Tag Archive | Hidden Trump

Book 2 cover reveal and prologue teaser

You may have seen the first paragraph of the prologue for Inside Straight on the Facebook page as a teaser – here it is in full below after the cover images for Hidden Trump.

I’m in the depths of editing.

In the first draft, I went straight into Amber kicking her heels at Haven, waiting for an answer from Skylur about whether she should accept House Lloyd’s request for sanctuary. Lauren (editor) gave me a boot in the behind and pointed out the ‘obvious’ stuff: (1) that Inside Straight is about getting Tullah back, so I needed to reconnect with her immediately, and (2) a call in the middle of the night (from House Lloyd to Amber) is dramatic and should appear as it happens rather than as recalled and narrated by Amber. So the book now has a prologue and chapter added to the beginning (among lots of other tuning changes).

I enjoy prologues, because you can do things a bit differently. I hope you like this one and any feedback is welcome.

However. the main purpose today is to reveal the cover for book 2, Hidden Trump. And to get feedback on that, too!

 

First, the full image which will be used for the print book

And the eBook image

 

 

Prologue

 

Midnight in the heart of the Painted Desert, and the tattered dead rise up like the dust of dreams behind her whispering feet.

Their features are blurred, the many dead; all the once-proud edges have been caressed into soft, uncertain shapes, the way stone is carved by centuries of wind and rain. Moonlight flows through them as if through troubled water, and they raise a million tangled, untold stories to fly like banners behind them.

They’re called here, the dead, from their silent graves along the countless sorrowing trails. Here, where the mountains still breathe and the rocks talk. Here, where rain is a blessing on the seared earth, and the sun looks down on the yellow corn as it dances to the desert’s tune.

Here, where they may find those who may listen, in this sacred place.

 

Tullah listens as she steps the circle through the cold depths of the night. Every night. It’s her choice. Her atonement. In exchange, the dead swirl behind, obedient to the summons, and their spirits cloak the kiva in which her family and friends sleep underground.

She can feel the searchers she hides them from; great, blind monsters snuffling over the hills and through the valleys, flickering spirit tongues testing the city airs, cold spirit hands like spiders creeping across the plains.

As the days have crept by, there are more of them, instead of less.

Her family and the others are safe, so long as the legions of dead surround the kiva—around, above, below, and make it a place between the physical world and the spirit world. The searchers slide over them, oblivious, unable sense the kiva and the people within.

So far.

This masking is Chatima’s working, a powerful working, shamanic and obscure to the searchers, and without it they would have found her long ago. It is a spell of strange and awful beauty, locked here around this place of power. Tullah maintains the working, treading the circle every night, and takes some pride that she does it well.

But it cannot last forever. They have reached a point of balance between the dangers of staying here and the dangers of moving.

She has discussed this with Chatima and with her parents. They’ve waited as long as they dare with the spirit world pressing in so close. Being with the spirits takes its toll: the sun-struck lethargy; the night-long, dreamy disconnection from the physical world; the feeling of being more spirit than flesh.

Not for the first time, Tullah thinks of the kiva as a grave.

Much longer inside and it will be; their spirits will untether from their bodies.

Even before that, the fragile tether to her dragon spirit guide will part, and prevent her from ever getting Kaothos back.

The thought of that sinks claws into her chest, making it difficult to breathe. If that happens, she might as well become one with the spirit world.

But not the others. They shouldn’t suffer.

It’s her the searchers are looking for, because they think she still has Kaothos. Not that it would be a good idea to point out their error: being caught without Kaothos is even worse. They’ll know that they could use her as a way to draw Kaothos into a trap. It would actually be safer for them to do it that way.

She has to leave. She has to evade the searchers. She has to return things to the way they were before.

The rest of them won’t be in danger for long, once she’s gone.

She must prepare herself. She can’t perform Chatima’s workings on her own, nor can this working be moved from this sacred place, but she has some of her own that might do for the time it takes to get back to Denver. Matt says that’s where Kaothos and Diana are heading right now.

She must go soon. She must go alone. All thoughts of the deadly situation aside, her crippling shame is infecting everyone. Even Matt.

 

As the moon slips across the night sky, someone walks beside her on the circle path.

The dead sometimes do that, so it takes her a while to notice it’s Chatima.

Whether she’s in her body or she’s spirit walking, Tullah is not entirely sure. Here, in the place between, it’s not always possible to tell.

“There are many paths to go forward, but none to go back,” Chatima says, as if she hears the thoughts in Tullah’s mind about returning things to the way they were before. “And every path bears death and sorrow and pain and loss.”

Amber’s words.

Tullah’s tears fall to the dusty path, to be lost among the dreams of the dead.

