Thursday, 24 October 2019

Latest news!

So it's been a while since the last update! Lots happening though; on the written word front Tides of Hysteria was released, and Purge of Deceit was put onto pre-order. The story arc through these two titles takes a slightly different approach to the previous books, with a more direct follow-on, meaning I had to choose the best place to cut Tides of Hysteria. The initial release had the cut in a place that I later decided would be better placed further on, so an updated version was uploaded. If you downloaded the preorder and have finished/haven't yet finished it, you may want to update the file if you haven't already, or in some cases delete the file and re-download, depending on what Amazon and Kindle will allow! There'll be a few thousand words extra at the end!

It's time for a generation to take its final stand.

The city is divided; which side do you stand on? The authority’s? Or the lowcases? Across Neon, the elite and the protesters are rising to battle for their future; for their children and the generations to come. To keep down the boot, or to rise from the darkness. Just what is freedom anyway when the walls of your oppression are everywhere you look?

Coming soon!

Also on the written word front, you may want to check out Ten Billion to Ten's Facebook page for notice of a free download next week. "War of the Worlds meets 2001: A Space Odyssey". I've written the words to a sci-fi story about the end of civilization, about space, and exploration; and this has been composed into an awesome electronic musical score by colleague and friend doctea, and narrated excellently by DJ Ed Steelefox. Should you reside in the Midlands there is a live performance on Monday 28 October - Ten Billion to Ten: A Live Reading. Otherwise it will available to download next week!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Paperback & Cover Reveal!

Poking my head out of the freezer to announce a couple of exciting developments! First, Neon City can now be purchased as a paperback. Here's a link for that!

For some, the streets aren't wild enough.

Xi Chen can see beyond the surface level of the work-sleep cycle, and the shackles imposed on its population by the city of Neon. He's joined a group of like-minded individuals seeking to force change from the ground up. Only when change comes, it's not exactly what they had in mind.

It's far from what Detectives Deke Allinson and Catherine Slay had in mind too. With so many deaths on their hands, the pressure from above and their need to 'do what is right' stretches them to breaking point. How far are they willing to go to test their loyalty?

Book one in a cyberpunk, crime and mystery trilogy, Neon City follows on from the Neon Sands trilogy, with characters old and new fighting to break the chains of slavery.


The second announcement is the cover reveal for Neon book #7 - Neon Driver. It was created by the awesome Amir Zand - you can check out more of his work on Twitter and Instagram. I had a little taste of popularity when he revealed the cover over on Twitter, as it was liked and retweeted hundreds of times, and since I was @'d I'd never seens so many notifications. How do the popular people manage it! Anyway, I love it! I'm aiming for a December/January release, so it's not on preorder yet, but you can add it to your Goodreads shelf here.


When he puts his foot down someone will die...

In Neon where quantum memory and virtual reality render so many chair-bound, the Driver craves the roar of the engine. He longs for the smell of biofuel, to see the road flash by and the city lights sliding across the puddled blacktop.

He yearns for destruction. For blood. For death.

Friday, 19 July 2019

Tides of Hysteria on preorder - 0.99

Hi folks! Tides of Hysteria has been on preorder a while now but I just realised I hadn't blogged about it! And after Rebecca Gransden's 5-star review on Goodreads for Neon City I thought now might be a good time to shout it out loud! Here's a clip:
For this book he visits the hyper-stylised world of future noir, creating a tense narrative featuring propulsive action and a plot harnessing classic crime and suspense themes. The backdrop is one of glossy opulence juxtaposed with grimy backstreets, moody rain flooding neon soaked streets. All very inviting.
 Thank you Rebecca!

Tides of Hysteria is book two in the Neon City trilogy and will build on the suspense and action from book one, getting into the cracks of gutters and looking closer behind the glass of the Agridome. It'll be out early September and can be preordered for 0.99 pence or cents, before going to full price. As only book ones are ever free, this is your only chance to get it at a reduced cost!

