Navigate / search

@MalCatlyn is back!

To mark the upcoming release of his latest adventures, Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn will once more be tweeting his exploits for the next three months. Why, you might ask, would a spy be broadcasting his whereabouts on a public network? Well…

  1. He could well be using one of the many cunning ciphers that were invented by 16th-century cryptographer Thomas Phelippes;
  2. He’s a spy, so you can’t trust anything he says;
  3. The internet didn’t exist in 1594, so who’s going to read them? Duh!

As with his previous outing, #malsdiary, I’ll he’ll be tweeting in “real time” (give or take 418 years), segueing into the events of The Merchant of Dreams in January.

Mal’s Diary

Want to read the original “Mal’s Diary” tweets, all in one convenient free download? I’ve compiled an ebook version of the feed for your reading pleasure:

ePub | Kindle | PDF

Friday Reads: Waiting Room, by Emma Newman

This week, instead of the usual book review I am delighted to be hosting a free short story by fellow Angry Roboteer Emma Newman. Take it away, Emma!

“This is the twenty-ninth tale in a year and a day of weekly short stories set in The Split Worlds.  If you would like me to read it to you instead, you can listen here.  This story is part of the build-up to the release of the first Split Worlds novel “Between Two Thorns” in March 2013. Every week a new story is released. You can find links to all the other stories, and the new ones as they are released here,  where you can also sign up to receive each story free in your inbox every week (starting at the very first one).”

Waiting Room

When the woman with the nail through her hand left the waiting room Ben fidgeted. His arm was aching from keeping his left hand up in the air. And he looked like a dick.

His Mum tutted. “If you’d actually done what you were told, we wouldn’t be here now.”

“Everybody else does it.”

“That doesn’t make it a good idea. I thought you were more sensible than that.” When he didn’t answer she kissed the top of his head. “Is it hurting a lot?”

He shrugged. “Will they put a cast on it?” When Tim broke his leg everyone signed his cast and gave him tonnes of chocolate. Ben smirked as he remembered what he’d drawn on the back of the ankle. It had been worth the punch he got once Tim saw it on the removed cast.

“If it’s broken, probably.”

“Please be broken,” he whispered to it. If it was just a sprain he’d never live it down.

A man stumbled in, sweating and clutching a piece of cloth over his mouth like he was about to throw up. Ben picked out the three people who looked the most likely to be vomited on. He wished Tim was there so they could bet.

The man went to the desk and spoke through the cloth. The nurse, unimpressed, sent him to the waiting area. The man scanned the few empty chairs and then sat himself down opposite Ben. He still looked like he was about to throw up.

Mum shifted her feet to one side as she looked for another place to sit but there were no pairs of chairs free. “I’ll get you a drink darling,” she leaned over and added, “Tuck your feet under the chair in case that man is sick. And don’t bother him, he looks a bit weird.”

Ben took a proper look at the guy once his mother was gone. His right eye was badly bloodshot and his hands were covered in gravel burn. His t-shirt sported the new gold and red Flip logo, the same one Ben had got for his birthday.

“Did you have an accident?” Ben asked, pointing at the t-shirt with his good hand. “I got a Flip ‘board, that’s how I bust my wrist.”

“I came off my bike.” He was still speaking through the cloth.

Now he was closer Ben could see the cloth was a bandana. It was black with tiny skull and crossbones all over it. “Did you bust your teeth up or something?”

“No,” the man coughed. “I swallowed… something.”

“A fly?” The man didn’t reply. “Was it a-”

“You won’t believe me, so leave it, alright?”

“Tell me. Go on.”

“I think I swallowed a… fairy.”

“Eh?” It was the last thing Ben expected him to say. “Don’t be daft.”

“You ever had a fly in your eye?”

“Yeah.”

“Did the fly look massive?”

Ben nodded, remembering it well. When the tiny bug filled his vision the veins in its wings looked as thick as pencils.

“This twat stepped out into the road a bit ahead of me and got hit by a car and this thing he was carrying – it was jar or a lamp or something – it smashed. Those… things flew out of it. I swallowed one and it’s stuck,” he paused to cough. “But another went in my eye and it looked like a girl with wings and it was shining really bright, like a-”

“Sorry, is he bothering you?”

Ben jumped at the sound of his mother’s voice.

“No,” the man said, “it’s cool.”

“Benjamin Stephens,” a nurse called and Ben was ushered away.

