LYING LIKE CARDS: A MARIUS DOS HELLESPONT FIX

To note the Aurealis Award nomination for The Marching Dead, here’s a little bonus for those of you who knew him before he went electric.

Lying Like Cards: A Marius dos Hellespont fix is a vignette I wrote to mark the publication of The Marching Dead. It concerns the game of Kingdom, which I invented for the novels and which nobody has had the decency to licence and make me a rich man by producing limited edition gold-plated versions thereof. Or even a DOS game. The story takes place just before the opening of The Corpse-Rat King, so if you want to get the full benefit of the narrative, buy my goddamn books already. It’s appeared at the Angry Robot website and some delightfully hand-made booklet versions were given to people who attended the book launch, but it appears here for the first time.

Enjoy.

Lying Like Cards: A Marius dos Hellespont Fix

An hour ago there had been six at the table. Now there were two. Marius don Hellespont, late of His Automancer’s Court of Taslingham, even later of the cells beneath the court, took a moment to glance down at his cards before casually flicking over a stack of riner coins so they splashed across the green paper tablecloth.
“Whatever that adds up to,” he said, deliberately yawning. The fat Tallian across from him pursed his lips.
“That is bad etiquette, sir.”
“In this fine place?” Marius waved a hand at the shabby, peeling wallpaper, the warped floorboards, and the boarded up windows that surrounded them. “Where are my manners?” He nodded at the coins. “Whatever that adds up to. See it or raise, tubby.”
The fat man waited enough that Marius knew he was beaten. The game of Kingdom was a complex one, if you paid attention to the cards, and it became more difficult the fewer players were at the table. Ostensibly, the object was to build the hand most closely resembling the current ruling class: Royal family, if you were in Scorby, Council of Elders in Zerpha, Automancer’s Cabal in Taslingham, and so on. If you were paying attention to the cards. Only the most trusting of beginners did that.
Real players, and Marius was a real player, knew that the object of the game was much simpler: to take your opponent’s money. The cards were immaterial. What counted was keeping your opponent off-balance– learning their tells, their psychological weaknesses, and then exploiting them. Like all truly great sports, Kingdom was won by the one who best played the man. The Tallian hesitated the tiniest smidgeon, and Marius had him.
“Gods damn it.” The fat man blew out his cheeks, aiming to recover lost bravado. “Gods damn.” He made a show of counting the coins, then counting them again. Marius very deliberately did not leer like a greedy baby snatcher. “All right,” his victim said. “All right.” He riffled his stack, came to the decision Marius knew he was coming to all along. “All in.” He moved his pile into the centre of the table.
Marius didn’t count them. He had no need. He knew he had the bet covered. He paused just long enough to make him sweat, then casually smiled and laid his cards face down before him. “Call.”
A queen, a prince, a knight, three nobles, a peasant. Pretty close. Good enough to win most hands. The fat man stared at them for several seconds, then raised his gaze to Marius.
“One peasant.” He snapped the card onto the table. “Three nobles.” Snap. “One knight.” Snap. “One prince.” He held up the last card, turned it so that it faced Marius. “One King.” He laid it down with a grin, slid it into place with the others. “My hand, I think.”
He reached out to draw in Marius’ coins. To their right, a door crashed open.
“What the fuck?” Both players reared back from the table as if stung. A soldier was standing in the doorway.
“The King!” he roared. “The King has been killed!”
“What?”
“Assassins from the house of Belchester! The King is dead!” He flung himself back out the door. The room erupted in a mad scramble to follow him: off duty guardsmen and civil militiamen hurling themselves towards distant guardhouses, to swords tucked over lintels, to scythes and halberds and sharpening wheels in front yards. As the room emptied, Marius raised a sympathetic eyebrow at his stunned opponent, and began scooping coins into his pockets.
“Tough timing,” he said, and rose before the fat Tallian could recover himself enough to object. “Still, the cards never lie.”

# # #

Marius sat in a booth at the back of ‘The Hauled Keel’ and watched his young apprentice Gerd weave through the crowd, two tankards of Krehmlager in his beefy fists, plonking down opposite his master and passing one over. Marius raised it in salute, and took a long swallow.
“You hid the armour?” he asked, once he’d recovered his breath. Gerd took a sip, and choked.
“In a barrel on Pudding Alley.”
“Good. Good.” Marius removed a short stack of coins from a pocket and slid it over. “Your share.” Gerd accepted it without counting. Trusting lad. Stupid boy. Marius felt the weight of all the winnings secreted around his body, and took another swallow to help ignore a sudden pang of conscience. From outside came shouts, and a clattering so loud that even the seasoned drinkers within the pub were silent for a moment.
“What’s that?” Gerd stood, and turned towards the window. Marius tilted his head.
“Soldiers,” he said after a moment. “Forming up in front of Traitor’s Gate.”
“Isn’t that the…”
“Road to Belchester?” Marius nodded. Gerd slowly sat down.
“You don’t think..?”
Marius took a long draught of his lager, shook his head, and signalled a passing girl for another while he recovered the feeling in his face. Krehmlager was traditionally strong. The Hauled Keel’s brewing room deserved its own hospital. “No,” he said, finally, flipping a coin through suddenly-clumsy fingers. “And even if there’s a little skirmish or something, nothing will come out of it but opportunity.”
The new pints arrived. He picked his up and gestured to Gerd to do the same. “Drink up,” he said. “We’ve got to get our stuff and be ready to follow them.” He smiled, thinking of the riches to be had on the battlefield to come. “I’m going to teach you how to be a corpse-rat.”


