Read the first five chapters of The Warlock online

In a few days The Warlock {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel} will be published. So, to celebrate the release of the latest addition to the series Random House has issued a special preview of the first five chapters of the book.

Let me know what you think on Twitter, @flamelauthor, and Facebook. You can also comment on this page.

I have to issue a big Spoiler Warning with the preview (also remember to be careful what you tweet or status update, some fans will want to read the book itself)

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When will The Warlock be published?

The Warlock {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel} US Edition CoverAlcatraz:
Although their ally Dr. John Dee has been declared utlaga, Machiavelli and Billy the Kid will follow the plans the Elders have laid before them: they will loose the monsters of Alcatraz on the city of San Francisco, thereby triggering the end of the humani race.

Danu Talis:
The Shadowrealm that Scatty and Joan of Arc have entered is far more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And they haven’t landed here by chance-the warriors were called for a reason. So were Saint-Germain, Palamededs, and Shakespeare. The group was summoned because they must travel back in time to Danu Talis and destroy it. For the island of Danu Talis, known in humani myth as the lost city of Atlantis, must fall if the modern world is to exist.

San Francisco:
The end is finally near. Josh Newman has chosen a side, and he will not stand with his sister, Sophie, or with the Alchemyst, Nicholas Flamel. He will fight alongside Dee and the mysterious Virginia Dare. Unless Sophie can find her twin before the battle begins, all is lost – forever.

In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophesy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.

With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places.

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The Warlock ARCs (Advance Reading Copies) have arrived

A sure sign that a book is edging closer to publication is the arrival of the Advance Reading Copy. The public do not often get to see ARCS. They are published in reasonably small quantities for booksellers, reviewers and librarians and come out about six to eight weeks before publication.

The Warlock {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel} editions

The Warlock {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel} ARC

Clicke here to see a larger image.

ARCS are also incredibly collectible and when I was a bookseller, I had clients who specialized in First Editions and either Proofs, Galleys or ARCS. At the moment an ARC of the Bloomsbury edition of Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azkaban is currently being sold for over $41,000.

ARCS are not for sale and each copy is clearly marked as such. (But of course they end up on sale.) It will be interesting to see how the explosion in e-publishing will impact on ARCS. As more and more of the business moves to digital, I can see a day when electronic versions are sent out rather than expensive printed copies.

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Having a little Facebook problem

So, when I try and log into Facebook today, I get the helpful message:

Account Unavailable
Your account is temporarily unavailable due to site maintenance. It should be available again within a few hours. We apologize for the inconvenience.

However, it has now been several hours. I’ve gone online and taken the advice – flushed the cache and cookies, rebooted the router, but still no joy.

Friends tell me that although the account is there, all its posts and friends seem to have vanished, which is not entirely comforting. The separate Michael Scott page is still available.

However, I will continue on Twitter.

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A little update on book 5, The Warlock

The Warlock {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel} US Edition CoverI posted this on the Official Fan forum recently, but I thought I’d repost a slightly edited version here.

I have just seen the final page proofs of The Warlock. These are very close to the final novel, laid out the way the published final book will look. I know there was some discussion earlier about the size of this book (and indeed, on the Random House site, the page number is given as 368), but the final book has come in at 380 pages of story and an additional 20 pages of intro and a tiny sneak peek at The Enchantress. So The Warlock will be 400 pages in total, which is just over 80,000 words.

However, we’re going to break with the tradition of including the first chapter of next book with this one. Because of the way this book is structured, and especially the ending, we could not give the first chapter of The Enchantress because it would reveal too much.

We’re now beginning to count down to publication and I am hard at work on The Enchantress!

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Tracing the steps of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

All of the locations used in the series – in the United States, France and England – are based on real places. In fact, so specific are the locations that it is possible to trace the journey of the twins and the Flamels across San Francisco, through (and under) Paris and into London.

