What I’ve Been Up to in November (So Far)

I have been lax in posting here because I’ve been a tad busy posting elsewhere. And now I’m going to continue that trend by faking a post. What follows is a list of where my various meanderings have been posted. You’ll find interviews, Q&As, guest posts, other folks talking about related stuff, and…why don’t I just include the first little bit of each post so you can get a feel of what to expect?

November 2: Surviving NaNoWriMo

I used to think Nanowrimo was a town on Canada’s west coast where writers flocked once a year to work on their novels. I still think that’s a great idea.

It seems a little cheeky of me to write about NaNoWriMo when I’ve never actually done it, but on the other hand I did finish a novel (147,000 words) in three months which is a hair off three back-to-back NaNoWriMos. I’m going to pretend that qualifies me to spout advice. Most of this will be coming too late for you this year, but remember it for next year.


Nov 4:  The NaNoWriMo Diet

It’s tempting to let this devolve into a humor piece and talk about my love affair with whiskey and how sometimes, when my brain won’t shut-up and let me sleep, I bludgeon it into submission with liberal doses of Jameson. But no. I’m gonna keep this serious. Well, mostly serious.

My suspicion is that successful writers all have at least a little OCD. Who else would sit for hours on end mashing away at the keyboard with their face? What, you don’t type like that? Weird.


Nov 5: The Cult of the Dead Cat

Teresa Frohock, author of the fantastic In Midnight’s Silence, and Without Light or Guide, talks about Beyond Redemption and American politics.


Nov 10: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part one

Some background: My dark fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption, takes place in a world where reality is responsive to the whims and desires of humanity. Mass belief—be it shaped by religion, politics, or public opinion—can cause sweeping changes in physical reality. Conversely, a single person, if insane enough to believe the impossible with utter conviction, can also twist reality. What follows is a brief discussion of some aspects of that reality.


Nov 11: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part two

Factors Defining and Limiting the Abilities of Geisteskranken

The insane and responsive reality of Beyond Redemption is nonetheless defined by rules. Geisteskranken, while capable of altering—and to some degree defining local reality—are not gods. There are limits to what they can achieve.
On the other hand, if enough people worship them, they might Ascend to become gods. How lovely is that thought? Who demands worship? Sociopaths! And thus most of your favourite deities are Ascended self-centred arseholes.
The factors below are not quite as simple as they seem. They’re interrelated, each touching upon the others.


Nov 11: Teresa Frohock reviews Beyond Redemption

Fletcher’s characters–Bedeckt with his desire to retire; Wichtig, who is determined to be the Greatest Swordsman in the World; Stehlen, who isn’t exactly as she seems; and Konig, who is racing against his own madness in search of wholeness–are the very thing that redeems Beyond Redemption.


Nov 12: Rules of a Responsive Reality – part three

In this post I’m going to look at the many and varied types of Geisteskranken and give a few examples as to how their powers (delusions) might manifest. What follows is hardly a definitive list; there are as many kinds of Geisteskranken as there are people. There is no reason two people’s Cotardism must manifest in exactly the same way.
All of these delusions are based on real/reported cases of unstable behaviour. That said, I have played with them (and how they manifest) to suit the stories. In some cases I have made use of out-dated psychiatric diagnoses because frankly they are cooler. In most cases I have included a link to the relevant wikipedia page on that delusion. It’s been a while since I put this together, so might see text lifted pretty much verbatim from wikipedia.


Nov 13: Grimdark Review – Interview


Nov 13: Bookwraiths review: Beyond Redemption

Exquisite mayhem and madness, Beyond Redemption is a novel which appears once every few years; a harbinger of things to come that takes the familiar fantasy tropes and twists them into something fresh and original.


Nov 14: Beyond Redemption review: Timothy Ward

“Ingenious insight into the human mind of those who feel the pull of failure and the hopelessness of redemption.”


Nov 15: Q&A with BookWraiths


Nov 17: Santa and Fantasy – Guest post at Leona’s Blog of Shadows:

My five year old daughter recently lost her first tooth. She was very excited at the prospect of a visitation by the Tooth Fairy and asked many intelligent questions. How will the Tooth Fairy get in when the door is locked? Does she come through the window? How big is she? Can she carry the tooth if she’s really small?

My wife—who grew up without Santa, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy—let me field the questions. As I answered I began to question what I was doing.


