Shadow of Stone FREE through tomorrow, May 24!

For the first time in years, I’m giving away one of my Big Fat Fantasies. Through tomorrow, you can get Shadow of Stone free on Amazon.

Shadow of Stone

Description:

For over ten years, there has been peace in Britain after Arthur and his warriors soundly defeated the Saxons at the battle of Caer Baddon. But sometimes peace is deceptive …

After a series of hard winters and famine, an alliance of dissatisfied northern kings attack the rich cities of Southern Britain. But in the years of peace, Arthur’s army has grown soft; jealousies and trivialities rip once strong alliances apart. Cador, who is mockingly referred to as “farmer king,” must go to war again. The threat to their way of life throws him together with Yseult, the woman he has secretly loved since he was a youth.

But can their politically expedient marriage help bring peace to Britain again? Or will it only lead to further conflict?

As betrayals both real and imagined shake the foundations of former British unity, Cador and Yseult must try to negotiate their own personal peace. Who will survive the upheavals to come? Will Britain rally once more behind a common leader to fight off the common threat?

If you haven’t read the first book, no worries — both novels are standalone stories, revolving around different Arthurian legends, and set in a more realistic historical setting than the more chivalric Arthurian tradition.

Enjoy and pass along!:)

How Much Did Kindle Unlimited Pay per Page Read in April, 2016? (Good News)

Some good news! Although the fact that we have fewer pages now tips the scales a bit in the opposite direction …

chrismcmullen

Image from ShutterStock. Image from ShutterStock.

KINDLE UNLIMITED PAGES READ: MARCH, 2016

The Kindle Unlimited per-page rate improved nearly 4% up to $0.00495663 for April, 2016. (Compare this to $0.00477885 for March, 2016.)

This is up 21% over January’s rate of $0.00411. A nice trend.

The KDP Select Global Fund held steady at $14.9M for April, 2016 (identical to March).

The improved per-page rate and steady global fund are positive indicators. The nearly $15M per month global fund is a huge amount paid out in royalties to indie authors (and that’s on top of royalties for sales). The per-page rate has almost returned to half a penny per page. When many critics have predicted a drop below $0.004 to come fast, the payment has nearly returned to $0.005.

These trends are consistent with seasonal effects of the original Kindle Unlimited version as well as the original Prime KOLL borrows back before Kindle Unlimited…

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HUGE 99c SFF eBook Sale – over 150 books! May 7-8

May SFF promo

The monthly Science Fiction and Fantasy group promo is here again, and this weekend, May 7-8, we have an amazing lineup of over 150 ebooks for only 99c each! It officially starts tomorrow, but many of the books are already on sale.

My contribution this month is the box set of Looking Through Lace and Beyond the Waters of the World.

Looking Through Lace Box Set

I really think you should take a look — not that I want to ruin your weekend … *evil grin *

KU Scammers Attack Amazon’s Free Ebook Charts

Sigh. The next scam making it more difficult for honest authors to make a living …

David Gaughran

freescamLast month, Amazon was caught up in a crisis at least partly of its own making when bungled attempts to deal with a growing Kindle Unlimited scammer problem resulted in the sanctioning of innocent authors.

Amazon has since apologized, and has also pledged to beef up its response to the KU scamming mess – but questions very much remain about whether Amazon is taking the problem seriously enough. A quick check shows that some of the main scammers are still operating, under the very same author names and book titles that were reported to Amazon in late February and early March. Which is very disappointing.

A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with Phoenix Sullivan about the problem and she told me about something else she was witnessing – scammers taking over the free charts in the Kindle Store. I could see what she was describing and invited…

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Champagne in Champagne

I promised to report on our short trip to the Champagne region of France, and now that things have quieted down a bit here, I can finally get around to it.

This month, my sister came for a visit for the first time in over 25 years. After a few days in our humble home, we headed off for France, where we met her daughter in Troyes.

Arriving in Champagne
Karen and Olivia

Troyes is an amazingly quaint and lovely town, full of narrow streets and half-timbered houses and old churches, deserving of a much longer visit than we had time for in the few days at our disposal.

Troyes, Champagne

Troyes, Champagne

From Troyes, we went to Epernay, home of such famous champagnes as Moet & Chandon. There, we took a tour of a champagne house and the cellars, and visited a number of places on the Avenue de Champagne for a tasting here and there.

Champagne

Champagne

Champagne

After Epernay, we went to Reims, where we visited the very impressive cathedral. It doesn’t beat Chartres, but it’s still one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve seen.

Champagne
Me and the old man in Reims

Olivia has been living in Nantes since last autumn, and it was great having someone along who was fluent in French. She even helped translate from English to French at one of the places where we were doing a tasting, which lead to a couple of extra glasses of champagne. *g*

We came back with a half case. Now I just have to come up with some special occasions in order to drink it.:)

You can see more pictures of our trip here.

Aphra Behn: 1640 (?) – April 16, 1689

Aphra Behn, the woman who made it possible for us women to speak our minds (at least according to Virginia Woolf), died 327 years ago today. Not only was she the first professional woman writer in the English language, she (probably) traveled to the English colony of Surninam, wrote prose works that could be argued to be predecessors of the genre of the novel, was a spy in the Netherlands for Charles II, and spent time in debtor’s prison as a result of expenses accrued in service to the crown. But instead of letting that defeat her, she went on to reinvent herself and become a vanguard for women writers. If all of that doesn’t make her worthy of more attention, than I don’t know what does!

