Knightfall - buy it now

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my readers!
 
 

It's been a turbulent year, but one that has seen the release of the final Benjamin Knight book as well as the first 2 in my science fiction series (X-Calibur) and all 8 of my series for younger readers (Pups - The Adventures of a Third Grade Werewolf).

In other news, the final 2 competition entries have been won! Congratulations to Chris from Indiana and Andrew from Philadelphia. Your signed copies of the first 3 Benjamin Knight books are on their way to you.

Next year, I hope to release the third X-Calibur novel (The Trial), the fourth Benjamin Knight novel (Oracle), and if you're really, really good, the first in my Urban Fantasy series, currently titled The Shadowalker!

Happy New Year!

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Third winner

There has been a third correct entry to decipher the secret message at the end the New Light (Book 3 of The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight).
 
Well done to Sarah from New Zealand!
 
That still means that there are 2 prizes remaining (signed paperback copies of the first 3 Benjamin Knight books). Get your thinking caps on and work out what the message below says!
 
 

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Antagonize review and Interview

I was one of the lucky few to get the chance to read an advanced draft of Thomas R. Manning's second Daniel Quinn novel, Antagonize. Here's my review!
 
A fantastic sequel in every sense!
Antagonize, the sequel to Energize (From the Logs of Daniel Quinn), is an amazing sequel in every sense of the word. The danger is greater, the action stronger and the character growth enlightening; he has to save two whole planets for flux sake!
From the start, this book will not disappoint. Beginning with a mission from the starcade, Daniel's journey takes him to a new alien world where he meets his employer. Within minutes, he's engaged in a gunfight with an incredible adversary before flying off on an adventure where every tick of the clock diminishes his chances of success.
He meets new friends, makes new enemies, and sacrifices more than any one man should in the name of peace.
If you enjoyed Energize, you will absolutely love Antagonize.
A well deserved 5 stars!
So there you are, a well deserved 5 stars! Antagonize can be picked up here
 
 
 
Keep reading though for an interview with the man himself, Thomas R. Manning!
 


What inspired you to write your first book?

All my life I loved science fiction. I grew up watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. I love Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica (the new version), and Firefly also. When it came down to picking a project to write and potentially publish, sci-fi seemed a natural course!

But there’s also something more: sci-fi tends to be epic, following a large group of people on their voyages and adventures. I wanted something more intimate. In the case of Daniel Quinn, I wanted a sci-fi adventure that focused on just one individual, and how the galaxy could be affected by his actions.

How did you come up with the titles (Energize and now Antagonize)?

The overall theme of Energize is power. And a simple search using thesaurus brought up the word energize, and being a huge Star Trek fan, I loved that my title not only emphasises power, but is also a homage to the series I grew up watching!

After that, I wanted to keep consistency among the titles in the Quinn series, so I went to google and typed in, “words that end in ize”. ^_^

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in Antagonize?

I’m sure with every read-through of the book I’ll catch something that I’ll want to fix. Nothing’s ever perfect, but the story, the characters, and the narrative are all what I imagined them to be. I’m thrilled with Antagonize and I hope the world shares my opinion!

How much of yourself is to be found in the main character of Daniel Quinn? What differs?

I didn’t use much of myself when creating the character, but I think he does relate to my sense of awkwardness. Also, I tend to have strong feelings when I know something is right versus when it’s wrong, so I’d like to think that, like Daniel, I would stand up for what I believed was right if given the chance.

What books have influenced your life the most? What book are you reading now?

Jim Butcher, and more recently Brandon Sanderson, have been my biggest inspirations. I read Butcher’s Dresden Files series and became immediately hooked on his storytelling and characters. In fact, one of the first things I thought of when brainstorming projects was, “What if there was a story, very Dresden-like, set in outer space? That’s how the intimacy and personal theme of the Quinn series came about.

I recently read Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive books and became floored with his ability to craft an epic story, incredible characters, and an original magic system. I’m jealous of his imagination! Currently I’m reading his Mistborn series and loving it!

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The writing itself is the most difficult for me. I can create the ideas with ease, outline the story without problems, but when it’s time to dedicate myself to writing 70,000-100,000 words, I sometimes have trouble finding a groove. With a full-time job, two (soon to be three) kids, and my wife, I have to be able to find random times throughout the day to write, which isn’t always possible.

Do you write an outline before writing you book or is it 'on-the-fly'?

It’s dangerous for me to write on-the-fly lol. I would end up writing a story about ninja unicorns and flying turtles (which people would apparently want to read, I’ve found out)!

But a danger with a full-blown outline is you either become bored with the story quicker, because you have it all in your head from the start, or you get distracted by later scenes that are more exciting than the current one you’re working on (Not that it’s a bad thing. There’s no reason you can’t jump around in your writing).

For my next project, after NaNoWriMo, I plan to outline each chapter before I write it, that way it’s my sole focus both in my mind and on the page.

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

I think I’ve hated everything I’ve written at some point or another, and that’s a common thing among writers. One of the reasons writers quit is because they aren’t confident in their work. They think it’s substandard and give up. But that’s why revisions and edits exist. You can turn anything you hate into something you love, if you give it the time and attention it deserves.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Whenever I’m asked this, my first immediate thought is, “never stop writing”. However, I think it’s also important that you have a message within your story. Ask yourself: Why am I writing this? If you have a purpose behind it, then the writing will come naturally.

Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?

THANK YOU! I write because I want to share my stories and messages with as many people as I can. I win and succeed every time a person reads my stories and enjoys them. So thank you to all my readers!

What's your next project?

Currently I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, writing a steampunk adventure with assassins, sky-trains, and a city built within the mountains. It’s called The Doom Clock. Here’s the current synopsis:

When the most important assassination order of her life fails, Rayne is left for dead on the outskirts of Theradin City. Weaponless and alone, returning to the city means marking herself a traitor. The King's ruthless guard would do anything to hunt her down.

