An Update on Pantomime & Shadowplay

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It’s 2015 so I can talk about it now.

As of today, the rights to Pantomime & Shadowplay have reverted to me. They’re no longer offered in e-book. It does look like there’s a few print copies still on Amazon and a few other retailers. My guess is that they’ll sell out this stock and that’s it. So you could still grab them in print over the next few days.

When will they be back up again? I’m sorry, but I don’t know just yet, but hopefully it won’t be too long. I’ll let you guys know as soon as I can.

Thank you again to all the readers who have enjoyed the series and told others about it. Word of mouth was all the series had to go on, and kept it ticking along and finding new readers.

It feels a little strange to technically be unpublished again; I’ve no books available for sale. But this is a transitional phase. These will be back up at some point, along with the third book, Masquerade. And there’s False Hearts to come in January 2016 (now only 1 year away!), which I’m very excited to share with you.

In the meantime, if you want to explore the world of Ellada, the four Vestigial Tales are still up, and they’re all off Amazon exclusivity. The novellas star secondary characters in the series and the last is a short fable.

Happy 2015! May it be awesome.

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A 2014 Roundup, or: Well, That was Quite a Year

Well, 2014. That was a year. Here’s a brief roundup.

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Reading from Shadowplay at Borderlands Books in San Francisco

January 2014: This month had a good start. Shadowplay (Micah Grey #2) was released. I was lucky enough to be able to fly back to San Francisco for this, where I did a few events: a book launch at Borderlands Books, a talk at my alma mater, California State University East Bay, a visit to one of my professor’s classes, and another visit at my old high school, Hayward High. I was also able to do some research trips around San Francisco for the book I’d just finished drafting. I found out Pantomime had been listed a Top Ten Title for the American Library Association Rainbow List. The end of January was less pleasant, for I found out there’d be no contract for Masquerade, Micah Grey #3. I was, frankly, beyond devastated.

Favourite book read in January:  either City of Dragons by Robin Hobb or In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters.

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Waterstones Aberdeen Launch. Photo credit: Laura Benvie.

February 2014: Licked my wounds, battled depression and anxiety, and kept promoting Pantomime & Shadowplay. I went down to Newcastle for the North East Teen Book Awards, which ended up being very, very timely. I’d been tempted to take a writing hiatus (because I knew I could never quit completely), and here were teens saying my books were some of their favourites of all time, wanting to take photos and have my sign things, and just in general being so sweet and so enthusiastic about books and reading. I came back and threw myself into the new project I’d been editing. I’d finished the first draft at the end of November 2013, and after some great beta reader comments, I was working on turning it into a workable draft. I called it Bonkers Book on social media. I also announced the Vestigial Tales, or my plan to self-publish some short stories/novellas set in the same world as the Micah Grey series. I also had an Aberdeen launch at Waterstones for Shadowplay, and was really touched by how many people came out for it. I seemed pretty on top of things. Behind the scenes, I was still a mess, though I was getting myself together.

Favourite book read in February:  Unteachable by Leah Raeder.

Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.
Mowgli assisting with the Robin Hobb scavenger hunt.

March 2014: I’d been approached to write a short story for an anthology and in March I was able to announce it as Fablecroft Press did a funding drive for the Cranky Ladies of History, which blasted through its goals. I also got to participate in Robin Hobb’s worldwide scavenger hunt (post with pictures illustrating the clues), and am now friends with the girl who found my present, Louise, and we meet for coffee occasionally. I found out Pantomime had been nominated for the Bisexual Book Award—yay! I went to my friend Rhona McKinnon’s wedding and danced at my first-ever ceilidh.

Favourite book read in March: The House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill.

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Laya’s first piece of fan art for the Micah Grey series

April 2014: There were some good events for #LGBTApril I participated in. I went to my first convention of the year—Eastercon, in Glasgow. As the conventions are usually in England, it was nice to only have to travel 2 hours to get to one, for once! I was on my first panel. I had fun but it was also a difficult convention, as my mental health was still patchy.  There was more ceilidh dancing. I finished editing Bonkers Book and was working on the Vestigial Tales. Laya drew her first (of what proved to since be many) fan art pieces, and I also received some fan mail. I was so touched I wrote an emotional thank you to readers. I finished editing Bonkers Book & sent it to my agent and worked on the Vestigial Tales.

Favourite book read in April: This was a good reading month so I had three: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black, Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth, and Cress by Marissa Meyer.

