The Yearly Round-up (30/12/2014)

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2013 saw the publication of Dragon Queen, the first book in my second trilogy of dragon fantasies, and while I kept the world the same, I took a different approach to the writing of it. The politics are still there, the battles and the dragons and the magic, but Dragon Queen was supposed to have a much more intense focus on character. I think Zafir was and remains the best character I’ve ever written (but I’m a little biased by knowing what happens in the second and third books). Dragon Queen was well received by the handful of people who read and reviewed it, but the sad fact (for me) is that it didn’t sell. I suppose I have to take that as a reflection on the books that preceded it. Which is a pity, because it’s light-years better.

2013 also saw the release of three Nathan Hawke novels in quick succession, much more swords and sorcery. Three novels in consecutive months, under a different name, straight into paperback (which isn’t the usual Gollancz way) and with those glorious covers with nothing but the artwork on the front. They didn’t sell terribly well either, although they did better than Dragon Queen. If there’s one ray of hope for Nathan Hawke it’s that there’s still a steady trickle of sales, and that the second and third books are selling close to as well as the first, which suggests that maybe, on the whole, The Crimson Shield is a strong enough story to make you want more.

On the whole, 2013 didn’t work (actually 2013 sucked for a whole variety of reasons, professional failure being the least of them). So just as well 2014 hasn’t been about fantasy nearly as much. As well as the second Zafir dragon novel, The Splintered Gods, 2014 saw historical crime fiction, The Royalist, military SF (Empires: Extraction) and a co-written SF game tie-in (Elite:Wanted). Turns out I was also a lot less productive this year than I was in 2013, writing only a little over two hundred thousand new words over the course of the year as opposed to over half a million the year before. That had a lot to do with needing to have a real job for a bit.

Will this year’s titles sell? The Splintered Gods won’t. I guess by now you either like my dragons or you don’t, so whoever liked Dragon Queen will probably get on with The Splintered Gods, but it’s definitely part two of a trilogy.

Elite: Wanted will probably do well enough. Don’t expect great depth of character or some startlingly original piece of world-building. It seems popular enough among Elite fans, but as with most tie-in fiction, it will doubtless struggle to reach beyond the game-playing audience. Whether there can be any more Ziva and Ravindra seems unlikely, and will depend very much on Frontier and their plans for further expansions of the game. Here’s a the most recent review I could find, which is fairly typical. “…a fast, frentic space opera that pays homage to Elite in the best possible way.”

Bulldog Drummond: Dead Man’s Gate is an e-book onyl novella I did for the small e-publisher Piqwiq. I have no idea AT ALL whether it’s selling any copies. The fact that the first novella went through three stages of editing and the second two are only going through one each smacks of desperately trying to save money, so I’m going to guess probably not, and apologise right now for the inevitable typos.

Empires: Extraction hasn’t been out for long and it hasn’t had many reviews, but so far they’ve all been pretty grim and they all like Infiltration better (OK, the two that I’ve read have. I haven’t read the SFX review), which largely sucks for me, but I can see their point that Gav’s aliens are better. Early impression is this is an experiment that didn’t work. I can’t see me and Gavin being asked to write a second pair of books in this form. There might be a different way to go forward.

The Royalist, by contrast, has enjoyed a rather kinder reception. Here’s the most recent review I could find; again fairly typical. “a very enjoyable and refreshing read that gave you a new understanding of the time and the New Model army and how it was anything but united” Reality is a Bore. A second William Falkland volume comes out next summer. If anything from this year is going to carry on, I reckon it’s this one.

2015: The Silver Kings comes out in the summer, the last of the dragon books I’ll be writing for a while. Like Dragon Queen it’s very much Zafir’s story, and all the better for it, though it does leave a few other things hanging as a result. That, for me, will be the pick of the bunch for next year because it’s so close to my heart. There are two more Bulldog Drummond novellas in the pipeline. Nathan Hawke has three Gallow shorts coming out in the first half of the year, and then I guess the title I’m most hopeful for is the second William Falkland novel: The Protector, but more about that closer to the time.

I have no idea what I’ll be writing in 2015. Another William Falkland novel, I hope. Maybe, if the Gallow shorts do well, there can be another Nathan Hawke outing.

Random End of Year Giveway (14/12/2014)

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News this week? Is there any? Not much. The third of my Bulldog Drummond novellas has finished editing. I enjoyed writing them, but I don’t think the first one has sold nearly well enough for there to be any more (I base this purely on the non-existant amazon ranking). There is an audio version now available, if anyone is into that sort of thing. Elite: Wanted looks like it’s kicking Empires’ butt, which wasn’t supposed to happen (yay – go Elite!). Nathan Hawke continues to fiddle with a few short stories.

Usually at this time of the year I do some sort of post that says where various projects are at. So . . .

