Archives for May 2012

Writing Blood of Aenarion (Part Three)

So there I was trying to decide whether to junk yet another opening. If you’ve read the book, you already know I didn’t and you also know why. The solution to the problem was pretty simple. It had already been established (in Daemonslayer, for example, and in the Daemons of Chaos book which was causing me so much trouble) that daemons can return from the dead. You can’t ever really kill them, only destroy their body. When this happens they are banished from mortal reality for a time until they can take a new form. All I needed to do was posit that N’Kari did this before the Battle of the Island of the Dead. Given the fact that this was at the height of the first and greatest Chaos incursion, when the Winds of Magic blew most strongly and mortal reality itself was under threat this was not too hard to justify.

I thought, OK, that’s N’Kari sorted, the opening set down and the basic structure of the book established. I already had given a fair amount of thought to the use of imagery, so all I needed to do was get on with it, and with my travels.

The contracts for the series came through while I was in Georgetown, so I signed them and couriered them off to my agent in the UK. I have to say that made me feel very writerly. I took a bus down to Malacca, the old spice port, to meet up with Jeff and Eve in time for Chinese New Year. 

I came across a quote  from some long dead Italian that said, he who controls Malacca has his hands on the throat of Venice. It was one of those things that gave a feel for the way maritime trade affects  the outlook of the people doing it. It got me thinking about the way the Elves of Lothern look at the world in big picture terms and see the ocean and the places on the coast as their backyard. 

In Malacca, one of the city streets had been transformed into a replica of an old street market complete with wooden arches as part of the celebration. Red lanterns were everywhere. My friends were staying in an old Chinese mansion that had been converted into a hotel. The hostel I was staying in was in a converted go-down (a combination house/warehouse) that would have seemed quite at home in the merchant city of Lothern. 

Bits and bobs of all this found their way into the book. I used the furnishings I saw in the hotel as part of my description of the Emeraldsea Mansion. I found myself inventing (or just outright lifting) little details for the local Elvish festival of Deliverance. In Lothern the great ball at which Tyrion is challenged to a duel takes place to celebrate the recovery of Aenarion’s lost children saved by the Treeman Oakheart. The scene is illuminated by green paper lanterns, there are small treeman dolls that acknowledge Oakheart’s place in history. Describing the festival was an easy, unobtrusive way of filtering some background knowledge about Elvish society and our heroes’ forebears into the text. 

As writers always do I smuggled small bits of my own experience into the narrative. We took a boat trip along the river canals in Malacca. At one point our small boat crossed the wake of another one and bobbled up and down in the disturbance. I lobbed this into the text as Tyrion was coming ashore in Lothern harbour, a small, concrete detail that makes things more convincing when you’re describing a fantastic city. While all this was going on I hit the halfway mark for the first draft of the book. 

Jeff and Eve departed and I took a bus up to Kuala Lumpur, a place I had passed through many times and had always wanted to spend more time in. I took a place in a hostel behind the huge Times Square shopping mall complex. I actually like staying in hostels when travelling because it gives me more of a chance to meet fellow travellers than staying in hotels. When you spend time on the road and on your own writing,  opportunities to socialise are to be welcomed. I ambled around Chinatown. I bought books.

I was nailing down the assorted characters as I wrote. I already had a pretty clear vision of Teclis from Giantslayer, clever, caustic, proud of his talent, insecure in his physical infirmity, compensating for it by forcing those around him to acknowledge his cleverness. He was a very flawed character but such are often the easiest to make interesting. Tyrion was more difficult. He was a golden boy, a hero, fearless, charming, attractive to women. In short, horrible to read about as anything except a wish-fulfillment fantasy figure. I wanted to keep him as all those things but somehow round him out, to make him more interesting, to show the flaws in this flawless elf.

There were some clues in Giantslayer. While acknowledging that he was a well-liked, charismatic, heroic figure, Teclis managed to convey the sense that his brother was suspected by many of their contemporaries and suspected of many different things. There was obviously something sinister behind the mask, or was there? Elves are a notoriously bitchy bunch and maybe it was jealousy made manifest. I knew I needed to work on this. 

