Monthly Archives: December 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas one and all.

I hope you all have an awesome day, and if you don’t celebrate Christmas, have a great day anyway.

See you all in the new year.

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With Silent Screams Cover

The release of Hellequin Chronicles book 3: With Silent Screams, is only a few months away, so I thought it would be nice to share the cover with everyone.

 

So here it is, the cover to With Silent Screams.

 

With Silent Screams

 

Before anyone asks (because someone will), no that isn’t Nate.

You can pre-order the book from Amazon. It’s been a long time coming, so I’m both very excited and a bit nervous about the release.

Have a good Christmas/holiday/whatever you’re planning on doing.

 

Infamous Reign Release

That’s right, the Hellequin Novella, Infamous Reign is now up on Amazon for purchasing at $1.99 (£1.26). Enjoy!

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

Infamous-Reign

 

 

In late 15th century England, two young princes are given over by Merlin to the protection of their uncle, King Richard III. They soon vanish from sight, igniting tales of their demise at Richard’s hand and breeding unrest throughout the land.

Nathanial Garrett, also known as Hellequin, is sent to London to decipher fact from rumor and uncovers a plot to replace the king. But his investigation quickly becomes personal when he learns that an old nemesis is involved. He soon finds himself racing against time to rescue the boys before their fate, and the fate of all England, is sealed in blood.

Infamous Reign is a novella in the Bestselling Hellequin Chronicles series, mixing gritty and action-packed historical fantasy with ancient mythology.

MP3 Winner

Just a brief post today to announce the person who has won the competition to get a copy of both Hellequin books on MP3.

 

Thanks to everyone who took part.

 

And the winner is:

 

Cole Waggoner.

 

Congrats to Cole. You have 1 week to e-mail me the address you’d like them sent to.

 

With Silent Screams – Prologue

I’m very pleased to be able to show you all the prologue of Hellequin Chronicles book 3, With Silent Screams.

Enjoy.

 

Prologue

 

 

 

New York City, New York. 1977.

I do not like flying. I’ve been told it’s perfectly safe, that it’s the future of travel and about a hundred other things which I’m sure the sane part of my brain agrees with. The other part of my brain doesn’t like the idea of being tens of thousands of feet in the air, in a small metal tube, with large quantities of jet fuel. I don’t like the fact that my life is in the hands of people I’ve never met—from the pilots to the repair crew.

More than all of that, though, I really don’t like the fact that flying makes me feel mortal. And as a nearly sixteen-hundred-year-old sorcerer, that isn’t a very nice feeling at all. But when friends call saying they need my help, I’ll brave this ludicrous form of travel and get there as quickly as possible. Even so, as the DC-9 came to a standstill outside the gate, allowing all of the passengers to exit into the terminal, I felt a moment of relief.

JFK airport is massive on a scale that’s hard to convey, and that’s not just including square footage. The sheer number of people inside the airport was almost overwhelming, and I was grateful to finally get outside.

“Nathan,” a man shouted as he walked away from a red Ford Mustang and took my hand in his, shaking it vigorously.

“Roberto,” I replied with a smile as I dragged my hand free of his grip. “You said you needed my help with something.”

The smile on his face vanished and he placed a hand on my shoulder, moving me toward the car. “We’ll talk once we’re on the road. We’ve got a bit of a drive ahead of us.”

“And where would that be to?” I asked across the car’s roof as I put my bag in the boot.

“Portland, Maine.”

I paused. “You still work for Avalon, yes?”

Roberto nodded and got into the car. I sighed and followed suit.

“How long is this drive?” I asked after he turned the engine on and pulled away from the airport.

“Seven hours, give or take a few minutes.”

“So, you’ve got plenty of time to tell me what the hell is going on.”

Roberto was quiet for a while as the traffic around us began to get heavier. I didn’t want to disturb him too much when he was driving; he was new to the concept of driving and I wasn’t sure he could drive and hold a conversation at the same time.

