Friday, 6 December 2019

Revisiting Malta

In most of my novels the action moves around geographically. I love writing about interesting places, and I love visiting those places. Whenever I travel it is always with half a mind on how I can incorporate these settings into my fiction.

Red Rock was no exception. The action moves across Europe, and one of the places Danni ends up in is Malta.

I revisited Malta earlier this year, after quite a long gap, and I went back to some of the settings where Danni has her adventures. Malta has changes a lot in recent years, the most noticeable difference being the amount of development that has happened, and is still going on – skylines dominated by cranes and half-finished buildings all along the coast. But some things haven’t changed and it’s still easy enough to escape the main tourist centres and explore the island's less visited corners.

So here are a few pictures from my travels.

Megalithic ruins, very like the ones Danni hides in on Comino - 
only these are actually on Malta

Danni doesn't visit Gozo but I thought I'd include this - 
it's where the Azure Window used to be.

The citadel, Victoria, Gozo

Fishing village of Marsalforn, Gozo, on a stormy day

Comino viewed from the ferry. 
The chapel you can see was the inspiration for the monastery Danni finds.

Typical Maltese coastline with Gozo in the distance

Thursday, 17 October 2019

Guest Author at Literary Edits

Today I have been interviewed as a guest author over at Literary Edits.

You can read my interview here: Guest Author Kate Kelly.

While you are there do check out the author services they offer - from editing and proofreading to reviewing and helping with marketing. The reviewing is free, of course, but I think you'll find all their other services very competitive.

Friday, 2 August 2019

New Short Story Published

My latest short story sale – a Cli-Fi piece called Permafrost, has just gone live over at Issues in Earth Science.

Issues In Earth Science are a teaching resource and they’ve put together a really informative supporting work package for the classroom, so if you want a bit of background science click on the Teaching Resources link at the top of the story.

The cold bit into me. I forced myself on, step by painful step through the deepening drifts. Numb toes. Numb fingers. Beside me Mitzi stumbled and dropped to her knees and the sledge we were dragging slid into the back of my legs. I reached out with clumsy fur wrapped hands and tried to pull her to her feet.

Thursday, 1 August 2019

What Happened to Cli-Fi?

Six years ago my YA Cli-Fi Novel was about to be launched onto the world, and Cli-Fi (short for Climate Fiction) was the latest buzz.

My publisher pushed this aspect of the story as part of their marketing plan. People were talking about climate change and the threat it posed and more and more authors were exploring climate change related themes in their work. It felt as if fiction was the perfect medium to bring climate change to the attention of the world.

For a while it seemed to be working. I took part in panels at literary events and ran workshops in schools that formed a crossover between literature and science. There was genuine interest.

And yet… Here we are, six years on.

Cli-Fi as a sub-genre never really took off the way we hoped. Every now and then it bubbles up, a new book comes out that explores these themes, and then it fades away. And the world itself? Has anything really changed? The science is still there, gathering momentum as the evidence mounts. Weather is becoming more extreme. Global temperatures are increasing. Sea levels are measurably rising.

But where is the action? Where is the call to arms? Politicians have come and gone yet it feels like we’re stepping backwards. Science Fiction is about to become Science Fact. The world I created in Red Rock feels closer than ever, and that’s not a comfortable thought. The coastal areas are already under threat and there’s a strange unease in the air – a society on the brink.

I can’t help wondering why this is. Maybe as our civilisation spirals inexorably towards becoming a real life dystopian novel people feel less inclined to read about such things. Is climate change something people don’t want to think about? Because maybe they should.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

UNBOUND - publishing DRACA by Geoffrey Gudgion

Every author knows the challenge of finding a publisher, and every published author knows that the next, and perhaps even greater challenge is to achieve respectable sales. The era of self-publishing means that over 200,000 new titles are published in the UK every year. Even mainstream publishers with big marketing budgets find it hard to punch through the ‘noise’.

I’d heard of Unbound as a crowdfunding publisher, and when fellow author Geoffrey Gudgion told me that his novel Draca had been accepted by them I asked him for his perspective on this unusual route to publication.

“I thought long and hard about accepting their offer,” Geoff admitted. “I was confident in the book, which had already won rave feedback from my agent and some well-informed Beta readers, but I wasn’t so sure about my ability to raise money. I’m the classic writer type who’d rather be in a quiet shed, writing, than out there promoting and selling.

“In the end, their reputation convinced me. They are selective, and have chosen some winners including a Man Booker long-lister and, this May, a finalist in the £30,000 Rathbones Folio prize. I liked the concept of building a body of support before launch that helps to ensure a book’s success, and they’re open to cross-genre works like Draca that don’t quite fit an Amazon tick-box. With my agent’s encouragement, I signed.”

