Category Archives: historical fiction

A book to beguile the tedious hours

If you follow my blog you might recall I extolled the virtues of Captain Grose’s Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811) which has a glorious rundown of Georgian/Regency slang which is invaluable for those of us writing in that period. … Continue reading

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Happy Endings or Not?

Do stories really have happy endings? They do if we choose to stop the tale at the point where the prince slips a golden ring on Cinderella’s finger, or where Beauty kisses the beast, or the princess kisses the frog … Continue reading

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What I’m reading (March 2022)

You absolutely can’t write science fiction and fantasy without knowing what’s being published. It’s always better not to reinvent the wheel unless you can make your wheel very different. Naomi Novik’s A Deadly Education begins a new trilogy about the … Continue reading

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Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Stories

My favourite short SF story ever is ‘They’re Made out of Meat’ by Terry Bisson. It was published way back in 1991, but it hasn’t aged. It’s short, less than 800 words, but it perfectly encapsulates what a short story … Continue reading

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Giving it a Shove.

Word of mouth and the need for reviews. I was commiserating with an author published by a small press who said, “Small press books without a lot of push behind them don’t get noticed.” I replied: “If it’s any consolation, … Continue reading

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Does it Need a Map?

I should have asked this question earlier in the process of publishing, but I left it until the last minute. The answer from the office was, ‘No. If Sheila had thought it needed a map she would have said so.’ … Continue reading

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The Amber Crown is published today – 11th January 2022

After what seems like an age, the Amber Crown is out today. I’d already written a first draft before I sold my first book to DAW in 2013. That sale led to six books (two trilogies), so I didn’t have … Continue reading

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Countdown to The Amber Crown – One Week to Go

Only one week to go to publication of The Amber Crown, and there’s still so much to do. I’ve been writing blog posts for John Scalzi’s Big Idea, and Chuck Wendig’s blog, plus a piece for Jean Book Nerd, Paul … Continue reading

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Books Read in 2021

With the year drawing to a close, here’s my list of books read in 2021. There are 73 in total, including re-reading a couple of my own. I’d like to give a quick shout-out to T Kingfisher/Ursula Vernon, particularly for … Continue reading

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Countdown to The Amber Crown – Three Weeks to Go!

The Amber Crown is out on 11th January and TODAY my author copies arrived. Whoo-hoo. I have so many people to thank for this book. I only wrote it. Luckily I get the opportunity to name names in the book’s … Continue reading

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Countdown to The Amber Crown

It’s here is just four weeks! Published by DAW on 11th January 2022 my seventh book is already getting some good reviews/previews, and I’m revving up to do a blog tour. It’s available in Trade Paperback or e-edition, with the … Continue reading

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Winston Graham: Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall 1783 – 1787

I’m not sure why it’s taken me the best part of forty years and two TV dramatisations to read this book. Perhaps because it was written in the 1940s I assumed the prose style would be a little stodgy, but … Continue reading

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Sorry I missed…

I missed last week’s blog post – mainly because I was engrossed in editing, so engrossed that Tuesday came and went without me really noticing what day it was. I’ve worked from home since 1980, so you’d think I’d have … Continue reading

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Terry Pratchett: Dodger – For Your Reading Pleasure

I’m a big fan of Pratchett’s discworld and although this book is set in London in the early years of Victoria’s reign, the feeling is very Ankh-Morporkian, or maybe that should be that Ankh Morpork is very much based on … Continue reading

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Sherwood Smith – Rondo Allegro – For Your Reading Pleasure

I’ve always enjoyed reading Sherwood Smith’s fantasies, in particular the Inda sequence, and I just realised there are more books in her bibliography that I misse4d, so I can see I’m going to have to spend some time catching up. … Continue reading

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Cover Reveal: The Amber Crown

At last I’m allowed to show you the cover of my upcoming book, The Amber Crown. It’s not out until 11th January 2022, but that will be here before you know it. It’s available to pre-order from Amazon and other … Continue reading

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Researching Historical Fantasy

The first scene of Winterwood came to me almost fully formed. I knew there was a young woman paying a deathbed visit to her estranged mother and finding that there was still no forgiveness between them. I knew the young … Continue reading

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What have I learned about writing?

Writing is a funny old business. Writers probably learn most by reading. You are what you read. Reading develops your ear for tight prose and snappy dialogue. Without even thinking about it, you learn about character and plot. The difficulty … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Chadwick: Shadows and Strongholds – For your reading pleasure

The story of Fulke (known as Brunin) FitzWarin and Hawise de Dinan from the time Brunin is taken into the de Dinan household (Ludlow Castle) as a ten year old squire, at the request of his father who wants the … Continue reading

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Scene 1 of Winterwood – author analysis

This was first written for Tiffani Angus’ blog. Tiff teaches creative writing and publishing. Story interspersed with my comments in bold italic. This first scene pretty much sprang into my mind fully formed. When I started to write I didn’t … Continue reading

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Anne Lyle: Night’s Masque Trilogy – for your reading pleasure

Published by Angry Robot, The Alchemist of Souls, Merchant of Dreams, and The Prince of Lies are the three books in Anne Lyle’s Night’s Mask Trilogy, set in Elizabethan London with (kind of) aliens. Queen Elizabeth has married, produced heirs … Continue reading

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Books etc. for Christmas

2020 has not been the year it was supposed to be. (Not fit for purpose. Can I get a refund?) I didn’t get anywhere as much writing done as I could have, but I read, and re-read an awful lot. … Continue reading

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What I learned about Tallinn that I couldn’t have found out from a guidebook.

I was supposed to be going to the World Science Fiction Convention in New Zealand this year, a country I’ve never been to, even though I visited Ausralia in 2000. Australia and NZ look conveniently close when viewed on a … Continue reading

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Georgette Heyer: The Toll Gate for your reading pleasure

Everyone has their favourite Heyer. This is one of mine. When Crazy Jack Staple, lately of Wellington’s army returns to civilian life after the defeat of Napoleon, he finds that there’s not much to satisfy the adrenaline junkie he’s become, … Continue reading

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