Tag Archive: The Ballad Of Toby Jones

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.


Few bits of catch-up news and some of the things that interest me in the coming months…


Game Of  Thrones

HBO have signed a deal with UK based Blinkboxto stream S1 and 2 –http://www.blinkbox.com/TV/Series/1024/Game-of-Thrones?icn=GameOfThrones&ici=DHB_homepage – both are now available – £1.89 per episode or £17.99 for the series. Blinkbox are part of Tesco and looking through their site have quite a lot to offer. There is no monthly subscription, you pay-per-view.  As part of the deal with HBO shows like Boardwalk Empire and True Blood are also available. Whilst this is good news to non-Sky customers I do worry if it will have a knock on effect. If viewers can now what the show without signing up to Sky will it affect their viewing figures, and also with S2 now available to view 7 months before the proposed release date for the DVD/BluRay boxset, will this affect those sales as well?

Staying with GoT, Irish actor Ciaran Hinds has been cast as Mance Rayder.


Mance is the King-Beyond-The-Wall, he’s been mentioned numerous times during S1 & 2, and the last time we saw Jon Snow he was being taken to see him. Mance has amassed a Wildling army and is heading for the Wall.

Ciaran is a well known actor appearing in films such as Munich, John Carter, Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy. He’s probably most well known for his portrayal of Julius Ceaser in Rome.



The official trailer for Dredd was released a few weeks ago.

I’ve been a fan of Judge Dredd and 2000AD since the comic first came out in 1977, whilst I am looking forward to this film, I have some reservations. But those reservations are dwindling as the release date draws ever nearer and more information about what we can expect are made known.


Red Country

Publisher Gollancz have released a new trailer for Joe Abercrombie’s next book Red Country.

And a newish blurb.

They burned her home.

They stole her brother and sister.

But vengeance is following.

Shy South hoped to bury her bloody past and ride away smiling, but she’ll have to sharpen up some bad old ways to get her family back, and she’s not a woman to flinch from what needs doing. She sets off in pursuit with only a pair of oxen and her cowardly old stepfather Lamb for company. But it turns out Lamb’s buried a bloody past of his own, and out in the lawless Far Country, the past never stays buried.

Their journey will take them across the barren plains to a frontier town gripped by gold fever, through feud, duel and massacre, high into the unmapped mountains to a reckoning with the Ghosts. Even worse, it will force them into alliance with Nicomo Cosca, infamous soldier of fortune, and his feckless lawyer Temple, two men no one should ever have to trust. . .

The past never stays buried . . .

Red Country is out September 3rd in the UK.


Gypsys Kiss and more…

I mentioned a while ago that my current WIP – Gypsys Kiss – now has the first part completed and edited, I’m doing some research for parts 2 and 3 before continuing with the writing. In the mean time I’ve begun work on an as yet untitled project that I aim to have completed in time to submit for the Abaddon Books open submission month in September – http://abaddonbooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/write-for-abaddon.html – I’ve got about 3.1/2 chapters done (approx 9,000 words) and hope to have a first draft early in next month. This will hopefully give me time to re-read, edit and get it submitted.

I’ve also re-visited a 60 minute pilot script I started about 18 months ago (I had 20 minutes written and the rest notes). The aim on this one is to get it finished and an outline of the other six episodes in time for the next submission window for the BBC Writers Room in the Autumn.

Busy, busy, busy…


Work on Gypsy’s Kiss – the first book in The Ballad Of Toby Jones series – is progressing nicely. The first draft of part one was finished a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been re-reading it and editing it since. I’ve decided to do the editing differently from how I’ve done it in the past, this time I’ve printed it all off and am going through with pen and highlighter. I must say I find this way of doing it better then trying to do it on the screen. Finally finished the edit over the weekend, and the plan is now to leave it before implementing the edits onto the word docs and get going on part two.

Part two is going to slightly different to part one, the bulk of exposition is going to come out during this part, and so whilst I’ve been doing the part one edit I’ve also been researching for elements that will appear in part two. I think this second part will take longer to write, a lot needs to happen in the ten – fifteen chapters I have planned to get me in a position for the start of part three (I already know how part two will end and three will start).

I’ve set the target for completion of part two for November, once that’s done I’ll do the edit whilst planning is finalized for what happens in part three (I already roughly know, but its the little details). All being well by the end of the year I will have all three parts done and edited and will then re-read alongside my edits and make changes. If everything goes to plan I should have a final draft (of approx 80,000+ words) finished March 2013.  This means it’ll be a year from start to finish, the longest time I’ve continuously spent on a single project.

Once that’s all done I’ll decide what happens next, I’m split 50/50 on self publishing or submitting it round to agents at the moment.


All Rights © Philip Norris August 2012


In Gypsy’s Kiss, my current WIP, I’ve come to the point where I have to introduce a character I’ve been uneasy writing about. The character has already featured, but so far has been nameless and voiceless. Now he has come into confrontation with my protagonist and it’s his time to step up and be heard so to speak.

The only thing is this character is not a nice guy, he’s a thug, a killer and foremost a racist. From the WIP title I take I can assume that you know Gypsy’s are involved in my story, and this character has no love for them and has some derogatory things to say about them. But the problem I have is I am uncomfortable writing what he has to say.

I’ve always wondered how other writers have approached this subject? It’s not an easy thing to do, especially when the language involved is alien to you. Now I’m no prude, I swear, I cuss, but I’ve never used racially abusive name calling. I know what the names are, I’ve heard others use them, but using them myself – even within the context of a story – does make me feel uneasy. In the back of my head a voice is saying “what if people think that’s what you really think”, that maybe daft but that’s me.

I have considered dropping the character altogether, or watering him down. But to do that means excising a thread within the story, of the prejudice some people in the world I have created have towards certain sections of society. My protagonist is at odds with this prejudice and that is partly why he is in opposition to this new characters view.

Am I being overly sensitive, should I just take it as read that my readers will accept this is just a character, and not me, saying what is said?

All Rights Reserved  © Philip Norris July 2012


There it is, the title of my current WIP. A short story that became a novella that’s becoming an obsession.

Originally it was just a short story entitled Gypsy’s Kiss, about a down-at-heel PI pounding the mean streets of Bournemouth, hey if you’ve never been there don’t say it ain’t mean. But halfway in the adventures of my hero, Toby Jones, began to take on more and more depth, like the proverbial snowball becoming an avalanche. Into the end third of the short I realized the tale I had to tell would never fit inside the confines of a short story, so off came that hat and on went the novella one, a nice nifty one with a feather and peak.

Once I’d settled on the fact it would be a longer piece other stories began to come to mind, events in Toby’s and his worlds past, present and future. As these little snippets mounted The Ballad Of Toby Jones title came into my head. It felt good, it felt comfortable, it felt right.

All I’m going to say now is it is set in an alternate world, does not involved aliens but does have Gypsy magic.


All Rights Reserved  © Philip Norris July 2012