Ambassador will be out soon

Ambassador
And a reminder that I don’t post at this blog anymore. If you want to follow me, you can do so via the blog on my author site.

This is a snippet from chapter 6 of Ambassador, from one of my favourite sections in the story. If you want to read the rest, you can pre-order the book. This page has all the ordering options.

I kissed Eva, said goodbye to her parents and followed the two guards into the rain.

Except the car wasn’t a regular driver-less taxi, but one of the very few privately-owned vehicles in the city. Nothing on the doors or windows alluded to its owner, except the driver, whose Coldi ponytail glittered in the street light. A gamra contact then, someone out of the database.

Shit. If they didn’t even trust taxis, something had happened indeed. The guard held open the door.

I settled in the back seat and forced a smile as I waved to Eva. Her face showed no concern, thankfully. No doubt everything would be fine, but just now, it would be nice if someone told me what was going on.

Doors slammed. The electric motor whined and we were off.

Mashara, I’m sure it is time to tell me what this is about. You are aware that I no longer have my feeder?”

The guard didn’t answer immediately; he was fiddling with his comm unit. The holo-screen lit his face with a bluish glow.

“Delegate.” He bent forward, peeling the earpiece off.

I attached the device to my ear.

Someone said, “Cory?” In that warm-hued tone between male and female. Coldi.

I recognised the voice. “Amarru.”

“Where are you now?”

“I just got in the car.”

“Tell the driver to avoid the city bypass.”

“What?”

“Just tell him, right now.”

“All right.” I relayed the message. The driver grumbled that he was aware of trouble.

“Amarru, can you tell me what this is about?”

“First up, there is a car behind you.”

I looked over my shoulder, but saw only an empty street. “I know that.”

“There is also a group of police at the hotel, and there is a trap on the bypass. Our bugs are better than theirs, Cory.”

“Thank you.” I made every attempt not to sound sarcastic, but I felt sick. The concepts “ours” and “theirs” were becoming horribly blurred. “Does this mean I am being targeted now?”

“Have you heard the press release from the emergency council?”

“No. I was at a family dinner.” See? I shouldn’t have given in to Eva and kept my unit. I swear every time I had no communication I missed something important. Damn, damn it.

“The meeting only lasted about an hour and a half. Must be a record. Wait, I’ll read this out.” There was some rustling and clicking. “The Emergency council of Nations of Earth has declared that following the attack on President Sirkonen, member nations must ensure full cooperation to find and bring to trial the perpetrators, and have sanctioned the use of  all available  means in doing so…”

“All available means? But…”

“That means using armed forces if necessary.”

A chill went down my spine. “That could mean war.”

“Danziger has just declared a state of emergency for Rotterdam. Already, there’s riots in a number of places. People are looting shops owned by Coldi. And yes, the police want to talk to you. We’ve picked up some communication to that extent.”

“Shit. Are they going to give me the same treatment as Nicha?”

“I can’t answer that, but I have an offer: we can guarantee gamra protection on a flight that leaves for Athens in about an hour’s time.”

Leave Rotterdam. Now. That was ever as strong a suggestion as she had ever given me.

“I can’t. Not without Nicha.”

“I think Nixie is doing her best on that front. Nothing I can do; nothing you can do.”

I swallowed hard. “My luggage is at the hotel.”

Buying time, surely.

“That’s been taken care of.”

I glanced over the seat. My suitcase lay in the back.

This blog will be moving

I’ve finally got off my backside and installed a sub-blog on my author site. At the moment, all posts from here are mirrored there.

You will find the site here

If you subscribe to this blog, you may wander over there and test the subscribe function. I will gradually post less here until it all works fine.

Image of the Day is in in ruins

ruined city

Some more Terragen. More photography to follow once the calendar and elements cease to conspire against me. I have some awesome locations upcoming, but this week was a bit of a disaster (Whaddyamean you forgot to dial the ISO back from 4000 to 100? Whaddyamean you got LOST in Vaucluse? GRRR). Anyway. Maybe next week (Tuesday, not Monday), maybe the week after.

