Happy to be Back!

It’s been far too long since I wrote a post and I’ve really missed doing so. Unfortunately, sometimes life gets in the way, and/or other things must take precedence. Last year was not a good year for my family. We had so many illnesses to deal with, some of them worryingly serious. All in all, I got little writing done at all, either on my books or my blog. So this year has been a mad rush to get Book 3 of my Sons of Kings series finished, edited and formatted and published on Amazon. And, at last, this is it:

It was uploaded onto Amazon a couple of weeks ago, so I can now start to relax a little and get back to writing a few blog posts. Well, that’s the plan… On the other hand, Book 3 didn’t finish either of my protagonists’ stories, so I am now writing Book 4. My trilogy has become a series (or perhaps a quadrilogy).

All three of my Sons of Kings books will be 99p/$0.99 until July 31st. After that, Book 1 (Shadow of the Raven)  will be 99p for a little longer, Book 2 (Pit of Vipers) will be $1.99 and Book 3 (Wyvern of Wessex) will be $2.99, the usual price for each of the three books.

My book of short stories and flash fiction pieces will be still at its usual price of £1.49/$1.97. Amazon won’t allow it to be any lower because of the number of coloured images I’ve included. I had intended this book to be permanently 99p!

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Thoughts on Writing a Trilogy

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When I first started planning my ninth century novel about King Alfred and his battle against the Danes, I intended it to be just a single book.

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Statue of King Alfred in Wantage, where he was born.

I’d spent a long time researching the period, as well as spending time in Denmark and visiting various sites around Britain. So I had files full of information.  As I continued to plan the book, I decided to widen the story by including a second protagonist. Eadwulf’s story became as long, and as important as Alfred’s

So that was the end of my plan to write a single book: I am presently writing Book Three of the trilogy.

Looking back, I now think I should have stuck with the idea of a single book. Not that I’m unhappy with the way my story is unfolding but . . .

. . .  it all comes down to ‘The trials and tribulations of a first time novelist‘, which I wrote a post about when my blog had barely started.

On top of all the other problems that first-time writers encounter with self-publication and even more so, with self-promotion, I’ve come to realise that a trilogy isn’t the best thing to write first time round. A one-off would have been so much easier to present to traditional publishers as well as being easier to market and promote. Nor would I have felt under as much pressure to finish the next book in line. I’ve had several people who’ve reviewed both books saying they’re now waiting for Book 3. Oh dear…

These are the covers of the first two books of the Sons of Kings trilogy:

Where I went wrong was in not waiting until I had finished  Book 3– or had at least written a good part of it – before publishing the first two books. I’ve read advice from various sources telling me that most readers aren’t happy to start reading trilogies unless they know they can work their way straight thorough all three books, so it’s best to wait until all three books are finished. I’m not sure whether that’s strictly true, but I do know that readers don’t like to wait too long for the next book to appear. I’m always eager to get my hands on the next book in a series I like, myself.

Well, it’s now almost a year since I finished writing Book 2, and I’d hoped to finish Book 3 by the end of this year. Unfortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time doing other things this year – including spending time away from home and writing a lot of longish posts on WordPress – and I’ve still some way to go before finishing the book.

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It’s on this note that I have to say that from now my posts will be less frequent than they have been since earlier this year. I’m not taking a complete blogging break, just easing things off.

I also want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to all of you who downladed a free copy of Book One:  Shadow of the Raven during its recent promotion on Amazon. I was really pleased with the overall number of downloads this time!

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The Shadow of a Book Promotion

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Tomorrow, for four days (18th-21st November) Book One of my Viking trilogy, Shadow of the Raven, will be free again on Amazon. I know that many of you ordered a copy last time it was free – for which I’m extremely grateful. As I’m sure everyone knows, it’s a great help to self-published authors just to have copies of their books ‘bought’ in this way, as it helps to make the book more visible on Amazon. Of course, it’s even better if people read and review it. As many other authors have said on WordPress, reviews are like gold dust to authors.

Both of my books are available from all Amazon marketplaces. Here are the two main links to Shadow of the Raven:

Amnazon.com:

Amazon.co.uk:

On this occasion, I’ve no other topic to accompany this short post, so I thought I’d add a short scene from Shadow . . .  Shadow of the Raven (Medium)

This part of the story is set in the Danish lands where Eadwulf, son of the Mercian king, has been taken as a thrall (slave). In this scene, he is forced to flee from the village by Ivar and Halfdan, the two vindictive sons of Jarl Ragnar.  Now Eadwulf is being pursued by Halfdan and his two minions, Skorri and Reinn  – and the vicious wolf-dog, Viggi.  Bjorn, who also appears in this scene, is Ivar and Halfdan’s older brother, the jarl’s firstborn.

Eadwulf has reached the forest in hope of shelter, only to find the pathway he chose blocked by a massive, fallen oak – just as Halfdan and the wolf dog catch him up:

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‘So, Mercian, time for Viggi’s reward, I think,’ Halfdan said slowly, straining to hold the the snarling dog in check. ‘Nice try at the river, by the way, but I knew you must have crossed somewhere once the water became shallower. Didn’t take much to work that out. The broken branches and flattened grasses up the bank were a bit of a giveaway. And naturally, Viggi had no problem picking up your scent across the heath.’ Halfdan picked gorse flowers and bits of foliage from his breeks with his free hand and smoothed down his tunic. ‘Nothing to say, thrall?  Then let’s get this done with.’

Halfdan bent to unfasten the leather leash, the two boys peering from behind him, slavering in anticipation of gruesome entertainment.

‘Release the dog, Halfdan, and it’s dead.’

Halfdan spun round in alarm, treading on the hound’s tail and falling against Skorri and Reinn, bringing them down with him. The dog let out a yelp and snapped at Halfdan’s ankles, causing him to cry out in pain. The sight of his red-headed brother ready to loose the arrow from his bowstring caused Halfdan to emit such a startled cry that Eadwulf almost laughed.

‘What are you doing here, Bjorn? How long have you been standing there?’ Guilt coloured Halfdan’s face and he seemed to shrink beneath Bjorn’s scathing gaze.

‘More importantly, what exactly are you doing here? But before you attempt your feeble explanations, Halfdan, I’ll answer your second question: I’ve been here long enough to see what you were about to do and apparently I’m only just in time to put a stop to it!’

Bjorn glowered at Halfdan, his arrow aimed unwaveringly at the dog. His gaudy evening tunic and baggy trousers were muddy and adorned with fragments of heath. ‘I’ve been roused before daybreak with a tale of my brothers’ wicked scheme and the request that I dash across miles of open land to deal with it. I’m now saturated to the skin and exhausted by moving faster than Sleipnir across the sky. Is it any wonder my temper’s simmering close to boiling?’ He released his breath with controlled calmness. ‘What I demand, Halfdan, is an explanation: preferably one that sheds a more favourable light on these antics and possibly justifies your behaviour, which frankly I, for one, cannot condone.’

Halfdan hung his head, mustering up the courage to answer. ‘We were apprehending an escaped thrall,’ he lied, looking for support from his two minions. But they had shrunk into the shadows, fearful of the authority of Ragnar’s firstborn. ‘This thrall thought he could just run away – from the jarl!’

‘And just why should he do that?  Where do you think a boy, a foreigner at that, could run to in a strange land? And manage to survive, of course?’

‘How should I know where he’d go? We just saw him running off.’

‘And at what hour would that have been?’

Halfdan’s brow puckered. ‘Perhaps two or three hours before sunrise.’

‘And you and Ivar are usually outside at that time?’

‘No, but . . .’ Halfdan faltered, clearly searching for a plausible lie. ‘We were roused by noises outside.’

‘So, you’re saying that this would-be escapee made so much noise he could have roused the whole village?’

Halfdan stared at his half-brother, opening his mouth to reply, but the words seemed firmly lodged in his throat. At length he garbled, ‘I saw the thrall running off when I went to the, um, latrine. I ran and told Ivar, who said that Viggi would soon find him. So we followed his trail to here . . .’

Bjorn’s bowstring remained resolutely taut. ‘Unfortunately for you, I have evidence to verify that events took place quite differently.’ He shook his head, his expression more of sorrow than anger. ‘And it’s apparent that had I not arrived when I did, Eadwulf would now be little more than a bloody mound at your feet!’

Unable to find words of reply, Halfdan remained mute, returning Bjorn’s calculating stare with cold-eyed defiance.

‘Get back to the village, the three of you,’ Bjorn said, flicking his bow. ‘You’ve no idea how tempted I am to sink this arrow in that evil cur’s skull anyway. Believe me, Halfdan, you’ll not get away with this. I’m not the only one who knows the truth of your intentions for this day.’

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