Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 20 – summary


Mithras10’twas the day before Yalda, and all through the night
there were sacred bonfires burning happy and bright
watermelons were sliced, and persimmons hung high
out of joy that lord Mithras will come to save light.



It’s time to summarize the 20 days of the Advent Calendar before tomorrow: the last day of the long Mayan cycle.

Here’s what you have missed, or still have one last chance to take part in:

Day 1 – Dragonbone Chest novella free (expired)
Day 2 – Transmission short stories free (expired)
Day 3 – Shadow of Black Wings free on Kobo (expired)
Day 4 – Half-price Bundle (expired)
Day 5 – Lands of Orient Map and Royal Marines
Day 6 – Born in Flames GIVEAWAY
Day 7 – Islands in the Mist Paperback
(weekend break)
Day 10- Written GIVEAWAY
Day 11- Gallery: A Visit to Kiyo
Day 12- Excerpt from Volume 4: The Rising Tide
Day 13- The Hobbit GIVEAWAY
Day 14- Shadow of Black Wings Free on Amazon (expired)
(weekend break)
Day 17- The Shadows of the Apt GIVEAWAY
Day 18- Gallery: A Visit to Chinzei
Day 19- Something Nice GIVEAWAY

One day left, tomorrow. I’ll have one last something for you then, too – if there IS a tomorrow :)

Oh, and here’s the last chance form to take part in any of the still-ongoing giveaways:

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 19 – “Something Nice” Gift-away



The Advent Calendar is nearing the end. One more book left to give away, and a friend to talk about.

Andrew Lawston is a good bloke. He’s one of my first critics, and he supported  me in my first steps as a new writer. He’s also an author himself, of funny and witty short stories.

Today I’m sponsoring a gift-away of his short story collection: “Something Nice”

You need to have an Amazon account and be able to receive gifts. The gift-away will run for a week, and then I will choose the winner at random. All you need to do is fill out this form:

This is the last gift-away. I will be sending out all the books to the lucky victors over the next weekend.

A collection of dark and quirky tales.

“Write a Short Story About Growing Up. Include Three Apples and a Suitcase.” Two students grapple with fiction and the end of childhood on a summer’s afternoon.

“Throwing Up With the Joneses”
What is making Bob’s neighbours so very ill, so very often?

“Too Much Love Can Kill You”
A nursery webcam offers a chilling insight for a working Mum.

“Jake the Pig”
A little boy is born a little bit different – to the dismay of his parents only.

“The Hero Function”
Captain Sharp Johnson is the galaxy’s ultimate hero, for now. But the stakes keep rising to maintain his ridiculously inflated reputation. He can save the Universe, but can he save himself?

The photocopier’s possessed, and phantom coffee cups are moving round the office. What does this mean for David Swinner’s business?

You are what you eat, they say. Humphrey Marten is about to discover just how literally that statement can be taken.

“The Late Romantics”
Do you remember your unrequited teenage crush? One man’s walk down memory lane.

Flash fiction.

“The Longest Walk”
Evian wanders a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of a career that doesn’t involve a headset and an IKEA desk.

Ten short stories by Andrew K Lawston. A blend of science-fiction, fantasy, philosophy and the supernatural. Whatever else these stories achieve, they all made his Mum ask the same question. “Why don’t you write something nice?”

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 18 – a visit to Chinzei

Kumamoto Castle - Main Donjon


Another photo gallery today, from my “research trip” to Kyushu. This time it’s various places that show up in the books from all around the island.

It was a strange feeling, to visit the places I wrote about – still, largely, unchanged and recognizable. There really is a hot spring and guesthouse in front of Aso shrine in Hitoyoshi; the forests around Kirishima Shrine are dark and mysterious; Jochibyo stairs are terrifyingly creepy.

There were a few more monuments of famous persons around: the Japanese love putting bronze statues of anyone even remotely famous. And of course, the entire journey took only a few days on fast trains, instead of walking on foot for weeks :)

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 17 – “The Shadows of the Apt” Gift-away



It’s the last week of the Advent Calendar, and it’s time for another gift of giving :)

Adrian Czajkowski (or Tchaikovsky, as his publishers insists) is an all-around great guy. He’s also a prolific fantasy writer. I reached out to him when I was looking for a cover blurb on the Shadow of Black Wings, and he was kind enough to agree! It did help that we share the same Polish roots, but still, it was quite unexpected :)

I’m sponsoring a gift-away of one of his books today: the first volume of his fantasy saga, Empire in Black and Gold.