A little while ago, hitmanjls, one of the moderators on Flamel’s Secret, the official fan forum, did just that, and created a marvelous visual tour of The Alchemyst and, more recently, did it again for The Magician, using maps and images from Google Maps and Google Street View. He then linked the images with text from the US editions of the book.

If you have read the first two books, it is well worth while checking out.

The Alchemyst

Ojai Park in Calfornia, from The Alchemyst {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel}

Ojai Park in Calfornia, from The Alchemyst {The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel}

Among some of the locations mentioned in The Alchemyst, Ojai Park, is one that the fans want to know most about. Many are surprised that it is a real location – so too is the fountain where Josh and Dee speak.

See the locations mentioned in The Alchemyst here.

The Magician

The Church of Sacre -Coeur

The Church of Sacre -Coeur

For The Magician Flamel, Josh, Sophie, Scatchach found themselves in The Church of Sacre-Coeur, Paris. Hitmanjls collected some of the key locations featured in the book.

See the locations mentioned in The Magician here.

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Tools and skills every budding writer and author needs – Part 3: The Execution

OpenOffice LogoSo this is the hard part.  The world falls into two camps: those who write on machine and those who write by hand.  Ultimately, even those who write by hand will have to present  their manuscript in some digital format.

There are any number of word processors, with Microsoft Word dominating the marketplace.  If you cannot afford the commercial word processors – and indeed, you may not even need them, then look at some of the freeware offerings.  OpenOffice and more recently, LibreOffice, are incredibly mature products.  Most do the same job, and some of them will do more than you will ever need. The only rule is to make sure your software can save in a recognized standard format.

Do I have to add that you should use white paper and a readable font – something like Times New Roman or Ariel.  Script fonts are out.  Double line spacing, one inch margins all around and type on one side of the page only.  And make copies.  Multiple copies.  Online (use Dropbox, Skydrive or Google Docs) and on a disc.  Email copies to yourself.  Set up an online email account just to store your manuscripts.  At some stage in your writing life you will lose material.  Ask any writer!

Then you write.  You do it every day.  Give yourself a target.  Two thousand words seems to be an average, but whatever you do, make it an achievable target.  There’s no point in setting the target too high and failing to meet the target.

And there is one final, absolutely critical piece of equipment that you are going to need – a comfortable chair.  Trust me: you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting in it.

Read part one of this post, The Idea, here.
Read part two, The Research, here.

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Tools and skills every budding writer and author needs – Part 2: The Research

Nicholas FlamelFor me, this is always the best part.  Writing is hard, research is fun.  And here is where your digital camera is a must.  Memory is fallible, photos are not.  I’m currently using a 14 megapixel digital camera,  shooting in the highest resolution possible.  For safety sake, always upload copies to some one of the online file stores.  Dropbox is my current favorite. Indeed, I consider Dropbox an essential service.

The Flamel series is set in very familiar locations – San Francisco, Paris, London – and although I have been to these cities, lived there and know them extremely well, I took thousands of research photos as a visual aide-memoire.

A portion of The Alchemyst is set in Ojai, a city north of LA.  I have hundreds of photos – not only of the streets and surroundings of Ojai, but very specific images of the street names, the slanting evening light, the local newspaper, the fountain in Libby Park.  Everything.  When I came to write the Ojai scenes for the book, I scrolled through the photos and was instantly back there again.  Because of course, photos are not just static images; they evoke memories – and writers mine those memories for their material.

Similarly, when I came to write the scenes set in the catacomb beneath Paris, I had a wealth of photos and written notes to fall back on.

Organizing your research is critical.  When I started working on the series which ultimately became The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, I knew I was about to amass a huge body of research material.  For a while I used outlines and then, a few years ago, stumbled across a wonderful piece of software called TheBrain.  This is a stunning piece of mind mapping software.  There is a steep learning curve, but do stick with it.  Its well worth it.  All of the research, data and links for the series is built and stored within TheBrain and it allows me to see the connections on a single screen.