It's time for a generation to take its final stand.
The Neon City trilogy continues with book two, Tides of Hysteria. With the citizen's eyes beginning to open, it's a race against time and a fight for truth to open them further, or close them forever.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Revised edition of Neon Sands - FREE download

Hi folks, it's been pretty quiet here recently while I've worked on various projects. Primarily, this has involved revising Neon Sands. I've learned so much writing its sequels and prequel that I felt I had to go back and add more. Calix and Annora needed more building - and we needed more story. So there's an extra 15k words there now, including a map of the world around Sanctum, adding some lore and more depth. (Probably spurred on by reading GRRM.) This book is free to download 11-12 July - if you have it on your ereader it should update next time you open it. If you don't have it yet, now's a perfect time to grab it.

Other titles are also free or reduced, including The Risen, Hereafter, Neon City, Plains of Ion, and Flames of Apathy. Head over to my Amazon page to check them out. 

Two other projects currently in the works are Tides of Hysteria, the Neon City sequel, and a musical project with Doctea, an album of moody, scifi tones with a scifi adventure story at its core. Looking forward to seeing this one play out!

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Review: Sea of Glass

Sea of Glass Sea of Glass by Rebecca Gransden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sea of Glass is an ocean of the macabre; of twisted bodies, flayed skin and idiosyncratic prose. It is Kattar's journey through the haunted halls of a not-quite nondescript tower in the middle of a city. The story flits from the metaphorical to the real, a dreamlike consciousness, with tangible cornerstones for the reader to grab hold of - something they can recognise - before being thrust back into a bizarre world of tower-dwelling maniacs, floating stars, half-women, flaming zombies, and more.

It breaks as many rules as it creates, both in the story and the way it is told. You might need a dictionary with some sentences - I didn't mind this as it added to the sense of 'otherworld', but I can see why another reader may feel interrupted. The prose interferes here, it is not a story you can truly get lost in, the writing and the story are wrapped in one. This works well here as it adds to the sense unease as Kattar makes his way up the tower. The visuals are very graphic, raw - something a horror fan would enjoy. While the narrative can be poetic and make you think. Recommended read!

View all my reviews

Wednesday, 5 June 2019


A wonder, a wander, journey adjourned,
A question, answered, questioned, adjourned,
A malted sorrow, a sour and bitter adjourned,
A path, of stone, of gravel, of mud adjourned.


Bluest skies bloodied red at mourning dusk,
A boulder ground by words of wind to dust,
Lightest sunlit white-washed walls of rusting
laughter, lusting plaster, damp and cracking.


Monday, 27 May 2019

Review: NOS4A2

NOS4A2 NOS4A2 by Joe Hill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It's an odd thing that recently I have given more 5 star ratings to indies than professionally published works; do I expect more of the Joe Hills of this world, or less of my own ilk?

I've now read The Fireman and NOS4R2 (English version?) and by far preferred this. The world of the inscape was brilliantly realised, and though Manx's 'roads' were a little cloudy, Vic McQueen's (a little too on the nose for a name) bridge was a great narrative construct to play with. The idea of all these hidden doorways was reminiscent of The Dark Tower and the world's created by Stephen King, so to touch upon these made the book feel a part of THAT world. There were inconsistencies and glossed over points, such as Vic's eye trauma whenever she used the bridge (in her childhood, it had the impression that she would lose her left-eye sight if she stayed on the other side of the bridge for too long, but by the end of the book she was happily skipping from one place to the next. I guess this was solved by her 'disappearing' the bridge, though felt a little 'forgotten').

The horror set-pieces were also nicely done, particularly the first encounter at Sleigh House, and the intro too. Kids with random weapons and rows of sharp teeth - what's not to run away from? As for Manx, perhaps spending half the book comatose was a bit too much. I never felt an urgent sense of peril from him, maybe because he had others, like Bing and the kids, do his dirty work (mostly). Much more though, and it would have perhaps gone against his character, as he was more nuanced then a straight-up evil guy.

