How to sell 11,000 books in less than 4 weeks

icefire-99c-special-fb

The title might be a little click-baity and just a tad misleading. I can’t tell you how to sell 11,000 books in four weeks, but seeing as that is what I’ve just done, I figured I’d have something to say about it.

My annual sales report for Oct 2015 to Sep 2016 mentions that in those 12 months, I sold 16.6k books. Then in the month of October I sold almost as much in just a single month. The 11k mentioned in the title was just one book. I sold other titles as well. In fact, the very point of selling the 11k books was to sell more different books.

So, what happened?

Well, I finished the Moonfire Trilogy and wanted to do an ad campaign to get more people into the series. I’d made book 1 99c for a while immediately after launch back in June and sold about 700 copies. But then I put the price back up so that I could concentrate on finishing the rest of the series (because refreshing sales dashboards is very distracting).

When that was done, I didn’t want to do another 99c promotion on the same book, but I did have something else. The Moonfire Trilogy is a sequel to the Icefire Trilogy. That series is now about four years old, and while it’s still selling, I felt I could play with it a bit. It also feeds into the Moonfire Trilogy. I spent a bit of time correcting some oopses I’d found, paid for another proofread, because there are always mistakes, always. I tizzed up the covers, and I put one very important line at the very end of the 900-page book: “The Moonfire Trilogy is set in the same world twenty years later. Click here to get the first book”.

Then I did something outrageous: I lowered the price for the entire trilogy to 99c. Then I applied for Bookbub. They said yes.

The ad ran on 8 October.

This happened:

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And this:

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And this:

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I sold 3046 books on that day on Amazon, with another 1500 on other platforms. The Bookbub site gives an estimated number of sales of 2400 copies. I needed to sell 1500 to break even on the cost of the ad.

I was happy. I know from running my own promotions that sets of books always do better than single books, because obviously they’re a better deal.

So I was very happy.

I expected the book to quickly sink into my usual comfort zone: oblivion. This particular book sells a good bit on Kobo, but rarely sells at all on Amazon (people there tend to prefer the individual volumes). I had planned to leave it 99c until this upcoming weekend’s Science Fiction and Fantasy promotion and I hoped to ride a bit on the tail of the promotion. I thought I might sell another few hundred. I sold EIGHT THOUSAND.

The book didn’t sink back down. It stuck to a ranking of around 3000 in the Amazon US store and it’s pretty much still there when I’m writing this. And yesterday, this happened in Amazon UK:

screenshot-2016-11-03-09-06-49

I have NO idea why any of this happened, except to say a huge THANK YOU to all who bought it. It’s been a tad nuts, to be honest.

The ingredients to this success? Bookbub, no doubt, but to do so much better than their estimate? A good deal, lucky timing, and decent-sized community already familiar with your name. I’ve been featured by Bookbub seven times, so readers of Fantasy and SF will have seen my name a few times, and many more readers will have heard about my books from the SF/F promotions. That’s all I can think of.

The book will be featured in the SF/F promotion this week, and I’ve decided to keep it 99c until 21 November. Next week and the week after, a number of SFF promotion buddies will post to their mailing lists about it. It’s truly amazing to have such a great community.

New covers for the Icefire Trilogy

I have been talking about this for a while. Yes, the trilogy needed new covers. And yes, I also like the old ones. They’re effective and quite distinct. But when you have them on full screen (and it’s even worse when you print an image), you can see that the images are lowres. And some of the artwork is really rough.

I had been trying to update the crummy typography, but couldn’t get it to work. What I needed was a crash & burn.

Here they are!

(Whoa! WordPress is playing silly buggers with the media library again. I intended the covers to show up small, but that doesn’t look like working unless I manually re-size them. Bleh. You can see all the detail now)

New covers for the Icefire Trilogy was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

halloween

Witches, Wizards and Magic Halloween promotion

A couple of authors at the Kindleboards got together for a Halloween promotion of books including magicians and magic. I entered Fire & Ice, which will be available for 99c at Amazon from now until 1 Nov.

You’ll find heaps of other promos and free books at the Witchy-ebook site, all of them with witches or wizards, dark or light-hearted, scary or funny.

Fire & Ice doesn’t have witches, but it has a wizard, and some pretty evil magic. One of the underlying assumptions of the book is that magic will corrupt everybody.

Halloween in Australia is a bit of a joke. I mean–what is scary about kids sweating under black cloth, long and warm days and a suburb purple with flowering jacarandas? Wrong season, wrong weather.

That said, here is a link to a simple recipe for best-ever pumpkin soup because this time of year has lots of pumpkins. Chainsaw not included.

Header image courtesy of a freebie background at Renderosity.

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?

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.

Blood & Tears: Coming an ereader near you very soon!




Blood & Tears, book 3 of the Icefire Trilogy is done! Just a proofread and minor edit to be done and then it will be available.

