Tag Archive: Life In The Fastlane

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  jvoportugal.wordpress.com – 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 – www.omandoriginal.com – 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  http://www.omandoriginal.com/ – 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.

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

Idea’s, I have plenty. Idea’s for short stories, idea’s for novellas, novels, screenplays, flash fiction. But – as a great writer once said – to have an idea is not enough, no matter how good the idea. The trick is to formulate that idea into something less foglike, turn it into a solid thing, a thing that can be picked up, tinkered with, polished, perfected, made into something other’s would like to get on board with and maybe – someday – look round and say “hey, that’s a great idea.”

Idea’s, what to do with them? Plot and plan, sit and make a spreadsheet, detailing every nuance, every minute details down to what colour thong your protagonist is where today? Or just run with them, see where they take you as they whoop and holler across the fields of your imagination. I’ve never been that much of a planner, I’ve tried, sat and worked out what the characters are like, their stories, their histories. But then part way in I get that feeling that instead of spending time doing this I could actually be writing. Everyone ha their own way of doing it, their own rituals that have to be performed in exactly the right order so as to raise the story from the ooze. My way – like most of my life – is to just wing it.

Life In The Fastlane – my current main WiP – started life as a short story, a military steampunk with ingredients from SF and fantasy. An alternate history of the mid-20th century. But after submitting it to several magazines – and getting rejected but some nice feedback – it started to become more than a self contained story. The characters were crying out for release, their world began breaking the bounds of just over 6,000 words and demanding to procreate. So it was the short story became part one of a bigger story and the idea began to evolve.

It wasn’t a conscious effort, I didn’t find myself sitting for hours working out which direction to go. I made adjustments to the initial short story – which is now out with beta readers – and dived headlong into part two. It was this headlong dive that became a bit of a marathon, resulting in part two surpassing part one in words and character view points. As of the end of March part two is nearly complete – well the first draft is – and is bordering on a novella all on its own. I already know where to go in part three, but I have no map to take me there, I’ll be jumping on that wing again.

Where am I going with this? Nowhere, I’m rambling, making my inner thoughts public. I feel it helps to vent every now and then. But I just wanted to get it out there, feel some sort of release. With parts 1 & 2 almost in the bag part 3 is the biggy, its the one that could make or break the whole project. I’m entering into unknown territory, beyond 25,000 words territory.

But I have an idea I know how this will play out, I just hope it’s an idea people can get on board with.



A day early but…

So February…

Another month down, ten more to go until I hit the big 50; so what did February do for me?


Quite a mixed bag this month…

space danger

First up there was Space Danger: The Deadly Planet of DEATH by Doug Strider. I had an early look in on this as Doug (who I’ve known on Twitter for about a year) asked me to beta read for him. Great little novella, with funny settings, characters and a story that whips along nicely. If you like Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett you’ll like this.

from man to man by DEM Emrys

Man to Man by D.E.M. Emrys is a tight short story about a grizzled warrior who just wants to get on with his life and forget his past. But the past doesn’t stay away for long.

the alchemist of souls

The Alchemist of Souls by Anne Lyle, you can see my review below this post.


Still reading…

dreams and shadows

Dreams and Shadows by Robert Cargill is a quirky read, shades of Neil Gaimen so I’ve been told (never read him so will have to take their word for that). If you like stories about creatures that live unseen alongside the “real” world, this is for you.

ack ack macaque

Ack-Ack Macaque by Gareth L Powell is brilliant so far. Funny and gripping, plus who can’t love a foul mouthed, cigar chomping, booze swilling one-eyed gun totting monkey.


the following

Still keeping up with The Following (Sky Atlantic), though I do fear it’s in danger of over arcing itself. Nearly mid-way through S1 and the tank is being filled with water, the shark is on its way and the bike prepped for the jump. This show is in danger of losing itself in its own backstory, too many flashbacks (memories of LOST) and not enough answers. It needs to either give something back to the viewer in the way of answers, or have the bad guy’s cock-up once in a while. The whole “everything is pre-planned” theme its using is wearing thin and getting to the point of being unbelievable (how can Carroll – who is in prison and has been for years – know Hardy will be somewhere/do something at a set time so he can counteract it).

game of thrones S2

Halfway into the re-watch of S2 of Game of Thrones (Sky Atlantic), still by far the best thing on TV by far. S3 is only a few weeks away, there will be blood, and dragons. Ripper Street (BBC1) is still gripping stuff, dark and brutal and my hat goes off to the BBC for not toning it down in any way.

ripper street

Went to the flicks this month and caught A Good Day To Die Hard. Bruce is still king, yes it was corny, yes it was OTT, but hey – Yippe Kiyay Mother Russia.

a good day to die hard


Slight downer with the writing this month, all the short stories I had out in the big bad world have now come back with rejection slips. Very disheartening, but it goes with the territory. I’m already looking at other outlets to send them to.

The TV script has been put on hold; hit a few snags that need ironing out so looks like I may miss the BBC Writers Room Spring window.

Prepping is all done on the post apocalyptic novel, and the alternate history one.

Current full on WIP is a short story I wrote a year ago that I’m re-working into a novella or (possible) novel. Part one is out with beta readers, part two is about a third wrote. Not rushing it, still trying to keep to my writing plan of having a finished novel by the end of the year.