Spotlight on … Dominion

So by now you shouldn’t be surprised to hear I’ll give any fantasy/supernatural film or drama a go. Of late, the only time I showed reticence was with Guardians of the Galaxy. Didn’t see it at the movies, but have just watched it on a borrowed blu-ray. My instinct after the trailer was pretty spot-on with that one: not entirely my thing. Very well done, but I’m not really the target demographic. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed it – I think the work on Groot is astonishing, and on the racoon. (I really really want a pet racoon!) But it’s just a bit too rompish for me. I much prefer the darker, grittier style of Marvel storytelling as shown in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Guardians is just a bit too popcorn for my angst-loving heart. But like I say – entirely entertaining.

Which preamble leads me to nattering today about a SyFy channel offering: Dominion.

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Secrets of the Castle

Some of you might recall that I visited the amazing Guedelon project while on my research trip to France last year. I posted photos, which you can see if you scroll back through the entries in this blog.

Well, now you can visit it too, vicariously – via a new dvd release called Secrets of the Castle. The series was recently shown on the BBC in the UK, which is why dvds are so wonderful. I’d never have seen it without the release.

It’s rather odd watching this series, for me, because I was there so recently and the memories are amazingly vivid. I mean, those two geese in the opening sequence of episode one? The little buggers chased me! I know it’s them because this program was made last year. The status of the build that you see is pretty much identical to where it was when I was there.

I tell you, French geese are not to be trifled with!

Anyhow, if you have any interest in things medieval or castle-ish, this is a great dvd to get hold of. If you’re not in the UK you’ll need a multi-zone dvd player (Pioneer and Laser come to mind, plus older LG models).

I bought mine from Amazon UK.

Let’s hear it for Glenda Larke!

One of the most creative and innovative writers in the fantasy genre today is Australian author Glenda Larke. For those of you who want to see a story not based on medieval Europe, Glenda is the writer for you. And even if you do love the medieval backdrop (as I do, obviously!) she is still the writer for you. Glenda has led probably the most astonishing and unique life I ever heard of, and all of that amazing experience finds its way into her books.

The Daggers’s Path, the second book in her Forsaken Lands trilogy, is out on sale now. Below is the lovely cover. Here is a link to her blogsite where she talks some more about the story. Stay tuned for a guest blog post, as soon as she’s got a moment to herself!

Daggers Path

 

I count myself privileged to be Glenda’s friend, but that’s not why I’m celebrating the release of her new book. It’s a great story – and great stories should always be celebrated!

 

Spotlight on … Grey’s Anatomy

It’s hard to believe now that Shonda Rhimes, recent recipient of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter’s  Women in Entertainment Breakfast*, started off in showbiz as humbly and nerve-wrackingly as anyone else. Her debut drama and breakout smash hit, Grey’s Anatomy, was only given a mid-season introductory episode order of 9. Yup. ABC had so little faith in the project that it only ordered 9 episodes.

Grey’s Anatomy is currently airing its 11th season. And since its debut Rhimes has gone on to create the hits Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder, which started this year. However, my heart belongs to Grey’s.

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Spotlight on … Terry Pratchett

Of all my favourite fantasy series, I’m pretty sure I’ve re-read Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series the most times. In fact, I’ve re-read my favourite Discworld novels so many times that some of the books are starting to fall apart. The bugger of that is not all of them are available to repurchase as hardcovers – but I keep my eyes peeled and I grab a backup copy whenever I can. Because one of these days one of his books will fall apart – and I’ll be heartbroken.

Want to know why I hold Terry Pratchett and his work in such high esteem? Then read on …

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A brilliant essay if you’re a Trek fan!

I love Star Trek. Always have, always will. Even when it’s not very good (which is sometimes) I still love it. Trek was my first grown-up experience of science fiction drama and I regularly rewatch my dvd sets. I also love the Abrams reboot, flawed as it is. (I will go to my grave unforgiving of Alice Eve in underwear. Shame, Abrams, shame.)

