NaNoWriMo 2014 and Multi-POV

I make it 3 days until November 1st, and that means that writers the world over are counting down until the start of NaNoWriMo 2014. Though I may be being slightly over-optimistic with a 5 month old baby who likes nothing less than sleeping permanently attached to me, I fully intend to complete the challenge this year. 2013 was the first I missed in 5 years, and that was only because I was in and out of hospital thanks to the aforementioned cherub.

The Scarlet Plague is fully plotted out to its conclusion – I know that a pantster approach to NaNo is going to be impossible this year. Therefore, I have over 2200 words of a deeply intricate plot ready to be transcribed, but now that November 1st is so close, I’m having a definite wobble about the structure of the story. You see, the steampunk adventure I have planned is, by necessity, going to be a multi-POV story.

I’m wincing myself at the thought of it. There’s no other way around it; for the conclusion to make sense, each of the four main characters (two women, two men) have to take turns in leading the narration. They’re all characters I know well, having written them before in short stories, so it’s not that which makes me feel uncomfortable. It’s simply that pulling off a multi-POV is that much harder than simply writing in a single, third person narrative from start to finish.

When I first started writing, one of my worst literary crimes was head hopping. I glibly shifted from one character to another, often within the same paragraph, and if there was a supporting character passing through the scene, I often roped them in too. Now, of course, my writing is much tighter. Even in a story told from two POVs, such as The Falcon’s Chase, one character leads the scene, and I make it a self-imposed rule not to switch POV without a chapter break. I feel it’s massively important to do so, because if you keep switching from one to the other, you risk breaking the emotional connection you’re asking the reader to form with your characters. Writing from their POV puts the reader into their head and invites a real intimacy, and constantly switching gives no opportunity for that bond to build.

That said, there are many examples of successful multi-POV fiction; one of the most notable from recent times being the wildly popular A Song Of Ice and Fire series by George R R Martin. Martin has literally dozens of characters leading the narration, but you’ll notice that he too follows my rule of keeping the same POV throughout a chapter. Clearly I don’t expect The Scarlet Plague to enjoy success on that scale – hell, I’ll be delighted just to finish it by November 30th! – but if I can maintain a similar level of coherence and clarity throughout my own multi-POV manuscript, I’ll be a happy author indeed.

Editing Services

Please be aware that I’m now taking bookings for 2015. Prices will be rising in April 2015, but if you book now and pay a 10% deposit, I’m happy for you to pay the current price.

The next available commission date for novels is February 2015. Please see here for prices, more details of the service and how to get in contact with me.

RELEASE – Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014

The new anthology from Indie Authors Press, Spooky Halloween Drabbles 2014, is now available for pre-order on Amazon. All the stories within are precisely 100 words long, so if you like your horror to pack a powerful punch, check it out! My story, ‘Portal’, is amongst those featured.

Amazon US/UK

To be released October 15th, 2014.

Steampunk/Victorian Resources For Writers

victorian-supperOver the years that I’ve been writing steampunk and other tales set in the Victorian era – two genres that often share a natural crossover with each other – I’ve amassed a great number of resources that I turn to time and time again. I like to share, so here are a few of my favourites.

Victorian slang is something that can lend your story a real sense of authenticity, and, quite frankly, much of it is simply glorious, my dear chuckaboos. Immerse yourself and your characters, and allow their world to grow around you.

Though your Victorian gentleman might now be proficient in slang, it’s still imperative that he has a good grasp of etiquette – the be all and end all of Victorian society. Did you know, for example, how terribly rude it is to check one’s watch whilst in company? Never moisten your fingertips before turning the page of a book, and damn it, don’t serve anything but punch alongside the turtle in your main course!

That resolved, your characters are ready to socialise. is invaluable, particularly their section on how to conduct a ball in accordance with the time period. The highly specific customs are important to note if your story is to be truly authentic, as its those little details that really make a novel stand out. Their information on Victorian fashion is just as competently assembled, with the information ordered both by decade (because, of course, it evolved even throughout the Victorian period) and by style of dress.

I frequently refer to this site when seeking to name a new character. All too often I read stories ostensibly set in the 19th century where characters are given names that simply would never have even been in the public consciousness back then. There were a limited selection of names generally given to children, and Atwater’s list is a comprehensive account of them.

