That was the week…


Undoubtedly the highlights of the week are the reviews and feedback that I’ve been getting for Cool Hand.

There are 33 reviews on Amazon now: 29×5-star, 3×4-star and 1×3-star. There are 13 reviews on Goodreads: 7×5-star, 5×4-star and 1×3-star (and a bunch of good ratings as well). It’s not so much the ratings as the words that have given me such a buzz, whether delivered on reviews, here on the blog, the Facebook pages or email. Thank you all. I love ya.


Cool Hand was in and out of the top 100 Urban Fantasy books, and averaged about 2,500 in all books over the last week (where 1 is the highest rating).


Cool Hand sales now stand at over 1,600, of which 550 were added in the last week. In that time, Sleight of Hand added 150, Hidden Trump 100 and Wild Card 130.

Audio book sales of Sleight of Hand topped 500 in total, but the last week was slow with only 28 sales.


Hidden Trump is still my leading launch.  Both HT and CH took 9 days to reach 1,000 sales, but HT was launched into the January book sales and continued to sell very strongly. In the comparable week that CH has just sold 550, HT sold 1,300.

 Some thoughts about Cool Hand

No book is ever just right, or exactly what the author wanted to say. Any author who tells you that is lying. Cool Hand was especially difficult for me because of the number of times I wrote and re-wrote the penultimate section (essentially what ended up as being chapters 47-55 – Santa Fe to the start of the Carson National Forest scenes).

When you rewrite that much, you lose a feel for the quality of readability of the work. I mean, each word is better selected, each sentence is better put, each plot strand better presented (otherwise what are you doing), but you lose a sense of how it feels as a reader.

The enthusiasm of the reviews vindicates Lauren’s insistence I could do better, and I hope justifies the delay in release.

 And some thoughts about the next book

If you’ve caught your breath after the ending of Cool Hand…well, it could have been more complex and longer. Or shorter and simpler. And of course, there is that cliffhanger. Longer? Well, I could have resolved the cliffhanger, but the end of the book would have then become unwieldy and either the existing ending(s) or the resolution of the cliffhanger would have felt anti-climactic. Shorter? Well, one of the things that happened at the end, you’ve been waiting very patiently for, but I could have let it slide into the start of the next.

The point I’m trying to make is that there is some leeway in the scheduling of the resolution of ongoing threads. And I’m interested what you, the readers, absolutely have to have resolved sooner rather than later.

The core structure of Bite Back 5 is going to be provided by an ostensibly non-paranormal PI case, with threads for paranormal and relationship arcs woven in. What do you have to see progressed and/or resolved? Or, just who/what you have to see more of. Or less of! 🙂

I’m not promising to implement these!

(Progress on writing at the end of the month)

A final point

I never expected everyone to like my books, and frankly, scathing reviews of Sleight of Hand did little more than make me grin.

However…I do feel a responsibility to those of you who have come along for the ride and are unhappy about some direction developing in the books, or the balance of the story, or didn’t like Cool Hand, or parts of Cool Hand, or whatever.

I’d just like to say I’m happy to receive constructive negative feedback. By that I mean ‘I didn’t like this because…’ rather than ‘I didn’t like it.’ As with positive feedback, any route is fine – reviews, postings or emails to me at the contact address.

As with the last section, I can’t promise to change anything!


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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first books are available on Amazon at

10 responses to “That was the week…”

  1. larry says :

    Violating the “Prime Directive” and asking for audience participation, I see — at least you’ve left the “can’t promise to implement” qualifier!

    Beyond Amber retaining her sanity now that her “lockbox” has been opened, there’s little that “has to be resolved”.

    A few of the other “threads” that might eventually be resolved are:
    — Adepts: Amber’s gained a considerable number of allies & associations among the Were & Athanate, but she has very few allies among the Adept (more “open warfare”). There’s also expectations from (Amber’s) contact with the Chinese Athanate & Adepts, and “dragon communities”.
    — Hana awakens: No doubt she’ll be “elephant-sized” after healing from channeling all the energy — what additions will Hana bring to the mix? Along similar lines, Amber’s great-grandmother & the shaman mention that Amber is “what none of them think she is” — begging the question, what is she?
    — House Chrysos: Why is it “the Golden House”, why would Yelena go down on “bended knee” to welcome (them) back, and why was it lost? Also, as Yelena foreshadows late in Cool Hand, what additional “powers” does that house provide?

