Where the Waters Turn Black wins the SPFBO cover contest!

The title says it all, really. This year’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off kicked off at the beginning of July, and I’m chuffed beyond imagining to let you know that the cover for Where the Waters Turn Black won the blogger vote in the cover contest, and came third in the public vote!

Last year’s SPFBO, and the exposure it brought the Yarnsworld books, was a huge boost to my author career. Huge congrats to my designer, Jenny from Seedlings Design Studio, for her win.

In last year’s competition, They Mostly Came Out At Night came third in the cover contest vote, and was a semi-finalist in the main competition. Now that Where the Waters Turn Black has stepped up regarding the cover contest, here’s hoping the writing does as well as last year…

Read and chat about They Mostly Come Out At Night this month on Reddit Fantasy! Also… a new cover for the book?!

I’m proud to announce that They Mostly Come Out At Night is being read by Reddit Fantasy’s Reading Resident Authors group this May. I’m really nervous/excited about this, and would love to see some familiar faces in the discussions. New readers are, of course, more than welcome as well!

To celebrate, HiuGregg, organiser of the reading group, has decided to reimagine the book cover, on the shortest, tattiest shoestring possible:

… HiuGregg is not currently available for commissions :p

What is the Yarnsworld?


This is a question I’ve been getting a lot lately – what is the Yarnsworld?

The Yarnsworld is a place where folktales and fantasy meet. It is a place where monsters from stories are real.

In the Yarnsworld, the line between reality and stories isn’t quite as defined as in our own. It is a place where folktales – and a knowledge of those tales – are an important aspect of life, no matter where in the Yarnsworld people live. Knowing those stories can be the difference between life and death.

It is my own personal author playground, where I get to explore different real-world storytelling cultures through a distorted, murky mirror.

So far we’ve journeyed to three different parts of the Yarnsworld, each touching upon different cultures in our own world:

The Magpie King’s forest in They Mostly Come Out At Night is inspired by a mash-up of Brothers Grimm fairy tales and Native American legends. The stories from this setting lean towards dark fantasy horror, making you think twice about your next walk in the woods as the sun begins to set.

The Crescent Atoll from Where the Waters Turn Black draws upon Pacific island storytelling traditions. Crescent Atoll stories fit more firmly into the fantasy adventure genre, exploring the weird and wonderful aspects of a remote, detached civilization where gods and monsters walk among people.

The city of Espadapan and The Wildlands from the forthcoming Those Brave, Foolish Souls from the City of Swords are influenced by Central and Southern American mythologies. The City of Swords, and future novels in this setting, will explore a grittier part of the Yarnsworld, where morally conflicted masked swordfighters take advantage of whoever they can to rise to the top of the heap.

The Yarnsworld is a big place, and there are countless parts of it that can – and will – be visited in the future. I’m also excited to announce that the fourth Yarnsworld novel will be revisiting the Magpie King’s forest, to find out what happens after the events of They Mostly Come Out At Night, and other Yarnsworld settings will be revisited when the stories demand it.

And after that? Well, the plots have been mapped out in my head, if not on paper, but you’ll have to wait a bit longer to find out 🙂


Let me read you a folktale!

I’m planning to read you some Yarnsworld folktales, and I want you to choose! I’ll let this guy (me) explain everything:

Your choices are:
Artemis and the Three Daughters
The Magpie King and the Black Squirrel
The Magpie King and the Pies

Head over to the posts on Facebook or Twitter to cast your vote – you have one week to decide!

Fabulous Fantasy Fundraiser


booknest-fff-all-names-black-green-bgHey all,

A quick message just before Christmas. I’m proud and privileged to be taking part in Booknest’s Fabulous Fantasy Fundraiser, alongside many of my indie pals, but also some much bigger names in the industry such as Mark Lawrence, Sebastien De Castell, and Django Wexler.

The basic idea is you donate (minimum £1), and you then have the chance of winning a bundle of gorgeous, personalised books. All proceeds go to Doctors Without Borders (aka Médecins Sans Frontières). Click HERE and check it out.

Hope you all have a great holiday season, and best wishes for 2017,


Where the Waters Turn Black, the next Yarnsworld novel, has been released!