So I came across this fabulous essay about the future of Trek, and I want to share it with you.

Go read!

Some favourite musicals on film

Continuing the theme of sharing stuff that I love, in the hope that you’ll give it a go (if you haven’t already)  and end up loving it too … welcome to a post about some of my favourite musicals. As usual, this is the edited highlights list, or we’d be here all day!

Interested in some viewing suggestions, or just want to compare notes? Read on!

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Some favourite fitness inspirations

I have to tell you (like you didn’t already know!) that this whole getting fit, losing weight thang is sometimes tedious and even overwhelming. Sometimes it feels like all we’re ever doing is denying ourselves, saying no, focusing on what we can’t have (often) even though we really want it. (Yes, Lindt chocolate balls, I’m looking at you … sob …)

Here’s what I do when I’m desperate need of inspiration …

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Here’s to a fabulous 2015!

If I have one wish for this brand new year, it’s that I can finally leave all the stupid health drama behind me once and for all. 2014 was a nightmare of things going wrong.  The start of the year was me finishing off with The Falcon Throne – and that had been an incredibly challenging task marred by stupid health drama. It’s true I got a brief respite during my trip to the UK and France, but as many of you know, what followed upon my return was a ridiculous litany of physical ailments that cut me off at the knees, writing progress-wise.

So let me draw a line under the woes of the past. It’s time to look forward to a new year, a new me, and new challenges met and conquered. 2015 will see me complete the next book in The Tarnished Crown series and hopefully tackle the next Rogue Agent adventure. Of course I’ll be keeping up with this blog, and my reading and TV watching, and with luck getting back to my sword-fighting classes! Plus I very much intend to forge ahead with the whole getting fit thang!

As much as I flail about moaning over the things that went wrong last year, I do have much to be grateful for: family, friends, and wonderful readers who support what I do. I live in a great country, and am most fortunate to do so.

So let me wish you and yours the most bountiful of new years. Let’s all of us make 2015 a year to remember for all the right reasons! And, if you care to, share with me some of your goals and aspirations!

Spotlight on … C.J. Sansom

In this edition of Spotlight on I want to heap praise upon the wonderful Matthew Shardlake historical mystery series, written by British author C.J. Sansom.

Writing really great historical fiction of any flavour is an enormous challenge. There’s the research, and the plotting, and the added burden of an intriguing mystery if you’re doubling up with a crime element. To my way of thinking, Sansom is one of the best in the business.

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Joss Whedon Avengers interview. No spoilers!

I’ve watched one trailer for the upcoming Avengers sequel film, and I won’t be watching any more. Trailers these days are crap. They always give away too much. I mean, I basically had the plot of Star Trek: Into Darkness figured after 2 trailers!

Having said that, here is an interview with Joss Whedon as he approaches the finishing line of his next Avengers film. I loved the first one and I’m really looking forward to the next one. The interview is full of interesting, insightful stuff. It’s what I’d call pretty much spoiler free and a great read.

Enjoy!

Wash – rinse – repeat

So last Friday morning I had a fall while helping my mother move house. Ripped my thumb, wrenched my arm, my shoulder, did something to my knee, traumatised the lumbar discs that are just recovering from the recent prolapse, bunged up a rib and rattled my marbles good and proper. 4 days later and I’m on the mend … but it’s yet another physical smackeroo.

I swear, it’s maybe time I stopped leaving the house entirely!

So I’ll be getting back to work tomorrow, once I’m sure I can stand and/or sit without pain. Can’t use the kneel-sit chair because stupid knee means I can’t put any pressure on it.

It’s official. I am done done done with 2014.

In closing … doubtless you’ve heard about the catastrophic day we had in Sydney yesterday. Heartbreaking and infuriating. There’s no way that terrorist slime should have been out on bail. I hope this terrible event results in more protection for innocent people and less hand-wringing for human garbage like this man.

