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Descent by Ken MacLeod

DESCENT Ken MacLeod

Author of 2013 Arthur C. Clarke Award-nominated Intrusion tells a science fiction story for the twenty-first century – what happens when conspiracy theorists meet Big Brother?
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THE LASCAR’S DAGGERGlenda Larke

The start of a brand new epic fantasy trilogy from the author of the Stormlord series – full of scheming, spying, action and adventure.
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Meet the author of BATTLEMAGE: Stephen Aryan!

photo by Hannah Webster, copyright Stephen AryanOrbit recently acquired a debut epic fantasy trilogy by British author Stephen Aryan. The first book in the series, BATTLEMAGE, tells the story of mages treated as living weapons during a war between empires. It’s chock full of magic, scheming and truly epic battle scenes as these mages fight hard for an army that fears and distrusts them.

We’re sure you’re curious to meet the newest addition to Orbit, so we’ve created a mini-interview here with Stephen where you can get to know each other!

JH: Hi Stephen! Welcome to the Orbit gang!

SA: It’s a gang?

JH: Yep, we hang around on street corners, publishing books and scaring the neighbours. So what can you tell us about BATTLEMAGE, your very first novel?

SA: It’s an epic fantasy story set during a massive war and told from three main points of view; the front line warriors, the Heads of State and Generals conducting the war, and the Battlemages, wizards trained to fight and kill with their magic. Expect chopping off of limbs, political and espionage shenanigans, and black humour.

JH: Magicians, witches, wizards, we’ve read about them before – what’s different about your Battlemages?

SA: They’re a dying breed and are in demand all over the world. The Grey Council, the people in charge of magical training, abandoned their post years ago: the result is the majority of those born with a sensitivity to magic receive no training at all. Some have a little, which makes them unstable and, quite possibly, explosive as they don’t know how to control their power. Accidents happen quite often which has made a lot of people afraid of magic. So Battlemages are both feared and respected because they have immense power that makes them seem superhuman to most people, but they’re also necessary.

JH: Which books and authors influenced you in the writing of this series?

SA: The Earthsea novels by Ursula Le Guin was one early influence, which focus on Ged, a wizard who has several painful events that shape him as an adult. The other series that really made me think about wizards and magic were the Belgariad and the Malloreon novels by David Eddings. In both series there are only a handful of really powerful magic users who are also demi-gods and they walk that fine line between using their power to guide and protect humanity versus letting events run their natural course. LEGEND by David Gemmell was a big influence in terms of characterisation and my approach to story. Also the the work of Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, in particular their Dragonlance novels, as they have magic, non-human races and diverse characters which I have in my books as well.

JH: If there’s one reason that readers should be looking forward to BATTLEMAGE, it is:

SA: Only one? Hmm, because it’s a rollicking good story with plenty of action, memorable characters, epic battles and a sense of humour throughout.

BATTLEMAGE will be out in October 2015, with the sequels to follow six months after. If you’d like to hear more from Stephen in the meantime, you can follow him on twitter at @SteveAryan or check out his website.

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What They’re Saying: Book Bloggers Review THE LASCAR’S DAGGER

With all the great reviews coming in for Glenda Larke’s amazing new epic fantasy THE LASCAR’S DAGGER, we thought we’d collect a few here:

“She has the best world building of any fantasy writer I’ve ever read and it only seems to get stronger with each book . . . it blows my mind . . . if you are a fan of high fantasy and have not yet read any of Larke’s books, you are sorely missing out!”

The Obsessive Bookseller [Five star review]

“An excellent book that I highly recommend to all fantasy fans . . . for readers who have not read any Glenda Larke books before, this is a good a place to start”

Tsana Reads & Reviews [Five star review]

 “Definitely recommended!”

The Book Plank

The Lascar’s Dagger hit all the right notes. It’s epic fantasy in a uniquely crafted world complete with tight, flowing writing that almost instantly sucks readers in.  There’s magic and complex politics involving characters that you either love to love, or love to hate.”

Bookworm Blues

“As a set up for a series, and when dealing with the larger picture, I was hooked.  I am fascinated by the age of exploration and can’t wait to see it play out on a larger level in a fantasy novel . . . I want to see how a certain cursed land is affected by certain actions in the book.  I want to know how the religious schism that seems set to grow turns out…

Fantasy Review Barn

“The magic here isn’t just in the witchery shrines, but in the characters . . . Larke’s magic is in making her characters rich and interesting.”

