Books you should buy for Christmas (and not just mine!) :D

It’s that time of the year again: the weather gets a little rougher, the nights are seeping into our days, and you start saying things like ‘I can’t believe it’s dark at four o’clock!’ even though you have experienced this strange phenomenon every year of your life… It’s actually my favourite time of the year, being an Autumn/Winter person rather than a Spring/Summer type person, and this is despite the looming stress of Christmas – what to buy? What for dinner? Who are we eating dinner with? What lingering family resentments need to be avoided? Posting cards this year or just pretending that I did?

So this year I offer the following to help with some of the Christmas stress. Have a fantasy reader you need to buy for? Or just need to alleviate the pain of buying presents with buying some for yourself? (I do this a lot). Then may I recommend, um, my books?

Here are some excellent reasons to buy the Copper Cat books:

The covers are really very beautiful and feature dragons. They will beautify anyone’s bookshelves and immediately convey a sense of good taste and gravitas.

posting cover

The books themselves are quite hefty, so you are a) getting good value for your money b) could potentially use them to batter an intruder with.

Some quotes from people who have enjoyed the Copper Cat books:

‘Tolerable. Needed more elves.’ – Aragorn, son of Arathorn*

‘I liked the bit with all the horses. Wait, which book was this again?’ – Shadowfax

‘There’s fighting, dragons, treasure. What’s not to like?’ – Beowulf

Alright, okay, some quotes from people who have actually read the books (and do really exist):

‘Near perfect fantasy-adventure… read it and remind yourself what made you fall in love with fantasy’ – Starburst Magazine

‘Williams has thrown out the rulebook and injected a fun tone into epic fantasy without lightening or watering down the excitement and adventure… Highly recommended’ – The Independent

‘Highly inventive, vibrant high fantasy with a cast you can care about’ – The British Fantasy Society

The Copper Cat books are sword and sorcery with a modern edge – adventure, snark, terrible dark deeds done in the name of magic, and a sprinkling of sexy times. You can buy The Copper Promise and The Iron Ghost right now, and even pre-order the final volume in the trilogy, The Silver Tide. However, if chunky sword and sorcery books aren’t your thing, then here are some other fantastic books from across the genre spectrum, all of which would be spectacular additions to the space underneath your Christmas tree:

The Boy with the Porcelain Blade by Den Patrick – a darker shade of fantasy, with delicious gothic horrors and lashings of swordfights. The sequel, The Boy Who Wept Blood, is also available.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik – a gorgeous fairy tale with probably the most beautiful depiction of magic use I’ve ever read. Also, it’s quite sexy.

Battlemage by Stephen Aryan – like magic that punches you in the face? This is the book for you.

Banished by Liz de Jager – if you have young people to buy for (or you just fancy a bit of ass-kicking adventure yourself) then may I introduce you to Kit Blackhart? She is going to knock your socks off. The sequel, Vowed, is also available now.

The Vagrant by Pete Newman – a book that defies description, but it’s likely you won’t have read another fantasy book like it.

Anything by Robin Hobb – You’re a person of taste and distinction, so you don’t need me to recommend Robin Hobb to you, but perhaps you know a burgeoning fantasy fan who hasn’t read Assassin’s Apprentice yet. You know what to do.

The Devil of Nanking by Mo Hayder – a sudden horror/crime recommendation for you. If you like unreliable narrators and unspeakable evil (and who doesn’t, at Christmas?) I can’t throw this book at you fast enough.

Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky – a science-fiction reader you need to buy for? Expand their minds with this and never look at spiders in the same way again.

I hope that one of the books I’ve banged on about here will tickle your fancy, and remember that the greatest present you can give an author is a photo of you gleefully hugging their book you have just willingly purchased with actual money in a bookshop, or even, praise be to all the little goblins, a review.

Wishing you the best of times at the best time of year,

Jen x

 

*please note, there are no actual elves in the Copper Cat books.

Update: THE IRON GHOST launch, Marco Polo, & a Dragon Age Love In

Top news! We’re launching The Iron Ghost at Forbidden Planet !

IronGhost_v2 jpg jpg

It’s at 6pm on the 26th of February at the Shaftesbury Avenue store, and we had such a brilliant time there for The Copper Promise I am super excited. If you can come along I will totally draw dragons in your copy!

polo2

Just a bit of an awesome costume going on here…

So is anyone watching Marco Polo? Or as we now refer to it in our house, Marky P?

I’m just at the tipping point of a binge watch I think – three episodes in and I’m starting to hum the opening credits music to myself (which, if you’ve seen it, goes BWAAAAAARRRRRRM a lot) and develop attachments to certain characters. The series does some things that I traditionally don’t have a lot of time for; mainly, that the female characters are all defined by their relationships with men, or who they will or won’t have sex with (something that had me turning off Black Sails after a single episode). However, the female characters in it are very interesting and cool, and have interesting things to do, so I can see past that. Also, it features a huge cast of excellent actors from a diverse range of ethnic backgrounds (*coughs in the direction of Ridley Scott*) and the sort of ridiculously lavish sets and costumes that mean I could happily sit and watch with the sound off. Oh, and Hundred Eyes, a character of the “bad ass cynical dude with a mysterious history” mould, which I have a particular weakness for.

