flag for the story’s content. They work for both the author and the reader, and in my opinion, they can never be allowed to become the sole property of one overreaching, narcissistic author alone.

Right now, this is a one-off that will hopefully see justice done when all the dust settles. What’s most concerning, though, is the thought that right now, hundreds of entrepreneurial chancers are racing off to the USPTO to try to file copyright claims just like Hopkins before them. This sense of self-interest goes against everything I love about the supportive writing community. There’s limitless room for beautiful, well-written literature across all the genres. We need to support each other and build each other up, amplifying everyone’s success to promote the world of publishing as a whole. Divisive tactics like this harm authors, publishers, and the readers who invest their time and money in the stories we write.

I suspect that in a year or so, Hopkins’ name will be no more than a footnote in the annals of publishing history, one of those memes that everyone rolls their eyes at when they look back at the ashes of what was once a successful indie publishing career. We can only hope that she hasn’t unleashed Pandora’s Box on her way down.