Rowing on the River

Last Saturday I had an Intercompany Rowing Competition with a few colleagues from work. After the 10k I did recently, I thought it’d be a different sort of challenge. And it was! Though as our coach says, we’re supposed to use mostly our legs, I still feel like I built up some more upper body strength.

The fun part of the competition is that everyone’s in fancy dress. My favourite costumes were “The Coffin Dodgers” – everyone dressed up as old men and the cox (coach) was the Grim Reaper. We dressed up as Star Wars characters – A Jedi, Darth Vader, Han Solo, a Stormtrooper, and Princess Leia. In the first race, we lost to a group of physiotherapists dressed as Where’s Wallys (Waldos to Americans). In the second race, we beat some minions from Despicable Me 2. In the third race, we won against a group in yellow shirts. We won our group, but in the knock out rounds, we were up against the physiotherapists again and we were thrashed.

It was still fun, though the weather wasn’t the greatest. Don’t think I’ll keep up rowing, but it was a good experience and something different.

First photo is from my camera, and other photos are courtesy of Kevin, an engineer from work.

rowing0
Me as Princess Leia!
Created with Nokia Camera
The first race!
rowing2
Racing away.
Created with Nokia Camera
Onward!
rowing4
Yes! We’re winning! Take that, minions.
rowing5
Group shot of “Use the Oars”
rowing6
Coming into the jetty after our win during the 5 minutes of sunshine we had all day.
Created with Nokia Camera
This guy was a champ, helping load and unload people from their boats all day.

 

 

“They Swim Through Sunset Seas” – Coming Soon in Solaris Rising 3

solarisrising3Whee, a bit of good news – I have a short story called “They Swim Through Sunset Seas” out in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology, which will be released in August, I believe. It’s about a husband and wife team who are sent to an underwater science facility on a planet called Anthemusa. They’ve been sent to study the indigenous aliens, the Nyxi, which basically look like giant tardigrades, but multi-coloured and with wings. Things don’t go according to plan.

I quite like this story – I wrote it a few years ago and gave it a re-edit this year, and I’m so glad it found a home. A huge thanks to Ian Whates for commissioning it.

Here’s the first line:

“I thought I would write and tell you what happened after you died.”

It’s such a pretty cover. And my name’s on the front!

It’s on Goodreads!

It’s also on Netgalley! (Request please, bloggers!)

I’m sharing the table of contents with lots of great folks, and I’m looking forward to reading the other stories slated to appear. There’ll be a release at Foyles I believe, and I’ll actually be in London then!

Blurb:

Following the exceptionally well received, Solaris Rising 1 and and the Philip K. Dick Award-nominated Solaris Rising 2 series editor Ian Whates brings even more best-selling and cutting edge SF authors together for the latest extraordinary volume of new original ground-breaking stories.

These stories are guaranteed to surprise, thrill and delight, and continue our mission to demonstrate why science fiction remains the most exiting, varied and inspiring of all fiction genres. In Solaris Rising 1 and 2 we showed both the quality and variety that modern science fiction can produce. In Solaris Rising 3, we’ll be taking SF into the outer reaches of the universe. Nina Allan, Aliette de Bodard, Tony Ballantyne, Chris Beckett, Julie Czerneda, Ken Liu, Alex Dally MacFarlane, Ian R MacLeod & Martin Sketchley, Gareth L Powell, Adam Roberts, Benjamin Rosenbaum, Cat Sparks, Benjanun Sriduangkaew, Ian Watson and Seam Williams are just some of the names set to appear.

Sad News About Strange Chemistry + Giveaway

Another lovely giveaway in response to Strange Chemistry’s news. There’s also a chance to win Cracked by Eliza Crewe.

Cherry Blossoms & Maple Syrup

17345314I’ve heard sad news from all over the blogosphere that Strange Chemistry/Angry Robot is officially no more as a publisher. What breaks my heart moreover is yesterday I posted a review for the second Soul Eater book by Eliza Crewe and none of you will likely be able to read it unless it gets saved or self-published.

My friend Katharine @ Ventureadlaxre is hosting a giveaway where you can win copies of Laura Lam’s fantastic novels, Pantomime and its sequel Shadowplay. I decided I’m going to join her in this endeavour. These were my two favourite books published by Strange Chemistry and while I am sad about the publisher being no more, I want people to still read these books.15797050

So I am offering up to one winner a paperback copy of both Cracked & Pantomime. This giveaway is open Internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to your…

View original post 80 more words

Laura Lam Giveaway

A giveaway for Pantomime and/or Shadowplay, in response to Strange Chemistry shutting down. Really touched by this. ❤

ventureadlaxre

Sad publishing news reigns with the announcement that Angry Robot‘s two imprints, Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, have ceased, effective immediately.

