Pre-match Nerves

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Tomorrow my story The Path Of Swords will be for sale on Amazon and I’m a little nervous. There are all kinds of thoughts that occur at a time like this. Will it look ok on the page? Is the cover right? Is the blurb interesting enough? Have I checked carefully enough for typos etc? WILL PEOPLE LIKE IT?

But I’m ignoring all these thoughts. My goal has never been to publish a book, have zillions of sales and retire to the Caribbean. I mean, that would be nice but it’s never been the plan. The plan is to write a series that people will read and enjoy. This is the first step, and as such it’s an important one but there is a long way to go. It’s a journey that I’m enjoying so far and I’m in no rush. Too often the first time you do something slips by without you realising it. I intend to savour the moment.

Remember that you have until lunchtime today (12th May) to get a free review copy of The Path Of Swords by clicking:

Free Review Copy

The book is a fantasy novella set in alternative Dark Age where boys train as warriors and the world of the spirit is never far away. As the first in the series it introduces Luan, the hero who is taking his first steps on The Path Of Swords.

Maps and Legends

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I love books with maps so I was very happy to sit down and start mapping out the world of the Second Son series which I did fairly soon after I started writing. At first I had it all straight in my head but I got to the point where I needed to actually see it. I drew this as a working document, it’s not meant to be the sort of map that you stick in the front of a book. Having said that it’s something I want to do and I will probably draw/paint one for the omnibus that will come out after the first three books of the series. Not going to worry about it just yet though!

And if you’re wondering why I’ve added legends to maps in the title then you need to listen to more REM.

Remember that you have until Friday to get a free review copy of The Path Of Swords by clicking:

Free Review Copy

The book is a fantasy novella set in alternative Dark Age where boys train as warriors and the world of the spirit is never far away. As the first in the series it introduces Luan, the hero who is taking his first steps on The Path Of Swords.

 

The Song of Amhar

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The Song of Amhar

Five great ships from out of the night

Riding the waves to the land of light

Amhar the strong, with foresight blessed

Follows his destiny into the west

 

Considering I’m the sort of person who a) likes poetry, b) used to write songs and c) read the Lord of the Rings every year for about 15 years, its not surprising that bits of song and poetry crop up in The Path Of Swords. Obviously not too much, you don’t want to slow the narrative down too much, but there a times when adding something different really helps set the scene. This especially true when you consider the type of civilisation that the characters inhabit. Poetry, song and story are the way history is recorded, and knowledge passed on. Also one of the main characters is Mack, an aged minstrel, a wandering bard that befriends Luan and helps him along his way.

Remember that you have until Friday to get a free review copy of The Path Of Swords by clicking:

Free Review Copy

The book is a fantasy novella set in alternative Dark Age where boys train as warriors and the world of the spirit is never far away. As the first in the series it introduces Luan, the hero who is taking his first steps on The Path Of Swords.

 

The Third Car

 

who runs from heaven master 4I’m moving towards Indie publishing, in fact I’m aiming to release the first episode of my fantasy series, The Path of the Sword, in May. As part of this I’ve set up an account with Bookfunnel, a service that makes it easy for you to give away books or stories. I’ve got one on there now, called Who Runs From Heaven? It’s a 4500 word Sci Fi short story with a bonus chapter of the upcoming novella. Anyone can get it free by signing up to my subscription list. If you’ve come to my actual blog page you should have seen a pop-up that asked you if you would like to subscribe, if not you can do it here:

Signup

‘Building my list’ is one of the strategies I have adopted from the book ‘Write, Publish, Repeat’. My aim here is to build readership among people who actively want to read books of the type I write. This is likely to be a slow and steady process, but that’s fine. I am a slow and steady writer aiming to write 100 words per day (although last Thursady I went completely mad and wrote nearly 400!). I think it’s very important to adopt an strategy that suits you, that fits with your way of thinking, otherwise it probably won’t work.

The other point of this approach is that I don’t really want just anybody to read my stuff. I want the really cool people. The people who like adventures set in far away worlds. I want people who will enjoy my writing so much they tell their friends and blog about it and write positive reviews.

(by the way if you’re one of those people then sign up now. Please!)

Because people who don’t like that kind of stuff won’t like my books. I could kid myself that my writing is so wonderful that anyone could read one of my books and absolutely love it, but I won’t.

It isn’t true.

The Lord of the Rings has 96 one star reviews on Amazon. Go figure as they say in the USA.

