Back in Lockdown:(

Well, we’re a week back into lockdown in this part of the world, which isn’t great, but I guess that’s the way things are now, and I think it’s important to do our best to keep the people around us safe and healthy. Only five more weeks to go! Hopefully!

My instagram debut has had to go on a bit of a hiatus, as there’s not a whole lot of interest to take photos of in my little office! Once we can get out and about again, I’m looking forward to taking some pics of the places around Ireland that serve as some of the inspiration for the stories I write.

We’re incredibly lucky here in terms of the visible remains of the history in Ireland. From megalithic structures like dolmens, to the remains of ring forts of the early Medieval period and earlier (several of which are within walking distance of where I grew up), and the tower houses of the High Middle Ages (kinda like castle keeps without the surrounding castle walls) a number of which are still inhabited, that dot the landscape, there’s a huge amount to discover and be inspired by.

As usual, this is all the type of stuff that I take a bit for granted when I have easy access to it, but times like these make me appreciate it so much more!

In work news, I’m making good progress on my next fantasy series, the first book of which I’m still on track to have out next Spring. I’m hard at work on an edit at the moment, so will post more details about that soon!

My sci-fi projects are also going well, but with fantasy being my priority, I’m probably going to push back releasing the first book of my space opera adventure until next year. You can find some updates on all of that over on my sci-fi site, which is here:

I hope everyone’s keeping well, and staying healthy!

First Blade of Ostia Free on Kindle!

The First Blade of Ostia

Considering how crappy everything seems right now, I’ve decided to make The First Blade of Ostia free on Kindle. It’s live now (or should be – if not check back in a couple of hours!) and runs from Thurs 19 March to Mon 23 March inclusive.

Every time I sit down at my keyboard, I get to forget about everything going on in the world around me for a few hours. It’s one of the reasons why I write, and it’s why I publish my books, in the hope that I can share that with other folks too. With all that’s going on right now, I think that’s more important than ever.

The First Blade is a stand alone book, so you’re getting the entire story in this one volume – there’s no need to buy a book 2 or 3 or 7 or 8 when this one is done to find out what happens, because there isn’t any more to this story. The First Blade is about realising what’s truly important in life, and how single minded ambition can blind you to it.

I hope you enjoy The First Blade of Ostia, and hope it helps take you away to another place for a little while, as it did for me when I was writing it! You’ll find a selection of links below to download it from the Amazon location of your choice! I hope everyone and all those you care for remain safe and healthy!


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Germany

Amazon France

Amazon Spain

Amazon Italy

Amazon Netherlands

Amazon Japan

Amazon Brazil

Amazon Canada

Amazon Mexico

Amazon Australia

Amazon India

Giveaway Time!

Available on Tuesday 10 March!

To celebrate the upcoming release of Servant of the Crown, the final part of the Dragonslayer trilogy which will be out on Tuesday 10 March, I’m running a giveaway over on Goodreads for 5 signed paperback copies of the first book in the trilogy, Dragonslayer.

I’m afraid the giveaway is only open to residents of the US and Canada. Once again, apologies to everyone else for this, but it’s completely beyond my control.

You can enter the giveaway over here:

Good luck to everyone who has entered!

Space Marines 2 – Blood Angels

The second of my 28mm intergalactic super soldiers is a Blood Angel. The focus here was on getting a nice red that didn’t turn too pink or orange in the highlighting process. As a reminder, I don’t use the official paints for these models, so getting the recipe right is always a bit of trial and error (usually more of the latter!). On to the pictures.

My photography is letting me down again here – I just can’t seem to get enough light, even though I have a small light box with leds, so I need to keep tweaking this setup to get it right. The highlights on the model appear more subtle in the photo than they actually are in real life.

Photography clearly needs improvement, so I might try a grey background with my next batch of photos when I paint some more models. I’m hoping the mid tone background colour will allow me get a better exposure on the model itself.

Once again, some things worked here, and some things didn’t. I’m quite happy with the red paint recipe, but my recess shading is still a bit messy and patchy in places, so I think is the main area that needs work. I stuck with the same non metallic approach on the gun as I did with the previous one (which you can take a look at here), as I quite like the end result.

Overall, there are positives and negatives to take away from this one. The eyes worked really well, but recess shading needs improvement, and highlight placement continues to be an issue!

Once again, if you’ve any comments or tips or personal experiences of painting these guys, I’d love to hear them!

Space Marines 1 – Ultramarine

I had a little painting time over Christmas, so I decided to paint up a box of Space Marines. With so many chapters to choose from, I decided to paint each in a different chapter colour. The idea was that they’d be a good opportunity to practise shading and highlighting different colours! To the photos:

I decided to go with an Ultramarine for my first attempt. I don’t use the official paints, as I already have the full range of Vallejo paints still left from when I used to paint a lot. I’m afraid I didn’t take WIP photos for these, so only have the finished results.

I don’t like metallic metal paints on small fantasy models (I do use them on historicals, though), so this guy gave me the chance to try gold non metallic metal. The NMM steel on the gun ended up looking more like some kind of polymer/resin, but I quite like this look.

I painted each major part separately before assembly, which was a mistake, as the highlights don’t match up. This is most noticeable on the shoulder pads. I still do that a bit now, but pay more attention to this issue.

Overall, I’m happy with how he turned out. The shades and highlights are still a little clunky, but I’ll only improve on that with practice. My brush skills are slowly improving, and I think my colour choices got pretty close to what I was looking for in the end result.

