Saturday, 1 December 2012

30 Words Competition

So here's the thing.
The competition has closed, and there were a few entries.
One of the requirements of entering was to go to my Facebook page and share and like the competition link there.
I linked from the entry form to my page for ease of access, but only 2 of the people who entered the competition shared and liked...
Maybe I didn't make it clear enough. Or if there's a glitch in the system please let me know.
Alternatively, if you entered, but didn't share and like, please follow this link, share it and like it.
It'll be a few days before I post competition entries. Hold tight!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Perfectly Delightful Paperback Dolls

Two weeks ago I had an amazing conversation with the awesomely named 'Paperback Dolls,' a readers group, far away in the Rocky Mountains. After we sorted out the tricky time difference stuff (they were having brunch, I'd just got back from work) we got on like a house on fire.

If you want a mental image, they're like this...

 We got on so well that I wanted to have the chat all over again, but this time I asked the questions. Here's what we said.

JF: So, I should have asked this before, its such an obvious question. Why are you called the Paperback Dolls?

Dolls: We found the name on line. Since we started we call each other dolls. So we thought the name fit and it stuck.

JF: Cool. Tell me about yourselves, why did you start. How often do you meet? What do you do when you meet?

Dolls: We started about a year and a half ago. One of our mutual friends posted on her face book page asking if any one was interested in joining a book club and we all responded. We met and we all hit it off immediately. We meet every three weeks and usually try to pick two books to read. When we meet we each bring a snack to share.

JF: What kinds of books do you like? Why? Who are your favorite authors? Do you ever disagree? 

Dolls: We actually like any kinds of books. We have everyone give suggestions about a week before our next chat. Then we put the suggestions into a hat and draw. We like a lot of YA authors. We are really not picky. We all agree as long as it is a good story. We like Stephen King, JD Field, Gillian Flynn , Colleen Hoover, James Patterson, Alma Katsu well pretty much anyone who writes a great story. We do disagree once in awhile, but that is what makes a good discussion.

JF:Who reads the most? 

Dolls: We all do! That’s why we meet every three weeks!

JF: Yep, two books every three weeks is pretty good going. What else do you do when you meet, apart from talk about the books? 

Dolls: We talk about our lives, kids, family, day’s. Pretty much anything. We all get along really well and can discuss anything with each other. In fact, there has been a couple of times where we don’t even get to the books even though we have all read them.

JF: Like another bookclub I know...

JF: What are you reading next?

Dolls: We are currently reading A Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling and Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson.

JF: Interesting. Let me know what you think. Why do you like the Levels series? Which book and character do you like and why? 

Dolls: We love the Levels series because it is a new twist on an old beloved story. Maddie is one of our favorite characters. She just has this great humor about her and you can connect instantly to her. And she has these Laugh out loud moments in the books. And Rami because he just goes with the flow.

JF: What’s your favorite bit? What do you wish happened, but didn’t?

Dolls: Rock Anthem is our favorite because we were able to get more involved with more characters. We would like Maddie do delve a little more into her powers. And maybe have Jon have a new love interest.

JF: What did you want to happen next? Or further down the series. If you could have anything? Who do you want to see more of? 

Dolls: I think you touched on this a bit during our Skype session, but learning more about each of the Four Horsemen and Eddy would be pretty cool...back story on each of them, in their points of view. And of coarse finding out if Eddie and Maddie are meant to be together.

JF: Tell me something interesting about the Paperback Dolls.

Dolls: We went into this book club as strangers. We all had one common friend. Now we are a year and half into it and we made these amazing connections with each other. We are very diverse. We all have different tastes but yet the same and we can always agree to disagree.

JF: Thanks so much for coming back for more chat, Dolls. You have a really cool story of how books can bring people together. To be honest, if I hadn't talked to you guys, and been put under a bit of pressure, I probably wouldn't have started on Levels 4 yet, so you're really having an impact...

In the meantime, if any other reader has a reading group that would like to talk, any way you like, please get in touch. I love to hear from readers.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thirty Dollars for Thirty Words

Last year I hosted a fun MINI REVIEW contest. Since then I've been a bit busy, but I think it's time for a re-run. The idea is super simple.

Review a book in thirty words or less. All the reviews will be published on this blog and the best one will receive the prize of a THIRTY DOLLAR AMAZON VOUCHER.

