April 30th this year marked 2 years since I decided to try self-publishing and released Crimes Against Magic on an unsuspecting world. A lot has happened in 2 years. So, I thought I’d go through some of the highlights in, sort of, chronological order.
Selling a copy.
On the opening day of release in 2012, I sold 28 copies of Crimes Against Magic and was, frankly, astonished. I wasn’t really to know how things would change over the next year, but it was a hell of a start.
Getting e-mails from people.
This never gets old. Not once. I always love to hear from people who have enjoyed my work. I’d be crazy not to.
Breaking the top 10 in my genre
A great moment for me. I think the first time it happened, in July 2012, I got to #8 in urban fantasy in the US.
Publishing my second book
Born of Hatred was also self-published in Dec 2012.
Getting to the top 10 in my genre the UK.
Jan 2013, I had both books in the top 10 Urban Fantasy in the UK. It’s always nice to do well anywhere, but it was pretty special to get it that high up in my own country.
Feb 2013 I got a call from my now publisher, 47North who offered me the chance to work with them. I said yes. Turns out that was a pretty good call on my part.
September 2013, both Born of Hatred and Crimes Against Magic are re-released by 47North with edited content and new covers.
Top 100 part 1
Oct 2013 was the first time I broke the top 100 in the US and Canada.
I release my first novella, Infamous Reign. I’m quite proud of that little story, even if it did take me longer to write than Born of Hatred.
Top 100 part 2
By Feb 2014, Crimes Against Magic was in the kindle top 100 in US, Canada, UK, Germany and Australia. Born of Hatred was in UK, US and Canada.
With Silent Screams
Feb 14th was the release of Book 3, With Silent Screams. It went in the top 100 in several countries, as well as hitting the number 1 spot in 7 genres, and appears to have gone down well.
Getting a phone call from Waterstones to be asked if they can stock my books because people are asking for them was a massive moment for me.
April 2014, I got myself an agent in the form of Paul Lucas from Janklow and Nesbit.
It’s been a crazy 2 years, and I’ve met some awesome people, specifically my 47North brethren who have both incredibly fun to get to know and more help than I could possibly hope for. If there’s a closer group of writers working for any other publisher, I’d be astonished.
I’m writing Book 4, Prison of Hope, and should have a release date for you about both that and book 5 soon enough. I’ve got other things I want to write too, so I’m hoping to start the first book in a new series at the end of the year. Other than that, I have no idea what the future holds, but so long as I continue to enjoy writing and people enjoy reading my ramblings, I’ll be pretty happy.
The Hellequin Chronicles seems to have struck a chord with readers. People tell me they enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them, and I can’t ask for anymore than that.
I don’t usually use my blog to post deals and things for my books, but I figured this one might interest a few people.
Both Crimes Against magic and Born of Hatred are featured in Amazon’s Bounceback Deal.
Basically if you buy any Science Fiction or Fantasy book before 31st Jan, you can get both of my books for $0.99 each. For more details, here’s a link.
Personally, I think that’s a pretty fine deal, although I’ll freely admit to being slightly biased about that.
So there you go, a little bit of news for those of you who may not have read the books before but are interested in doing so.
If you’ve read the title of the post and come here expecting to learn how to win something, then you’re in the right place. And it’s something that I think is pretty cool.
So first how to win. What you need to do is follow this link to my author page on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/hellequinchronicles. Once there, like my page and then in the post about the competition, tell me why you’d like to win. That simple. I’ll pick the winner at random in 10 days.
So there you have it. Go like my author page, tell me why you’d like to win and maybe you will.
Yeah, I know, you don’t hear anything from me in a few weeks and then you get posts every day. I promise i’ll be more timely in a few weeks.
But at the moment, I just wanted to take a second to post some more links for people to go to. I’ve done a few fun interviews and guest posts and figured a few people might be interested in reading my ramblings.
First up: Books, Books and More Books have a guest post of mine where I discuss character. They also have a giveaway where people can win a copy of each book.