But if Rayne does nothing, the Guild she grew up in could be destroyed. And she'll learn that there's more at stake than just the loss of lives.

The destruction of the Guild could herald in an unprecedented event, one that would shake the foundation of Theradin City.

It could start the Doom Clock.





 
 
 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

The 'Science' of X-Calibur

Today I thought I would post some information behind the technology used in my current series, X-Calibur.
 
Please note, this is Science Fiction and is not intended to suggest that any of this is possible. It may even contradict current theories around Relativity and Quantum Mechanics! It is only for those of you who want to read more into the stories and understand the rules of how my universe works...
 
 
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence is intelligence exhibited by machines or software. From the point of view of the X-Calibur universe, it is used to describe truly sentient machines, that is intelligent thinking machines that are also conscious and self aware.
 
 
 
 
Perhaps the most famous AI introduced so far is Merlin, the damaged American-European Alliance Mainframe that has come to believe it is the computerised consciousness of the mythological wizard. He is software, able to move between different hardware at will (such as the Tor, Arthur's ship the Vanguard or the Hive ship itself).
As well as Merlin, the Teleri have also admitted to using a variety of AI's on their ships. These help coordinate the communications between remote pilots and the small fighter craft they control, or regulate the relevant information displayed for the bridge officers to interpret and act upon. They are not known to act autonomously and move between ships or systems at will.
 
 
Propulsion
The ships in both the Mori and Teleri fleets use a 'Gravity Engine' for propulsion. The gravity engine allows for sub-light speed travel as well as 'jump' travel, that is travelling large distances in the blink of an eye.
Both species have learnt to manipulate gravity, not only using it to provide artificial gravity to the various levels on their ship, but also use it to distort spacetime in order to move. They do this using a fictional ore called gralitanium (the same material Adam 359 and Orlac 552 were required to mine on the asteroid tethered beneath the Hive ship in X-Calibur: The Return).
Once refined, the ore has unique properties that allow the manipulation of gravity. For sub-light travel, the gravity engines distort local spacetime, causing ripples (gravitational waves) in the surrounding space. The ships then 'ride' these ripples like a ship on the ocean.
For jump travel, the gravity engines manipulate spacetime to the point where it bends, connecting two points of the universe by an Einstein-Rosen bridge, or wormhole. This allows almost instantaneous travel between two points, one greatly distant from the other.
 
 
 
 
As part of the universe I have created, I have imposed two restrictions on this system. The first is the maximum distance of any wormhole travel (which I set arbitrarily at 18 light years), and the second is the recharge time between jumps (which I set at 8 hours). The reasons for this are purely for the story, there is no 'scientific' basis.
If the characters could jump instantly from one side of the galaxy to the other, then jump back again if they got into trouble, it reduces the element of danger. Instead, by making a long journey take time, and then the characters being stuck wherever they end up for at least 8 hours, I hope it adds an element of suspense whenever they travel to a distant region of space. It also allows for some bonding and conversation between the characters on those long trips!
 
 
Energy
The Mori rely on nuclear fusion to power their weapons, ships and equipment. Nuclear fusion is the process where two atoms collide at high speed and fuse, forming a new element and releasing energy in the process. The Mori have learned to do this in a controlled manner, using fusion cells small enough to fit in even the smallest of plasma pistols.
The Teleri, on the other hand, long since did away with nuclear fusion. They then used local geothermal energy in their underground cities, with disastrous results as you will discover in X-Calibur: The Descent! For the last two thousand years or so, the Teleri have learnt to harness zero point energy (more specifically quantum vacuum zero-point energy).
Zero point energy is a feature quantum mechanics, and is the lowest possible energy a quantum mechanical system may have, resulting in motion even at absolute zero. Currently, the ability to harness zero point energy is thought to be impossible, though research is ongoing!
 
 
Weapons
There are a variety of weapons used by various people in the X-Calibur universe. The Mori typically prefer plasma based weapons. Plasma is a high energy ionised gas, here produced by the fusion reactors, and directed towards a target. The Mori have plasma weapons of various sizes, from the small plasma pistols to the enormous plasma weapons mounted on the cruisers and even the Hive ships themselves.
The Teleri, on the other hand, employ a variety of weapons. Having stopped employing nuclear fusion, plasma weapons are rarely seen. Instead, they have adopted other offensive materials to defend themselves from the Mori.
The first of these is the Ion Cannon, a beam weapon which fires a stream of ions (atoms or molecules with an electrical charge) at a target. They are powerful, able to fire in short bursts or a continuous beam, and highly destructive. The rifle Triltan carries with her beneath the frozen planet is ion based.
The second weapon seen on the Teleri vessels is the Rail Gun (or Railgun). Rail guns are electrically powered, electromagnetic projectile launchers. The rails accelerate the projectile to hypervelocity speeds, firing it at a target like a bullet from a gun (only much much faster). The projectile then tears through the hull, causing considerable damage.
The third weapons employed by the Teleri are Antimatter Missiles. Antimatter is a material composed of antiparticles, that is particles which have the same mass as ordinary matter but the opposite charge. When a particle and antiparticle collide, both particles are annihilated, resulting in the production of huge amounts of energy.
 
 
 
 
The final weapon, only found on the largest of the Teleri ships, in a Singularity Cannon. A singularity is a point in spacetime in which gravitational forces are so large, they cause matter to have an infinite density and zero volume. Though not quite infinite in density or zero in volume, the projectiles fired by a singularity cannon cause such large disruptions in gravitational waves that they can tear even the largest of ships apart.
 
 
Communication
Unlike current-day communication, which is limited by the speed of light, the species in X-Calibur need to be able to communicate over long distances instantly. Radio waves wouldn't cut it (taking 100 years for the signal to reach the target 100 light years away), so instead they have developed systems based on the principles of quantum entanglement.
Quantum entanglement refers to pairs or groups of particles which interact in such a way that the quantum state of each particle cannot be described independently. As such, what happens to one particle will be reflected in anther particle in the same quantum state, regardless of the distance between them (made possible by the time-dilation effects of special relativity).
As such, Arthur can call up Caran Doc or Gar-Wan for advice, even when on the other side of the galaxy!
 
