In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne

In the Company of the Dead coverToday, I’m pleased to present to you In the Company of the Dead by Ciara Ballintyne, a new epic fantasy romance novel. Take a look and see if it sounds like something you’d like!

Ellaeva’s obligations to the death goddess leave her no time to hunt down her parents’ murderer—until both duty and revenge lead her to the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris has been exiled for striking his prince. As the castle falls under siege, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods—but the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.

Excerpt:

Dust rose into the sky, painting the sunrise red with a shepherd’s warning.

On the castle parapet, Lyram lowered the eyeglass and frowned. Beyond the ruined, outer wall of the keep, the terrain turned to densely wooded hills and then into mountains, but that much dust meant men and horses, and lots of them. No merchant caravans came past the remote Caisteal Aingeal, and he expected no supply train until the spring thaw reached the mountain passes, which would be two weeks or more. He turned to his aide-de-camp.

“Have any of the scouts returned yet?” The stiff wind whipped the words from his mouth and his auburn hair into his eyes.

Everard stood straight and stiff alongside him, impeccable in formal court jacket and kilt marked with the insignia of his rank. Before he could answer, a shout rose from further down the castle wall. A soldier pointed at the old gate.

Lyram pressed the glass back to his eye and swung to look, his basket-hilted broadsword banging against his leg at the sudden motion. With no trouble over the winter, and no reason to expect any, he wore only his gambeson and a leather tabard. The rest of his armour remained in his room—a lack that left him distinctly uneasy now.

A horse raced through the crumbling gate in the old vine- and grass-covered outer wall, the rider clinging to its neck. It galloped up the narrow dirt path that cut straight from outer gate to moat. This close to the tail end of winter, no cattle grazed in the waist-high grass between the two walls.

A hushed stillness spread along the soldiers lining the battlements. Tension squeezed a tight knot into Lyram’s gut. Nearly twelve months he’d waited here in exile, twelve months wondering if Drault would be true to his word—if he dared.

Now it began.

Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic.

She began her first attempts at the craft of writing in 1992, culminating in the publication of her debut work, Confronting the Demon, in 2013. Her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing is In the Company of the Dead.

She holds degrees in law and accounting, and is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world – how hard can it really be? If she could be anything, she’d choose a dragon, but if she is honest she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House M.D. – both the good and the bad. She is a browncoat, a saltgunner, a Whedonite, a Sherlockian, a Ringer and a Whovian… OK, most major geek fandoms. Her alignment is chaotic good. She is an INTJ.

Ciara lives in Sydney, Australia, with her husband, her two daughters, and a growing menagerie of animals that unfortunately includes no dragons.

Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne

Facebook: http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne

Website: http://ciaraballintyne.com

(Buy the book! Amazon | Kobo | iBookstore | B&N )

Enter to win a $20 Amazon/BN GC – a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you have a lovely weekend, Squiders!

Remember to Check Your To Read Bookcase

Happy Tuesday, Squiders. You get a post today! Hooray!

Anyway, funny story. I’ve told you about my Twitter book club before, right? Well, we’ve been running into issues choosing books, so we’ve just put a rotation into effect, where, when it’s your month, you pick a few books and then the final selection is chosen from your choices. So this month we’re reading The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold.

That’s not the funny part.

The funny part was that I checked the library and Amazon and came to the conclusion that it would be easiest to buy the ebook version of the novel. So I did. But then there was an issue with payment, so I had to buy it again. So I did.

And then I looked over at my bookcase, and the first book my eyes settled on was, you guessed it, The Spirit Ring.

I must have picked it up at one of the library book sales last summer, because I have no recollection of owning this or, indeed, any Bujold books.

This isn’t the first time this has happened either. Perhaps the most notable time was when, as a teenager, I was trying to find a copy of the novelization of Labyrinth. It was out of print. I searched everywhere.

I eventually found it. On the bottom shelf of the bookcase in my bedroom.

So this is just a reminder. If you’re anything like me, you don’t know all the books you have. It won’t hurt to take a quick look before you buy a new one, so you don’t end up with three copies of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In excellent news, Kit Campbell Books is almost fully functional again! So if you’re reading the blog over there, you will now be able to get posts again. I’m working on fixing images and pages, and everything should be nice and shiny over the next few days. I’m also going to put up some extras and bonus material from City of Hope and Ruin, so if you’re into that sort of thing, check around Friday.

