Category: Writing

Publication – Update & Link

As a follow-up to my post this morning, now I have confirmation my book is live on Kindle and here’s the link.

Please have a look and leave a review.




Final cover for websiteThe day has finally arrived, after a couple of false starts due to moving house, then having no internet for nearly a month, finally I’ve hit the PUBLISH button on Kindle Direct Publishing. My novella Brave New World which is the first part of the Life In The Fastlane series should be available later today (UK) and tomorrow (rest of the world).

Brave New World is set in the late 1940s and is an alternate history tale centered around the declining British Empire, a fractured United States locked in a decades old war between east and west, and the efforts of Professor Horatio Sykes to improve on his fathers invention in the hope of shortening the distance between countries and so bring them closer together.

Sykes is a dreamer, and idealist, and unfortunately for him whilst he dreams of a world where his fathers improved invention heals the wounds between nations, there are others who see his upgrades as just another tool to be used to impose their will on others.

Priced at £1.99 this novella is short and fast paced taking you from one side of the Atlantic to the other as the action alternates between the characters.

Hoping to have some reviews soon, but please take a look and if you feel the inspiration to write a few words about it then please do.

The end of April races ever closer and the final edit of my novella Life In The Fastlane: Brave New World is nearing its end. Initially tallying in at just over 16,500 ish words this final edit – due in part to Beta guidance from The Life Of Spike author Jodie Portugal – has already gained just over 2,000 extra and I still have halfway to go.

As well as the final edit I’ve also been preparing for actual P-Day, and part of that preparation – along with all the work in the Kindle direct publishing back room (so to speak) – has been the cover. Now I’ve always had an idea or two of how I wanted the cover to look, what I wanted it to say about the story. But the problem is I’m no artist. So after putting a shout out on Twitter for guidance I was given the contact details of Susan Omand – – and contacted her about doing a proper job of my ideas.

Susan is very professional, she listened to what I wanted and set to work giving me a first draft with a week of initial contact.

Book cover first draft

I liked this from the off, I like that she has used the same sort of font used during the Next Generation years of Star Trek for the main series title and my name – something she did with no input from me. My idea for the cover was to show the two main forms of technology featured in the story, I also wanted to depict a scene that I enjoyed writing and introduces the ship on the cover. But after seeing the first draft I realized my idea to have both forms of technology present on the cover didn’t really work, the effect in the top right above the title drew my eyes away from the main image. An image I felt needed total attention. So I asked Susan for some changes.

Book cover second draft

I feel this second draft better captures the image I want, along with removing the effect above the title I also corrected an error in the ships designation, moved it more to the front. I feel these changes made the image I wanted on the cover clearer, more defined. This is not a war story but a story set during a war, that’s what I feel the cover tells any prospective reader. So with what I wanted locked in Susan did the tweaks needed to clean the image up and re-size for the Kindle.

Final cover for website

So there we have it, the cover to my book and a damned fine cover if I say so. Susan has done a sterling job in doing this and if anyone ever wants someone to do a book, CD cover or any sort of artwork I recommend you contact her.


Publication Day Is Coming

After a lot of faffing, re-reads, re-writes, abandoning, resurrecting and general wasting time dicking around on the internet, I’ve finally picked a date to publish my novella. It’s been an ongoing project for some time – in one form or another about 2 and a bit years – but I’m biting the proverbial bullet and going for it. Had the final beta readers feedback and am now editing based on their suggestions. Once that’s done its one more read through and I’m good to go.

I’ve also gone with a professional designer to do the cover – the wonderful Susan Omand over at Omand Original – who is working on the design based on my very rough sketched idea. I’ve gone for a retro looking cover a bit like the old 1950s movie posters, and chosen a couple of scenes from the story to highlight the technology present in the world I’ve created.

Once I have the finished cover I’ll do a post about the process and include my rough attempt and the proper version that will be uploaded to Kindle when done. I’ve already been on Amazon and created my account and put most of the details in I need to, all that remains is the novella.