Meanwhile, I’m doing the pre-final edit of Soldier’s Duty. It’s coming together. A bit of stuff still to trim and shift and add (especially in the last quarter or so).

I also got my edits for Ambassador, so I’ve been working on that.

Some newsy bits:

I started a Facebook group for my ebook covers covers. Click and like if you’re interested.

I realised that The Shattered World Within was out of contract, so I put it on Amazon. Kobo is playing silly buggers with me and holding it in publishing. I’ve also put it on Smashwords.

And then, I discovered an old MG manuscript that I should do something with because it’s kinda hilarious and not far from being finished. How can I not do anything with a story that starts like this?

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Florian.

Uh-oh, you say, this is a fairytale, because they always start with “Once upon a time”.

And you’d be right, because it a tale about fairies. About evil fairies, and greedy fairies. You see, fairies are not all pretty with glittery wings and frilly dresses, but Florian didn’t know that yet.

So…

Once upon a time there was a boy named Florian.

What sort of name is that, you’d ask? Which parent who loves their children would call a boy Florian? Jack, James, Morgan even, but Florian? That’s ridiculous, you’d say.

And all of the children in Florian’s class would agree with you.

Florian-the-sissy, they called him, or Florian fat-boy, and this is how, when this story starts, he jumped off the school bus alone, while his classmates jeered at him from the back seat.

The bus rumbled off, leaving Florian alone by the side of the road, with the nasty things they’d said still ringing in his ears. He wasn’t going to cry, he was not that sort of boy, but he didn’t know how to face his father about yet another jumper lost.

He crossed the road and slouched up the long driveway that led to his father’s caravan. Green fields stretched out on both sides of the muddy path, Mr MacDonald’s cows in one paddock, his father’s horse in the other.

Florian jammed his hands in his pockets, imagining what his father would say. He’d look at him with those stern eyes, and then he’d say, “Are you sure they threw your jumper in the creek?”

Florian would nod, and then, and this was the worst part, his father would push himself up, limp to the other side of the caravan, while his walking stick went tap-tap-tap on the floor, and he would draw the money tin from under the bed. He would give Florian a handful of coins, and say, “Now make sure you don’t lose it again.”

And then Florian would have to go into the uniform shop and dig in the old cardboard box that was shoved underneath the rack with brand new girls’ dresses, some still in plastic. He would have to untangle school pants with holes and jumpers that looked more purple than blue from washing them too many times. The worst thing about that box was that someone had scrawled “Recycling” on it, but what they’d really meant to write was Florian’s name, because no one got clothes from that box. It stank of mould, too.

Because Terragen

crystal lake

Terragen 3! And that is enough reason to make this post.

I should buy the commercial version so I can make Mars landscapes for book covers.

Also, there was no photography for the second week in a row. My husband drove to Canberra, taking away not only the reason for me to get up at 5am, but the car I need to drive to the sites as well.

Message to self-published writers: please can the spam

can of spam

Beware. There be uncouth language.

This post has been coming for a while and I have finally reached the point where I’m screaming ENOUGH! Enough with the spam and the overzealous tweeting and Facebooking.

Does the following sound familiar to you?

#FREE #Read of Chapter 1 from my #SCI_FI #kindle #Book #militarySCI_FI #fantasy #Amazon

I just copied this randomly off Twitter. I left the link off, for obvious reasons, but I’m sure you get the gist. A useless message, screaming into the void, taking up space in people’s feeds, with ridiculous and stupid hashtags. No one looks at this stuff. How do I know? Well, open an account with bit.ly and you can track clicks on links. Try a few of these daft tweets. Track the links. Who clicks on them? Not many people. Who buys the books?

