New release: Shifting Reality in ebook and paper

Shifting Reality coverThe ISF-Allion novel Shifting Reality is now available in ebook and paper form. A couple of people have read the ARC and have posted reviews on Amazon.

To read the first chapter, click the cover image or see here

Currently available at:

Buy on Kobo
Buy on Amazon
Buy on Smashwords
Print (Createspace POD)

Blurb:

A few years ago, a military doctor walking the corridors of New Jakarta Station saved Melati’s life. She signed up for the International Space Force to pay back her moral debt to him. But her family thinks she has betrayed her people. It was ISF who forcefully removed their grandmothers and grandfathers from the crowded slums of Jakarta to work in interstellar space stations.

It is Melati’s job to teach six-year old construct soldiers, artificial humans grown in labs and activated with programmed minds. Her latest cohort has one student who claims that he is not a little boy, but a mindbase traveller whose swap partner took off with his body. It soon becomes clear that a lot of people are scouring the station for this man, a scientist with dangerous knowledge.

The best place to hide in the station is amongst the many cultures and subcultures of the expat Indonesian B-sector. Looking for him brings Melati into direct conflict with her people. She does not want to be seen as one of the enemy, but if the scientist’s knowledge falls in the wrong hands, war will come to the station.

New Novella now out: Looking for Daddy

The short story Looking for Daddy was originally 2500 words and was published in the Tales for Canterbury anthology. After a lot of comments about it, I’ve expanded the story to a 32,000-word novella which is now available on Amazon (sorry, in KDP Select at the moment, so it may become available elsewhere later, but not yet).

This is hands down the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. It has a young protagonist but the subject matter is rather creepy, more so than in the short story. Amazon doesn’t have a bizarro category, so I’ve classified it as horror. However, it’s not horror-as-you-know-it. It’s creepy more than scary. There are zombies, but they’re quite funny. In fact, the people are more scary than the zombies.

It’s… weird, that’s all I can say.

Book info:

Three weeks ago, Daddy left town with the other volunteer firefighters to fight the fires in the city, and Tom and Mother have looked after the farm. Radios, phones and TV broadcasts have fallen silent, trains have stopped coming and the main road has remained empty.

When Tom finds a large metal egg on the farm, and a metal-spiked echidna hatches from it, the neighbour Mr McGregor wants to kill it. Whatever has silenced the rest of the world is creeping into town. Roads start talking and zombies come into town, wanting to tell everyone how they died. People must fight back.

But Tom thinks differently. The echidna, which he names Thing, is a true friend. Thing protects Tom from the greedy roads, the evil zombies and even Mr McGregor. To find Daddy, Tom needs to follow a map he has found in a vagrant camp site, a map which leads him straight to the place where all the trouble started.

Freebie and announcement

If you are wondering what the Icefire Trilogy is all about, you can read the story that inspired it for free, at Smashwords. It will go up on other sites, just give me a week or two until Smashwords approves the premium status.

Download it here

Also, I’d been thinking of a self-published book site away from this blog or my website, so I started a book blog Have Kindle, Will Read which will feature self-published books I’ve enjoyed and I can recommend. Yes, you see that correctly, I have a “suggest a book” form. ZOMG! I shall be drowing in the great unwashed torrent of teh awful self-publisherz! Sure.

Did I ever tell anyone that I am the Queen of Ignoring Email?

Book review deal

People are reading my work. People are posting reviews to my work. But, most people post their reviews only in one place. Usually that place is goodreads, or LibraryThing. But I want more reviews on Amazon. So, any of you who have already read any of my stuff (short or long, or non-fiction) and haven’t posted reviews on Amazon, here is an easy way to get any (or all) of my fiction that you don’t have and that you’d like and isn’t currently free.

It’s simple:

1. Post a review on Amazon. A copy of your goodreads review is fine. If you want me to really, really love you, copy the review to B & N as well.

2. Contact me here or elsewhere.

3. I’ll send you epub or mobi files.

A lot of my short work doesn’t have any reviews on Amazon at all. A lot of those stories are free on Smashwords. Or, if they’re not, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. Longer work, too, if you want.

Heck, it’s a review-fest!

Icefire Trilogy now complete

Blood & Tears, book 3 of the Icefire Trilogy, is now a reality on both Smashwords and Amazon
.

I’m very happy with the way it has turned out, and this proves that I can bring a project of this size (total 300K words) to completion.

Just for fun, and completeness, here are the three blurbs:

Fire & Ice

Deep under the City of Glass in the frozen southern land, an age-old machine called the Heart of the City radiates a power which locals call icefire. Most citizens are immune to it, but a few, always born with physical disabilities, can bend it to their will. For fifty years, the ruling Eagle Knights, who fly on the back of giant birds, have killed these Imperfects, fearing the return of the old royal family, who used icefire to cut out people’s hearts, turning them into ghostly servitors.
The old king’s grandson Tandor only sees the good things icefire brought: power and technology now forgotten while the people of the south live in dire poverty. He’s had enough of seeing his fellow kinsfolk slaughtered by ignorant Knights, of Imperfect babies being abandoned on the ice floes to be eaten by wild animals. His grandfather’s diary tells him how to increase the beat of the Heart the first step to making the land glorious once more. Arrogant as he is, he sets the machine in motion. All he needs is an army of Imperfect servitors to control the resulting power.
Isandor is Imperfect, an ex-Knight apprentice, betrayed by his best friend and running for his life.
The queen Jevaithi is Imperfect, living like a prisoner amidst leering Knights, surviving only because the common people would rebel if their beloved queen were harmed.
Both are young and desperate and should be grateful that Tandor wants to rescue them from their hopeless situations. Or so he thinks. The youngsters, however, have no inclination to become heartless ghosts, but while they defy Tandor, the Heart beats, and he alone cannot control its power.

Dust & Rain

Fifteen years ago, a brilliant scientist built a barrier against the dangerous power that radiates from the City of Glass in the southern land, allowing the citizens of Chevakia to live without fear of their lives. Since then, the democracy of Chevakia has prospered, with free-thinking scientists developing steam power and the beginnings of electricity.
But the power, which they call sonorics, controls the weather in Chevakia.
Senator Sadorius han Chevonian is the country’s chief meteorologist. While taking measurements for his job, he is the first to notice a rapid rise of sonorics levels out-of-season. The senate is locked in trivial debate, and to make them listen, he has to take a step he never thought to make.
After the huge explosion of the machine they call the Heart of the City, Loriane has fled the southern land with the sorcerer Tandor, who hovers in and out of consciousness. But while Tandor isn’t speaking, she cannot confirm her fears that he caused the explosion, and that the child she carries has something to do with his twisted plans to seize power from the Eagle Knights who rule the City of Glass.
Just before the explosion, southern queen Jevaithi fled into Chevakia with her young lover Isandor. While they think they’re free of the tyranny of the Eagle Knights, it soon becomes clear something very bad has happened in the City of Glass soon after their escape. Something so bad that it sends waves of sonorics into Chevakia, causing even the Chevakians to flee.
Several streams of refugees are heading for the Chevakian capital. Southerners by train, Chevakians by road, into a city that is tragically unprepared, a country in turmoil with a leader whose support hangs by the merest thread.

Blood & Tears

Following the destruction of the City of Glass through an explosion of sonorics, huge numbers of refugees have descended upon the Chevakian capital Tiverius.
The refugees are mostly members of the rebel group Brotherhood of the Light, supporters of the old royal family. They are injured, scared and hungry, and few speak Chevakian. The young Queen Jevaithi and her lover Isandor are amongst them, safe from the Eagle Knights for now.
Young Eagle Knight Carro is waiting in an old farmhouse with his fellow Knights for the order to invade the camp, capture the Queen and deliver her back to his father, where she will continue to live as imprisoned puppet for the Knights’ tyranny.
The Chevakians know none of this, and struggle to contain the refugee population, and the dangerous sonorics contamination the people have brought from their ravaged country, contamination that defies Chevakian efforts to contain it, and is getting worse, not better.
In their struggle for power, the Brotherhood and the Knights disturbed something from an ancient and magic civilisation.
The sorcerer Tandor knows what happened, but he is on death row in a Chevakian jail.
The southern woman Loriane is aware of the things that are required, but she is amongst Chevakians who can’t understand her.
The Chevakian proctor Sadorius han Chevonian could put the pieces of the puzzle together, but he is struggling to keep the peace, and besides, Chevakians don’t believe in magic.
Meanwhile, the massive, and malevolent, sonorics cloud drifts towards the city, hungry for revenge.

ASIM 53 now launched!

My latest foray in editing has come to fruition. ASIM 53 is now a reality.
Front cover by WOTF artist Nico Photos, and internal art by Greg Hughes and Olivia Kernot.

Poem ‘The Djinn’s Wife’ by Alexandra Seidel

Stories:
‘On the Train to Cairo’, by Gary Cuba
‘Or Bind His Tongue With a Cord’, by B G Hilton
‘House Of Cards’, by R P L Johnson
‘Blood Man Calls The Whale’, by Marissa Lingen
‘Flyby’, by Clare M Clerkin-Russell
‘Marianne and the Mushroom Man’, by Lee Blevins
‘The Riddle of Svinn’, by Krista Hoeppner Leahy
‘The Nine Billion Pixels of Samsara’, by Gary Cuba again
‘Gauntlet’, by Barton Paul Levenson
‘How To Run A Five-Star Restaurant in the Capital of the Elf Kingdom’, by R H Culp
‘Welcome to New London, Population: 1’, by Matthew Fryer
‘How The Moon Got Its Cousin’, by Lee Hallison
‘Riding the Eye’, by J F Keeping
‘Snow Cat’, by Debbie Moorhouse
‘The Realm of Lost Things’, by Murray Ewing
‘High Density’, by Jo Anderton

Print, PDF, EPUB and MOBI editions available

Dust & Rain – Icefire Trilogy book 2

The saga continues…

Fifteen years ago, a brilliant scientist built a barrier against the dangerous power that radiates from the City of Glass in the southern land, allowing the citizens of Chevakia to live without fear of their lives. Since then, the democracy of Chevakia has prospered, with free-thinking scientists developing steam power and the beginnings of electricity.

But the power, which they call sonorics, controls the weather in Chevakia.

Senator Sadorius han Chevonian is the country’s chief meteorologist. While taking measurements for his job, he is the first to notice a rapid rise of sonorics levels out-of-season. The senate is locked in trivial debate, and to make them listen, he has to take a step he never thought to make.

After the huge explosion of the machine they call the Heart of the City, Loriane has fled the southern land with the sorcerer Tandor, who hovers in and out of consciousness. But while Tandor isn’t speaking, she cannot confirm her fears that he caused the explosion, and that the child she carries has something to do with his twisted plans to seize power from the Eagle Knights who rule the City of Glass.

Just before the explosion, southern queen Jevaithi fled into Chevakia with her young lover Isandor. While they think they’re free of the tyranny of the Eagle Knights, it soon becomes clear something very bad has happened in the City of Glass soon after their escape. Something so bad that it sends waves of sonorics into Chevakia, causing even the Chevakians to flee.

Several streams of refugees are heading for the Chevakian capital. Southerners by train, Chevakians by road, into a city that is tragically unprepared, a country in turmoil with a leader whose support hangs by the merest thread.

Available on:

Amazon
Smashwords

But I would love you to bits if you’d buy it from my site.

Read the first chapter below:

Dust & Rain, Icefire Trilogy book 2, Chapter 1

Sadorius han Chevonian dropped the pile of barygraph read-outs on his desk. Pages and pages of plotted squiggly lines slid over the wooden surface.
On top was a different sheet with a hand-drawn graph, a red line which jumped up sharply towards the right hand side of the page. He picked up that sheet, shook his head and frowned at the young man who had brought him these data.
‘Up by this much?’
His new student, Vikius han Marossi, nodded. Silver embroidery glittered on the young man’s white tunic, showing the insignia of the Chevakian doga, the government assembly.
The young man had left the door open and sounds of voices drifted in from the hall, mixed with the slapping of sandals on stone. A breeze carried the tang of summer that ruffled the curtains and nudged at the lingering chill in the room, a hint of the fury of hot weather to come. As chief meteorologist, Sady knew all about the weather; he could feel summer in his bones. And yet…
He looked at the graph, as if staring at it would change that ominous red line, and shook his head again.
‘What happened? When I checked a few days ago, sonorics levels were at three motes per cube, but now they’ve at twelve?’ Three was normal for this time of the year; twelve was slightly above the highest average level in the middle of winter. He wiped sweat from his upper lip, re-checking figures in the table on the second page, in the idle hope that the attendant of the met station who had plotted the graph had mis-read. He hadn’t.
‘It looks like we’re in for an interesting summer.’ Sonorics dictated the weather patterns across Chevakia. Sonorics, the deadly rays that came from the southern land, an ice-covered plateau so mysterious that it didn’t have a name.
‘I’m not sure I would call it interesting. I find it frightening.’ Viki’s tone was timid. He held his hands clasped behind his back and stared intently at the desk.
‘Viki, straighten your back and look up.’
The young man did as Sady told him, a startled expression on his face. Mercy, since when did the Scriptorium send him jackrabbits for students?
‘Imagine you’re making an important announcement to the doga. They’re not going to listen to you if you mumble, and they won’t take you seriously if you slouch.’
‘Uhm–I’m sorry, Senator.’
‘Viki, if ever you’re going to be chief meteorologist, you will need to show more confidence. How else are you going to argue against selfish senators that no, their district isn’t going to get an allocation of maize production, because the air current predictions are wrong and the harvest will certainly fail? ‘
‘Uhm…’ Viki went red in the face and went back to staring at the desk.
‘Stand up! Look me in the eye. Tell me what you’d say to them if you were in this situation.’
The young man straightened again, his eyes wide. ‘Uhm–I’d say that they were wrong asking for the allocation, Senator. I’d tell them about our high sonorics measurements and that they predict unseasonally cold weather in the south which means much less rain in the north. I’d show them the maps and show them how I calculated–‘
‘No, no, Viki.’
The student gave Sady a startled look. ‘But I have to–‘
‘You should always keep it simple. Don’t explain to them how you calculated the prediction. That not only bores them to tears, but it shows that you feel the need to justify yourself because you’re not sure of your calculations.’
‘But–‘
‘Confidence, Viki. You’ll need confidence in your work or the farmers and the districts will howl you down, especially those in the North. They seem to think that the sheer act of predicting is going to make it happen.’
‘But you can only predict rain when the circumstances indicate that there will be rain.’
‘Exactly, but do you think they care? Rain is money to them. If I predict rain, the doga gives them money to plant crops, simple as that. Then of course, there is no rain, the harvest fails and the meteorologist gets the blame.’
‘But that’s…’ Viki’s eyes were wide.
‘That’s how things go if you’re not careful.’ Sady sighed and shuffled the papers on his desk. He felt no patience with his student today. Those data were really too worrisome to ignore. ‘Have you looked at any other border stations?’
Viki pushed another bundle of papers across the table; his hands trembled.
Sady leafed through the graphs. Same results. Automated barygraphs were all recording low pressure, and the manual measurements taken by faithful meteorology staff in the stations reported high humidity, low temperatures and out-of-season increases in sonorics. Not just one station, but Ensar, Fairlight, Mekta, all of them reporting levels of twelve, thirteen, even fourteen motes per cube.
Mercy, what was going on?
‘Senator, begging your permission… I made this.’ Viki put a roll of paper on the desk. Sady frowned and unrolled it: a map, showing isobars across the country.
It was a neat piece of work, impressively detailed. He gave Viki an appreciative look. ‘Now that is what I call initiative. That’s what I’d like to see more.’
The young man blushed.
Sady moved some papers aside and spread the map out over the table. Wavy lines ran parallel to the escarpment that formed the border with the southern plateau, a pattern that sometimes occurred in mid-winter, but even then the pressure lines were usually less crowded. There was a huge low pressure system building up.
Sady met the student’s eyes.
‘Any idea what it means?’
‘Uhm…’ The young man’s cheeks went red.
Sady sighed. ‘Viki, this is not a trick question. I don’t know either. Nothing like this has happened before. This is not a seasonal pattern. At this time of the year, we’d expect the low pressure systems to retreat to the far south and the air flow to swing around to the north.’
The young man looked up, his lips forming the letter o. ‘Well, in that case, I was thinking… I mean… Low pressure is usually associated with a rise in sonorics, because sonorics tends to increase the air humidity.’
‘Yes, but why?’
Viki hesitated. ‘What if… if the people in the City of Glass were releasing sonorics deliberately… Could they, if they wanted to?’
Sady shrugged, uncomfortable. They knew so little of the workings of the southern land and the source of its deadly rays that influenced far too much of Chevakia’s weather. Some sort of machine, the classic works said, somewhere under the City of Glass. No one knew if this supposed machine was a physical thing or a myth. Sady wasn’t sure the southerners themselves knew what it was. Then, fifteen years ago, after the border wars, the barriers went up and no one travelled to the south anymore. Right now, he certainly didn’t want to worry about whether southerners could manipulate it, although the thought chilled him. Sonorics were deadly to Chevakians.
‘Viki, I want you to give the Most Learned Alius the message that I wish to see him.’ Sady didn’t really expect much help from an academic who did not share his practical experience, but his old tutor had made an extensive study of sonorics and was without a doubt Chevakia’s most knowledgeable on the subject.
‘Certainly, Senator.’ Viki bowed and left the room at a trot.
Sady grimaced. Really? Am I that frightening? I must be getting old.
He shook his head. No need to worry too much over this student. After his traineeship, Viki would probably choose to move on in favour for a career in academia, or so Sady hoped, because the youngster really hadn’t the aptitude for a life as doga meteorologist.
Sady rose and went to the window.
Laid out before him in perfect geometric patterns, the splendour of Tiverius spread towards the horizon. Rows terracotta roofs basked in the sun. Perfect straight streets, stone buildings with columns. Trees bloomed along the roadsides, even numbers on both sides. Down in the courtyard, a man with a water truck was watering the flowers in the planter boxes.
A warm breeze stirred the curtains. A few moon cycles, and it would be mid-summer. Not at all the time high sonoric levels usually happened.
Sonorics levels wouldn’t need to rise that much before they caused trouble. At twenty motes, it would taint the harvest, at thirty, set off the first alarms, and affect exports to Arania. Chevakia couldn’t afford not to harvest in the southern border provinces. The northern region was too dry to produce much more than camels and the occasional crop of maize.
He didn’t want to start panic, but… why now? Why at the start of summer, when the annual cycle should be approaching its lowest level.
Back to his desk, where he pulled out a writing pad. He scrawled on the top page, Authorise dispensaries to start stocking salt tablets for general public use. Authorise protective suits to be taken out of storage and sent to border regions.
This he took to his secretary in the next room, who took the note, looked at it and met Sady’s eyes in a wide-eyed look.
The expression of worry cut Sady deeply. He only vaguely remembered the time of uncertainty before the barriers went up, but he had heard the tales told by older folk. The young man would have seen the barygraph readouts this morning. He would have heard the tales, too.
‘Just to make sure,’ Sady said, hoping he exuded a confidence he didn’t feel. A confidence that, following such a rapid rise, the levels wouldn’t hit twenty motes per cube and trigger the lowest-level warning.
The man nodded, but similarly didn’t look convinced.
Not good. Not good at all.

Two updates – new story and new group

First of all, I am very happy that my short story Where the plains merge with the sky went live at Scape magazine. This is a short story that makes me cry every time I read it.

The first few paragraphs:

The subhuman’s name was Eleven. All day, the creature had trailed me with the insistence of a shadow. Whenever I glanced aside, its dark eyes were watching me. And now, while I was helping in the kitchen, its chest darkened with hormonal flushes.

I looked away, my hands trembling, and kept rehearsing the lines of my story.

The night was cold and full of stars. I brought the knife down on the cutting board. Two potato halves bounced over the table.

The world was covered in a coat of snow. No, it was a blanket of snow, not a coat. I picked up the potato halves and flung them in the pan. Water sloshed over the side, which Eleven hastened to mop up.

Drops of sweat tickled on my upper lip. I would never remember the lines. I would freeze up when facing the gathered clan.

Mother stood at the stove, stirring the soup, her broad back to me. Her stoic face never showed disappointment, but I knew it was there. I might attain the middle name Vana because the elders knew whose child I was, but I’d never carry on the legend of the Muravi clan’s great storytellers.

Secondly, I started my own writer’s group on goodreads