At present it stands at just shy of 17,000 words, but I have the feeling it could be gaining  some with this final beta readers input. I already have the 2nd draft of the second novella done – and is already longer than the first – I’ll be looking to get that out to beta readers once part one is published.

I’ll be doing updates from now to P-Day, and there will be some serious pimping as well.

Oh yeah, what’s it called? Ha, ha, see not as organised as I thought. The overall series title is Life in the Fastlane and part one is called Brave New World.

Not sure how I’ve let this slip past without posting about it here, I mean the title of this blog is Philip Norris: Writer. So anyhoo, without further ado, I’m pleased to announce, after much…..oh bloody hell here this explains it all.


Yep, there you go, it’s big, it’s bold, it has a very 1980ish computer graphic thingy going on, but who cares I only wnet and won NaNoWriMo (snoopy dance). OK, I know I’m not the only one, thousands (possibly tens of thousands?) of other authors won or hit the target they were aiming for. But for me its a personal thing, I had to prove to myself I still had it in me.

Before we go any further we all know what NaNoWriMo is right? November, 30 days, 50,ooo word target, National Novel Writing Month…OK, we all there?

Back in 2009 (the last time I entered NaNoWrMo) I also won, I wrote something that was a little weird, a little alternative and it was a mess. Several times since then I’ve gone back, tried to make sense of what I’d done, wondered what the hell I was thinking, and then promptly closed the file, checked no-one had seen me open it and walked of whistling like nothing had happened. Since then I’ve made several failed attempts at writing another novel, most seemed to lose legs around the 30,000+ mark leaving me thinking perhaps 2009 was a one hit wonder.

Since then I have had had success with short stories (two published and one due to be, though the deadline for that contract expires in January so I may have to place it elsewhere) and I was verging on the decision of abandoning any plans at novel writing and focus instead on short stories and novellas. But then this year I decided to have one more try, It’s my 50th, so how best to celebrate. I planned, I plotted and I set it all out beforehand. This time I was ready.

I planned to move away from my usual stomping ground – fantasy, horror, sci-fi – and this time I trod a favoured path of mine outside of my genre staple. Being a son of a Policeman I’ve always enjoyed procedurals, I grew up watching Colombo, Ironside, The Rockford Files et al. These days I still have an interest, Poirot, NCIS, Law & Order, Ripper Street. All of these show I feel have given me insights and foreknowledge of how the procedural works. To this end my novel is set in the word of a murder investigation that leads the team into the murky world of politics and religion.

A tad over 80,000 words in 30 days, quite proud at that total, a major victory and one that has bolstered my ego no ends. Its still as much a mess as my first novel, but I feel it a redeemable mess. I’ve not looked at it since completion, I have no intention of looking at it for at least six months. I want to give it time to ferment, gain body, grow some.

So there you have it, I has a novel, well will do once I’m done with it.

Great news in my inbox yesterday, after the sad demise of Pill Hill Press earlier this year the newly formed Embry Press have now released Use Enough Gun: Legend Of The Monster Hunter III

use enough gun


Originally due for publication late 2012 by Pill Hill, the Monster Hunter series is now under the Embry Press umbrella. Miles Boothe – who runs Embry – also plans to release another anthology – Both Barrels – later in 2014 that will feature stories from parts I and II of the Monster Hunter series. This collection will feature my first published short story Groundhog Day. As and when I have publication news I’ll share.

Use Enough Gun features stories about hunts that have gone wrong, hunts where the hunter has to visit dark places within themselves to survive. My short story titled Jack features with its pages.

Really pleased to be published again.

Since January I’ve been working on my first full novel titled Life In The Fastlane. The first part was completed several months ago and has been out to Beta readers and come back with some great feedback. Part two was finished about a month ago and is at present fermenting on my hard drive whilst I work on part three. As the whole process seems to be going so well I thought I’d let a little taste of what I’ve been working on out of the bag for all to see, and comment on.

