Quick Updates

17 Oct

Just (yet another) quick set of updates.

First, Hard Lessons (A Learning Experience II) is now available. Download a Free Sample and then buy the complete version from Amazon here.

Second, The Trafalgar Gambit is now available in audio format. Download here!

Third, I plan to start writing Bookworm III on Sunday, if everything goes according to plan.

Fourth, I have completed the first set of edits for Work Experience, The Shadow of Cincinnatus and The Mind’s Eye. Publication dates will be announced ASAP.

Fifth, I plan to be at NOVACON (14-16 November 2014) unless the baby gets in the way. I will, for the first time, have copies of both Schooled In Magic and First Strike to sell (as well as the Elsewhen books), probably for £10 each. If you are planning to attend and want a copy reserved for you, please let me know ASAP. I do have a small stockpile, but I can’t guarantee obtaining more before I head to Nottingham.

(If someone orders a copy and I can’t get there, I will post them.)


Audio: The Trafalgar Gambit

17 Oct

Hi, everyone

The Trafalgar Gambit is now available on audio – download from the link below!

The Trafalgar Gambit: Ark Royal, Book 3 | [Christopher Nuttall]



New Book: A Learning Experience II–Hard Lessons!

14 Oct

Fifty years after Steve Stuart and his friends captured an alien starship, the Solar Union is a thriving interstellar power, while Earth is increasingly backwards and falling into barbarism. For two youngsters from Earth, the Solar Union offers the only chance they will ever have to make something of their lives …

But humanity’s involvement in Galactic affairs has not gone unnoticed. The enigmatic masters of the universe have put together a fleet to crush the upstart humans before they can threaten the precarious balance of power. Pushed to the limits, the Solar Union must fight to defend its freedom – and the existence of the human race.

Download a FREE SAMPLE, then purchase it from Kindle HERE!

[Like my other self-published Kindle books, Hard Lessons is DRM-free. You may reformat it as you choose.]

Quick Set Of Updates

1 Oct

It’s been a weird couple of weeks.

Good news first – we’ve found a place to live in Edinburgh. It’s maybe not in the best of locations, but it is somewhere decent and we have plenty of room for later expansion (it turns out that my collection of Baen paperbacks consumes around 30 shelves.) I’m not sure how long we’re going to be living there, but we will see.

Bad news – I’ve been having bouts of depression. I don’t know why, which is bothering me. Send some prayers my way if you can.

Second piece of good news – I’m currently 25 chapters into Hard Lessons (A Learning Experience II). I hope to have it drafted out in 9 or so days, then start the editing process (at which point I have to start editing at least one other book, for Elsewhen.)

My current plan is to write Bookworm III next, then go on to Warspite. After that, I need some input. I can write the next Schooled In Magic book, the final Democracy book or Their Darkest Hour II. Which one would you like?

I’ve also been messing around with plots for Book IV of The Royal Sorceress. How does this sound?

After the lead sorcerers in America are killed, with Franco-Spanish forces surging across the border, Gwen is called upon to train the remaining American magicians in magic before the war can be lost. But when she encounters a mystery magician with a connection to her mentor, the Royal Sorceress may finally have met her match …

There are several other issues worth mentioning.

I’ve had a number of requests for EPUB versions of my books. As The Empire’s Corps is not exclusive to Amazon (because of the Stars and Empire box set) I’ve put the books online here, for download as EPUBs. If you liked the series, please feel free to leave reviews there <grin>.

Work Experience (SIM IV) has had its first full edit. I’m hoping to see it online within a month or two, but we don’t have dates yet. The cover design is currently being finalised.

As always, reviews and comments are welcome.


New Novel–First Strike!

30 Sep

The best defense…

A massive alien power looms over humanity, claiming Earth as its territory and humanity as its slaves. They’ve already taken over one colony, yoking hundreds of thousands under their brutal rule. Every tactical exercise, every simulation, every simulation gives humanity zero chance in a defensive campaign.
Earth’s only chance to win the coming war – is by striking first.

Admiral Tobias Sampson has a few dozen cruisers; the Hegemony has a hundred superdreadnoughts alone. Earth controls nine star systems; the Hegemony rules almost a thousand. But attacking isn’t the only surprise humanity has up its sleeve…

Starting a war with an enemy a hundred times stronger is insane. It’s desperate. And it’s Earth’s only hope.

Download a Free Sample, then buy from Amazon (Paperback, Kindle, CreateSpace) or Smashwords.  As always, comments and reviews are very welcome.

