Thursday, 28 September 2017

After Writing

You’re a writer because your head is full of stories that you need to tell. If you have the self discipline to keep writing, you eventually end up with a first draft.


You put it away to get some perspective and come back and edit it to death. If you’re not going to chase agents and publishers, you decide to self publish. That means you’re responsible for everything.

I quite enjoy editing. Writing is art and craft: the first draft is the art, the inspiration and creativity, after that it’s craft. The craft involves editing, critique partners, an editor, beta readers and all sorts. Whatever help you use, eventually the novel is finished. What happens after the writing?

Monday, 25 September 2017

Medieval Gower Stories: The Ensanding of Pennard Castle

The exciting news about Medieval Gower Stories is that it has gone to the printer! I’m just waiting while they inspect the file and let me know if everything is acceptable, and finalise the quote. Then they will give me the deadline for when the books will be ready. I am still wrestling with the ebook fomatting, but hopefully can load it into Amazon this week. The physical book launch will be next month, but I want the books ready before I decide on the date. To whet your appetite a bit more, here is one of the stories from the book.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

The Difference Engine by Gibson & Sterling 1990

The Difference Engine (1990) is an alternative history novel by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. It is widely regarded as a book that helped establish the genre conventions of steampunk.

It posits a Victorian Britain in which great technological and social change has occurred after entrepreneurial inventor Charles Babbage succeeded in his ambition to build a mechanical computer (actually his analytical engine rather than the difference engine).

The novel was nominated for the British Science Fiction Award in 1990, the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1991, and both the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Prix Aurora Award in 1992.

The Difference Engine(1stEd)

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Formatting Your Manuscript for Ebook and Print

I have reached the stage where my next history book, Medieval Gower Stories, is ready to publish. In the past I have had two contrasting conversations about formatting – one about ebook formatting and one about print book formatting.

The interesting thing was that the person who was struggling with creating an ebook was only used to print books and the one who was struggling with creating a print book was only used to ebooks. The formatting is very different, and you need to get your head around it or you will be very confused.

Before ebooks, there were only print books, and you either paid a printer (which was called vanity publishing and was a BAD THING) or you got yourself a contract with a publisher (which could be soul destroying getting accepted, but was then a GOOD THING). Either way, the internal layout of your book was done for you.

Now, with ebooks and print-on-demand, you can publish your own books (which is a GOOD THING) but you have to pay to have formatting done (which is a BAD THING), or format them yourself. So, unless you have money to spare or an expert friend, you must bite the formatting bullet.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Medieval Gower Stories Cover Reveal

Just a short post this week, but exciting. I wrote two weeks ago about my search for a cover. Well, here it is!

Gower Tales3

The book itself is finished and I’m just formatting the manuscript into two files: one for print and one for the ebook. Publication is getting nearer!

Ann Marie Thomas head shot (80x90) (300dpi) Web GravatarAnn Marie Thomas is the author of three medieval history books, a surprisingly cheerful poetry collection about her 2010 stroke, and the science fiction series Flight of the Kestrel. Book one, Intruders, is out now. Follow her at

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Crystal Express 1989/Schismatrix Plus 1996 by Bruce Sterling

In the New Age era of science fiction the general idea was that science and technology in the future would make the world a better place. Star Trek for example was set in a universe where Earth was united under a global government and there was no poverty or sickness. The Cyberpunk era was a reaction to this, a belief that advances in technology would benefit the elite but result in more unemployment and more oppression of the poor. The world of the New Age was clean and shiny. The Cyberpunk world was gritty and dirty. During these weeks we are looking at some classic Cyberpunk novels. This week, the Shaper/Mechanist universe of Bruce Sterling.

Crystal Express

Crystal Express

Short stories which depict worlds full of scientific advancement, genetic and surgical modifications of people, colonization of the solar system and alien contact. But they also show concern for the future of real people. The author's books include "Involution Ocean" and "Islands in the Net".

