January Update – and 2018 Highlights!


Happy (belated) new year! The dearth of updates from me over the last twelve months is evidence of how terrible I am at posting on here, but I’ll try to do better this year. Promise.

An exciting nomination

First of all, I’m thrilled to announce that The Fantasy Hive – the website I launched back in January 2018 – has been nominated for a Stabby Award for Best Fantasy Site over on r/Fantasy! You can check out the list, and vote for your favourites (until the end of January 7th), here.

Art of War, an anthology for charity (in which I have a story titled ‘Dear Menalaus’), is also nominated for a Stabby. Exciting times!

Stories, stories everywhere

Having finally finished the first draft of my first novel (more on that below), I’ll be spending most of my spare time this month researching/outlining not one, but TWO new short stories. Both are for anthology projects; I’ll be announcing more details in the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on here and on social media for updates!

 Farewell, 2018

After a rather turbulent 2017, 2018 turned out to be pretty great for me on both a personal and professional level.  Here are some of the (chronological) highlights!

laura-m-hughes-green-dragon-swirl-para-break-divider

I launched The Fantasy Hive!

Launched on January 1st 2018, The Fantasy Hive is a collaborative site, and a hub for all things SFF. I may be the one running things over there, but the Hive would be nothing without its brilliant team of content-providing contributors, and you can read all about them here.

The Fantasy Hive (Header)

I appeared in multiple anthologies!

Three, to be exact! And I’m delighted with the positive response they’ve received from readers and fellow writers alike. My stories are:

  • ‘I, Kane’ (Lost Lore anthology, available here)
  • ‘Dear Menelaus’ (Art of War anthology, available here)
  • ‘The Girl and the Gharial’ (Double Take anthology, available here)

I found myself a Colin!

In February 2018, I met my boyfriend, Colin. This wonderful creature accompanied me to conventions and events throughout the year, provided some much-needed support and advice, and even alpha-read my novel as I was writing it. We’re now living together, and will both be heading to Reykjavik in Iceland next month to celebrate our anniversary!

Colin Bradley and Laura Hughes

I (we) discovered DnD!

One of the most fun things Colin and I did last year was to enter the world of Dungeons and Dragons! Both of us were complete noobs when it came to tabletop games, and DnD took some getting used to, but we’re now several games into our second campaign and I think we might finally have the hang of things. (I’m currently role-playing a dwarven cleric named Grumlin Greyhammer, while Colin is Thom Truthblower, a lecherous old human bard.)

I signed with Portal Books

Remember that short story I mentioned above? ‘I, Kane’, in the Lost Lore anthology? Well, the guys at Portal Books liked it so much they asked me to write a novel for them! GOD OF GNOMES is unlike anything I’ve ever written before, being a LitRPG novel (specifically, Dungeon Core with RTS elements). It’s now complete, and will likely hit the shelves sometime this summer.

Here’s some pictures from when I journeyed to London to hang out with the Portal guys! (Clockwise from left: me, Brook Aspden, Michael Miller and Taran Matharu.)

I attended Edge Lit

Way back in July 2017, I attended my first ever convention: Edge Lit (in Derby). In July 2018, I was lucky enough to go again! It was brilliant to be able to introduce Colin to some of the finest people in our little fantasy community: T.O. Munro (aka. ‘Theo’), Steve McHugh, Dan Sutcliffe, Anna Stephens (and her wonderful husband Mark), Anna Smith Spark, James Latimer – not to mention my very close friends Mike Everest (and his lovely wife Jen), Kareem Mahfouz and Sadir Samir.

Edge Lit 2018

Clockwise from left: Laura Hughes (me), Colin Bradley, James Latimer, Anna Stephens, Mike Everest, Jen Evans, T.O. Munro (Theo), Sadir Samir, Mark Smith, Dan Sutcliffe, Kareem Mahfouz

Many meetings

A month later, in August, I had the pleasure of attending yet another gathering of awesome people, prompted by the (sadly temporary) arrival in London of US author Taya Latham (aka. T L Greylock). Taya is one of my best friends, and to finally be able to meet her in person was exciting to say the least!

Here we are, hanging out with Anna Stephens and Timandra Whitecastle:

While in London, we also attended SRFC (Super Relaxed Fantasy Club), and mingled with a bunch of other awesome folk, including Kareem Mahfouz, Mike Everest, Anna Smith Spark, John Jarrold, Graeme Williams, James Latimer, and RJ Barker!

