Sunday, 21 August 2016

Between Two Fires blog tour

Hope everyone's having a great weekend! I don't think I've posted on a Sunday before, but there's a first time for everything, and I'm happy to do so to help out a great friend of mine, Mark Noce, with the release of his debut novel. Here's everything you need to know.

Praise from Bestselling Authors for Between Two Fires
“A spirited ride through a turbulent slice of Welsh history!” – Paula Brackston, NYT Bestselling author of The Witch’s Daughter
“A fast-paced read that has a wonderfully visual style and some memorable characters. Mark Noce combines Welsh history with a touch of folkloric magic in this promising debut novel. Lady Branwen is a strong and engaging narrator and the turbulent setting of early medieval Wales makes a fine backdrop for an action-packed story.” – Juliet Marillier, Bestselling author of Daughter of the Forest and Wolfskin

Synopsis of Between Two Fires
Saxon barbarians threaten to destroy medieval Wales. Lady Branwen becomes Wales’ last hope to unite their divided kingdoms when her father betroths her to a powerful Welsh warlord, the Hammer King.
But this fledgling alliance is fraught with enemies from within and without as Branwen herself becomes the target of assassinations and courtly intrigue. A young woman in a world of fierce warriors, she seeks to assert her own authority and preserve Wales against the barbarians. But when she falls for a young hedge knight named Artagan her world threatens to tear itself apart. Caught between her duty to her people and her love of a man she cannot have, Branwen must choose whether to preserve her royal marriage or to follow her heart. Somehow she must save her people and remain true to herself, before Saxon invaders and a mysterious traitor try to destroy her.

Places to Order Between Two Fires
Release Date: August 23, 2016

Mark Noce writes historical fiction with a passion, and eagerly reads everything from fantasy to literature. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s an avid traveler and backpacker, particularly in Europe and North America. He earned his BA and MA from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where he also met his beautiful wife. By day, he works as a Technical Writer, having spent much of his career at places like Google and Facebook. In addition to writing novels, he also writes short fiction online. When not reading or writing, he’s probably listening to U2, sailing his dad’s boat, or gardening with his family.
His debut novel, Between Two Fires, is being published by Thomas Dunne Books (an imprint of St. Martin's Press and Macmillan). It is the first in a series of historical fiction novels set in medieval Wales.

Social Media Links 

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

IWSG August 2016

Hosted by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's group posting of the IWSG - a safe haven for us writers to share our doubts and insecurities - is co-hosted by Tamara NarayanTonja DreckerEllen @ The Cynical SailorLauren @ PensuasionStephen Tremp, and Julie Flanders.

Well, it's August and it's also my first post here in two months. Last time I said I was hoping to shake things up - well, this time last month we were just heading off on a two-week road trip through Scotland, England, France and Spain on a mission to rescue a puppy. It was fun, the weather and scenery were fantastic, we got some time to relax and we were shown great hospitality by our dog rescue friends in Spain. Our new baby Benji is a big boy for four months old, but so sweet. In the couple of weeks since we got back we've been acclimatising and bedding him in with the other dogs and I think he's going to do great.

Hard to see what he's cuddling, but it's a toy dolphin we got for him on the ferry from Spain to England that he has to go to bed with every night. Such a baby!

So June was more of the month for writing. I did spend more time planning than writing, but I had a go at those mind maps and I think I've got a clearer idea of where things are going. I'm looking forward to getting stuck back in this month.

I don't want to have an insecurity about my writing, I just want to keep my attention focused, but I do have one about keeping up on the social media side. I've hardly been around and I'm also late on a couple of reviews I had promised. I hate this, as I feel like I've let people down. The plan is to rectify this and then stay on more of an even keel - with only a couple of weeks until school goes back here too, I'll hopefully feel in more of a routine. Looking forward to seeing what you've all been up to!

Also, having just been to the IWSG site, I thought I'd jump in on the interactive side and answer the group question that has been posed. This month we are asked: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now? Collecting dust or has it been published?

I guess 1997 was when I first thought about pursuing some sort of writing career. I was 16, just finishing secondary school and going to sixth form (where I joined a journalism group). I wrote a story while I was finishing school that was my first conscious effort at writing a proper, polished short story - it was typed, rather than being a piece of handwritten scrawl. Set in the not-too-distant future, it concerned a worker on an extension of the Channel Tunnel that was being dug throughout France encountering the ghost of a soldier from the World War I trenches. I remember being quite satisfied with it, but I didn't do anything with it, and that computer has since bitten the dust, so it only exists in the ether and in my memory. Still, I guess it means next year marks my 20th anniversary as an aspiring writer. Gulp!

Go here to check out more IWSG posts!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

IWSG June 2016 - Moving Forward

The first day of summer and time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the brainchild of Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh. The group represents a safe harbour for writers to share their doubts and insecurities. Today's co-hosts are Murees DupeAlexia ChamberlynnChemist Ken and Heather Gardner.

