Tuesday 29 June 2021

The Untamed Squeee Post

The hair... oh my GOD, the hair.

I've just finished the final episode of The Untamed, and this is an unbridled squee post of pure joy. It was absolutely brilliant. I have to admit, I really don't know what to do with my life now. Going to miss this a lot. Is there a support network, rehab centre or something? Sure, it was fifty hours long, but it could have done with another twenty or so.

Just so much fun.

Kind of crap that they had to censor it because of repressive government stuff, which is undeniably ridiculous in this day and age, but the actors were amazing and did such a good job of getting the emotion across (or, like, no emotion at all in Yibo's case).

It's currently trending at nine stars on IMDB, which is really good going, and totally deserved. I think at least five of those stars are entirely for hair...

So, this is just a fun post bowing down to all the silly shit on YouTube and the wonderful fan art. 

It's currently showing on Netflix at the moment, but if you don't have that, the whole thing is also on YouTube. Just be advised that the first couple of hours are pretty confusing and you won't understand what's going on until much later. Just let the first few episodes wash over you. Once they reach Cloud Recesses it'll all start to fall into place.

So, on with the show. I'm loving the fan mashups. Example below. Best example ever at 5:00.

Thinking this should probably be the new official trailer:

More silly fun here and here (and no, I don't think Jiang Cheng is pissed off at him for being gay either, it's all the (many) other things, but it is still funny - the recorder music cracks me up every time).

On to sumptuous fan art. Almost all of these were on Pinterest and if you right-click using Chrome you can image search them to find original sources.



Sadly, not enough of the Ghost General and Lady Wen. More needed!

Also, we must not forget to worship the Tortoise of Slaughter...

The coolest contacts ever known to man...

And, just, being a boss...

Totally and completely loved this series. Up there with Hotel del Luna. I watch a lot of Korean series, but this was my first C-drama (Chinese drama). My friend says I need to watch Word of Honour next, but I'm taking a moment. I really am going to miss these guys. 

Desperate to get the novel on Audible, but there's no English version yet. The moment that comes out, I'm all in. 

Boooo to censorship! But yay, so much yay, for making this! 

Friday 25 June 2021

Gill's Blog Interview


As I've mentioned before, I have a short story out later in the year with Bridge House Publishing. 

Ahead of that, I've just done a little interview with their CEO, Gill James.

You can read the interview here and you can find Gill on her website and Twitter.

Saturday 19 June 2021

Akkad at 125k + 400 Pages

Yikes, finally made it to 125,000 words on Akkad. That's just over 400 pages of double-spaced TNR 12pt. You may have noticed I've slowed down a bit. After a very productive couple of weeks, I wrote myself into a corner during a battle scene, and it's taken several days to figure out how to get out of it. 

On the move again now, marching towards Uruk to take down Lugal Zage-Si. 

I must admit, I do not enjoy writing battles very much. I either feel like I haven't thought it through carefully enough or that I've thought it through too carefully. But I think I'm managing to keep the pace rolling on this lengthy campaign. Sargon was a sort of Alexander the Great character of his day, so he covered a lot of ground. 

I feel there's still quite a bit left to go and the word count did worry me a little as it's now the longest book I've ever written, but then I look at George R. R. Martin's wordcount and I feel totally fine again. His Song of Ice and Fire books ranged between 293,000-415,000 words (rounded). 

I know that editing this is going to be seriously tough. Without blowing my own trumpet, most of my previous books came in without too much editing required. Even Children of Lir (120,000) was pretty well formed. But this one is going to be utterly crazy. Usually my edits drop the word count, but I think there's quite a bit of detail and a little extra research to add here, and some scenes to insert to make sure the whole thing feels like it was well conceived from the beginning - which it absolutely wasn't. That wonderful Neil Gaiman quote: the second draft is the step in the process where you make it look like you knew what you were doing in the first draft.

I must admit, I am looking forward to it, though. Mostly, I do enjoy editing, because it means the hard part is over. I know editing isn't easy, but it's not as difficult to be creative when you have material to work with. Filling up that blank page in the first place is way harder. 

So, plodding along.

See how it all turns out.

Friday 18 June 2021

Writing101 Free Writing Course

I'm currently in the process of putting together a free writing course, based on my university lectures. It includes foundation units on descriptive writing, literary perspective, character development, writing dialogue, worldbuilding, biographical writing, and useful tips on laying out your manuscript for submission and improving English grammar. You can find the course here, on my website. If there are additional units you think I should add, please do let me know. The course is completely free, but there is also a paid option in some of the units to receive personalised feedback on your work.

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Advice for Entering Writing Competitions

I have a story coming out later in the year with Bridge House Publishing. I started entering short story competitions again this year after a long hiatus, and I've really enjoyed it and had some success. Bridge House sent some feedback to writers after the competition closed, so I thought I'd break it down and add my own tuppence worth. Just a few tips and tricks to give yourself a better chance of success.

Sunday 13 June 2021


I picked this up recently. It's one of the rare occasions an author has tweeted me suggesting I check out their book for free, and I've done so. I was in the mood for a set of short stories and I liked the title. 

A bolt of lightning. A crack of thunder. The lingering smell of ozone in the highly-charged air.

And the world has changed forever.

Welcome to Thunderlands. It looks the same on the surface, but there's just a hint that all might not be what it seems beneath. Even the most ordinary things may be just a touch off kilter.

Stewart Bint’s collection of 21 short stories ranges from the sublime, through powerful, puzzling, funny, horrific and different, to the unforgivably ridiculous.

The Kindle edition was free that day, but I noticed there was also an Audible version for only £2.99, so I bought that. It's quite unusual to find people giving away free ebooks that also have an audiobook version.

