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December 14th, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Or whatever suits you best as long as it is festive. Happy Hanukkah! Happy Yule! Celebrate Solstice! Or, as someone told me last night (tongue in cheek) ‘Have a delightful day of rationalist materialism and gift giving!’

I’ve complete Tom Swan Four and Five and I’m about eighty pages from completing Secret Project Two which weighs in at about 900 pages… Then I’ll edit the Ill Made Knight about 14th century England, France, and Italy, write Tom Swan Six, and begin Long War Four about Artemesium.

This has been the hardest writing year of my career. On the other hand, it has been very productive, and as long as I don’t breathe hard or look down, I’m pretty sure I can keep it up.

And finally, last night my new gauntlets by Jiri Klepac of Czech Republic arrived. They’re like art; they have beautiful decoration, they’re light as air, and they have correct period gloves by Karl Robinson of the UK. They aren’t just the best gauntlets I own–they’re the best I’ve seen anywhere. I got to fight in them in full armour last night, and they made me feel five years younger, which is lovely at age 50, believe me. BTW, let me stress that I DO leather work–Karl’s has to be seen to be believed. The quality of his stitch work is like the real thing!

(Small rant here–hand sewing is not any guarantee of authenticity. Most people’s hand sewing doesn’t look anything like Medieval or 18th century sewing. But Karl’s does.)

While I’m advertising suppliers at Christmas time, let me also recommend Peter Fuller and his armoury, Medieval Reproductions. He made my new breast and back–his work is superb. He’s also making several items for my books, and I hope all of you order something from him.

Leo Todeschini of Tod’s Stuff makes beautiful reproductions of many, many things–knives and swords, common household items, sewing equipment–with an eye for detail that is superb. He also makes a RANGE of toys–his crossbows are especially wonderful. I probably spend more time than is good for me prowling his pages. When I look at photos of our Medieval reenactment group, I feel we’re an advertisement for his blades. An eating set from Tod makes an awesome Christmas gift!

And finally, since I got to wear my full harness last night for the first time in its final form, Craig Sitch of Manning Imperial made the helmet–I hand sewed the liner and added the straps and aventail. And Mark Vickers of Saint George Armoury made my legs as well as my friend Mark’s superb tournament sword. His work is wonderful, and spending a day fitting my legs with him in his shop was one of the high points of my year.

There it is–run out and buy armour! Swords! and other good reenactment equipment!

And a couple of my books, if you don’t mind. Thanks!

November 15th, 2012

More Tom Swan!

I gather there was a political election in the United States.

Enough said.

I’m working on Tom Swan four through six, and yesterday my editor informed me that I can go ahead safe in the knowledge that I will get a contract… Darius Wielec has agreed to illustrate another three, which is lovely. The settings will be Italy and Greece, and the action will center around finding the ring that supposedly belonged to Alexander the Great. A nice tie in…

After that, poor Tom will be sent by Cardinal Bessarion to the Crusades conference in Vienna, and from there, he will go to see if he can find a certain sword—unfortunately finding himself in Belgrade. During the siege.

In other news, Craig Sitch at Manning Imperial is making me an Attic helmet for my Marathon era kit, and we’re talking about doing a Greek Hippeis unit—perhaps copying the kits on the Parthenon Frieze. No, not the naked guys. Next spring, a group of us will be trekking across Lesvos in Greek kit—maybe in medieval kit, too, for a few days.

Speaking of a few days—Tyrant V, the long awaited Destroyer of Cities, will be out in a few weeks. I hope you all enjoy it—it’s been a long delay, as it was actually written before God of War. And my next book—Long War four, which I call ‘Artemsium’, will be done this spring. it’s the next project on the pile.

I’m also working this week on a set of graphic novels set in ancient Greece for Neal Stevenson’s FOREWORLD. Why not? I didn’t have anything else to do…

October 16th, 2012

Tom Swan

Not my usual Blog entry, but…

Tom Swan is not selling particularly well. Despite that, I enjoy writing it and a surprising number of my friends enjoy it, so I’m writing Tom Swan 4 and 5 this week and a guarantee it will go at least 6 parts and come to a conclusion.

My suspicion is that it isn’t as bad as it seems—sales are quite steady,and I wonder if e-books don’t have a different sales trajectory than standard books. They never ‘come off the shelf’ for example… so as long as people search my name on Amazon or I-Tunes, Tom will continue to pop up. Anyway, it’s a good rationalization to continue Tom, so on I go.

BTW, I got nice reviews on God of War and Poseidon’s Spear from the Sunday Times in the UK, which is sort the summit of every writer’s ambition in criticism, so…

I’m off to the USA to visit NYC with Sarah and Bea this weekend. And do a little research at the Cloisters, and the Met. Wish me luck… NYC is big and scary…

And finally, there’s an election coming in the USA. If you are a US citizen, please vote. I have strong opinions on which side you should vote for, but to heck with that. Just vote. It’s not just right–it is your citizen duty.

September 17th, 2012

A Word From Our Sponsor

I’d like to thank all of you who are buying my books.

No, seriously! The sales the last two weeks have been—wonderful. I really appreciate it, and I hope they satisfy, and I really hope that you tell all your historically-minded friends and they buy even more!

I thought that I would use this space to tell you what’s coming, and when, as there are so many books in the pipeline. First, the Tom Swan series is available in the US and UK, and virtually everywhere else. there will be one novella a month until people stop buying them. They seem to have launched rather well. The Tom Swan books are set in mid-15th c. Italy and Greece and have a maximum of swordplay and roguery, and are a little different from my past writing. A little more Georg McDonald Fraser, if you like.

In October, God of War becomes available in paperback.

In January, Destroyer of Cities, (Tyrant 5) becomes available in the UK and Europe. Yes, it is about the Siege of Rhodes. I hope you like it!

In May, ‘Ill-Made Knight'(Chivalry 1) becomes available in the UK. This series is set in England, France, and Italy in the period from Poitiers to Azincourt, and follows a single man-at-arms from childhood to the end of his martial career—which will include serving with John Hawkwood in Italy, with the Green Count against the Turks…

In August 2013, Long War 4 will appear, about Thermopylae and Artemesium.

If Tom Swan continues to do well, I’ll use the E-format to fill in some back story for Tyrant (with Philokles and Diodorus) and for Long War, showing everal encounters from the Persian side…

Finally, I have a couple of side projects, including a graphic novel set in Neal Stevenson’s Mongoliad multi-verse, and a ‘secret’ project which will be out later this year…

Honestly, friends, I can’t write any faster. Read well!

Ah, and while we’re on the subject of reading well… a couple of heartfelt plugs. Matt Heppe’s ‘Eternal Knight’ is a fantasy story with excellent characters, strongly drawn fight scenes, lots of good archery… I loved it. And Mike Puttre’s ‘Outre Mer’ was, I thought, the best piece of Space Opera I read this year. Gritty, with real complexity to its politics and struggles that make the plot sing along. And finally, Peter Fuller’s ‘Valley of the White Giants’ (on Lulu) is great fun. Peter’s thorough knowledge of both the wilderness and the world of the Vikings made me love this. Peter is a master armourer, and his books shows the kind of patient craftsmanship that I value.

And as a final plug, if you love Chivalry and you haven’t read Richard Kaeuper’s ‘Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe.’ you should.