Clockwise from left: Laura Hughes (me), RJ Barker, Kareem Mahfouz, John Jarrold, Taya Latham (T L Greylock) and Timandra Whitecastle

I attended BristolCon (again)

In October, I found myself heading down south yet again. I’m pleased to say my second BristolCon was even more fun than my first!

Colin and I got to catch up with a bunch of the Edge Lit crowd, as well as great friends from across the globe, including Marielle Ooms, Julia Sarene and her husband Andreas, and of course our BFF J.P. Ashman.  It was also lovely to see other familiar faces such as Jude Hunter, Mark Lawrence, Rosa Watkinson, Tom Clews, Rita Sloan, G.R. Matthews, Adrian Selby, James Tivendale, and Rob Hayes. There (naturally) ensued the usual inebriated hijinks with Kareem, Dan Sutcliffe and Dominick Murray, and I also got to meet even more people for the first time, including Beth Hindmarch, Tom Gaskin, Timy Takacs, and Luke Scull.

Colin Bradley, Laura Hughes, Sadir Samir

Road trip to BristolCon with Colin and Sadir!

To sum up…

All in all, 2018 was an excellent year for me. I finished writing my first novel, I found love, I was reunited with friends from across the world, and I worked with some incredible editing clients. Despite being so busy, I also managed to read 50 books! (And  tweeted about every single one of them here.)

Fingers crossed 2019 is just as good. 🙂

‘Danse Macabre’ Audiobook (aka. I’m coming in your ears!)


*sniggers*

Seriously, though – IT’S ALIVE! (And the first reviews are in already!)

Danse Macabre by Laura M. Hughes - THE AUDIOBOOK!

That’s right: Danse Macabre is now on sale as an audiobook, narrated by Nigel Peever and with a fantastic new cover by Rachel Lawston.

You can grab it from Amazon, or from Audible. (If you do, please leave a short review over on both sites, as this will help Nigel and myself immensely!)

 

Hey, June!


Back in March, Fantasy-Faction’s head honchos (Marc Aplin and Jennie Ivins) asked me to step up and help out with editing duties. Having written regularly for the site since July 2016, I’m familiar with the contributing team and was excited to have an opportunity to assist with acquiring, organising and editing new content. Marc’s day job has kept him away from FF throughout the past few months; when I agreed to step in, Jennie was finally able to take a well-earned break to deal with some important personal issues.

On April 9 – just one year after my grandad’s passing – my grandma died. Those who know me well are aware that this preceded my Annual Mental Breakdown. During the AMB (’17 edition), I threw myself into my new role on FF, despite Jennie’s compassionate offer to let me step away again. I buried myself in my FF editing responsibilities, and did the same with other projects and interactions in an attempt to escape from the fact that I was completely and utterly failing at Real Life.

The usual counselling, medication, GP visits and back-to-work interviews came after, and while I’m still a bit fragile I’m happy to say that the worst has passed.

However, continual involvement in online projects (such as FF) has left me somewhat burned out. Running a site that large is hard, guys – especially when you’re doing it alone. This is why I intend to stay on as assistant editor while handing the main reins back to Jennie. It’s been a challenging and eye-opening three months, but it’s also been a lot of fun. I’d like to say a brief but heartfelt THANK YOU to everyone involved in making my editorial stint such a rewarding experience. You’re amazing.

After sitting down and having a serious think about what I want to do with my life, I’ve realised several things.

  1. My own writing has been suffering for a long time
  2. I enjoy (and am good at) editing, and would like to do more of it
  3. I need to work harder and make big changes in order to fix both of these things

As I’ve already mentioned, I’ve made the decision to step back from my role at Fantasy-Faction for the foreseeable future. While I’m no longer running the show over there, I intend to continue as an active part of the team and of the SFF community whilst focusing more closely on my own writing and editing.

Here are some of the things I will still be doing:

  • Co-ordinating the SPFBO effort on Fantasy-Faction
  • Building a client base for my freelance editing/proofreading business
  • Reading, critiquing and/or reviewing the few beta projects & ARCs I’ve already committed myself to
  • Writing my own book!

