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November newsletter

November newsletter is in your inboxes…

Subscribers to the newsletter can get the download of the latest episodes from:

Sign up to the newsletter at…/mark-henwick-scifi-newsletter-signup

The first twelve episodes are now available as two books and can be downloaded (without subscribing or providing email addresses) at the following links

Book 1

Book 2

But if you want the latest episodes… you can only get them from the newsletter.

Arranging the early episodes into books allows for a Goodreads entry. If you’re a member of Goodreads and want to give feedback:

Book 1

Book 2


Links for The Long Way Home

As mentioned in newsletters, previous posts and on the Facebook pages, I am releasing my current Science Fiction / Space Opera serial novel The Long Way Home as downloadable books. These are FREE at the moment, and this post contains the links to download the books. You do not have to sign up to the newsletter to get these two books.

Book 1 The Dark Takes Fools comprises episodes 1-6. LINK HERE

Book 2 Out of the Dark comprises episodes 7-12. LINK HERE

The story is ongoing, and further episodes are only available by subscription to the monthly newsletter. At the present each newsletter contains a link to a full episode of short story length.

Signup for the newsletter HERE.

The newsletter is run through MailChimp, and it’s an easy one-click to unsubscribe. The contact details will only be used by me to provide my monthly newsletter and very occasional alerts for a new book by me. Contact details will not be made available to anyone else.

August roundup

My apologies, but the blog site has been neglected while I concentrate on my monthly newsletters and Facebook pages.

The August newsletter has just gone out, and The Long Way Home now stands at 12 episodes, or 147k words. I was aiming to release bundles of episodes as ebooks this summer, but I’m holding those back for an IASFA promotion in December. I need to think of names for the books, because The Long Way Home is the series name. The individual episodes have names, but I’m struggling with names for several episodes together.

What’s IASFA? The IASFA is the grandly named International Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Authors. The authors in the group are independents, and the important thing for you as a reader is that they do promotions. Participating authors have to get a temporary release from Amazon to give their book away for free, and these are compiled into a list and available to any reader who has joined the IASFA.

September’s promo is ‘All SF’, October is ‘All Fantasy’, November is ‘Urban Fantasy’ (yes, I’ll be putting some books up for that), December is ‘Space Opera’ and yes, I’m planning to launch The Long Way Home ebooks in that promotion.

IASFA signup is


The conclusion of the Bite Back series is all very tightly bound together. So tightly, I will have to get the books out one after the other. There are 2 or 3 left. Still working out how I can achieve this.

Link for The Long Way Home Ep 1-12 (you have to be on, or join the newsletter list)

(Yes, it should be ‘insurmountable’ not ‘unsurmountable’ in the episode blurb)

News, newsletters, updates and episodes

Writing Progress

Another really busy month resulting in no monthly episode of Stand Up. My apologies. It’s been so busy, I’ve made no real progress on writing the book I’m supposed to be writing – Bian’s Tale 2. Even episode 8 for The Long Way Home was finished so late in the month it hasn’t been pass the editor. The Long Way Home is now up to 100,000 words by the way, which is around ‘novel length’ for SciFi.

What have I been doing?

A lot of it seems to be admin and advertising.

I’ve passed the first draft of the audio version of Queen of Diamonds. Just listening to the files took over 16 hours. Feedback, preparation and pronunciation probably took another 4 hours. Now I wait for the edits and final pass, and then in a couple of months time, Emily goes back into the studio to re-record Sleight of Hand, which isn’t up to the level of quality of the others.

I’ve spent literally days formatting books. I use Word for all writing and it’s fine for that. It’s familiar and reasonably intuitive. Formatting… not so much. I remain convinced there are bugs in Word’s formatting options. Either that, or someone has put a curse on me. The main project has been formatting print books for Germany, but it’s surprising how much work I needed to do for compiling box sets (also for Germany). I’m still not happy with the front and back sections of the books (in both languages).

I finalised book 7 of the Bite Back series in German – Karodame – and launched it.

Part of the rush on compiling German box sets was a need to use them as a platform for the release of Karodame. Bite Back sales and page reads in Germany were going very well in the middle of last year, but they’ve died down. To create some market noise, I released box set 1 at 0.99, followed a week later by box set 2 at 2.99 and then a week later Karodame at the normal price.

I also ran some promotions in the US and UK, box sets, The Harvest of Lies, A Name Among the Stars etc.

Why am I doing all the advertising?