*crickets*

Yet, some people’s feeds are 100% full of this shit. Often they’re otherwise nice and sane people, else I would have ditched them as contact long ago. But the bucket is full and I’ve had enough, so I’ll be unfollowing the accounts of people who do this. I’ll be stepping out of the Facebook groups that are 100% spam and unfriending people at goodreads who “recommend” me their own books, constantly.

I totally get that social media is kinda fun but not very useful when you’re following a writer and all she does is talk about her cat (I don’t even have a cat). If you have a Facebook account or Twitter account with a decent number of reader-followers, it would be stupid if you never mentioned your books, your new releases, award nominations, sales, nice reviews. But not all the fucking time, OK? And not while using Tweet-bots that retweet the same fucking message every hour.

And then try to tell me that this “promoting” is necessary.

No. These people are annoying the crap out of everyone. And it doesn’t work.

Suppose you were friends with a publicist in a company that sold phones. How would you feel if they constantly cluttered your feed with spam for their products? People: COMPANIES DON’T DO THIS. Companies have worked out that people hate this shit. So, self-published writers seem to think that they can because they are downtrodden souls, and even seem to think that they have to cross-spam each other’s shit under the misguided illusion that this is what is meant by “supporting other indies”.

You know that I loathe the word “indie”, and its use above illustrates why. Self-published writers are not some ghetto, and no more need to “stick together” than other writers do.

PLEASE GIMME A BREAK! Write good books. Eventually, books will sell themselves.

*cries*

I like interacting with writers and lovers of genre. Twitter is a great way to do that, but the relentless spam threatens spoil my enjoyment completely.

So let’s set out a few of my guidelines:

- There are many professional, wonderful self-published writers whose work I have read and will recommend and support in a heartbeat. But I will not recommend any work I haven’t read simply because the author self-published. Sorry, but that notion is ridiculous to me.

- I do like writers’ Facebook pages, if I like that writer’s work. I don’t like many because I don’t want to clutter up my feed. Yes, I know I can stop Facebook showing updates, but seriously, what sort of sucker-upper would I be if I did that? Anyone who comes to my page or blog expecting a return-like, well, tough. I may, but if I don’t know you, I will not.

- I do not retweet people’s promo tweets unless, again, I’m actually familiar with the writer’s work.

- I have no issue with the occasional promo tweet. Specials, new releases, that’s all stuff you followed the writer for in the first place (or at least stuff you shouldn’t be surprised or annoyed to hear). Blog posts? Awesome! That’s what Twitter and Facebook are for. That’s how these platforms work and how they can be used to sell books indirectly.

Just do me a favour: CAN THE SPAM!

Soldier’s Duty Cover

Soldiers Duty medium

It was high time that I did something about redesigning the cover now that Soldier’s Duty is going very well. I’m still aiming for October as official release date, but I may or may not start distributing copies earlier.

I liked the bronze colour, but the figure was very static, so I’ve spent a bit more time on it and re-done it. I’ve re-drawn the hair and added highlights. I might need to do a bit more fiddling, but I’m pretty happy with this.

Incidentally, I’ve had some really good ideas for book 4. It will be called Heir’s Revenge, and the main character is Vayra, whom we have seen briefly in Trader’s Honour. Admittedly, he was only a toddler then, but now he’s all grown up and he carries the expectations of his family and the freedom of his father’s nation on his shoulders. To him, it’s not a light load. Everyone expect wonders from him, and everyone in every place that matters is watching him.

So he decides to renovate a house. You remember what happened to the Andrahar house at the end of Trader’s Honour? Well, it’s lain like that, uninhabited, ever since. Various people have tried to dis-own the family, or buy the property, but the family has refused.

Vayra quietly moves into the ruins. Of course the house is in enemy territory, and in order to rebuild it, he must not only defy his family’s strongest enemies, but must win support from those who can help him. The house is the symbol of the glorious history that was but is no longer, the marriage that could have been, but did not happen, and the family that is a big influence in a city that is not the one where they should have lived. He uses the rebuilding of the house to reconstruct the past as it should have happened.