Og-Grim-Dog Character Design

In these strange times, my daily schedule is relatively untouched, though I do now have my children at home with me as the UK self-isolates.

I’m excited to introduce the character design for Og-Grim-Dog. I think the artist has done a fantastic job of bringing the brothers to life. At the moment he is working on the cover for book one, so I hope I will have news on this for you before too long.

I like the fact that the fantasy community is still active online during this period – it’s nice to be able to interact with other people in this way. In that vein, I’m letting you know about an online reading festival I’m involved with over on Fantasy Sci-Fi Focus. It’s on virtually all day (especially if you’re in North America) this Saturday, so make some time to check it out!

 

Where Loyalties Lie by Rob Hayes

Where Loyalties Lie (Best Laid Plans #1)Where Loyalties Lie by Rob J. Hayes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Making a conscious effort to read some of the ebooks on my ipad and went for this one which I’ve wanted to read since it won spfbo3 which Toric’s Dagger was entered in.

The story follows ‘grimdark pirates’ struggling against one another and the local empires who would like to see the end of the pirates. The characters – Drake Morass, Keelin, Elaina Tanner and more are mostly piratical types who, let’s say, have their own moral code. Certainly a morally grey grimdark (TM) style of novel here. I found them convincing and entertaining. They are at each other’s throats – the question is, are they capable of uniting to save their skins?

I am 99% sure the book is set in the same world as most of Rob’s other fantasy books – there are some references to other parts of the world here and there but you certainly don’t need to read anything else first. The author does the whole pirate thing – from the descriptions of the ships, to the characters’ speech – incredibly well, and for me this makes it stand out enough to earn a 5***** rating. Mr Hayes must have done some significant research and given some serious thought to the world, plot and characters, but writes the story so smoothly that you don’t see any of that. The fantasy and magical elements are low key and woven in with the gritty world of pirating very well and it makes for an original and distinctive read.

The story is certainly adult in every respect and people looking for a YA read about pirates need to go elsewhere. I’m not a massive fan of pirate stories per se but I really enjoyed this. By focusing on such a small scale (relatively, for fantasy) I felt like the writer was able to take his time with the story, giving the pirates the centre stage, when often (in fantasy) they get a bit part and it has a slightly gentler pace compared to the average frenetic fantasy read.

I certainly recommend this one, especially for those wanting something a bit out of the mainstream.

View all my reviews

March Madness

First of all, an update on the writing. I have sent book one of the new series to my beta readers and received feedback so that is due another final edit before it’s ready. I have also made a decent start on the first draft of book two, so I am still hoping for a late spring/ early summer release of the new series.

Meanwhile, I’m running a limited time promotion on The Weapon Takers Saga. You can get Toric’s Dagger free from the 2nd-6th March on Amazon with reductions in all territories on books 2 & 3 (the price varies on this). This has been a good way to attract new readers in the past, so spread the word if you can!

End of 2019 update

This is a nice moment to look back and forwards at my writing plans.

Publication of my first series, The Weapon Takers Saga, is drawing to a close. All paperbacks and eBooks are released, including the boxset of books 1-3 which has hit the Amazon bestsellers ranks over the last 2 months. The release of the audiobooks will also be finished soon. Greg and Bridget have completed production of books 3 & 4. The Jalakh Bow audiobook is already released, and The Giants’ Spear is signed off and should be available on Amazon and Audible over the next few days.

Writing such an epic series has been a gargantuan effort for me. It’s been exciting to think about what other projects to turn to next. I’m not short of ideas. But I decided I wanted to write something a bit different and less complex, while staying in the fantasy genre. I’ve therefore decided to go for a series of shorter, humourous novels, centred on the character of Og-Grim-Dog, a three headed ogre. I’ve finished the first draft of book one. It will need some work doing to it, but the story feels more or less there. I would also like to finish the first three to four books in advance and then release them within a short time frame of each other, rather than have readers waiting ages for the next one. I will post updates on progress when I have them.

Meanwhile, there are two days left of my competition to Win all the paperbacks of The Weapon Takers Saga – enter over on KingSumo.

Well, that’s it for now, I’m looking forward to 2020 and I wish you a great year ahead.

 

The Giants’ Spear

 

It’s finally here! The end of the series!