“So tell everyone about Draca,” I prompted.

“It’s the story of a war-damaged veteran of Afghanistan who tries to rebuild his life by restoring an old sailing boat, the Draca. His dysfunctional family push him ever closer to the edge, while a yachtswoman friend tries to pull him back. The reader has to decide whether he is haunted by his past, or just haunted.”

“Exciting! So how’s the crowdfunding going?”

“I decided to share the royalties equally with the veterans mental health charity Combat Stress, and that has given the project quite a boost. I also find it easier to ask friends for money if it’s in a good cause. We’re over 60% funded already, and when I’ve collected enough pre-orders Unbound will start the publication cycle. I’m hoping to reach 100% in September.”

“Would you recommend Unbound to other writers?”

“It wouldn’t be for everyone. I think Unbound are best suited to books with an identifiable niche market, or for authors with an established following. Very few authors will know enough people personally to fund a book through friends, so you have to reach out to a wider community. That’s hard work, even with a charitable link, but it will be worth it in the end. If anyone would like a more in-depth view, or crowdfunding tips, they can reach me through my website at"

“And of course, support for Draca would be hugely welcome at ! Pledges range from a single £10 ebook up to a book group bundle, and every supporter’s name will appear in the book. If the book isn’t published for any reason, the money is refunded. End of sales pitch!”

“Geoff, the very best of luck with Draca. I have to tell everyone that I was one of those Beta readers, and I can truly recommend the book!”

“Kate, thank you so much for inviting me. It’s a great privilege to be on The Scribbling Sea Serpent.”

Follow this link to find out more.

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Signs in the Skies

Last night I saw a pink rainbow, arching over the sea. It was dusk and threatening thunder. The approaching rain clouded the surface of the sea and blurred the horizon. Then the rainbow appeared, glowing pink against a dusky sky. I stood and watched until the sun set behind me, the rainbow dulled and the night closed in.

I took this picture but is doesn’t do justice to the magic of the moment.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Review: The Change – Book 1 of The Wolves of Faol Hall by CV Leigh.

The Change:

Kincaid pack Alpha, Alistair, has called his family back to their ancestral home in the Scottish Cairngorms. His wife, Megan, is losing control of her ability to shift and it has him rattled. When it comes to light that Nathan Trevell, Megan's ex and the lycanthrope who turned her, has travelled from the States and is in the UK, closing in on his family, Alistair is even more determined to keep everyone safe.

Nathan isn't deterred by the Kincaid pack. He's in the UK for a very specific reason, a reason that threatens to turn the lives of the Kincaids upside down - and possibly endanger them.

Being cooped up together in Faol Hall only serves to highlight the differences between the Kincaids, and fighting soon breaks out. Can they put aside their issues and present a united front, before it's too late?


The Wolves of Faol Hall – Book 1, The Change is an exciting debut from author CV Leigh, published by Tirgearr Books.

First off, though, I must say something about the cover – I absolutely love it! It’s a stunning image but also very relevant and gives a clear insight into the book itself. This cover really sold the book to me, and this reflects why a good cover is so important.

I’m glad to say that the story inside lives up to the promise of the cover. It is probably best summed up as a combination of werewolves and family drama – and there’s plenty of drama – not just through the interactions of this somewhat dysfunctional family (well how could a bunch of werewolves be anything but), but through the build-up surrounding a looming threat that puts their very existence at risk!

The action takes place mainly in the cairngorms with occasional links to Edinburgh and the surrounding area, and I loves this aspect of the story. These are places I know well and I was transported back to those mountains and forests.

There are quite a few characters in this story, but any fears I had that I might get confused quickly dissipated, for the characters are all well drawn and I soon found myself drawn in to their lives and tribulations. This is not just another werewolf story! But to say any more about this might involve spoilers. You’re going to have to read it yourselves to find out why!

So all in all a very enjoyable read, not too dark but with plenty of suspense. I’m looking forward to the sequel and to see what happens next to the Kincaid family. CV Leigh is definitely an author to watch!

About the Author:

Originally from the Nottingham/Lincoln borders, C.V. Leigh now lives in Somerset with her family and pets. She comes from a long line of natural witches, and spent her childhood learning to read tea leaves from her grandmother and Tarot from her mother, so it's no surprise that she has a love for the fantastical and paranormal.

When she's not creating new worlds, C.V. enjoys reading with a hot cup of tea, or exploring the beautiful countryside that Somerset has to offer.

C.V. Leigh's favourite authors include Kelley Armstrong, George R.R. Martin, Douglas Adams, Grant Naylor, Terry Pratchett, and Roald Dahl.

Social Media Links:


Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A few reviews and recommendations:

In recent months I’ve come across a few self-published books that are really rather good, and so I thought I would share them with you.

And the Wolf Shall dwell by Joni Dee

Imagine being knocked over by a strange old man on a cold London morning… The man delivers a garbled message about the Queen… Moments later he falls under the wheels of a train… The media calls it suicide, but you know better - something doesn’t quite add up…. That was the start of the day for John Daniel, a foreign professional working in the city of London. Meanwhile, retired MI6 agent Adam Grey receives a call from an old informant: “Your service is rotten...” Soon Adam is dragged out of retirement, and John is dragged into the murky world of international espionage, politics, and jihadi terrorism. An intense and explosive thriller that hits frighteningly close to the truth for a work of fiction.

Quality spy fiction at its best. This novel has all the elements for a top notch thriller – flawed characters – tightly woven plot and a satisfying conspiracy at its core. A gripping read.

Buy And the Wold Shall Dwell at Amazon UK

Oberland by Brian Clegg

When Jo Fuller takes a summer job on a campsite in the Swiss alpine valley of Lauterbrunnen, she does not expect her whole understanding of the world to be turned upside down. A camper dies in suspicious circumstances. With three broken individuals - Bob, Paula and Werner - Jo discovers a strange alternative world at the top of the Schilthorn mountain.
Each of them faces death at the hands of the inhabitants of the alternate world, intent on preserving their secret. But Bob has something that may keep them alive.Amongst the beautiful Swiss mountains, each of the four must face up to their fears and survive. 

This fast-paced fantasy thriller leaves Jo, Bob, Paula and Werner unsure who to trust as they attempt to uncover the secret of the mountain before it is too late.

This Swiss set fantasy is great fun to read. A hidden race of people, hiding high in the mountains which our heroine stumbles across, but who have malevolent intent! In an odd sort of way it reminded me of some of the works of my all time favourite author John Wyndham. If you like lots of chases and excitement this is the book for you.  

Buy Oberland Amazon UK

The Sum of all Sins by Mark Sennen

A web of lies. A terrible secret. A shocking murder.

Catherine and her husband move from London to a remote farm in Devon, hoping to forget their troubles and make a fresh start, but escaping the past isn't always so easy. 

When Catherine discovers her husband has been keeping a terrible secret from her, and a friend turns up desperate for help, she is soon regretting ever leaving the bright lights of the city behind.

This is a excellent suspense/crime novel set in the wilds of Dartmoor. It’s a great read – really atmospheric – the moor is beautifully drawn. The suspense never lets up. Crimes of the past and present intertwine. The characters are relatable and come alive on the page. One you start reading this you won’t be able to stop. All in all a cracking good story.

Buy The Sum of all Sins at Amazon UK

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Short Story Published today by Seren Books

My short story, 'A Legend of Flight' is short story of the month over at Seren Books. It's a free read, so head over there and enjoy!

"The night you didn’t answer.

I tried to call but each time your phone rang for a while, then went to voicemail. I didn’t leave a message. I’d already texted you twice."

Incidentally this is the story I won the 2016 Yeovil Prize with.

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Thinking about Self Publishing

The time has come when I’m starting to think about self-publishing as a serious option for some of my novels.

I write what I love to write. I write the books I would like to read that I can’t find on the shelves. I know there’s no point in following trends and so I don’t. But I’m also aware that the market is very trend driven, and so there is a large element of luck involved – if you hit the right trend at the right time then your book will sell. If not it won’t.

Making the decision to self publish is a big commitment. I have to be prepared to put in the effort, to make sure the product I put into the market is as good as it possibly can be. And I have to be prepared to put in the time and money to do this.

I also know I’m unlikely to make any profit. Without the weight of the marketing and publicity departments of a trade publisher my reach will be small, unlikely to extend far beyond my own circle of contacts. I have to be prepared for that fact that it probably won’t sell.

I’m also aware that the best way to market a book is to bring out another book. For this reason I’m going to hold fire on self publishing for now. I’m going to wait for two things:

1. Having the time to dedicate myself to this project properly.
2. Having a portfolio of books to follow up with.

I’m not going to try to self publish my MG books. I’m going to go with my SF thrillers. I have one in a good complete state, one that needs some reworking and two that are in progress, but not very far.

So I need to get on with some writing, and get on with some research into what I need to do in order to give them the best chance I can.

Any tips or resources that you can share please do.

And I will share my progress with you on this blog.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

The Rules of Writing.

There’s always a lot of talk about the rules of writing – in social media – on writing forums. More often than not it consists of people shouting that the rules are nonsense, that the rules don’t apply to them. After all, writer X breaks this or that rule all the time and they’re a bestseller!

So I’m going to explain to you why the rules are important and why they do apply to you. But first of all, let’s get one thing straight – they’re not really rules – they’re guidelines! But for the sake of simplicity I’ll carry on referring to them as rules for now.

The second thing you need to be aware of is that the rules are there to help you.

Writing is a craft, and as such we need to study and lean about the tools we can use and how to wield them. In this case our tools are words. An artist first leans how to mix the colours on his pallet, how to apply the paint to the canvass to obtain different effects, how to work in different sorts of medium. Once the craft has been mastered, then is the time to push boundaries. Writing is no different.

Let’s take the often cited rule about adverbs that can prove so contentious. “Avoid using adverbs”. There’s a reason behind this. New writers often use adverbs as an easy way to qualify a verb, but the danger is that their writing can become lazy and too reliant on the one technique. Avoiding adverbs forces the writer to think about different ways of expressing things, using stronger verbs and different means of expression.

But once the writer has mastered this and is no longer dependent of adverbs in their prose they can look again at where an adverb might be the most suitable tool to use. After all that’s what adverbs are – another tool in the writer’s arsenal. “Avoid adverbs” doesn’t mean “Never use them”.

So when people say “But writer X uses adverbs all the time” be aware that writer X has studied the craft and knows precisely when an adverb is the best tool to use.

So my advice to you is this. Listen to the rules. Learn them. Understand them. And only then, when you really start to understand your craft, can you start to look at how you can bend them for maximum effect.

Learn the rules before you try to break them.

After all, they’re not really rules. Only guidelines.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

The importance of Research

I recently spotted someone on twitter bemoaning the fact that people weren’t taking her seriously as a SF writer because she didn’t have a science background. And it got me wondering why that would be.

The wonderful thing about SF is that it explores the possibilities – the “what ifs”. It may involve an element of pseudoscience, it may take real science and technology and extrapolate these to a possible, if frightening, conclusion. It may suggest concepts that haven’t yet been thought about; Solutions to real world problems that for now seem unsolvable.

Having a scientific background isn’t a pre-requisite for writing science fiction. Of course it isn’t. But it can help. Because it’s essential that the science is plausible. Pseudoscience, by its very nature, is of course, pseudoscience, and science fiction is full of it. But even the pseudoscience has to be convincing. Many SF readers are themselves scientists, or potential scientists, as was my own case – reading SF was what first inspired me to follow a career in science!

And this is where research is so vital. Especially for authors writing in the genre who don’t come from a scientific background. There are no shortcuts and lazy assumptions and blatant impossibilities will soon be exposed. The excuse “Well, it’s fiction. I can do what I like” does really work. Never under-estimate your readers.

If I chose to write historical fiction the fact I’m not a historian shouldn’t be an issue – so long as I did my research, immersed myself in the time period, knew it inside and out, and ensured I didn’t make any glaring errors. SF is no different.

So I couldn’t help wondering if this was the problem with the lady on twitter? Had she done her research?

Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review - Telesa: The Covenant Keeper by Lani Wendt Young

At the moment the YA market is crying out for diverse books by diverse authors, and yet, here is an amazing YA series set in Samoa and written by a Samoan author which appears to have slipped through the net and I can’t begin to imagine why.

The series has been self published, but I have to say the quality of the product is very professional. I also loved the story, the characters and the blend of Samoan mythology. I’ve never been to Samoa but I have been to Fiji so I do have a sense of Pacific island culture, but this book took me in further and I loved that – discovering the people and their legends.

There is a definite nod towards the American market. The main character, although Samoan born has lived most of her life in the US and so she comments on some aspects of Samoan life, such as the boys playing rugby (well of course they do – it’s Samoa) from an American perspective.

There’s a lot to love about this book. The mythology was fascinating and totally new and fresh to me. The characters were engaging and I could feel the pull of their passions. And it even has a bit of geology in it – the icing on the cake for a geo-nerd like me!

I do think it’s a shame that the mainstream markets in the UK and US have missed out on this one. It deserves a wider audience. Samoa may be on the other side of the world but we need more books from different countries and cultures – and isn’t that what this recent push for diverse books is supposed to be about?

This has to be one of the best YA books I’ve come across. I’ve only read the first in the series so far but the rest are on my kindle waiting their turn. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Here are links to Lani Wendt Young’s Amazon pages
In the UK
In the US
And her blog – Sleepless in Samoa