WANT A TASTE OF CORPSE-RAT?

It’s Short-bits-of-Battersby week! 

First there’s the appearance of Canals of Anguilar in the Review of Australian Fiction, which you’re all aware of because you’ve already lashed out the $2.99 and have read it, but now you can pop over to the Angry Robot website and get a tiny taste of Corpse-Rat to whet your appetite for this Saturday’s launch event: a teensy tiny prequel to The Corpse-Rat King for your education and amusement.

Lying Like Cards: A Marius dos Hellespont Fix.

This is the story that 25 of you will be able to own in signed, dead-tree form, simply by being the first to purchase a copy of either Marius dos Hellespont novel at the launch and getting me to sign it. But have a read before you buy: I am a kind and generous God….

ROUND AND ROUND AND ROUND SHE GOES…

It’s awards season in Australian science fiction, with three national awards announcing their short-lists, and at times it’s enough to make your head spin as some titles crack a mention in all three, some names are conspicuous by their absence, and the clattering of d20s as judges try to make their minds up is enough to make the nerdgods brush crisp crumbs from their Devo tour t-shirts and take notice.

I’m extremely happy to announce that The Corpse-Rat King made a couple of saving roles and has been short-listed in two out of the three awards. No luck in this year’s Aurealis Awards, where it hasn’t made the Fantasy or Horror lists, but it has cracked a mention in the following:
  • The Ditmars are the Australian equivalent of the Hugos, voted on by members of each year’s National convention, this year being held in Canberra, scene of my favourite convention experience (outside of the one at which Luscious married me), waaaaaay back in 2006. The Corpse-Rat King has been nominated in the Best Novel category, along with works by fellow Angry Robot stablemate Jo Anderton, Kate Forsyth, Kirstyn McDermott, Jason Nahrung, and Margo Lanagan. I’ve not won a general Ditmar before– I was awarded the Best New Talent award 10fuckingyearsagoholyshit! earlier in my career, but it’d be nice to add an ‘open’ award to the small shrine to my genius I keep behind the garden shed.
You can check out the full list of nominees in all categories here.
  • The Australian Shadows Awards, known to everybody except everyone who isn’t me as the ‘Dead Chicks’ because, well… you figure it out:
Once again, I share the Best Novel category with Kirstyn McDermott and Jason Nahrung. I’m on a mission to win my third award, which would add a nice symmetry to my brag shelf, so let’s hope all fans of numerology can bring their influence to bear.
The Shadows have expanded significantly in scope since their inception, and now cover a whole bunch of categories. The full nomination list is here.

STOAT OF THE NOTION

It’s been almost a month since I blew the dust off this baby and made with the updatery, and there’s a very good reason for that: I’ve been off enjoying life.

Response to The Corpse-Rat King has been positive, and if you haven’t got your copy yet then there’s really no excuse– it’s in all the good book stores and most of the rotten ones, and if you haven’t picked it up then I can only assume it’s because you hate me and you’ve never really liked me and you’ll be sorry when I’m dead and all this guilt will be on your head, I can’t, I can’t, I can’t stand losing…. wait a minute.

Marching Dead is finished, and has been delivered to Angry Robot for their consideration. All being well, it will appear on shelves next April.

And right now, I’m giving myself some down time before I turn my attention to the next project on the block: either a return to Father Muerte & The Divine or if the Angry Robot overlords activate the clause in my contract, the third Marius dos Hellespont novel which I’m nominally calling Fall To Heaven. We shall see, we shall see.

But for the moment, I’m clearing my mental palette, watching a buttload of documentaries, playing with the kids, and getting the house ready to put on the market before the end of the year so we can downsize. Give me a week or so, and I’ll be back on the bloggery treadmill, but for the moment, no signal is a sign of contentment.

KSP SF MINICON FULL PROGRAM

Oh yes, my friends, I shall be there. And it will start oooh, and aaahhh, then later there will be running, and screaming….