I wanted to stress the physical contrast between the two so I made sure almost all the scenes Tyrion takes part in he is seen to be astonishingly physically active, while Teclis is mostly bed-ridden. I started this in the very first scene in which Tyrion appears and I kept it up throughout the book.

I wanted to show the twins growing up in isolation with their somewhat neglectful father, who is obsessed with repairing and recreating the Armour of Aenarion. I put in a scene where late at night Tyrion sneaks into his father’s lab and looks at the armour. He has no idea that his fate and that of the armour are going to be intertwined, but the reader does. It is one of the pivotal moments of his life, but as with so many such moments, he will not realise this until long, long afterwards. It is a bit of foreshadowing I am still very proud of. 

I knew Lothern was where Tyrion was going to come into his own. In Cothique, isolated in his father’s house, he was the outsider with not much in common with his scholarly wizard father and his intellectual brother. Like most boys he wants approval but in such a situation he cannot get it. In Lothern, where his wit, good looks and charm make him much more acceptable in a social situation, he finds the approval he seeks, and that, unlike his father, most people actually prefer him to his brother. 

The scene where it really came together is the ballroom scene where Tyrion is challenged to a duel and manipulates things so he has to fight it even though people are trying to give him a way out. He wants to kill the elf who challenged him. In the duel and its aftermath he comes to the chilling realisation that he likes killing and he is very, very good at it, and he’s only going to get better. It is this that really sets him apart and makes people suspect him. Underneath the intelligence, the good looks and the charm lies someone very frightening, a deadly killer when he lets himself off the leash. In a city where duels are often a form of legalised assassination, he becomes someone who is useful to have on your side.

I was happy with the way Tyrion was starting to come through, and the N’Kari storyline sped along. I traced the trail of carnage the Keeper of Secrets left all over the map and wondered how the Elves would solve the puzzle. The solution came from a most unusual source. Of which more next time.

Blood of Aenarion has made the short list of the David Gemmell Legend Award. You can vote here.

Writing Blood of Aenarion (Part Two)

After realising I was going to have to start all over again, I read and re-read the descriptions of the twins conflict with N’Kari and considered my options. This was not going to be an easy story to write. As things were stated it took place at the Shrine of Asuryan. There were no encounters between the twins and the Keeper of Secrets prior to that point as the daemon rampaged around Ulthuan slaying the heirs of Aenarion. I realised that this was going to be a difficult tale to structure because the heroes and their main antagonist only meet once at the very end. There would be no slow build up of conflict between heroes and villains.

Most of the action of the story as written was performed by N’Kari (unsurprisingly since this was taken from a Daemon Army Book). In Daemons of Chaos there were plenty of details of N’Kari’s rampage and lots of excellent opportunities for describing the sort of battles, sieges and violent action that readers of a Warhammer novel expect but the Keeper of Secrets was the one doing all the travelling and slaying and decision making. Our heroes didn’t even get to react to it. They were sent to the sacred island of the Shrine by the Phoenix King for their own protection. Normally I like to have my protagonists out there, making things happen, reacting to events. I think this is particularly important in the military fantasy genre which Warhammer inhabits. A character who is shunted from pillar to post with no control over his fate is not terribly interesting to read about.

The structural problems were not the only ones that had arisen. There was the simple fact that I had already written well over 20000 words and I was loath to scrap all of them, particularly since I felt  some of them were amongst the best writing I had done. I wandered around Georgetown, drinking the famous white coffee and eating the brilliant food and thinking about this. Preparations were starting to get under way for the Chinese New Year and I was trying to organise travelling down to Malacca to meet up with Eve and Jeff after they got back from Vietnam. Travelling over the Chinese New Year period in Malaysia can be difficult. I have had experience of it in the past. It did not make me any less stressed.

