Confederation Reborn #5: Fool’s Gambit is OUT NOW!

When Bernard Schaffer announced the Confederation Reborn project, he asked for individual takes on the concept. My good friend (and Sussex neighbor) Simon John Cox went to work on his own vision, entitled Fool’s Gambit. I read the very first version, before even Bernard had a chance to get hold of it, and loved it straight away. Bernard and Simon worked their magic with it, and I read the final draft. I was blown away by the fact that between the two of them, they had taken Simon’s initial story and achieved the impossible – they’d made it even better!

I seriously can’t wait to read the next installment from Simon and Bernard – and I had great fun putting the cover together.

Fool's Gambit with ART

Fool’s Gambit is available now by CLICKING HERE and please consider leaving a review!

My entry in Mark Lawrence’s Flash Fiction contest

It had to include the words liar and key. This is set in the The Fallen Crown series. Enjoy!

(For details  of the competition, in which you could win an ARC of his latest novel, The Liar’s Key, head on over to

* * *

The Noose


Muriel Bonnet smiled. “I can’t. It’s just my style, you know? My mystique.”

“No, tell me,” Rowan said, prodding the fire with a stick. “How did you know?”

“Look, if I explained every trick I employ, where would the mystery be?”

Rowan mumbled something about being unfair and continued to push at the fire.

Muriel looked up. The night sky was so clear she could watch the smoke from the fire rise up in to the stars. She sighed. “Alright. But only because we’ve got three hard days of travel to Bredge and I can’t stand you having a face like a smacked arse the whole way.”

“Oh?” Rowan looked up, hopeful. “Go on then . . .”

“I knew Lord Kirt’s servant would betray him because when you’re dealing with a chronic liar, the key to playing them at their own game, is simply in getting them to tell the truth.”

Rowan frowned. “I don’t get it. You’re telling me you exposed the servant by . . . provoking him to tell the truth?”

“That’s it. His whole charade was a lie. All of it. The moment I got him to talk about his past, about how he’d come to work for Lord Kirt in the first place, I knew I had him. It was the most truthful thing out of his mouth, because it revealed his true intentions.”

“Murder,” Rowan said with a delicious grin, savouring the word. “The oldest story in the book.”

“That and revenge,” Muriel said. She lay back, dark face lit by the fire, eyes burning bright. “The servant hanged but, the truth of it is, sometimes a man hangs himself through his own near-sightedness. You only have to show him the rope. Do that and he’ll tie his own knot.”

Writer’s Exercise: 7 Things About Me

7 Things About Me

Thanks to the members of The Dragon’s Rocketship for the generic invite to this.

Here’s seven things you don’t know about me. I didn’t plan them out, they’re what came to me first. That fact probably says more about me than anything else.


I tried to write throughout my teens, but couldn’t get past a few thousand words at a time. Then about four years ago I just sat down and started writing for real. I haven’t stopped since, and earnings from self-publishing are now my primary source of income (the day job takes second place).


I was born 1985, left high school in 2001, went to college where I studied English and Photography, before starting full-time work in retail in 2005. This year marks my tenth year in food retail – and all going well, I hope to make it my last. But you know what? The reality is I’ll probably be saying that next year!


I met my lovely wife in 2007, we were married and had our first daughter, Leah, in 2008. Freya followed in 2010, and Olivia in 2012. As of this writing (4th March, 2015) we are expecting our fourth child in July.


I am the oldest of eight children – three boys, five girls. My brother Danny, the second-oldest, died when he was less than a year old and spent his short life entirely in the hospital. Of course, I was the only one of my siblings to meet him and spend some time with him – these are hazy memories I cherish above all else. There’s not a single day I don’t think about Danny.


My favourite scifi writer is Arthur C. Clarke. He gets flack for having workmanlike prose, but I find so many beautiful flourishes in his work. For an example of this, see his prologue to 3001: The Final Odyssey. For Fantasy it has to be Joe Abercrombie, for the humour in his work and the way he can tell epic fantasy in an edgy, modern way. The best horror writer? It’s got to be King Prime. By that I mean anything he wrote up to Misery. I just don’t think the rest of his work has the same tightness to it, though I do hold some regard for Bag of Bones, and I think his Dark Tower series has to be taken as a separate work altogether. All of this being said about genre writers, the most powerful book I’ve ever read has to be Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. The most moving, The Time Travellers Wife. A work of pure brilliance is The Cider House Rules by John Irving. That said, A Prayer for Owen Meany is also very, very good . . .


