FREE ebook: ‘Danse Macabre’


Danse Macabre: October Free Promotion GraphicAs I mentioned a couple of weeks back, it’s been a year since I self-published my little novelette Danse Macabre. To celebrate, it’ll be free to download throughout the next two days! (13th and 14th October)

The Amazon UK link is here. You can also click here to see some of the awesome reviews left by folks over on Goodreads.

Danse in your birthday suit!


One year ago I published my novelette, Danse Macabre. In honour of its first birthday, I made it a brand new outfit:

Danse Macabre by Laura M Hughes (2016 cover)

There are a few (a lot of) rough edges (rubbish bits), but on the whole I’m quite fond of it.

Another way I’ll be celebrating is by making it FREE to download for four days this month:

  • 13th-14th October
  • 30th-31st October

… so if you know anyone who might enjoy it, feel free to spread the word… and PLEASE also remind them that reviews and ratings on Amazon and Goodreads really are an author’s best friend!

Hola, October!


Signed and Cactigraphed Books by Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie

Guys – it’s October already! September flew by so quickly, probably because it was even more spiffing than August.

For starters, I attended my FIRST EVER SIGNING (!!!), a Gollancz event at my local Waterstones on which I wrote up an excitable little piece earlier this week. Basically I got giddy at meeting the Bear and co., and for the rest of the evening it was subliminal selfies (copyright: Steven Poore) and happy cactigraphs all round.

The entire evening reinforced my determination to join a traditionally-published (and fun!) team such as Gollancz

… a determination which was bolstered by yet another handful of amazingly kind reviews on Goodreads! I published Danse Macabre in October 2015, and the reviews it’s acquired over the last twelve months have been unanimously positive. As you might imagine, this has done wonders for my confidence in my own writing ability; self-publishing my first ever finished piece of fiction is perhaps one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Danse Macabre by Laura M Hughes

Speaking of self-publishing: the #SPFBO is nearing the end of its first round! Four of the ten participating blogs have announced their finalists, with more soon to follow.

Over on Fantasy-Faction we eliminated another two entries. I wrote a fond review of Off Leash by Daniel Potter, which you should definitely check out along with A.F.E. Smith’s fantastic review of A Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope.

Our remaining three semi-finalists are Dyrk Ashton (Paternus), Amy Rose Davis (Ravenmarked) and Aderyn Wood (The Raven). We’ve actually picked our finalist… but aren’t quite ready to announce them yet. 😉

SPFBO Semi-Finalists: Fantasy-Faction's remaining three

It isn’t just SPFBO stuff I’ve been covering for Fantasy-Faction. In last month’s round-up, I shared my excitement at receiving an ARC of Red Tide by one of my favourite modern fantasy authors, Marc Turner. The book was amazing (as if that was ever in doubt), and as well as reviewing it I also had the opportunity to interview Marc as well!

And that’s not all! Earlier in the month, Tor.com published an article I wrote about The Malazan Book of the Fallen.

My First Article for Tor.com

The article – which marks my first ever piece of paid AND solicited non-fiction writing! – is essentially a rundown of the major characters introduced in Gardens of the Moon, and seems to have received a very positive response on the whole. (Better yet, I have at least four more articles for Tor.com lined up over the next six months or so. Watch this space!)

The gorgeous illustrations in the GotM article are all provided by the talented Chisomo Phiri (aka. Shadaan). You should definitely check out his spectacular portfolio on DeviantArt!

'Blacksword Visits' - Malazan Art by Shadaan

artwork by Shadaan

In other news, I’m currently working on a short story, which I intend to submit to Ragnarok’s upcoming Hath No Fury anthology.  But more on that next month . . .

Happy October!

Giggles & Gollancz: a subliminal evening (feat. cactigraphs)


Last week I went to my first ever (EVER!) author signing. In case you missed my over-excited social media posts on the subject, the event in question was a celebration of three awesome authors – specifically, the tenth anniversary of their debut novels from Gollancz.

In case you missed my overexcited social media posts...

Gillian Redfearn (who, by the way, is just lovely) shepherded Gollancz authors Tom Lloyd (The Stormcaller, Moon’s Artifice, Stranger of Tempest), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and Joe Abercrombie (First Law, Shattered Sea) into Waterstones in Manchester, where fellow SFF author Elizabeth Bear (Range of Ghosts, Karen Memory) chaired a discussion panel.

“My name’s Elizabeth Bear… and they gave me wine.”

The Bear set the tone for the entire evening: her questions brimmed with intelligence, articulacy and humour in a way that ensured every minute of the discussion was lively and engaging.

Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear

If I’m honest, I was surprised (and delighted) by how relaxed and entertaining the panel actually was. Not only was it interesting, but it also made me laugh (a lot): the camaraderie and gentle ribbing between the Bear and the boys was just perfect, as were the self-deprecating comments about the role of writers.