The incredibly patient (because I forgot to send her what I said I was going to) Lesley Smith has a look at Crimes Against Magic and Born of Hatred.
The very talented Melissa Olson interviews me about writing and my books.
The equally talented Richard Ellis Preston Jr has an interview with me too.
That’s it for today. I’ll be doing a few of these and if you get time you really should go have a read as they were fun to do. Remember if you re-tweet or share my twitter and FB status’ about my books, your name goes in a hat to win the chance to name your own character in book 4! Only 1 week left.
Before I go, thanks to everyone for making yesterday’s launch day, an awesome day all round.
That’s right, I’m back already. 2 posts in 1 day. This time, I’m pleased to be able to present to you all the new cover for Born of Hatred, which is being re-released by 47North on 17th September 2013.
Book 2 in the Hellequin Chronicles.
There are some things even a centuries-old sorcerer hesitates to challenge…
When Nathan Garret’s friend seeks his help investigating a bloody serial killer, the pattern of horrific crimes leads to a creature of pure malevolence, born of hatred and dark magic. Even with all his powers, Nate fears he may be overmatched. But when evil targets those he cares about and he is confronted by dire threats both old and new, Nate must reveal a secret from his recently remembered past to remind his enemies why they should fear him once more.
Born of Hatred, set in modern London with historical flashbacks to America’s Old West, continues the dark urban fantasy of Crimes Against Magic, the acclaimed first book in the gritty and action-packed Hellequin Chronicles.
The book has edits and changes to the original story that was published December 2012, and is available to pre-order:
Well, it’s been 2 weeks since I announced my signing with 47North and I’d just like to take a moment to say thanks for everyone who offered their congratulations.
The support has been pretty much universal, but there have been questions, so I figured I’d take the opportunity to go through them.
What’s happening to books 1 and 2?
They’re being re-released in Sept of this year with new covers and some edits inside. The story remains the same, but the edits will change a few bits and make a few things easier on the reader. If it make you feel better, think of them as my Director’s Cut.
When will book 3 be released?
Are there more Hellequin Chronicles books to come?
Yes, I have notes for lots of them. So there’s going to be no shortage of stories.
Will Prison of Hope, book 4, be released in 2014?
I have no idea. Ask me the question after book 3 is released and I may have a different answer. But I have to write it first.
Will there be any novella’s?
Yes, yes there will be. I’ve got notes for quite a few of those too. One of which, Infamous Reign, will be hopefully released this Halloween. I’ll go into more details soon, but it’s turning into quite the enjoyable little story. And hopefully it’ll be a nice way to get ready for With Silent Screams.
I think they were the main questions I received over the past fortnight, but if you have any others, feel free to ask and I’ll put them in my next blog.
So, now onto the results of the competition.
Firstly, thanks to everyone who entered. Because there were so many people taking part, I’ve decided to not only give away a Paperwhite to the winner, but also signed copies of Born of Hatred to the next 2 names picked.
And without further ado. My lovely assistant, Harley, will draw a name from a hat.
Firstly, the two runners up, who both get a free signed copy of Born of Hatred.
and the winner is:
Congrats to all of the winners. You all have 14 days to let me know where to send your winnings.
For those of you who have been reading my blog, or indeed read my acknowledgements in the back of Born of Hatred, you’d know that 2012 was a bit of a crazy year for me. 1 baby daughter, 2 published books (and their subsequent ‘success’) and a house move was quite a lot to go through in what amounted to a six-month period.
So, I thought I’d make everyone aware of what my writing plans are for this year (considering the unlikely event of more children or a house move, I think I may also get some sleep too).
With Silent Screams – Hellequin Chronicles Book 3.
I’m writing this at the moment. And I’m about 1/3 of the way through. It’s set almost totally in North America, and introduces a few new characters and species.
Release – Probably summer, at least that’s the plan at the moment.
Prison of Hope – Hellequin Chronicles Book 4.
I’ve made some fairly intensive notes for it and will get round to starting it when the current draft of book 3 is done. I don’t want to say too much about it, but I’ve been looking forward to writing this one for a while.
