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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Author Guest Post + Giveaway: Steve McHugh

The Long Journey
 by Steve McHugh

Writing a book takes time. Yes, I know that’s not exactly news. 100,000 words don’t just magically appear on the page, while we all sit back and drink stupid sounding cocktails out of expensive crystal glasses.

Crimes Against Magic, my first book, took me about 2 years to actually write. Maybe a bit longer, but that’s roughly right. This was mostly down to the fact that I re-wrote it about 4 times from scratch, as the first 3 attempts were shockingly bad.

I think it was Stephen King who said that the first 1 million words we write are shit, which should mean awards and movies made for my books any day now, as I probably wrote at least half that amount on CAM alone.

Anyway, I digress, writing a full-length novel is a time consuming act that means late nights, the forgoing of a social life and learning how to sleep at your full-time job, while trying to look busy.

But the fact that 47North have picked up my first 3 books of the Hellequin Chronicles to publish, Crimes Against Magic and Born of Hatred in September and then With Silent Screams in Feb 2014, means it was all worth it.

But without one set of people I never would have self-published the first two books last year to acclaim and I never would have had 47North asking to work with me, and I wouldn’t be here right now extolling the virtues of Beta readers.

They’re in pretty much everyone’s acknowledgements; they’re certainly in mine. Beta readers are the people, who read through an early draft of your book and point out what does and doesn’t work.

Sometimes they’re called crit readers or maybe minions, if you’re feeling particularly pompous, but the fact is that you send your book to them all fresh-faced and with a song in your heart, and when you get it back you realize that actually you still have a lot to do. And that’s the best thing in the world for a writer.

You see we get too close to our work. We read it though and think it’s funny and exciting and possibly even insightful. Our beta readers trowel through the words and hopefully tell you what does and doesn’t work. Editors do this too, but your beta readers get it well before that stage.

So, as I’ve said, every writer should have them. Every single writer. But let’s say you don’t have any, let’s say you’re all alone with your band new book. Well, first of all, join a writing group. That should really be the very first thing any aspiring writer does.

Being around other writers, having other writers critique your work makes you better. It’s a simple fact. From there you’re likely to find Beta readers, it’s how I did it. I met other writers and asked if anyone was interested and then gave the book to the people who answered.  Then when someone else asks the same question, if you have time, you put your hand up. Because apart from having people critique your work, you doing the same to others will improve your writing too. Since then, they’ve read pretty much everything I’ve written and quite frankly they’re indispensable.

So, here’s you to, Beta readers. You make us better writers. And long may it continue.

Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games.



It’s been almost ten years since Nathan Garrett woke on a cold warehouse floor with nothing but a gun, a sword, and no idea of who he was or how he got there. His only clue … a piece of paper with his name on it. Since then, he’s discovered he’s a powerful sorcerer and has used his abilities to work as a thief for hire. But he’s never stopped hunting for his true identity, and those who erased his memory have never stopped hunting for him. When the barrier holding his past captive begins to crumble, Nathan swears to protect a young girl who is key to his enemy’s plans. But with his enemies closing in, and everyone he cares about becoming a target for their wrath, Nathan is forced to choose between the life he’s built for himself and the one buried deep inside him.

Crimes Against Magic is an Urban Fantasy set in modern day London with Historical flashbacks to early fifteenth century France. It's book one of the Hellequin Chronicles, a series about Nathan (Nate) Garrett, a centuries old sorcerer.


There are some things even a centuries-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge… 

When Nathan Garret’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. Even with all his powers, Nate fears he may be overmatched. But when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more. 

Born of Hatred, set in modern London with historical flashbacks to America’s Old West, continues the dark urban fantasy of Crimes Against Magic, the acclaimed first book in the gritty and action-packed Hellequin Chronicles.

Amazon  /  Barnes and Noble


Two winners receive both Crimes Against Magic and Born of Hatred.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Alexx Momcat said...

Thanks as a beta reader for many authors i appreciate your kind words

Alexx Momcat said...

Thanks as a beta reader for many authors i appreciate your kind words

erin said...

congrats to Steve on the new release! Sounds awesome :)

Mary Preston said...

Pleased to meet you Steve. Here's to beta readers.

Steve J McHugh said...

Thanks to you all for the kind comments. I've always said Beta readers are people who make us better at our job. I think they're not given enough credit.

sherry fundin said...

Intriguing covers and the books sound amazing. Thanks for sharing.