Hello from The Pit and Book Review of ‘Convergence’ by Michael Patrick Hicks

Hello there and greetings to all, both to new followers and old faithfuls. Sorry if I’m echoing, but these greetings are coming to you from the depths of the Writing Pit.

I am currently pretty much a permanent resident of said Pit. As I hinted at in my last post I have one of those things: a deadline. So this Pit comes complete with a Pendulum.

Tell me you didn’t see that one coming.

As I always say, however, progress is steady. Which is genuinely is if you make the time to write and keep yourself engaged with your draft.

Thus, I soldier on and you will be the first to know whenever I get a chance to come up for air.

Further to this aim, I am off on a writing retreat this weekend. I am really excited. I can honestly say nothing compares to the productivity you achieve when you go away somewhere and concentrate on nothing but writing. Fingers crossed for reaching of heady new heights of production and engagement this weekend.

Grange Over Sands, the chocolate box town

Grange Over Sands, the chocolate box town

My usual haunt, Gladstone’s Residential Library in Cheshire was, unfortunately, fully booked so I am instead taking full advantage of the wonderful countryside that is just on my doorstep and staying in a hotel in Grange-Over-Sands, Cumbria. Horror writer M. J. Wesolowski of The Black Land has used this location as a retreat in the past and his description of the remote location and chocolate-box town has won me over.

Magical Spirited Away Train

Magical Spirited Away Train

I scouted it out last weekend and it is like a fairy tale town. The train goes over an estuary, complete with egrets, and the station is right on the water. If anyone has ever seen Spirited Away, it’s just like the train ride Chihiro takes across the water. Inspirational or what?

So I will no doubt check in from there, for sanity’s sake if nothing else.

In the meantime, I simply couldn’t wait any longer to give you my review of this SciFi novel I read last month by Michael Patrick Hicks: the unparalleled Convergence.

Enjoy the review, stay tuned and, if you’re looking for action, drama and adventure in your Autumn night reading, head to Amazon for a copy of Convergence!

(If you’re after two of a kind, my debut SciFi Space Pirate romp, Zero, is also out on Amazon in paperback & ebook form and still receiving consistently positive reviews ^_^)

Convergence‘: Michael Patrick Hicks

A SciFi adventure with action, emotion and drama. available on Amazon

A SciFi adventure with action, emotion and drama. available on Amazon

Convergence is the first of Michael Patrick Hicks, SciFi writer’s books that I’ve read. And, boy, was it an action-packed blast of a novel.

It’s set in a post-revolutionary America where the oppressive establishment has rounded up those who have so far survived the take-over into refugee camps little better than internment camps. There’s security checks, poor rations, poor living conditions. Crammed into these camps are what once were the ordinary people of modern day America, suddenly without jobs, homes or stability. Families have been split up or destroyed and every semblance of their lives overturned.

The main character, Jonah Everitt, has tried desperately to find a way to scrape by with his sanity in tact, whilst trying to keep his daughter alive and manage an ever-increasing need to experience other people’s memories.

Surgically implanted computer ports in the brain are the norm for people of this generation, allowing them to upload and download the memories and thoughts of themselves and others, meaning they can relive moments of intense emotion whenever they choose. But in this war-torn world, what began as a recreational and commercial activity is now at once a commodity and weapon. Information is power and with people’s thoughts and memories recorded and stored and accessible by others, literally everyone’s information is up for grabs.

It’s when there’s information that more than one person is, with power, weapons and influence, is after it that the problems really start to escalate.

Convergence is fast-paced, full of action and a thrilling ride from start to finish. Everitt struggles even more than he perhaps realises to cope with the hand that’s been dealt him, and sometimes makes questionable decisions in his fight for survival. But you’re right there with him and want him to succeed, however he goes about it. You ache for his redemption, or even just a crumb of comfort or stability, right along with him.