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May 2014: Pantomime was listed as a Scottish Book Trust Teen Book of the Month! I shared the first Vestigial Tale cover and blurb, for “The Snake Charm.” I went to my friend Elizabeth May’s wedding in Gretna Green and ran my first race, a 10k. By this point my mental health was a lot better. I’d been accepted into a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen.

Favourite book read in May: Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb. THIS BOOK. THIS. BOOK. I love it so much.

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June 2014: Pantomime WON the Bisexual Book award! I posted my acceptance speech. I released “The Snake Charm,” and it had a great first month! I shared the cover and blurb for “The Fisherman’s Net.” My short story “They Swim Through Sunset Seas,” was accepted in the Solaris Rising 3 anthology. I was nominated for Best Newcomer for the British Fantasy Awards and wrote musings on being a baby writer at the beginning of my career. Strange Chemistry, the publisher of Pantomime & Shadowplay, announced that it was closing down very suddenly. I participated in a rowing competition for work dressed as Princess Leia. Behind the scenes, I’d received and implemented edits from my agent on Bonkers Book and it was getting ready to go out on wide submission.

Favourite book read in June: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

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July 2014 aka THE MONTH MY LIFE CHANGED:  Vestigial Tales: I posted a roundup of “The Snake Charm” and its first month sales, launched “The Fisherman’s Net,” shared “The Tarot Reader’s” blurb and cover, and went on the local radio. Tor/Macmillan offered pre-emptively on Bonkers Book aka False Hearts, changing my life. It was right before a big work audit and I was trying to concentrate on spreadsheets while internally screaming with glee. The press release went live on July 25th. I told work I wanted to stop working full-time. My friend Erica came out to visit from California.

Favourite book read in July: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and Natural Causes by James Oswald.

Best selfie ever: Ewa, Kim, Mahvesh, Me, Anne, Jared. Photocred: Mahvesh Murad
Loncon3. Photo credit: Mahvesh Murad

August 2014 aka THE MONTH OF ALL THE CONS: Vestigial Tales: I posted my month 2 roundup of being a hybrid author, launched “The Tarot Reader,” and unveiled the cover and blurb for “The Card Sharp.” Erica and I took a day trip to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival. I went to Nine Worlds in London and had a great time—definitely my favourite con of the year. I went to some other London events such as the Broken Monsters launch for Lauren Beukes and the Fantasy in the Court event at Goldsboro Books, where I got to meet some people from my new publisher, like my editor Julie Crisp, for the first time. Then it was time for another convention, Loncon3. I went back to Aberdeen, exhausted.

Favourite book read in August: Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters.

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Reading from False Hearts at Fantasycon

 

September 2014: Vestigial Tales: another monthly roundup and launching the last of the Tales (for now), “The Card Sharp.” The cons weren’t over! I journeyed down to York for Fantasycon. My husband and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary/10 years of being together. I did some events for #WriteCity in Aberdeen, doing both public events and school visits throughout the city. I started my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen and began reducing my hours slightly at work. I was able to announce that False Hearts will be published in the US through Tor/Forge and in Italy through Fanucci Editore. Peter F. Hamilton blurbed the book (!), calling it: “A smart debut from someone who’s clearly got what it takes.” I went down to Winchester for Amy Alward’s beautiful wedding. I became a British citizen!

Favourite book read in September: Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes.

More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.
More Laya art! Aenea on the trapeze.

October 2014, or THE MONTH OF NO FREE TIME: I did my full-time masters. I did more school visits. I worked around 30 hours a week at the day job. I tried to write, but that didn’t really happen. Pantomime was listed as Gay YA’s October Book of the Month and they did lots of great promotion. I managed to post another Vestigial Tale monthly roundup. I really missed sleep and free time, but by the end of the month, my replacement had started and been trained and I dropped down to around 12 hours a week for work. I finished the first draft of Masquerade, finally.

Favourite book read in October: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë (for uni).

Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.
Traffic cone or wizard hat? Glasgow.

November 2014: I did my full-time masters. I worked part-time. I stupidly decided I’d do NaNoWriMo because who needs free time, right, though I had to adjust my goals to include blogging and university work. My nephew, Theo, was born on November 5th. Shadowplay was Gay YA’s November Book of the Month and False Hearts sold in Germany to Heyne Verlag. Shadowplay was nominated for the ALA Rainbow List! I posted another hybrid author roundup. I took a weekend trip to Glasgow. I “won” NaNoWriMo by the skin of my teeth and swore I’ll never do it again, but it does mean I wrote a good chunk of Brainfreeze Book, my option book for Tor. Things happened behind the scenes regarding *stuff.*

Favourite book read in November:  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, with an honourable mention to the Complete Atopia Chronicles by Matthew Mather.