Get your peepers on this little lot and tell me you don’t want to come on down and hang out. This is going to be one fabbo day:
The 2012 KSP Speculative Fiction Writers Group Minicon
Panellists include :
Local Writers: Lee Battersby, Amelia Beamer, Hal Colebatch, Cathy Cupitt, Stephen Dedman, Joanna Fay, Satima Flavell, Sonia Helbig, Elaine Kemp, Pete Kempshall, David Kitson, Martin Livings, Dave Luckett, Juliet Marillier, Ian Nichols, Anthony Panegyres, Carol Ryles, Guy Salvidge, JB Thomas. 

When: Sunday, 9 September, 2012  9.30am-4.30pm

Where: Katherine’s Place, 11 Old York Road, Greenmount (Turn into the first driveway after you turn in from the highway and park at the back)

Cost: $15, or $10 if you book in advance. Leave a comment at http://kspminicon.blogspot.com.au/ if you want to do this.

Lunch: A decent meal and tea and coffee will be available for a gold coin donation or you can BYO – there are no eateries in the vicinity.


Programme
Discussion Panels: Meeting Room

10:00 Breaking the Rules
“Look, that’s why there’s rules, understand? So that you think before you break ’em.” – Terry Pratchett
Sometimes the ‘rules of writing’ need to be broken. But what are they and how and when do you get away with breaking them? And what do you need to be aware of before you do? All the best writers are renowned for breaking rules and new writers are crucified for it, yet there are times when we all need to cross that line.
Lee Battersby
Sonia Helbig
Martin Livings
Anthony Panegyres
Guy Salvidge

1100: Is the Internet the New Slush Pile
Google the question: “is the internet the new slush pile?” and the wisdom of the masses will tell you that since mid 2011, there has been a grass-roots change in the world of publishing. The inference given in hundreds of articles unearthed by such a search is that you should no longer submit to slush piles while trying to get noticed. There’s a new wave of authors who publish their material directly to the Internet in the hope that their book will attract the attention of publishers and agents. But what does this method of gaining attention achieve and will it replace the tradition of slush pile Mondays? For that matter, with so many new writers self-publishing, is there a need to be picked up at all? Or is it a path to self-destruction of the writer’s rights?
Stephen Dedman
David Kitson
Dave Luckett
Ian Nichols

12:00 Lunch
Book Launch, The Corpse Rat King by award winning author Lee Battersby (Angry Robot Books)

Lee Battersby is the author of the novels The Corpse-Rat King (Angry Robot, 2012) and Marching Dead (Angry Robot, 2013) as well as over 70 stories in Australia, the US and Europe, with appearances in markets as Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror, Year’s Best Australian SF & F, and Writers of the Future. A collection of his work, entitled Through Soft Air has been published by Prime Books. He’s taught at Clarion South and developed and delivered a six-week Writing the SF Short Story course for the Australian Writers Marketplace. His work has been praised for its consistent attention to voice and narrative muscle, and has resulted in a number of awards including the Aurealis, Australian Shadows and Australia SF ‘Ditmar’ gongs.
He lives in Western Australia, with his wife, writer Lyn Battersby and an increasingly weird mob of kids. He is sadly obsessed with Lego, Nottingham Forest football club, dinosaurs, the Goon Show and Daleks. He’s been a stand-up comic, tennis coach, cartoonist, poet, and tax officer in previous times, and he currently works as the Arts Co-ordinator for a local council, where he gets to play with artists all day. All in all, life is pretty good.

1:00 Critting and Crowd-Sourced Editing
Should writers have their manuscripts criticised by a broad audience of their fellow writers? What value does it add to your work? Can you lose your ideas by letting others see your manuscript before the editor does? How about crowd-sourcing of editing? Is it possible to let others perform the work for you while reading early revisions of your manuscript? And how do you even take advantage of such services? Should they be avoided completely?
Amelia Beamer
Satima Flavell
Pete Kempshall
Juliet Marillier
Anthony Panegyres

2:00 Building Characters without Cardboard
In online reviews, a common complaint against many recent authors, especially those who choose to self-publish, is that their characters seem two-dimensional or otherwise lack depth. So what does the aspiring author need to consider in their writing so that their characters seem more real to the reader? And how do they achieve it? Are characters planned or imagined? And what are the pitfalls that many new writer, and even experienced ones, fall into? And how do you write convincing characters from the other gender?
Lee Battersby
Martin Livings
Juliet Marillier
Carol Ryles
JB Thomas

3:00 Has Erotica Become Just another Mainstream Sub-Genre
With Fifty Shades of Grey now the fastest selling book ever, it’s difficult to ignore the part that erotica has played in this series’ success. Writers thinking of including sexually explicit content in their novels are often confused by the terms ‘erotica’ and ‘pornography’. How should a modern writer approach this situation? How to avoid mistakes? Should erotica feature in a serious novel at all?
Amelia Beamer
Cathy Cupitt
Stephen Dedman
Elaine Kemp

Kaffeeklatsch Schedule (Library)
1PM – 1:30PM Joanna Fay: Publishing with a small press overseas
Joanna’s Daughter of Hope, the first novel in her epic fantasy sequence The Siaris Quartet, has recently been published as an e-book by Musa Publishing, a relatively new e-press in the USA. From the comfort of her lounge room in the Perth hills, Joanna has taken an intensive ‘high learning curve’ this year on the road to publication, while coming to grips with both the potential and pitfalls of online promotion.

