Saturday, 18 December 2021

A Year In Numbers ... Eleven!

For 9 of the last 11 years I've said: "It has been a very good 20** all told!".

2020 & 2021 ... hmmm ... Not so much. My books have done fine, but this year I've also spent 40 days and 40 nights in hospital with my youngest daughter during a pandemic that won't stop. And since on 4 of those visits she had septicemia and was close to dying, it wasn't much fun. She's been doing much better for the last three months though.

This post follows up from similar posts at the same time in 202020192018201720162015201420132012 and 2011 I record a year of ups and less ups. I take a minute to do the sums and raid the scrapbook.

This year I joined Patreon - which has been great fun so far. It's a platform that allows readers to support authors directly and encourages more exchange. We have a Discord that gets a lot of chat, and each Patreon tier comes with perks, which can be anything from book plates, and free stories, to free signed books and writing consults. I currently have 86 patrons - many thanks!

Since Prince of Thorns turned 10 this year, I'll be doing a smidgen of looking in the rear view mirror.

The Girl And The Mountain came out in 2021 and has been well received. 

Folks seem to like it on Amazon, where it's an editor's pick.

And here's the special editions from Anderida books with an art plate!

April 2022 sees the third and final instalment:

Pre-order for the win (US or UK)! 

Some non-terrible 2021 news is that there's interest in making a TV show out of One Word Kill - so watch this space!

10th anniversary editions of Prince of Thorns are available for pre-order!

They're signed & numbered.

In the US you can order a leather-bound deluxe copy with internal art from original cover artist Jason Chan. An object of beauty!

In the UK you can order a hardback edition with a short Jorg story, and an afterword from me. These editions are at very different price points and are very different beasts - but both are great ways to celebrate Jorg at 10 and have his story in a beautiful book.

Lies, damn lies, and statistics to follow:

I'm passed a million "books added" on Goodreads. Those are crazy numbers!

Prince of Thorns passed 100,000 ratings in 2021 and I gave away a copy of the (sold out) Broken Empire omnibus to celebrate! 

I've decided to stop posting the Amazon ratings as they're getting a bit dull.

The blog is bumping along around 1,000 hits a day - which isn't terrible - should hit 4 million in total in 2022.

I'm still on InstagramPintrest, and Tumblr

And finally, as ever, our favourite cesspit of witch hunts and fake news: Twitter, where I continue my crawl forward with an extra 2,200 followers this year, same as last year.

Many thanks to all my readers for keeping me going! I hope you all have happy holidays and that 2022 is much much better for all of us!

 Join my Patreon.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Prince of Thorns - 10th Anniversary Edition - UK!


Today's big news is that as of 12 noon (GMT) the Broken Binding 10th anniversary special edition of Prince of Thorns went up for pre-order!

There are two very different - but both excellent - Prince of Thorns special editions. International postage with robust packaging + tracking + insurance is sadly VERY expensive.

Broken Binding's UK edition is going to help out all those Brits who complain about the postage from the US.

These two special editions not only ship from different continents, they are at very different price points, and necessarily different beasts.

Broken Binding edition - printed in the UK
Numbered = 1000 copies, signed, hardback, sprayed edges, includes afterword and new Jorg short story (a short short story).    Cost £30 on pre-order. 

Lettered = 52 copies - as above, plus lined and dated.     Cost £50.

Grim Oak Press edition - printed in the US:
Numbered = 750 copies, double signed (author & artist), leather-bound foiled cover, embossed & foiled dust jacket, sewn in ribbon, and internal art by original cover artist Jason Chan.      Costs $150 on pre-order.

Lettered = 52 copies, as above plus slip cased.     Cost $500 - sold out within 60 seconds.

Hopefully between these two offerings most collectors are catered to!

Friday, 10 December 2021

My Reading In 2021

 2021 has not been a bumper year reading-wise but I did manage one more than last year's 9 books.

Since my current read, Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, is a long book and I've lots to do this month, I really don't think I'll finish it this year. Thus you're getting this post now rather than the traditional start of January. 

I know some bloggers devour 200 or even 300 books in a year. I've no idea how. But I do like the fact that I can remember what happened in the books I've read, and I doubt that would be possible if I read ten times as many.

Here's a link to my reading in 2020. I've been doing this a while so you can step back quite a way.

As ever, every headline links to my review of the book on Goodreads. 

Presented in chronological order, most recent read first.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Why I hate charity.

 OK, so the title is click-bait, but it's also relevant since without the explanation provided by this blog post (and perhaps even with it) hating charity is likely what I would often be accused of.

When you have a cause that is dear to your heart it is human nature to seek ways to promote it - give it the attention it deserves - encourage the public to help solve the problem. I get that. I have, in the past, looked at the 10 million followers of a pop star and thought: It would be great if I could get them to help push this drive I'm making to collect money for the hospice for disabled children that I support. I mean ... it would just be a button push for them to retweet me, and I'm sure they don't HATE DISABLED CHILDREN or WANT THEM TO SUFFER. Surely there's no reason they wouldn't do it.

And yet, when you look at the social media feed of pop stars, film stars, etc ... they're rarely full of charity appeals. In fact, they're generally wholly absent. Are these fat cats so divorced from the hardships of real life that they don't care?

Let them eat cake!

Students of my social media will be aware that I have on many occasions (but not frequently) made efforts to raise money for Children's Hospices South West, and that over the years we've given them between us tens of thousands of dollars/pounds.

Why then would I be so selfish as to refuse to publicize the next worthy cause that someone reaches out to me about? I mean I don't have 10 million twitter followers, but I have 0.3% of that (30,000), and followings of the same order of magnitude on some other platforms.

Imagine, your friend / brother / mother / child has suffered some calamity and needs to raise money - or you've just realized that the atmosphere is on fire or the gorilla population is crashing. The urgent need would give you license to overcome any social embarrassment and to ask me to join the cause.

I'm not mocking or belittling any of these hypothetical or real emergencies - they are are variously every bit as important to the world &/or individual as mine are to me.

Here's the thing:


1. Why do I have a social media following?

- people follow me because I write fantasy books they like, and because I post mildly amusing banter about the stuff I banter about.

2. Why do people only try to conscript me to their charity causes every week instead of ten times a day?

- people very rarely see me posting charity stuff

- people never see me posting other people's charity stuff

3. What would happen if I retweeted your charity post &/or boosted it across my social media?

- people would suddenly think that their charity need/cause was just as valid as the one I'd just boosted for someone else

4. Having boosted one charity cause, how would I say no to the next person to ask? Would I tell them that their sick sister was less valuable than the other person's injured baby? Or that their drowning polar bears were less worthy than the other person's ailing koalas?

- really, how would I? what sort of reaction would I get?

5. What would happen if I said yes to them all?

- And here's the kicker. That thing that you would like (quite reasonably) to take advantage of for your great cause - the modest but genuine attention I could draw to it - that thing is entirely dependent on my posting the content I post. If my twitter feed started to fill up with charity appeals the sad fact is that people would just stop paying attention to it. They know the world is full of valid needs and good causes - they don't follow me for that. They would unfollow, mute, look away, and the social media presence that I've worked on for a decade and that I need to prolong my writing career ... that would be rapidly spent, gone, and not even of use to the charities I was tweeting about.

6. Surely, Mark, you're overstating all this. You could find a compromise - just support the best ones...?

- Arrrrgggghhhh. 

- No. The moment I get behind one thing, the very next person (and it won't take a week this time, it will take an hour, tops) will point directly at that thing and open with "I saw you tweeting to help this sick child / endangered species / great campaign, so I'm sure you'd love to help with my sick child / endangered species / great campaign. 

- And within days I'm the guy who is either hourly posting charity appeals or hourly saying to people (this is how they will hear it) "That last appeal was more important than your sick child / endangered species / great campaign, but please keep on buying my books."

Friday, 5 November 2021

The Visitor - now free!


Free on Amazon


This is a very personal story since it's my attempt to give my severely disabled youngest child some representation in fantasy. Disability is uncompromising, it gets in your face, it can be loud, awkward, hard to deal with, and society has spent centuries hiding it away, incarcerating it in out-of-sight facilities, locking it somewhere it can be ignored. It doesn't fit the traditional tales of charming princes and problems that, like dragons, can be overcome with a well-placed lance thrust.

George RR Martin asked me to contribute a story to the first UK-based entry in the long-running Wild Cards series, an effort that has occupied four decades of writing time, and rather longer than that in the story universe. This was my story. It appears in Knaves Over Queens. Three years later, after an epic struggle with Kindle Direct Publishing, I've put it up on its own, for free!

No prior knowledge of the Wild Cards universe is required. The story stands alone. I hope it will also tempt you to explore the worth of the scores of other authors in this collective effort.

A follow-up story, The Visitor: Kill or Cure, is free on the website.

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

New stories to buy - Nona, Jalan, Snorri!

 As a consequence of my hard-fought victory over Kindle Direct Publishing, I have two new offerings on Amazon!

The first is a collection called The Devil You Know.

These three stories are bundled together for arcane reasons concerning Amazon's royalties structure - they are not connected. The stories are:
The Devil You Know - A Book of the Ancestor short story that has never appeared before. It's set immediately after the end of book 1, Red Sister.
The Hero of Aral Pass - A Red Queen's War short story that sheds more light on the events in Aral Pass that made Jalan Kendeth into a hero. Primarily focused on events before book 1, Prince of Fools, but the framing story is set after the trilogy concludes. This story first appeared in the anthology Art of War.
A Thousand Years - A Red Queen's War story that concerns Snorri and Tuttugu when they were just starting out as young warriors. The events happened ~20 years before the start of book 1, Prince of Fools. This story first appeared in the anthology Unfettered III.



The second item is The Visitor, my first contribution to George RR Martin's Wild Cards universe and appeared in book 26, Knaves Over Queens.
It works well as a stand alone and I'm proud of it for several reasons, not least that it gives some fantasy representation to people like my daughter, Celyn. I wanted it to get a wider readership, and hopefully some of you will follow it into Wild Cards afterwards.
The only thing you need to know is that Wild Cards is set in our world, and an alien virus has been infecting people in rare outbreaks. It kills 90% of victims, makes ugly monsters of 9% (Jokers) and gives 1% random superpowers (Aces).
Note: I'm trying to make this story free and I'll let everyone know if/when that happens (Amazon make this difficult). For the moment it's 99 cents (£0.77).
Goodreads listing
There's a free sequel on (see Goodreads listing)