I thought, of course, there was one big advantage to all of this; N’Kari is one of the prime movers in the Elf War when he is bound by Malekith to serve him and eventually unleashed to hunt down Tyrion and the Everqueen. This was something here I could use to tie the structure of the books together ever more tightly. I was sure of it.

A bit at a time I began to unravel the problem. I realised that I was absolutely going to have to make the N’Kari plotline the dramatic spine of the book. In some ways writing a Warhammer novel is like writing a historical novel, you have to go with what is already written in the background text, build on what’s already there, weave your characters into the established events. 

I began to sketch out an outline of a sort of serial killer tale, told partially from the point of view of N’Kari and partially from the point of view of his victims. It would, of course, be a horror story. It would let me ratchet up the tension in one way because the reader would know that the daemon was coming for Tyrion and Teclis and that they were going to have to face him. It would also be a mystery story for, while the reader would know what was going on, the Elves of Ulthuan would not. Someone would need to work out why the attacks were happening in order to stop them. This would give us a chance to look at high politics in Ulthuan and watch the Phoenix King and his court react in a crisis.

I also needed to involve Tyrion and Teclis because this was after all their book. Fortunately Lothern is a dangerous city swirling with intrigue and violence so while these events unfolded our heroes could be caught up violent intrigue, assassination attempts and duels. I wanted to have Tyrion kill his first elf before the confrontation with N’Kari to show quite how cold and dangerous an elf he was even while very young. I wanted Teclis to demonstrate the first glimmerings of his awesome magical powers because it was a fact that would need to be established before the fight with N’Kari. I also wanted to give the reader a sense of the dangerous depths of High Elvish politics. Behind everything lurked the threat of Malekith, the the Witch King and his agent Urian who was taking a personal interest in the twins.

I performed triage on what I had already written. I realised that with a fair bit of rewriting I could use the original framing sequence as a part of the straight chronological narrative in Book 3. This actually had advantages. It gave me a beacon to navigate by. It meant I already had a scene that I knew was going to be in book 3 and more to the point it was an important one which set the tone of much of the action preceding it. I began to think I could make all this work.

There remained one problem.

I had an opening sequence written where the twins were summoned from their father’s villa in Cothique to Lothern to a meeting with the Phoenix King to be tested for the Curse of Aenarion. It introduced a number of the major characters such as the White Lion Korhein Ironglaive and the twins’ sorcerer aunt Malene. It gave a sense of the (vast) economic power of our heroes’ relatives and the fact that they came from a relatively despised and minor part of the family. I had taken the twins all the way from Cothique to Lothern at this stage and introduced their city-dwelling kinfolk and their rather sinister grandfather. It was all very interesting from a cultural and character development point of view but it was not exactly action packed.

One thing the original opening had done was provide a hook to engage the reader and promise thrilling action to follow. Once that was gone I had an opening section that basically consisted of the twin’s taking a sea voyage to Lothern, albeit a fairly exciting one with storms at sea and threats of death bubbling away in the background. It was a very quiet opening, not exactly suitable for the beginning of a great Warhammer epic.

I realised that it all came back to the greater daemon N’Kari. One thing struck me immediately. N’Kari was freed from his prison by a great lightning storm. I had already written a scene in which there is an enormous storm at sea in which the ship our heroes are travelling on almost founders. Obviously these events could be connected. This would also start the clock ticking on my timeline. N’Kari would be freed as the twins were already en route to Lothern. Teclis could even sense the event happening. The reader would know the daemon and the Elvish lads were on a collision course.

I kept gnawing away at this idea. N’Kari was seeking vengeance on the line of Aenarion for his defeat at the hands of the first Phoenix King. I realised it did not just come back to N’Kari. It also came back to Aenarion. Hell, his name was there in the title of the book. An idea struck me. Instead of having a framing sequence I could have a prologue showing the reason why N’Kari was seeking vengeance. I could show the clash between Aenarion and N’Kari. I could also show any reader who did not already know exactly who Aenarion was and why he was important.