“It’s honestly brilliant – a space opera tour de force I want to see the next book of."
-Glynn Stewart, author of Starship’s Mage

“A story of alien threats and human resourcefulness that isn’t simply a contest of gadgets and ray guns. Nuttall knows the real ingredients of war are from within: greed, treachery, arrogant disdain, devious double crossing and misdirection. Both human and alien.”
-Mackey Chandler, author of the Family Law and April series

One Thing You Shouldn’t Do On Kindle …

24 Sep

… Or anywhere, for that matter.

I get a lot of emails from people who want to be writers themselves. Mostly, they tend to ask for advice – as if I knew something that would make anyone who possessed it an automatic success. And what I do, because I got help from other writers myself when I started, is explain that the only key to any success in writing is hard work.

I learned two things, in particular, from Eric Flint.

One – writing requires practice. You have to write at least a million words before you have anything that is even remotely readable. Yes, really. I cringe at the thought of my readers looking at some of my early works.

Two – writing requires a form of double-think (the ability to believe two things that contradict one another.) The writer must believe that his work is the greatest piece of literature since Oliver Twist … and, at the same time, must believe that his work is not worthy of being used as toilet paper, let alone publication.

Why? The writer must have the confidence to enter the writing world and, at the same time, understand that he or she has a great deal of work to do. No writer is EVER capable of judging his own work. Writers can miss the major problems and the minor problems, simply because they know what the book is supposed to say. That’s why a decent critic – and an editor – is a MUST for any writer who seriously intends to write. They can make the difference between a publisher considering your manuscript or kicking it out the door, without even bothering to write sarcastic comments.

In the past, writers were dependent on publishing companies to get published. The publishers provided a barrier between the general public and the hundreds of pieces of simply awful writing that were sent in by hopeful authors. Kindle (and other e-book publishers) has changed all that, at least to some extent. Anyone can publish on Kindle …

As I’ve noted before, the good news is that anyone can publish on Kindle; the bad news is that anyone can publish on Kindle. This causes problems because young authors who haven’t worked for years developing their writing start trying to sell their wares. When they do, they get attacked – sometimes savagely – by readers who don’t feel any obligation to soften the blow.

Obligations? Most people – me included – have problems being critical to our friends and family. I see something they’ve done and I bite down the urge to point out that its crappy. A writer’s mother – for example – probably won’t make critical remarks, even if the story is thoroughly awful. Anyone else, however, will certainly struggle to restrain themselves from making caustic remarks – “why the hell are you wasting your time doing this when you can’t even spell ‘cat’?” The unwary writer, expecting plaudits, may find himself hammered by a through dissection of just WTF is wrong with his work.

This hurts. Unless you’re a complete hack, your writing is your heart and soul. Having someone come up to you and make unpleasant remarks about your baby doesn’t make you want to listen, it makes you want to punch them in the face, then do unspeakable things to their corpse. Or, perhaps, you want to explain to them, in great detail, why they’re wrong – or to defend your work to the bitter end.

This is essentially pointless. There are two types of critic; the helpful dude and the troll. The former will not feel inclined to continue to help you if you reject his advice so openly (even if he’s wrong, he’s got the wrong idea because of something YOU wrote); the troll gets his jollies from forcing you to work yourself into a tizzy over his words. You are merely feeding his sick ego when you rant and rave on the internet over how someone doesn’t get your work – and feeding trolls is stupid, in any online forum.

The real trick, of course, is learning to tell the difference. I always tell myself not to respond to negative remarks, but to consider what is actually being said. Someone who offers useful feedback – “this word is spelt wrong” – is a helpful dude; someone who doesn’t offer useful feedback is a troll. Thank the former, ignore the latter.

I mention this because there has been a spat of comments on one of the facebook groups I frequent, concerning a particularly unpleasant piece of work. Now, that alone would not be worthy of comment. Kindle has seen more than its fair share of works that are over-priced, poorly edited, worse researched, badly formatted, given horrible covers, plagiarised (and copied from other works produced by the author, which may not be plagiarism per se), etc, etc.

However, the author – who has the same attitude to his works as other authors – has been responding badly to criticism. He has insisted that his reviewers are trolls, cited the opinions of his friends (and at least one person who may not exist) and refused to believe that they’re actually pointing out very real problems with the book. Worse, he has spammed Amazon with samples of his book and tried to game the rating system. (And one reviewer has written a 5-star review that is anything, but.) Readers have not responded very well to his defence.

This has always left me with mixed feelings. I have never believed that an author should be above criticism, particularly when they produce works like … well, SONICHU. (About which the less said, the better.) On the other hand, there are times when the barrage of criticism (even when not actual trolling) becomes unbearably akin to bullying. I’ve had moments in my writing career when I felt backed into a corner by trolls, even when some of those trolls were probably making sensible remarks. Whose side should I be on?

