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Zara – A Name Among The Stars – SciFi Adv/Rom – Episode 23

Zara! Oh, my goodness, you’re just carrying on like this just to scare us. BUCKLE UP!

Good News… I have ‘finished’. Okay, not quite such good news, I have to go back and fill in bits and fix bits and correct bits and submit it to the demon editor.

Some of the fixes are small, but crop up in lots of places. For instance, name changes:

I always hated ‘Amethys‘ as a name for the planet. It is now Kernow.
Director ‘Rhom‘ is too close to ‘Rhos’. He’s now Director Zabo.
The ‘conspiracy’ needs a name, it is now the Hajnal political movement. (It means ‘Dawn’ in Hungarian)
Welarvon is actually Welarvor.

You may start to see these as we progress. They will definitely be in the final version.

I think the only way to fit to my originally proposed schedule is to publish on the 28th October. (That happens to be when the German version of Angel Stakes is published as well). That means it is very likely that the full editing job will not have been done, and there may be some embarassing grammatical or punctuation errors. Ah well. If this is the way we go, then we have this episode and *maybe* next Friday, but also maybe you open the episode on Friday 27th and it says ‘ha ha, go buy it on Amazon for $2.99’. In any event, the weekly episodes will stop and it will be available on Amazon (and Kobo, if I can get back in there).

Enjoy.

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I have had to remove the episodes I posted here to fall into line with Amazon’s policies on Kindle Unlimited books.

The full novel is available on Amazon:

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076WZBFVJ

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076WZBFVJ

Germany https://www.amazon.de/dp/B076WZBFVJ

When I post stories on my blog, they will remain for at least a month after completion.

 

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Zara – A Name Among The Stars – SciFi Adv/Rom – Episode 21

Episode 21! 5k more words.

The episode goes up a bit early today. I am being allowed out to go and see the new Bladerunner in London tonight. Woo hoo.

What’s to report? This last week, I put Bian’s Tale on hold to concentrate on Zara. The result is I’m well ahead on the writing now, two complete episodes in front and the draft to the end is forming well. I aim to get the complete first draft to my editor by the middle of the month.

The cover is progressing well, and Tiziana and I will discuss the palette today. I’ll show you as soon as I have the final.

The reaction from posting the first page of the story on Louise Wise’s blog was good, and there were more visitors. I haven’t had time to put the episodes on Wattpad and Radish at the moment (both websites set up for serialised novels). Never enough time!

Hope you enjoy it as we enter the final stretch for A Name Among The Stars. I think those calling for more Sci Fi elements will now feel they’re getting them!

As ever, comments, criticisms… all welcome, especially from the new readers…

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I have had to remove the episodes I posted here to fall into line with Amazon’s policies on Kindle Unlimited books.

The full novel is available on Amazon:

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076WZBFVJ

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076WZBFVJ

Germany https://www.amazon.de/dp/B076WZBFVJ

When I post stories on my blog, they will remain for at least a month after completion.

Zara – A Name Among The Stars – SciFi Adv/Rom – Episode 20

Okay…I’m finally getting ahead of the story. In order to do that I’ve actually had to put Bian’s Tale to one side. Read on for the strategy.

My plan is to finish writing the first draft of A Name Among The Stars in the next 2-3 weeks. The book will go off to the editor and I will keep releasing an episode (2-3 chapters) per week. Hopefully, Lauren and I will finish the polishing & editing at the same time that the cover is ready and the episodes reach a major cliffhanger. Then you’ll get the blackmail message: ‘to finish this book, you need to buy it’ 🙂 It’ll cost $2.99 initially.

Immediately A Name Among The Stars is out I will start releasing Bian’s Tale on the blog. This will be in much bigger episodes, and I hope to repeat the same process – get to a critical point at about 3/4 on the blog and then release the book. I’m aiming for that to be before Christmas.

While I’m finishing Bian’s Tale, I will also be working on Bite Back 6.

That’s the plan…

So, what sort of things are looking like they’ll be included in the polishing? Here are some examples:

Technical equipment names. For example, an infopad is a desktop or laptop, and a commspad is a smart cellphone equivalent, which has been referred to as ‘comms’ so far. There’s a mixture of comms or commset for military communications and commspad for civilians. Infopad and commspad both get shortened to pad.

