It’s Another Book!!

CatMouse_CVR_XSMLAnd here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for: IT’S ANOTHER BOOK! CAT AND MOUSE, Book 2 of The Septimus Series, featuring further adventures of Catriona, Guy, Bibby, and Sepp – and introducing Cat’s best friend Nicky! Also introducing a whole lot of mice, a number of cats (one of them with only three legs), and more people who are going to be pretty important – but I’m not telling you too much about them yet because that would be giving things away.

Here’s the official blurb:

A silent young boy, a man like a rat, and a plague of mice—Cat has her work cut out for her.

It’s hard enough for Catriona, an ordinary modern woman, to get used to living in a magical medieval world, even without having mice pop up at every turn. Good thing Cat isn’t as squeamish about rodents as her friend Nicky, who has her own issues to cope with back in the regular world. What does the man with the twitchy nose want with young Ben, Nicky’s ward? And does the mouse plague back in Ruph have anything to do with the new apprentice Cat’s husband has taken on—the boy who won’t speak?

This book is now available:

on Amazon.com and .de for Kindle and in print

Amazon.ca for Kindle (print hopefully coming soon)

Smashwords for all other ebook formats

Createspace in print

CAT AND MOUSE – go get it now!

This & That & CAT AND MOUSE

I have things I was going to tell you about. Marmalade, and Charles Dickens, and watching the last episode of Season 1 of Once Upon a Time and what I think of it. But we’ll leave that for later, because right now the big excitement is that it’s only two more days until Cat and Mouse is available for actual sale in actual, um, virtual, um, online book stores.

Steve was complaining that he hadn’t had enough screen time recently, so I let him and Horatio model the print copy of Cat and Mouse. He was also complaining that there aren’t enough bears in my writing, and I’m sorry to say this book is no exception. Not a single bear in sight, in this or in Seventh Son. But of course, there’s cats, so that’s where Horatio comes in. Well, a tiger is a cat; so even though there are no tigers in Cat and Mouse, only domestic cats, I thought he’d be a suitable advertising model.

The picture also gives you an idea of the size of those two. Some friends who’ve met Steve in real life were surprised at how small he is. He’s a Gund, only 9″ (22cm) on his tippy-toes, 6″ (15cm) when he’s sitting – but I guess his screen persona comes across as much bigger. He’s a large bear on the inside.

So here they are. Doesn’t Cat and Mouse look lovely?

Steve, Horatio, Cat & Mouse

But there’s one more thing I had to share with you. I just got this awesome comment on my “Clean Air” post from the other day. You know the one where I rant about rude, inconsiderate, pushy salespeople with tunnel vision about their product? Here’s the comment, verbatim:

“it is great to see about air purifier . how many people know about air purifier we should know about air purifier this the mean thing so everybody should know about air purifier you can check about air purifier here [spam link]”.

I liked that comment so much, I left it up, with the guy’s name and links removed (wouldn’t want to risk even the slightest chance of giving him any business from his spam). Gotta love it when spammers make your point for you.

So, just a couple more days, and you can have Cat and Mouse in your sweaty little hands – umm, on your sweaty little Kindles and Kobos and iPhones and computer screens. The hardcopies will be a bit longer in coming; I’ll let you know when I’ve got some on hand for locals to buy from me directly, or you can order it yourself from Amazon US or Europe (Amazon Canada will take longer).

Life, the Universe, This and That and Cat and Mouse. Steve and Horatio say hello.

What SEVENTH SON Is Not

SeventhSon_CVR_XSMLThe other day someone asked me, once again: “Did you write Seventh Son?” Well, yes, yes I did. However, that’s actually not what they’re asking. They don’t want to know if I wrote a fantasy novel called Seventh Son; it’s something else they have in mind. And so, to answer that question, let me enlighten you about what my SEVENTH SON is NOT.

My novel is not the source text for the movie Seventh Son that is coming out next week (well, in North America it is; the release date is February 6th). The film has been several years in the making,  and stars Ben Barnes (heartthrob!) in the lead role. The source book (or, as they put it, “inspiration”) for that movie is actually not even called Seventh Son, but The Last Apprentice: Revenge of the Witch (original UK title: The Spook’s Apprentice), and it’s written by Joseph Delaney.

Another book my Seventh Son is not is the 1987 novel of that title by the great Orson Scott Card. His book is the first in his series The Tales of Alvin Maker (which he still hasn’t finished, as far as I know).

Hmm, now that I look it up, it appears there’s another work called Seventh Son I was unaware of – a 1926 silent film from Germany. I’ll  have to check that out; maybe Youtube has it.

