New Cover Design – Spyglass and the Cherry Tree

You may have noticed that The Spyglass and the Cherry Tree is currently unavailable to order. This is because I am currently in the process of approving a new cover design! Exciting! I think that this cover hopefully better aligns itself with the marketplace and is much more exciting and more likely to grab a reader’s attention. I should hopefully approve the new proofs this week and the book should be available again to purchase with the new artwork. As an aside, I’ve also decided to go with a matte finish on the cover this time around so I’m almost as excited to see how that looks!

Because I’m not one to tease, this is the new cover in all of its glory! Don’t forget to order your copy as soon as it is available!

I want to say a massive thank you to the amazingly talented Alex Hurtado for the cover artwork.

New Cover Art

Exciting news this week as The Spyglass and the Cherry Tree has a new ebook cover (see below!). I’m excited to see how this goes down with readers and the paperback version may well follow later in the year. Don’t forget, if you’ve read it already or plan to read it in the future, leave a review and help future readers make a decision.

It’s alive!

It’s alive!

It is with great pride that I can finally say that my debut novel, The Spyglass and the Cherry Tree, is finally ready and soon to be on sale. It will be on sale from June 19th but I am currently working on getting Amazon display it for pre-orders rather than as “out of stock”. If anybody knows how to sort this, let me know!

You can get ready to order now by searching your favourite online retailer for The Spyglass and the Cherry Tree or click this link.

Spyglass and the Cherry Tree Book Trailer

Spyglass and the Cherry Tree Book Trailer

Progress is still being made on Spyglass and the Cherry Tree, the debut novel for both myself and the Shadowland Chronicles. I have just uploaded the first book trailer at (scroll for the trailer) but I’ve also embedded it here for you to view.

Just promise you’ll also view the main Shadowland Chronicles page to watch it as well. I trust you. Go on.

The Editing Process

The Editing Process

How does one openly accept critique of something so personally created over years of writing, drafting and re-drafting? It’s something that I was very anxious about as I sent my manuscript away to my editor. What would she say? How could she possibly know the characters and their stories well enough to offer any advice that I hadn’t already agonised over a thousand times in my head?

Well the first round of edits came back to me a few days ago and I’ve since been immersed in working through the first few chapters. I have to say, I had no reason to be worried. The advice I’ve received has been great, both positive and suggestive and has made the whole process, dare I say it, fun!

I’ve enjoyed revisiting familiar places with a fresh perspective and I can see how the macro as well as the micro suggestions will result in a much better story for my eventual readers.

If any of you out there are wondering whether an editor is the way to go, then I’d say go for it. It’s worth it!

We’ll see if I’m still so enthused after three rounds of suggestions!

Enjoy the teaser header image as well!

Big Editorial Decision

Big Editorial Decision

Today marks a big step in the process of publishing my first novel, Spyglass and the Cherry Tree. I’ve made the decision to work with the very highly recommended editor Pam Elise Harris of Kitchen Sink Edits. I can’t wait to see what improvements she can suggest and it gives me a nice working date of the end of June for publication.

However, this isn’t set in stone as I’m also the proud father of a new baby daughter who has caused her own problems. The main protagonist in Spyglass is a girl called Willow; a name that me and my wife both loved so much we have named the aforementioned daughter so. My older daughter was non-to-pleased about her baby sister being name-checked whilst she was left out and so I’ve got the conundrum of trying to rename a character that I have been creating and breathing life into for the better part of three years.

No word yet on the new name, I’ll leave that until publication (plus I’ve not decided on it yet!).

Writing With Scrivener

Writing With Scrivener

I thought I’d take a few minutes to share a revelation I’ve had recently with writing software. Off the bat, I’m aware I may be way behind the curve here, but I’m still very excited!

When I wrote The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree, I used Microsoft Word to set out the manuscript by default. As the story was largely linear with only one thread it worked quite well; however, with the follow up novel, Emperor In The East, I wanted a much more multi-threaded story with more complex narratives. Working in Word would have been very cumbersome as I wanted to be able to move sections of the narrative around easily.

Enter Scrivener. I’d been recommended it before and used the trial but it seemed overkill to me and, to be fair, it probably would have been for Spyglass. For Emperor though, it seemed ideal.

As you can see from the screenshot above, it allows me to write each character thread in sections that can be moved around at will. It also meant that I could write the entire Willow narrative at once, section by section, and it wouldn’t impact on the final order. This was much easier than writing the first bit of Willow’s narrative, flicking to Ithilmir to write a bit for Snudge etc.

The only concern I had was whether once I’d finished writing the first act (I chose to structure the story in three distinct acts and write each one separately) would I have to move all of my beautifully organised sections out of their folder structure.

After organising all of the sections into the structure that I think works best (for now!) I started to look at how to achieve what I wanted. It turns out, Scrivener has a concept called Collections that you can add written sections to and order as you wish, without changing the underlying structure.


If you’re not using it already, I’d certainly give Scrivener a go!