So I don’t want to get my books in front of just anyone. If all you are interested in is, for example, cars then you probably won’t enjoy a book set in an alternative dark age about teenage boys training to become warriors and having a series of (hopefully) exciting adventures.

(by the way if you do like the sound of that then sign up now. Please!)

And if you don’t like it then you won’t tell your friends, or write a good review, or buy another of my books.

I bought a car off a guy once. I asked him if he enjoyed selling cars. He said what he really liked was when people came back again. “It’s when they buy their third car,” he said. “That’s when I get the satisfaction.”

T is for The Two Towers

 

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Let me nail my colours to the mast and start by saying I’m a big Tolkein fan. I read The Lord of the Rings at least once every year from the age of about fifteen to my late twenties. I’ve gradually cut down and these days probably only go back to it every four years or so. I’m not sure where this puts me in terms of Tolkein Geekdom but I think I’m certainly on the spectrum.

I’ve chosen The Two Towers not so much for the fact that it’s a good book, (it is by the way), but because it contains the point where the film absolutely got it wrong. I’m talking about Rohan, and I’m talking about Theoden.

In the film Theoden is actually possessed by Saruman. He speaks Saruman’s words and taunts Gandalf who then effectively performs an exorcism in order to cast out Saruman’s spirit. Afterwards Theoden is physically younger, his hair turns from white to brown, and he behaves like an angry middle aged man. It’s totally over done, a classic example of the film exaggerating something in order to use the visual medium to the full and losing the point in the process. It happens in Harry Potter, the curses and spells thrown by the Wizards when fighting the death eaters are shown in the films as just a series of zaps and explosions, it might as well be Star Wars.

Contrast this with the book. In the same scene Gandalf does reveal himself as The White Wizard in all his power and he silences Wormtongue, but he works no dramatic magic on Theoden. He bids Theoden to stand, to walk outside and survey his kingdom. The real magical moment is when Gandalf suggest that Theoden should hold his sword again.

“Slowly Theoden stretched forth his hand. As his fingers took the hilt, it seemed to the watchers that firmness and strength returned to his thin arm. Suddenly he lifted the blade and swung it shimmering and whistling in the air. The he gave a great cry. His voice rang clear as he chanted in the tongue of Rohan a call to arms.”

The story of Theoden is that of a man who chooses to step out of darkness into light. He remains an old man, but one who has regained his nobility and taken control of his destiny. In the book Gandalf expects Theoden to lead the women and children to a safe haven, instead Theoden chooses to lead his armies into battle. Theoden’s story is a crucial part of the book, the film doesn’t do it justice.

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Q is for Queen of Sorcery

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I like stories with long journeys. Maybe it’s because I like travelling myself, always wanting to see new places, it’s all part of my insatiable curiosity. Travel is often a component of fantasy novels, think Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, probably because when you want to introduce someone to an entirely new world then having people travel through it is as good a way as any. I also like the maps you find in such stories, full of strange names and strange geographical features.

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Queen of Sorcery is the second book in the five part fantasy series The Belgariad written by David Eddings and first published in the early eighties. It is a complex story that essentially follows the adventures of Garion, a young boy caught up in something that starts as a quest for a stolen artifice but becomes bigger than he possibly could imagine. This book covers a period of time during which Garion discovers he has the power of sorcery, the ability to concentrate his will and focus it on a single command. The power is known as ‘the will and the word’ which sums it up pretty well.

I’ve read this series at least twice and also the follow up five book series The Mallorean. Eddings has created a colourful and complex world, unified by a creation story, with a pantheon of gods together with their races and religions. The ten books together have a consistent theme about the nature of prophesy and fate and I think that this exploration of big ideas lifts them above your average fantasy series

P is for The Power That Preserves

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The Power That Preserves is the third book in the first trilogy of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson. It is a high fantasy series which has some parallels with Lord of the Rings. For example it has a single evil entity, Lord Foul, who desires to enslave the whole world as well as a ring as a weapon of powerful magic. This is probably because both authors drew from the same rich Germanic legends. However there some noticable differences, in particular the ‘hero’, Thomas Covenant, is not from the fantasy Land. He is from modern day America, transported to the Land by magic. I put ‘hero’ because he is anything but that. He is actually a bitter and cynical man who refuses to believe that the Land he has been summoned to actually exists

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I really like these books. They are extremely inventive and the storytelling is wonderful but as well as that the underlying psychology of series is fascinating. I read the first two trilogies and I didn’t realise there was a third until I did some research for this post. I’m putting them on my list.