How are you, Squiders? Ever bought multiple copies of the same book? Accidentally?

Cover Reveal: City of Hope and Ruin by Kit Campbell and Siri Paulson

Tada! Here we go, guys!

City of Hope and Ruin cover

Every night the monsters hunt.

A city that is the whole world: Theosophy and her companions in the City militia do their best to protect the civilians from the monsters, but they keep crawling from the Rift and there’s nowhere to run. Theosophy knows she’ll die fighting. It’s the best kind of death she’s seen, and at least she can save lives in the meantime.

They say the Scarred carve you up while you’re still alive.

A village in the shadow of a forest: Refugees from the border whisper about the oncoming Scarred, but Briony can’t convince her brother to relocate his children to safety. Briony will do anything to protect them. She owes them that much, even if it means turning to forbidden magic.

When Theosophy and Briony accidentally make contact across the boundaries of their worlds, they realize that solutions might finally be within reach. A world beyond the City would give Theosophy’s people an escape, and the City’s warriors could help Briony protect her family from the Scarred. Each woman sees in the other a strength she lacks—and maybe something more.

All they need to do is find a way across the dimensions to each other before their enemies close in.

(Pre-order: Amazon | iBookstore | Nook )

The pre-order price is $2.99 until the book releases on May 11, and then it will go up. A paperback version will also be available on the 11th.

Trying Out New Marketing

Happy Friday, Squiders. My apologies for once again dropping the blog when things get busy.

Here’s the good things for this week:

  • I figured out why my website was fubared and have fixed the issue (which took several emails to tech support and contacting my old host). I will have to fix all the images individually, which sucks, but at least now they are fixable.
  • We got the final cover art for City of Hope and Ruin, which looks awesome.
  • The final edits on City of Hope and Ruin were completed.
  • The ebook formats of City of Hope and Ruin were completed and uploaded to all ebook distributors (except for Kobo which will go live on release day) and pre-orders are live.
  • The paperback version of City of Hope and Ruin is ready to go, with the exception of some back matter.

It’s been a lot of work (as a professional book formatter, I’m the one who does most of the formatting for Turtleduck Press releases) but now the hard part is done, and I can focus on marketing. Yay!

Because there’s two of us, Siri and I have decided to try out some more expensive marketing techniques since we can split the price. I’ll come back in a few months to let you know if they were worth the money. But here are some things we’re trying:

  • We splurged on a fancy-butt book cover. Personally, I’m pleased with the results, but we’ll have to see if it significantly increases sales above previous books. We all know that, despite the saying, people do judge books by their covers. We’re doing the official cover reveal on Sunday, so check back then to take a look.
  • We’ve signed up to do both a book blitz and a long-term (12-week) blog tour. A book blitz is a one-day tour on a bunch of blogs, so we’re hoping that the combo of a lot, short-term and the more spread out ones will get and keep momentum up.
  • We’re also doing pre-orders, which don’t cost money. I think I’ve talked about them before. It will be interesting to see if they help boost first day sales or not.
  • Siri’s hosting an in-person launch party at her local scifi/fantasy book store in Toronto. I’ve never done an in-person launch and have never really had the inclination to do one either, so I will be interested to see how that goes down.
  • We’re also going to do a launch day party on Facebook. I’ll get you guys details on that once we know them (probably the middle of next week).

We’re going to do the combo of a Goodreads giveaway/ad again, which I’ve done with each of my previous books, and that generally works pretty well.

Anything you’ve tried that has really been worth the money, Squiders? Readers, what attracts you to new author/books (i.e., what sort of advertising do you find works on you)?

See you Sunday!

The Cycle of Serial Formatting

So, having run out of new Doctor Who episodes (until the last season arrives from the library), the not-so-small, mobile one and I decided we’d watch a few episodes of the original series, starting with the first doctor.

What I did not know is that each “episode” of classic Who is actually a series of episodes, usually somewhere between 4 and 6. While each episode within an “episode” contributes directly to the same story, the “episodes” themselves seem to be more or less episodic, without a specific order that they need to be watched in.