Here's an example:

 'Madeleine Bride is cool, Eddy Moon is hot. Levels College is mysterious. They've all got secrets. The paranormal twist stunned me. Song to Wake to by JD Field is a unique YA paranormal romance.'

To win 30 bucks take part in the 'Review On a Post-it Contest' 2012, and pass on the news through Facebook and blogs. Come back and comment on the entries. The winner will be announced in the first week of December.

The closing date is November 30th.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


Song to Wake to will be free for the next 3 days. Hopefully you've read it. If not, now's your chance. If you have, tell a friend...

The UK version is HERE.

And the American version is HERE.

Once you've got it, please come back and read the making of 'Lullaby of Lies,' below. The Youtube clips are lovely...
ThePrizeFinder - UK Competitions

Saturday, 8 September 2012

The Making of Lullaby of Lies...

Here's a little bit of film that inspired some of Lullaby of Lies. If you've read it, you'll know exactly which bit. If not, I hope you enjoy two of the most adorable actors in existence...

So, to give you a bit of background, and in no particular order, ten things:

1, I knew what the plot of this was going to be before I finished Song to Wake to. I was inspired - partly - by another, very successful YA paranormal story. I won't say which, though...

2, I started writing it in December, but in January and February I hit some kind of wall, and spent hours staring at empty computer screens... or playing around on wikipedia. Somehow I picked up the pace again, it may have been when it stopped raining...

3, Most of it was written at my dining table, though significant bits were written on a trip to the Jordanian desert, by the Red Sea at Aqaba, in Istanbul and Amman airports, in a car on the highway to Petra, and the first draft was finished in the parking lot at the entrance to Jesus's baptism site at the river Jordan. It was polished in front of the TV, showing the Olympic swimming, at JFK airport, in a Starbucks on 31st and 6th, and on my sisters sofa in Dalston, East London ...

4, I proofread it 3 times. My number one wish is to be able to afford a professional proofreader, until then I have to do it myself, which is quite possibly my least favourite part of being a writer. However, it's possible you may find mistakes. If you do, let me know, and I'm sorry...

5, Linked to the above, I've decided (and this is possibly an absurd decision) to make the language and spelling of the Levels series 'mid-Atlantic.' I say sidewalk for pavement, and asphalt for tarmac, and couch for sofa, BUT I spell tire tyre, center centre and realize realise. I'm trying to be inclusive, but it's possible I'm annoying everybody...

6, This may be the last of the series written in first person. With more and more characters it's getting too difficult to tell the story properly. One of the most important strands of this story is the introduction of Hurley, but it was very hard to show what he's really like from Maddie's point of view. If you've read Lullaby of Lies you'll know that there's the promise of a whole team of new characters, and there's no way I can tell their stories only looking through Maddie's eyes. Changes are coming...

7, The next Levels book will be released in 2013, before that I'm going to bring out the first two books of a different series, called THE WATER BOOK. It's from a boys point of view, it's not paranormal, and it features an age-old obsession of mine. Watch this space...

8, Before that I'm going to have a little contest on the blog, with a $30 Amazon voucher prize...

9, Jon Esmere has turned into one of the most interesting characters I've ever written. He constantly surprises me, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how he develops, and how his relationships with the other characters (one of them in particular) changes.

10, The other character I'm growing to love is Hurley Laker. I like him so much that I'm writing a little short story about what happened to him, Jenna, and somebody else, when Maddie was distracted. I'll be giving it away to all readers of Lullaby of Lies.

That's it for now. I'll leave you with a bit more of Emma and Ryan. No reason, apart from them being so pretty and so funny. Enjoy...

Friday, 31 August 2012

Fantasy Aficionados wanted...

Now that Lullaby of Lies is finally out in the world, I'm working to raise awareness of the whole series. And I need YOUR help.
If you're a member of the Fantasy Aficionados group on Goodreads I'd love it if you could vote for Song to Wake to in this little poll.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

New Release!

After quite a lot of work, Lullaby of Lies is AVAILABLE.
Americans can get it HERE
Brits need to go HERE

Obviously I'm biased, but I think it's quite good. I'll post in the next couple of days about writing it. In the meantime, get 'em while they're hot...

