Sponsorship (29/6/2012)

Posted in Critical Failures


Very quietly, very gently, this has been getting on my tits for a very long time and I think I’m not alone, in fact I’m sure I’m not alone, but so far I’ve met a lot of people who are in my situation but almost no one brave enough to talk about it.

So look, here it is: I really don’t like sponsoring anyone to do anything that I consider to be fun and pretending it has anything much to do with raising money for charity. I don’t even like being asked. If  someone wants to raise money for charity, they can come round with a collection cup. If someone wants me to subsidise their ascent of K2, they can come round with a very good reason why I should pay for them to go instead of them paying for me, because that actually sounds like a fine way to spend a month or so of my time. Nor will I subsidisesponsor anyone for any of the following:

  • Walking, running, cycling, swimming etc. Because I like walking, cycling and swimming. Unless you’re going to be tied to an angry tree or doused in honey by random spectators and then attacked by bees or chased by tigers. OK, fine, fine, if it’s just walking round a field for some local good cause, but no, definitely not if  the proposed route happens be the Silk Road or the Milford Track or the length of the Great Wall of China. No no no no. Indeed…
  • Going anywhere abroad for almost any reason whatsoever[1].
  • Climbing any sort of mountain for any reason unless it’s in the Himalayas and I can sponsor you by how many hours you wear a yeti costume.
  • Jumping out a plane with a perfectly good working parachute unless I can sponsor you according to the number of bones you break [2].
  • Pub crawls. I mean, really? Why do people even think that works?

I’m a small man, sometimes a petty one, and if I’m going to give money to charity only to have some of it siphoned off to subsidise someone’s fun, I need to see a reason. Pain and humiliation are a good start. I might sponsorsubsidise a friend to take a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they can’t afford any other way. That’s what friends do, but let’s not pretend it’s for some good cause beyond that friendship.

I will, however, consider sponsoring people to eat marmite because marmite is so utterly disgusting.


Just ask for money for what it’s really for.

[1] Unless it’s to the US and you’re being sponsored by how many hours you can be held by immigration because of what you wrote on your immigration form and yet still get allowed in.

[2] Your own bones, Smithy. You know who you are.

Chlorophone (27/7/2012)

Posted in Critical Failures

Just so we’re clear and no one else needs to conduct those experiments we all secretly want to do but know we really shouldn’t:

  1. iPhones are not waterproof. They do not take well to going swimming.
  2. In fact, when immersed in chlorinated water for a long time, they get remarkably hot.
  3. They then cease to work.
  4. Possibly this happens in unchlorinated water too.
  5. This is what the inside of an iPhone looks like. Please send money.

borkedactually this bit still works

very borkedtotally borked

For reasons of wailing and gnashing of teeth, this week’s giveaway is being extended until Friday.

The Book of the New Sun (26/6/2012)

Posted in Uncategorized

Some people have the best ideas for stories in the middle of the night, then fall asleep and wake up remembering only that they had an idea and that it was brilliant. For some reason, I’m like that with blog posts. There were at least two really cool ideas I had for things to talk about – exciting, interesting topics directly relevant to genre fiction with with a broader scope on which I actually had something interesting to say too.

Then I went to sleep again and forgot. Ah well [1]

So instead I can haz moar bookz foar Uz. Today’s giveaway, inspired by Fantasy Faction’s July read is the Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. This is the yellow hardcover Gollancz 50th anniversay edition containing The Shadow of the Torturer and The Claw of the Conciliator. I remember reading this in my university days. One of the guys who later had a large hand in the effects for The Matrix read it too and spent subsequent D&D sessions running around with a mercury-cored double-handed executioner’s sword.

For a bit more on the book, the Gollancz blog has an excellent post.I can’t help thinking that the recent Prince of Thorns owes more than a little to the shadow of the New Sun.

Usual rules apply. Comment here to be thrown into the hat, winners chosen at random.