Throughout the doctor’s assessment Ben thought about the man in the waiting room. Why say something like that? He probably liked winding kids up. Or he was tripping his ass off like Tim’s older brother did at weekends.

He whooped when he found out his wrist was broken. After a few days in a splint, once the swelling was down, he’d have a cast and all the chocolate he could want.

The man was still there when they went back out to reception with the cloth still over his mouth. Ben wanted to speak to him but his mother was steering him towards the exit.

“Mrs Stephens,” the nurse called her back. “I just need to go over a bit of paperwork with you.”

Ben waited until she was engrossed. “So I was thinking,” he said to the man. “If you did swallow a fairy, why are you keeping that bandana over your mouth?”

“I need the doctor to tell me if it’s really there. Otherwise I might be, you know, mental or something.”

“I can tell you,” Ben said.

The man shrugged. “Sod it. I’m sick of sitting here. You ready?”

Ben crouched in front of him and gave an eager nod. The bandana was pulled down and the man’s open mouth revealed.

“There’s something in there!”

The flap of skin at the back of the man’s throat was illuminated from behind, like he’d swallowed an LED and it had got stuck there. Ben could smell coffee on the man’s breath. The light got brighter as something emerged from the behind the skin but the source was too small to see properly. It shot out of the man’s mouth and zipped to the nearest window where it flew outside. Ben, who’d snapped his head back to avoid it, fell backwards into the chair behind him.

“Did you see it?” The man demanded.

Ben cradled his wrist to his chest, trying not to cry. His Mum rushed over and pulled him up by his good hand. She glared at the man. “Come on, we’re going home.”

“But what did you see!” the man said, but Ben didn’t know what to say.

“What was he talking about?” His Mum asked as they left.

“Nothing,” Ben glanced at the man as they passed the window. “He was just some weirdo.”

 

 

“Thanks for hosting, Anne!”

US book giveaway: signed copies of The Alchemist of Souls

My patient North American fans will be glad to know I’m planning a US/Canada book giveaway this month!

3 personalised signed copies will be up for grabs – note that these will be the (slightly larger) UK edition, not the US mass market paperback.

All you have to do to be in with a chance is to leave a comment on this post. If you win, you will receive a brand new copy of the UK paperback edition of The Alchemist of Souls, signed by yours truly!

Please note that comments are moderated to reduce spam, so don’t panic if yours doesn’t appear right away.

Rules:

  1. You must live in the US or Canada to enter (sorry – worldwide postage gets expensive)
  2. One comment per entrant, please – multiple commenters will be disqualified.
  3. For security reasons, please don’t leave contact details in your comment – there’s a space in the comment form for your email address, I’ll use that to get hold of you.
  4. Closing date for entries is noon PST time on Tuesday 14th August. Any comments posted after that deadline will be deleted.
  5. I will be picking three separate winners (using a random number generator), to receive one copy of the book each.
  6. Selected winners must respond to the confirmation email by Sunday 26th August, so that I can pack the books and bring them with me to Chicago (saves on postage 🙂 )
  7. If a winner does not respond by the stated deadline or cannot supply a US or Canadian postal address, I reserve the right to select a replacement.

Good luck!

Book giveaway: signed copies of The Alchemist of Souls

Would you like a signed paperback of The Alchemist of Souls? Of course you would!

This month I’m giving away 3 copies to readers in the UK/EU only (there’ll be another giveaway in the summer for North American readers, never fear).

All you have to do to be in with a chance is to leave a comment on this post. If you win, you will receive a brand new copy of the UK paperback edition of The Alchemist of Souls, signed by yours truly!

Please note that comments are moderated to reduce spam, so don’t panic if yours doesn’t appear right away.

Rules:

  1. You must live in the EU to enter (sorry – worldwide postage gets expensive)
  2. One comment per entrant, please – multiple commenters will be disqualified.
  3. For security reasons, please don’t leave contact details in your comment – there’s a space in the comment form for your email address, I’ll use that to get hold of you.
  4. Closing date for entries is noon UK time on Tuesday 15th May. Any comments posted after that deadline will be deleted.
  5. I will be picking three separate winners (using a random number generator), to receive one copy of the book each.
  6. Selected winners must respond to the confirmation email by Thursday 31st May, so that I can get the books out in a timely manner.
  7. If a winner does not respond by the stated deadline or cannot supply an EU postal address, I reserve the right to select a replacement.

Good luck!