What follows is from the beginning of part two, the chapter is called Canon To The Left Of Me, Canon To The Right. I’d be grateful if anyone can give me some feedback, let me know what they think, let me know if they’d want to know more?

So without further ado fly you monkeys, fly….



Bennett’s knuckles were white as he gripped the armrests of his chair, all around him the bridge shook, annoying rattles and squeaks that he made a mental note of to tell the maintenance crew about when they returned to Los Alamos. Apart from that the bridge was quiet, the crew tense, to his left Patterson stood behind the navigator, his eyes locked on the readouts.


Lieutenant Kelso partly turned; her eyes still on her station. “We’re still at least fifteen minutes out sir.”

“Too long, increase speed.”

Patterson turned to look at him. “She can’t take the stress sir, she’ll shake apart.”

Bennett glared at him as he slammed his hand on the hand rest. “Then shake her apart damn it.”

He saw the look that passed between Patterson and Kelso. Bennett had seen the two of them together during R&R, he was glad his young First Officer had found something of interest other than his career, but he’d have to keep an eye out incase this blossoming relationship threatened the smooth running of his bridge. Patterson turned back to watching the navigators station, the intensity of the shaking seemed to increase. Bennett looked round, he knew his ship. She could take it.

The minutes crawled by, no-one on the bridge spoke, they all knew what they were heading into, all knew the seriousness of the situation. Bennett was about to ask what their position was when the speaker overhead crackled.

“I’ve managed to bounce a signal off an outlying drone.” Callum was a new addition to the crew, a communications expert who had proved his worth in upgrading the ships internal and external systems.

…there’s too many the skies full…”

“…the Mark Twain is going down, she’s on fire…”

“…tighten up the left flank, plug the gaps…”

Bennett recognized the last voice, Captain James Moorson of the Alexander M Palmer.

“Range?” Bennett barked.

“We’ve reached the outlying ships.”

Patterson looked across at the Tactical Station. “Lower the shields, launch our drones, reduce speed…”

“Belay that, take us in flank speed.” Bennett saw Patterson turn to look questioningly at him but chose to ignore him.

The shutters that protected the bridge windows snapped shut, the lights brightened and everyone looked to their stations. They now relied on radar and the drones to be their eyes. Bennett swung a screen across in front of him and watched as the Vegas headed into the battle.

“They’ve launched airmines.” Patterson looked at Bennett, his eyes imploring, they both knew the danger the mines meant. He nodded at his First Officer.

“Reduce speed; let the drones to clear a path.”

They were still a long way out, when most people think of an aerial battle they have images of ships tightly packed together, daring maneuvers, one-on-one dog fights. In reality a battle can cover several dozens of square miles. Ships like the Vegas need a lot of room to move, she could take a mile just to turn and face the way she’d come. Real airships were not designed to behave the way the ships in the movies did.

The outlying ships were those that were damaged and were trying to return to base. Below, plumes of smoke rose from less fortunate ships, black smears on the landscape, debris scattered over hundreds of yards.

“I’m picking up a UFS transponder signal.” Callum adjusted some dials. “It’s the Palmer, she’s taking a pounding.”

Bennett looked to his screen calling up Callum’s station feed. The image was blurry, being bounced across miles of debris strewn sky and via several booster drones. The Palmer was smaller than the Las Vegas. Smoke was pouring from the rear section of her single gondola and her envelope looked to be deflating. Several smaller ships surrounded her, taking pot shots. Standing off was a larger shape, nearly equal to the Vegas.

“We have a lock on that ship yet?”

Patterson looked at him concern on his face.

“Transponder identifies it as the Luigi Galleani.”

Despite the situation Bennett smiled, the Galleani was the most powerful ship the Soviets had this side of the Rockies; a dangerous opponent but a great prize.

“Zero in on the Palmer, deploy the rest of our drones give then some cover. Bring the main batteries to bear on that ship.”

Around him his crew carried out his orders, they knew what to do; they were the best to come out of the academy in the recent draft. They had to be to get a berth on the Vegas, Bennett was very picky about who he would trust with the safety of his ship.