It’s here, it’s here! Where the Waters Turn Black is out in the wild, and is only 99c/99p for the first couple of days:



Here’s a look at the cover and the description again:



When gods and monsters battle, her music will not protect her…

The Crescent Atoll is a remote string of tropical islands, connected by long canoe journeys and a love of stories.

When Kaimana, a young ocarina player, discovers the lair of a taniwha – a legendary monster – she finds herself inspired. The song she is composing about their encounter will be her masterpiece, but her disturbance of the beast attracts the ruining gaze of the god of war. She must convince the taniwha to trust her if they are both to survive.

Where the Waters Turn Black is a standalone novel from Benedict Patrick’s Yarnsworld series. Inspired by the myths and legends of South Pacific island cultures, this book is perfect for those seeking fantasy stories with a hint of the unfamiliar.

Start reading today to discover this epic tale of friendship, gods and monsters!

Can we judge books by their covers?

When Mark Lawrence recently announced the ten finalists of this year’s SPFBO on the Fantasy subreddit, he had this to say about his earlier cover competition, in which the SPFBO bloggers nominated their favourite covers from this year’s entrants:

“But only 2 of the 10 finalists were in those cover nominations. So there’s no statistical support there for the idea that a better cover means a better book.”

That sounds like a challenge!

Okay, first, what Mark says is of course correct – there is no statistical link between the books that were entered into the cover contest and the finalists in the main competiton. However, I wanted to look at it from a different angle – I wanted to look at all of the books that the bloggers voted as the best covers in the competition, and see how those books performed in their original groups.

Please also keep in mind that I am not unbiased in writing this article – my own book is listed below. Make of that what you may!


Anyway, on with the list. Below I have listed the top covers as voted by the bloggers of the SPFBO, as well as any scores and/or awards given to them, and a positive quote from their review, if appropriate.


The Dragon’s Blade by Michael R Miller

Cover Competition Result – Gold Award (6 votes)

Main Competition Result – made it to BiblioSanctum’s final six

“When an author is thoughtful about a world and its mythos, I can’t help but get lost in it. This novel is no exception.”


Touch of Iron by Timandra Whitecastle

Cover Competition Result – Silver Award (5 votes)

Main Competition Result –7/10 from Bibliotropic

“…I think Whitecastle’s novel stands a strong chance of being passed to the final round in the SPFBO. And even if it doesn’t go further, it’s still a good novel that’s worth reading, and there’s plenty of potential for the story to go further. Touch of Iron is a self-published novel that could go far, carried on the strength of Whitecastle’s writing.”


They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick

Cover Competition Result- Bronze Award (5 votes)

Main Competition Result – Honourable Mention from Bookworm Blues

“It’s just so delightfully weird, so completely unique, with such powerful, fantastic writing that I wanted more.”


The following books also received blogger votes for best cover:

Song of Blood & Stone

7 and a half out of 10 from Fantasy-Faction

“…the book finishes as strongly as it started, with one or two twists near the end that have a fantastic effect. By this point, those of us who read that far had really grown to love the two main characters and wish them every happiness.”


The Grey Bastards

8 out of 10 and FINALIST for Bibliotropic

“It’s a wild ride on the hog, filled with brutality, battle, and bravery. It’s coarse and crass and also loveable, and after this, I have high hopes for what French might do in the future.”


Shadows and Starstone

3.5/5 from Bookworm Blues

“It has a great tone, and fantastic world building. These two combine to suck readers in right away. The plot moves pretty quickly, and the action/adventure theme will work well with readers. It’s easy to fall into, and incredibly interesting – which is helped by some fantastic characters.”


All the Saints Are Dead

Lynn’s Books read first 20%


It Takes a Thief to Catch a Sunrise

4/5 from Bookworm Blues

“Excellent world building, a delightful plot, it’s the characters that shined like diamonds in this novel.”


Last Necromancer by CJ Archer and Masque by WR Gingell should also be on that list, but my Google-fu failed me when looking for Elitist Book Reviews’ SPFBO reviews. However, both titles have strong Goodreads ratings – Masque has a score of 4.27 after 228 ratings, and Last Necromancer has 3.83 after 1766 reviews.


So, what’s my conclusion after looking into these results? Well, mostly that there were a bunch of damned-fine titles in this year’s competition! I’m not a stats man, so I’ll let you figure out how you feel about these results yourself.

As for me, I’ve learnt that sometimes it might be okay to judge a book by its cover…