I'm going to make this a short post today. I know this is the venue to air our insecurities, but the last thing I want to do is have another moan about how I can't move forward with my work. I feel like I'm in some kind of time warp this year in terms of progress, but next month I hope to have some other kind of insecurity to bring you, so I'm going to spend June shaking things up and trying things I haven't done before, like writing out of order or maybe sketching some mind maps. What I need now is to make a step forward. I still might not be posting much, but I'm really looking forward to seeing how you're all doing and I'm hoping to soak up some inspiration and enjoy the fantastic weather Scotland is offering right now.

So that's it from me. Back with a progress report next month!

Check out the other IWSG participants here!

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

IWSG May 2016

Time for another posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the monthly safe haven where writers can talk about anything that is ailing them. Founded by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh, the May posting is co-hosted by Stephen TrempFundy BlueMJ FifieldLoni TownsendBish DenhamSusan Gourley and Stephanie Faris. Check 'em out!

Can we be into May already? Star Wars Day too, so I'm hoping the force will be with me as I try to reboot this year. Writing has become a daily struggle over the last month or two - more so than usual. I'm not sure, but I might only have scraped out 1000 words in this time. The inspiration isn't there. Seriously, even writing this is hard. I'm not sure what's wrong with me?

As you may recall, I was attacked near the start of the year, but I can't use that as an excuse for killing my confidence. A CP pointed out an issue with my book that was causing her trouble and I still can't work out if I agree. It's not like it's something that's never been covered, even within YA. I don't know if it's the approach that's the problem - I haven't brought myself to go over the offending sections yet, but as it hinges on what I'm writing now, it's kind of brought everything to a standstill. But I wouldn't lay the blame at my CP's door. I value her feedback, but sometimes I find it hard to listen to others' advice and instead forge ahead with what I think is right. The idea of rebuilding a large portion of my series is daunting, but that's my job, isn't it? This wasn't meant to be easy.

So that's where I'm at. I haven't talked about this with anyone yet, but maybe now I have I can take some steps to fixing the problem. Have you ever had to drastically rethink your work? How important is your CPs' advice to you? Hope all enjoyed the A-Z Challenge who took part. I sat this one out but I'm hoping to be back in force next year!

Check out the other IWSG participants here.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

IWSG March 2016

Yes, it's that time once again - 2016's third posting for the Insecure Writer's Support Group. This excellent group was founded by Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh to provide a safe haven for writers to share doubts and insecurities without fear of appearing foolish. This month's co-hosts arLauren Hennessy, Lisa Buie-Collard, Lidy, Christine Rains, and Mary Aalgaard.

First, thanks for all your supportive comments on last month's post. I really appreciate it and reading through them made me feel a lot better. (Go here if you don't know what I'm talking about). It's true that I haven't been around the blogs too much since then - I literally just finished returning the comments from that post! I've been getting a lot of headaches, so I've been reserving my energy for my editing work and trying to make some headway on my WIP. Haven't managed to write every day, but on those when I did I've been averaging about 500 words. However, on that last bonus leap day I managed 1000 and that's the goal I want to aim for going forward. So, in terms of my monthly goal round-up, I'm up to 10,000 words with 4,000 added in the last month. Doesn't sound like much, but at least there's quite a lot going on in those words. Things are happening.

I'm still speaking with the police and they've been taking my attackers in for questioning. I really hope they can do something because these people shouldn't be at large to pose a threat to someone else.

Apart from that, I just keep drinking lots of water and trying to write the next word. Keeping things quite simple at the moment. I didn't meet my marketing goal, but I definitely want to try some new things this month.

Go here to check out lots more IWSG participants.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

IWSG - February 2016

Time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which takes place on the first Wednesday of each month. Ninja Captain Alex J. Cavanaugh started this group so writers of all stripes could share their doubts and insecurities without fear of being judged.


It's not been the best start to the month.

You don't go out for a peaceful Sunday afternoon stroll with your dogs in a sleepy semi-rural area and expect to become the victim of a violent and unprovoked attack.

Yet that's what happened to me three days ago.

The day started out well. It was my stepdaughter's 19th birthday. She'd had ten friends staying over in the living room in sleeping bags. As chaotic as this sounds, and given that a fair bit of alcohol was involved, responsible Hannah ensured that no one got too incapacitated by also providing copious amounts of pizza. We heard more noise coming from our seven-year-old's DVD in the next room. Everyone left or was picked up by 10.30am and Hannah tidied up. Great. 

Then just after 2pm I took two of our four dogs out. One of our pups had had his operation to get his boys' bits removed and so I left another of the pack behind to keep him company.