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Lullaby of Lies

Is on its way. I'm squeezing final editing around an epic summer vacation (New York, London, and now Bucharest) which I'll hopefully write about here in the autumn. In the meantime I've got some more work from the legendary Olly Prentice. Here is the draft cover...

and here is a little taste of the content...

Flames blossomed from the windows of the boarding houses. Screaming children ran from burning doorways, but the grass they ran across erupted into fire. A boy chased a football across the field, before realising that flames were chasing him. He stumbled, and fire enfolded his entire body

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Cover Designer - Guest Post

When I heard J D Field had started writing a series of novels I hoped to get the chance to design the covers, so when the opportunity came about I jumped at it! It was always going to be an interesting project seeing as we live in different continents, but the initial brief soon set my mind at rest. Reading a snippet from the preface I could see that these were going to be exciting books. 

The brief asked for an image of a lake or pond, at night in the countryside with the water being a rich blue colour. And to have the moon and stars reflected in it, and possibly the title. The image was to be centrally located on the cover and possibly vignetted so that it faded out to black. 

I am a walking enthusiast and photographer as well as a graphic designer, so this project was perfect as I set about looking for the ideal lake near to me to photograph an adapt to fit the brief. There are 2 reservoirs nearby. Arlington and Bewl water. I chose Bewl as it is more natural looking and is also close to Bedgbury Woods which also contains a few lakes so there should be plenty of opportunities. Here's some of the original photographs. The chosen one is in the background. The others were lovely shots but contained too much detail. In the end we cropped in on the horizon of the chosen one:

The typeface to be used was also very important and if possible to try and do something a little different with it. I knew of one called Plantagenet Cherokee that had many alternate versions of each letter plus some glyphs of old letter forms and symbols. These could be used to add some character and a sense of history to the covers. This typeface would also be a defining link  and 'brand' between covers in the series. 

After doing some ideas for typographical arrangements of the title, I chose a photograph to work on and emailed JD Field some initial designs.  

It was decided that the vignette idea wasn't really working, instead we opted to extend the image to the edges of the cover but add in a rocky silhouette to the front to keep the shape. After some more to-ing and fro-ing of the design to perfect the balance of the elements and colours, the first e-book cover of The Levels Series was finished. A similar process was followed for Rock anthem and now it is time to start thinking about part 3. What will it be? Well you will have to wait and see... Here's a selection of the changing designs clockwise around the finished printed book

Read more about my walks,  (some of which I do to support the charity Hope for Children), kung fu training and photography at or follow me on Twitter @ollyeast

Thursday, 12 July 2012

A Dream Come True

Last week I had a dream come true.

It's not often you can say that. It was a dream I've had since - probably - age seven.
Yes. I can fly.

No. It's a different dream. It's the one I've had since I learned 'Roger Hargreaves' on the Front of the Mr. Men books was the name of a person, not a company, like Ford.
The dream was too have a book in print. Of course, back then, I had no idea it would look like this (massive thanks to the creative genius of Mr Oliver Prentice).

The first long story I wrote was more or less a rip off of parts of the Green Grass of Wyoming and Silver Brumby books (you can find them HERE  and HERE). I think the plagiarism is forgiveable. I was ten.

In the last twenty years I've completed three novels, three screenplays, two TV pilots, two radio plays, and written the first halves of five different novels. I've sent a couple of hundred submissions to agents and publishers.

Nothing stuck.

Then I heard about Amanda Hocking's success, thought 'I can do that' and last September published SONG TO WAKE TO as an eBook. I never planned to self publish in paperback, in fact, for years I've felt a little bit sneery towards self-publishers. However, once I released the eBook, it became the natural next step.

Though it was only natural thanks to Createspace, Amazon's astonishing one stop shop. You upload your text and they tell you what to do to turn it into a book. They tell you how to create a cover (or in my case they tell Olly how to make a cover). You decide how much you're going to charge for it, and BANG, it's on sale on Amazon. Every time somebody wants one, they print it. Plus now I have things to give away as prizes in competitions, bribes to reviewers, etc, etc.

But most importantly, those of you who don't read eBooks can get a copy for yourself, HERE

Friday, 29 June 2012

Song to Wake to is FREE

June 29th and 30th Song to Wake to is free on Amazon. If you've already read it, you could take the opportunity to tell your friends, or maybe even get them a copy...


