Thursday 29 March 2018

UK2 is live! #NewRelease #Dystopian #FridayReads


Find it on Amazon and on Goodreads.

(Books #1 & 2 on special offer for one week ~ see below)

Tipping Point , Book #1, is now at the permanently low price of 99p (Amazon UK)

 Lindisfarne, Book #2, is on sale at 99p/99c 
from March 31st ~ April 6th


'Two decades of social media had prepared them well for UK2.' 

The pace steps up in this final instalment of the Project Renova trilogy, as the survivors' way of life comes under threat.

Two years after the viral outbreak, representatives from UK Central arrive at Lindisfarne to tell the islanders about the shiny new city being created down south.  UK2 governor Verlander's plan is simple: all independent communities are to be dissolved, their inhabitants to reside in approved colonies.  Alas, those who relocate soon suspect that the promises of a bright tomorrow are nothing but smoke and mirrors, as great opportunities turn into broken dreams, and dangerous journeys provide the only hope of freedom.

Meanwhile, far away in the southern hemisphere, a new terror is gathering momentum...

'I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows.  I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man.  I was free, at last.'


Although this is the promised end of the trilogy, I haven't finished with all these characters and this world yet.  There will be more!  There are some side stories I want to write, and I'm planning another novel set far into the future, too.

Monday 26 March 2018

Review: DO NOT SEND US ASTRAY #TheWalkingDead S8:13 #TWDFamily

Last week: Review: The Key

This was an old-school episode!  It reminded us how terrifying and dangerous the Walkers still are, especially when newly-turned.  It's all too easy, these days, to think, 'Look, there's another one, yep, Michonne's decapitated it without breaking her stride', but in S8:13 we saw them back in all their gruesome glory, starting off with dear Tobin, who I really liked, and who I was just thinking looked 100% more attractive with a beard.  Carol having to put him down was too, too sad.  I should have known that the soul-searching conversation could only be followed by death....

😭 😭😭😭😭

Now, Morgan ~ is the fighting getting too much for him, and is he starting to lose it or just temporarily doing a Rick?  Ghost Gavin reminds him of all the nutty stuff he used to write on walls/stones in his pre-Eastman/aikido days.  'You know what it is', 'You were supposed to' (kill his zombie wife's brain before she sank her jaws into his son), etc, but is Morgan seeing Gavin, who was fairly decent as Saviours go, because he feels bad about him being killed, in particular?  Is it a Ghost Shane situation, like in S3:8 Made To Suffer?

Ghost Shane, who grew both hair and beard after his death

Maybe the apparition will help Morgan make the right decision somewhere along the line, like Ghost Lori silently did for Rick in the fabulous S3:15 This Sorrowful LifeOr maybe Morgan's just losing it....

"Do not sacrifice Michonne to The Governor.  One day she will feed you raw turnips.  But even they will be better than my Sunday morning pancakes."

Thinking about it, I wonder if the main reason for the drop off in viewing figures of Seasons 7 & 8 is the lack of variation in the storyline.  Yes, it comes from from many angles (and I love how this is done, seeing all the different points of view; it makes the whole thing so much more interesting and rounded out), but two whole seasons have been centred around one thing: the Saviours war.  Compare it to S6, when there was the quarry, the Wolves, the first Saviours threats, the discovery of the Hilltop.  Or S4: the virus in the prison, the return of the governor, all the different stories on the road, and finally Terminus.  S5: escaping Terminus, finding Gabriel, defeating Gareth & co, the road to Washington (!), Beth and the hospital, Noah and Tyreese's death, and finally Alexandria.  But I still love it, whatever! 😉

Anyway, back to the terrific moments of this episode, of which there were many, starting with the arrival of Daryl:

...and that long, eerie silence when the Hilltop went dark.  Really good suspense stuff, loved it.  Well done, battle strategist Maggie!  When the Saviours left I was thinking, finally, a win for the good guys ~ surely this is starting to even up the numbers by now?  But then the wounded awoke, and feasted on those sorghum farmers.  Then again, maybe the formerly imprisoned Saviours (Evil Jared excepted) will come out on our side?  As Alden the Friendly Saviour (who it seems I misjudged in previous posts) said, they now know how little their lives mean to Negan and Simon.  