The big conspiracy. I have to give this a name instead of talking about ‘the conspirators’ all the time – which feels clumsy.

Rhoswyn refers to Talan as ‘Sandy’, a play on her surname, Sandrey. It’s fine that Rhoswyn has a nickname for Talan, but I’ll probably change it to ‘Tally’ so readers don’t have to wonder who Sandy is.

One of the usual things that writers do when they polish a murder mystery is to work on the hints that point to the murderer. I seem to have got the clues past all the readers. They’re there. It’s not that they’re so subtle, I think it’s that I’ve successfully distracted you while dropping the hints. I hope anyway. There will be one massive, twisty red herring toward the end and then a twist with the reveal and explanation. (If you think you know who it is, please message me on the contact email, giving your reasons, and just say that you’ve done that in the comments below).

So this episode 20 sets up the crazy Sci Fi elements that will dominate the next episode 21, before we enter the section where the adventure thread start to explode – epsiodes 22 – 23.

As always – feedback, criticism, cheers or raspberries in the comments all welcome. There are readers out there I haven’t heard from yet… hint, hint  🙂

+ + + + + + +

I have had to remove the episodes I posted here to fall into line with Amazon’s policies on Kindle Unlimited books.

The full novel is available on Amazon:

USA https://www.amazon.com/dp/B076WZBFVJ

UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B076WZBFVJ

Germany https://www.amazon.de/dp/B076WZBFVJ

When I post stories on my blog, they will remain for at least a month after completion.

Julius and Livia – two more scenes

A continuation of my weekend scribbling, taking the story of Father Julius and Livia in New York from the end of the last post

https://henwick.wordpress.com/2017/01/08/julius-and-livia-a-couple-more-scenes/

Work on Bian’s Tale was slow this week as I came down with a head cold. Should be back on track next week, but I also have the annotations for Angel Stakes to be translated into German, and the checking of the audio for Angels Stakes, which is due.

While suffering like a man from my cold, I did have some great ideas for scenes in Bite Back 6, which *might* be called Inner Game.

I also have had some messages asking what the hell is the ‘Afro-centric steampunk’ I mentioned recently, so I’ll give teasers from that as well.

Julius and Livia seem popular enough for a novella, but I’m not sure there’s enough from just them alone. I have a second thread which I sketched out when I was staying in Brooklyn last year, which might work. Stay tuned.

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Thank you for visiting one of the posts from Change in Regime. This novella is now available on Amazon, and to also make it available on Kindle Unlimited, I have to remove these posts from my blog.

Anyway, here is the cover copy and link:

Like an electric current, arcing from ear to ear through the New York underworld, the word comes; he’s here. The city has a new Master of vampires, House Altau, and the existing, unaffiliated community is now facing a sentence of death.

The storm builds, and one of the leaders of that community, Livia or Julius, must chose to be the lightning conductor to save the rest from destruction. But will that be an acceptable sacrifice to Altau?

And if so, which one of them will it be?

 

Update – what’s next – what’s up

Angel Stakes

The re-draft of Angel Stakes has fixed almost all the problems. There are a couple of scenes that need tweaking, some general grammar, pronunciation, British-ism removal etc. I’m reasonably sure that means no more than a couple of weeks before publication.

The offer of a teaser comprising the first 3 chapters is still open, just post a comment here or email the usual contact address.

So what’s up at the moment

I’m on Goodreads answering questions about Sleight of Hand specifically and the Bite Back series in general. Any questions you have? Bring them to Goodreads, please. I’d love to see you there. I’ll be offering a new free short story to anyone who posts on these discussions.

You’ll need to be a member of Goodreads, which is free of course, join at https://www.goodreads.com/ and you’ll also need to join the Urban Fantasy discussion group at https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/55293-girls-guns-and-grimoires.

The two discussion threads are https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18061756-sleight-of-hand-a-chat-with-the-author and https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/18061752-sleight-of-hand-general-discussion

I’ve already fielded questions about how Athanate bite humans without infusing them, what hobbies I have in order to come up with all the crazy stuff, and how I can write a woman’s PoV book, but I’m sure there’s lots more to come.

