Updates…

Ok, the Ostenheim blog series is taking a little longer than expected, as I’m juggling a few balls at the moment. For now, another photoshop teaser will have to do –

Old Book CoverI considered doing the whole thing in this style, but reckon it will be easier to read by putting them in regular blog posts.

It will also be delayed a little longer as I’ve something else coming down the pipeline which will be taking pride of place next week, but more of that anon!

 

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What I’m working on…

In creating the Middle Sea world for the Society of the Sword Trilogy, and the other stories I’m writing set there, I’ve amassed a pretty voluminous file of notes—details about the world which help me when writing, but would only drag the plot pacing to a halt if included in the narrative. I think the file runs to about 250,000 words at the moment, so there’s quite a bit there!

I was reading some old travel guides for another project I’m working on, or hoping to get going with before the end of the year and a thought occurred to me for some fun blog posts. I’m cobbling together some of the notes on Ostenheim into a tour guide of sorts. I’ll post it up in a series of instalments here over the next few weeks—the first one should be ready in a few days. It should give a bit more of a flavour to the city, its culture, and people, but there won’t be any narrative to it; it’s just for a bit of fun.

Otherwise, I’m going through the line edits on my next book at the moment. I’m tempted to do a title reveal on that now, but I’m not 100% on it yet, so stay tuned!

I hope everyone’s having a great summer!

7 Thoughts on Writing and Publishing…

I’ve gotten a few mails asking me how I’ve approached publishing my work, so I thought I’d write up a post about it. I’ll preface by saying I’m certainly no expert, and anything that’s worked for me might not work for someone else, and vice versa. I’m not an outlier or one of the run away success stories, but I am now making my full-time living as a writer, so some of my experiences may be helpful. These are a few things that I do.

1. The Writers’ Cafe on the KBoards forum. Every day for me starts with a few minutes there. It has a vast amount of information relating to pretty much everything you could encounter as a writer. It’s up to date, with discussions on changes to the playing field usually starting up within minutes of the announcement being made. There’s also regularly updated information on what marketing methods are working, and those that aren’t.

2. Editing. It’s expensive, but in my opinion vital. Find a good editor and start building a relationship with them. It’s important to have an objective set of eyes look over your work. Find an editor who isn’t afraid to be mean to you. When you publish your work, readers will find any problems that exist. Better to know about them when you have the opportunity to fix them. For me, this point extends through the whole range: developmental edit, line edit, and proof reading. I also have some alpha and beta readers look over things before and after the developmental edit. I’ve told them to be as mean as possible too!

3. Covers. Probably best to outsource this one, unless you’ve artistic ability and training in the necessary software. With time and effort I could probably reach a point where I could put together reasonable covers—I love playing around with photoshop as my mapping efforts should show—but they’ll never be as good as those created by full time designers/artists. My time is better spent doing what I do, and leaving the artwork to experts.

4. Formatting. I’ve come to the opinion that ebook formatting (print is an entirely different matter) can be done by the writer. Learning the HTML coding and the process to format an ebook isn’t too difficult, and there is software now that will produce professional looking ebooks across the formats quite quickly. These make it far easier for me to react to any typos that have slipped through the net, and also update the front/back matter of the books when needed. I’ve learned how to manually code with HTML, and right now I’m experimenting with software called Vellum, which I’m hoping will speed and ease this process.

5. Distributing. Whether you choose to go exclusive with Amazon to take advantage of the benefits of Prime Borrowing (now also Kindle Unlimited, whatever it may mean for the future) and Countdown Deals, or make your book available everywhere you can is entirely up to you. I think there are good arguments on both sides, but I’ve chosen to make my books available in as many places as I can. The Writers’ Cafe is a good place to go to research people’s experiences of both options.

6. Advertising. As best I can tell, there’s no magic bullet on this one unfortunately. If you know of one, please tell me! I can keep a secret, honest! I’ve tried a few of the options here, and really can’t discount any even if I was disappointed with them at the time. They might not transfer into direct sales, but they may have a less visible effect on platform building and market exposure. It’s hard to say – a bit of a mystery to me really. Again, the Writers’ Cafe can educate on this, but trial and error will always be part of my approach, as what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. The genre you write in also comes into play heavily here.