[1] Possibly it was all just a dream… <cue Edith Piaff’s Je Ne Regret Rien>

Endings (24/6/2012)

Posted in News

Endings, especially the endings to trilogies or series, I often find are the hardest part to get right, shortly followed by beginnings. There’s a desire, probably rightly, for the ending to be biggest climax in a story, although I not that both Game of Thrones and A Storm of Swords defy such wisdom and it doesn’t seem to have done George any harm. Upbeat endings I find particularly difficult – surely to be the biggest climax there must be the toughest struggle to achieve a success? Maybe this is why I tend to go for bittersweet and downbeat endings more often than not. But then again I’ve enjoyed plenty of books where the ending has been obvious for many chapters and yet remained thoroughly enjoyable. Mumph. Sometimes I convince myself I know nothing. Please feel free to tell me your favourite endings, whether they were obvious or a complete surprise.

I’m posting this while England are in extra time against Italy. At this point a win would be a complete surprise…

Meanwhile, a couple of reviews have sprung up. Apparently The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice is full of pubs and The Order of the Scales is too slow.

The Apprentice is a fun and rapidly moving fantasy novel with elements of coming of age and rite of passage, along with thieves, villains, pirates, rogues, wizards who seem to do nothing wizardry and pubs. Plenty of pubs. Bookgeeks.

“Pacing aside, it’s very difficult to resist getting caught up in the cold, calculating behavior of Stephen Deas’ majestic and determined dragons.” Citybookreviews stand out from the crowd by finding the story moves too slowly.

Sponsor a Football Team (21/6/2012)

Posted in News

Ever wanted to sponsor a football team? Number two son plays in a local juniors team who are looking for sponsors for a three year deal with next season’s under-8 A-team (which will be their under-9 team in the 2013-14 season and their under-10 team in the 2014-15 season). So £250.00  will get your logo on the team shirts (which are basically pretty close to being a Celtic strip unless they change it) for three years. The squad has ten or possibly eleven boys in it  so the sponsorship will obviously reach them and their parents, but beyond that there are two other similar-sized squads of the same ages, the teams they play against and, to some extent, the rest of the club (which I understand is a fairly sizeable outfit as far as these things go with around 500 fixtures every season across all its teams).

The team coaches and the club officials will have final say on what they consider an acceptable sponsor and logo. Usually sponsorships come from local small businesses and I’d do it myself if I wrote books for children. As it is, there’s an opportunity for a publisher or author to market books directly to a group of children and I will enthusiastically shout about it if anyone does.

Anyone interested, please get in touch.

Dragons with new faces (20/6/2012)

Posted in News

New covers for old words: The Memory of Flames re-release has entirely new art. Although less entirely new if you’ve seen the US covers.I’ve never quite been able to decide which ones I like more…



adpalaceCover first draftORDER OF THE SCALES draft cover

A timeless classic sort of look… or DRAGONS! RAAAARRRR!

And I get to have both :-)

The Witcher: Assassin of Kings (18/6/2012)

Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve got another goodie to give away and I thought long and hard about keeping this one for myself.

Long. And. Hard.

I have also books to give away again, more paperbacks of The King of the Crags and The Order of the Scales as one lot (again). That’s the UK editions and I will sign and line them if you want. Perfect for anyone who got The Adamantine Palace but never got around to the others.

ORDER OF THE SCALES draft coverKing of the Crags - Draft cover

Usual deal – comment here if you want it, winner chosen by random number generator. I’ve only got one of each this time and I intend to keep this week’s competitions open all week. I’ll pick two separate winners, one for the game, one for the books.

Look, No Hands (16/6/2012)

Posted in Critical Failures

The Gemmell awards were held last night at the Magic Circle in London, and while I’m sure there are plenty of people who’ll be talking all about them, the venue has reminded me of a magic trick. Or sort of a magic trick anyway.

The story goes like this: once upon a time there was a writer who was writing a trilogy of stories, and in this trilogy of stories there was going to be a hero and a villain and a something-in-between. And in the first story the hero and the villain would fight, and in the second it would be the hero and the something-in-between and in the third story, it would be the hero and the villain again. And the writer was quite pleased with his three characters that stood at the heart of these stories and had started to think of them as people he knew.