 
Energy Shields
Energy shields remain solely in the realm of science fiction. Though research is ongoing, looking primarily at bubbles of supercharged plasma, the type of energy shields found within the X-Calibur universe have no real basis in current physics.
Suffice to say, the 'energy' surrounds the craft (or individual/small team in the case of the Teleri) to form a barrier which protects against physical damage, as well as energy weapons and radiation. They also manage to contain an atmosphere, as seen on the energy shield surrounding the tethered asteroid.
As in most science fiction, when a shield takes damage the effectiveness of it slowly depletes until it collapses altogether, leaving the ship vulnerable to attack. Shields take time to 'recharge' until they again protect the vessel from further damage.
 
 
Cybernetics
While humans and the Mori were looking to the stars, hoping to leave behind the confines of their planet and solar systems, the Teleri had little interest in what was happening 'out there'. The primary focus of their scientific study related to understanding the universe, not exploring it, and developing technology which would improve the lives of every Teleri.
Of course, readers will know that Ajoch objected the that notion, resulting in a split in Teleri society, but those who moved below ground continued to explore the field. The scientists quickly came to believe that for the Teleri to truly utilise technology, they would have to embrace it in such a way that biology and technology became indistinguishable. That then developed into extensive research into Cybernetics, or Wetware.
 
 
 
 
The example seen so far is the 'capsule', a small device implanted behind the ear. This is implanted into all Teleri at birth (those who don't follow Ajoch's teachings anyway), and allows the brain to connect directly to a computer.
The capsule is composed of a central processing unit, utilising wireless communication, as well as hundreds of tiny tendrils which worm their way into the brain. They then attach themselves to various regions of the brain, including the visual cortex, auditory nerves, sensory and motor cortices and the amygdala (where memories are processed).
The benefits of the capsule are multiple. As well as allowing for translation between languages and wireless communication, the connections in the visual cortex allow for real-time targeting reticles and detailed overlays (put simply, a HUD). The connections to the sensory and motor cortices allow manipulation of stimuli (eg blocking out pain) or enhanced movements (eg faster reflexes), and the connections to the amygdala allow for uploading and downloading of large amounts of data (memories or information from a connected computer) – a bit like walking around with the entire internet inside your brain!
 
 
Is there anything I've missed that you'd like to know more about? Message me or comment in the section below!
 

Thursday, 16 October 2014

X-Calibur: The Descent is now available!

Check it out, the second book in my X-Calibur series is now available in both ebook and paperback!
 


'Eight months after their escape from the hive, Arthur and the city of Camelot are mercilessly attacked by the advanced forces of the Mori-Gran-Ra. With their defences lacking, Merlin reveals a discovery he's made within the Hive's mainframe, one that could turn the tide against the Mori.

Now Arthur and his team must travel to a frozen alien world, where their only hope lies in a race of aliens that have the power to defeat the Mori Armada. But they may find that the price of an alliance is more than they are able to pay.'

Pick it up here:
 
UK
 
US

Friday, 3 October 2014

First draft of X-Calibur: The Descent

I've finished the first draft of the next book in the X-Calibur series, titled The Descent. Here's the blurb-
 
 
 
'Eight months after their escape from the hive, Arthur and the city of Camelot are mercilessly attacked by the advanced forces of the Mori-Gran-Ra. With their defences lacking, Merlin reveals a discovery he's made within the Hive's mainframe, one that could turn the tide against the Mori.
 
Now Arthur and his team must travel to a frozen alien world, where their only hope lies in a race of aliens that have the power to defeat the Mori Armada. But they may find that the price of an alliance is more than they are able to pay.'
 
This has been an interesting experience for me. Unlike the Benjamin Knight books, where I meticulously planned out each chapter and the story arc for each character, the X-Calibur books are written 'on the fly'. I know the general plot and a few of the important scenes, but in between I just sit down and write and see what happens! It's unnerving and exciting at the same time, so let me know what you think?
 
 
The Descent is now out to my beta readers, let me know if you'd like a copy.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

X-Calibur book 2

Been hard at work on the second book in my new X-Calibur series. This follows on from book one, approximately 8 months later with the arrival of some unwelcome visitors! Battle ensues and results in our fresh-faced knights taking Merlin's advice, sending them on a planet hopping quest in search of allies...
 
I am about half way through my first draft, and I thought I would share a proposed cover for this book, titled The Descent!
 

What do people think?

The bulk of the story takes place on a frozen ice world, or at least some way beneath its surface (hence the title!). And, by having the sword on the cover, I am essentially putting it on every cover from now on. What are people's thoughts on that? Votes for the first cover were overwhelmingly SWORD, so is that still the case?
 

Monday, 1 September 2014

My Logo

Penguin books. Harper Collins. Random House. Bloomsbury.
 
Big publishing houses that print books by some of my favourite authors. As I returned the latest Skulduggery Pleasant book to my shelf, I noticed the logo at the base of the spine and realised I recognised it without having to be told who it belonged to (Harper Collins in this case).
 
Logo's give brand recognition and say something about quality (in general, of course). If you go to MacDonalds, you recognise the big M logo and expect a particular type and quality of food, wherever you are in the world. You buy a computer with 'Intel inside', listen to music on your 'Apple' ipod, and now probably use your 'Beats' headphones. If you were shown flash cards of company logos, you'd recognise more than you think.
 
With this in mind, I have designed my own logo. This will be applied to my books, on the spine on paperbacks and on the title page on the ebook. I hope this will link my titles together, and if people see and recognise it, remind them of another book of mine they may have read, even if it was in a different series.
 