7. Platform. I see my online presence as being a resource for people who read my books and want to know more, keep up to date, and get in touch. It’s a service for those who’ve already read them rather than a method of bringing more people in. Other people might approach this differently, which is perfectly valid, but this is the way I choose to position myself.

Finally, if you take your writing seriously, and want to make a career of it, the one piece of overarching advice I would give is professionalism. Create a professional product, and behave in a professional way. If you follow those two rules, I think you’re giving yourself the best possible start! (I hope!)

Addendum

On reflection, I really should have mentioned building a personal mailing list under point 7, or in a point all of its own (I was going for a Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven kind of vibe though!). This is important, and, I think, increasingly so. There are a number of services out there that you can use, many of which are free up to a certain number of subscribers. Conventional wisdom (see Kboards for more on this) suggests to get started building a list as early as possible – even before your first book is out. I use mine purely to notify subscribers when a new book is released.

From personal experience – when sending out a mail, make sure to double check the subject line has the correct title for the relevant book!

The Telastrian Song available in paperback.

The Telastrian Song is available in paperback at long last. Apologies for the delay, but I had to be sure it was as perfect as I could get it. I’m happy that’s where it is now!

3D

As usual, the paperback edition is within Amazon’s matchbook program, which means if you buy a paperback copy, you will be entitled to download the kindle edition for free. If you’re in the US, you can pick up a copy from Amazon by clicking here. I hope everyone’s having a great summer!

Review Time…

After two weeks of nail biting, the first review for The Telastrian Song is out. Waiting for the initial reception for a new book is a pretty miserable experience – like waiting for exam results but worse! Way worse!

The full review can be perused at your leisure over at the Fantasy Review Barn. Many thanks to reviewer Pauline M. Ross for taking the time to read it and write up her thoughts. As per my usual policy, I’ve picked out a couple of snippets that make me look good!

The descriptions of Ostenheim, in fact the whole of this world the author has created, are excellent, just enough to bring the streets and buildings into sharp focus without distracting from the action. It all feels wonderfully real, brought alive by scores of understated little details.

And on the ending:

…a wonderful and very fitting climax to the story. Being the end of the trilogy, I honestly had no idea how it would turn out, and the author had several nice surprises up his sleeve, not least the explanation for the title of this book. A terrific ending to a fine series.

Once again, the full review can be read here. Hope everyone’s enjoying the summer so far!

The Telastrian Song Now Available

The Telastrian Song is now available to buy! Currently it’s only available for Kindle on Amazon (USUK – DECAAU) and Apple iBooks, but it will be coming online with other retailers over the next few hours and days. The paperback will follow shortly after. I’ll post updates as it appears in other locations.

There’ve been a few delays and bumps along the way—the most recent bump was this morning, when my mailing list autosaved with the name of the previous book as the subject line, and sent it out with that rather than the proper one, so apologies for that! The body of the mail is the correct one though (I think! – it is Friday the 13th after all!)—so I’m delighted that the book is finally out. I really hope you all enjoy it, and have enjoyed Soren’s adventures.

I’ve put a lot of time and work into creating the Society of the Sword world over the last ten years, and have only scratched the surface in terms of exploring it, so expect to see many more tales set around the Middle Sea, and the appearance of some familiar faces in the months and years to come…

Finishing off my first trilogy is something of a milestone for me in my own adventure, so I want to thank everyone for your interest and support along the way!

The Telastrian Song (Society of the Sword Volume 3)

The Telastrian Song (Society of the Sword Volume 3)

The Telastrian Song Cover Reveal…

This is always my favourite post in the run up to a release. What with having told you all the title, it’s time to show you what it looks like on the cover! I hope you like it.The Telastrian Song

The Telastrian Song Excerpt

In the penultimate of my Telastrian Song taster posts, here’s an excerpt from the book.

Although he needed no reminder of the villagers’ frosty welcome, Soren was greeted by it as soon as he walked into the cool shade of the tavern. For once, the coolness was not directed at him. There was someone else there, a stranger leaning against the bar. He was wearing dusty travelling clothes and Soren took him for a traveller passing through, for few came to Sejura with the intention of staying. It was why Soren had chosen the place.