Release – Hopefully before Christmas.
I also have plans to write several short stories. Most of these will be a few thousand words at most, and will be available to read on my blog for free. When I have enough of them to actually put a book out, I’ll collect them and do just that as I know some people would like to have a copy they can read wherever they like. And anytime I can get Eamon to do another cover for me usually works out well.
Some of these short stories are:
Infamous Reign – Nate’s meeting with Richard 3rd just after the disappearance of the two princes in the tower of London.
Frozen Rage – Nate and Tommy investigate the murder of several werewolves as a peace treaty is being signed in Milan 1709.
A short story that deals with what happened between the end of book 1 and beginning of book 2. I don’t have a title for it yet.
I’ve got ideas for several others too, but no more than just whispers of details for them at the moment. So, if I get time, or if the day becomes about 12 hours longer, I’ll probably figure out more details.
So that’s my writing plan for 2013. Which is a lot now that it’s written down. Things might get moved around, or added, but for the moment I’m happy with it.
And then 2014 will hopefully have more Hellequin chronicles, books 5 and 6 already have a lot of notes (and titles), so I don’t think there’s any worry about not being busy for a while.
We pulled up outside a pair of twelve-story-high, red-bricked buildings. I parked the car and stepped out into the cold air, surveying the large parking area with its expensive cars, which sat idly beside an expanse of immaculate green lawn.
I closed the door and walked across the grass until I reached a small bench beside an expansive koi pond. The large fish came to the surface, clearly used to being fed by passers-by, vanishing away back into the deep darkness when they realised no food was forthcoming.
“I don’t even know how you got us through the gates,” I said to Tommy, as he and Sara sat beside me. Unlike the other, smaller houses, which dotted the area, all with drives and garages, the two taller buildings had a pair of huge iron security gates for cars to get through before they could reach the outside parking area. I’d been more than a little surprised when Tommy had handed me the key card, which had gained us access.
“Friends in high places,” he said with a smirk. “Same person who gave me this.”
He passed me a folded sheet of paper, on which was written two sets of numbers – one four digits and the other six in length. “What are they?”
“The four-digit is the key code to the building on the left; the six-digit is the code to Neil’s alarm in his penthouse.”
“How the hell did they manage that?” Sara asked.
“The code for the front door is on file at the security company. No one but them can change it. The same company keeps the details for every resident’s alarm. Anyone who lives here is required to keep the code on file in case of emergencies.”
I memorised the two numbers and passed the paper back. “I assume you have a plan.”
“You get in, look around and get out.”
“Actually, I’m a bit more concerned about why you need me here if you have the damn codes, Tommy?”
“You’re better at this stuff than me.”
I stared at him for a good twenty seconds before allowing myself to say anything, just in case it was derogatory. “Fuck off.” Apparently I hadn’t waited long enough. “You’re a powerful werewolf who could easily get in and out without problems. One quick change to your wolf form and you’re basically the animal version of a damn ninja. So what’s the real reason?”
“Neil’s a wolf,” he reminded me. “If you’re caught in there, you can get away with little fuss. If I get caught by a werewolf, one of us is going to die.”
Why?” Sara asked Tommy.
“It’s a territory thing. If I get caught on his ground, he’ll protect it with his life and there’s no way the beast inside me will let a challenge pass if he attacks me. Best case scenario, I get away without tearing him in half. Besides, even if I don’t get caught he’s going to know a werewolf was in his home. Nate smells like a human, at least until he uses magic.”
“What does he smell like after that?” Sara asked.
“Power,” Tommy said. “And death.”
“Well, that wasn’t utterly depressing,” I said, trying to lighten the rapidly dampening mood.
“She did ask,” Tommy pointed out, before removing something from his pocket and passing it to me.
I turned the small radio and microphone over in my hands. “I’m not going on a mob bust.”
“It’s that or you wear one of those ridiculous Bluetooth headsets, which are about as secure as yelling really loud. I need to stay in contact with you, just in case he comes home early.”
