Update and progress

Change of Regime

The serialised story that appeared here on the blog is now available as a novella on Amazon. It’s edited, and there’s also an additional chapter, an epilogue, which didn’t appear on the blog. It’s 25k words long.

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0711ML84S/

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0711ML84S/

The appearance of this novella and also the fact that Bian’s Tale is my priority at the moment has prompted several people to contact me asking why Bite Back 6 is not my priority project. I’ll take the opportunity to answer that here.

Firstly, Change of Regime didn’t actually take any time from my writing schedule. It was conceived, planned, plotted, written and delivered in my development time. Do I need development time? Yes. I want my books to be 20% better than other books and I want readers to tell me the books get better and better. Part of what I do to achieve that aim is I practice and experiment with writing styles and tools. Change of Regime allowed me to look at multiple PoVs, use the present tense and trim down descriptions. It also kept me fresh for Bian’s Tale. I’ll continue to use my development time in this way – which means any new serialised novellas/novels will be produced in the same way – a chapter a week. (Development time is 2-4 hours at the weekend).

Secondly, I’m writing Bian’s Tale as my priority project now for several reasons, not least because readers asked me for it. However there is a hard-headed economic reason as well. I’m losing readers, and I’ve been losing readers ever since Sleight of Hand – each Bite Back book I release has fewer readers than the last. Now, some of those may be readers who love the story and are waiting for me to finish the series so they can binge. Great, but not something I want to rely on. So, what can I do to gather more readers into the series? Write other books, like Bian’s Tale and Change of Regime. Submit stories to anthologies like The Biting Cold (which went into the ‘A Very Paranormal Holiday’ anthology) and Enzili (which went into ‘Vampires of the Caribbean’ anthology). Serialise novels. Marketing. Etc. Etc.

New serialised story

Okay, Change of Regime was well received, so I will continue to use my development time to produce serialised stories. The next will be away from the Athanate storyline. I did show you an example a couple of months ago, a chapter from a steampunk story set in Africa, but the response to that was muted. I will write that story anyway, but perhaps not as a serialisation.

So what do you want to see here on the blog? I have an outline for a Sci-Fi Romance and another for a Horror. Place your votes in the comments.

New pages on the blog

I’ll be adding a new page or pages on the blog to handle the serialised stories (when I work out how to do it!).

Other stories

I mentioned Enzili above. This story is in the Vampires of the Caribbean anthology, but will shortly be available for me to publish seperately. Now… Enzili is a short story and ends with the resolution of one major incident, which was all there was space for. There are three other issues that are left ‘for later’, and I have the plot to resolve these in ‘Enzili 2’ (not decided on a name yet).

Do I publish Enzili now and Enzili 2 when I write it? Hold off publishing Enzili until I have Enzili 2? Hold off until I can put it all together and make 1 novel instead of 2 novellas?

Vote in the comments.


All writing was on hold while I spent the last week with Jessica in New Orleans, where she’s filming ‘Underwater’ with Kristen Stewart and others. Back now.

Bian’s Tale is still being problematic. I’m getting feedback from beta readers on the first 2 sections (out of a total of 5 for the first book), but the feedback is not concentrated on one single issue. It will sort itself out, but it is taking longer than anticipated.

Inside Straight, Bite Back 6: I have some good chapters done and loads of scenes sketched out. This book is nudging me, wanting to be written NOW.


Unbelievably, we are STILL waiting for Angel Stakes to go through ‘checking’ and ‘processing’ at ACX/Audible. I have no control over this part of the production I’m afraid.

Raw Deal is done. I have submitted a minor correction and the audiobook should shortly go into the ‘checking’ and ‘production’ at ACX/Audible.




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 book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

25 responses to “Update and progress”

  1. Justin Savely says :

    I am for Horror. Give me that terrifying surprise.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I knew you would, Justin! However…only Lottie on the FB page and you have voted for the horror. It’s a shame because I have 4-5k words written already as a writing exercise I did early last year. Lol.

