Every year, on Habitica, I do a whole Event for my birthday where I give away gems (the paid-for currency of the app) and spread a little joy through a challenge, which includes tons of self-care tasks and ideas for feeling connected, finding some joy, and helping your community. I’m still doing that this year, and if you’re a Habitica user, you can join that challenge!
Still, this year I felt like doing something a little bigger, even as I bring some of that joy and encouragement to take care of yourselves to this blog. So! This year, I’m doing a little giveaway: one person will win £50 worth of books from Portal Bookshop, and two people will win one book of their choice (£15 or under) from Portal Bookshop*. It will be a-okay to pick something that they need to order — you don’t have to choose from what they have in stock.
You can just put your details into the Rafflecopter giveaway and click on the freebie entry… or you can gain more entries by following my blog (if you don’t already) and doing some nice things! None of them should take too long or be too onerous, and there’s no obligation to do them in order to enter. It’s all on the honour system, but if you want to tell me about what you did, you can.
I do love giving people presents on my birthday, but if you’d like to make some return, I have some Amazon wishlists! Because of the nature of the internet, I’m not comfortable with giving out my address to all and sundry… but feel free to purchase things via Amazon, which should let you send them to me!
So there’s that! I hope the tasks I picked are somewhat enjoyable, if you choose to do them… and I hope everyone else enjoys my Hobbit Birthday as much as I always do.
* If it turns out that Portal Bookshop cannot ship to you, we’ll figure something else out. I’m hoping to use Portal Bookshop specifically because they’re great, they super deserve the support, and they’ve been amazing at facilitating my greedy love of books and my enjoyment of sending books to people I don’t know.
It’s nearly time for Wyrd & Wonder! I suppose I better do the introduction if you haven’t met W&W before, Dear Reader. Wyrd & Wonder, meet the Dear Reader! Dear Reader, this is Wyrd and Wonder! It’s a month-long celebration of all things fantastical, with various readalongs, discussions, giveaways and shenanigans throughout the month.
I’m notoriously bad at keeping up with this kind of thing, but I thought I’d do a start-up post at the very least! And while I’m at it, why not take the opportunity for a giveaway?
Rules and Ways to Enter:
The prize: One (1) book of your choice from the fantasy books I read during the period 1st May – 31st May, to be mailed to you directly from BookDepository.com or gifted via Kindle if you’re in an eligible country (this is flexible — if you have another preference, let me know if you win!)
How to enter: Use the Rafflecopter below! There are three ways to enter:
Click once for a free entry
Leave a comment on this post. The prompt in the Rafflecopter is: “Are you doing anything for Wyrd & Wonder? (You don’t have to be for a chance to win, I promise!)”
Posted about Wyrd & Wonder! Post something Wyrd & Wonder themed and give me the link to the post! Tweets don’t count, sorry, but anything longer-form does! You can do this multiple times, once per day!
Terms and conditions:
By entering, you consent for your details to be collected by Rafflecopter for the sole purpose of verifying your entry and contacting you if you win.
The winner will be contacted via email and will have three days to respond before I contact a runner-up to offer them the prize.
Duration: Until 31st May!
The books you can choose from:
Magic Bites, by Ilona Andrews
A Natural History of Dragons, by Marie Brennan
Snowspelled, by Stephanie Burgis
Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho
The True Queen, by Zen Cho
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson
Magic for Liars, by Sarah Gailey
The Dark Days Club, by Alison Goodman
The Afterward, by E.K. Johnston
Valour & Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal
Dreamer’s Pool, by Juliet Marillier
Fire Logic, by Laurie J. Marks
In An Absent Dream, by Seanan McGuire
Middlegame, by Seanan McGuire
Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik
Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City, by K.J. Parker
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse
The Ninth Rain, by Jen Williams
Welp, that should do it! Are you ready for this, folks?!
YES! Jacqueline Carey has a new book out, and you and I can get our hands on it right now. But before you rush off to the bookstore, I do have some chances here for you to win a copy of the book and, if you’re in the US or Canada, a bag full of extras! And that’s not all: below is an excerpt exclusive to this blog tour, just to whet your appetite…
A hundred yards from us, Pahrkun the Scouring Wind loomed out of the desert. For the space of a few heartbeats, my wits ceased to function altogether. Cloaked in swirling sand, Pahrkun stood mountain-tall. High in the sky, his great black head, long and inhuman, turned this way and that, glowing green eyes set in deep hollows surveying the landscape. I dropped the reins in my hand and fell to one knee, genuflecting without thinking. Beside me, Brother Merik did the same.
I forced myself to my feet, only to fall and genuflect again as Pahrkun moved with slow, graceful strides to reveal a vast tower of flame behind him: Anamuht the Purging Fire. One skeletal bone-white arm emerged from the flames to lift high, lightning crackling in her fist.
Brother Merik was shouting in my ear and pointing.
Anamuht flung her arm forward and a bolt of blue-white lightning struck the barren earth between us. In its sudden glare, the small figure of a man struggling to keep his seat in the saddle of a terrified horse was illuminated.
“. . . with the horses!” Brother Merik shouted. “I’ll get him!” Dumbstruck and nigh frozen, I did as he said, gathering up the fallen reins. The horses tossed their heads in protest, fretful and fearful. Brother Merik ran unerringly toward the Shahalim, unwinding his head-scarf as he ran. He wrapped it around Brother Yarit’s mount’s eyes and began leading them back.
The wind howled.
“Let’s go!” Brother Merik cried. “Go, go, ride!”
I tossed his reins to him. Carrion beetles crunched underfoot as I hopped about in an effort to mount my horse. A strong hand grabbed the back of my tunic and hauled me belly-down across my saddle. From this undignified perch, I managed to scramble upright, my feet fishing for the stirrups.
“Watery hell!” Brother Yarit wheezed. His face was coated with a rime of dried sweat and sand, his eyes bleary and bloodshot. “All right, kid. I guess we’re stuck with each other.”
We rode, the wind dying in our wake.
I glanced over my shoulder once as we fled. The Sacred Twins had vanished into the desert.
Thanks to Tor Books, for folks in the US or Canada I have a hardback of Starless to give away, with a bag of swag featuring a Starless quote postcard, hawk feather, #FearlessWomen sticker, #FearlessWomen pen, and star confetti. Enter below for your chance to win!
For those outside the US and Canada, I’m providing a prize of my own — the lucky winner will receive a hardback copy of Starless sent to them via Book Depository. Please do not enter this one if you’re from the US or Canada, because you have a chance at the prize above!
All of a sudden, I have a sudden rush of morbid curiosity, so here’s a survey about the kind of content you enjoy on my blog and what you might like to see more of. And since I’m at it and I’d really like you to answer, people who do respond to the survey get the chance at winning a giveaway: the prize is your choice of one book I’ve reviewed on this blog, sent via The Book Depository.
Everyone who follows here or promotes the blog will get a couple of chances, but if you complete the survey, you can get a bunch of entries by giving me a keyword in both your survey response and the rafflecopter.
To participate without doing the survey, you can get a free entry or promote my blog on social media. If you do the survey, don’t forget to give me a keyword or phrase (“hotdog pants”, “chocolate bookcase”, I don’t know, use your imagination), so that I can confirm your participation.
Today, I learned a thing. I was not very happy to learn this thing. See, it turns out that when you grab a book that’s been put out ahead of the release date, the sale doesn’t count towards that (fairly important) first week sales metric. I just googled it for something to link and easily found a bunch ofpeopletalking about it.
When I see a store put out books before release date, half of me thrills, but the other half wilts. Books sold then don’t count for week 1.
Instead of using The Book Depository as usual, I will pre-order two copies of A Gathering of Shadows and then mail them out myself when the giveaway is over. So you can be absolutely sure these will count, and if the Post Office ships to you, you can enter. I will end it at the end of February, so people aren’t waiting too long for their copies.
Now, I did include some options for extra entries by following my blog, etc, but the main way is via that tweet, and you can do that once per day.
Welcome to the newly fledged Bibliophibian! I’ve been promising a giveaway for a while, and this seems like the perfect time — especially since I’ve been longing for an easy way to do it, and now I can use Rafflcopter. Two entrants will be able to ask for a book or books of up to £10 value from The Book Depository. The only limitation is whether TBD ship to you!
The giveaway will end on Christmas Day, because that’s how I roll, but I’ll give people at least three days to respond to an email announcing their win.
Welcome to the fourth hour of the 24 hour readathon! Are you all having fun? This challenge is about just taking a minute to really appreciate what you’re reading — it can be really easy to get caught up in just getting as much read as possible, but there’s got to be stuff you want to remember. So to participate in this hour, here’s the rules:
Comment with a quotation from one of today’s reads.
Include your email address to make sure I can get in contact with you.
I will randomly select one of the people who comments.
And… that’s it! Your prize will be a book of your choice up to £10 in value from the Book Depository, depending only on being in a country that TBD ship to!
People who already know my blog will know I’ve been excited about this book for a while, because I was involved (very tangentially) in acquiring it at Angry Robot (read all about it!). I’m amazed by how fast the actual release has come around: it doesn’t seem like that long since I met the team. Anyway, when the blog tour for The Buried Life was announced, of course I asked for a slot — I’ve championed the book since the start! (My review will arrive shortly. I intended it to be ready by yesterday, and then I somehow missed that it is now July. To prove that, I just typed “June”, the first time.)
So here’s Carrie Patel, graciously answering my chatty nosy questions!
Hi Carrie, it’s great to have you touring on my blog. I voted for The Buried Life in the acquisitions meeting I attended back in October, so it’s exciting to see it all ready to hit the shelves. It feels like it’s been no time at all, to me, but how’s it been for you? Did you have to spend much time editing and tweaking it? Does it feel real yet?
Hi Nikki! Thanks so much for hosting me! The last several months have been busy and exciting—between getting ready for this release and working on the next book, the time has definitely flown. Fortunately, The Buried Life didn’t require too many edits, so I’ve been able to focus on writing the sequel. It’s still pretty surreal, though—I attended my first convention as a speaker last weekend, and sitting on the other side of the table felt unreal!
After my visit to Angry Robot, people were very keen to know things like how much input authors have into the cover designs of their books. I don’t actually know the answers, so what’s that whole process been like for you? Did you make any suggestions, or did it just appear like magic?
It’s funny that you ask, because it seems that the question of cover design comes up a lot. At the start of the process, Angry Robot asked me for any particular styles, images, and comparable book covers that would fit with the story and the atmosphere of The Buried Life. As I understand it, that’s unusually collaborative—many authors don’t get any input on cover design.
So, I sent Angry Robot a hodgepodge of images and reference covers that seemed to evoke a certain tone. My main request was not to feature the main characters on the cover. I don’t have an incredibly specific sense of visual aesthetics—I was more looking for something that hit the right mood or conveyed a certain atmosphere—but John Coulthart’s cover art was exactly what I was hoping for.
I know this is your first (published?) novel, so I just wondered how long that process has been for you. Were you always gonna write, or did The Buried Life knock on your door and take you by surprise? How many hoops have you had to jump through?
I always wanted to write a novel, but The Buried Life took me by surprise. I’d played around with a few concepts before, but none of them had really stuck. Writing The Buried Life began as a kind of progressive experiment—the first draft was a challenge to see if I could finish a book, and each new revision was a test to see if I could fix it up for publication.
The revisions were probably the most important part of the process, and I learned a lot from having to analyse and edit my work like that. All in all, the process took a few years, but a lot of that was just time between revisions, which allowed me to come back to my drafts with fresh eyes and a new perspective. I wouldn’t want to take that long on future books, but the first time around, it was certainly useful.
Is there a character in it who you’d like to be more like? Or maybe even less like?
My husband (rightly) accuses me of being a little too type-A, which is a very “Malone” quality. I’m goal-oriented by nature, so I can sometimes lose sight of other things when I zero in on a goal. I’d love to be more like Sundar! He’s driven but kind, and he maintains a sense of humour in the face of adversity. He’s perceptive about people because he’s genuinely interested in them.
When I’m writing, I know that things sometimes come together in ways I wasn’t expecting. Did you have anything like that? What surprised you most while you were working on it?
The manner in which Jane’s and Malone’s stories came together and commented on one another surprised me. I always wanted to write them both as protagonists and perspective characters, but I don’t think I realized until I was well into the process how different the two characters really were and how much that affected their respective conclusions at the end of the story. I love perspective and the idea that two people recounting the same set of events can tell completely different stories, and that came through for these two characters in a surprising way.
What’s the most difficult part of writing, for you? Is it something in the process of writing (getting started, editing, letting other people see it) or is it on a narrative level (being mean to your characters, not letting them run away with the plot…)?
Getting a good plot foundation can be difficult, and yet I often have a hard time pushing forward with a book like The Buried Life (or its in-progress sequel) until I have that. I take lots of notes and make spreadsheets of characters, motivations, events, and themes, but there comes a point at which I’ve written just about all I can about the story without actually having written it. Figuring out what’s missing and how to plug a gap in the plot, or give a character a more solid motivation, can be difficult.
What media has influenced you in your writing? From just making you want to write to something that sparked some of the themes and ideas in The Buried Life — I’m interested in any kind of influence, and obviously I know you’re a narrative designer, so it certainly doesn’t have to be books.
Books were the biggest (and first) influence for me. When I was in school, I couldn’t go anywhere without one. I’d read on the school bus, in the car, and at restaurants if my parents let me get away with it. I did get in trouble (at least once) for reading under my desk during class. While I’ve enjoyed stories in many media, novels have been the most significant influence, and certainly the one that pushed me to write The Buried Life. There’s something uniquely personal about novels and the experience of reading them.
I don’t know how many people read the acknowledgements pages of novels, but I always like to. So who’s behind you, behind The Buried Life, who have you really got to thank for getting this far?
My husband, Hiren Patel, has been immensely supportive of my writing. His encouragement, and his focus in his own work, has pushed me to keep improving mine. Also, I might never have finished the first draft without Josh Sabio and Will Moser, two friends of mine who read it in college as I was working on it. Knowing that someone was waiting to read my draft was a huge motivation.
When I got more serious about revisions, my critique partners, Jacqui Talbot, Michael Robertson, and Bill Stiteler, were great about offering the feedback I needed to get The Buried Life the rest of the way there. I’d thank my agent, Jennie Goloboy, and the Angry Robot team, including Lee Harris, Mike Underwood, Marc Gascoigne, and Caroline Lambe, for taking a chance on a debut.
Finally, I thank my family—my parents, Richard and Jackie, and my sisters, Julie and Sydney—for their love and support.
Six word blurb of The Buried Life for newbies. Go!
Sinister conspiracy in an underground city.
Thank you for answering my questions, and I hope you have a whale of a time promoting The Buried Life. Congratulations!
Thank you so much! It’s been a delight to have you along from the beginning of this crazy ride!
So, everyone: don’t forget that The Buried Life is coming out in August. Preorders are a great push for any book, and you might want to consider doing that through an indie bookstore. Once it’s out, it’ll be available DRM free through Angry Robot, but also on major ebook sites for convenience.
One of the great things about Angry Robot (and Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, when we still had them) is their willingness to take on debut authors. Let’s give them no cause to regret it!
In the meantime, I have my own copy already, so here’s another giveaway — comment here with a link to somewhere you’ve promoted this blog post (twitter, your own blog, facebook, tumblr, any mention counts) and you get an entry. On the day the book is released, I’ll draw a winner and buy them a copy via The Book Depository (or a retailer of your choosing that can take my order and deliver it to you). If there’s significant interest, I’ll pick two winners, so you increase your chances by spreading this to a wider pool of people.
I was really sad and shocked today when I was scrolling through twitter and saw this sudden announcement from Angry Robot:
As you will be aware, Angry Robot Books has a history of innovation and we continue to go from strength to strength. We’re constantly trying out new concepts and new ideas, and we continue to publish popular and award-winning books. Our YA imprint Strange Chemistry and our crime/mystery imprint Exhibit A have – due mainly to market saturation – unfortunately been unable to carve out their own niches with as much success.