I loved Strange Chemistry especially because without fail – every book I picked up from that imprint, I loved. They had a level of quality I could depend on, where I didn’t have to worry when picking up a book whether or not it was going to resonate with me.

But it goes deeper than this – it’s upsetting because it impacts on one of my favourite authors, Laura Lam. I loved the books she had out so far, and I find her thoughtful and well spoken (as well as simply interesting to follow on social media). She also happened to attend Scott Lynch’s cafe meet-up in Brighton in 2013 during World Fantasy Con, and was really lovely when I kinda shyly slunk up to her to see if…

View original post 316 more words

Vestigial Tales: “The Fisherman’s Net” Blurb and Cover!

“The Fisherman’s Net” is the second story in my Vestigial Tales series. The first one, “The Snake Charm,” went up for Kindle last week (other retailers to follow after the 3 month exclusive with Amazon). Two more novellas will follow later this summer.

This would be a good story to read if you haven’t read Pantomime or Shadowplay. There’s absolutely no overlapping characters and it’s set in one of the other islands of the world. It’s a fable, reworked by a noblewoman for the court in Ellada.

Without further ado…

the-fishermans-net-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Fisherman’s Net

A humble fisherman in a village of the coast of the island of Linde buys a trinket at the market, which he discovers is Vestige. The poor man soon becomes the best fisherman in the village and marvels at his newfound wealth. One day, he ensnares a most unusual catch: a Chimaera sea maiden that isn’t meant to exist. And he’s not sure if he can let her go.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-winning Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

The artwork is by the exceptionally talented Dianna Walla of Paper Tiger. I love the tarot card treatment she gives these. A lot of the original Rider Waite cards have yellow backgrounds, and it makes the images pop. She’s also a knitwear designer and graphic artist, so check out her website.

This story will be released in about 3-4 weeks and will likely be 99cents/70p, as it’s about 4k long. And if you missed “The Snake Charm,” please do consider picking it up! As I’m swamped with several deadlines I’ve not been doing too much promo about the stories yet. Once all four are up, I’ll do a blog tour and see how it affects sales. In the meantime, it’s a useful experiment to see how many potential readers I can reach through my various social networks. I’ll be blogging once a month about what I did, how much I sold, and what it’s like to be a hybrid author.

“The Snake Charm” Fan Art by Laya

I received some lovely fan art from Laya. Laya’s a 17-year-old from New Zealand who has made some art for the Micah Grey series in the past. I think she’s wonderfully talented and every time she sends me something I squee. This is for “The Snake Charm” a short story set before the events of Pantomime and starring Drystan.

Drystan in the cave:

snakecharm1artDrystan looking down at the Lethe:

snakecharm2art

Aren’t they wonderful?

And here’s the info about “The Snake Charm” again, just released last Thursday:

Cover artwork is by Dianna Walla / Paper Tiger.

the-snake-charm-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Snake Charm

“To most, Drystan was just another buffoon in the collective of clowns. But behind the inane grin, he saw everything, keeping the secrets he discovered close, like precious gems to barter.”

Mutiny is brewing in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. When Linden, the leader of the clowns steals one of the ringmaster’s most prized possessions, Drystan, the white clown, finds himself caught in the middle. Tasked with retrieving the Lethe, he’s forced to betray Linden or risk his troubled past coming to light. But the Vestige artifact has its own history and its own power. Drystan will learn what it can really do, and who it can hurt.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-nominated Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre ofShadowplay, and more…

Add on Goodreads!

PURCHASE:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon Canada / Amazon India / Amazon Germany / Amazon France / Amazon Spain / Amazon Italy / Amazon Japan / Amazon Brazil / Amazon Mexico / Amazon Australia

 

Musings on Being a Baby Writer

BFSI’m so delighted that I’ve been nominated as Best Newcomer for Pantomime for the British Fantasy Awards. This was decided by a combination of votes and the panel of the society. Thank you to everyone who voted for me – it means so much!

Congratulations to everyone else on the nomination lists as well: look at all this talent.

I was speaking to Kim Curran about this awhile ago (she was nominated for Best Newcomer last year!): we’re NEWCOMERS. We’re still baby authors. We’re in the beginning stages of a whole new career. And if you think of it in terms of a career, we’re still junior authors. Still cutting our teeth and learning the ropes. There’s more promotions to come, new jobs at higher pay that might come along with more experience.