My movie tastes are so wide I’d be here all day listing titles. I like the classics, I like big movies with grand sweeps, I like small indies. Gross-out comedies, rom-coms. Whatever. I do not like Colin Farrell, though. And I can’t watch Jason Statham. In anything. Probably why I haven’t watched The Expendables yet. The Deer Hunter reduces me to a bawling wreck every single time I watch it. It’s the sort of film I think would make a great novel. I actually sought out the adaptation of it some years ago, hoping it would be brilliant. You won’t be surprised to hear that it was fucking awful.


When I’m writing an action scene, I listen to something fast and racy. Loud. When I’m picking my way through a chapter, finding the rhythm, my weapon of choice is Springsteen. No matter what I listen to, I always come back to the Boss. If you’re not appreciating the music, you’re appreciating the lyrics and the story he’s telling. I rarely listen to soundtracks when writing. Or classical, though I really like classical music. There’s nothing better than starting a new book and hearing Bruce relate the tale of Thunder Road to you for the hundredth time . . .

FREE Far From Home Event: This Saturday, Sunday & Monday

Outland (Far From Home 17) comes out Monday 2nd of March, so to celebrate that fact, I’ve made several Far From Home titles free this whole weekend, and the day of release.

Up for grabs, starting this saturday:



Click Here to Purchase – US

Click Here to Purchase – UK

Click Here to Purchase – CA

Far From Home Series 2

Far From Home: The Complete Second Series

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – US

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – UK

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – CA

S3 16


Click Here to Purchase for FREE – US

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – UK

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – CA

The Broken Stars Book 1 Cover Blank

Age of Destiny

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – US

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – UK

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – CA

When The Guns Come Out

When The Guns Come Out

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – US

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – UK

Click Here to Purchase for FREE – CA

The lyrics to ‘Broken Road’ by The Thunder Kings (1978)

Broken Road (1978)

I remember that night, when we met

The broken road where the lights were bright

Stay your fear, sweetheart, don’t you fret

I’ll come on over, rescue you tonight


This muscle car, with its sleek black lines

In the lonely hours, it’s all I got

Girl, you’re in my thoughts all of the time

Let me save you, baby, give me a shot


I know I’m not the safest bet in town

And I know I threw it all away

But on this busted street we’ve got half a chance

Run all night until the break of day


Girl, don’t let the hurt stay unspoken

Release your heart, baby, we can fly

To where the road ain’t broken yet

Hand in hand together we can try


Come with me, into the night

Let us take this leap of faith together

Take the leap, we can own the night

We’ll be each other’s wings forever and ever


Girl, with me your spirit’s woken

Release your heart, baby, we can fly

To where the road ain’t broken yet

Hand in hand together


Together we can try

What Is “A Book” Anyway?

Completely inspired by Devin Faraci’s EXCELLENT article at BadAssDigest – in which he ponders the definition of what exactly a “movie” is in this age of Netflix, Amazon Prime, DTV and TV Episodes getting big screen presentation –  here’s my thoughts on the state of books as I see it.

Many of you know me from my own writing (I have to assume that’s why you’re even bothering to read this) and that I’m a staunch supporter of independent publishing. That is, not merely self-publishers, which makes us sound like DIY hacks. We are independent – we do it OUR way and are not reliant on the support and clout of a traditional publisher. Some of us, myself included, are doing alright by publishing independently. I call that success. If your writing is paying the majority of your bills, where I’m from that’s success.

In his article, Devin raises an interesting point as to what a movie really is. The lines have become increasingly blurred. Like him, I remember when you had TV and the Movies. Those two were very distinct. Then you had TV, Movies and Web Content. Again, my experience here is exactly the same as his.

Now it’s different.

In my own home, I can think of multiple ways of getting content. Netflix, Sky On Demand, Youtube, Satelite TV, Bluray, DVD. Netflix offers entire series in one hit. I couldn’t have watched Breaking Bad if I’d had to wait for every episode to air. I binge watched the entire series from start to finish. Sky On Demand offers the same experience (we recently watched all there was of The Blacklist and are now enjoying the sort-of-trashy-but-good Revenge using the service). I also recently sat through True Detective, and I think that show serves as an excellent example of what Devin is talking about.