      So SciFi romance it looks to be. Kissy-kissy in space. 🙂 It will, of course, be an adventure with a romance ‘structure’.

      I’ll put the horror out as well, just a bit slower. How I release it depends on how well I can structure the WordPress screens, and of course, how many I can tempt to come read the serials as bait for buying the main books.

  2. Michael Orton says :

    When a story is ready to come out of your fingers then don’t fight it.

    However, very few authors can successfully publish raw stories. Most need time to mature. Some stories transform in the process.

    Do I want to read Inside Straight? Of course! But I am happy to wait for you an your team to have it ready.

    Will I buy Bian’s Tale if it comes out first? I expect so.

    I’ve preordered Change of Regime as I am happy to pay for quality even though you gave most of it away for free. Others might not, but would I have ventured into your world without Bite Back being on a promotional offer? Almost certainly not and that would have been a loss for both of us.

    I’m not calling for Enzili 2, but if that story is the one that wants to be told then get it moving as I would rather have that than have you wasting good writing time because the story you want to write isn’t ready for “paper” yet.

    Oh and do stories have a life of their own? Read Indexing by Seanen McGuire for that idea taken to its logical extreme…

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Seanan’s book on my tbr now. Thanks.

      Bian’s Tale got a boost this last week. I will shortly be sending out the first half of Section 3 to the beta readers. The second half of Section 3 is mainly there, but there’s a key scene that starts it off which I’m not happy with.

      Enzili 2 is at the level of a skeleton outline, and I *may* put aside a day or two to take it forward. One of the things ‘pulling’ it is rather strange: the formality of dialogue. The new serial will be SciFi Romance, but the culture I’m working on for that is feudal, like Dune, and the language of the Greater and Lesser Houses is slightly old-fashioned. (Not sure about using the term ‘House’). Bian’s Tale starts in 1890 in Annam (southern Vietnam), and most of it involves Bian speaking in French to 19th Century French people, or court Mandarin, so there a formality of language there as well. So the formal overtones I have for talk in Enzili are in the right place!

      • Michael Orton says :

        That Sci-Fi sounds interesting. I look forward to reading what options you have gone for in the age-old dilemmas as to how plausible the science is.

  3. Alfred Durrance says :

    I vote for a consolidation of the Enzili bits, just for continuity’s sake. I remember the first cut of a bit of Bian’s Tale that you released into the wild for comment. I am definitely looking forward to that completion as well.

  4. . says :

    Your work is great. It troubles me that you are not gaining more readers. Please use any and all Amazon advertisement options to introduce your work to more readers. I think it will pay off for you.

    • Michael Orton says :

      I’m sure it is crucial to keep the price of the entry-point to the story arc as low as possible. It matters not how good the writing is until you get someone to start reading it.

      I seem to recall picking up the first book for nothing in a special offer. That is probably unsustainable, but others might have the same principle that I have in that if the first book in a series is free and any good at all I will generally buy the second if it is a plausible price and view it as a two for one offer instead.

      I am also well disposed to risking 99p on an unknown author if I like the free sample Amazon make available and the actual size of the book seems “enough”. I’m not so well disposed to risk much more than that.

      I would therefore suggest that the price of Raw Deal should never rise above £0.99.

      Cover art is also something that influences my purchasing decision more than I probably want to admit.

      I bought Chris Hechtl’s first “Wandering Engineer” book because I liked the idea of a hero who was an engineer more than a warrior. The art work nearly put me off them entirely. Likewise Niall Teasdale’s cover art comes across to me as too obviously computer generated and feels too me as though it drags down the overall quality of his books. Daft, but that’s my personal impression.

      The original cover art for the English editions of the Bite Back series, still in use on the German ones, was more to my taste than the current ones.

      The designs used for the Outsiders novellas are quite pleasing to my eye with Change of Regime even better, but the first two do not tell a potential reader anything about the story inside and the last only gives you a location. The cover art is your one free advertising slot and it needs to be used very carefully. Alas I am no artist and cannot tell you what the pictures should be.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      I need to put aside some time to re-assess my marketing strategy, which currently is mainly about casting the net wide with serials, low-cost short reads & anthology entries.

