The Year of the Dragon – Remastered Edition

Here’s a little bit of unexpected news about my old steampunk fantasy series, The Year of the Dragon.

I gathered all 8 books into one bundle – what they call on Kindle a “boxed set”, though there is no box, since it’s all virtual… And updated the previous 4-book bundles – or boxed sets – into the new Kindle format.

Everything else stays the same as previously, but if you’ve ever wondered what my first series of books was all about, and why it sometimes reached the tops of bestseller lists in US (a feat I’m still to repeat with Song of Ash!) you now have a chance to get into it. The Complete 1-8 Books Set costs £9.99, which I hope is a fair price for 8 full novels. All bundles are now in Kindle Unlimited, too, so they’re free if you’re a member.

There might be a promo or two in the pipeline over the summer, so stay tuned, and sign up to that newsletter for alerts!

Mirror Worlds bundle open for pre-order

All my short fantasy works are now available in one neat bundle for pre-order on Amazon. This edition contains also another, never released before short story, “Favnirsbane”.

Dragons' FallDragons’ Fall: Tales from the Mirror Worlds

CLICK HERE TO PRE-ORDER NOW!

Two novellas and two short stories from the Mirror Worlds epic fantasy universe.

DRAGONBONE CHEST

Duke Ayaris is a dragon slayer. He’s the only one left in the world, and he is hunting after the last of the dragons. He is about to fulfil his life’s destiny.
A dying old man asks him to take care of his beautiful young daughter. But the girl has a secret – one that will cause him to set sail where no man has willingly sailed before: to the Dragon North, in search of the fabled city of Eden.

DRAGONSBANE

Ennaki’s Master is also a dragon slayer. But not just any dragon slayer: each beast he slays is greater and more powerful than the previous one, and each fight brings more woe and damage to the innocents around. As the knight proceeds with his murderous scheme, Ennaki begins to doubt and wonder. Is his Master’s secret plan really worth the slaughter? And is this really the best way to win the everlasting War against the Shadow that threatens to engulf all Mirror Worlds?

Also includes short stories “Crown of the Abyss” and “Favnirsbane

Promoting a stand-alone novella: Dragonsbane #free #kindle

Dragonsbane

The hardest task of a self-published author is promotion; the hardest books to promote succesfully are stand-alone ones, and out of these, the most notorious must be novellas.

A stand-alone book cannot be used as a loss-leader. It can’t be offered free or cheap, in an effort to guide the readers to your other work. A novella, especially a new one, without reviews or ratings, is a terrible thing to promote: most of the big sites will not accept a work like that, or if they do, it will cost you more than you can usually hope to get back from sales.

It’s a conundrum. It helps if you’re an established author, with large following, and plenty of fans that will buy anything you release; but even they may not be willing to spend money on a short work with completely new characters in a completely new world.

So what is there to do? Well, bugger me if I know! Today, I’m doing a one-day free promo on my latest novella, Dragonsbane. It’s not quite a stand-alone, as in, it’s set in the same Mirror Worlds multiverse as Dragonbone Chest; but that is meaningless, as the multiverse is vast, and the only thing the two works have in common are dragons.

I’ve used my list of book promo sites to find the ones that accept freebies without reviews on short notice (this, incidentally, is why it’s important for readers to leave reviews – any reviews – on Amazon books: we need those stars to get advertising space). There aren’t that many, and most of them don’t have much following. I’ve scheduled a few tweets, and a reddit post. This blog can hopefully bring in a few downloads, too. It would certainly help to have a big mailing list that I could now bomb with the promo information – but despite my best efforts, I could never get more than a couple followers (it’s here, by the way). So yeah, I did all I can think of. Will any of that work? And what will be the effects of the free promo on what matters – ie. sales? We’ll just have to wait and see…

For now, click the cover above, or go here, for a free download of Dragonsbane, the second Mirror Worlds novella! It’s short, it’s fast, and it’s more action-packed than anything I’ve written so far 🙂

Ennaki’s Master is a dragon slayer. But not just any dragon slayer: each beast he slays is greater and more powerful than the previous one, and each fight brings more woe and damage to the innocents around. As the knight proceeds with his murderous scheme, Ennaki begins to doubt and wonder. Is his Master’s secret plan really worth the slaughter? And is this really the best way to win the everlasting War against the Shadow that threatens to engulf all Mirror Worlds?

In other news…

Advent Calendar notwithstanding, there are some news I have to share with you. I’m having the best week ever on Amazon, and here are some bragging screenshots 🙂

Breaking through to the Epic Fantasy Top 100
Breaking through to the Epic Fantasy Top 100

Top 5 Alternate History
Top 5 Alternate History

Author #109 in Science Fiction. So close to getting the number by my name!
Author #109 in Science Fiction. So close to getting the number by my name!

Not bad, not bad at all 🙂

Update:
US AH4 EF61

Update 2:

#97 Science-Fiction Author on Kindle
#97 Science-Fiction Author on Kindle

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 4 – Half Price Bundle

Iroman-letters_11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today’s gift is a bundle of all three so-far written volumes of “The Year of the Dragon” – at HALF PRICE of just $6!

