The Idiot King – snippet

ForQueenAndCountry3The book is almost ready to go to the editor! Here is a random snippet:

Heart thudding, she looked into the old and haughty faces of the two men opposite her. They appeared quite civilised, but especially with nobles, appearances never told the entire story.
“Why don’t you ask the king what he wants.”
Johan Delacoeur scoffed. “He’s not in a state to–”
“He is not dumb if that’s what you were going to say.”
“No, I wasn’t.”
Yes, that was exactly what he was going to say. “Roald?”
He sat bent over his book, but his eyes weren’t moving. He held his hands clamped between his knees, and a muscle in his forearm kept alternately tensing up and relaxing.
“Roald?” She put an arm over his shoulder. Drops of sweat pearled on his forehead. He smelled sweaty, too.
“I was rude to them,” he said.
Fleuris LaFontaine snorted. “He was, too. I don’t know where a prince learns that kind of language.”
“They were rude to my women,” Roald said. “The maid and the witch. No one is rude to my women.”
“I know. It’s all right.” She spoke very softly, hoping that the men couldn’t hear her well enough to understand.
“You’re mine. Nellie is mine. They can’t be rude to you.”
“It’s all right, really. Calm down, please.”
“Your Highness,” said Fleuris LaFontaine.
“Tell them to leave,” Roald said.
“They won’t listen to me. You’re the king. Tell them.”
“I can’t talk to them. They’re rude. Father says I can’t talk to rude people.”
Johan Delacoeur cleared his throat. “Your Highness…”
Johanna turned around. Why couldn’t he see that she was busy? “The king will talk to you if he wants. Right now, he asks me to tell you to leave.”
Johan ignored her. “Please do tell us, Your Highness, if you would prefer to wed a woman of your status–”
Roald got up from the table so suddenly that Johanna had no chance to stop him. He faced the two men.
“They are my women! You can’t take them away from me I forbid you to take them away from me. I’m the king, you have to listen to me and do what I say. I want you to leave. This is my room for me and my women.”
“Roald, it’s all right. Calm down.”
“No, it’s not all right. They are here to take you away. I don’t want you to go. You’re mine. I love you.” His cheeks had gone red.
He turned back to the men, whose eyes were wide. Johan Delacoeur’s mouth hung open.
“You hear that? I love her. Now, you leave. Get out of here. This is my ship. Go, go, go.” He more or less pushed them up the stairs, Johan Delacoeur first and then his colleague.
Fleuris LaFontaine stammered, “Your Highness, I’m sorry to have caused offense. It was not my intention–”
“Go, go, go!” Roald was almost shrieking now.
“Come, my friend,” Johan said from the top of the stairs. “We know we’re not wanted.” He met Johanna’s eyes. “I can only say, young lady, that this is a very bad move–”
“Go, go, go! Stop talking. Stop making noise. Yap, yap, yap, yap. Get out of here.”
Fleuris LaFontaine had reached the top of the stairs, his face red from exertion. Men of his standing did apparently not run up narrow and steep stairs, infinitely more comfortable than the previous ladder they were.
They pushed the cover shut, and Johanna was left alone with Roald.
They looked at each other.
Johanna stifled a snort of laughter.
“You think that’s funny?”
“I think you were brilliant.” There would be consequences, but the sight of those two portly men scrambling up the steps was not one she’d forget quickly.
“You liked it.” He said that in a tone as if he could barely believe it.
“Yes, I did.”
He started laughing, too. “Did you see how scared they were? How I chased them up the stairs?”
Johanna laughed out loud. She put on an arrogant voice. “Your Highness, wouldn’t you prefer to wed a woman of your status?”
Roald giggled and snorted.
“They could hardly be more crass about what they wanted. And you know what the funny thing is? Ha, ha, ha. They don’t even have any daughters.”
Roald squealed with laughter.

The Idiot King – snippet was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants


The Idiot King snippet

ForQueenAndCountry3 Because I can, here is a snippet from The Idiot King, For Queen And Country book 3. Expected out in late August/early September. Sign up here to be notified when it comes out.

Not much later, the Council of Nobles convened in the boat shed. It was not their usual meeting time, and Fleuris LaFontaine had to be hunted down from some place in town. He came into the boat shed muttering and protesting and sat down at the table with a heavy sigh.

His face was red from the wine he had evidently consumed with his midday meal.

Johanna had thought it wise to let Roald stay at the Lady Sara. He’d been teaching some boys how to catch butterflies without damaging them, and had gotten wet. He had sticks in his hair and smudges on his cheeks and when she called, had looked at her with such disappointment that she couldn’t bring herself to drag him along to a meeting, let alone one where tempers were sure to get heated. He hated it when people raised their voices, because he didn’t understand that they weren’t talking to him. He might start fidgeting, laughing or screaming, and that would be unacceptable.
So she had watched him trundle back into the reeds with his butterfly net, wishing she could be with him. Instead, she had changed into in her best dress, asked Nellie to put up her hair, put on the necklace, brooch and earrings that she had brought from Duke Lothar’s castle–much as she hated wearing other people’s property–and had asked two of her new guard escorts, who really needed uniforms, to walk her to the boat shed. Their names were Ko and Pieter, and they took to their task with a maturity beyond their adolescent years. Johanna took up the position at the head of the table that would normally be Roald’s.

It took her a lot of courage to do that, because Johan Delacoeur gave her a look icy enough to make water freeze. He was a powerful man, ex-army general with connections in armies all around the low lands. In their return to Saardam, he would be an asset, if she could win his support, no matter how reluctantly given. If.

The Idiot King snippet was originally published on Must Use Bigger Elephants

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.


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.

Soldier’s Duty snippet: because I can

Soldiers Duty lowI’m working on book 3 in the Return of the Aghyrians series, Soldier’s Duty, like the proverbial bat out of hell. This is the concept cover image, still very rough.

I’m hoping to be able to finish the book by the end of October. Keeping fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, if you like to be notified when the book is done and up on all sites for purchase, please add your name to my mailing list. I swear I only use this for new releases, not to generate any spam.

Unedited snippet hot off the press, from somewhere towards the end of the book. I literally wrote this five minutes ago:

Izramith didn’t care what he thought of her or about his status. She no longer cared what the guards at home thought, or whether there was still a job for her at Hedron at the end of this contract. Fuck Hedron. She was going to sell herself as mercenary to Indrahui or something. And fight and shoot people for the rest of her life. She didn’t even care if she lived or died.

Daya let another long silence lapse. Then he said, “We’ve probably grown too quickly. Taken on too many projects. All the work we’ve done in this town has concentrated on construction, on meeting gamra requirements, on expanding our reach, being inclusive, righting the wrongs of the past.”

“So, you’ve fucked up in the security department?”

“Essentially, yes.”

“And in two days, we have a huge public event that is a major security risk and any work I’ve done so far has not only uncovered far more trouble than my contract stipulated, but has increased that risk.”

“It seems so.”

Attention: snippet alert

So… what am I working on at the moment? Well, it’s tentatively called Shifting Reality, it’s social/hard SF, it involves… see the picture? Geckoes! And descendants of Indonesians. In space. And Indonesian food. And spying, and war, and an army of cloned people. The Ari mentioned here is Ari Suleiman Rudiyanto from the short story The Rebelliousness of Trassi Udang (which is free on Amazon), and there will be mentions of Charlotte from Charlotte’s Army. The story also involves Jas Grimshaw from Poor Man’s Travel.

And just because I can and because I’m annoying, here is a snippet:

Melati wormed herself between the wall and the table. Not with her back to the door so as not to invite the bad spirits. Not that men wanted her anyway, but it kept Grandma happy. She nodded at the see-through container that still stood in front of Ari. “What have you got in there?”
“Nephew has an entire zoo in there,” Grandma muttered.
“This?” Ari held the container up so that Melati could see its contents: a tokay gecko, grey and orange spotted, with round-padded feet, bulgy eyes, a pointed snout and a long tail.
“What are you collecting those for? The whole station is full of them.” They lived in the nooks and crannies, the ducts, and, dangerously, in the insulated tubes that held the electric wiring. Because it was warm.
She added rice to her bowl and scooped up a glob with her fingers. “Do StatOp have a collection drive again?” Last time Ari had made a lot of money catching the critters, for which StatOp paid by number, as long as they were dead.
“Nah, no more eradication drives.” Ari twirled the container around so that the critter came to hang upside-down on the plastic, waving its rubbery-looking grey and orange-spotted tail as it did so. “See how it doesn’t fall?”
“Uh-uh,” Melati said while eating the rice from her fingers.
“And these crazy things are everywhere and, no matter how much poison StatOp uses, and no matter the hermetic seals, they always find a way in?”
“Mmmm.” This time Melati had her mouth full.
“Well, I had an idea,” said Ari and he puffed out his chest. “I figured we’d make use of these annoying things.”
“We tried that. They taste like shit,” Uncle commented, his back to the kitchen, stirring in the wok.
“Is it possible to think about something other than food, Uncle?”
Everyone laughed.
Melati asked, “Well, if they taste like shit and there’s no collection drive, how are they useful?”
“We’ll make them valuable.”
Another big belly laugh. “That’s impossible. Not even someone who bullshits out of his arse as much as you do can trick anyone into buying a gecko, Ari. The things are everywhere. Like barang-barang: invisible, everywhere and impossible to kill.”
“Grandson’s new scheme is to sell ground tokay poop to New Hyderabad as the best and most exclusive new coffee.”
Everyone laughed, except Ari.
“We tried that, too,” Uncle said.
Ari’s face twitched. He twirled the container and the animal inside tried to keep its balance. “The tokay get into places through really small gaps, and that would make them really good for snooping on people. Stick a small camera to their back, and send them into the room and record what was going on. People would pay lots for that, especially the rumak owners. Uncle would be interested.”
Uncle turned from the stove and gave him a wide-eyed look, and then started laughing. “Me? There are much better ways of finding out the neighbour’s recipes.”
“Uncle, I’m not talking about the damn cooking. What about the creditors?”
Uncle stopped laughing. Creditors was always a sore point. Merchants, crime bosses, some local, some not. They never kept their promises; they raised interest without notice; they tried to fudge the accounts. Most of them were too busy gambling and hiding their money. They were also dangerous people, and some were members of extortion rings, the ones the tier 1 enforcers didn’t care about, as long as they stayed in the B-sector. Uncle sighed. “Ari, please do us a favour and do something safe.”
“Like mining?” Ari said, with a flick of his head, and batting of his kohl-rimmed eyes.
Uncle sighed again.
“Admit it, Uncle, it’s not a bad idea.”
“It’s just that…” Uncle rolled his eyes at the ceiling and spread his hands.
Grandma said, “Uncle’s too soft, young Nephew. He should take you out the back and cane you over your naked buttocks. Mess with creditors and it’s going to be a fast-track into jail. Not for them, but for you. God knows you’ve come close enough already, huh?” She scraped her knife on the cutting board louder than she needed. “Maybe it’s time to come and help Uncle here, and stay away from those…” She didn’t say the word sekong, and Melati had never heard her use it, but everyone else said it, and everyone knew what she meant. And anyway, Grandma and Ari had that many disagreements about the way he dressed and what that meant and who his friends were, and it was not as if they would ever resolve that discussion. Ari _was_ sekong, like so many of the young men of the barang-barang. Melati had seen him often enough in the passages around the malampaks, drinking and talking and flirting with other men.
In the silence that followed, Ari flicked his kohl-lined eyebrows and raked his hair behind his ear in a clear gesture of provocation. His nails were painted pink.
He picked up the container again. “I don’t care what you think. Nobody appreciates my ideas anyway.”
“I’m interested,” Melati said. “How would it work?”