Forest Lord series in Amazon’s Monthly Deals. 99p each!

The Forest Lord series - just 99p each in Amazon's Monthly Kindle Deal for May 2017!

All the Forest Lord novels are just 99p during May. Under £4 for the complete set, bargain!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01LQSSXS0
Don’t forget, Wolf’s Head is also FREE to Amazon Prime members in the USA for a time as well.

Share with your historical fiction loving friends!

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Audiobook Reviews October 2016

Here’s my regular round of reviews from my recent Audible purchases. A couple of fantasy books and a couple of true classics, with a kids book at the end! But are any of them worth your time and money? Read on and find out…

 

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First up is The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss. This is the sequel to The Name of the Wind which I raved about not long ago as it was the best fantasy novel I’d read/ listened to in years. And, for the most part, this second book continues the series in similar, great fashion. It is insanely long (42 hours!) so you are getting quite incredible value for money if you use a monthly credit for this thing and, like the previous story, the narration is perfect. Rupert Degas has a huge repertoire of voices and accents and he’s just a pleasure to listen to. The best narrator I’ve ever heard? Yes, I think so!

The story is a good one, with our hero Kvoth now a bit older, a bit more settled in himself and he has some great adventures in this tale. However, I found myself becoming a little bit irritated this time around as our hero is a master at EVERYTHING. From playing his lute to bedding women to fighting like a samurai to throwing magic around like a young Gandalf (yes, he’s still a teenager)…it becomes ever harder to suspend disbelief. By the time he’s seduced a Goddess and she’s found him the best lover ever you start to remember this is just a book, Kvoth isn’t a real man, and it’s hard to remain lost in the world Rothfuss has so diligently crafted.

But overall this is still a five star listen and highly recommended.

Rating – 5/5

twins

Another fantasy book, this time from the Dragonlance mythos. I always thought the mage Raistlin, and his big, dull-witted twin Caramon were the best characters in the whole series and this particular trilogy is ideal as it follows them on an adventure through time. My biggest issue with 80’s fantasy is how twee it often is – when people are dying there’s always some element of slapstick or silly one-liners that destroy any suggestion of realism and make them seem like more of a children’s story. Time of the Twins isn’t as bad as some of the Forgotten Realms books in that regard, and Raistlin is a nice, dark character, utterly selfish and nasty but, irritatingly the kender, Tasslehoff Burfoot (even his name is twee!) tags along and brings that annoying element of misplaced humour to proceedings. Occasionally the authors use the kender in a more interesting way – when bad things happen and the childlike character is upset it really does add an extra edge of horror. In general though, I wish fantasy authors would forget the comedy characters.

I loved this book when I first read it as a teenager and to be fair it’s still a good story. Certainly worth a listen even if the narrator misprounces words and names  which is not his fault as someone should have been proof-listening and pointing out the many errors.

Rating – 4/5

sherlock

Now to the first of the stonewall classics – Sherlock Holmes! This is another long one representing enormous bang for your buck at FIFTY EIGHT HOURS!

I’m a huge fan of the Jeremy Brett TV series from the 80’s and 90’s and, for me, Brett is and always will be the real Holmes so I wasn’t sure how I’d like someone else’s voice reading the dialogue but I needn’t have worried. Simon Vance is perfect and runs Rupert Degas close as one of the best narrators I’ve heard yet. He has that refined, upper class accent that works so well with the setting and he has just enough voices to make it all hugely entertaining. I actually stopped listening to this at one point because I was enjoying it so much that I didn’t want it to ever end! Although in saying that, I have found myself not enjoying the later stories to the same extent but I’m not sure if that’s fatigue or because Doyle’s latter-day Holmes stories simply weren’t as good as the earlier classics.

Still, for such a long book, read so well and featuring two of the best characters ever created, this is one of the best Audible buys around.Do yourself a favour and use one of your credits for this!