The stranger glanced at Soren when he entered. He looked as though he had been trying to engage the tavern keeper in conversation before Soren’s arrival. Soren knew it was a wasted effort; he had never gotten more than a few words out of the tavern keeper, Suro, despite calling in nearly every week since they had moved to the area. The newcomer didn’t have a chance, if socialising was his intention.

‘Five bottles of lemonade, Suro,’ Soren said.

Suro nodded in acknowledgement and went into a back room. The stranger turned his attention to Soren.

‘Hello there,’ he said.

‘Hello there, yourself,’ Soren said, not meaning to be rude, but in keeping with the local habits.

‘Friendly bunch in this town,’ the man said.

Soren shrugged, still clinging to the disguise of a rural countryman leaning against the bar as he waited for his lemonade. The stranger hadn’t done anything to give Soren concern, but the look of him was unsettling. He carried himself with a bearing that Soren had seen many times in the past: straight, confident, proud. Coupled with his clothes, there could be no doubt that he had done some soldiering, and despite him not carrying a sword at his waist, Soren suspected he was a swordsman—a banneret. They were always easy to spot, and the stranger was a perfect example. Just like Soren. And just like Soren, he was not the type of man one expected to see in an out of the way place like Sejura.

Soren tried to maintain his disguise of a farmer and unfriendly local. He feared his own appearance was as much a giveaway as the stranger’s and forced himself to slouch a little more. Mercenaries and sell-swords on the job always had a sharp expression, and this fellow was no different. He was assessing everything that was going on. It was the look of a predator, but conversely it was also a look carried by prey—not a description Soren liked to apply to himself, but it was accurate—as they watched for threats. He tried to adopt the appearance of suspicious disinterest. If the man was hunting someone, possibly Soren himself, he didn’t want to look like a man expecting trouble.

Soren’s was a hard-cultivated fictional persona, but it still didn’t come easily to him. He had been called Ramiro ever since arriving in Sejura. Before Sejura, there had been another town and a different name, and before that another. Each time, both he and Alessandra had sunk a little deeper into their new lives—finally becoming Ramiro and Aldonya, a young couple from the other side of Estranza seeking a new life for themselves beyond the interference of their families. The habits of a lifetime were difficult to discard though. There were still times when it took him a moment to remember that he was Ramiro, the farmer from Estranza, not Soren, Banneret Swordsman who had spent much of his life in danger.

‘Many strangers pass through here?’ the man said.

Soren shrugged. ‘A few.’

‘Any recently?’

Soren shrugged again, but said nothing.

The man sighed. ‘Never mind, then.’ He muttered something under his breath that Soren couldn’t hear, but said nothing else.

Suro reappeared with Soren’s bottles of lemonade. He set them down on the bar one at a time, six in total, while Soren rooted around in his coin purse.

‘Beatriz said there was enough left to fill another bottle. Just pay for five,’ Suro said.

Soren nodded and smiled. It was the first friendly gesture that had been made toward him since he arrived in the region, and he suspected it was due to the stranger. Soren might be new, but he was more welcome than this blow-in. He paid for the bottles and put them in his leather satchel, all under the stranger’s scrutiny.

‘Enjoy your lemonade,’ the stranger said.

Soren gave him a curt nod and left him to Suro’s suspicious stare.

The Telastrian Song Back Cover Copy

As another taster of what’s to come, here’s the back cover copy for The Telastrian Song.

A remote farm and meagre crops are a far cry from Ostenheim and the life of a banneret, but they are not far enough. For Soren to be free of Amero, there is only one answer.

In Ostenheim, Duke Amero presides over a war-weary population and an empty treasury, but still he hungers for more.

An Intelligencier uncovers the disturbing resurgence of sorcery in the city, while an avaricious colleague sees the chance to prove his worth to the Duke.

Enemies and allies emerge from unexpected places as Soren must face his former patron and idol for a final reckoning.

The Telastrian Song follows The Huntsman’s Amulet and is the concluding part of the Society of the Sword Trilogy.

 

Title Reveal…

The final decision has been made after grinding through a great many potentials for the title of the concluding part of the Society of the Sword trilogy.

The Telastrian Song

I hope you like it, and I really hope you will enjoy the book, which is on schedule for a mid-summer release. There will be further little announcements and posts relating to it in the lead up to release, so stay tuned for more over the coming weeks!

Hope you’re all well!