Tuesday, 15 August 2017

What is speculative fiction?


Today, let's have a discussion about what can be one of the most slippery subjects - genre.

Observant readers will have noticed that I recently decided to call myself a speculative author. I was thinking about why I might have done this and what it all might mean. Certainly I never set out to restrict myself to any one genre - previously, I had labelled this blog, quite generically, as "about writing". But I don't think of speculative fiction as a genre, more as a way of looking at the world - or other worlds. Of course, it can hold a whole gamut of genres inside it - including science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk, even romance (anyone want to read about the love between an android and an abandoned server?) - so as far as I can see, the field is wide open.

For me, writing is about the imagination - what can't be seen or doesn't exist (as yet). I'm not that interested in writing about the contemporary world. When I did, with my novella, I introduced the sci-fi-ish element of surgery to alter one's personality - so it was contemporary with a speculative twist. Calling yourself a speculative author is liberating rather than restricting, I think. The story possibilities out there are endless. I also think what we read can have a big influence on what we write, more than we sometimes realise. At the time of writing my book, I was reading a lot of real-world thrillers, so that became the kind of story I wanted to tell. However, I didn't really pull it off effectively - that kind of book requires a certain rhythm and intensity to work and be, well, thrilling. I've found a lot of great authors recently working in the speculative realms, many right here in the blogosphere, and it's rubbed off. In my recent work, I've mixed up the action with more descriptive passages that aim to immerse the reader in the world. With a contemporary thriller, the readers are already in that world. You're not going to spend that long describing an alleyway with a couple of overflowing bins in it. People already know what that look like.

So all in all, I didn't set out to choose this speculative journey, but I'm loving it and looking forward to seeing where it takes me next.

What about you? How important is genre and branding to you as a writer? Do you think choosing a genre is a conscious or unconscious process, or a bit of both? What does speculative fiction mean to you?

In other news; just a heads up that I've halved the price of Black & White to $0.99 during the preorder period (so it'll go back up to $1.99 after release). You can find it here: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Goals Update August 2017

Hope summer is treating you kindly. For many of us, next week means back to school, including at the Wilford household. It's going quick, and we're trying to make the most of whatever sunshine we get.

I'm a bit late on updating my goals for this month, after being slightly set back by having our internet cut off. As part of the non-stop construction of new housing in my town, a digger rather overzealously sliced through an underground phone cable servicing over 100 properties. But happily we're all back up and running for now. So time for a quick recap on my July goals to see how I did.
  • Add 20,000 words to WIP.
Managed 15,000; hit a bit of a snag that I'm still trying to work through. This month, I'm not setting a wordcount goal but simply aiming to finish the draft by the end of the month. With good luck and a following wind, I'm confident it's doable.
  • Continue working through CP notes for book 2 and come up with ideas to address significant plot points.
I've made an overview and have a lot to think about. This is going to be my focus once I finish the draft of book 3.
  • Continue promotion campaign for launch of book 1.
This is going pretty well. I had my cover reveal on 31st July and was heartened by the response, especially as this was my first self-designed cover. Thanks to all who commented and tweeted. I also finally took the plunge and launched a Facebook author page, where I'll be sharing snippets and short pieces of news. If you're on Facebook, please like and follow here. I'm also experimenting with Twitter by posting quotes and nuggets of info. I have several ideas outlined for my blog tour and will continue to work on posts this month. My blog also got a new look. For this month, my big thing is to get my newsletter launched. Stay tuned for that!

Another goal for this month is to beta read a friend's new book. I've made a start and I'm already intrigued.

And finally, I was delighted to receive an excellent review for Black & White from the lovely Darla M. Sands. Check it out here!

How are you doing with your goals?

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

IWSG August 2017

Time once again for our monthly gathering in which to share our insecurities to do with the writing life. Yes, it's the Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted as ever by the inimitable Alex J. Cavanaugh and co-hosted by this month by Christine RainsDolorah @ Book LoverEllen @ The Cynical SailorYvonne Ventresca and LG Keltner!