      A recent FB post which linked directly to the Amazon page for Change of Regime on the day of release was made visible to just 30 people by Facebook. I added a second post with an image of the cover and embedded links to Amazon, and that post was made visible to 500 people. Facebook want me to pay for making my posts more visible to more people. I will have a look at this.

      Amazon have a wealth of ‘author-assisting’ programmes (all of which will cost money), and BookBub still seems to pull in readers (again at a cost). The *best* promotion ever was for Raw Deal for free on BookBub when it was only getting going. They did it without consulting me, and about 5000 Raw Deal downloads went out in two days.

      There’s lots out there, it just needs careful research and implementation.

      • Mark Henwick says :

        Cover art for Bian’s Tale series will be *KEY*. I’m looking to lure in a lot of YA readers with the thrill of Eastern paranormal, young Asian protagonist, exotic Oriental setting, unusual era, etc. etc.

        I *really* need a national league cover image team. Lol.

        Yes I agree on Teasdale’s covers, which he seems to delight in, and which, to be fair, do brand the books and gain him his niche.

      • Michael Orton says :

        I’m not on Facebook myself, but I understand quite a lot of people are.

        I suspect I was one of those 5000 Raw Deal downloads. I’m saddened to learn you were not consulted over that. I had already bought and read Sleight of Hand, but it probably took both books to get me hooked on the series, so on balance it was probably in your interest to make that offer.

        Still, it should have been with your permission.

  5. Zack says :

    Just finished, and reviewed Change of Regime. Great addition to the BB universe! Not sure if you’ve explored the Amazon Prime option. I forget what they call it, but I’ve gotten into several series where the first book was free through prime, and then I paid for further books. Just my 2 cents.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Zack, (also for review on the Zon).

      The Prime option requires Change of Regime to be enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, which in turn requires no part of the book to be available elsewhere. I’m still thinking about taking down the serial posts on this blog to make that work.

      I *should* use the Prime free option for those starter books already in Kindle Unlimited – Raw Deal, The Biting Cold, Sleight of Hand. It’s a limited duration promotion and it seems to get a lot of books shifted. One of the things holding me back is the concern that many more ‘free’ books don’t actually get read.

  6. XK (@xk_tweets) says :

    Picked up Change of Regime and I’m looking forward to reading it on my trip this weekend. (I held off reading it on the site because I prefer to binge read, so I’m going into it fresh.)

    Bian’s been my favorite character since Bite Back 1, so I’m still looking forward to her tale. 🙂 (I know what it’s like to feel as if you’re spinning your wheels on a particular story though!)

    • XK (@xk_tweets) says :

      (Also, I do think it makes sense to continue to introduce books in the world that aren’t necessarily part of the main Bite Back series, just so you can grab new readers that might be scared off by seeing a ‘book 6’. Hook them with a (supposed) one-off, and they’ll hopefully be enticed to read the main series as well!)

      • Mark Henwick says :

        Exactly! A nice easy introduction with just enough intriguing by-play to lure people into the series.

        Come on, it’s just a little book. 99c. You’re always in control. You can handle it. You won’t get addicted. Mwah ha ha ha.

      • Michael Orton says :

        Bian isn’t as important to me, but I’ll take what I can get.

        I do concur though that using the novellas to bring people into the main thread must be an excellent tool.

        I can imagine someone picking up The Biting Cold expecting something more along the lines of a court room drama. The expert witness up against the calendar, if not the clock, desperate to put the bad guy away before she dies – well it sounds like a standard plot line doesn’t it?

        That the “love interest” is burbling about vampires could be nothing more than the author’s excuse to keep him in the story arc at all.After all, he needs a reason to book the first appointment and if he wants to keep seeing her he has to maintain this cover to justify the followup appointments.