There was a back-story to these characters too, one fairly relevant to the the events that would later happen. They’d all been young and foolish once. They’d done something they shouldn’t and they’d been caught. One of them fled. One of them got away. One of them was caught, and to the one that was caught, bad things happened. The other two ran away to war, the hero and the villain, but the villain lost his hand in the fighting fairly early on and came home again. That was all in the past, mind, none of it relevant to the story.

In the first book, the hero and the villain found one another again and danced around each other until at last they came to blows, and in the fight between them, the hero cut off the villain’s other hand and was then torn away before their fight could finish, but there was something of a poetic symmetry to the way things turned out and all was good.

In the second book, the hero got on with other things and the villain was only present as a distant figure in the background, and all was good.

It was in the third story that matters began to go awry. The writer quickly saw that the grand climax finale between the villain and the hero was going to lack some sparkle with the villain having no hands. It wasn’t really going to be much of a fight. The writer knew that his villain had to have at least one hand and so he started to look at how the story might be changed. He looked at the end of the first story and whether maybe the hero could chop something else off the villain instead, but that brought other problems. So he looked at the world he’d imagined into being and sought out a place and a means for the villain to have new hands. Star Wars did it after all . . . And he found a place too, a loophole in his own world that he could exploit to give his villain new hands, and so he did, and got on with writing his third story. He didn’t much like where this new loophole was taking him, but he soldiered on anyway because that’s what you do with first drafts, until he got almost to the end, and knew that these hands had changed the world into one that was different from his first imaginings and made a lesser thing as a result.

New hands didn’t work. No hands didn’t work. Saving the hand lost in the first story didn’t work. And it took this writer an inordinate length of time to finally spot the obvious that was staring him in the face right from the start. Change the back-story. Problem solved. Easy as that. Hardly a word needed to change anywhere until it matters. The writer stared at this, bewildered by how easy it was, but bewildered more by how he hadn’t seen it for such a ridiculously long time.

Characters will do that to you sometimes. They become so alive that they have to do things even when you don’t want them to, or do things you really wish they wouldn’t, because that’s who they are. And sometimes (often) a character becomes so real that to change them into someone else is unthinkable. It’s very hard, when that happens, to remember that you just made them up, that there’s not a thing about them you can’t change however you like, from their favourite colour to how many hands they have. You just have to think of a way for fate or luck or destiny to do it to them.

Next book giveaway coming up shortly.

The Warlock’s Shadow: giveaway (13/6/2012)

Posted in Uncategorized

The Warlock’s Shadow, sequel to The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice, is published again tomorrow (which might be today by the time you read this). It’s been around as a hardback for a while but this edition is the dainty and cute little paperback one that fits into your coat pocket.

warlocks shadow cover - shrunk

Some time has passed since the events of the Thief-Taker’s Apprentice. Berren’s being taught to read and write during the day, a process as painful to his teachers as it is to him, and how to fight with a wooden sword in the evenings when the thief-taker isn’t bodyguarding passing drunkard princes. If you’ve read The Thief-Taker’s Apprentice then you’ll know that the thief-taker most definitely has a murky past and possibly an even murkier friend. Well here it comes.

The thief-taker and his lad had, if I read the internet right, a small but quite enthusiastic readership. I hope you all like this as much as the first one. Of all the books I’ve written so far, this one gave me the most trouble but I think my editor and I between us have beaten out the flaws and polished up a gem to equal the first one if not better it. I hope you like it. It does have a bit of a cliffhanger ending but the third book in the series is out in October – the proofs arrived for me to do yesterday – so the wait isn’t so long.

The Warlock’s Shadow is only available in the UK, Australia and New Zealand (I think). It’s certainly not available in the US except as an import and so far I haven’t found anyone who can tell me how to get it as an ebook in the US either. There doesn’t seem to be much I can do about this and posting copies out to the US costs most than the book itself. What I can do is offer a couple up to give away. As with all the others, comment on this post saying something like “me me me” and I’ll randomly choose two ‘winners.’ The different this time is that for one of the copies I’m ONLY going to randomly choose among people who comment from countries where the book isn’t available – so if that’s the case, say so (otherwise I won’t know and you won’t go in the second pot). Everyone who comments gets a crack at the second copy.

Book Giveaway: Stormcaller

Posted in Uncategorized

Another Monday, another book giveaway, although probably not for regular Eastercon attendees. I have two copies of Tom Lloyd’s Stormcaller going begging. As usual, anyone who comments here will be eligible irrespective of geography and winners will be chosen by random selection.

I’ve not read Stormcaller myself but you can read a little more here. Tom’s great though.

Sodium Hydride: Project Update (8/6/2012)

Posted in News

Not that this is going to make sense to almost anyone who reads this, but the the first volume of the project has finished its last rewrite and is submission-ready. Rewrites to the second volume have started (February’s novel-inna-month project). The third volume . . . Let’s not talk about that just now.

I’ve been so immersed int his I’ve almost forgotten what else I’m supposed to be doing. What’s a dragon again?

Mr Grumpy (6/6/2012)

Posted in News

I’m not blogging much this week partly because it’s half term and partly because the internet is turning me into Mr Grumpy. I’m largely uninterested in the Jubliee, ambivalent about the monarchy, vaguely Yay! about the Olympics and fairly Boo! about Workfare (or at least the way its been implemented), but right now the people to whose view I’m usually largely sympathetic are leaving me feeling like a nazi-grade nationalist for not being a rabid republican and a plantation slaver for sometimes demanding that my children do their homework before they’re allowed to play on the Xbox. An just let’s not even get started about Prometheus, OK? I haven’t seen it yet and I seriously don’t want to know, so you can all just get off of my cloud for a bit.

I have books to give away again, this time paperbacks of The King of the Crags and The Order of the Scales as one lot (again). That’s the UK editions and I will sign and line them if you want. Perfect for anyone who got The Adamantine Palace but never got around to the others.

ORDER OF THE SCALES draft coverKing of the Crags - Draft cover

MOPNOWRIMO Day 37. Up to  99000 words now. Trying to make myself write the ending now I know what it is. The muse demands I go back to the first and second books and rewrite those instead, the schedule says finish this one. Meh.

MOPNOWRIMO Day 33 (1/6/2012)

Posted in News

Target Wordcount: Done

Actual words: Not done (OK, 95500 with probably about 10000 to go).

Sometimes my editor randomly tweets something that makes a lightbulb ping on in my head. I was about to give up on this and come back to it in a month or so after rewriting the first two books of the series, but I can see a little better what’s not working in this one now. First problem are the new characters. Not that they don’t serve a strong purpose, but they don’t get enough airtime to have the strength of the new characters that came into the second book (and took it over) and so they come over as a bit bland and dilute and fade into the background a little too readily. I think maybe this can be dealt with by introducing them earlier in the series, even if they are little more than named spear-carriers at that point. Second thing that’s not right is the antagonist. Not selling himself. And for a while I was going with a Mysterious Dark Force In The Background which is, in hindsight, weak. And not foreshadowed in previous volumes enough. And not necessary when there’s been a perfectly good antagonist waiting in the wings all along.

So a bit meh, but all is not lost, and here’s the great thing about doing three books at once – I can go back and change things in the first book to first the third. Even for us “seasoned professionals” it’s far from a smooth wride. I’m going to stop posting updates now. Maybe once the rewrite is underway. The mental consolation I take is that the book that’s with my editor now had serious problems at the first draft, grew by 60000 words at the second draft and I reckon it to be the best thing I’ve done yet. Ho hum.

Other news: The Alchemist of Souls has been my most popular book give away yet, which is cool for a début novel by a writer I’ve known for a very long time on and off. Winners have been mailed. Not sure what’s going to come up next but I still have that copy of The Witcher II for the Xbox.

Favourite spam this week: A link to a weight loss website (or so I assume from the site name) in a comment on The Order of the Scales congratulating me on “some great advice here.” Not sure what particular advice they meant, but yeah, I guess being chased by dragons across half a kingdom would do some good for the old waistline. I shall begin work on my next book at one: The Dragon Book of Dieting.