This is a nice walk along a road past fields and a few houses. After about 45 minutes it reaches a junction with a slightly more major road. I usually turn either left or right, walk up a little bit and then head back. This day I headed right. There's a row of eight houses here, only on one side of the road. I walked up the right hand side past open land (so I would be facing oncoming traffic), then crossed and headed back down past the houses.

As I walked past one property I noticed a man staring out of the window at me. He didn't look particularly happy but I thought nothing of it and carried on.

I walked past a piece of dog waste on the pavement and the next thing I knew I heard shouting from behind me. I turned to see it was the man who had been looking out the window, pointing out the poo and shouting at me to pick it up. From the outset, he was highly aggressive. In spite of this, I walked back towards the spot and tried to explain that neither of my dogs had left it. Of course they hadn't. I'm a responsible dog owner and an upstanding citizen. I told him that I always picked up poos and pulled poop bags out of my pocket to show him.

He didn't listen to a single bit of this and just kept screaming at me to pick it up, using some choice language. He also raised his fist in a threatening gesture.

At this point, a second, younger and heavier man ran out of the house and after a few seconds, punched me in the face. He was acting even more aggressive than the first man, but this still came as a shock. I then picked up the waste for fear of what else would happen to me.

The older man then told me that if I'd just picked it up, that wouldn't have happened to me. He then rolled up his trouser leg to show that one of my dogs had bitten him, as if he was the victim in the situation. I didn't notice, I was too busy getting assaulted. And what exactly do you expect?

I don't have a phone (it needs a new charger) so I walked almost an hour home with my nose dripping blood the whole way. My wife phoned the police as soon as I walked in and after speaking to them and going to point out the offenders' house we went to the local A&E. I knew I had a black eye, but it turned out I'd been punched hard enough to fracture my eye socket and break my nose. I've got appointments at two separate clinics for these.

I won't go into the ins and outs of the police investigation but we hope there can be a decent result despite the fact the culprits, who we suspect are related, have concocted a story to protect the assailant.

In terms of feeling insecure about it, well, I definitely am. My face feels sore and tight, I get recurring headaches and tire easily, and I haven't felt like working since the incident. Forgive me if I'm not online so much over the next little while, but I'll try my best to return all comments.

In the long run, though, I'm not going to let it affect how I live my life. Why should it? No, I won't walk the dogs on my own again, and no, I won't walk that way again. But I'm not going to be put off stepping out of my front door by the fact that people like this exist in the world, and two of them live in the same small town as myself. If I become afraid, then they'll truly have won. I'm hoping to get back to writing shortly. I don't want my schedule to be interrupted for too long.

Has anything like this happened to you? How did you deal with it?

Don't forget to visit other IWSG participants here!

Friday, 29 January 2016

Goals Round-Up for January

Happy Friday, folks!

Well, we've nearly reached the end of the first month of 2016. Don't know about you, but January has seemed to last longer than the whole of last year. Maybe it's the extreme levels of weather we've been having - nothing compared to the east coast of the US though, and I hope all my friends over there are OK. We dodged a bullet, as my wife and stepdaughters flew home from a trip to New York just a week before the blizzard hit. If the timing had been different, they might well have still been there now, holed up in a hotel room and running out of money... However, Scotland has been battered by extreme wind, rain and flooding. Here's hoping things improve next month.

So, onto my first goal wrap-up of the month. I'll be posting these on the last weekday of each month - the idea is to keep myself accountable while also having a record of my progress. Most of these are rolling goals for each month, but a few will be individual tasks - if I don't tick them off in a certain month, they'll roll over to the next.

* Finish a first draft of Book 3 of my trilogy.

Well, I've started. Currently, I've got 6000 words - not as much as I would have liked, but I've been doing more freelance work than usual. The important thing is that I've written almost every day, even if just 200 words. The plan for next month is to keep that regularity going while upping the wordcount.

* Perform final edits on Book 1, Black and White, engage a cover artist and prepare for release before the end of the year.

Not done any of these yet.

* Get Book 2 and the series' prequel novella out to CPs during the early part of the year.

I contacted my brilliant CPs just before writing this post, so I'm just waiting to hear back in terms of schedules and so on.

* Aim to participate in Write1Sub1 by writing and submitting one short story per month.

I accomplished half of this goal - I didn't write a new story, but I submitted the story that didn't make the cut for the IWSG anthology to a handful of markets.

* Continue promotion for my short story collection, aiming to make more use of avenues such as Twitter, Facebook/Goodreads groups, and promo spots.

Yes. This month I focused on trying Facebook, as it's something I've not really used much. I joined a couple of promo groups and posted about my book.

* Eat healthily and keep up regular exercise via daily dog walks.

For the first part, I did OK, although I ate quite a bit of chocolate. Definitely did the second part, although the weather has been too wild the last few days.

* Post monthly goal round-ups at the end of each month.

Well, yes. Here I am!

For next month, I plan to do more of all of the above.

How did you do for progress this month? Do you set weekly, monthly, or yearly goals?