Because even though my fans are good fans, they are literally swamped with books on Amazon. I’ve had feedback last year on the lines of “I didn’t realize Angel Stakes had been published”. It’s irritating. Amazon used to promote sequels to readers of a series. This was a good system, because it got them a lot of sales, and it got authors a lot of sales with only the effort to keep writing. That’s not what happens now. Amazon gets such a return from advertising books that it now requires authors to pay for a place in their advertising. I literally have to pay if I want my books to turn up in response to an Amazon search from a reader typing in ‘Bite Back Amber Farrell’. The indie market wouldn’t exist in the form it does if Amazon hadn’t encouraged it, but what used to be a good deal (70% royalties) looks a lot less good if you need to re-invest half of that back into telling existing readers that there’s another book available, and can only ever get through to about half of them anyway.

I’m still rated as a successful author, and it’s still a better deal than traditional publishing, but unless I get to a magical stage where the books become self-sustaining, I need to dedicate a disproportionate amount of non-writing time. And Amazon have it in their power to change the rules.

All of which is why I really want my readers’ email addresses, folks. Expect to see me put more effort into harvesting addresses in future.


What I’m really missing on the episode books is feedback. A couple of readers went so far as to put up Goodreads ‘books’ for epsiodes and comment on them. (Thank you!) Unfortunately, Goodreads decided in retrospect the book had to be for sale as a finished product before an entry could be made, so those were erased.

Please tell me what you like or don’t like about the episode novels. I’ll put this article up as a post on Facebook too. I would appreciate a comment, however brief, negative or positive, either as comments on the posts, or an email to – TIA.

And if you are reading this and aren’t on the monthly newsletter, why not join? You get free novels in episode form…

(I will also sell the novels at some point, if you’re allergic to newsletters).

Or alternatively, get on my book alert list, which is a different mailing list and only ever used when I publish a book.

If you want in on either, send me an email to

EPISODES 1-8 of THE LONG WAY HOME (you need to be subscribed to the monthly newsletter):

Link to book on BookFunnel

Update. Book 7. Serial novels.

Bite Back book 7, Queen of Diamonds, is with the editor. She has promised to get back to me this week. I am still hoping to publish this month (Dec 2020).

The book is 135,000 words long, which is pretty much standard for my main novels. It has taken me a little more than a year (so far) to produce, but I have had other projects running at the same time.

I’ve given lots of estimates out about the length of the Bite Back series. I started thinking I was writing a trilogy! At the extreme, I thought it would take me 16-18 books to tell the story. Currently, I think it’s 9 books long, so there will be at least two more.

While waiting for the edits, I’m working on the two serial novels I have running. These are for subscribers to my mailing list only, and have been going down a storm. The general idea is the same as the serial format I used in this blog, but the updates are bigger and only arrive monthly. Unfortunately, I had to skip last month’s episodes to get Queen of Diamonds to the editor, but I should be back with new episodes this month. The two novels are The Long Way Home (Science Fiction, set in the same universe as Among The Stars, but at an earlier time) and Stand Up (Urban Fantasy, loosely tied to Bite Back, and set in New York after the novella Change of Regime).

Update: Bite Back 7 & Newsletter

The first quarter of Bite Back 7 is with the beta readers. The events covered were intended in the original plan to be the first 10%, but things snowballed and Amber got the bit between her teeth.

That section is 45,000 words long, which suggests book 7 will be 180,000, which will be approximate the length of Wild Card. Looking to release in Q3, but it may slip to Q4.


The other news of the week is the first newsletter has just gone out.

Some of you read the novels which I ran in serial form here on the blog. Change of Regime, A Name Among the Stars, A Threat Among the Stars, and The Harvest of Lies all appeared in weekly or monthly sections on this blog before being released as full books. I’m doing the same thing in the newsletter, but on a monthly release with longer sections.

There are two serial novels available with each newsletter. One is Science Fiction and the other is Urban Fantasy.

Science Fiction: The Long Way Home.

Their war has just ended. Their struggle has just begun.
Set in the universe described in ‘A Name Among the Stars’, but much earlier, around the time known as the Third Expansion. Janice and Bjorn are two young soldiers from a remote, pacifist planet on the Frontier who signed up to earn the money for essential Terran technology to save their colony from dying out. But nothing is easy. They have to overcome betrayals, corruption, greed… and pirates, on ‘The Long Way Home’.