Sometimes it’s easy to be impatient, to wonder why things aren’t working out perfectly, why we’re not able to make a living off our words and jet off to the Caribbean whenever the mood takes us. I’m such a perfectionist that I’m so quick to say I’ve failed at something, when the ending isn’t yet written in stone.

Writing is for the long haul.

I’ve decades left of being a writer. It’s easy to see all the things we don’t have yet, and overlook all the achievements we’ve made. I started writing seriously in 2009-2010, rather than in little fits and spurts. I finished my first book in 2011. In 2012, I had a book deal. In 2013, the first book hit the shelves and it got a bunch of award nominations and one win. 2014, the second book came out, and just a few days ago, my first self-published story. This year I received two invites to anthologies. I’ll be releasing 3 other self-published works. 2015 will see at least my third book out, and maybe another, should the stars align. I’ve done a lot. Some people really enjoy my work. I have 18 single-spaced pages of notes from readers (I put it all together and look at it when I’m sad because I’m a sap–but these notes are PRECIOUS to me). I’ve got a lot going for me. I need to remember that, and not get so bogged down in the negatives, the what-ifs, the what-if-nots.

It’s easy for all of us to be in a hurry. But as long as we’re writing and working towards our goals, we’re not failures. Not by a long shot.

I have no idea what will happen in 2016, or 2010, or 2050, except this: I’ll still be writing.

The First Vestigial Tale: “The Snake Charm” is now Live!

Wellp, I’m now a hybrid author.

Info about “The Snake Charm”:

This is a prequel story set before the events of Pantomime. It can pretty easily be read without reading the main series – the only thing is you’ll end up knowing a bit more about Drystan’s past than you would coming into Pantomime cold. Drystan is a secondary character throughout the Micah Grey series.

There will be at least 4 stories/novellas in total, and more if these prove reasonably popular.

Cover artwork is by Dianna Walla / Paper Tiger.

the-snake-charm-cover

Untold centuries ago, the Archipelago was ruled by the Alder—mysterious beings who vanished, leaving behind only scattered artefacts of unknown power, called Vestige. Sometimes, a person will be lucky or unlucky enough to discover that each piece of Vestige has its own tale to tell…

The Snake Charm

“To most, Drystan was just another buffoon in the collective of clowns. But behind the inane grin, he saw everything, keeping the secrets he discovered close, like precious gems to barter.”

Mutiny is brewing in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic. When Linden, the leader of the clowns steals one of the ringmaster’s most prized possessions, Drystan, the white clown, finds himself caught in the middle. Tasked with retrieving the Lethe, he’s forced to betray Linden or risk his troubled past coming to light. But the Vestige artifact has its own history and its own power. Drystan will learn what it can really do, and who it can hurt.

Vestigial Tales are stories set in the world of the award-nominated Micah Grey series. Step behind the circus ring from Pantomime, the theatre of Shadowplay, and more…

PURCHASE:

Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CanadaAmazon India / Amazon Germany / Amazon France / Amazon Spain / Amazon Italy / Amazon Japan / Amazon Brazil / Amazon Mexico / Amazon Australia

The Experience so far:

So far it’s been easier than I thought it’d be. *knock on wood*

It’s up on all of Amazon’s various sites and it took about 12 hours. It’s DRM-free and also available for free to those with Prime accounts through the Kindle Lending Library (and I still get royalties for borrows!). At the moment it’s only available through Kindle, but after three months I might opt out of Kindle Direct Publishing so I can put it up on other outlets.

If you’d like it available on another outlet, feel free to drop me a note via the contact form, Twitter, Tumblr, etc, so I can get an idea of demand for it elsewhere.

It’s currently $3/£1.80, which I realize is a bit expensive for a 40 page story, but if it’s a cent less my royalties drop from 70% to 35%. The novellas will be much longer and I think I’ll keep them around the same price, so it should even out in that regard. It’s still less than a latte!

So far I’ve spent £132 for 10 ISBN numbers.

Any profits on these stories will most likely be going towards helping fund a book I’m self-releasing next year.

Through the generous help of friends and my English teacher mother/mother-in-law, it’s polished, has awesome cover art, and is ready to be read.