Rating – 5/5

dune

The next of the true genre-defining classics is set in a far different time and place to Holmes’s London but I was really pleased to realise it’s also read by Simon Vance! There’s some other voices who chime in here and there making this something of a more lavish production, but overall it’s just Vance and he does a fine job again.

Dune is a strange book – I first read it when I was about 15 and thought it was a boring pile of crap. Then I tried again a couple of years later and it blew me away. I returned to it once more in my thirties and again loved it. The rest of the series isn’t so great, especially the later books, but this first novel is so good if you’ve never read it before please give it a try.

I suppose the hero, Paul Atreides, is similar to Kvoth in the way he’s so good at just about everything but here it seems natural. I have already used my latest credit to buy the sequel, Dune Messiah, so look out for my review of that in due course although at only 9 hours it’s much shorter than Dune which clocks in at around 21 hours.

The book inspired an excellent Iron Maiden song – “To Tame A Land”, check it out HERE where it’s backed by parts of the not-so great movie…Frank Herbert HATED heavy metal so wouldn’t let them call the song “Dune”, unlike Patrick McGoohan who was happy to allow them to call another song “The Prisoner”.

Rating – 5/5 again!

I’ve listened to some excellent audiobooks in recent weeks although I also bought the Forgotten Realms “classic” Pools of Radiance which I always fancied as a kid but never got around to reading.

pool

I’m not even going to bother with a review for it but I won’t be trying any more from the series. It was like watching someone else play a bad computer game. Anyone a fan of this series?

 

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Finally, something a little bit different! My 9-year-old daughter loves books too and has started listening to Audible which I buy extra credits for. I must admit, being a thrifty Scot I rather grudge using a credit for a kids book as they generally last for about 1-2 hours! But my daughter has really enjoyed some so I asked her to write a little review for her favourite so far.

The World’s Worst Children by David Walliams

Reviewed by Freya McKay

The narrator (David Walliams) spoke very clearly and had good expressions in his voice. It was disgusting when the boy picked his nose and made it into something even more disgusting! My favourite character was one of the girls who always did naughty things and blamed it on her wee brother. They are all very naughty! This book is very interesting  and I sometimes wonder how the writers comes up with such good stories.

 

So there you go, I hope you’ll check out some of these and enjoy them as much as Freya and me. If you are waiting to use a credit on the fourth and final book in my own Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf is in production right now. Nick Ellsworth returns to voice Robin and John and the rest of the crew and I cannot wait to hear it!

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Blood of the Wolf – the end of a long journey

My fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series, Blood of the Wolf, will be published in just a few short hours. It will be flowing down your telephone cables, bouncing off orbiting satellites and being delivered by postmen worldwide!

This isn’t just the end of the series – this is the end of a most amazing chapter in my life. It seems like only yesterday that I sat in a street in Glasgow wondering what I should write about, only to settle on Robin Hood when I saw a house named “Sherwood”. Then, a couple of years later, when I published Wolf’s Head, I dreamt of seeing it  on my bookshelf as part of a full, complete series.

Tomorrow, October 14th, that dream will become reality and it feels fantastic!

All four books have been well received and early indications from reviewers with advance copies suggest Blood of the Wolf is a fitting, exciting end to the series. I hope you all agree.

Thank you for supporting me over the past three years or so and, if you’re planning on reading Blood of the Wolf tomorrow – ENJOY!

Get your copy here if you haven’t already ordered it: getBook.at/BotW

And PLEASE, please share the news on your social media pages. There’s buttons at the bottom of this post where you can share it to Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ etc and, if you’re using Twitter, maybe use the #BloodOfTheWolf hashtag?

 

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Blood of the Wolf blurb and…delayed (but only a little!)

I just wanted to bring everyone up to date with what’s been happening and why the new book isn’t out yet. I know a few of you are really looking forward to it as you message me often, which is amazing. I honestly expected Blood of the Wolf  be ready by now but a few things have meant there’s a little bit of a delay in publication.