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

One Man’s Meat is Another Man’s Poison

A novel needs to have conflict, some challenge or obstacle which the hero has to overcome. The more conflict the better. Not just major setbacks, but little things too. Can you introduce a secret fear which isn’t a problem for most people?

We couldn’t afford holidays when I was a child. I remember going to stay with relatives a few times, and the first time I remember was staying with my Dad’s parents in Sussex when I was 4 or 5. Two teenage boy cousins stayed as well, which was not a good idea, since they teased me. They christened me ‘waterworks’ because I cried so much. They did teach me to gamble at cards though, much to my mother’s annoyance!

Grandparents Stoner

Monday, 11 September 2017

Medieval Gower Stories–Introduction

My new popular history book Medieval Gower Stories is almost ready for publication. To whet your appetite, here is the Introduction.

Introduction final

I live in the city of Swansea in South Wales UK, right on the edge of the Gower peninsular, Britain's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We have everything, all in one place: chain stores, little independent shops, leisure centres, museums, theatres, art galleries, the beach, the countryside, and train and motorway links directly to London and lots of other places.

In the past, Swansea was known as Copperopolis, the industrial centre of the world for smelting copper and other metals, due to the close proximity of coal and easy access by sea and river. But before that, especially long before that, I thought Swansea and Gower were not important at all.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

The Eclipse Trilogy: A Song Called Youth by John Shirley

The Eclipse Trilogy (also referred to as A Song Called Youth trilogy) is a series of three science fiction English language cyberpunk novels by John Shirley, (Eclipse, Eclipse Penumbra, and Eclipse Corona).

The books depict a dystopian future, set in a hypothetical mid 21st century where a new Russian Soviet has invaded Western Europe, causing massive disruption and destruction. Their armies were only repelled by the (unseen) use of tactical nuclear weapons, resulting in a stalemate, somewhat like the middle years of World War I. The New Soviet--more oligarchic than communist--has been stymied. But now Europe is in chaos, the USA is in crisis. To keep order and free up troops for actual fighting, NATO has contracted with the Second Alliance Security Corporation (SA), a right-wing, private security company of mercenaries, an anticipation of Blackwater-style privatization of the military. Second Alliance is part of a hidden (fascist) agenda unbeknownst to most of those who hired them. The heroes of the series are the New Resistance, who are fighting to expose and defeat the SA's racist policies and attempt to grab power.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Write What You Know

There is a famous piece of advice to writers: Write what you know.

Write what you know

Its validity is sometimes disputed, because crime writers write about murder and rape without having actually experienced it themselves, and science fiction writers write about whole worlds and alien races they couldn’t possibly have experienced. But it’s good advice for beginners, to draw on your own experiences, people and places you know, in order to give your story a touch of realism.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Medieval Gower Stories - The Search for a Cover

After you write a book, one of the challenges is to find a cover. There are websites offering pre-designed covers that you can customise very cheaply, but you run the risk of having a cover very similar to someone else’s. Also in my case it’s unlikely that I’d find anything suitable for a medieval history book. Prices for a bespoke cover design can rise high. Designing one yourself is a bad idea unless you are a trained graphic artist.

When I was thinking about publishing my first book Alina, The White Lady of Oystermouth I went to the Local History Book Fair at Swansea Museum and saw some lino cut prints being sold by the Gower Society. They were local scenes produced by a local artist whose family had granted the Gower Society permission to use them on notecards. Alina’s family lived in Oystermouth Castle and there was a lovely design featuring it which I asked permission to use. The artist’s family were consulted and gave permission as long as the artist’s son, a graphic designer, created the cover for my book, to ensure their father’s work was showcased well.

Alina Cover (396x612) (72dpi) Web

Saturday, 2 September 2017

The Big U & Snow Crash Cyberpunk Novels by Neal Stephenson

We’re looking at the cyberpunk era of science fiction history, and this week, two significant novels by Neal Stephenson.

The Big U (1984)

The Big U

This is Neal Stephenson's first published novel, a satire of campus life.