“All the things I’ve ever done,” she whispers. “In balance with all the things I will do. I will make this right.”

“The world is a maze, child. The way is never straight. But look up sometimes, for the sky remains pure.”

Tullah raises her eyes. Chatima is right; the light of the crescent moon has a silver purity. It’s calming.

The shaman Adept is no longer beside her when she looks back down.

“All the things I’ve ever done,” she repeats to the listening dead. The words seemed so simple when Amber spoke them. She’d heard them with her ears, but she’d not felt them in her heart. The words had seemed so light.

Now they are like draglines on her soul.

The dead do not shy away from her shame. The dead stay with her.

Their thousand, thousand voices rustle like dry leaves. If she let them, they would leech the shame from her. It would be so easy; spirits hunger for the emotions of the living. Yes, it would be so easy to let them feed, but they would take all. And when they finished, she would be one of them.

Thoughts like that come to her. It’s not a good place, this between, not for anyone, and especially not for her.

Alongside the thoughts, she sees visions and hears voices.

She sees Evans sometimes. The man she killed in the battle at Carson Park. Her hands tingle and she feels the snap as his neck breaks, all over again. The sickening, appalling moment of savage pleasure and the following flood of shame and recrimination.

It’s not about him. He deserved to die. It’s about you.

It feels as if Amber herself is speaking the words to her, and they do help.

Sometimes the visions are a comfort as she walks: the cougar, down off her lonely range; the bear, awakened from her sleep; the buffalo, up from the grasslands. The coyote. The fox. The snake. The owl. The raven.

Sometimes it’s not a comfort: her dragon walks silently with her, a vision of all she’s lost. And often, when the dawn breaks, the strange wolf will stand on the cliff with the rising sun behind her, a vision aflame. Chatima is uneasy about the wolf, though she tries to hide that. Openly, she says it signifies redemption, but in her heart of hearts, Tullah knows that for her, it’s a vision of shame, and a symbol of forgiveness denied.

 

What do you think?

Feedback welcome.

 

Hidden Trump audiobook

Finally!

It’s up on Audible. It’ll appear on Amazon and iTunes in a few days.
http://www.audible.com/pd/Sci-Fi-Fantasy/Hidden-Trump-Audiobook/B014Q2MRSK/

Enjoy!

Where did August go?

 

Sales

Just ambling along. Nothing exciting to report apart from The Biting Cold, which I’ve handled in Marketing.

Marketing

The Biting Cold was a surprise. The story had already been published in the anthology last Christmas and many (?most) of you have that already. But what the hell. So I cobbled together a cover with Jessica and Joshua, got you guys to vote on it, put a chapter of Sleight of Hand at the end and…

Well, hold on now, do I just sell it like the others, or do I give the Kindle Unlimited (KU) option another go?

Raw Deal has been on KU for a while and it’s been…unexciting.

I put TBC straight into KU and I was impressed by the number of KU readers it got. I can’t tell you how many, but the number of pages read (which is what Amazon pays me on) peaked at 3,500 a day. I think that means about 25 people read it on that day, at the same time as another 40 people bought the book. That happened two weekends running, and there’s a total of 29,000 pages of TBC read in KU in the three weeks since release, just in the USA.

Okay, so that’s not going to deluge the bank account. I’d be surprised if I make much more than $300 in the month. 🙂

But, given it was just a short story, it impressed me enough that I removed SoH from Kobo (Amazon require exclusivity if you go on the KU program).  The two existing German translations, Die Verborgene Hand and Trumpf im Armel, are exclusive to Amazon anyway, so I put them on KU as well. This is a 90 day test.

SoH hasn’t responded. There have only been a couple of readers through KU.

The German readers, however, have rocked. It’s too early to tell how much, but I’ll update you next month.

Other marketing? I’m also on twitter. I’ve no idea what I’m doing there. No one seems to engage much.

New Releases

I am *still* waiting for ACX/Audible to finish ‘preparing’ the Hidden Trump audiobook.

Julia finished narrating around the 10th July. She needed the payment to go through ACX/Audible for guild and tax reasons. We asked ACX how to achieve that, given their website only envisages sending a bank check from an American account. Parochial or what?

We finally got a response on the 27th July, giving us the details of an account to which I could send an electronic transfer. The account details provided to me were wrong!

On the 29th I had to re-send the money. (I’ve requested that the paymaster cover my costs of $80 levied by the banks for sending it to the wrong account. He’s ducking).

Around 5th August, the ACX paymaster ‘posted a check’ to Julia.

On the 17th August, Julia got the check and updated the appropriate status in ACX.

The book status changed: “Now ACX will put the audiobook through a quick final quality control process.”

Quick. Ha!

On the 26th August, the book status changed to “Preparing audiobook for Amazon, Audible and iTunes”.

Where it remains. Sigh.

Wild Card (Entfesselter Wandel) has gone through preliminary translation into German by Peter, and is sitting on Heike’s desk waiting for her to do proofreading and layout. She’s reserved a slot, but not till the end of October.

Writing Progress

The beta readers are about to receive the 3rd section of Angel Stakes, which I originally said took it to the midpoint. Okay, it’s not the midpoint. It’s somewhere between 2/3 and ¾ of the way through the book.

There are reasons for this estimating error on my part.

  1. I’m not good at estimating.
  2. With a book that has multiple themes, which ‘mid-point’ do I chose?
  3. I’m very bad at estimating.

It’s proceeding okay. As I go through editing, I’ll be looking for a few other short non-spoiler sections to release as teasers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Progress on audio version of Hidden Trump

A very brief post.

I received the draft audio from Julia Motyka this weekend, and we’re really close. I’m in the process of reviewing. It’s 16 hours long – so, unfortunately, I’m losing a couple of writing days. What I can say is that this is pretty awesome. Julia’s ability to capture accents is phenomenal – there is the hint of Greek in Diana’s voice, the fussy French of Remy, the broad Texan of Ingram. Wonderful!

I should have completed the review by tomorrow and there are very small corrections to make. I hope the audiobook will be on Audible this month. I’ll put up a little sample soon.

 

Hidden trump audio version

Assorted news…

Hidden Trump audio version is going through the final checks and should be up in a couple of weeks. I’ll have a 5 minute sample up here for you soon. And that begs a question: what 5 minute segment from Hidden Trump would you most like to hear? … Nothing with huge spoilers, so I guess it’s got to be early in the book. Any ideas?

The first quarter of Bite Back 5 – Angel Stakes – is about to go to the beta readers, but I’ll post separately about that.

The audio version of sleight of Hand just exceeded 700 sales! Obviously, the number in itself is not so much in comparison to ebook sales, but it is good progress.

AND… I have the first draft translation of Wild Card in German. Draft name is “Entfesselter Wandel”. I need to agree a schedule with the lady who does proof-reading.

 

 

Hidden Trump audio version

I was hoping to post news of the release in the next few weeks.

However, I’m afraid the project has received a setback. I just received an email from Kimberly Henrie, the narrator, who was scheduled to be most of the way through production by now. Unfortunately, she’s had to withdraw for personal reasons.

I don’t need to tell you that this is a blow. I am back to searching for narrators who capture that elusive Amber quality.

I cannot make a prediction about the delivery at the present and I apologise for the delays. Any developments will be posted here.

Monthly roundup – update on schedules

NEWS: Anthology, Cool Hand progress, Hidden Trump in Deutsch, Sleight of Hand in audio.

ANTHOLOGY – ‘A Very Paranormal Holiday’

The anthology is nearly ready.

path in the woods in winter

Six stories by Urban Fantasy authors with a sorta Christmas theme, including mine, The Biting Cold, which is set in the same Athanate world as Amber’s, but with a different cast.

Do lawyers wrap presents with ribbons at Christmas? What do vampires do under the mistletoe? Is Santa something evil in disguise? What does it means when demons get their rocks off? What happens if you meet your grandfather?

The answers to some of these questions lie in this book.

The only way you get the anthology is to send me an email request as many have done already. You’ll get a Kindle format file back by email when it’s released. Soon. If you want ePub format for iBook, just say. Apart from sending you this anthology, your email will only be used by the authors to give you an alert when we publish a new book. You can unsubscribe of course. Your email will not be sold or traded to anyone else, or used for anything other than the new publication alerts.

COOL HAND

About 90% there. The first 75% has been through the main edit process. The first 50% has been seen by the beta reader panel. We’re close enough for me to step up the reporting, so I’ll try and remember to post something over the next couple of weekends as we get to the published version just before Christmas.

Beta reader panel was about 90% positive, and many of the points they brought up I will deal with.

This is not the cover. It’s just Amber (Maria) looking gorgeous as we got ready to do the photoshoot.

PhotoShoot Preparation 01

TRUMPF IM ÄRMEL

Das ist ‘Hidden Trump’ in Deutsch. Fertig für Weihnachten. Jetzt Endredaktion.

Nun, eine Frage. Was soll ich rufen WILD CARD in Deutsch? Nicht ‘Joker’, bitte.

SLEIGHT OF HAND

The complete first pass audio is with me. I’ve spotted a few errors which need to go back and I need to hear it through one more time. I hope this will also be ready by Christmas!