Proteus Artwork - Hataka

They are coming...

With the upcoming release of Proteus Evolution I thought I would give everyone a little time to absorb some artwork I have been doing. This is Hataka, the unexpected and frighteningly beautiful Proteus warship. She certainly came as a surprise to everyone...

Proteus Evolution should be out late this month.

Proteus Ghosts Released

It is time for a new adventure for the Proteus ships as the first book of the Natural Selection Saga arrives with Proteus - Ghosts

It is available now from Smashwords and other retailers priced at $4.99
The book is suitable for Teens upwards.

Here is the Blurb!

"Life is starting to settle down once again. With the help rendered from the Alphians the Apeyron civilisation is starting to rebuild finding new worlds to resettle their population. As the Seleke Council approve the creation of new ships, tension grows at the Proteus family rebel against the Grand Council in an effort to earn their rights.
However when technology on Beletrix starts to malfunction, tensions rise, the finger of blame for these dangerous errors are pointed at the Apeyron with a theory they may have planted a virus.
There is something not right with the theory as the errors seem far too random and when the Seltus Shipyard goes in to lock down, the automation systems running amok, it is down to the irascible, under appreciated technical support specialist Issi Rem to try and solve this crisis and get to the bottom of this mystery and learn the truth of what really is causing these errors."

The first part of the Natural Selection Saga, Ghost's is an action pack tense thriller with a distinctly comical side as we follow the overworked, grumpy and arrogant Issi Rem as she tries to get to the bottom of a crisis that is threatening Verlon City, an artificially intelligent virus that has infected the Beletrix network. With the help of Zenni, Saya, Talishia, Tath, Sellie and Tamu, this unlikely group are dragged in to a dark situation with the most unlikely of endings.
Also included is a five page overview and fact file of the Seltus Shipyards and project Valkryia.

The difference between Novels and Novellas

For years I never understood my editors. I think it is a feeling that many authors get.
For me, the purpose of an editor was to take the creative vision I had and rip it to bits, poke holes in it and reshape the story in to something they thought would sell the most books. It is a cold truth of publishing that great works are sanitised and broken versions of the authors original thoughts.
It is why self publishing appealed to me and with a head full of ideas and books, over the last year I have been having a ball writing these stories.

Sometimes though you have to put the brakes on, slow down and get a good slap across the face and in late September I had that happen.

I love the work I have been doing but self publishing is a brutal industry when you can publish what you want. As can everyone else on this planet. It is something I hate about this. I go on to Smashwords to find my books are swamped and bogged down in "books" that are barely short stories. I see people throwing "books" out that are 1000 words long. Let's just put that in to reality here. That is barely 2 sheets of A4. It's not a story. It's not a book. It's hardly an essay. My daughter writes more for her homework!
As a result, I found myself facing the idea of actually finding a publisher to get my books in hard print, which usually means finding a literary agent, a job that is technically a nightmare. So when I came across a book publisher offering an open door policy for a month, I nearly skipped around the room. I took the time to read their submission guidelines and everything looked good, except for one point.
They wanted 70,000 to 130,000 word submissions.
My books are not that long, averaging 40,000 to 50,000.

Considering everything, this opportunity was too good to pass over, so as a thought experiment I decided to revisit one of my previous books and really see if there was more to them that could be squeezed out. I am not going to say which book it was, but it was roughly 50,000 words.

Sitting down, I fell back on an old technique of analysing the book clinically. Looking at points I may well have missed, seeing the character progressions through the book and really knuckling down. Took me near enough a day, but by the end I had a ten page analysis of the book and to my surprise there were holes.
Quite frankly, I suddenly had a whole new appreciation for editors. I think possibly in the past some of the editors I have worked with were too aggressive and dismissive of the central themes, but they also pointed out potential holes like this. Working through the holes, over familiarity issues and knowledge that was expected from earlier books I started the process of rewriting the book.
After two weeks of work the upshot was this. The finished book was far more detailed, explained things in a more fluid and intelligent way, did not rely on any other works to fill in the gaps and to my surprise had not changed significantly from the original. All the story was there, but just better.
The most important thing was the word count. It was 80,000 words. That was the most shocking part of this. I had found 30,000 words from somewhere.
When I originally wrote this book, I was very proud of it. I had reread it a dozen times and to me, it made sense. Revisiting it though proved a cold truth. There was far more to this book than I had expected.

Now, what came next was a kick in the stomach. Going back I looked at the opening date for this open door submission and I am not sure if I missed this the first time I read it, or if it had been added in but previously it said "If books have been published, they will not be considered". Self publishing was not mention... but when I read it this time, the words "that includes self published" had been put in. My heart literately dropped when I read that and I will say I am depressed. Regardless I will be sending it to them anyway. If it gets binned, then so be it, but technically the book I am sending is not the book I published. I will have to wait and see.

So, why am I telling you this?

Well, it is partly down to the fact I wanted to let people know where I am at and also explain a new thing I will be doing.
After I rewrote that book, I turned my attention back to my current production schedule, specifically Proteus - Ghosts.
I finished writing Ghosts in August - it was a first proof of the book and needed rewrites but overall I had been happy enough to test it out on my daughter. The book was 40,000 words, and probably after rewrites it would have been 45,000.
Sitting down though and applying the same sense checking methodologies to the book, I went through it and looked in extreme detail at the plot, the characters and where I was going with it and started a massive reworking of the book.
Again, the finished article is still the same story, everything is in its place.
What has changed is its size. It is now 70,000 words.

To put that in real terms, that is 75% more content that the original proof I had!

Ghosts will be out very soon.
As for looking at getting my books in print. Well, I will have to wait and see but I hope they will be. The reactions I have had a very positive to my work and I hope that someone out there will see my work as being worthy of being put in to hard print.

Thanks for reading and expect Ghosts soon.


Dystopian Detective - The Tourist Released

I am pleased to announce the long awaited release of the next Dystopian Detective novel, the Tourist.

You can grab a sample or buy the book here:

Here is the Blurb!

"Things are quiet at the Dystopian Detective Agency which suits Ella just fine as she looks after Sabine who is struggling to come to terms with her own partner's injuries at the hands of the Apeyron. However during a trip in to the city, it is clear things are not right. For some reason the world seem to be changing right before their eyes. Statues altering, street names changing are just the start as things seem to be getting worse as the reality starts to hit home that history itself has been altered.
Across town, a strange man is enjoying a vacation in Manchester. He is a tourist, but he had lived here all his life. The problem is he is a tourist of time itself having travelled one hundred and seventy five years in to the future. When Tie arrives with the news that a cataclysmic event is about to occur and the whole of Manchester could be wiped out by a temporal singularity, Ella races to find the source of the anomalies and may just find her favourite work of fiction has perhaps more of a basis in reality that she ever realised.
Will Ella manage to return the tourist to his own time and save the city she loves?"

The Tourist is the long awaited return of the Dystopian Detective Series as Ella without Shae and Amy must pull her old friends together to try and stop the ramifications of a time travelling tourist who has gravely disrupted the timeline. Working alongside her arch idiotic nemesis, Ella is in a race against time, quiet literately as a darker and more nefarious plot starts to unfold that threaten to vaporise the city.

Scribbles and notes

The Endless Saga was a veritable explosion in writing for me with so many books being released over a four month period, however a great deal of that was in the works long before I set up my release schedule.
At this moment I have the best part of five books on my desk for writing and things are going perhaps more slowly than I would have hoped partly because I am getting ahead of myself...

When it comes to the Proteus Natural Selection Saga, the good news is I have first proofs of both Ghosts and Evolution done. These will need to be checked and rewritten before I am happy with them and technically it only leaves New Horizons.

The problem with this is, there are several books I wanted to get done and released before Ghosts as they occur ins some cases before Ghosts.
I am currently in the middle of writing Dystopian Detective - The Tourist which is giving me headaches (time travel is a nightmare).
I also have the layout for Pentalore - Legends ready for physical writing although I have yet to hit my keyboard in anger on this.
Finally there is Symbiotica - Spectres of our Pasts which is still mostly in my head.

I am also debating one last book which actually does not fall in to any particular series and would be released by itself. This book fits in to the Symbiotica and Proteus storylines, but it a singular stand alone work that would need to be released before Evolution.

Expect The Tourist first followed by Ghosts.

More soon!


Proteus Natural Selection Saga

This all started with Symbiotica really. This rich world of Alphius Prime and their desperate escape from the end of the world.
Koli made her first appearance in Bound Hearts, the third book although she had been referenced right at the beginning of Book 1. As a writer, I remember the great Gene Roddenberry once referring to the Enterprise as a vehicle to tell stories in the now legendary Star Trek. For me that perhaps seemed something of a waste as for me, the ships are always as important as those that travel on them. When I created Symbiotica and then Proteus, I wanted these vehicles of storytelling to have a far more integral part within the stories.