Saturday, 23 June 2012

The Clockwork Prince, Levels latest, Euro 2012 and Ronaldo in tears

The last month has been all about teams. I've been reading the Infernal Devices and watching the European Championships. It's been dramatastic.

Beautiful young men, running around trying to save the day, while gorgeous girls watch them with bated breath and vicious villains hack them to the ground. Crowds of remorseless enemies attacking like robots and success and failure balanced on a knife edge.

And then there's the Infernal Devices, Clockwork Prince, one of the best books I've read in a really long time. The breadth of characterisation and the complexity of the plot is breathtaking. The romance becomes perfectly complicated, and the mysterious ambitions of the Magister become ever more twisted. The setting is fantastic, Victorian London and Yorkshire and there is such attention to detail. There are minor characters - a slightly deranged old Yorkshireman, and a gloomy Irish kitchen maid who are beautifully drawn and much more than walk on parts.

My one problem with the book is that the reason Will Herondale is like, well, like Will Herondale, is revealed and for me it didn't quite work. It requires the reader to believe that a series of quite odd actions and convictions are possible, and more than that, they can continue for years with nobody finding out about them. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit cryptic, but I don't want to give anything away. if you've read the book, you'll know what I mean.

Returning to my original point,  The Infernal Devices divides its readers into teams. Team Will, or Team Jem, while the book itself is jammed with teams, there's the Magister crowd, there are the Shadowhunters and the Downworlders - themselves split between the Lightwoods and the Institute crowd, and werewolves and vampires. And they all play against each other.

Which of course, the footballers don't, they face off one at a time. The Greeks and the Germans in an occasion crammed with drama, tragedy, a bit of austerity. The English and the Ukrainians, mistake fuelled and cagey. Every night ends in tears. Fat, shirtless men wipe their eyes in the stand. Tonight the Spanish and the French. Each occasion is loaded with excitement, but it's only ever a two-way affair.

And this is why the Infernal Devices beats football. It's just more complicated. Though, at the moment I could do with it being much less interesting and the football itself being very dull indeed. I've got  ,  Song to Wake to to release in paperback and as a free eBook in a week's time and Lullaby of Lies to polish. The 3rd Levels book will hopefully - like Clockwork Prince - split readers into Team Eddy and Team Jon.

No time for distractions!

Monday, 11 June 2012

In the footsteps of Indiana Jones, skirting The Capitol, avoiding Alicante to the Eighth Wonder of the World, accompanied by The Petshop Boys

This was me last week. Really. If you saw this in the movie and thought Steven Spielberg has a fantastic imagination, well you're right, but he didn't invent any of this. Petra is real, and it's completely amazing. You enter it down a winding road through what is essentially a long, narrow crack in the rock.

At the end of the road-in-the-crack you come to what was once the main square of Petra.

Two Thousand years ago. It’s really amazing and it’s really real. Who needs Alicante, or The Capitol, when you have this… I've been to a wonder of the world, and it's pretty cool.

As well as seeing Petra, I was driven around the desert a lot, which is interesting at first, but then all gets a bit samey. Fortunately I filled the time by finishing off the first draft of Lullaby of Lies, the third Levels book.

Now I’m rewriting it, as well as getting ready for the other exciting events this month… I’m going to tell you about two, now, but watch this space.

Song to Wake to is going to be released in paperback.

I’ve given it a bit of an edit (the eBook version as well). The marvellous Oliver Prentice is working on the cover, and it’s going to hit the shelves of Amazon and hopefully other places on my birthday, June 30th.

The other thing I’ve done is started a TUMBLR for Song to Wake to. Essentially, it’s bits of text and the music or film that goes with them, or maybe even inspired them. Guess which scene THIS marvellous song goes with. Answers on a postcard...

Please go and have a look at all the other bits HERE and tell me what you think. If you've got any suggestions for other clips and bits of text that go together, then pleeeease let me know. Anybody really inspired will probably win a free book, or something.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Suzanne Collins versus Cassandra Claire: Celebrity Author Deathmatch

uses one of the favourite tricks of YA and kids literature.

Got to get rid of the adults.

Ever since Enid Blyton sent the Famous Five on absurdly dangerous summer holidays, up Mount Everest and through the Amazon Jungle (practically) authors have been finding ways to evade watchful eyes.

Boarding schools are a classic example (more about them HERE)  as are absentee parents, like in Twilight or Amanda Hocking's My Blood Approves.