You need to have an Amazon account and be able to receive gifts. The gift-away will run for a week, and then I will choose the winner at random. All you need to do is fill out this form:

The first volume in a dramatic and colourful new fantasy series, ‘Shadows of the Apt’, concerns the fight for survival against a menacingly regimented empire. Seventeen years ago Stenwold witnessed the Wasp Empire storming the city of Myna in a brutal war of conquest. Since then he has preached vainly against this threat in his home city of Collegium, but now the Empire is on the march, with its spies and its armies everywhere, and the Lowlands lie directly in its path. All the while, Stenwold has been training youthful agents to fight the Wasp advance, and the latest recruits include his niece, Che, and his mysterious ward, Tynisa. When his home is violently attacked, he is forced to send them ahead of him and, hotly pursued, they fly by airship to Helleron, the first city in line for the latest Wasp invasion. Stenwold and Che are Beetle-kinden, one of many human races that take their powers and inspiration each from a totem insect, but he also has allies of many breeds: Mantis, Spider, Ant, with their own particular skills. Foremost is the deadly Mantis-kinden warrior, Tisamon, but other very unlikely allies also join the cause. As things go from bad to worse amid escalating dangers, Stenwold learns that the Wasps intend to use the newly completed railroad between Helleron and Collegium to launch a lightning strike into the heart of the Lowlands. Then he gathers all of his agents to force a final showdown in the engine yard . . .

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 14 – Shadow of Black Wings FREE



Today, last Friday before Yalda, I have the most straight-forward gift to give so far:

A free copy of “The Shadow of Black Wings” – FOR EVERYONE!

That’s right, I’m on the KDP Select bandwagon again. For a while. And there are so many new market opportunities! You can now get my books on Kindle if you’re in Canada, or Brazil, or Japan, or – soon – China. Amazon is almost everywhere these days.

So click on any of the links below, to get the free copy, if you haven’t read it yet – or gift it to someone you know who’d like it :)

The Shadow of Black Wings
(The Year of the Dragon #1)

Top 10 Bestseller in Alternate History Amazon US

ebook ISBN: 978-83-935529-0-0 ASIN: B008FS5RPC
Published: June 2012 by Flying Squid
paperback ISBN-13: 978-83-935529-1-7
ISBN-10: 8393552915
Published: July 2012 by Flying Squid

It is the sixteenth year of Queen Victoria’s enlightened rule and the world trembles before the might of her ironclad navy and the dreaded Dragon Corps. The largest ship ever built sails from the Brigstow Harbour on a journey to the mysterious lands of Orient. Its load – a regiment of the Royal Marines and one Bran ap Dylan – freshly graduate in Dracology at the Llambed Academy of Mystic Arts.

In the empire of Yamato, sealed from the rest of the world for the last two centuries, a wizard’s daughter Sato witnesses her father joining an anti-government conspiracy. Her friend Nagomi, training to be a priestess, is haunted by dark visions that she must keep secret. Neither of them is aware that a change is coming to Yamato… on the wings of a dragon.

A detailed and fast-paced historical fantasy based around the turbulent opening of Japan to the West in the middle of the 19th century, “The Shadow of the Black Wings” is the first volume in “The Year of the Dragon” saga.

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US |Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon ES | Amazon JP | Amazon CA | Amazon BR
Amazon US | Amazon UK | ペーパーバック | Barnes&Nnoble Junglee.com


Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 13 – “The Hobbit” Gift-away



Tonight is Lussinatta. Tomorrow is Hobbit Premiere Day. To celebrate these two important holidays :) I’m doing my biggest Yalda Giveaway yet:

I’ll be giving the gift of Hobbit.

There are, apparently, people who haven’t read The Hobbit. I often find that hard to believe. The Hobbit was the first proper book I remember reading. It was the beginning of everything that’s good in my life – it’s the reason why I’m here, writing these books and this blog.

So let me share the greatness that is The Hobbit with you. All you need to do is have an Amazon account and fill out the form below. I’ll choose a person at random (or through a contest, if there’s too many of you :) and send the e-copy of the Hobbit as Kindle gift.

(PS: make sure to check the other remaining giveaways of the Yalda Advent Calendar)

(PPS: if you’re feeling generous, donate to the Worldbuilders charity over at Pat Rothfuss’s blog and get a chance to win one of many fun signed books, including my own!)

