Discount starts tomorrow Feb 27th! Usual price is $2.99 so 99c is a pretty nice saving!
Discount starts tomorrow Feb 27th! Usual price is $2.99 so 99c is a pretty nice saving!
As an indie writer I have to sort out my own cover art. Thankfully I have some great professionals who can take my rough ideas and ridiculous sketches and turn them into the great images you see on the final product.
Below is my original idea for the Friar Tuck and the Christmas Devil cover. It was sketched in my diary when I was out at work and, as you can see, I hadn’t even decided on the final title at the time. To be fair, since this novella is part of the Kindle Singles Programme, Amazon offered to have a cover sorted for me, but I’d already commissioned this, and I wanted the continuity with the other books so… we went with this.
I asked for the blood stains and the holly berries to be a very striking red, while the holly leaves had to be very green. The colours symbolise the novella’s overall theme of death (winter, and the Christmas Devil) versus life (the new green of Spring, and Tuck himself).
I really, really like the cover my designers came up with, and so many people have told me this is my best artwork so far. All the previous books had a figure on the front – Robin Hood for the Forest Lord novels and Sir Richard-at-Lee for Knight of the Cross. With this one I decided to go for something different. It worked well!
The designers have my ideas for the next, final Forest Lord novel, Blood of the Wolf, and I’ll share it with you as soon as they complete it. Hopefully it’ll be as striking as all the rest and, perhaps, symbolic too…
I listen to quite a lot of audiobooks nowadays, through the Audible app on my phone or tablet. I got into it when I had to proof-listen my own audio versions (read, of course, by the fantastic Nick Ellsworth) and it’s a great way to enjoy books you might not have time to physically read.
Here’s some short reviews of my most recent listens. Ben Kane’s Eagles At War is next up…
If you’ve read (or listened to) any of these let me know what you thought of them in the comments section, or email me via the CONTACT page!
Bernard Cornwell – Warriors of the Storm narrated by Matt Bates
Graham Hancock – Magicians of the Gods narrated by Graham Hancock
Donnie Eichar – Dead Mountain narrated by Donnie Eichar
Dr Penny Sartori – The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences narrated by Penny Sartori
Terry Pratchett – The Colour Of Magic narrated by Nigel Planer
I’d been quite interested in this whole myth, legend, whatever you want to call it, for a while now. For those
that don’t know, basically a group of pretty experienced and competent hikers went out climbing near Siberia
and didn’t return. They were found in various states of undress, all dead, having left their tent in a hurry.
Well, this book aims to explain it.
The narrator is quite good, although his voice can be a bit droning and ultimately it’s a short book. That
said, the main revelation, the reason why we’re listening to this, could fit in half an hour so the other 6
hours is basically the author’s tale of his journey retracing the hikers’ steps.
And it’s an interesting one, well told, really taking you along on the snowy ride with him.
His theory for what happened to the group makes perfect sense to me – better than UFO’s or Yetis or KGB agents
in my opinion. When you put yourself in their position and listen to what he thinks happened it really does
seem like he’s figured it out.
I managed to listen to this whole thing in one day, so that tells you two things: 1) it’s short and 2) it’s
Warriors of the Storm
I personally believe this series has gone on for too long. It should have been tied up, with Uhtred retaking
Bebbanburg at least four books ago.
However, Cornwell is such a great writer that, although I feel the story overall isn’t as powerful as it could
have been in a shorter series, I still read or listen (as here) to each new book as soon as they come out!
The previous novel (Pagan Lord if I recall correctly) I felt was a bit meandering, and this one starts much
the same, with not a lot happening – certainly no blood or thunder – for a while, and I was starting to worry.
But it soon picks up and Uhtred heads off to Ireland and returns again, killing and mutilating lots of enemies
and even setting up a new king along the way.
The supporting characters, like his daughter and her husband, are great – just as blood-thirsty as Uhtred
himself, yet, like him, still likable!
It’s good stuff and the end suggests Bebbanburg may, finally, be the focus next time around.
I hope so.
The narrator isn’t as good as the guy that did Cornwell’s King Arthur series. I don’t know how old this fellow
is, but his VOICE makes him sound like he’s in his early-mid twenties. Since this story is told from Uhtred’s
point of view, and Uhtred is an older man, the whole thing just seems off. To his credit though, he reads well
and has a good range of accents, even if some of them don’t quite come off every time!
Overall, if you have enjoyed this series so far, you will like this one just as much, possibly even more than
some of them.
Bernard Cornwell really is a master of his trade!