2PM – 2:30PM David Kitson: Self Publishing – A complete end to end guide for anyone planning on doing it themselves
David’s self-published novel, Turing Evolved, broke into the top 20 Science Fiction book list on Amazon.com and is now rated at four-and-a-half stars with one hundred and fifty customer reviews. Learn about David’s experiences with editing, uploading, customer feedback and eventual contact and representation by a literary agent.
3PM – 3:30PM Juliet Marillier: Theme to be announced
Juliet is a New Zealand-born writer who now lives in WA. Her historical fantasy novels for adult and young adult readers include the popular Sevenwaters series and the Bridei Chronicles. Juliet’s books have won many awards including the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Prix Imaginales and the Aurealis Award. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet has two books out this year: Shadowfell, first instalment in a fantasy series for young adults (available now) and adult fantasy Flame of Sevenwaters, to be published in November.

   

I WILL PERSUADE YOU, MY PRETTIES


Man, I have been all over the interwebbernets in the wake of The Corpse-Rat King Approacheth Day TM (That’d be TODAAAAAAY).


If you need persuading to part with some readies, allow me to point you to the following reviews:




Not to mention I’ve been interviewed by a bunch of people. 



Not to mention guest blogging. Oh, there has been guest blogging:



And if you still need persuading, what else can I do but offer you a bitching mega-extract courtesy of Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist?

·       
Enjoy it, my fine fellows, for tomorrow we die! Well, not really. But enjoy it anyway.

KSP MINI-CON ON AGAIN!

It’s nearly time for the biennial KSP Minicon at the Katherine Susannah Prichard Writers Centre up in leafy and lovely Greenmount.

There’s always a good mix of panels and a relaxed attitude. I’ll be on two panels this year, including ‘Breaking The Rules’, which is likely to be lively 🙂

And I’ll be launching The Corpse-Rat King! I’m talking to the publisher about getting copies,  and if they don’t arrive in time I’ll still be doing a reading and handing out signed things– if not the book, then definitely things— and we’ll sort out getting copies into your hot little hands if they’re not already arrived, and it’ll be my usual blend of chaos, irreverence and sweariness no matter what happens.

It’s on Sunday, 9 September, from 9.30am-4.30pm at Katherine’s Place, Old York Road, Greenmount. The whole day will cost you only $15, or $10 if you book in advance, which you can do by heading over to this KSP Minicon page post and leaving a comment. They’ll also have a good lunch available for $5 or you can BYO – there are no eateries in the vicinity, so it’s a good idea to be prepared one way or the other.

And make sure you like their Facebook page while you’re at it: all the cool kids are doing it.

THE CORPSE-RAT BANDWAGON START TO ROLL

Ooooooohhhhh, look what arrive in the mail last night:

The first Corpse-Rat King ARC. The very first appearance of my novel in real, dead-wood, destruction of the rainforests pulp and print.
Ain’t she pretty? 
And the reviews are starting to roll in, too. Over at The Troubled Scribe, it’s been awarded 7 out of 10 Liams, with marks taken off because my hero is too complex. I’ll take that sort of markdown any day, especially when it’s accompanied by phrases like “distinctive voice”, “pure brilliance” and “beyond spectacular”.
You know you want to buy this book. You do. I want to buy it, and I know what happens… 🙂

THE GREAT BIG Co-RK TEASE, PART THE PAPER

Now, what about the rest of you?


If you’re the kind of old-fashioned fuddster who’d prefer to hold a real, live, dead-Brazilian-rainforest copy of the book, well, you probably think the Earth is one of God’s old silicon implants gone rogue and that women look pretty damn hot in a bustle and scold’s bridle.

Or you just like books. It’s all cool.

So: what do you have to do to get your greedy little hands on a paper copy of the greatest book ever written by a fat bearded bloke called Lee who lives in Mandurah?

Take a photo.

Okay, take a photo and send it to The Corpse-Rat King email address

Okay, take a photo on one of three themes. Have a guess what they are (Hint: there are three words in the title of the book). Then send your photo as an attachment to the Corpse-Rat King email address.

