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September Updates and News

Hey folks,

I hope you’re all keeping well! Feeling much better here now, and back to normal after a bumpy Covid experience, and am finally getting some words down on (digital) paper again!

Right now I’m working on the first book in my new fantasy trilogy, which has over run now by about 3 weeks, not counting the 3 weeks Covid laid me flat, so a bit behind schedule, although that’s not the worst thing in the world this late in the year, and its certainly something I can absorb with the buffers I build in. I’m still on track to write 3 first drafts this year, which will make it my most productive to date!

This book is a little way off releasing, probably somewhere around the middle of next year. As its set in a new world, the main story keeps building as I flesh out the world and the characters. It’s already double the length of my shortest book, and is set to go some way yet. I’m delaying it as it’ll take a lengthy second draft to get everything smoothed out storywise, and also to get all the world building detail I want in an organic way that won’t slow the pace of the novel. I’m really pleased with how its shaping up, but want it to be the absolute best it can be, which means devoting a little more time to it.

Next up in terms of release will by the third installment of my sci-fi Alpha Protocol series. That’s nearing completion now, so I hope to have more details about that in coming weeks. It’ll be my last release of this year.

In terms of fantasy, with the current book on a slow-cook schedule, I have something else that I’ve been working on in the background, but with a long term view of publishing. I don’t want to go into any more detail on that beyond saying this is a response to the messages I’ve received from people wanting more books in the Middle Sea world. I’d always planned revisiting it, but I guess that’s going to be happening sooner than I’d originally planned!

Lastly, in hobby news, I’ve another Malta Spitfire on my workbench, along with another historical miniature. I hope to have one of them finished in time for next week’s post.

Until then, take care!

Blood of Kings 3 – The Demon Hunter – Now out on Audiobook!

Hey folks,

Just a quick post this week, as I’ve still got Covid and am feeling pretty crappy! As the title suggests, The Demon Hunter is out in audio format today. Narrated by the superb John Lee, this concludes the Blood of Kings trilogy with what I hope you’ll agree is a thrilling ending!

It should be live at the time of writing, and you can pick up a copy at Audible here:

Or on Amazon here:

Needless to say, I’ve not been up to much recently beyond trying to stay hydrated and snoozing. I’m starting to feel better, so hopefully I’m coming out the other side of it now. After dodging it completely for 3 years, it finally got me! Now, I’m going back to bed! I hope you all enjoy John’s performance of The Demon Hunter!

Plastic, Paint, and Glue – 11th Century Norman Knight in 28mm

Hi folks,

I hope you’re all keeping well. Apologies for the absence of posts lately. After holding out for 3 years, we finally all caught Covid here, so have been working that through our systems. Not much fun… Happily, we’re all recovered now, and I’m hopeful that’ll be the last time we have to deal with it!

I’ve a painting post this week, as I don’t have much in the way of work updates having been sick for the last little while! I’ve had a hankering to get back to some historical subjects for a while now, and it’s only natural for me to start that with a Norman knight, or miles as they were also called. This was a particular area of interest for me when I was at University, and in theory I have a bit of Norman heritage mixed in with the various other flavours, so they remain a topic I like to dig into again every few years.

Around the time this model represents—broadly the 11th Century—the Normans were becoming a power to be reckoned with. Having started off as Viking raiders pillaging France, the king of the time, Charles the Simple, reckoned they made for better friends than enemies (the Vikings had besieged and sacked Paris in 845) and around 911 he offered them land in return for defending his northern coastline. This they did, and the Northmen, or Normans, gave their name to the region they settled—Normandy.

These settled Vikings gradually adopted local customs, a blend of Romano Gallic traditions and German Frankish customs, becoming something new unto themselves, while maintaining that same outward-looking energy of their Scandanavian forebears.

Although still ostensibly contained within the Duchy of Normandy during this period, Norman warriors and mercenaries had ventured as far south and east as Moorish Spain and the Byzantine Empire, laying the groundwork for future conquests. The warriors following William the Conqueror across the channel in 1066 would have been equipped similarly to this guy, as would many of those setting off for the First Crusade thirty years later.

This chap is from the Perry Miniatures range, and he’s been sitting in my drawer for a number of years now. One thing I like about this range is the high level of historical accuracy. That’s a little more commonplace now, but when I bought them over a decade ago, they were way ahead of the pack in terms of making period accurate figures.

The four panel spangenhelm with nasal guard is a good representation of what was in use at the time, as are the elbow-length sleeves on the mail hauberk, which comes down to about knee length. Armour at this time was a lot simpler and less comprehensive than what comes to mind when we think of a knight, but this model’s gear represents an important stage in the evolution to the ‘knight in shining armour’ concept that reached its zenith around the 15th Century.

The kite shield was adopted around 1000, replacing the circular shield favoured by the Vikings. Although the shape seems perfect for a horseman protecting his undefended left leg by holding it vertically, it is often seen being held more horizontally in the Bayeux Tapestry, providing protection along the horse’s flank. Perhaps it was just easier to hold that way at the gallop, or perhaps that’s how they actually used it. I suspect we’ll never know for certain! As for the design on the shield, it’s largely meaningless. Heraldry as we understand it didn’t really become a thing until around the 12th Century, with shield decoration being, for the most part, little more than that during the time of this miles. Historically notable individuals were known to have used different shield decorations at different times during this period.

This Norman miles is armed with a sword still in its scabbard and what passed for a lance back then. The lance was still only a spear at this point, rather than the heavy jousting implement it later became. At this point in time, lances were still used overhand as in this model, and as illustrated in the Bayeaux Tapestry, they were being thrown too! They were also, of course, used couched under the arm to put the full weight and momentum of the rider and horse behind the point, the technique that would later become the default style of use.

The sword would have been approximately 30 inches in length with a broad fullered blade with parallel edges running until they converged into the point near the end. They were designed to be used one handed, and the brazil nut shaped pommel was very popular during this time, although you can’t see it on this little guy, more’s the pity!

Last, but not least, the horse he rides was called a ‘destrier’, and being selectively bred and highly trained, they were hugely expensive. The saddle and stirrups were well developed by this period, affording the rider a solid seat in and the freedom to use his hands to crack skulls in battle.

I haven’t had time to do much painting lately, so there was an element of shaking off the rust in getting this guy painted. The horse is a new approach to painting dapple horses, but I reckon there are better ways to do it, so I’ll have to experiment a bit on that. I also wanted to put a bit more effort into the base, something I often ignore out of laziness but want to start doing properly going forward. I need to spend a bit of time getting together a better approach to doing this, so will be trying to make that a bit of a focus over my next few models!

I’ve lots more historical minis in the drawer, and hope to bring more of those out over the next few weeks. I hope to have some worthwhile updates soon, but it will probably be the week after next before that comes together. I’ll be back next week with another hobby post of a subject matter yet to be decided!

Until then, take care!

Plastic, Paint, and Glue: Malta Spitfire MkV

Hey folks,

I hope you’re all keeping well! Sorry for the radio silence last week. It was a public holiday here last Monday, and I kind of forgot about all things work related!

I’ve got another Spitfire for your delectation this week. This time it’s another Malta Spitfire from one of the early deliveries to the island in the early stages of the siege. It was delivered as part of Operation Spotter on 7 March 1942 and is MkVb that was originally painted in the North African Theatre colours of Dark Earth and Middlestone (which I modeled last time, and you can see here:

To a degree, this is something of a speculative colour scheme. When they got to the island in a camouflage unsuitable for the environment, the Middlestone sections were hastily overpainted with an unspecified dark grey. As the story goes, it was a mix of whatever they had on hand at the time, so picking out the shade of grey is a bit of a shot in the dark. I used a close approximation of Extra Dark Sea Grey (an official RAF colour at the time), so hopefully its as close as one can hope for!

I think it makes for a very attractive colour scheme, and it’s a shame it didn’t get used for long. However, when it comes to combat, substance has to triumph over style, and later models used different camo schemes.

Sadly, most of the planes that arrived on Malta with this delivery were, to the best of my recollection, destroyed within 24 hours of arrival. This particular one, AB264, survived, however, and was eventually passed on for service with the USAAF. As a result, the hasty overpaint had a chance to wear off, and as a result, if you look up profiles for this plane you’ll see ones with some pretty haphazard paintwork. I decided to model mine as being fairly freshly painted, as I prefer a lighter touch when it comes to weathering.

On to the photos:

That’s all for this week! I’m planning an updates post for next week, so until then, take care!

Plastic, Paint, and Glue: MkV Spitfire – North African Theatre

It’s a hobby post this week, as with all the excitement of my recent release, I don’t have a whole lot interesting to say work-wise! I’ve got a recently built MkV Spitfire kit from Kovozavody Prostejov manufacturer in the colour scheme for the North Africa Theatre of Operations.

I’ve always really liked these desert camouflage colours, and have wanted to make a model in this scheme for a while, so I interrupted my Malta Spitfire binge to do this one, consoling myself with the fact that Spitfires in this colour scheme were shipped to Malta, albeit to be repainted before operations as the colours weren’t suitable for combat over water.

A couple of interesting points to this model are the clipped wing tips, which helped increase the roll rate for the plane, making it a bit more maneuverable, and the Aboukir air filter (the air intake under the plane’s chin), which was fitted to the planes by maintenance units in theatre. They differ from the bigger Vokes filters which these planes often had fitted (which you can see on my last Malta Spit, the plane’s chin, essentially – The Vokes filter caused a bit of a drop in engine performance, so the Aboukir installed design went some way to improving on that.

This was a really nice kit to build, and I’ve got a couple more stashed away for my Malta list. For the purists out there, I realise the Azure Blue unders are in a shade a bit too dark. This is quite a hard colour to find an accurate representation of across the manufacturers, but I’ve since settled on a more accurate match for the real thing, which I’ll use going forward.

Despite this error in detail, I’m really happy with how this one turned out, and it really stands out from the other planes in my growing collection of Spitfires!

On to the photos:

I hope you like this one! I’ll be heading back to Malta for my next one, and hope to get some wargames minis back into the production line too! Until next week, take care!

What’s Next For Hamilton Industries?

Hey folks,

I hope you’re all doing well! This week’s post is coming a bit late in the day as I had an appointment with an overgrown lawn and an uncooperative lawnmower… 45 mins work expanded to 3 hours. 3 hours of my life I’ll never get back…

Anyway, back on schedule after a bit of a longer work day, and I’m only now getting to my Monday post (after taking last Monday as a post release break!). (If you missed it, The Demon Hunter – Blood of Kings 3 is now out, you can pick up a copy here – Amazon)

This week I want to talk a little bit about what I’ve got lined up next, now that the Blood of Kings trilogy is complete. I’ve a few things on the production line, but have been turning my mind to what my next big project will be, and where they will take me.

The first thing is the new series set in a new story world that I’ve been ideating for quite some time now. I’ve mentioned this a few times recently, but things are a bit more advanced now. I’ve actually almost completed the first draft of book 1 in that series, and I have to say I really can’t wait to show it to you guys. I think it’s the best thing I’ve written to date, and I think you’ll really enjoy it (at least, I really hope you will!). I don’t want to say too much more about it just yet, but announcements will be coming before the end of the year!

I’ve a couple of side projects that I want to apply some time to, something that I’ve been asked about a bit over the years, namely special edition hardcovers. It’s early days in terms of planning, but I’m hoping to do some limited edition box set hard covers, probably by way of a Kickstarter. I’ll have more details on that a little later in the year!

On the sci-fi side of things, I’ve been really enjoying writing the Alpha Protocol series, and intend to continue with that for at least 3-4 more books, depending on how the plotting work unfolds. I’ve also got another sci-fi series in the works based around an infantry unit, more on that early next year!

Finally, while clearing out some old backup drives, I discovered the outlines for additional books in one of my earlier fantasy trilogies that I had planned to write, but then my Tor deal came along and I moved on to other things. I’ve been reading through them, and want to rework them a bit, but I plan to write and release them, ideally over the next 18-24 months. I don’t want to say too much more about it now, but I have to admit I’m really excited at the prospect of getting to spend more time with some old friends!

Anyone want to have a guess at which of my 3 older trilogies I’m talking about???

All in all, lot’s to keep me busy, and lot’s of things that I’m really very excited about getting to work on!

Ok, it’s getting late here, so time to quit for the day! Until next week, take care!

The Demon Hunter – Blood of Kings Book 3 Out Now!

Hey folks,

Today’s the big day! The Demon Hunter – Blood of Kings Book 3 is out now! You can pick up a copy at any of the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Here’s the back cover copy to give you a reminder of what it’s about:

Demon legions prepare to march across the land as Fanrac begins his grab for power. The threat grows so great it can no longer be ignored. The monarchs of the Middle Sea set aside their differences and ready their armies to make a stand.

Force of arms alone will not be enough, as countless heroes of history have discovered to their demise. Time is running out for Conrad to tame the power coursing through his blood and learn the lessons he needs to face his ultimate foe.

Discovering Fanrac’s long forgotten capital sets Conrad and his comrades, old and new, on a path to a final confrontation with an evil bearing an unexpected face…

To mark the release of the final book in the trilogy, The Squire – Blood of Kings Book 1 is on sale for only $0.99! If you haven’t had a chance to pick it up yet, you can grab a copy at the following links. The sale lasts for 1 week only!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

I hope you all enjoy The Demon Hunter. It’s been a very satisfying story to write, hitting on many of the aspects I’ve enjoyed most in my previous Middle Sea books, and I very much look forward to entertaining you all with more tales of lands and characters old and new in coming months!

Blood of Kings 3 – Final excerpt!

Hey folks,

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend. I’ve got the final post in my launch series for the last book in the Blood of Kings series. The book is out tomorrow, but you can preorder it now for delivery to your reading device as soon as it goes live! I’ve left all the links down at the bottom of this post!

This time, the focus is on the hero of the tale, Conrad. I’m not going to say a whole lot more – I’ll let the excerpt speak for itself!

In the darkness of the laneway, there was no reliable way for Conrad to tell how long he had been waiting. It felt like an age—far longer than it likely was—but when the door creaked open and Luther finally appeared, Conrad found himself not wanting to know how things had gone.

He grimaced and raised an enquiring eyebrow. ‘Are you… finished?’

Luther nodded, wiping his hands on a piece of cloth. ‘It’s as we thought. They’re a bunch of idiots hoping to attract a demon to show them the route to power, riches, and immortality, through made-up rites and bits they’ve cobbled together from other cult groups, and some scraps of documents they’ve managed to get their hands on.’

Conrad chewed his lip. It was a little disappointing. It had been a distant hope, but know they knew for certain.

‘Is he…?’ Conrad asked.

‘Oh—oh, no,’ Luther said. ‘I told him he could have a few minutes to put himself back together.’ He saw the reaction on Conrad’s face and added, ‘Not literally. I gave him a bit of a fright, is all. Well, a lot of a fright.’ He lowered his voice, and said with pride, ‘I’m pretty sure he crapped himself.’

‘That’s…’ How did one reply to that? ‘Impressive?’

‘Didn’t even have to lay a hand on him,’ Luther said. ‘Cleaned my fingernails a bit with one of these.’ He held up the leather roll of torture implements he’d so suggestively laid out on the desk. ‘These are actually for making and shaping quills. Picked them up in a stationer’s shop in Voorn about fifteen years ago. Not sure how you’re supposed to use them, but they’re great for putting the frights on someone.’ He chuckled.

With that one statement, many of the layers of terror through which Conrad had viewed the Intelligenciers sloughed away.

‘I can’t say I was expecting to hear that,’ Conrad said.

‘Expectations and imagination are amongst the Intelligencier’s greatest tools,’ Luther said. ‘No, I’m pretty sure these lads are full of it. They’re planning an expedition off to some ruin called Urlachen, where they think they’ll find their new demon masters and their well-deserved riches, immortality, virility, and whatever else it is they think the demons will do for them. Pretty much everything except suck their souls out, which is what they’re actually going to do. Assuming these plonkers ever manage to find a demon.’

That’s it for today! The Demon Hunter – Blood of Kings Book 3 is out tomorrow. It’s available on preorder now, so you can have it delivered to your device as soon as it goes live!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

The Demon Hunter -Blood of Kings Book 3 – Excerpt

Hey folks,

Welcome to an unusual (for me) Friday post, motivated by the impending release of the final Blood of Kings book next Tuesday, 11 July! I’ve got another excerpt for you today, this time giving you a glimpse at a couple of new characters who feature in this closing section of the Blood of Kings tale. I hope you like it!

A loud snarl tore her from her thoughts once again, and she opened her eyes. She could see one of the other teams—a pairing of Silver Circle mage and banneret—on the opposite side of the village. It looked like Jerome and Pascal. They stood within the shimmering dome of a magical shield, which was surrounded by the Venori. More of the creatures were pouring into the village square—more than she’d ever seen, and far more than the scouting reports had said.

This was supposed to have been a routine mission to clear out no more than a half-dozen feral demons. Three pairs of mages and bannerets had been sent—far more than they expected to need. But as the order’s marshall, the cantankerous old Guillot dal Villerauvais, always said, better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. She supposed he wasn’t that old really, then realised she’d let her mind drift again. It was something she’d developed a reputation for, and something that had almost kept her from passing her final examinations to become an initiate of the Silver Circle.

She focussed again, squeezing her eyes shut and doing her best to block out the sounds of chaos that surrounded her. She found a place of peace and serenity deep within her mind, and reached out to the Fount. She felt a momentary light-headedness, and allowed herself the briefest of smiles. When she opened her eyes, everything around her was covered in a benign blue glow. The Fount.

The glow didn’t last long. She could in fact choose not to see it at all, but she found comfort in the confirmation it brought. She blinked it away, and turned her attention to the situation at hand. Her mouth moved to silently give shape to the words in her mind—another trick she had learned to help her focus her thoughts. The more ostentatious of her colleagues shouted them out, but she didn’t like that. For one thing, it signalled to everyone around the form of the magic you were about to shape.

Severine shaped a ‘push’, an invisible wave of magical energy that would knock back everything before her—or all around her if she managed to shape the more complicated version of the spell.

‘Get down!’ she shouted.

Not needing to be told twice, Raphael dropped to the dirt with the ease of a move he had practised many, many times. Severine mouthed the words, and saw the air before her ripple. The demons Raphael had been fighting were lifted from their feet and thrown back a dozen paces. She nodded in satisfaction, then looked around.

Jerome and Pascal were still taking shelter in their magical fortress, but she couldn’t see Celeste and Thibaut, the final pairing of their team. She couldn’t spare them more than a thought, though, as the demons continued to fill the village. Her push spell—a simple piece of magic that novices learned early in their training—had merely been to buy them time and settle her nerves. If they were going to get out of the village with their lives, she was going to have to shape up something far more potent.

I hope that’s further whetted your appetites for the book! These characters were a lot of fun to dream up and write, and I think you’ll agree they play a pivotal role in the story.

The Demon Hunter comes out next Tuesday in eBook and paperback (audio will be out on 12 September), but you can preorder it now at any of the below links!

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

That’s all I’ve got for this week! I hope you all have a great weekend. I plan to spend mine stressing about new book releases (something of a tradition now…)! I’ll be back on Monday with something yet to be decided, but certainly Demon Hunter related.

Until then, take care!

Blood of Kings: Behind the Scenes

Hey folks,

I hope you’re keeping well. It’s a beautiful day here in Ireland, nice and sunny and the humidity is thankfully quite a bit lower than it has been! This is the second post in my little series in the lead up to the release of the final part of the Blood of Kings trilogy, The Demon Hunter, which comes out next Tuesday, 11 July.

My first piece of news is that The Demon Hunter is now available for preorder. It will go live next Tuesday, 11 July, so only 1 week to go until you can read it! You can preorder your copy now at the following links:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Now for the behind the scenes part!

I’ve always really enjoyed writing the coming of age style tale, but chose to take a break from that when I wrote my Dragonslayer trilogy, about a grumpy middle age swordsman whose best years are definitely behind him, but gets another shot at doing something great. I really enjoyed writing that tale, and really loved the character, Guillot.

When it came to brainstorming out my next trilogy, I was eager to return to a coming of age tale, but… I enjoyed writing Guillot so much that I didn’t want to completely leave that story behind. Out of that, I came up with the idea of an orphan essentially adopted by a group of world weary mercenaries.

That was the seed of the story, but in itself that idea is just an occurrence, not a story in itself. I already have a pretty comprehensive story world built up to set it in, so that was another box ticked. All that remained was the agents of antagonism.

One of the things I really enjoyed in writing the Wolf of the North series was delving into the ancient myths and legends of the Middle Sea world I’d developed, and I’d already laid a breadcrumb trail through these early books, with magic growing in strength in the world once again, after not really having featured for a thousand years. The draugr from Wolf of the North, who appear at the end of Dragonslayer in a different part of the world where they are known as Venori, seemed like the obvious choice for the bad guys.

Now I had my hero, my setting, my opponent(s), all I needed was the desire. I won’t go into that too much, as it ventures into spoiler territory. With that worked out, it was time to start plotting.

Now that I think about it, a big part of writing the Blood of Kings trilogy was picking the aspects of my previous stories that I enjoyed the most, and finding a way to incorporate them. I think this is fitting, as it’s the last trilogy I plan to write in the Middle Sea world for a little while (don’t worry, I have plans for more!). As a result, I had a great time writing this series, really loved spending time with those characters, and had a very hard time drawing a line under this last book. Parting is such sweet sorrow…

That’s all for this post. I hope you enjoyed this peak behind my thinking for this book and series. I’ll have another post about it on Friday and next Monday. Until then, take care!