“Why didn’t you have me land there, then?” I asked as we entered the highway and Roberto appeared to relax with the monotony of going in a straight line.

“Because New York is neutral ground. It’s the closest neutral state to Maine, and the safest place for us to meet without anyone being alerted to either of our presence. Technically I have not, and never will, set food inside Maine without official permission.”

“I assume you don’t have that permission.”

Roberto’s silence told me all I needed to know.

“So, do you feel like telling me why you’re risking some serious trouble heading your way?” I asked, getting more confused by the minute.

“Glove box.”

Inside the glove box was a manila envelope, which contained a photograph of a young woman with long, dark hair. There was a sheet of paper attached to the photo, which gave information about the woman.

“Sally-Ann,” I said, reading the information. “Nineteen. She was born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and she’s a college student studying fine art at Yale, which makes her smarter than the average college student, I guess.”

“She was incredibly smart, and sweet, and a good person.”

“Was?”

“Her body was found outside of Stratford, Maine, four days ago.”

I was silent for a moment. “I’m sorry, Roberto. How did you know her?”

“Her father worked for me. He was a doorman—he died four years ago in a car crash just a few miles from safety.”

“Safety?”

“I mean home. It’s been a long few days.”

“That’s fair enough. So, what happened to Sally-Ann?”

“She lived with her grandparents in Augusta after that. I made sure she was well taken care of.”

Humans in positions of power or influence often also work for Avalon or some of the more powerful individuals who make up the council. Humans are a good way to find out who’s who in a city, and I knew from previous experience that Roberto was very protective of anyone who worked for him.

“So, why was she in Stratford?”

“She went there a lot; she’d met some artistic types a few years ago and she liked to go there to meet them and draw. She was supposed to be on her way there when she was murdered. Whoever killed her dumped the body in a shallow ditch and let the heavy snow-fall cover her. We only found her because a local fell into the ditch. Sally-Ann’s grandparents contacted me to let me know. They’re heartbroken. She was going to be something very special.”

“That’s why you’re risking your job?”

“Avalon won’t fire me, Nathan.”

He had a fair point. But they would make his life very difficult for a few years. Roberto was a head of a division of the SOA, or Sword of Avalon. The SOA are the internal security agency for Avalon. They’re a mixture of an Internal Affairs department and the Secret Service.

“Here’s the thing I don’t understand,” I said, sliding the picture of Sally-Ann back into the envelope. “Why me? You’re more than capable of investigating this yourself.”

“You’ll see,” he said. “I promise all of your questions will be answered in Portland.”

“Then put your foot down, because this whole thing is making me nervous.”

The rest of the journey was done in silence, allowing me to get a few hours sleep. Roberto woke me once he’d pulled up outside a bar called the Mill and switched off the engine. I yawned and opened the car door, stretching as the cold air of winter in Maine made sure I was fully awake.

The snow had let up for the day, but it covered everything in an inch-thick layer of whiteness, which crunched under foot as I made my way around the car to join Roberto, who was waiting for me.

“In here,” Roberto said as he pushed open the bar door.

I glanced up at the sign that hung above the window and stepped inside.

The warmth flowed over me like a welcome embrace. I glanced around the spacious bar and saw half a dozen people sat at various tables, either talking amongst themselves or eating. I spotted Roberto talking to the bartender, and he waved me over.

“Nice place,” I said. “I remember it being a bit more of a hovel.”

Roberto opened his mouth to speak when a woman walked up to us, her heels clicking on the bare wooden floor. She wore a beautifully tailored dark suit and heels that put her just a few inches below my own height of five-nine. Her eyes were deepest blue and contrasted nicely with her long, almost black hair.

“Mister Garrett, Mister Cortez, my name is Rebecca Dean, please follow me,” she said and turned to walk away. Her accent placed her from New York, but I thought I caught something else in there, a little Irish maybe.

I watched her walk and received an elbow in the ribs from Roberto for the trouble. “Watch yourself,” he said with a slight grin.

