Let’s Get Interactive: Pick a Title For My New Book

I’ve been using the working title ROGUE for my second novel, the sci-fi thriller follow-up to ASCENSION POINT. It’s a nice enough title, sure, but it was pointed out to me today that it’s… well, not very distinctive. And, even worse, it’s already the title of a couple of other novels.

(One’s by Danielle Steele. While having a novel with the same title as one by an author who’s sold 800 million books might work out in my favour, it also really, really might not.)

Which is where you lovely folks come in!

Read more…


If you’re a writer and you’re not following David Gaughran yet, you probably should. This post is required reading: protect yourselves, writers!

David Gaughran

Simon & Schuster has launched a self-publishing operation, Archway Publishing, contracting one of the most disreputable players in the business to run the show: Author Solutions.

We’ll get to that distasteful link-up in a second, but first let’s have a look at what Simon & Schuster are offering prospective customers (i.e. writers).

Fiction packages start at $1,999 and go up to $14,999. If you have written a business book, prices are saucier again: $2,999 to $24,999.

While the upper end of the pricing spectrum is obviously shocking, some of you might think that $1,999 isn’t too bad if you are getting a proper edit and a decent cover.

Not so fast.

That price tag doesn’t include any real editing, just an assessment which – according to their own website – is “not a replacement” for editorial services but “a preliminary diagnostic tool.”

But what if you need proper editing?…

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Of Atheists and Comic Book Movies

What have I been reading today? Well, there’s a great rant by Charlie Jane Anders on io9 here on why atheists should read more science fiction.

“Most of the time, these are geeks who have immense respect for science… and yet, they won’t recognize a situation where they simply have no data, one way or the other.”

There’s also a great quote from the legendary Carl Sagan:

“Carl Sagan is frequently described as an atheist — but there’s also a quote commonly ascribed to him where he rejects that label, saying: “An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.””

Then in comic book movie news we have double-Xavier double-Magneto in the upcoming X-Men movie, and the completely unsubstantiated rumour that the marvelous Joseph Gordon-Levitt might be playing Batman when the long-anticipated Justice League film happens. No doubt paving the way for a truly shocking Batman-trilogy-without-Bruce-Wayne situation.

It’s a good time to be a comics fan.

So The New Book’s Coming Along Nicely

I’m thirteen chapters of twenty into the first draft of my second book, ROGUE. Forty-five thousands words done, probably another twenty-five thousand to go.

It’s a follow-up to ASCENSION POINT, rather than a sequel: it’s set in the same universe, and the events and characters from the first book are referenced–there’s even a cameo or two–but it’s not a direct continuation of the story. (A year has passed between the two books, for one thing.)

The pace of my writing has picked up a bit now that I’m into act three, or ‘the really exciting bit at the end’, as we industry professionals call it. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to get the draft done before the end of January, even with a couple of weeks off for Christmas and our New Year summer holiday. Then, depending on how long the various edit phases take, I should be ready to publish in April.

Which is only six months after I released ASCENSION POINT, now I think about it. Two books a year? Seems unlikely, but who knows!

‘The Six Gun Tarot’ Excerpt

On Tor.com here.

“Jim remembered the gun. His frozen fingers fumbled numbly for it on the ground.

The coyote narrowed its gaze and showed yellowed teeth. Some were crooked, snagged, but the canines were sharp and straight.

You think you can kill me with slow, spiritless lead, little rabbit? Its eyes spoke to Jim. I am the fire giver, the trickster spirit. I am faster than Old Man Rattler, quieter than the Moon Woman’s light. See, go on, see! Shoot me with your dead, empty gun.

Jim glanced down at the gun, slid his palm around the butt and brought it up quickly. The coyote was gone; only the fog of its breath remained. Jim heard the coyote yipping in the distance. It sounded like laughter at his expense.”

The excerpt’s nicely written, and intriguing, though it doesn’t tell you much about the story, which Publisher’s Weekly describes as:

“Against the backdrop of Chinese and Mormon mythology and the Civil War, with a bit of Frankenstein for color, the mix of theology, frontier justice, and zombies is merely cover for an intense and irreverent exploration of good, evil, and free will.”

Sounds fun!

‘Superman vs. the Myth of Aristocracy’ on Tor

“Thus, by action and by example, Superman embodies a populist ideal, that it doesn’t matter who one’s parents are, no one can impose their will on the world. And it doesn’t matter how powerful one is, it matters how one chooses to use that power.”

From a nice post on Tor.com here.

It’s interesting that I’ve never really liked Superman; I haven’t particularly enjoyed reading any of the comic books, and didn’t think any of the films were up to much. I think the reason is that I’ve always found the character to be a little disappointing, for the very reason the author of the essay says he’s great: the fact that he has it within his power to completely remake Earth society, to be the benevolent dictator of a global utopia where no-one needs to worry about war, or famine–where all they would have to give up is a chunk of free will.

But he doesn’t, he chooses instead to offer himself as an example of how people should live their lives, and hope humanity will get there on their own. It’s noble, sure, but that choice always rubbed me the wrong way.

You know who had the right idea? This guy.

Shooting Up The Charts!

This made me laugh. It doesn’t take much to climb the Bestseller Rankings for the Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store, it seems. Yesterday ASCENSION POINT was languishing at #251,110. But then…


Yup–it’s stormed up to #30,554 on the back of that single sale. You have to assume that it takes a few more sales than that to be ranked in the top, I don’t know, ten thousand. But it’s still nice to see the line going upwards 🙂

Early days, folks. Early days.