        Discovering just who is what right at the end will either infuriate such a reader, or leave them wondering just what happens to these two characters next.

        Until Change of Regime I would have said “No, give me Diana’s story”, but I understand we get a bit more of that in “Inside Straight”.

        Now we have that interesting conversation between Skylur and Livia as to the history of House Altu and I want to know more about that.

        We learnt just how important Diana is in this society at the end of Hidden Trump. Given her status one might have expected House Altu to be a sub-house of House Ionache and the fact that she is Mentor to Amber apparently has such significance that House Lindberg basically says “why didn’t you tell us that to begin with and we could have saved ourselves all this hassle.”

        Skylur Altu doesn’t have that status. People were willing to argue with his judgement on such a matter when they would not consider challenging Diana.

        Livia complains of nightmares due to humans trashing her Etruscan estate. Skylur unexpectedly trumps that with nightmares over the fall of a kingdom implying that kingdom was his yet squashing Livia’s opportunity to recognise him as that lost king,

        Just who is he?

        • Mark Henwick says :


          There is only one kumemnon, and for various reasons, she is honoured above all others.

          Skylur was the king of Itrexia, where his palace windows looked out over the glittering Caspian sea. Many years later, he was declared a god, and they build temples to him, and worshiped him.

          But nevertheless, Itrexia did fall, and new gods arose that supplanted the old, and now the Elders are few, and silent.

          • XK (@xk_tweets) says :

            Finished Change of Regime over the course of an afternoon while poolside in Maui (it’s a hard life celebrating my 20th anniversary, let me tell you!!), and thought it was a great addition to the world and universe. The short length made it pretty clear when and how the different plot threads would eventually connect, but I thought it read really well, and it didn’t at all feel like a first-time foray into 3rd person perspective and multiple narrators. Very well done, if you’ll accept random praise from an anonymous internet poster. 😀

          • Mark Henwick says :

            Ha ha! I’m not proud, I accept praise from anywhere. 🙂

            Tell me, XK, how you’re getting on with your writing? It’s gotta be nearly there. You are going to point me in the right direction when it is, aren’t you?

            I enjoyed writing Change of Regime. The lack of pressure on it made it much easier to write than Bian’s Tale 1 (WIP). I’ve now started another serial – a SciFi Romance!

          • XK (@xk_tweets) says :

            Thank you!

            I finished up book 4 of the still-unpublished series last year and then spent roughly six more months (or nine months, in total) spinning my wheels waiting as an agent took their sweet time with the full manuscript for book 1.

            Around January, that full request finally achieved its (pre-ordained?) destiny as a polite rejection, so I’ve started jumping through the various hoops to self-publish the whole series. The cover design company I’m working with has me slotted for Sept/Oct, which gives me a bit of time to tackle another polish pass on all four books as well as setting up an LLC for my press and formatting the manuscripts for both e-book and print-on-demand formats..

            I’m also 400 pages into a new book in a second series–different world, VERY different style–and it is so fun to change things up! I’m hoping to finish that one by July so I can focus back on my self publishing homework. What I end up doing with the new series is a bit of an open question; part of me wants to try to get it published the traditional route, and part of me is reluctant to yet again spend multiple years stuck in the query process. My experience self-publishing the first series will probably inform my plans for the second.

            I’ll definitely post here whenever something is finally available! I really appreciate the interest. 🙂

          • Mark Henwick says :

            (Congrats on 20th anniversary & enjoy Maui)

  7. Jim says :

    am going to laugh when Raw deal comes out on Audio before Angel Stakes. Well that or try to figure way to let Audible know I am an unhappy customer.

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Hi Jim. Yeah, it’s laugh or cry time. They’ve had the full set of files for 50 days now. It’s been longer than their claimed processing time since I finally managed to get a comment back about a ‘truncated file’ (theirs not mine). So, if they’d restarted from scratch then, they could still have been finished by now. It’s impossible (by normal means) to get through to the actual technical staff and the support staff know absolutely nothing. Not even how to get the technical people to respond.

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