 

Alchemist of Souls – the official wallpaper

A lot of people have complimented me on the cover art for The Alchemist of Souls; indeed I liked it so much myself that I made the draft artwork into a desktop wallpaper so that I would feel inspired whenever I sat down to write. It seemed a shame to keep it to myself, though, so I got permission from Angry Robot to create an official version for wider consumption.

So, now you too can have mean’n’moody Mal Catlyn on your desktop to drool over, ahem, I mean admire! I’ve created two versions, one widescreen (8:5) and one standard proportion (4:3), both in sizes large enough for all but the biggest monitors.

1600 x 1000 | 1280 x 960

Enjoy!

Full credits

Cover art © Larry Rostant at Artist Partners

Background texture by Marc Gascoigne

Angry Robot logo © Angry Robot Books

Design and novel excerpt © 2012 Anne Lyle

The Alchemist of Souls: deleted scenes

One of the perils of being a discovery writer is that you tend to wander off the beaten track and write scenes that really don’t need to be in the book (or worse still, entire plotlines that have to be pulled out because they’re irrelevant). During the course of drafting The Alchemist of Souls I must have written at least two books’ worth of words – for starters, I changed the plot completely, from a murder mystery to a political thriller! It would be a shame, though, to let all that work languish on my hard drive, so in the run-up to the release of The Alchemist of Souls, I’m going to be epublishing a selection of these scenes – for free – via this website.

I’ve selected a number of episodes from the early part of the books, most of which were cut because, although interesting to write, they didn’t move the plot forward quickly enough. That’s often the case when you start writing new characters; you need time to get to know them and their story, and end up writing a lot of “throat-clearing” chapters that don’t make it into the finished work.

First up is a sequence of short scenes between Mal, Ned, and one of Mal’s old college friends, Piers Ingram. It was intended to give an opportunity to reveal some of Mal’s background history, but I discovered I didn’t really have a role for Ingram in the rest of the book so I cut this section, merged him into another character, and dropped bits of information about Mal into other scenes.

You can download the sample in a selection of formats or read it online.

Note that I’m releasing them under a Creative Commons licence, whereby you are free to distribute these files provided you don’t remove the attribution information. Do let me know if you encounter any problems with the files.

Further samples will be released weekly during March – please see my Twitter feed for announcements!

Book giveaway: December winners

So, I’ve done the draw for the final book giveaway of 2011, and the winners are David (How to Write Fantasy & Science Fiction) and Jess (The King of the Crags).

Thank you to everyone for entering, and keep an eye out for more goodies in 2012! You never know, I might have a copy or two of The Alchemist of Souls to give away 😉

First glimpse – and a competition!

Whilst having a publishing contract is all kinds of awesome, there’s nothing quite like the thrill of seeing your book in physical form at last. Sad to say I haven’t laid hands on a copy quite yet, but at least I now know they exist!

Photo courtesy of Marc Gascoigne, my lovely editor and fellow typography geek
Photo courtesy of Marc Gascoigne, my lovely editor and fellow typography geek

Yes, a batch of ARCs (advance reading copies) arrived in the Angry Robot offices last week, mine amongst them. You can see The Alchemist of Souls there in the top left corner, in excellent company with several other titles from Angry Robot’s spring catalogue. The selection of covers just goes to show the diversity of books on offer, as well as the awesome design skills of Marc Gascoigne and the various cover artists (clockwise from top left): Larry Rostant, Amazing15, Joey Hifi and Nick Castle.

This first batch of ARCs has already gone out to reviewers, so I’m both excited and anxious to see what they make of my fledgling efforts. Obviously I think it’s pretty damned good, but no book is ever perfect and in any case you can’t appeal to all tastes. Regardless of how it’s received, I can’t wait to take delivery of my sample copies and show them off!

Caption competition

Fancy getting your hands on one of my ARCs?

You have approximately 36 hours to come up with an awesome caption to the cartoon I contributed to the Angry Robot “12 Days of Christmas” blog series. Closing date is tomorrow, Wednesday 21st December.

Enter the competition

Good luck!

Update: Congratulations to the winner, Fatihah Iman (aka Psychomacologist), whose entry hit just the right note of sexy geek humour to have me spluttering over my Mac keyboard 🙂

Book giveaway: December

November winners

Congratulations to Michelle and Lyn – I’ll be in touch!

December giveaway

So, we reach the last pair of books for this 2011 giveaway, and I’ve saved the best until last.

How to Write Fantasy and Science Fiction, by Orson Scott Card (hardback)

“This award-winning classic on the art and craft of writing science fiction and fantasy provides invaluable advice for every science fiction and fantasy writer interested in constructing stories about people, worlds and events that stretch the boundaries of the possible – and the magical. They’ll learn: what is and isn’t science fiction and fantasy, and where their story fits in the mix; how to build, populate, and dramatize a credible, inviting world readers will want to explore; where the markets are, how to reach them and get published. There’s no better source of information for writers working in these genres.”

I’ve read this book so many times, I know it pretty much off by heart now. Unlike other how-to books, this one focuses on the particular challenges of writing SFF, including world-building and exposition; in fact a whole chapter is devoted to the latter and is, IMHO, worth the price of the book alone. Whatever else you may think of OSC’s personal views, this is a must-read for anyone wanting to improve their craft in this genre.

The King of the Crags, by Stephen Deas (signed paperback)

An ARC of the second volume in this fantasy trilogy, signed by the author – Stephen is an old friend, so I cheekily got him to sign this convention freebie at an SFF evening earlier this year 🙂

“Prince Jehal has murdered, poisoned and betrayed his way to the top. There is a new speaker for the realms, his opposition has been crushed, now he just has to enjoy the fruits of power. And yet . . . He feels more for the wife he married for power than perhaps he should and his lover knows it. And out in the realms those loyal to the old regime are still plotting. and there are rumours that the Red Riders, heralds of revolution and doom are on the ride. And still no-one has found the famous white dragon. The dragon that, if it lived, will have long since recovered from the effects of the alchemical liquid fed to the dragons of the realms to keep them docile, to block their memories of a time when they ruled and the world burned…”

Same rules as always – only UK/EU residents may enter, owing to postage. Leave a comment below, saying which book you’d like (or either, if so inclined!), before noon (UK time) on Saturday 31st December. Please use a valid email address in the comment form so I can contact you to get your snail-mail address if you win (don’t put either in your comments, for security reasons!).

Good luck!

Book giveaway: November

October winners

Congratulations to Mark and Edith, who won copies of “Characters and Viewpoint” by Orson Scott Card and “Jack Cloudie” by Stephen Hunt, respectively. Watch this space for more great books in the run-up to Christmas!

November giveaway

How to Write a Damn Good Novel II, by James Frey (hardback)

“Frey expands on his earlier take on the art of novel writing. His focus here is on dramatic fiction. Using examples from a broad range of fiction, he shows what these works have in common and how writers can learn from the authors to improve their own writing. Some of the areas discussed are developing characters, creating suspense, using a strong narrative voice, and understanding the author/reader contract. Chapter 8, entitled “The Seven Deadly Mistakes,” talks about being timid, trying to be literary, and the failure to produce; it gives some advice on how to avoid these writing traps. The final word is to write with passion. This is a good choice for the writing shelf. It is a clear-headed study, with a bit of humor and solid advice. Anyone who owns the first book should have this one, but it can also stand on its own.” (Library Journal)

The Crown of the Blood, by Gav Thorpe

Another convention freebie, this time some military fantasy by my fellow Angry Roboteer Gav Thorpe. Rather than repeat the cover blurb,  I thought I’d quote from a review by Pornokitsch:

“The hero or, at least, the protagonist is Ullsaard, the most successful general of the empire of Ashkor (a vaguely Roman analogue). When we open the book, he’s busy conquering some uppity savages – the general himself punching a dinosaur to lead the way into battle. Despite being a military genius and dinosaur-puncher-of-renown, Ullsaard has his frustrations. As he’s not of “The Blood” (a direct descendent of the centuries-dead Ashkor), Ullsaard is forever a second-class citizen. The lowliest noble – one who could barely slap a newt – can order him around.

The Crown of the Blood is a testosterone-fueled, dinosaur-punching of a book. It is a collection of violent conquests and vicious battles, from the fields of war to the equally-bloody arena of politics. It all culminates in a very surprising twist ending – the sort that neatly wraps up the book whilst getting readers excited for the sequels. Not I, Claudius, but definitely “Rome”, this book is hairy, gory, sweaty, shameless… and perhaps even a little bit thoughtful.”

Same rules as always – only UK/EU residents may enter, owing to postage. Leave a comment below, saying which book you’d like (or either, if so inclined!), before noon (UK time) on the first Saturday of December. Please use a valid email address in the comment form so I can contact you to get your snail-mail address if you win (don’t put either in your comments, for security reasons!).

Good luck!