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The moustache that is the true star of DA:I

In other news, Dragon Age Inquisition is incredible. I can’t really write about it properly yet because a) it’s huge and I’m nowhere near finishing it and b) my love for it is so enormous I’m not sure how to express it yet. Everything I loved from the first two games has been turned up to eleven; the worldbuilding, the writing, the exploration, the combat, the companions… So, I don’t love them all unconditionally like I did with Origins – Sera, who was initially amusing, now gets on my wick, and Blackwall needs to loosen up – but they are all interesting, and I’m learning more about them all the time. Clear favourites for me are Cassandra, who is secretly adorable under the bad assery, Dorian, who is immensely fabulous in a deeply world-weary way, and Solas, who spends his time saying deeply serious and portentous things with a slight Welsh twang – I am a big fan of this. I confidently predict I will be playing this game well into my forties.

Writing wise, book 3 is still rattling on, surprising me and alarming me in equal measure. There are some new characters who have been enormous fun to write and all in all I’m a little bit sad that it eventually has to come to an end – no doubt I will be a sobbing mess by the final chapter.

Hopefully I will do a WOAH 2014 WHAT A YEAR THAT WAS AYE? post at some point (I’ve already put together a folder of photographs from this year, aren’t you lucky? What? Wait, where are you going?) but until then, I hope you’re all having a stress-free festive period, with vast amounts of cake and rum. Yes. xxx

 

Wishing You a Fabulous Yule! With Optional Sprouts

Xmaspye

It’s that time – the first box of Matchmakers is already half finished, there’s a giant piece of meat defrosting in the kitchen and the cat is trying to open the presents with the power of her mind. 

I hope you’re all having a most excellent and joyous Christmas holiday, with the teeniest of hangovers and no sprouts (unless you like sprouts, in which case I hope everyone around the dinner table donates theirs to you).

And if you happen to be getting a Kindle for Christmas, I hope you might consider entering the universe of The Copper Promise for a bit of pulp fantasy action – it’s here, and it wants to give your Kindle an xmas smooch.*

*apologies for the blatant plug, but the novelty of hearing people say “I’ve bought your book!” has yet to wear off. I doubt it will.  

The Brave Bit

And lo, we enter the armpit of my writing year, the blind boil on the bottom of my writing schedule; here we come my friends to December, the worst of all writing months.

It’s easy for me to appear to be a fantastic, productive writer in November. Nanowrimo surges me through the month on a tidal wave of word counts, calendars, countdowns, word sprints and all nighters, presenting me gleaming and victorious on the other side with 50,000 words and a certificate of win clutched in one triumphant fist. I write my socks off that month and kick writerly ass in all directions; I even wrote a short story this time, as if I didn’t have enough to do, and managed it all with, if not grace, then at least relentless cheeriness.

So it is always painful to come immediately to the bumhole that is December, when you have so recently bathed in glory and achievement. In December I am exhausted, for a start, burnt out from all the late nights and early mornings of the previous month, and there’s the sudden looming horror of Christmas, which I am inevitably underprepared for because I’ve been throwing my heart and soul into Nanowrimo. I suddenly need to figure out what I’m getting people and how, and when, and with which magical beans, and there are social gatherings happening that might require my attendance and for me to wear something other than an old chocolate encrusted jumper.

And the real bitch of it is, thanks to Nanowrimo I’m also at the hardest point in the book, that stinking gulf of words between 50,000 and 70,000 words where anything and everything can go wrong, and usually does. Every time it is the same for me- this is the point where I desperately want to give up and start something new, where I’m convinced I’m a terrible writer and the story I’m telling is boring, pointless and barely makes any sense. Every word is an agony and all attempts to make something new and shiny shrivel and die on the page.

Oh December, what fresh hell is this?

So this is the Brave Bit. Nanowrimo makes you look exciting and bold and impossibly glamorous, with your thousands of words under your belt, but if you’re like me and the book needs another 50,000 words to finish, then December is where you show your true bravery; where you screw your courage to the sticking place and bear down for the sheer excruciating agony of writing. You’re in for the hardest part of the journey now and there’s no comforting community to keep you going, no sense of a joyful challenge or even the false assurances that you’re not that bad a writer- there’s only all those blank pages to fill, a worryingly tight shopping schedule and a parade of increasingly threatening Santas.

So, I’ll come back to it all in January, yeah?

Dark Fiction Magazine’s Twelve Days Anthology

So Nanowrimo is over, Dead Zoo Shuffle is half way through, and hopefully I’ll be back to blogging again regularly. Phew!

Just a quick note today to do a brief snoopy dance of Christmas joy- not because I’ve actually done all my Christmas shopping (pressies bought = 2) or because I remembered to buy an advent calendar, but because my short story “Milk” has been chosen as the “maids a milking” section of Dark Fiction Magazine’s Twelve Days Anthology.

All the details are here: http://www.darkfictionmagazine.co.uk/blog/twelve-days-anthology-the-winning-stories/

I’ve also been lucky enough to have another one of my stories included in Dark Fiction Magazine in Episode 2: Dystopian Desires. If you haven’t heard it yet, On the Last Wave is here: http://www.darkfictionmagazine.co.uk/episode/issue-2/

Obviously, I’m dead excited about this because it means my name is appearing next to some authors who I really admire- a truly fab christmas present. 😉