The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree Sample

The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree Sample

After thinking it over for a while, I’ve decided to upload part of the first chapter of The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree. It hasn’t been edited yet by anyone other than myself so it may will change drastically before publication! I’d definitely be interested to hear your feedback in the comments below. There may be more information to come in the next few days with a cool trailer poster that I’ve designed primarily to keep me focussed!

Chapter 1 

The army of Goblins stretched away to the horizon. They were scrambling forwards, climbing over each other in their eagerness to rush the waiting army of men. The frosted grass underfoot was soon turned to mud as the clawed feet churned and kicked away at it. Their quarry were still small on the horizon but the foul creatures were doing all they could to cover the distance quickly.

Waiting for their attack were a vast army of men fronted by hundreds of mounted cavalry and backed by thousands more foot soldiers stretching to the rear. Row upon row of men stood to attention beneath banners of every colour and design. Each one was waiting, ready for the command from the front; from the tall girl sat proudly in the saddle of her strong warhorse. She was no more than a teenager and her wiry frame didn’t seem strong enough to support the heavy armour that she wore. Long, ginger hair flowed from under her helmet and danced in the fierce wind that swirled around the battlefield.

Around her, snow started to fall with a softness that seemed alien against the raging noise of the oncoming Goblins. Where it settled on the warm hides of the horses it melted with a soft hiss but it was starting to settle in drifts against the trees at the edge to the woodland that flanked the battlefield on both sides. The woodlands that were to be their refuge if all went wrong. They were being cut off from their only salvation by the failing weather.

Thousands of men at her side. Thousands of men rapidly called to arms from all corners of her empire. How many could she rely upon if the fight went south though? How many would flock back to the darkness if her plan failed? She knew that she had some good men around her, men that she had fought with for years. For the rest though, she knew she could nothing but hope.

The Goblins were close now. A pallid mist hung above their steaming bodies as they tore through the icy air. The Goblins didn’t feel the cold, the girl had been told. As she flexed her fingers to take the edge of the chill, she wished she had their blood in her right now.

They were close now, she knew it was time. The girl screamed her defiance at the oncoming wave of darkness and allowed her spear to drop into her saddle. Her call to charge echoed through the legions at her command and, with a mighty roar, she led the cavalry forwards at a gallop.

A wall of green rose up as they drew closer, each Goblin climbing on to the backs of those in front in a desperate bid to wrench the mounted soldiers from their saddles. The Goblin weapons were largely old and worn but they still looked sharp in the dawn light. From this distance their chattering cries and unholy screams merged into one incoherent noise. She knew there was only one way this could end. These demons needed sending back to the hell from which they came.

The floor vibrated to the pounding of horseshoes hammering into the earth. The girl felt her horse slip on the frozen earth and strain every muscle to keep its balance. Suddenly they were on top of the Goblins and the girl thrust her spear forwards and straight through the chests of the first column of enemies. She cast the spear aside, weighed down by the spiked bodies, and drew her sword. It shone in what little light there was and she felt the power course through her arms.

A Goblin came at her from the side and she managed to drop her shield in time to take the blow before removing the head with her sword. Another had its throat opened with the tip of her blade as it jumped, screaming, towards her face.

Enemy after enemy fell beneath her until, from nowhere, a crossbow bolt smacked into the neck of her horse. She felt it tense and thrash around beneath her, its muscles moving like a sack of thick snakes. With a loud whinny it fell to the ground throwing the girl clear at the last minute. She slipped as she tried to scramble to her feet but that split second was all it took for her enemies to fall upon her. She felt their claws and teeth scratching against her armour before her helmet was pulled from her head.

Looking up through her forest of matted red hair, the girl saw two pools of emerald green punctuated by deepest darkness. She saw the eyes blink slowly and the head pull back from hers. She saw the Goblin raise a rusty sickle high above its head before bringing it swinging down towards her neck.

The blow never came.

Just as the blade should have been making its terminal mark, Willow Thistle found herself jolted from her dream and onto her bedroom floor, her hands groping at her neck. She was sweating again and was completely tangled up in her quilt. These dreams were becoming more common. She was having them practically every other day now.

Willow looked at the alarm clock on her bedside table. 5am. Still too early to get up. She shook her head clear and allowed herself to drift back to sleep.

Here Be Goblins!


The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree

The Spyglass And The Cherry Tree

I have finally taken the decision to self-publish my debut novel The Spyglass and the Cherry Tree (the new working title for The Dark Queen of Deorc). This wasn’t an easy decision but after several rejections from agents and after reading around the subject a lot, I’ve decided that this is the best option for me. I think that, ultimately, I prefer the idea of complete creative control over the story and all the surrounding aspects.

With that in mind, you may see me self-promoting a lot over the coming months. The story is currently going through a final beta-read before heading off to be edited. With that in mind, I’m aiming for a Spring 2017 release so I need to start spreading the word now!

I’ve spent the last few weeks working on a map of Ithilmir, the world in which my protagonist finds herself and so, because everyone loves a map, here it is for your enjoyment!

Please spread the word!