Thursday 28 June 2012

Needy? Writers?

From A.Writer to  A.Reader:

Dear Reader,
                         Many thanks for reading my book. It took me a long time to write and I know you spent many hours with it. I hope some of the characters and moments stay with you a long time after you closed the back cover.

I very much appreciate the 8% royalty that will come my way. You owe me nothing.

However. Do you know how many authors don’t care about their ratings on Amazon? How many don’t read the comments made? How many never check on Goodreads, or Barnes and Noble, or Google books, or Shelfari, or even libraryThing? Me either, but I bet it’s not a big number. Bottom line – if you spend a few moments writing a few words to say you liked my book, I will notice. It will make a difference to me. Consider it a thank you. Consider it a gift. Consider it charity. But consider it!

I think more letters of complaint are written in the world than thank you notes. If somebody or something riles us, we’re apt to kick up a fuss. When a book rubs someone the wrong way they’re likely to spend quite a while telling the world exactly how bad it is. When a book delivers exactly what we want ... we’re happy to move on and say no more.

So this is an open letter from Writing to Reading. Don’t ever think the writing side isn’t interested in your opinion and don’t ever think a kind word in the right place isn’t appreciated.

Thank you.

Monday 25 June 2012


Even though I'm not writing Jorg any more I still get, bubbling into my head, lines that he might say. I call these 'Jorg-isms' and I've started to collect them. Maybe they'd look good on a T-shirt :) Maybe those T-shirts will be bonus prizes in The-Stupidly-Huge-Giveaway-that-you-need-to-enter...


I find that if you don't let go of the stone you can kill as many birds as you like with it. #Jorgism

All of it is never enough. #Jorgism

If the meek get to inherit the whole fecking earth then we may as well kick them about a bit while we have the chance. #Jorgism

You're either part of the solution or small bloody chunks of the problem. #Jorgism

There's my way or the h... wait, no... there's just my way. #Jorgism

Two head-carts are better than one. #Jorgism 

A friend in need is a friend that bleeds. #Jorgism

Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can cut. Suitably pointed, even a lowly adjective can push someone over the edge. #Jorgism

Some see the glass half-full, some half-empty, I see a weapon - half-formed, cutting edges waiting to be freed. #Jorgism

Tuesday 19 June 2012

The Stupidly Huge Giveaway

In honour of the people who have liked my work, and to celebrate the imminent release of King of Thorns I have decided to do a stupidly huge giveaway.

Item 1 - a 14" x 10" x 1/2" canvas-on-frame print of the King of Thorns map.

Item 2 - a 15oz mug sporting the Prince of Thorns and King of Thorns covers on opposite sides.

Item 3 - A signed trade paperback Prince of Thorns (white cover) (a present for a loved one?)

Item 4 - A signed mass market paperback (black cover) (your stunt copy?)

Item 5 - A hardback mint condition A Dance With Dragons, signed and dated by GRRM (I love the series but I have a copy and I'm not a book collector)

Item 6 (not shown) - A signed, dated, doodled copy of King of Thorns (these regularly sell for £60/$90 on the site I do them for)

And all this can be yours if you win the competition!

Competition Rules:

To enter IDEALLY you need to make a video (camera phone is fine) of you, or you and a friend, or you and several friends, reading &/or acting out any scene or page from Prince of Thorns. The scene should be more than 20 seconds and less than 3 minutes. Puppets, claymation, lego, plush toys etc are all also valid actors.

HOWEVER - The deafening silence has spooked me into declaring that absolutely ANYTHING is a valid entry for this contest. Photo of your granny? Fine. Poem you wrote when you were 6? Sure. Interesting rock that looks a bit like an apple? Go for it. All entries will be subject to a vote. Winner takes all (excepting the bonus prizes). Mail me the thing &/or link to it and you're in.

There may not be many entries. It's possible you could win by reading 20 seconds' worth of page 1 with a bag on your head.

There may be several entries. It's possible the winner will have three friends with plastic swords doing the Chella-Nuban-Jorg scene in French accents.

All entries will be put on display and voted on. The winner gets the prize. There may be consolation prizes.

To enter - send me your entry or a link to it. If you're sending it to me it needs to be less than 20 megabytes. (

Go for it! Have fun! Don't leave me with zero entries or ... I'll look like Billy NoMates.

Entries by July 10th please.


Here's an example of the staggeringly high production values we at TSHG demand:

or try here if blogspot denies you:

Thursday 14 June 2012

You can’t have magic _AND_ science … wait, what?

The idea that magic and science are incompatible is oft repeated, for example in this paraphrase of commentary on Prince of Thorns :

I also can’t understand a novel that decides to try and be almost science fictiony but still uses magic and never even tries making it all at sciencey or even gives the slightest explanation. Mr Lawrence, you cannot have it both ways!  You can’t have your cake and eat it too!

This is stupid for so many very different reasons.

We’re told that God doesn’t require us to believe in him. This goes double for science. Step off that cliff and you’re going to drop, Road-Runner, whether you happen to know the equations for gravitational attraction or not.

If magic is incompatible with science then it’s incompatible with _everything_. If magic is governed by a set of rules that can be deduced and described … then it _is_ science.

Item 1: Science is not technology. It’s simply a successful approach to analysis.

Perhaps people who think science is incompatible with magic (in books or elsewhere) really mean that technology is incompatible with magic? After all at no point did anyone in Prince of Thorns sit down and start ‘doing science’. So it’s technology that’s incompatible? Our friend up-post doesn’t think you can have a space rocket and a fireball-flinging magician?

Item 2: Everything is technology.

When our ape-like ancestors picked up a rock and used it to open a nut (any kind you like) … that was technology starting. It’s been a gradual and continuous process since then. Fire, bronze, iron, printing, computers etc … all technology. There’s no sudden ‘switch on’ point between wheel and light-bulb where it flips into being ‘technology’.

Our friend above presumably doesn’t cry foul if the magician in the story where he permits magic to be mentioned is wearing clothes or rides in a cart? So where does technology reach the point where it precludes magic? Is clockwork a step too far? Does magic fail if we refine petroleum? Is it electricity that causes the problem? It all seems a bit arbitrary and frankly … stupid (have I said that already?).

So … the final implication was if there was some ‘science’ then it must be used to explain the ‘magic’ … even if the character observing both the ‘science’ and the ‘magic’ understands neither, draws no distinction between them and calls them both magic? Meh.

Now we’ve face-palmed that one let me address a second bugbear.

Interview Question 7 (from at least 20 interviews so far – albeit not always Q#7): You’re a scientist – you should be writing science-fiction. Why aren’t you writing science-fiction… you monster? Quit tramping over our magic swords with your dirty scientist boots!

Ok well it’s not posed quite like this but you get the picture. It’s not unreasonable for the interview to pick up on some of the scant info offered in my author-blurb and frame a question around it . . . but when you’ve answered the question as often as I have you start to think more deeply about what prompted it.

All the other authors who get interviewed have (or have had) a day job. I’m willing to bet that none of them wrangle unicorns for a living or polish dragon scales or struggle to perfect the lightning bolt spell, so none of them are particularly aimed at fantasy by their training. Moreover some of them will be lawyers, doctors, policemen, farmers or have had romantic moments with members of the opposite or same sex whatever, and might be asked ‘why don’t you write romances/legal thrillers/detective stories/medical mysteries etc’ but generally ARE NOT asked that.

All this leads me to suspect that the question is driven by the aforementioned belief that science and fantasy are somehow more incompatible than ‘anything else’ and magic, and that scientists themselves will not be interested in / good at ‘fantasy’. The notion that a scientist might be better equipped to write science fiction than a non-scientist obviously is a motivator too. However, a large chunk of science fiction on offer could well have been written by people who had simply read or watched a bunch of the stuff. After all – science fiction is very often incompatible with science. If it wasn’t it would be called SCIENCE.

So to conclude – before I call anyone stupid again – Science is not technology and neither of them preclude magic any more than does say ... biology, or ice-cream, or rocks, or swords.

Monday 11 June 2012

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly (part ii)

So last year I made an early round-up of Prince of Thorns reviews as a reference/aid/thing-to-do, and here I am doing it again!

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (part i)

King of Thorns is a hard book to review without spoilers. Myself, I love to read book reviews but I save them until after I've read the book. Here I've marked the more spoiler-heavy reviews - it's in no way a criticism of them, just a helper to interested parties. I'll update the list as reviews come in until ... I get bored of doing it :) 

Reviews are listed in chronological order

The Good


Civilian Reader

Ranting Dragon (some spoilers)

Functional Nerds

Mark Timmony - Postcards from the Emerald City

Shattered Ravings

SFF World

Book Monkey


Elitist Book Reviews

Staffer's Book Reviews

RT Magazine

Another Book Review

Gilder's Getaway

Cannon Ball Read 4

Fixed on Fantasy

The Streetlight Reader

Terry C Simpson

Fantasy Opinion

Fantasy Book Critic

Lynns Books

The Bad

The Ugly