About martinowton

Fantasy writer, Self-published and Crossroad Press author Real life drug designer and quizmaster. Cochlear implant user.

Exile in SPFBO

Now that Exile is self-published I entered it in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off which is co-ordinated by Mark Lawrence (it was not previously eligible). There’s no entry fee and it has grown a high profile in the years it has been running. This, of course, means there are some very good books entered among the 300 contestants, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Exile did not make the first cut. The review is here: https://lynns-books.com/ (scroll down to Oct 3th) . It is rather disappointing that one of her two main issues with the story concerns a point that is explicitly addressed in the text. However, she found it an enjoyable read even if it did not stand out from the other books for her.

It is still a very worthwhile competition. The books that make the final 10 will all be worth investigating and it will be worth entering next year.

August update

How did it get to August already?

So I haven’t posted for a couple of months and with my health record some of you followers may have been worried. I’m fine, my health is still stable and I’ve been busy working on the next draft of my epic fantasy “Eternal Warrior” (working title). Today’s news is that it is done and I sent it to my agent to see if it will fly. I had to write a synopsis too, which is something every author hates doing, but one got written. I now need to come up with an outline for the second book as this is very much book 1.

Enjoy the summer and stay safe

Another New Year

A new decade even, and well past time I updated.

So what has been going on?

First off my health continued to be stable, see the consultant every 3 months and keep taking the Venetoclax. I get my immunoglobulins topped up every 3 weeks and that has kept me free of infections for nearly 2 years.

Writing-wise, Phantasia ceased publishing and returned the rights to the Nandor Tales books (except the audiobook – that’s a different deal) so I have now self-published them. I took the opportunity to revise them and (I hope) kill off all the typos. The revised version of Exile is now available as Kindle and paperback, the paperback of Nandor will be available soon. I’m about halfway through the first draft of a sequel to Shadows of Faerie, but that may well get put on the backburner as my first reader comments on the new epic fantasy I finished last summer are coming in and I need to begin rewriting (of which they will be lot).

I’m still going to quizzes, and occasionally winning them, and getting a bit better at having conversations in noisy backgrounds; it is still tough though.

Southampton have even picked up and won some games so I look forward to the rest of the season with the hope of a mid-table finish.

Dublin WorldCon

World Con – Dublin

So I went to Dublin for the World Science Fiction Convention 15-19 Aug. A natural choice for me as I could visit my wife’s family in Galway and I have a new book to pimp. My long-time crit pal Patrice Sarath came over with her family, and we endeavoured to show them the best bits of the west in 4 days before going up to Dublin.

This was my third World Con after Glasgow 2005 and London 2014 so I felt I knew what to expect and hoped my artificial hearing would cope. I got scheduled to appear on two panels as well so all looked good. We got to our hotel near Connolly Station early on Thursday afternoon and checked in to the Con by about 4pm. I was impressed with the very modern convention centre and the quick registration (compared to London). This favourable impression was rather dented by our failure to get into panels as they were full. I am used to being able to go from one panel into the next in the 10 minutes scheduled for changeover except for a very few (often featuring Guests of Honour), but this was not the case at Dublin – if you didn’t queue, you didn’t get in except for the most niche of panels and the late evening ones (and the ones I was on, though this is possibly coincidence). When I did get in I was pleased to find I could hear the panellists well most of the time.

You may think, based on previous cons, that after failing to get into panels I spent a lot of time in the bar, but you would be wrong. There are two reasons for this; firstly with the pound at near parity with the euro, it was expensive. 6 a pint is too damn much. Secondly, despite the prices it was noisy, and my artificial hearing doesn’t handle background noise well. The best bit of a con are the conversations you have with people in the bar, but I can’t do that unless I’ve got a quiet corner. Sorry folks, I wanted to talk to more people but I would have been constantly asking you to repeat what you said. Despite this I did have some good converations with people. I also spoke to my agent and told him about the manuscript I’ve recently completed. He was encouraging, though he is finding it very difficult to place debut novels. He also said that peak grimdark is past and editors are looking for more traditional epic fantasy. Good news for me as the new work is more trad epic, but is several drafts away from being fit to send to him.

The most impressive thing I saw was the full contact medieval combat with both longsword and short sword. Next time I write a fight scene I must remember how difficult it is to protect your lower legs. I didn’t get to talk to any of the big name authors who were there, though I did see Steven Ericksen in a corridor. Nor get I get to see much of Dublin apart from a walk around on Saturday evening looking for restaurant. Must put that right sometime soon.

First draft

I have completed the first draft of a new epic fantasy novel. The file is called Eternal Warrior, but that may not be the name forever. It comes in at nearly 99k words, and it will get longer in the several rounds of rewriting that I expect it will get. This is a project I have put aside several times while other things (Shadows of Faerie and its sequel, Nandor) got worked on, so it feels good to have typed THE END.

Available for pre-order

NEW BOOK!  Shiny!