“We’re like batman, but  sad and immobile” – Scott Lynch

Now, in the past friends have assured me that Abercrombie is a cool guy. But there’s no way of properly appreciating the bloke’s natural charisma (or physical height!) until you’ve met him in person.

The Abercrombie-Hughes Special Edition Subliminal Selfie

The same goes for the others. While I’d enjoyed one or two brief Twitter conversations with Tom Lloyd in the past, it turns out that talking pendulous tangerine testicles is even more fun when accompanied by real-life sniggering.

Tom Lloyd

The panel taught me plenty of new things about the authors and their books. For instance, did you know that Tom Lloyd originally began writing a novel in order to prove that he could do it better than a friend? Or that Scott Lynch intended for Jean (Tannen, of the Gentleman Bastards series) to be pronounced the French-sounding way?

“Have a smile for breakfast, you’ll be shitting joy by lunch” – Joe Abercrombie

Once the panel was over, the queuing commenced. Tom’s queue was respectable, and Joe’s even more so, but Scott’s was just insane. After meeting Tom and Joe (and, of course, ensuring that they each drew their own version of a happy cactus whilst signing my books), I ventured to the booth behind them where the Bear was relaxing on her own (and heckling the others, naturally).

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I’d worried that bringing one of Elizabeth’s books to sign was a bit presumptuous… but she was delighted I’d asked, and we immediately got chatting about all kinds of geeky stuff. (She even complimented me on my tattoo!) After a little while, Tom came over to join us too, and my latte-laden self was ridiculously excited that it had inadvertently found itself in a sort of  SFF VIP lounge.

Bear-Lloyd-Hughes Subliminal Selfie

Then Joe came over too, and the four of us talked idly while we waited for Scott to work his way through the slowly-dwindling autograph line. When he was done, the Bear summoned him over (with all the teasing authority and mutual affection of a soon-to-be wife) to sign and cactigraph my Locke Lamora, which I think he (and the others) did a stellar job of.

Signed and Cactigraphed Books by Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie

Finally, we traipsed out into the night and waved goodbye, the experience having reinforced my pride at being part of the amazing SFF community.

The entire evening has inspired me in so many ways, and not least because everything I’ve seen of the Gollancz team is friendly and positive. These four authors in particular – Tom Lloyd, Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie – have given me a lot to aspire to, and I’m more determined than ever to work my arse off and become a professionally-published writer of their calibre.


Thanks a million to my wonderful sister, Rebecca, for accompanying me. I’d almost certainly have chickened out if I’d planned to go alone. Love you, Poops! <3

Salut, September!


September makes me happy for two reasons. Not only is it the month in which summer finally fucks off, but it’s also the month of my birthday! And its arrival calls for a quick recap of what I’ve been up to in August.


G.R. Matthews, Forbidden List (trilogy)

The wonderful G.R. Matthews (author of Silent City and The Forbidden List  trilogy) kicked things off with an interview at the start of the month. Matthews runs a ’10 Quick Questions’ series each week, featuring a range of awesome indie authors, and invited me to join him for rambles and randomness. You can read it here.

CEVAK

As promised in last month’s roundup I’ve finally made time to beta read my good friend and writing buddy Kareem Mahfouz‘s work-in-progress (and future bestseller). The big finale is shaping up to be Awesome (yes, capital ‘A’) – so Awesome, in fact, that I cobbled together another dodgy-looking graphic for one of my favourite characters.

In other news, the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) is well underway, and I’m having a whale of a time discovering new indie voices along with my fellow judges: A.F.E. Smith, author of Darkhaven and Goldenfire (Harper Voyager); and the above-mentioned G.R. Matthews.

I recently wrote my first ‘elimination article‘ for Fantasy-Faction explaining why certain entries just didn’t make the cut, and also contributed to the subsequent post that announced our final seven. Even more recently we eliminated Terminus by Ryan Howse, shortly followed by Ruth Nestvold’s Yseult; and the final seven became a final five. We have until next month to pick our *drumroll* FINALIST, after which we’ll then read and rate the other nine that made it through. Exciting!

SPFBO - Fantasy-Faction's Final Five

In addition, I finished reading The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham. Abraham is becoming a ‘go-to’ author for me: his work is consistently fun to read, with reliably solid characters and easy prose. I reviewed The Spider’s War on Fantasy-Faction, along with the rest of the Dagger and Coin quintet (which I highly recommend!).