The Ship lurched, a loud clang reverberated overhead. They were taking fire, the enemy knew where he was going and were trying to slow him up to give the Galleani a chance to move to face him. But the Vegas was the most technologically advanced ship in the air, no matter which flag was painted on the side, and she was built to take a lot of punishment.

The images of the Palmer and Galleani grew on his screen, Bennett could make out the damage the smaller ship had suffered, yards long rents in her envelope, gaping hole in the aft of the gondola. He could imagine the damage inside, the casualties.

“What’s the state of the rest of the battle group?”

“Six ships down, the Denver and Mississippi have withdrawn with heavy damage. The remaining three are holding their own trying to keep the worst off the Palmer.”

“Time we evened the odds.” Bennett looked across at Patterson. “Deploy the hammer.” Patterson nodded and turned to the vacant station at the rear of the bridge. Callum got up from his station and joined him.

The station was a new addition, something that hadn’t been there a few months ago. The wood frame was bright, polished. The metal gleamed. Central on the wall above was the screen of a Difference Engine, Callum slid into the chair and typed in a command into the keyboard below. The screen came to life, a confusing muddle of symbols and formula. Patterson sat at the second chair and accessed what looked like a basic navigation station.

“Coordinates locked.” A set of numbers appeared on the screen in front of Callum. “Power levels at maximum, target acquired, Fastlane formed.” He punched a command; Bennett looked back at his screen in time to see the side of the Galleani’s envelope bulge outward then rupture as something big and lethal shot skywards.

Callum cheered behind him, Bennett suppressed his excitement. He watched as the missile – that was little more than half a ton of solid metal with one of the new diesel engines bolted on the side – arc round and ploughed back into the top of the envelope. The Soviet ship sloughed sideways as the envelope lost its integrity. The hammer shot out the bottom of the rear gondola, flame and debris following it out. Fires raged within the ship, she began to lean over, turning on her axis, before beginning the slow, graceful fall earthward.

Bennett looked round at Callum’s beaming face.

“It would seem Professor Sykes isn’t full of hot air after all.”

All Rights Reserved © Philip James Norris 11th June 2013

The time for talking was over, Siron Darr looked left and right, his company lined up beside him as they always were. The odds weren’t good, thirteen against fifty, but he’d seen worse. The Scallian’s were showing steel already, those deadly curved blades they favoured. The time for blood had arrived.

Darr felt movement beside him and saw Malash, the Shifter, step forward. His skin was alive, moving like waves on the sea. Darr smiled; the odds weren’t that bad after all. He drew steel, long sword in his right, shorter blade in his left, and gritted his teeth. The wet sounds next to him, the crunch of bones, ripping of clothes, were the only sounds and both groups tried their best to ignore them.

The low rumble was felt more than heard, Darr saw some of the Scallian’s pale; they were a superstitious race and he could see they were spooked, uncertain. Tales of Shifters existed in every society Darr had visited, from The Four to far away Sarakesh, but none had seen one in centuries. There was movement to his right, a black hulk towering above him. Darr was reckoned a giant, standing near seven feet tall, but compared to this, he was no bigger than a Scallian. Malash the Shifter was gone, a monster Gorilla twice Darr’s height stood in his place.

The moment broke the same time the Scallian’s did, Darr and his company surged forward, swords and axe’s flashing in the sunlight, screams and blood filled the air. Above all the mighty roar of the beast, it tore into the Scallian ranks throwing bodies around as it they were toys. Darr cut three down from behind; there was no room for honorable conduct in situations like this. All around bodies littered the ground, broken, cut and bloodied. Darr was glad to see none were his friend’s.

One, braver than the rest, turned and stood his ground, Daar swung and their blades locked. He had some skill with a blade this one, they cut and thrust, parried and twisted. But Darr was stronger and stood head and shoulders above the smaller Scallian. No matter what skill you had, size and strength always mattered. Eventually the Scallian made a mistake and Darr split him from shoulder to gut, both hands gripping the hilt, his full weight behind the cut. The Scallian didn’t cry out, he didn’t have time to, the look of surprise on his face nearly made Daar laugh out loud. Then, like a dead fish the Scallian flopped boneless to the ground. Darr moved on, he was already forgotten; there were plenty more where he came from.