It’s a weird television format, and I don’t know if I’ve ever seen it elsewhere. Other same-era scifi shows don’t follow it (such as the original series of Star Trek or Lost in Space) and I can’t say that I’ve seen it in anything since then either. Shows tend to either be mostly or fully episodic, or all episodes in a season/series contribute to the same ongoing plot.

Now, books on the other hand…

Books used to be written in serial form all the time. Dickens did it. Dumas did it. It was cheaper and easier to distribute. But eventually we moved on to “books,” as it were, where a single story comes in a single, large chunk (or, in the case of series, a couple large chunks).

But it seems like now, books are moving back into a serial form. E-publishing makes it easy to put up and change your work whenever you like. I’ve seen people serialize a story, putting up each section individually, and then combine the work into a single novel when done. Some people do this for each book in the series, which kind of brings us back to the classic Who format: a series of serials.

How do you feel about reading/writing serials, Squiders? Have you done any yourself? Read any excellent ones?

Any thoughts on the first doctor?

Have a happy weekend, Squiders.

Why We Love Reoccurring Characters

Amazon’s put Doctor Who (except for Season 9) back onto Prime, so I’ve been catching up. (I continue to have a “this show makes no sense and I’m not sure why I continue to watch it, yet there must be something because I keep watching” relationship with DW.) One of the recent episodes I watched had an occasional reoccurring character that happens to be a favorite of mine, and I may have gotten unnecessarily excited when she showed up.

That got me to thinking about reoccuring characters in general. It seems–and this may be generalizing–that people feel more strongly about their affection for reoccurring characters than main characters, in many cases. Everyone has that character that, when they happen to grace a show, book, movie, etc. with their presence, makes their day.

(Or, alternately, it could be a character that they love to hate. Or just really hate. I’m looking at you, Kai Winn.)

Why do we react stronger to characters we don’t see that often?

Well, my going theory is that we get used to characters we see all the time, so while we relate to them and may feel closer to them (or, for characters we don’t particularly like, just kind of accept that they’re there and deal with it). They lose their impact, to some degree. It’s like the friend you see every day. You’re comfortable with them, you love them, but they’re not necessarily exciting.

Reoccurring characters are like the friend you haven’t seen in a year. It’s an event when they come and visit! It’s something you look forward to. And even better if it’s a surprise, and you open the door one day to find them sitting on their porch (assuming they don’t think they’re staying with you unannounced).

It’s not that they’re better, per se. It’s just the absence makes the heart grow fonder.

I do find it interesting that when a reoccurring character becomes a main or side character for a period of time, it can go really well or really poorly. It really shows how complete of a character that character is when some of that shiny-ness wears off.

Who are your favorite reoccurring characters, Squiders? Any examples of a reoccurring character turned regular that went spectacularly well (or not)? Any experience with your own reoccurring characters?

Ten Books That Have Stuck With You

I was tagged a week or so on Facebook by a writer friend for one of those chain letter sort of things that goes around. (Do you remember, like, actual chain letters? That you had to write and mail with stamps and everything? Those were weird, and yet they have stuck in the vernacular.) This particular one wants you to list the ten books that have stuck with you the most.

The note tells you not to think about it too hard, but I’ve found I’ve had to because it’s been hard to come up with 10. I read a lot of books–try to get to 50 every year, at least–but not many of those have necessarily stuck.

Here’s the list I’ve come up with:

  1. Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster
  3. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  4. Agnes and the Hitman, Jennifer Crusie
  5. The Sword of Shannara, Terry Brooks
  6. Howl’s Moving Castle, Diana Wynne Jones
  7. The Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
  8. Murder with Peacocks, Donna Andrews
  9. And Then There Were None, Agatha Christie
  10. Mr. Midshipman Hornblower, C.S. Forester

Of course, now that I’ve finally gotten those 10, more are starting to pop up. Harry Potter. Maria V. Snyder’s Study series. Macbeth. The Ancient One by T.A. Barron. Pegasus in Flight by Anne McCaffrey. And there’s stories that I remember snippets of, clearly, but can no longer recall the name of the book.

Isn’t that how it always goes?

Actually, now that I’ve thought of The Ancient One again, that might be good for a readalong. What do you say, Squiders? It’s a MG/YA science fantasy trilogy. The Ancient One is the middle book. I don’t know if I’ve read any of them since my early teens, so it might be fun to revisit them.

What are the 10 books that have most stuck with you, Squiders?

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