30 March 2014

Launching a Novel: How it *should* be done!

Today, good friend Stuart Aken launches Book 1 of a trilogy of epic fantasies, A Seared Sky: Joinings. Cracking, luminescent cover, isn't it? And this is just the tip of a gigantic launch iceberg propelled by his publisher.

Fantastic Books Publishing is from Yorkshire UK, whose sights are set on a global market and whose thinking is very much author and reader centric. Social media is not an after-thought; it permeates every thought, yet FBP's products are not digital-only; the paperback launches today, too. Readers in the UK can purchase a signed copy with a personalised message for the same price as offered by Amazon, including p&p. [Other publishers please take note.]

Supported by Twitter, the launch event is taking place on Facebook with both publisher and author at the keyboard chatting to people who drop by. There is a spectacular book trailer, supported by video interviews with the author, and the main characters, and regular give-aways. It's all listed, and being added to, under the pinned Welcome at the top of the page.

Indie authors such as myself can learn lessons here.

23 March 2014

Romancing the Fantasy - Stuart Aken

With a week to the release of the first of his Fantasy trilogy: A Seared Sky: Joinings, I am pleased to welcome Stuart Aken to talk about a subject dear to my heart...

Romance in fantasy? But, isn’t fantasy all about dragons, swords and sorcery, maybe elves, goblins and other magical folk? That’s certainly the image projected by much that falls under the umbrella of ‘epic fantasy’.

Fantasy, of course, includes dozens of sub-genres, and strays into areas reserved for other forms. Perhaps, before continuing, we need to define what fantasy is in regard to story-telling? It’s a tale set in a world, time, or dimension, or a combination of these, different from what we believe is reality. It may also involve animals as protagonists as well as beings that don’t exist in the known world.

Animal Farm, the Twilight series, the cult of Demonic Eroticism, Alice in Wonderland, paranormal stories, much of soft science fiction, animal-based novels like The Stonor Eagles and Watership Down, and many others fall within the wider definition of fantasy. And, clearly, romance does exist within this broader definition.

Noticeably, however, it’s far less common in epic fantasy. One reason may be that this specific sub-genre is often aimed at the YA/teen market and, more specifically, at boys. Boys are not, as a rule, attracted by romance. Sex, yes, but romance, no. There’s no more than a hint of romance in the most famous epic fantasy, the Lord of the Rings trilogy (Sam and Rosie, Arwen and Aragon), and this holds true for many within the genre. With the entry of more female authors into the field, it is becoming more common.

Perhaps we should also define ‘epic fantasy’? It usually involves a world that is ‘other’, a quest, magic in some form, battles, and themes that include ‘good versus evil’. But romance? Not commonly, especially from male authors.

No rules, and no valid reasons, exclude romance from epic fantasy. My own feeling is that the inclusion enhances such a tale and allows readers to enjoy the invented world much more. So, perhaps it depends on what readership the author envisages. In fact, I suspect that the exclusion of a romantic element has actively discouraged many readers who would otherwise appreciate this form of fiction.

My epic fantasy trilogy, A Seared Sky, is aimed at an adult readership, though it is also suitable for a YA audience over the age of 15. I’ve woven the story around three sets of couples in each of the three volumes. These threads are romantically based, though the underlying story they carry is far more complex than that simple scenario might imply. I have some magic, in the form of a limited type of telepathy. I have battles, physical and mental, involving war between good and evil. And I have a central quest, involving many characters in a search for what they believe is a crucial artefact.

Romance is as fundamental to the telling of my tale as any other element. But the story remains a fantasy and is an epic, covering adventure over many lands in an invented world. Will you see it in those terms? Discover for yourself. Joinings, the first volume, is published by Fantastic Books Publishing on 30th March in both paperback and ebook formats. There’s a launch party, to which you’re all invited. The publisher is putting on quite a show. It’s a virtual event, online, so you can attend from anywhere in the world. To find out more, click this link.

P.S. As an illustration of how little romance there is in epic fantasy, I searched for hours to find a suitable illustration for this post and the one up top was the best I could find!

22 March 2014

Guest-blogging #6: The Bull At The Gate - Interview

I'm being interviewed today on Penny Grubb's blog, but don't think it's the usual dark chocolate and fluffy slippers stuff - oh no! The title should give you an idea of what to expect... "Linda Acaster, Stephen King, Agatha Christie and Barbara Taylor Bradford on Writing". [Gulp]

So if you have a question on anything writing related, do ask. I'll answer, even if the others are somewhat spare with their responses. Oh yes, and there's the usual free draw for the novels if you leave a comment. Can't be bad.

16 March 2014

Guest-blogging #5: The Bull At The Gate - Excerpt

Historical Fiction Excerpts is my host today as I chat about melding history with contemporary. In keeping with the ethos of #SampleSunday the post includes a run-on excerpt of both time periods. And about time, I hear you say.

The book is garnering great reviews, which is very rewarding. It also gives me snippets to add to the back cover of the paperback version - when I get a chance to format it. Thanks to everyone who is supporting me.