And here I confess a simple mistake on my part affected the structure of the entire series. I was convinced that N’Kari was the Keeper of Secrets that Aenarion fought at the Island of the Dead when he faced four Greater Daemons of Chaos to protect Caledor as he created the Vortex that would save the world from the threat of Chaos. I was completely confident of this and I had reason to be. Hell, I wrote the original version of this more than 20 years ago back when I was working on the first High Elf Army book.

I had what I immodestly considered a great idea. My prologue would be that cataclysmic battle. I would open with the last day of Aenarion’s life, show him defeating N’Kari in the most decisive way imaginable and have the Greater Daemon slink off into the newly created Vortex in a pathetic bid to escape the angry demi-god. This would show how he had come to be bound.

The more I thought about this, the more I liked it. Start with the Apocalypse, build to a climax, to paraphrase Samuel Goldwyn. Not only that I could let the reader see Aenarion and experience all the reasons why the Elves considered him so great. I could show the decisive event of Elvish history on the day it happened. I could introduce the reader to Caledor and Morathi, two of the four titanic figures who have shaped Elvish history to the present day and whose influence would be felt later in the series. I could show the reader what unleashed Chaos was like and why the destruction of the Vortex in the era of Tyrion and Teclis was an event to be truly feared. I could explain to readers the Curse of Aenarion and how it came about in the most vivid way possible.

I could do all of this and describe one of the most kickass battles in Warhammer history. What was not to love? Here was an introduction to grab a reader’s attention and no mistake. Filled with wild enthusiasm, I sat down and I wrote it in a white hot frenzy. And, by Sigmar, it was a blast to write, a 9000 word description of the end of the Warhammer world and the last doomed stand of the desperate few trying to prevent it. It had armies of demons, flight of dragons, the death of the first and greatest Archmage, the fall of the demi-god who was quite possibly the most powerful being ever to walk the face of the planet. When I finished I thought it was the best opening chapter I had ever written.

There was only one problem. Something was niggling at the back of my mind. I went back and read the High Elf book and I found no reference to N’Kari being at the battle of the Island of the Dead. Indeed Aenarion had defeated him a century before to end the Rape of Ulthuan. Damn, I thought. Just goes to show, it’s not what we don’t know that hurts us, it’s the things we think we know which ain’t so.  

Was I going to have to go back to the drawing board again?

To be continued.

Blood of Aenarion is on the shortlist for the David Gemmell Legend Award. You can vote in the second stage of the voting here.

Writing Blood of Aenarion (Part One)

Sometimes a book goes exactly the way you always thought such things would back when you were a kid dreaming about being a writer. You get to visit glamorous, exotic locations, eat great food, lounge around in your pyjamas (or your swimsuit) and do exactly what you would do back home, only patting yourself on the back about how lucky you are and how excellent your choice of career was. Writing Blood of Aenarion was like that for me.

I got an email from my agent about writing the Tyrion and Teclis trilogy late in 2009. It was an exciting prospect, returning to work in the Warhammer universe and writing about the twins who are the greatest heroes of the High Elves. As long ago as the early 90s I thought I would do this series, when I had worked on the High Elf army books back in the Games Workshop Design Studio in Nottingham.

I sent in a short outline based on a framing the story around an introduction set on the night before the Battle of Finuval Plain and then flashing back to show how the twins got there. I wrote a 5000 words framing sequence that took place the day before the battle as an example of how I proposed to do the thing. In it we saw a skirmish between forces led by Urian Poisonblade, the Dark Elf champion and Tyrion, and then its aftermath where Tyrion and his twin Teclis discuss the upcoming battle, and what it means for the Elves and themselves. One of the implications was that Urian and Tyrion knew each other and had even perhaps once been friends. Now how had that happened? It was an interesting question to leave dangling before a reader. It was a dark, ominous sequence hinting at betrayal, pain, love and disaster. I was pretty pleased with it.