Paranormal Haven

“Readers who love epic fantasy for the political intrigue and all that entails would find lots to like in The Lascar’s Dagger. There are scandals, betrayals and plays for power . . . I have to praise this book for its originality; there are ideas in here never seen before, and with really no way to predict what’s coming next, I’m definitely on board with continuing this series.”

The Bibliosanctum

THE LASCAR’S DAGGER is out in all good bookshops now. If’ you’d like to hear more, you can read the first chapter on the Orbit website, or find Glenda at her website or on twitter at @glendalarke.

Rachel Aaron

Author post

Anatomy of a Badass

When I first sat down to write Devi Morris, I only knew two things about her: 1) she wore powered armor, and 2) she was a total badass. Naturally, the first factor contributed greatly to the second. I dare you to put anything in in a sleek suit of powered armor and not have it become instantly more badass! But equipment alone doesn’t a badass make. If Devi was truly going to be who I wanted her to be, she would have to be just as awesome outside of her armor as she was in it. Her badassery needed to be inherent, a natural element of her being, and before I could write that, I needed to figure out just what a badass was.

What makes someone a badass is one of those things that is instantly recognizable, but hard to actually pin down in objective description. Heroes can be badasses, but not all badasses are heroes (in fact, the badass role is often saved for the villain, whose badassery is used as a threat). And while the classic image of a badass is an aggressive dude, badass is not an inherently masculine or macho descriptor as proven by the enormous number of female badasses in film, comics, television, and literature. It’s also not limited to violence. People who survive impossible situations are also proclaimed badasses even if their feat of badassitude was to simply continue living when most wouldn’t.

With all these differences, the most basic anatomy of a badass can be stripped down to three primary factors: a refusal to give up when the odds are stacked against them, a confident attitude, often aggressive attitude, and some kind of extreme proficiency in a skill. Why these? Well, the attitude part is obvious, but the rest is more interesting. See, humans love to watch people do things very well. Even the simplest, most mundane acts like stacking plastic cups can seem like magic when performed at a world class skill level. We respect talent, even if we can’t actually say how the talent is useful. Likewise, we admire people who stand on their beliefs. One of my favorite lines from Highlander is that uncompromising men are easy to admire. Even when we don’t actually agree, we admire and respect people who stand up for their ambitions/causes/beliefs/dreams and refuse to back down despite overwhelming odds.

Put all these factors together and you can make a badass out of anything. Take the competition cooking show Iron Chef, for example. In the show, chefs from all over the world challenge the reigning Iron Chef to a one hour extreme cooking showdown with a mystery ingredient. Naturally, since this is television, the challenge is designed to seem impossible. How many of us could cook a 5-7 course meal on the fly when every course must incorporate an ingredient we don’t even know until the challenge begins? But the chefs on this show are all kitchen badasses, and they use their years, sometimes decades of experience, creativity, and natural skill to overcome the odds and prove that their cuisine reigns supreme!

So we see that the anatomy of badass can be simple, even formulaic, and when used without thought, this can be a big problem. Think of any mediocre, forgettable action movie and you’ll see a badass that failed not because they didn’t follow the formula, but because they followed it too well. There’s nothing wrong with simplicity, but just as great art can never be achieved painting by numbers, a truly memorable, worthy badass must be far more than the sum of her parts.

Being good at something, an in your face attitude, and refusing to back down are all a good starting point, but a badass who is also a good character has to have style. She can’t just say “I’m the best,” she has to prove it over and over again against increasingly crazy odds. She can’t just take a stand, she has to put it all on the line every single time for a worthy cause she and the reader both believe in. She has to be larger than life and human at the same time, which means her problems have to be writ just as large as everything else. She has to be admirable but still rateable, else she risks being a caricature instead of a character.

This was what I learned from reading and watching my favorite badasses in action, and this was the approach I took with Devi. Now that the series is ending, and I’m looking back at everything I tried to do with it, I think creating a badass to be remembered was the one place where I truly succeeded as well as I’d hoped to. Authors aren’t supposed to have favorite characters, but I can’t help but admit that Devi is and probably will always be right up there at the top. She’s the female hero I always wanted to see in the movies, the badass lady I would have pretended to be when I was a kid, and I already miss her more than I should miss someone who is ultimately a figment of my imagination.