The ending, for all the build-up, could have been more nuanced and longer, though the final chapter actually made up for that - and the final, final couple paragraphs added a nice, bloody veneer.

Where does the book fail, for me? I never really connected strongly to any of the characters. Maybe that was my fault because it was a sporadic reading over a couple months (or maybe that says enough about them itself). It felt more plotted than pantsed; a series of moments that the characters experienced rather than actively worked for. Vic showed too much maternal strength towards the end to make her earlier failings realistic (though I concede things like this are redemptive arcs etc etc). I think mostly it came down to the writing, and I have to say, Hill's writing in the two I've read just feels a bit plain, flairless. His father's work has more 'grit', more of an edge, and whenever I saw instances here it felt a little forced, playing at 'King'. The story was great, but the writing just lacked something that I can't put my finger on.

View all my reviews

Monday, 20 May 2019


So, it's been a couple weeks now since the release of my cyberpunk novel Neon City and the first reviews in are two 4-stars and a 5-star! And to quote one of them:
This was a good enjoyable read.
We have twists, turns, some action all rolled into this one.
Well written story with good characters.
Recommend reading.
This is book 4 in the Neon series, but the first of a Neon City trilogy. And the blurb:

For some, the streets aren't wild enough.
Xi Chen can see beyond the surface level of the work-sleep cycle, and the shackles imposed on its population by the city of Neon. He's joined a group of like-minded individuals seeking to force change from the ground up. Only when change comes, it's not exactly what they had in mind.

It's far from what Detectives Deke Allinson and Catherine Slay had in mind too. With so many deaths on their hands, the pressure from above and their need to 'do what is right' stretches them to breaking point. How far are they willing to go to test their loyalty?

Book one in a cyberpunk, crime and mystery trilogy, Neon City follows on from the Neon Sands trilogy, with characters old and new fighting to break the chains of slavery.


I enjoyed writing this one, especially the last third, which had a lot more action than some earlier novels, making the scenes fly by. I gave up writing the blog for the process behind it (it's just not as fun!), suffice to say the characters started running the show. One character even shoe-horned himself in unexpectedly at the end, with dire consequences. Events that were not in my pre-written notes. It's a thin line between plotting and pantsing, but I believe plotting is important to achieve a satisfying ending.


So what's next? A Neon Sands revision, to be exact. This book gets the most eyes, but is currently the lowest ranked of all my books, so before moving on to Tides of Hysteria, it feels right to give this one a little more love. A little more plot and world-building. I even have a map all good to go. As useful as that is out in the empty void of dunes and dust.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Review: Contact

Contact Contact by Carl Sagan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Listening to an audiobook version of this, it felt a little proselytising at times where there were whole sections of religious and moral arguments - it really took you out of the story. Having read a lot of atheist material over the last two decades since this was published, I also didn't believe that someone like Arroway would invest so much time in contemplating these matters, and give the fundamentalists time and space.

There were long sections of being told what was happening, and then whole chapters which were primarily speech. It just felt disjointed as a story narrative. By far the best bit was the ending when they actually used the machine. In audiobook form, listening in the car, the visuals here were great. It really felt like you were being transported to a mysterious otherworld.

Anyway, 4 stars and enjoyable enough!

View all my reviews

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Every book 99c/p!

Hi subscribers, loiterers, casual passersby and accidental clickers. Who knew writing a novel would take so much out of me I had nothing left to contribute in the Writing a Novel series? Maybe there'll be another update shortly! Certainly when it's passed my final checks. In the meantime, there's a deal on. All my books are 99 pence or 99 cents, or some other lowest denominator in whatever country you reside in! Additionally, the Neon Sands boxset is 1.99. For now, this deal is ongoing. So check them out if you haven't already, or were waiting for one of the titles to come down in price. Neon City is still on preorder for 0.99 too. Happy reading!