Simon, may your words come back to haunt you..... and your boss won't be pleased.  People are a resource, remember? 

As for Our Fearless Leader, I totally get why he can hardly even look at Siddiq.  It will be a long time before I give a stuff if he lives or dies, and I imagine Rick feels the same.  

Best dialogue award goes to the conversation between Tara and Daryl, with Daryl saying that if he'd stayed with Merle right from the start, he'd be in a gang like the Saviours now; then again, as he said, he and Tara are where they are because they saw through the bad guys like The Governor, as did Merle in the end, of course.  I like the 'Do Dwight's good deeds make up for his bad?' zig-zag tussle between them.  I agree with Tara ~ I am sure Dwight is totally reformed.  Whether she will stay alive for long enough to say 'I told you so' to Daryl is another matter.

The moment when Tara realised that 'Brian' was not one of the good guys

Next week is looking pretty damn awesome, what with Rick leading the assault and Negan tied up in Jadis's lair ~ I notice she's let him keep his clothes on!   Will Glenn's grave be the last thing the Big Guy sees, as per Maggie's wishes?  They're all starting to look so battle-worn now, as they weigh up the cost of all this, but maybe none more than Maggie.  I wonder if any of them are thinking, should we just have kept giving the Saviours half our stuff?  Think of all those who have died: Carl, Glenn, Abraham, Sasha, Spencer, Olivia, Tobin, Dr Carson, Francine, Daniel, Andy, Eric, Bruce, and so many more.....

I'll finish this with a word of advice for Henry: you know those big fences with lots of gaps in them between the bits of wire?  And those locked gates that keep all the prisoners inside?  You don't, like, have to unlock that gate in order to talk to them or threaten to shoot someone.  You can just, you know, do it all through the gaps....

Friday 23 March 2018

Three Mistakes New Writers Are Still Making

I've been doing this self-publishing thing for seven years now, and during that time I must have read, written, tweeted, retweeted and commented on hundreds of blog posts about the whole complex subject.  Sometimes, when writing a guest post, I think, 'does this really need saying yet again?'  But I forget; I may have been seeing all this stuff forever, but new writers are starting out every day, and won't have read seven years' worth of dire warnings about not getting scammed, not spamming people on social media, etc, etc.

Or maybe it's just that the people who need to read all those advice posts are clicking on the ones entitled 'Three Reasons Why Everyone Will Want To Read Your Novel', instead.  Anyway, a few recent conversations have made me think that these three old chestnuts could do with underlining again.  And again, and possibly again!  So here goes:

Mistake 1:  Skipping the proofreading step.  

Recently, I looked at a novel on Amazon because the (expensive-looking) cover interested me, but I rejected it as a possible buy because several reviews complained about the large amount of errors.  One demanded both an explanation (why would the author publish a novel without getting it proofread first?) and an apology for her wasted money.  The author had commented back that he was so sorry, but he couldn't afford 'expensive proofreading and editing' (although he clearly thought the 'packaging' was worth spending money on!) and he hoped readers would be patient with him while he realised his dream of becoming a published author.  Or something. 

Sad but true: Amazon is not a 'have-a-go' writers group.  The reading public are less interested in your personal dreams than in reading something with the commas in the right places and no spelling mistakes.  

Professional proofreading isn't cheap, but many proofreaders will take payment in instalments if money is a problem, and it really is essential if you want to avoid those bad reviews.  You can edit yourself (if you don't know the difference between editing and proofreading, please read this), but it takes time, patience, attention to detail (ie, considering every sentence), an understanding of pace and structure and, perhaps most importantly, the ability to see when a passage must be cut, no matter how dear it is to your heart.  A good piece of advice I read was to read the book as your enemies would read it, not your friends.