So for everyone who’s been waiting to see how the story ends, I really hope you enjoy HEAVEN’S QUEEN (US | UK | AUS). I put a lot of thought into creating a suitably badass ending, and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And for those of you who haven’t met Devi Morris yet (and who’ve been sufficiently entertains by this post long enough to get all the way down here to the end), I invite you to read a little more and check out the first chapter of FORTUNE’S PAWN (US | UK | AUS), the beginning of the Paradox series. Thank you everyone for reading and for making this series a success! I look forward to writing more Paradox novels. I can’t promise more Devi, but really, do you think I can keep her down?

Not a chance.

Ann Leckie wins BSFA Best Novel Award with Gareth L. Powell

The British Science Fiction Association (BSFA) Awards were announced in a ceremony two days ago at the Satellite 4 Eastercon 2014 in Glasgow.

Ann Leckie and Gareth L. Powell made history by being the first winners to ever tie for position in the Best Novel Award, which has been awarded to both authors. Ann won with her debut space opera ANCILLARY JUSTICE and Gareth with alternate history adventure ACK-ACK MACAQUE.

Ann had twice the reason to celebrate over the Easter weekend, with her place on the Hugo Awards’ Best Novel shortlist announced just the day before! She was joined by other Orbit authors Mira Grant (for PARASITE), Charles Stross (for NEPTUNE’S BROOD), and Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (for the Wheel of Time series).

See all the BSFA winners including Best Short Fiction, Best Non-Fiction and Best Art at the BSFA website. Many thanks to Dan Franklin for collecting Ann’s award.

The Hugo Awards

Congratulations to all of the nominees for the 2014 Hugo Awards!

We were thrilled to see a number of titles published by Orbit in the US and the UK in the best novel category, including ANCILLARY JUSTICE, NEPTUNE’S BROOD, PARASITE, and The Wheel of Time.

 Visit the Hugo Award site for the complete list of nominees.

Orbit Books on Hugo Best Novel Shortlist 2014

James S. A. Corey on the Expanse TV Deal

The Expanse is coming to TV.

In thrilling news, the SyFy channel have commissioned a 10-episode television series. The script will be written by Academy Award-winning writing duo Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, who count Iron Man and Children of Men among their credits.

Here’s author James S. A. Corey with the scoop on how it all came about:

So here’s what happened.

A few years back the Expanse books were out and doing pretty well, which was cool.  Through our agent, we had a television agent in Hollywood – a fella named Brian Lipson – who was there to address any inquiries about the film and TV rights.  That was a really pleasant place to be.  We had a good publisher, a series that was getting good reviews, and a plan for what the next few books could look like. The rest of that – the TV guy, the rights, that stuff – it was the same level of CYA as flossing your teeth and doing your taxes.  It’s what you do because it’s what you do, not because we expected anything to come from it.

And then there was this party in Los Angeles and Jason Brown and Ben Cook had a conversation.  Jason had been looking for something in the science fiction line, and Ben passed on a recommendation of this book he’d read and liked called Leviathan Wakes.  And in an unexpected twist Jason talked to people Ty knew from Game of Thrones about wanting to adapt Leviathan Wakes and those people emailed Ty and said do you know this guy named Jason wants to buy your book.  So that was weird.

So then our TV guy – Brian – called us and told us that the books were getting some interest, and that he’d been looking specifically for folks who had screenwriters already lined up as part of the deal.  We had some phone conversations with a few sets of folks, and one of them was Jason Brown.  He worked with the producer Sean Daniel, who could bring the writers Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby to the table, the guys who wrote the first Iron Man movie and Children of Men.  They weren’t the only good writers in the mix, but they were the only ones who wrote Iron Man and Children of Men.  We managed to mostly keep our cool, nod sagely and say, yeah, they seem good.  Let’s go with them. And then after we got off the phone we could talk about how cool it was that guys like that would be fans of our books. Read the rest of this entry »

SFF Interview Swap: Elizabeth Moon Interviews Rachel Bach

What happens when two writers from different genres come together to talk about science fiction, fantasy, and story crafting? You’re about to find out!