Brand recognition, again.
 
Here it is. Let me know what you think?
 

The first book to bear this logo on the spine is X-Calibur: The Return.
 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

X-Calibur Now Available!

Two bits of news to share! The first is that X-Calibur: The Return (the first in my new science fiction series) is now available.
 
 
On the 4th December 2017, an alien force attacked the Earth. Over the following five days, the entire human race was enslaved, and any resistance was met with death. Earth's only survivor - the first and only Artificial Intelligence ever created by man.

4000 years later, Adam 359 emerges from his birthing pod, programmed and ready to begin working for his alien masters. Deep within the mine, a chance encounter convinces him there's more to life than slavery.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the Artificial Intelligence prepares for the return of a legend long forgotten, a legend that could unite humanity and save the galaxy...
 
It is available here:-
 
 
And
 
 
Oh, and it also surged straight to the number 1 spot in the category Children's Aliens ebooks category, knocking from the top spot a little known author called R.L. Stine....
 
Oh, and the second bit of news is that I was nominated for and did the ALS ice bucket challenge. Thanks to Thomas Manning and James Howarth, people I used to call friends....
 
Thanks guys!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

It's official!

That's right, it's official! X-Calibur: The return has today passed the 50 thousand word mark, and is OFFICIALLY a novel!

In celebration, I have decided to post what I hope will be the cover, eventually. The problem is, I can't decide whether or not to have a sword on the cover. I mean, it is called X-Calibur and all, but it is really a science fiction story with bits of Arthurian Legend thrown in.

These are my choices



And a little larger
Cover 1

 and
Cover 2

What do people think?
Sword? No Sword? Start again from scratch???

Please comment or message me or tweet or whatever the cool kids are doing these days....

Thursday, 10 July 2014

X-Calibur: The Return

Today, I've hit the 20,000 word count on the first draft of my new novel X-Calibur: The Return. It's a Science Fiction story with elements of Arthurian legend. Here's the promo image!


I thought I'd post the first chapter, give people a feel for the story and tone. Please let me know what you think?




Chapter 1

4th December 2017 16:23 GMT

 Milford Sanders ran as fast as he could along the narrow corridor to the computer laboratory. He was an overweight man in his late forties, and his remaining wiry hair fluttered about his head. “Sebastian!” he yelled as he threw open the door. “Sebastian! Turn on the TV!”

 “Oh wow, Milford,” Sebastian replied. “I don't think I've ever seen you run before. What's going on?”

 Sebastian was the younger of the two, just thirty and still in reasonable shape. He smiled to himself as he watched Milford wheeze and pant as he lumbered over and switched on the television.

 “It's on every channel,” Milford continued breathlessly.

Sebastian watched as the image on the screen moved in and out of focus. It depicted what looked like an enormous black shape hovering over a city, followed by thousands of smaller shapes emerging from it. The image suddenly shifted, showing the ground retreating rapidly before cutting out altogether.

 “What the-” Sebastian began before Milford cut him off.

 “Just watch,” Milford said, wiping the sweat from his flushed brow.

 The image on the screen changed to a better view of the alien ship, taken from further away. The ship looked to be roughly the same size as the city it shadowed, the thousands of smaller ships buzzing around it like insects. From the landmarks visible on screen, Sebastian was able to determine they were watching footage from Sydney, Australia.

 The alien ship looked black against the bright early morning sunshine, its shape irregular and imposing. Thin towers of dark metal stuck out from it, seemingly at random. The smaller ships flew down to the city below before returning to the larger ship, back and forth in a never ending stream.

 “The alien vessel has begun to move north along the coast,” the voice of a reporter said as the image continued to be displayed on screen. “All attempts to communicate with it have gone unanswered. From what we've seen, the smaller ships are abducting people from their homes and businesses and taking them into the larger vessel. We don't yet know for what purpose, and our prayers are with them.”

 The image changed to a newsroom, where an immaculate young woman was holding her hand to an earpiece as she received an update. “We're getting reports of F-18's being dispatched from Richmond Air Force Base,” she said to the camera. “They'll be in range of the alien vessel any moment now. Tom? Tom, can you make them out?”

 The image cut back to the long range shot of the alien ship. There was a sudden roar as six F-18's flew low over the cameraman and along the coast towards the opera house. “There they are,” Tom said, his voice describing what the camera was showing. “They're changing course now and approaching the alien vessel. The smaller ships don't seem to have noticed them yet. They're climbing now, going for an attack run I suspect. They'll be in range any seco-. No! Lucy, are you getting this in the studio? They're dropping, they're just falling from the sky.”

 The image showed the six F-18's plummet to earth. Two crashed into the harbour while the remaining four descended into the city, followed by large explosions and clouds of debris. “The planes are down,” Tom said, a hint of panic creeping into his voice. “I didn't see an attack from the alien ship, but they're down. I don't see any parachutes.”

 As Tom spoke, the image showed one of the smaller alien crafts moving towards them. It looked black, just like the larger ship, but had discernible wings behind what appeared to be a cockpit. There was no obvious method of propulsion, and it moved with more speed and grace than anything native to earth, natural or man-made.

 “Lucy,” Tom continued as the image jerked wildly as the cameraman ran. “We're-.”

 The screen went black before cutting back to the Lucy in the studio. She was visibly upset, half standing from her chair as she looked at the monitor behind the camera. “Tom?” she said. “Tom, can you hear me?”

 Upon noticing the red light on the camera, she composed herself and returned to her seat, brushing her hands down her pale jacket as she did so. “We've momentarily lost contact with our reporter in the field,” she said. “I'm being told that the station is switching over to the emergency broadcast network. Keep watching for information of your nearest evacuation centre, and may God be with you.” The image switched to a line of text displaying evacuation zones for the various districts of Sydney before quickly being replaced y a BBC reporter who began to discuss the footage.