Magicians of the Gods
I, of course, read Hancock’s earlier book, Fingerprints of the Gods, years ago and it led me onto his other
work and more by the likes of Robert Bauval, Graham Phillips, Christopher Dunn etc so I was interested to read
this one. Since I don’t have much time to read books these days I decided to try the audio version.
I’m glad I did, BUT, it must be said, audio for a book like this has its downside.
First of all, Graham has an entertaining, engaging voice. Yes, he has a slight accent, but who doesn’t? It
never once annoyed me and, overall, he reads excellently, with a passion and knowledge of the writing that
only the author could bring.
However, with a book like this I really like to a) see photos of the things being described and b) research
some of the places and themes that are covered.
With a physical book both of these are not a problem, but with audio there are no pictures and on more than
one occasion I had no idea how to research something Graham was talking about. These places are in foreign
lands, so the spelling isn’t always obvious and there’s stuff I’d like to have found out more about but I’ve
forgotten what they were now since listening to this while driving around at work made it impossible to take
Still, I got the overall gist of what the book was about and much of it was utterly captivating (that seed
bank hidden somewhere underground really captured my attention – I just wish I knew how to spell its name!).
In terms of value for money, this is a really long book so well worth your monthly credit.
These books sell millions, yet they’re still viewed by the mainstream as somehow crackpot, which probably puts
many people off them.
If you find yourself even remotely interested in the ideas in the book’s synopsis I recommend you give this a
listen. Maybe try and borrow a copy of the hardback from your local library though, so you can dig deeper
The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences
I had really high hopes for this when I started listening to it and I should stress I did enjoy listening to
it. But I felt there wasn’t enough science in it – it’s mostly anecdotal evidence and a lot of it is from
people who claim to be “psychic”.
I’d have liked to hear some hard facts about what the doctor’s research found but from what I can gather her
experiments didn’t really prove anything. The symbols she set up high so anyone in her ward experiencing an
NDE could see them were never seen. So you can take that as evidence of the NDE not being as real as its
claimed, can’t you…?
I expected to be convinced by this book but ultimately it just raised a lot of unanswered questions. If it’s a
REAL thing, why do cultural expectations play any part?
It IS worth a listen, and the narrator is quite good just don’t expect to embrace death after listening to it!
The Colour of Magic
Nigel Planer’s reading here is perfect, it literally had me laughing out loud on numerous occasions. His Hrun
(or whatever he’s called) is so funny I looked forward to that character appearing every time. Pratchett
really got off to an amazing start with this book, his writing really shines. I’ve read the paperback before,
of course, at least twice since I first discovered it back when I was a lad and this version brings it all to
The one issue is the horrendous sound quality. I can only assume this was recorded back when the book first
came out, in the 80’s, and the production team used TDK D90’s to capture Planer’s voice. When transferring the
audio to digital for this version they must have played back that old cassette, recorded it on a potato and
uploaded it to Audible. It is really that bad.
HOWEVER, it does NOT ruin the overall experience that much and I still really recommend you buy this. It’s a
fantastic piece of escapism and I couldn’t wait to download the Light Fantastic and now, Sourcery, to enjoy
Rincewind’s adventures for as long as possible.
RIP Terry Pratchett, a true literary master.
I hope you give some of these books a try, and if you haven’t already dipped your toes in the world of audio, the Audible app is FREE and you also get to choose one (might even be two now) FREE audiobooks as a trial so there’s no reason not to give it a go.
All of my own books are also available from Audible and (I believe) on iTunes. If you’d like to know more about them please comment below or use the CONTACT button!
It was my birthday yesterday and I have some nice presents to entertain me this cold Friday night in Scotland! Don’t worry though, I managed TWO writing sessions today on the new book, Blood of the Wolf, so I thought I’d share a short extract from the first chapter with you.
As suggested at the end of Rise of the Wolf, Robin and Little John are now both employed as lawmen by the Sheriff of Nottingham and Yorkshire. Here we find them in a village, just after repossessing a property from a tenant who was a little late with his rent. The sheriff’s man, Thomas, brings news of an event I wanted to fit into a book right from the very start. I read about this actually happening in a medieval English village when I was researching Wolf’s Head but there was never a chance to get it in until now!
None of this is edited – I tend to leave that job right until the very end when the whole book is written, so hopefully it’s all simple enough to understand…
Enjoy, and please let me know what you think in the comments section below or via the CONTACT button!