You can get them for a week from my shop over on Gumroad, following these links:

ePub Bundle: http://gum.co/tqkP

mobi Bundle: http://gum.co/sIny

This offer expires next Tuesday.

Don’t forget you can still get the first book, “The Shadow of Black Wings”, is still available for free on KOBO.

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 3 – A Gift of Kobo

III

今週!
今週!

Today I have something on offer for my oft-neglected KOBO audience: “The Shadow of Black Wings” is FREE for Kobo users, for  a whole week, starting today!

 

And you don’t even need to have a Kobo e-reader – just grab an Android or iOS Kobo App, and you can download my books! And since they are DRM-free, you can then read them on any device capable of reading epubs.

The Shadow of Black Wings
(The Year of the Dragon #1)

Top 10 Bestseller in Alternate History Amazon US

Genre: Historical Fantasy
ebook ISBN: 978-83-935529-0-0 ASIN: B008FS5RPC
Published: June 2012 by Flying Squid
paperback ISBN-13 978-83-935529-1-7
ISBN-10: 8393552915
Published: July 2012 by Flying Squid

It is the sixteenth year of Queen Victoria’s enlightened rule and the world trembles before the might of her ironclad navy and the dreaded Dragon Corps. The largest ship ever built sails from the Brigstow Harbour on a journey to the mysterious lands of Orient. Its load – a regiment of the Royal Marines and one Bran ap Dylan – freshly graduate in Dracology at the Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.

In the empire of Yamato, sealed from the rest of the world for the last two centuries, a wizard’s daughter Sato witnesses her father joining an anti-government conspiracy. Her friend Nagomi, training to be a priestess, is haunted by dark visions that she must keep secret. Neither of them is aware that a change is coming to Yamato… on the wings of a dragon.

A detailed and fast-paced historical fantasy based around the turbulent opening of Japan to the West in the middle of the 19th century, “The Shadow of the Black Wings” is the first volume in “The Year of the Dragon” saga.

Available at: Amazon US |Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon JP And: Kobo | Kobo 楽天 Paperback available at: Amazon US | Amazon UK | ペーパーバック | Barnes&Nnoble Junglee.com

The Ancient Art of World-building

I’m slowly gathering a substantial collection of reviews for my “Year of the Dragon” books. The variety of opinion is sometimes difficult to cope with, ranging from “couldn’t put it down” to “trite and mediocre” (as is, I suppose, a case with any book) – but one thing a majority of my readers seems to appreciate is the world-building in the novels. With few exceptions, the world-building is mentioned in superlative terms and pointed to as the main strength of the story.

This is, of course, on one hand very flattering. I’m glad there are easily definable strengths to my writing, I’m happy to see somebody appreciates all the effort I put into the world of “The Year…”.

But, on the other hand, I find it symptomatic of a greater problem with fantasy books in general.

I was always a bit worried with the increasing prevalence of praise for “world-building” in reviews of fantasy novels. I guess I’m old fashioned, but, to me, praising a fantasy writer for world-building is a bit like praising the builder for putting up scaffolding. Creating a rich enough setting is a given; the most basic starting point. This is what separates fantasy (and science fiction, to an extent) from other literary genres. Otherwise, why would you even bother writing fantasy? Why not set your story simply in medieval Europe, or renaissance China, or modern London?

Whether I start writing with plot, characters or (as in the case of “The Shadow of Black Wings”) setting, building the world is the crucial part of creation. I agree that sometimes it can get… excessive. The picture attached to this post is one of the TWO maps for the Dragonbone Chest novella. That’s right, a stand-alone 30k work required a world rich enough to get two maps (there was a third map, actually, but I omitted it as only 10% of it actually showed in the novella). But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Call it obsessive, but I need to know that the Moon phases in “The Islands in the Mist” match the original Moon phases in May 1854, or that the way the mistfire engine works is consistent with what I’ve written about elementals twenty chapters earlier – even if none of my readers will ever notice that sort of detail. I need to have two thousand years of the world’s history written down, and detailed maps of the entire planet made before I even start the first chapter. Personally, I blame Tolkien; Lord of the Rings was one of the first books I remember reading, and the first book I read in English, and is still the most important book in my life, by far. Cutting corners when creating the world would feel like betraying Tolkien’s legacy.

And maybe this is why I find it difficult to read a lot of modern fantasy. Yes, there are great builders out there, and they are rightly among the most popular fantasy authors. Obviously a rich and detailed world is something that’s still appreciated by the majority of readers. But the fact that they are becoming rare, that proper world-building is something worth pointing out and exceptional praise, is what worries me.

Or maybe I’m just too old school.

Halloween Surprise – Dragonbone Chest FREE on Kindle

Amazon US | Amazon UK | DE | IT | FR | ES | JP

We do not know where the Forgetting had come from, what causes it and how exactly does it work… all we know is that nobody is safe from its dark touch, nobody knows where and when it will strike. A prince, a pauper, a wizard, a child… it can happen to anybody and there is no way to prevent it.