More recently, I have been using Microsoft’s OneNote as a way of capturing and storing online data. Over the last couple of books, it has become a crucial writing tool.

You may not need something so sophisticated for your writing project – many writers I know still prefer yellow note cards stuck the wall.  The only rule is that you have to keep the research up to date.

Read part one of this post, The Idea, here.
Look out for part three, The Execution, tomorrow

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Tools and skills every budding writer and author needs – Part 1: The Idea

Burgundian author and scribe Jean Miélot, from his Miracles de Notre Dame, 15th century via Wikipedia

Burgundian author and scribe Jean Miélot, from his Miracles de Notre Dame, 15th century via Wikipedia

Probably the number one question I’m asked (actually probably the number two right after “where do you get your ideas from?”) is “so what do you use to write?  What are the tools of the trade?”   This question is always asked in a tone which suggests that  there are secret and arcane devices which every writer uses.  There aren’t I’m afraid, but over the years I’ve spoken to many writers about the tools of the trade, what they use to capture the ideas and get them onto the page.

In the end, it all comes down to personal choice.  I know some writers who swear by pencil and paper, others who are exclusively digital.  Most use a combination of both.  But in the end, use what works for you.

Every book is essentially broken down into three separate processes: the idea, the research and the execution. You will need different tools for each part.

This is a long post, so I’ve broken it down into three parts. In this part I will look at capturing the Idea, tomorrow in part 2, I will talk about managing the research and then the following day, in part 3, show you how to put it all together and begin writing.

The Idea

Ideas are sneaky – they have a nasty habit of popping up when you least expect them.  The middle of the night is their favorite time.  Many writers sleep with a notebook beside the bed or a small digital recorder (a cell phone is great for this) to capture the midnight idea.

If you have a hard time deciphering the mumble you recorded at 3.00am, then it probably wasn’t a great idea anyway.  Far more disconcerting are the single word ideas which, at the time, obviously made perfect sense, but in the cold light of day are utterly meaningless.  I have a note to myself which says “ice-cream.”  Was it a character trait for one of the Flamel characters (I know Sophie likes chunky monkey ice cream),  was it a shopping list, a fabulous idea about the magical properties of ice cream? I’ve no idea.  Maybe I just wanted ice cream in the middle of the night.

No matter what you use, a notebook – either paper or digital – by your beside is essential.

And, when you’re out and about, keep the notebook handy for capturing the elusive idea.   There are any number of apps for whatever flavor of cellphone you use.  Check out the latest in speech recognition software, which allows you to translate spoken notes into text.  For capturing notes on the move, either by voice or with your phone’s camera, then look to the online applications like Evernote or Springpad. I’ve used both, but of late, I find myself using Springpad more and more.

Look out tomorrow for part two, The Research, followed by part three, The Execution.

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Ten characteristics you need to become a writer

Underwood Keyboard via WikipediaAre writers born or made? I firmly believe that anyone can write (whether they should is an entirely different matter of course). I have been writing now for over twenty-five years and in that time have met countless writers. The vast majority of them treated writing like a job and approached it in that fashion, not waiting for the muse to move them, but moving, shoving, pushing and dragging the muse into submission.

Many of those writers displayed remarkably similar characteristics and attitudes towards their work and, out of that, I have drawn up the ten characteristics I think you’ll need if you want to become a writer.

You must be well read

You must read and not just in the fields that interest you – writers pull from an astonishing variety of sources for their work. If you do not read, you will never become a writer.  Let me just repeat that: if you do not read, you will not – indeed, you cannot – become a writer.


It sort of goes without saying, but an imagination is critical. Feed your imagination with books, movies, images, people, places. If you have no raw material, you’ve nothing to create with.


Be critical of your own work. Do not think that everything you write is golden. The images you see in your head may never match what you finally put down on paper … but you keep trying.
Continue reading

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