Suzanne Collins way around it is to essentially have the government isolate the children on purpose. Basically the state takes on the role of the evil stepmother, forcing the kids to the worst chores imaginable.

Cassandra Claire's take on this old problem is innovative and refreshing. She has young people who are that extraordinarily able that they take the roles of adults, then combines that with a life that is so tragically prone to early death that they have to get on with it before it gets on with them.

I read The Hunger Games back-to-back with Cassandra Claire's . the second work is set in the same shadow hunter world as the Mortal Instruments series, but winding it back 150 years to Victorian England. It's nicely Gothic, without over doing the top hats and goodness gracious ma'ams.
And as in the Mortal Instruments there's an institute inhabited by a bunch of teenagers who seem to run around the city, doing more or less what they want. Just like the Mortal Instruments, too, it has a haughty, distant, handsome hero. Jace Wayland as a brunette.
For all the familiarity the story motors along nicely. The plot is excellent, stacks of twists and turns, and the characterisation is very strong, there are a couple of flawed characters who are especially well drawn.
So who wins the death match?
I read these two books, but only when I finished one of them did I buy the sequel straight away. Which one?
Clockwork Angel.

Friday, 11 May 2012

Buying shares in Cassandra Claire, The Hunger Games, Emma Watson and JK Rowling Dress Contest, and Lord of the Flies

The Hunger Games. Current flavour of the month, or at least until they bring out the first of the Mortal Instruments movies.

Let's pause to think about that, for a moment. Outside of teen paranormal fiction fans, Cassandra Claire is a bit unknown. JK Rowling is a billionaire megastar. it's not going to be long before they will be mentioned in the same breath, then Claire will be famous for having out-Rowlinged Rowling. She's got two series on the go, with more to come. the potential is galactic, if you know of any way you can buy shares in Cassandra Claire sell all your shoes and gettem!

But anyway, the Hunger Games. A dystopian YA thriller, without any paranormal elements, but lots of death and suffering. It's about kids at each other's throats, running around in a forest setting traps for one another. At school everybody in the UK has to read William Golding's Lord of the Flies, about a bunch of schoolboys stranded on a desert island, who descend into savagery. I didn't like it. I was in the Scouts, and I wanted to believe we would do better. Hunger Games gets around this issue by having the kids FORCED to fight one another, then Suzanne Collins, the author, gets around it a second time by having her heroine, Katniss, somehow - more by luck than judgement - never actually have to hurt somebody who's nice, or who doesn't deserve hurting.

I liked that, it made the story easier to read, but somehow it's not completely buyable.

The other slight downside is Katniss. Though she's a great heroine, especially in contrast to the typical female lead in YA books (think Isaballe Swann) in that she's resourceful, independent, tough, smart and brave, she's also a bit odd. Her response to incredibly intense situations is often muted, and her response to the first romance, ever, in her life is weirdly cold. I didn't get it.

As far as downsides, go, those are it. The world created is believable, tangible, scary and captivating. The characters are rounded and interesting. More than anything it's exciting, man is it exciting. Twists, turns, twisting back again, turning over, then just when you think everything's going to be okay it twists itself all around in a loop again.

Solid recommend, and I'll be writing more about this next week...

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Rainman, Belle Dame Sans Merci and Lullaby of Lies

Writing first drafts of novels can turn you a little bit into Rainman. You start off, and it's all about the small numbers. You go as fast as you can to get to a hundred words, three figures. Next is 111 ( you need to get rid of the zeros) next is 125 (an eighth of a thousand) 200,  222, 250, 300, 333, 400, 444 and 500.

That's ten results to celebrate before you've written five hundred words. If you know what to say, if there's nothing on TV and you can stay away from the internet for long enough, you can do it in twenty minutes.

The first five hundred words of Lullaby of Lies is mainly preface. It's going to be re-written, of course, but it includes this line, that I like enough to be fairly sure it will still be there when it's finally available.

'Morgan’s fingertips brushed against the wall and two fingernails fluttered to the ground, like the pale wings of a dying moth.'

It's all the same on the way to 1000. From then on, the thousands are the milestones. They're the excuse to stop and have a cup of coffee and stare out the window. But of course there are new super milestones. 1111, 2222, etc. These are cool, as are 2,500 and 7,500, up to 10,000 then you add 11,111 to the mix, as well as the mega-super milestones, 25,000, 50,000, and 75,000.

