Posts Tagged ‘Champion of Mars’


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.


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.

The Champion of Mars giveaway is over!

Posted: September 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

The Champion of Mars giveaway has finished. Sorry there was no reminder via Twitter, a little foolishness there on my part not taking into account differing timezones. Anyhow, in the end 773 people entered. I thank you for your interest. Only five could win. You know who you are. Your books will be posted later this week. Well done!

I was quite pleased by the level of interest this giveaway generated. Champion of Mars‘ “to-reads” went from around eighty to 399. So I will be doing more soon. Keep an eye out on this blog for further announcements on this matter. That’s all.

Morning. Like I said a few days back, I’m trying out lots of internet goodness. One of these is a book giveaway on Goodreads. I have five copies of Champion of Mars that I’ve put up for grabs. Go here for your chance to win. It’s live for the next fortnight. Good luck!

American author Zachary Jernigan wrote that headline to go with this article on Staffer’s Book Review, Justin Landon’s excellent site. To my extreme satisfaction, it’s about Champion of Mars (warning: if you read the article, there are spoilers).

In this game you can get a little down. Books sales are low. You do your bit and nobody cares >sob<. In his piece, Zachary makes a good point about the way so many books sink without trace. It’s a crowded market, after all. Books that don’t get a lot of marketing/ get really lucky/ capture the zeitgeist somehow disappear all too easily.

I won’t lie and say it’s all about the art. Sure, I’d love people to buy my books by the bazillion so I can get myself that motor yacht I never wanted (warning 2: writing is not a get rich scheme. The number of people who can be Stephen King is limited to Stephen King). But although it’s not all about the art, it mostly is.

I write because I’m a show off, I suppose – meet me in the pub some time when I’m three pints down and you’ll see exactly what I mean. All creative types (I feel I can, you know, legitimately call myself that now) are show offs. I decided to write as, among other things, it seemed to be a way to put on a performance without having to face the audience (I decided on this career before the internet, okay?), because I could be also have been described as the tiniest bit cowardly – certainly not brave enough to do stand-up (at least I wasn’t), which is what I dreamed about doing when I was a teen.

Anyway, times have changed. The internet means you face your audience no matter where you try to hide, indeed, as authors now bear the greater part of the burden in marketing their books, you absolutely have to. I’m older and wiser, and yes, braver. Brave enough now to perform without a filter. But that’s not the point. I digress. I’m big on digressions. There was one time when…

Sorry. The point is, all writers write because they want their writing to be read. Even more than that, they want their books to be got. I’m sure Champion of Mars, with its tricksy structure, unashamed retro styling and gleeful mixing of SF and fantasy isn’t for everyone, but it was for Zachary. He got it. He loved it. Because he decided to tell us all why, I got to know. And to know that your work has clicked with someone, well… That’s what it’s all about.

Although I’m still holding out for the boat.

Hey chaps, I noticed yesterday that the kindle version of Champion of Mars is available for a mere £3.08 on UK Amazon, and $4.77 on US Amazon. Obviously I’d recommend it, as it’s my book, but the price really is low right now, so if you fancy something a little bit different for your Bank Holiday weekend read (okay, holidays in the UK only, but you know), then check it out. Not convinced yet? Here’s a reminder of what the Guardian said about it.

Maybe one more reminder of this tomorrow, then I promise I’ll go back to standing aloof from the grubby business of commerce, like a proper author should. That’s what it says I should do in my artistes’ handbook anyway, but I might be wrong. It’s stained with absinthe, cigarillo burns and something else that looks really icky, and is written in French.