Nov 18: MIND MELD: Our Favorite Animal Companions in SFF

I tend not to pay a lot of attention to pets and animal companions in fiction. I suppose my issue with them is that all too often they are simply a plot device. As soon as you see that the protagonist has an animal companion you know at some point it’ll get hurt or killed and that’ll be the emotional pivot driving the character to do something.

That said, Pip the minidrag from Alan Dean Foster’s “Humanx Commonwealth” books is easily my favourite ‘animal’ companion. She was a character in her own right, not just a crutch for the author.



This will ramble because that’s the way I roll. I can’t plan breakfast, never mind a blog post or a novel.

I have come to realize that I spend a lot more time thinking about themes than I do plot. I know what my next book’s themes are long before I know what horrendous shit happens to the characters. Take Beyond Redemption for example. I had the title before I’d written the first word.

I wanted to write a book where no one learned anything. The novel starts with a host of shitty human beings and at the end of the book I wanted the few survivors to remain shitty. It didn’t quite turn out that way, but I stayed true to that vision. This grew out of a suspicion that people are basically too stupid to learn or change. What can I say, I was in a bit of a dark place. If I wrote the book today it would be different. For one thing, I’ve managed to learn a few things myself—who I am and how I interact with people has changed in the last year.

And if I can change, anyone can.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

GoodReads Best of 2015


The opening round of the GoodReads Best of 2015 is currently live. Beyond Redemption is listed in two categories, Fantasy, and GoodReads Début Author. If you’ve read and enjoyed the book, please take a moment to throw a vote my way.

First you’ll need to log-in to your GoodReads account. If you don’t already have one, creating one is free and easy and only takes a moment.

Once logged in, enter ‘Beyond Redemption’ in the Write-In Vote box at the bottom of the page.


If you’re feeling really crazy and are avoiding doing important things, take a moment to leave a review of the book as well.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Beyond Redemption Publicity Experiment

BR Cover with blurbI’ve been in contact with almost everyone I know who loves, reads, reviews, writes and/or writes about science fiction and fantasy, and the vast majority have volunteered their time and space to help me do a publicity push for my dark fantasy novel, Beyond Redemption. There will be guest posts, interviews, reviews, delusional rants, and some random fun chaos. Somewhere in there I’ll also be doing give-aways of both Beyond Redemption and my first novel, 88.

First, I must share how humbled and awed I am by this amazing show of support. On our own we are nerds, but together we are legion. I love you gals and guys.

I haven’t yet worked out a schedule for all thisand that should probably be my next step—but for now, I’ll finish this post.

Here is what I am thinking: Each time a post/interview/whatever goes live I’ll share it here. At the end (likely some time in January) I’ll post a complete list of all posts and interviews so folks can see exactly what was involved. At the same time I’ll be tracking sales of Beyond Redemption as best I can by making use of the Nielsen BookScan (updated every Friday) available on my Amazon Author Page.

Come January I’ll share everything and you’ll be able to see what a blog tour with 20+ amazing sites does to book sales. And honestly, I have no idea what to expect.

If you would like to host a guest post, interview me, or have questions or suggestions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.



Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Darker. Heavier.

After the metal and fantasy discussion at NYCC 2015 I’ve been thinking about those two things and some of the similarities we didn’t get the chance to explore. If you know me at all, you know I don’t put much planning time into books and absolutely none into blog posts. This will be what it is as it falls out of whatever remains of my brain.

Back in the early 80s I was a clean-cut and quiet kid. I mostly listened to the music my father listened to which meant Pink Floyd, Queen, Elvis, and Deep Purple. To this day those bands still hold a special place in my heart. Somewhere between the ages of 11 and 12 something happened. At a guess, it would be the early sign of teen rebellion and a desire to find music that was mine. I could be way off on that. I certainly have no memory of thinking, hey, I should be rebellious. I was out shopping with my father when I spotted Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind album. Yes, this was vinyl; I am that old.


That cover was so dark, so different than anything I’d ever seen before, I had to have it. I can’t remember whether I convinced my father to buy it for me or if I had my own money. Either way, it came home with me.

Once home I put it on the record player and sat back, wondering what I’d hear.

Where Eagles Dare.

Drum fill intro, guitars heavier than planets, and some dude singing like…well, like an air-raid siren. It was too heavy. I took it off the turntable and put it away. But I kept coming back to it, listening to a little more each time, until I was listening to the entire album over and over every day.

I was hooked.