Episode 1 is currently only available in eBook form in an anthology called ‘The Great Beyond’ ($0.99/£0.99)

(You can get the FREE audiobook for episode 1 at

Episode 2

Episode 2 ‘Problems and Opportunities’ is ready for download now, and you need to sign up to the newsletter to be able to use the links.

Once you’ve signed up, then the download link is

Urban Fantasy: Stand Up

This is an Athanate PNR, set in New York, and the events occur between Bite Back Books 6 and 7. This book is not essential for the Bite Back series. It follows on, in a fashion, from the Change of Regime novella, in that some of the characters return.

Carla is a comedienne, running away from a terrible event in her past, and whose stand up routine has run out of inspiration. Katja is a sophisticated New York Athanate in a state of denial over her broken heart. Neither of them wants what the other needs. Or do they?

Episode 1 is called I Died Tonight.

Episode 1

As before, sign up for the newsletter and then your download link for Episode 1 is:

March update, quiz question and a teaser of chapter 4 from Inside Straight

(I’m not putting out these chapters as teasers really, so much as a monthly nudge for me to be making bigger strides with writing)

The beta readers have read about the first third of Inside Straight, and I’m overdue taking them up to the half way point. There’s more written than that, but in isolated scenes that need a lot of joining up.

Other news

I’m still in limbo with the Among the Stars series. Amazon continue to refuse to allow the series name, despite allowing other series to break the ‘rule’ that they’ve quoted to me. While this is going on, I can’t really progress with marketing or even getting the second book into print, so the series isn’t moving well.

The Amazon marketing machine has now just started to market ‘A Threat Among the Stars’ to me. Lol.

Quiz question

Okay, not easy this one. Probably need someone who lives in Denver, or someone quite skilled with Google.

Take a look at the photo on this post. What is the name given to this restaurant in the Bite Back series?

Prize for the first to answer correctly? Your choice: Signed copy of any one of my print books… or name a character to appear in Inside Straight.

On with the teaser

Due to Amazon rules, the teasers have to be removed once the book is up.
Inside Straight is available on

Episode delayed

The weekly episodes of A Threat Among the Stars have been removed in preparation for the release of the book on Amazon in January 2019.

My Amazon page:



Bian’s Tale – The Right Path – first half

Here is the fourth episode of Bian’s Tale; the first half of Section 3 – The Right Path.

I think it’s fairly clear that Bian’s Tale is not really suitable for episodes, but I’m keeping it going to keep pressure on me to finish this first novel of the companion series.

In this episode, Ophélie/Bian see-saws between optimism and realizing how much the structure of Saigon works against her. It almost ends on a cliffhanger.  🙂

I’m going on a writer’s retreat at the end of this week, for a week. I will be on my own in an apartment in Madrid (the daughter arranged for a £35 return flight ticket!). My posting of the next couple of episodes may be a bit early or late.

This episode from Bian’s Tale 1 – The Harvest of Lies has been removed.
The book will be available shortly on Amazon.


Christmas story

A Christmas post.

I’m wishing you all a very merry Christmas, and a fulfilling and prosperous 2017.

A reminder for German readers that Cool Hand, Bite Back 4, is now available on Amazon Germany. It’s called Optimales Blatt. (

And a short Christmas story…

’Tis the evening before the night before Christmas and…

The girl slips into the church. Father Julius is aware of her immediately. The door is slightly ajar, as it often is at this time, and she edges in sideways, like a crab, her eyes wide and terrified.

St. Jude’s is neither busy nor empty. The church is Roman Catholic, but almost Protestant-plain. Not too high RC that it would scare the Irish away, nor too low that the Italians wouldn’t feel comfortable. If the church had a motto, that’s what it would be: comfortable. There’s coffee and tea and biscuits in the vestibule, despite misgivings from the diocese. They make noises about turning a place of worship into a cafe, but they can’t argue against attendance figures at services.

And the welcome means that all are welcome, even waifs who probably haven’t been to church in years. The girl does not look familiar to him.

He’s proud that St. Jude’s looks welcoming, feels welcoming, and he’s well-practised in this, so he doesn’t approach the girl. He makes himself busy, which is not difficult. There’s plenty to do, just before Christmas. However, he does not lose sight of her while he works.

She sits at the back, hunched over, even though just coming in has seemed to reduce some of the fear he can sense from her.

Outside of services, he encourages people to sit in the pews and talk if they need to. There’s a chorus of older ladies who gather and murmur amongst themselves, and today’s turnout is good. It’s the most relaxing sound, like listening to the rain on a stout roof. Yet it takes half an hour to work it’s magic before he senses the girl moving.

