My BristolCon Schedule

BristolCon is this weekend. Things will be happening.

Most importantly, Juliet’s book launch for The Green Man’s Quarry is FRIDAY NIGHT. I can’t see anything on the convention website that makes this clear. Juliet will not be at the convention on the Saturday, so if you want to see her, or want a personalised signing, you need to be there on Friday night.

Signed books will, of course, be available in the Dealers’ Room on Saturday. I’ll be there most of the day.

However, at 13:00 I will be in Panel Room 2 for this:

How to make AI socialist?

AI and machine learning are set to transform the knowledge economy in the same way automation changed the manual labour economy. How can society learn from the mistakes of the past in not disempowering the workforce and putting lots of people out of work?

With peter sutton, Stephen Oram, Roz Clarke and Piotr Swietlik (M)

The Green Man’s Quarry

Juliet and I revealed the title and cover of the next Green Man book at FantasyCon over the weekend. The reaction of people to Ben Baldwin’s magnificant art was very heartwarming.

Pre-orders for the ebook edition of The Green Man’s Quarry are now available from Kobo, Amazon and B&N. Paper pre-orders will open soon. And we will be having a book launch on the Friday night of BristolCon (October 20th). Full details are available from the Wizard’s Tower website.

Lesbians in Spaaaaace!

Exciting news from Wizard’s Tower today. We will be publishing a lesbian space opera trilogy from the very wonderful Lyda Morehouse.

Long-time readers will remember that Lyda’s cyberpunk series, AngeLINK, was groundbreaking in featuring a transgender Archangel 20 years ago. Nowadays we can be much more upfront about queer content, and I am very much looking forward to seeing what Lyda does.

The full press release is here. I am thoroughly in favour of what Lyda describes as, “women of a certain age fighting fascism, sexism, and transphobia while rocketing through a terraformed solar system and having hella fun doing it.”

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the next Alex Connor book from Lyda’s alter-ego, Tate Hallaway, also has a place in the schedule. More on that next year.

Adventures in Publishing, Eastercon 2023 Edition

So, yes, I am at Eastercon. I also have a dealer table. This may come as a surprise to many. It certainly was to me. Here’s the story.

As you may remember, a few weeks back my car broke down. As I had no idea when I might get it back, and no other means of getting books to the con, I had to decide what to do about the dealer table. Farah told me that she had a waiting list for places and she needed to know as soon as possible. So, reluctantly, I relinquished the booking.

The plan had been to take a few books with me on the train, and I posted about that here. That was seen by Catherine Sharp who these days also lives in South Wales. She was due to be down my way last weekend, and she offered to ferry some books for me. I gratefully gave her a couple of boxes containing a selection of paperbacks.

On Tuesday I finally got the car back. It seemed to be running fine, but I had no time to give it a shake-down as I had a lot to do between then and the con. I was happy to still be traveling by train. In any case I had bought my ticket.

Yesterday morning I figured I should check the Transport for Wales website, because other people on the Eastercon Discord were reporting last-minute train issues. And lo, the train that Roz Clarke and I were planning to catch had been cancelled. This is the Heart of Wales line. There are only about 4 trains a day. It was either drive, or wait to the next day.

So I drove, and aside from the M42 it was a good trip. The car ran fine, and Roz & I arrived earier than we would have done had we caught the train.

This morning, after my first panel, I was looking round the Dealers’ Room and buying too many books. I found Farah who had said she might have some room on the SF Foundation table. It turned out she didn’t, but she did have a table that was unexpectedly free. I grabbed it. Catherine arrived with the books in the afternoon, and now I have a table set up to do business tomorrow.

Publishing it is not as easy as it seems.

About Amazon Sales

If you spend time on social media you will doubtless have seen that Juliet McKenna’s Green Man books are regularly on sale at Amazon UK. The Green Man’s Gift was £0.99 throughout March, and The Green Man’s Challenge will be £0.99 throughout April.

Juliet and I are very happy about this. The books sell in huge numbers when they are on sale, and other books in the series get a boost in sales as a result. The less good thing is that Amazon only does this in the UK store, which doesn’t seem fair to folks in the rest of the world, or people who don’t like to buy on Amazon. So we try to match prices in other stores. That’s not as easy as it sounds.

The first problem is that, while Amazon UK does tell us in advance about the sale, they don’t guarantee it. The only way we can be sure that a sale will happen is waiting for it to start. Once it does, I can adjust prices elsewhere.

Amazon does not provide a means of scheduling a sale. I have to manually adjust prices in other regions, and remember to put them back up again at the end of the sale.