We have therefore made the difficult decision to discontinue Strange Chemistry and Exhibit A, effective immediately, and no further titles will be published from these two imprints.
That’s not all that’s out there by a long shot, but that should give everyone an idea of the fanbase those imprints had out there, and how shocking the news was for everyone. I’ve been a fan of Angry Robot and everything they do for a while, especially since I won the Robot for a Day competition (where I met the staff and the blogger who was at that point their intern, Leah @ Uncorked Thoughts). I have a huge backlog of their stuff to read, from all three imprints, but I think I might spend this weekend finally getting round to books by Kim Curran, Laura Lam, Gwenda Bond, etc.
The good news is, the books already published will still be supported by Angry Robot, and rights for future books are reverting to the authors. The bad news is that various books that were slated to come out in the next few months won’t be, some series aren’t going to be finished (at least not with Strange Chemistry), and some authors don’t know where they can go next.
I’m going to follow the example of one of the posts linked above and do a giveaway of some of my favourite Strange Chemistry books. Comment with which you want to be entered for, and I’ll pick at random on the 1st July. You can enter for multiple books, but you will only win one. If you would prefer ebooks, we can probably arrange something, but the idea is that I will buy copies via The Book Depository and send them straight to you. I want to encourage new readers to get their mitts on these books and generate some buzz that might help the authors place future books with publishers! And yes, this is international.
So, without further ado, the giveaways:
Martha Wells, Emilie & The Hollow World.
Sean Cummings, Poltergeeks.
Rachel Neumeier, Black Dog.
Cassandra Rose Clarke, The Assassin’s Curse.
Winner’s choice of any book from Strange Chemistry or Exhibit A.
And honestly? I wish it could be more. I have so much sympathy with all the authors and staff affected. Let’s give them a good send off!
ETA: So, the winners! Grace won Emilie & the Hollow World; majoline won Poltergeeks; Erin won Black Dog; ameliazane won The Assassin’s Curse; Jessica won the winner’s choice (and chose Gwenda Bond’s Blackwood). All of them have been emailed and all of them responded already, so the books have been ordered and are en route.
Hey everyone, and welcome to the hour 16 mini challenge! I hosted one last time before I had this blog, and now I’ve got a permanent bookish home it’s great to welcome you all back. Last time we had a guessing game, but this time I thought I’d do something a bit more interactive to give you all a bit more of a change from reading.
It’s pretty simple:
Turn to page 35 in your current read.
Find sentence #3.
That’s the first sentence of a little piece of writing! It doesn’t matter if that’s a short story, a poem, the introduction to something bigger… anything creative counts. Bonus points if you make it a totally different genre to your original read!
Leave the piece of writing in a comment here, or link to it in the comments here.
I’ll pick someone at random to pick a book up to £10 in value from The Book Depository. So make sure you leave your email for me so I can get in contact with you, or you won’t be able to pick your book!
So, for example, I’ll just grab the closest book… The Bone Season (Samantha Shannon). And the sentence is: “I realised with a start that I was naked.” So here’s my little piece of writing:
I realised with a start that I was naked. That was the first thing — the fact that I was naked under the light sheet, and the quality of the light was somehow different to my own room back at home. I could hear someone moving around, careful and quiet. My chest tightened a little, and I turned my face further into the pillow, feigning a sleepy mutter.
“I know you’re awake,” he said. I knew his voice.
“It’s me, sunshine.”
It was, too. It was his voice, and his nickname for me. The only trouble was, Sam had been dead three years. I didn’t open my eyes, just burrowed deeper into the pillow, trying to figure things out. He was waiting, just standing there, waiting for me to say something. If I hadn’t said anything… But hindsight, you know what they say about that. “Why are you here?”
He came across the room, and a cold hand touched my shoulder. “I’m here for you.”
Which takes a sentence completely out of context from a fantasy book I haven’t yet read and turns it into what is the beginning, or maybe the entirety, of a horror story.
So hey, whatever your writing skills, give it a go! It’ll give your brain a nice change from all the reading. This challenge will run for five hours, to give everyone a good chance to join in. I hope the rest of the ‘thon treats you well!