The dragons and the thief-taker

There’s no sight of a US publisher for The Black Mausoleum, Dragon Queen, The Splintered Gods or The Silver Kings, or for the Thief-Taker series. Both should be available via online retailers, and this seems to have started working a lot better than it did a couple of years ago. They do all appear to be available from Amazon. Dragon Queen came out in paperpack in the summer. The Splintered Gods is out and The Silver Kings is into the later stages of the edit process and should come out in June, I think. This series seems to have settled into a set of devoted followers, to if you’re one of those, thank you. Zafir has been something of a ride. She’ll probably linger with me as one of the best characters I’ve ever written, but damn is she hard to live with.

Nathan Hawke

The omnibus is out there.  As with the later dragons books, there is no US publisher but it’s available from online retailers. There are three rather long short stories which are going to come out as e-books over the first half of next year. If they sell, there may be some more novels to follow – that’s down to Nathan’s publisher being convinced enough that they’re going to make any money out of them. I liked writing Gallow and I’d like to do some more. If you’re a Gallow fan, please help that happen by buying copies for all your friends as Christmas presents.

Gavin Deas

Elite was fun but it doesn’t look like there are going to be any more in the near future. Extraction/Infiltration hasn’t had nearly enough review coverage to turn into decent sales, I fear, but it’s a bit early to know for sure.

S J Deas

Lots of positive review coverage for The Royalist. The Protector, William Falkland’s second mystery, is written, edited, and coming out in June (I think, or maybe September) and the paperback of the Royalist comes out in March (again, I *think*). I’m hopeful this series will continue.

Anyway… Most of you are just here for the free book, right…? :-)

So this week’s giveaway is… a mystery. Several mysteries, in fact, because I’m going to rob a book from the Gollancz offices (they’re all on holiday until like the middle of March or something) for every five entries[1]. I’ll take requests, but I might not be able to honour them (in fact there’s a pretty good chance I won’t, but I’ll try). I’ll be keeping half an eye open for double entries, but only half of one ;-)

So – to enter the great random end-of-year book draw, all you have to do it comment on this post before January 1st and say hello or happy Christmas or something that’s at least not obscene and I’ll randomly select lucky victims for free books. That’s it, although if there’s a specific Gollancz title you’d like me to try and pilfer then say so in the comment! So far no one has complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, but  it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently up to date, in that all recent winners have been posted. Obviously all the winners from this particular competition won’t be gettin gtheir books until the new year…

(it’s open worldwide, but deliveries outside Europe can take about two months)

[1] in the unlikely event that we get past fifty entries, I’ll have to drop the prize ratio in order to not go bankrupt…

Giveaway: The Fateguard Trilogy (07/12/2014)

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Damn,  but this is a good-looking book. It’s big too. I mean, Game of Thrones big. Proper fantasy big. None of that namby-pamby barely makes it to 100,o00 words thinks-it’s-some-kind-of-novel-from-any-other-genre fantasy. No no. 940 pages. 330,000 words. A man with an axe on the cover. What more could you want.

Ok, look, yes it’s an omnibus, but it’s Nathan Hawke’s  *first* omnibus and Nathan Hawke is pretty damn proud of it (”it’s like I levelled up”), so tolerate the revelling in it and accept that three novels and seven shorts is pretty decent for a giveway.

And if you don’t win, Gallow: The Fateguard Trilogy is officially published on the 12th, and is probably in most decent bookshops already.

Usual deal – comment on this post before December 14th and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy. It’s Christmas, so no games, but you have to say something nice about someone who isn’t me as a comment to this post to enter. That’s it. So far no one has complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, but  it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currentlyup to date, in that all recent winners have been posted.

Giveaway: Empires Extraction (1/12/2014)

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New for the last couple of weeks? Not much. The final edits for The Silver Kings have gone in. Copyediting over Christmas at a guess. Nathan Hawke polished off the Gallow short Dragon’s Reach and some extra-secret bonus material. Gavin Deas attended the Elite:Dangerous premiere and headlined the event, if by headlined I mean was the last person on stage before the night ended, which I do. There have been other developments about which I shall not speak, but which are going to mean quite some reduction in writing time next year.

Also Empires came out. There are some early reviews and articles for the truly committed over on the Empires page:

Did I mention that you can read the first chapter of Extraction here?

Now to the giveaway: I did Empires: Infiltration last week, so I suppose I’d better do Extraction this week. Yay! The Snarky Spaceships volume!

Covers 4

The covers are a bit of a clue as to the content. I think they’re well suited for what’s inside. In Extraction, it’s basically badass aliens, snarky spaceships and sweary SAS men. I think Gav give Infiltration a slightly darker, edgier feel, but then the novels have their differences in what’s going on around each protagonist. If you like you that sort of thing, the way the two novels both mesh and work on their own is pretty cool (yes I cutted and pasted that from last week AGAIN. So sue me).

Usual deal – comment on this post before December  and I’ll randomly select a lucky victim for a free copy. This week, since there was a Star Wars trailer(well, sort of) last week, I’m looking for suggestions for things that ought to be in Star Wars: Episode 7 or ought not to be. Or anything Star Wars related will do. Although, though no one has yet complained about how long it takes me to get to the post office and post things, it can take a while and if you live abroad then it can take even longer. Sorry about that, but they do get there eventually. Well, so far. Am currently a bit behind.