Monday, 14 August 2017

Prince of Thorns at 6!

Prince of Thorns is 6 years in print!

Check out the fifthfourththirdsecond, and first birthday round-ups. 

I now have 7 books on the shelves!

Being a numbers guy as well as a words guy I like to keep track of things and record them for when I'm a doddery old guy looking back at my 'glory' days.

In its 5th year the 500,000th copy of Prince of Thorns was sold!

And the book was translated into its 23rd language (Iranian!)

On Goodreads Prince of Thorns has passed 60,000 ratings!

And Prince of Thorns continues to attract ratings on Amazon

And the blog has very nearly broken two million views!

And finally my snail's pace conquest of Twitter continues its crawl.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Badge, pin ... whatever, it's a contest!

So, Queen Robin of Hobb was in San Diego recently at the Comic-Con when she spied Ace giving away badges with my book on!

Using all her powers of persuasion she badgered (*) them out of four sets and very kindly sent them all the way to merry old England.

(*) her word ... would Robin Hobb sink to punning? You decide.

Anyway. Each of these sets is actually a promotion and lets you email to claim one free book from:

Mark Lawrence - Prince of Thorns
Karen Chance - Touch the Dark
Simon R Green - The Man With The Golden Torc (I've read this! It's funny!)
Chloe Neill - Some Girls Bite


So, rather than hoard them I am going to give them away. Since they are badges, let's have a badge contest. To enter simply make your own badge celebrating any book and send me a photo of you wearing it (with a close up too if it isn't sandwich board sized.

"Badge" is a fairly loose term. For our purposes it can be anything that you support with your body (but no hands).

I will give 2 of the sets away to the 2 best entries and 2 more away to 2 randomly selected entries.

Here's mine. It took me ages! AGES!

Yes, I am very serious about all this.

Send me your entries to - title the email "Badge Contest"

I will post entries on this page and give plenty of warning before the contest closes.


#3 Paul: symbol of The Orcslayer from The Eighth God by Paul Lavender

#2 Angela and friend.

#1 Kirsten

Friday, 11 August 2017

Dragons Rated

More dragons every week.

Meet Pedro. He looks cute but if you glance away, even for a second, he will fuck you up! Loves watermelon. 9/10

Freddy loves to play fetch-the-knight. Anyone hoping to adopt him needs a large (fireproof) garden. Likes tummy rubs. 11/10

Wilbur loves to play but the other dragons call him ugly. Would suit a large family. Sometimes burps nitric acid. 12/10  

Maximilian is a good draggo. Enjoys rotting carrion and short waddles on the beach. Good with children. 13/10

Who ate all the knights then? Wuggum ate all the knights!
Enjoys sleeping and Nutella. 11/10

"Pretend to throw the flail again. I dare you!"

Roger likes chasing flails, having his head scratched, and barbecues, 10/10.  

Good draggo seeking adoption. Susie loves baths and the water in general.
Only apply if you have a garden pond. 11/10.

Herman is a good draggo. He's small, but he can swallow a whole dog. Likes dogs, cats, cat food, and being green. 12/10.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Grey Sister has a cover!

The US cover for Grey Sister has been released by Ace.

And here it is!

Art by Bastien Lecouffe-Deharme.

In Mystic Class Nona Grey begins to learn the secrets of the universe. But so often even the deepest truths just make our choices harder. Before she leaves the Convent of Sweet Mercy Nona must choose her path and take the red of a Martial Sister, the grey of a Sister of Discretion, the blue of a Mystic Sister or the simple black of a Bride of the Ancestor and a life of prayer and service.

All that stands between her and these choices are the pride of a thwarted assassin, the ambition of a would-be empress wielding the Inquisition like a blade, and the vengeance of the empire’s richest lord.

As the world narrows around her, and her enemies attack her through the system she has sworn to, Nona must find her own path despite the competing pull of friendship, revenge, ambition, and loyalty.

And in all this only one thing is certain.


There will be blood.

Grey Sister comes out in April.

Pre-order it in the US or UK. And mark it to-read on Goodreads!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Retro-active Selfie Stick Award for SPFBO 2015

It's the Retro-active Selfie Stick Award for SPFBO 2015, that's right, the RASSAFSPFBO as it shall be known from this point hence!

Having decided to have an SPFBO award for 2016 (won by Jonathan French), I felt it only fair to extend this back to the first contest in 2015.

So here it is!

The Selfie Stick Award, which is in no way a wand from any popular series of films, will be winging its way to Michael McClung soon.

& as you can see, I bought a copy of the winning book and shall endeavor to read it before I grow too much older!

Friday, 28 July 2017

My path to the published page...

Twenty years ago having recently turned thirty I signed up for an evening class in creative writing. I went once a week for an ninety minute session on a Wednesday night. The whole thing lasted maybe twelve or so weeks.

Google Earth has found the place for me.

The lessons were in a portacabin in the car park. They ran through January, February and March. I never took my coat off. The structure marked with the arrow in the next shot may well be where they were held, but given the intervening twenty years ... probably not.

Anyway. The teacher was a lady called Ann Palmer and she covered a wide range of basics. All the useful stuff such as point of view, head hopping, info dumping, description, getting to the point etc as well as practical matters such as casing your market.

After the course finished I was inspired. I went away a wrote a bad fantasy book. A year or two after that I wrote an OK fantasy book. And a year after that I wrote Prince of Thorns.

I discovered Ann Palmer on the internet recently and listened to a podcast interview. She mentioned that she had had a guy in one of her classes that spent the whole time doodling, filling sheets of paper. It was, apparently, the only way he could concentrate on what she was saying.

It set her to thinking about the connection between imagination and imagery, and after some years researching the psychology of the thing she went on to write a book about visualization, imagery and imagination.

I was the doodler. I doodled my way through every meeting, lecture and presentation I've ever attended. It's nice that we both set each other writing books.

In real life (as Lemony Snicket teaches us) stories have no beginning and no end. I didn't one day out of the blue decide to go to an evening class in creative writing.

In nursery school (age 3ish) I told the other children a story about a crocodile in the toilet and they were too afraid to use it.

When I was in primary school I used to write stories for class. I have a vivid memory of one teacher being very impressed with a story of mine and telling me to read it to the class. I refused, leading to a long stand-off. I guess even then I was firmly in the writers' camp rather than the performers' camp.

In 1977 I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons. Before long I was writing dungeons for my friends to adventure in.

 Image result for men and magic

In 1985 I picked up a flier for a fantasy play-by-mail game. I started playing and after I finished my first degree I worked as one of the games masters for the game. There were five or six of us and we worked in a dilapidated office above a garage in the red light district in Southampton.

On the day I arrived a car full of men pulled alongside me in the street and asked if I could sell them heroin. There were prostitutes on all the street corners and some of the houses literally had red lights in the windows.

I wrote replies (turns) to the players in my area, building parts of an interactive fantasy story involving a thousand or more people.

I kept doing this in my spare time for a decade and made tens of thousands of pounds (at a terrible hourly rate). This was the first time I was paid for writing fiction.

In 2001 I moved to America (tripling my salary! scientists are paid shit in the UK) and no longer had time to keep my area of Saturnalia going. To scratch my creative itch I joined some online writing groups and started writing short stories, then wrote that 2nd book I mentioned. Then around 2003 I started writing Prince of Thorns.

I sold my first short story in 2004.

My first book was published in 2011.

I sold my millionth book in 2015.