The novel gets a second map

Some people have asked whether I’d include another map or two. You see, I do listen!

Map of Tenochtitlan and the Temple Complex

Map of Tenochtitlan and the Temple Complex

Why is a map not always a good thing? Because it stifles the imagination and interrupts the narrative as the reader flicks back to the find it and orient the action in the tale.

Warning! This map is based very loosely on fact.

This is likely to be the last post before the 1st of October, the closing date for the headline competition to win a free, signed copy of the book. I’ll announce the winners no later than Tuesday the 2nd of October. By then, I should also have received the second half of the manuscript back with all the proof-reading corrections and checked them all for incorporation. The time is drawing near!

Only three weeks to finalise the cover art

Half of the proof-reading is done! Within two weeks I’ll have the remainder back and will need to send the whole thing off for typesetting shortly afterwards. The end is in sight.

I’ve been trying to work on some new ideas for the cover. I can’t make my mind up whether to follow the mainstream historical fiction covers and incorporate some figures. It would make things more interesting, but the problem is that good artwork costs money…and I’m on a budget. I’ve had a go at drawing some warriors. Perhaps they’ll look OK if they’re small enough and blended in to a larger backdrop.

Aztec Warriors

Image of Aztec warriors for use in New Fire cover?

You know what it’s like when you’ve been working on something so long that it just leaves you cold?

Self-published author hits the big time!

There’s a seriously funny book on my bookshelf called How Not to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittlemark. Irrespective of whether you want to write a book or not, if you love reading, you’ll find this book a real joy. The book opens by citing the case of John Kennedy Toole who, unable to find a publisher for his novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, took his own life. Apparently his mother took up the cause and eventually got it published to great acclaim!

Of course, no such histrionics are necessary these days. Any fool can foist his mindless drivel on the rest of poor, unsuspecting humanity thanks to the mini-revolution that is print-on-demand and the disruptive technological advances that have resulted in the e-publishing phenomenon. Thankfully, humanity is largely protected from the tide of fatuous, illiterate shite that’s pumped out by the fact that, without the help of an agent, most of these pitiful scribblings will remain forever undiscovered. Yes, there will be exceptions like 50 Shades of Grey!

And so it seems that planet earth will remain safe from my novel. Efforts to promote the book are not progressing well. After nearly two months, this website has managed to attract no more than 24 subscribers, although this obviously increases the odds for those of you eager to win one of the 10 signed copies. Google Analytics reveals a peak visiting day of 18, shortly after I posted on Facebook. The fact that the ‘new post notification’ system in WordPress wasn’t working won’t have helped engage those subscribers I have.

In short, my own personal PR machine is lamentable, which is a shame, because the first chapter of How Not to Write a Novel is about creating a plot, a compelling storyline, which is what I’d like to do here. I want you, my avid audience, to stay tuned as an extraordinary story unfolds. ‘Self-published author hits the big time,’ the dramatic ending should read.

Extract from the battle with the Chalca

Then Jaguar recognised Two Sign wading towards him through the frenzied action and felt a sudden thrill. Far out on the flank he must have seen the plight of the macehualtin and, knowing that his knights were in control, he’d left them to it, electing instead to help the common warriors. Two Sign was Tlacaelel’s right-hand man but he was also a fighting legend. He had crossed from shore-to-shore and seen the broad expanses of their land. He’d led successful missions from the wilds of Toltec to the borders of Oaxaca and even as far afield as Zapotec. Some even claimed he’d led an army of one hundred of Tenochtitlan’s finest jungle fighters to some distant ruins called Palenque, allegedly in search of gold. Through the ducking, wheeling crowds, Jaguar watched Crocodile’s adoptive father carve his way towards them.

A tall man came at Two Sign, all teeth and spittle, long arms wheeling. The Eagle warrior took the first blow on his fast disintegrating shield and parried the next with his own sword, turning it aside. Quick as a flash the tall man launched a backhanded blow. Two Sign nudged it safely up and over and then had to dance back as the rangy man jabbed at him with his shield. Jaguar saw Two Sign wait. A thrust with the shield, and then another. The Chalca used the length of his arms to keep Two Sign on his back foot. Suddenly the Eagle Knight hooked his shield behind the other as it came at him again. He wrenched the man towards him and calmly inserted his sword into the space between shield and neck. Gangly arms dropped the sword and shield as the stricken warrior clamped his fingers to his jugular in a futile attempt to staunch the wound.

60 day to go!

There are sixty days left until October, the month that I set myself as the target publication date. It’s time to take stock:

The writing – I’m halfway through draft #4. It’s not a major rewrite, more of a proof-read and minor tweaks but there are still over 160 pages to check.

Cover art – Not done. Ideas on themes only.

The printing – Talking to several companies. Sample hardbacks being sent to me to evaluate.

Clear plan for printing and level of spend – A total shambles. No nearer a decision on exactly what I need.

Publicity – Site following low (18 registered) and little feedback


Pushy, pushy, pushy!

This week’s initiative is to have some business cards made out like this…

Images for 'New Fire' Business Cards

Book launch business cards

…and hand them out on the train in the morning and maybe even stand on London Bridge for 10 minutes giving them out! Now that’s what I call ‘forward’.

For anyone who has read scenes one and two, the third and final scene of chapter one will be posted here this weekend.

Two new items to look at

Firstly, a PDF of the first scene of chapter one. Thanks to Helena and Mike for requesting a more reader-friendly format. Good idea! New Fire – Scene 1

Secondly, a new attempt to capture the concept of ths stone calendar as a cogwheel.

Interlocking stone cogwheels with calendar pictograms

Interlocking stone cogwheels with calendar pictograms

I spoke to Richard today and he’s adamant that the banner image at the top of this blog needs to be straightened. Anyone care to vote for or against?

End of Days


Today marks the start of the PR campaign to raise interest in my novel entitled “New Fire”.  It’s a historical fiction set in 1455AD in the reign of Moctezuma I.  It’s an extraordinary period in history that is not well covered.  The people and the culture are fascinating too, something that has a lot of mystique, partly due to the lack of records from around that time.  Thanks to Cortez and his men, all the indigenous archives were destroyed so we have very little reliable information on how the Mexica (as they named themselves) lived.

The novel itself deals with the lives of a couple of young warriors caught up in the political turmoil that takes place over the course of a handful of days around a ceremony referred to as the ‘Binding of the Years’, an event that occurred every 52 years as the Mesoamerican calendar.  A New Fire had to be lit in a complex religious ceremony to appease the gods and ensure continuation of the world as they knew it.

I’ll be posting more information here soon and some extracts from the book too. I look forward to hearing from you.