Suddenly the sound of thundering hooves split the air and the lawmen instinctively grasped their sword hilts, eyes searching along the road in the direction of the noise, wondering if it was someone come to help the landlord fight them off.
Piers apparently hoped it was, but he slumped back against the wall as the rider came in sight. A man in the familiar blue livery of the sheriff’s guards.
“Well met, Thomas,” John boomed, as the rider spotted them and brought his mount to a noisy halt.
“God give you good day, big man,” the soldier grinned in return before turning his attention to Robin. “Sir Henry requests your presence.”
“What, now? We were just on our way back to Wakefield. It’ll take days to get to Nottingham!” Robin’s tone sounded almost petulant. Even after two years in the sheriff’s service the former outlaw found it hard to take orders. Especially unpleasant ones.
“Now, aye,” Thomas confirmed. “Well, I say now, but I’m sure we have time for a drink or two, and for my horse to have a rest before we set off.”
John grinned. “I’ll leave you to it. See you when you return, Robin –”
“Sheriff wants you too,” the rider broke in, a smile creasing his own face. “There’s trouble in Holmfirth and de Faucumberg wants the pair of you to deal with it.”
John scowled. He didn’t enjoy riding; he was terrible at it. He could already feel the blisters he’d have on his arse by the time they reached the city.
“What sort of trouble?” Robin demanded, oblivious to the landlord who barged past, still outraged, his blanket of belongings draped heavily over his shoulder as he disappeared off into the village, presumably to find his wife.
“Whole place has been bewitched!” Thomas replied, eyes wide. He made the sign of the cross and nodded emphatically. “It’s true. Satan himself’s taken control of the village.”
Robin turned to meet John’s gaze but the giant simply frowned in puzzlement. Stranger things had happened – there was no reason to doubt the story. At least it would be a change from evicting poor people…
“All right then,” Robin growled decisively. “Your horse looks rested enough to me Thomas. Come on, John – mount up. We’re going to Wakefield.”
“Wakefield? Hold on –” the guardsman tried to break in, his face flushing red, obviously angry at missing out on a well-earned mug of ale or ten in Dewsbury’s tavern.
“If Holmfirth has been taken over by the Devil we’re going to need someone qualified to fight him off, aren’t we? That means we go to Wakefield before making our way to Nottingham for Sir Henry’s orders.”
Robin helped John into the saddle and untied both their horses before mounting his own palfrey nimbly and kicking it into a canter eastwards, to his home town.
“Wait!” Thomas shouted, following at their back. “Why Wakefield though? Who’s going to help you fight the forces of evil there?”
They left the narrow streets and joined the main road, urging their mounts into a canter, the dust forming a cloud in the air behind them, and Robin grinned back over his shoulder at the man.
“Friar Tuck of course!”
Don’t forget to sign up for my Email List HERE if you haven’t already, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know you’ve done it so you can be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of my Hospitaller Knights novella, Knight of the Cross.
You also get a free short story that’s ONLY available to people on my email list!
Finally, for those that care, in the main pic is the Jimmy Page book Light & Shade by Brad Tolinski, the RUSH bluray on the making of the albums 2112 & Moving Pictures, and my present to me, an early 1990’s Jackson Concert EX bass guitar with Seymour Duncan pickups.
Rock on, and have a great weekend all!
I’ve got some spare copies of my novella Knight of the Cross here, just hanging around smoking and drinking cider and acting like unruly teenagers so I thought I’d try and find them a good home.
If you fancy a chance of winning a signed copy all you have to do is sign up for my Email List HERE, and send me an email at
to let me know you’ve done it. I’ll pop your name in the hat and I’ll post worldwide so get on it!
I even have some copies left with the original cover art which is no longer available, so the winners can choose whichever one they prefer.
Please, if you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, take a moment to leave a review on Amazon and share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter etc, it really helps and is very much appreciated!
If you have a US postal address and fancy winning a free copy of the Wolf’s Head paperback, check out this link:
Just wanted to post a little update since I haven’t said anything here for a while, so…
The fourth and final Forest Lord book is coming along nicely (if a little slower than I’d like) – I read through it the other day and rather enjoyed it, which is always a relief!
Look out for it this summer. I believe it will be called BLOOD OF THE WOLF but that may change.I feel like I need to wrap the series up with something of a bang so expect fireworks…
In the meantime I’m really happy to see Wolf’s Head still doing so well, even managing to reach number one again today in one of Amazon’s charts.
If you haven’t read it yet you can get it here, worldwide: getBook.at/Wolfs-Head-Kindle