I love the idea of exploring Koli's natural curiosity about Earth, the fact she was a living ship that ached to explore this strange new world with the inquisitiveness of a child. When I first created Koli in my head, she was nothing like she was to become. The more I wrote about her, the more I fell in love with the character. Slightly insane, always wanting to learn and so clumsy, she is one of the most endearing characters in the whole Symbiotica series and as things progressed, I wanted to tell more of her story until in book five, The Way Home I revealed the origins of Proteus itself and suddenly what was one living ship became five with the introduction of Terrik, Miras, Koshi and Vaj with the entire story of Proteus laid out, in part at least. I also in that book laid out a hint of the story to come, the idea that one of the Titans may have escaped.

That loose thread I dangled played on my mind and suddenly, the idea for Proteus as a series came about. The story of Miras and her brave and noble pilot Zenni Quinett. Of course, while I don't want to ruin the book, the Neo Alphius story expanded the story of Proteus, from the resurrection of Terrik, the unexpected arrival of Lunar, Terrik's twin sister, the nearly tragic consequences of what happened to Koli thanks to the events in The Way Home and of course the evolution of the Proteus species with the first naturally born Proteus ship, Miras's Daughter, Saya.

The Neo Alphius Saga was all about the cost of mistakes and error in judgement, and the efforts people will strive for to make things right. Miras and Orles's regrets and pain over the hell they had condemned their people to was the central theme and how far people will go to survive. This saga was the journey of one young ship as she fought overwhelming odds with her new friends to not only save their people, but her mother as well.  By the end of the story we also learnt at least some of the missing years Koli and the survivors of Neo Alphius had spent as in The Way Home, I focused on Terrik and her crew as they fought to survive. At the end, while there was loss, there was a new beginning with a new world and new adventures to go on.

With the Endless Saga the story moved towards a new story looking at the fact the universe is not a playground, but has its shares of wonders, and terrors. Endless explored the idea of change and accepting the universe around us and moving with it and what would happen if we did not. It also looked at the fall out and consequences on a very personal level for the Proteus ships. It is fair to say that Endless was a very hard series for me to write.
This said, Endless threw up some personal questions for our heroes. Questions that we need to answer here on Earth. We strive to move forward creating ever more complex technologies, but we do not ask the question. Should we be looking at creating AI and if we do, what rights do we afford it?
That was where I left Endless. The idea that change is inevitable and must be embraced but also philosophically how to we deal with that change.

This brings me to where Proteus goes from here and the new three part trilogy to come.
The Neo Alphius Saga was a tense adventure about survival.
The Endless Saga was an action adventure about change.
I can finally reveal the new series is called the Natural Selection Saga and quite against what you have known it is an action adventure comedy.

Natural Selection carries on from where we left off at the end of the Endless Saga and the long running story deals with the fallout from the first six books which by the end will tie off everything neatly, however while this story goes on in the background, you will find the actual story is far more personal. When I originally planned the Endless Saga there was always going to be a seventh book, entitled Ghosts. During the writing of Endless, Ghosts became a lot more personal and evolved in to a new three part story with Ghosts, Evolution and New Horizons.

Ghosts is due out late September and is an absolute riot of a book, by far probably the funniest story I have written to date and for a change, the hero of the story is not Zenni or Saya but someone I introduced during the Endless Saga. Issi Rem is the tech support from hell, overworked, arrogant and extremely rude, not to mention being something of a coward. By rights this story is a tense action thriller with everything under threat and the prospect of Verlon City being destroyed and by itself that would be more than enough for a good read but throw in hysterical characters like Issi, Talishia, Sellie and Tath and a mystery that needs solving you have the ingredients for a quirky and funny read.
All I will say is the ending will leave everyone reeling.

See you in the next chapter!

Bringing my Books to Life

Second Life that is....

With the help of a close friend, I have opened the Forgotten Library for all my books on Second Life. You can explore not only my series, but see models from Proteus, including a sneak peak at the upcoming Proteus Natural Selection Saga.

You can also join my group in world to get the latest news and if the interest is high enough I may consider doing talks and Q&A sessions once a month

If you are on Second Life, simply head to this location!

In world I am Nassau Xaris - come check it out!