“I’m more interested in watching her,” I said.

Roberto pointed to the woman’s heels, which were four inches long, and glinted as light hit them. “Those heels have blades on them,” he whispered. “Like I said, watch out.”

The woman led us up a flight of stairs and down a corridor, where she opened door and beckoned us inside.

“Please take a seat,” she offered, pointing to the two black leather armchairs that sat opposite a couch made of the same material. A glass coffee table lay between the chairs and couch, and as I sat in one of the chairs, I took the opportunity to survey the room.

It was a fairly large office at about thirty by thirty foot, but it contained nothing out of the ordinary.  A large desk sat at one end, next to a window that bathed the room in light. The walls were adorned with paintings of various landscapes from around the world—they were very impressive, and whoever had done the work had certainly had a good eye.

“So, are we here to see you?” I asked the lady, who had sat down in the couch in front of me, regaining my attention as I stared at an exquisite watercolor painting of Camelot.

“I’m just the bar’s manager,” she said. “I’m only here as a witness.”

“A witness to what?” I asked.

“To why I asked you here today,” a man said as he stepped into the office

I was on my feet immediately, making my way over to the stocky man and embracing him tightly in a hug.

“Nathan, my old friend,” he said with genuine warmth as we parted. “I’m glad to see you again.”

“You too, you look good,” I said. He looked almost exactly the same as he had when we’d last met over a century previous. He’d let his dark hair grow to shoulder length and had a small scar on his cheek, but it was his eyes that gave away the pain as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

He stepped past me and shook Roberto’s hand as the bar’s manager bowed deeply.

“My liege,” she said and he motioned for her to stand.

“Liege?” I asked. “When did you get people to call you that?”

My old friend turned back to me and smiled, but this time it didn’t reach his eyes. “Have you not heard? I am the king of Shadow Falls.”

My mouth dropped open in shock. I’d heard nothing about it. Even away from Avalon, I would have thought I’d have picked up little traces here and there. “How long?”

“Three years now,” he said. “Although it feels much longer.”

“King Galahad,” I said. “Damn, if it doesn’t suit you. Now can someone please tell me what the hell is going on?”

 

—–

And that’s it. If you want to read more, you’ll have to wait a few months, but you can pre-order the book at amazon.

Writing Process Blog Tour

the_writing_process

 

 

I’m taking part in a blog tour about writing processes. It’s a series of blogs where a writer (that would be me) gives a description of what they’re working on at how their process goes and then they pass the torch to three more writers.

Last week I was invited to take part by awesome writer, and all-round good-guy, Richard E Preston, the Author of the wonderful Romulus Buckle Steampunk novels. You can find the first of which, The City of Founders, here.

So here are the four questions and answers.

 

1. What am I working on

Currently I’m working on a few things. I’m finishing up the edits for a Hellequin novella, Infamous Reign, which should be out very soon. I’m also writing Hellequin Chronicles book 4: Prison of Hope, which is the first time we see a lot of characters from mythology all in the same book.

When the draft of book 4 is finished, I’ll be writing both book 5, which I’m currently plotting out alongside the first book in the Chimera series. After that I may have some time to sleep. Probably not.

 Infamous-Reign

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

Well it’s certainly quite dark in places and the main character, Nate Garrett, isn’t adverse to going to a place that morally most people wouldn’t, if it means getting the job done. He’s a good guy who’s more than willing to do bad things to protect people.

I don’t know of too many other books that have such a varied group of mythology; Greek, Norse, Avalon and others are all real, although none of them are actually god or goddesses.

McHugh_Crimes_Against_Magic_cvr_FINAL

3. Why do I write what I do?  

Because I love doing it. That’s the basic answer. I wanted to write stories that I would like to read, so I did and will continue to do so until I run out of them. Hopefully that’s no time soon.