Make sure you do the following:

  • ·         Use either the word ‘Corpse’, ‘Rat’ or ‘King’ in the subject line, depending on which category you’re entering.
  • ·         In the body of the email, give me your name and postal address
  • ·         If you’re under 13, this may not be the book for you, in which case snap up a YA book from sister imprint Strange Chemistry to help ease the pain of missing out. Possibly one with unicorns. Or robots that change shape. Or unicorns that get caught in the gears of a robot as it changes shape…
  • ·         Only send me one photo per email, and don’t send me more than one for each category.
  • ·         Don’t get all smartarsey with photoshop or paintbox or fuckupyoursnaps.com or anything like that. People who use those things are never half as clever as they think they are. Just take a photo, and be clever and amusing and funny and all that without getting all digital and downloady about it.
  • ·         Make sure  the photo is a jpg and keep it under 1M in size. Better still, compress it down to document size, so that Idon’t have to when I post them.
  • ·         Keep in mind that judging is extremely subjective, and I’ll pick the ones I like, rather than the ones that might represent the best use of the technology blah blah blah. So be original. Funny is good. Sensewunda is good. “Fuck me, get a load of that!” is very good.
  • ·         Decisions are final, and any attempt to lobby or influence me may result in demands for cash, money, cup final tickets or Lego, depending on what I feel like on the day, and how close you live to a Lego theme park, and whether Forest ever make another Cup Final. Let’s be honest, we couldn’t make the finals of the Johnstone’s Paint trophy right now. Let’s be honest, we’d probably struggle with the FA Trophy. But I digress. And depress myself.
  • ·         Send your entry in before midnight, Saturday 18 August, Western Australian time (GMT + 8).

One Sunday 19 August I’ll post my 3 favourite photos from each category here and on my Facebook author page. Voting will remain open until Sunday 26 August. 


The entry in each category with the most votes will win a signed non-renewable-resource copy of The Corpse-Rat King. Copyright remains always with you, and all entries will be shitcanned deleted after the close of the competition, so rest assured I shan’t use them for any nefarious promotional, exploitative, unauthorised or onanistic purposes.

Except maybe for one or two of the Rat ones.

Any questions?

Sigh. Yes. The categories are: Corpse. Rat. King. Got it?

Good. On you go, then.

LET’S HAVE A COUPLE OF BIG, FAT, GIVEAWAY TYPE COMPETITIONS, SHALL WE?

So, what we really need to do is give away some free copies of The Corpse-Rat King, don’t you think?

Here’s what we’re going to do:

THE GREAT BIG Co-RK TEASE, PART THE ELECTRONIC



If you’d like to win a copy of the e-book version, log on to my Facebook author page and ‘like’ it. 

Every couple of days from here until September 1 I’ll put out a shout. Be the first person to shout out a page number between 7 and 395 and I’ll post an excerpt from that very page of the novel. 

Two randomly selected posters will win electronic copies of the book come September 1st, so don’t despair if you’re not the first to post– put something up anyway and you’ll go in the draw to win the e-books.
In fact, we’re already doing just that, so, in the interests of catching you all up, have the first couple of excerpts, courtesy of people who already had the sense to follow my page.


The still.
It was the only object in the room. Marius reached out a hand and pushed against it, wincing as the hot wood seared his palm. The heavy cask refused to move. Marius closed his eyes. That much liquid, in a barrel that solid, must weigh almost two hundred pounds. It was his only recourse. There was no time to think about it. Marius frowned, recalling the ease with which the dead warrior had lifted him from the ground. He must weigh nearly as much as the barrel, yet the soldier had hefted him without an ounce of effort. The dead had their own strengths, the soldier had said. And he was dead, was he not? At least, his body was. It bore all the hallmarks of being so. Perhaps it had the same strengths.
Page 54, thanks to Matthew Tait


They lay on opposite sides of the fire, listening to the rain thunder against the rock shelf outside. Marius stared out the dimly-lit entrance, willing on a sleep he felt neither necessary nor welcome. Anything to avoid another conversation. Then Gerd spoke once more, and the hope was shattered.

“You know, this reminds me of home.”

“What?”

“This. It reminds me of being at home.”

Marius contemplated the hard rock beneath his hip, the wind and spray chilling him from outside.

“How? You grew up in a village.”
Page 69, courtesy of Daniel Simpson


The old man cleaved the stickleprick bush without stopping, stick arms waving like a pair of spindly black machetes, cutting a path through the bushes at a pace that would have impressed a charging elephant. Marius watched him disappear into the gloom of the forest. Within moments the man was out of sight, but the sound of breaking vegetation continued for several minutes. Marius listened to the crashes of destruction fade into the distance, then turned back to the mule. They stared at each other. Marius’ gaze slipped down to the sand at his feet. No footprints spoiled the ground between the cart and the forest.

“Well,” he said. “What do you make of that?”



There’s another shout-out happening almost immediately, so don’t you think you’d better be getting to it?