Well, that of common sense, of course.

Writers need thick skins. At the same time, they need to understand that critics are the most valuable resource a writer can have. There’s nothing to be gained, as I have said above, in treating the critic as a troll.

So … if you want to write seriously, listen to the critics.

Musings on the Referendum Result and the Future

21 Sep

I generally prefer to wait a few days before commenting on anything, no matter how important. It adds a certain perspective – and besides, the first reports, no matter how optimistic or dire, may be wrong. This time, however, two interesting and quite significant events have taken place, both of which bear examination.

Scotland voted NO. And Alex Salmond, the driving force behind the referendum, has resigned.

I have no doubt that people will be arguing for years over why the vote went the way it did. Did the YES campaign overplay its hand? Did the case they made for Scottish independence prove unconvincing? Did Salmond’s lustful grab for power put more voters than just myself off voting him into the position of President of Scotland? Or was it his unfortunate resemblance to Tony Blair, another politician who preferred style over substance, that deterred the voters from supporting him? Or was it the activities of thugs on the streets of Scotland who tried to silence NO supporters who turned voters against independence?

It is quite possible, of course, that one or more of those answers are correct, but I suspect we will never truly know.

Salmond’s resignation is interesting in and of itself. Did Salmond feel he should no longer lead Scotland when his cause was defeated so comprehensively? Or did he want to jump before he was pushed? The SNP would not be kind to a leader who suffered such an agonising defeat, one that calls the very existence of the SNP into question. Or, perhaps most depressing of all, is he hoping to remain in the background and wait to see what happens?

If Salmond leaves politics for good, he will finally win some of my respect. The cynical side of my nature, however, suggests that Salmond is merely waiting to see if there will be an opportunity to re-enter politics.

And David Cameron may well have given him the opportunity.

The NO campaign’s panic, when the polls started to suggest that the YES campaign would win, led them to make all sorts of promises. Those promises must now be carried out, or the politicians who made them will be exposed as liars. I have no doubt that certain politicians in Scotland are already contemplating the prospects for a second referendum, should those promises not be kept. They will make it seem, rightly or wrongly, that Scotland’s choice to remain in the Union was conditional on those promises being kept. If they are not kept, they will start to agitate for a second referendum.

But keeping the promises will cause other problems for the UK.

Put bluntly, the post-Act of Union Parliament largely abolished the independent nations of Scotland and England. Politically, Scotland and England were effectively part of the same country. There was no such thing as a Scottish MP, merely an MP who happened to represent a Scottish constituency. The argument put forward by YES campaigners that Scotland voted against the Iraq War, but got the war anyway, is essentially nonsense. British MPs voted in favour of the war.

The Scottish Parliament’s creation by New Labour was, at least in part, caused by the belief that Labour could rely on Scottish voters (and, to be fair, there were few Conservative voters in Scotland after the Poll Tax.) This had the accidental effect of creating a democratic headache where Scottish MPs could vote on English matters, without English MPs having similar rights in Scotland. England, you see, did not have a separate Parliament; Westminster was effectively both the British Parliament and the English Parliament. This was bitterly resented in England, for obvious reasons.

As such, granting Scotland additional powers will cause considerable resentment in England.

There is a way forward – actually, two ways forward.

The first would be to create an English Parliament, which the same powers as the Scottish Parliament. I suspect this will be opposed by both Labour and Liberal Democrats, as both parties may benefit more from Scottish MPs than the Conservatives.

The second would be to seek near-total devolution, for everyone.

As I see it, the core problem with large organisations – and governments are VERY large organisations – is that they have serious problems dealing with little details. This leads to rules and regulations that are actively harmful, because the laws cannot be adapted to suit every situation. The rule-makers may have the best intentions in the world. They simply lack the omnipotent perspective to see just how their ideas work in the real world.

I used to work as a drone in a very large organisation. The guys at the top would issue directives that made no sense to us, at ground-level. But none of our arguments could get them changed.

Let me suggest something like this.

Take a school, for example, or a hospital. Make the headteacher or director (whatever one calls the boss of a hospital) responsible for running his building, but also grant him the powers to actually handle the job. For example, headteachers actually have very limited powers over everything from staffing to discipline. Give them the ability to tackle problems without having to appeal up the chain. In fact, extend this principle to everywhere. Put matters concerning Edinburgh in the hands of Edinburgh City Council; matters concerning Glasgow in the hands of Glasgow Council, etc, etc. Devolution to the max!

But would this work in real life?

I don’t know. But I suspect that reducing the distance between politicians and the people on the ground would make it easier for them to concentrate on important matters – and, just incidentally, understand what effects their decisions are having.

YMMV, of course.


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