Duke Ayaris is a dragon slayer. He’s the only one left in the world, and he is hunting after the last of the dragons. He is about to fulfil his life’s destiny.
A dying old man asks him to take care of his beautiful young daughter. But the girl has a secret – one that will cause him to set sail where no man has willingly sailed before: to the Dragon North, in search of the fabled city of Eden.

“Dragonbone Chest” is a stand-alone fantasy novella and it is now FREE on Amazon Kindle up until November 2nd:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | DE | IT | FR | ES | JP

De Draconibus, Part 2 – Notable Eastern Races and Ancient Progenitors

The following is an excerpt from an Appendix on Dragon Breeds and Races, Dracology Handbook Year One, Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.

A LIST OF NOTABLE EASTERN RACES

Note: the Eastern Dragon lore is sketchy and unreliable. What we do know about the beasts of the Orient comes from a variety of sources, from ancient travelogues to spy reports. Since the recent war with the Qin Empire we have started improving our knowledge, but it’s a slow and difficult process.

Longs (Air Dragons)

  • Qin Long

All tame “Longs” are, to our knowledge, descended from the dragons of Qin. This ancient civilization has bred their mounts for millennia, starting from wild fresh-water races captured in the rivers of Annam.

The Qin Long are serpentine and wingless, relying only on their magic powers for flight. As such, their lifespan is shorter than that of the Western dragons, but they are better and stronger fliers.

  • Annam Rong

While the wild beasts of Annam are regarded as predecessors of the Long, the dragons currently employed by the Kingdom’s armies are descended from the Qin beasts, brought into Annam during the many invasions the Kingdom had suffered from its northern neighbour.

  • Chosun Yong

The remote and little known kingdom of Chosun reportedly breeds two major races: the flying Yong and the water-based Imugi. Judging by the name “Yong being an obvious corruption of the word “Long”, the flying dragons of Chosun must be similar to all other Oriental dragons.

  • “Ryu” or Winged Long

Vasconian and Bataavian reports tell us of a winged, shorter and more muscular breed of Long, coming from an island or a set of islands East of Qin. These reports remain unconfirmed.

  • Himalayan Druk

A thunder-spewing race of Eastern Dragons. Whether they are related to Qin Long (to which they are similar in form), or have been bred in parallel by the Shambhallans, is uncertain.

Nagas (Water Dragons)

The Nagas are primitive dragons, little more than giant water serpents. They are notoriously difficult to tame, and rarely used as mounts. Some breeds of the Naga are multi-headed.

  • Phaya Naga

The wild Naga of Annam. Small and weak, a few are bred in the royal stables for ceremonial purposes.

  • Arakan Naga

The Kingdom of Arakan is the most successful nation to utilize the Naga in warfare. Their dragons are fierce and well-trained, and had proven a match to the Western mounts several times. The Arakan Naga can have up to seven heads, although only one is fully functional.

  • Chosun Imugi

The Imugi are the second race of the Chosun dragons that we know of. From the reports, it seems they are closely related to the Nagas of Annam and Rattanakosin, although little is confirmed.

  • Antaboga

A race of giant, salt-water Nagas living in the area of Sri Vijaya kingdom. They have vestigial wings, which led some scholars to suggest that they are a failed product of the Qin breeding program.

  • Bakunawa

Similar in general physique to the Antaboga, but without the vestigial wings, the Bakunawa inhabit the waters around the Tagalog islands.

A LIST OF ANCIENT PROGENITORS

The following is a brief list of mostly extinct races which our scholars believe to be predecessors of the modern dragons.

  • Azi Dahaka

Semi-legendary race from the highlands of Pahlava and Durrani, presumed ancestor of all domestic dragons. Known only through oral tradition and some archaeological finds. Presumably amphibian.

Worshipped by the ancient Pahlavans.

  • Mushussu

First fully land-based dragon, discovered in Mesopotamia. Tall and straight-legged, could not yet fly or breathe fire but could spit sparks and smoke.

  • Iluyanka

Bred by the Hittites, the Iluyanka was a transitory form between the land and winged dragons. Like the modern Long, it could fly without wings.

  • Typhon, Typhoeus

First of what could be known as ‘modern’ Western breeds, the Typhon had fully functioning wings and could spew flame. Earliest known specimens come from Cilicia, presumably bred from the Hittite dragons. After Rome’s conquest of Hellas, the Typhons were bred into the Ladon and Echidna breeds, from which all other Western dragons supposedly come.

  • Dvaraka

Heavily armoured, crocodilian in form. Assumed by some to be a type of the Naga, it seemed, however, to be much more comfortable on land. Relation to the Azi Dahaka is unknown. Earliest specimens found in the ancient cities of the Indus Valley.

  • Vritra

First ‘modern’ Eastern breed. Created in the stables of ancient Bharata by crossing the Phaya Nagas with the Dvaraka. The dragon breeding program was later abandoned, to be continued only in Qin. The Vritra were slim and small, but could easily fly and spewed both steam and lightning.