SO IT BEGINS…

The first official review of The Corpse-Rat King is out, and I think it’s fair to say The British Fantasy Society is impressed.
The whole review is here, and if I can quote my Angry Robot stablemate (and fellow Lee-at-large) Lee Collins, I am revelling in chuffery.

ANNOUNCING THE GREAT BIG GIANT Co-RK TEASE!

Wanna win a free e-copy of The Corpse-Rat King?

Course ya do.

Here’s the thing:

Every four days between now and the release date of September 1st, I’m going to put out a call on my Facebook author page. Simply ‘like’ the page, then be the first person to shout out a page number (in the comments, people. Don’t just sit there at your computer shouting at it like you expect it to answer you. That’s what old people do.) and I’ll treat you to an excerpt from that very page of the novel.

That way you can be the first on your block to get a sneak peek of all the Hellestastic action, in just enough words to get you all erect and itchy-in-the-pants-area, but not enough that you have to sneak your undies into the wash before your Mum finds them and asks you some really awkward questions.

You don’t get the last 2 chapters: spoilers, sweetie. But pick a number between 7 and 395 and shout away.

If you’re not the first to post, don’t despair. Post something anyway– be witty, erudite, articulate, or just a normal Facebook user. Because come September 1, two randomly drawn posters will win an e-copy of The Corpse-Rat King for their very own.

You can’t ask more than that, can you?

Okay, a million dollars, a Lamborghini and unlimited oral from the three supermodels of your choice. You could ask for that.

But 2 electronic copies of the book. Let’s just focus on that, shall we?

First shout is out. Go. Post. Quickly now!

CORPSE-RAT KING: ALL DRESSED UP AND READY TO PUBLISH

Things are moving along sharpish, now that we’re 3 months out from publication—that’s right, you few remaining Battfans. The Corpse-Rat King goes on sale as of September 1st 2012.
You’ll have seen the cover art, of course, although it’s always nice to see it again, at least, it is for me and it’s my blog so I’m going to put a picture up again:

You want me. You know you want me.
Still so pretty J

I’m compiling a list of possible review outlets, so if you’re a reviewer and you’d like a sneak preview via the loveliness of the Angry Robot overlords, flick me an email and I’ll point you out to he-who-must-send-out-ARCs to have you added to the list. I’m also lining up a bunch of interviews and contra-posts on blogs, so over the next few months I’ll likely be flitting hither and yon about the internet whilst a stream of relative strangers settle into our little armchair-corner-of-the-netiverse to regale you with stories of that one time in college when they were really curious and shared a bottle of crème de menthe with their transsexual history professor….
And, in one of the more enjoyable tasks available to an author on the promo trail, I’ve been pimping for testimonials. And have a listen to what two authors, for whom I have unlimited respect, have said:
“A stunning debut novel, well-crafted and grotesquely inventive. With its madcap story, unforgettable characters and fine balance between humour and pathos, The Corpse-Rat King ticks all the boxes. Fans of Joe Abercrombie will love this.”

Juliet Marillier, award-winning author of the Sevenwaters series and Bridei’s Chronicles

The Corpse-Rat King is rugged, muscular fantasy, sure to please those who like their adventures rough around the edges, with wit and style to burn.”

Karen Miller, author of The Innocent Mage and the Godspeaker trilogy.

It’s all shaping up rather nicely, is it not?
So I’ll be around a bit more over the coming months, ringing you all up individually at 3am asking you why you haven’t pre-ordered your copy of the book. But be sure to answer: it’s a pain having to explain to the police why I broke your window and climbed into your bedroom in the early hours.

WE’RE SO PRETTY, OH SO PRETTY….

Oh, it is official.

The cover art for The Corpse-Rat King has been unveiled on the Angry Robot website and oh, it is so lovely.

Am I chuffed? Am I fucking what! So much more beautiful than I had hoped for, it’s the work of Nick Castle, who has provided covers for the likes of Nora Roberts, Ellis Peters and Donald Westlake, so I am in some very nice company indeed. I may be slightly biased, but I think this is a thing of beauty.

Go on, be honest. You really want to buy it now, don’t you? Well, come September, and we’ll all be rubbing this cover against our cheeks and making soft little mewling sounds.

Okay, well, I will. The rest of you should maybe just read it…

LET THE FOCUS BEGIN

Ah, so, first day of the year. A time for looking forward. A time for making plans.

A time for breaking out, after a year spent in a holding pattern.

Every year I make a set of plans, lay out a bunch of goals. And every year I achieve…. some, at best. Last year I had 5 major goals, and achieved 1. If life was school, I’d be sitting up the back of the classroom with the guys who started shaving in year 5, wearing boxing gloves so I don’t interfere with myself in front of the librarian….

So this year, 3 goals.

