Ordinary Day

And it's all your state of mind...


Boosting the Signal: Lonely Shore, by Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen
Castle and Beckett and Book
annathepiper

Earlier this spring I featured fellow Carina authors Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen, with their debut SF novel Chaos Station. Book 2 of that series, Lonely Shore, is now available from Carina, and so Jenn and Kelly return to follow up on the tale of Felix and Zander with a peek at another character–Zander’s brother, who is very motivated to track down his sibling and find out what’s happened to him! Check it out.

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Lonely Shore

Still Searching

Brennan Anatolius signed the holographic invoice and with a few key swipes sent it back to his assistant for routing to the appropriate department before closing his wallet’s interface. Darkness settled around him like an old, worn blanket. The emulated sunset beyond his office’s windows had come and gone God knew how long ago—he’d noted it, in the vague way you’d notice the air circulators switching off on their usual cycle. Nothing to worry about.

Leaning back in his chair, he rubbed the bridge of his nose. He should go home. His wife, Roz, was waiting for him and she’d been damned patient these last few weeks. She knew how hard it had been to almost catch up to his youngest brother on Chloris Station, only to have Zander avoid him so completely it couldn’t be an accident. But what, really, had he expected?

After falling into the black hole of Allied Earth Forces covert ops, Zed had stopped carrying a wallet. Any messages sent to his official, AEF-sanctioned account had gone unanswered. Then there’d been the viral holo of Zed and his team saving a bunch of civilians against orders—followed closely by the end of the war. Brennan had been sure that Zed would contact his family then. But he hadn’t. Six months had crawled by without any contact—until Zed’s override code had been used on their family-controlled station, Chloris.

Brennan slouched into his chair, a posture he’d never allow himself during business hours. He had to be calm, in control, a CEO worthy of his father’s legacy. Part of him knew that worrying about Zed wasn’t helping his health—the doctor had suggested his recent bout of insomnia was due to stress. Brennan figured it just gave him extra time to track down his brother.

He pushed forward and pulled out his wallet again. All right. The last lead he’d gotten was about a week ago, when the Chaos had passed through the gate near Mars. He tried not to think about how close Zed had been to their family’s home station of Alpha—Anatolius Industries’ oldest and most luxurious station, in orbit around Earth. Brennan had already established that the Chaos hadn’t docked on Hemera Station at the Hub—the central location where all the galactic gates led—but it wouldn’t hurt to check again.

In the back of his mind, he knew his search was fruitless. The only reason he’d found a trace of Zed before was that Zed had been desperate to get aboard Chloris to help an old friend. His little brother had skills. If he wanted to stay hidden—and clearly he did—Brennan wasn’t going to find him.

Still, he had to try.

When his wallet chirped with an incoming call, Brennan almost let it go to mail. Until he saw the name accompanying it. He scrambled for his wallet, fingers shaking.

“Zed? Zed? Please don’t have hung up!”

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Buy the Book: Amazon | Amazon UK | Nook | Kobo | iBooks | Google Play | Carina Press

Follow the Authors On: Official Site | Jenn’s Twitter | Jenn’s Facebook | Kelly’s Twitter | Kelly’s Facebook

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Boosting the Signal: Oubliette, by E.M. Prazeman
Page Turner
annathepiper

The first piece for Today’s Boosting the Signal doubleheader comes from fellow NIWA member E.M. Prazeman! She’s the author of the Lord Jester’s Legacy trilogy, and having laid personal eyes on her covers, I can report that they got a LOT of attention at Norwescon this past April. I’m looking forward to checking out her work, although from what I’m seeing in this piece, one will clearly want to tread lightly around her bad guys. She’s going to let you into the head of one of them now.

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Oubliette

E.M. Prazeman writes secondary world fantasies with strong historical leanings. Current works include The Lord Jester’s Legacy Trilogy (Masks, Confidante, and Innocence & Silence) and a short story which will appear in an upcoming anthology that will go on sale in November. Current works in progress are The Poisoned Past (Oubliette, Penumbra and A Dark Radiance), sequel series to The Lord Jester’s Legacy, and The Kilhellion, a sword and sorcery fantasy. The Poisoned Past will go on sale this summer. Oubliette looks good for an early June release! Now, please let me introduce to you a certain person from Oubliette whom you would not want to meet under any circumstances. If he succeeds, you’ll all get to see him again in Penumbra.