I placed the radio in my pocket, clipped the microphone to my top and pressed the ear piece home. “I assume you’ve done some recon work to know where he might be at ten in the morning.”
“Of course. Neil leaves his building a little after nine am, and comes back at three pm. He then leaves again at six pm and comes back sometime in the morning between one and three. Twice he’s arrived back with a young woman, who then leaves a few hours before Neil surfaces. According to the notes, the young women were of… questionable virtue.”
“They’re hookers, is what you’re getting at, yes?” Sara asked, which made me laugh.
“I’m surrounded by uncouth ruffians.”
“And apparently you live in the nineteenth century,” I said. “I’m going to go break into his house before you call me a ragamuffin or something equally hurtful.”
Even Tommy had to laugh, but it was cut short by a serious expression. “Nate, be careful. This guy is a nutcase. If he sees you in there, he’ll attack you.”
I forced a grin. “Isn’t that why you brought me along in the first place?”
I walked off before Tommy could argue. We both knew that I was going into the house not only because he was concerned about killing Neil before we’d had the chance to talk to him, but because he knew that I could take care of myself better than anyone who worked for him. Over the centuries, Tommy and I had been caught in enough life and death situations to know that we could rely on one another to perform under pressure.
I entered the four-digit code and pushed open the front door. Warm air from the foyer beyond washed over me like a summer breeze. A single guard sat behind a desk opposite the buildings staircase. He couldn’t have appeared less interested in being there if he’d been sleeping. That lack of interest changed the second he saw me, though. He straightened up and pushed the newspaper he’d been reading to one side.
“Can I help you, sir?” he asked.
“You’re a bloody idiot,” I whispered into the mic. “There’s a damn guard.”
“Sir?” the guard repeated.
“Oh sorry, jet lag tends to make me a little all over the place,” I said with a smile and reached out my hand. “Nathan Garrett, I work for Neil Hatchell.”
“Mister Hatchell is not here at the moment.”
The distaste in his voice when he uttered Neil’s name was clear, maybe he didn’t approve of prostitutes being brought back to the upmarket building where he worked. Or maybe Neil was just a dick. I figured it was a little of both, and it meant that I could change tactics. “Okay, you seem like a nice guy…”
“Well, Roger, I don’t actually work for Mister Hatchell, and I know he’s not in.”
“Then you should leave.”
“Probably, but you see Mister Hatchell was recently let out of jail. Did you know that? He served time for rape?”
The fact that Roger had turned the colour of magnolia told me he didn’t.
“I work for certain people who want to make sure he’s behaving himself, sticking to the straight and narrow, if you will.”
“You’re his probation officer?”
“Exactly,” I said. “My job is to keep tabs on him. He came into a lot of money when he was released, and we’re not entirely convinced that he got it via legal means. I’m here to check that out.”
“I still don’t think I should let you—”
“Roger,” I interrupted. “Do you know what your employers would say if they found out that the penthouse suite was occupied by a rapist, a former prison inmate and someone who could be committing crimes as we speak? What do you think will happen to the property values of the other occupants? I don’t think they’ll be very happy. Now, if we do it my way and he’s done something wrong, it all gets sorted quietly. But if not, then the press will get involved and the police will want to interview everyone in the building. It’ll be a mess. Is that something you want to deal with?”
Roger shook his head.
“Good man, so here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going upstairs to look around and check that things are okay, and you’re going to go back to reading your paper.” I slipped a fifty pound note onto the desk. “Something to say thank you. There’s some more in it for you when I come back down, if you forget I ever existed.”
“Deal,” Roger said instantly.
I pushed the button for the lift and waited a few seconds for the number above it to drop down to GF and the doors to open. “Good man,” I said to Roger again, and pressed the button for the penthouse.
“Apparently they didn’t go inside the building to look around,” Tommy said inside my ear.
“Well maybe next time you should send people who will do a better job.”
“It was their first assignment; sit in the car and watch. I’m sorry; I’ll speak to them when we get back to the office.”
Any anger drained out of me. “Okay, don’t go overboard though. My first ever assignment didn’t exactly go to plan, either.”