The folks at Black Library wanted a meeting to discuss the project. I was on a tight schedule since I had visitors over the New Year and was due to fly to Singapore on the 16th of January via Qatar in the Gulf. The only date that really suited was around the 12th. So on a snowy day in January I found myself dropping from the sky over Nottingham and heading into the Imperial Command Bunker.

I met up with Lindsey Priestley and Nick Kyme. We discussed the broad outline of the trilogy. Most of this centred on book one because we knew that the second and third two books would be covered by the events of the war detailed in the High Elf army book.

Book one was therefor going to be a sort of prequel to all this, introducing the main characters and showing their adventures before the epic events of war between the Dark Elves and High Elves. We settled on a quest to the Chaos Wastes in the company of a Dark Elf spy who would betray our heroes and later turn out to be the great druchii assassin Urian Poisonblade. There was a reason for this. I wanted Tyrion and the Dark Elf to have some personal history before their great dramatic confrontation on Finuval Plain. It’s always a lot more satisfying when such a conflict is personal. Nick suggested making Korhein Ironglaive Tyrion’s mentor and close personal friend for the same reason. This seemed like a very good idea to me.

The only cloud on the horizon was that someone had brought up the possibility of the twins meeting N’Kari while still very young and the dates being a good century or so before the events of the Elf War. This was all news to me. I did not recall reading anything about it in the High Elf army book. It was also very far from my original plan of having the Elf War take place when the twins were still young. 120 may be young for an elf but they would not quite be the untested heroes I had originally thought them to be. The people in Nottingham went off to fact check this and I headed off back to Prague for a day or two before flying off to Singapore.

My resolution for 2010 was to write 1000 words every day. That being the case I had started on the book even before I went to Nottingham. On the day of the meeting I  got up early to write 1000 words before going into Black Library. At this point there were no contracts for the series and not even final approval on the outline but I was excited and I wanted to get on with it. I kept writing even as I travelled.

I flew from Prague to Munich and sat in a departure lounge full of scary men with very short haircuts who, judging by the conversations they were having on their mobile phones, were military contractors of various sorts. There was some sort of terrorist scare in the airport that day when someone breached security and was not located. I read about this later but it in no way interfered with my flight.

My flight stopped over in Doha in Qatar. At 2 am in the desert morning I was sitting at a table in the airport Costa writing about Elves and watching people in traditional Arab dress queue for flights to exotic locations that I hope someday to visit. I wrote my thousand words and joined a queue myself. I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jes Goodwin nearly twenty years ago when we were first working on the High Elf army book. Jes had the idea that the Elves were a sort of quintessence of the western idea of the exotic east, a sort of Warhammer manifestation of Edward Said’s Orientalism. It seemed an auspicious coincidence that I was writing my first elf novel under these circumstances.

I arrived in Singapore jetlagged but this did not stop me. I booked myself into the Holiday Inn down near Clarke Quay, drank a lot of coffee and pushed on very slowly with the writing. I was in Singapore for a few days, letting my body adjust to the heat, the jetlag and the new routine. In the meantime I met up with my friend’s Jeff and Eve for a meal in Chinatown.They were passing through Singapore en route to Vietnam.

Before they went on their way we had high tea on the top of the Stamford Hotel, the tallest hotel in South East Asia. The view was like that from the flight deck of an airliner coming in to land. Out at sea I noticed many, many ships all heading in to the port. It was something I would use in my description of the sea lanes approaching the port city of  Lothern later.

That night, jetlagged, out of sorts and obviously falling back under the influence of the Warhammer world I dreamed my room was in a SF convention hotel and outside in the corridor Felix and Gotrek fought flamers of Tzeentch. When I went out to find out what the noise was they insisted I join them. I shut the door and hid. 

I booked a bus ticket to Georgetown in Penang in Malaysia. It’s a bus journey I have done not a few times in the past but this time was almost perfect, in the mountains between Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, there was the most astonishing thunderstorm. It lit up the night, revealing tall, jagged edged mountains. The rain lashed against the bus window and still jet-lagged I lay awake watching the storm as the bus pulled into out of the way little towns and dropped passengers off in windswept streets in the middle of the night. Later, when describing the apocalyptic storm that frees the Greater Daemon N’Kari from his magical imprisonment, the experience of this bus-ride was very useful.

