Thursday 4 July 2024

Special Edition News!

Grim Oak Press are following up on their spectacular leatherbound, signed and numbered, illustrated 10th anniversary limited editions for the individual books of The Broken Empire by doing the same thing for The Red Queen's War trilogy, starting with Prince of Fools!

The new covers and internal art are all by the original cover artist, Jason Chan.

Here's a piece of the artwork - check the link for more!

Wednesday 19 June 2024


This blogpost is along the lines of a Public Information Broadcast. It's intended to explain, not to cast shade. We've all got to hustle in the writing business.

When you're looking at books, thinking about your next read, you may have noticed quite how many "bestsellers" and "award-winning" books there are out there. 

It often seems like every man/woman and their dog has written an international bestselling award-winner of a book. Which takes away from these words any discriminatory power they might have possessed.

I had an experience recently which puts some context around this idea of "bestselling".

I self-publish short stories on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which puts them onto Amazon for sale. I was experimenting to see what it would look like if I published one under a different name - would there be any detectable ties to "Mark Lawrence", so I put out a novella I'd written a while back, a children's story.

I was also interested to see how a book by a new author would fare if they (I) did absolutely nothing to promote the book. So, I didn't mention this novella to anyone.

For 2 months there were no sales at all. Zero.

Then in the 3rd month one copy sold!

In the 4th month I noticed that the copy had sold. (for $0.99).

I went onto (where the sale happened) and saw to my great surprise that despite a month having passed, the book was ranked #77 in the sales category "Children's Other Folk Tales & Myths".

I was a "bestseller" on the back of one sale a month ago. And these sales ranks 'decay' rapidly, so when it happened the ranking would have been considerably higher. 

Another week has passed and that single sale 5 weeks ago still has the book ranked in the top 100 in the category. It has a top 100 best seller rank on Amazon ... it is a best seller!

My book may be ranked 878,460th in the Kindle Store overall, but like most books, a subcategory can be found in which it ranks in the top 100. I sold one copy and forever more I can call it a bestselling children's book. 

And that's it. Just a bit of trivia for you. Why are there so many bestsellers? It's not because the authors are just making it up. They genuinely are bestsellers in some sense. It's just that Amazon makes everyone a winner.

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Tuesday 4 June 2024

Cymera Festival 2024

I went to a fantasy book convention!

I was interviewed. And then again on stage - an actual stage with lights and backdrops and everything!

The Cymera Festival's in the heart of Edinburgh - a wonderful little city - and I had a great time. Hopefully, I'll go next year too.

Here are some photos to inspire you to turn up.

First, a shot from Armchair Books - the best secondhand bookshop I've seen! Easy walking distance from the festival site. Sadly, none of my books there - or I'd have signed them.

I signed books in the Waterstones on Princess Street.

In Blackwells they actually had my book in the window - something I've only ever seen once before (Prince of Thorns, back in 2011!)

I signed a ton of books for them - a great shop. Go grab some of them!

I did an interview with Marco from Page One Pod Cast on the Saturday in the smaller venue.

And on the Sunday it was an interview where author (& SPFBO champion) Justin Lee Anderson interviewed me and debut author Gareth Brown (his novel The Book of Doors is doing brilliantly).

And afterwards we signed books for all takers - it was great to meet so many reader. I guess my stay-at-home-iness has led to a backlog of my books out there waiting to be signed!

So yes, had a great time. Might see you there next year!

Saturday 11 May 2024

SPFBOX phase 1

This is the allocation of SPFBO 10 books to blogs.

Visit the homepage for all the background.

There may be some further swapping & replacement, but the list is largely settled.

First, some demographics (from the all the entries, not just the randomly selected 300)

The traditional word-cloud made from all the titles of all this year's submissions:

Here are some factoids about this year's entries:
(taken from this list very helpfully compiled by Lukasz Przywoski.)

6 have 1,000+ ratings on Goodreads (2 last year)
50 have 100+ ratings on Goodreads (30 last year)
80 have 50+ ratings on Goodreads (56 last year)

Here are the high-rollers:

Here are the 6 oldest books in this year's contest. Gabriel's Journey has been a long one ... 21 years, collecting 6 ratings along the way.

And here are the chonkers - we have 6 books with 700+ pages


Qing's Quest is reviewed on Before We Go Blog.

The Covers With Cassidy team review 4 books.

Rites of Passage is reviewed on Before We Go Blog.

Before We Go Blog kicks off with a review of Legacy's Price.

A semi-finalist is announced on Queen's Book Asylum.

KittyG reviews A Heart of Bones.

Surviving Westcliff is reviewed by Philip Chase's team.

Two more cuts on Queen's Book Asylum.

Fantasy Book Critic select the first semi-finalist for SPFBOX.

Wings So Soft is reviewed by Kitty G.

Queen's Book Asylum brings us more cuts.

What The Echoes Say is Kitty G's 2nd review for SPFBOX.

First blood is VERY swiftly followed by six cuts on Fantasy Book Critic.

First blood to Queen's Book Asylum. Two cuts.

The Weatherwax Report reviews Treachery of Ravens.

Crimson Spellscape is reviewed on The Weatherwax Report.

Jay on Captured In Words introduces his 30 books - his SPFBO debut.

The Weatherwax Report reviews The Children of Never.

Born of Scourge is reviewed by Kitty G.

Esme continues to stage the SPFBO as a one-woman show. A review of City of Rain on The Weatherwax Report.

 Fogbound is reviewed on The Weatherwax Report.

The Weatherwax Report reviews The Light Must Hold.

278 of 300 books still in the running.

We have 2 semi-finalists.

We have 0 finalists.

Red is cut

+ (& bolding) indicates semi-finalist

Green for the finalists.

Kay Malady                                 If The Walls Fall

Shelby Elizabeth                         Lady of Dragons

Justin Doyle                                 Embargo on Hope

Louise Holland                         Spark of the Divine

Hiyodori                                         The Forest at the Heart of Her Mage

Dianna Gunn                                 Moonshadow's Guardian

C.S Doraga                                     Defy

Julia Vee                                         Stakes and Bones

Miriam Yvette                                 Seeds of the Fallen

Stephen Harrington                         The Youngling

M.J. Lindemann                         The Will of the World

Adam Gaffen                                 The Book of One

Patrick Dugan                                 The Ashen Orb Bounty

Astrid V.J                                 The Apprentice Storyteller

Sam Paisley                                 The Winds of Change

A.M. Colwell                                 The White Mask Society

Y. R. Liu                                         Hallowed

T.B. Schmid & R.Wade Hodges Beyond the Burning Sea

Stefanie Chu                                 Knights of the Alliance

Samantha Shaye                         The Fall of Ahilon

Rachel Ford                                 Bone Traders

Natalie Northwood                         After Silence

Paolo Danese                                 Path of the Guardian

Armanis Ar-feinial                         The Plagued Elf

Jason P. Crawford                         Dragon Princess

A. K. Caggiano                         Throne in the Dark

Erin Grunke                                 King's Imitation

Bri Eberhart                                 Strangers in Our Heads

Kit Campbell                                 Hidden Worlds

Ivor K. Hill                                 The First Scars

Fantasy Book Critic

Lauretta Hignett                         Susan, You're The Chosen One

Claire Trella Hill                         Black and Deep Desires

Shannon Knight                         Wish Givers

Dr. S.K. Burkman                         Wings and Wounds

Kat Kinney                                 Light My Pyre

R. Litfin                                         The Lost Noble

Isa Medina                                 Good Bad Witch

Nerine Dorman & Toby Bennett The Serpent's Quest

Jan Foster                                 Destiny Awaiting

Cara N. Delaney                         Tomb of Heart and Shadow

S.J. Stiles                                 The Song of Thyssia

Ian Haramaki                                 Mercy

Adrian M. Gibson                         Mushroom Blues

Tar Atore                                         Soultaming the Serpent

Nia Quinn                                 Sigils & Sushi

Ella Walker Henderson                 Of Wind and Lightning

Jaq D Hawkins                         To Dance With Dragons

Karen Lucia                                 Landbringer

Christopher Clouser                 The Unspoken Truths of Casemiro

Alex Shipper                                 Woe to the Stargazers

William I. Zard                         Metamancer

John Champaign                         Dimensional Traveler

Ciara Hartford                         The House of Starling +

K.C. Smith                                 The Cursed Soul

DC Guevara                                 A Vermilion Curse

M. Verant                                 Miss Bennet's Dragon

R.R Echevarria                         Searlight

Freddie A. Clark                         Umbra: Tales of a Shadow

E.V. Belknap                                 The tenfold tenants

Sean O'Boyle                                 The Ballad of Sprikit The Bard (And Company)

Lynn's Books + The Critiquing Chemist

Yves Donlon                                 Smile and be a Villain

Arista Holmes                                 Changeling

Brian Gardner                                 Ohlegan's Treasure: Search for the Runes

Ceril N Domace                         Fortitude's Prize

Sithia Queen                                 Tabby Swain

S. K. Kelley                                 Sidetracked

Delaney Green                         Jem, a Girl of London

R.M. Schultz                                 Through Blood and Dragons

Michelle Manus                         A Song to Wake a Thousand Sorrows

A. Trae McMaken                         The Crippled King

Simon Shugar                                 The Wind Walker

E.K. Frances                                 The Hybrid

Steve Hugh Westenra                 The Erstwhile Tyler Kyle

Wil Chan                                         Under an Azure Sky

Emily Huffman                         Rise of the Forgehearts

Anna J Worthy                         Facing Shadows

Ben Schenkman                         My Boss is the Devil

Katy Morgan                                 Dark Empathy

Thalib Razi                                 The Enchanter's Counsel

Rachel Aaron                                 By a Silver Thread

J.E. Lynn                                         The Fate of

Billy Kramer                                 The First Assignment

T.J. Klapprodt                                 Messengers of Ilbeor

Celine Jeanjean                         Touched by Magic

A.E. Engle                                 Darkness of the Northern Sky

David Musk                                 The Lost Redeemer

C. R. Collins                                 Woodspell

Jana Sun                                         Visions of Snapdragon

N.P. Thompson                         River of Crows

Shannon Holly                         The Door to Trilesk

The Weatherwax Report

Noor Al-Shanti                         Isaree of the Wild Isles

Devin Thorpe                                 Blood Lust

Christian Warren Freed                 The Children of Never

Steven D Nickell                         The Treachery of Ravens

Victoria Clapton                         Lurid Lantern

Dave Dobson                                 The Glorious and Epic Tale of Lady Isovar

Mitchell Hill                                 The Awakening

K.D. Tabith                                 Checkmate

Jina S. Bazzar                                 Crimson Spellscape

Phil Williams                                 However Many Must Die

DB Rook                                         Callus & Crow

Mary Stephenson Su                 Cascade of Sparks

Katherine D. Graham                 Splitting Dawn

R. M. Krogman                         Liberation

JPS Marinho                                 Black Dot White

Cordia Pearson                         Iridesce

Alexandra Runes                         The Autumn Apprentice

Camilla Vavruch                         The Lost Wings

Kriss Gallom                                 The Light Must Hold

Marc R. Micciola                         Blood of The Hunted

Yuxiao Chen                                 Legend of Elberkhan

Danielle Paquette-Harvey        Cursed King

J.A. Andrews                                 Runelight

N.J. Alexander                         Fogbound

William Lejeune                         City of Rain

Claudia Klein                                 The Heir

Elizabeth Schechter                 Counsel of the Wicked

John L. Simons Jr.                         The Saga of Bjorn Unfrid

E.M. Zolotor                                 Severed Legacy

Sandell Wall                                 Rumor of Thorns

Before We Go Blog

Robert Day                                 Demon Gates

J E Hannaford                                 Gates of Hope

Dom Sabasti                             Clysm Games: Dark Seeds

Michael Michel                         Way of the Wizard

Raleigh Markovski Falcone         Fragments of Skyonae

Aimee Kuzenski                         Seeds of Inheritance

Isom Ashe                                 Tears of an Indifferent God

William C. Tracy                         Fruits of the Gods

Henrik Saetre                                 Qing's Quest

Scott Warren                                 Oathbreakers Anonymous

Andrew D Meredith                 Quaint Creatures: Magical & Mundane

Stephen Howard                         Beyond Misty Mountain

Eric R. Asher                                 Steamborn

Yvette Bostic                                 Hear My Call

Josh Wright                                 Here There Be Monsters

Tessa Hastjarjanto                         Undine's Blessing

Jasmine K Swinburne                 Princess of the Broken

J. Rokusson                                 The Bones of Prophecy

Karim Soliman                         The Warrior's Path

T. L. Rolston                                 Legacy's Price

David Hopkins                         The Dryad's Crown

Tam Chronin                                 Elemental

M. D. Presley                                 Rites of Passage

Astor Y Teller                                 Them Old Bones

Deborah Jarvis                         Wolves Running

Becca Lee Gardner                         Worldbreaker

Jilleen Dolbeare                         Splintered Magic

Emmanuel Akeyo                         A Night of the Burntmen

Bella Dunn                                 The Dreams Thief

Vaela Denarr & Micah Iannandrea Breaker of Fates

Queen's Book Asylum

Marilyn Peake                                 They Left Magic in Their Wake

Hayley Reese Chow                 The Gatekeeper of Pericael

Kyrie Wang                                 The Thief's Keeper

Craig Montgomery                       A Circle of Stars +

K.C. Woodruff                         Dawn of the Darkest Day

Cate Baumer                                 The Faithful Dark

Alexa Grave                                 Dead As Dreams

J.R. Manga                                 Mother of the Fallen

Jack Long                                 Dango

Jordan Loyal Short                         City in the Dragon's Eye

M. Daniel McDowell                 Bringer of the Scourge

M Zakharuk                                 Imago: A Dystopian Gothic

M. Anthony Harris                         Echoes of Memory

Joan Marie Verba                         Secrets of the Sorcerers

G.J. Terral                                 Bloodwoven

T J Mayhew                                 The Call of the Valkyries

Scarlett Strange                         Chosen

Sharlene Healy                         Of Shadows and Death

E. G. Tudor                                 Where Fate Whispers

Kaden Love                                 Elegy of a Fragmented Vineyard

Joaqu n Baldwin                         Wolf of Withervale

Caitee Cooper                                 Silverskin

Cooper Ward                                 Glory to the Waxing Sun

L Ryan Storms                         Temper the Dark

Stephanie Combs & Valerie Rivers The Stars Would Curse Us

S. C. Eston                                 The Stranger of Ul Darak

Noel Traver                                 Trial of the Berserker

Amanda Adam                         Merewif: the Mermaid Witch

Janna Ruth                                 Ghosts of the Catacombs

Rachanee Lumayno                 Heir of Amber and Fire

Philip Chase

Thomas Perkins                         Surviving Westcliff

Karen McCompostine                 The Handwarmers of Immortality

Dom Watson                                 Smoker on the Porch

Melissa Widmaier                         The Wind at Oak Hollow

Jer Patch                                         The Warhog Paladins

Hayley Price                                 The Vermilion Ribbon

S. M. Radjy                                 Flight of an Orphan Thief

Jay Roland                                 Shadow of the Soul Blade

Antano Sparreboom                 City of the Seventh Moon

Timothy J R Rains                         The Torn Veil

Dewey Conway & Bill Adams The Tenacious Tale of Tanna the Tendersword

Denis James                                 Tobias

Laura Huie                                 The Sunset Sovereign: A Dragon's Memoir

Alex S. Bradshaw                         Trollgrave

C.V. Vobh                                 The Yawning Gap

D.G. Roberts                                 Embers of Dusk

Isaac Hill                                         The Dragon Legion

Lindy Enns                                 When Shadows Fall

Ladz                                         The Fealty of Monsters

BP McCoppin                                 Record of The Paladins: Book Of Oliver

Hannah Steenbock                         South Breaks

M.A. Brown                                 The Songs That Beckon

Shoshana Rain                         The Desert Heiress

Alex Bree                                 The High Seer

Steven McKinnon                         Order of the Shadow Dragon

Nikki McCormack                         Child of Vanris

Shanna Swendson                         Tea and Empathy

Chelsey Ann Tompkins                 A Conduit of Light

El McInerney                                 Soulstealer

F. Malbeck                                 Five Lords of Dusk


Nikola Stefan                                 A Strange Bunch

Alex Evans                                 A Witch's Guide to Business

Suzannah Rowntree                 Tall & Dark

Karyne Norton                         Blood of the Stars

Aaron Renfroe                         Father of Constructs

Calanthe Colt                                 Goddess Found

Flossindune                                 Courier Quest

Gregory Amato                         Burden to Bear

S.F. Henne                                 The Last Lunar Witch

Sebastian Nothwell                         Oak King Holly King

J. L. Doty                                 Dread Child

Jeff Walker                                 The Burning Fire Rises

J.A. Garza                                 The Blood of Houses

Sam Weiss                                 The Afterlife Experiment

Ian V. Conrey                                 Haelend's Ballad

Ash Fitzsimmons                         A Rose Among Thorns

Samuel Gately                         Rematch of the Titans

W. B. Biggs                                 Stone-Cold Alibi

John A. Douglas                         The Black Crown

Marina Finlayson                     Magic on the Cards

Mandy O'Dell                                 Fires of Caprica

Seth Hobbs                                 Millennium of the Ocean Serpent

C. S. Churton                                 Moon Bitten

lan March & Christopher Warman A Contract in Sol Forne

B.L. Brown                                 Ritual Income

M. V. Prindle                                 The Outer Darkness

K.R. Gangi                                 The Oathsworn Legacy

Damien Larkin                         Lizardskin and Sharpened Steel

Jenn Windrow                                 Evil's Unlikely Assassin

Shanti Leonard                         Od and Ed

Kitty G Books

JE Payne                                         A Bastard's Birthright

Kyle Johnson                                 Blood Runs True

Dani Finn                                 Wings so Soft

Lisa Kuznak                                 The Highwayman Kennedy Thornwick

A.J. Rettger                                 Season of Kings

Lily C. Strauss                         A Heart of Bones

B.C. Rico                                 What The Echoes Say

David Hankins                         Death and the Taxman

Bonnie Jacoby                         Dreams of a Dragon Girl

K. Aagard                                 The Hunter

D. Moonfire                                 Flight of the Scions

Day Leitao                                 A Cursed Son

Paul Sating                                 Thornbane the Lost

Elyse Thomson                         Poisoned Empire

S.L. Rowland                                 Cursed Cocktails

S. Jean                                         Born of Scourge

Michael Procopio                         Red Flags

R.W. Hert                                 Demon's Vow

CL Jarvis Dark                                City Rising

Nicolin Odel                                 The Shepherds of the Sunstone

H. H. Miller                                 Tower of Dogs

J. R. Rainville                                 Sneakthief

Stephanie Gillis                         The Humane Society for Creatures & Cryptids

Jenn Lessmann                         Unmagical

Melissa Stone                                 Whisper for Eternity

Ashley Capes                                 A Drifting Sun

Jasmine Young                         A Breaking of Realms

Diana Priyanka Chowdhury         Infinite: Rise of a Rebel

A.J. Ponder                                 Into FaerLand

Walt S. Williams                         Thorns

Captured in Words

Timo Burnham                         Dawn of the Black Sun

Anthony Halligan                         The Best of Us Is the Last of Us

Angelika Rust                                 My Name is not Alice

B. N. Reele                                 A Curse Within The Waves

Sori Aryl Copper                            Cold Steel

J L Odom                                 By Blood, By Salt

Thomas J. Prestopnik                 Gabriel's Journey

R.C. Ballad                                 A Song for Octaven

Karryn Nagel                                 Guarding Gus

Bojan Bilos                                 Forged By Pain

Signe Hart                                 The Kiss of the Sky

Viljami L                                         Gluttony

Jonathan Weiss                         Molten Flux

C. Litka                                         Sailing to Redoubt

Susana Imagin rio                         Oubli 

Rebecca Enzor                         Speak The Ocean

Z.S. Diamanti                                 Stone & Sky

Nicole Brona                                 Obsidian Murders

Autumn Kaufer                         Kingdom of Forgotten Curses

Deborah Makarios                         Amiant Soul

Barbara Cottrell                         Darkness Below

Melinda O'Donnell                         The Eightfold Lairs of Xillenthia

Demetria Meltinos                         Creatures of the Malignant Thicket

Tom Elliot                                 The Grand Game

Katrine Buch Mortensen         The Spark

Vanessa Ricci-Thode                 The Young Necromancer's Guide to Ghosts

Blake & Raven Penn                 Dragon Thief

Raina Nightingale                         Kindred of the Sea

Jeffery A. Smith                         Cthoma's Fated

J.L. Anderson                                 Dual Fires