This month's optional question is: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

I'm just going to keep this to a discussion of my own work - I've no wish to blast anyone else and the thing that irks me the most when reading is excessively poor editing. I'm happy to say I've not come across any book that falls into that category for quite some time!

No, I think I'll stick to my own particular foibles. Some of these are certainly current insecurities - like not getting as much writing done as I would like. At the moment, I'm working a job where I start at 6am - so I get up at 4/4.30 to do my writing done. If I'm too tired to get up then, it obviously limits what I can do. Something else that I still do - and this is actually where I'm at right now - is getting stuck on a particular plot point and being hung up over it for days (or weeks, although I'm hoping that isn't going to be the case). Sometimes, as with now, it's a matter of logistics - how exactly something is achieved. I need to get over it, write a placeholder solution and come back to it in the edit. Why does that feel like cheating? It's a draft, the most important thing is just to get through it.

I'm really near the end of the last book in my trilogy, but that ending feels like it's taking forever to come. I've had this feeling before, but maybe it's magnified because this is a much larger work that has occupied a significant proportion of my life. Getting everything wrapped up neatly is a giant balancing act. Maybe I'm also reluctant to let go, but of course I won't be - there's a lot of editing to come in the future.

I could probably think of other peeves, but I don't want this to become an extended diatribe! There are other IWSG posts to read here. If you haven't already done so, why not join? You'll get a warm and fuzzy feeling of fellowship as well as many other benefits. Speaking of which, let's turn to some really cool news...


Show Us Your Writer Insecurity!

Are you proud to be an insecure writer?

Then show us!

On Wednesday, October 4 (IWSG Day), post a photo of yourself (or your alter ego) with any of the IWSG swag or with the IWSG logo. Then leave a comment that day at either the IWSG website’s post or the IWSG Facebook post directing us to your photo. (All blog, Facebook, Goodreads, and newsletter members welcome, but photo must be posted on a blog or Facebook to qualify.)

The IWSG site admins will visit each one and pick the top three. Why? Because there are cool prizes involved:

Third place – EBook of A Change of Mind and Other Stories by Nick Wilford, eBook of The Remnant by William Michael Davidson, eBook of Cling to God by Lynda R. Young, eBook of Already Home by Heather M. Gardner, and eBook of Dragon of the Stars by Alex. J. Cavanaugh.

Second place – The entire eBook collection of the Totem series by Christine Rains, eBooks of Princess of Las Pulgas and Sliding on the Edge by C. Lee McKenzie, audio book of CassaSeries by Alex J. Cavanaugh, eBook of Black and White by Nick Wilford, and your choice of eBook from J.L. Campbell.

Grand prize winner - IWSG website interview, IWSG newsletter spotlight, IWSG pinned tweet for one week, C. Lee McKenzie's Featured Follower for the month, the IWSG Goodreads book club eBook for October/November, a short chapter critique, and a pair of IWSG erasers.

We have some great IWSG swag – pens, mugs, magnets, erasers, etc. Proceeds go to fund the upkeep of the IWSG site. Check it out here.

You have two months to prepare – show us your best insecurity!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Black & White Cover Reveal

Happy Monday! Almost time for the start of another month - hope this summer is treating you well (or winter, if you're reading this in the Southern Hemisphere). Today I'm proud to unveil the cover for Black & White, the upcoming first instalment in my YA dystopian trilogy.



Release Date: 18th September 2017

Blurb: What is the price paid for the creation of a perfect society?

In Whitopolis, a gleamingly white city of the future where illness has been eradicated, shock waves run through the populace when a bedraggled, dirt-stricken boy materialises in the main street. Led by government propaganda, most citizens shun him as a demon, except for Wellesbury Noon – a high school student the same age as the boy.

Upon befriending the boy, Wellesbury feels a connection that he can’t explain – as well as discovering that his new friend comes from a land that is stricken by disease and only has two weeks to live. Why do he and a girl named Ezmerelda Dontible appear to be the only ones who want to help?

As they dig deeper, everything they know is turned on its head – and a race to save one boy becomes a struggle to redeem humanity.