Aphra Behn, portrait by Mary Beale
Aphra Behn: 1640 (?) – April 16, 1689

In honor of the occasion, here a brief excerpt from my novel Chameleon in a Mirror, a time travel homage to Aphra Behn:

Thomas Killigrew gave a marginally respectful nod of his head. He had been in the royal employ too long and in too intimate of circumstances to maintain reverence for his sovereign. “You should hear the petitioner, Your Majesty. She is the mother of one who was your spy in Flanders, and her petition has the support of Colonel Culpepper.”
“Blustery fool,” His Majesty said.
Thomas Killigrew nodded. “Certainly. But Mrs. Johnson’s claims are not unmerited. Her daughter Mrs. Behn had a great deal of expense in Flanders, and she served Your Highness faithfully. Perhaps you remember her — it was she who provided the feather headdresses and ornaments used in The Indian Queen and The Indian Emperor.”
“Ah!” Killigrew had finally caught the attention of his fickle employer. “A vivacious copper-haired beauty, as I recall.” Killigrew nodded. “She presented quite an extraordinary assortment of creatures from America for my collection.”
“That she did, Your Highness.”
“We would not want to see a beautiful woman rot in debtor’s prison now, would we, Mr. Killigrew?”
“Hardly, Sire.”
The King examined his fine, long hands, certainly more beautiful than his wide, long nose. “The woman was not as persuasive in Flanders as we expected.”
“No, she was not,” Killigrew agreed.
“Beautiful women should use their bodies when they want to live by their wits.”
The King’s Groom of the Bedchamber snorted. “And kings should use their wits more and their pricks less.”
Charles laughed out loud. “After those lovely bugs she gave us we do owe her something, don’t you think?”
“Absolutely, Your Highness.”
“Show the mother in.”

The rest, as they say, is history.:)

Chamelon in a Mirror

Very belated update, and Ygerna seeking a healer for #WIPpet Wednesday

A lot has been going on here in Central Europe, and I just haven’t been able to take the time for blogging while still moving forward on my writing. My sister came to visit — for the first time in over 25 years. Then we took a short trip to France, where we met her daughter and spent some time drinking champagne in Champagne. I still intend to write a blog post about that with pictures, but when we got back, I had better things to do: I FINISHED A COMPLETE DRAFT OF DRAGON TOUCHED TODAY! The rough draft was done end of February, but it was full of holes. That’s the way I work: first drafts are like a jumble of notes to myself and scenes that are completely written out. During revisions, I added another 20,000 words and deleted around 10,000.:)

This evening, I dived right back into Ygerna, inspired by the new cover by Lou Harper:

Ygerna

Do let me know what you think! It’s not finalized yet, and any feedback you have will be sent on to the cover artist. You can see the wraparound cover as well in my last post here on my blog.

I also never got around to a new goal post for this quarter, since that was up at the time my sister arrived, and shortly before we took off for France. I’m just going to carry over the goals from the last round.:)

I haven’t posted for WIPpet Wednesday for a while either. I’m sticking with Ygerna, but jumping forward to a scene I was just revising. Our protagonist has realized that she might be pregnant, and she goes in search of a healer who can help her do something about it. Thirteen short paragraphs for the 13th day of the month:

Ygerna reined in her horse on the outskirts of the small village and examined the roundhouses of daub and wattle. There was no help for it, she would have to ask someone which house was that of the village healer. She could only hope no one would recognize her; she wanted as few people knowing her secret as possible. That was why she hadn’t gone to the healer in the town across the land bridge from Dyn Tagell.
It wouldn’t do to be asking about herbs that would start her menses again there, where everyone knew the daughters of Erbin, the King of Dumnonia.
So she’d wrapped her distinctive red hair in a shawl, put on an old gown she usually only wore when she needed to help with chores, and set off for the next nearest village with a healer.
She dismounted and approached a woman throwing slops to the pigs. “Excuse me, can you tell me where the healer in this village lives?”
The woman set down the bucket and pointed. “The third house over there, Lady.”
Oh dear, the old mare and the old clothes had not been enough to disguise her class. Well, at least she knew no one here and no one knew her. They might call her “Lady,” but they didn’t know her name.
Ygerna lead the mare by the reins to the house indicated. A young woman perhaps a little older than Elen was tending a small garden of herbs and vegetables next to the house. A basket beside her contained some radishes, spring onions, and a couple of parsnips.
“Hello,” Ygerna said. “Are you the healer in these parts?”
“That I am.” The young woman rose, smiling, and wiped her hands on her apron. “How can I help you?”
Ygerna glanced around, unable to repress her nervousness. “May we go inside?”
“Certainly.”
The healer led the way into her modest dwelling, a roundhouse in the old style, and now Ygerna noticed that she too was pregnant. The belt of her gown was tied a little higher to allow for the gently rounding belly.
The healer closed the door behind them. “Let me guess, you need herbs that will abort an unwanted child.”

Emily Witt is our host for the snippet sharing session, in which we post an excerpt from a WIP on our blog, something that relates to the date in some way. If you want to play too, add your link to the Linky.

Black Baccara — A new tale in the Rose Knights Series

The Tale of the Rose Knights that went live on DSF this week is based on a rose I actually have in my garden. And here she is, Black Baccara:

Black Baccara Rose
Black Baccara in my garden

You can read the other Rose Knight tales on DSF here.

Enjoy!

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