It’s essentially an 8 hour movie. It’s an anthology show, meaning that each season will feature a new story, a new locale and array of characters. So each season you’re getting a COMPLETE story. It’s long-form storytelling at its very best. I watched the first 4 hours over a couple of days. The last 4 hours I watched in one blast because it had me hooked.

And there’s Devin’s other point – can you call something a “series” if it’s available in one hit? Does that then make it a movie?

There’s a definite correlation between the state of visual media and that of “books” in my opinion. In an age where there’s no fixed page count when it comes to e-books, I don’t think the old system of classifying a work as a short story, novella or novel really counts anymore. I’ve noticed that Amazon have moved away from such descriptors too.

Short works that would have normally been thrown in the short story or novella category are now arranged by how long it will take someone to read them. Amazon’s Short Reads on Kindle are arranged in categories of 15, 30, 45 minutes, 1 hour, 90 minutes, and 2 hours or more.

So there’s that. And here’s another thing to think about – when you publish a work as a serial, as I’ve done in the past, it may only be novella length but you have no choice but to list it as Book # of your series.

For instance, some of my Far From Home titles are no more than 15,000 words long, yet are listed as Book # in the series. This is misleading if you think of a “book” simply as a novel, because you’re expecting 200+ pages. But if you consider a Kindle book as something that has no physical form (let’s forget about paperback editions for now) then what truly defines a book? If it has a beginning, a middle and an end, is it not a complete book in its own right?

If you’re writing serialized fiction, you have to ensure that not only do you have a beginning, middle and end, but that you also have enough of a hook to ensure readers will return for the next installment. Even if it’s only 100 pages long, I would argue each of these installments are books simply because they offer everything you get in a novel, including in most cases the same complexity in character development and plot lines.

Another point to make is that I understand why Amazon has chosen to stick with listing series titles as books. You can’t really have Episodes because it’s too close to what you find on TV. You could have Parts but that’d be confusing in the long run. To ensure series titles are navigable, they’ve stuck with calling each part, whether it’s 50 pages or 500, Books. Again, this doesn’t help in preventing readers from expecting a “book” in the old-school classification of the word, but it does ensure your readers can finish book 2 and find book 3 easily. In short, it makes good business sense.

Traditional Publishers are stuck in the old system of accepting Fantasy novels that are between 120-150,000 words, for example. They won’t consider anything under 50,000, that’s for sure. But the fact of the matter is, if your novel comes out at 50,000 words and it really doesn’t need another 70,000 words added to it, what’s the issue? As writers our work is coming out at the length it is, whatever the case may be.  And we are publishing it at that length because, when all is said and done, the page count no longer means what it used to mean. It’s still a gauge for readers as to how long it will take to read (see the Short Read categories above) but it’s not a mark of quality.

Later this year I will return to serialized fiction (can’t reveal the plot details yet, sorry) and I’ll be writing them whatever length I like. I will aim for a minimum of 10,000 words, but if they only come out at 15,000 words I’m not sweating it. The one after that might be 25,000. It no longer matters. The word “book” doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

When I publish them, each installment will be a “book” which will eventually get collected into an omnibus.

A book is just a written work. It might be read over 6 hours. It might be read in 90 minutes. But it no longer needs to be a “novel” in the traditional sense to qualify as a “book” anymore. Writers and Readers will argue about this for years to come, until we reach the point where the argument no longer matter.

However I think there’s something we can all agree on: a book should definitely blow your socks off, regardless of how long it is. That will never cease to matter.

Review: The War Of Alien Aggression

I was going to write a review of each individual part of A.D. Bloom’s The War Of Alien Aggression but as I read through it, I couldn’t stop to reflect on each part. I had to motor to the end, find out how it finished.
I wasn’t dissapointed. Bloom exceeds expectations in delivering humour, great character moments (you really come to like and enjoy spending time with these people), hardcore action and more than a little actual science thrown in for good measure. I am pleased to say that I eagerly await the continuation of A.D. Bloom’s truly stellar new SF series.
For fans of Far From Home, The Synchronicity War and Confederation Reborn, The War Of Alien Aggression is the next, great SF adventure you’ve been waiting for!

You can purchase the whole set, as I did, by clicking HERE for the US and HERE for the UK