B&N and Kobo do allow you to schedule a sale, but it takes them time to process the request so their sales are generally a day late starting.

Although Amazon UK drops the price to 99p, I am not allowed to set prices elsewhere lower then $2.99 or €2.69. There are no such restrictions on B&N or Kobo, so everyone outside of the UK should shop at one of those if they can. But, because people are so conditioned to buying from Amazon, they usually pay the higher price.

My Eastercon Schedule

The programme for this year’s Eastercon is now live. You can find my schedule here. And for those of you who don’t want to click through, here’s the list:

Friday, 7 April 2023 12:00 – SF In Antiquity

The strange and wonderful SFnal origins of the genre from bronze men in Greek myth to telescope viewings of men on the moon

Gladstone-Churchill Room, with: Clare Goodall, Chris McCartney, Marcus Rowland, The Fossil

Friday, 7 April 2023 16:30 – No Simple Binaries

Characters and settings who’ve just said ‘no’ to gender binaries. From Martha Wells’ Murderbot to Ursula LeGuin’s Gethenians and Mary Gentle’s Ortheans; a look at the history and future of non-binary characters (and where the human non-binary characters are)

Gladstone-Churchill Room, with Sandra Bond, Juliet Kemp, Mike Brooks, Edmund Schluessel

Sunday, 9 April 2023 12:00 – Non-European Middle Ages

Eurocentric lore has been a goldmine for fantasy and historical fiction writers. But what was the rest of the world doing?

Balmoral (ex-Earls) Room, with David Stokes (Guardbridge Books), Oghenechovwe Ekpeki, Stew Hotston, Gillian Polack

Sunday, 9 April 2023 15:00 – Who, Why and What do we Award?

The role of awards in fandom ecology and SFF economy

Salisbury-Wellington Room, with Niall Harrison, Nick Hubble, Nicholas Whyte, Gareth Worthington

Monday, 10 April 2023 12:00 – Travelling Fans

Fans travel a long way to go to conventions, especially Worldcons. International exchanges help build fan communities, but how important are they in the virtual modern world? And how environmentally sustainable?

Sandringham (ex-Dukes) Room, with Carolina Gómez Lagerlöf, Marcin Alqua Klak, Angeli Primlani, Suzanne Tompkins

In addition to those, and not yet on the convention website, I believe that I’m also involved in this:

Saturday, 8 April 2023 16:30 – Book Launch: Roz Kaveney’s Rhapsody of Blood Volume 5

Roz Kaveney’s extraordinary Rhapsody of Blood series reaches volume five, released in April 2023. Join us to celebrate the launch.

Pavilion Room, with Roz Kaveney

Also, please remember that, due to a lack of a working car, I won’t have a table in the Dealers’ Room. If you want a book from Wizard’s Tower, please let me know in advance so that I know to bring it with me.

Publication Day – A Dark Way to Glory

The latest volume in Wizard’s Tower’s reprinting of the Outremer series by Chaz Brenchley is now available. With A Dark Way to Glory we are now half way through the series. I’m really pleased that I can make these books widely available again, and also with the wonderful new covers that Ben Baldwin is doing for them. I can’t wait to have the full set to look at together.

If you’d like a copy of the book, purchase links are available through the Wizard’s Tower website. I’ll have the paperback available through the company store soon, and the hardcovers will follow when they arrive from the printer. And if you can order them through your favorite local bookshop, please do so.

Regarding Eastercon

Eastercon is happening in a few weeks time, and I had a dealer table booked there. However, my car is currently sick and definitely not up to a lot of motorway driving. The fix isn’t huge, but it is time-consuming and I have no guarantee that I’ll have a fully working car come Easter.

I’ve looked into car rental, but I’d need it for at least 6 days and there’s no way I can justify the cost.

Also Eastercon has a long waiting list for dealer tables. Farah needed to know asap whether I would be using my booked place.

So I decided to hand back the booking and plan to travel to Birmingham by train.

That doesn’t mean I can’t sell books. It just limits the quantity I can take with me. A couple of people have kindly offered to help with book transport should I need it. And of course if I do get the car back in time I can take more.

So, if you want a book from Wizard’s Tower, and want to take advantage of convention pricing, I need to know in advance so I am mostly packing books that are actually going to sell.

To make things easy, I’m keeping the convention pricing very simple. Paperbacks are £10, hardcovers are £15; except for the bigger fantasy novels (the Tales of Einarinn series, the Aldabreshin Compass series, and The Tangled Lands), which are £12 and £18. I do expect to have copies of A Dark Way to Glory available, but they haven’t been delivered yet.

