Finally! By Sword and Storm.

Many of you will know that I began By Sword and Storm in February 2016 at Hawthornden Castle – in atmospherically chilly conditions, when the central heating broke down – it was one of the most productive months of my life.

The ebook has been available for a week now – it has the publisher’s choice of cover – and I have been having a little bit of fun collecting screen shots of it sitting near or next to various Sharpe novels in the Amazon rankings.





Next week I expect to receive the print copies. Here’s a wee preview of the cover from The Book Depository pre-order service and suggestions of accompanying books from them and from Waterstones Online



– it seems they’re placing me in good company!

The print will be officially launched in September – but it’s rather nice to know that it’s already available to pre-order – the discount on the pre-order was a new and unexpected bonus.

Here’s the back cover blurb:

You want me to go to the execution?’

Kate shut her mind against the horror of it, said,

‘I shall scream with the rest.’

 The French Wars of Religion are drawing to an end, the Edict of Nantes establishing religious freedom in all but Paris.

For the exiled Adam and Kate Munro, the child Kate carries symbolizes a new life free from past troubles; despite a lingering nostalgia for Scotland and the friendship of the Montgomeries.

When Adam foils an attempt on the French king’s life his reward is a place at court for the whole family. But religious tensions remain high, and Paris holds dangers as well as delights.

For the Munros and Montgomeries alike, these are troubled times…

And a wee taster from the opening:

By Sword and Storm

Chapter 1.

At first it was no more than a whisper, carried on the breeze. The King is coming. A priest crossing the cathedral close heard it and, shaking his head, boxed the ear of the urchin who dared give it voice – a malicious rumour, surely, Mercoeur’s flag still fluttering above the chateau, but no less dangerous for all that. For a rumour once started could travel like flame through the city, trailing destruction in its wake. The boy, one hand clamped to the side of his head, retaliated with a well-aimed kick, before darting through the gate leading onto the Grand Rue to melt into the crowd that thronged there, his excitement undiminished.

It was not rumour, not a flame; rather water, a trickle become a stream, slipping through the dense alleyways, lapping at the doors of the narrow half-timbered warren of houses jostling each other as they stretched upwards to find a sliver of sky. It gathered momentum, flowing southwards to the Rue des Jacobins and La Fosse, to the hôtels of the merchants who grew fat on the spoils of commerce. It reached the Maison de Tourelles, and the ears of André Ruiz, who, so the story went, had once entertained an emir with capons and truffles, frangipane and apricot tartlets, custards and cheeses and succulent curls of artichoke, washed down with the finest of wines from the Loire. Ruiz regarded the messenger with narrowed eyes, his fingers raised to his lips and pressed tight together in contemplation. After a pause in which the messenger studied the floor, awaiting dismissal or the flare of rage of which the merchant was on occasion capable, Ruiz nodded twice and thrusting back his chair called for his cloak. If the tale should prove to have substance he would take care to ensure he was among those who greeted this king, for what use wealth if gain could not be made of it.

Extract from an early review:

“There are colourful individuals, opulent settings and clashes of personality aplenty. There are thoughtful and level headed characters as well as those who let their tempers get the better of them. There are relationships which work and those that are destined to fail. The result is a hugely satisfying read which leaves this reader, in particular, hoping that there will be another book in this excellent series.”   Undiscovered Scotland.

A week in publishing…

Dust Blowing and Other Stories has been out for 2 weeks in ebook format and 1 week as a paperback. It has been fascinating and rather humbling to see what other authors the collection has been ranked beside in the Amazon listings in the first days following publication, so I thought I’d share some screenshots here.

amazon-ja-2110First up – Jeffrey Archer – I’ve always enjoyed his short stories, so very happy to just a few places below his latest collection. Hopefully reviews will start to come in for my stories too…

That was followed by Barbara Erskine – another writer that I have long admired – ever since I first read Lady of Hay, so it was rather exciting to briefly find myself sitting just above her collection. amazon-barbara-erskine-2210

The following day it was Edgar Allan Poe  and who wouldn’t be delighted to be ranked alongside that most accomplished of short story writers?amazon-edgar-allan-poe-2210

No doubt it is a reflection of the fact that there aren’t so many short story collections available on Kindle, but it didn’t diminish my pleasure in sitting alongside such fine writers, even if just for an hour or two, and it was fun to check in each day to see who I might be beside.


I’ve never heard of Yahya Hakki – maybe this is an author I should be getting to know, but it was interesting, following Poe, to find myself sandwiched between Franz Kafka and Jeffrey Archer. The next two days brought three more authors that I’m proud to be able to share a screenshot with – first  William Trevor and Anton

and finally, Hilary Mantel.  Not that I’m comparing my writing with any of these authors but it has been nice to be associated with them, however tenuously! And to have the photos to remind me of that first week is rather special.




The plight of mid-list authors

Mid-list is where I hope to be in a couple of years time – defined as selling a moderate number of copies of an individual book – and hoping that I might gradually build a following. This article from the Guardian is interesting reading, if not exactly encouraging…