Pre-order links: Amazon US / Amazon UK / Smashwords

Add it on Goodreads

If you would be kind enough to help me spread the word about my cover reveal, I've included a suggested tweet below:

#Black&White Cover Reveal! Take a trip to a world that's not as perfect as it seems. @NickPWilford #YA #dystopian http://amzn.to/2h9SaFP

In other news, today is the closing day for entries to the Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology, Guide to Writing for Profit. Feel free to submit a piece! Here's some ideas about what to write. Share experiences about making a profit as an author, what it takes to become a successful writer, the many skills a writer needs to learn other than writing, share the experience going from hobby writer to published author (without making it a self-promotion piece), the fallacies behind writing for profit, the little known facts learned along the way, what you wished you knew when you first started writing, or marketing tips based on experience of what has worked and what hasn't.

The only requirement is that you are a member of the IWSG bloghop, Facebook group or Goodreads book group. It's quick and easy to join any of these groups and membership has many benefits.


Check further details here and submit!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Liebster Award

So I'm back to collect the second of the blog awards for which I was recently nominated. Another honour!

But before we get to that, an important reminder that today is the day of the IWSG's first ever Twitter Pitch Party. It's not too late to join in! Get crafting that perfect Tweet-length pitch and hook an agent or publisher for your next masterpiece. The event runs until 8pm Eastern Time. Check out the full details here.

In other news, there are still a few days left to contribute to the IWSG's next free anthology, Guide to Writing for Profit. The only requirement is that you are a member of the IWSG bloghop, Facebook group or Goodreads Book Club. Details here.

So I was nominated for another award. This time, my thanks go to Sarah Zama of The Old Shelter. Her blog is well worth a visit - steeped in history, her knowledge of 1920s culture is second to none!

The rules for this award are simple:


  • Say thank you to the person who nominated you.
  • Answer the 11 questions they asked.
  • Nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions of your own.
So here we go with Sarah's questions:

1. What is the one reason why you like that author so much that when a book of his/hers comes out you automatically buy it?


Terry Pratchett was that author for me, but sadly there aren't more books forthcoming for obvious reasons. His characterisation and humour was always spot on and that's what kept me hooked!

2. Do you read in just your mother tongue?

At the moment, yeah, I don't read in any other language than English. As a kid, though, I was quite obsessed with learning French (just don't ask me to speak it now!) and picked up a few French editions of Tintin and Asterix books, reading them alongside the English versions to pick up all the nuances. Because of the puns, comedy names and bizarre insults that were rampant, the translators often had to deconstruct the original version entirely and come up with something that would work in a different language.

3. Do you think reading in the language a story was written in is the best thing? If yes, why? If not, why?

Well, I don't know if it's the best thing unless you're proficient in that language. But assuming that you are, it's probably the closest you can get to the original author's intentions (see above).

4. Do you read in a preferred genre? Which one? Why you prefer it?

At the moment, I really love reading books about worlds that may be very different from our own, but to which we can relate because of the characters that exist there. So that could be sci-fi, fantasy, dystopian... I'll give most things a go, though. I'm not much of one for pure romance but I have read a few. 

5. Do you ever go exploring genres you don’t normally read?

Again, see above. I don't really actively go looking for them, though, I just go with what comes up that sounds interesting based on the premise.

6. Have you ever being part of a reading group? If yes, how was the experience?

I've never done anything like this, but I wouldn't rule it out. I like the idea of comparing notes because two people can interpret the same thing in wildly different ways.

7. How do you feel about all the new formats available to readers?

I think they're great. I've only got experience with Kindle, and there's nothing quite like the feeling of turning the pages of a physical book, but having as many options as possible for people to read can only be a good thing.

8. I’ve meet people who basically only read in one format (for example only ebooks) Do you? Would you?

No, I don't, but the number of books I read on my Kindle now far outweighs those I read in physical form. The latter tend to be books I win in a giveaway or receive for Christmas, for example. It just offers so much more convenience, not to mention the fact that my bookshelves are overflowing, but I couldn't imagine restricting myself to just ebooks.

