Monday, 21 December 2020

Welcome to the Climate Fiction Writers League

I have recently joined the Climate Fiction Writers League, an exciting new venture set up by author Lauren James.

The league has members from all over the world who have one thing in common – we have all seen the perils that climate change poses to our planet and have used this threat in our fiction.

From picture books through to YA, adult SF and contemporary fiction you can find books that explore a wide range of scenarios and environmental issues, any of which could be our future.

The books may carry a message, but not at expense of story, so do pop over to the website and see who is involved, sign up to the newsletter, and discover some wonderful books.

Visit the Climate Fiction Writers League here: Climate Fiction Writers League

And read more from Lauren about why she has set up the League over at Tor: Lauren James Launches Climate Fiction Writers League


Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Flash Fiction Sale

My flash fiction piece of gothic horror, Burgundy, inspired by many summers spent exploring wine country in France, has just been accepted to appear in the forthcoming anthology, 99 tiny Terrors from Pulse Publishing.


Friday, 13 November 2020

Pitch Wars 2020

Pitch Wars is an annual event run by Brenda Drake which offers aspiring authors the opportunity to work with a mentor on their manuscripts and showcase these to prospective agents at the end of the mentoring process. I first gave it a try last year and, although I didn’t get any requests from prospective mentors I did find it an interesting experience. For that reason, and slightly wiser about the process, I decided to give it another go in 2020.

Last year I tried with one of my kid’s books but this time I decided to give the adult market a try with my thriller, the one that keeps coming oh – so close – but has so far failed to find a home – certainly in the UK market. But the US market is a different beast. My main concern with my writing is that it’s too European for the US. But you never know if you don’t try. I may not have been picked as a mentee, but all in all the experience was a very positive one.

So here are a few tips for anyone else planning on participating in Pitch Wars in future.

1. Nail the Query Letter

Different mentors approach reading their submissions in different ways. Some read 

the pages first but some do a first pass based on the query letters, and for this reason it is a good idea to spend some time on this and get it right. US query letters are not the same as the covering letters expected in the UK. Fortunately there is a wealth of information on how to write a good query letter online and a quick google search should see you right.

2. Choose your mentors with care

You can only choose four mentors so spend a bit of time checking them out. In particular read their wish lists as these contain a lot of information about what they are looking for in that particular year – if they’ve mentored before it could be quite different from what they were looking for in the past. My submission was a thriller with a SF twist. Of the four mentors I picked who were asking for thrillers the two who requested for material were both also looking at SF. The ones who didn’t request weren’t. Read into that what you may.

3. Study the showcase

Studying the previous year’s showcase not only gives you an indication of the types of work the mentors chose but also gives an interesting insight into what the agents were looking for. None of them can tell who else has requested from a particular showcase until all the agent requests are revealed at the end of the showcase period. Although nobody was left with zero requests last year there was a huge range from 2 to 35!

4. Make friends

Pitch Wars is a massive networking opportunity so take advantage of that. Make friends, find critique partners, join in the fun and challenges. If your mentor is offering feedback on submissions take it. Whether you get any requests or are picked as a mentee is irrelevant. Use this opportunity to your advantage. You never know where things might lead.

5. Don’t give up

The publishing industry is subjective. Mentors’ choices are subjective. You may feel your submission has vanished into a black hole but don’t be disheartened. Keep writing. Keep developing your craft. The key to success is to keep going. 


Find out all about Pitch Wars here.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Flash Fiction at Newmyths.com

My latest short story – a flash fiction piece called “The Last Library” is now live in Issue 52 of Newmyths.com. I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, 27 August 2020

“The Relic” is Published.

 The Relic, my latest short story, is now in print.


My contributor’s copy of BFS Horizons #11 landed on my doormat on Friday. A lovely volume with beautiful cover art, packed full of poetry and prose. I’ve dipped into it a couple of times already and thoroughly enjoyed what I’ve read and I’m looking forward to working my way through the rest of it in the weeks to come.


Thursday, 23 July 2020

Review: Darling there are Wolves in the Woods by L.V. Russell

(This is the third of three reviews for books I purchased during IndieApril.)


The woods are dark and wicked, and perhaps some things would be better off staying lost…Teya Jenkins is ten years old when her sister is taken. Niven is never found, because no one knows where to look. No one but Teya that is, who heard the whispers of the trees and saw the beautiful creatures that dwelled in the shadows. It is only after another tragedy, years later, that Teya finally dares to enter the forest that haunts her dreams, determined to bring home her sister and mend the fractured remains of her family. But someone lingers in the shadows, tempting her away with veiled promises of the thing she’s always longed for….to belong somewhere. Tangled up in the lives of the creatures that stole her sister, Teya risks everything to bring Niven home. In a world of extraordinary monsters, Teya finds herself fighting for not only her life, and for her sister, but also for her heart.

From the first page I knew I was in for and emotional ride. We are thrown into a family stricken by grief. Teya’s mother sets places at the dinner table for both Teya’s missing sister and absent father and the tension between mother and daughter is palpable. 

We all know that the Fey are not kind, and Teya is vulnerable, desperate to be loved. Another tragedy drives her back to the woods where her sister disappeared, and into their world, at once both fascinating and sinister.

Here she meets Laphaniel, one of the fey, and, like all fey he is both cruel yet fascinating. A relationship starts to form between them, but it is an uncomfortable relationship, for Laphaniel is her captor. He’s a fascinating character, a dark character, but at the same time strangely compelling, and the dynamic between them is both intriguing yet sinister. But all the time Teya just wants to find her missing sister.

This is a superb book. Beautifully and evocatively written with complex and compelling characters. It is the first in a series and as such there are plenty of loose ends left hanging, and loads of unanswered questions.

I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next one.

LV Russell/goodreads

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Review: Terrestrial Magic by Marina Ermakova

(This is the second of three reviews for books I purchased during IndieApril.)


Most sensible people avoid fire-breathing carnivores that prey on humans. But Jordan has built a career out of studying such legendary animals, creatures thought mythological until their re-emergence in the world three decades ago. She and researchers like her believe that knowledge is the key to reclaiming the land they'd lost back then, when humanity retreated into designated safety zones.

But when the humans moved out, the legends moved in.

They were the descendants of mythical heroes, inheriting the powers of their ancestors, and they weren't afraid of the monsters. Jordan never expected to run into a legend, but when a field expedition turns into a trap for her team, she realizes that one deliberately tried to kill her. It's a diplomatic nightmare the Roman authorities might happily sweep under the rug. But if Jordan doesn't figure out who attacked her and why, they could try again. Yet even if she does solve the mystery, what could one stubborn scientist possibly do to stop a powerful legend?


I really wanted to love this book. It has so much going for it. To start with, the setting. It’s so refreshing to come across a book of this type set somewhere other than America and in this case – Italy – a country I know well.

The concept is also amazing. The idea of the Boom and appearance of legendary animals and people in our world is unique and intriguing. I couldn’t wait to see where the author went with this!

Sadly this is a book which, for me, fails to deliver on its promise. The Italian setting feels superficial. The plot drifts. The action set pieces are well written and the story romps along at a pace, but the suspense is never quite there. The main character, Jordan, has difficulty connecting with her emotions and although this is an interesting aspect of her character it also makes her hard to relate to.

However this is merely one reader’s subjective opinion. Perhaps I was expecting too much. The writing is good and the author has gone to a great deal of trouble on the production side – a great cover and error free text.

As I’ve mentioned the action scenes are well written and pacey. The concept is very clever and interesting. I hope the author will work on the aspects of story structure and plotting and I look forward to seeing how she develops as a writer and reading more of her work in years to come.