If you haven’t already, do please post book reviews on Goodreads or Amazon. If you have, thank you, much appreciated!

What’s next

I’m working on a short story sequel to The Biting Cold, which will probably be called Winter’s Kiss. I’m restarting work on the first book of Bian’s Tale. I’m gathering threads and events that Bite Back book 6 has to deal with.

Angel Stakes first chapter

I’ve been asked to put a teaser up. This is the first chapter, which is a real teaser 🙂

It follows directly on from Cool Hand. I originally planned to write Cool Hand and Angel Stakes as one book, with the flight to LA being the mid-point, but only authors like GRR Martin can get away with huge books at such long intervals.

If you want more of a teaser, ask and I’ll email you the first 3 chapters. Be warned, Amber’s situation is not resolved in those chapters, so it would be just another cliffhanger.

ANGEL STAKES CHAPTER 1

NIGHT FLIGHT

Floating…

Floating down the river of night toward the city of dreams…

Our Lady, Queen of Angels. Where the long dragon spine of San Gabriel sprawls over the trembling San Andreas Fault and four million people cluster in its shadow. Bad Feng Shui, the Chinese mutter, and spit to clear their luck.

Los Angeles. Where glittering streets of plenty cut like knives through the desperate barrios. Where gangs and cults, earthquakes and hill fires, riots and despair and madness, all simmer just beneath the surface, waiting, like the abiding desert, to erupt out through the drains and engulf the city.

LA. The laconic arrogance in the initials of the city that lives, full of myth, pulsing with tales. The city that feeds on dreams, leaving nothing but dust and nightmares. And we are such stuff as dreams are made. Or nightmares.

I knew I was on a plane, flying to Los Angeles, because Skylur had called us, and my oath bound me to him, as tightly as Diana or Bian were bound to him, or my House was bound to me. And I knew that I was teetering on the brink of insanity. That I’d been over the edge. That I’d gone rogue—become an unthinking, instinctive killer, consumed by rage and blood lust. And that I’d been brought back by my kin. Brought back as Were by Alex’s dominance. Brought back as Athanate by Jen’s Blood. And whatever part of me was Adept had been torn and stunned by grounding all the energy that the whole Taos community of Adepts had poured into a lock to hold Diana prisoner on that cold hillside up in Carson National Park. The energy that Kaothos, Tullah’s dragon spirit guide, had reversed somehow.

They’d told me the Athanate would drive my Were rogue, or the Were would drive the Athanate. That the Adept would drive them both rogue. It hadn’t happened like that.

You are none of the things they will think you are.

My great-grandmother, Speaks-to-Wolves, had said that to me in a vision, and she’d been right. My paranormal sides balanced each other. I’d escaped that nightmare, only to emerge into the same one—with a different face. The tide of darkness in my mind wasn’t caused by my competing paranormal instincts, but by the meddling of Colonel Petersen’s psychologists, as I’d lain defenseless in Obs after being bitten by rogue Athanate in the jungles of South America. I saw it as a storm in my head, sweeping in across the cold, high plains, threatening to obliterate me under towering clouds and cracking lightning. My body twitched and jerked with every electric strike.

My kin had saved me, but they hadn’t cured me. The darkness was returning.

And yet, it was as if there were two halves of me. A half that lay shaking and muttering feverishly on the floor between my worried kin, and a half that floated through the cool cabin, granted a clarity of vision that was painful. I’d bound my eukori tightly into my head so that the stain of my madness could not spread, but I was listening to Diana and Bian.

There was a crisis ahead. An opportunity and a danger twisted around each other like mating snakes.

We were going to LA, a place where you could toss away your old life like a bad hand and get a new deal. But also the place where the hollow-bellied god of fame lured dreamers to the great light, only to let it flicker and fade, leaving them blind and starless in the stone jungles, unable to tell truth from artifice. And still believing, still believing, as they offered the last things they had left. Their passion. Their health, heart, soul and youth. Finally, even their children. And the place where Basilikos and Panethus might end their shadowy battle, consuming each other utterly, that a new hope might rise from the ashes.

So close.