Which is where I am now with the first draft of Lullaby of Lies. 75,000 words. Hopefully today I'll get to 76,666 and tomorrow 77,777. How awesome will that be? To be honest, if you're not completely sunk in this thing like I am, not very awesome at all, but like I said, writing novels makes you even odder than you are to start off with.

This is going to be bad news for those of you who are waiting eagerly for Lullaby of Lies, and I'm sorry. When I finish the first draft I'll set a definite release date, but I guess it'll be August. Between then and now, though, there are going to be some pretty exciting Levels events and give aways, so watch this space. In the meantime, here's the last sentence I wrote, including word 77,777.

'I ran back towards Kieran. His face looked like a hideous skull with the jaw strained unnaturally wide and all his teeth gleaming as he forced out the end of a dying scream.'

What do you make of that? 

Oh, and one other little clue. take a look at the picture at the top of this post. 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci.' It's not there just cos it's pretty...

Saturday, 21 April 2012

The Lord of the Rings, Dirty Dancing, why it takes so long to write a story, and Mali.

Aged thirteen I would spend Sunday evenings... 
doing what? To find out, pay a visit to Vamps, Weres and Cassay to read the GUEST POST I WROTE...

Alternatively you can read about Mali.

/ˈmɑːli/, officially the  Republic of Mali  (French:  République du Mali,  French pronunciation: [maˈli]), is a
landlocked country in Western Africa. Mali borders Algeria on the north, Niger on the east, Burkina Faso and the
Côte d'Ivoire on the south, Guinea on the south-west, and Senegal and Mauritania on the west. Its size is just over
1,240,000 km² with a population of 14.5 million. Its capital is Bamako. Mali consists of eight regions and its borders
on the north reach deep into the middle of the  Sahara, while the country's southern part, where the majority of
inhabitants live, features the Niger and Sénégal rivers. The country's economic structure centers around agriculture
and fishing. Some of Mali's natural resources are gold, uranium, livestock, and salt. About half the population live
below the international poverty line of US$1.25 a day.
Present-day Mali was once part of three West African empires that controlled  trans-Saharan trade: the  Ghana
Empire, the Mali Empire (from which Mali is named), and the Songhai Empire. In the late 19th century, during the
Scramble for Africa, France seized control of Mali making it a part of French Sudan. French Sudan (then known as
the Sudanese Republic) joined with Senegal in 1959, achieving independence in 1960 as the  Mali Federation.
Shortly thereafter, following Senegal's withdrawal from the federation, the Sudanese Republic declared itself the
independent Republic of Mali. After a long period of one-party rule, a 1991 coup led to the writing of a new
constitution and

Friday, 6 April 2012

Stories Long in the Making

In Britain, book shops with cafe tables in amongst the shelves were unheard of. Twenty one years old, I left and went to live in New York. Barnes and Noble was a marvel. I worked in a restaurant on Sixth Avenue, and every day, on my way back to the Gershwin Hotel, where I lived, I would call in at the enormous store between 22nd and 23rd and read from EMMA WHO SAVED MY LIFE. Sadly the store is now GONE  but the book is still a solid recommendation.
It was in the lovely store on UNION SQUARE, though, that I once saw a woman, so striking, that I had to write a description of her on a napkin.
That was my writing in those days, notes of description on napkins, and scraps torn from paper bags and waitress pads. Eventually I came back to the UK with my stack of descriptions and laboured to find a plot to cram them all in to (plot, oddly, was my biggest struggle in those days). I bought HOW TO WRITE A MOVIE IN 21 DAYS and from it learned the first nuts and bolts of story. I also, incidentally, produced a complete filmscript in 3 weeks, mainly at a table in the Rat and Parrot Park Street, Bristol, between shifts. How proud was I? It was rubbish.
Following on from that, I used the last of my New York restaurant tips to buy a second hand laptop, and used Microsoft Write to produce a short story called 'The Songbirds Egg', which I then recycled into a novel called 'The Cloud Ceiling.' Both of them heavily influenced by ROSAMUND LEHMAN and Lawrence Durrell's incomparable ALEXANDRIA QUARTET.
The stories were lumpily written, heavy on sentiment and awkwardly poetic description. But they had a character called Madeleine, and the description of her face, copied from the New York napkin, isn't bad.
It's not bad, and so, with so many of these things, it will be recycled into Lullaby of Lies. Most of the words I write have an awkward ancestry of some sort, but these - randomly - will be known. These lines will be pared down and will crop up in chapters nine and ten. Hopefully you'll read them there...