If you want books, please let me know, either here, by email or by social media. Contact email addresses for Wizard’s Tower are here. Pay me at the con. I will probably be spending some time at the Science Fiction Foundation table in the Dealers’ Room, and may be on panel.

Apologies for the inconvenience.

Introducing The Green Man’s Gift

It is that time of year again. A new Green Man book is nearing publication. Today we debuted the fablulous cover that Ben Baldwin has produced for The Green Man’s Gift. If all goes according to plan, ebook pre-orders will be open on Monday. The book is scheduled for publication on October 6th. If you want an eARC, let me know.

Weightless Once More

No, I haven’t been on a diet. I am pleased to announce that Wizard’s Tower Press books are once more available via Weightless Books, a very fine independent purveyor of ebooks.

Those of you with long memories may recall that we had to stop using Weightless back in the days of the Great EU VAT Debacle. Much has happened since then. To start with, the UK is no longer part of the EU. Also Weightless are now preventing sales into the UK and EU. So all of the legal issues seem to have gone away. Obviously folks in the UK and EU can’t take advantage of this, but for folks elsewhere I would encourage you to buy from Weightless rather than from the Evil Empire.

I’ll be adding purchase links to the various book pages on the Wizard’s Tower website as soon as I can get it all done.

Green Men Going Cheap

As I mentioned briefy yesterday, Amazon UK has decided to put The Green Man’s Heir on sale at £0.99 for the whole of March. Juliet and I are, of course, delighted to be able to bring the series to the attention of yet more readers. But equally we don’t see why people outside of the UK should miss out.

Ideally I’d simply match prices all over the world, but it isn’t quite that easy. Your best bet, wherever you live, is Kobo. The book is £0.99 in their UK store, and should be roughly the same price all over the world, subject to the whims of exchange rates.

Update: I’ve been informed by a friend in Europe that Kobo has not put the book on sale there. I’m guessing that’s because I’ve incorrectly understood the vague instructions on their store’s backend. I will try to fix it, but I may not be able to do that without cancelling the sale. Bah!

If you are in the USA you can get a copy from Barnes & Noble at $1.30.

Amazon is a bit weird. They wouldn’t let me reduce the price below $2.99 in the USA, but when I check the page it says the book is $1.33, so it looks like they have it on sale there too. In Europe the lowest I could set was €2.69, and that’s what I’m seeing in France. Amazon stores outside of Europe are probably basing their price on the $2.99 US price.

Sorry it is all so weird, but that’s the trouble with having to work through big, multi-national corporations. If it hadn’t been for Brexit, I would still be able to sell ebooks direct. Which is one of many reasons why I want to see Mr. Putin’s arse kicked.

The BSFA Awards

The finalists for this year’s BSFA Awards have been announced, and I am pleased to see that The Green Man’s Challenge is on the list for Best Novel. That’s the second time one of the Green Man books has had this honour. The Green Man’s Foe was also a finalist. And of course The Green Man’s Heir was a finalist for the Rob Holdstock Award from the British Fantasy Society. That’s award nominations for three out of the four books in the series, which is pretty spectacular. Go Juliet!

I’m also pleased to see Worlds Apart: Worldbuilding in Fantasy and Science Fiction on the short list for Non-Fiction. That’s the latest Academia Lunare book, and it contains my essay on worldbuilding with sex and gender, a.k.a. the queer animals essay.

It seems unlikley that either book will win, given the nature of the competition, but it always an honour to be on these short lists and it gives one an excuse to wear a pretty frock to an award ceremony, which I haven’t done in a while.

The full lists, which also include a fiction for younger readers category, and an artwork category, can be found here.

And talking of The Green Man’s Heir, Amazon UK has decided to put the Kindle edition on sale for the whole of March. That will hopefully net Juliet a nice chunk of cash. The book has already sold over 17,000 copies, which is absurdly successful for a small company like Wziard’s Tower. I have dreams of getting past 20,000. To help with that I will be reducing the ebook prices to match (as best I can) on other platforms and other Amazon sites. It takes a while for all of this to go live, and I can’t queue it up in advance because you never quite know whether Amazon will do what they say they will when it comes to special offers. But we have the whole month so hopefully tomorrow all will be in place. If you know of anyone who doesn’t yet have a copy of the book, do let them know.

Introducing Outremer

It is late in 2003 and I am in Stafford in Middle England for FantasyCon. It is an up and down event. On the downside, it takes place on the same weekend as the final of the Rugby World Cup. The English win. That chap Wilkinson. I am unhappy. But I am at the convention, at least in part, for the awards. China Miéville is busy finishing writing The Iron Council and has asked me if I will stand in for him at the award ceremony where The Scar is up for Best Novel. So I get to make a speech on China’s behalf, and I get given an ugly little Cthuloid statue to take back to him. Ah well, at least it wasn’t a bust of Lovecraft.

