Free copies of ‘Dark Water’ – READ THIS

Hi folks, this offer is open to signed up subscribers of this website. I have 3 copies of ‘Dark Water’ to give away. My copies of the book arrive tomorrow. I can’t wait to hold it in my hands and I hope the excitement rubs off on you. Reply to this article and say “I want one!” First three respondents will receive a signed copy in the post.

Cover Art for Dark Water

I’m very excited about the artwork Owen has done for the cover of ‘Dark Water’. It perfectly captures the mood of the novel and gives a taste of one of the key scenes from the story.

Book Cover for Dark Water

This is the current proposed cover for Dark Water, Codex 2 of Aztec Elements.

In other news, proofreading will be complete by the end of the month so the publication of ‘Dark Water’ looks set for April 2015.

On the sequel to ‘New Fire’

At last, an update on the long-awaited sequel to ‘New Fire’ which was published in October 2012! I can reveal to readers of my blog that ‘Dark Water’ should be available to buy in April this year. That’s right…it’s taken almost 2.5 years to go from a blank sheet of paper to the final draft. I’ll reveal more about ‘Dark Water’ here in the coming weeks, but first, I want to share with you the changes that Owen Benwell has done for me on the cover of ‘New Fire’ which of course is now book one in a series.

Edition 2 of New Fire cover

Two things to note:

  1. Codex One – this is the first codex in the Aztec Elements trilogy
  2. The title on the spine has been rotated through 180 degrees

This is how book one will look in a few weeks time. Naturally the first edition will become highly sought after by collectors! ;-)

Aztec Art

This breathtakingly beautiful Aztec work of art is Quetzalcoatl’s death mask. ‘Quetzalcoatl‘ means ‘feathered serpent’ and is the name of one of the Aztec’s principle deities.

Death mask in the image Quetzalcoatl

Death mask in the image Quetzalcoatl

This image was sourced from Wikimedia Commons and is available to use subject to licence term. The original photograph is the property of © Hans Hillewaert

In other news…
I am immensely grateful to fellow author Austin Briggs for promoting the second novel in the Aztec Elements series, ‘Dark Water’ which is due out next year. I was humbled to read his endorsement of ‘New Fire’. I hope to post an extract of one of Austin’s works here very soon or perhaps an interview.

Ritual Sacrifice – Not Easy to Swallow

Llullaillaco Maiden - Capacoha Victim

Llullaillaco Maiden – Capacocha Victim

Research described in the New Scientist hints at the psychological stress of submitting to sacrifice. In an article from the 3rd of August, Andrew Wilson from the University of Bradford explains how the ‘Llullaillaco Maiden’ – as she is known – is revealing details of her diet in the two years running up to her death, thanks to anaylsis of her hair.

Just like many of the ceremonial Aztec ‘tributes’ (to borrow from ‘The Hunger Games’), Llullaillaco Maiden was given special treatment in the year up to her death. Her diet improved, and in the last few months, drank alcohol and took increasing doses of coca. Scanned images of the mummy reveal that she has a large wad of coca leaves in her cheek.

Many will claim that sacrificial victims go willingly to their deaths, knowing that they serve a higher purpose and in modern times, we know that there is no shortage of Jihadi warriors who carry out suicide bombings in their cause. This doesn’t mean that everyone would go peacefully to their deaths just because their society demands it of them. I am convinced that many – perhaps most – would be terrified. The animal hind-brain is a powerful engine designed to ensure survival and that imperative, fighting the social conditioning, would surely create enormous levels of stress in humans. This struggle is a central part of the story in my novel ‘New Fire’.

The image shown comes from the Wikipedia Commons Library and was originally posted to Flickr by José Fontanelli at This image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Ideas and suggestions for the title for book #2


Has anyone got any suggestions for the title for book #2? The theme is Aztec Elements. The second word has to be ‘water’ and the first word needs to be an adjective. The current working title is ‘Bad Water’, but my friend John says it’s not a great idea to have the word ‘bad’ in the title. I’ve got to admit that his suggestion, ‘Dark Water’ works well, especially as one of the scenes takes place in a flooded cavern.


The effect of price points on Kindle sales…

…is not as direct or simple as you might think. I changed the price of ‘New Fire’ from £3.50 down to 95 pence on Kindle thinking that it might boost sales as it brought the book within range of many casual purchasers, those prepared to take punt on an unknown book and author for the loss of a handful of small change.

If anything, the effect has been the reverse. From a post a few weeks back, you can see a chart that shows sales were dropping but since the reduction, I’ve sold just one eBook in four weeks! Although it’s hardly a statistically significant sample, I’m convinved that there’s an important link between price and perceived value, much like two identical but unkown vases; one in a charity shop and the other in an antiques store at 100x the price. Which is the more desirable? How many people will walk past the ‘junk’ in the charity shop without a second glance?

I’ll be raising the price to £2.99 or thereabouts at the end of the month. Or…do you think I should bump it up to £4.99 to continue the experiment? After all, I’ve got nothing to lose.

Escaping slaves

“A slave who got [taken] as far as the market place had one last chance of regaining his freedom. If he could escape from the market place and reach the sanctuary of the ruler’s palace he became a free man, and the law gave him a sporting chance by forbidding anyone but the owner or the owner’s son from trying to catch him. Any other person who interfered in the chase was punished by being enslaved himself.”

From Warwick Bray’s ‘Everyday life of the Aztecs’.