She is nineteen, preoccupied, a steep and selfless beauty.
Madeleine's hair is dark and as she talks swings, smooth as glass. The straight grain lightly crossed by paler, coppery strands in lazy half curves, like lines of water snaking across a car window.

Her skin is so pale and her features dark and finely drawn. Thick lashes and clear curving brows. Her face never blurred. Clean lines on white like crisp type on new paper, symmetry like the phrasing of verse.
Her eyes dark, lower lids heavy with strong vertical surface, into the vertical planes of her cheekbones. Lips restrained but tilted upward along the tiny seam between lip and face.

Fine half circles under each eye, and a crease along the middle of each lid. They make her eyes seem even larger, with an extra layer of focus. They make the light in the black ringed irises stronger through her gaze and the whole was even more beautiful.

Madeleine's hair flickered behind her and then twisted under her chin. Squinting, she tried to hold it away from her face. I gathered it in one hand and held it at the nape of her neck. She leant toward me and this was how the photograph was taken. Her hair was very cool, soft, straight as pouring water. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

I wanted to study at Hogwarts and live in the Lord of the Rings, It's not how you tell it but WHERE you tell it.

Location Location Location.
Not just about the house you buy, maybe, but also about the books you read. Every story I loved as a child had something about the setting.
For a while I was obsessed with Brendon Chase, by 'BB.' I tried to find it on maps, and the place names and their descriptions enchanted me so much that I remember them easily now. The town of Martyr Bar, Blind Pool, deep in the forest.

I stared at maps from the Lord of the Rings until my eyes bugged out. I was seriously disappointed that I could never actually go there. The writing of Laurie Lee had the same effect, apart from I COULD go there, and so the first holiday I went on by myself was a bike tour of Northern Spain, visiting Burgos and Leon, and other destinations he passed through in the beautifully written, wonderfully titled 'As I walked out One Midsummer Morning.'

And now I write myself, and magical, real life places are where I try my hardest to set my work. There are several, but the most important is Glastonbury and the Somerset Levels, where I lived for two years, where I set 'Song to Wake to' and th source of the name for the characters school and the entire series itself.
Truth is stranger than fiction, and why make somewhere up, when there is a real place as wonderful as the Levels?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Big News...

Levels 3 has a name...
After mulling over dozens of options I've christened it 'Lullaby of Lies.' Next I need to get onto Olly Prentice and get a cover sorted...
Thanks to everybody who had some input. What do you think?

Friday, 17 February 2012

See Keira Knightley! Win an eBook! Complete a Fun Survey! Decide how to save the world!

By now you probably know that my LEVELS series of stories has something to do with King Arthur. If you don't, please feel free to click on the link on the right and find out for yourself...
You probably read some King Arthur stories before, the original myths. Maybe you've seen one of the King Arthur movies. Doubtless you have some preconceptions about King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, what they did, what they were like.
I would love to know what your concept of Camelot is, and so I've put together a fun little quiz to find out. Please complete it, let me know what you think, and put yourself in the running to win a free copy of ROCK ANTHEM, 2nd in the Levels series.
This survey has now been included in the Autism awareness Blog Hop, and I have upped the prizes to ten (TEN) copies of Rock Anthem...

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, 3 February 2012

What do Famous People Read?

Do celebs read? This post is much more question than answer. All I've really got is this picture of the Twilight movies' Chaske Spencer with 'The Emperor's Tomb' by Steve Berry.

You can find more pictures of celebs with books HERE, including a Spiderman Star also drawn to the very popular Steve Berry...

Do famous people tell us about the books they read? Have you heard them? If you have please let us know in the comments section below. If not, what do you think they read? For example, I can completely see Robert Pattinson digging into Proust, while Emma Watson - I think - is much more about re-reading the lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for the 14th time. Make a guess...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Brad Pitt on a horse, win a book, have genuine input into the title of another book, and some Mortal Instruments.

