Sunday, 31 July 2011

Summer Glitter Madness – 7 books for the price of 1!

Yes, I thought the sun had gone to my author’s head, too… but it seems she’s just being nice for the summer holidays. She’s making her Seven Fabulous Wonders series re-available as e-books and would like you, loyal unicorn fans and friends, to have the chance to buy them at summer glitter prices.

So here’s how it works.

On the 1st of each month, from now until January 2012, one of these titles will be published as an e-book for Kindle at the very special price of 86p in the UK (99 cents in the US). And as a special Xmas gift you'll get the final two books together at the offer price until the end of January. That’s quite a bit less than you’d pay for a birthday card, and you’ll be getting your hands on a professionally edited book that took several years to research and write.

Of course my author will be on starvation rations while her books are selling at this price. So for each title this special offer will run for one month only, after which the price of that title will increase as the next one in the series is published at the low friendship price. This should give you plenty of time to download the sample chapters, decide if you like it, and buy the book before the price increase. And if you have any friends who enjoy stories of adventure and magic with historical settings, be sure to let them know too... the unicorn doesn’t want the whole world to know, but friends are special.

Here’s the schedule:
The Cleopatra Curse – published 1st August (now £1-99)
The Colossus Crisis – published 1st Sept (86p until Sept 30th)
The Olympic Conspiracy – publishes 1st Oct (86p until Oct 31st)
The Mausoleum Murder – publishes 1st Nov (86p until Nov 30th)
The Amazon Temple Quest – publishes 1st Dec (86p until Dec 31st)
The Babylon Game – publishes mid-Dec (86p until Jan 31st)
The Great Pyramid Robbery – publishes 1st Jan (86p until Jan 31st)

The Muse is aware not many of you have Kindles yet, but don’t let that stop you! There is a way you can still get your hands on these books at the low offer price and keep them for reading later. Here’s how to do it:

1. Download amazon’s free “Kindle for PC” software HERE (If you have an i-phone or i-pad, you might like to get the free Kindle app for that instead, but it’s a bit harder to buy books from amazon on an Apple device now they have changed the apps.)
2. Go to the Kindle store and click on the free sample – e.g. you can get The Cleopatra Curse HERE.
3. Choose “deliver to my computer”.
4. Open your Kindle for PC program and read the sample on that.
5. If you like what you read, click the link at the end of the sample to return to amazon’s Kindle Store and  download the whole book. (You'll need an amazon account for this bit... or someone else's amazon account, if you don't have your own.)
6. Put a Kindle on your Christmas/birthday/wedding/other-excuse-for-expensive-gifts list.
7. Meanwhile, you can start reading the Seven Fabulous Wonders series using the Kindle software on your computer, or save them for later…
8. When you get your Kindle, go to the“Manage my Kindle” page on amazon and transfer your books from your computer so you can read them at your leisure. You will not have to buy them again.

The unicorn hopes you (and your friends) will take advantage of this special one-time only “7 books for the price of 1” offer, because the first book in Katherine's new Pendragon Legacy series Sword of Light  publishes in February, and it is going to be a beautiful hardcover book, which means it will cost considerably more than 86p. So depending on what my publisher says, the prices of my e-books may have to rise again in February 2012 more in line with the price of my new series. But don’t worry – the Muse will always keep you, the unicorn's friends, informed of any price increases so you’ll have a chance to grab them at the lower rate if you are quick.

If you are one of the many people who prefer paper books, there is also a fabulous review contest to win signed copies of the original paperbacks - more details on Katherine's website.

So is my author suffering from too much sun? Tell the muse what you think.

Summer Glitter to all from the unicorn!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

We all need a bit of kindness and care...

Being a unicorn, I naturally enjoy days out with my author to places where you can find creatures with four hooves. Unicorns are a bit thin on the ground in your world, but last week we discovered these sweet ponies at our local mare and foal sanctuary.

Anybody brought up on the Follyfoot books like Katherine was will know exactly what a mare and foal sanctuary is. It’s a place where horses and ponies with problems, who would normally be sold for meat or put down, get a second chance at life. Either they are rehabilitated and eventually rehomed, or they are given kindness and care in their old (and not so old) age.

Being close to Dartmoor, this particular sanctuary gets a lot of wild ponies from the moor - orphaned foals whose mothers have been hit by cars, mares in distress, etc. They also take in horses. This is Baboushka, a lovely TB-cross mare only 6 years old who has a problem with her hind legs that mean she cannot be ridden or carry a foal, since her legs won’t support the extra weight. As a broodmare, she is useless. As a riding horse, she is useless. But she has a lovely nature and is lucky enough to have a place at the sanctuary for life.

Of course none of these ponies or horses are serious business prospects in the way of a racehorse or an event horse, or even a general riding horse that repays its keep by giving its owner joy. Many of them need expensive vet treatment when they arrive, and some need on-going care. They rely upon charity and the goodwill of volunteers and sponsors for their very lives. But does this mean they are in any way less of a horse, or have less right to kindness and care, than a Grand National winner?

The horses and ponies at this sanctuary reminded me a bit of authors. A few win high-profile prizes and make their publishers millions. Those authors are the Grand National winners of the literary world, and naturally they get the very best of care – at least until they become too old to write books and win prizes, and are put out to grass. But many others are like the little moorland ponies, surviving on scraps of grass and in danger every day from thoughtlessly speeding cars. Some are like the foals who need dedicated hand-rearing, but if cared for properly will one day be rehomed and bring happiness to a child. And there is every sort of author in-between, from the second string who run in minor races all over the country but seldom win, to the riding horse who barely pays for its keep but brings joy to a small number of readers.

Horses, being dumb animals (Muse: let’s not go there…!), tend to get more sympathy than authors. But sanctuaries exist even for us. The Royal Literary Fund awards grants to writers in need, and also places authors in Universities all over the UK under their excellent Fellowship scheme. So if you know an author who is suffering, point them in the right direction. A bit of kindness and care can go a long way.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Festival Fever

It’s festival season! There used to be just the big ones like Edinburgh, Cheltenham, Hay-on-Wye. Famous authors were invited to get up on stage and talk to their fans, after which they might sell a few books and sign them.

In those days, Katherine went to Edinburgh – where she read out the curse in the Great Pyramid Robbery and broke the microphone. She has not been invited back.

Katherine went to Cheltenham – where she was interviewed jointly with Diana Wynne-Jones, whose signing queue stretched out of the door. Diana Wynne-Jones became ill shortly afterwards and died earlier this year. She (Katherine) hasn’t been invited back.

Katherine went to Hay-On-Wye, where they scheduled her event at the same time as the England vs Argentina semi-final. It was raining. Most people stayed at home to watch the football. She hasn’t been invited back.

But now there are festivals everywhere you look. A unicorn can barely trot through an enchanted wood without tripping over one. People want to be entertained, and authors are there to entertain them. If they do this well enough, they’ll maybe sell a few books (and usually insist on signing them). This is good. Authors should get out sometimes and meet their readers, and readers should get a chance to see what authors really look like.

You’d think there would not be nearly enough authors to go around. But there are many authors who never get invited to festivals. These authors are not your obvious entertainers, not young or beautiful, dashing or handsome, not a celebrity or war hero, politician or pop star, not last year’s best-seller or this year’s major prize winner. They are normal people who write books, and they are usually busy sitting at home and authoring their next book, while their more famous colleagues are busy talking about their last one.

Ever wondered what these "normal" authors think about their books and their lives? Well, now's your chance to find out! All this weekend, you can meet a whole range of children’s authors – the beautiful and famous included – over at the Awfully Big Blog Adventure’s first ever online literary festival.

There’s no mud.
There’s no rain to dash through to get to the next tent.
There are book giveaways and competitions.
If you’ve been held up in cyberspace and miss your chosen event, you can return later… next week even… and still find it happening in all its glory.
You can leave questions in the comments, and the authors will answer you.
Oh, and did I mention every single event is FREE?

So what are you waiting for? Hold on tight to the unicorn’s mane, and I’ll whisk you magically over there right now…

The Awfully Big Blog Adventure

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The History (and legend) Girls

My author must be in a summer holiday mood... would you believe she’s crept off again to post on another blog!

Today she discusses horses in history and myth over at the brand new History Girls, where you can find out why one of her books never got published… (Muse: no unicorns in it, maybe?)

Twenty-six writers of historical fiction for all ages will produce a daily blog post, and there will be competitions to win copies of their books. So trot on over there and register yourself as a follower for a chance to get your hands on a free book or two!

Who else is in the History Girls? You'll find all their names over on the blog, and here is a picture of some of them...

Have you met any of these authors? (Clue: look at the books they are holding!) One author is taking the picture, of course... Caroline Lawrence, so she's not in it. Nor is Katherine, because she wasn't there (but you already know what she looks like, and unicorns are much prettier, anyway!)

The History Girls

Friday, 1 July 2011

My e-book has a cover… AND a vampire!

The Muse would like to thank everyone who provided feedback on the cover dilemma for my author’s short story collection. Two strong favourites emerged, with the comment that they gave very different impressions of the contents:

Romantic types were attracted to the heart, obviously, with the more romantic title “Rubies”. Others went for the pale sphinx, with the comment that the title was a bit morbid, though horror lovers liked the dark sphinx, and bring on the death...

In the end, since these stories are fantasy rather than all-out horror or full-on romance, I decided on the pale sphinx with the title “Death Singer”. I think it suggests the weird and strange, which fits these stories better than the more romantic heart cover.

The full collection is now available as an e-book for £1-71, and contains seven tales demonstrating the wide range of the fantasy genre, including one about vampires written long before the current craze started by “Twilight”… honest! Each story carries an introduction explaining when and why it was written, and how it got published. One story (Sunbird Rising) has never been in print and may become a novel one day, so the muse would love to know what you think of it.

Full contents:
Death Singer – the forerunner of my Branford Boase Award winning novel “Song Quest”
Rubies – a vampire with a taste for cats comes of age when she meets her first man.
The Last Maiden – a unicorn hunt requires a maiden as bait. (Muse: uh-oh, time I wasn’t here…!)
Under the Eyemoon – a girl resists a ceremony that involves sacrificing her eye to a pool.
Sunbird Rising – a prince facing execution must choose between a spirit weaver and the rings of death.
Mars Take Seed Make Man – a (slightly rude) science fiction story set on Mars.
Empire of the Hare – the story of Queen Boudicca’s daughters with a touch of magic.

You can read part of Death Singer by downloading a free sample from amazon here:
UK readers
US readers

And if you are curious to know why short stories are rarely published as paper books, see Katherine’s post today over at Kindle Authors UK


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