Mr Hughes and I are also moving house in a couple of weeks. While this is currently making everyday life even more stressful, we’re both looking forward to it, and I intend to do whatever I can to make the most of our fresh start. With that in mind, I’ve set up a Patreon page (which you can check out here) which will hopefully enable me to realise my own goals while continuing to support self-published fantasy authors.

Thanks again to the amazing friends and family who’ve put up with me during the last few months. <3

NEW: Editing Services


It’s official: my editing services are now available for hire! I’m offering high-quality line editing, copy editing and proofreading at competitive rates, with a focus on self-published fantasy fiction. I’m even offering a 20% discount to participants (past and present!) in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off! Check out this page for details, rates, and testimonials.

Head over to the page for full details. Please feel free to contact me should you wish to see my CV – and please don’t hesitate to spread the word about my new venture!

laura-m-hughes-green-dragon-swirl-para-break-divider

A Beginner’s Guide to Malazan Characters: Deadhouse Gates


The awesome folk at Tor.com have just published my fifth article over there! A Beginner’s Guide to Malazan Characters: Deadhouse Gates is a follow-up to last year’s guide to Gardens of the Moon.

Once again, there’s a whole bunch of fabulous artwork to accompany it, and I’d encourage you to check out all of these brilliant artists on DeviantArt!

Last chance for doodles!


I’m blown away by the enthusiasm surrounding Danse Macabre’s recent release in paperback. So many of you supported me by buying and sharing – and you ROCK!

More, a whole bunch of you were even willing to pay more for a signed, personalised copy. A trend soon developed of unique and increasingly elaborate doodles (or, as one Anindita nicknamed them, ‘Loodles’!), and seeing them pop up on social media has been hella fun.

Here’s the thing: I’m no artist. And while I’m pretty chuffed with how some of those doodles turned out, the fact is that they took me aaaaaaaages (up to an hour each for some of them!). Given that I’m aiming to have the first draft of my novel completed by March, I’m having to carefully consider my other commitments, and cut down on those I just don’t have the time for any more.

So! You can still grab a doodled copy of Danse Macabre as long as you place your order before the end of December. Once that clock ticks over into 2017, that’s it. Window closed.

You can order your personalised copy here, or buy a bog-standard one from Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Either way – thank you, and happy new year!

2016: The Worst of Times, the Best of Tomes


Ah, 2016. For various reasons, I’ve read nowhere near the amount of books I wanted to this year. But the ones I have read were pretty damn awesome. Here’s a few of the awesomest (note: not all of these were actually published in 2016!).

2016 shall henceforth become known as The Year in Which I Truly Discovered Self-Published Books. The abundance of awesomeness from the SPFBO (Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) – as well as a few other gems – has left me seriously impressed with those who publish via this method.

(I spoke about self-publishing, and the many positive ways in which indie authors contribute to the genre, here.)

I’m pleased to say that I discovered – and read! – an entirely new trilogy in the form of Jeff Salyards’ Bloodsounder’s Arc. Here’s what I said about book three, Chains of the Heretic:

Bloodsounder’s Arc is a work of art, a dark and masterful tapestry of tension and momentum wherein each word weaves a more deftly spun strand than the last. The final triptych, Chains of the Heretic, is Salyards’ pièce de résistance, falling naturally but devastatingly into its place as the boldest and most brutal piece of the saga.

2016 has been a shite year for politics, pop-culture legends, and the general future of humanity. However, you can’t deny that it’s given us some excellent sequels.

2016 has seen the conclusions to several of my favourite series, including The Dagger and the Coin by Daniel Abraham, The Faithful and the Fallen by John Gwynne and The Red Queen’s War by Mark Lawrence.

We’ve also been gifted with the fun finale to Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy, as well as two more instalments in Marc Turner’s spectacular six-book Chronicles of the Exile(Check out my post about meeting Marc here!)

I’ve also had the pleasure of starting one or two ongoing series by new (to me) authors Michael R. Fletcher, V.E. Schwab and Ruth Nestvold.

A few forays into the realm of shorter fiction have also yielded very pleasant results. Alyssa Wong’s very (very!) short but beautiful A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers left me keen to read more by this author; while the talent and variety on display in the Fantasy-Faction Anthology made me bubble with pride at being able to call myself a part of that community.Los Nefilim by T. Frohock... read by Kili-cat in 2016

And of course, one of my favourite reads of the year: Los Nefilima trilogy of novellas by the wonderful and talented Teresa Frohock, brought together for the first time in a single, brilliant collection.