“Weren’t you about thirteen?”
“Twelve,” I corrected. “Even so, it wasn’t the sparkling success that Merlin had been after. Anyway, we have another issue.”
“The lock on this door is a bastard of a thing. You sure I can’t just kick the damn door in half?”
“Not exactly a stealthy option is it?”
I mumbled something under my breath and placed my palm against the door’s lock. White glyphs cascaded from my fingers, across the back of my hands and down over my wrists and forearms, vanishing beneath the sleeve of my hoodie where they would continue up my arms and across my chest and back.
Magic is a complicated beast. For the most part, you think about what you want to do and, if you’re powerful and experienced enough, the magic will form on those thoughts. Magic wants to be used, to flow freely from the sorcerer, no matter how dangerous that might be. In contrast, the actual control of magic is very difficult. Even the smaller uses of magic, like lighting a candle, require precise movements and power, so that you’re not left with a big puddle of wax and a lot of fires to put out.
It’s why a young sorcerer is so dangerous, they don’t have the control needed to temper their magic and have, on occasion, caused devastation when their power has exceeded their ability.
Using air magic to fill the inside of a lock in the exact same way as a key was both time consuming and tiring. When the magic touched the inside of the mechanism, I felt it as if I were using my own finger. It’s a matter of remembering where each part was so that I could construct the key and turn it. One wrong move and I’d had to start from scratch, and it’s not something that I could do in a hurry. The more complex the lock, the more of a pain in the ass it is to use magic to open it.
The lock on the penthouse was one of the more secure locks that I’d ever had to pick. The main problem was that you had to turn the key once to make it click, move the key back to its original position and then do it again, but this time the click came further away. It took me ten minutes to get the lock open. I certainly would have been happier kicking the door in.
The second the door closed behind me, a continuous beep sounded from an alarm panel on the wall next to me. I inputted the six digits and the beeping ended. That had been my major worry. What if Neil had changed the code and not told anyone? Turns out, I needn’t have been concerned.
“I’m in,” I said, and started looking around the spacious flat.
“You see anything suspicious?”
“Who in their right mind would have weird shit sitting around the second you stepped into the house, Tommy?” I asked. “He might be nuts, but I’m guessing he’s not the ‘hang the dead corpses of your victims from the ceiling of your home’ kind of nuts.”
I started searching the flat, but found nothing more than an incredibly tidy place and some questionable movies next to the huge TV in his front room. Off the large main room was a kitchen at one end and hallway at the other. The kitchen, like everything else, was so clean that I made out my reflection in the marble worktops and although there was a lot of raw meat in the fridge, none of it looked out of place in a werewolf’s kitchen.
The hallway led to two bedrooms and a bathroom, all of which mimicked the rest of the place. “Tommy, there’s nothing here. I’ve found some porn in the bedroom, which wasn’t exactly a pleasant sight, but nothing illegal about it.”
“What do you mean?”
“Extreme domination stuff,” I said candidly. “Women being tied up, gagged, beaten, that kind of thing. Not exactly my cup of tea, but also not an indication that he’s butchering women in his bathtub. Which, by the way, is also spotless.” I walked to the large window at the end of the hallway and looked down on the parking lot below me. “People like this don’t just give up and stop trying.”
“I know,” Tommy said. “They get worse, not better. All that pent up rage and aggression he would have had in prison, he wouldn’t have just forgotten about it.”
“He’s either letting it out somewhere else, or he’s castrated himself and he can’t do a damn thing anymore.”
“Something isn’t right here,” Tommy said.
I rested my forehead against the glass pane and thought about where I would stash something I didn’t want people to find. I’d want it nearby, I’d need it close so that I could go and look at it, to relive how I’d felt whilst I was doing whatever it was that had made me happy. “Did Neil take souvenirs?” I asked.
There was a rustle of paper before Tommy spoke. “He took their purses. Left them the money, but took everything else. The purses were recovered when he was arrested.”
“Does it say where they were found?”