9. Today, getting in touch with our favourite authors is a lot easier than before. Have you ever taken advantage of it?

No, this isn't something I've participated in. I'd feel a bit nervous about bothering them if it was a big name, although I'm sure some welcome it. Having said that, some of my favourite authors are fellow bloggers, so technically the answer is yes. 

10. Turning books into movies. This most upsetting practice.

It can be upsetting sometimes, yes. There are occasions when the movie outdoes the book, though I'm drawing a blank on that right now! 

11. Would you ever write the novel you want to read?

Here are the questions for my nominees:

1. If you were to write a historical novel, which time period would you pick and why?
2. Have you ever taken a creative writing class and what did you learn? If not, would you consider it?
3. Describe one thing from your everyday life that inspires you.
4. What's your social media outlet of choice and why do you enjoy it?
5. What's the maddest thing you've done when researching a story?
6. Pick a favourite book character and give one question you'd like to ask them.
7. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
8. Describe one ambition you would still like to achieve.
9. What was the last book to make a big impression on you?
10. Name one musical artist that inspires you and say why.
11. Have you ever been lost and what was the outcome of the situation?

Don't forget to check out the #IWSGPit if you have a book to pitch. It really is a fantastic opportunity!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Mystery Blogger Award

Happy Friday! I've been nominated for a couple of blog awards recently and I thought it would make for a fun post to play along and acknowledge them. It's been a while since these awards were flying all over the blogosphere, but they seem to have made a bit of a comeback lately. I wouldn't ever disregard a nomination because it's a pretty special thing that you've made enough of an impression on someone for them to pick you. To avoid this post becoming overlong, I'll focus on the first award I received and come back for the other one.

This is the Mystery Blogger Award, which comes with a raft of rules.

Rule 1. Put the award/logo image on your blog. Done.

Rule 2. List the rules. I'm on it.

Rule 3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

This award was bestowed on me by self-proclaimed word nerd and incurable Anglophile Laurel Garver. Check her out!

Rule 4. Also mention the creator of the award and provide a link.

The award was created by Okoto Enigma. Enigma? Mystery? Get it?

Rule 5. Tell your readers three things about yourself.

1) When I was a kid our household pets included male and female Australian prickly stick insects, named Harold and Madge after the well loved couple from the classic soap Neighbours. Unfortunately Madge was rather keen on eating her life partner, a behaviour that we had to vociferously discourage.

2) When I was 18 I appeared on a French TV discussion show as part of an exchange programme at college. I managed to get away with saying little or nothing throughout.

3) I'm too polite to send food back in a restaurant. I don't like mushrooms but I once ordered mushroom soup in a cafe and ate it (by swallowing the mushrooms whole). It was my fault for not asking what the soup of the day was.

Rule 6. Nominate other bloggers.

John Davis Frain
Toni @ Wandering and Wondering
Cynthia @ Read is the New Black
Anna @ Deeply Shallow
Ritika @ Indian Screw Up

Rule 7. Nominate those people. I'll get right on it.

Rule 8. Ask your nominees any five questions of your choice, plus one weird or funny question.

1) What made you decide to start blogging?
2) Do you have any schedule for posting or is it spontaneous?
3) Have you ever been in a situation that seemed bad but ended up leading to something positive?
4) Ever given up on reading a book but then gone back to it later?
5) Name one main goal that you want to achieve in the next year.
Funny/weird question: What would be your current protagonist's go-to song in karaoke? If you're not working on a book at the moment, name a song for your favourite book character.

Here's the questions I was asked:

1) What are three things on your "bucket list"?

- Visit the pyramids and Sphinx in Egypt.
- Have a book traditionally published, perhaps via a small press. I don't think this is any better or worse than self-publishing. It's just an experience I want to have.
- Have a go at script writing - a movie or TV series.

2) Which authors have influenced you in terms of genre, style, or theme?

Well, for my current project I'm immersed in the world of dystopia. I didn't know I would write anything like that at the time, but at a young age I read George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and they made enough of an impression that they're still with me. I would say my new series is heavily influenced by both.

3) What book's milieu (place, time, culture) would you most like to live in?

Not 1984, for sure! I could see myself settling down and enjoying a very quiet life in Hobbiton (Lord of the Rings). As long as I wasn't dragged off on any dangerous quests.

