Writing

New Year…..New Resolutions. Starting With…..A Book Promotion

After a poor 2016 with a significant family loss, and what at times felt like being plagued by illness, it was at least notable for two things. Firstly, moving house, after 17 years in the old place, something that although we’ve only been in our new place a matter of weeks, I feel will significantly benefit us all as a family, in oh so many ways. And then for me, the rewriting of all four of my books over the course of the year. A Twisted Prophecy is still in the editing process, but the others have all been rewritten, not just edited. And that means that I’ve written over half a million words during 2016, in the tiny gaps where life hasn’t been kicking our collective ass. On a personal note, that’s what I will take out of what I consider quite a poor year, for me and pretty much everyone else. So just to brighten things up a little, here is one of my favourite pictures that I snapped, of Salisbury Cathedral, early one September morning.

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Salisbury Cathedral

So…..New Year’s Resolutions. All the normal ones of course: eat better, do more exercise, try and live a better life. On that front, my fourteen year old daughter has already taken me for a run. When we got home, it was hard to tell which of our bodies was in the greater shock. Oh well…..more of that to come I suppose. I will say at least it’s nice to have someone to run with. It certainly helps from a motivational point of view.

More writing this year would certainly be another goal. After all the rewriting last year, Book 4 has been on hold for quite some time, and only stands at 33,000 words, although it has been mapped out in quite a detailed way…..something I’ve never really done before. So I will be pounding the keys to see if I can get it finished by the end of the year. That’s probably slightly optimistic given that I would suggest it will be the longest book yet, and my guess is that it will exceed 300,000 words in total.

So to kick things off going into the New Year, I’m starting with a book promotion, offering up Book 1 in my series, Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past, on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents on Amazon.com and 99 pence on Amazon.co.uk starting on Monday January 2nd, heading right on through to Sunday January 15th. If you love fantasy, dragons, hockey, lacrosse, rugby or any other team sport, please take a chance and download my book. What have you got to lose? I’m convinced that you’ll love it…..plot, characters, twists and turns and of course my warped sense of humour. An honest review would also be much appreciated. While you’re at it, why not check out my interview on The Dragons’ Geas, your stop for all things fantastical and fun!

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Wishing each and every one of you a Happy New Year.

Paul Cude

Goodreads Competition

Check out the competition on my Goodreads page to win signed paperback copies of all three of my books. Enter now. What have you got to lose?

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Newsletter

All Bentwhistle the Dragon fans can now subscribe to my monthly newsletter. In return for signing up for this, I’ve written a very specific, 34,000 word story about the lives of the dragon friends from way back in the nursery ring, nearly fifty years before their current time above ground. You will be able to choose which format you download this story in. Here’s a little more.

Barely hatched from their eggs, young dragons learning how to fly amongst other things, find themselves thrust into the limelight, with the annual History Fest Face-Off beckoning. Ebook Cover 4 small for blogShowcasing a fierce rivalry going back centuries between two famed nursery rings, the grand competition is renowned throughout the land, and the importance of winning can’t be underestimated.

Richie eager to represent the nursery ring, Peter eager to help his friend, both are lost for words when the class bully, Cowl, outwits everyone in the race to represent Purbeck. Suspected of using unknown magic to get ahead, the friends are determined to get to the truth and expose him for the cheat they think him to be. But can things ever be that easy?

An unflappable newcomer proves to be a worthy ally as aerial acrobatic antics abound in an illicit laminium ball match, the outcome of which may well determine the fate of one of the young dragons.

With so much at stake, can the dragon friends hunt out the truth? Will their combined might be enough to save not only their nursery ring, but the reputation of the competition itself?

Crazy new spells and magical elixirs combined with much skulking around give a valuable insight into the young dragons’ education and personalities. Not only that, but one of the students will end up with much more than they bargained for. You’d be absolutely BATTY to miss it!

Cover Reveal

Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy (Book 3)

Finally here after what seems like a lifetime to me: Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy, book 3. To be released on Wednesday 7th October, the action continues on from book 2 in the series, Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Chilling Revelation.

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Amid turmoil surrounding devastating attacks across the world, the dragon domain faces the planet’s greatest fear: global terrorism by an unknown force of magic users.

Against this backdrop of fear, the friends’ relief at having Richie back from the jaws of death is quickly tempered when they discover the price she has paid and exactly what she will have to forfeit.

With Manson’s deadly scheme in full swing, events quickly turn from bad to worse. An army of nagas controlled by the threat to their king, help the evil dragon storm the kingdom, capturing Peter, Tank and Flash in the process.