 “Switch it off,” Sebastian said as he continued to stare dumbfounded and disbelieving at the screen. He removed the mobile phone from his pocket before remembering that all wireless signals were blocked, even if they could transmit through the mile of stone and dirt that separated them from the surface above.

 The American-European Alliance Mainframe was housed in a secret bunker, deep beneath Glastonbury Tor. Milford Sanders and Sebastian Caruthers, the two foremost minds in artificial intelligence, were recruited to build an intelligent system that could coordinate the combined military forces of so many nations in the event of war.

 “Your phone won't work,” Milford said helpfully.

 “No, I know,” Sebastian replied. “It's just, my wife, do you think she knows? I need to speak to her, Mil. She needs to come here where she'll be safe. Call your wife too, and Maddy.”

 “The base is on lock down,” Milford informed him. “No one's getting in or out, not even General Mathers.”

 “We'll see about that!” Sebastian said angrily as he stepped towards the door.

 Milford followed at his heels as Sebastian marched along the corridor and through the double doors at the end. The General's office was directly in front of them, but he was nowhere to be seen. “He'll be in the meeting room,” Milford suggested.

 The two men climbed the stairs to the meeting room, where General Mathers was engaged in a conference call with a variety of world leaders and military advisers. Their images appeared on the screen as they spoke.

 “We understand the situation, General,” the British Prime Minister said, “but you have your orders.”

 “The Australian Government has officially requested our aid,” the American Secretary of Defence interrupted. “We're leading the world in a coordinated response against the alien threat.”

 “The system just isn't ready,” General Mathers insisted.

 “The last report you sent suggested only minor alterations were needed,” the German Chancellor replied.

 “Those minor alterations,” General Mathers continued, “are more than just a few ones and zeros. Once the system goes live, it's no longer under our control. We're talking about a thinking machine here. Without the safeguards in place, it can decide not to follow your orders.”

 The screen went blank as the various heads of state communicated privately with their advisers and each other. When an image reappeared, it was the British Prime Minister who spoke. “Turn it on, General,” he said, “and from now on, you'll report to Air Marshal Staton.”

 As the screen went blank, General Mathers sat heavily in his chair, his head in his hands. “General?” Sebastian said, surprising the older man.

 “Dr Caruthers,” General Mathers replied. As he looked up, his face looked weary and beaten, as though all the fight was gone from him.

 “You have to let us out,” Sebastian continued. “I need to find my wife.”

 “You heard them,” General Mathers replied. “We're turning the machine on, and you need to be here to oversee it. I'm sorry.”

 “You don't understand,” Sebastian continued. “The alien ship, it's taking people. You have to let me find my wife!”

 “I have two sons and a daughter,” General Mathers said, his voice calm and empty. “All in the military, like their father. I do understand, doctor, I understand far too well.”

 Sebastian was about to argue further when Milford's hand on his shoulder stopped him. Together the three men sat in the meeting room, staring at blank monitors as they thought about their loved ones.

Monday, 30 June 2014

My next project

 Over the weekend, I finally finished and edited book 8 in my children's werewolf series (PUPS - The Adventures Of A Third Grade Werewolf). Book 8, the Case of the Terrible Truth has been published and is available here.

Not one to sit around and do nothing, today I have started on my next project, but first, an apology. I'm sorry, but no it isn't Oracle, book 4 of The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight. That book will be written and be released in 2015. Instead, my next project is...


 

As the title would suggest, this is a Sci-Fi novel with elements of Arthurian legend thrown in. Here's a brief description-

'On the 4th December 2017, Earth is attacked and humanity enslaved. 4000 years later, Earth is nothing but a distant memory, a legend told by the slaves as they dream of a better life.

Together, an insane AI and a handful of escaped slaves attempt to make that dream a reality...'

What do you think?

As always, comments and feedback are greatly appreciated!

Friday, 6 June 2014

2nd competition winner

I have received the second correct answer in the Benjamin Knight competition and posted out the prize (signed copies of the first 3 books) today - well done to Adam in Merseyside!

Three prizes remain, decode the journal page below and email me via my website!


Good luck!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Free short story

No posts for a while, so I thought I would offer a short update. I am still hard at work on PUPS, the first 4 are available on amazon, 5 is being edited and 6 is almost finished. I also have Knightfall being converted to audiobook format and hopefully I will have a full update on that soon.

As a treat, here is a (very) short story, based on a recurring dream/nightmare I have had for the last 10 years or so. I am sure someone out there can use it to determine exactly what is wrong with my brain! Here you are.

On Reflection


Beep. Beep. Beep.

I reach over and knock a multitude of items from the bedside table before hitting the correct button on the alarm clock. Another Monday morning and another struggle to get out of bed. I hate Mondays. I'm like that cartoon cat, the ginger one who eats lasagne. Granville or something. What was his name?

Five more minutes. I deserve that, don't I? I roll over towards my wife and press my chest against her back. She's incredible. I still can't believe it, of all the people she could have married she chose me. She said yes, to me. Three years later, my stomach still does somersaults when she smiles at me, my heart races as I watch her undress for bed.

Three years. We even have a cat around here somewhere. It won't be long until it's a baby.

I kiss her shoulder and work my lips along her neck. My hand slides onto her stomach and begins to move upwards, cupping her left-

Garfield! That was his name, Garfield. Always picked on the dog, Odie I think his name was. I really loved that show as a kid.

Let me sleep,” she mumbles beside me, moving my hand from where it lay.

Fine. Get up, get showered, get shaved, and get ready for work. Oh man, do I hate Monday mornings.

I stagger across the landing and into the bathroom. My eyes are barely open as I squeeze some toothpaste onto my brush and clean my teeth. One more step along the morning routine.

The mirror's already beginning to mist over. I wipe it with the flannel-

Did I? It didn't, did it?

I must have gotten up too quickly. I'm light headed I think.

Cold water, splashing on my face. That'll makes me feel better, wakes me up a bit. I'll have to try to remember to tell her when she wakes up. She already thinks I'm crazy, now I can tell her my reflection has stopped copying me.

Yeah, right. I suppose it's a better reason for not shaving than 'I just couldn't be both-

That really happened, didn't it? I didn't, I mean, it didn't. He.

I close my eyes and rub them.

I'm still asleep. This is a dream, that's all. I'm dreaming. Come on, wake up now. Wake up.

I open my eyes. He's looking at me. It, me. I'm looking at me.

Come on, wake up. Pinch myself. Not hard enough. Pinch harder, nails this time.

Smiling.

He's smiling now, at me. I'm not smiling.

Ohmygod. Ohmygod. Ohmygod.

He's smiling at me.

I want to run. My legs won't move. Why won't my legs move? I want to run, to get away.

Why is he smiling like that?

Please, let me go. Let me go. Why won't my legs move?

He just keeps smiling at me.

WHAT HAS HE GOT TO SMILE ABOUT?

Oh fu-


Any feedback is greatly appreciated!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Update

I've been hard at work on PUPS over the last few weeks, so I thought it was time for a bit of an update.

The first four PUPS books are now available for purchase on amazon. If you don't know, these tell the story of Jessica, an 8 year old werewolf, and her adventures after moving to a new school. Here are the covers!







 
 
 
 
I am also in the process of converting the first 3 Benjamin Knight books into audiobooks. These will be available through the Audible service later this year. Keep an eye here for updates, or even better sign up to my mailing list at -
 
 
And there we are!
 
Back to PUPS book 5, the Case of the Atrocious Amulet....

 

Friday, 18 April 2014

Alkaline Trio at Nottingham Rock City 17/4/2014

Wow. What a night! They were awesome, absolutely incredible.

To start, the two warm up bands.

1. The Murder Burgers
Not bad at all, sounded a little like early Green Day stuff. Would consider an album to hear more of them.

2. Bayside

Good too, old fashioned rock/metal. Lead guitarist was amazing, such talent and a lot of solos to show it off. Sick, sick, sick was a great, standout track by them.

The main event!

Alkaline Trio


Just incredible. What a great mix of new tracks.

1. This Could Be Love
2. Hell Yes
3. She Lied To The FBI
4. Every Thug Needs A Lady
5. Cringe
6. I Wanna Be A Warhol
7. I'm Only Here To Disappoint
8. Jacked On Green Beers
9. Sadie
10. Balanced On A Shelf
11. Dine, Dine My Darling
12. Mr Chainsaw
13. Time To Waste
14. Young Lovers
15. Stupid Kid
16. Warbrain



Encore (and really, two of my all time favourite tracks, by any band, ever? The whole place went crazy!)

17. Private Eye (I don't have to quit doing f**ked up sh*t for anyone but me)
18. Radio (shaking like a dog sh*tting razor blades)

So much energy, just a great, great performance. Loved every minute of it, and my voice is so hoarse today I don't know how they do it night after night. If only they'd played Mercy Me and I Lied My Face Off it would have been the perfect set.

Here's hoping I get to see them again soon.


Friday, 11 April 2014

PUPS delay

For anyone out there waiting to read my new series (PUPS - the adventures of a third grade werewolf) I have some bad news. Four days ago my computer died and I have managed to lose a great deal of my writing, associated notes and other bits and pieces. I thought I'd backed them up, but they weren't on the backup drive so I don't know what happened there. I try to do it once a week, but I suppose it must have been 2 or 3 (months maybe?).

Finally worked out it is the hard drive that has failed (tried to do a fresh install and the windows boot disc said 'No - hard drive is about to fail). It's a Lenovo ideapad Z580. Just about a year old, but I can't find the receipt to say for sure (which is not in the box which I can find). I have managed to piece together a working PC from some of the old ones in the garage, but it clunks and moans and sounds like it is steam powered. It's also incredibly slow!

Anyway, I've managed to get back copies of books 1 and 2 (the case of the horrifying headmaster and the case of the loathsome lunches respectively), but book 3 will need to be started from scratch (the case of the cancelled Christmas). I have also managed to lose all of the book covers that I made and the associated artwork to make them again.

Oh, and all of the data and artwork for my website for some reason.

I could see this as an opportunity, if I was a glass half full kind of person. I suppose I am starting to do that now that I've stopped being so annoyed with myself, but part of me honestly believes that whatever I write for PUPS book 3 will never be as good as the chapters I had already written. Anyone else ever felt like that?

So, to summarise -
Pups 1 and 2 saved but back to being in non-edited format
Pups 3 starting from scratch
Website lost (will have to start from scratch next time I want to change it, may well look different if I get a flash of inspiration)
Artwork and covers for Pups 1-7 lost and will need to be redone from scratch
Need to buy a new laptop hard drive

I think that's about it. Has anyone else had a similar problem? How did you cope? What did you do?

A really inspiring story would be great about now....

Friday, 28 March 2014

My Next Project

I have decided to write my series for younger children next. It is called 'PUPS' and concerns the adventures of an 8 year old werewolf and her friends. Here is the first chapter -


Chapter 1


Jessica was eight years old and she had a secret. It wasn't a normal secret, like the surprise birthday present you buy for your mum, or the secret codeword that gets you into the club that you and your friends made.

No, Jessica was a werewolf.

She had always been a werewolf, or at least for as long as she could remember. There weren't any pictures of her as a werewolf baby, but that was probably because her mum and dad didn't take any. They weren't werewolves, by the way, her mum and dad, but they did know about Jessica. They would always make sure to leave a piece of fresh steak in the garden every full moon, and to have a nice warm bath ready for when she got home from running through the forest.

There was no forest anymore though. Jessica's dad had lost his job and they'd had to sell their big house in the country, which had acres and acres of trees and fields for Jessica to run around in. Now they lived in a small terraced house in the city, made of boring red brick and with a tiny back garden. No longer would she be able to chase the farmers sheep, dig holes beneath the trees, or howl at the moon from her favourite rock. She was stuck in the city and she hated it.