Here is a part of the first scene by way of a teaser:




It was well past midnight when the truck stopped at the gate of Sady’s house. Orsan got out of the seat next to the driver, walked around the side and opened the door for Sady, who let himself down, pulling the sides of his cloak together against the biting wind.

‘Thank you,’ he said to the driver.

‘My pleasure, Proctor. Get some rest. I’ll be back here tomorrow morning, as usual.’

Sady nodded. Thank the heavens for faithful staff.

He walked through the gate, where Orsan exchanged a few words with the young guard Farius. Then across the path flanked by meticulously-clipped bushes, up the steps to the front door.

The night was darker and even more quiet than normal. Low scudding clouds stopped any moonlight reaching the ground, and ever since the bell had rung, the people of the city kept indoors. For the first time in Sady’s memory, the famous street lights of Tiverius remained unlit.

The only light in the hall was the lamp that Lana lit every day after dark and that normally burned all night. By its flickering light, Sady turned to Orsan.

‘Any word from my house guests?’

Orsan shook his head and fixed him with an intense stare. ‘Sady, they can wait until morning. Get Lana to make you some soup and go to bed. I’ll be out at the gate if you need me.’ He gave a customary bow and left.

Sady couldn’t argue with Orsan’s reason. Soup sounded great. Bed even better, although he suspected that once he lay down, sleep would be the last thing that came to him.

After the skirmishes in the refugee camp, he had gone back to his office to deal with the polite unhappiness of the senators, and with the much more rude complaints of the citizens, who told him bluntly that they did not want this southern menace in their city. Mercy, could these people just explain to him what they would have done with all those refugees? Turn the trains around and send the poor wretches back to their ravaged country?

He took his cloak off in the hall, and with it, the stoic façade of strength. He let his shoulders sag and dragged his hands across his stubbled face. He didn’t think he’d ever been so tired in his life.

But even here, in the comfort of his house, he still saw the people on the platform. He saw the stack of bodies. A tangle of arms and legs, coated in indescribable filth. He saw the wretched survivors, with weeping sonorics wounds. He smelled the incredible stench. He saw the angry faces of the refugees in the camp. They only asked to have their dead relatives’ bodies returned to them to observe the proper rituals. They’d been robbed of all dignity, and clung onto what little they had left. But all those bodies would have to be burned to stop contamination. He didn’t look forward to dealing with the aftermath of this necessity. From what he understood, burning your dead amounted to sacrilege in the south; burying them was even worse. It made sense how the southerners left their dead for animals to eat, so that the people could eat the animals in turn. But you just couldn’t do a thing like that in Chevakia’s climate. Not to mention the uproar it would cause to the citizens of Tiverius.

Mercy. How could he possibly solve this?

Bed, Sady, go to bed.

But first, something to eat.

He walked into the kitchen where a single light burned against the back wall. The benches were empty and clean. A bowl of fruit stood in the middle of the table.

‘Hello? Lana?’ He expected to hear a voice from the pantry, I’m in here! Wait a moment. Do you want roccas or some soup?

Now that he came to think of it, he was more than hungry. It could be the reason why he felt so ill. He couldn’t even remember his last meal.

‘Lana?’

The pantry door was closed. The back door into the laundry was closed. The corridor to the servant quarter was dark.
That was strange. Lana was always here. He couldn’t imagine that she had gone to bed; she never did before he was home. But then again, it was very late, and he had told her repeatedly to go to bed if he was late. He was just… disappointed that she seemed to have taken his advice on this night, when he needed to talk to someone calm and sane.

He left the kitchen and knocked on the door to her private room. ‘Lana, I’m back.’ She would want to know; she would worry if he stayed out too long.

There was no reply.

Neither was there a sign of life from anywhere else. Him making this much noise should have brought out Serran, because he was responsible for the grounds, or the young Merni, because she was a gossip, and would make sure that she didn’t miss anything.

Where was everyone?

Sady walked into the dark living room, feeling stupid. Here he was, the great leader of the country, and he was unnerved by being alone. Unnerved by feeling so strange in his own house.

The living room window looked out onto the courtyard, where he could only see a stone bench lit by a lantern on the patio, a little island of light in the dark. There was a statue in the middle of the yard, of Eseldus han Chevonian, one of his great forefathers. Today, Eseldus was only a dark silhouette.

The windows in the guest wing to the right hand side of the courtyard were dark. The surgeons must have already gone home. He was relieved about that; Sady had no desire to become more intimately acquainted with women’s business than absolutely necessary.

He could still see the woman’s bruised and red-blotched abdomen. The thought made him shiver. He hoped she survived. He hoped the child survived. That would be one point of light in this misery. Mercy, he’d never thought that this was the way his house would ever see a baby.

He went back to the kitchen and scouted for some food, cringing at every noise he made. The clank of a plate on the stone bench, the rummaging in the cutlery, the rumble of pouring coal into the stove, the hiss of the flame under the kettle, it all sounded incredibly loud. He found some bread and a bit of goat’s cheese, which crumbled all over the bench when he cut it up into clumsy, too-thick slices.

He sat down and ate, listening to the silence of the house.

And the sounds of the day. The ringing of the bell. The yelling of the men in the camp. He didn’t understand their language, but he could feel the despair and anger in their words. It brought back many bad memories of his youth. Hundreds of people crammed into a cellar for days without food. The stink of too many bodies in a confined space. There had been that boy, a bit older than himself at the time, who projectile-vomited on those around him.

Sady could still smell it. He could still see the mother’s embarrassment, her despair. Her son was seriously ill with sonorics, and yet her immediate concern was the irritation of the people around her.

Sady could still hear her, and the boy’s muffled cries. And the ringing of the bell. He would never forget that. And today, the bell had rung again, after more than ten years of silence.

Somewhere in his mind, he registered that the water was boiling and probably had been for a while. Now, where did Lana put the teapot?

As he pushed up from the seat, there was an enormous crash at the back of the house, and the breaking of glass.

Progress

After I posted the proposed cover yesterday, several people commented that they thought the image was rather dark. I know this varies a lot on screen, so I tried a brighter image. I was going to for backlit effect, but I guess that didn’t work as well as I hoped. Anyway, here is another try. Personally, I think it’s a bit too bright, but maybe I just need to turn down the monitor.

In further progress reports, I can announce that finishing a trilogy is definitely harder than starting one. I wrote the bulk of book 1 of the Icefire trilogy in five weeks. I didn’t do anything with it for two years afterwards, but that’s another story. Book 2 was easy, because I already knew what needed to happen and, more importantly, how it needed to happen. Book 3 is a lot harder, because all the seeds I’ve thrown out in earlier books need to come to fruition, and need to do so in a way that makes sense, and that results in a flowing storyline that builds tension at the right places. I knew what needed to happen, I sort-of knew how it would happen, but I didn’t know how or when. To top it off, the three storylines operate on an entirely different level, from very personal to very broad.

But I have arrived at chapter 28 and have a few chapters to go before I can say THE END. They are important chapters, and won’t be done in a hurry. That said, I have everyone where I want them, and I have even managed to get the love affair in.

When I get to the end, there will be some edits at chapter-level and then liner edits. By that time it should be good to go.

I love Smashwords

Smashwords embodies the ‘real’ independent author. It’s simple, quick, allows you to retain a lot of immediate control over your work, including easy opportunities to make your books free as you wish with no strings attached or hoop-jumping required.

Smashwords has no ridiculous charges or further hoop-jumping based on the author’s or the buyer’s country of residence. Seriously, Amazon, if documents are transferred electronically, what is it with the RIDICULOUS surcharge for ‘delivery’. I call that straight profiteering.

Smashwords treats all authors and buyers as equal as they can.

Smashwords does not keep subdividing the world into ever-diminishing markets and retaining a reserve of sales money for each of them.

Smashwords distributes to a whole host of other online sellers where it’s hard to get your book listed otherwise.

Best of all, Smashwords uses paypal. For anyone who whinges about paypal fees, I have this to say: go to your bank and ask to become an independent credit card merchant. Ask how much they charge. OK, done that? Point made.

However, recently, I’ve pulled my three oldest fiction titles off Smashwords to enrol them in the Amazon KDP Select program. Why? Simple: because they didn’t sell on Smashwords, or B&N, or Sony, or the iBooks store. The KDP Select program allows me to set days the book will be free for promotional purposes, and strangely, giving books away helps sales. It helps in getting reviews and getting the work read.

But I’m no great fan of Amazon, their chaotic site and their monopoly. Many other people aren’t fans either. There’s only one thing to do, right? Buy books on sites that aren’t Amazon.

In that vein, I have Fire & Ice on special for 99c this weekend. Don’t make me put the trilogy on KDP Select as well.

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.

Take a ride with evil: Icefire Trilogy part 1: Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice
Part 1 of the Icefire Trilogy

The southern land is an icy plateau that is so poor and isolated that its name has fallen out of use. The inhabitants live in subzero temperatures in crippling poverty, building houses out of the remains of a long lost civilisation, but its source of energy, radiation called icefire, poisons the land and a large part of the population.
Life in the City of Glass is harsh and so are the people. Loriane, midwife to the select few young women still able to conceive. Isandor, apprentice Eagle Knight despite having been born with only one foot. Carro, Isandor’s friend, plagued by crippling visions. Jevaithi, the puppet queen, surrounded by leering knights.
The equilibrium is upset when the sorcerer Tandor arrives in the City of Glass. He wants to restore the glory of the old machines that use icefire, even though he alone cannot control the raw power.

This is not a series for kiddies. Although most violence and sex takes place off-stage, this series deals with aspects that are adult in nature, such as childbirth, torture and rape as punishment.

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