Beagle’s Blot 5 | The Blue

Today was the first time I truly recognised the value of formal credit.  With nothing to my person but the clothes hanging off my shoulders and the sad sack on my back, transit was not going to be easy to arrange.  All I had was my name.

But my family is a litter of Callij, and beyond those boundaries the name carries no weight.  So, of course, when I approached the merchants, they scoffed at my offer of promised payment upon the safe delivery of my person to a preagreed destination.  There was simply no reason for them to trust me.

And this was, therefore, the most common response I received; “throw your scrawny arse into the drink, you scavenger.”  And that from the civilised merchants.

Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 5 | The Blue

Book in a Blog: Meet the General

What’s up?

This is the second part of the ‘book in a blog’ series running up to the release of Mandestroy at the end of July.  On Thursday evening we blogged the prologue of the novella, and hopefully you had a chance to read it.  If not, it’s time to jump back and get reading!

Is this the second chapter?

The shrewd amongst you will have noticed that I laid out that the second chapter would be published on Thursday the 2nd June.  And today (at time of publication) is not the 2nd June.  So what’s going on?

The conclusion: this is not the second chapter.

No indeed – even more exciting than that.  What we have here is an interview conducted by James Hockley (that’s me), with the interviewee being the lead character from the novella Mandestroy – actually also me, but I have a remarkable capacity for talking to myself, so this wasn’t as hard as you might imagine.

Some background

For those of you who have done your homework (though if it reads like homework, then I’m not doing my job properly!) what we saw in the prologue was the moment of ‘revelation’ for our protagonist – a man called Adnan ap Kantal.  We don’t really know what the revelation is, why it is a revelation, or what the possible outcome will be, but hopefully we’re intrigued to find out.

So before we get into the next chapter, let’s take some time and get to know the man behind the story.  Here is my interview with the somewhat prickly (and very remarkable) General Kantal.  I hope you enjoy.

Continue reading Book in a Blog: Meet the General

Book in a Blog: Mandestroy 1

What’s the deal?

Well, by way of introducing readers to the World of Ku, and ultimately to the epic fantasy series ‘Age of Ku‘, I have been writing a novella which will be released free to all electronic book stores later this year.  When?  Okay then, I’ll commit to a date.  I’ll  make sure it’s live by the 31st July.

The book is called Mandestroy, and it is in effect a prequel to theMandestroy_Book_Cover Age of Ku  trilogy [the first book of which is called Fear’s Union].

But who says you can’t read it sooner?  Well, not me for sure.  So here’s the deal: I am going to blog this book over the coming weeks to celebrate its arrival at the end of July.  Hooray!

But more than that: because this is a “work in progress”, there’s still time to have your say and influence the outcome.  Exciting huh?  So I encourage you to leave comments and thoughts at the bottom of this post, and I’ll take the feedback on board.

Continue reading Book in a Blog: Mandestroy 1

Book Review: Half the World

Book 2 of the Shattered Sea Series

By Joe Abercrombie

Half the WorldNow, to start with I am a big Abercrombie fan.  Believe it or not, I have only actually been reading in the Fantasy genre for about 5 years (despite writing, or rather attempting to write in it, for 15), and once I’d finished George R.R. Martin, Joe Abercrombie was the next big author I uncovered.  It’s fair to say that I was somewhat blown away.  Here’s a run-down of my Lord Grimdark love affair:

Continue reading Book Review: Half the World

Book Covers by 99Designs

James’s Writing Experience: Interlude 2

Given that I’ve just gone through the experience of using for two book covers, I thought I’d get my thoughts down while they’re still fresh.  So here goes.

What is 99Designs?Mandestroy_Book_Cover

99Designs is a brilliant website where you can put out a requirement for some sort of graphic design, set a budget (by choosing a prize), and then reach out and get proposals from thousands of fantastic online graphic designers.  I used the service for book covers, but as far as I can tell, you could use it for just about anything.  I highly rate this service.

Continue reading Book Covers by 99Designs

Book Review: Shades of Smoke

Book One of ‘After the Fall’

By Alan Denham & Graham Buckby

My latest foray into the world of indie authors is “Shades of Smoke”.  So, what is my first observation?  Well, this book personifies that old saying perfectly – “don’t judge a book by its cover.”  This is a good story.

Shades of Smoke is the debut novel by the writing duo of Alan Denham and Graham Buckley.  It was released in 2011, but I was approached by Alan on Goodreads to see if I would like to read it, which was quite flattering.  I had to accept.  And overall, I’m glad I did.

Continue reading Book Review: Shades of Smoke

Have I got News for you? May 2016

So, it turns out that the plan that I had has been somewhat thrown out of the window.  The book I was going to release later this year (after another edit and after the novella has been around for a bit) has gone live already.  Whoops!

That’s right – Fear’s Union is now available for sale (though only currently on Kindle).  Other formats will be available later this year.

Very exciting.  And as you’ll see, I’ve also had a proper book coverFear's-Union sorted out, as-well as for Mandestroy.  I used 99Designs, and I am very happy with both results.  I shall blog about my experiences later this month.

So – why have I suddenly decided to publish Fear’s Union?  Well the answer is simple really.  I wanted to enter the fantastic self-published fantasy blog-off hosted by Mark Lawrence, and to enter, I needed to be published by the 1st May.  It’s a great opportunity for some exposure (assuming I get anywhere in the competition that is!) and given that the book was largely ready, it seemed a shame not to dive in.  And so I’m officially self-published.  Very exciting.

But other than getting my book over the line in KDP, I have been mostly writing the novella Mandestroy; a prequel to Fear’s Union.  I’m still on track, and by all accounts, I actually quite like where it’s going.  As a bit of a spoiler, this novella focusses on a character who is a bit of a bad guy in the main series, and it’s been great fun expanding his back-story.  In fact, I may now like him so much that he has written himself a bigger role in the later series.  The second draft is here, and it’s looking good – though there’s still plenty of hacking round to do if you don’t want to spoil it.

And even more than that!  I’ve also been up to this:

  • Some stag dos and other general partying;
  • Early starts with my son and lots of nappies (just to balance out the fun I’ve been having above);
  • Writing about my recent activity reviewing the very first attempts at pen to paper of a friend – a really rewarding activity;
  • A book review of Robert J Crane’s second book in the Sanctuary series – Avenger;
  • Lots of activity sorting out book covers;
  • And Beagle completed the fourth part of his jaunt around the World of Ku.  He may only now be starting to realise what he’s let himself in for!
Now, more on the upcoming novella.

Continue reading Have I got News for you? May 2016

Beagle’s Blot 4 | Namcalla

It was worth it.  All the pain; it was all ruddy worth it!  I feel like I could fly right now.

Which would be useful, if only to ease the burden on my poor feet.  Damn – I shall spend some time here, that is for certain.  And what a chore that will be.

Where the man meets the sea.



My smile is unbreakable. Continue reading Beagle’s Blot 4 | Namcalla