    Of course, there are a myriad of other things: Emergence, contact with the (US) government, world-wide contact, etc. Many potential stories, both main-arc and side-story.
    Eventually informing Amber’s mother, getting Amber’s (external) sister back on the straight-and-narrow, as well as defining Amber’s (internal) sister’s role…
    I foresee the potential for “many” future books!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thank you Larry – those are all interesting choices.

      Of course I have to know what it is people want. So I can do the opposite. (I’m channeling George Martin here). 🙂

      Dragons and spirit guides and Adepts and the Empire of Heaven – look out for the twist. Then the double-twist.

      Chrysos actually means gold. The bended knee is significant. The powers and potentials of the lost House aren’t a given.

      Family. Hmmm. Quiet, then a twist. You’ll know it when you see it.

      I keep saying 12 books (recently anyway), but every time I sit down to think about how to weave the threads together, I think maybe more!

  2. jonnah says :

    I absolutely loved Cool Hand, it’s best in the series this far if you ask me! Even though the cliffhanger in the ending was kind of evil:) At the beginning I felt Amber has too much to deal with, but it helped when the big storyline moved to a different location. My favorite part was Amber meeting the New Mexico alpha and the crazy were ritual in the ending. The threads I’m most interested to see unravelling are Kaothos/Empire of Heaven and Amber’s Carpathian house. And or course I wish we’ll see how the New Mexico alphas’ visit to Denver turns out!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Jonnah!
      One of the worries I had pre-publication was that it’s sometimes a sign that the drive is going out from a series when the author moves to a different location. I guess I overcame that!
      You are right that Amber has too many threads to deal with at the same time, and it’s part of my challenge over the next couple of books to organise the threads so she can deal with them in a manageable way.
      There’s a kind of switchback twist in the Kaothos / Empire of Heaven thread which should play out over book 5. Carpathia looks like book 6 (there are two main threads I guess – where is Carpathia in relation to Emergence and what relationship does Amber have with the Domain).
      New Mexico alphas in Denver – ho ho ho. Currently scheduled for book 5, and *real* twisty.

  3. Jason says :

    I would really like to see Amber take in her House more, she needs to strengthen their foundation and build upon what is there relationship wise, time is need to bring everyone together right now it is just Amber mostly, but they need each other just as much, I guess I am interested in the relationship dynamics and the outgrowing of the House into a Adept Community with the dragon now known, things could get hairy again. Whew, Mark you have too many options sometimes, but it is always a fun ride.


    PS I would really like to see her house benefit from being able to take her blood, and be able to proceed from a position of strength instead of just trying to survive, they are better than that!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Jason. I’m getting a very thoughtful and interesting list from people here.
      The benefit (or otherwise!) of her Blood for her House is a thread that will grow in little steps, starting with book 5.
      Relationship development within the House is a major part of book 5. Family relationships gets a late twist and is really for subsequent books.
      Kaothos – major twist.

  4. mediaxyz says :

    Hi Mark,

    I’ve read all of the books in the series so far, and am enjoying the ride. Good work.

    My only comment would be that Amber seems to be picking up extra powers and abilities in each book. Right now it seems like the only thing that is stopping her being the most powerful character in the series is the crazy in her head. I’m sure you have a plan that doesn’t end up with her facing bigger and bigger baddies, who would have already taken over the world if they were that strong, just to balance out her “phenomenal cosmic powers” (he says like Genie from Aladin). I’ve seen other series go that way, and it always seems like such a shame.

    Since you also asked, it would also be fun to see the “identical twin in her head” thread followed a little bit.

    Keep up the great work.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      The MC becoming the most powerful bad-ass in the world is a problem that others have fallen foul of, and I definitely have my eye on it as a threat to the progress of the series.
      Amber is picking up *potential* powers, and I will have to spend some time showing those relative to others who have developed powers, and also depicting what she has to put in to develop them. I’m sorry the complexity of Cool Hand prevented me from making Amber expend more time & effort to learn/use the extra powers she becomes aware of, but I hope I’ve illustrated that they are in still more in potential than actuality.
      There’s also the threat hanging over her and her House that, regardless of how these aspects and capabilities have integrated in her, there is no guarantee that others will be in the same position…
      Tara … twist coming up. The thread that follows Tara and the curse on Amber’s family has to wait a while.

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