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Roundup and reveal

Special treat for readers who monitor the blog site and Facebook page – advance reveal of the new covers, one or two a week, starting today…

(And I’m keen for feedback!)

Okay, okay. Roundup first.

Inside Straight

Inside Straight is late in the big and little sense of the word. In the big sense, I can’t quite work out how it has taken over three years from Angel Stakes to Inside Straight. In the little sense, I promised publication in 2018, then spring 2019, then summer, and then 30th September, but now it’s going to be the 31st October.

I will be concentrating on writing Bite Back and Bian’s Tale for the next year or so and I hope to do better than one of each per year. We’ll see.

France

Bite Back (published under the series name ‘Amber Farrell’) is doing very well in France. I’m expecting my first 12 month sales analysis from Bragelonne this month, but I already know that the sales are over 20,000 books and there’s 2:1 ratio in favor of printed books. I’ve attended the book festival at Epinal as a guest speaker and I’m also attending festivals at Lille and Dunkirk this year. Things are looking good.

Germany

I’m trying very hard to engage a German publisher on the same sort of basis as France and I’m having no luck. My emails aren’t even getting a response. I may visit the Frankfurt Book Fair next month to see if face to face is easier.

Covers

The launch of Inside Straight will coincide with a new marketing drive for the Bite Back series, including:

  • New book covers for eBook (English and German versions), paperback and audio
  • Amazon and Facebook advertising
  • Bundling (selling books 1-3 as one for a discount)
  • Newsletter promotions.

I’ve never been quite happy with the covers for Bite Back. The series is not a standard Urban Fantasy series, so there was always the argument that the covers should be a little different. At the 20Books writers’ convention in Edinburgh, I got some feedback on the covers and advice to go and talk to Andrew at Creative Edge Studios. Long story short, Andrew and I kicked around ideas, hired a big studio, got the props out, persuaded Maria to join us, engaged a makeup artist and spent a whole day, resulting in over a thousand photos. It was a fabulous day.

Maria is Amber, and she really got into the part. Even standing waiting for the cameras to be set up, she looked bad-ass.

This is not a retouched photo. I have done nothing apart from clipping the background out.

At the end of the shoot, I had the difficult task of choosing one photo for each book.

The overview for the images is a sort of compromise. I wanted the book covers to say Urban Fantasy, but I wanted to hint that there’s a lot of action as well. This is close to the brief for the very first covers I did, but the poses chosen for those were what is called in the trade ‘heroic’. Andrew and I decided we’d include more ‘action’ poses.

Book 1 is the key, the most important image that sets the tone for the series. I wanted Amber’s favorite automatic, the HK Mk 23, and I wanted an action pose with a Urban Fantasy background of Denver including witchy lights and oversize moon. Andrew took that brief and produced this, the full image without titles for the printed book.

I reckon it’s excellent.

And here’s the eBook cover.

 

I love the image.

What do YOU think?

 

 

 

 

A Name Among the Stars on Wiki!

This arrived out of the blue, just as the sequel, A Threat Among the Stars, hit the stands.

It’s a list of 10 selected Speculative Fiction books, each with a twist of mystery included in the plotline.

I enjoyed reading the list (and adding the others to my tbr), and I enjoyed a synthesized voice actually getting the pronunciation of my name correct (HEN-ick, not Hen-WICK)! The voice had a little more trouble with Zara’s surname, Aguirre.

Have a look at their list – as I say, they’re all on my tbr now.

https://wiki.ezvid.com/m/10-sci-fi-and-fantasy-books-with-a-twist-of-mystery-rLVhdS-bSUid0

 

 

Bian’s Tale book 1 released

And here’s the problem with using WordPress as a medium for telling a book in episodes – I can’t make the blog ‘threaded’. So, when I have an announcement like this, it sits in the middle of the current episodes for A Threat Among the Stars.