The double rainbow in Arran.
The double rainbow in Arran.

December 2014: I finished up the first semester of my Masters degree. I went to London for my agent’s Christmas party. I went to the Isle of Arran on my first-ever writing retreat with Elizabeth May and Emma Trevayne, editing Masquerade for beta readers. I waited to hear about *stuff* and tried to be patient (and failed). I was called back into the day job almost full-time for a little bit. Stress. Stress. Stress. Aaaaand relax. Got ready for Christmas. Ate all the food. Now: reading, watching a lot of TV and slowly editing what I wrote of Brainfreeze Book and sorting through Masquerade beta comments.

Favourite book read in December: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

And that was my year. Let’s see what 2015 brings!

The Last Vestigial Tale: “The Card Sharp” is now Live!

The Last Vestigial Tale, “The Card Sharp,” is now up on Kindle. By happy coincidence, today is also Bisexuality Visibility Day, and Drystan is bisexual.

“The Card Sharp” is almost 16k words long and stars Drystan before he joins R.H. Ragona’s circus of magic. It has magicians, card counting, drug lords, Vestige, and a heist.

It’s in Select so it’ll be exclusive with them for 90 days before being released elsewhere. I know having Amazon have the exclusive can be difficult for those who don’t want to purchase through them, which I understand. They are such a large part of the market, though, that having the chance to lower the price/make them free/let people borrow them if they have Prime is too good to resist. By the end of the year, all tales will be out of the exclusive timeframe and I’ll put them up on Smashwords or D2D to be distributed to other retailers.

This is the end of the Vestigial Tales project for now.  I have no more plans to self-publish any more short stories/novellas this year. I’ll keep doing monthly roundup posts about my self-publishing experiment.

I’ve really enjoyed writing them, editing them, and putting them up myself. Traditional publishing has long timeframes by necessity, but this has given me something to do in the meantime and I’ve learned absolutely loads. I’ve discovered more about Drystan and Cyan by writing “The Snake Charm,” “The Tarot Reader,” and “The Card Sharp,” which has influenced Micah Grey #3.

As with the other tales, proceeds from these stories are being earmarked towards self-publishing the third book in the trilogy. There will also be a Kickstarter for that soon as well.

A huge thank you to everyone who’s helped me every step of the way: Dianna Walla, cover artist extraordinare, and my betas: Erica, Craig, Mike, Wesley, Vonny, Jennifer, Lisa, Kim, Amy, Collin & Emma. Thanks to Diana Sousa and Kim Curran for early e-formatting help, everyone who looked at the first blurb as I was trying to figure out the formatting. Thanks to my copyeditors: my mother, Sally, and my mother-in-law, Sheila.

I hope you enjoy “The Card Sharp” if you pick it up. Any help in spreading the word to others would be greatly, greatly appreciated: tweeting, sharing on Tumblr or Facebook, leaving a review on Goodreads and Amazon, telling your friends offline. I have wonderful readers and appreciate each and every one of you more than I can say.

TheCardSharpCoverUntold 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…

The Card Sharp

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

ISBN: 978-0-9929428-4-7

Information on the other three Vestigial Tales (“The Snake Charm”, “The Fisherman’s Net” & “The Tarot Reader”)

“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.

Shadowplay Launch: CSUEB Edition

Yesterday I had another event at California State University East Bay (CSUEB) as part of the English Department’s Distinguished Writers’ Series. I graduated from there with a BA in English with a Creative Writing option in 2009. And it was so, so, so cool. I’m still buzzing from it today. I thought there’d maybe be around the same amount of people as the SF launch, or a few more – maybe 35, 40 tops. There were over 75 people and it was even standing room only at the back. Just before going up I was understandably freaked out. It was so many more faces to stand in front of, and because two classes met there, it wasn’t mostly people I knew like the previous event.

But it went really well, or so I hope. Because I’d gone through the steps at Borderlands, I expanded on that, also reading from the start of Pantomime, putting both books in context, explaining my path to publication, and reading from Shadowplay. I opened it to questions as usual, and since it was a lot of English majors there were some really good questions. There were a few familiar faces of students because on Monday I went to one of my former professor’s senior seminar class to talk about the professional side of being a writer (and urging them not to quit their day jobs right out of university, heh):

After the event, there was a reception at my mom’s house. My mom teaches at the university I went to, so I met a lot of her colleagues that I hadn’t had classes with when I went through the programme. Overall, I sold around 45 books yesterday. I felt so thankful to my alma mater and how supportive so many people were. It was such a great night.

