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The Thaw – Third Draft Triumph

It’s been two years and change since my last post about The Thaw having hit the second-draft milestone and it feels like an eternity.

However, I am thrilled and excited to announce this project has hit the third draft stage and you’ll be hearing a lot more about it from here on out!

So, firstly, what are my immediate plans?

The book is now in the hands of a smorgasbord of talented and helpful peers from across the globe who have agreed to act as beta-readers. I’d initially not planned to beta-read the third draft but I had decided that as I will be spending some time re-reading the new draft myself it would be silly not to invite some feedback from some kind souls whose generosity with that most valuable of resources – time – is most appreciated.

Some of the people who have volunteered are perhaps unfamiliar to the thriller genre that The Thaw strides so impertinently. While readers who are my target audience and familiar with the genre are excellent, it’s these outside voices that I’m finding myself even more curious to as it’s that outsider perspective that should hopefully give insightful commentary.

With the beta-read of this book I am not seeking agreement on what works about the book, though that would be very nice; indeed it’s that critical feedback on what could be changed that will help me take this to a fourth draft and then out into the journey of being, with any luck, published.

And that brings me onto the more long term aspirations for the project.

I am feeling determined to make a serious effort to get The Thaw published traditionally.

Mainly as I see it as a challenge, but also because this story, as I have rediscovered through the latest part of the edit, is actually really great. I am absolutely thrilled with how it’s turned out – sure, it’s not perfect but it’s getting polished to a really strong standard (if I say so myself).

It’s actually quite rare for me to have this much confidence in my own writing because I am by all means my own harshest critic, sometimes brutally so.

I’m especially harsh with myself given that I first started working on this book in 2016. In a way, it’s time to get this particular brainchild out of the door. I’ve recently rediscovered some vigour to my writing that has been lacking in intensity for a while – not to say I’ve not been productive but my recent efforts have been notably more passionate and I am going to capitalise on that momentum as I have so many ideas!

I really also want to be less cloak-and-dagger about my novel because it’s been so close to me for so long. I long to tell people about it and discuss it and just reflect on it! So, expect a lot more from me – and I’ll try not to spoil too much!

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The Landlady – Now ready to read!

Landlady_Cover_MockUp

I’m thrilled to be able to say that I have decided to release a brand new short story here on On Holliday entitled The Landlady – and it’ll be appearing in five segments over the next few days!

The Landlady formed part of my Dissertation project at Kingston University – I based the book on the work of one of my favourite authors, British horror writer and king of popular fiction, James Herbert, and serves as a homage to his work.

I also recently had the story (self)published in paperback form through print-on-demand service CreateSpace to present to a friend; however the demand and reaction on my Facebook page are enough that I’m happy to say that if you want your own copy of the story in paperback form – in a presentation style as close to a “real” James Herbert novel as I could manage – then you can purchase it for £3 from AmazonAnd if you happen to see me in real-life then I will gladly sign the book and add a personal message!

The story is only short (~10,000 words) so if you’d rather read it online you can start reading it on my site. I’ve split the story into five chunks for your reading pleasure!

I’m immensely proud of The Landlady – it’s my first foray into horror fiction, which was a  and while I was apeing a favourite writer (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?) I’m actually quite excited to explore this as a potential genre.

If you have any comments on The Landlady please don’t hesitate to leave them below this post or contact me on my various social media pages; I’d be happy to hear from you! Enjoy!

Reviews, Uncategorized

Review: Earth Alone (Kindle Edition)

Earth_AloneI recently picked this book up on the Amazon Kindle Lender’s Library and I was pleasantly surprised by it.

Earth Alone builds the picture of a war-torn Earth shattered some years prior to to the start of the book by a surprise attack by alien “scum” from another planet and, I felt quite convincingly, builds a backstory around a war of attrition fought by the scum menace after a successful nuclear attack by humanity on the scum home planet. Earth Alone follows the story of Marco Emery, a young recruit in the Human Defence Force, the global military that aims to defend the planet from the scum attacks.

Firstly, I liked the rationale behind the change of alien tack – realising that wholesale levelling of cities results in nuclear Armageddon on their own turf, the aliens turn to the ‘death by a thousand cuts’ method of wearing humanity down. The alien threat is certainly portrayed as menacing and, while Marco and his cadet friends begin training, it’s always hanging like a black cloud above them. The effects of the scum attacks keep the characters focused – there’s reflections, too, on the personal impact of the alien attacks on Marco, the main character that he reflects on frequently.

So far, so Ender’s Game, which is by no means a bad comparison to make. Earth Alone does well, I feel, to make the cadets in this book significantly older than the small children who are drummed into battle in Ender’s Game. Taking adolescents into the military also brings its own (mostly hormone-fuelled) unique considerations, too, that the characters must contend with.

Marco, the protagonist, is portrayed as a bookish, quiet and mature-for-his age young man who clearly has a heart of gold, but too has limits and his own weaknesses. The rest of the platoon we’re introduced to each have their own characters – some appear trigger-happy and some thoughtful, while other boastful but underneath we see glimpses that they all share one characteristic – they’re all scared kids about to fight in a war that predates them, and their fear is rightfully placed. I feel Marco’s bookishness is a bit meta-aware (a character who wants to be a writer and works in a library, in a book can sound a few alarm bells) but it’s not too much that it impedes on the story; rather it does build up his character. However, maybe more graceful means of imbuing Marco with a sense of learnedness and culture could’ve been explored.

Daniel Arenson does a good job in writing a book that is a breezy and unchallenging read while bringing across the aspects of the character and action that’s needed. It’s certainly a competent effort, even if this book certainly resides in the shadow of Ender’s Game. The real hardship faced by the recruits and the journey of them – and of their commanding officers – is portrayed well enough, and the world the alien scum left behind is well-imaged. There’s a certain sense of humanity on the ropes, and on the defensive.

It’s quite clear early on that Earth Alone is designed as an introduction to a series, and I’m fine with that. The action is kept throughout, without too much introspection and it’s not a bad read, so I’d happily read on!

Buy Earth Alone on Amazon Kindle UK!