Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's here...

The book is here - you can purchase it from Amazon. On the same page, you'll find links to download the FREE kindle reader for Mac, PC, iPhone and Android.

30 Pence from every sale is going to Cancer Research UK, so you'll be helping others as well as (hopefully!) enjoying the read.

PLEASE take the time to leave a star review and a few words when you've read it, your feedback and advice is really apreciated.

Thank you so much to everybody who has believed in and supported me so far, hopefully we can all continue to share in this journey.



Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's the Day!

This is a big day for me. A very important day. The book is out, on Amazon, for download.

It's coming out WORLDWIDE, that is to say, you can buy it from the UK, US and European Amazon stores, which is very, very exciting. Ok, maybe I'm getting excited far too early and making a much bigger deal out of it than I really need to, but this is important to me, dammit! Let me have my moment, and then, in a week's time when the full disaster sinks in, I'll go quiet. And then never I'll mention it again. Promise.

So, what are you going to get for your money, and what do I get out of it? I suppose it's only fair, as I'm asking you to hand over your hard earned, that I give full disclosure. It's the first part of the first book, you're talking about 150 pages as written on a word processor - I honestly don't know how that equates in terms of Kindle size. I've got the free Kindle app from my iPhone, and you don't get very much on each page on a screen that size - so let's estimate about 500 pages for a phone app, 300 or so for the Kindle? Sounds a lot, but it's not THAT much. It also ends on a cliffhanger - well, TWO cliffhangers to be honest, about two of the main characters. There's also a third story strand that starts directly after the end of the first part, which will feature Freyi, a lovely young lady who is part of a group of mountain tribes people. Her story arc is the most tragic of the lot; nuff said about that at the moment, though. You can look forward to meeting her in part two.

We've agreed a price point of $2.99 in the States, and the cost in pounds and euro's will be directly linked to that. At today's exchange rate, that's about £1.89. I've agreed that 30 pence from each sale will go to The UK Cancer Trust. Sadly, me and cancer are a little too close for comfort, so this is a charity that's close to my heart. 30 pence might not sound a lot, but when you factor the costs taken by various other mediums, it's about 25% of my total earnings per book, so it's a fair sum, I think.

The purpose of this isn't to make a great deal of money - not at this moment in time, and not in this format. The purpose is to gain a foothold in the market place, a presence and slowly start to build what will, hopefully, become a full head of steam in the future, hence the low price point. Also, it's not right to charge full price for just the first part, dontcha think? ;o)

Which leads me on to the obvious point - why just release a first part and not the whole thing? Simple - I'm not happy with the rest of it yet, and it needs more work. I also think it's kind of fun to release it in two parts (maaaaaaaaaybe three, depending on size). It will, hopefully, create a sense of community, where "fans" can be a part of an on-going and developing story and will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.

The Price of Paradise is with Amazon now - I fulfilled my part by getting it to them as per the agreed deadline this morning. They're now just converting it to the correct formats, and making sure the whole thing is neither full of plagiarism or libel, and also making sure that correct DRM is added to it. Once that's all done (will be SOME point today, so I'm promised) then it will be available on their store.

I promise that as soon as it happens, I'll be back and will let you know - scout's honour. 

Thank you so much for everybody who's been asking about it, and also spreading the word, I hope you won't be disappointed when you finally get to read it :o)



Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Four Days and Counting...Birth of a Series

Hola mi amigos

Here we are, then. You, me, t'internet and a blog. Cosy, isn't it? Hope you're comfortable and ready to go on a walk together.

So, where to start? Well, the purpose of this is to talk some more about the new book and how it came to BE the new book, so I guess I should get cracking. Firstly, the obvious question is what's it all about? Well, lookie here - see if it floats your boat.

War and worse is coming…

The continent of Achelos. Once a single, prosperous Country, it has long been divided in two following a bitter and brutal civil war. After years of sporadic peace, things are about to change. In the South, the zealous Penitents of the Swarth prepare to invade Drellak in the North, where religion itself is outlawed. Their invasion is backed by powerful and enigmatic new allies from across the Unending Sea.

At the same time, a survivor of a mountain tribe massacre will embark on a personal quest for vengeance, an army scout will find himself unjustly imprisoned and under a virtual sentence of death, and a drug addicted assassin will be manipulated and betrayed. Each of their destinies is linked to the oncoming storm, and unbeknown to everybody, something far, far worse than anybody can even comprehend, is watching, and waiting…

From the desert wastes of Etain Jar to the heights of the Blackmount, from the frozen tundra of Todmoor to the Island of the Dead, where the ghosts of ancient Kings linger and the dead feast on the living, The Price of Paradise is the first part of a sweeping new fantasy epic in the tradition of George R R Martin and Robert Jordan.

