I'm up to 11 fans on my Facebook fansite now. Eleven. Onze. Elf. Once. Undici. Whichever way you say it, it doesn't get any bigger. Come on guys. This is getting serious now. Here's a bribe. My publication party is going to be on 29th October in London - I still have a few spare tickets if you'd like to come. Just drop me a line.

Anyway, a little over two weeks to go until the publication of The Gilded Seal and the sleepless nights have started in earnest. You would have thought that after a few books, I'd be a bit more chilled about the whole thing, but if anything, it's got worse with each book.

Maybe that's because I had no real expectations for how The Double Eagle would do at all - to be honest, I was just grateful it was on the shelf. When it sold well I was both surprise and excited. But these feelings were soon tempered by the realisation that its unforeseen success had subtly changed the rules of the game. Naive enthusiasm was no longer a viable strategy - instead, I had stepped into a quicksand of insecurity and stress that seems to rise a little higher with every book.

By the time it came to publishing The Black Sun, therefore, my youthful insouciance had been replaced by a dry-throat, sweaty palms and daily calls with my publisher about the pre-order numbers and whether they were any good. And needless to say, as soon as it was out, I was checking on my Amazon author rankings every hour, on the hour, to see how things were going - oh look, I've moved form 3,523 to 3,428. Yippee.

Now, with The Gilded Seal I seem to have translated my nervousness into insomnia and an inexplicable craving for Jaffa Cakes. Is this what it's like to be pregnant, I wonder?

Actually, that's not quite such a fanciful idea as it may seem (ignoring the stretch marks, bleeding gums, occasional incontinence and violent mood swings, of course.) You see, the really stressful thing about an impending publication / birth is not the sales numbers (although God knows I could do with the cash!) but the thought of releasing this fragile young creature that I have conceived, created and nurtured through a difficult childhood, into the lawless, uncertain jungle of the high-street to fend for itself amidst sharp-fanged reviewers and an apathetic media. Anyone who's seen the Discovery Channel will know that nature can be very cruel.

Having said all that, The Gilded Seal's prospects are good. In fact they're very good if you believe the early feedback I have been getting from a couple of reviewers and journalists who have been sent advance copies. Bruce my editor, says it's the best one yet and I'm inclined to agree with him. But ultimately the only opinion that counts is yours, so you'll have to let me know what you think when you finally get your hands on a copy.

Now I'm off to lay awake for six hours grinding my teeth until I fall asleep an hour before my alarm goes off...

Sometimes I wonder why I got into this crazy game!

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