After that I rushed out to buy their earlier albums. For decades after, each and every Iron Maiden album was an event. Even now I still have everything they’ve ever released including all the live albums.

But that was just the beginning.

Other bands came along and caught my attention. Several times I heard bands that were too heavy, even after Iron Maiden. I remember the first time I heard Metallica. It was so heavy, so fast. And yet, a year or so later I was head-banging to Kill ‘Em All and Ride the Lightning. I think around grade nine I decided I’d never get another hair cut and didn’t until I was in my late twenties.

It seemed like every year I was looking for something a little heavier. Flash forward to today and I’m listening to Sylosis, Hypocrisy, Gojira, Allegaeon, Solipsist, Cattle Decapitation, and there’s no such thing as too heavy. Iron Maiden is what I listen to when I’m feeling mellow.

Alongside this rapid descent into metal madness, another fall into darkness took place.

In grade nine I discovered role-playing and science-fiction and fantasy. Reading about dragons and heroes led to demons and anti-heroes and Michael Moorcock’s Stormbringer, and the hopelessness of cyberpunk (the grimdark of SF).

And now I’ve written Beyond Redemption, a story of madness where all of the characters are…well…beyond redemption. It’s dark. Several reviewers have suggested it’s the darkest fantasy they’ve read. Seeing as I listened to the darkest, heaviest metal I could find while writing this book, it’s no surprise it turned out as it did.

I wonder if there is a link between these two quests for something darker, something heavier? Why do we always want something a little more?

Okay I hafta go write a bio now for Grimdark Magazine. My story, At the Walls of Sinnlos is appearing in their January, 2016 issue. Hmm. What insane crap should I make up about myself?




Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

How Did I Get Here?

Disclaimer: I have no idea what this will be about. I’m sitting on my ass-damaged chair and I don’t feel like doing any ‘real’ writing and I’m gonna hafta go meet my daughter at the bus stop soon, but I wanna write something and so…

I have always read books. My earliest memories are of reading Winnie-the-Pooh with my parents. Or more likely demanding they read it to me. In grade seven/eight the school I went to gave out awards to students who read X number of pages in a year; ten thousand, twenty thousand, fifty thousand, etc. They didn’t have an award for the number of pages I read.

I don’t often think about the past. Though those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, those who invent the past…

It’s only now as I sit here wondering what I’m writing about that I realize why I read so much. Escapism. It seems obvious, but to me it’s what I was escaping that’s more interesting. As a child we moved a lot. I was rarely in the same school more than a year or two before we packed up and went elsewhere. I started grade seven as the new kid; I knew no one. I was (and am) extremely introverted, though whether that’s a genetic thing, or the result of moving so often I have no idea. By the end of grade seven I had one friend and he moved away during the summer. Grade eight was a whole new hell. I spent most of the outdoors time secluded in the library and when they kicked me out of the library I sat in a corner of the playground and read.

My memory is pretty shaky, but I believe I was reading a lot of Farley Mowat at the time. Someone had bought me And No Birds Sang, and that set me off reading pretty much everything he wrote.

Somehow, by the end of grade eight, I’d made a couple more friends. During our first year of high-school one of them introduced me to the Role-Playing Club. I was hooked. I stopped reading Farley Mowat and Hardy Boys books and set out to read every science-fiction and fantasy novel I could get my hands on.

IMG-20151016-00565By grade ten I’d become addicted to being the GM (Game Master AKA Dungeon Master) and was creating my own story lines and adventures. From there it went rapidly downhill. At some point my parents took away my RPGshiding them in their closet—in the hopes I might pay more attention at school without that distraction. Or maybe it was a blackmail situation; I don’t clearly remember. It also didn’t much matter as I took all the books (we were paying a lot of Chaosium’s Stormbringer) and left them the emptied boxes.

Thirty years later I still get together with a couple of those guys (and some new friends met during university) to role-play. The stories have become more complex and at some point back in the 90s we wrote our own gaming system (which has also grown more complex), but the magic is still there.

Sometimes it’s escapism; everyone has stuff they need to get away from. It doesn’t have to be something huge and tragic, it can be something as minor as a crap day at work or a looming project. Hell, sometimes you just gotta get away from your kids. Much as you love ’em, they’re insane, demanding little monsters.

But sometimes it’s more than that.

