Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Got ink?

Here are a selection of photos people have sent me of tattoos inspired by the Broken Empire and Red Queen's War trilogies.

For the record, I have no tattoos. Nothing against them, I just prefer my tattoos on other people!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Stuff I've read...

This list is the reddit r/fantasy list of favourite fantasy books/series (votes on the left).

I've highlighted the ones that I've read at least one book from (most often it's just the one book I've read). So now you know!

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Shameless Self-Promotion

It's right there in that phrase:

Shameless self-promotion.

It's not hidden, it's not subtle:  You should be ashamed of yourself.

The 'shameless' isn't even required. Most of the time if you hear someone say the words the distaste is evident in their tone, especially if you hear them spoken in the UK. The US is a little more forgiving.

And sure, there are circumstances where self-promotion can be an unpleasant thing. In an office/company environment, promoting yourself at the expense of others might be a necessary evil to some, or classless and unfair to others.

But for authors? C'mon! We're one person sales-machines. We write books. We need them to sell. We're not stamping on someone else's chance. And who else is going to promote them?

"The readers!" you answer. "If you can't rely on your readers to promote your work ... it must be a bit shit, no?"

Well, yes, word of mouth, one reader to the next, is the best sales mechanism any writer has and moves a lot of books... but why should it end there?

Should we only ever lift boxes with one arm for fear that if we use two we'll be seen to be 'trying too hard'? Or should we use all the resources at our disposal?

I earn my living as a writer. I pay my bills with the portion of each book's sale price that comes my way. Why would I not use the social media options at my disposal to remind people when those books come out, get discounted etc? Who else is going to do it for me?

Self-promotion for authors means book promotion. We're not declaring ourselves to have great teeth and spectacular soccer skills ... or to be better humans than the next person ... we're saying 'buy my book' in as interesting a way as we can.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

The Big Five-Oh oh oh oh

It's been a year of milestones for me.

First, I turned the big Five-Oh.

Second, I reached a million books sold.

Third, I reached 10 years as a 'professional' writer.

Fourth, Prince of Thorns reached 50,000 ratings on Goodreads (I made blog posts for the 30,000 and 40,000 milestones).

Fifth, tomorrow my second trilogy concludes with The Wheel of Osheim hitting the UK shelves.

& sixth, this summer will mark the fifth anniversary of Prince of Thorns' release.

I probably should write a post that stirs the political wings of the genre into a froth and has them generating free publicity for me ... but ... I can't be bothered.

I could return to the well of 'grimdark' again ... but people's outrage over the (imagined) content seems to have worn out and even the term itself seems to have lost its power to cause argument. We might not be able to define it but, as with pornography, people are convinced that they know it when they see it.

What's a blogger to do?

I could write some take down of modern fantasy, bemoaning its failings and championing some 'fresh' approach. But I don't read enough books to have a decent oversight, and a lot of the fantasy I do read seems excellent to me.

So, no stirring from me, no opinion pieces. I'm just very surprised and rather happy to be in a position of such good fortune with my writing. It's great to be able to write stories and have them enthusiastically received by an intelligent and appreciative audience. It's great to hold the books and know they're mine.

As a kid when I read my favorite fantasy novels I never imagined I would write a book let alone have six out, occupying space on so many shelves across the world. There's a tendency to idolize those who came before, but the truth must be that they were much the same as the current generation, considering themselves lucky impostors who couldn't really hold a candle to the generation they grew up reading.

Seeing my work in bookshops, on library shelves, in people's homes has never made me do the happy-dance of triumph that many writers assure me will occur when they land their book deal. It does, however, give me a low-key but deep and enduring sense of satisfaction that I draw on when other parts of my life grow stressful (an inevitability for the father of a very disabled child). For that I am very grateful.

And that's all I have to say for the big five-oh-oh-oh-oh.

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Old man threatens (ish) the 4 minute kilometer!

This has nothing to do with fantasy, writing, or politics. It's not even a touching personal piece. So look away now, move on, nothing to see.

Since I no longer have a 'day job' and don't need to cycle the ten mile round trip to work at the Aerospace giant that employed me, I have, mostly against my will, taken up voluntary exercise.

We've moved opposite a park, so on mornings when I can think of no valid excuse not to I run one circuit of it. I read somewhere that short vigorous exercise is as effective as long less vigorous exercise. And since it's very boring I've opted for short. Bollocks to jogging - I'm going to run.

It so happens that my circuit is almost exactly 1 kilometer. I'm also homing (very slowly) in on breaking the 4 minute barrier ... which if it were 1 mile instead would be impressive.

To put it in context, the world record for the 1k is just over 2 minutes!

But I'm an old man, and unfit, and genetically unfit as well (as a young man when I tried running the 5 mile circuit they used to put us on at school I would always end up coming midfield in a class where most of them had opted to make a stroll of it). My heart/lungs are just not very well wired for running.

Anyway, this is what you've made me do by sitting me in front of a writer's desk. For shame!

Monday, 23 May 2016

Ten years!

I've been writing in some form or other for decades. In fact I earned $30,000 running part of a play-by-mail (PBM) game in my spare time in the late 80s and through the 90s. That's probably why I came late to writing traditional fiction. Running Saturnalia scratched my creative itch.

Anyway, in 2001 I moved to the States, tripled my salary as a research scientist and stopped having the time to run my area in the PBM game. I started writing short stories and poems instead. Less labour intensive.

In 2004/5 I started to think about sending my short fiction to magazine. In May 2006 I got my first check for a story. It was for $31 from Fictitious Force magazine. I've kept it in a frame ever since.

Ten years later I've had quite a few checks and have, for the past year, earned my living solely as an author.

That's actually quite a rare thing these days. Most authors have day jobs. What's often called the mid-list no longer pays enough to live on. Authors you'll have heard of if you pay attention to their genre, but who aren't regularly hitting the New York Times best selling list, very often have to work a day job to make a decent living.

George RR Martin and JK Rowling aren't going to be delivering your pizza any time soon. But there are authors who have sold tens of thousands of books and still sell thousands each year who may well be ringing your bell with a hot treat from Dominos in hand.

We live in a changing world with many more writers coming to market chasing fewer readers with more distractions to tempt them toward other media. Also it's ridiculously easy to steal books from the internet and the culture of entitlement is getting so pervasive that people will steal just to avoid the momentary inconvenience of paying.

I never expected to make my living this way, but it's been a pleasant surprise. Many thanks to the readers out there who made it happen.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

I have some signing to do!

UPS tried to charge my wife $86 to receive a package yesterday. Fortunately she sent them away and I was able to phone up and point out that there is no import duty on printed pages. They made some feeble excuse for their criminal incompetence and re-delivered later that day without any charge.

The package contained the signing pages for the special edition omnibus.

See some of the interior art HERE and pre-order a copy!