With no help on the horizon and the dragons below ground neutralised, how will the threat be stopped? Will the white dragon turn out to be their saviour, or will a fierce lacrosse match prove to be the turning point for a rescue so unconventional, nobody could ever see it coming?

With a hoard of treasure and more magical artefacts than a witch’s kitchen, you’ll have to read on to find out if everything will turn out all white!

PRE-ORDER NOW!

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All Formats On Smashwords

 

To Celebrate The Release Of Book 3, You Can Now Download Bentwhistle The Dragon In A Threat From The Past (Book 1) For Free From Smashwords In All Formats For A Limited Time only Here

 

Booking Ecstasy

My love of all things fantasy and comic books seemed to go up and down throughout my teenage years. At one time there was a fabulous comic book store in Salisbury (think Stuart’s store from The Big Bang Theory, only smaller) just a few moments’ walk from where I currently live. It was heaven, and I could often be found in there, spending what little money I had on Superman, Batman, Green Lantern and Justice League comics.

My tattered and worn old copy

My tattered and worn old copy

Unfortunately it didn’t last more than a few years, which wasn’t surprising really given the distinct lack of trade. So with my life revolving around playing hockey, all thoughts of strange new worlds and the events unfolding within them, drifted to the back of my mind. Until, that is, the day I had to go and fix a fax machine in a very large bookshop in the middle of Southampton. Tool case in one hand, paperwork in the other, I remember trudging through the store, only focused on getting the job done and getting out. It didn’t take long, and the manager was very grateful. After getting him to sign the paperwork, I weaved my way in and out of the bountiful bookshelves, heading towards the huge glass framed exit. It was then that it caught my eye. Unbelievably, I’d nearly walked straight past it, or rather… them. A whole display advertising one book. I was stunned, that is until I dumped my tool case on the floor and picked one up. The cover was intoxicating. thrawnMy favourite characters were looking out on me in all their glory. It was one of those moments when time stands still. I can recall it as if it were only yesterday and not 1991. Taking in the droids on the spine as I turned it over in my hands, I stood lost in another world, reading the blurb on the back. Short but sweet would be how you’d describe it, but I was long since hooked. I had to have it… NOW! Struggling back to the front desk of the store with my tool case, paperwork, and my precious purchase, the staff, who I’d just been working amongst, all looked bemused. I didn’t care. After paying I rushed to the car, and made the fatal mistake of starting to read it. I should have been working. I had other jobs to do. I must have read for about half an hour, just until my parking ran out. Star Wars novel Heir to the Empire Timothy ZahnAfter that I had to get on and do the rest of my calls, but all I could think about for the rest of the afternoon was that book, sitting on the floor of the passenger side of my car. My evening had just been booked up. It wouldn’t of course be difficult for you to guess that I stayed up nearly all night. Yes it was that good. I couldn’t put it down, and the weariness that I felt the next day was well worth it. And more momentous than all of that, was the fact that the book in question had started me off on a journey that would last with me for a lifetime. Numerous other books in the saga have been bought, read all in one go despite everything going on around me, and nearly all have given me the same sort of satisfaction as that one.

Ahh… so now you’d like me to tell you the name of the book. It was Star Wars Volume 1 Heir To The Empire by Timothy Zahn. And it was nothing short of fantastic, especially to this huge Star Wars fan. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read my battered and tattered copy… but who cares? Each time it sends shivers down my arms, even though I know what happens. For me it’s a classic and that’s without the fact that it has led me deep into the Star Wars expanded universe. As well as this three book cycle, the second and third instalment of both of which I had to buy on the day they came out in hardback, reading them both the said same day, Timothy Zahn has written many other great expanded universe titles.  He is definitely an author I would love to meet and get to know better. I only hope that Disney in all their wisdom do justice to the new film coming out. The books of the expanded universe have meant, and still do, a great deal to me. While I understand the reason for the changes, I’m not entirely sure I agree with them. Only time will tell. Here’s hoping.

Booking Marvellous

For almost as long as I can remember, one of my favourite things to do has been to read. Getting lost in a book is a magical experience and one that I’m always happy to lend my free time to. Recently for me though, it’s become harder and harder to find that free time to give over, not only because I seem to work almost every hour of the waking day currently, but because what I’m doing now is…..EDITING!

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Polishing up the third book in my series is as hard as anything I’ve done, and seems to be taking its toll on me. Just the thought of reading for pleasure at the moment makes me feel physically sick, given how long this process has been going on, and just how hard I’m working to getting the book just right. I say just right, I suppose I mean PERFECT, well, in my mind anyway. Can anything be perfect? I suppose it’s a very subjective point of view. Each time I go back through the book, I always spot something. I suppose that’s to be expected, given everything that’s been going on in the storyline of the last two books; bringing it altogether and adding to the excitement is bound to offer up the odd challenge or two. It certainly has, and it seems hard for me to reach a point where I’m one hundred percent happy with it. Hopefully that point will be any day now. With that in mind, and the fact that something as important to me as the pleasure of reading has been temporarily taken away from me, I’ve decided to write about some of the most important books that I’ve read. While they may not seem important to you in a literary context, they have had a deep impact on not only my reading habits, but on the way in which I write and develop my stories. Hopefully over a period of time, I can tell the stories of the stories that have led me to being where I am today. Your thoughts are most appreciated.

A Debt I Can Never Repay

I hark back to the heavy days of 1994, and having long since been bitten by the book bug, admit that I was ever so slightly stupid in the way in which I fed my addiction. Instead of just wandering into a bookshop and browsing until I’d found something to quell my hunger (of course I did do this as well) I was, for a time at least, a sucker for all of those mail order book clubs. You know the ones I mean. I did, some years later as a service engineer, have to go to said book club’s head office, long after I’d realised just what a sucker I’d been. That was something of a revelation. I digress. Anyhow, having ordered my five books at fifty pence each, or whatever it was, I was delighted when the huge box of books finally arrived, with all thoughts of having to buy one book a month at full price for at least the next twelve months, soon forgotten. Upon opening said box, I pulled out all the lovely tomes, and soon set about slavering over them. They were all fantasy and science fiction, both at the time my preferred genre, all with the exception of one. One was a thriller, and hadn’t been a book that I had ordered. How odd. Stupidly, I couldn’t even remember the book that was supposed to have arrived. Must have been good. So being the lazy twenty something that I was, instead of sending the mistaken book back (far too much like hard work), I just left it lying there on my bedside table, gathering dust. At the time, I read every night, as well as a great deal at the weekends. I suppose a couple of months must have gone by before I found myself without anything to read. Looking at the hulking great hardback that I had been too lazy to return, I can remember being quite unenthusiastic as I picked it up early one evening. What stands out in my mind from that relatively innocuous event, is how tired I was the next day at work, having stayed up reading until well gone 3am. What a book addicted muppet I am. So perhaps now you’re wondering what the book was? I’ll tell you. Debt Of Honour by Tom Clancy, one of the most eye opening and addictive books that I’ve ever read. Needless to say, I rushed home from work the following evening and stayed up again into the small hours to finish it, no mean feat I assure you. 174777As well, and I’m sure this will come as no surprise to those of you with the same addiction, I had to go out and hunt down the rest of the books in the series, and then read them all in order. I wasn’t disappointed. They were, and still are GREAT! Everything about them just sends goose bumps up my arms, from the level of detail to the naval knowledge, from the characters to the way tiny, almost insignificant little bits of storyline weave their way seamlessly into the whole of the plot, something that I’d never seen in quite such a way before, and something that I think has influenced me as a writer, more than a little. The character of Jack Ryan is brilliantly thought out and brought to life, and a wonderful hero. But it is perhaps not him that had me hooked. John Clark for me was the one…..the one that stood out, the one that had that almost Han Solo appeal. A good man with a dark side. Partnered with Chavez, they made quite a team. The staying up late was well worth it for me, especially considering the book’s end, something which I’m not going to spoil for you if you haven’t already read it. Those couple of days, and the fluke with which left me with the book in the first place, play a pivotal role in my reading habits and the way in which I write. I always wished to meet Tom Clancy, I mean who doesn’t wish to meet their writing heroes…? I know I certainly have always wanted to. It always makes me wonder what I would have asked him. Would it have been about his intricate naval and military knowledge? About his inspiration for the well defined characters? Did he start from the end and work his way backwards when figuring out the plots of his books? Or just how it was he learnt to incorporate such insignificant pieces of text, that, like tiny pieces of a puzzle, all fit together in a much larger picture, perfectly at the end? I suspect the latter.

Thanks for reading.

Kids, Books, And Where’s That Sunshine Gone?

Summer Holidays

Still being dragged through the summer holidays kicking and screaming by my kids. SAMSUNG CSCAnother trip to Snowtrax this time to zip down the slopes at speed on the ringos, and not the ski-bobs. Fun was had by all, and I was dizzy just watching and taking pictures. On top of that, Swanage beckoned once again, with a very long day on the beach. I swear my youngest is part (well, nearly all) mermaid, staying in the water from 9am, through to nearly 3pm. Mad doesn’t begin to cover it. SAMSUNG CSCAnd this time, instead of a round of putting, we went and hit the ‘Pitch and Putt’. This was a new experience for the kids, with my youngest being thrilled. “This is just like on the telly dad,” she told me on seeing the first hole. “Do you want any help?” I asked, figuring she would. Nope, not a chance. Oh well.

