sovereign of stars

Sovereign of Stars is out!

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Well, hi there, blog!  Sovereign of Stars was released on October 28th (ebook).  So far it's selling well, and debuted in the #1 position on the Top 100 chart for Middle Eastern Historical Fiction and Ancient Egypt History on Amazon.  Not too shabby!  I announced the release to my mailing list and then promptly forgot to update the blog with the information, so this is just more reinforcement that you should join the mailing list if you want information when it's actually relevant and/or fresh.

Want to read Sovereign of Stars?  Here it is on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.  It should soon be available directly from Apple's iBookstore and Kobo, too, though apparently I need to tweak something or other in the Smashwords file before it'll appear there.  One of these days...

I gave away free copies of Sovereign of Stars to the first ten readers who posted an honest review of The Crook and Flail when that book was released...I'm doing the same with Sovereign!  The first ten people to review it will get a free copy of The Bull of Min when it comes out in late winter (probably February).  Honest reviews are welcome, so even if you thought it was rotten, share your opinion!  Reviews sell books.  Even bad reviews.  ;)

I've been working away at the audiobook production of The Sekhmet Bed with narrator Amanda Miller.  It is really spectacular!  She's doing such a fantastic job bringing these characters and scenes to life.  It's so cool to get to hear my book in somebody else's voice, and I'm really pleased by how well the story is holding up.  We're shooting to have the audiobook done by the end of November, and it will be available on all the usual audiobook platforms (Audible.com, iTunes, etc.)

In addition to writing The Bull of Min (the FINAL book in the She-King series), I'm furiously outlining Tidewater, which should turn out to be a stand-alone (but probably somewhat lengthy) novel.  If you've already read Sovereign of Stars and checked out the "back matter," as it's called, you already knew that Tidewater will be about Pocahontas and the Jamestown Colony.  Actually, it will be about much more than that: it will also be about the relationship between Powhatan and his brother Opechancanough, about Pocahontas' relationships with her two successive husbands, Kocoum and John Rolfe, and about the many conflicting interests of the Virginia Company.  It's going to be quite a project, but I've been very immersed in the research for several months now, and I've found it to be an engrossing story.  I think it will be fantastic to write, and hopefully enjoyable to read.

As a final bit of research, to make sure I get the feel of the Virginia tidewater region as correct and realistic as I can, Paul and I are hoping to take a trip out to Virginia to hike some nature trails, take pictures, and visit a lot of museums in early 2014.  Much depends on whether he's back in school by that point, though.  If he is, I'll be making the trek by myself!  At least the travel expenses will be a tax write-off.

I'm close to finalizing two other projects: HistorEreader.com (the web site isn't up yet, so don't bother trying to look at it!), which will be a resource to help readers sort through all the various historical fiction offerings out there, and a podcast called Writers On Reading, in which writer friends and I will chat enthusiastically about good books we've recently read.  I hope readers will find both entertaining and useful!

Aside from book news and related tidbits, I've been busily planning what my Christmas tree will look like this year.  I go all out with my trees, with thematic decorations and zillions of lights and TEXTURE and DESIGN and INSANITY.  Martha Stewart's got nothing on me.  I'm counting down the days until I get to put the tree up.  Expect pictures.  lots and lots of pictures.

Put on your party hats.

It is 8:24 p.m. on Tuesday, October 8th, 2013, and I just finished writing Sovereign of Stars!  Wooooooooooooooo!

Well...I finished the most recent draft.  As long as it passes muster with my beta readers, and once I have a chance to fix (most of) the typos (the ones I will actually notice after the billionth pass through this manuscript), I can publish this sucker.

There was one scene that, I confess, really got to me.  I was crying pretty hard by the time I finished writing it, with snot running down my face and the whole nine yards.  It's kind of an emotional roller-coaster of a book, I think, and the ending...well, the ending (by which I mean almost the entire fourth "part" of the book) made the author a little teary-eyed, so I am hoping it affects readers as strongly.

So everybody cross your fingers that the beta readers (both of them historical novelists whose work I adore and admire) give it the green light.

It feels really, incredibly, unspeakably awesome to be looking at "THE END" on my fourth novel.  (You will notice at the end of my Hatshepsut books that I also write under a different pen name, Libbie Hawker...so I've got one more book out there, floating around in cyberspace.)  I will be diving into my fifth, The Bull of Min, the last one in the Hatshepsut series, after a well-earned week off from writing to cleanse my creative palate and celebrate.  And I'm already piecing together the outline for my sixth.  I don't have a good handle yet on how long it will take me to write that one, since I need to do extensive research into an part of history that is unfamiliar to me.  But I am hoping optimistically for the early summer of 2014.  Maybe sooner, depending on how things go.

Here's a cat in a party hat.  He knows it's time to get down.

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON.

CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES, COME ON.

We're getting close! And some news about the future...

Close to the release of Sovereign of Stars, that is.  I'm pouring all my energy into finishing up the last touches on the manuscript and getting it ready for my beta readers to go over.  If it passes muster with them and doesn't need too many adjustments, it will be published at the end of October -- hooray!

It's a blustery, wild fall day in Seattle.  I drove to my favorite overlook and sat in my car working on Sovereign of Stars, watching the storm buffet the Puget Sound with intermittent dark rings of wind.  A gust blew off a nearby tree and a barrage of maple samaras hit my windshield and stuck under my wipers.  I love this weather.  The turn of the seasons always makes me want to write more, but especially when fall comes around.  Something about the gray-green light and the early darkness makes me feel like cozying up to the ideas in my head and getting them all out in the form of a story.  I stayed in my car until I got a chill and began to sneeze uncontrollably, and then sought out a nice, warm café.  Now here I am with a big cup of rooibos tea, warming up and running through a new scene in my head for Sovereign of Stars.

Writing a book is such a surprising process.  No matter how much you plan and outline, it always manages to twist itself around and demand things that surprise you.  This has been the case with all the books I've written (and the short stories, too.)  The big surprise waiting for me in Sovereign of Stars was one character who demanded a few point-of-view chapters of her own: Ahmose!  Yes, Ahmose is back, and she has more to say about her place in the Thutmoside saga.  She has a few moments of great influence again, and even makes a slip-up or two, just as she did in the old days.  But she means well, bless her heart.  Ahmose always means well.

I've also settled on a title for Book Four.  It's called The Bull of Min, and it will, I promise, be the FINAL book in the She-King series.  I could have made Sovereign of Stars one volume, but it would have been way too long for comfort (it's almost 100,000 words long as it is, which makes it a bit longer than The Sekhmet Bed.)  The Bull of Min won't be terribly long -- I'm projecting a length of about 70,000 words, which will make it a shorter than The Crook an Flail.  I think Bull will be a good wrap-up to the series.  It's mostly the story of Thutmose III (mostly) and his two wives Meryet-Hatshepsut and Satiah, and I included it because I figured a person can't just write a series about Hatshepsut's life and family without exploring WHY Thutmose III went on his chisel-happy erasure campaign.  I mean, that's almost the most intriguing part of the story!

Anyway, The Bull of Min is still on track to be released in the winter of 2014 -- probably around the end of February or the first week of March.  I'm not planning on getting married again any time soon, so there should be nothing to interfere with my writing this time around, and it's a pretty short book, to boot.

After The Bull of Min, I'm embarking on a totally novel (ha ha) journey in historical fiction.  Not only do I need to move my head into new territory to keep me creatively fresh, but there has been a spate of ancient Egyptian historicals released over the past year or so, with more on the way (including some from the major publishing companies).  While I'm very glad to see my favorite part of history suddenly so well represented in the fiction world, I also don't want to beat a dead horse.  I'd rather wait until the horse revives some, and then continue to flog it when it feels a little fresher and more original.

So what am I writing about after Egypt?   It'll remain a surprise until The Bull of Min comes out, but think different.  Think very different.  Think other side of the planet, a couple thousand years later.  Think big ships and royalty of a sort you've probably never considered before.  Think an epic clash of cultures.  Think of a story you thought you knew, but didn't (and hope that this author can do the real tale full justice!)

I am really looking forward this new project, and the one after that, which will remain in the same general region of the world, but will take place some 200 years later.   After that, later in 2014, I do indeed plan to return to ancient Egypt.  I'm still trying to puzzle out in my brain exactly how I want to write that requisite Amarna novel (NO writer who dares to stick her toe into Egyptian fiction can avoid being sucked down into the Amarna Tarpits!) and I'd like to do one about Rameses' harem conspiracy, too.  But I think my forays into other times and places will be good for me creatively, and I hope readers will enjoy the change of scenery, too.

Finally, I wanted to give a heads-up that prices will be increasing on my ebooks over the next couple of months.  When I first released The Sekhmet Bed back in 2011, I was selling it for several dollars more than the average price for indie novels of a similar length.  That was by design: I wanted to make it clear that my book stood out from the pack and was as good as any you'd read from any source, traditionally published or independent.  I've played with pricing over the intervening year, and have finally decided to return to my previous messaging.  I'm not sure exactly what the baseline price will be for my ebooks yet, but currently they're at $4.99 and will be going up in the near future.  However, I've had great results from running occasional sales and free days in 2013, and will continue that trend in the future...so if you're on a tight budget, I'll be offering frequent sales and freebies of all my books.  The best way to find out about these specials will be to join my mailing list (link at the top of the page) as I will always announce them to the mailing list first.

Well, I need to get back to work polishing up Sovereign of Stars.  The sooner it goes out to beta readers, the sooner it goes out to you!  Thanks for reading!   Bundle up...the weather is perfectly wild.