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 12 – excerpt from “The Rising Tide”



For Day 12 I have something for those of you who wait for Volume 4. Yes, it’s being written! I have just finished draft one, actually, and am now working on draft two. Here’s an excerpt from the current version. Keep in mind that as this is an early draft, the scene may change or even be removed from the finished manuscript. I tried to find something least spoilery :) This will be somewhere at the beginning of the book.

(in other news: I just got all three paperbacks in post. They look really nice together! :)

There was fresh blood on Dylan’s boots.
It came from a puddle he had stepped into a street earlier. Or maybe from another, a block away. There was no way to know for certain; all the streets of Shanglin were bathed in blood.
He stepped over a dead body and stumbled over another, lying just beside it. He didn’t look down; not anymore. They all looked the same, anyway: stripped naked, mangled, slashed with swords and burned with gunshots. Only the sizes and genders differed. The conquerors of Shanglin did not discriminate. Old men, children, women… all were piled along the walls and blood-filled gutters. The dead, black window holes of the burnt-out houses stared down at the carnage in silent accusation.
Dylan didn’t bother to count the slain. How many people had lived in Shanglin before the war? Ten thousand? Twenty thousand? How many more gathered here fleeing from the besieging Imperial Army? Only a few hundred women survived, spared for the soldiers’ entertainment. Another hundred may have fled into the marshes. That was all.
There’s always war in Qin, he thought. Not like this.
He climbed the arch of a wide bridge spanning one of the city’s many canals, and passed Qin soldiers guarding the passage. They let him through without a word, or even a bow. Dylan was too numb to take offence, although he did make a mental note of the guards’ behaviour.
Beyond the canal lay the Tianyi Gardens, where the conquering army made their headquarters. Even here there were traces of destruction and fire, though all the dead had been removed from the paths, and blood scoured from the gravel. Rose and camellia bushes were cut down to make place for tents. Soldiers sat on moss-covered boulders and stone benches around ponds, playing ma jiang for bits of Cursed Weed and money. Gold and silver coins, looted from the city’s treasure houses, were strewn all over the grass.
No discipline at all, thought Dylan bitterly. This rabble would never have taken the city without our help.
The Bohan set his staff up in the main lecture hall of the great Library Pavilion, a long, two-storey building with eaves like sickle blades pointing to the skies. Dylan found him studying a large map; several other maps lay scattered around the floor and tables.
“Ah, Commodore Dí Lán!” the Bohan welcomed him with a grin and open arms. “Come, join us. We are planning our next stratagem. What do you think of moving on Chansu?”
“Another siege?” Dylan asked. He dismissed a servant who offered him a cup of tea.
“I know you Dracalish like moving swiftly, but this is how this war will have to be fought for now, until we push those vermin beyond the walls of our cities.”
“Perhaps it would be easier to capture the cities if the defenders were given a chance to survive.”
“You don’t approve of our methods, Commodore.”
“No, I can’t say I do. I will write a report of all that’s happened here to Fan Yu.”
Bohan stood straight, letting go of the map; it rolled up with a rustle.
“These… rats dared to stand against the Mandate of Heaven. They got what they deserved. Besides, they had plenty of time to surrender without bloodshed.”
“Plenty of time? The siege lasted less than a week – thanks to our guns and our dragons.”
And you will want them again for the next battle.
“That was a week too long.”
“Her Majesty will not take kindly to having her troops associated with this massacre.”
The Bohan smirked.
“Do not presume to deceive me, Commodore. I know your orders as well as you do. You are to provide us with any assistance we require, in defence of your country’s trade interests – and provide us you shall. Speaking of which, I will need half a dozen of your dragons to…”
“Enough!” Dylan slapped his hands on the table. The outburst surprised even him. The Bohan raised a sharp eyebrow. “My men are not butchers! You can capture your cities yourself. Huating is safe, and that’s all that matters for our trade interests.”
The Bohan blinked, and then laughed.
“You want to teach me about butchery? You, a Westerner? I know you. You’ve conquered, enslaved, destroyed entire nations all over the world. You’d destroy Qin if you thought this was in your… interests. Oh, but you’re too shrewd for that. You prefer to kill slowly.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Certainly, the Dracaland army never did anything like you did here.”
“No. I don’t suppose so. Not yet, at least. But your Weed trade killed more of my people than any war. And how many died of famine in Bangla because you took their fields to plant the Weed? So don’t you lecture me about butchery, Commodore Dí Lán, unless you want me to get better at it. Play war like the nice soldier you are, and we’ll all be free to go home in no time. Isn’t that what you want?”
Dylan said nothing. He turned on his heels and stomped outside, clenching his teeth and knuckles.
“I will send my requests to your tent, Commodore!” the Bohan cried after him. “I expect a prompt reply!”