I’m still finding photography to be an issue, and I’m struggling to get a decently exposed image. I’ve boosted the brightness a bit in post-processing to help, but that’s the only alteration I’ve made. Any suggestions on that are more than welcome, as are any on how to improve in the paintwork!

Old hobbies renewed…

I’ve decided to start posting on an old hobby I’ve just revived, and am really enjoying. After discovering Hero Forge and chatting with some pals, I decided to dust off my old paintbrushes and pots and have a try at miniature painting, something I did in my teens, which is quite some time ago now!

I’m happy to take on any and all criticism (hopefully constructive!) as I get back into this hobby. Bear in mind its been a long time, and my hands are a bit shakier than they were back in the day – and I wasn’t all that good even back then!

So, first off, I’ve been working on a mini I designed on Hero Forge. Here are some photos of the work in progress:

The face. Quite happy with this, and it seems my hands haven’t gotten quite as shaky as I feared!
The shield in progress. I’m watching a lot of YouTube videos on technique, and trying new stuff all the time. This was my first attempt at blending with glazes, and I got a chalkier finish than I was hoping for. I think this was from applying the next glaze before the old one had dried properly. Lesson learned for next time!
I tried a true metallic paint for the armour, but for fantasy and sci-fi minis, I tend to prefer non metallic metallic techniques. I washed this with a watered blue glaze a couple of times, but didn’t like the finish, so it’ll be repainted in NMM.
Overpainted the armour in preparation for NMM. Also painted the sword, which is the second part of the mini I’m really happy with. The NMM blade worked out way better than I’d expected, and the hilt looks pretty good too, although needs a little more work.
Painted the boots and fur, and started highlighting the armour in NMM style. Really struggling to work out the approach to highlights, despite all the videos I’ve watched on it, and articles I’ve read! Also playing around with a coloured background for the photos – sheets of plasticard I had lying around. Struggling with my exposure settings here, so sorry for the darker photo, but will continue to experiment. If anyone has any suggestions in this regard, let me know. I’ve a faithful old Canon Eos 400D (Digital Rebel). I know how to use all the settings, just not how to get them to work well for miniature photography!
Shield and floor finished. I think the NMM worked well on the shield corners, but I continue to play around with it on the armour. Photo has better brightness, but I cheated a little by using the exposure adjustment to bump it up 1 f-stop. I’d rather work out how to get it right using shutter speed/aperture while retaining as low an ISO as I can. I’ve also noticed I need a little more depth of field than I’m getting on f5.6, so will try 8 after the next batch of photos, which I’ve already taken!

So, now to the finished effort. I’m happy with some parts, learned quite a bit, and know I still need a lot of work on painting NMM armour. Also need to improve my photos, but I’m playing around with that too, so will hopefully have a better grasp of that soon!

Need to use a smaller aperture for more depth of field to get the whole model in focus…
I need to be a little more careful with model prep. I thought that seam line on the cloak would be hidden by the primer, but it made it more visible! I’ll sand them off next time.

That was a lot of fun, and remarkably relaxing! Next up is to work my way through a box of Space Marines, which I’m using as a project to practice layering and glazing to shade and highlight in different colours the marine chapters offer. Any tips and tricks for both the photography and painting are much appreciated!

Dragonslayer out in the wild, and weekend promotion!

As you may or may not have heard, Dragonslayer is now out in the wild, available in ebook, hardback – which is new for me, paperback, and audiobook which is once again narrated by the awesome Simon Vance. You can pick up a copy in a format of your choice at the links below:

To mark Dragonslayer’s release, and to shamelessly attempt to fill your summer reading pile with my titles, I’m giving away the kindle edition of The First Blade of Ostia, a swashbuckling fantasy adventure with tons of swordfights, for free this weekend. You can pick up your copy at the following links:

First Blade – Amazon US

First Blade – Amazon UK

Finally, if you enjoyed Dragonslayer, and have a moment to spare, I’d really appreciate it if you could leave a review over on Amazon, at either of the two links above. Aside from buying an author’s book (thanks!), the best thing you can do to help them out is leave a review!

I hope you all have a great weekend,


Last Day to Get The Drake of White Peak!

I wanted to remind everyone that with Dragonslayer being released tomorrow, today is the last day for you to preorder, and get a copy of The Drake of White Peak!

Time has really flown and it’s hard to believe release is only one day away! Anyway, you can pick up a copy from any of the retailers listed on Tor’s Preorder Bonus page, where you’ll also find all the details of how to submit your proof of purchase and get your copy!

New Profile Page @ Macmillan

I’ve a new profile page up on the Macmillan website, which is pretty cool for me, considering some of the incredible authors already present there. For regulars to this site, (thanks, mum!) there’s not a whole lot new, other than perhaps my professional studio profile photo, which was taken by a good friend of mine, Jason at, a fact which did little to take away from what an embarrassing experience it was! Sadly the ‘blue steel’ shots didn’t make the cut…

If you like quality, award winning photography with subject matter far more attractive than I, you should check out his site, linked above!

Finally, don’t forget the Goodreads Giveaway for a paperback copy of Dragonslayer still has a few days left to run. You can enter it here:

Happy New Year

Hey folks,

I wanted to wish everyone a happy New Year (belatedly!) and I hope everyone had a great Christmas.

Thanks again for all your kind words and support last year. It’s very much appreciated! After a pretty hectic year getting Wolf of the North all finished up and on the virtual shelves, I’m really looking forward to a new year and a new project, details of which I’ll be able to share in the next couple of weeks. It’s always great fun starting with a blank canvas, so this stage is probably my favourite part of the process—that short window of time before you’ve painted yourself into a corner!