Thursday, 20 July 2017

Still good, still writing!

I seem to be continuing the trend of long periods of time between blog posts, sorry everyone!

I've a good excuse though, as I've been very busy writing and planning.

Book 4 of Haldred Chronicles is progressing along very nicely. I'm onto my 2nd draft now, and the core story and characters are complete. My plan now is to flesh out descriptions and details, fill in a few more scenes for key characters, and proof the entire book once done. After that, I should have a complete story that I can then confidently pass to a few trusted proof readers.

It looks as if it'll be finished by November as planned (if not before). 

At the same time, I've found myself drifting back to the distant past of my writing lifetime. Years before I started Haldred Chronicles, I was writing a massive novel with the tentative title of "Adventure and other bad ideas" (thanks to Saul for the original title suggestion). This novel eventually laid the background work for Haldred Chronicles (it's set in the same time period) but was never finished, despite me writing over 77,000 words for it.

Now, with Book 4 heading toward completion, I'm thinking of giving it another go. It won't be a 5th Haldred Chronicles book, but instead will be a big stand alone novel set in the same place. Rather than concentrating on the Council of Peace and criminal investigations, this new novel will turn it's attention to a group of mercenaries and their adventures. Characters from Haldred Chronicles may pop in from time to time though. Time scale wise, it will be set after the current crop of the novels. 

That's the plan anyway. I first have to finish book 4. All being well, the next time I post an update it will be to report book 4 completion!

Wish me luck. Till next time.

Monday, 1 May 2017

The Haldred Chronicles series is FREE on Amazon Kindle

A very quick blog post to let you all know some exciting news.

From the 1st May to the 5th May, all 3 of my current Haldred Chronicles books (Alyssa, Kalla and Shade) will be free on Amazon Kindle.

Yes, all 3. For the first time ever.

So if you or your friends want to pickup the entire story so far, now's the time! 

1st May to 5th May. Completely free :). 

Enjoy!




Wednesday, 29 March 2017

News for 2017

A very brief blog post, just to keep everyone updated.

First up, I've been very busy on social media. I've been more pro-active on Twitter, posting more regularly and engaging with more people. As a result, since my last blog post my follower count has ticked over 2000 and still rising; a trend I hope to continue!  In future I hope to get back into interactions on the Goodreads community.

Anyone interested can find me at @jgwritesnovels

Secondly, using the excellent Creative Writing Syllabus & Rubric from Eva Deverell (find her resources at http://www.eadeverell.com) I have confirmed that I have moved from 'Neophyte' to 'Apprentice' in the creative writing lexicon.  This has given me a fresh inspiration and opportunity to investigate further methods of improving my craft, and expanding my writing skills.

For instance, I'm now keeping a proper writing journal in addition to hopefully updating the blog more often.  This way I've been able to more easily gather my thoughts and consider what I've worked on and progressed, day by day.

Thirdly, I've been hard at work on Haldred Chronicles: Anna. Despite the busy times of looking after my young son (who is almost one year old now!), I have been grabbing time here and there to write further on the story.  I'm still aiming to have finished by the end of the year, maybe even November 2017, but I'll see how I get on.

Finally, I have at last started to seriously hunt down possible publishers for Haldred Chronicles, and literacy agents.  The series has been available on Amazon Kindle since 2012 and I have gained a wealth of feedback and encouragement.  I think the time has come to see if I can pitch my idea of a long running series, that I hope to write for more or less the rest of my life.

So its all good, and I hope it stays that way.  Till next time! 

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

A Tribute to Nanowrimo

During November 2011, I took part in the National Novel Writing month writing challenge.  The objective was to write at least 50,000 words by the 30th November.  I succeeded in the challenge, writing at the time 51,000 words. A year later that Nanowrimo writing piece became Haldred Chronicles: Alyssa; my first novel.

Since then almost every year, I've taken part in Nanowrimo. It has been a fantastic experience each time, and has enhanced my writing extensively.  I have met and communicated with some extremely talented authors, been challenged to improve my writing, and taken full advantage of the huge range of tips and tricks offered by the Nanowrimo community.

5 years after that first big push into the world of writing, I'm still at it. Last week I finished my 2 short story submissions for the Mantic Games Nanowrimo-inspired writing competition, and submitted both. I'm currently working on the Haldred Chronicles: Shade synopsis, with a view to submitting to potential publishers.  I also have a fourth Haldred Chronicles novel to work on called ‘Anna’.

As something of a tribute to the last 5 years, you will find on Amazon for the first time, my third book ‘Haldred Chronicles: Shade’ free for downloading on Kindle.  It will be so for the next five days so if you’ve not already picked it up, now is a good time.  Like my other books, it had its beginnings as a Nanowrimo entry.



To both the organisers and many participates in the Nanowrimo community, thank you all so much for all your encouragement, direction, advise, critique and most of all, for all the fun I’ve had during the many subsequent Novembers since I took my first steps into writing stories.  May the next 5 years be the same.


Until next time.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

I've not been idle

Well it's true, it's just I've not had much time to write a blog, but I'm taking a bit of time now to redress the balance.

It's been four months since my last blog update, and exactly seven months since my son Logan was born. We've been a busy little family since then, and our 'wee man' has been growing up fast.

On the writing front, I've been busy with the following.

I finished the first draft of the Wrathborn wargames background and submitted my writing so far to its creator. We'll be meeting up again soon to expand on the background further.

I submitted a short story entry to Black Library publishing house, who produce Warhammer and Warhammer 40k novels. Sadly, my entry was not accepted for publication, but I did get past the first triage so I'm pleased they took a good look at my entry. I'll definitely be trying again next year.

Very recently I've been working again on my fourth Haldred Chronicles book 'Anna'. For a long time I've been going back to it but not feeling inspired enough. Now, with an infusion of new ideas, the story is back on track! I'm up to 22,000 words and counting.

I'm also writing a synopsis for Haldred Chronicles : Shade. The plan is I will being using Shade as my pitching book to publishers, so I need to write the synopsis very carefully.

Finally, I'm taking part in Nanowrimo, the November writing competition, but in a different kind of way. Mantic Games, a local wargaming company, are running a writing competition in celebration of Nanowrimo. They want a couple of short stories written for their Warpath and Kings of War gaming systems. So, I'm going to have a go! Closing date is 1st December so like all those taking part in Nanowrimo proper, I've a deadline to work toward.

 Plenty to keep me busy these next few months. Until next time, take care.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Plans within plans

It's been a busy few months as Deborah and I adapt to the new arrival in our life. Little Logan is now nearly four months old and doing very well. Our little son is growing up quickly and our current prediction is he will be a mischievous one!

Whilst looking after the wee man has been my top priority, it doesn't mean I have been idle on the writing front.

I have massively expanded my Pinterest account with writing tips and tricks. Everything from story structure to simple grammar has been posted up and I've found it very useful to have this library of knowledge at my disposal. If you're interested, find my pins here:

 https://uk.pinterest.com/jgcully/on-writing/

In turn, I've continued to develop the 4th book in my Haldred Chronicles series. 'Anna' is taking shape nicely and I'm aiming to have the first draft complete in a couple of months. As in my previous blog post, I will see how it progresses but am not going to promise anything just yet.

I've also continued to write background for Wrathborn, a wargame system, as well as keeping my Black Library short story submission up to date.

Finally, just within the last few days I received my copy of "Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2017", which I shall be reading extensively for information on publishers and agents.

Till next time!

PS: this is the first blog post I've written and published completely on my BlackBerry Passport! Next, let's see if I can write a book on it!
PPS: unfortunately in my haste to publish this blog I managed to make a number of grammar errors.  My thanks to those who picked up on them and let me know; corrections have now been made.

Monday, 25 April 2016

What's been happening?



It’s been a long time since my last update, but during the last four months, a huge amount has happened.

The most significant, and most important, is the birth of my son; my first born.

Logan was born on the 1st April 2016, and my wife and I could not be happier. The ‘wee man’ (a very common Northern Irish phase that applies to him perfectly) is doing very well and growing up fast. It’s only been three weeks but we see such changes in him. We are, as doting parents, taking a lot of photos. Not all of which will be on Facebook.

In between recent daddy duties and preparing for the birth of my son, I have actually managed a lot of writing.

Within the last few months I have written a couple of fan-fiction stories for a wargame that I play called ‘Dystopian Wars’ by Spartan Games. Its a game set in an alternative 1800's with a distinct Steam-punk style to both its background and game play. The fiction pieces were for a friends gaming campaign to flesh out a small rulebook he was preparing, and I have included the longer of the two at the end of this blog post. I hope fans of the game will enjoy, and I hope other readers will just like the story on it’s own.

I have also continue to do work on the Wrathborn wargame, fleshing out more background details and stories for the gaming system. More work will follow in the coming months all being well.

I also very recently sent off a sample story to Black Library, a publishing house that produce novels for the sci-fi and fantasy wargames Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Age of Sigmar. They are currently running a competition to choose new authors and had requested submissions, so I duly threw my hat into the ring. Hopefully they look on my submission favourably, but we see.

Finally, I have not been idle on the Haldred Chronicles front.

I have chosen ‘Haldred Chronicles: Anna’ to be the fourth book in the series. This was one of the Haldred Chronicles books I was thinking of kicking off in December 2015. I am now working my way through my original 19,000 words and updating the draft. When I have time, and with a new born this is often a very mutable thing, I intend to work on the book and flesh things out.

My objective is to have a first draft done by the end the summer, and maybe release the book in November or December 2016. Time will tell, but at least I have something to work toward.

In the meantime, on the 1st May 2016 the first two Haldred Chronicles books (Alyssa and Kalla) will be FREE on Amazon Kindle for a limited time. So if you haven’t had a read of them, or know someone who’d maybe be interested in a little fantasy murder mystery and detective, head on over to Amazon.co.uk (HERE) or Amazon.com (HERE) and grab a free copy of both books. I hope you enjoy!

That’s all folks. I leave you with my Dystopian Wars fan-fiction story and I hope you enjoy. Till next time.

* * * * *

A Mystery Considered

Lord Alexander Stanwell-Howe shot bolt upright in bed.

“That’s it!” he cried, much to the surprise of his cat ‘Lady Hathaway’, the black feline jumping in fright off the four poster bed.

Quickly Stanwell scrambled out of bed, jumping into his slippers and practically running for his over-stacked work desk in the next room. He lite an oil lamp sat nearby and started searching frantically through the documents upon the extensive oak wood desk.

“Yes, yes I’m sure of it!” he said, though whether to himself or to the many cats that quickly assembled round him was unclear. He eyed a particular document, emblazoned with the seal of the Federated States of America.

“Ah ha! This proves it!”

He looked to a particular tiger furred cat that sat, curled up on a nearby shelf

“The prime minister will need to hear this immediately Lord Barnsby!” Stanwell declared; the cats only reaction was to eye him suspiciously before seeming to fall back asleep. Leaving the papers still strung across his desk, Stanwell marched confidently to his bed side. He grabbed a small handle set into the side of his bedside cabinet. He turned the handle several times, before a well-worn red button flicked upwards from within the mahogany construction; he pushed it and was aware of a bell ringing somewhere distant.

After a few minutes, Stanwell’s butler arrived.

“You rang my lord?” he said after opening the expansive double doors of his master’s bedroom and study. His lordship was by this stage changing into his day clothes.

“Yes indeed Winston, I must meet urgently with the Prime Minister and the Minister of War. I have concluded something of great and frightful importance! They must be informed at once!”

“Very good sir, though I should warn you it is two o'clock in the morning.”

Stanwell blinked in surprise at his man servant. He strode over to the window to his bedroom, still buttoning his shirt, and pulled open the curtains; nothing but star-scattered blackness stared back at him.

“Well Winston, I’m afraid we shall have to dispense with the niceties of sleep. This can’t wait and indeed, I fear we may already be too late. Please communicate with them that I shall meet them at the Houses of Parliament, post haste!”

“Very well sir.” Replied Winston, hiding his concerns for his master’s sanity behind his neutral expression. He hurried to carry out Lord Stanwell-Howe’s unusual request.

* * * * *

An hour later, Stanwell paced up and down the flag stones of the inner sanctum of the Houses of Parliament. Around him the only observers were a couple of late night guards who eyed the unusual man wearily; his pacing was facilitated via his custom built mechanical chair, that he used when conducting government business. The spider-like machine lurched up and down, steam hissing from joints of it's mechanical legs occassionally, though Stanwell gave no indication that the unusual motion was upsetting him. Instead, his face appeared fixed in concentration; his single machine-eye, embedded where his left eye should have been, flickered blue and red as if he too were some kind of machine given human form. Beside him, one of his small black cats kept pace with both chair and master.

Stanwell did not speak to the cat as he prepared himself; he'd learnt through experience that chatting to cats in public was frowned on.

Just at that moment the Prime Minister arrived; it was three thirty in the morning so he was not in the best of moods.

“I do hope you have a damn good reason for getting me out of bed at this ungodly hour Stanwell!” the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, bellowed as he thundered from the parliament buildings main entrance, flanked by his heavily armed household guards and several nervous looking aids.

“I assure you I do sir!” Stanwell replied, immediately brought out of his concentration now that his summons had been answered. “Is the Minister of War with you?"

"Well I wouldn’t say I'm with the PM, par-say." Came a voice, as Lord Strathgordon made his appearance from a side door, slipping in with much less extravagance than the Prime Minister. He regarded Stanwell through his goggle like glasses and tipped his top hat. The PM simply glared at both of men as he came up to them, handing his cloak to one of his aids and straightening his waist coat.

"Get to it man, why are we here?" Ordered Benjamin.

"I have grave news gentlemen." Stanwell announced. "An attack is imminent!"

Despite the late hour, Lord Strathgordon chuckled. "My dear boy, we are at war. An attack is always imminent."

Stanwell returned the smile. "Indeed minister, but I mean imminent in a location we did not suspect was under threat. I speak of the Indonesian islands!"

"Rubbish!" Grumbled the Prime Minister. "Our latest spy reports indicate the Empire of the Blazing Sun would prefer no hostilities there. It's too important for them and too important for us. A major engagement would drain their resources to too great a degree, especially with their attacks upon the Russians."

"I would have agreed with you a week ago Prime Minister." Stanwell shot back, his mechanical chair hissing as it manoeuvred to better position him to speak to the two most powerful men in Britannian. "But I have been going over other intelligence reports, from other sources. I have deduced a conspiracy is afoot; our enemies mean to deceive us!"

"Explain." Asked Lord Strathgordon politely, indicating with his walking stick.

"Our own intelligence has shown that the Japanese government would rather hostilities not begin in Indonesian; they require all their resources to strike against the Russian and American fleets. However, I have studied the intelligence reports of our American comrades. They detail the troop movements of the Prussians and French. I have realized something in my deductions; several of our enemies army units are missing."

"Missing?" Asked Benjamin, his brow furrowing.

"Yes sir!" Continued Stanwell. "For months they were reported in Europe and the Mediterranean, engaged on numerous fronts. Then suddenly, reports on particular army units ceased!"

“Could the units not simply have been destroyed?” Strathgordon suggested.

“These are not companies or even regiments Minster, but entire army groups! As successful as our engagements have been, and those of our allies, destroying an entire army battle group of any size is no mean feat! I fear that these army groups have disappeared from the European and Mediterranean threatres, because they have been redeployed!”

Stanwell reached into the folds of his coat, producing several rolled up parchments. He unrolled one and held it out for the two ministers to see.

“An intelligence photograph, one taken not long ago near Indonesia, perhaps only two hundred miles distance. One of several. It was not marked as important when first I came upon it, but I fear it is.”

The black and white photograph appeared to show nothing more than a dark shadow in the sea, obviously photographed at great distance and in stormy weather.

“I took the liberty of enhancing it.” Stanwell said, unrolling another page. This one showed more of the shadow, and several notes that Stanwell had made. At the top of the page, the words ‘Metzger B’ were written in black ink.

“A Prussian battle robot.” Said Strathgordon, adjusting his glasses as he peered at the parchment.

“Difficult to see considering the photograph was taken during rough seas." continued Stanwell. "I did further cross referencing with other reports. I was not only able to identify the robot but confirm that this particular battle robot was attached to the 23rd Reserve Iron fleet. One of the fleets now missing from the European threatre.”

Strathgordon and the Prime Minister exchanged looks.

“This better not be a wild goose chase Stanwell.” Grumbled Benjamin. “or I might reconsider retaining you as my advisor.”

“I assure you Prime Minster, it is not!" Stanwell quickly retorted. "I have many reports and analysis documents just like this. I will gladly turn them over to prove my point; our enemy is moving. They are redeploying army and naval battle groups to Indonesian in preparation for an attack. It will be headed by the Empire of the Blazing Sun, but it is their Imperial Bond allies who will provide the lions share of the manpower and firepower. This will leave the Japanese free to continue their attacks elsewhere without undue drain on their resources.”

“Prime Minster, with your permission I would like to convene the War ministry immediately to consider a response.” Strathgordon asked.

The Prime Minister nodded somewhat reluctantly; he let out a breath.

“Very well, see to it Strathgordon. I will have an emergency cabinet meeting organized in the morning. Stanwell, you best prepare yourself. This will be a busy week if what you say is true.”

“I shall Prime Minster!”

Stanwell saluted, an unnecessary gesture from a civilian but the Prime Minster returned it anyway, shaking his head as one of his aids returned his cloak and he turned to leave.

Strathgordon and Stanwell watched him go.

“Good work Stanwell.” Said the Minister of War. “We’ll consider carefully how best to respond. We may well have to call on our own allies to aid us in this endeavour.”

“I agree my lord.” Nodded Stanwell. Despite his manic nature, his face turned serious.

“I fear this clash will involve all of our own Grand Coalition allies and our enemies in the Imperial Bond. The fate of all of the Indonesian islands may be at stake!”

* * * * *