He lets her get within a few feet of him, every step slower than the last, before he turns and smiles.

“Welcome,” he says, trying to project warmth and safety to her.

She flinches as if he’d struck her.

She’s late teens, living on the street or couch surfing. Unsure of where the next hot bath is coming from or what it’ll cost her. He does this snap assessment a lot. He’s seldom wrong.

She seems to steel herself and whispers “Father.” Her eyes look over his shoulder at the altar and slide away quickly.

“Can I just talk?” she says, and can’t meet his eyes.

“Of course. Come, let’s sit.”

Without touching, he ushers her to the empty front pew. She sits on the edge of the wooden bench, and every muscle remains tensed, as if she’s expecting to have to escape. He has a lot of practice looking comfortable, and he does, half turned to her, with his arm resting on the back of the pew and his legs crossed.

Without hearing words, he can detect the murmuring ladies at the back, approving that he takes time to speak to anyone who comes in. They are good souls, every one of them, but he tunes them out and concentrates on the girl.

Her name is Tiana, and her accent makes her from Georgia. He does not ask why she’s here alone, or where her folks are, or any of the questions that he can guess answers to and which are important but not urgent.

He knows she wants a place that’s welcoming but not intrusive. A priest that listens more than he speaks.

Five minutes in and with another fearful, sliding glance at the altar, she reaches the topic she came to speak about.

“I think I was attacked.”

“Mmm,” Father Julius says, quietly. “Tell me.”

She stares at her hands and recounts a tale that starts in familiar ways. A party, dancing, a smoke, a drink. A handsome guy.

He listens.

“He didn’t,” she says and pauses. “I mean…I think I was dressed. I was dressed. I was. It’s just…”

“It’s blurred,” he suggests.

“I didn’t have that much to drink,” she says, prickly with defense. “I’m careful. I drink from the bottle. I don’t leave my drink. And it was only weed.”

Then suddenly, her carefully stored up courage starts to leak away.

“You’re just gonna think I’m crazy.” She starts to get up, and for the first time, he touches her, gently on the arm.

She flinches, but she sits down again abruptly.

“I believe you,” he says. “It was confusing. Not enough to eat, maybe. I’d guess tired, strung out? A little alcohol, a little weed, a lot of dancing. And then?”

She’s silent for a long time. Her hands clench into fists.

“He bit me.” The words are forced out.

One trembling hand rises to the woolen scarf around her neck, pulls the edge down. Her eyes come up to meet his, angry, expecting laughter, daring him to laugh.

He does not laugh.

He offers up a silent prayer for help. There are things he can do and things others must do.

“Come with me,” he says and he takes her hand, lifts her up.

He leads her to the font, places her hand on the edge.

She is trembling.

He dips fingers in, holds them over her hand. Drops of holy water splash onto her skin.

She flinches again.

“See?” he whispers. “You’re just you.”

“You don’t believe me,” she says.

Her hand twitches, but he presses down, very gently, and runs his fingers over her skin in a circle.

Her eyes are fixed on her hand.

“I believe you,” he says, “but what happened isn’t what you thought happened.”

“Yeah?” The street-smart sass tries to assert itself again, but she has no follow-up.

“Yes.” His fingers continue circling on the back of her hand, and his voice is low and soothing. “You were tired and hungry. A little drink and a smoke affected you more than normal.”

It’s working. It’s hard being so scared for a long time, particularly when you’re tired, and escpecially when someone speaks so calmly.

“Dehydration and tiredness made you clumsy. You stumbled. Hit your head. Blows to the head are strange. They can make everything a bit weird. Then a guy got too friendly. Bit you on the neck. How gross.”

His fingers continue to stroke the back of her hand. Her eyelids are lowered. Her breathing is slow and she’s stopped trembling.

She tries to speak, but can’t form words.

“You left,” he says. “No harm was done.”

“Mmm.” No words from her, but a relaxed acceptance.

“Vampires don’t really exist, but even if they did, you couldn’t be one, because holy water doesn’t burn you.”


Her eyes are closed, her shoulders drooping.

“In a moment, I’m going to give you the address of a house just a block away. Go there. You’ll get showers, meals and a safe bed for a few nights. Get you back on your feet.”

He feels the last of the tension draining out of her, and slowly removes his touch.

Her eyes open. Blink. Lift to meet his, questioning.