Finish the Corpse-Rat King edits.
Finish and submit Marching Dead.
Finish and submit Father Meurte & The Divine.

Forget weight loss. Forget gardening. Forget nebulous feel good back rubs of the soul. 2012 is where I produce novels.

Booyah.

PSSST… BUDDY…. WANNA READ A BOOK?

Are you an opinionated reader who wishes they could tell moron authors how they should write their goddamn books?

Got nothing to fill your evenings between now and the end of February? Looking for a break from bad porn, cheetos, and waking up at midnight covered in cat hair and your own sick?

Wanna have a read of something cool before the unwashed masses get their grubby hands all over it and turn it into some shitty teen movie with a poncey monobrowed git in it so you can act all superior and mumble about how you were into it before it became all popular and commercialised and cheapened and shit?

Then you’ve come to the right place, my friends!

I’m looking for beta readers to road test The Corpse-Rat King and tell me if I’ve missed anything in the couple of slack read throughs I’ve meandered through exhaustive editing process I’ve undertaken so far.

In return for spending your time snuggled up with a MS Word copy of the manuscript you’ll get a thank you in the acknowledgements and I’ll kill off an anagrammatically altered namesake* of you in the sequel. Deal?

First half a dozen or so people to email me get the gig.

* Playing with such things has led me to realise that my darling’s maiden name — Lyn Kiely– makes Nyl Likey, which may set the record for the crappiest Porn name in all creation……

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

980.

That’s how many novels were submitted to the Angry Robot Open Submission Month, back in March. And after 9 months, 3 novelists have emerged as new Angry Robot authors.

3 out of 980.

And I’m one of them.

As of late last night, Perth time, all the agent-robot negotiations have ceased, contracts have been signed and returned, blood has been spilled, sperm has been frozen in jars, children have been sent to labour camps, bios have been written, announcements have been posted, and I can now officially announce that The Corpse-Rat King and a sequel, titled Rising Dead (until I can convince the Angry Robot overlords I have a better title) have been bought, with the first to appear late in 2012 and the second in 2013.

You may consider me more than a little rapt 🙂

NANO: END OF THE FIRST WEEKEND

So far, so good Corpse-Rat lovers, and yes I know how bad that sounds, but think of the fun that’s going to cause on the search engines 🙂

It’s been one hell of a disrupted weekend: on Friday we moved the Teen Family into their new digs across town, and on Saturday morning moved our son back after a split-up that can only be described as ‘messy’, although ‘used and betrayed’ also springs to mind. Much comfort and support has been offered, and much future will now hopefully be grasped with both hands.

But amongst it all, I’ve managed to get some keyboard time, and as always seems to be the case when I push the writing processes a little harder than they might be ready for, subplots have revealed themselves with startling regularity. One of the hard parts of writing a sequel– a task I’ve only attempted with the Father Muerte short stories– is trying to creating the core of what made the original work without repeating yourself in either action, theme, or consequence. Unless, of course, you’re Piers Anthony, in which case, only the names have been changed to protect the gullible….

But progress it does, and in a way that’s keeping me entertained. Let’s hope that continues. For at least another 89 000 words, anyway…

 

NANOWRIMO DAY ONE

You know how it is when you’re all prepared to spend a month writing 50 000 words of a novel, and you have a cool title and a kinda-sorta-as-much-as-you-ever-have idea of, if not how the whole thing is going to go, well, at least kinda-sorta-as-much-as-you-ever-have how the thing is going to start, right?

And you know how you wake up on day one of the month, knowing you need to write at least 1667 words of this idea today, and back that up tomorrow, and the day after and so on, and the little man who lives at the back of your mind shows up in his coat and hat, carrying a suitcase, and posts a sticky note on the back of your eyes that says simply “Fuck you, buddy, you’re on your own.”?

Sigh.

Goodbye The Sin-Eater’s Lonely Children. Hello Corpse-Rat King: Rising Dead.

I wasn’t going to write a sequel. I really wasn’t. But, you know, I got me an agent, and I had the idea kicking about, and it escalates really nicely from the first book…..

Nanowrimo day one:


1836 / 50000 (3.67%)

THE CORPSE-RAT KING MAKES AN ANGRY ROBOT A HAPPY ROBOT

Back in March, I responded to the Angry Robot Open Submission Month for un-agented authors, along with, as it turns out, 943 other authors. Each of us sent in a synopsis and five chapters of our chosen novel– in my case, The Corpse-Rat King, with the understanding that we’d probably get rejected by the first reader, and if not, then the partial that was requested would probably be rejected, and almost certainly, if we got past that hurdle, the full manuscript that was subsequently requested would be rejected. Less than 1% of all manuscripts submitted were even going to get to the editors, and even then, they might not take any on.