More rustling. “Attic.”
“This place doesn’t have an attic,” I said.
I walked back to the master bedroom and glanced around. It was barely decorated with a bed, TV and chest of drawers. A wooden chair sat next to the window and a door led to a small, but well-maintained bathroom.
The only other item in the bedroom was the large built-in wardrobe. I opened the double doors and revealed a long row of clothes. I hadn’t given it much thought the first time round, but it wasn’t cluttered or full. I cursed myself and pushed all the clothes aside, revealing two leather handles at the top of the cupboard, which once pulled aside revealed a hidden room.
Once I’d removed the false panel of the wardrobe and tossed it onto the bed, I noticed a light switch just inside and above where the panel sat. I flicked it on, bathing the small room in light.
Once fully inside the room, I started my search. It took about three seconds before I found something wrong. Really wrong.
A desk had been placed under one of two lights, with a large pin up board behind it, leaning up against the wall. It contained pictures of women. “Tommy, do you have pictures of Neil’s previous victims down there?”
“Yeah,” he said. “You need copies?”
“Text them to me.”
Sure enough, after a few minutes, several texts appeared on my phone, and my fears were confirmed. “He has pictures of every victim up here.”
I scanned the photos, dozens in all, each overlapping the one closest to it until it formed some sort of hideous collage of stalking. “Four new girls, their photos are the same.”
“The same how?” Tommy asked.
“He stalked them from a distance like with his previous victims. If he’s hurt any of them, I can’t see any evidence to say he did it in here.” I opened the drawers on the desk and found a large map, part of which was circled in red pen with the word ‘farm’ written beside it. I used my phone to take several close up photos before continuing my search of the room.
“I might be wrong,” I said after finding some thick iron chains, which were secured to both the floor and ceiling. “He’s more than equipped to hurt people here.”
“There’s a map with the word ‘farm’ and a circled area, that mean anything to you?”
“A farm, you’re sure?” Tommy asked.
“Ask me again if I’m sure about something, Tommy. Yes, I’m fucking sure. No one has photos of people they’ve stalked and then a map of a farm in the middle of nowhere, unless they’re doing something horrific.”
“My client was informed that the police got a tip-off about some sort of suspicious activity taking place at an abandoned farm about thirty miles outside of the city. Apparently no one has had time to check it out yet; they’ve been getting crackpot calls about that serial killer in the news. Could the serial killer be Neil?”
“It’s possible,” I said. “It’s worth looking into at any point.” I stood and brushed my hands on my trousers, before switching the light off and leaving the room. The LOA, the Law of Avalon, would want to look into Neil’s activities. Hopefully this time they’d make sure he couldn’t get out again, preferably with a more permanent residency somewhere a little hotter.
I replaced the panel, ensuring nothing appeared too out of place, but as I stepped out of the wardrobe, I caught my foot on something and slipped back, landing with a bang. I stood to close the doors and paused when I heard the unmistakable sound of a shotgun shell being loaded. “Tommy, we have a much bigger problem.”
Over the last few weeks, and for a few weeks more, I’m going to be visiting plenty of blogs to discuss a variety of things and promote Born of Hatred.
It’s not an exact book tour, because I don’t have a banner for it, or specific dates for everyone, but I figured everyone would be interested in reading a few cool interviews or guest blog pieces by me, so here’s where you can find me from the past few weeks.
First of all, the talented Krista Walsh has an interview with me on her blog.
The equally talented, and occasionally terrifying, Angela Addams also has an interview on her blog.
The wonderful Danielle La Paglia has another interview with me, and there’s a chance to win a copy of my book (the competition runs out today, so hurry up and go there).
And lastly, because she’s been the most recent, Seleste deLaney has a guest post from me about sex scenes.
Also, because someone might be interested, Born of Hatred is currently the number 1 hot new Release in both Mythology book and World Literature on Amazon.com. And is number 6 in Hot new Releases for Contemporary Fantasy and 11 in Fantasy Fiction. So thank you to everyone who picked up a copy, and even more thanks if you liked it.