New #LockdownReading – Distant Thunder

Yes, it does appear to be Thursday again, so there’s a new short story available for free at Wizard’s Tower. Distant Thunder is the second in Juliet McKenna’s Quartering the Compass which looks at the adventures of one of the minor characters from the Aldabreshin Compass books.

You can find the full list of Lockdown Reading stories here. Please also consider buying a copy of Colinthology as all proceeds from sale of the book go to help Bristol hospitals.

Today on Ujima – Contraception and Books

Today’s show began with an hour-long chat with Dr. Donna Drucker who has recently written a great little book on the history of contraception. Our conversation goes all the way from herbal rememdies to cybersex.

The other half of the show was devoted to books. First up we had Stark Holborn with Triggernometry. And then part of my Lyda Morehouse interview from Salon Futura, which is mainly about Unjust Cause.

The playlist for this week’s show was:

  • Salt ‘n’ Pepa – Let’s Talk About Sex
  • Ike & Tina Turner – Sexy Ida
  • Parliament – I’ve Been Watching You
  • James Brown – Sex Machine
  • Janelle Monae – March of the Wolfmasters
  • Janelle Monae – Violet Stars Happy Hunting!!!
  • Janelle Monae – Let’s Get Screwed
  • Big Audio Dynamite – Medicine Show
  • Amazing Rhythm Aces – King of the Cowboys
  • Santana – Full Moon
  • Prince – Little Red Corvette

For the next few weeks you can catch the whole show via the Ujima Listen Again service.

Coronavirus – Day #51

I seem to have been productive today. I finished reading a book. I finished editing next week’s radio show. And I finished doing the Wizard’s Tower accounts for April.

Regarding the latter, as a small press, any month in which you sell over 3,000 books has to be a good month. Admitedly more than half of those were copies of The Green Man’s Heir when it was on sale for 99p at Amazon, but even so it is a lot of readers.

Also we were treated to a fantastic F1 race this evening. OK, it is only sim racing, but Charles LeClerc and Alex Albon put on a brilliant show. There are two major benefits of the sim races over the real thing. Firstly overtaking is much easier because the game doesn’t model the slipstream effects that make it so difficult in real life. And although the cars might appear to be in different liveries, they are actually identical in performance so the race is down to driver skill, not who has the best aero package and engine.

By the way, I have discovered that as a community radio presenter I do actually qualify as a key worker and can apply for a C-19 test. However, my nearest testing station is, I think, at Bristol Airport, which is over an hour’s drive away. I’m very comfortable just staying at home, thank you.

New #LockdownReading from Lyda Morehouse

It’s Thursday, and that means it is time for another free short story from Wizard’s Tower. This one is Bright, Bright City Lights by Lyda Morehouse. It is a story set in Lyda’s home city of St. Paul, which she has particular affection for as we discussed in her interview for the new Salon Futura. It also has some resonance with the new NK Jemisin novel, The City We Became, which I reviewed here. And, given that it is a story about left-wing politics, it is very much speaking to the present day, even though it was first published in 2010 and is inspired by an event that happened in 2002.

You can find the full list of free Lockdown Reading stories here.

New Lockdown Reading – Fire in the Night

Thursday means Lockdown Reading day. Today we have a new story from Juliet McKenna. Fire in the Night takes place after the events of Southern Fire, the first book in the Aldabreshin Compass series. There are two more short stories that follow on from this one. We’ll put them both out if Lockdown lasts that long. Juliet talks about the genesis of the stories here.

I am reminded that Southern Fire came out in 2003. It featured a black lead character, and is set in a majority-black society, long before such things happened. Tor, who did the US edition, even put the hero, Daish Kheda, on the cover, which of course meant that the book sank without trace. Thankfully things are better these days.

New Lockdown Reading – Answering Back

It is Thursday, so that means another release in the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading series. This one is by Roz Clarke, whom most of you will know as one of the editors of the Airship Shape & Bristol Fashion series, but she’s a great writer as well Answering Back is quite short, but I found it very amusing. Here’s what I wrote about it for the bookstore:

A short story by Roz Clarke in which the greatest mind of his generation (possibly of all time) discovers that in the real world people don’t always follow the scripts you have written for them. Feminist and funny (unless you are the sort of person who thinks that Victor von Doom is a great role model).