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 11 – a visit to Kiyo

Kanko Maru at Nagasaki Harbour


Day 11. Today something a bit different – a photo gallery.





This summer I went to Kyushu, Japan, to see how places I’ve written about in “The Shadow of Black Wings” look like today.

Many locations are still standing or are easily identifiable. Naturally, the Suwa Shrine is still sprawling majestically over the city’s northern district, not far from the largely reconstructed Magistrate. The location of the Keisuke house is fictional (although not the family) but the hill district near Sofukuji Temple is still criss-crossed by a labyrinth of indecipherable narrow streets.

The Takashima Residence was, sadly, blown away by the nuclear bomb, and only the foundations remain. The island of Dejima is being painstakingly reconstructed, and you can walk its streets freely – it’s now one of the city’s main tourist attractions. It’s also no longer an island.

Fukusaya Bakery is now a noble institution, with tiny bits of moist cake sold at extortionate prices.

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 10 – “The Written” Gift-away


roman-letters_6The weekend over, it’s time to go back to the advent calendar. Today is another gift of giving :)

I have already mentioned the few people who helped me early on in my career. Ben Galley is another one of those; a relentless pursuer of rights of self-published authors, a fantasy writer himself, Ben was kind enough to give me cover blurbs for two of the books, and host one of my first guest blog posts ever.

I’m sponsoring a gift-away of one of his books today: his debut fantasy novel, The Written.

You need to have an Amazon account and be able to receive gifts. The gift-away will run for a week, and then I will choose the winner at random. All you need to do is fill out this form:

thewritten2_2His name is Farden.

They whisper that he’s dangerous.

Dangerous is only the half of it.

Something has gone missing from the libraries of Arfell. Something very old, and something very powerful. Five scholars are now dead, a country is once again on the brink of war, and the magick council is running out of time and options.

Entangled in a web of lies and politics and dragged halfway across icy Emaneska and back, Farden must unearth a secret even he doesn’t want to know, a secret that will shake the foundations of his world. Dragons, drugs, magick, death, and the deepest of betrayals await.

Breathtakingly vast, chillingly dark, brooding and dangerous, The Written will leave you impatiently waiting for the next adventure…

Yaldā Advent Calendar 2012 – Day 7 – “Islands in the Mist” Paperback and new Amazons

The Islands in the Mist


Day 7. What do I have for you today? Well, the paperback of volume 3 has just gone up on Amazon – “The Islands in the Mist”, so that’s today’s event. Just in time for Christmas, you can buy all three volumes of The Year of the Dragon in physical form :)

Amazon US | Amazon UK

ALSO! This week Amazon opened two new marketplaces where you can buy KDP books (including mine) – CANADA and BRAZIL.

You can find my books on Canadian Amazon HERE

And on Brazil Amazon HERE

The Islands in the Mist
(The Year of the Dragon #3)

Bestseller in Historical Fantasy & Alternate History Amazon US

ebook ISBN: 978-83-935529-4-8 ASIN: B009MPDHZY
Published: October 2012 by Flying Squid
paperback ISBN-13: 978-8393552955
ISBN-10: 8393552958
Published: December 2012 by Flying Squid

Guided by the mysterious samurai, Bran and the girls reach the fabled shrine of Kirishima, where his dragon is held. But other forces are also keen to put their hands on the prize…

The Black Wings have landed, and Edo is in turmoil. So is Kiyo, after the recent disturbing events. Doshin Koyata receives a strange blood-red signal in his dreams…

In Qin, Dylan trains an army of volunteers to stop the onslaught of the Rebels, with the help of an old Admiral – who seems to know many secrets…

A detailed and fast-paced historical fantasy based around the turbulent opening of Japan to the West in the middle of the 19th century, “The Islands in the Mist” is the third volume in “The Year of the Dragon” saga.

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US | Amazon UK  | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR |Amazon ES | Amazon JP | Amazon BR
Kobo Edition:
Kobo | Kobo 楽天