Fantasy Cartography, Part 2

Fantasy cartography is like playing SimCity; first you create and then you take an almost gleeful joy in the destruction before rebuilding from the ashes.

Fantasy Cartography for Writers (part 1)

Fantasy cartography isn’t new, of course, from Lord of the Rings to Throne of the Crescent Moon, maps help readers to connect with the universe, to make unfamiliar locales a little more familiar. It’s always fun when there’s a heroic journey involved, be it a quest to dump a shiny bracelet in fiery nastiness or running from doom.

The Numinous World of Jo Graham

Historical fiction is not my thing and neither is historical fantasy but, then Jo Graham’s books are not simply tales set in ancient times, they’re something more. I first came across her debut novel, a retelling of the Aeneid called Black Ships that Orbit kindly sent me to take a peak at several years ago. I remember […]

The New Doctor and the Spin Behind It

The BBC is a weird organisation. The night after the first episode of the first series of Doctor Who aired, their news site broke the news that Christopher Ecclestone was leaving at the end of the series. Earlier this year they ran a story confirming Matt Smith would be sticking around for season eight in […]

Self-publishing – Four Months In

I pushed the ‘publish’ button on my first e-book way back in March. Other e-books followed in June and since then I’ve branched out from Kindle into iBooks and also the Kobo with the Nook to follow as soon as I figure out how. The first time you publish a book, regardless of whom its […]

An Interview with Hugh Howey

Hugh Howey wasn’t a name many were familiar with until his self-published book Wool went viral. Now on the best-seller charts across the planet, we sit down to find out what’s next for the Silo and find out how Hugh Howey’s writes and what he thinks of his success. Lesley Smith for Amazing Stories: So Hugh, what […]

Camp NaNoWriMo: Doing the Prepwork

On Monday, the last Camp NaNoWriMo of 2013 begins. You’ll have thirty days … okay and maybe one extra … to write something awesome. I’m on holiday but wanted leave some words of wisdom for those planning on joining me on the summer’s biggest novel-writing adventure. It’s not about the words. Camp is a lot more chilled […]

Haunted by Demons

Da Vinci’s Demons has been the unexpected highlight of the last three months. The life of one Leonardo da Vinci given a mysterious new age spin which turns an already fascinating historical concept into compelling TV. Though only eight episodes, there’s a compelling cast: Julian Bashir from DS9, Casanova’s sidekick, Sherlock’s Woman, Daddy Boleyn from […]

Game of Thrones and the Curse of the Ninth Episode

Traditionally, episode 9 of Game of Thrones has been The Big One. Something HUGE happens which has been building up for an entire season and so it is looked forward to by all with glee, mirth and a lingering sense of dread. In season one, it was Ned Stark’s head being sliced from his body, […]

Muse Ridden

As I write this, it’s bank holiday in the UK and Memorial Day in the US. The sun is out and – against all the odds – summer is actually here. So what’s a writer to do but write?    I’ve been working on a project since winning Camp NaNoWriMo the First in April, originally […]

So Who is the Doctor?

I must admit, I’ve not been so excited about a season finale in a longtime. Most of the time, I’m not worried about how a series will end but how I’m going to cope until the next on starts. Still, if series like Game of Thrones has taught me anything, it’s patience. Also that dragons […]

Star Trek Into Darkness: Review

Let’s talk about Star Trek. Actually, before we do that, let me first lay out my biases: I’m a minor trekkie, having grown up with The Next Generation and the various movies. The 2009 reboot ranks as my favourite of the films, excluding The Wrath of Khan which cannot be matched in its awesomeness. However […]

World War Z: The Complete Edition Review

Being visually impaired, I love audiobooks and one of the first ones I listened to via Audible was the abridged version of World War Z, Max Brooks’ oral history of the zombie war. I loved the book and I loved the full-cast recording even more but one thing bugged me: the recording was abridged and […]