Rachel Bach grew up wanting to be an author and a super villain. Unfortunately, super villainy proved surprisingly difficult to break into, so she stuck to writing and everything worked out great. Her current project, the Paradox series, is a high-octane SF adventure across many fascinating alien worlds.  Look for the third novel, HEAVEN’S QUEEN (US | UK | AUS), online and in stores on April 22nd or start at the beginning with FORTUNE’S PAWN.

Elizabeth Moon has degrees in history and biology, and served as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. CROWN OF RENEWAL (UK | AUS) is the final installment of her Paladin’s Legacy series. This gripping epic should be on every fantasy reader’s To Read List. Expect it to be hitting bookshelves on May 27th.

HEAVEN'S QUEEN   CROWN OF RENEWAL

Elizabeth: You’re well known as someone who can write very fast without loss of quality, and your recommendations for increasing speed–both in your blog and in your book–make good sense. (In fact, I’d been using only two legs of your “triangle” for years and after adding the third had such good days with a new story that it slowed me down in getting these questions ready.) I’ve had 10K word days in the past, but I’ve also experienced increasing physical difficulty–arthritis in my hands, neck, and back that limited how much I could write in a day. Have you considered expanding your advice to include the ergonomic issues arising from very fast writing? How to generalize the skills to using alternate input methods, such as using a speech input? (I’m waiting for the direct brain-to-page technology. Visualize the scene: boom, it’s in the file or on the page, ready for editing. Hear the conversation between characters: there it is, with all the uh, um, er…but nothing vital missed.

Rachel: I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to hear my writing triangle helped you have a good writing day! Best thing ever.

I’m not at all surprised to hear you’d already figured parts of the triangle out. I’ve heard the same thing from several experienced authors, and I’m starting to think that all I did here was put words to what’s actually a universal writing concept. Can’t stop the signal, Mal!

You’re also not the first person to mention the physical difficulty of writing ten thousand words a day. The most extreme example of this was when I did my an annual open Q&A on the NaNoWriMo forums. One of the writers I talked to had stared out as a professional musician, but she had to stop when she injured her hands through repeated stress caused by playing. This injury effected her writing as well. She wasn’t even able to type two thousand words a day before her hands gave out, much less ten. It’s an admittedly extreme example, but it highlights the fact that writing is much more of a physical activity than most people give it credit for, especially if you have a pre-existing injury or ailment, like arthritis.

So, yes, I think this is a very valid point and I will be updating my book and blog to include it. Even with my healthy hands, it is physically exhausting to type that much, and it would be very easy to seriously injure yourself if you’re not careful. That said, though, I don’t actually know what to recommend as a solution. Right now my best advice is to listen to your body and stop if something hurts. Likewise, you should pay attention to your writing position and invest in a keyboard that’s comfortable for your hands over long periords. Speech to text programs have also come a long way in recent history (prolific author Lynn Viehl swears by Dragon Speaking Naturally), but I’ve never personally used them as anything other than a novelty.

Anyway, long story short, you make a very good point and I will be definitely be amending my process to include this issue. After all, my hands might be good now, but I intend to be in this writing business for as long as I can, and at ten thousand words a day, I’ve got a lot of typing in my future.

When can we expect that brain to page interface, science?

Elizabeth: You decided on a writing career early, but then found an English degree not particularly helpful. Writing our kind of fiction demands skills–for worldbuilding, for inventing new technology, for creating invented cultures that “work” in story terms–not taught in English classes. Have you ever wished you majored in something else, and what do you think would be the perfect degree plan for a spec fic writer? What research sources do you like to use when creating the surrounding cultural environment and technology for your invented worlds? What’s been your favorite thing to research in each of your genres? What was hardest to find or understand? Have you had life experiences that you feel were particularly important in expanding your writing scope? Do you schedule specific time for research and general reading, or is it “grab it when you need it?” (Yes, I know, I packed too many questions into one. Pick one or a few…)

Rachel: Actually, I think all of these questions interrelate beautifully! Like a lot of writers, I already knew what I wanted to be when I went to college, and English Major seemed like the most logical choice. How better to learn about writing books than by studying how the best are put together?

The reality of my experience was very different. This is not to disparage the University of Georgia’s English program, which is actually very good, it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. College English programs are excellent at teaching you how to be a good non-fiction writer: how to properly use sources and make solid arguments and write thoughtful essays. But fiction writing is a different beast all together, and even though I took several creative writing classes, they were all focused on literary short story writing, which is about as far from genre novels as it’s possible to get and still be called fiction. Even worse, I was in an environment that actively looked down on the sort of commercial books I enjoyed and wanted to write. So yeah, not a good choice for me in hind sight.

If I had it to do over again, I would have majored in something much broader, like history or sociology, or even Comparative Lit, which focuses on international fiction instead of the Western Euro-centric literary cannon. I would also have taken a lot more electives, because the most useful thing I’ve found as a novelist is having as wide and diverse a base of knowledge and interests as possible. The more you learn about the boarder human experience, the deeper the well of ideas you can draw from becomes.

As to the more specific of your questions about what research or experiences I’ve found most important or difficult, I’m afraid I couldn’t tell you. I’m not dodging the question, I just can’t remember the individual acts, because for me writing has always been a process of running the entire sum of my knowledge and experience through the grinder. The Paradox novels, for example, pull ideas from everything: books I’ve read, jobs I’ve worked, that essay on binary gender I wrote for my one sociology class, a picture I saw on Deviant Art, video games, a role playing game my husband ran in middle school ten years before I even met him. All of these seemingly unrelated experiences and influences get mashed together as I write, and I couldn’t separate them out again if you paid me.

People have actually asked me what degree or life experience they should get in order to become a genre writer before, and my answer to them has always been that writing genre stories makes you a genre writer, nothing else required. But if I had to recommend something, I’d say you’re best off studying whatever you find most interesting. Go wherever your passion leads, whether it’s in formal schooling, a challenging job, or just something you do for fun. Whatever you do, though, make sure you’re paying attention, because it’s these memorable, seemingly random notes of experience that you’re going be drawing from later as a writer. They’re the fuel that will keep your idea furnace blazing bright. All the other stuff—story structure, pacing, characterization, and so forth—is just a matter of practice.

Or, at least, that’s how it’s been for me. Every writer works differently, so your mileage may vary.

Elizabeth: You also commented in an interview that you feel your fantasy is informed by an SF sensibility. After reading Dr. James Gunn on writing science fiction, and the difference he sees between how SF and fantasy are approached differently, I realized that although the two genres feel different to me, I use much the same process in writing both. I want the deep logic in both to be similar–everything links together into one coherent system. What do you mean by having that SF sensibility in your fantasy? That leads to the impossible question of “Where do you see the difference between SF and fantasy?” and the closely related “Is there a line between worldbuilding everything but the “people” part of the story and worldbuilding the cultures the characters come from?” And if there is such a line, is that where the divide between science fiction and fantasy lives?

Rachel: I don’t think anyone has ever drawn a line between Science Fiction and Fantasy that we can all agree on. Take Anne McCaffrey’s Pern books. Are they Fantasy or SF? On the one hand, you have dragons with mystical psychic bonds to their riders who can blink through space and time, on the other, humans are only on Pern because of space colonization and the Thread they ride dragons to burn is itself a space born spore.

The easy way out of this is to just say “what does it matter? Pern is awesome!” but it does matter to readers. The F and SF parts of SFF attract different audiences with different expectations and tastes. That said, I absolutely agree with you that, from the perspective of a writer looking at her own books, the creation process for each is pretty much the same.

In my own case, I’m a systems oriented, logical sort of person, so when I sat down to write a fantasy series, I took a logical approach to it. I built an internally consistent magic system and a world to contain it, and then I worked out from that framework to determine out how everything else in the story would function. When the time came to write Paradox, I built its universe the same way, only on a much grander scale. Both times, however, I figured out the why of reality first, and then used that to derive the how, who, and what.

This is what I meant when I said I approached my Fantasy with a Science Fiction sensibility, because, as Dr. Gunn says, one of the fundamental elements of Science Fiction is the scientific idea that everything is ultimately knowable and explainable, even if we don’t understand it at the moment. For me, though, this is as true in a fantasy world with an active goddess figure who makes things happen on her whims as with a galaxy that formed by the accidents of nature. Everything is knowable, everything is explainable, everything happens for interlocking reasons, and discovering those reasons is often the whole point of the story.