The last couple of weeks has seen them both learn to skateboard, unlike their mother who has had a few almost You’ve Been Framed moments when trying to board their board, so to speak. SAMSUNG CSCBut they’re very pleased with their accomplishments, with both announcing that they might turn professional. I’m not sure they truly grasp the concept somehow.

Not sure what the weather’s like where you are, but the sunshine must have witnessed something very bad around here, and be tucked away in a safe house somewhere. Haven’t seen it properly for what seems like an age. Just a few hours’ worth would be much appreciated.

Book News

The final proof of ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’ should be with me any time now. As soon as I’m happy with it I’ll post a release date here. Not long to wait, I’m sure.

I did mention that I was working on a short story (SHORT…..that’s a laugh. Turned out to be just shy of 35,000 words. Much longer than even I anticipated) a few weeks ago. Good news. It’s finished and with a little editing, should be ready shortly. It’s called ‘A Right Royal RumpASS’ and dates back to when the dragons were in their second year at the Purbeck nursery ring. Ebook Cover 4_edited-3A competition with another nursery ring leads to Richie and Peter making friends with a new student, whilst discovering an unerring secret about another, all set against the backdrop of student life. But most importantly of all, you learn how Richie gets her dragon name. The illustration for the cover was produced by youngest daughter Poppy. To find out why it had to be that, you’ll have to read on. My wife and children tell me that they laughed until they cried when they read it. JOB DONE!

Close But No Cigar

“Frustrated am I,” as Yoda would say. It’s been ready for nearly two months now. What am I talking about? My third book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’. All it needs is the book cover to go with at and then WHAM! It’ll be out there for all to see. I’d like to tell you it will be soon, and it should be, as that’s what the graphic designer who’s working on it has told me (Sunday, to be precise).

Now you know what the deal is. As soon as I have news, I’ll post it here, hopefully with the cover reveal so you can see just what it is you’re getting. I’d like to tell you I’m excited. I was, and now I’m not, but I’m pretty sure I will be as soon as the cover’s ready to reveal.

So in the meantime I’m just plugging away. I’ve taken a break from working on the fourth book (that’s about twenty thousand words to the good so far) and am currently working on a much shorter story, still to do with the three dragon friends, but part of a very different time in their lives. It should, if all goes well, show just how one of them came to have such an extraordinary name. I think that probably gives it away as to which one of them I’m talking about. Hopefully it will be ready in a few weeks, and available free when you sign up to the monthly newsletter I’m hoping to produce.

As for life itself, it just seems like one long rollercoaster ride, that never stops or even lets me off for a break: working hard with the writing, while looking after both kids. Currently there’s no significant improvement in my eldest daughter’s condition, despite a change in medication. Fingers crossed that it does have some kind of effect.

In the meantime we try to enjoy the sun as a family when we can. I’m lucky enough to get to play mixed hockey with some fabulous people every couple of weeks, something that I really look forward to, despite the fact that I feel about a hundred every time I take to the pitch. That combined with playing squash every week with an old friend, and badminton with the kids, kind of keeps me out of trouble, and gets me running around.

Over the last couple of weeks my kids have been learning all about the Magna Carta at school. Given where we live, and the anniversary on Monday, it all seems really relevant. We wandered into Salisbury city centre on Monday for the celebratory pageant and had a great time. I’ll leave you with a few of the pictures that I took.

Until next time, and hopefully a new book, ready and raring to go.

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So Close

So close I can taste it. But it’s been that way for many weeks now. I just want it done. What am I talking about? My writing endeavours of course: the third book in my series, ‘Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’. The editing is tantalisingly close to being finished. After that, we’re just waiting for the cover to be completed which is being worked on as I write.

It has been a labour of love for what I suppose is about 18 months now, an 18 month period which has probably been the worst of my life, given what has happened to my eldest daughter during that time. The earliest memories of writing parts of this book spring from dark corners of my mind, unable to sleep at ridiculous hours of the night (or morning more likely), in cramped hospital beds with barely enough light to see, let alone write. But write I did. Not only blog posts, but the continuing adventures of the dragons that haunt my dreams, sleeping and waking alike. The much later stages have developed in scattered free moments, of which there are many, most of which I try to use for writing or something related to it. Early mornings and late evenings both provide refuge and more importantly quiet, which I find helps me refine my thoughts and get them onto the computer more efficiently and effectively. Still, there are odd times when the kids are by my side (quite literally), doing homework, reading, drawing, etc, where I still manage to get some work done. At some stages I’ve used every valuable moment available to me, almost right down to the very second. As per usual though, life invariably gets in the way, creating its normal level of havoc and chaos.

