Monday 29 March 2010

The art of making connections

Today I'm the guest blogger on the Avalon blog with my article about writing.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Do Irish people have good eyesight?

I was pleased to receive my first ever statement today from the recently formed Irish plr system. If you've read my previous article on the British plr system you'll know I enjoyed analysing the living daylights out of their library lending statistics and so this brief summary gave me a great chance to do some more pointless number-crunching. There's not much to go on with only one year's figures available, but it's nice to see that all my books do still exist in at least one Irish library and that five (yes, that is five) people read my first book The Outlawed Deputy last year. It'd have been nice if the statement had included names and addresses so I could thank them all personally, but I guess those five people will have to remain anonymous.

Earlier I reported that my most borrowed book in Britain was Dead by Sundown, so I was intrigued to see that this title was also my most popular book in Ireland too. As I said before, the only explanation I can think of is that the title is good and that it has a great cover. I also noted that my least popular title in Britain was Mendosa's Gun-runners, but curiously that's my second most popular title in Ireland, so perhaps I shouldn't draw too many conclusions.

The most interesting thing for me was the spread of borrowing between the large print titles and the normal print. In Britain the Linford Western Large Prints are borrowed around 50% more often than the Black Horse Western originals, and yet in Ireland it's the other way round with BHWs being around twice as popular as the large prints. So either the Irish have better eyesight than we Brits or something else is going on. It might even suggest that there's a market the libraries aren't tapping into by not buying as many Linfords as Britain does.

Anyhow, roll on next year when I'll have two years to compare and I can really waste some time playing around with the numbers.

Sunday 21 March 2010

WWA salutes Express Westerns

BHW author Matthew Mayo has been named as a finalist for the 2010 Spur Awards for his short story Half a Pig, which was one of the 21 stories in Express Westerns' anthology A Fistful of Legends. He lost out to John D. Nesbitt. Full details of the awards are at WWA News.

A big well done to Matt for this great moment for Express Westerns.

Ashes to ashes : dust to dust

It's been announced that the third and final series of the time-travelling cop show Ashes to Ashes will begin on 2 April.

We are promised that this series will wrap up the franchise while providing answers to what it, along with the previous series of Life on Mars, have been about. I'm not sure I need answers, especially if it involves retro-fitting a different meaning to Life on Mars, but the advance publicity that's come out so far sounds mostly promising. The synopsis for the first episode suggests that the story won’t be spending any time explaining away the season 2 cliffhanger in which Alex appeared to wake up in the present day, or then again did she? So it'd appear that was a red herring. There's apparently some new mysteries added and we're promised that a major character will die early on, although the unsubtle hints as to who it is means that's not as exciting as it sounds.

The most promising development is that the writers say the show will resemble season 5 of Life on Mars and that the two shows will gradually morph into each other. Exactly how that'll be done isn’t clear, but it's known that several bit part characters from the earlier series will re-appear and a major plot strand this year will be Alex attempting to find out how Sam Tyler died. I'm tempted to shout, 'he jumped off a tall building, Alex. That probably did it!', but it seems we're dealing with his mysterious fantasy death in the fantasy world so there's sure to be more to it than that.

The big decision I'll have to make is whether I fancy writing reviews of the episodes again. I banged on for well over ten thousand words on season 2 last year, but I'm not sure if I feel so committed this year and I will be away when some of the episodes air. I'll think about it. For now there's an uninteresting preview clip from episode 1 on youtube, and apparently there was an 'hilarious skit' TM shown on some charityathon tv give-out-of-work-celebrities-something-to-do promotional thingy. I wish they wouldn’t do that.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Blimey, I'm a top Amazon reviewer!

I've had various lives posting reviews on Amazon. I had loads on there once but I stopped doing it for a while and when I came back I'd forgotten who I'd been and so I couldn't log on to write more. Neither could I find my reviews so that was all a bit mysterious. So I started again and trundled along for a year or so posting when the mood grabbed me, but then amazon deleted a whole heap of my reviews for no reason I could see and I gave up again. Recently I started banging on about stuff on there again. For the last year I've drifted up the rankings to about 480 or so. But then to my head-scratching bemusement I've just been on amazon and found that they've changed the ranking method. And I'm now No 31.