To make things worse for Jessica, not only did she have to live in a new house, she also had to go to a new school! She loved her old school, with Mrs Murphy and Mr Callahan. They were always so good to her, helping her with her sums and her joined up writing, and all of her friends were there too; Sophie, Oscar, Emily and Harry. She didn't know anyone at her new school, no one at all, and as everyone in the country knew, city children were weird.

It was the fourth of September and the first day of the new school year. Jessica's mum had taken her to the reception desk and there they met the very pleasant Mrs Sandlewood, the school secretary. She gave Jessica her very own book bag (with the school's logo on it), and told her that she would be going into Mrs Haversham's class.

"She's a little bit nervous,” Jessica's mum said to Mrs Sandlewood.

No I'm not,” Jessica said grumpily.

She is a bit,” Jessica's mum whispered, “but she'll be okay in an hour or two.”

It's all perfectly natural,” Mrs Sandlewood said with a beaming smile. “Here at Sunny Brook Academy, we're all just one big happy family! And Mrs Haversham is lovely, she'll make Jessica feel very welcome.”

Oh, I know she will,” Jessica's mum replied, returning the big beaming smile.

The bell rang suddenly, startling all three of them. Mrs Sandlewood placed a friendly hand on Jessica's shoulder and said, “Time to go and meet your class.”

Have a lovely day in your new school,” Jessica's mum said cheerfully. “I'm sure you'll make lots of friends in no time!”

Humph,” Jessica replied. “New school's are rubbish.”

Well I don't think so,” Jessica's mum said with a smile. “But I'll pick you up tonight and you can tell me all about it.”

Just as Jessica was about to be lead away, her mum pulled her in for one last hug. “Remember,” Jessica's mum whispered into her ear. “Keep your secret. You can't let anyone find out.”

Jessica nodded and, before she knew it, Mrs Sandlewood was escorting her down the corridor to Mrs Haversham's classroom.

********************
 
What do people think? I am looking for some constructive feedback and criticism please.
 
Also, here are the covers for the first 4 in the series. Feedback would be welcome here too!
 




Please be honest, brutal if needed!


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Look at what a friend of mine made!

Thomas Manning (author of Energize) kindly made this for me! I love it!

Suffice to say, I will be going back to him to make further banners as I write more books...


As you can see, awesome!

Thursday, 20 March 2014

One down, four to go!

The first signed book collection has been claimed! The decryption of the journal page was emailed to me today at 15:38, and the answer was correct!

There's still time though to claim one of the other 4 prizes - remember I am offering signed copies of the first 3 Benjamin Knight books to the first 5 people to correctly decode the secret message.

Once all of the prizes have been won, I will be posting the names of the winners to my blog, so hurry up before you miss out!

Here is the code again for those that missed it -



Email me via my website (www.jackson-lawrence.com) once you have it all figured out!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

New Light Competition

As part of the release of Book 3 in The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight, the epilogue of the book contains a competition that also leads into the fourth book. As part of a desire to make it fair to everyone, I have decided to post the competition here also for anyone to enter (like most competitions these days, no purchase necessary!).

First, here is the code sheet that readers have to decipher...



As noted in the book, the first five people to contact me with the correct decryption of the code (via my website www.jackson-lawrence.com) will receive signed copies of the first three books in the Benjamin Knight series!

In addition, I still have review copies available for people if they want them (available in epub, mobi and pdf format) and I'm happy to provide copies of books 1 and 2 to go along with them. Please leave a comment below or contact me via the website, with contact details and the format required.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New Light is Now Available

New Light is Now Available!

Available now on Amazon Kindle!



The wait is finally over. New Light is now available to buy on Amazon kindle and will be available in paperback within the next week. Advanced Review Copies are still available, but if you would like to see it in all its glory, visit the links below!

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/New-Light-Chronicle-Benjamin-Knight-ebook/dp/B00J2CGSOY/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_t_1_J2Q6

US
http://www.amazon.com/New-Light-Chronicle-Benjamin-Knight-ebook/dp/B00J2CGSOY/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1395140177&sr=8-3&keywords=new+light+benjamin+knight

Friday, 14 March 2014

Next project

While New Light is being tidied up, I have started work on my next project.  No, sorry, this isn't Book 4 of Benjamin Knight (which will be called Oracle for those of you who are interested).  Instead, I've decided to write something else for a little while.  My next book will be much shorter and aimed at younger readers (6+ or there about).

First, the cover (maybe)

 
 
What do you think?
 
I haven't found any other books that deal with an 8 year old Werewolf and her adventures at a new school with new friends, but if you know of any please let me know!
 
Anyway, comments please?

Monday, 10 March 2014

New Light is Done!

Just a short note to my readers and followers!



New Light (Book 3 in The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight) is finished.  I have gone through it and reduced it from its 126,554 first draft to its 112,262 word final draft.  It is now in the hands of a beta reader, making sure that it makes sense (hopefully!), before it goes off to my editor and proof reader to make it ready for release.

I am hoping to have it available late March/early April on Amazon Kindle and a few days later in paperback.

If anyone is interested in a free Advanced Review Copy (ARC) please drop me a line or comment on this post.  At present, it will be in its unedited format, but I'm happy to give them out later if you'd prefer.

Anyway, having a few days off playing South Park - The Stick Of Truth before I start on my next project!

Monday, 3 March 2014

A Literary Experiment


Everyone knows the slogan 'Sex sells'.   Whether you're looking at sales rankings, or watching Twitter posts fly by with advertisements, one constant among them seems to be erotica.  Is the slogan true?  Is erotica that popular?  I wanted answers, so I decided to try an experiment.