If you’re setting your story in Victorian London, as so many do, you need a good understanding of the Dickensian rookeries and slums as well as the more affluent parts of the city, such and Kensington and Chelsea.

Money drives us all, and the Industrial Revolution really spurred on the capitalist society in the Western World during the 19th century. This is a super little guide to how far your money went and precisely how to spend it.

Now you have a good handle on the setting of your story, you might want to start drawing in elements of steampunk. This genre of Victorian sci-fi is my absolute favourite, and one I find myself turning to time and time again. For newcomers to the genre, I would always recommend Jeff VanderMeer’s ‘The Steampunk Bible’, but for something more easily accessible, you can’t go far wrong with the following.

Airship Ambassador

Beyond Victoriana


The Steampunk Empire

Steampunk Scholar

If you have any links you’ve found useful, please share them in the comments below.


The Perils Of Victorian Fashion

victorian ball gownI read a fascinating article over the weekend about an exhibition in Toronto. Fashion Victims: The Pleasures and Perils of Dress in the 19th Century explores the true (and unexpected) dangers of dressing oneself in the Victorian era, and it wasn’t only the infamously constrictive corsets that posed that danger.

New fashions and methods of manufacture were appearing all the time, and it seemed their long-term safety was far from being foremost in the mind of fashionistas both female and male. Green gowns such as those in the picture to the right were amongst the most popular of all – the source of the colour? Arsenic. Even after it became clear that exposure against the skin could lead to severe suffering and even an early death, those committed to following the high fashions still continued to wear the clothes that were poisoning them, and thus those unfortunates who had no choice but to manufacture them were also exposed to the deadly chemical.

Arsenic, though, was far from the only danger prevalent in Victorian fashion. New materials like celluloid were highly explosive, leading to some truly catastrophic house fires, and so-called ‘crinoline fires’ killed 3000 women in Victorian England in the 1850s and 60s alone. Women would forget the width of their vast skirts and move to close to the fire, where the shape of the skirt’s construction proved the perfect catalyst for the flames to take hold. Even ballerinas were known to perish when their muslin costumes caught fire from gas lamps; safer, fire-retardant fabrics were scorned for not being as becoming to wear.

It seems the Victorians truly were slaves to fashion.

The exhibition runs at the Bata Shoe Museum through until 2016.

Monster Hunter: Blood Trails

bloodtrails_cover_ebook-181x300Whilst I was on maternity leave, I had a short story published in an anthology by Emby Press. Monster Hunter: Blood Trails was a concept I loved, and it gave me the opportunity to write about a creature I’d been turning over in my head for a long while now, the Nephilim. I’m fascinated by celestial mythology – angels and demons – and the Nephilim are amongst the most intriguing of them all. I hope I did them justice in ‘The Chase’.

The hunter spreads a hand inside the beast’s track, shocked by the sheer enormity of the thing. Dusk settles through the forest but there is just enough light to make out the tiny red droplets along the edge of the print. An hour ago it had been a steady flow. The trail leads down into a valley the sun has already given up to shadow, and the moon won’t be up for hours. Under any other circumstances it would be wise to wait for the moonlight, but the warm trickle of the hunter’s own blood has not stopped and there is no time to wait. The hunt is on.

Amazon US/UK

September’s Inspirations

Hello, dear readers!

Well, after a manic summer during which I welcomed my beautiful second daughter, Connie, here I find myself again, with a writing list as long as my arm and a dozen more plot bunnies racing around my mind begging to be set free. I’d almost forgotten how much I love writing, but even having to squeeze it in around the sleepless nights, it’s still a complete and total joy.

I’ve got a few short stories out seeking homes right now, and I finally bit the bullet and sent off a query to a publisher I really respect to find out whether they’d be interested in Triumvirate, the first book of my paranormal romance trilogy. I poured an awful lot into Triumvirate and I’ve kept it hidden away for far too long, but it’s a story I love and believe in, so I really, really hope it finds the right publisher soon.

As for now, though, I’m working on a biopunk novel I started last winter, Carbon Copy. It’s something of a departure for me, but the concept really intrigued me and the cast of characters sprung to life as soon as I conceived them. I’m hoping to have finished the first draft by mid-October to free me up for NaNoWriMo. I had to miss it last year for the first time since 2009 as I was in hospital with hyperemesis, so I’m determined to do it this year. I have the novel plotted out already, and the two prequels are already written, which means I’m feeling optimistic. We’ll see how that pans out!

I won’t be taking on any new editing commissions until after Christmas now, but I won’t be raising my prices until the spring. If you’d like to get in and reserve a place for your story at the current prices, have a look at the price list then email me if you’re interested.

Here’s what inspiring me on this autumnal day as I get my head back in the game.



underground tunnel







Nightmare Stalkers & Dream Walkers

One of the best things about independent publishing is the community that’s sprung up around it, and every now and again I’ve been fortunate to meet some truly fantastic people through my writing. Author and editor Suzie Lockhart and her son Bruce Lockhart 2nd are two of those people, and when they asked me to submit to an anthology they were editing, I was honoured. The first volume of Nightmare Stalkers & Dream Walkers by Horrified Press was the result.

Winner of the P & E Readers Poll 2013 – 2nd place for best anthology of the year.

Welcome to the dreaded night realm… lingering just beneath your eyelids, where the hellish things borne of fear eagerly await your arrival. Prepare to be whiplashed to the darkest regions of 32 wicked minds, and forced to stare into their collective abyss. This world is chock-full of the stuff dreams are made of, but more than likely, if you find yourself in the minds of one of these authors, you’ll awaken to a nightmare. This fear you’re experiencing is like a virus, it will spread to every inch of your body, sending not only a chill down your spine but reaching into the very depths of your soul…

You’ll journey to the darkest corners of these author’s minds, as you confront the living, breathing entity that is fear.

nsadwDialogues With The Dead was another of the titles I had squirreled away waiting for inspiration to strike, and when I read the concept for this anthology, I had what I needed. Psychological fear has always been one of my most favourite areas to explore, and I was intrigued by the idea of a Victorian professor seeking to break down the wall between the realms, his dreams – or nightmares – serving as the conduit to breach the barriers.

There are few things as powerful and compelling as grief, a grief so strong it consumes every moment. Even sleep offers no escape, not when it’s a grief so complete that it haunts your dreams and controls every step you take. It’s a grief like that which the professor knows all too well, and it’s a grief that leads to consequences he could never have imagined even in his wildest nightmares.

I was and am thrilled to be a part of this anthology, and I’d love to work with the Lockharts and Horrified Press again after my maternity leave.  It’s been extremely well-received, and rightly so – it’s a line up I’m deeply proud to be a part of.

Amazon US/UK

Angelic Knight Press’ Friday Free Read

I’m taking a quick break from being at the beck and call of my lovely little tyrant to let you all know that Angelic Knight Press’ ‘Friday Free Read‘ this week features my story, Lullaby, which was published in their anthology, Satan’s Toybox: Demonic Dolls. You can read more about it in their blog post here.

Let me know what you think!

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

Published by Sirens Call Publications, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not marked something different for me – a foray away from horror and into romance.

All little girls, and some little boys, know the game ‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’. Each one who plays hopes to end on the ‘He Loves Me’ petal. But how many of us really find that perfect mate? That one partner who will love us unconditionally for the rest of our lives? How many of us really live the dream, and how many live through the heartbreak of ending on the ‘He Loves Me Not’ petal?

‘He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not’ is an anthology of ten stories told from ten different perspectives on love and romance. Some have happy endings, while others end in tears, on a note of desperation, or even a new beginning. A few of the stories are fantasies come true, some steamy encounters of wanton lust, and others still are tales of woe – but the one thing they all have in common – they answer the age old question; does he love me, or does he not?

HLMHLMN_med_webNot all the stories have happy endings, and I’m not going to tell you whether or not my story, Freefall, ends with a happily ever after or not – if you want to find out, you’re going to have to read it! What I will say, though, is that unlike the horror stories I usually write, I managed to draw on an element of truth when writing the story that evolved for this anthology. I don’t doubt that nearly everyone has experienced the mingled thrill and misery of a forbidden workplace crush before now; the way your pulse quickens when your paths cross in the office, or the twist of your gut when you hear them laughing about their exploits over the weekend. For one reason or another, workplace romances often fail to get off the ground, and even when they do it can all go disastrously wrong.

Freefall takes a look at what happens when that forbidden fruit becomes impossible to resist any longer – when you find yourself in freefall, powerless to fight all that you know you should. Happily ever after, or forever apart? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Amazon US/UK