I’ve done a free promotion on Amazon for “The Card Sharp,” the last instalment in my Vestigial Tales series, tie in novellas and short stories to the Micah Grey series. These books can be read in any order.
Please consider downloading and, if you read it, consider leaving a rating/review on Goodreads/Amazon. My obvious ulterior motive is that you read this, enjoy it, read the other Vestigial Tales (Note: those are all free for Amazon Prime customers, yet I still get royalties), and then check out Pantomime & Shadowplay when they’re re-released in e-book in December through Tor UK. :-)
ABOUT “THE CARD SHARP”
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 Card Sharp
“He always mourned that moment, when the high began to fade. It was like he moved from who he wanted to be to having to face the reality of who he was. He’d rather feel supernatural. More than Drystan Hornbeam, a seventeen-year-old-boy who had made a lot of foolish mistakes and didn’t seem to be changing his habits anytime soon.”
Before Drystan became the White Clown of R.H. Ragona’s Circus of Magic, he was a Lerium addict struggling on the streets of Imachara. When a mysterious woman gives him a chance at a new life, he takes it, even if it means falling even deeper into the dark underbelly of the capital of Ellada. Drystan knows that selling Lerium to the powerful men and women who bet at the high stakes card tables is perilous, especially when he still battles his own addictions. Yet when he meets a man who can help him learn to cheat at cards and swindle them out of enough money to start a new life, he dives headfirst into more danger.
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…
I’m back in Scotland after my five weeks in California. I have mostly gotten over my jetlag, and have plenty of work to keep me busy. I’ve been taking a brief social media break the last few days, which has been nice. I made it so I could only use Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook for 5 minutes (combined) before it blocked on my laptop. I deleted the shortcuts and turned off all notifications on my phone. So the only way to really lurk, which I did do a few times, was to physically go into my list of apps and click on them. Just that extra barrier meant my procrastination-via-social-media went way down. I have done more work the past few days, but I also found myself procrastinating in more productive ways–cooking, cleaning, practising French via Duolingo. I’ll probably start going back on more often soon because when I work from home it is my chatting-around-the-water-cooler, but I’ll keep the notifications off my phone and increase total allowance on my laptop to say, 30 minutes.
It is also…con and festival season! I’m not doing all that much con-wise this year, but I’m going to Nine Worlds next month, which is one of my favourite cons. Here is my schedule:
Emma Trevayne, Tom Pollock, Lauren E James, Laura Lam, Sarah Benwell, James Dawson, Marieke Nijkamp
More and more non-traditional characters enter the YA stage. Characters who defy gender norms and gender binaries. Characters who fall somewhere along the LGBTQIA* spectrum. Characters who kick ass and take names. How does YA explore these new stories, who are the characters we should be paying attention to, and what is there still to come?
Childhood Influences – I Want to be a Wild Thing When I Grow Up
Room 38, 5:00pm – 6:15pm (All of the Books)
Taran Matharu, Ed Cox, Frances Harding, Kim Curran, Laura Lam (Moderator)
From the fantasy worlds of Blyton’s Magic Faraway Tree to whizz-poppers and marvellous medicines of Roald Dahl, how important are childrens stories on us as adults and do they shape what authors write when they grow up?
Saturday (August 8):
From MPDG to SFC: the Girls of YA
Royal B, 8:30pm – 9:45pm (Geek Feminism, Young Adult)
Liz de Jager, Laura Lam, Tom Pollock, Amy Alward
Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Strong Female Characters. Girls in YA literature are often labeled and boxed in. But who are the girl characters behind and beyond the tropes? And what are the characteristics of the modern YA heroine?
Also, as part of the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, I’m doing a creative writing workshop for youth at the Lemon Tree on July 26th at 1.30-2.30 pm. Tickets are FREE, you just need to book! I think you have to be under 25, but it might also be flexible. There’s lots of other great events on at the festival, and I hope to go to some other events with my friend Erica, who will be out visiting from CA.