FAERIE SERIAL KILLERS IN THE NEW FOREST

For centuries countrywomen in England have kept a secret; if you go to the right part of the woods and sing the right song, an Otherkin man will appear and be your lover. Charlie Somes, 24, postgraduate chemistry student at Southampton University, is the product of such a liaison and is touch telepathic; a gift which blights his life as he cannot control it. When Charlie discovers his gift works on the recently dead he is forced to use it to avoid a murder charge and then when the bodies of women who have taken faerie lovers start turning up, Charlie is the only person who can stop the serial killers.

At Last! Shadows of Faerie is available for preorder  here

 

 

 

Mark Lawrence reviews Exile

I should not have to explain who best-selling fantasy author Mark Lawrence is, if you haven’t read his work then you should. He is also the guy behind the Self Published Fantasy Blog Off that has done so much to raise the profile of the very many great self published fantasy novels that are out there. So to have him say nice things about Exile is a huge thing for me.

Here is his review as posted on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2774668065?book_show_action=true&from_review_page=1

“This book was given to me in the bar outside Bristolcon, which is where you’ll find me on the one day a year that Bristolcon takes place. Author Paul Lavender gave it to me on behalf of the actual author Martin Owton.

I get given quite a few books at Bristolcon, most of them self-published (as I assumed this one was, though it turns out to have come from a small press). If I don’t like a book I either don’t review it or I focus on the nice things I can say about it. This book however is rugged enough for me to voice some of my issues with it as well as some of the things I enjoyed. The copy I got was a nice sturdy hardback with the cover art printed directly onto the cover (no dust jacket) as they do in some European countries. I like that style and this was a high quality binding. The story is also quite solid and sturdy.

The book was entered in the first Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) and went out without comment (I’m now told this was because it turned out not to be self published)- but it did feature in the same group that yielded the book that won the whole contest, The Thief Who Pulled on Trouble’s Braids. So for all we know, if that book had had a nasty accident, this one might have won!

Owton has a clear and direct writing style that passes unnoticed. There’s no ornamentation. I don’t recall a seeing a single simile in the whole book. There must have been some … surely? That may sound like criticism but it really isn’t. To write a book that isn’t a chore to read is a rare skill. To write prose that let the reader glide through rather than labour across requires talent. The writing will probably not wow you but it is solid and lets the story take centre focus.

The setting is a kingdom in the land of Generica, which is my smart arse way of saying fantasy-everywhere, a medievalesque land of castles dukes, kings, taverns, farmers, the occasional wizard or wise-woman, a “standard” comfortable fantasy land where you’ll encounter no surprises and feel at home. Again, you could read this as a criticism, but the reason many authors rely on established fantasy common ground is so they can focus on story.

So, the story! Well, it’s a quite small scale tale. Small scale for fantasy that is. There are no wars, the fate of nations is not really at stake. There’s no evil other than the common or garden human variety. No magical cataclysm approaches. We are concerned with one point-of-view character. He wants revenge on a powerful man but gets sucked into the affairs of an impoverished duchy. The bulk of the book concerns his getting involved with the local minor nobility and mounting an attempt to rescue the duke’s son from a rival holding him hostage over some land dispute. Not high stakes stuff, but interesting in a small scale swords & sorcery way.

Exile is a “traditional” fantasy of the sort that wouldn’t raise any eyebrows twenty years ago but might now get readers asking “what about the women?”. The women largely feature in the form of the duke’s wife and two daughters (both husband hunting) and later a minor goddess, all four of whom sleep with or snog our hero. Other women are relegated to serving maids, whores and wise-women. I’ve written books in this style but it does seem that the tide may have turned toward fantasy equality of the style Robin Hobb championed 20+ years ago when the castle barracks turned out both male and female soldiers without remarking on the fact.

I’m poking at this book, but as I said, it’s sturdy enough to take it. I enjoyed the story. It was sword-swinging, castle climbing, hard drinking fun.

There were moments of very literal deus ex machina but it didn’t bother me. It is, in a good way, a simple undemanding story that offers amusing diversion, and that’s a good thing.”

I think his review is spot on, and I agree with the points of weakness he mentioned – the setting is fairly generic and the female characters play secondary roles. If you want to read about the ladies doing more then you have to read Nandor, where they get a lot more to do, particularly Lady Edith.

Thank you, Mr Lawrence.

 

 

 

Coming soon – Shadows of Faerie

I got the edits through this week for my upcoming contemporary novel which is set in Southampton and the New Forest where I grew up. The publisher is Crossroad Publishing, an American publisher, so obviously my editor was American. She caught a disturbingly high number of typos and missing words considering the manuscript had been gone through so many times, and more vexing, she also changed all my …ise ending words to …ize, recognise to recognize etc. So I had to go through and change them back. This gave me the opportunity to reread the story, having not done so for about 3 yrs, and I have to say I’m impressed with myself. It is a good book. I hope you’ll agree when it comes out later this year. No exact date yet, but I’ll post the cover art when I get it. Now I need to get a decent author’s picture taken.