A catch up in May

a table laid with pretty cups and saucers and other crockery, flowers, against a pretty countryside setting, and the words A catch up in May

It’s been over a year since I’ve written a catch up post, so I thought it was time to do another. So grab a cup of what you fancy and find a comfy seat. Here’s what’s been happening in the life of Fi.

Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

The second instalment of the Haven Chronicles, Magic Bound, was released in 2022. Since then I’ve been planning and writing the third novel. A couple of months ago, I emailed off the first draft to Burning Chair. I always find this stage rather nerve-fraying, but thankfully they loved it. Phew!

Right now, I’m editing that version. Nothing major. Just a tweak here and a jiggle around there. The target is to finish those edits by the middle of June and have it back in the hands of Burning Chair for the next stage. Wish me luck.

Books 4 and 5

While I waited for Burning Chair to get back to me, I got on with planning book 4. I made my characters suffer plenty in book 3, but book 4 takes that to the next level and over the horizon. More travels, more peril, and much more heartbreak.

Book 5 will be the last instalment of the Haven Chronicles. I’ve always known how I want to end the series so large chunks of the final book are already planned out. It’s going to be an emotional one, both for the characters and me, but I feel that it’s a fitting and deserved end(?) to Steve’s journey.

Something completely different

Once I’d finished planning out book 4 and was waiting to hear back from Burning Chair, I started on a fresh writing project. It’s a fantasy novel, this time for grown-ups, and the first of two. I already know what I want to call it but I’m not going to share that just yet.

There are links in the novel to a couple of characters who appear in the Haven Chronicles, but other than that it’s a story of its own. What can you expect? Well, there’s:

  • an almost new main character (you met her once in the Haven Chronicles)
  • a brand new, powerful villain unlike anything I’ve written about before
  • an old hotel in a wild, rural setting
  • family ties and romantic challenges
  • long hidden secrets laid bare

Short stories

Or rather two collections of short stories. I’ve already written two short stories set in the same world as my novels, and plenty more fantasy short tales too. The plan is to create two collections: one of stories that relate to the Haven Chronicles, and another of fantasy stories that don’t tie into the series.

The first collection will be a companion book to the Haven Chronicles that reveals more about many of the side characters, their back stories, and adventures.

Who knows what will make it into the second? I’ve lots of tales to choose from. The title of the collection? It has to be Magical Possibilities.

Looking back over 2023

2023 over a bookish background

November has rolled around so quickly, and the end of another year is in sight. So it’s time to look back at how 2023 has treated me.  Here’s my yearly review.

Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

I greatly admire those authors who can write novels quickly, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them. I like to set up a roadmap for each novel before I begin, and research the hell out of locations and technology that will play a part in the story. That burns through a couple of months, which means that I didn’t start writing the third book in the series until autumn 2022.

2023 has seen my novel develop into an international adventure that takes Steve and friends on land, sea, and air journeys to fresh horizons. They’ve made new friends, encountered old foes, and discovered a little bit more about each other too. The end of book 3 is very close now. I just have an escape to plan, a sacrifice (for one of my characters) to make, and a final encounter to describe.

I’m a reader too

While I didn’t meet my target of reading 12 books in 2023, I did finish:

I reviewed all of these delights over on Instagram.

Blog, blog, blog

I publish a new blog post every month. In 2023, these were my personal favourites:

And I treated you to a three-part short story for Halloween: Four old ladies walk into a pub.

Three lovely bloggers and fellow authors interviewed me this year too. First up was the Big Bearded Bookseller, followed by author Karen King, and finally the folks at What We Reading.

A new way of writing

This year, I discovered the #7DayTale write-athon on Twitter/X. Write a piece of flash fiction, or a poem, or whatever you want really, to that month’s theme in one daily tweet for seven days. I blogged one of my tales in May.

While I won’t revisit some of my tales, I’ll definitely turn a number of them into full short stories. I’ve enjoyed the challenge of the reduced character count and the camaraderie of writing my tale alongside other storytellers.

Life of Fi

Away from writerly stuff, 2023 has been all about just getting on with things. It hasn’t been a bad year, but it definitely hasn’t been restful either. It’s totally my own fault as I gave myself more writing to do (#7DayTale and a few short stories) and a new craft business to run (you’ll find plenty of bookmark and charm pictures over on my Instagram).

I’d like to say I got a rest when we went on holiday but with four adults in a cruise ship cabin, one of whom suffers from sea sickness, it was a fun but eventful trip. We even discovered our new favourite place to visit as a family, Lisbon in Portugal. And yes, that is a bus travelling down a river. We were in the bus floating behind.

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So that’s it, my hectic 2023. I’ve fitted a lot into it and there’s even more to get done before 2024 shines over the horizon. And to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The rewards of writing a fiction series

I’ve blogged before about the challenges of writing book two and those challenges haven’t diminished as I work on the third book of the Haven Chronicles. What I haven’t written about is the rewards of writing a fiction series.

Writing a series isn’t easy, but it can be incredibly satisfying. It’s certainly given me a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also helped me to grow as a writer.

So in this blog post, I want to share with you some of the rewards that I’ve enjoyed while writing my series. These aren’t the only rewards, of course, but they are some of the most important ones for me.

Exploring the world of the Haven Chronicles

When I wrote Haven Wakes, I fell in love with both the futuristic and magical aspects of Caercester and Darkacre. In Magic Bound, I got the chance to extend that world beyond the city limits and dive deeper into the magical culture.

 Building a world that has elements of both fantasy and sci fi is an absolute joy. I have the chance to play with robots and technology that is being developed in our world right now or is only theorised about at the moment. I can also indulge my love of all things folklore and magic, including characters from the mythological tales I devoured as a child.

Writing a series allows me to wend my way through that world, further and further afield with each book, and explore the intricacies of both the magical and workaday** cultures. With each new instalment, I can return there and share those locations with my readers.

Revisiting the characters of the Haven Chronicles

It’s not only the world of the Haven Chronicles that I can revisit; there’s the characters too. Writing a series allows me to follow the journeys of Steve, Hartley, Blessing, and the darkling, plus some well-loved side characters like James and Frobisher too. With each new book, I can explore their development, their relationships with each other, and how their views of the world change over time.

What’s more, I can create companion stories that feature those characters too. Hartley Keg and Frobisher turn up in my short stories, The Hidden Knowing and A Shadow Falls in Darkacre. And I’ve plans to write a novel about Hartley’s adventures long before he meets Steve in Haven Wakes.

Serving the readers of the Haven Chronicles

Before my novels were published, I always worried about how they’d be received. Would readers like them and want more? Or would they post horrendous 1* reviews and my books die a literary death? Thankfully, the feedback I’ve received from beta and ARC readers, bloggers, and book reviewers has been encouraging.

And instead of simply accepting the praise, I’ve done my best to listen to what readers want to see in future books too. More action. More future tech. The most common question from readers has been ‘where are Steve’s parents?’. I’ll answer that in the third book in the series.

Challenging myself as a writer

Writing a series has meant continuing an overarching storyline and making sure that my characters are consistent but also develop with each new adventure. It’s also meant:

  • planning ahead for the entire series, not just one novel
  • learning how to keep my characters acting like themselves but changing over time too
  • planting seeds that will reach fruition in future books
  • keeping the plot of each novel relevant to the overall story arc of the series
  • making each book bigger than the one before
  • keeping track of what’s happened in previous books so I don’t make continuity mistakes

It’s a completely different skillset to writing one stand-alone story but it’s a challenge I’m enjoying immensely.

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Writing a series has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life as a writer. I’ve loved exploring the world and the characters of the Haven Chronicles, serving my readers and listening to their feedback, and challenging myself to grow and improve as a writer. I can’t wait to share the third book in the series with you.

** a term used to describe non magical people in my novels

A catch up in April

cup of tea and a bunch of daffodils

It’s been a while since I wrote a catch-up blog, so I thought April was the ideal month to let you know what’s been going on in the Life of Fi. 2023 has been hectic so far – generally in a good way – but that hasn’t stopped me from working on my novel or taking on new creative challenges.

Writing book 3 (and 4)

I began writing the third book in my YA futuristic fantasy series last year. I mapped the whole book out before I made a start and even back then, it did seem a lot to fit into 300 odd pages. Having written a generous portion of book three, I now realise that what I’d mapped out was not one book, but two. My challenge now is to decide where I can satisfactorily end book three (with a big, exciting finish) and begin book four.

What this means for you as a reader of course, is that there should be less time between the release of the two books. Hopefully.

Book 5 of the Haven Chronicles

Since I finished writing Haven Wakes, I’ve known exactly how I wanted to end the series. Clues have been dropped in books one and two and there’ll be more clues in books three and four. Book five will be the end of one journey but will leave plenty of doors open for more adventures elsewhere. Sorry to sound vague and mysterious but, you know, spoilers.

Creative Fi

2022 was a brilliant year in so many ways, but it was also a year that demanded I spend a lot of time at my desk, head down writing and planning in an attempt to keep ahead of my schedule as a copywriter and an author. There was little time for side projects. So I decided that this year would be all about new creative outlets that are fun.

First, I came across a flash fiction write-athon on Twitter called #7DayTale. Write a story in seven tweets, one each day for a week, on a provided theme. It’s a monthly event that I discovered thanks to the wonderful poet and author Lily Lawson.

The second new creative outlet for 2023 is my craft business. I used to make semi-precious jewellery for a living and while I gave that up several years ago, I’ve always wanted to return to working with beads and charms. As I’m an author and all about books, you probably won’t be surprised to discover that I’ve started a business making bookmarks. It’s called Bookmarks and Charms by Fi.

Finally, I’ve returned to a platform I first discovered about a decade ago – Tumblr. I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to use my new author account – Magical Possibilities – but it’ll probably include:

  • work in progress news and snippets
  • requests for beta and ARC readers
  • book reviews (not my books)
  • flash fiction and small stones
  • book cover reveals
  • news from other speculative fiction authors and my publisher
  • thoughts and musings
  • photos from the Life of Fi

If you’re a Tumblr user, then I’d love to connect over there.

Final Words

I’ll finish this catch up with a snippet from my work in practice, book three of the Haven Chronicles. This scene happens in Darkacre just when Steve desperately needs to be cheered up.

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“It really smells rounds here.” Steve covered his nose as a sweet, pungent stink wafted through the air. “What is that?”

“It’s not me,” said James. “I’ve washed today. Maybe Widow Wefan has been using goat manure on her garden plot again.”

There was a ‘ping’ and a scrabbling of claws as a squirrel materialised in the air in front of Steve’s face and then dropped to the cobbled road.

“Squirrel mail,” said Steve.

“Blimey,” said James.

With a chirp, the squirrel ran up Steve’s trouser leg, circled his torso, and came to rest on his shoulder. With a flourish, the squirrel pulled a note out of the air and gave a quick bark.

“I think it’s for you,” said James with a grin.

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What I love about being an author: the top 3

I’m an author. That phrase makes me smile. If you look for me online, you’ll find me described as a copywriter as well as an author. Or to put it another way, I get to do something I love (writing) for a career. How good is that?

Being an author isn’t always easy and there’s been a ton load of learning along the way, but I wouldn’t swap this path for any other. So I thought I’d share with you what I love most about being an author.

Sharing my stories and their worlds with my readers

When I was a child, I would act out plays and stories with my mismatched collection of dolls and teddy bears. Eventually, that turned into writing those stories down. As a pupil at school, I took great delight in sharing my stories in English classes. I mean, what’s not to like? I got free advice on what to improve and I had the chance to show the tales, characters, and worlds of my imagination to a willing audience.

When I finally left education, suddenly I didn’t have an outlet for sharing my stories anymore. I could show my parents, but they had a busy life. My friends were more interested in night outs and finding love. My then boyfriend thought writing stories was a waste of time.

Locally, there were a handful of writing classes but more often than not I found them a vehicle for the teacher’s taste in writing, rather than a place to share and talk about the stories we wanted to write.

As time went on, the internet widened our view of the world, social media was born, and online forums popped up on all kinds of topics. I gradually found online places where I could share my writing. I even had a few short stories published in magazines – both paper and online – over the years. I wanted to write novels though, and finding a home for those stories was a challenge. It was also a path that generally led to rejection. It felt like I was writing those stories only for myself and while I enjoyed that process, I wanted more.

Skip several years to now and thanks to the wonderful people at Burning Chair Publishing, my stories have found a home. I get to share my novels with an audience of readers who – according to the book reviews and kind words you leave on social media – enjoy reading my stories as much as I loved writing them.

Seeing my books on bookshelves (including my own)

I doubt there’s an author in the world who hasn’t felt a little joyful skip of the heart when they see their beloved novel on a bookshelf, even if that bookshelf is their own.

My novels haven’t made it into a physical bookstore yet, but seeing and holding actual copies of my books is a wonderful experience. It makes me feel like a ‘proper’ author, whatever that is. I think that’s why unboxing videos are so popular with authors and readers alike. And yes, there are copies of my novels on my own bookshelves.

I have even more reasons to read other people’s books

I’ve always been an avid reader but as an author, it’s important that I keep an eye on other novels in my genre (fantasy and sci fi) and broaden my literary horizons by reading other genres too. There’s so much to learn from other authors and how they tell their own stories, plus of course, I immensely enjoy reading. Hence why I have a precariously towering to-be-read pile.

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There are plenty more things that I love about being an author but these are my top three. With Haven Wakes and Magic Bound already out in the big wide world, working on the third novel in the series is just one more reason to feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be an author.

What you can expect from me in 2023

Sh! I’m still on festive break officially but I thought I’d take advantage of the lull before I return to my desk to say ‘hi’. 2022 was a good, if exhausting year. I saw my latest novel published, got a wonderful new cover and relaunch for my debut novel, and even went off on a Norwegian fjord cruise with my other half.

2023, however, is a clean page that I’m keen to get scribbling on. Just in case you wanted to know, here’s what you can expect from me over the next twelve months.

Writing Book 3 of the Haven Chronicles

Last year, I started to write the third book in my YA futuristic fantasy series and there’ll be more of that in 2023. One question that many of my readers and reviewers have asked after reading Haven Wakes and Magic Bound is, ‘where are Steve’s parents?’. That question will finally be answered in book 3.

There’ll be new places to go, old and new foes to outsmart, and plenty more revelations about Steve and his family.

The festive break brought a new epiphany about the path of this series but that’s something to share once book 3 is published.

Social Media for Authors

My book of social media advice for authors remains in the hands of Burning Chair. Fingers crossed, it will be published this year.

In the meantime, if you’re an author looking for social media advice, head on over to my copywriter blog.

Subscriber treats

In December, subscribers to my Author News received the links and passwords to my fantasy novella, A Shadow Falls in Darkacre. The plan is to release at least one short story or novella in 2023 too.

By the way, if you’re not subscribed yet, you can sign up here. New subscribers receive a free short story set in the same world as my novels.

Book reviews

Writers are readers too and I’ll be attacking my to-be-read pile with the usual enthusiasm. I didn’t read as many books last year as I’d have liked to (only nine) so fingers crossed, I can do better this year. The target is twelve.

Here’s a taste of the first nine books I’ll be reading.

book covers of Prisoner of Paradise by Rob Samborn, Babes in the Woods by Mark Stay, Ghosts: Being the experiences of Flaxman Low, Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman, Exiles by Daniel Blythe, The Shepherds Crown by Terry Pratchett, Blackbirch 1 by K M Allan, Master and Apprentice by Susan Mansbridge, All the White Spaces by Ally Wilkes

As usual, you can find all of my book reviews over on Instagram.

My search for a literary agent

With two novels published and a third in the works, I feel that it’s time to find a literary agent. In 2023, I’ll be sending out submissions to UK literary agents who are interested in YA fantasy. I don’t have much more to say about that other than, wish me luck.

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And that’s it – my authorly plan for 2023. Fingers crossed.

Looking back over 2022

It’s that time of year again, when I take a moment to look back over 2022 before I dive into the festive season. It has been a marvellous year for me on so many fronts. Here’s why:

Haven Wakes was reborn

My first fantasy novel, Haven Wakes, received a make-over. The clever people at Burning Chair came up with a fresh new book cover design. I loved the original but to me, the new design reflects the novel so much better.

Magic Bound was published

This has to be the highlight of the year. The second novel in my fantasy series, Magic Bound, was published in the summer. It’s a continuation of Steve’s journey into magic and takes him far beyond the city walls of Caercester. I even made an unboxing video.

Here’s the blurb:

The magic returns.

When Hartley Keg and Blessing go missing, Steve Haven, the young heir to the Haven Robotics Corporation, once again finds himself plunged back into the chaos of the hidden world of magic.

Teaming up with the darkling, he finds himself on the run from the Council and their enforcers, the Hidden, as he seeks to keep safe those whom he holds most dear.

Things are complicated further when a new player emerges: Parity, a clandestine organisation who are far too keen in the Haven Corporation and the magical device which almost led to its destruction.

What follows is a race not only against time but through a series of locations, each more fantastical and dangerous than the last, as Steve and his friends attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers.

I read a lot of fiction books

Well, it was a lot for me anyway. So far in 2022, I have read:

I meant to read a lot more than this, but life got in the way. My current read is Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. As usual you can find my book reviews on my Instagram channel.

My blogging habit

I publish a new blog post every month. In 2022, these were my personal favourites:

I also appeared in a couple of guest blog posts in 2022. The first is on the Whispering Stories blog, The writing life of Fi Phillips. The second was an interview by my lovely publisher, Burning Chair.

The Life of Fi

As far as my personal life goes, 2022 has also been kind. My son passed his A levels and got into the university of his choice (that’s both of my offspring at university now).

I also went on a cruise of the Norwegian fjords with my husband. Obviously, clothes had to be bought for the posh nights and the Norwegian summer temperatures (chilly).

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So that’s it, my wonderful year. Now if you don’t mind, I’ve presents to buy, celebrations to enjoy, and book three of my fantasy series to write. There’s no rest for the writerly.

Tackling the third book in the series

paperback copies of Haven Wakes and Magic Bound on a mountain backdrop with the words Tackling Book 3

If you follow me and my writing, you’ll know that the second book of my YA futuristic fantasy series was released at the beginning of August. Magic Bound picks up the story a few weeks after the end of Haven Wakes. Steve and his friends face the consequences of their actions, head off on a new adventure into a bigger slice of both the magical and non-magical worlds, and struggle against two new big-bads.

With Magic Bound out in the world, it’s time to tackle the next novel in the series. In a lot of ways, writing book three isn’t so different to writing book two. It involves:

  • giving Steve a reason to start another quest
  • showing more of both the magical world and the futuristic world
  • lots of research into new topics like anti-gravity and world tree mythology
  • listening to reader reactions to the book before
  • revealing more about Steve and his family’s connection to magic
  • creating a complete adventure that leaves enough undone for the story to continue

Book three picks up almost immediately after the end of Magic Bound and addresses an issue mentioned by several readers – where are Steve’s parents? That is Steve’s reason for continuing his journey into magic.

In book three, you’ll read about many of the familiar locations you already know – Darkacre, the Haven Robotics Corporation offices, and the Council controlled Confluence too – but Steve will visit plenty of new places too, both magical and workaday.

There’ll be more information on Steve and his family, and revelations aplenty about their connection with the world of magic.

There’s an old foe to parry with and a new threat too, more powerful than any that Steve has faced before.

While there’s always room for change when writing a novel, one thing I know for sure is that this isn’t a trilogy. Book three is not the end for Steve and his friends.

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If you’d like to keep up-to-date with my writing news, and receive a free short story too, why not sign up to my Author News.

What I’m waiting for right now

We’re pelting through May at a pace and closing in on the mid-way point of the year. There’s still plenty of things to look forward to in 2022 though. Here are just a few.

Book Two of the Haven Chronicles

It’s so close and I’m as keen as my readers to get my hands on a copy of the second novel in my futuristic fantasy series. I so want to share Steve’s continuing journey into magic with you all. Just a little bit longer, honest.

The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency by Peter Oxley

Burning Chair’s own Peter Oxley has a new fantasy novel out this year too. The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency features two side characters from his earlier dark fantasy Infernal Aether series. I don’t have a publication date or official blurb yet, but here’s what he said about it in my interview with him last year:

My latest book is one I’ve been threatening my readers group with for far too long. It’s called The Great Big Demon Hunting Agency, and is an irreverent spin-off from my Infernal Aether books. It takes place a couple of years after the events of Beyond the Aether and focuses on a couple of characters who were bit-part players in the main series – lovable rogues Spencer and Bart.

In terms of inspiration for the book, those two characters were initially just little plot devices, but they muscled their way in to the story time and again, insisting that I give them more air-time. I had to cut most of their scenes from the main series – they were too much of a distraction from the main story arc and characters – so I promised myself I’d give them their own proper series when I could.

As a fan of the Infernal Aether, I can’t wait to get my hands on this novel.

The Stone of Destiny by Andrew Neil MacLeod

Last year, I read and reviewed The Fall of the House of Thomas Weir by Andrew Neil McLeod. I enjoyed this historical paranormal novel immensely so I was excited to find out that the follow-up novel, The Stone of Destiny, will be published in October. Here’s the blurb:

What if the Coronation Stone at Westminster—the stolen relic on which the High Kings of Scotland had been crowned for over seven hundred years—was a fake?

What if the true Stone of Destiny was still out there somewhere, hidden away by a Holy Order to protect it from English invaders?

When Doctor Johnson turns up at his friend James Boswell’s door after an absence of almost seven years, he makes Boswell an enticing proposition: to join him on a quest to recover the true Stone of Destiny.

What follows is a breath-taking journey through the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland, from Edinburgh up to the furthest reaches of the northern isles. Plunged into a dizzying world of secret societies, occult mysteries, and supernatural phenomena, the two friends leave no Neolithic stone unturned in their search to uncover the truth.

Eighteenth century Scotland has never been so magical… and terrifying.

On TV

I don’t get a lot of spare time to watch TV. I therefore keep a look-out for new releases on Netflix and Prime Video so that I can spend my viewing time wisely. There are three main 2022 releases that I can’t wait to watch:

  • The Rings of Power is a pre Lord of the Rings premise. I’ve heard a lot of good and a lot of bad opinion on the series, but it looks beautiful in the trailer. As with any book, film, or TV series I come across, I want to form my own opinion.
  • The fourth season of Stranger Things seems to have been a long time coming. I loved the retro Stephen King feel of the first three seasons and the journey of all the young characters. As the trailer says, every ending has a beginning.
  • Finally, a new series Night Sky looks very interesting. The premise is that a middle-aged couple discover a gateway in their back-yard that leads to an alien planet. It’s a secret they’ll have to protect from family and strangers alike. Can’t wait for this one.

My summer holiday

After the Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions of the last two years, my husband and I are finally getting away on a holiday abroad this year. I’m excited and nervous and excited again. It’s surprising how quickly I’ve become accustomed to staying close to home because of the pandemic. This’ll be an opportunity to dress up, kick back, take a ton of photos, and make plenty of memories.

My son’s A’ level results

Like many young people who should have taken their GCSEs in 2020, my son is facing his first proper exams in the form of A’ levels. His exams are in June, so he’s head down in revision. He’s hoping to go to university in the autumn, so his final grades are paramount. Fingers crossed for a brilliant result.

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Like I said, there’s so much to look forward to in 2022. It’s turning out to be a great year. Bring it on.

Writing a book: solo project or team effort?

As book two of my fantasy series, the Haven Chronicles, moves closer to its ‘fly – be free’ moment, I’ve been thinking a lot about whether writing and creating a book is a lone process or not. Can it be done by an author in isolation or does it require the input of others?

Solo project?

There’s no denying that an author writes a book on their own. Or maybe it might be more accurate to say that they write that first draft on their own. I certainly did, in a whirl-wind of brain dump, imagine, choreograph – scribble, scribble, delete, delete, scribble some more – as I penned/typed the next leg of Steve’s journey into magic.

Once that first draft was done and dusted and polished to what I thought was a shine, I handed it over to my publisher for their response.

Team effort?

The next few months went something like this:

  • publisher feedback
  • create draft 2
  • publisher feedback
  • create draft 3
  • publisher feedback…

You get the gist. There were several rounds of publisher feedback and draft revision before we landed on the final version. Somewhere in among that exchange, a number of beta readers were asked for their thoughts too.

The next stage was to hand over the concept to a book cover designer and while their design won’t change the words written down in my novel, they will add to the online and on-shelf presence of the story. Readers will come to recognise that book cover as much as they recognise my writing and Steve’s story.

Finally, dear reader, there’s you. Once published, a book’s text may be complete and set in ink, but your response will tell me how you’d like me to handle the story’s next stage in book three.

Answer to my question?

Book two in its original form was definitely a solo project. I knew where I wanted to take Steve, Hartley, and the darkling and the perils they would face. I think that’s probably the case for any writer. After that first draft was written, however, it turned into a team effort and book two is all the better for it. Eyes other than my own pointed out the weaknesses I had missed and directed me to solutions I would never have dreamt up on my own.

It’s like that phrase, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. It takes a community of book-lovers and book-experts to create a book in its final form.

So I’d like to thank a few of those people for their undeniable help and support. I couldn’t have got this far without you:

Thank you for being my village.