The language is clipped and bold, which is what you want for this kind of story. It keeps the prose active and doesn’t tell you what to think. You come away with your own ideas about the situations and the characters but cannot entirely argue that you wouldn’t be doing the same things were you in their shoes, be they friend or enemy.

The plot is many-layered and intricately woven. The narrative stays tight, focusing on Everitt’s journey, but you learn of the vast reality that’s the backdrop to his experiences. This is how I love to explore fictional worlds rife with intrigue, strife and wide-reaching ramifications: through the eyes of one or two characters only. It makes you feel like you’re living in it with them. Disturbing as this can be at times, it makes the narrative real, which is what I like in my escapism. I want to believe. And with Hicks, I do.

There is violence, depth of feeling, explosions, car chases and tenderness. The book has everything and is perfect for those who like their SciFi gritty, edgy and realistic.

May there be many more.

Pick up a copy of Convergence from Amazon today, and/or find out more on Goodreads!

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Zero: action-adventure in near-earth orbit

J. S. Collyer:

A great and honest review for Zero. Really great hearing this perspective and some great stuff for me to work with, but also a really good summary of the plot. Thanks so much, Rowena!

Originally posted on MurderMayhem&More:

Zero CollyerThis is an ambitious first novel, one which creates a sprawling and credible near-future, a tense and turbulent political situation, and then throws a rogue crew of space pirates into the mix. We’re a long way from old-school ‘hard’ sci-fi which tried as hard to be technically accurate as it did to tell a good story. Nope, think instead of George Lucas’ intention to put cowboys and indians in space – an aim which became the genre-defining institution that is Star Wars and which (arguably…) spawned the later Star Trek series, Stargate, Firefly, Farscape and all. Zero certainly aims high.

The hero, Hugo Kaleb, is a Service stalwart who is publically disgraced for disobeying orders. He’s cashiered and shunned – even by his own parents – and in secret takes charge of the Zero, a black-op privateer ship run in secret as a deniable asset of the Service. So Hugo…

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Greetings, Catching up, Shiny News

Greetings folks of the WordPress realm!

What do you mean, ‘Who’s that?’

It’s me! *waves*

I know, I’m sorry. I have been AWOL. This is simply because ‘busy’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Being productive and proactive I have found is the best, if not only, way to get anywhere with anything you care about and so last few weeks I have just not stopped.

Exploring Ronda, Andalucia. I could get used to this

Exploring Ronda, Andalucia. I could get used to this

Ok…so I did spend a week in Spain. My bad. But it was beyond glorious and there’s nothing like a trip away to refresh and brighten creativity. It also gave me the chance to get plenty of reading done. A writer needs to read. This is an indelible truth and although I do read every day, I rarely have time devour mulitple novels like chorizo.

In the week I was away, I got through Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier, Longbourn by Jo Baker and have also nearly finished Convergence by Michael Hicks. I discussed these, my ‘holiday reads’ in a previous post, so do check that out if you want more details.  Proper reviews of the books to follow in the near future but for now, let’s just say it was great to get into such varied but enjoyable stories.

The day after landing back in the UK I was off a trip to Nottingham to meet my publisher (oh yes, feels good to get to say that) to go over a few things, not least getting the last of the signed and inscribed copies of Zero sorted for all the wonderful people who ordered one through the crowdfunding campaign. Anyone still waiting on their copies should be keeping their eyes on their letter boxes!

Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Nottingham. Both sides of the civil war recruited from this building and there are man-made caves dating back to Anglo Saxon times underneath

Ye Olde Salutation Inn, Nottingham. Both sides of the civil war recruited from this building and there are man-made caves dating back to Anglo Saxon times underneath

Nottingham was great and, although it was only a flying visit, I saw enough to convince me that I want to go back for a thorough explore. Pubs dating back to the crusades, medieval castle walls and Anglo Saxon caves were just a few of the things I got to see, as well as getting the chance to avail myself of a couple of the many, many wonderful places to eat and drink.