Thank you to: Shawn DeMille, Dianna Walla, Kim Curran, Erica Bretall, Amy McCulloch, Leo Cristea, Mike Kalar, Wesley Chu, Craig Lam, Sally Baxter, Sheila Lam, Sam & Charlotte Strong, Corinne Duyvis, Steve Aryan, Ann Smyth, Andrew Reid, K.C. Shaw, Amy Lewis, Lorna McKay, Andrea Stewart, and everyone who helped me in any way with this first story.

Please help:

I’m doing this largely on my own without a publisher backing me and so could greatly use your help in spreading the word. If this seems your thing, please purchase (or borrow if you have Prime). If you read it, please consider rating/reviewing it on Goodreads & Amazon, as reviews are crucial for self-published works. Please consider spreading the word online via social media and offline when you’re being social. I’d love for these stories to make its way to as many interested readers as possible, and there’s only so many times I can shout about them myself before I start getting annoying. 😀

I hope you enjoy Drystan’s adventure in R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic before the young runaway Micah Grey joined.

(And here’s the book pages for Pantomime & Shadowplay)

Books Read in May

Didn’t read that much this month – I had to edit my own work quite a bit and it took up most of my reading energy.

1. Golden Boy – Abigail Tarttelin. A contemporary novel about an intersex teen named Max. Excellently written and tugs at the heart strings. Very recommended (thanks Orion for the copy!)

foolsassassin2. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. MUAHAHA I GOT TO READ THIS BEFORE IT’S OUT. But now I have to wait until 2015 to find out what happens next. Noooo! This is a continuation of my favourite series by my favourite author. The last new Fitz & Fool book was released in 2003 (and I read it in 2004). It was surreal going back to these characters after so long. The last time I read them for the first time, I was a teenager and I’d just met my now-husband. I lived in California instead of Scotland. Fitz is older, but I’m older, too. I loved this book so much I can’t quite articulate it. I can’t wait to read it again. (thank you to HarperVoyager for the proof).

3. The Boy with the Porcelain Blade – Den Patrick. A member of Team Mushens and an excellent debut, out from Gollancz. It’s an intricate, atmospheric book set in a castle, slightly reminiscent of Gormenghast. There are houses, and the Orfano, people who are all slightly different in some way. It follows the story of Lucien, and time-jumps between his younger and older years. Recommended!

Total: 31 books

Pantomime and the Bisexual Book Award: My Acceptance Speech

Just found out that Pantomime won the Bisexual Book Award for the Speculative Fiction category. The book has been lucky enough to be shortlisted for a few other awards, but this is its first win. It feels wonderful, especially for this award. Below is a transcript of the speech I wrote for it. Still a bit amazed that it was read aloud!

“It’s quite a strange thing, writing a speech without knowing if you’ve won, but hoping you have. As you’re all hearing this right now, I guess I have! I am amazed and honored to have won the Bisexual Book Award in the Speculative Fiction category. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to say this in person, but as I’m terrified of speaking in front of crowds, it’s probably better it’s read by someone else’s steady voice.

When I first started writing, I kept beginning and abandoning books, not quite falling in love with them enough. I dreamt up Micah Grey while at university and fell in love with him and his story. I began a book with him as an adult, and then decided to write a “short story” about him joining the circus in his teens. That short story is now 100,000 words, so I got a bit carried away. Pantomime was the story I most wanted to tell, about a brave character finding himself and coming of age, but who falls between the lines of gender and sexuality.

When I wrote the book, I worried it wouldn’t find a home. I remember reading Malinda Lo’s number crunching of GLBT characters in YA, and how small a slice of the overall publishing pie GLBT characters had already, and how bisexual and transgender characters were an even smaller percentage of that tiny slice. There were no entries for intersex characters at all. But, wonderfully, the book was picked up. And, wonderfully, I have received messages from all around the world from people who connected with Micah and his story. It has been a privilege to hear from bisexual, genderfluid, and intersex readers who have identified with Micah. It has been a privilege to hear that others have said that they learned a little more about gender diversity and sexuality. Micah Grey has found a home in readers’ hearts and minds, and there’s no place I’d rather him be.

Thank you to everyone who helped me along the way: my early readers, my agent, Juliet Mushens, and my publisher, Strange Chemistry Books. Thank you to the bloggers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and readers who spread the word about my books. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.”

Purchase links if you fancy:

Worldwide: The Robot Reader (E-book)
UK: Amazon – Book Depository – Waterstones – Sainsburys – WHSmith
US: Amazon – Barnes and Noble – Indiebound – Powell’s – Kobo
Canada: Amazon – Chapters