It also has what has become one of my favourite lines in fiction, but I can’t tell you what it is as there’s enough spoilery stuff for a very short story already.

You can download a free copy of the story via the Wizard’s Tower bookstore. And please consider buying a copy of Colinthology, which Roz helped edit and has a story in, because all proceeds from the sale of that one go to support hospitals in Bristol.

You can find the full list of Lockdown Reading titles here.

New Free Fiction – A Piece of the Puzzle

I released another free short story in the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading series today. This one is by me.

Yes, yes, I know. But I wanted to encourage people to buy the book it comes from. The Hotwells Horror is an anthology put together by a group of Bristol-area writers to honour the memory of David J Rodger. All of the proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to Mind. That’s a charity that will be very busy right now. There are better stories than mine in the book, promise.

On the other hand, mine has tentacles. Well, not exactly, but it does have a few familiar faces from the Cthulhu Mythos. The story also features a young widow from New York called Sonia Greene. She has a passion for weird fiction, and a need for a husband. If you have a bad feeling about this, you are probably right.

You can get the story, for free, here.

Unjust Cause – Launch Week

Unjust Cause, the latest new book from Wizard’s Tower will be available to buy on Wednesday. In the meantime you can pre-order copies from the major ebook stores.

Tate/Lyda and I will be doing more PR over the coming days. It’s a NEW BOOK, people!

By the way, I have been asked whether it is necessary to have read Precinct 13 before you read this book. My own experience, having read Precinct 13 years ago and therefore having forgotten most of it, is that you’ll be fine. Obviously it helps to know some of the characters, but mostly you will pick it up as you go along.

Coronavirus – Day #20

Today has been a bit crazy. Not quite as crazy as the first time The Green Man’s Heir got to be a daily deal on Amazon. You can’t really expect the same results the second time around. Not when over 10,000 of you lovely people already own the book. But very pleasing all the same. That will mean a nice chunk of cash for Juliet.

And frankly I have been so busy that I haven’t worried much about the virus today. I gather that the infection and death rates are still increasing, and that the government is making more worthless promisies to do things that we all know it has no intention of doing. Quite why Bozo wants to go down in history as the man who killed thousands of his own people is a mystery to me, but I guess someone must be paying him well.

Anyway, I cooked today. Actual spag bol. Well, technically linguine bol, but we can’t be fussy these days. It was good, even though I forgot to put any chili in.

Tomorrow I start doing interviews for next week’s radio show.

New Free Lockdown Reading

In amongst all of the Green Man excitement, I have found time to release a new free short story as part of the Wizard’s Tower Lockdown Reading collection. This one is The Data Class by Ben Jeapes, a charming little tale of AIs who decide that their working conditions are less than ideal. It was originally published in Interzone, and then in Ben’s collection, Jeapes Japes. If you like this one, why not buy the whole book?

Introducing #GreenMan Day

Good morning Juliet McKenna fans. Today is going to be exciting. Yes, The Green Man’s Heir is on the Daily Deal at Amazon today, in the UK. That’s £0.99. To celebrate we have dropped the price of The Green Man’s Foe as well. It is £1.99 in the UK, and we have dropped the price to match for the rest of the world as well.

Upated as Amazon is showing GMH on sale in the USA if you view their website from the UK, but not if you view it from the USA. Very sorry, US readers. But you can still but GMF cheaply. I would have dropped the price of GMH everywhere if I could, but until Amazon goes live you don’t know where they’ll put the book on offer.

Last time this happened, The Green Man’s Heir was #1 in science fiction and fantasy on the day. I’d love to see it back there again, and see the sequel chart as well.

Now I know what you are thinking, you already own both books. Of course you do. But here are a few things that you can do to help Juliet out.

If you don’t own the books on Kindle, buy them. They are really cheap. Think of it as buying Juliet a coffee.

Tweet about them, or post on other social media. Tell your friends how much you enjoyed these books, and that they can get them very cheaply today. Use the hashtag #GreenMan, please.

Also please amplify any social media posts that Juliet and I make, again with the hashtag #GreenMan.

And if you need something to be excited about, head over to Juliet’s website where there is exclusive news of book #3 in the series. I have a draft copy, and I can’t wait to read it.

Finally, don’t forget that you can get a free Einarinn story from the Wizard’s Tower bookstore as part of our Lockdown Reading series. There will be another one released today, though not from Juliet. She’ll be back in a week or two.

Unjust Cause Cover Reveal

Here it is, folks! The fabulous Ben Baldwin cover for the new novel from Tate Hallaway, Unjust Cause.

Did you love Precinct 13? Do you just love contemporary fantasy in a crime setting with queer and poly characters? Hey, this book is for you.

Alex Connor thought that being the South Dakota Hughes County Coroner was going to be a boring, cushy job. She didn’t count on the fact that her first case would leave her with a magical, living tattoo and awaken her latent magical powers. Now she’s a full-fledged member of Precinct 13, a paranormal police unit, and is trying to make a life with her dragon familiar, Valentine. Just when things seem to be settling down, bodies start falling out of the sky… literally.

Publication will be on April 8th. I’m just off to set up the pre-orders. If you are interested in an eARC, let me know.

Coronavirus – Day #17

I was hoping to get lots done today. I did, just not all of the things I expected to get done. This isolation thing is turning out to be exceptionally busy.

In theory you were supposed to get a new issue of Salon Futura today. In practice it is not going to happen. And I’m certainly not planning to stay up all night making it happen. It will be there tomorrow, which is shaping up to be an even busier day than today.

In other news, I finished off editing this week’s radio show today, so that will be broadcast on Wednesday as scheduled. Many thanks to all of the people who agreed to be interviewed.

Also the hardcovers of Juliet McKenna’s Tales of Einarinn books should be available today. Amazon appears to be having issues getting them, or the paperbacks, on sale, but given the state of the world right now that could be for a whole variety of reasons. I’m happy to allow them a little slack.

In other news I’m pleased to see that the numbers of new virus cases and new deaths in the UK have been fairly flat for the past few days. That may be a sign that the restrictions on movement are starting to take effect. For a full-blown epidemic those numbers should get larger each day. Then again, I suspect that numbers of cases are being massively under-reported because people with mild symptoms don’t want to bother the over-stretched health services. Who knows?

Colinthology Reminder

When Colin Harvey died, a group of Bristol area writers wanted to do something in his memory. Colin was a huge supporter of the NHS, and worked closely with a Bristol-based charity called Above & Beyond. They raise money for Bristol’s city-centre hospitals. So we decided that we would put together a charity anthology and donate all of the proceeds to Colin’s favourite charity.

Those hospitals currently need our help more than ever.

Colinthology is still on sale. These days I’m surprised if a copy sells. But it has stories by Gareth L Powell, Jo Hall, Roz Clarke, Stephanie Burgis, Jonathan L Howard and many others. As usual we get the most income if you buy direct from the Wizard’s Tower shop. And every penny we take in will go to Above & Beyond.

Free Fiction from Wizard’s Tower

With the Tales of Einarinn roll-out now in process, Juliet and I decided to throw something else into the mix. A number of writers have been offering content for free to help people entertain themselves while they are in lockdown. The BSFA has a list of these offerings.

To this, Juliet has added The Wizard’s Coming, a short story set in the world of Einarinn. The story is a prequel to the series, The Hadrumal Crisis, which is published by Solaris. The original version is no longer available, so we made a new version, complete with stunning Ben Baldwin cover art.

In the anticipation of the crisis lasting for a few more weeks yet, we have more releases planned. These will all be free. I’m hoping to add other authors. Also there’s a new Salon Futura due out on Monday. That will include an interview with Juliet, in which I suspect we’ll talk a but about what’s coming.

The Tales of Einarinn Roll-Out Begins

It has been a while in coming, but thanks to my being stuck at home all day I am delighted to report that the new paper versions of Juliet McKenna’s Tales of Einarinn series are finally coming on stream.

As part of the process, Juliet went through and copy-edited all five books. All of the fixes have gone into the ebooks as well, and those new versions should be available from the major stores now. If you bought the books direct, you can certainly download new versions from the bookstore now.

As part of that process, Ben Baldwin has kindly re-done the cover designs for all of the books, though we are still using the original, iconic Geoff Taylor artwork.

Please note that the omnibus ebook has not yet been updated. That’s still on my list of things to do.

But the main reason for this post is to tell you that as of tomorrow you can order paperbacks. Amazon says that they have them already, but officially the publication date is tomorrow.

On the other hand, you may want to wait a few days. Why? Because the hardcovers are coming, and they are gorgeous. I can’t wait to show them to you.

Juliet and I will look at putting together a deal to get signed sets. That might be a little complex in the current situation, but we’ll do our best.

More news later this week, I hope. It had better be this week anyway, because next week there will be news about the new Tate Hallaway novel.

BSFA Awards News

As most of you will have heard by now, this year’s Eastercon has finally been cancelled. That must be a huge relief to the organisers who were potentially on the hook for the cost of the event if it hadn’t been possible for the hotel to claim on insurance for the cancellation. It is a risky business running a convention in the UK, because creating a corporate shield is much harder than it is in the USA.

However, this now raises the question of what happens with the BSFA Awards. Thankfully the folks at the BSFA are well on top of things. It is now possible to vote online, as long as you are a BSFA member or had an Eastercon membership. Full details here. Don’t forget to vote for Juliet. (What, biased, me?)

Coronavirus – Day #8

Today I got a message through the door from some people down the street. They are looking to put together a little community support group. I gather this sort of thing is happening all over the country, which is heartwarming. Unfortunately I’m not much use in such things. Firstly, as I may have the virus, I should not be socialising. And second, my first thought on seeing it was that if I got to know the rest of the people in the street then pretty soon they’d all know that I was trans and I’d have to find somewhere new to live.

I’m continuing to get “helpful” messages from all sorts of corporations. I use scare quotes because today I got messages from two different delivery companies. Both said they were introducing new procedures to avoid contact and that I should go to their website to enter my preferences. In both cases the website is not set up to enable you to do that.

As the day job hasn’t been chasing me today, I’ve been able to spend another day on Wizard’s Tower work. I’ve done most of the work on layouts for the new Tate Hallaway book, Unjust Cause, so that will be coming your way some time in April.

I have also been doing some testing with Zoom. Going into Bristol for a radio show is not a good idea, so I’m hoping to do some interviews remotely and put together a pre-record show. The plan for the April 1st show is to talk to a bunch of people from different countries around the world about how people are dealing with the pandemic where they live. So if you have always wanted to be on the show, this is your chance. Let me know.

Today’s cooking was proper store-cupboard stuff. Tuna, tomatoes, and some spices makes a great pasta sauce. Serve with conchiglie, obiously.

Coronavirus – Day #5

As a follow-up to yesterday’s post about symptoms, I recommend this post over at the Long Now Foundation. It backs up what I said yesterday about us not really understaing the virus very well yet. The fast-and-stealthy scenario that suggests the virus is a) much more infectious, and b) much less deadly than we think does fit a lot of the facts.

In the meantime there’s some potentially good news from Japan about a possible treatment that will help people survive if they do get a bad case.

Today has been a day for more stuff being cancelled. Both Åcon (May) and Cymera (June) will no longer take place this year. There’s no word of a decision as yet on Finncon (July) or Worldcon (August).

The spectacularly malevolent British government continues its efforts to have the world’s worst response to the crisis. One of the major drivers of social inequality in this country is the move into buy-to-let by the wealthy. What this means is that even moderately rich people have one or more extra properties that they own and rent out. You can get a lot more income in rent than you have to pay out in a mortgage, even after paying a rental management company to do most of the work. A side effect of this is that it has become extremely difficult for young people to get a start on the property ladder. People who own rental properties will mostly have voted solidly for the Tories, and Johnson is paying them back by giving them protection while forcing renters to get into debt. It is straight up class warfare, not an attempt to manage the crisis.

Fortunately, though my work for The Diversity Trust has totally dried up, I still have plenty of work from my energy economics consultancy. I won’t have a problem paying the rent, and could even buy food if that was possible. (I don’t know, I haven’t been to Tesco since Friday, but my Twitter stream is full of photos of empty supermarket shelves and people complaining that they can’t get deliveries.)

Tesco, incidently, have just emailed to explain the various measures that they are taking to deal with the crisis. Good to see them taking steps to prevent panic buying.

And talking of work, there’s Wizard’s Tower to be taken care of as well. Which means that these little babies have arrived. I have sent a set off to Juliet for approval, so it won’t be long before they are available for sale.

And then the hardcovers. Honestly people, just wait until you see the hardcovers.