Here’s the cover for Book 4 of The Weapon Takers Saga. The official release date for the eBook is 15th November, but it’s already available to buy on pre-order. What’s more, the price will be set at $/£2.99 until release day.

Feels weird to be saying the series is over, but looking forward to finding out what everyone thinks of it.

Visit The Giants’ Spear on Amazon

 

When Fantasy Ruled the Charts

Mention fantasy inspired music now and, if anything, you probably think about a niche genre of heavy metal. But once upon a time, in a land not so far away, fantasy was a major inspiration on some of the music that troubled the charts, and on their artwork. Here are some of the albums, all released between 1967-75, from an era when fantasy ruled the charts.

1973. An iconic album cover featuring mystical sites on earth, Tales from Topographic Oceans by Yes, was written at the high point of progressive rock-a genre full of complex lyrics and music that was well suited to literary ideas. This is a concept album inspired by ancient hindu texts. Ridiculed by some for its pretension, you don’t get music like this in the charts any more. Key track: The Ancients/Giants Under the Sun

 

1969. Led Zeppelin II by Led Zeppelin, complete with a steampunk style cover featuring German WW1 fighter pilots. The moment when Led Zeppelin first mix their folk blues music with mystical storytelling. No doubt much of the link between heavy metal and fantastic themes can be traced back to this album. Key track: Ramble On

 

1972. Demons and Wizards by Uriah Heep. Another prog rock cover, combined with heavy music inside. This record is full of fantasy influenced songs. Key track: The Wizard

 

 

 

1968. This debut by psychedelic outfit Tyrannosaurus Rex long held the record for the longest album title: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in their Hair…But Now they’re Content to Wear Stars on their Brow‘. Full of Marc Bolan’s whimsical lyrics, this album was always going to be fantasy influenced when the bongo player was called Steve Peregrin Took. Key track: Dwarfish Trumpet Blues

 

1967. The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion by Scottish folk duo The Incredible String Band was one of the classic psychedelic albums. Key track: Mad Hatter’s Song

 

 

 

1968. A Saucerful of Secrets by Pink Floyd. The last Floyd album featuring Syd Barrett, it retains his interest in fairy tales and fable. Key track: Let There Be More Light

 

 

 

1975. Warrior on the Edge of Time by Hawkwind. Really, any Hawkwind album would do. What makes this one stand out is the fantasy style cover – and the fact that many of the lyrics were provided by Michael Moorcock. Key track: The Wizard Blew His Horn

 

1971. Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by The Moody Blues. A great cover, this is prog rock with some mystical elements. Key track: Emily’s Song

 

 

 

What do you think? Anything missing? Any more recent music deserving of a mention?

Beyond The Shadows

The grimdark fantasy anthology Beyond The Shadows is now live on Amazon. There’s been a great initial response to the release, with positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

There are 15 stories in the anthology, including my own, Stiff’s Standoff. I’m now a third of the way through the book myself and I’m impressed with the variety of the stories that I’ve read so far. I’m also surprised it’s such a HUGE book – I’ve taken a picture of the paperback which gets across how many words we collectively put out!

Beyond The Shadows on my bookshelf

The eBook version has a new release price of 0.99 until the end of the month, when it will go up to 3.99, so now is a great time to get it.


Bolivar’s Sword Audiobook Out Now!

Greg Patmore and Bridget Thomas have done another fantastic job with Bolivar’s Sword. They really bring the cast of characters to life and I thought it was such a fun listen. Greg was recently nominated for Best Narrator at the 2018 SOVAs and I’m so pleased I’ve got him on board for the series!

The audiobook is now available at Audible, Amazon and iTunes. You can have a listen to the sample below.

audible.com

audible.co.uk

Bolivar’s Sword eBook Out Now – 0.99

So, Bolivar’s Sword has now had its eBook release and will be 0.99 on Amazon for the first half of July until it goes back up to 3.99. The first reviews are also now in and seem to have settled on a 4**** average on amazon.com – see here. It feels good having a couple of books on sale now – hopefully the next one won’t take a year!

I have also started a kindle countdown for Toric’s Dagger, which means that it will be available at $0.99 for a week too, but unfortunately only on amazon.com (US Amazon).