At the banquet I am sat next to a lad from Newcastle called Chaz. We bond over a number of things, including a shared devotion to the San Francisco 49ers. “What have you written?” I ask. “Well,” says Chaz, “I have this fantasy series set in an alternate version of the Crusades, and it has just started to come out in America…”

It is 2003, two years since 9/11 and two years into George W Bush’s quest for vengeance. Crusader rhetoric is the order of the day. The West is cast as Christian, Iran and Iraq are obviously Muslim. Tony Blair has recently deployed the Dodgy Dossier; David Kelly is dead; and the invasion of Iraq is well underway. This man wants me to read a fantasy series based on the Crusades? It had better be bloody good.

Of course it was.

Outremer is the collective name given to the four Crusader kingdoms founded after the First Crusade. Their actual history is deeply fascinating, and some great historical novels could doubtless be set in them. Brenchley, however, is doing that fantasy thing where a thinly disguised version of real history, with added magical seasoning, allows him to talk about the real world without the associated baggage that readers are likely to bring to it. He can’t have known, when he started writing the books, how appropriate they would become. The first one was published in the UK in 1998. But sometimes we luck into things.

What Chaz didn’t luck into was recognition for what he had created. I did my best with reviews in Emerald City, but the books didn’t capture the imagination in the way I’d hoped. Maybe they were too timely. Maybe there was too much queer stuff for the audience of 20 years ago. Regardless, I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to bring them to a new audience.

I’m particularly pleased to have the first book nearing completion during LGBT+ History Month. The mediaeval world has been presented to us as relentlessly heterosexual for decades, but we now know that was far from the truth. Human beings have always been queer, and a lot of what actually happened in those days has been carefully excised from history. Slowly modern historians are undoing that erasure. There have even been questions asked of that most macho of men, Richard Couer de Lion. Brenchley is not writing about real people, so there can be no one to say that there is no proof they were queer. Having them in the book is simply portraying the period as it existed, which is a good thing to be doing.

There will be more publicity for Outremer in the coming weeks. I very much hope that the books manage to find a new audience.

Happy Solstice!

As usual, my holiday card this year is by my talented friend, Dru Marland. This picture is titled, “Fox on Pickle Hill”, and Juliet McKenna fans will note that I picked it specifically because it features some of the chalk figures from the Wiltshire landscape. These also play a key role in The Green Man’s Challenge.

This particular image is currently unavailable as a card from Dru’s shop. I’m guessing that she has run out of stock. But it does feature in her 2022 Wildlife Calendar which looks an excellent thing to have.

May you all have a very happy holiday season, and in the Northern Hemisphere enjoy the return of shorter and warmer days. (Sorry Aussie pals, but you are thumping us at cricket so we need something to cheer us up.)

Those of you who celebrate the Solstice will be able to follow the sunset alignment at Maeshowe in Orkney via the broadcast below. It starts at 15:00 today.

New Compass eBooks

Those of you who have ebook editions of Juliet McKenna’s Adabreshin Compass books should be getting notifications of new editions that are available. The main reason for this is to incorporate the fabulous new map of the Aldabreshin Archipelago that Oisín McGann did for us for the paper editions. Enjoy.

New Crater School Book on Pre-Order

The new Chaz Brenchey novel, Dust Up at the Crater School, is ready to go at last. The fabulous Ben Baldwin cover is above, and links to pre-order are available here. It is just Amazon and Kobo right now because the B&N website has been having a bit of a moment, but I have finally got the book uploaded so they should have it available soon.

Print copies will be a little longer coming because of the time of year, and the supply chain crisis. But the ebooks will be available on December 24th. That’s a significant date. Does it mean something? Why yes! Here’s the blurb:

Christmas is coming to the Crater School, so the girls must celebrate. So says the Earth calendar. But Mars does not respect school rules. Nor does the Red Planet have much respect for Earth weather. Why bother with a white Christmas when Martian weather can be far more dangerous?

Then again, perhaps this is for the best. The people most likely to arrive at the Crater School with snow on their boots are Russian spies.

Yes, we have a Christmas story for you. But before that we have the whole of the autumn term, so there’s plenty of time for our girls to get themselves into trouble. And they do, of course.

As you may have noticed, we have a front page quote from the inimitable Francis Spufford. He’s also provided a blurb for the book. Here it is:

Only in the laboratory of Chaz Brenchley could the British school story be lovingly sutured together with the Old Mars of the pulps, animated with the crackling static of a planetary dust storm, and sent lumbering down to the village. No – *skipping* down to the village, with a beret, and a paper bag full of bulls’-eyes, and a wholesome desire to excel at lacrosse.

Do keep an eye on the Wizard’s Tower Press Twitter feed (@WTPress) as I’ll be teasing a few things about the book over the next few weeks. Also Chaz has promised a few Christmas recipes from Mrs. Bailey, the school’s legendary cook.

Finally, if you read and enjoyed Three Twins, do please consider posting a review on Amazon. I’ve seen from Juliet and Tate what a massive difference getting to 50 reviews makes to sales. We currently have 36, so we don’t need many more.

Compass in Paper

This took rather longer than expected due to the pandemic and the need to get the map re-done, but finally we have Juliet McKenna’s Aldabreshin Compass series back in print. The image above is of the paperbacks, and showcases Ben Baldwin’s brilliant new covers. I don’t have all of the hardcovers yet, but UPS has promised they’ll be delivered tomorrow and that should be before I have to leave for BristolCon.

I’m particularly pleased to have this series back in print because it shows that fantasy writers have been aware of diversty issues for some time. The majority of the people we meet in these books are black, and the US edition of Southern Fire had a good picture of Daish Kheda on the cover. It was published in 2003. The culture of the Aldabreshin Archipelago is also fascinating. Men have multiple wives, but their role in society is limited to law and war. Economic power is firmly vested in the women who do all of the trading. Eunuchs are commonplace. And magic is viewed with deep suspicion, if not horror.

Thanks to the worldwide paper shortage, and my being off to Canada next week, I won’t be able to fulfill orders from the Wizard’s Tower store swiftly, but the books should all be orderable from bookstores as of today. I will be looking for links and updating the Wizard’s Tower main site accordingly.

Mega McKenna Offers

Every so often an author finds herself storing rather a lot of author copies of some of her books. What are you going to do with them? Well, sell them, obviously. But you probably don’t have enough stock for a dealer table at a convention. Which is where your friendly, neighbourhood small press comes in. As I’m now selling paper, I can help.

I have just added a coupe of massive bargains to the Wizard’s Tower bookstore. You can get the complete series of The Chronicles of the Lescari Revolution, and The Hadrumal Crisis, for just £5 + postage each. The postage is as much as the cost of the books. And if you will be at BristolCon you can reserve copies to pick up there and not pay postage. Honestly, bargain. See here.

UK only, of course. Curse you, Brexit.

Green Men at BristolCon

Yes folks, BristolCon is fast approaching, and I will be in the Dealers’ Room with lots of lovely books for you to buy.

The book that will probably be most in demand is The Green Man’s Challenge. I should have enough paperbacks, but if you want a hardcover it would be best to reserve one. Equally if you want a copy of something else that is low on stock.

Anyway, the bookstore now sells paper books to UK customers. Mostly that means postage, but if you expect the pick up the book at a con then just select that delivery option instead. Please check any books that you want, because the website does have stock levels so it is easy to see if anything is in short supply.

Did I mention that you get a free copy of the ebook if you buy a paper book direct from us?

See (some of) you at BristolCon.

Octocon This Weekend

Ireland’s national SF&F convention will be taking place virtually again this year. It is free to attend, and there is a lot going on. Details are available here.

I am on two panels. They are as follows.

Saturday, 21:00 How Not to Code Your Non-Humans
Writers often use traits of neurodiverse, non-binary, queer or disabled people as blueprints for their aliens, robots and monsters, but don’t allow their humans to share these characteristics. How can we build both human and non-human characters to exhibit a wide range of identities without resorting to mere ambiguous coding or else to using racist, sexist or other bigoted stereotypes?
With: Faranae, Kat Dodd, Angeline B. Adams & S.L. Dove Cooper

Sunday, 15:00 Uncovering the Hidden Treasures of the Past
Science fiction as a genre looks to the future, but authors of the past can still have a lot to say to us even though their work may have fallen out of print and become a distant memory. Why have some writers and works been consigned to the vaults of history while others have remained on the shelves, and what would our panel most like to see restored from the archives?
With: Ian Moore, Michael Carroll, Cora Buhlert & Deirdre Thornton

I will also be available in the Wizard’s Tower Press channel of the convention’s Discord.

Juliet McKenna is doing a couple of panels on Saturday, and a reading on Sunday.

As far as the rest of the programme goes, I’m looking forward to the great Shelly Bond talking about editing comics, Gillian Polack’s talk on Food in Fantasy, and S.L. Dove Cooper on Asexuality in SF&F. The full schedule is available here.

Hopefully I will see some of you there.