And in answer to the increasingly vocal demand for when will Book 3 be available? the answer is when it has been written! LOL!

14 March 2014

Guest-blogging #4 The Bull At The Gate - Crime

I'm waving the flag again, this time with crime-writer Shirley Wells. I'm chatting about using crime elements, in particular the police, in non-crime novels. Though how I can say that when The Bull At The Gate is sitting in the Amazon UK Crime>Suspense>Occult chart I'm not sure. As I explain, I think genre is all a matter of emphasis in the writing.

Do join me for chance to win free copies.

12 March 2014

Guest-blogging #3 The Bull At The Gate - York

I'm on the road again, this time at British Romance Fiction where I'm chatting about "Walking on History: Modern York as a Setting".

In The Bull At The Gate this isn't just paying lip service to the city of York,  the novel can be used as a detailed map. Was it planned this way? Not entirely, but I found contemporary York and its historical detail just too good to ignore. In fact, it fitted the occult/paranormal themes so perfectly that I had more than one moment where a shudder crept across my shoulders.


10 March 2014

Guest-blogging #2 in support of The Bull At The Gate

Launch weekend proved a bit of an unexpected rollercoaster. The Bull At The Gate swept up the AmazonUK Crime, Thriller & Mystery > Suspense > Occult chart to No3! Thanks so much to those who purchased it. It slipped down to No10 earlier in the day but is now back up to No7. Away to go!

I continue with the blog tour, today at Lindsays Romantics where my question is "Does a Romance need a Happy Ever After ending?"

A day off tomorrow - to write some more posts! On Wednesday I'll be at BritishRomanceFiction where I'll be discussing "Walking on History - York as a setting".

9 March 2014

Guest-blogging in support of The Bull At The Gate

I'm guest-blogging in support of Books 1 and 2 in the Torc of Moonlight trilogy, not so much excerpts as articles on elements and concepts raised in the novels. The first two are live, so catch me at...

Stuart Aken's blog where I'm explaining a Celtic knot of intricacies in Writing About Alternate Realities

The Celtic Rose blog where I'm chatting about ancient springs in Resurrecting a Celtic Water Goddess

Do come join me there. Free ebooks are on offer.

7 March 2014

Launch Day! The Bull At The Gate: Book 2 in 'Torc of Moonlight' trilogy

Yes, folks, The Bull At The Gate is here at last. 

Following on from Torc of Moonlight, Nick has moved to York, a walled mediaeval city of crooked, half-timbered buildings and tight cobbled streets where historical re-enactment groups of Viking longshipmen thrill the tourists. Yet deep in the crypt of York Minster sit the foundations of an earlier occupation, the Roman fortress of Eboracum that garrisoned both the infamous Ninth Legion and the Sixth Victrix.

When one of Nick's colleagues is reported missing and the police begin to ask awkward questions about Alice, an artefact from the Temple of Mithras appears on his desk. A clever reproduction, or a 1700 year old relic looking as new as if it had been made yesterday?
"...really raises the hairs at the back of the neck..."

It is live on Amazon for Kindle, and on Smashwords for both mobi (Kindle) and ePub format for Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc, and will be filtering through to those sites for direct sales within the next few days.

For those who prefer to read a paperback, you are not forgotten, but it will be some weeks before that is available.

For the first time I am engaging in a blog-hop, and I have a schedule on page Coming Soon! It's going to be a busy weekend. Wish me luck!

5 March 2014

#TheBullAtTheGate Pre-Launch Promo2 - New Discounts!

Torc of Moonlight, book 1 in the trilogy of the same name, is now on offer at 99p / 99c as an opener for book 2 The Bull At The Gate, which is going live at the end of the week. Amazon is quick off the mark and the link should jump direct to a reader's personal region - the wonders of technology! 

Distribution through Kobo, Nook, iBooks, etc, has passed vetting (by a human, no less) and the price change will be feeding through to the stores in the next few days. In the meantime grab a copy in ePub format via Smashwords.

It is also Read An Ebook Week until 8th March - yes, it passed me by, too. I have kept the ePub version of Beneath The Shining Mountains on offer at 50% discount. Add in the coupon code shown on its page at the checkout.

The launch of The Bull At The Gate is now moving into white-hot mode. Call back, or have this blog brought to your Inbox when a new post is live.

Happy reading!

1 March 2014

#TheBullAtTheGate Pre-Launch Promo Update

The edits are in and it is time for The Bull At The Gate to be formatted. Release date will be finalised in a couple of days.

The discount on Beneath The Shining Mountains has given my name a boost – the 99c/77p discount will now finish Monday 10th March [incorrectly stated 3rd] so don’t delay. The ebook is currently riding at #22 in the Amazon.com Native American chart. Today I'm blogging about it at LindsaysRomantics. Come read an excerpt.

Torc of Moonlight will be discounted from Wednesday 5th. Sign up on the right to have notifications sent straight to your Inbox. 

And lastly, a big thank you to all the bloggers who offered to host my launch blog-hop. There'll be a full list here shortly.

It’s getting exciting, folks!