It's also worth bearing in mind that every time someone reads a self-pub novel that's full of typos and punctuation errors, it enforces the theory still held by some that all self-published material is substandard crap.  

Most important: when choosing a proofreader, don't necessarily go for the cheapest, or those who say they use 'proofreading software'.  You need the human eye.  Get recommendations from other authors. 

Mistake 2. Spamming on social media

By which I mean tweeting the book to strangers by tagging them in the tweet, in the hope that they will be interested in it.  Or doing auto DMs asking everyone who follows you to read and review your book.  If you want reviews, you need to look at book blogs individually, see what the blogger likes to read, study their submission guidelines.  If you really feel you must resort to the asking random strangers method, at least check out whether they read your genre, if they do actually review books, and enquire, first, if they might be interested in taking a look at yours.  But it's still best not to do it.

The best way to get people to know about your book is to be active on social media.  Share other people's stuff.  Talk to them.  I've written more about writers on Twitter on Swirl and Thread blog, here.

Mistake 3.  Not understanding the difference between Big 5 publishers, good independents, bad independents, and vanity presses.

... or researching the subject before signing a contract with a small independent publisher or a vanity (often called 'hybrid') press.  

If this is you, please read this article; it might save you much angst and frustration further down the line.

Research, research, research.  Talk to published writers.  Get recommendations.  Don't just google 'publishers'.  And good luck!

Good sites with writing/self-pub/book marketing info:

BadRedhead Media 
Anne R Allen's blog 

Monday 19 March 2018

Lately I've been watching.... TV and film recommendations (with trailers)

Previously on Lately I've Been Watching....

Once-every-few weeks-series of film and TV recommendations ~ or not, as the case may be.  For more info about a show/film, click its title.

TV mini series (6 episodes)  about the 1993 disaster, when, after a 6 week siege, a compound housing members of a religious community burned down.  Of course Waco is famous and I thought I knew what happened, because I remember it being on the news at the time and had read/heard bits and bobs about David Koresh over the years.  When I watched this, I understood the full picture; it's truly shocking.  I thought about it all the next day.  Stars Michael Shannon (love him!) and Taylor Kitsch.

5 stars

5 stars 

Here's the trailer for the first season, in case you've never seen it!

TV Series, about a TV news programme in the late 1950s.  I've watched both seasons currently available.  Stars Dominic West playing a womanising drunk, Ben Whishaw, and a hopeless miscast woman as his eventual love interest (she looks more like his auntie).  Lots of great acting and drama, corrupt politicians, behind the scenes TV stuff, scandal, etc.  Jolly good!

4.5 stars

Film: SciFi, pre-apocalypse.  About a coming 'extinction event' ~ 'the shimmer' covers a section of land, is growing, and anyone who goes in to investigate what it is does not return ~ at least, not as themselves.  Biologist Natalie Portman joins Jennifer Jason Leigh and three others to go in.  Normally I can't stand Natalie Portman but I liked her in this.  It was good, but not particularly memorable.

3.5 stars

TV series ~ comedy, about the Vice President of the US (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and her entourage.  At least 6 seasons available; I've been watching it on and off but slowly getting through it all.  Really, really funny.

4.5 stars


Film: Horror

About a couple of kids who get lost in the wilderness for several years, go feral, then get taken in by their uncle and his girlfriend.  Twist is that they bring with them something nasty and scary.  Started off okay, lots of stuff to make you go 'waaaah!', but got sillier as it went on.  Extra half a star because it stars the lush Nicolaj Coster-Waldau (Jaime Lannister in GoT).

2.5 stars 

Documentary series, about a religious cult originating in India that took over the small Oregon town of Antelope and tried to take over the county, too, by means of harrassment, attempted murder, poisoning, and importing thousands of homeless people to their 'city' so that they would have the numbers to vote their members onto the council.  Early 1980s.  Fascinating, horrendous, and you will feel so sorry for the people of Antelope.  And angry, too.

4.5 stars

Review: THE KEY #TheWalkingDead S8:12 #TWD #TWDFamily

Last week: Review Dead Or Alive Or

Photos from amc official site
So Rick has about fifty chances to kill Negan and screws up every one of them.  Fair enough, he's not at his fighting best; he's probably starving hungry, and certainly out of his mind with heartbreak, so yes, maybe he can be forgiven for bad calls like shooting off all his ammo before he could see where Negan actually was, missing the opportunity to cut off his fingers, not bashing his brains in with the burning Lucille ~ and why, when he plunged after the weaponless Negan into the room marked 'eaters', didn't he fight his own way out and leave the Walkers to do their stuff?

I'll just shoot off all my ammo at a car door 
then face my enemy with a hatchet and my bare hands.

Maybe because he wanted to kill him with Lucille or the hatchet with which he was supposed to chop off Carl's arm... but I bet, when he walked out and found a big Negan-free nothing, he wished he hadn't got hung up on those details. 

Still, at least we got a car chase.  Not quite the Fast and the Furious, but...

I wonder if the janitor job is still open...


With Negan missing, Simon instructs the Saviours to expunge, redact and erase their Hilltop, Alexandria and Kingdom foes.  BTW, when Simon asked Gary Saviour what his name was, I really thought he was going to say 'Gary'.  Could have started off a whole new page in their history.  

Horrible nasty Gary Saviour

We could already see Dwight's brain ticking over, working out how he was going to let Hilltop know... I expect he will manage to save the day.  Did his wistful glance at Sherry's wedding rings and her tab end at the beginning indicate that she's going to show up soon?  Maybe she and Dwight will live, and join our gang ~ now, wouldn't that be nice?  And btw, isn't his burn make-up excellent?

I'm looking forward to seeing what transpires now that Negan knows Simon wasted the Scavengers.  Perhaps now that Jadis has abducted Negan, she will show him the Super-Mega-Zombie-And-Untrustworthy-Lieutenants-Masher?  Yes!  I seriously hope the writers have thought of this, too....


Not too sure about this windmill and crop manual storyline with the woman who used to be Karen Hayes in 24.  Is it in the comics?  I don't know; I stopped reading them because of the spoiler thing.  It seems a bit more comic-book-ish, though.  But it's good to have a bit of positivity, and it's not totally unlikely ~ we have to remember that there will be good people in the post apocalyptic world, too.  Not all women will morph into psychos like Arat, the evil Olivia-killer.

More stuff I liked in this episode:
  • The talk between Daryl and Rick beside Glenn and Abraham's graves ~ good to see Daryl talking in more than three-word grunts again, and to see a bit of his compassionate stuff coming back.
  • The conversation between Michonne, Maggie and Enid.  You can see Enid's point, but I am sure Michonne will prove to be right about Karen Hayes; I predict she will tell Enid that you can't just nick people's food, and that you have to trust some people because it's still who we arrr-rrr. 
  • How fab Rosita looked in that sleeveless black polo neck.  When I am reincarnated I want to look exactly like her.  Or just be her.

More questions for the next 4 episodes:
  • So when IS Negan going to find out that Gavin failed to secure the Kingdom?
  • Have the writers forgotten about 'orrible outpost leader Regina who was written in at the beginning of this season?  She seems to have disappeared.
  • What happened to Saviour Laura, the only one who saw evidence of Dwight's change in loyalties?
  • Will Aaron turn up with the ladies of Oceanside in the nick of time?
  • What use will be made of the Super-Mega-Zombie-Masher???
  • Are we going to finally see an end to the Saviours War?  Please?  I know the rankings have been slipping over the last two seasons, and I think they will take another plummet if there's not a hint of a new storyline by the end of this one.
Here's something interesting ~ The Walking Dead deaths ~ Comic vs TV 

I will leave you with some reminders of happier times....

Monday 12 March 2018

Review: DEAD OR ALIVE OR #TheWalkingDead S8:11 #TWD #TWDFamily

Last week: Review ~ The Lost and the Plunderers

Not quite such a fab episode as last week, but I'm sure it pleased those amongst us who want to see zombies not gunfights!

I was a bit worried at first; when Gabriel was doing his 'I called for help, help came' stuff again, I thought, oh dear, are we supposed to believe that the Man in the Sky is leading him and Dr C out of the wilderness?  Come on... but no.  Just when I thought 'this is getting a bit daft', as I did with Ezekiel and all his 'and yet I smile' ridiculousness in S8:4 Some Guy, the silliness/schmaltz got turned on its head.  As Ezekiel's 'motivational' over-confidence was but a vehicle to show us how delusional he was....

And yet he smiled... but not for long. the smashed piggy bank revealing car keys, the Walkers getting trapped in the traps while sight-impaired Gabriel stepped over them, the bullet that somehow hit the Walker, not Dr C, were but lucky coincidences, and Gabriel's belief that God was delivering them to safety was nothing but optimistic, blind faith.  A moment later they were back in the Saviours' truck, and Dr C was dead.  

Gabriel was delivered to Eugene's workshop, where Eugene explained to Negan how, if he couldn't make enough bullets, they could kill their enemies by catapulting pieces of Walker over the walls of Hilltop ~ what, in the lame hope that some Walker innards will seep into their ears and up their nostrils?  Not sure how this is going to work; if I remember rightly, the Saviours used to eat the Kingdom's Walker-fed wild pigs, and nothing happened to them.  

Lucille has a good forage

I do love a dangerous journey, and Daryl and Rosita leading the Alexandrians through swamps filled with alligator-style Walkers ticked the right boxes.  Along with Tara (who has always got on my nerves but more so right now), the original Alexandrians (Tobin, Scott, Kent etc) are sure that Dwight is leading them into a trap, but Daryl and Rosita can see the bigger picture ~ and something tells me that Daryl doesn't want to kill him anymore.  Everything he did was for Sherry, Dwight says ~ and Sherry is, we are reminded, still out there, so I assume she will pop up just when she is needed, sooner rather than later!

Dwight gives himself up to lead the band of Saviours away.  He's fast becoming the hero of the hour - and I bet I was not the only one to find myself on his side rather than Tara's. 

Back at the Hilltop, Carol, Morgan and Henry sit on a log looking at the nasty Saviours, and Carol wonders if she feels so fond of Henry because he is actually Sophia's brother (Macsen and Madison Lintz).  Maggie presses her hand to her stomach and wonders when it's going to stop being totally flat, given that she must be into her fifth month by now ~ I'm guessing that Dr Siddiq will eventually save Glenn Jnr's life, so that we can forgive him for (indirectly) causing Carl's death. 

The Lintz siblings

But Maggie is no soft touch, and makes the decision to starve foolish Gregory and the captive Saviours, along with Alden the Most Slimy.

 Slimy Alden

The food situation is not too desperate because Jesus is out scavenging ~ maybe he will find a way of getting that supplies-filled truck out of the lake.... you know, the one that he and Daryl managed to let slip in S6:10 The Next World, when they were having their 'my dick's bigger than yours' tussle.

And so our gang finally get to the Hilltop, Daryl having remembered to take Judith from Tobin/Barbara first, to make the heartstring-tugging entrance we girls want. 

It's never not a good time to include this....

But although Carol springs forward to see her favourite man again (with you there, Cazza), it's not one of those wonderful TWD reunions we love so much, for we see Daryl mouth one word: Carl.  Poor Enid ~ her despair and tears were so real that my eyes watered too.  To those who say the show is not as good as it used to be, I'd ask you to compare that scene to Beth's ludicrous attempts at crying. 

I got to like Beth eventually, but her crying was baaa-aaad!

What next?  Will Sherry turn up with beer and pretzels just in time?  What's Simon going to cock up next?  Where is Ezekiel (I can't actually remember)?  Will Gabriel lose his faith?  What will happen when Negan finds out about The Kingdom?  Will Aaron arrive at the nick of time with Oceanside?  Will Jadis get to use the Super-Mega-Zombie-Masher again?

I hope all this, and more, will be answered next week!