Monday, 15 August 2011

Launch day: "Dark Edge of Honor"

It's finally, FINALLY out. "Dark Edge of Honor", co-written by Rhianon Etzweiler and yours truly, is finally available here.
(It's also available elsewhere, but this is where we get paid substantially more than, say, from Amazon.)


Sergei Stolkov is a faithful officer, though his deepest desires go against the Doctrine. A captain with the invading Coalition forces, he believes that self-sacrifice is the most heroic act and his own needs are only valid if they serve the state.

Mike, an operative planted within Cirokko's rebels, has been ordered to seduce Sergei and pry from him the Coalition's military secrets. His mission is a success, but as he captures Sergei's heart, Mike is tempted by his own charade and falls in love.

When the hostile natives of the planet Cirokko make their move, all seems lost. Can Mike and Sergei survive when the Coalition's internal affairs division takes an interest in what happened in the dusty mountains of Zasidka Pass...?

Amara of course has the skinny. She also has a giveaway here.

And an excerpt about Mike.

And a deleted sex scene. (Yes, we cut some sex... but we're keeping the goodness around for moments like this.)

So this is where you can join the fun. There will also be interviews and more deleted scenes.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots in London, or #LondonRiots

Last night, some people tweeted me whether I was ok - apparently there was rioting going on in London. I told them that I was fine and way, way removed from the violence in what I thought was only London Proper (I'm living in a commuter city just outside) and that, besides, my city is so sleepy and frankly rich - I call it "pork belly town" in my less charitable moments - there would be no rioting.

Chuckling a little to myself about the over-cautious, but very sweet attitude from my friends, I stood at the train station, grabbing my coffee and breakfast, when a visibly tired guy with tattoos on his arms - think type firefighter/battle-hardened copper - ordered TWO large coffees for himself, saying "what a night".

Curious as I am, I asked him what had gone on, and he said "The riots. They trashed the High Street." (To my US friends, "the High Street" is the quivalent of the "Main Street" - basically the main shopping street).

So, yeah, the riots happened in my city, too. I'm about ten minutes' drive away from the area, in a sleepy, very suburban area with terraced houses, which all look exactly the same. There's protection in uniformity, I guess.

So, looking at the news reports, I'm not surprised. Croydon and Lewisham - where the violence started and then washed into "my city" are deprived areas. I feel unbelievably queasy in both cities, and that lingering feeling of discontent and... coarseness, for want of a better word, has kept me away from the area ever since. The joke is that the only reason to go to Croydon - origin of trashy fake blondes and a weird, coke-snorting supermodel - is the IKEA store.

Lewisham has an excellent Indian restaurant, but the restaurant is in an area so ugly and down-and-out that basically, you want to go there in a largish group, ideally all male, and get the hell out of the area when it gets dark.

Now, I've lived in a socially deprived area. For 27 years of my life, I've lived in social, government-subsidised housing, but not once have I felt threatened there. I don't feel threatened even now - I have a very good sense of location and can usually tell well in advance if there's a threat anywhere. I'm good at judging moods. Both Lewisham and Croydon give me the creeps in a "I don't want to be here" kind of way.

My sensibilities are very much middle-class - but I'm a "kid made good" story. I come from those areas. I got educated, I worked hard, I left my "social class" and became very much middle-of-the-road middle class, with a little house and a little garden and a little pension, and a little business, and little aspirations to just get "more" of all the good stuff I have and generally be a nice, upstanding member of society. On the other hand, I do understand that same anger. If my life hadn't worked out, I could be there, throwing stones and torching police cars.

Britain has some huge social issues going on - the mobs of violent youths roaming the streets at night can only be understood if you've read Clockwork Orange. Youth violence is something Britain has just got used to, and it's frankly scary. I *like* staying a home, writing, but if I didn't, I'd stay home because the streets aren't safe, they don't feel safe, and I just dislike drunken people throwing bottles and shouting obscenities, only interrupted by them vomiting their cheap beer everywhere.

There are things I miss about Germany.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Coming up for air

In the last few weeks, I've been working on the "Dark" project, which comprises a number of short stories that are all linked by one character and all of them focus on one aspect of that character.

Yesterday, I completed the fifth story, called "Dark Lady", which is the natural end-point to one of the Big Archs I had in mind when I began exploring this. So, as it stands, I have 5 stories, ranging between around 5k and 12k in length, with a total wordcount of just under 40k - that's 2/3 of a novel.

There are a couple more stories, of course, so right now this feels like around 7-8 stories in total, grouped together in pairs and triplets for added structure. The last part (stories 7 and 8) are still missing, but I have their titles and will play with them over the next few weeks, hopefully completing the whole "Dark" project in the very foreseeable future. Then it'll need tweaking and editing and publication, of course. Right now, I'm pretty damn smug about this project - as smug as you can be when emotionally drained.

I'm also trying to help a friend sell her book, so I'm making phone calls and sending partials to agents in the UK. Just a day in the life, but at least it's a holiday, since I've taken the day off work to recover and regroup.

So, what now? There's a project that demands urgent closure before I lose the characters (yes, I can lose characters). I've promised some short stories and potentially a short novella tied into "Counterpunch", so I better get cracking on that. I'd absolutely love writing something for the current Samhain Publishing submission calls, but I have to step away from that, telling myself I have no time whatsoever for *additional* books.

Then there's the "Lion of Kent" sequel, and the "Dark Edge of Honor"-related novella, and the "Two Birds" book, and, of course, the most serious and slowest of all, the original WWII novel.

I'm hoping to get through some of them before the year's up. Sometimes I look at the list of stories I have to write and despair. It feels like there's just no chance in hell to finish all that in a lifetime, let alone a eighteen months or so. Worst is probably that people are waiting for me to join them or re-join them on some of these, and I'm already working hard and can't clone myself, and then I get my own books thrown at me by the muse, just like the "Dark" project.

I'll get there. One step after the other. Too many projects is - so much - better than being blocked.

Now starting on the "Counterpunch" shorts.