Wow. I haven’t posted at this site since May, that’s a disgrace! Yet somehow, the time between May and here seems to have collapsed in on itself. When you work from home, a lot of the days bleed into one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely grateful to be able to work from my upstairs office, it’s just sometimes the only thing that separates the days in your memory is the weather.

A lack of posts doesn’t mean a lack of action however. If anything, I’ve been busier than ever since the launch of Dark Missives back in April. The reviews have been pretty much, universally great. It’s been very pleasing and frankly, a massive relief that so many people have enjoyed my work. I’ve had people that I’ve never met drop messages into my inboxes to tell me that they’ve loved my work. Those days are simply unparalleled.

In further good news, I’ve completed a novel. Properly completed it. First draft brain dump. Massive edits. Beta readers comments. The works. The Clearances is a dark thriller with a slight near-future angle to it. This book poured out of me in the first few months of the year.

Editing it brought me joy. Not only that, but it taught me how to edit properly. Editing has always been the part of the process that I’ve dreaded. A skill that seemingly only professional writers really master. The first draft is usually my bag, the pure hit of creation. But this book was different. I warmed to the task. I prepared. I read up, I watched YouTube videos, I listened to podcasts. All of these things taught me something about the process but the main thing I learned was that it’s largely down to mindset. A book isn’t “done” when the first draft is finished. It’s only 50% done – at best! It’s time to knuckle down and go again in the editing phase. I’m there now. I can do it. I know what it takes.

I’ve started a new book. It’s another one that’s bringing me joy to write. Which sounds like an odd phrase. Lionhearts was a big jump for me as a writer. Both in terms of style and skill. I could feel myself getting better as I wrote it. But it wasn’t a process I enjoyed. I wrote it during the first lockdown when my health health (and everyone else’s) was on its arse. The subject matter of the book is beyond bleak. The Clearances and this new book aren’t comedies or cheery in any way, but the process is making me happier. Those hard earned skills from Lionhearts are now part of my repertoire. I can use them more readily.

The Clearances is now ready to go out to markets and whatnot. The cycle of rejection and hope begins again. It’s hard not to be pessimistic but that doesn’t get anyone anywhere in my experience. I’m a firm believer that rejection makes a writer. Like anything else, if you have it easy then you don’t improve, you don’t grow. I don’t want to be a stunted writer, I want to learn and get better. That said, I’d probably crawl over broken glass to get a book published so just a little bit of success with this one would be GREAT!

All in all, 2021 has contained more writing positives so far than any other year of my life. With one book under my belt, I feel ready to add to that. I’ve got plans for Territory, my snowbound horror novella. That’s edited and ready for action. But I’d love to land a novel somewhere else before the end of the year. Wish me luck and if you see me flagging, kick me up the arse and tell me to carry on going.

Michael Jordan, that monument to hard work (and treating your teammates like shit) said it best. “If you quit once, it becomes a habit. Never quit.”

There’s rejection on the horizon, but I’ll never give up.


Do You Remember The First Time?

It’s been a crazy few weeks since Dark Missives came out. Has to be said. All that build up. All the stress and worry and tension. All the hard work.

Firstly, thanks to everyone who has taken the time to buy and read the book. Every reader is greatly appreciated. Honestly, more than you could possibly know.

So how has the debut book experience been? Honestly? It’s been brilliant. Around the time of release, I was pretty frazzled. Discovering some typos in the book late in the day added to this anxiety but beyond the technicalities of publishing, you never truly know how the book is going to go down.

This is the great adventure of being a writer. What seems like a good idea in your head might not end up as a good story. What reads like a good story to you might not translate to your readers.

All in all, the proof of whether you have a good book or not lies in the opinions of readers and reviewers. Thankfully… that opinion seems to be pretty unanimously positive.

I’ve been really lucky to receive incredibly positive reviews from some wonderful websites. Namely: – Kendall Reviews, Ginger Nuts of Horror, IndieMuse and the Sci-Fi and Fantasy Reviewer. The latter being a really in-depth and perceptive review.

I’ve also appeared on the latest episode of The Joined Up Writing podcast where I talk about indie publishing, building a writing routine and steal some writing advice from Chuck Palahniuk. Click the picture below to listen!

Ultimately, this post is a reflection on whether or not all of this is worth it. The hours spent writing, the hours spent editing. All the time spent marketing and publishing and preparing. Did it live up to expectations? Now I’m officially, properly published, is this whole writing thing worth the hassle?

The simple answer is hell yes. All day, every day. There’s never been more clarity in my mind that this is what I want to do with my time and with my life. Writing is 100%, officially, definitely for me. I’m in this. Full tilt. All the way.

I mean, I knew this all along. But there’s no going back now. Onto the next one!


Fancy getting yourself a copy of Dark Missives? You can grab it in ebook or paperback from Amazon or pick up a signed paperback from the Northern Republic shop.