Finally, the year wouldn’t be complete without revisiting at least one old favourite… or, in this case, two: The Bonehunters by Steven Erikson, and Terry Pratchett’s charming, witty and hilarious Hogfather.

What were your favourite books of 2016? And which ones are you most looking forward to next year?

2017: The Big Backlist Burndown


I’m sure you can sympathise when I confess that I own more books than I can possibly read in my lifetime. My shelves, floors, attic and Kindle are loaded with literally hundreds of books: books bought on a whim; books from charity shops; books from as-yet-unread authors; hell, even books I pre-ordered months in advance and then failed to actually read.three-dragons-smaller

And so; inspired by Lisa (aka. Tenacious Reader), my new year’s resolution is to catch up on some of the titles I’ve been missing out on. Here’s a few of the books in my backlist – all of which I own – that I’ve been dying to read but somehow just haven’t found time for yet.

In no particular order:

Now… where the hell do I start???

Decemberrrrrrrr!


A quick drive-by update on the last 30 days…

I posted an article about the merits of self-publishing (and of Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off) for which I received an overwhelmingly positive response. You can read it here.

SPFBO2 (Banner design by James Cormier)

design by James Cormier

I also finally pulled my head out of my arse and sorted out the paperback version of Danse Macabre. This is now available worldwide from Amazon, or (at extra cost) from myself. The latter can be signed, dedicated, doodled or otherwise personalised to your specification; here’s a few I’ve already released into the wild!

img_2125img_2122  img_2108slothyimg_2126

In other news, I’ve been falling behind on… well, everything. Most prominently of all is NaNoWriMo (which I’ll admit was something of a foregone conclusion), but also with beta reading for two of my good friends.

I have, however, managed to read and review one or two books this month, including the phenomenal Wrath by John Gwynne and the uniquely brilliant SPFBO finalist Larcout by K.A. Krantz. I’ve also just finished Fionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma by Brian O’Sullivan (another SPFBO finalist), which is well written and highly engaging.

Wrath by John GwynneFionn: Defence of Rath Bladhma by Brian O'SullivanLarcout by K.A. Krantz

Speaking of John Gwynne, the fabulous Tor.com published an article I put together on The Faithful and the Fallen. Check it out!

Excitingly, I finally had the opportunity to meet Marc Turner! I spent an enjoyable afternoon at his book signing in Leeds, which – naturally! – featured both cactigraphs and subliminal selfies. In addition to signing my copies of The Chronicles of the Exile, Marc generously gifted me the signed US hardbacks of his series. What a guy!

me-and-marc215086216_10154827048814497_353557429_n15050222_10154827049659497_2041297709_n  

That’s about it. I’ll be posting reviews as usual through December (both here and on Fantasy-Faction), and perhaps a ‘Best of 2016’ list too. Other than that… see you in the new year!

Dead Tree Danse Macabre


As you may already have noticed, Danse Macabre is now available in paperback!

Danse Macabre (paperback covers) by Laura M Hughes

Yesterday, I shared this picture on Facebook and Twitter; the response was, quite frankly, overwhelming. Friends, family and strangers alike showed bucket-loads of enthusiasm, generosity and kindness, and many of them inquired about signed and dedicated copies of the book.

Slightly stunned by their earnestness, I hastened to set up a ‘Buy My Book‘ page. I’m immensely flattered and grateful to everyone who expressed an interest, and to all who ordered within the first few hours of my announcement. I’m now preparing to personalise and ship orders to readers (and friends!) in Greece, Ohio, London, Northern Ireland and Wales, and want to say thank you once again for the support.

Not wanting to disappoint anyone, I set the ‘orders’ page up with little thought of what I’d do afterwards. But those who know me, know that logistical stuff (like money management and posting parcels) tends to get me in a bit of a flap; so for now, I’ve decided to restrict the signed/dedicated copies to UK-based customers only. I’ve also had to adjust the price slightly (I calculated it wrong – surprise, surprise!)

Those who’ve already been in touch and received a response from me, fear not: I’ll proceed with your order as promised (if you’re still interested).

For those who just want a bog-standard copy, or who aren’t in the UK: here’s the universal Amazon link again.

Thank you again for your patience, generosity and well-wishes… and I hope you enjoy the book!

The first paperback copies of Danse Macabre!