1. Zen in the Art of Writing – Ray Bradbury. A collection of essays on writing from a master. Smiled a bit while reading. His love of creating worlds and stories shone through. Recommended.
2. The Writer’s Digest Handbook of Short Story Writing – ed. by Frank A. Dickson. I read this while preparing for writing a short story. As it was on my mom’s bookshelf, I thought I’d see if I’d learn anything. I learned a few things, but some of the advice seemed dated.
3. The Silver Metal Lover – Tanith Lee. I have been meaning to read this for years since I’m interested in artificial intelligence. I heard of Tanith Lee’s passing, unfortunately, and it reminded me to read it. It’s about a young, rich girl falling in love with a robot designed to be artistic and a fantastic lover. At first, Jane was incredibly annoying, but she’s meant to be, and I enjoyed watching her come into her own. The world-building was really interesting, too. Recommended.
4. Uprooted – Naomi Novik. A lush fantasy inspired by Polish fairytales. I really liked Agnieszka and the politics of the world and magic system. Definitely recommended, and thanks to Macmillan for the copy.
5. On Writing – Stephen King. I’m writing my dissertation for my masters, hence all the books on writing this month. I plan to use a few quotes. I read this back when I was a teenager and just starting to write. Re-reading it about 10 years later and something like 7 books’ worth of words later was interesting. My takeaway is that Stephen King and I have very different writing processes. And that’s okay.
I also beta read 1.75 books for friends, which always takes longer than just reading.
A perfect blog from Lou Morgan on the term “writer” vs. “author,” the urge to undermine the work we do out of fear. Writing is hard work, but it’s easy to demure. I’m comfortable saying “I’m an author,” or “I’m a novelist,” but it took a long time. At the beginning, when I was working just as hard (hell, harder because I had more to balance), I stuck that sneaky word “aspiring” in front of everything. Yes, I was hoping to be published, but I was doing it all, even if the pieces hadn’t yet fallen into place. I prefer the term “prepublished” to “unpublished” for the same reason–it hasn’t happened yet, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.
I was watching an interview on YouTube a few days ago; an interview with an actor who is my age. There might be a year or so in his favour, but put it this way: we’d have been in close enough classes at school to have known each other.
He was – as many actors I know are wont to be – very serious about his work, his profession. His craft. Passionate about it, believing in it, expecting others to take it equally seriously.
A cog started to turn somewhere in my head.
Yesterday, my son’s drum tutor rolled out that phrase we tell children to make them keep going when they don’t want to. Success is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration. Work hard. You want something? Be prepared to do what it takes to get it, to give what it takes. It won’t fall into your lap. Earn it. A…
This past weekend I was at the American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco. I’ve always wanted to go—I love libraries. I grew up in them, and I worked at one as an assistant for about 8 months, contemplated becoming a school librarian, and was essentially a corporate librarian for 3.5 years. The fact that it was over Pride weekend was extra awesome, as it meant I could also experience one of the biggest LGBTQIA celebrations ever right after the SCOTUS win for marriage equality (Jim Obergefell’s happy, tear-streaked face was my best memory. Such joy, gratitude, lingering grief, and pride).
My photo. Loads more photos of SF Pride on my Instagram.
A very welcome overarching trend that weekend was diversity. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks group was there in force, and I saw a great panel—probably one of the best I’ve ever seen—yesterday with Marie…
Last week, my family and I took a road trip down from the SF Bay Area to Los Angeles. We haven’t done a road trip with just me, my mom, and my brother for a good ten years, and it was great. On the way down, we stopped at Marina State Beach (near Monterey).The next stop was at Pismo Beach, which was lovely, and we spent the night in Santa Barbara. The next day, we explored Santa Barbara, going to the marine center and the Presidio, before we battled traffic to Los Angeles.
In LA, we stayed with my Aunt Debby, Uncle Kurt, and my cousin Jake. My aunt has changed careers lately and become an interior designer, and you can see her work here. They have a beautiful home right by LAX, so at night I heard the planes flying overhead.