Camp NaNoWriMo the First (2013): Lessons Learned

In just under thirty days I have written over sixty thousand words on two projects and started a third. This is a personal best for me but proves that if you put your mind to something anything is possible. I’m not saying it’s easy, much less something which can be left to the last minute […]

The Rising Tide of Alien Languages

Be warned, this post contains spoilers for this week’s Game of Thrones episode “And Now His Watch is Ended”. This morning I sat and watched Daenerys Stormborn finally grow up as she unleashed hell upon Astapor and revealed that she speaks fluent Valyrian, the language of the city’s Masters. This is, of course, no surprise […]

NaNoWriMo Woes

After last week, I talked about the whole process of writing and winning National Novel Writing Month – or in this case, it’s summer camp incarnation. You have thirty days to write a fifty thousand word novel. To give some clarity, the SFWA defines a novel as being longer than 40k but most adult novels […]

So How Do You Write a Novel in 30 Days?

National Novel Writing Month (more traditionally held in November and known as NaNoWriMo) starts early this year. The idea is simple: you write a 50k novel in thirty days. It sounds so easy doesn’t it? Just write 1667 words a day for thirty days. This year there are three NaNoWriMos, two ‘summer camps’ (held in […]

Great TV Series Are Like Buses … Two Come Along at Once

This weekend has been all about TV; on Saturday night we had the return of the Doctor but also the high fantasy epic Game of Thrones. I can’t remember the last time I looked forward to two hours of awesome television. The return of the Last of the Time Lords is always fun, particularly with […]

Self Publishing for Beginners

This week I became an author. After reading about Hugh Howey, I was inspired to collect the three installments of The Carrion Files into an e-book which I then put on Amazon (as part of the Kindle  Digital Publishing Select program). It started with a desire to actually get the story out there, in a […]

Transparency, Wool and the Future of Indie Publishing

 This week, I started listening to the Wool Omnibus, the audiobook of Hugh Howey’s infamous cult bestseller. I noticed the book a month ago in my local Waterstone’s but it was only this week that I connected the dots thanks to a tide of publicity to coincide with the US print release. The story itself […]

The Good and Bad Sides of Digital Minimalism

I strive to be a minimalist, that is, someone who has few physical possessions. For a geek and an Aspie with OCE, this scenario is fraught with problems. For example it’s taken me a good year to realise that limited/collector’s editions are seldom worth the price attached to them. The last collector’s edition computer game […]

Gaming: It’s All About the Story

I’m excited; the sun is out, spring is here and March brings a slew of video games to various different consoles including Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider, both of which I’m dying to play. Tomb Raider … ah Lara’s adventures have always held a special place in my heart, mainly because it was one of […]

Serial Fiction for Beginners

Serial fiction is old school and the best examples I can think of is probably comic strips, soap operas and the black and white episodes of Flash Gordon, Doctor Who and Lost in Space that I never watched as a kid. The first time I came across serial fiction was The Green Mile in 1996. […]

Walking unto Death

I’ve never read The Walking Dead but I love the TV show and watch it religiously every Monday morning. Series one enthralled me because of the likeable characters who unfailingly seemed to die just as I’d figured out their names. It seemed through the first two and a half seasons that anyone bar Rick was […]

Being Human

Being Human is a fascinating TV show, originating in a time before Twilight became all the rage and posing an interesting question: what if your neighbours weren’t human? We all wonder what our neighbours get up to behind closed doors but what if they were hiding something supernatural? The pilot, originally broadcast on BBC Three […]

Blind Geek For Beginners

Folks who read my author bio will have realized I lead an interesting life or that I have a passion for Starbucks. No wait, that wasn’t it. Yes, you will have noticed that I’m something of a hardcore gamer and that I’m visually impaired. Granted, the latter does make my chosen love of all things geeky a […]

Life on the Fringe

Fringe finished it’s five year run the ot her night and I am grieving it’s loss. At the same time though, as I watched the two hour finale, I was left with a deep sense of closure and satisfaction which you seldom find when shows finish. These days, most good TV shows seem to be canceled […]