He smiles at her. “You are more in need of sleep than anything I can do or say,” he says. “Here, go stay at this place and come back when you’re rested.”

He gives her a card, and she frowns at it.

“I can’t—”

“There’s no payment required. Help with others there is always welcome, and I think you’d be good at that.”

She blinks again, backs away, but not in fear. She’s still uncertain. Not quite believing.

“Go on,” he smiles and makes a shoo-ing motion with his hands. “Sooner there, sooner washed, fed and asleep.”

“Thank you, Father,” she mutters, and moves away, gathering speed, as if the offer might have a time limit on it.


She’s at the door when it swings open to admit another. They pass, the girl and the newcomer.

Father Julius shivers.

He’s impressed and appalled.

Impressed at how quickly the response has come. It is barely ten minutes since he sent the prayer for help. Of neccessity, in this age, his prayer is initially a short-range WiFi, needing only to reach his laptop in the back room. The laptop then connects to a distant server and sends a pre-arranged message to its target in a building. That building is eight minutes walk away.

Appalled, because of the emissary who has come in response.

She is memorable, but in a way that not a single one of the chorus of ladies gathered in the pews will be able to describe her actual appearance.

The polite ones will call her, somewhat ambiguously, a working girl. Their mouth will purse in disapproval to dispell any misunderstanding. Those less polite will call her a whore.

She strides. Her heels click on the stone floor. Her coat flaps.

“Livia,” he murmurs.


Her voice is soft. The sound of it always puts him in mind of the phrase: iron fist in a velvet glove.

They sit. Livia is impatient, but as committed to maintaining his disguise as she is to hers. They work together in these uncertain times, so she will pretend to be a woman unburdening her soul to him.

The chorus mutters that Father Julius is a saint to give his time to anyone who comes in, not really meaning anyone, but meaning Livia.

Another time, it might make him smile. Not now.

The message transmitted through the internet has no details. It is simply a call for help. But Livia has acute senses.

“The girl?” she says, her head tilting to indicate the door where they passed each other.

He nods. “Bitten. Her memories left intact.” He sighs. “I have blurred them, offered an alternate meaning and speeded up the healing. She’ll be fine.”

“I’ll go and find him then,” Livia says. Her senses are acute enough that she’s captured an impression of the attacker’s marque, the scent that will linger after biting. Livia may not know who it is, but she’ll find him.

Justice will be swift tonight.

Father Julius opens his mouth to speak and shuts it again, thinking he’s wasting his time.

Livia raises an eyebrow to prompt him.

“He’s young, I think,” he says. “A clumsy mistake, not deliberate.”

“Exactly the kind of mistake we cannot afford,” she says. “Especially now.”

“You have news?”

She shrugs. “He’s coming. It’s not up to us to enquire when exactly.” And as she speaks, this woman who has always scared him, this nightmare made flesh, this woman who is about as soft and sensitive as steel…she shivers. But her voice is steady as she continues. “You want me to spare this clumsy oaf, who threatens us all with discovery by humanity, just at the moment we get a new master? He might think you’d spent too long as a priest, you’ve become your disguise. That you’ve become unorthodox.”

They are speaking English, but the word unorthodox carries its sinister echoes from their language.

Unorthodox is biting a person and failing to blur their memories.

Unorthodox is protecting someone like that.

Unorthodox is a reason for execution.

“And yet,” Julius says, “he is the most unorthodox of all, and his interest in us would seem to be precisely because we are different to the rest of the Athanate world. That we might not follow every rule in every case.”

Livia leans back on the pew.

“Face it,” Julius presses his advantage, “if unorthodox is an automatic death sentence, then every single one of our little community is dead.”

“I’ll think about it,” she says finally. “I may just discipline him.”

She gets up and walks out, to mutters that ripple through the chorus.

This time, he smiles.

There is reason to hope.

Skylur Altau has declared New York his domain. They expect him to arrive any day. They’ve already made themselves known to his Diakon, this little community that hid, unnoticed, beneath the noses of the Warders.

They’d known they would not escape detection by Altau, and there was nowhere else to go.

What would their new master make of them? A small group of Houses of different persuasions that try to live in harmony with each other and integrate themselves into the human community.

A sort of model for the whole Athanate world.

Father Julius smiles and gets up. He has a lot to do at this time of year for his parishoners. Of all types.


(To allow this to appear on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, I need to remove the other posts which feature chapters from Change of Regime)

The resulting novella is available on Amazon: