Sunday, October 22, 2017

Melanie's Week in Review - October 22, 2017




Greetings all. I am being very cheeky this week as this WIR is 'pre-recorded'. By the time this WIR gets posted I will be on holibobs in Canada. Sorry! Well not really sorry....if you follow my posts then you know I had some time off and I have a backlog of books to tell you about. I don't want you to miss a single thing that I have been reading.


Without further adieu let's get to it. What did I read?

I have been reading Cassandra Gannon's A Kinda Fairytale series but started on book 3 based on a recommendation on Ilona Andrews' blog. I thought I would go back and read a few others - mainly books 1 and 2. I will talk about these together as I read them back to back and they weren't so fantastic to deserve their very own, individual reviews.

Wicked Ugly Bad is set mainly inside inside the Wicked, Ugly and Bad Mental Health Treatment Center and Maximum Security Prison where Scarlett Riding is serving a sentence for being Bad and trying to prevent her stepsister's - Cinderella - wedding to Prince Charming. Stuck in a 'share circle' with The Big Bad Wolf, Marrok, a troll with self esteem issues plus a few other notorious baddies is proving almost too much. Letty is desperate to escape and it might involve joining forces with some unlikely allies in order to do just that.

Beast in Shining Armor tells the story of the un-hero Avenant and his quest to find a sacred sword. Booted off the throne by the lovely Belle, Avenant is determined to topple Belle as the monarch and get back his crown. Set in an icy northern labyrinth filled with killer minotaurs and a bunch of other evil contestants who want the same thing as Avenant means that he may have to team up with Belle just in order to survive. The odd couple may just be the right couple to win but can they overcome their past in order to find the finish line?

Both books are very similar - the Bad are really good and the Good are really bad, especially Cinderella. There are some quite amusing bits especially in Wicked Ugly Bad and in the bits with the 'share circle'....in fact, those parts are very amusing. WUB was my favourite of the 3 books that I read. It was definitely the most humorous and had more of a plot. Beast in Shining Armor was more typical PNR with the unlikely hero becoming the hero with the love of a good woman. It was funny in parts but those were few and farther between.

Overall, these were OK. I think I over did it with this author and they didn't stand-up to binge reading. If I had to pick only one I would recommend Wicked Ugly Bad and leave it with that one. I also read Not Another Vampire Story but I couldn't finish it, it was quite ridiculous, even for its genre.


The final book I am going to tell you about is Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow. Yet again life is not a bed of roses for poor Kitty Peck. Following the events of book 2 Kitty is once again being pursued by an evil cabal who are intent on destroying her and everyone she loves. Lady Ginger has the answers that Kitty seeks but she is near death and not intent on sharing her secrets. Kitty is trapped - either give the Barons what they want or suffer - and everyone around her would suffer also. Kitty has little time and even fewer allies to help her bring down those who want to hurt her.

This is another great instalment of the Kitty Peck Mysteries. Griffin has crafted a very compelling, if flawed character in Kitty Peck. You can't help feeling sorry for her and what she has been forced to become. We learn a bit about Kitty's parentage along with Kitty and this was my only point of criticism. The circumstances and details about Kitty's father is flawed. I can't see how Kitty and her brother could be near twins in looks and have been conceived in the circumstances in which Griffin sets out. It's almost as if she forgot that Kitty was younger than her brother. However, I am sooo looking forward to the next instalment. I can hardly wait!


That is it for this week. I hope you have found something enjoyable to read this past week. Until next time... Happy Reading!





Wicked Ugly Bad
A Kinda Fairytale 1
Star Turtle Publishing, March 11, 2013
Kindle eBook, 353 pages
     Also available as Trade Paperback

Once Upon a Time…

Scarlett Riding is NOT an ugly stepsister. Cinderella is the evil one in the family and Letty is determined to prove it. Unfortunately, that’s kinda hard to do from behind bars. After the debacle at the ball, Letty and her sister Dru were dragged off to the Wicked, Ugly and Bad Mental Health Treatment Center and Maximum Security Prison. While Cindy’s planning her dream wedding, her two stepsisters are being forced to endure life in the dreariest dungeon in the land.

Luckily, Letty has a plan to change that unhappy ending. If she can just get to Prince Charming and prove the glass slipper doesn’t fit Cinderella’s foot, she can reclaim her life. In order to do that, though, she needs to convince The Big Bad Wolf to lend a hand in organizing a jailbreak.

Marrok Wolf isn’t sure what to make of the idealistic redhead in his group therapy sessions. With fifty counts of Badness on his criminal record, Marrok’s used to being surrounded by crooks and scumbags. Scarlett wants to lecture him about equal rights for trolls! When the little do-gooder comes up with an elaborate plan to break their entire “share circle” out of prison, though, Marrok is certainly willing to go along with the plot. And not just because he wants to see her naked. The woman may not be wicked, ugly, or Bad, but she’s definitely the only one who can save him.

Together with a wicked witch, a timid bridge ogre, an evil prince, and other villains straight out of a storybook, Scarlett and Marrok are about to make sure that Baddies finally have a happily ever after.





Beast in Shining Armor
A Kinda Fairytale 2
Star Turtle Publishing, August 12, 2013
Kindle eBook, 325 pages
     Also available as Trade Paperback

Beauty vs. Beast…

Contestant One: Avenant is a handsome prince with a dark side. There’s a beast inside of him, always waiting to get out. All his life, he’s been labeled a monster and he’s done his best to live up to his Bad reputation. His parents hated him, his fairytale kingdom fears him, and now he’s been dragged into court. Again. His newest legal troubles are all because Belle Ashman stole his throne. The beautiful bookshop owner is the one woman Avenant longs for. The two of them have been in competition since childhood and the contest just became winner-take-all.

Contestant Two: Tired of Avenant ruining her dates, firing Mother Goose, and tearing down Humpty Dumpty’s wall, Rosabella Aria Ashman decided to depose the tyrant. Eight months ago, Belle led a rebellion and had Avenant thrown in prison. Now, the Beast has returned, demanding his kingdom back. Avenant might be gorgeous, but he’s also arrogant, selfish and he’s been mean to her since kindergarten. This time, Belle’s determined to vanquish him, once and for all.

The Ultimate Showdown: In the farthest corner of the Northlands, there is an impenetrable labyrinth. Made of ice and stone, no one has ever entered it and emerged alive. Now, Belle, Avenant, and other storybook contenders for the crown are heading into the maze. Whoever solves its riddles gets the kingdom. In order to win, Belle and Avenant are going to have to work together. Considering their lifelong feud, that would be challenging enough, but they’re also dealing with an angry minotaur, an unknown killer, miles of twisting corridors… and the fact that these two mortal enemies might just make a perfect team.





Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow
The Kitty Peck Mysteries 3
Faber & Faber, July 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 528 pages

Summer 1881: the streets of Limehouse are thick with opium... and menace. At eighteen Kitty Peck has inherited Paradise, a sprawling criminal empire on the banks of the Thames. Determined to do things differently to her fearsome grandmother, she now realises that the past casts a long and treacherous shadow. Haunted by a terrible secret and stalked by a criminal cabal intent on humiliation and destruction, Kitty must fight for the future of everyone she cares for...

Saturday, October 21, 2017

RSVP for the WOLVES AND ROSES Tour now… Get a T-Shirt Later




WOLVES AND ROSES is the new young adult shifter fairy tale by best-selling author Christina Bauer which “blends magical fantasy, swooning romance, and a bucketful of teenage sass” (Booklist) and is “a fun romp for Twilight fans” (School Library Journal).

And now they’re having a bookstore tour where you can get your copy of WOLVES AND ROSES signed, meet characters from the novel, and even take home a swag bag full of goodies… including a themed t-shirt! Bottom line? You don’t want to miss the WOLVES AND ROSES book launch tour.

Be sure to RSVP today and arrive early to the event (links down below) — there’s only a limited amount of swag bags given out on a first-come, first served basis to folks who purchase a new copy of WOLVES AND ROSES.


BOSTON, MA AREA


Barnes & Noble, Prudential Center, Boston MA
Wednesday, November 1st, 5:00 PM EST
REGISTER NOW

Barnes & Noble, Framingham, MA
Thursday, November 2nd, 7:00 PM EST
REGISTER NOW


NEW YORK CITY, NY

Bluestockings, Manhattan
Friday, November 3rd, 7:00 PM EST
REGISTER NOW


SAN FRANCISCO, CA AREA

Barnes & Noble, Corte Madera, CA
Saturday, November 4th, 12:00 NOON PST
REGISTER NOW

COMING SOON: Metro San Francisco


CHICAGO, IL AREA

Barnes & Noble, Oakbrook IL
Wednesday, November 7th, 7:00 PM
REGISTER NOW

The Book Cellar, Chicago, IL
Wednesday, November 8th, 7:00 PM CST
REGISTER NOW




Wolves and Roses
Fairy Tales of the Magicorum 1
Monster House Books, October 31, 2017
Trade Paperback and eBook, 292 pages

Seventeen-year-old Bryar Rose has a problem. She’s descended from one of the three magical races—shifters, fairies, or witches. That makes her one of the Magicorum, and Magicorum always follow a fairy tale life template. In Bryar’s case, that template should be Sleeping Beauty.
“Should” being the key word.

Trouble is, Bryar is nowhere near the sleeping beauty life template. Not even close. She doesn’t like birds or woodland creatures. She can’t sing. And she certainly can’t stand Prince Philpot, the so-called “His Highness of Hedge Funds” that her aunties want her to marry. Even worse, Bryar’s having recurring dreams of a bad boy hottie and is obsessed with finding papyri from ancient Egypt. What’s up with that?

All Bryar wants is to attend a regular high school with normal humans and forget all about shifters, fairies, witches, and the curse that Colonel Mallory the Magnificent placed on her. And she might be able to do just that–if only she can just keep her head down until her eighteenth birthday when the spell that’s ruined her life goes buh-bye.

But that plan gets turned upside down when Bryar Rose meets Knox, the bad boy who’s literally from her dreams. Knox is a powerful werewolf, and his presence in her life changes everything, and not just because he makes her knees turn into Jell-O. If Bryar can’t figure out who—or what—she really is, it might cost both her and Knox their lives… as well as jeopardize the very nature of magic itself.




MAESTROS Issue 1 Gets 2nd Printing

MAESTROS LAUNCHES ON A HIGH NOTE:
DEBUT ISSUE SENT BACK TO PRINT

PORTLAND, OR, 10/20/2017 — Image Comics is very pleased to announce that the first issue of MAESTROS, the new irreverent fantasy series from The Matrix storyboard artist Steve Skroce (WE STAND ON GUARD), will be rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand.

The Maestro and his entire royal family have been murdered, and his banished son from Earth suddenly inherits the Wizard King's throne along with a spell that turns its user into GOD. With enemies everywhere, will this Orlando-born millennial be able to keep his new magic kingdom?

THE REALM Issue 2 Rushed Back to Print

FANS CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF
THE REALM

PORTLAND, OR, 10/20/2017 — Image Comics is thrilled to announce that the second issue of THE REALM, from Seth M. Peck, Jeremy Haun, Nick Filardi, and Thomas Mauer, is being rushed back to print in order to keep up with customer demand.

In THE REALM, our world has been overrun by creatures of myth: orcs, dragons, and countless other horrors. The remaining humans survive in an uneasy equilibrium, fighting tooth and nail to keep hold of what they have left.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Paul Weimer on Civilization VI


“Just one more turn....”

That cry, said aloud or to oneself has propelled legions of gamers for the last 25 years. Ever since the original game came out in 1991, each iteration of Civilization has changed and expanded and reworked the game, sometimes subtly, and sometimes in rather radical departures from the previous iteration. There have been DLCs and add ons for the more recent versions as well, sometimes making a whole new game out of the core engine. There have been a few “spin off” games, like Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, which is “Civ in space” with the added wrinkle of telling a story of transhumanism and colonization of an alien world in the bargain.

I’ve played them all. Since the original Civilization, anticipating and buying the new Civilization has been in my blood. The anticipation of firing up Rome (the Civ I *always* play first by tradition, and the default when I want to play Civ in general) and expanding out that map, exploring, meeting neighbors, and taking over the world, one way or another.

Now, the latest iteration of Civilization, Civilization VI, is now out. How does it stack up to its predecessors? How intuitive is it for new players? Does it still have that one more turn feel?

Therein lies the story.

After picking your civilization, and other options, the typical Civilization screen is to see your Settler, and sometimes another unit, in a small area surrounded by black. Revealing that blackness, finding out what’s there, discovering the world is very much a key Civilization experience. For many people, this is the most fun part of the game, and it is for me, too. So the start came as a bit of a surprise.

That sepia map of the world around is lovely, even if it's not what I expected. I’ve seen this effect used in other games before, other “4X” games that Civilization pioneered, but this is an early marker to a player of previous Civilizations that some things are going to be new. Cities are definitely something that follows this. In games past, cities took up one square, and everything you built, monuments to wonders was in that square. Or should I say, hex. The first four Civilization games used a square grid, but Civilization V, the previous game in the series, changed things to a hexagonal tile map.

Civilization VI takes the hex map further. Cities, and wonders take up space, sprawling across the map. This makes the planning of cities out into a mini game in a way it rarely was before in earlier games. In some earlier games, there were arguments as to the “optimal” build. Here, where you build a city and decide to place its districts, matters and changes things enormously. Not every city can potentially build every World Wonder, as one could in previous games. There are restrictions on tiles for many of them. The Terracotta Army, for example, needs to be built on flat land next to an encampment. If your city doesn’t have an encampment, or the right land next to one, you simply can’t build the wonder even if you’ve researched the prerequisites. It makes city building and planning a far more complicated process than previous games, where one could practically build to a predetermined schedule (assuming no calamities to change the pattern). It also means that your opponents cannot race to the same Wonders as you do without fail. (In Civilization, if another Civ builds a Wonder, no other Civ can build it. There is and can only be one Potala Palace or Oxford University)

It's not all new. Many of the things are still there. Civilizations, some old favorites, and some new ones, and some new leaders for those Civs. In previous Civilization games, Rome was always led by Julius or Augustus Caesar, or sometimes both. This time, Trajan steps up to be your leader, your Optimus Princeps. There are more female leaders than in years past, and some unusual choices in that direction, especially with new Civs like Tomyris leading the horse-riding Scythians, or even the inspired choice of Catherine de Medici as the leader of France. As a sign of things for the future, Greece has a choice of leaders with different bonuses. You can play as the domestic focused Pericles, or as the warlike Queen Gorgo. This suggests, and I hope, there will be more leaders for the existing civilizations in the future.

The speculative element of Civilization VI is in the stories you can create, on maps real and unreal. What would happen if the Japanese rose to power, and had to fight for dominance against the Spanish and the Egyptians? The culture rise of India, even as on the other side of the globe, Brazil strives for similar dominance, while Australia and the United States fight each other. The long story of the Persians, slowly and inevitably conquering the globe. It’s these alternate historical and never-could-have-happened stories that give Civilization VI (and its previous iterations) that alternate historical feel.

But does it have that one more turn feel? Well, in the writing of this review I soon found myself immersed in a game where my Roman Empire was born, expanded, got into tangles with the Aztecs and Spanish (who,much to my disappointment, never got to fighting each other), got into a religious war declared on me by Greece, and eventually wound up sending a colony to Mars, with a science victory for the industrious citizens of the Eternal Empire. So, in the end, the answer is yes.




About Paul

Paul Weimer is a SF writer, reviewer, and podcaster and an avid amateur photographer. When he isn’t doing any of that, he’s often found rolling dice and roleplaying. His audio work can be found on the Skiffy and Fanty Show and SFF audio. His reviews and columns can also be found at Tor.com and the Barnes and Noble SF/F blog, amongst other places. Paul is best seen on Twitter as @princejvstin.



Civilization VI was released on October 21, 2016. Developer: Firaxis Games. Publisher: 2K Games. More information at the Civilization VI site.

Fire Emblem Warriors Out Today for Nintendo Switch and New Nintendo 3DS



Fire Emblem Warriors for Nintendo Switch and New Nintendo 3DS Launches on Oct. 20

Day-One Update and DLC Help to Expand the Adventure

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 19, 2017 – When the Fire Emblem Warriors game launches Oct. 20 for the Nintendo Switch and New Nintendo 3DS family of systems, it will do so with a wealth of content and action-packed gameplay. The new game offers a twist on the acclaimed Fire Emblem series by uniting fan-favorite characters from Fire Emblem history to participate in over-the-top battles focused on real-time, tactical action rather than turn-based strategy.

Fire Emblem Warriors offers action-filled combat through an epic campaign starring more than 20 playable warriors, including two new characters, Lianna and Rowan, battling alongside beloved heroes like Marth, Lyn, Xander, Corrin and Chrom. Fans who want to get even more out of the game can download the free DLC Japanese voice pack and free software update on launch day, as well as purchase upcoming DLC.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

REDNECK #7 Variant for Houston Charity Revealed


IMAGE/SKYBOUND ENTERTAINMENT REVEALS REDNECK VARIANT FOR HOUSTON CHARITY

PORTLAND, OR, 10/19/2017 — Image/Skybound Entertainment is pleased to reveal a special REDNECK #7 charity variant to support the Houston Coalition for the Homeless, which features cover art by Nick Derington. REDNECK is a vampire story set in the Lonestar state, created by Texan writer Donny Cates and artist Lisandro Estherran.

100% of proceeds from the REDNECK #7 charity variant will go to the Houston Coalition for the Homeless.

Nintendo Download, October 19, 2017: Ready, Aim, Fire Emblem!


This week’s Nintendo Download includes the following featured content:
  • Nintendo eShop on Nintendo Switch
    • Fire Emblem Warriors – Clash with legions of enemies as Marth, Xander, Corrin, Chrom and other Fire Emblem warriors by unleashing over-the-top-powerful Dynasty Warriors-style moves. Take control of characters with distinct attacks, issue strategic commands and pair up warriors for stunning moves in an epic tactical action game from the Hyrule Warriors team. The Fire Emblem Warriors game will be available on Oct. 20.
    • Just Dance 2018 – Whether you’re a party starter, a dancer in the making or a seasoned pro, get ready to turn up the volume and unleash your inner dancer. Dance to 40 of the hottest tracks of the year, including hits like “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars, “Side to Side” by Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj and “Chantaje” by Shakira ft. Maluma. Great for family gatherings, parties and holidays, the Just Dance 2018 game brings family and friends together like no other game. Additional accessories may be required for multiplayer mode and are sold separately. Just Dance 2018 will be available on Oct. 24.

Interview with Glynn Stewart


Please welcome Glynn Stewart to The Qwillery. Interstellar Mage, the first novel in the Starship's Mage Red Falcon series, was published on October 14th by Faolan's Pen Publishing.







TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Glynn:  Thanks for having me!

I have always written. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write, I always had so many ideas to try and get out of my head.



TQAre you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Glynn:  Mostly a plotter, though probably at least partially a hybrid. I write an outline, of varying levels of detail, before I get started, but the final book usually has at least one major divergence from the outline.



TQDescribe Interstellar Mage in 140 characters or less.

Glynn:  Magic meets light speed as a simple cargo starship – powered by magic – is dragged into politics and an underworld crime war.



TQTell us something about Interstellar Mage that is not found in the book description.

GlynnInterstellar Mage brings back many of the characters from Starship’s Mage that didn’t show up in the rest of the series—and they’re about the only people on the new ship without secret agendas!



TQDoes Interstellar Mage tie-in to any of your other series - Starship's Mage, Castle Federation or Duchy of Terra?

Glynn:  It’s the first book in the second series of the Starship’s Mage universe, starting off a trilogy that runs in parallel to the second and third books of that series.

The first Starship’s Mage series follows Damien Montgomery as he goes from an unemployed (and desperate) jump mage to Hand of the Mage King. It starts with Starship’s Mage itself, but readers can also start with Hands of Mars.

This second series is intended as a second starting point for readers, following the captain of Damien’s first ship – David Rice – as he takes over the Red Falcon and has misadventures of his own.



TQWhat is Space Fantasy?

Glynn:  It depends on who you ask! Star Wars is, of course, the biggest known example of it. There have been a few series over the years with magic in space, or with psionics to the point where it may as well be magic!

For myself, it’s taking a setting where the engineering and science and so forth are done with as much fidelity as possible, and then a layer of magic is put in place to allow for the “impossible” things that are such a feature of the space opera genre.



TQWhat sort of research did you do for Interstellar Mage?

Glynn:  A lot of my technical and scientific research for this setting is already done and written up in assorted setting bible documents.

One of the things I had to codify for Interstellar Mage though was freight rates and scale. Given the scale of interstellar shipping in the setting—starship captains rarely deal in less than a standard 10,000 ton shipping container—the numbers get odd when you break them down to a per-ton level.

For the cost of getting about ten tons of cargo from China to the United States today, you could get a 10,000 ton shipping container from Earth orbit to orbit of the Alpha Centauri colonies.

Of course, getting it into and down from orbit is an entirely different story!



TQIn Interstellar Mage who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Glynn:  Easiest was David Rice. I’ve already been in his head and he fits into one of my standard “character archetypes” quite handily.

Hardest was probably Maria Soprano. I’ve written female characters before who were, basically, Honor Harrington style badasses. Soprano is a badass in her own right, but she’s also a more actively sexual and feminine character, which was a difficult balance to walk and not one I’m sure I got right.



TQWhich question about Interstellar Mage do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Glynn:  “Who else is coming back from Starship’s Mage?”

A bunch of people, but most notable I think are Kelly LaMonte and Alaura Stealey, two very different, very badass ladies who both have a dramatic impact on the story.



TQGive us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from Interstellar Mage.

Glynn:  “So far two people have tried to kill you and we’ve been dragged into one major political crisis. This all feels far too familiar. Are you sure Damien was our bad luck charm?”



TQWhat's next?

Glynn:  We have a release schedule up on the website at www.glynnstewart.com that we keep reasonably updated.

Next release after this is Changeling’s Fealty, another foray into Urban Fantasy for me, followed by the sixth and final Castle Federation book, Operation Medusa, which I am currently writing.

My co-writing project with Terry Mixon should also see a second release this fall, and the Red Falcon series has two more books next year.

And then, well, we return to the Starship’s Mage primary timeline with the first book of UnArcana Rebellions.

I have a busy year coming up!



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Glynn:  Thank you for having me!





Interstellar Mage
Starship's Mage: Red Falcon 1
Faolan's Pen Publishing Inc., October 14, 2017
Kindle eBook

Mars destroyed his ship — but gave him a new one.
Mars drafted his Mage — for the good of humanity!
He should have known that wouldn’t be the end of it…

Captain David Rice has a new ship, a new crew, and a new set of Jump Mages to carry him between the stars. All he wants is to haul cargo, make money and keep his head down.

His past, however, is not so willing to let him go. An old enemy is reaching out from beyond the grave to destroy any chance of peace or life for Captain Rice—and old friends are only making things more complicated!

All he wants is to be a businessman, but as the death toll mounts he must decide what is more important: his quiet life or the peace humanity has enjoyed for centuries…





About Glynn

Glynn Stewart is the author of Starship’s Mage, a bestselling science fiction and fantasy series where faster-than-light travel is possible–but only because of magic. Stewart’s other works include the science fiction series Castle Federation and Duchy of Terra, as well as the urban fantasy series ONSET.

Writing managed to liberate Stewart from a bleak future as an accountant. With his personality and hope for a high-tech future intact, he now lives in Canada with his wife, his cats, and a portable cast of thousands for readers to meet in future books. You can learn more about Glynn Stewart at his website, glynnstewart.com.


 Facebook  ~  Twitter @glynnstewart







Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Guest Blog by Jacey Bedford


Please welcome Jacey Bedford to The Qwillery. Nimbus, the 3rd Psi-Tech Novel, was published on October 3rd by DAW.


That's it, I've done my best, Nimbus is not only finished, but it's published. I have a copy in my hot little hands. Too late now to change a thing. It’s the third and final book in my Psi-Tech trilogy. Though I’ve got five books out, now, this is my first complete trilogy – weighing in at half a million words over the course of three books: Empire of Dust, Crossways and Nimbus.

If writing a book is like running a ten kilometre race, then writing a trilogy is the equivalent of running a marathon. As you cross the finish line there’s exhaustion and triumph in equal measure. Your muscles may ache for a day or two, but the achievement stays forever.

The Psi-Tech trilogy is a star-spanning space opera featuring megacorporations, brain-implanted psi-techs, foldspace and jump gates. Its broad theme is trust and betrayal with complex relationships and twisty plots. Friends become enemies and help comes from unexpected quarters. The most important skill for survival is knowing where to place your trust.

Cara’s been let down (badly) and is on the run. Is there anywhere in the galaxy that’s safe for a telepath who knows too much? Ben has faced trouble before, but he’s always been able to trust his best friend. It’s unthinkable that they should end up on different sides in a life-or-death struggle. And yet, all the human conflict pales into insignificance beside a new threat. There’s something stirring in the depths of foldspace. The Nimbus is coming and it’s as mad as hell!


Much as I'd like to take all credit for the psi-tech books, publishing is a team effort. Sure, I wrote the words and made up the story, but my editor, Sheila Gilbert, worked with me to make it better. It’s published by DAW, and there’s a strong team of people whose job it is to add a layer of professionalism. Besides my editor, there’s a managing editor who deals with admin and scheduling, a copy editor, a proof-reader, cover artist (Stephan Martiniere in this case), graphic designers, typesetters, printers, and when it’s all done, a publicist. That's a huge team effort, but even before DAW agreed to publish I already owed a lot to members of various critique groups.

Writer Paul Cornell says that it's a writer's job to seek out the harshest criticism they can find and learn from it. Some of that learning process comes from reviews after the event, but a wise writer seeks out critique while the work is still in progress. But don't just ask your mum (unless your mum is a writer, too), and beware those writers' groups that exist to pat you on the back just for getting some words down on paper, rather than pushing you to stretch yourself to make your pedestrian prose sing!
There might also be those who will pull your writing to pieces just for the sake of it. Some groups can be destructive rather than constructive because belittling your work makes them feel better about their own. You don’t need those groups. Walk away.

I'm a firm believer in peer-to-peer critique groups, however. Finding the right group is important. I write science fiction and fantasy, so a general writers’ group isn’t likely to meet my needs. I need a group that’s genre-specific and working at the right level. Critiquing with other published science fiction and fantasy writers, is an amazing experience. People new to critiquing can learn by example (from a good group) that constructive and honest critique, both giving and receiving, is invaluable.

I’ve been lucky enough to find my group.

Back in the late 90s I met (online) Liz Holliday who was then the secretary of Milford (http://www.milfordSF.co.uk), a week-long event of peer-to-peer, face-to-face critiquing. In order to attend Milford you have to be published, but that need only be one short story to a recognised market. In 1998 I sold my first short story to a print anthology, and therefore qualified for Milford. I was terrified, but I went anyway. In those days it was held in Devon. Later it moved to York, and currently resides in scenic North Wales at Trigonos, a lovely residential centre with its own lake and a magnificent view of the mountains.

We were a group of ten in 1998. Writing is a solitary business, so to find nine other like-minded individuals willing and eager to chew over plot-bunnies, story arcs, characters, and potential markets gave everyone a real boost, an infusion of enthusiasm and renewed writing energy. My fellow writers included multiply published American author Patricia Wrede, Ben Jeapes, Cherith Baldry, Alastair Reynolds, and Liz Williams, before the latter two got their first book deals.

Did my fellow writers like my submitted piece? Not especially, I suspect, though not liking something doesn’t mean to say that you deliver critique that says it’s bad. ‘This is not my type of book,’ is not the same as, ‘This book sucks.’ And you can still critique plot, characterisation, pacing and style even if it’s not what you’d choose to read for fun. I’ve lost track of the number of times someone will begin with, ‘I am not your target audience,’ but will still give a useful and considered critique.

These days Milford regularly runs with a full-house of fifteen writers. Their constructive critique, and their advice, have always helped me to make changes for the better. I don’t do everything that everyone suggests, of course. It’s still my book. With fourteen other writers weighing in with opinions, you have to learn to critique the critiques. No two people approach a piece in the same way. Thinking of some of our regulars, one writer always approaches it from the standpoint of, ‘What do these characters want?’ One picks apart grammar. One is a history specialist, one a medical doctor, and another a classicist, each brilliant at picking up on relevant facts. One is brilliant on plot, and yet another will analyse my characters’ ethics, often drawing my attention to something I simply hadn’t considered (but should have done). If fourteen people say the pacing is too slow, they might have a point. If seven say it’s too long and the other seven say it’s too short, you have to make up your own mind. Or maybe it’s just about right. It’s up to you to listen and take what’s useful and leave the rest.

Whatever the outcome, it’s your story that’s up for critique, not you.

Those writers at my first Milford in 1998 certainly didn't make me feel like a clueless newbie, even though I was. I learned so much that I went back the following year, and again the year after. In fact, in nineteen years I've only missed three Milfords, and those due to prior commitments that I couldn't shirk. I hung around for so long that, for my sins, I’m now the secretary.

Lots of good things have happened to me because of Milford. I can honestly say that if it wasn't for Milford I would not have five books already published by DAW and I would not be sitting here clutching Nimbus and grinning like an idiot.





Nimbus
A Psi-Tech Novel 3
DAW, October 3, 2017
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the third book in this exciting sci-fi adventure

In a galaxy where the super-powers are the megacorporations, and ambitious executives play fast and loose with ethics in order to secure resources, where can good people turn for help? The megacorps control the jump gates and trade routes. They use psi-techs, implant-enhanced operatives with psionic abilities, who are bound by unbreakable contracts.

Psi-tech Cara Carlinni once had her mind turned inside out by Alphacorp, but she escaped, found her place with the Free Company, and now it’s payback time.