Still, it’s almost done. But like a kid on Chrismas Eve, I really can’t wait any longer. I’m desperate to know what others think, and let them see just where the continuing adventures of the dragons take them. Will there be shocks and surprises? Of course. Will you be able to predict the course of events? Not a hope. Will danger and peril lurk around every corner? Almost certainly. Will you enjoy the ride? I most certainly hope so.

Life and Writing

I haven’t posted anything for some time… sorry, but LIFE seems to have somehow gotten in the way. Having just finished a ten day bout of flu, I have just been prescribed a course of antibiotics because I have sinusitis. GREAT! Before that, it was desperately needed work on the house, a family funeral, as well as all the normal things: looking after one sick child; taking her to school, infrequently; getting the other child to school; swimming lessons; choir, as well as trying to keep the house tidy and keep up with my social media duties.

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

A Great Day Out on Halloween! Twenty Degrees At 9am

On top of all that, the publisher of my books ceased to trade, owing money to not only me, but to thousands of other authors. The time spent trying to sort out the books, get them republished etc, has been a nightmare, taking up a massive amount of time for me and my wife, who has been nothing short of fantastic in dealing with everything. All in all, hectic doesn’t begin to describe things.
There has been one positive note. Currently I’m just reading through the first draft of my third book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’. Although I’m still some way off publishing it (the editing always seems to take ages), just to have the first draft feels like such an achievement, given everything that’s gone on in our lives over the last year. We’ve spent so much time in hospital and looking after my sick daughter, it’s taken all my spare time to get as far as I have, and although it means more work still, I can’t wait until it’s ready to be released.
In some ways, this third book is already very different from the first two. Of course, I still have dreams about the story, (how it progresses, little pieces to add in, tiny details that seem important, etc.) but the way in which I’ve written it is very different. My first book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Threat From The Past’ was written totally in the order that it appears. For whatever reason, I could only write it chapter by chapter, in the exact same order that it is published. At times I would get writer’s block, and be stuck until I could move past it. But before I’d even started to write that first book, I always knew the ending, in the most exact detail. At no point, however, did I think of writing that ending, even when I’d got stuck and couldn’t push through the to the next part of the book. I don’t know what other writers do but, for me, this was how the book had to be written.

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

Sea Shell Hunting During Half-Term

For the second book, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Chilling Revelation’, things were a little different. Again, I knew the storyline in quite a lot of detail, but when I got stuck, which I did on occasion, I found it very easy to just skip ahead and write another chapter, saving it until I reached the point that it was required. This seemed to work well for me and I would say I wasted very little time, if any at all, fitting in all the separate chapters and then allowing myself to focus on whatever it was that was phasing me.
Finishing the second book, and moving onto the third, ‘Bentwhistle The Dragon in A Twisted Prophecy’, I felt a new approach was needed, purely because there was so much going on in the series, all of which I needed to fit in. So before I’d even written a word, I sat down and spent some time planning out exactly what would happen. I’ve never done that before, because I’ve always known the story in my head, well… the really important parts, with the smaller details coming out of my writing and filling in the gaps as I moved along. But having planned out each and every chapter, I started to write it in a different way. I didn’t start at the start, if that makes sense. I picked the chapters that I’d already seen in my mind, and started writing them, storing them all up to be put together later. And this was the way it progressed, lots and lots of individual chapters, all having to be put together at the end. Is it a more successful process than the other ways? I have no idea. It seemed as taxing as the others, but maybe a little quicker. I suppose I’ll have some idea after I’ve read through the first draft. I’d love to know how other writers put their books together. Perhaps there’s a more efficient way, or perhaps each to their own. I do wonder if they have a writing break after they’ve finished a book. Although I know what happens in the follow up, it seems I could do with rest from writing for a while. I’ve always aimed for a thousand words a day, most of the time achieving more, and on some days, considerably more, but those days are rare and far between. I also know that I should still be trying to write a thousand words a day on the fourth book, but with the editing, LIFE, and everything else getting in the way, I’m finding the writing really tough. Perhaps a break for a few weeks will revitalise me, in the end, doing me loads of good. Who knows? Any advice welcome.