McHugh_Born_of_Hatred_cvr_FINAL

4. How does your writing process work?

In terms of how I start writing, I usually just sit down and start. There’s no big process to it, I plant my butt in my chair and get started. Getting onto my chair is sometimes a process of procrastination and trying not to find something shiny to do, but I usually make it there eventually.

The process for coming up with the story is a little different.

Usually, I have a spark, something that ignites creativity in my brain. It can be anything from an idea for a fight scene or a use of magic, up to a full character or scene. Whatever it is, it’ll usually ferment in my brain for a few days, bugging me until I write something down to try and get it out.

Then I mull over the idea for a while, usually as I write something separate. When I’m finished with whatever I’m working on, I start on the new idea. It doesn’t usually take long for the story to flesh out, although the minor details sometimes do. I make notes, try to figure out what needs to be done where and do research as needed.

Once all of that is done, I write the story down on cards, each plot point or scene being a different card. I stick these onto a whiteboard I have in my office and that’s the basis for the story. Things change as I start writing, they always do, but by that point I’m pretty much aware of how the story will go and what’ll happen to which character.

I know most people will say not to go back and change things as you write, but it would annoy me to leave it, so I tend to do corrections and changes as I go. It takes longer to do the first draft, but it usually means not having to do another 2 or 3 straight after to get everything as you want it.

By this point, I’m usually left with a functioning first draft, although certainly not a readable one. I go through the story, making changes I need to and editing bits here and there that I think don’t work or need expanding.

This appears to be the point when the deadline looms and I need to get things finished, so I make sure everything is done and send it off to my editor, who sends it back with lots of red bits. I make corrections that I agree with (a very important point) and then send it back to her. If  there’s anything she still doesn’t like we talk about it and I make any final changes before she sends it off to her boss.

After that comes copy edits, line edits and a bunch of very exciting things, but they’re much less about creativity.

When the book isn’t with me, I work on the next one, going through the opening process to get the story together. That way I’m always working on something and never have the, “what do I do next?” mindset.

 

That’s it for me. I hope you enjoyed the read. And now, I get to tell you about the three fantastic writers that I pass on the preverbal baton to. You should go check them out.

First up is my crit partner and friend, Michelle Muto

Michelle has always loved storytelling. When she was a child, her favorite stories were of monsters and things that lurked in the dark. Telling stories often frightened her classmates and got her into a lot of trouble with her teachers. They had no sense of humor.

As an adult, Michelle traded her love of writing for the corporate life where she was an IT professional. Today, she’s doing what she loves best – writing and storytelling.

Michelle grew up in Chicago, but currently lives in NE Georgia with her husband and their two dogs. She loves scary books, funny movies, sports cars, chocolate, dogs, and changes of season.

 

Second is fellow 47North writer, the incredibly talented Charlie Holmberg.

Fantasy author, freelance editor, and Trekkie. Someday I will own a dog. My YA-crossover series, beginning with THE PAPER MAGICIAN, is coming soon from 47North.

 

Finally we have the amazing writer, Natalie Westgate.

Natalie Westgate was born and raised in England. Her love of writing is matched only by her love of shoes.

At age 6, Natalie wrote her first “book”: a children’s story titled The Dog That Went Meow. She got bitten by the literary bug and has been writing stories and poems ever since.

She has an enjoyment and intrigue of all things unusual – as a child, when others would run away from haunted houses, Natalie would ask her Mom if they could go and stay in one. Luckily, her Mom was just as keen and Natalie’s love of the paranormal grew.

Currently, Natalie is writing book one of an Urban Fantasy series. With the hope to get it polished and ready to send out to agents by the end of 2013. Watch this space!

She enjoys reading dark and urban fantasy, supernatural romance, horror, sci-fi and paranormal young adult genres. As well as getting immersed in the worlds of fictional supernatural TV series and movies – to Natalie, good writing isn’t limited to books.

Natalie is married to Brian, the love of her life who, being American, just loves to point out her English spelling “mistakes”. They have two cats – Spike (of the Buffy variety) and Indiana (after the famous Jones) – and a goofball dog.