Floating down the river of night toward the city of dreams…

Floating…

As they touched the cool, gray asphalt of Van Nuys airfield, the plane’s tires began screaming, and I went into convulsions.

An excerpt from Bite Back book 5

Very slight spoilers…

I generally feel with these quiet parts of the Bite Back books that I’m going overboard. Readers generally come back and tell me I’m not. Anyway, I’m going to try out a short section on this blog that hasn’t even been seen by the beta readers yet…

How in such a complex, structured society as the Athanate, could you win an argument? The issue under discussion is this: when the paranormal races reveal themselves to humans, should they agree to abide by human law, or should there be a separate law for them? A very intricate sort of problem and one on which a great deal hangs in the balance.

The Empire of Heaven (China and most of south-east Asia) stood aside from the first Athanate Assembly when it was invoked in the 1920s. The Empire of Heaven is the largest group after the two main creeds of the Assembly, Panethus and Basilikos. As the parameters of the new Assembly are being hammered out in book 5, the Empire arrives at the meeting, in the person of their Emperor’s own Diakon, Xun Huang. What side of the debate will he come down on?

This is a small part, a quiet interlude in the usual rush.

This is Huang’s speech to the Athanate. He may have been influenced by Maya Angelou (paraphrased here): “They may forget what you said but they will never forget what you made them feel.”

 

Huang walked to the center of the floor and stood still, waiting until the silence spread.

When he did speak, his voice was so quiet everyone had to lean forward to hear.

I didn’t know what to expect, but it certainly wasn’t what came.

“I am old, even as we Athanate count it,” he said.

His words were slow and formal, with a rhythm that seemed to carry me along.

“Many, many years ago, I buried my father in an unmarked grave, beneath a solitary Linden tree on a south facing hillside, near a quiet river. In the heat of summer, the Linden’s leaves are thick and dark and green. They take the shape of hearts, and beneath their shade, the ground is always cool; the air always holds the scent of limes. As winter nears, those leaves turn and fall like a harvest of the richest gold, and make a crown to rest upon my father’s head.

Between the wars that tore our land, I would return there, and lie on that hillside. It eased my soul, and restored my strength in a time of great turmoil.

Then, beside my father, I buried my sons and my daughters, their youthful faces as yet half-formed, unblemished by age.”

Huang paused and looked up and down the ranks of Athanate, and we were silent. The whole auditorium had unconsciously synced their heartbeats with their neighbors’, until we were a creature with a single pulse, waiting, listening.

“No man should bear that sorrow,” Huang continued. “No woman either, and my wife joined them before the leaves had fallen again. I planted the trees that were their only marker.

From that moment,  I slept only when exhaustion took me, because on waking, for a moment it was as if I could turn and see my wife again, only for that dream to fade, and the nightmare of life to begin again.

When the Emperor found me, I sought death every day in the face of the enemy. What prize could he offer me, in my despair, that would make me want to become immortal? What reward to become Athanate, and know that sorrow for eternity?

He spoke to me; simple words, words he told me he first heard from the lips of the Kumemnon herself, her own words: This is the gift and the sorrow of the Athanate; to see your loves pass before you like the days of summer, while your heart still beats. To keep your vigil in the shadows, and rise again with every sun.

That part you all know. Many carve it above doors to their hidden sanctuaries, to remind them that as there is light, there must be darkness, and the world turns regardless.

But the Lamentation of Arunne goes on: To be bound upon the wheel of heaven; to toil and toil and never be done. To love without reserve forever, and rise again with every sun.

He paused, and in the depths of the auditorium the Athanate shivered as the words touched us.

Huang went on.

“That is what he said to me, and I bared my neck to him.

On that hillside now, beside the quiet river, there grows a forest, such that I may not find my family’s trees among those that mark my kin. I return there sometimes for a night. To sleep, to dream, and rise again with the sun.

The war took away my family, and my Emperor replaced it with duty. He offered me no soft consolation, no comforting lies. As one who passes from childhood must put away the easy refuges of youth, to become Athanate is to shoulder a greater destiny. And to achieve that, one may not live as a man or woman may live, under the strictures of their society.

The Athanate people must retain their own laws and customs.”