Sunday, 24 March 2019

The stars brought life to the planet, and the stars destroyed it.

Siblings Calix and Annora have spent their entire lives within Sanctum, the domed town that protects them from the dangerous sands that storm against the curved wall. But they are orphans, with questions about their heritage. With a childhood that prepares them to become scavengers. With a father figure in Kirillion who has an agenda all of his own - just what are they searching for when the scavenger crews depart?

All grown up, they join Walker's crew, scouring the sand in giant Crawlers, ready to dig. When an accident unlocks childhood memories and murder, questions arise within the crew about where their allegiances lie, and what their true purpose is. And then their search hits the big time.

A sci-fi dystopian adventure in an inhospitable landscape, Neon Sands is the opening book in an epic series that will explore Man’s technological and innate potential, and the search for hope when all looks bleak.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Writing a Novel: Day Fourteen

Day One 

It's day fourteen and I'm sitting at around 15k words. This is usually the point where I wrap up act one of my previous novels; perhaps I've built a hook into the narrative and I've either presented it to the reader, temptingly close, or I've caught them. Neon City is playing a little differently - it's more of a character driven plot with little authoritarian interference. The reader currently has all the information they need. Hopefully, it will engaging enough to stick with.

“No Yu this morning?”
“She probably caught the early car,” answered Xi.
“She was complaining again last night.”
“What’s new?” He faced the window and the faint outline of their reflections like underwater creatures in a tank. No air. He watched Fei’s fish-like lips move, at once gasping and speaking.
“If you’d turn up she wouldn’t have anything to complain about.”
There was no intonation of malice, or emotion in general, as they spoke. Brothers passing yet another morning, talking through the mirror.
“She says the same thing when you don’t turn up.”
“Well she’s twigged that we’re never there at the same time.”
“What are we going to do about it?”
“Nothing. It won’t be forever.”
“Do you ever feel bad?”
 I previously mentioned my plotting Excel sheet. There's various digital tools out there like Writers' Cafe and Scrivener, allowing you to move pixel-cards about on a virtual cork board, but it's all just ways to manipulate information. It comes down to how you want it presented to you. How you want to input the data. For me, opening Excel and jotting down the plot points I want to aim for, and being able to move them up and down as necessary, does the job. Making a line GREEN is more satisfying than it should be. When it's ALL GREEN - amazing!

Sunday, 17 March 2019

Writing a novel: Day ten

Day One 

Part of my own critical analysis is trying to judge how predictable my story is. I'm constantly asking myself this question, and equally I constantly remind myself that just because I may know where my story is going, and that it may seem obvious to me, a reader likely has no idea.

In the early stages I like to set the scene for what could be, offering the reader a myriad of possibilities. Hopefully these may form into small hooks, and in turn barbs, from which I've caught the reader. In reeling 'him' in I have to ensure that I keep teasing, not revealing my hand too soon.

Because at some point, the land becomes visible. The reader will know the landscape. By that time the reader needs to be invested and interested in my characters. Our characters. I've done something perhaps a little differently this time, inspired by recent readings of King and Hill, which is to inflect my characters with more of the mundane. Perhaps off-script remarks that give back story to item purchases, or reminiscences to past events - never too long or distracting, but something that adds flesh. It's not necessarily important to the story, but it makes the character more real.

Adds context to the landscape.

Brightens the darker areas.

I've become conscious of being too wordy - just that. Over-complicated description. Too dense sentences. Saying too much. For fear of losing track or focus, of there being too many pages for the reader. Then I'm reminded (thanks Twitter) that readers want to get lost in a story. They want a good book to be long. The important bit of 'long' though must be story, and contextual characterisation. Not dense and complicated language for the sake of that, for it pulls a reader out.

Story, story, story.

10 days: 9k words. I need to pick up the pace.

Day fourteen