Firstly, this has turned out to be the longest book I’ve written so far. The previous three novels were all around 90-100,000 words but Blood of the Wolf is at almost 109,000 and I’m still adding little bits as I edit!

Speaking of which, my editor was really busy during July and August so took longer than expected to go through the book and give me her feedback. I’m on it now, though, and it’s all coming together nicely.

DSC_4103

Me, feeling apologetic for the delay.

There’s also been a hint – just a hint – of some amazing PR opportunities centred around the publication of this new book. I’ve not heard anything about it in the last week so it might turn out to be nothing but that would have involved another delay. In terms of my career though, it would have been well worth it. Fingers crossed on that…

The main issue for me – and I’m sure most of you will totally get this point – is the lack of hours in the day. I still work a full-time day job and have two young children so it can be hard when I come home at night to find the energy to sit at the laptop and work. However! To address that problem I’ve just bought a cheap, small little laptop which I can carry around with me and bring out when I have ten minutes to spare. Waiting on my daughter to come out of her theatre class last night, for example, I managed to get a little proof-reading done. Today, on a break, I typed up a Q&A and am now writing this post you’re reading.

Hopefully, by doing this sort of “admin” during the day I’ll have more free time at night/weekends to work on the actual writing and editing.

Don’t know why I never thought of getting a little super-portable laptop sooner actually.

mactini

My new laptop. It’s so portable!

In general, I get quite stressed about the release date of a new book – it feels like I’m letting my readers down if I don’t publish it as soon as possible. There’s always a slight fear people will get so angry about waiting that they’ll either forget me or stop buying my books! Which seems ridiculous, if you think about it logically. As a reader I’ve never become annoyed at Bernard Cornwell or Terry Pratchett, for example, for not bringing out a new novel every year exactly when I expected it. I forget all about it until I see it’s available then hurry to read it (time allowing!).

And yet, as a writer, I get quite stressed about pushing back a publication date by a month or two. I suppose it keeps me on my toes and working hard.

Still, the good news, for those who ARE getting annoyed with me is that Blood of the Wolf should be out within the next few weeks. I’ve already finished about half my editor’s suggestions and know exactly what to do with the rest. The extra tweaking will be worth it and hopefully lead to an exciting, worthy end to the series.

In the meantime I’ve been buoyed – stunned in fact – to see the other books, particularly Wolf’s Head, zooming right back up the charts on both sides of the pond. That one actually reached number 628 in the overall UK chart last week, which is probably higher than it’s EVER been, outwith special offers or promotions. I have no idea what’s pushing those sales but I’m very happy about it.

Thank you readers, new and old for continuing to buy and review my books!

As a tiny thank you for your loyalty, I’ll give away a signed copy of the new book (with shiny bookmark – woooo!) to a couple of people. Just add a comment here, or email me using the CONTACT button up top, or message me on Facebook/Twitter and let me know you’d like your name in the magic quiver…As always, this is open worldwide.

custom bookmarks

Coming soon – Blood of the Wolf. Promise! And to whet your appetite, here’s the blurb I came up with for the back cover.

I’m still tweaking it (literally, I just spent half an hour working on this before I make it public here!), so let me know what you think please.

Cheers!

ROBIN HOOD RETURNS!

And this time the legendary wolf’s head is working for the sheriff…

After winning his freedom in Rise of the Wolf, Robin – with his faithful lieutenant John Little at his side – now spends his days travelling around northern England dispensing King Edward II’s justice.

When a new band of outlaws appears in Barnsdale, Sheriff Henry de Faucumberg sends Robin and John to deal with them. Before the lawmen can track them down though, Will Scaflock is attacked and another of their old companions brutally murdered in his own home by the outlaws whose leader has only one thing on his mind:

Bloody vengeance!

Will Robin’s reunited gang be enough to defeat this savage new threat that seeks to wipe them out one by one? Or will another old foe provide the final twist that sees England’s greatest ever longbowman dead and buried?

This stunning conclusion to the bestselling Forest Lord series will delight and entertain readers looking for action packed historical fiction in the mould of Scarrow, Kane and Cornwell!

new robin hood novel

No, really – coming soon!

Blood of the Wolf coming SOON (promise)!

Things have been progressing a little slower than I’d have liked with this final novel in the Forest Lord series. The combination of building works on our house plus two young children has meant my energy and time to write has been limited.

But Blood of the Wolf is almost finished! I have one more scene to write, plus an epilogue and the author’s note and that will be it. My editor – the same one I’ve used for all the books who worked with Bernard Cornwell, Jilly Cooper and Ben Kane in the past – will be looking at it next week. Then all I need to do is follow her orders and it’ll be ready to send out to my usual beta-readers. I’m hoping to have it ready to publish within the next few weeks so clear a space in your reading list…

This book is much more direct than Rise of the Wolf. I had fun writing that one and exploring a couple of female characters but Blood of the Wolf is back to the all out action and there’s one truly horrible new villain for Robin to deal with. Will our hero survive, or die as he does in the original ballads? Bearing in mind I’ve tried to stay faithful to those early tales all the way throughout this series…

Set in 1327, four years after the events in Rise of the Wolf, I think it’s a fitting and exciting end to the series. It’s also the longest book so far, so it should be good value.

When it comes time to publish it I’ll be running giveaway competitions for signed copies and so on, with extra chances to win for people on my Email List so, if you haven’t signed up yet, please do so here: Email List Sign-Up  You also get a free and exclusive short story when you do.

The Audible version, narrated as usual by Nick Ellsworth, will follow a couple of months (I expect) after the Kindle and paperbacks are out, so hang onto a credit!

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Blood of the Wolf is nearly ready!

Sorry, I’ve been quiet recently and it’s down to the fact we’ve been having building work done on our house. So I’ve been painting and using a caulk gun for the first time in years and it’s meant work on the new book has been put on hold, just a little.
It IS almost finished though – I’m literally about to write the final scenes. Once that’s done I’ll just need to go back and add in any little bits that needed researched (Stephen’s history will be in this one for example) and then it’ll be off to the editor in mid-July.
It should be ready for publication sometime in August which isn’t that long to wait, right? I need to make sure I get everything spot-on for this, since it’s the very last book in the series and I want it to be memorable.
I do plan on writing a Will Scarlet novella which will be set AFTER Blood of the Wolf so that’ll be a stop-gap until the brand new series can get started…..
Other than that, the German version of Knight of the Cross was in a free promo on Amazon.de and hit the overall top 20 which was amazing. I hopefully gained hundreds of new, German-speaking, readers with that one. I also reached a real milestone with over 5,000 audiobook sales in the past two years. Having listened to each of them myself I can honestly say Nick Ellsworth does an amazing job of reading them. Check them out if you haven’t already – anyone owning the Kindle version gets the audio at a reduced rate!

In general, all the books continue to do well in the UK but PLEASE,  leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads if you haven’t already. It really does help buyers. In fact, I tell you what – if you leave a new review today on ANY worldwide Amazon site, email me at stormwatch1977@hotmail.com or use the CONTACT button on here to let me know and I’ll put your name in the hat for a signed book! Particularly looking for reviews in places like India, Spain, Germany, Canada and Australia but I’m overjoyed with every good review I get no matter where it is.

Phew, that was a long one, I hope I didn’t lose anyone halfway through!

Have a great summer everyone, forget the EU referendum, Trump/Clinton or whatever political woes face your country, and just chill out in the sunshine with a cool drink, a good book, and remember – we’re only here for a short time so make the most of it!

PS This post is a copy of one I just sent out to the people on my Email List but they had another chance to win a signed book! If you haven’t signed up you’re missing out so get on it and don’t miss out in future:  JOIN THE EMAIL LIST

 

Blood of the Wolf COVER REVEAL!

As ever, my cover designers came up with something striking and I hope you all like it. For once I didn’t do a crappy sketch, I just told them what I wanted and this is the final result.

There’s some symbolism here and anyone that knows the Robin Hood legend will know how it ends so, since this is the final book in the series you can make up your own minds what the cover is saying. Let me know what you think please, I’d love to know your thoughts on how this compares to the other covers since it IS a little different…

 

blood of the wolf

There’s no point asking me questions about how it will all pan out, because I honestly do not know myself yet. I’m working hard on it and it should be finished by this summer but I have no idea what will happen as I work. Just as an example, I was writing a scene tonight and, totally out of the blue, a whole new plotline presented itself – it literally came out the mouth of Robin and has opened up an idea I’d never thought of before!

So if you want to know how it’s all going to end -don’t ask me!

You’ll just have to read the book when it comes out around July/August.

To whet your appetite here’s a little extract from the scene just before that one I was working on tonight. As ever, totally unedited, this is straight from the manuscript and you might recognise a couple of guys here…

Philip watched in surprise as the arrow tore past his face by quite some distance and, from the sound of it, buried itself deep in a tree trunk.

“The bastards are shooting at us,” he muttered, turning, one eyebrow raised, to look up at Eoin.

The giant’s eyes widened as another arrow sailed past them at an almost leisurely pace – clearly these villagers were no crack shots – then he lumbered forward, placing himself in front of Philip and using his bulk to shepherd his friend backwards, into the safety of the trees, like some great mother hen.

“The bastards,” Philip repeated, shocked at the organised resistance they’d met. This had never happened before when they’d visited a village and he cursed Robin Hood once again. The man was a thorn in his side that he’d need to remove sooner rather than later. “Attack them,” he ordered, waving his hand forward distractedly. “Show these peasants what happens when people stand up to us.”

His men needed no further encouragement.

The bald headman had retreated behind a building when the shooting had started. His furious voice could be heard castigating the man that had loosed the first, wayward arrow – both for starting a fight that might have been avoided and, more importantly, missing the target.

The arrows continued to slam into the trees though, and the outlaws waited, judging the best moment to charge, before, at last, half a dozen of them sprinted towards the village screaming unintelligible war cries.

Philip watched as an arrow – probably more by luck rather than any skill – hammered into one of his men, spinning the unfortunate backwards, howling in rage and pain and effectively out of the battle.

The other five of his followers made it to the village and were met by a similar number of locals, led by the headman with his war axe.

Fascinated now by the melee, Philip stared, rapt, as the big, bald man brought his weapon down on the head of an outlaw, then used his foot to brace himself as he tried to free the blade which had become trapped in the dead outlaw’s skull.

He wasn’t fast enough though, and an attacker hammered the blade of his sword into the headman’s torso. The blow was a powerful one and it sent the headman reeling backwards although the ill-fitting mail shirt he wore absorbed most of the force so no blood was drawn.

Philip’s eyes flickered on to the next of his men and he cursed inwardly as a villager, face scarlet and terrified, landed a lucky blow with his crude hammer, smashing the wolf’s head’s eye socket into a bloody mess.

His gaze moved on again and this time the view was more pleasing.

Mark’s toothless mate, Ivo, was competent – skilled even – with his sword, and he skewered one of the villagers before drawing the crimson blade free and moving  to hack at the next in the defensive line.

Look out for the Blood of the Wolf pre-order on Amazon around June, and please keep the reviews for the other books coming, they really do help.

Cheers

Steven

1starchery picturesRotW final FINAL! smallerblood of the wolf

 

Blood of the Wolf

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.
Wahey!

If you haven’t read it yet you can get it here, worldwide: getBook.at/Wolfs-Head-Kindle

stardust

Neil Gaiman, “Stardust” and Salman Rushdie, “Satanic Verses” for company!