Ben Benjamin leads the Free Company, based on the rogue space station, Crossways. The megacorps have struck at Crossways once—and failed—so what are they planning now? Crossways can’t stand alone, and neither can the independent colonies, though maybe together they all have a chance.

But something alien is stirring in the depths of foldspace. Something bigger than the squabbles between megacorporations and independents. Foldspace visions are supposed to be a figment of the imagination.

At least, that’s what they teach in flight school. Ben Benjamin knows it’s not true. Meeting a void dragon was bad enough, but now there’s the Nimbus to contend with. Are the two connected? Why do some ships transit the Folds safely and others disappear without a trace?

Until now, humans have had a free hand in the Galaxy, settling colony after colony, but that might change because the Nimbus is coming.




Previously

Empire of Dust
A Psi-Tech Novel 1
DAW, November 4, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the first book in this exciting sci-fi adventure

Mega corporations, more powerful than any one planetary government, use their agents to race each other for resources across the galaxy. The agents, or psi-techs, are implanted with telepath technology. The psi-techs are bound to the mega-corps — that is, if they want to retain their sanity.

Cara Carlinni is an impossible thing – a runaway psi-tech. She knows Alphacorp can find its implant-augmented telepaths, anywhere, anytime, mind-to-mind. So even though it’s driving her half-crazy, she’s powered down and has been surviving on tranqs and willpower. So far, so good. It’s been almost a year, and her mind is still her own.

She’s on the run from Ari van Blaiden, a powerful executive, after discovering massive corruption in Alphacorp. Cara barely escapes his forces, yet again, on a backwater planet, and gets out just in time due to the help of straight-laced Ben Benjamin, a psi-tech Navigator for Alphacorp’s biggest company rival.

Cara and Ben struggle to survive a star-spanning manhunt, black-ops raids, and fleets of resource-hungry raiders. Betrayal follows betrayal, and friends become enemies. Suddenly the most important skill is knowing whom to trust.




Crossways
A Psi-Tech Novel 2
DAW, August 4, 2015
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

To combat manipulative megacorporations with telepathic technology, two heroes must rebel, overthrowing the enemy’s oppressive influence in the second book in this exciting sci-fi adventure

Ben Benjamin, psi-tech Navigator, and Cara Carlinni, Telepath, can never go home again. To the Trust and Alphacorp alike, they are wanted criminals. Murder, terrorism, armed insurrection, hijacking, grand theft, and kidnapping are just the top of a long list of charges they’ll face if they’re caught.

So they better not get caught.

These are the people who defied the megacorporations and saved a colony by selling the platinum mining rights and relocating ten thousand colonists somewhere safe, and they’re not saying where that is.

They take refuge on crimelord-run Crossways Station with the remnants of their team of renegade psi-techs and the Solar Wind, their state-of-the-art jump-drive ship. They’ve made a promise to find a missing space ark with thirty thousand settlers aboard. But to do that, Ben and Cara have to confront old enemies.

Alphacorp and the Trust: separately they are dangerous, united they are unstoppable. They want to silence Ben and Cara more than they want to upstage each other. If they have to get rid of Crossways in order to do it, they can live with that. In fact, this might be the excuse they’ve been looking for….





About Jacey

Jacey Bedford is a British writer, published by DAW in the USA. She writes both science fiction and fantasy and her novels are published by DAW in the USA. Her short stories have been published on both sides of the Atlantic in anthologies and magazines, and some have been translated into an odd assortment of languages including Estonian, Galician and Polish.

Her latest book is NIMBUS, published on 3rd October 2017. It’s the third in her Psi-Tech trilogy in which a bunch of renegade Psi-Techs (humans implanted with telepath technology) come up against the might of the Megacorporations, while in the depths of foldspace, there’s something new and terrifying. With NIMBUS the trilogy is complete.

Jacey's a great advocate of critique groups and is the secretary of the Milford SF Writers' Conference, an intensive peer-to-peer week of critique and discussion held every September in North Wales. (http://www.milfordSF.co.uk)

She lives in an old stone house on the edge of Yorkshire's Pennine Hills with her songwriter husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd (a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany). She's been a librarian, a postmistress, a rag-doll maker and a folk singer with the vocal harmony trio, Artisan. Her claim to fame is that she once sang live on BBC Radio 4 accompanied by the Doctor (Who?) playing spoons.

You can keep up with Jacey in several different ways: