With the final part of the Blood of Kings trilogy coming out in eBook next week (audio to follow on 12 Sept), I’ve got an excerpt from the story this week to whet your appetite for what’s to come!
Giffrid kicked open the ornate double-doors leading to the throne room with no hesitation and no ceremony. It was a moment for which he had been waiting a long time—years filled with war, death, and destruction. That was at an end now.
Giffrid stepped over the threshold, his great sword held in both hands, its blade smeared with what passed for blood within demons.
‘Careful, Giffrid,’ Abrecan said. ‘We haven’t won yet.’
Giffrid cast a look over his shoulder at Abrecan and the three other kings accompanying him, and nodded. The last thing any of them wanted was to die at the last battle. Their uneasy alliance had survived so much, forging a bond between them which otherwise would never have been. So many good men had died to bring them to this point, the threshold of their victory.
Giffrid cast a look about the throne room. He had been here before, as a courtier to a young emperor of whom everyone had the highest hopes, and no inkling of the monstrous tyrant he would become. Now Giffrid had returned at the head of a victorious army to kill that tyrant.
He moved slowly forward, his sword held at the ready, his fellow kings at his heels. It felt odd to see so huge and grand a room empty. The throne sat on a dais at the far end of the column-lined hall, its gilding sparkling in the illumination of hundreds of tiny magical lights. The décor wasn’t to Giffrid’s taste, but he supposed imperial splendour needed to be splendid.
‘Show yourself, tyrant!’ Ostremund shouted.
‘Your regime is at an end, Fenerik!’ Bebeodan added.
It was brave talk from brave men. Of all the foes they had yet faced, Fenerik himself was the most dangerous. The father of all demons. Only together did they have the power to defeat him.
As he advanced deeper into Fenerik’s throne room, Giffrid felt his stomach twist at being so dependent on others—men who were his rivals—to succeed in this mission. After today they could go back to being rivals once more, but for now, their only hope was to remain united. He looked to Abrecan, the one man among them whom he trusted like a brother. The rest? All he could do was have faith in the pact they had made to rid the world of Fenerik’s evil.
Giffrid could see the throne was empty, and wondered where the emperor was. He walked another few paces before spotting him—on one knee, his sword before him, tip to the ground. He was a shell of what he had once been. His once vibrant blond hair was lank and grey. His cheeks were hollow and his eyes sunken, a malevolent red glow emanating from them, marking out what set him apart from ordinary men.
‘So, you’re finally here.’ The voice seemed to come from everywhere at once, but Giffrid knew that was impossible, and ignored the urge to look around for the source. Instead, he kept his eyes locked on Fenerik, determined to show no fear.
I hope you enjoyed that little taster! I’m going to be posting here a few times this week in advance of the launch, with some bits and pieces about the story, so keep an eye out for updates! That’s all I’ve got for today!
As a reminder, the ebook and paperback come out on Tues 11 July!
See you soon!
I hope you’re all keeping well! After the excitement of last week’s news—being the announcement that the final part of the Blood of Kings trilogy, The Demon Hunter, is coming out on 11 July if you missed it!—I’m back to another Plastic, Paint, and Glue post, while I recharge the storage tank of writing related stuff!
This week is another interesting one (although I suppose they’re all interesting, to me at least, otherwise I wouldn’t be doing them!), a Spitfire MkVb that would have seen service in the Malta theatre of operations during the Siege of Malta (the second one!), specifically the period within it over the summer of 1942.
What makes Siege of Malta Spitfires of interest is the array of colour schemes that were used – far more variety, much different to those used in other theatres, and often unique to this battle.
The first Spitfires arriving to the island were painted in the desert colours of light and dark brown (Middlestone and Dark Earth to be precise!), which was quickly determined to be wholly unsuitable for operations which were carried out largely over the sea. A number of new colour schemes were devised and tried out over the summer of 1942, with each batch of Spitfires being delivered under heavy fire to the island getting a different livery (for the most part!)
Considering the ferocious nature of the battle in the skies, exact records of the colours used were not kept, which has led to a huge amount of research, conjecture, and speculation in the modelling community. Both the heroic story of the island’s air defence and the array of aircraft colour schemes used really attracted me to this period and locale of World War II, and this is the first of what I hope to be an example of each colour scheme I’ve encountered, both confirmed, and in some cases speculative (because I think they look great!).
This plane is from Operation Salient, which delivered Spitfires to the island around 9 June 1942. This scheme is a little more on the speculative end of the spectrum, although I think it reasonable to believe this, or something very similar was used.
It’s a respray of Dark Mediterranean Blue over the Desert Camouflage, when they were running low on paint, so the original colours can be just about made out underneath. From a painting point of view, I think I went one coat of blue too many on this one, but in real life you can still make out the colours underneath quite clearly. It’s a little harder in the photo! I also went a bit heavier on the weathering than I usually do, to reflect the dusty environment and the heavy use the planes were getting. Not sure how I feel about the level I took it too, as I usually prefer a lighter use finish.
On to the pictures!
I hope you like this one. The research around the planes used in this battle has been really fascinating, and was something I knew very little about before.
I’m hoping to come up with another writing based topic to chat about and mix up the content of my posting a bit going forward, but haven’t had any ideas yet! I’m sure I’ll come up with something, but if there’s anything you folks would like to know, I’m always open to suggestions!
Until next Monday!
As long promised, I finally have some news to announce!
The final part of the Blood of Kings trilogy, The Demon Hunter, will be released in ebook and paperback on 11 July!
I’m very proud to reveal the book’s cover, once again created by the incredible Andreas Rocha. I hope you like it as much as I do!
This series has been a lot of fun to write, and it’s always with a little sense of regret that I finish off a trilogy. That’s all the more so since I’m planning on taking a bit of a break from the Middle Sea world for my next few books, as I delve into a new story world that I’ve been working on for some time.
I do have plans to return to the Middle Sea in the not too distant future, so worry not!
That’s everything I have for today! I hope you like the new cover!
Until next Monday, take care!
I’m afraid it’s another Plastic, Paint, and Glue post this week, as I’m still not quite ready to make any announcements. However, I now have everything that I need in, and will be able to put the preparatory work in this week for some announcements next Monday! I promise!
So, instead, this week I have an interesting model for you, a Photo Reconnaissance Spitfire Type A. As with a lot of intelligence work in the early days of the war, this plane has it’s origins in unconventional places, in this instance a roguish chap called Sidney Cotton, an Australian businessman who was pals with Ian Flaming (creator of James Bond).
Cotton was a big proponent of aerial reconnaissance, and spent a bit of time in the lead up to the opening of hostilities in 1939 freelancing for MI6 (the UK’s intelligence service, and also who James Bond works for!) flying around Germany taking photos of their military buildup.
This information proved invaluable, so when war broke out, he was commissioned in the RAF where he began his aerial reconnaissance program in earnest. This plane is a model of one of two planes that were initially assigned to his program. They were ordinary Mk Ia Spitfires that were ‘Cottonised’. This involved quite a bit of work: painting them a colour that suited their mission role—a light green grey that Cotton devised himself called ‘Camotint Green’; filling in all the panel lines and polishing the plane to as smooth and aerodynamic a finish as possible; removing all the armament and fairing over the gun ports(brave, brave men, flying deep into enemy territory with no guns!); removed the radio, so no phoning home if you got in trouble. Finally, cameras were placed in the wings in the space left by the weapons, the lenses pointing downwards with an overlapping field of view.
The end result was a plane that could hit 390mph, a full 12mph faster than the standard Mk Ia, hopefully just enough to get the pilot away from an angry Messerschmitt!
So, on to my model. I started off with the standard Airfix 1:72 Spitfire MkIa kit for this, and set about filling in all the panel lines and making the other minor modifications needed to shape it into the photo recon version. Essentially a ‘Cottonising’ session in 1:72 scale! I used an aftermarket canopy set to do the open canopy, as the PR plane had bulges on cockpit hood sides not present on the regular aircraft.
The information I dug up (which is a bit sketchy!) indicated—to my reading, at least—that only the wings were faired, not the fuselage, so that’s the way I went. I removed the undercarriage bulges also, and I’m not confident this was the correct thing to do, so that might well be an error on my part. Also, the only spare roundels I had are, I think, too large, but hey ho! Otherwise, I feel I’ve got something pretty close, and a model that certainly captures the spirit of the real thing.
On to the photos!
That’s all for this week. I hope you like my Photo Reconnaissance Spitfire Type A. I plan to make some more of the PR Spitfires in due course, as building this one, along with all the research and modification, was a lot of fun.
I promise to have the updates and announcements next week. As I mentioned above, I have everything I need to move forward, and will be getting it all ready this week. I also hope to send out my summer newsletter before the end of the month, so keep an eye on your in boxes!
Until next week, take care!
Much as suspected, I’m not quite ready to make the announcements I hinted at last week, so it’s another Plastic, Paint, and Glue post this week. I’ve taken a short break from building and painting model aeroplanes, and returned to some mini painting this week.
I’ve got a Scibor miniatures knight this week. Once again, it’s a very characterful sculpt that was a lot of fun to paint. The focus for this guy was non metallic metal gold, and red, which oddly enough is a colour I’ve always struggled to get a result that I’m happy with. It always ends up either too orange or too pink as I try to highlight and shade it.
I’m pretty happy with the result on this one, although the NMM gold is a bit sketchy in a few places, for the most part I think I’ve managed to achieve a reflective looking surface. The metal for the hammer ended up looking a bit too like stone on this one, but that’s an issue I’m always combating on steel type materials.
I also tried an enamel product for moss and lichen on the base, which is meant to texture up, but I don’t think I use it right, as it just looks like puddles of barf, which was not the intended outcome!
Here are the photos of this weeks efforts:
That’s it for this week! I’m very much hopeful I’ll be able to make my announcements next week, so please stay tuned and check in next Monday afternoon (GMT), when I’ll be making my regular weekly post! Until then, take care!
I’ve got a hobby post for you this week, this time a Tamiya 1:72 Messerschmitt 109 G6. About 12,000 of these were built during the course of the war after their introduction in Feb 1943.
The kit itself is a lovely one to build, and my first step away from Airfix. I decided to use a custom set of decals and paint scheme that I saw online with this one, and may have bitten off a little more than I can chew. I’m a little disappointed with the end result, as I tried a new brand of paint in my airbrush that I really struggled with, getting constant clogs followed by splatters when the clog got pushed through. It’s the only time I’ve encountered this issue, and I’ve used quite a few brands in the air brush at this point, without this problem arising.
At the time I thought it was just me, but having used a few more paints from this brand, and spent a bit of time since this model practising with my airbrush and experimenting with paint and thinner mixes, I think the issue lies with the paint brand. I’ve encountered it with every colour of theirs I’ve tried and never with any of the other half dozen brands I use a selection from. I’ll be reluctant to use it with my airbrush in future.
This camo scheme has some interesting and pretty unique streaks for its pattern. For the most part it looks okay, but there are a few mistakes here and there that I missed. I had to spend a lot of time going back and forward correcting the issues caused by the inconsistent airbrush flow, so it was a pretty frustrating model painting experience in the end, and one I was glad to be finished with. Knowing what I know now about the paint, I wish I’d gone back with a different brand and resprayed it before all the varnish and weathering, but at the time I thought it was my skill set that was lacking.
Time for the photos!
Overall, I’m happy enough with he end result, but as always, i spot issues when I take the photos that I hadn’t noticed before, and then I can’t see anything else!
I’ve not decided what type of post I’ll have for next week. There are a few things coming through the pipeline, but coming out of my tax filing period, I’m a little disorganised on the admin side work-wise, and am not sure if I’ll be ready for any announcements as soon as next Monday! Progress is steady, though, so it won’t be too much longer!
Until then, take care!
I’ve got some work updates this week. First off, the final Blood of Kings book is back from its line edit, and I’ll be putting together ARC copies this week to send out to my advance readers. Cover art is pretty much done, so we’re well on track for release in the coming few weeks. I’ll let you know as soon as I have a firm date on that! I’ll have some posts with cover reveal, title reveal, and excerpts over the next little while, so make sure to stay tuned!
The first draft of my next Alpha Protocol book is also complete. I’ve a few tweaks that I need to make before sending it off for developmental edit, but I’m in good shape to get that book out in the Autumn.
Aside from that, I’m working hard on my next fantasy series, which as I’ve mentioned before, is set in an entirely new world, which I’m very excited about. Although I’ve been world building for this for a long time, now that I’m actually sitting down to plot out the first book, I’m seeing all the areas that need a bit more detail and thinking through. That’s not exactly a chore, though, as this is the part of the process that I always enjoy the most. What’s more, the deeper into all of this I dig, the more excited about it I’m getting!
I’m taking a slightly different approach to writing this series, and am spending a bit more time plotting it out in advance. In the past, I’ve had a start point, an end point, and a number of checkpoints in between, and went with the flow from there. This has left me spending a lot of time staring at the screen wondering what’s going to happen next, or how I’m going to get out of the corner I painted myself into a few chapters back.
Often this involves a lot of rewriting which is very time consuming, and definitely feels like one step forward and two steps back, which can be quite demoralising when you’ve 100k words ahead of you! This time, I’m writing a much more detailed synopsis, and taking some time to keep reworking it over a number of drafts, until I have the full story and flow shaped up. It’s a lot easier to rework a 3k synopsis than 40k of written words. It’s working well so far. Hopefully it’s a new and more efficient tool for me!
That’s all I have for this week. I’ll be back next week with a Plastic, Paint, and Glue post, and there’ll also be some announcements to come over the next couple of weeks! Until then, take care!
I’ve got another model aeroplane on the table today. Back to Allied powers this time, with an RAF Supermarine Spitfire MkVc. It’s a 1:72 scale kit from Airfix, and is one of their beginner sets, so it was a pretty quick build and and quite a bit lighter on detail in some areas. At this scale, that doesn’t bother me so much, and gets me to the part that I like the most, which is the painting.
The MKV Spitfire was one of the most used variants of Spitfire, and in its basic iteration was essentially an upgraded MKI/MkII Spitfire with a more powerful engine. It was a stopgap measure to improve performance while a more thoroughly upgraded iteration (the MKVI, which was not really needed in the end) was developed.
It saw action in all the Allied theatres, from Europe, the Med and North Africa, to the Asian theatre of operations. Its presence in Malta is for me, the most interesting, as they spent a lot of time tweaking the camouflage patterns to get something suitable to that mixed over sea and land combat role. I’ve a list of about 16 confirmed and speculative paint schemes (sadly, with the combat so heated at the time, accurate records of colour schemes weren’t kept, leading to lots of discussion about what was and wasn’t used).
I’m hoping to work my way through that list at some point, but for now, this MkV is painted in the standard temperate scheme used over Europe from 1941, when the green and brown pattern famous from the Battle of Britain was no longer considered suitable.
Considering how simple a kit it was to put together, I’m really happy with the end result. Here are some photos! I hope you like it!
I’ll have some more work updates for next week’s post. For now, it’s enough to say things are progressing nicely and I’m approaching announcement time!
Until then, take care!
Back to a modelling post this week (which I realise is two weeks overdue!). Switching to the Axis powers for my subject this week, and a Focke Wulf FW190 A-8, also called the Sturmböcke. When these came along in early 1942, they really upset the apple cart, outclassing the best the Allies had available at that time, namely the Spitfire MkVb. The threat was so great that it spurred the speedy development of perhaps the most iconic of the Spitfire marks, the Mk IX (these are, to the best of my knowledge, the planes you see standing in for MkIs in the classic movie The Battle of Britain).
I’ve always thought there was something elegant in the muscular lines of the FW190. It’s certainly no beauty like the Spit, but it certainly looks the part of a powerful fighter plane. My iteration of it comes from Airfix’s 1:72 kit, which had a few tricky moments in construction that almost saw it fly into the bin! In the end I put together a model that I’m quite pleased with.
The camouflage patterns are one of the things that really interest me about these planes, and the subtle mottling effect applied to this one tested my airbrush skills to the limit! Here are a few photos of the end result:
That’s all I have for this week! All things going to plan, I’ll have an updates post next week! Until then, take care.
I hope you’re all keeping well.
Some quick updates today.
I’m nearing the end of the first draft of Alpha Protocol 3, and am encountering that now regular sensation of reluctance to wrap things up, as it means saying goodbye to the characters and story that I’ve been enjoying for the past couple of months. The good thing is, Alpha Protocol is a series rather than a trilogy, so I get to go back to them all again for book 4 in a few months time!
Before then, I want to get the first draft of my new fantasy series written. I’ve been spending my down time world building for this new story environment, and I’m really chomping at the bit to get going with it. It’s a story world I’ve wanted to focus my time on for several years now, so am really excited that I’m getting close to it being my full focus.
The last Blood of Kings book should be back from edit in a week or so. After that all that remains is a few rounds of proof reading and it’s good to go. I have the cover art complete, once again created by Andreas Rocha, who has produced another beautiful piece of art. I’ll do a reveal for that in the near future, so stay tuned!
Finally, I’ve taken some of my back catalogue out of Kindle Unlimited and released them wide on all major online retailers (to be on Kindle Unlimited you have to be exclusive to Amazon). My reasons for this are many, but the constantly declining rate of pay from Kindle Unlimited is making it an increasingly inviable platform for me if I wish to continue making my living from writing. For now it’s just my first series, Society of the Sword, but if all goes well I’ll be pulling everything out of Kindle Unlimited and making my books available everywhere. So, if you haven’t read the Society books and are thinking about getting them, please consider picking them up on a non Amazon retailer! Here are some links:
I’ll be back next week with some more painting and model making efforts! Until then, take care!