So at the worldbuilding, story crafting level, I don’t actually think there is a line between Science Fiction and Fantasy, at least not for me. Even when you start talking about characters, both Fantasy and Science Fiction favor larger than life heroes who change the world through significant personal action and sacrifice, be it exploring a new planet and ending up the unlikely champion of the indigenous population against your own corrupt galactic government or journeying to throw the One Ring into Mount Doom. Even the window dressings are somewhat interchangeable, because I’ve read Fantasy with complex machines and written Science Fiction with magic. There are short, lightning paced Fantasies and glacially slow SF epics with thousands of characters. Even the relative perception of time is no guarantee when the most famous Science Fiction story of all time took place long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

Personally, I’m inclined to believe the only real, measurable line between Science Fiction and Fantasy is one of flavor and emphasis. Fantasy novels tend to emphasizes the fantastical elements—magic, monsters, fully developed secondary worlds, the sense of being in another place, etc.—while Science Fiction generally places its accent on the products of scientific achievement—gadgets, fast travel, galactic expansion, exploration in the vastness of space, and so forth. Otherwise, the two are so similar as to be almost interchangeable, as evidenced by how easily and often they get lumped together. Both genres tend to be deeply humanist, both reflect and comment on issues present in our own world, both provide a stage for the invention and exploration of alternate cultures, both are given to power fantasies, you get the idea. They’re both wonderful, delicious ice cream, and the only actual question here is which flavor do you prefer in your sundae.

Elizabeth: Thinking ahead, do you imagine yourself delving into each of the various subgenres of our big playground, or do you think you’ll settle into some favorite pair (or quartet) of niches? So far you’ve done witty, rollicking fantasy and hard-edged action-packed SF…what other areas intrigue you and set the writer-vibes going? SF mysteries? Epic fantasy?

Rachel: I freely admit that I’m an agent’s worst nightmare, because I write everything! In addition to my current roster of Fantasy and SF, I’ve finished the first in a near future Urban Fantasy series about dragons that I’ll be using as an experiment in self publishing this July. I also have an alt history mystery novel about magic in the Industrial Revolution set in Manchester complete with necromantic workhouses and a spell breaker detective that’s currently with my agent. And as if that weren’t enough, I’m also planning a darker military fantasy young adult book, another Paradox novel focusing on the secrets of the Sainted King, an epistolary series of shorts chronicling the tragically comedic and unavoidable fall of a Dark Lord called “Speeches to Orcs,” and about a thousand other things that I may or may not actually finish in 2014.

So yeah, you could say I’m running all over our genre playground like that one weird kid who always eats waaaaay too much sugar. But then, what’s the point of writing fast if you don’t also write far and wide?

Elizabeth: Thanks for being part of this–it’s been a lot of fun learning more about you and your work, and thinking about the questions you proposed.

Rachel: Thank you for taking the time and for talking with me! Again, I can’t stress enough what an honor and a delight it’s been to get the chance to talk with you. (When I told my mother I was doing this, her response was “You’re interviewing Elizabeth Moon? Can I touch you?!”) Thank you again, and I can’t wait to get my hands on The Crown of Renewal later this year!!

Rachel and Elizabeth will be back again soon, and next time the tables will be reversed! In the meantime, check out their novels and get ready for their upcoming releases!

The extraordinary novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (UK | US | ANZ) launches today, published by Orbit in the UK and Redhook in the US.

No matter what he does or the decisions he makes, when death comes, Harry always returns to where he began, a child with all the knowledge of a life he has already lived a dozen times before. Nothing ever changes . . . Until now.

Here the author Claire North tells us what advice she would give to her past self, in case she got the chance to live her life all over again . . .

***

Your teachers and elders are not always right.  Age does not necessarily bring wisdom, and if you feel uncertain about yourself, someone else’s certainty does not make them right.  If anything, the more certain the other person is, the more you should question it. Have faith in your own mind, judgment and intelligence, and use it to question everything, even people who seem to be ‘above’ you in whatever place or time you happen to be in now.

Your friends are the best of you.  When you are down, remember that if a person can be judged by the company you keep, then you are frankly, amazing.  Because your friends are amazing and then some.  By which extension – when you meet them for the first time, trust the geeks.  They have found a thing they love and they have the guts to stand up for it, and through it, themselves.  When you’re trying to work out who you are, they can help.

Physicality is in your power.  The questions you ask about how you look, and more importantly how other people perceive your looks, is based on a false premise.  Charisma and confidence is a thing created in the mind, in how you see yourself and how you feel about yourself.  The rest is fluff.

Regret is not the same as wisdom.

When the monkey in the hoodie says ‘yes’ to ‘fixed’ and ‘off’ he is, in fact, wrong.

Concision is a rarer grace than wit.

Above all: do not be afraid.  Running away from something stupid or dangerous isn’t fear, it’s just good sense.  The rest however, the fear that will hold you back, is self-inflicted and can be beaten.  Do not be afraid.

Find a unique hand-written note in every HARRY AUGUST hardback

Recently we’ve been asking people the following question: If you could go back, with what you know now, and give your past self a message, what would it be?

It’s a question inspired by the ingenious novel The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August (UK | US | ANZ) by Claire North, and we’ve had an amazing response already.

So many people are engaging with this novel in wonderful different ways because it’s such a unique book. So unique, in fact, that here in the UK we wanted to make each and every hardback of the book different in some way to reflect this . . .

So if you pick up a UK hardback copy of Harry August from your local store or online retailer, look out for one of the hand-written postcards inside. Every single one is different! Written on these postcards are individual pieces of advice – messages left from lives lived before, such as:

“Be on alert for a message when the clock strikes midnight”

“Your destiny awaits you in the honeysuckle hedge in the garden”

and “Remember to trust your gut instinct”

But amongst all the hardbacks out there, there are fifteen messages which are particularly special. This is because they’re signed by Harry August himself. If you’re lucky enough to find one of these cards, you can email orbit@littlebrown.co.uk to claim a prize: a treasure from one of Harry’s fifteen lives. Look at Harry’s study below to see what you could win!

A picture of Harry August's stufy, and all the prizes within it you could win - a competition to celebrate the release of The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North

And don’t forget to read our full terms and conditions here.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August is out next Tuesday 8th April from Orbit in the UK and ANZ, and from Redhook in the US.

Become part of the story by leaving a message to your past self at www.harryaugust.net

Pre-order THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN and receive a signed bookplate!

“McClellan’s debut packs some serious heat.” — Kirkus Reviews on PROMISE OF BLOOD

It’s already been a year since the publication of Brian McClellan’s debut, PROMISE OF BLOOD (US | UK | AUS). Now we are one month away from the sequel, THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN (US | UK | AUS), and I’m sure you’re all as eager as we are.

Field Marshal Tamas, Taniel Two-shot, Ka-Poel and the others have some tough battles ahead of them. I don’t want to spoil anything, but suffice to say, when you combine magic and black powder in an action-packed story, the result will be epic… and explosive! If you haven’t started the trilogy yet, now is the time to catch up. On April 8th, the paperback of PROMISE OF BLOOD will hitting shelves in the US and is already available in the UK and Australia.

Pre-order THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN and you could be eligible to receive a free, signed bookplate. To enter: complete this form providing proof of purchase.

OFFER GOOD UNTIL 5/6/2014. ALLOW EIGHT TO TEN WEEKS FOR DELIVERY. To receive a THE CRIMSON CAMPAIGN signed bookplate, complete the entry form on http://www.orbitbooks.net/crimson-campaign/ including your name, mailing address, and proof of pre-order. Offer limited to residents of the fifty (50) United States and D.C. and the United Kingdom, aged 18 or older. Limit one (1) per person and per household. Duplicate requests will constitute fraud. You must have a valid home street address. Theft, diversion, reproduction, transfer, sale or purchase of this offer is prohibited and constitutes fraud. Offer good in the fifty (50) United States and DC and the United Kingdom only. Void where prohibited, taxed, or restricted by law. Requests from clubs or organizations will not be honored. Not redeemable in any manner other than provided herein. Not responsible for lost, late, incomplete, postage due, or misdirected requests. Requests not complying with all offer requirements will not be honored. Any fraudulent submission will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Sponsored by: Orbit Books, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. Privacy Policy: http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/privacy-policy/

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