A good role-playing campaign allows us to lose ourselves in the story, to be the villain or the hero. We can topple civilizations, ride dragons, or twist the world with our delusions. I think that’s how I got here. I learned my love of story telling while role-playing. But writing it down—capturing an adventure and making it eternal (or at least lasting more than a few hours) and sharing it with people beyond your half-dozen closest friends—is an entirely different experience.

And it’s addictive.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page


I spent the weekend of October 10th in New York attending NYCC 2015. It was an amazing experience on so many levels. That was the first convention I have ever attended. Ever. And to do so as a speaker, to sit on a panel with the Myke Cole and Peter Orullian, made the experience rather surreal. When I heard I would be joining the two of them discussing metal music and fantasy writing, I rushed out and bought their books. These dudes can write. If you haven’t read them, you’re missing out.

The good folks at NYCC have already posted a video of the panel.

I must learn to stop mumbling.

The convention was a great chance to meet new folks; never easy for an introvert like myself. I also got the chance to meet and hang out with people I’d only met on-line (including many of the awesome staff at Harper Voyager), and sit on a hotel floor and share drinks with Kristopher Neidecker.  Note the classy plastic cup.  Yup, that’s how I roll.


Which later looked like…




Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

My Writing Set-Up (My Ass Destroys Chairs)

I’ve been asked a couple of times about my writing set up and so I figured I’d share it here.

It is extremely simple: I use LibreOffice for everything. Anything other than a simple word-processor is just a distraction. I write my books in one large document, and that document is kept in the cloud so I can work on it anywhere. Really, the word processor is of little interest. It’s a tool and nothing more. I make use of the Comments functionality and beyond that it’s a glorified typewriter.

Originally, I used to write/build a background document at the same time where I’d keep all my world building material, character information (what colour is her hair?) and assorted plot points I wanted to hit. These days however I keep all that on a wiki, building the wiki as I go so that by the time the book is ready for release, the wiki is too.

I’ve included a picture of my writing space as well. You’ll notice speakers and a sub-woofer figure predominantly. I listen to music—sometimes very loud music…like right now I’m listening to Obscura’s Ocean Gateways—when I write. For the most part I listen to a lot of death metal. I’ll do a post on the why after NYCC (where I’ll be talking about metal and writing with Myke Cole and Peter Orullian


Sometimes the desk is neater, but most of the time it’s even more cluttered. You know what they say: Empty desk, empty mind.

There’s a coaster you can kinda see just above the old Mac keyboard and to the left of the mouse. It was cut from a single piece of aluminium by a good friend. Here’s a close-up. It is the coolest coaster ever. I’ve since mounted it on clear bubble-feet so it appears to hover a few millimetres above the desk.



So…what’s your set-up? Has your ass destroyed any chairs?

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page

Beyond Redemption – The Art

Back when we were still up to our unmentionables in editing  Beyond Redemption, David Pomerico (Executive Editor at Harper Voyager) asked if I had any ideas for cover art and/or artists I particularly liked. We bounced ideas around, discussed a few cool names, and then David mentioned Richard Anderson. After a little googling I freaked out. Richard’s portfolio is amazing and the list of folks he’s worked with is downright intimidating. Seriously, check him out.

Some time later I received an email with three sketched ideas and was asked my opinion. This flew in the face of everything I’d heard about Big Publishing. Being a new and utterly unknown author, I didn’t expect anyone to asking my opinion on cover art.

Here are the three initial ideas:




I liked the above because I immediately recognized Stehlen by her rat’s nest hair.

And finally…


As I recall this one clicked for everyone. The characters were immediately recognizable and it looked gritty and dirty. Being an unthinking twit I wondered why there was so much black at the bottom.

With the choice made, Richard returned to us with this…

BR Original

Grim and gritty and beautiful. The characters leapt out. Look at the way Bedeckt is hunched forward, a man about to crack. You can hear Wichtig’s ridicule as he wheels his horse about to mock Stehlen. Look at her insane hair; you can practically smell her! He even caught the mood of the horses!

Next, the good folks in the HARPER Voyager design department (who I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t yet had the honour of meeting) worked their magic.

And this appeared…


All of a sudden that huge empty space under the three characters made perfect sense. This would be why you don’t hire me to do your cover art. I was ecstatic, blown away. The murky smear of that sky! This was the perfect cover for my gritty little insane novel. Nothing could make it better.


BR Cover with blurb

An amazing blurb from one of my favourite authors.



Office wall spattered in brain.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on FacebookBuffer this page