The stories were entertaining, and most of them very short, though there was one in there about a stamp collector, Money to Burn, that was probably the best piece of flash fiction I've ever read. It was so clever and so horrifying at the same time. One of those little gems that sticks with you and you find yourself still thinking about a few weeks later. 

Now, I'd always thought of Santa Clause as a kindly old man who loved children. So, it came as a shock to find he was appearing in court, and the charges fair made me gasp. Cruelty to children, they were. Who'd have believed it?

An easy listen, and some interesting ideas. He's very good at changing perspective, so you think you understand what's happening and then you realise you don't. One moment you're looking at a steam train, the next at a model railway. Nicely done. 

Friday 11 June 2021

The Android's Dream


I picked this up for kicks as it sounded fun:

A human diplomat creates an interstellar incident when he kills an alien diplomat in a most . . . unusual . . . way. To avoid war, Earth's government must find an equally unusual object: a type of sheep ("The Android's Dream"), used in the alien race's coronation ceremony.

To find the sheep, the government turns to Harry Creek, ex-cop, war hero and hacker extraordinaire, who, with the help of a childhood friend turned artificial intelligence, scours the earth looking for the rare creature.

But there are others with plans for the sheep as well. Mercenaries employed by the military. Adherents of a secret religion based on the writings of a 21st century SF author. And alien races, eager to start a revolution on their home world and a war on Earth.

To keep our planet from being enslaved, Harry will have to pull off a grand diplomatic coup, a gambit that will take him from the halls of power to the lava-strewn battlefields of alien worlds. There's only one chance to get it right, to save the life of the sheep―and to protect the future of humanity.

Absolutely loved it. The wackiness of Yahtzee Croshaw's Jam with a definite dose of Douglas Adams. Space Opera at its very best, and narrated, incredibly well, by Wil Wheaton.

A joyous romp through the great beyond, with aliens who communicate through farting, another species whose pregnant females are banned from earth due to an extremely gooey and carnivorous procreation cycle, and a species of sheep with electric-blue wool.  However, the character of Narf-win-Getag did appear in my brain looking exactly like Lrrr from Futerama, and refused to morph into anything else for the duration of the book.

It was all-round delightful crazy:

[The Church of the Evolved Lamb] preferred not to be noticed whenever possible and remained small both by selective inclination of its members and by the fact that it takes a certain sort of person to want to join a church based on the desperate manoeuvres of a second-rate science fiction writer.

Archie looked over to Acuna, whose face was a dangerous shade of blank.

There were no CC nations with more than one sentient species. In a world with more than one sentient species, one species would wipe out the other, or others, long before it developed starfaring technology. No exceptions ever recorded.

Every space-going cruiseliner with a promenade deck registered for service by the UNE had to be able to lock down the entire deck at least, and preferably the deck in sections, to ensure a hull breach on the promenade deck did not threaten the integrity of the entire ship or expose any more passengers than absolutely necessary to the risk of having their blood boil into nothingness as they unexpectedly toured the cosmos without a ship.

Really clever and entertaining. Highly recommend, and John Scalzi appears to have an interesting blog.

Thursday 3 June 2021

The Panda, the Cat and the Dreadful Teddy

Wonderful news from the lovely Paul Magrs. He has a new gorgeous-enough-to-lick book out, a collection of his writing and art, featuring the legendary Art Critic Panda:

My news is out! I was waiting for the Bookseller to announce it, but it's up for order everywhere with the cover now, so I guess the story is out...! 

Panda and his friends are on their way! Harper Collins are bringing out a hardback book of my Panda cartoons this September…!  You can pre-order right now...! Please do go and buy it for everyone! x 


Enter the world of me, Panda, plus my sometime-friends Cat and Teddy. You will find us living our best lives, trying (and occasionally succeeding) to be kind to each other. The cat is quite nice but can be a little bit selfish. Teddy can come across as very nice, with his squeaky voice and looking so tiny and helpless. But I must warn you, Teddy can be a vicious little backstabber, actually.

This is a book of nice illustrations and some words from which you will likely gain some sort of inspiration. Like:

‘Just because you’re struggling, it doesn’t mean you’re failing… But it might do.’

‘Nothing beats kindness,’ said the cat. ‘Gin does’, said Panda.

‘If you don’t stop saying inspirational things to me, I’m going to punch you up the hooter.’

‘You OK, hun?’ asked Panda, but he was just taking the piss.

‘We’re just so, so lucky to have each other as friends, and it’s going to make a marvellous book.’

Get your copy now.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Akkad at 120k

High five. Made it to 120,000. though, I said before, that makes it the longest novel I've ever written - I was wrong. I thought Children of Lir was around 119,000 but it's actually 123,000. So... it will soon be the longest, in another 3,000 words or so. 

And there is so much more left to write. I said earlier on I was thinking it'll probably be around 140k. I reckon now more like 140-60k. It's going to be a decent-sized doorstop. I know wordcount counts for very little, but it is kind of nice to know I can stay the distance.

This gives me hope...

I can see the end in sight. I've just fought a campaign all the way down from Akkad to the walls of Ummer, and once that city's taken, it's on to Uruk, which spells endgame for Lugal Zage-Si. Although, this being historical fiction, his fate was all sealed up thousands of years ago. Oh, well. 

It is kind of incredible that Sargon managed all this. When you really start to look at the logistics, it's pretty amazing. Watching documentaries on things like the Battle of Gaugamela have really helped, though I can't seem to find how long that battle lasted? There's some really interesting research on the length of battles here. I was thinking days, but for an army of 30-40,000, which is probably what I'm working with (still figuring out the specifics), the average was more around four-and-a-half hours. I love people who get that detailed about niche trivia. Their time and effort is a treasure trove for writers. 

Anyway, on to Umma!