Thiefbreaker-seven-lines-facebook

Once again my own writing progress has taken a hit. But on the plus side I’ve resolved to cut down on the amount of planning I do, and to not worry about writing things chronologically. (I like to call this the ‘patchwork quilt’ method.) I’m also giving myself the freedom to work on other things alongside my main WIP, which is a lot of fun. There are two other projects I’m currently messing with: a third-person, multiple PoV novella; and an experimental first-person piece which I may write as a serial. Both are set in secondary worlds; but while the novella will focus on the rising tension among a group of thieves who are being hunted, the serial is a humorous dialogue-driven travelogue/detective story.

And speaking of writing . . . At the beginning of August, a lovely lady named Bridget McGovern dropped me an email out of the blue. Much to my surprise and delight, she invited me to contribute an article to Tor.com – which should be appearing on the site sometime this month!

Just one more exciting thing before I go. One of my favourite modern fantasy authors, Marc Turner, sent me an advance review copy of his upcoming novel, Red Tide. Published on September 20th 2016, Red Tide is the third instalment of Turner’s epic fantasy series The Chronicles of the Exile. Not only will I be reading and reviewing this in time for its release date – I’ll also be interviewing Marc himself! Questions will cover a range of topics – from reading and writing to other (less relevant) things – and both the interview and the review of Red Tide should be up on Fantasy-Faction within the next few weeks.

So, September: d’you think you’ll live up to August’s levels of awesomeness? *rubs hands together*

Tweet - Red Tide ARC

Aloha, August!


I can’t say I’ve ever used the word ‘awhirl’ in casual conversation before – well, apart from just now – but I’ve spent the past month awhirl in Cool Book Stuff™. Such as . . .

Cool Book Stuff™ #1

I’m now officially a member of the Fantasy-Faction team!

Fantasy-Faction

I’ve followed the site – co-edited by Marc Aplin and Jennifer Ivins – for years, and have always admired the quality of its articles and the regularity of its reviews. I’m flattered and grateful, excited and proud beyond belief to be able to call myself part of the team. (I’ve got a PAGE and everything!)

Cool Book Stuff™ #1.1

And as if that wasn’t amazing enough, I now get to join in with the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (#SPFBO) for the first time. And as part of the F-F judging panel, no less!

SPFBO2 Banner by Matt Howerter

graphic by Matt Howerter

I’m a bit late to the party, but playing catch-up has been a lot of fun. I’ve read, scored and commented on the opening chapters of at least ten submissions, many of which have pleasantly surprised me. In fact, there’s more than one that I’ll probably go on to read even if it doesn’t make it through this round.


Cool Book Stuff™ #2

As you can probably guess, my own writing has taken a bit of a back seat whilst I focus not only on reading and reviewing, but also beta reading.

It’s been pretty much one year exactly since my first ever writing buddy (Kareem Mahfouz: notorious whiskey-sponge with the enviable power to pull entire storylines out of his arse as he writes) sent me the first prologue of the first draft of his first novel. Now – twelve months and 192,000 words later – I have the final part of his first draft to read and feed back on, which I’m REALLY looking forward to.

In fact, I got so excited by the story that I made a thing inspired by Kareem’s favourite character:

'Mouse'

Remember the name: Kareem Mahfouz. You heard about him here first, people!


Cool Book Stuff™ #3

Danse Macabre by Laura M HughesMy own word count may have ground to a temporary halt, but the reviews for my novelette, Danse Macabre, have been unexpectedly flooding in!

It’s a very small flood, I’ll grant you. But quality beats quantity every time.

Seasoned reviewer James McStravick shared his thoughts over on his blog, The Observant Raven; and the excellent T.O. Munro (author of Lady of the Helm) penned a particularly detailed and thoughtful review in which he called Danse Macabre “well-written”, “ingenious” and “captivating”.

To be honest, I’m still in shock. Awesome-shock.


Cool Book Stuff™ #4

Since my Kindle (Mr. Norrell) appears to have gorged himself on ALL THE THINGS over the last few months, I’ve compiled some of the best-looking indie books he’s found into a reading list:

Indie Reading List, August 2016Just look at those bad boys! Norrell’s definition of ‘new’ is somewhat questionable – I’ve had some of those books since the last SPFBO! – but still. Enticing, eh?

Right now I’m working through The Spider’s War by Daniel Abraham (which is great, by the way), but it shouldn’t be too long before I get around to this little beauty:

Valley of Embers by Steven KelliherThat’s an eARC of the upcoming Valley of Embers by indie author Steven Kelliher. The first in the Landkist saga, it’ll be available to buy on 16th August 2016 from Amazon.


That’s it (for now). July, I’m sorry to see you go. You’ve been a really positive month for me. August, you– oi! August! Listen! You have a lot to live up to, so you’d better start right now.

Oh! And for those who’re interested in the brilliant SPFBO, I urge you to take a few moments to check out the main page on Mark Lawrence’s site. Like, right now.