I find that trips away are like bio-grow for creativity and inspiration, not only giving you ideas but also helping you gain life experience to ground your writing. One of my priorities when writing fiction, be it SciFi like Zero or twisted fairy tales or ghost stories, is to make it real, human, believable. No matter how out-of-this-world the setting, I like my fiction character-driven, and I like it to feel like it could actually happen…even if it’s about ghouls that you keep in the basement that grant wishes in exchange for your soul, it has to feel real.

Therefore, I do like to help myself to a slice of reality now and then, even if  only to inform my writing rather than dominate it.

Dagda Publishing treated me to tea and cake at The White Rabbit Tearooms. Yes, it was as good as it looks

Dagda Publishing treated me to tea and cake at The White Rabbit Tearooms. Yes, it was as good as it looks

As you can probably guess…I don’t like too much reality in my fiction. I do like a dab of laser fire, a pinch of haunting or smattering of sword fighting, so I don’t go mad on the whole reality thing, but life experience is still invaluable for a writer.

So these trips have been great, but along with the new experiences I have also gained a deadline. Oh yes. One of those: that which we hate and love, that date circled on the calendar that makes you shake at the knees but also make you get stuff done.

Mine’s the 1st of November 2014…though I can’t tell you what it is for yet, (I know, what a tease!) but I will tell you I’m trying not to think too hard about that fact that that’s only 7 weeks away.

When I picked myself up off the floor after being given this date, made myself a cup of tea and collected myself, I did all I could do…I got stuck into it. The drafting ship is launched again.

I shall have to continue getting stuck into it if there’s any chance in all seven hells this is going to get done, so I may be intermittent on WordPress in the meantime. I shall still be posting through my Facebook page and Twitter account, to let off drafting steam if nothing else, so do feel free to get in touch/sympathise/offer advice.

Seriously…I may need it!

More details about this deadline as soon as physically possible.

Oh! And Zero is selling well on Amazon and I have completely sold out of the copies the publisher provided me with for my launch and book signings. This first novel in the Orbit series really is blasting off and racking up the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

'Zero' - out now on Amazon for SciFi Fans everywhere!

‘Zero’ – out now on Amazon for SciFi Fans everywhere!

This makes me more happy than I can say and thank you so much to everyone who has signed up to join the crew of the Zero on their adventure so far. For me, it is enough to know my story is out there being read, but if those who have done so would take a minute or two to leave an honest rating and review on Amazon, this would be pure wonder dynamite as this gives the publisher more whack for advertising and the chance to reach more people.

So many thanks, many loves and I will be around, so don’t stray! There will be a point where I go drafting-crazy and need an outlet, so do stay tuned for amusement’s sake alone. Also, I have booked my next writing retreat at The Lymehurst in Grange Over Sands in October (my usual haunt of Gladstone’s Library was unfortunately full) so I will no doubt be reporting from there over that weekend.

I believe we are all due some new flash fiction, so this will also happen before too long. See my Flash Fiction and Short Fiction pages in the mean time should you wish to dip into some other worlds before I create some new ones.

Adios, amigos. Hasta luego!

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Oh My God, Super Writer Fan Girl Overload *Explode*

J. S. Collyer:

Thank you, Andrea :)

Originally posted on The Torn Page - A K Hinchey's Writing Blog:

Evening lovely readers :)

Well today has been a great day I have to say. As quite a few of you will know the fabulous J. S. Collyer launched her début novel at Fantasticon last weekend in Hull. ‘Zero‘ is a fantastic slice of space pirate rompage mixed with intrigue and adventure, tears and happiness… Suffice it to say Fantasticon went very well and J. S. sold quite a few of her copies, signed of course, while enjoying so many other things. She had her own Q and A session as well as a reading from the stellar novel, a scene from Star Wars to be snapped in, all encompassing VR and oh so very much more :) Here she is below with her Zero table among fellow authors;

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Well today I was thrilled to be able to attend her book signing in our home town of Lancaster…

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Starships and Crumpets – Book Signing at the Novel Cafe, Lancaster tomorrow, 23.8.14!

'Zero' - out now for SciFi Fans everywhere!

‘Zero’ – out now for SciFi Fans everywhere!

Greetings all!

I am still on a huge high from the amazing event that was Fantasticon last weekend. I had a table at this great Elite: Dangerous fiction event from which I launched Zero into the stratosphere!

See my last post for pics and more details of this great day!

But, as anyone who has been following me for any time will know, laurels are not something I choose to rest on. Tomorrow, Sat 23rd Aug, I have another booksigning session in my home town, Lancaster in the Novel Cafe on New Street!

Facebook Event Here!

I’ll be there from 10am until the supply of paperbacks (or cakes!) run out. If you’re in the area, do stop by and say hello! The Novel Cafe is a great little second hand book shop/cafe that supports local and national talent and a great lunch menu as well as a counter groaning under a myriad of homemade cakes.

They will frankly be lucky if I ever leave.

Stay tuned on Twitter and Facebook for updates and pics from the event, as well as reports on brownies and toasties.

Zero is now available on Amazon in paperback (£8.99) and Kindle ebook (£2.99), so if you can’t make the signing, you can still make space pirates a part of your life!

Will check in tomorrow, folks! Pleasant evenings to all!

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AUTHOR INTERVIEW: J.S. Collyer

J. S. Collyer:

An interview with yours truly by the delightful Kelly Smith! I talk Zero, influences, future projects and…trousers!

Originally posted on Kelly Smith Reviews:

J.S. Collyer recently released her debut science fiction novel, Zero (published by Dagda Publishing), the first in the Orbit series. (Read my review of that HERE.) Read on as she talks about her influences, future works and who’d play her characters in a movie.

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1. When/why did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve been writing stories since I was a child. We had some RE homework once in secondary school which was to write our own short story version of the Tale of The Good Samaritan. Mine went on for about 18 pages! So storytelling has always been a great love of mine and once I get going it’s hard to stop me. 
I think I first decided I wanted to write novels when I started University and my first Creative Writing course. The more I learned, the more I loved it and the more I believed I…

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WE HAVE BLAST OFF – Fantasticon launches ‘Zero’ into orbit!

 

I employed my 'come and buy my book' hypo-stare to good effect at Fantasticon!

I employed my ‘come and buy my book’ hypo-stare to good effect at Fantasticon!

Zero has taken off with a blast! Not only is my first novel (mainly about the adventures of space pirates) now available on Amazon, but I also attended Fantasticon, Hull, for my very own launch and had an absolutely amazing time.

Not only was I sat alongside other Fantastic Books Publishing SciFi & Fantasy authors like Stuart Aken and Linda Acaster, but also authors that had written books set in the universe of the massively popular (as well as epic) computer game Elite: Dangerous. This whole event was a testament to what people can achieve when they care. These authors & publisher all raised money to buy licenses in order to write novels set in the universe of the game that so inspired them, as well as to pay for publishing and putting on this event to promote them.

First 12 buyers got a 'Zero' cupcake! These blasted off, I can tell you!

First 12 buyers got a ‘Zero’ cupcake! These rocketed off the plate, I can tell you

Every single person was friendly, encouraging, passionate and welcoming. I knew very little about Elite: Dangerous, but was welcomed with open arms by all the fans as well as organisers and other authors and no one hesitated to answer my questions or further my understanding. In turn, everyone was curious about me as well as Zero and I almost entirely sold out of copies!

The cupcakes all went too!

There was a Darlek and full-immersive 3D Occulus Rift games sets to play Elite on, or to just sit through the amazing fantasy-style demo, as well as an indie cinema, cosplay prizes, Dr Who actors and much, much more.

It was wonderful learning about this world of SciFi I was previously unaware of, as well as meeting so many SciFi fans that were not only generous in spirit but keen to discover new things. Many people not only bought my paperbacks but downloaded the e-book as well.

Fantasticon, in short, was fantastic and a massive shout out to the organisers for pulling such a great event together. This was their first one, but I’m certain there will be many more.

Dom and Becky cheering my on!

Dom and Becky cheering me on!

I also have to give a massive shout of thanks to my wonderful friends, Becky Hill, Dom Hayward and Liz Crewe, as well as my partner and glamorous assistant Andy McBain, for not only travelling across the Pennines to come and support me, but who all bought the book, supplied me with hotel-priced pints, cheered me on during my (rather nervous!) reading and waved Zero flags during my panel interview!

Last but not at all least, I have to thank Dagda Publishing for making this all happen. From supplying beautiful paperbacks for the launch to putting up with my endless stream of edits, they have been instrumental in making my first novel a reality. I hope they get as much out of it as I do!

(If you want to support this amazing independent publisher, check out their sales page for all their releases, including Zero. There is lots to choose from!)

Andy doing his bit!

Andy doing his bit!

Fantasticon was all one could ever hope for in a book launch and I now have set myself the target of getting Zero‘s sequel, Haven, completed for next year’s con so that I may be invited back again!

Next on my events list is my book signing at the Novel Cafe, New Street, Lancaster this Saturday 23rd Aug from 10am, but if you can’t make it there and want to get hold of a copy, Zero is now available to order on Amazon.

Thanks so much EVERYONE who has helped me get this far. There is no way I’d’ve got here on me todd!

May the force be with you :)

 

 

I was more than a little nervous during my first reading. Everyone was very kind and attentive!

I was more than a little nervous during my first reading, but everyone was very kind and attentive

The Zero stall at Fantasticon had cupcakes, lasers and a banner!

The Zero stall at Fantasticon had cupcakes, lasers and a banner! It was all in all a fantastic day and I hope I get to go back next year!

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Congratulations Jex!

J. S. Collyer:

Eeeeeee!!!

Originally posted on D. JAMES FORTESCUE:

The day has finally arrived!  ‘Zero’ has been officially released!  Super stoked! Congrats Jex =D

Zero

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The wait is over — Dagda Publishing launches J.S. Collyer’s “Zero!”

J. S. Collyer:

Thanks Eric and Dagda!!

Originally posted on Eric Robert Nolan, Author:

From Dagda Publishing:  “For all you fans of space opera in the vein of Star Wars and Fire­fly, Zero, the debut novel by J.S. Col­lyer and the first in the Orbit cycle has today been released on Ama­zon for both Kin­dle and Paper­back. We are very, very proud to be bring­ing this book to you. Head on over to Ama­zon to grab your copy today!”

See Dagda’s website for more information and links to Amazon:

http://dagdapublishing.co.uk/2014/08/16/publication-notice-zero-j-s-collyer-launches/

And congratulations, J.S.!!!

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BOOK REVIEW: “Zero” by J.S. Collyer

J. S. Collyer:

Another brilliant review!!! Thanks so much for your wonderful words on my launch day :)

Originally posted on Kelly Smith Reviews:

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Kaleb Hugo is every­thing an offi­cer of the Ser­vice should be: loyal, expertly trained, unques­tion­ing. He has done every­thing ever ordered of him and has done so with a pride that comes from know­ing you are fight­ing for the good of humankind…until the day that he made a decision to go against orders to obtain victory and save lives.
The bat­tle was won, but Hugo was con­demned and dis­hon­ourably dis­charged by Ser­vice com­man­ders for defying regulations. There is no place in the Service for heroes. Their soldiers serve and obey.
Officially, anyway.
Unof­fi­cially, Hugo is re-​​assigned to cap­tain the crew of the Zero, an eight-​​man craft clas­si­fied as, at best, a pri­va­teer ship and at worst a smug­gling and crim­i­nal enter­prise vessel. But what very few know is that the Zero, and her crew, are con­tracted by the Ser­vice. Their role is to inves­ti­gate and infil­trate the less savoury lev­els…

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