So, just for the record: none of these stories are mine. And I’m not ripping off any of their ideas, either. In fact, I had written the text and decided on the title of my book before the forthcoming movie was even filmed; and didn’t read the Card book until several years later. Really, what all these stories, mine included, have in common is the old folklore trope that the seventh son of a seventh son has special powers – magical ones, generally. And that’s about all that’s similar, other than the title.

My book is a light romantic fantasy (well, yes, they’re all fantasy stories) about a young woman named Catriona, who looks into a turquoise pottery bowl and suddenly finds herself whisked off to a magical medieval village called Ruph in which the – you guessed it – seventh son of the seventh son has just gone missing, and she has to figure out not only how she ended up where she is and how to get out of that predicament, but what’s been happening in this town. I call it a Cosy Fantasy – you know, like a Cosy Mystery, but in a fantasy environment.

Card’s and Delaney’s stories are much more classical fantasy. Delaney’s would probably classify as Sword and Sorcery – well, definitely the sorcery bit (there’s a very nasty witch); while Card’s is the alternative-history variety – a different 19th-century USA with magic. The stories are darker than anything I would ever write; actually, they get darker yet as the series progress – I gave up on Delaney with the second book, and on Card with about the third volume. They’re well-written books, but I don’t enjoy reading that sort of thing, let alone writing it.

However, “dark” is a matter of definition. Both Delaney’s and Card’s “Seventh Son” stories are also Young Adult novels, at least these first books in the series are, in that the protagonist, the seventh son of the seventh son, is a young boy – twelve years old in the case of Delaney’s Tom Ward, even younger in the case of Card’s Alvin Maker. So what I call “dark” here is really very mild, by fantasy standards – it probably wouldn’t even warrant the term for most readers (yeah, well, I’m super-sensitive. So sue me).

And that’s another thing my book is not: a YA novel. My Catriona is not a teenager, she’s twenty-eight; and the Seventh Son in question is not a twelve-year-old, but right around Cat’s age, too. But that’s not to say that YA readers wouldn’t enjoy the story; in fact, I have it on good authority (i.e. word of mouth/keyboard) that several of them already did.

Incidentally, the movie that’s coming out is not a YA, either. The screen version of Tom Ward is most emphatically not twelve years old – in fact, Ben Barnes is over thirty. I have a feeling the movie might not have a whole lot to do with Delaney’s book. But whether it’s dark or not, I’ll have to go see that film; gotta check out the competition, dontcha know. But more importantly, while I’m a big fan of BB’s, there’s another young actor in that movie I can’t wait to see on the big screen: Lilah Fitzgerald, who plays Tom’s little sister Cate – I’ve met her in real life, although she probably doesn’t remember it (she was quite small then). Her mother is a friend of mine.

When I first heard that a movie with the title Seventh Son was coming out, I seriously considered changing the title of my book (I was going to go back to Septimissimus, which was its working title). But then I thought, No. I picked it first. Actually, Orson Scott Card picked it first, and they didn’t ask his permission about the movie title, as far as I know. Titles aren’t copyrighted, you can use whatever you want. And the basic idea we’ve all named our stories for is something none of us can claim credit for – the originator of that trope is lost in the mists of folklore.

So there you have it: Life, the Universe, and What My Seventh Son Is Not.

Incidentally, speaking of BB – a little side-track-advertising here: there’s a Ben Bauer in Cat and Mouse, the sequel to Seventh Son.  You know, just sayin’ – book release is in just five days! You can pre-order the ebook right now!

Is It A Book Review?

Wow. So here’s one of the biggest compliments I’ve received on my writing yet. Especially because it’s coming from Desi, who, in spite of the self-deprecating style in which she talks about her writing, is one of the best writers I know – I stand in awe of this woman, people. Of her academic work (she knew how to use “ontological” in a sentence years before I did, and can cite Foucault without batting an eyelash. ‘Stuffy academic bylines’, my foot!), her sheer bloody determination (check out her latest fiction project – it’s on her blog, in bits and pieces), and her incredible gift for Showing rather than Telling in her fiction (again, read her latest project – it’s called NP on her blog). To think that I had something to do with getting her back into the writing groove makes me feel incredibly proud. Yes, she’s a real-live writer, too, and it has been an incredible privilege to get to beta-read her work. (But just as an aside, it’s true, I do not have Viva Puffs and coffee for breakfast. We won’t talk about the snacks of ham-and-creamcheese rollups and the gallons of tea that get consumed during the course of my writing, though.)

[Addendum: 25/02/2015 – Desi took her blog offline temporarily, so I can’t link to it any more. But here’s her post the way it was on her website:)

Is It A Book Review?
Posted on January 25, 2015 by Desi Valentine under Writing 

I have friends who are writers. Like, real-live, actual writers whose publishing credits include real-live novels instead of stuffy academic by-lines and who do not have Viva Puffs and coffee for breakfast while caressing the covers of their brand-new notebooks. They tolerate me, these friends of mine. I would like to think that, when we see each other face to face, they will tell me if I have coffee breath or bits of chocolate showing at the corners of my mouth. Also, they send me their books to beta-read or soft-edit in advance of having a professional editor give it the ol’ fine tooth comb treatment.

I’m not sure there is a higher compliment.

And this is how I know these friends of mine are real-live writers. They take their work seriously enough to have it beta-read, and edited, and edited again before sending it out into the big wild world with professional cover design, registered ISBN, and probably a tear or two for the little bird all grown up. Unlike me, who (as you may have noticed) publicly slams out emotive quasi-gibberish before slipping down to the dungeon with a variety of chocolate products, a French press, a grinder, and a locally roasted case of black-and-tan coffee beans… and maybe a garden hose like that kid in the attic in Dirk Gently: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul…. I wonder if I could sell my husband on that.

Anyway, having talented, tolerant friends like these means that I get to read their books. And though I generally don’t do book reviews, and actually never give Goodreads ratings for books by friends for reasons having to do with ethics and the bizarre propensity for Goodreads’ users to rate books they haven’t actually read, I invite you to check out my friends’ work:

Angelika Offenwanger and I met in university, and she was instrumental in getting me writing again. I’d taken a two decade-long sabbatical after a bad experience with an unethical publishing house, and through chatting with her I sort of found my way home. She writes light fantasy that could also be called cozy mystery, and she’s really good at it. Her fun, fast, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny Seventh Son can be found at Amazon, SmashWords, Kobo and Scribd. The cover reveal for her new book, Cat and Mouse, was posted to her blog last week.

Angie West and I met through the We Blog blogging community. She was the first author to seek my opinion on her work, and the first to really open my eyes to the editorial freedom indie publishing makes possible. We lost touch while I was drowning in school and she was focused on a fast-growing list of new projects, but I have long regretted not mentioning her work to more people. She writes darker, more graphic, but still hilarious fantasy, horror and romantic mystery novels of which I’ve enjoyed Incubus, Shadow Cave, and The Fifth Hour.

There are a few other folks in my circle with novels-in-progress and new releases coming up. I’ll tell you about them once I’ve finished hammering out the draft of my WIP and emerged, pale-faced and trembling-limbed, from my chocolate-sticky and coffee-stale writing corner dungeon. In the mean time, do check out Angie’s books, and do get your hands on Seventh Son. I’m not a good enough friend to recommend them if I didn’t think they were worth reading.

Which means I shouldn’t expect them to tell me about the chocolate on my face, right?

Thanks for reading, everybody. I hope you’re having a great Sunday!

D.

Introducing: CAT AND MOUSE!!

Here’s the announcement you’ve all been waiting for with bated breath:

Coming soon, Book #2 in The Septimus Series, CAT AND MOUSE: the ongoing story of Catriona, Guy, Bibby, Nicky and Sepp! It picks up right where Seventh Son leaves off, so you don’t have to miss even one day of their adventures.

And here, for a sneak preview, is the cover (which was, of course, designed by the awesome and talented Steven Novak):

CatMouse_CVR_XSMLA silent young boy, a man like a rat, and a plague of mice—Cat has her work cut out for her.

It’s hard enough for Catriona, an ordinary modern woman, to get used to living in a magical medieval world, even without having mice pop up at every turn. Good thing Cat isn’t as squeamish about rodents as her friend Nicky, who has her own issues to cope with back in the regular world. What does the man with the twitchy nose want with young Ben, Nicky’s ward? And does the mouse plague back in Ruph have anything to do with the new apprentice Cat’s husband has taken on—the boy who won’t speak?

When I say “Coming Soon”, I mean within the next two weeks – look for the big release on February 1st!

Just ten more days! Look for it in an online bookstore near you!

Formatting and Stick Shifts

I’ve been spending the last couple of days formatting the new book (yes, you’ll hear about the details really soon, I promise!). And I’m exhausted.

It’s not the formatting itself that’s so tedious and tiring – once you know what you’re doing with that, it’s relatively painless. But that’s the key issue here: once you know what you’re doing. See, I did all the formatting for Seventh Son on my dearly lamented little white Macbook. And it had a copy of Word for Mac 2004 on it, which I knew my way around in. But after the Mac packed it in, I had to move everything over to PC, which included buying a copy of MS Word 2013 (that being the only version of Word currently available). Sigh. I do still have Open Office on the PC, but I’m not terribly familiar with that either – although it’s better than the new Word which seems like a completely different piece of software than what I was used to.

The whole experience has been rather like having your trusty little automatic car die on you, and having as your only option for replacement a stick shift, which you don’t know how to drive. And you need to get to that appointment in town right now, with lots of traffic lights and stops that give you the opportunity to stall that car – GRRRK Ka-klonk.

But what it comes down to is that you just need to keep trying it. After you’ve restarted the car about five times, you’ll learn to keep your foot on the clutch; and after you’ve changed your book’s interior file about four times and re-uploaded it to CreateSpace, you learn where to click in order to deal with those widows and orphans (solitary last lines of print that land on the next page all by themselves). And even if it feels like you haven’t got much accomplished in the day, you really have – you’ve learned something new.

So I think I can call it quits for tonight, and reward myself with another few episodes of Once Upon a Time – yes, we finally got Netflix, so I’m actually able to watch the series from its beginning. I’ll tell you what I think of it some other time.

canada geeseAnd by way of illustration, here’s a flock of Canada Geese, doing their, you know, Canada-gooseish thing. I’m sure it’s significant to this topic somehow.

Life, the Universe, Formatting and Stick Shifts. The book will get there eventually!

Blank Brain and Winter Birds

birds (1) I’ve got a serious case of blank brain right now. I just haven’t come up with anything wise, witty or weird to say on here – or at least haven’t been able to remember it long enough to put on screen (I had one or two really great blog posts plotted out – at 3:00 AM when I was lying awake with insomnia. Alas, they have vanished into the abyss of post-insomnia early morning sleep). So that’s why there’s been a bit of a dearth of postings here lately.

Of course, what’s in the forefront of my otherwise blank mind right now is my stories. The sequel to Seventh Son is actively in the works, and coming really soon! It’s largely a winter story, and was much easier to write at this time of year than Book #3, which is set around Summer Solstice. Maybe I should take a quick trip Down Under, and just live in summer for a while to keep that story moving forward. Any New Zealanders want to send me a plane ticket and put me up for a few weeks?

birds (3)Speaking of winter, I’ve been watching the birds bickering over seeds on my balcony bird feeder. And I got to wondering: how can they even survive the winter? At the beginning of December for several days in a row we had a cold snap where it was -15° C (in °F, that’s, umm, really really cold). How can those tiny little bodies make it through those temperatures without turning into little frozen lumps? But from what I could tell, they weren’t particularly bothered; they just puffed up their feathers a bit more than normal and became birdie puffballs instead of birdcicles. And then there were the ducks on the lake: the water was forming a rime of ice, and the ducks were still merrily paddling around in the unfrozen bits. That’s crazy – hasn’t anybody told them that warm-blooded creatures should have their feet freeze off in ice water?

Maybe it’s because they don’t know that that they can survive it. That was the theory I heard a little boy proclaim once, when I wasn’t all that big myself, about how birds can survive sitting on power lines. He was wondering aloud why they didn’t get killed by the electric power surge, and then he came to the conclusion that maybe it was because they didn’t know that by rights they should. From my superior vantage point of the ripe old age of seven or eight I was feeling vastly amused at his infantile theories (although I didn’t have anything better to offer, I figured that probably wasn’t it). But now I’m starting to wonder if he didn’t have something after all. How do birds survive the winter? It’s quite a miracle. And yes, I know there are wise explanations which are only a click of a Google button away – but really, when you think about it, it’s just simply astounding. Quite wonder-full, in fact.

Life, the Universe, Blank Brains and Winter Birds. Wishing you (and the birds) a good move into the New Year!

winter sunset
Midwinter Sunset

News From the Writing Trenches

Apologies for the infrequency of my postings lately. I’ve been hard at work on the third instalment of the Septimus Series. (Wait, you say – what about the second one? Fear not, stalwart reader, Cat and Mouse has been written quite some time ago, and is with my intrepid editor at this very moment. It should be available for your reading pleasure within a couple of months – I’ll let you know when!)

Steve beta-readingSo, meanwhile, here’s a picture for you of Steve beta-reading yet another one of my stories. He’s not the greatest beta reader, because his comments usually just go along the lines of “There’s not enough bears in here,” or “That bear is not believably written.” However, expert opinion on even just one specialty subject is not unwelcome, either. You can be sure that with his feedback, I’ll at least get the bears in my stories right.

However, speaking of beta readers, I could use a few more. So if you’re up for reading a novel or two and giving me honest feedback on it, give me a shout in the comments or send me a mail to amo@amovitam.ca. That’s especially if you’re an appreciator of fairy tales and/or gentle fantasy (by which I mean that it’s not the epic sword-and-sorcery kind – there’s no swords, and the sorcery is quite mild-mannered; as for eps, well, they generally don’t find enough scope for their epping in my worlds).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to Catriona – they just hit a cliff hanger which must be resolved in the next chapter.

Life, the Universe, and the Writer’s Life. See you on the other side of the full stop.