But any chance is worth taking, so 944 of us took it.
A partial was requested, and I sent it in. Then the full manuscript. I sent that in, too. And three days ago, Angry Robot emailed me to let me know that The Corpse-Rat King has been forwarded to the editors so that they can decide whether or not to offer me a contract, one of only 9 manuscripts to make it that far. Coincidentally, that’s less than 1%
I’m a little chuffed 🙂
I’m trying not to get my hopes up: to be rejected at the last hurdle is like winning a pat on the back in the lottery, but I’m happy– this is a validation of my novel-writing attempts, and a big fat hint that there is something in my work in this new (for me) format that’s worth paying attention to. As I’ve said previously, it took me a long time to sell my first short story, and the lessons I’ve learned over the last decade of short story sales are counting for something. The chickens aren’t hatched, and I haven’t counted them, but at least the breeding program has relevance.
One beer, and back to work…
The full list of books has been announced here

1000! 1000 POSTS, WA-HAHAHAHAAAAA!

Wot ‘e sez.

‘Tis true: my 1000th post, and how fitting that it should be by way of a general Nate of the Station update. For it has been a busy couple of weeks, my little cabbage-leaf wrapped spatchcocks, and much WriterGuy goodness has been noticed.

We’re five weeks into the first intake of the Australian Writers Marketplace Online SF Course, and the second intake has now begun: it’s not too late to enrol, and we’re only chatting amongst ourselves until you can make it.

My first set of students have become analytical T-Rex’s and are producing story beginning after story beginning– there will be some hypercharged writers with a trunk full of stories coming atcha in the next couple of months, and it’s been gratifying to watch as they turn on to what I’m teaching and apply the lessons to their own writing. It really is quite amazing how an author’s work can evolve in a short period of time just by absorbing a few well-placed lessons, and there are a couple of names who are going to come out of this course and establish themselves over the next year or so. At which point I shall claim bragging rights and mango beer tributes in equal measure.

The agent search for The Corpse-Rat King continues: I’ve had a number of requests for partials, and one full has been asked for as well, so even though the rejections come regularly there’s enough interest out there to keep my spirits up. The adjustment from short stories to novels is a sharp one, and I have to keep reminding myself that it was a long time between writing my first short and selling my first, and that I can’t expect to simply pen my first longer work and have the world fall at my feet. Will I sell this one? Dunno. Will I have the patience and fortitude to write three, five, eight novels before I sell one? Fuck, I hope I don’t have to. But if I do, so be it. Everything is a learning curve. Still, let’s hope I sell CRK and we can go from there…

On the appearance front, I’ll be heading out into the wide world in my WriterGuy disguise on a couple of occasions over the coming months:

Luscious and I have both been shortlisted in this year’s KSP Speculative Fiction Awards, and I’ve been invited to attend as the guest author for the day, so I’ll be giving a little speech about my writing life and philosophies (and trying not to sob) as well as giving a reading, kissing babies, and doing the watusi with any stray gypsies who may be passing. Join us on the 14th August at the KSP Writers Centre to find out the winners and share in the general bonhomie and watusiriness.

I’ll also be heading out to Curtin University on the 26th of September to deliver a guest lecture to a Web Publishing class on social media and how I use it as part of my Dayjob and WriterGuy goings on. (Part of their Internet Communications Major, and how old does that make me feel? You can get a degree in the Internet. A degree. Does your degree come in pdf? I’m going to have a Horlicks and listen to my 78s will I think about it). That’s right, me: the guy who couldn’t get Google + to work, and still can’t get it to link to FB and Twitter properly. Me. Anyone else as amused by the thought as I am? Send your reply via this blog, my website, my Amazon page, twitter feed, Goodreads page, LinkedIn profile, Facebook, Google +, AHWA member page, or Livejournal RSS feed, or just tag this blog on Stumbleupon like any reasonable person would….

Lastly, as part of Dayjob World, I’ve taken up the mantle of Municipal Liaison for the Rockingham/Mandurah region of Nanowrimo once again, and have already started to compile the activities and prizes to keep everyone racing towards their 50 000 word target. Last year we conducted a series of workshops with Simon Haynes, Dave Luckett and Tehani Wessely as speakers. This year we’ll be holding a masterclass with an internationally-renowned Fantasy author from Perth who shall not be named just yet because we’re still confirming details but she’s very cool and one of my favourite people in the biz, and I’m busy gathering prizes for The Night of Writing Dangerously event to be held on the 12th: five hours of catered writing time broken only by prize giveaways, competitions, and the opportunity to go head to head with an established pro to win yourselves goodies. More details as they come closer to hand, but if you really want to join in you could always register on the Nanowrimo website, join the Rockingham/Mandurah region, and take part in the write-ins that we’ll be holding. All the cool kids will be doing it.

And that, for the moment, is about it. How was your day, my darlings?