***

I’m a villain. I like it, and I’m good at it. I wouldn’t have become one, if people weren’t slow, stupid liars. Are you afraid? I don’t care if you are. Not anymore. I used to like fear, and blubbering, and people pissing themselves. I’m not sure what happened. For a while I thought I got bored with it, but honestly … don’t you look for a way to escape when I’m talking to you. I thought you weren’t as idiotic as the others, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with you. That’s a compliment, and a gift. You’re exceptional. Too bad for you, hmm?

Anyway. Years ago when I raped a man, something went wrong. He liked it, in a way. He killed himself later, but that wasn’t what changed me. I’m pissed that he changed me, by the way. He and his wife. I can’t stop thinking about that look in his eyes. Release. A strange joy behind his fear, as if I’d set him free. He wanted to die then. I didn’t want to kill him. Fuck, I wanted more from him. I wanted to make him mine forever.

I find it curious that both people I harmed who liked it were men. I should have enjoyed it better, I think, if they were women, but a hole is a hole when it all comes down to it, don’t you agree? No? It’s all right if you disagree. I don’t mind. Truly. As if I would care what people think of me.

Anyway, since then, for the most part, I kept my work simple. I interrogated, mainly using my wits and their lack thereof. I tortured people sometimes if I thought they’d respond in the way that normal, rational people do when they’re in pain, but that seemed risky to me. I should have trusted my instincts. Because that boy.

That boy.

I can still hear his exquisite voice calling my name softly down the dungeon hall. Cock. His mouth cupped the word like he wanted to take me in. A Trace. A lover’s whisper. Cock, a trace. Cockatrice.

Oh for pity’s sake you didn’t know who I was? Am? Whatever. It’s so obvious to anyone who’s paying attention. They called me Cock in school. I deserved it, earned it, both for the good and the wicked reasons, though they tried to humiliate me and make fun of it. And then, when I graduated, I took the name Trace. Cock. Trace. I have no idea why no one makes the connection between Trace the Master Jester and Cockatrice, the dreaded highwayman. It’s not even that clever. What can I say? I was young and I think part of me wanted to give the people who hunted me a little help because I didn’t feel hunted. I wanted to play the fox to their hounds and I wanted them to get close because that is about as thrilling as you can imagine. But they never got close to catching me, no matter how many sacred guards they sent after me. Now I’m employed rather than a free agent. I work alongside sacred guards every day. My employer would protect me if I was accused, but the pathetic nut rubbers that try to play mavson these days still haven’t caught on.

The boy, you ask? None other than the infamous regicide, that dreaded and feared little boy, Lord Jester Lark. Have you seen him? He’s as short and slight as they describe, with his angelic little innocent face. You’d never dream he was dangerous at all, especially when he’s not wearing his jester’s mask. I made the mistake of hurting him. And oooohhh, how he yielded to me, gave in to the pain. How he took strength from his endurance. I wanted to whip him bloody and then force myself upon him.

I’ve gotten quite carried away. Hand me that drink.

Thank you.

He got away and I want him back. I don’t want you. But I need you. Not like I need him. I need your skills. Track him for me. They say he ran off into the woods. That’s rather like saying he sailed away across the wide ocean, isn’t it? But you’re going to find him for me. It shouldn’t take you long. I know where he began, and I think I know where he’s going. We need to intercept him. And when you find him for me, I’ll be so preoccupied with my prize you’ll be able to slip away from me. I won’t care. I’ll happily let you go. Here. I’ll even pay you in advance.

Ha! You’ve never seen five sol together in one palm? Well now you have, in your own hand, my friend. I might give you another five if you find him.

But. If you don’t find him, I’ll have to take my money back and try to satisfy myself with you. For this boy does inspire a strange lust in me, and the closer I get to him, the stronger my lust becomes. Now, don’t you worry about him. He’ll be far more interested in me than you. He might be strong enough to kill me, which will be a great relief to the living world. But I’m betting he won’t hurt me. I’m betting that he felt the same thrill I did when I gripped his hair so hard that some tore free from his scalp, when I forced him against that cold, hard stone.

A shame we were so rudely interrupted.

Compared to him, you’re not at all interesting. But if you’re all I’ve got, I will use you. So go get him for me. And make it quick. I’m more patient than I was as a youth, but that does not make me a patient man.

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Buy the Book: Oubliette is not yet released, but follow the author for news on when it becomes available!

Follow the Author On: Official Site | Facebook | Goodreads

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Spring sales, because I CAN!
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

The good folks of NIWA are gearing up to do a special promotional sale of assorted NIWA titles in mid-June, so a) to jump the gun on this a bit, and b) just because SURE WHY NOT, I’ve put Faerie Blood back on sale for 99 cents on all places where it’s sold. So if by chance you haven’t snapped it up yet, you have another shot at doing so very cheaply! And if you HAVE already snapped it up, spread the word, won’t you?

Appropriate purchase links as always are on the official Faerie Blood page, but here are the major ones:

Amazon | Nook | iBooks | Kobo | Smashwords | Google Play

And while we’re on the topic of stuff of mine you can get for nice tasty low prices, don’t forget, the short story “The Blood of the Land” is ALSO available for 99 cents through most major retailers–but if you go to Smashwords, YOU can set the price, and that includes FREE. Here are those links too!

Amazon | Nook | Smashwords | Kobo | Google Play

All the rest of my titles are currently available for $2.99, including Bone Walker and all three of the Rebels of Adalonia books. You can fill up your ereader with my stuff for less than a trade paperback!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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Book review: Ancillary Justice, by Ann Leckie
Castle and Beckett and Book
annathepiper
Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Before I continued my sweep of reviews of the Hugo nominees for Best Novel–and in particular, Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Sword, I had to go back and get caught up on Ancillary Justice. And wow, am I glad I did. I’m very late to the game on this book, but I can see why it won ALL THE THINGS last year. Much has been said already about what Leckie pulls off with this novel, not only with the gender-agnostic society occupied by the main characters, but also with the dual plotline involving our protagonist, Breq. But I do have some thoughts on both.

Re: the gender-agnosticism of the Radch, this didn’t strike me as quite the Revelation(TM) as it might have done if I hadn’t read Samuel Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. But I have, and so the notion of people referring to one another as “she” no matter what their actual physical gender wasn’t particularly startling to me. I did appreciate how the worldbuilding allowed that even if the Radchaai’s language was gender-agnostic, the people themselves still had physical gender; the author has herself described that the Radchaai are after all humans, so yes, they do still have actual physical gender. This is supported in the text, when non-Radchaai react to gender cues that Breq has to work to actually parse.

That said, I’m of two minds about it. Half of me certainly delighted in being able to read a story wherein, if I so chose, I could imagine every single character as female. The other half of me wishes that Leckie would have gone further and used truly neutral pronouns–while at the same time, with my writer hat on, I can understand how that might have made her book harder to digest for the vast majority of readers. We do, after all, live in a still predominantly two-gender society, and furthermore, one which still considers “male” the dominant gender. There are factions of SF readers who have trouble admitting that women can star in SF novels–never mind write them. Heads already explode at trying to handle that. Asking them to handle people who don’t fit so easily into a gender binary is probably asking too much. (Though yeah, I’d like to see it happen anyway.)

And, re: the dual nature of the plotline in this book: yes, we’ve got a non-linear plot here, but one which has a coherent structure nonetheless, jumping back and forth between “present” time and a point twenty years prior. Once you get into the rhythm of it, you can follow along pretty clearly, even without obvious markers in chapter headers or anything of that nature. I appreciated that the book expected me to be clever enough to keep up.

But all of the above pertains to worldbuilding and plot structure. What about our protagonist? I loved Breq/One Esk Nineteen/Justice of Toren, and the entire notion of her being one segment of an entire ship’s consciousness. The book does a wonderful job at portraying what that multiplicity is like, even as it throws strong implications at you about the horrifying practices that make ancillaries for Swords and Mercies and Justices in the first place. But Breq in general is an awesome character, both as a ship and as the now-sole ex-ancillary bent on killing the Lord of the Radch. Breq’s body may be human (and there are hints that that body’s original personality might be recoverable), but her consciousness is not. Yet there are little quirks and nuances throughout Justice of Toren’s portrayal that tell you that the Ship has had literal centuries of time to absorb personality traits from all of its ancillaries. And to be sure, I’m particularly partial to how Justice of Toren liked to sing. Often with multiple mouths at once.

I do have to admit that despite the gender-agnosticism of Radchaai society, I kept looking for cues as to the genders of characters–notably, Seivarden, but others as well. I caught myself doing it, and in fact tried to force myself not to once I realized what I was doing, because I think that was part of the book’s overall point. Though in Seivarden’s case, gender cues are in fact explicitly called out early on, and it’s obvious that Seivarden is in fact male. (And now, writing about that character, I find myself actively torn between saying ‘her’ and saying ‘him’ because HA YES I see you what did there, Leckie.)

Plot-wise, I found the whole thing very focused, honed to crystalline clarity, with the dual plots ultimately leading to an intriguing and explosive resolution. Breq’s grudging caring for Seivarden is an excellent counterpoint to the drama that unfolds on Shis’urna, and Justice of Toren’s eventual destruction, with One Esk Nineteen as the only survivor. Overall, it was a distinct pleasure to read, particularly as preparation for going straight into Ancillary Sword. Five stars.

(Editing to add: and OH YES, I totally forgot to mention: in the Ancillary Justice Movie In My Brain, Breq is totally played by Summer Glau.)

View all my reviews

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Trilingual Harry Potter Reread: Book 1, Chapter 4: The Keeper of the Keys
Book Geek
annathepiper

Chapter 4 of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone brings us Harry’s first meeting with someone from the wizarding world–i.e., Hagrid! And we learn very quickly that Hagrid has no time whatsoever for Vernon Dursley’s shenanigans.

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Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


New theme on the site, WOO!
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

So y’all may notice* that things look a tad different around here. This is because I’ve activated a brand new theme on the site, namely, Florence by the folks at Solo Pine Designs. There are a few reasons for this!

One, AngelaHighland.com IS my professional writing site, and I wanted to step up its game for overall appearance. So I wanted to put out a little money to buy a professional theme that matched my overall personal preferences in how my site should look: i.e., minimal, mostly white, but with the proper font choices and other little accents to give the whole thing a unified look.

Two, something I’ve learned from the day job is that Google has started penalizing the search rankings of sites that aren’t mobile-friendly. By which I mean: sites that don’t have a mobile version loading for mobile devices that visit them, or, alternately, which do not have a theme that automatically adapts to a mobile device. Dara has recently done some work in the former area, i.e., setting up a separate page to serve as the landing point for mobile devices, and she’s already seen some interesting results in her Google numbers. Me, I am opting instead for a theme that’s responsive in design–i.e., which displays itself one way on desktops and tablets, and another way when viewed on phones.

Three, the Solo Pine folks are a Seattle-based couple who do web design, and hey, since they’re local, I was all the more happy to throw them a little bit of my money. So if you’re in the market for a theme for your site, you might go check out what they have to offer. They’ve got a system set up to do tech support for you too, if you need it.

Some other notes:

I particularly liked how the Florence theme handled displaying the site menu. If you look at the site on desktop or tablet, you should see the full menu bar. If you look at it on a phone, it should condense down to a nice little icon in the upper left corner that you can tap on to get to the menu.

Plus, the theme nicely handles interacting with my various social media presences. If you look up at the right hand corner, as well as down in the footer, you should see various icons pointing off to my main social network pages. Those aren’t all of them–I’ve left off YouTube, Soundcloud, and Vimeo, for example–but those are the ones of most importance.

And I’m not done yet with the various changes. I’m still working on various rearrangings of content on various pages on my dev site, and as I get things looking better there, I’ll be porting those changes over to here. I’ve already done this to the homepage, which you can now see no longer has a sidebar, and which is a little nicer in how it presents the covers of how it presents my books to you, too. Most importantly, the homepage SHOULD look good when viewed on a phone, too.

Be on the lookout for further changes to appear on the menu as I rearrange that, maybe delete some pages and move others. And I’ll definitely be updating the layout on the official book pages as well.

If you see anything that looks problematic or confusing, even if you thought it was problematic or confusing before I installed the new theme, talk to me! I may have already addressed the problem on the dev site. And if I haven’t, I want to know what confuses people so I can work on fixing it!

Hope y’all like the new look, anyway! I sure do.

* And if you didn’t notice because you’re reading this post on LJ or Dreamwidth, click on over to the site to see what I’m talking about!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


How to sideload a mobi file to Kindle on an Android device
Final Test
annathepiper

When Victory of the Hawk dropped in April, a friend of mine in Kentucky won the draw I did for the entire trilogy. Which was all YAY! So I set her up with EPUB copies of the three novels, and also told her that if she wanted to read them on a Kindle device or app, I could convert them to MOBI as well.

However, we ran into a snag. Linda told me that she was having trouble getting the MOBI files into the Kindle app on her device–which in this case was a Samsung Galaxy Android tablet. Since I happen to have one of those as well (i.e., the Samsung Galaxy Nook), and since I am after all a QA Engineer in the day job, I decided to see if I could repro her problem.

(This is kind of long, so details behind the fold!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Amazon Author Pages
Alan and Sean Ordinary Day
annathepiper

Theory has it that it’s a good idea to have an Amazon Author Page. So since I write under two different names, I have two different Amazon Author Pages! I went ahead and claimed “Angela Highland” as my pen name, which necessitated the following chain of communication:

Me to Amazon: Hey Amazon, I’m Angela Highland too!
Amazon to Me: Okay, we’ll have to clear this with your publisher.
Amazon to Carina: Hey, is this her?
Carina to Me: Amazon pinged us, is this your email address?
Me to Carina: Yep, that’s me!
Carina to Amazon: Yep, that’s her!
Amazon to Me: Fabulous. Here, have an Author page.

There’s my original Author Page for Angela Korra’ti, and the new one for Angela Highland. Those are both easy ways to look up my work if you want to buy any title for the Kindle, or the audio edition of Valor of the Healer. Feel free to bookmark these for your own reference, or if you know Kindle people who might like my stuff, point ’em at the links, mmkay?

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


Who does dev work on iOS out there?
Final Test
annathepiper

For any of you developer types who have to work with iOS, I have a question for you!

Namely: Apple has this new system that asks sites to use appstore.com links if they want to direct people to the App Store for a company or app. So for example, we have http://appstore.com/bigfish which takes you to all the stuff in the iOS app store by Big Fish Games.

My question is this: what if you’re not on the US app store on your device? According to this article on the Apple Developer site, in theory what’s supposed to happen is that you get redirected to the app store for your country. But what I don’t know is whether this is actually the case, and what sort of magic Apple might be doing to actually make that determination.

On one of our test devices at work, I just tried to set its app store to German, but found that I still went to a list of English apps if I hit that link in Safari. I don’t know if appstore.com is doing some form of geoIP checking or what.

Anybody able to enlighten me one way or another?

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.


More posts that didn't get crossposted correctly
Sky Full of Dreams
annathepiper
Couple more posts I've put up this week, since yet again, I'm having trouble crossposting from Wordpress over to Dreamwidth. The JournalPress plugin is getting increasingly old and cranky, I think.

And now, a rebuttal to my own rebuttal, which was a counterargument to On why tech companies drop support for older software

On whether loving SF/F makes us childish, in which, as you might guess, I have OPINIONS