Blood of the Wolf audio approved!

This morning I have approved all the audio files for the Audible version of Blood of the Wolf and it’s going through the ACX quality control process. All being well it will be available to download within the next couple of weeks!

I proof-listened to it twice, which can be a bit of a chore in a short period of time, but I enjoyed it greatly. Nick Ellsworth really does this final instalment in the Forest Lord series justice with his reading.

I hope you’ll check it out once it hits Audible (I believe it will be on iTunes too) and do let me know what you think of it. If you bought the Kindle version already you will be able to get the audio at a greatly reduced rate so bear that in mind.

 

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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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Powered by Indie!

After a fantastic September where all three of my Forest Lord books hit the overall UK Kindle top 100 and top 20 in Australia, October is shaping up to be almost as good!

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Not only does Blood of the Wolf come out in less than two weeks, but throughout this month Amazon are running a promotion called “Powered By Indie“. Essentially it’s a celebration of great self-published books and authors and, amazingly, Wolf’s Head has been chosen as one of the featured books. I wrote a couple of short things for them to use during the promo although I have no idea if any of it will actually be used. Be sure I’ll share the hell out of it if they do! I don’t sell as much in the USA as I do in the UK so hopefully this gives things a wee boost over there…

I’ve also finished another new short story, starring Robin and Little John, titled “The Stapleford Prisoner” although I’m not sure how it will be published yet. I loved writing it and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it too. I expect it to be completely free so keep an eye out here, on my mailing list or my social media pages.*

The main thing this month though, is Blood of the Wolf, to be released on October 14th. Early reviews of advance copies are excellent, and pre-orders are up for both Kindle and paperback versions. Nick Ellsworth has started production of the audiobook too which is great news! Nick has been the voice of the Forest Lord series since the beginning so I can’t wait to hear him read this final book.

Pre-order your Kindle or paperback copy here: getBook.at/BotW

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Check out the endorsement from Parmenion Books!

 

Although Blood of the Wolf IS the last novel in the series, I am going to start work on another novella, this time starring Will Scaflock, set AFTER BotW. I will need to spend time researching my next series so it seemed a good idea to do another novella with the Forest Lord characters in the meantime.

Cheers all, and look out for chances to win signed copies of Blood of the Wolf, posters, bookmarks, audiobooks etc over the next two weeks. Make sure you are signed up for my email list as subscribers have extra chances to win.

*

 

The Arms and Armour of Robin Hood

by Steven A. McKay

(this article originally appeared on the English Historical Fiction Authors website on August 14, 2013)

Picture this:

You’re a well-to-do medieval clergyman quietly making your way from Doncaster to Pontefract, minding your own business, rubbing your hands in glee at the thought of all the money your brothel in Nottingham is making you. Suddenly, almost like magic, from the trees around you half a dozen heavily armed men appear.

Outlaws!

It’s a familiar image. One we’ve seen in countless TV shows and movies. How realistic are the celluloid depictions though? What would you actually see if you were suddenly stopped by the “real” Robin Hood? What were his clothes like? His armour, if he wore any? His weapons?

In the movies he’s normally depicted as a dapper, dashing gentleman with an easy smile, but what was the reality like? Was Robin Hood scary?

The clothes a medieval outlaw such as Robin wore would have been green and brown – not the bright, gay, freshly-laundered shades seen in the 1950’s movies, but more natural, earthy, downright dirty hues. Which is why you didn’t notice such large men concealed amongst the foliage until it was too late. Leather boots, simple hose and woolen tunic, possibly a hood and, of course, armour.

In a full-scale pitched battle, soldiers, if they could afford it, would have worn chain or plate-mail, but hiding out in Barnsdale Forest, trying to stay one step ahead of the law, heavy armour was completely inappropriate — you try running away from the sheriff or swinging from a tree onto the back of a horse wearing a suit of 20 kg plate-mail! Instead, Robin and his men would have worn a lighter and much cheaper gambeson, which was like a long linen vest or cuirass, padded, and with plates of material – metal, cloth or maybe horse hair – riveted underneath to offer basic protection while still allowing freedom of movement.

The outlaw might have carried a basic steel sword in a wood and leather sheath, and a dagger. Some might have favoured the oaken quarterstaff which, in Little John’s case, could have been over 9ft long!

There was no quiver to carry their arrows as these weren’t developed until much later. Instead, the missiles – perhaps as many as eighteen of them – would have simply been stuck in the outlaw’s belt, ready to be drawn and fired quickly.

Gloves and leather bracers would have protected their hands and wrists when using the bow.

And what about that bow? Well, the type Robin Hood would have used, in my opinion, would have been a longbow. In most versions of the legend, usually set around the end of the 12th century, longbows were not widely used in England, but, by the time of my own novel – the 14th century – they were quite common.

The longbow would have been roughly the same height as the man wielding it, made from yew with a hemp string. It was utterly lethal in the hands of a trained archer, offering much more power and range than previous designs.

Capable of firing up to twenty arrows in a single minute, you can imagine what even half a dozen robbers, concealed in the bushes and armed with these weapons could do to an unsuspecting party of travelers…

Firing such a powerful bow even once, never mind multiple times, took an enormous amount of physical strength though. Boys usually began training with the bow from the age of seven, but often they were even younger. By the time they were adults, these men had developed hugely muscled shoulders and arms – particularly the left arm which took most of the strain. You don’t see that in the movies – Russell Crowe or Errol Flynn roaming around the Greenwood with one arm like Popeye’s and the other like Olive Oyl’s!

So…you’re a medieval clergyman, suddenly surrounded by these hugely muscled violent criminals, some carrying 9 ft quarterstaffs and some aiming bows as big as themselves at your face…What do you think?

Was Robin Hood scary?

Wolf’s Head on special offer!

Yes, find out what the fuss is about for next to nothing. The UK Kindle “War” chart number 1 and overall top 20 bestseller is just 99c in the USA this weekend (starting Thursday)!

Click the pic to buy – hurry, before it’s back up to $2.99! And don’t forget to tell your friends, family and hated enemies.

Oh, by the way, once you own the Kindle version you can add the Audible narration (which is awesome!) for a greatly reduced price. You can’t lose!

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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

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

 

All of my books at number 1 on Amazon!

Yessss!!!!! I’ve just had a call out from the day-job to go and put money in someone’s gas meter but spotted this as I was getting ready to go.

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All five of my books at number 1 in their categories, with the Forest Lord series all in the overall UK top 30!
I’m so pleased, thank you everyone who’s bought them, left nice reviews and spread the word. It really is like a Christmas miracle!

Special thanks to Amazon KDP for putting the Forest Lord books in their Kindle Daily Deal yesterday.

The Forest Lord series on offer PLUS a new extract from the next book!

All three of my Forest Lord books are part of today’s UK Amazon Kindle DAILY DEAL. Each book is at a special hugely reduced price for today ONLY. Get the full set of three for just £2.97 or one each for 99p.

If you haven’t read them yet, or simply need to complete your collection today is the day to do it!

Go HERE to find out more.

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And, as a bonus, here’s an extract from the fourth and final Forest Lord book (as yet untitled).

This follows two brand new characters (well, sort of…) as they meet a couple of genuinely unsavoury outlaws who played a small part in Rise of the Wolf…It was literally written tonight so un-edited. Enjoy!

 

“Hold!”

The cry was high-pitched but filled with aggression.

With the promise of violence.

Philip stopped dead in his tracks, eyes scanning the foliage all around them.

“Who said that?” Eoin rumbled. “Show yourself.”

A small man stepped out from behind the massive trunk of an old yew tree, longsword in hand. He had an unkempt beard, dark eyes, and appeared to be utterly filthy. And yet, when he grimaced at them, Philip was surprised by the fellow’s full set of almost white teeth.

“You two look like you can handle yourself,” the small man noted. “So I won’t get any closer.” He laughed unpleasantly. “Take my word for it though, if you don’t do as I say my mates will fill you with arrows so quick you’ll die looking like a pair of giant fucking hedgehogs. Drop your weapons and throw your purses over here. Quick now. Those hares strung around your neck too.”

Eoin glanced down at Philip, who simply nodded and slipped his coin-purse – which was as good as empty – from his belt and tossed it onto the ground in front of the robber. Eoin followed suit, although his purse really was empty, and so light it flopped sadly to the ground only a short distance away from him.

“Oh for fuck sake,” the little robber spat in disgust. “Is that it? You two were hardly worth it.” He held up a hand and, with an air of bored resignation, spoke to the trees.

“Kill the big bastard first. I’ll deal with the other one myself.”

Philip dropped instantly, and swung his leg around, tripping Eoin just as an arrow tore through the air where they’d been standing.

He pushed himself back up onto one knee and drew his dagger.

“Get that little bastard,” he growled.

The thief brought his sword back, ready to charge, but Philip swept up a short, stout branch from the forest floor and threw it at his face. The man parried it just in time but the manoeuvre left him off balance, and the huge weight of Eoin barrelled viciously into him. They fell onto the ground with a thud that Philip imagined he could feel as well as hear.

“Hold him down,” he shouted to Eoin. “By the neck!”

He turned and addressed the trees and bushes all around them, a grin splitting his face as if this was a great game.

“You out there – you can shoot us, but my big friend there will snap your leader’s neck before he dies. Or, you can come out and we can talk.”

Eoin wasn’t just holding the downed robber; outraged at the attack, his hands were squeezing inexorably on the man’s throat.

“All right, all right!”

A man no older than thirty, longbow in hand but with – in stark contrast to his downed friend, no front teeth at all – slipped out from his hiding place to their rear. “Leave him be, let him up. We didn’t plan on killing you –”

“Just on taking all our money and leaving us as good as dead in the middle of the forest?” Philip finished the man’s sentence sarcastically. “Well, as you can see…” he retrieved the coin-purses he and Eoin had dropped and emptied them into his hand. “We haven’t got any fucking money. Did have, but we left it behind in Holmfirth when the law chased us out.”

Eoin had let the small robber up by now and they stood glaring at one another now: the giant and the purple-faced, breathless thief.

Philip gazed across at the little man, sizing him up, and came to the conclusion he’d rather go toe-to-toe with Eoin.

The dark-eyed robber had a maniacal gleam in his eye that was deeply disturbing. They’d need to be careful around this one although…if they could get him on their side…

“Come,” he smiled, walking forward and grasping the robber’s hand. “We’re all outlaws together aren’t we? You must be as hungry as we are.”

He reached up and pulled the hares on the string around his shoulders over his head with a grin. “Let’s eat.”