Free Books and Staying Sane While Writing

Lies - High ResolutionI love writing. I love that I get to do it for a living. But even so, sometimes my brain needs a break.

Last year, I was terrible at taking breaks. I didn’t schedule enough time off, and didn’t plan my work to make sure I took these breaks. So this year I’ve made a promise to Laura and myself – a week off at the end of each quarter. This is the first of these weeks, and as this post goes up I’m nowhere near my computer, instead having a nice time drinking tea and seeing the sites of Dorset.

Anything can become an emotional strain, the things you love doubly so because they matter so much. So though it pains me to leave work unfinished, this week off is happening come hell or high deadlines.

There’s no point working if I’m not sane to do it right.

Free Books!

To celebrate my time off, I’m offering up some of my books for free…

A spin doctor forced to deal with aliens who loath lies.

A squad of soldiers torn apart by the fiction in their midst.

A hunting submarine with its dead captain strapped to the prow, the crew promising that one day they’ll revive him.

We all tell lies to get through the day, some of them to ourselves, some to other people. Now read the extraordinary lies of the future in my collection of short science fiction stories, Lies We Will Tell Ourselvesfree on Amazon until Friday. You can read more about the collection here.

And for those who prefer other formats, my short story Mud and Brass is currently available for free via Smashwords and other ebook stores. Thomas Niggle grew up a mudlark, hunting for scrap on the polluted banks of the River Burr. One of the countless poor living in the shadows of Mercer Shackleton’s vast factories, he has dragged himself out of poverty using his mechanical skills. An encounter with Gloria Shackleton, the Mercer’s daughter, offers Niggle the possibility of love, but it also offers something else, deep in the heart of the Mercer’s domain. What hope can the future hold for a boy raised amidst the mud and brass?

So please, go download the free books and enjoy some of my writing while I enjoy a much needed rest. And if you enjoy my stories, please leave a review on Amazon or wherever you buy ebooks – those reviews and ratings are like gold dust to me.

This is not the holiday I’m looking for

By this time today I was going to be on holiday in rural France. I would be staying in an old farmhouse, swimming in the outdoor pool, looking out over the beautiful wooded hillsides all around. I’d be going on walks through idyllic villages barely touched by tourism, where people keep their cars in the barn overnight because they worry that moonlight will fade the paintwork. I’d be trying to order meat-free meals in a region where they have no word for ‘vegetarian’ and believe that a salad should be a big pile of duck with a couple of lettuce leaves separating it from the plate. I was going to spend a whole week with my wife and some of our closest friends, away from the grey skies and household chores of home.

The fact that I’m typing this should tell you that hasn’t happened. The fact that I’m not busy weeping into a half-empty bottle of Scotch should tell you that’s not an entirely bad thing.

At the beginning of this year I told myself that I was going to make writing a priority, whether it was freelance work or my own fiction. And as this holiday drew closer it became more and more apparent that it was badly timed writing-wise. I have two big freelance projects on the go, and other pieces coming in. I have that Top Cow script to write. I want to do final edits before sharing a draft of a novel with my first round of readers. Losing a week would have killed my momentum and stressed me out. Trying to work while on holiday would have meant not relaxing while simultaneously not getting much done.

It would be easy to sit here feeling sorry for myself. And I won’t lie, I am pretty jealous of the folks still going on that holiday, including Laura. But I feel good about the decision. For the first time in my life I’m primarily doing stuff I care about this much, that I’ll give up a holiday with friends to make it work. And that’s a good thing. I think I might actually be taking writing seriously.

Oh it’s a jolly holiday…

Who doesn’t love a jolly holiday? From Noddy going to the seaside to the Famous Five getting into trouble with smugglers, books seemed to be full of holidays when I was a kid. For adults? Not so much.

Or maybe I’m just reading the wrong books.

As a writer, cutting myself off from work is a vital part of any holiday. If I have a computer or an internet connection then it’s hard to relax without thinking about all the things I should be doing, from freelance contracts to blog posts to the next chapter of my magnum opus.

So that’s what I’m about to do.

By the time you read this I will be on holiday – work, blog and other cares left far behind along with Shelly, my faithful computer. I had meant to schedule some posts ahead of time, but the hours ran out and I had other deadlines to meet before I disappeared. So this is it for a couple of weeks.

By way of a departing nod, here’s a guest post I wrote for FictionVale on why westerns and science fiction combine so well. Hope you enjoy it, and I’ll be back in April.

Have a fun couple of weeks – I know I will.