I'm sure that's a mistake and I'll drop like a stone, but it amused me to see that for today I'm a top 50 reviewer. After reading amazon's explanation I think I understand what they've done. The plan is to stop the organized gang culture that was doing so much to destroy the lives of decent reviewers who want nothing more than to post their reviews in peace and without fear of intimidation. I've seen how these amazon review bully boys operate and it's scary stuff. I once posted a review on a book that had just come out. I was one of the first to review. I went back five minutes later to review my review for spelling mistakes only to find I'd slipped off the front page because someone else had written a review and in five minutes it'd gathered 18 positives while somehow I'd gathered 5 negatives. And that brutal and unprovoked assault doomed my erudite and witty review to the unseen pages while the bully boy's feeble insights stayed on the front page gathering acclaim...

Competitive review writing is a cut-throat business that's not for faint hearted scribes, but hopefully the changes will help to wipe out this menace and make the mean streets of the information superhighway safer for everyone. Although having shot up the charts I have a horrible feeling I'm going to get dragged in to working out how I can keep that ranking!

Wednesday 10 March 2010

The Man who shot Garfield Delany

Evan Lewis looks at another story in the anthology of western short stories A Fistful of Legends. Today he reviews my story. Thanks!

Monday 8 March 2010

The Secret of Devil's Canyon

I was pleased to receive a contract today for what will be my 21st Black Horse Western The Secret of Devil's Canyon.

The story is the 7th to feature Nathaniel McBain and it picks up the tale of his adventures after The Gallows Gang. I like using McBain as he has had a varied life of lawman, outlaw, prisoner... which creates different situations to write about. Also, I guess because he was the sidekick in my first BHW The Outlawed Deputy, I've never been too concerned about making him the principal character, again meaning that he can feature in a wide range of stories. This latest book was no exception as a new character of Jim Dragon, bone hunter extraordinaire, had originally started out as a bit player but he turned out to be colourful enough for me to let him control most of the plot. I hope he's someone I can use again.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Stick A Fistful of Legends in your shopping basket!

With A Fistful of Legends now available at the main retailers,, The Book Depository and, I had a look to see where else you could buy it. There were some surprising choices available.

You can buy from Bookfellas, Waterstones, WH Smith, Pickabook, Blackwells, Computer Manuals (?), Sprint Books, Abebooks and Alibris. Best of all, it's now available from Tesco, the UK's biggest supermarket, where it's eligible for Tesco clubcard points and you can have it delivered alongside your bruised apples, mouldy carrots and chickens that have been specially grown underground to remove all the flavour.

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Song of Ice and Fire... the tv series

For those who have been waiting since 2001 (or was it earlier, this saga has been going on for so long?) for George RR Martin to finish A Dance with Dragons, the news that his fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire has been green lighted by HBO is welcome.
I think HBO sounds like the best sort of place to film ASOIAF as it is a more adult-orientated fantasy series than the various Potter and Tolkien clones that clog up the market. Few series have collected such a strong group of memorable characters together and it'll be interesting to see them on screen. Although the incorrect rumour that Gillian Anderson would play Cersei is sad and the decision to cast Mark Addy as Robert Baratheon has to be wrong when every line of dialogue and action was clearly written for I'M BRIAN BLESSED.

On the other hand I tend not to get too excited by films or tv series of books I like as they almost never even remotely capture whatever it was about the book that I enjoyed. In fact I'm at a loss to even think of a single film that matched a good book... Kiss Me Deadly perhaps but that ignored the book. Er, I'm waffling. Anyhow the commitment is to a 10 episode version of the first book of the series and presumably if it works out the rest will get filmed, which means the author will have to finish Dragons around 2016 so they can film that one too, which is a welcome deadline!

Tuesday 2 March 2010

A Fistful of Legends at The Book Depository

Good news, folks. A Fistful of Legends is now listed at The Book Depository.
This on-line retailer offers free delivery worldwide. They are currently offering AFOL at around £10 which means it's slightly more expensive an option for U.K. buyers than going to and around the same price for U.S. buyers as The big savings will be for customers anywhere else in the world where the free postage can really count.

The link is here.

Monday 1 March 2010

Railroad to Redemption cover

I've just received a copy of the cover to my 19th Black Horse Western Railroad to Redemption. It has a colourful gun-toter and terrain that is nicely appropriate to the story. The book will be out in August.