Please hold the families of the two victims especially in your thoughts and prayers – and send healing vibes to those hostages who didn’t lose their lives but are still gravely wounded in mind and spirit.

Australia is a great country. We can – and we will – rise above this assault.

Six favourite Shakespeare films

William Shakespeare was a phenomenon. A truly once-in-human-history kind of writer, I think. He transformed the English language – we quote him nearly every day without realising it. No writer before or since has captured the human condition so acutely, or impacted the society and culture around him so profoundly.

The big problem with Shakespeare’s work, though, is that too often we’re exposed only to the dry words on the pages of an annotated script which is inflicted upon us in the desert of a classroom. This is insane. Shakespeare’s work is meant to be experienced, lived, not studied at a dry distance. A great live production of a classic Shakespeare play is a joy. I’ll treasure for ever the memories of seeing David Tennant’s Hamlet and Richard Freeman’s Richard III. And I’ll forever regret not seeing other live performances, like James McAvoy’s Macbeth or Scott Wentworth’s Antony in Antony and Cleopatra.

Luckily, some really wonderful performances of Shakespeare’s plays have been created and captured on film … and I’d like to share some of my favourites with you.

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Favourite SF TV shows: part 1

TV has a long, rich history of supporting speculative fiction. Ever since Star Trek (the original series) and Lost In Space debuted way back in the 1960’s, there has been science fiction and fantasy on television. Ranging from the sublime (everything I’m about to mention, which is subjective, I know!) to the ridiculous (let’s hear it for It’s About Time, for starters!) tv producers and writers have thrown their hearts into the fabulous worlds of sword, sorcery and space ships.

Read on to find out which shows (in no particular order of merit) have left an indelible print on this fangirl’s heart … then chime in with comments about your favourite SF tv!

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Ten favourite SF films

I could be wrong, but I think the first proper SF film I ever saw – certainly the first one I remember seeing, on tv – was the original version of The Fly. I don’t remember much of it now, because it was a long time ago, but the one scene that has stuck with me through the years was the very end, SPOILER ALERT HERE, AVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU NEED TO! with the teeny tiny part man, part fly, stuck in the spider web screaming Help me! Help me! in his teeny tiny voice as the giant hairy spider creeps closer and closer …

After that, my most vivid SF movie memory is turning on the tv and catching the end of the original (because in my world Tim Burton’s remake never happened) Planet of the Apes, with Charlton Heston  SPOILER ALERT HERE, AVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU NEED TO! stumbling across the half-buried Statue of Liberty.

My love affair with speculative fiction began when I was in fourth class primary school and the librarian handed me The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Once I fell through the wardrobe in Narnia I never looked back.

So in this post I’m going to share with you ten SF films that I love a lot, that I rewatch at least once a year, that cheer me up and help me recapture that feeling of being gloriously entertained … which is enormously helpful when the words are flowing like cold molasses.

Ready? Then go below the cut to be amused, annoyed, surprised or forced to abandon any respect you ever had for me …

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Photo essay: Daily Life

Another of the tantalising aspects of visiting wonderful museums in search of medieval inspiration is that so often only moments of those ancient lives have been preserved. A cup here, a coffer there, some jewellery, some glass. Little pieces of the jigsaw puzzle only, and never enough. But the pieces we do have are magnificent, and it is a miracle that so many have survived the centuries. Here are some for your perusal …

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Photo essay: Guedelon

Ah, Guedelon. What an extraordinary, visionary project. For more detailed info, you can visit the official website. Briefly, though, here’s an overview.

I first learned of Guedelon while watching research dvds. It’s the recreation of a medieval castle and village, built from scratch using only medieval tools and techniques. Most of the people involved are volunteers, and they come to work on the site from all around the world. Guedelon is located in the middle of nowhere, in beautiful French countryside roughly half way between Paris and Nevers. There’s no public transport, you must get there by car or with a coaching group. There were plenty of both when I visited. It started in the late ’90s, and the plan is to finish the entire project by 2023. I hope I can get back there to see it completed. I can only imagine it will be fantastic.

One thing that really amazed me was how fast the exterior of the building was weathering. It didn’t look brand new at all. Of course on the inside, protected from the elements and still under construction, the difference is quite marked.

Here is a selection of the photos I took …

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Photo essay: Military matters

There wasn’t quite so much armour-gazing on this trip. Previously I’ve collected some great photos from the Tower of London, the Royal Armoury at Leeds and the Metropolitan Museum in New York, all of which house some wonderful armour and attendant equipment. But there were some amazing pieces in the Wallace Collection, in London, notably the horse armour, as well as the Yorkshire Museum. Here are some of the astonishing pieces I saw … some captioned, some not, but all telling a fabulous story!

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The amazing KJ Bishop

So while I was in Canberra, for the workshop at Conflux, I crossed paths with award-winning Australian fantasy author KJ Bishop. To my wonder, she was at the convention less as a writer and more as an artist – because  KJ, now resident in Thailand, has got involved in sculpture. And you know what? If she wasn’t such a lovely person I’d have to hate her because she is amazingly, stonkingly good. Indeed, she was selling her pieces at Worldcon in London but somehow I managed to miss her exhibit entirely. What’s more, she almost entirely sold out! However I made up for that oversight  in Canberra and snatched up one of the three fabulous brass birds she created in a Venetian Carnival Mask theme. See?

 

bird2

 

Isn’t he just the most gorgeous creature? You can tell, even with my less than fabulous studio photograph! I tell you, I’d have bought all three birds if I’d had the money!

Anyhow, KJ has a website, which you’ll find here, and she’s building up her gallery and will soon be going on to Etsy to sell her stupendous work online. I think I’m going to become a regular customer …

 

Off to Conflux, and a link

So I’m sorta kinda back on track after returning from the fabulous trip. Naturally my back fell apart the day after I got home, and naturally the jet lag kicked my arse black and blue, but now that I’m sleeping again and my stupid spine is being held together by awesome Rocktape I can take a deep breath and announce …. I’m baaaack! Just in time to head down to Canberra for a day to give a writing workshop at the annual Conflux convention. Very sorry I can’t stay longer but after such a chunk of time away so recently it’s just not doable. Maybe next year!

Yesterday I signed copies of The Falcon Throne at some of Sydney’s wonderful bookshops: The Constant Reader, Better Read Than Dead, Dymocks in George Street, Kinokuniya and Galaxy. So if you’d like a signed copy, please go visit one of these terrific stores. It was fabulous to see them all so busy — the age of real books is not yet over! May it never be over! My thanks to Andrew from the Sydney Hachette office, who squired me on the tour, and to the  lovely booksellers who are always so supportive.

Lastly, here’s a link to a new interview with the amazing Glenda Larke. She’s unique among fantasy authors. Go check it out!

The joy of finding a new author

So, you know how it is. You’re all readers. You get it. That delightful thrill, that frisson of sheer pleasure, when you stumble across a new author whose books hit that sweet reading spot. It happened to me in York, in the lovely Waterstones store in Coney Street. Glenda Larke and I were there signing our stock for them and I, of course, couldn’t leave without a quick squizz at the shelves. Crime, this time. I love crime and mystery as much as spec fic. Grabbed a title and author I didn’t recognise, opened to the first page, and found this:

Between the parishes of Shetfold and Marslake in Somerset existed an area of no man’s land and a lot of ill feeling.

Boom! Sold. The book is The Assassin’s Prayer, by Ariana Franklin. It’s historical mystery, set in the time of Henry II. As it happens, this is the fourth book in the series. As a rule I don’t like reading series out of order but I was enchanted by that first line and needing something new, so I bought it. I’m so glad I did. I now have the first three books as well, and am halfway through book one, Mistress of the Art of Death.

The series’ protagonist is one Adelia Aguilar, a woman doctor trained in the enlightened medical school of Salerno. Think of her as the medieval world’s answer to Kay Scarpetta. Adelia solves murders forensically while fighting the extreme misogyny and superstition of the medieval church. She’s a wonderful hero: brave and ethical and witty and stubborn.

If you like murder mysteries, especially the historical kind, I can’t recommend these books highly enough. The research is impeccable and seamlessly woven into the narrative. It’s world-building of the highest order – aspiring novelists take note!

So there you have it. Two thumbs up for this amazing crime series. Go forth and read! And let me know what you think.

It’s Book Day in Australia and New Zealand!

Mad as it sounds, the wifi in our Nevers hotel is a million times better than the wifi was in Paris. And Nevers is a small, fairly sleepy township, unlike Paris. So go figure. That means updates have been a bit sparse, so I’m a day late to leap up and down waving my hands in the air to say:

The Falcon Throne is now available for purchase in Australia and New Zealand! It’s very exciting, also terrifying, and I’d like to say thank you in advance to everyone who’s looking to buy a copy in either trade paperback or as an ebook. I just really really hope you enjoy it!

For more information, Australia and New Zealand readers, go here.

Paris!!!!!

How wonderful. I’m in Paris! And there are gargoyles almost close enough to touch right outside the hotel window. Around the corner there’s the Louvre. C’est magnifique!

Having a fabulous trip. Winchester and Canterbury were beautiful, with many photos and much inspiration. The writing for Tarnished Crown bk 2 continues, a little slow but good work, I think. Writing on the road can be a challenge! So can having a stupid bloody cold, but I’m fighting it with many remedies. I seem to be winning, just …

After Paris it’s Nevers, and then Angers. All too exciting for words. Can’t post photos while I’m travelling, but be warned — there will be many once I’m home again!

Checking in from Old Blighty

Well, the trip is proving terrific so far. Loncon was wonderful. Such a shame I couldn’t get there until Saturday, but even so … I had a lovely time signing books Saturday morning, then wandering and chatting. Sunday I had panels and a kaffeeklatsch, and had a blast. Monday I got to do more chatting and hugging and catching up and buying of books. Was recommended a new (to me) urban fantasy author, Tom Pollock, so I happily bought The City’s Son and look forward to reading it once I finish Ben Aaronovitch’s Broken Homes. Today was spent mostly in the Victoria and Albert Museum, one of my favourite places in the world. I had some trouble with camera batteries, though, so will have to return there once I’m back in London. So sad. And tomorrow sees me hieing myself to Winchester! Can’t wait. I’ve never been there and it’s fairly dripping with history. Then Canterbury, to investigate properly, and after that France.

If I can, I’ll post some photos of cool stuff while I’m on the road. Otherwise I’ll play catch up once I get home again.

And yes, I absolutely intend to write while I’m here. But tonight is the first chance I’ve had since I landed to stop and take a breath. And that means housekeeping tasks like uploading and labelling the day’s photos, sorting receipts, repacking the suitcase …

Also, I haven’t forgotten the Win a Copy of the Falcon Throne competition, either. There will be some juggling around sorting out winners, since everything’s happening while I’m on the road. But the deadline is drawing near, so if you haven’t entered, please go to the relevant post at the top of the blog. And spread the word to your friends if you think they’d be interested.

 

Worldcon 2014: London, here I come!

Only a few more days and it’ll be me, leaving on a jet ‘plane, knowing exactly when I’ll be back again (after British Fantasy Con in York) after the mass insanity that is a Worldcon, followed by much riotous living and weeping over the beauty of castles in France. Ah, the sad, sad life of a researching epic historical fantasy novelist!

If you’re coming to Loncon, and you see me wandering my jetlagged way through the halls, please don’t be shy. I’m shy enough for any number of people. No, really, I am. Say hello and tell me something fabulous about your con experience. Likewise at York, though by then I won’t be jetlagged, just worn out by all that French weeping.

Here is my appearance schedule for Loncon:

Saturday, August 16th 10 am- 11 am Capital Suite 7 + 12

Autographing session

Sunday, August 17th 11 am – 12 noon Capital Suite 7 + 12

Authors Accept, Encourage, and Create Fan Works Too

Fanfiction, fan art, and other forms of transformative works can be a sensitive topic with authors understandably having mixed reactions to works based on their creations. In this session four successful authors embrace forms of creative (not-for-profit!) ouput based upon their works. They discuss the benefits and difficulties of having fans creatively engage with their material. Beyond that they openly talk about their own experiences with fan works, whether they have written, still write, or read fanfiction or produce other forms of fan works.

Fellow panellists: Karen Hellekson, Seanan McGuire, Adam Christopher and Patrick Rothfuss.

Sunday, August 17th 12 noon – 1.30 pm Capital Suite 7 + 12

Seeing the Future, Knowing the Past

Fantasy’s use of prophecy – knowable futures – often parallels the way it treats the past, as something both knowable and stable: details of history known from a thousand years back, kingly bloodlines in direct descent for several hundreds of years, etc. In reality, George I of England was 58th in line for the throne and there is a Jacobean claimant still out there somewhere. No one really knows where France originated. History is messy and mutable. Why is fantasy so keen on the known?

Fellow panellists: William B. Hafford, Sarah Ash, Liz Bourke and Kari Sperring

Sunday, August 17th 4pm – 5 pm London Suite 5

Kaffeeklatsch

A meet, greet and natter with fellow spec fic author Rjurik Davidson and lovely people who also like to meet, greet and natter.

Sunday, August 17th 6 pm – 7 pm Capital Suite 16

The Seriousness Business

Perhaps the two most critically acclaimed SF series of the last decade are Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones, and in each case the most common reason for that acclaim is their supposed seriousness: here are SF and fantasy with depth and darkness. Why is this the kind of genre material that the mainstream has embraced? Does the presumed ‘realism’ of this approach hold up to scrutiny? Has seriousness become a cliche? And to what extent do these shows, and their imitators, tell original stories and to what extent do they reinscribe a normative straight white heroism?

Fellow panellists: Juliet McKenna, Saxon Bullock, Emma England and Adrian Tchaikovsky
Sorry, no information as yet about what I’m doing at British Fantasy Con. When I know, you’ll know! But if you can make it, you should try, because the inestimable Kate Elliott will be one of the guests of honour.

A word about pre-ordering The Falcon Throne

Well, The Falcon Throne will be available from Australia/New Zealand’s physical and online book shops at the end of August. For readers in the UK and the US, B-Day is September 9th. Four weeks! A tiddy month!

So I’d like to take a moment to discuss the impact of *Amazon US’s ongoing war with my publisher Hachette as it pertains to me, and my fellow authors who live under its umbrella.

These two large publishing entities are currently locked in a bitter battle over the pricing of ebooks. For lots and lots of useful information and insights on this, I refer you to SF author John Scalzi. As part of their negotiating tactics, Amazon US has made it impossible for readers to pre-order new books by Hachette authors, and effectively ended its shipment of back list titles by extending the delivery estimate far beyond the reasonable. This is having a serious impact on Hachette’s authors’ ability to make a living. Of course, Amazon US doesn’t care about that. It cares nothing for the pain it’s inflicting on people who have no power to impact the negotiations. It doesn’t even care about its own customers, since it’s depriving them of access to authors and books they might well love.

So this is what I’m asking of readers in the US, for me – because I have a new book coming out and how the first book in a new series performs has a significant impact on the future of that series and the author’s ongoing career – and also for every Hachette author who’s being crushed in this fight, and for all the other authors out there who are published by different companies but who will, in their turn, be facing Amazon US’s predatory business practices —

Please look at my Where to Buy links page, and purchase The Falcon Throne from someone on that list. Maybe buy a few more books from them while you’re there.

Because here’s the thing: when I started my own book shop, back in the ’90s, it was at a time when the huge chain stores Borders and Barnes & Noble were moving into the bricks and mortar scene. Within a handful of years they had put some 70% of independent booksellers out of business. Everywhere you looked you found one of the big box stores’ huge shops. And while they had much to recommend them, so did the independents. But the independents got slaughtered and who ended up the biggest loser in that fight? Book lovers. Local communities. Authors. The moral of the tale is that monopolies are bad. Industries that end up in the power of one or two giants do not improve the lives of their customers or the people who supply the goods they sell. Healthy business competition is a good thing, big isn’t always best, and sometimes a small business with real people who love and understand both what they sell and who buys it is the best gift a consumer can receive. It’s definitely the best gift an author can receive, because great hand selling and word of mouth often make a writer’s career.

This isn’t about hating on Amazon US. They’re doing what a big business with dreams of monopoly does. And they have done me great service in the past as I research the books I write. But here’s the thing — they take my money and then they turn around and try to destroy my career. And they expect me not to be angry because hey, it’s just business.

And it is. It’s just business. So for now I’m taking my business elsewhere and I hope you do too. So that everyone can win — not the least those wonderful independent booksellers you’ll find on the links page. Those guys are the backbone of the book business and they deserve our support.

So that’s my pitch. Whatever you decide to do, I’ll respect it. I owe everything to you guys, the readers, and I’m not about to get too far into your faces over this. I just wanted you to know what the stakes are, and show you how you can help me and other authors and maybe yourselves too. Because I’m hoping you’re going to love The Falcon Throne and I don’t like to think that Amazon US is going to get in the way of something you might love.

ETA (Thanks, Adam!) That, to the best of my current knowledge, Amazon Canada isn’t part of the action against Hachette’s authors. If that changes, I’ll let you know!

* Note that Amazon UK is not involved in this dispute. UK customers can pre-order and order my books from them without trouble. Even so, you might like to check out the alternatives once in a while. It never hurts to keep the big guys on their toes.

Here’s a teaser for The Falcon Throne

The Falcon Throne, first book in my new series The Tarnished Crown, will be released in Australia/New Zealand on August 28th, and in the US and UK on September 9th. It’s available for pre-order now via various online and bricks-and-mortar bookshops. Check the Where to Buy links for your best option, no matter where you live.

To get you in the mood, I’d like to share an excerpt from Chapter One …

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Brassy-sweet, a single wavering trumpet blast rent the cold air. The destriers reared, ears flattened, nostrils flaring, then charged each other with the ferocity of war.

Huzzah!’ the joust’s excited onlookers shouted, throwing handfuls of barley and rye into the pale blue sky. The dry seeds fell to strike their heads and shoulders and the trampled, snow-burned grass beneath their feet. Blackbirds, bold as pirates, shrieked and squabbled over the feast as children released from the working day’s drudgery shook rattles, clanged handbells, blew whistles and laughed.

Oblivious to all save sweat and fear and the thunder of hooves, the two battling nobles dropped their reins and lowered their blunted lances. A great double crash as both men found their marks. Armour buckled, bodies swayed, clods of turf flew. Their destriers charged on despite each brutal strike.

With a muffled cry, his undamaged lance falling, abandoned, Ennis of Larkwood lurched half out of his saddle, clawed for his dropped reins, lost his balance and fell. For three strides his horse dragged him, both arms and his untrapped leg flailing wildly, helmeted head bouncing on the tussocked dirt. Then the stirrup-leather broke and he was free. Squires burst from the sidelines like startled pheasants, two making for the snorting horse, three rushing to their fallen lord.

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