Anyway – here’s the link for A Harvest of Lies – Bian’s Tale book 1:

<<https://www.amazon.com/Harvest-Lies-Athanate-Nineteenth-Century-ebook/dp/B07DBPK2B6/>&gt;

 

 

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.

Progress

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.

 Audiobooks

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.

 

 

Teaser first chapter of Enzili

Debra Dunbar and I exchange messages every now and then, y’know: S&M clubs, vampire hangouts, getting away with murder, how to hide bodies, etc. Usual writer’s stuff.

Last year we got to talking about vampires in the Caribbean. She had a short story that filled in some early history of one of her characters. We talked about soucriants (local vamps), and I said I’d write something in that setting if she put together an anthology. I sketched a couple of ideas in my notebook.

Didn’t think anything more about it until she actually went ahead and put together a group!

I came up with a final idea quite quickly. It’s set in the 1790s on the island of St. Mark’s, in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean. It incorporates vampires, slavery, voodou, the position of women in that era, politics, the sugar industry, the British class system and emerging technology!

The name of my story, ‘Enzili’, refers to the voodou goddess of love and women, who is also the goddess of witches.

It was hugely enjoyable to write. I used the opportunity to experiment with 3rd person narrative, two points of view and British historical dialogue, all of which I hope gives it a very different feel from Amber in the Bite Back series and Amanda in the Outsiders series.

It was even fun to have to rein myself in—yes, yes, I know Amber would just punch him in the face, but Lady Margaret can’t do that!

‘Vampires of the Caribbean’ was a success and, as planned, was withdrawn for each author to use their story in other ways. My story, ‘Enzili’, is now available as a novella on Amazon.

(There was a sample here of chapter 1, but that potentially gets me in trouble with Amazon, so I’ve taken it down. You can still get a sample from Amazon.)

 

 

 

Audiobook competition – last day!

LAST DAY FOR FREE AUDIOBOOK!

Like audiobooks? Like Urban Fantasy?

Get your mouse over to the Urban Fantasy Audiobook Giveaway at:

http://audiobookaccess.com/giveaways/urban-fantasy-audiobook-giveaway-2/

There will be 24 winners who will each get one audiobook from this list:

The Baine Chronicles Books 1-3 – written by Jasmine Walt and narrated by Laurel Schroeder

Sleight of Hand – written by Mark Henwick and narrated by Kimberly Henrie

The Devil’s Fool – written by Rachel McClellan and narrated by Veronica Fox

Dead Man – written by Domino Finn and narrated by Neil Hellegers

Southern Bound – written by Stuart Jaffe and narrated by Stuart Jaffe

Shifter Legacies Special Edition – written by Mark E. Cooper and narrated by Mikael Naramore

One lucky winner will get all 6!

And everyone who enters gets a copy of this eBook:

The Catalyst – C.M. Raymond & L.E. Barbant

If you get a friend to enter, you get another 3 goes.

 

 

 

Winter’s Kiss, the sequel to The Biting Cold is out

Hi all

I wrote The Biting Cold as a stand-alone short story back in 2014, but the characters were popular enough to persuade me I needed to write a sequel and merge the story into the main Bite Back thread. So… Winter’s Kiss, a novella, in the newly branded Bite Back: Outsiders series, is up on Amazon now.

USA: https://www.amazon.com/Winters-Kiss-Athanate-Novella-Outsiders-ebook/dp/B01M7M86LF/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Winters-Kiss-Athanate-Novella-Outsiders-ebook/dp/B01M7M86LF/

Germany: https://www.amazon.de/Winters-Kiss-Athanate-Novella-Outsiders-ebook/dp/B01M7M86LF/

Australia: https://www.amazon.com.au/Winters-Kiss-Athanate-Novella-Outsiders-ebook/dp/B01M7M86LF/

Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Winters-Kiss-Athanate-Novella-Outsiders-ebook/dp/B01M7M86LF/

In less good news, I managed to mess up my mailing procedures this morning and sent the emails out in batches with all the email addresses visible. My sincere apologies to all affected.