The rest of the Scallian’s were broken, half their number dead the rest fled. Darr stood covered in blood and gore, his company around him all breathing heavily but alive. The monster Gorilla stood beside Darr, its arms covered in blood, the fur matted.

“Just a little chat you said?” Joakim, Darr’s second, spat onto the ground, his one eye blazing with battle fever still. He pointed at the bodies. “Is this your idea of a chat?” Darr smiled as Malash, the Shifter, began to change next to him, his skin moving like waves on the sea.

“In situations like this,” Daar wiped the sweat from his face, his hand running up over his bald head. “You can’t avoid a little blood.” He looked round the ring of bloodied faces, all battered and scarred from a life time of living by the sword, and they all nodded in agreement. Beside him the noises had stopped and Malash was Malash again, a frail grey skinned creature with an over large head and black eyes. He looked at Darr and smiled.

“Better than sex.

Bits Of News

I read a lot of blogs by other writers, and I’ve noticed that at one time or another all of them have been visited by the Not Worthy Monkey. That devious little bastard that sits on your shoulder, whispering in your ear about how bad a writer you are, how no-one will ever be interested in what you’re doing. He always comes visiting when you’re at your lowest and so more open to his bogus “advice”. The little bugger turned up on my doorstep about a week or so ago, totally unannounced he plonked himself into by chair, pulled my laptop over and started reading, giggling as he went.

My current WiP had been going well, part one wrote and with beta readers, and part two progressing better than I’d thought. But he was doing his utmost to put paid to that feeling of wellbeing that has been with me for the most part of this year. That feeling that finally I’d hit on something that might just do it, might just get people interested in what I had to say. In the space of a couple of days I hit snag after snag. Characters wouldn’t behave and the flow stalled. Since he came calling my writing has been hit and miss, going from everyday to every other day, and then every other other day. I was despondent, finding excuses not to open the file up and start writing, the Not Worthy Monkey was winning.

Then last night that all changed. It’s amazing how effective two emails can be to lifting the spirit.

use enough gun

I submitted a short story to the third in Pill Hill Press’ Monster Hunter anthology collection – Use Enough Gun – close to a year ago. I’d already had my story Groundhog Day published in the second volume and was over the moon to be accepted again. Then things went a bit awry at Pill Hill, the result being the site closed and all the authors were told the rights to their stories had reverted back to them. But then came Miles Boothe like a veritable knight in shinning armour, he took up the challenge and created Embry Press, a new publication house that would be specializing in stories about monster hunters. Whilst he was sorting things out he told all authors accepted by Pill Hill that he would be carrying on with publication of the third volume.

Last night I had an email from him, it had attached the edits for my story Jack, he’d indicated some changes that helped the pace and tone of one of the action scenes. He also put a note on the email saying he felt that this story was the best work I’d done. Four little words, best work I’d done, that’s all it took and the Monkey was riled, his grip on me weakened and he was starting to become dislodged. But I wasn’t out of the woods yet, he was still in my head, his case still unpacked.

Then I had a second email, this one was from Douglas Strider – author of the brilliant Space Danger: The Deadly Planet of Death -, Doug is someone I’ve know for about a year on Twitter, his a fellow budding authour, and he kindly accepted my request to beta read the first part of my current WiP. He’d done a great job, he’d given me lots of comments, ideas and a huge barrel of encouragement. He liked what I’d done and how I’d done it, and what’s more he wanted to find out what happens next. I was high on praise and my back sore from all the clapping. The Monkey, he was on the doorstep his case in hand, a dejected look on his face as he went on his way.

Now I have my laptop back, now I have my mojo back, the Monkey banished – for now – but I’m not complacent cos I know if I’m not mindful he’ll be back.

