This is a golden age for reading. Book lovers have access to masses of stories in multiple formats at excellent prices, instantly available upon purchase more often than not.

Is it a great time to be a writer though? There are those who say it is, and there are those who say that it is certainly not. As I’ve said before, the truth of it is somewhere in the middle –  easier than ever to become a writer, harder once you are to be successful. In real terms I don’t suppose the odds have changed much.

A common conception is that once you have that publishing deal, that’s that. Win! A Malibu beachhouse awaits! In reality it’s just the beginning. The hard part is getting noticed, and that is where I’ve been struggling. My original fiction has not sold satisfactorily, despite being well received. Is it my name, which is all at once weak sounding, all vowels and soft consonants, too masculine (Guy) but also confusingly feminine (Haley)? Do I choose subjects that don’t appeal? Are the plots too complex, too simple, too dull? Are the covers bad? Are the books indeed just rubbish? This latter tortures many a writer in the night, believe me.

I have a sneaking hunch it might have something to do with the fact that in the course of one month dozens of genre books are published in English alone. Your precious novel is an ant in a giant tsunami of ants bearing down on a solitary aardvark who has only recently eaten.

I try not to dwell on this too negatively, but examine what meagre information I have to plot how I can do better. That is, after all, the only way to succeed. To that end I’d like to draw your attention to the reissue of Champion of Mars, out on Kindle with a brand new cover shamelessly designed to appeal to fans of The Martian, and I have no problem with that. The unsuccessful John Carter of Mars movie probably didn’t help this book, perhaps the surefire hit The Martian will?

Better than the cover is the price, for Champion of Mars is currently available for a mere 99p, or equivalent, from Amazon (UK, US and others). If you’ve not read my original fiction Champion of Mars gives good flavour of it. I like to think it’s a pretty good novel, and I offer these reviews on Goodreads in support of my claim. There’s more about the book on this page.

If you do enjoy it, do me a favour, tell your friends and rate it online. Word of mouth remains the single best way to get noticed. If you don’t like it, I invite you to do the same. Fair’s fair.

Plenty of dakka!

Posted: September 14, 2015 in Gaming
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Waaagh! I’ve been totally sick of Jes Bickham’s hive tyrant for years. This ramshackle AA cannon should sort it right out. Purchased at the beginning of last year for the very purpose of dealing with irritating, flying extra-galactic monsters, it also does a fine job at blasting pesky fliers of the mechanical variety. I just finished painting it last week.

I was lucky enough to snag one of the last Ork barricade sets before they went off sale two years back (not pictured, but rest assured that it is also painted). Together, they make an orky take on the Aegis defence line with quad cannon, the rules for which I use to represent them in the game.


Lots of haphazardly applied, thick, red paint marks this menace out as belonging to the Evil Suns clan.

IMG_3164 IMG_3167 IMG_3165

Da return of Magteef!

Posted: September 12, 2015 in Gaming, Random wifflings
Tags: ,

He’s blue, he’s got a big gun, he’s a surprisingly accurate shot – Magteef the Mek is back in business!

Right, sure, all that means nothing to you, but something to me. Magteef was a mekboy in my second edition 40k army twenty-odd years ago. He was a renowned tinkerer and – being a Deathskull – pilferer of technological trinkets.


Old Magteef. His original gun is gone as I was going to reuse it, but it looked ridiculously old skool once attached to the new model so I made a new one. Also: back banners – so in fashion back then.

Last year, I decided to remake the old boy. I undercoated him and that was that. He got a rare outing in a recent game, where he helped bag an Eldar war walker. At the urging of my pal and opponent Ste, I gave him a lick of paint. Here he is.


New Magteef. The paint job’s not my best. I ran through the last of my Knarloc Green (the best orc shade ever) painting AoS Uruks, so I was forced to experiment with a new greenskin technique. It didn’t quite work out. Ah well.

Magteef is wearing a variety of tools from the original plastic battlewagon, released in the late 80s. On his back he sports a white metal welding torch scavenged from a 2000s Gorkamorka Spanner. His gun is a one million gigawatt kustom blasta made from a plastic big shoota and rokkit launcher. His head is a metal alternative from some kit or other, or it might be a plastic spare from the Lootas set, I honestly don’t remember. He is ably assisted by a vintage Grot (still available on the webstore) equipped with a bag full of oil squigs. For reasons best known to himself, Magteef’s bionic eye and blue face paint have switched sides. He is an Ork, so he probably forgot where they were supposed to be.

If you’ve ever read Skarsnik, Engine of Mork, Evil Sun Rising, or listened to the audio The Klaw of Mork, you’ll know that I love greenskins. I’ve never played a lot of connected games or campaigns, but I always used to name my prominent characters and build stories around them. As in this case, they’re stories that can persist for decades. That’s a huge part of the hobby for me, is it for you?


Not the cover of the edition I read, that was so bad I’m saving you from having to look at it.


Author: Kim Stanley Robinson

180 pages

This book’s been in my collection for 15 years, according to the press release slip I found still preserved inside the cover. It’s set on a world dominated by the ocean, fittingly I read it on top of a cliff by the roaring sea.
A man wakes up on a beach in a strange world, next to him is a woman he doesn’t recognise but who he knows means everything to him. When she vanishes, he sets off to rescue her, taking him on a mind-bending journey that is a little like The Wizard of Oz for grown-ups, but with a lot more sea and a lot more sex.
Themes of circularity, eternity, free will, love and the persistence of self in the face of death means this lines up very closely with my own stories, so I was bound to love it.
Pleasingly enigmatic, gloriously written and full of invention, A Short, Sharp Shock is a book I’ll come back to in my twilight years. There’s a certain comfort to it that takes the edge off mortality.

If you’ve read and enjoyed A Short, Sharp Shock, do check out Champion of Mars (here’s the ebook). They’re thematically close.

Enter the Orruks

Posted: September 9, 2015 in Gaming
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After a break of three years, Age of Sigmar has me all whipped up about fantasy gaming again. Note, this wasn’t due to lack of enthusiasm, only that my gaming club in Somerset was up a big hill from my house and in a pub. I could have driven, but you know, cider, and my Night Goblin army is chuffing heavy.

Owing to some tedious writerly financial nonsense, I’ve not got the cash to splurge on a bunch of the glorious new models (I have bought a few. Shh! Don’t tell the wife) but I was lucky enough to find a box of 70+ Warhammer Orcs, a Giant, and a chariot in my wargaming store cupboard. I bought a ton of them back in my White Dwarf days, before I decided to go all Goblin, and put the Orcs on the perpetual back burner. The benefits of being a long time collector, right there, because there was enough in that box to make a respectable force in its own right. Current Guy extends retrospective thanks to Past Guy, without whom this first warscroll of AoS models would not be possible.


Although I’ve not spotted any Orruks in the model photos in the new books, having studied the various painted artworks I’ve reassured myself that the Orruk aesthetic won’t diverge too far from the orcy one, so these boys should fit in with any new Orcs Orruks that GW might bring out.

I swore some time ago (for the fifth or sixth time) that I was sick of painting green. Turns out not, as I got so fired up I did some more Orks for 40k too. I’ll show you those later.

I’ve sworn I’ll not buy any more models for this army until I’ve painted the initial 70, but I need (really, really need) some boar boys so I can replace the horrid old plastic boars on the chariot. Of course, that will leave me with only three for cavalry purposes, so I better get two boxes…

And so it goes on.

SolaceofRageI have a new story out today. “The Solace of Rage” is the next installment of GW’s eight-episode Realmgate Wars: The Call of Archaon series. A bargain at £2.49. Roll up! Get your skulls and blood right here.