Georgetown is one of my favourite towns in the world. It has a well-preserved, somewhat rundown core, full of old Chinese shophouses and temples and interesting cafes, along with a well-developed backpacker scene. I booked myself into the Continental Hotel where I had written large chunks of the Space Wolf saga almost ten years before. Unfortunately standards had slipped somewhat. The wooden headboard of my bed had become home to a nest of cockroaches. I discovered this by waking to them running across my face in the night. It was a less than thrilling experience. I moved hotels and kept working, finding a truly excellent food court near the new hotel. I ate one of the local soups which had a lozenge of what I assumed was dyed tofu in it. Later I discovered it was congealed pig’s blood. The soup was excellent.

I walked through the streets looking at everything, soaking up atmosphere, some of which made its way into the book. Lothern is a hot, port city, the shop-houses and temples surrounding me inspired some descriptions of its streets. I pushed on with writing the sequence set in the mountains of Cothique which introduced the twins, their father and the Armour of Aenarion. 

Bad news came in. It was absolutely, definitely the case that our heroes had encountered N’Kari one hundred years or more before I had imagined they were even born. The information was in the Daemons of Chaos army book, not the High Elf one. My whole plotline and framing device went out the window. Obviously so momentous event as encountering and besting a greater daemon of Slaanesh while still teenagers could not just be skipped over. It was almost certainly a central and formative event in their life and a direct connection to the time of Aenarion. It was back to the drawing board and time to completely redraft the outline of Book One.

To be continued!

Blood of Aenarion is on the shortlist of the David Gemmell Legend Award. You can vote here in the second round of voting.

 

Death’s Angels Finally Free In The UK

As of Tuesday evening Death’s Angels, my dark fantasy tale of mercenary soldiers in a world haunted by ancient demon gods, is free on Amazon UK as well as iTunes UK. That means you can now download the book for free most anywhere I can manage it, should you feel so inclined.

Why have I done this? Glad you asked.

It all started with my post about the general disappointment in the indie community caused by Amazon’s tinkering with its algorithms for free promotions using the Select program. The net result of this has been that books no longer get the huge sales spikes coming off free promotions that they used to.

My argument was that this was probably never Amazon’s intention. People had lost sight of the basic purpose which is simply to put your work into the hands of otherwise uncommitted readers. A freebie takes away any financial risk from this and (theoretically, at least) encourages people to give your book and its sequels a try. 

This got me thinking about the potential long term benefits of simply making the first book in a series free. As I’ve pointed out before the Terrarch series is quite exotic; a gunpowder military fantasy with elements of old fashioned sword and sorcery, so it’s chances of getting an audience under the old system of publishing were never high. It’s how I came to end up indie publishing it in the first place. 

I am really pleased with the results I have had so far and now I am hoping to try and take things still further. One of the best things about indie publishing is being able to experiment until you find something that works. By making book one in the series free, I am basically gambling the 35 cents/ 25 pence I make per sale on Death’s Angels against the (potentially) increased readership for the later books. 

Long term readers of this blog will know I have always been a big proponent of the low cost loss-leader for series. The 99 cent/ 77p introductory offer on Death’s Angels has served me very well. Worldwide I have sold roughly 5000 Death’s Angels with something like 7320 follow-on sales for the rest of the series. I am starting to reckon the appeal of the 99 cent loss leader is more or less over in this era of free ebooks. Indeed there is evidence to suggest that Amazon has started actively discriminating against lower priced e-books so I could be shooting myself in the foot by continuing to do this.

Another reason for trying the free promotion is that my readership has mostly been in the UK. For whatever reason I’ve always sold far less of the Terrarch books in the US and nothing much was changing there. A lot of people have reported doing very well out of making the first book in a series free in the US. I figure I might as well try this and see if it could get a few more readers on Amazon.com.