To Miles and Doug I’d like to say’s thanks, you’ve lifted a flagging writers spirits a thousandfold.

For the second time in a week, I come over Shatter Hill at midnight and see fire at the crossroad below. Not an unusual event in itself, everyone knew it was the quickest way in and out of Hell. But the past two occasions had happened during Holy week, and everyone knew it was frowned on to travel when angels were about. Not that anyone had seen hide nor feather of the Blessed Folk in a long time, but that was another issue.

I pulled on the reigns and the mule whinnied before stubbornly stopping, we both sat there looking down as the last embers flickered and died, leaving a prone figure face down in the dust. The mule whinnied again, eager to be off, but the situation intrigued me and once intrigued I liked to see a thing through. A man who had no right travelling the night road at this particular time had dropped by, it was my duty to find out why. I clicked my tongue, the mule looked over its shoulder, a quizzical look on its face; and with a snort it jerked forwards.

The man was tall and lean, dressed in a uniform that was tattered and blackened in places. I knew a soldier when I saw one, I’d been one, still was. This one was different, his skin grey, mottled. His skull totally hairless, one hand was under his body, but the other was stretched out; the hand looked withered and only hand three fingers. The mule sniffed and then whinnied, stamping one hoof on the hard packed ground. I’d learned long ago to listen to the reactions of animals; they had a sense beyond the norm. But I was committed and swung myself off the seat and walked over to the man.

Kneeling beside the body there was a peculiar smell, sweet, cloying, like spoiled meat. It reminded me of the aftermath on a battle field; the dead piled high, carrion filling the sky. I reached out and pushed the body over, he was light as a feather. I stepped back and will admit I was surprised, not a bad trick as usually nothing catches me out. Stretched out looking up the man was stranger than I could have imagined. The head was misshapen, long, stretched almost. The features flattened; the nose just two slots between the eyes and mouth. The eyes were big, way too big for the head. It gave a groan, the mouth just a line, no lips and no teeth from what I could see.

“Hnnxshhuiio…” I didn’t understand what it was saying, which was strange?

“What you saying there fella?” The eyes flickered open, black pools, all pupil. I crouched down next to it, reached over and placed a hand on the chest, feeling around. I’d reached its abdomen before I got a rhythm. “You a long way from home?”

It opened its mouth, the eyes wavering around, trying to focus. “Where…”

“That’s better, got the beat of you now.” I took my hand off and sat back on my haunches. “You fell, not sure where from cos I not seen the like of you before.”


“Earth?” I looked up and down the length of it. “You ain’t like nothing that walks there.”

“Attacked…had to defend ourselv…” The eyes drooped and its head fell sideways. It was normal for any traveler coming through to be disorientated, but this was different. I suppose it not being of the Earth the reaction was different, thing is, if it’s not from there then how had it come to be here?

I looked back at the mule; it looked at me with those sad eyes then down at whatever our new friend was.

Can we keep it?”

“It ain’t supposed to be here.”

The mule looked up into the eternal darkness above.

What if more come?”

I smiled; what indeed. The crossroads were meant only for humans, but seemed someone had found a way to send something different through. What was their intention, to threaten us, to force us into a reaction? Who knows, it’s been so long I’d forgotten how humans think.

We’ll have to take him in.” I looked back at the mule, he had the right of it; this would have to be reported.

“Aye, suppose you’re right.” I got up and headed to the back of the wagon and grabbed the edge of the tarpaulin. “He ain’t gonna like it though.”

I flung the tarp back; another body lay on the bed of the wagon. This was the one from a few days ago, he at least was human, but looking at him properly I realized I’d missed before that he too was in uniform, his too tattered and blackened. I looked past the mule at the prone figure and then back at the one in the wagon and whistled. I shook my head as I walked over and picked the figure up; walking back I looked the mule in the eye.

“If they’re fighting a war up there; there’ll be hell to pay.”

The mule brayed with laughter.


All Rights Reserved © Philip J Norris April 2013