Category: The Plains of Kallanash

Starting all over again: new book, new genre, new pen-name

Starting all over again: new book, new genre, new pen-name

When I first became a self-published author, I was right at the very bottom of the pecking order, in author terms. I had no previous published history with a major or independent publisher. I’d never had a short story published in a magazine. I had no fanbase, no mailing list, and my blog had maybe three people following along. I’d hung around the forum at Kboards (the Writers’ Cafe), for a while, so I knew a little bit about starting out. I knew enough to get a professional quality cover, for instance, although not enough to know what sort of cover was needed (luckily, my cover designer did, and came up with a great set of well-branded and striking covers). I knew to have other eyes look at my work before tossing it up on Amazon. I paid a proofreader to tidy up my wayward punctuation. But there was so […]

Authors Answer 14: When coming up with a new story, what comes first, the character or the plot?

Authors Answer 14: When coming up with a new story, what comes first, the character or the plot?

The character, always. Most of my books have started in a very simple way, with a character in a situation. Then I start looking around for more details of the setting, more characters, the background to the situation. Then, and only then, do I let the characters loose and see what sort of plot develops. I always think it must be tidier to start with the plot, to know that event A is succeeded by event B and so on, right down to the grand finale of event Z, and then construct characters that will show that plot off to best advantage. Such a system leads to properly rounded character arcs, and neat resolutions, and pivotal moments that occur at precisely 37.5% of the way through. Properly structured stories must be built this way, I assume. It’s just not the way I work. For example, The Plains of Kallanash was […]

One day only! 60 science fiction and fantasy books FREE!

One day only! 60 science fiction and fantasy books FREE!

UPDATE: The promotion is officially over, but many of these books are still free, so it’s worth checking out. Just be sure that the book you want is still free before downloading. Yes, folks, for today only (Tuesday 3rd November) you can download up to 60 scifi and fantasy novels completely FREE, all either the first in a series or standalone. One of my favourite authors, Australian Glenda Larke, has made The Aware free for the occasion, book 1 of the Isles of Glory. I loved her Stormlords Trilogy and the standalone Havenstar, so I’m looking forward to reading this one, which was shortlisted for the Aurealis Awards. Here’s the blurb: “A halfbreed’s search for a mysterious slave woman leads her to a lawless land of dark dunmagic and an evil that poses a threat to all the Isles of Glory.” There are lots of other great reads available, from […]

Update on the self-publishing fantasy blog-off (#SPFBO)

You may remember me mentioning some months ago that Mark Lawrence (author of The Broken Empire series) had organised a competition for self-published authors. He rounded up ten well-known bloggers who review fantasy, and sent each of them a ‘slush pile’ of 25 self-published books submitted by their authors. All the bloggers had to do was to work through their pile, just as an agent would, reading as much or as little of each as they wished, and choose just one book to put forward as their champion for a second round. Each of those ten would then be read by all the bloggers, who would award points and thereby a winner would be chosen. I submitted The Plains of Kallanash, and the blogger it was assigned to was Sarah Chorn of Bookworm Blues. With the end of the first phase in sight, she’s now read all her 25 books, […]

Writing update

There seems to have been a lot going on lately, what with the launch of The Mages of Bennamore, various other promotions, and the ongoing projects of the next book, and the one after that. So here’s a quick rundown on the state of play. Weekend promotions This weekend (6th and 7th June) two of my three books are specially priced. The Plains of Kallanash is at $0.99 (US/UK Amazons only, sadly) and The Fire Mages is free in all Amazons worldwide. This is a great opportunity to complete your collection if you haven’t already got all three books. Click the links to take you to your local Amazon to buy. The Mages of Bennamore Release date was 15th May, with 34 pre-orders and a nice little surge of sales to get things underway. Then I had a week of promotion set up – paid advertising every day, with the […]

Some Blog-Off News

In a recent blog post, I talked about Mark Lawrence’s brilliant idea to throw a slush-pile of self-published work at ten intrepid bloggers, and leave them to find just one from their twenty five to recommend. All ten bloggers would then read and review all the ten finalists. The bloggers have been sifting through their slush-piles, and deciding how to tackle their task. Some have picked at random, some have chosen by cover/blurb/title (the time-honoured method), one has divided her pile into more manageable piles of five. The first reviews are trickling in. All the details are on Mark’s blog. But there was an unexpected development. Another blogger, J R Karlsson of, decided to join the fun, by looking at the entire pile of 250+ books. Quite a challenge! He eliminated some that he’d read already, or were on the site’s ‘recommended’ list. He eliminated some more on the […]

The great self-published blog-off

Following some discussion about the difficulties of promotion for self-published authors, Mark Lawrence, author of the Broken Empire series, came up with a great idea: get some established fantasy bloggers lined up, and throw self-published books at them, 25 apiece, with a six month window to work through their ‘slush pile’ and find just one book to promote. The chosen books would then be looked at by all the bloggers and rated, to produce an overall winner. Mark threw the idea out into the blogosphere, chose 10 bloggers from the many who volunteered, accepted submissions from self-published authors, randomly assigned each to a blogger and sat back to watch the fun. Now, I’m not big on competitions, and writing competitions, in particular, seem to be more subjective than most. However, the opportunity to have my book at least looked at by a blogger who wouldn’t normally even consider a self-published […]

Magic in the Brightmoon world

With ‘The Fire Mages’ now out, I thought it might be interesting to look at the way magic is used in the book, and compare it with magic in ‘The Plains of Kallanash’. WARNING: slight spoiler for ‘The Fire Mages’ at the end. ‘The Fire Mages’ is set in the realm of Bennamore. Magic is invoked by the use of spellpages: a trained scribe writes out the words of a spell using magically imbued paper, pen and ink. A special script is used, with many flourishes and symbolic additions to each letter, which can subtly modify the spell, for instance to change the strength, to add constraints or expand it. The spellpage is then burnt in a crucible, with an invocation to the gods: “By the sun, bring light and fire and colour; by the moon, enable the darkness.” The Bennamorians believe that the gods are the final arbiters of […]

‘The Plains of Kallanash’: another promotion

With ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ nearing the end of its first 90-day run in Amazon’s KDP Select, I had three more free days to use up. I chose Wed to Fri 3rd/4th/5th December for no good reason, other than I’d picked a weekend last time, and it seemed a good idea to try something different. The first 2 free days, back in October, were a modest success, with almost 800 downloads with only one paid promotion site (Bknights, $20), although resulting in no additional sales or reviews. This time, I thought I would experiment by paying a little more to promotion sites, and see if the combined effect helps. Each promotion site features the book on a combination of bulk emails to subscribers, websites and Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and so on. My expectations weren’t high; I hoped for 2,000 downloads overall. Here’s what I booked: Day 1: BKnights ($20), […]

‘The Plains of Kallanash’: FREE for 3 days

Yes, folks, epic fantasy adventure ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ is now free at all Amazons from Wednesday 3rd December 2014 until Friday 5th December 2014. Pick up a copy from your local Amazon by clicking the link on the right – it takes you to your own Amazon. If you’ve already bought Kallanash – thanks! Why not tell your friends about it, too? Enjoy!