Anyway, the basic deal is I will let Death’s Angels roam free for a month and see how things go. If sales for the series go up or even stay the same I will let the promotion run for another month, if not I will return Death’s Angels to paid, mostly likely at a higher price point so I can test that!

For those of you interested in the technicalities of doing this, the process is quite simple. You simply upload the book to Smashwords, set the price to free and distribute it from there to Barnes & Noble and iTunes. All you need to do then is wait for Amazon’s price matching robots to pick it up and drop the price on Amazon. Sometimes there is a lag in this happening which is why Death’s Angels was free for a few days in the US but not in the UK. 

As ever, I will report back on my findings on this blog at some future point when I remember to do so. 

Death’s Angels Free

Just wanted to make a quick announcement that Death’s Angels, the first book in the Terrarch series will be available free for a limited time on Amazon.com, B&N and iTunes US and UK. For some reason, it refuses to go free on Amazon.co.uk but you can download it from Smashwords. Alternatively, if you get really desperate, you can email me with your reader type and I will send you a copy in a format suitable for your machine. 

Year One

Exactly one year ago today I started writing this blog. Not many people noticed because I did not allow it to be picked up by the search engines for some time after that. I had tried maintaining a blog on several occasions in the past and always given up after a few posts. I wanted to see if I could produce posts on a regular schedule before risking public failure again. I wrote a few, decided it was not too difficult and pushed on. The very first post I wrote was a very short response to seeing Game of Thrones. I followed this up with a number of posts about Linux which I was seriously considering moving to for work purposes. 

Over the year I have had roughly 37000 hits and seem to have settled down to getting about 4000 to 5000 hits a month these days. That’s more than I expected. 

It’s been an interesting year in more ways than one. I announced the birth of my son, William Karel here just before Christmas. I wrote about Blood of Aenarion, my first fantasy novel for Black Library in almost eight years which was released last Christmas. It was nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and is on the short list even as we speak. (You can vote in this round here.) I’ve written about the small triumphs and setbacks of my self-publishing venture. 

To begin with I tried to follow the advice of assorted blogging gurus and post three times a week. I confess I found it more than a little difficult to keep up with while writing novels at the same time. I slowed down in January after my 100th post. According to my WordPress installation this will be my 127th post, which is pretty good going, working out at  just under  2.5 a week. 

The subtitle of the blog is Warhammer, Writing and Whatever Else Is On My Mind. I did write a lot about Warhammer which was pretty inevitable, mostly about Elves and Macharius.I wrote a fair bit about writing as well. 

 I did not foresee that I would end up writing so much about e-books. At the time I had no real idea how much those were going to change my view of publishing. One of the reasons I have written so much about them is because they did. We are living through an era of great changes in the industry, certainly the largest of my lifetime. It has been fun to look on and comment on this. The two most popular posts on the blog were concerned with the nuts and bolts of self-publishing.

I expected to write a lot more about gaming both pen and paper and computer games, in particularly massively multi-player online games which have been a hobby of mine for a number of years now. Hopefully in the upcoming year I will get to write a bit more about World of Warcraft and Guild Wars 2 which I am looking forward to enormously. I may do some reviews of pen and paper games when I have the time. 

The five most popular posts have been:

1) Create Your Own E-Book Cover

2) Create Your Own Kindle E-Book

3) The E-Book Experiment: Six Month Report 

4) High Elves, Dark Elves, All Elves

5) The Fastest Book I Ever Wrote

The last of those was not written by me but was a guest post from my old friend Matt Forbeck.

I would have liked to finish this post with a look forward towards what I am planning for the next year. However, it’s the nature of blogs that you tend to respond to what’s going on in your life and the world around you and if I knew what was going to happen I would be making my living as a prophet not a writer. There’s that old saying, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. It is a wise one so I’ll just take this opportunity to thank you for reading this and I hope you’ll be doing so again in another year.