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The room! More people arrived after this.
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Waiting to go up.
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Reading.
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Posing with my books.
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Shows how full the room was! This was right after it finished.
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At the signing table.
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Cheesy photo with one of my best friends, Shawn.
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Signing.

2013 Round-up: Writing & Non-Writing Life

2013 was, overall, a very good year. Busy, and at times stressful, but overall, good. There were no catastrophes. My health was sound. I was surrounded by friends and family, did not have to worry about finances, and was able to travel. I had my first book out and now, at the end of the year, my second book has arrived and evidently is already available in some shops. I have a lot of be thankful for.

So, writing round-up. In 2013 I:

– Launched Pantomime, out into the big, wide world.
Edited Shadowplay at least 3 times. No idea of word count, as 10k was cut overall but there were plenty of tweaked scenes and such.
– Wrote 15k of Project GSS before I started over and re-wrote the 30k I had from 3rd person to 1st person. Then I decided it still wasn’t working so I changed the setting and plot and started over again and wrote 40k. Feedback says the 40k is vastly improved but needs more development, historical research, and expansion before I move towards the rest of the story, which is what I expected to hear.
– Wrote Bonkers Book, which was originally 66k, and has now grown to 74k in the second draft. That’s out with betas.
– Wrote 18k of Project M, and will hopefully be writing more of that in the new year.
– Wrote a Drystan short story called “The Snake Charm,” which is 10k.
– I’m a bit into another Drystan short story called “The Card Sharp,” which I’ll maybe finish by the end of this year, but unsure. I’m still not entirely sure what I’ll do with these short stories.
– Planned a Cyan short story called “The Tarot Reader”, but haven’t started it yet.
– Wrote a very short story for Halloween called The Ghost of Gold and Grey, which ties into project GSS.
– Wrote a poem of linked haiku called “Bamboo Moon” which is a lesbian re-telling of a Japanese fairy tale.
– I wrote about 40 guest posts, plus kept this blog up to date
– Events: spoke at Napier University, Gordonstoun school, Keith Academy, and Dollar Academy, appeared on SCHMU Radio, had a Pantomime launch at Forbidden Planet in London and Waterstones in Aberdeen, had another signing at the other Waterstones branch (now sadly closed), went to WFC in Brighton, and was a guest at the Inverness Book Festival.

Non-writing-wise, I continued to work full-time at my job as a document controller and did half of a PgCert in Information Management, which I received in May 2013. I’ve been better about fitness and go to the gym around 2-3 times a week, mainly doing yoga and running. I was able to travel, and went to the Czech Republic and Germany at the end of last year/start of this year. I also went to London and Edinburgh a few times, to Brighton, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and soon I’m flying back to San Francisco.

Put together – goodness me, but I was busy. No wonder I’m always tired.

Here’s one photo from each month, which I think gives a good overall picture of the year:

January:
2013januaryCesky Krumlov, Czech Republic.

February. I’m doing two photos for this month as in March I was a hermit and can’t find any photos of anything during that time:

2013februaryWaterstones Aberdeen launch.

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London launch at Forbidden Planet.

April:

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Signing at Waterstones Langstane (now sadly closed).

May:

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Pantomime on the bestsellers paperback list at Gatwick airport in London.

June:
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The only photo I can find from that month is me showing off my spray tan. Yes, that is me with a spray tan. I am very pale.

July:
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My friend Erica and I outside the Dali Museum in Figures, Spain.

August:
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Heusden, Netherlands.

September:
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With James Smythe, Sam Copeland, my agent Juliet Mushens, at Kim Curran’s and Bryony Pearce’s joint launch for Control and The Weight of Souls in London.

October:
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A quiet evening with one of my cats, Mowgli.

November:
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The best photo ever taken with a langoustine & Tad Williams. WFC 2013 in Brighton.

December:
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Me with Pantomime & Shadowplay!

Free Fiction Friday: “Lad” at The List Magazine

This Friday my free fiction is over at The List Magazine! It went live yesterday. This is my first short publication in a few years, and I think my first flash fiction. It’s one of my university pieces – the assignment was to imitate the style of Jamaica Kincaid’s Girl, which is a one sentence long prose poem where a mother gives her daughter advice. I wrote about a Scottish ned, or chav.

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Read “Lad” at The List Magazine.