What's in a title?
In the case of the title of this post, the answer's easy.
Too much.
But title's can fail in all sorts of ways. Don't judge a book by it's cover. Absolutely. That's right. But its title? Judging a book by it's title is one of the things you're supposed to do.
The Mortal Instruments series are my current favourite YA books, amazing characters, plotting, imagination.
Rubbish titles. 'City of Ashes,' 'City of Glass.'
'City of Fallen Angels' is the best, but it's not actually true, so that's hardly fair.
'The Iron King.' Similar.
There's definitely something about books in a series having vanilla titles. I guess it's difficult to be both striking, and fit into a theme, but I'm going to give it a shot. After 'Song to Wake to' and 'Rock Anthem' the third levels book will have a title that's got something to do with lullabies. I've got two options.

'Lullaby of Lies'
'Lullaby for a Sleeping Lion.'

Please tell me what you think. I'd be really grateful for any input. Use the comments section to tell us which title you prefer, and if you like, tell us your favourite book title. I'm going to start off with 'Legends of the Fall.' Not the film, the book by Jim Harrison, which is brilliant. The film is overblown and histrionic, but if you advance the clip at the top of the page to minute 3:00 you'll find its winning scene. This is how all men should ideally arrive, preceded by a vanguard of galloping horses. It's an Eddy Moon moment.
I look forward to getting your input. One of the comments will win a FREE copy of Rock Anthem...

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Congratulations, you're a winner! As is Kelly Clarkson

So when I was a kid it was my firm ambition to have my moment on top of the podium at the Olympic games. I gave everything a try and I swear I would have been a decent runner if my legs actually had some muscle on them, instead of being like sticks of uncooked spaghetti. My legs were also an obstacle to my being a swimming champion. I couldn't get them to stay near the surface of the water, so I would labour through the pool in a kind of upside down 'L' shape.
Other sporting success was affected by a lack of hand eye co-ordination.
Or timing.
So then I thought maybe X factor? Something like that. However I sing like a cat in the rain.
In the end, I'm left with hoping that one day I may win a minor lottery prize. You, on the other hand, may have won a copy of Song to Wake to. Check your email.
And in a stunted, text version of a rubbish Oscar winning speech, thanks so much everybody who entered the blog hop competition! You couldn't have done it without me. Winning stuff is always cool, even if it's just a 99cent e-book. Okay it doesn't quite merit a podium, a medal or an anthem (though that would be nice). I doubt you feel much like Kelly Clarkson either, but in case you wanted to check, here's what winning moments can be like...

If you left your details, but haven't heard from me drop me a line, I had problems with some email addresses and you may have won.

Friday, 6 January 2012

FREE books.

So here it is, the YA and Fantasy giveaway hop. I'm giving away TEN free e-book copies of Song to Wake to. In order to be entered in the draw for the book please like my Facebook page HERE (or alternatively share this post) and leave your name and contacts in the comments section below.
When you've done that check out the rest of the marvellous giveaways...

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Best Book I read in 2011

This recommendation is a tiny bit complicated, as its kind of not just for one book, but for three. The book I'm recommending is the last of a trilogy, and you really should read the first two. Interestingly I almost didn't get to the 2nd one. I think I downloaded it mainly cos I needed something to read, and I was going to be out of wifi range in a moment... Needless to say, I read it, liked it, got drawn along to the 3rd one...

I'm currently in the very early days of writing a long series of books, and so I have especial admiration for what the author of this one has done, really achieving a spectacular climax and answering a ton of questions.
What's the book?

City of Glass (Incidentally, full props to the guys who made this trailer, so imaginitive... )

I'm trying to keep this as spoiler free as possible, but apologies in advance if I give anything away, or tell you something I didn't think was obvious.

So in CoG the Mortal Instruments saga moves to Alicante - long time home of the Shadowhunters. And that makes a nice change. It's fantasy, without being too fantastic. I only have two quibbles, the first is with Venice-like canals, somehow halfway up a hill, the second is that though the setting is a massive confrontation between all the most important supernatural beings in the world, how come 99% of them are from New York? Including practically all the werewolves and vampires?

But that's picky. The Jace/Clary issues are resolved beautifully and Cassandra Clare plays her trump card - the revelation of the angels - with massive style. There's even a little hook left for us into another sequel - a good thing, considering hoe badly everybody wanted City of Fallen Anegls.
So there you have it, heroism, romance, drama, violence. Recommended to everyone.