We had a busy time when we were down south. On the Friday, me, my mom, and my aunt had a girl’s morning and had manicures and pedicures. Then we all met up for sushi. After that, my brother had to play chauffeur and bring me to a meeting with one of my film agents, Jon Cassir. It was really surreal sitting in the lobby of Creative Artists Agency, realizing I was represented by the same company that reps so many film stars. It was one of those moments where at the low point at the start of 2014 where I thought my career was over and you told me in 1.5 years I’d be sitting there, I wouldn’t have believed you. It was a great meeting where I learned more about how film options and development works, as I wasn’t entirely sure before.
After that, my brother and I went down to Long Beach to meet my older half-sister Wendy, who lives in Anaheim. My dad had two kids as a teenager and two kids in his forties, so my older sister is 52. We had a nice meal at a diner then came back, getting lost about 50x in the process.
Saturday was devoted to book research. My option book for my Tor contract is set in LA, so it was incredibly useful to be able to crawl around downtown and see some buildings I’d googled while drafting the first half of the book. It was sad to see how certain parts of downtown, like the area around the Bradbury building, had once been so lovely but now looked a bit tired and run down, with most of the grand theatres shut or turned into random shops.
Saturday night was my aunt’s birthday, where I was able to see my cousin Dylan and his wife, Rixt, and their adorable daughter Ava for the first time since they moved away from Amsterdam in 2013. Rixt’s parents were also out, and last time I was in Amsterdam we went to their very adorable home outside the city.
Sunday, my childhood friend Natalie drove up from Orange County with her also adorable daughter, Isis. We wandered around Hollywood, which was a trip. So loud and crowded and so many different people smooshed together. People dressed up in costumes or street performers trying to make a buck. People hawking tours around the star’s homes. Religious people in conservative clothing trying to save all the sinners. Little kids amazed at the princesses. Gawping tourists, locals just trying to get from one side of Hollywood to the other.
Monday was Disneyland. We left the house early and was actually through parking and the lines and into the park by 9 am. We left the park at around half ten at night. We went on 18 rides, walked almost 11 miles, and got to have dinner at the Blue Bayou, aka the restaurant inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Tuesday it was time to head back up north. We said farewell to our family and hit the road. I was feeling so drained from Disneyland (near the end of the night I’d half-lost my voice), so I slept in the car. We took a hike at Point Lobos and saw seals!
That night we spent in Carmel, which was very cute and quaint but would be crazy expensive to live there. We had some amazing Mediterranean food.
The last day of the road trip, we explored Carmel a little more, spent some time on the beach, and went to the nearby mission. By then, we were nearly home, and it felt good to be back and knowing Craig, my husband, would be flying out the next day.
Now I’m still hanging out with family a lot, but trying to get back into work, doing such joyous tasks as my UK and US taxes. I’ve finished a short story and will soon tackle my half-finished book, which should be easier now that I’ve visited the setting. It’s been nice to be back :-)
Didn’t read as much as I’d like due to editing deadlines, but I still went through a couple.
1. Only Ever Yours – Louise O’Niell. A dystopian future similar to The Handmaid’s Tale. I can see why it’s gotten so much attention, but it didn’t quite work for me. I’d try another book of hers, though.
2. The Mirrored World – Debra Dean. Historical fiction set in Russia around Catherine the Great’s time. I enjoyed it but certain aspects felt glossed over.
3. The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes. Been meaning to read this for ages after really enjoying Broken Monsters. It was a creepy, enjoyable thriller starring a time travelling serial killer.
4. Fool’s Assassin – Robin Hobb. Re-read in anticipation of Fool’s Quest being out this summer. I want to read the sequel so badly it pains me.
5. Burial Rites – Hannah Kent. A story of a woman sentenced to death for murder in Victorian Iceland. Well-researched and written, and unsurprisingly, a sad read.