4) What are your favourite writing resources?

Not anything too specific, unless the dictionary and thesaurus count! I would recommend Stephen King's On Writing to anyone just starting out, and it's always good to dip into for a bit of inspiration. Of course, the IWSG website features a whole host of great resources, including lists of publishers and agents, contests, and conferences (plug, plug!)

5) What's the best book you've read recently?

Mark Noce's Between Two Fires is an excellent and atmospheric read, set in 6th century Wales and featuring a strong and feisty female heroine. I don't read much historical fiction, but this makes me want to read more. And I got to read it in hard copy, which is always nice!

Rule 9. Share a link to my blog's best post.

Lessons from Journalism and the Joy of Non-Fiction

I think I shared some good advice here. I would advise everyone to have a go at some non-fiction at some point. Perhaps it will refresh you if you're struggling on the fiction side. It also contains advice that I still need to remember to follow myself!

Before I go, a couple of things to remind you of:

The first IWSG Twitter Pitch Party is in less than two weeks! Get your 140-character pitch sharpened and honed and don't miss your chance to snag an agent or publisher on July 27. Details here.

And you've got until the end of the month to submit to the next anthology which is all about the secrets of writing for profit. You can share what did or didn't work for you. Details here.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

IWSG July 2017

Time for our monthly installment of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, which allows us writers a place to vent our worries and doubts, with the addition of an optional question. Hosted as ever by Ninja Cap'n Alex J. Cavanaugh, today's co-hosts are Tamara NarayanPat HattPatricia LynneJuneta Key and Doreen McGettigan!


Today's optional question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Hmm, this kind of plays into what I've been thinking about over the last couple of days, especially after reading this awesome post yesterday by Sarah Allen. I've got the usual insecurities that come along with releasing a book or any piece of writing into the world, and with my launch coming in September and sending copies out to people in the hopes of getting some positive feedback, it's at that stage where it all feels much more "real".

I'm not naturally very forthcoming, so all of this takes a big effort for me. Asking people to take time to read something I've read - there are all sorts of other ways that time could have been used, surely? Why should people be interested in anything I do? I've always felt like I've just "got away with it" - anything that goes down well must have been a fluke. But I need to stop feeling like that. I need to listen to and trust those who are giving an honest opinion, while benefitting from the insightful advice they offer.

Because deep down, what I've learned since I started writing is that I can achieve things if I stick at them long enough, and I should be proud of that. I put off writing a book for long enough because I didn't think I had the discipline. Now that I've done it, I need to back it up by taking ownership. I want to be a lot of good things - good husband, good father, good writer. I work at them all the time. If I can make a difference to how someone else feels, that's a great achievement - something real.

What lessons have you learned from writing?

You can check out other IWSG posts here. Meanwhile, there's lots going on with the group as it goes from strength to strength. Check out the exciting news below and get involved!

Submissions are open for the anthology The IWSG Guide to Writing for Profit. This will be a non-fiction book like our Guide to Publishing and Beyond.
Word limit: 500-1000 words.
Submission eligibility: All members of the IWSG Blog Hop, IWSG Facebook group and/or members of our IWSG Goodreads Book Club. It’s free to join any of these groups and a great benefit to be a part of these communities.
Deadline: July 31, 2017
MORE INFO HERE.


A reminder about the upcoming IWSG TWITTER PITCH PARTY IN 3 WEEKS' TIME!

Hashtag #IWSGPit
DATE: July 27, 2017, 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Eastern Time
All writers and authors are invited to participate in our very first Twitter Pitch. Create a Twitter-length pitch for your completed and polished manuscript and leave room for genre, age, and the hashtag. On July 27, Tweet your pitch. If your pitch receives a favourite/heart from a publisher/agent check their submission guidelines and send your requested query. MORE INFO HERE.

And finally we received fantastic news recently that the IWSG website placed 19th in the Writer's Digest Annual 101 Best Websites for Writers! This is a clear recognition that the group is making a difference to the lives and careers of writers, which is all down to its many wonderful contributors.