Yeah, ok, I know what you're thinking. Comparing myself to RJ (God rest his soul) and GRRM is a big reach and a pretty egotistical thing to do. I should clarify it by saying that I'm not, even for one second, suggesting that I'm in their league in terms of the quality of their writing (who is?) but in terms of scope and ambition, I'd like to think I'm certainly aiming for them, if not getting pretty damned close.

So why am I writing a book, and why in the fantasy genre when it can be seen as very "niche"?

I have an over-active imagination, a very VIVID imagination, and I needed to do something with it - it really IS that simple.

And why this genre? Because I love it. I adore it. I embrace it.

As for it being niche, and at the risk of sounding hideously pretentious, it IS true that most fantasy novels (and films) are part of an exclusive and often rather geeky club. Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc inhabit far away lands and talk in ways that your average reader finds quaint at best, completely unintelligible at worst. However, the success of Lord of the Rings and (although I accept that's sci-fi and not fantasy - but the two are not mutually exclusive) Star Wars, dear old Harry Potter, and not forgetting the recent television adaptation of Game of Thrones; suggests that there is a mass audience out there for these sort of stories, it's just finding out WHY the aforementioned achieved wide spread success when others haven't.

Personally (and, to be fair, you could say what I don't know about marketing a successful fantasy novel could fill a warehouse) I think it comes down to how people can relate to the characters. Lets be honest, in "real life" very few people are moustache twirling villains or square jawed heroes, and the closest we get to a quest is trying to find that elusive birthday or christmas gift. I strongly believe that if you take identifiable, likable characters and put them into situations and scenarios that resonate, then even people who wouldn't normally read and enjoy a fantasy book can lose themselves in it.

I started writing it about five or six years ago, but the story as was had a different feel to the one that's going to see the light of day on Friday. Originally, the story began about 20 or so years into the war between Swarth and Drellak, and dealt with the dying days of the war, when one side (not telling which, ner ner ner) is mere weeks from a decisive victory. I wanted to explore to what lengths a people would go to in order to prevent their total conquest - would it be a scorched earth policy similar to the one the Russians adopted in WWII, or would they roll over, show their belly and accept their fate, in the hope that they and their lands would be treated with a kindness that might not be so forthcoming in the face of resistance (Finland, I'm looking at you)?

As I wrote it though, I found myself becoming more and more intrigued by the unwritten backstory that I'd created. People in positions of power, how did they rise to that place? Heroes who had long since died but left a legacy that inspired those that followed, what sort of people were they in reality, and what did they do to write their names in legend? What motivated and drove both sides not just to go to war but to sustain it, even in the face of death and suffering on a massive scale?

It occurred to me that there was a potentially gripping and fascinating story to be told there, and handing out small portions of it in flashback wasn't satisfying my need to explore the past I'd created. So, I started to write a small scale, limited "prequel" to the main story, a novella that would explore the start of the war and the people involved. As these things often do, it soon spiraled out of control, and what was intended to be a short story to satiate my need to expand on the past soon turned into a full blown book in it's own right.

So, here we are then. The original first book, "Siege at Jahngar" will now be the second book, and the original prequel short story "The Price of Paradise" is now a standalone book in it's own right. For those that care, I intend to make "TPP" (as it shall now be known for brevity's sake) the first in a sequence of six. Yes, six. We're talking a timescale of a hundred years from the first book to the last, and there is one over arcing plot that will flow from start to finish, although each book will have it's own self contained story. There will be a handful of characters who will feature in the majority of the books, some characters will appear in just one book, and others will feature sporadically from one to another, but hopefully, everyone will find someone they can identify with and want to know more about.

I'm trying to avoid cliched fantasy tropes whilst still bringing those facets to the genre that means fans will recognize and enjoy what they're reading, and although I'm not naive enough to think that a whole legion of people who have never picked up a fantasy novel before will suddenly jump head first into the series, it would be nice to think that it will be accessible enough for "newbies" to want to give it a try.

I'm in email dialogue with a couple of specialist fantasy and sci-fi mags regarding the possibility of a review and a plug, and I've also bought to the table what I feel is a unique marketing idea that could benefit all of us, but, as is often the way of these things, I'm thinking that very little will come of it. TPP will start slow, and small, and the price will be reflective of that, but who knows where it can go from there. Some guerilla marketing, some creative advertising, and, hopefully, an ever increasing loyal fanbase, and the sky's the limit.

Watch this space, folks. This could be the start of something very special, and you're here at the start. It's a great place to be, and if you let me, I'll take each and every one of you with me.