I spent less than a week writing an erotic novella and, using a pen name, I published it on Amazon (I won't mention the title here, but if you are interested in reading it, just drop me an email and I will send it over, discretion assured).   Less than 5 weeks later, here are the results.  To compare sales numbers, I'm going to use my action/adventure series, The Chronicle of Benjamin Knight.

Let's have a look at the results:-

US and UK only (other regions numbers in single figures or zero)

Book 1 – Knightfall
Time to write – 20 years (on and off)
Words – 105,000
Published April 2013
Sales = 101
Free KDP give-aways = 2711
Sales per month (avg) = 10
Reviews = 22

Book 2 – Darkest Before Dawn
Time to write – 6 months
Words – 98,000
Published  August 2013
Sales = 46
Free KDP give-aways = 482
Sales per month (avg) = 8
Reviews = 5

Book 3 – Erotica
Time to write – 3 days (yes, really)
Words – 25,000
Published February 2014
Sales = 16
Free KDP give-aways = 906
Sales per month (avg) = 14
Reviews = 0

Yes, that's right.  A fairly generic piece of erotica (by which I mean nothing more than what most consenting adults would have experienced themselves at one point or another), which took me just 3 days to write, has already sold 16 copies.  This in just under 5 weeks.

This is in contrast to a complex and interwoven tale that I have written, spanning a series of books, with characters that I have worked hard to try and make as believable as possible within the rules of the world I have created.

So it would appear that sex definitely sells, and I would be very keen to hear thoughts from other authors.  Do we all need to start including sex scenes in our novels to increase our sales?   How do your sales compare?

Starting at the end of March, I am putting Knightfall in a countdown sale instead of free KDP select days, so I will let you all know if that does any better.  In the meantime, thanks for reading, and feel free to share your opinions!

Friday, 28 February 2014

IndieReCon 2014

Good morning all!

I'm sorry to say that I haven't got much writing done these last few days because I have been following IndieReCon 2014, a 3 day free (yes, free) Indie-Publishing online conference.  There's been web-chats with authors and marketers, people from Goodreads and Kobo, and a lot of advice about how to make a living as an Indie author.  The page is still live, so head over there to read transcripts of the chats and all of the important gems of information that are available!

Here are some of the great things that I have learned over the last three days.

Marketing

Social media and blogging aren't that great for selling books.  If you think about it, how many of your twitter followers are eager fans waiting for an update on your new release?  How many are fellow authors or follow you because you followed them (and vice versa)?  How many of the spam 'Buy My Book' twitter posts have you ever clicked on and bought a book?

See the point?

Social media is great for connecting with people, learning from each other, making friends etc, but it probably won't sell many books.  True, some of the people you connect with may go on to buy your book, but compare that to the time invested in making that sale.  This post really summed it up for me

http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/if-you-dont-enjoy-marketing-youre-doing-it-wrong/

Authors and marketing people over there offered a lot of far more useful marketing techniques to try that may boost sales.

1.  Promotion
Very few of them recommended paying for promotion, and the ones that did suggested certain sites that have good results (eg before a kindle countdown deal, which anecdotally they suggested was now better than free days).  They mentioned

BookBub
EBookBooster
Kboards

I don't have the funds to try these yet, but it's worth going through the chat transcripts to get more info about what they said.

2.  Podcasts
One author suggested reading chapters of your work and short stories, or author interviews, and posting them as podcasts.  Add them to your blog.  They are another medium for people to find out about you and your work, and there is something about hearing a human voice that aids that connection.  I am going to give it a try, to I will keep you updated!

They suggested a program called Audacity to edit the audio files, and Blubrry to upload them.  Haven't tried them yet, and I'm sure there are many others.

3.  Images
When you do tweet, write blog posts, post on Facebook, use images where possible.  How often do you look at text compared to a cute picture when you scroll through the 2000 twitter people you follow?  It will make you stand out.

4.  Quotes
One person suggested tweeting and posting quotes from your writing.  You can turn these into eye-catching images with a program called notegraphy, so I'm going to try that too!

5.  Permafree
This was a little conflicting, as some people said the opposite.  On one day, someone suggested not pricing your books at 99p/99c as it may suggest low quality with the low price.  I don't know about that, but the first book in my Benjamin Knight series has been priced at 99p/99c for almost a year and sales have been very poor, so I have changed it to reflect the price of book 2 and soon book 3.

However, others suggested making the first book in a series free permanently.  You do this by making it free to somewhere else like Kobo or Ibooks, and then letting Amazon know and they price-match.  This makes people take a gamble on your book, hopefully like it and buy the rest in the series

I don't know.  I am going to leave Knightfall at £2.99 for now and see if sales change, then I may make if free when New Light is released in the next couple of months.

6.  Mailing Lists
Use a mailing list.  Build one using something like Mailchimp.  Don't just try to sell books to your email list, but offer promotions and early access etc that will keep them coming back.  Then, when your next book is out, let them know!

7.  HTML in your Amazon descriptions
This is a little alien to me, not something I have ever done but I am prepared to give it a go.  Someone suggested using HTML code to highlight parts of your Amazon description to make them stand out.  Here are a couple of useful links someone else suggested

http://www.w3schools.com/html/
http://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200441900

8.  Giveaways
Use Goodreads and Library Thing to host giveaways.  Rumour is, Goodreads will soon be able to offer ebook giveaways to save the author the high price of postage!

9.  Keywords.
This was big, a huge component of many of the talks and posts by various people over that three days.  They suggested putting keywords into the title, subtitle, description and the seven keyword phrases.  Experiment with keywords that relate to your book and make it stand out.  There were lots of posts with tutorials of how to do this, so have a look.  It will take time apparently, but will pay off in the end.  Here's one I still have in one of the tabs on my browser

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/02/28/keywords-metadata-discoverability/

That's it for now, so I hope you find this useful.  The whole thing got me really excited about the marketing and promotion side of my writing, and I hope it will you too.

Come back next week for the results of my Literary Experiment that I have been conducting through February!