15 April 2017

An award for Forfeit

Award recognition is one of those complicated things for writers.  Is there such a thing as 'best'?  Judges bring their own individual taste.  Popular awards rely very much of a piece/author being known to the voting pool.  It's all very complicated, so I've tried to adopt the attitude of appreciating any compliments coming my way without getting too hung up on missing out.

But I'm still going to enjoy adding to my display cabinet an Aurealis Award for "Forfeit" as the Best Fantasy Novella 2016.

HUGE thanks to Judith Tarr for prodding me into tightening up the story.  And thanks again to my readers.  You're the ones that really make my day.

You can watch the ceremony here if you're so inclined.


17 February 2017

Self-pub Statistics 2017

Here's the latest round of statistics, for those who are interested in such things.  I'm being lazy and just using a tool called Book Report to automatically turn all my Amazon sales into nice graphs.  Amazon is still about 85% of my sales, so this gives you a good idea of how it all breaks down for a laid-back non-promo type like me.  [I'd far rather just write and publish than go through promo hoops, which does mean my sales slide between releases.]

[If you want to see just how successful hard work and a solid promo plan (along with good books) can be, check out some of the posts Patty Jansen does on her far more active writing career.]

Earnings per month

First, here's earnings from when I first put my books up on Amazon (a few months after I'd first published them on Smashwords).  The two big peaks are two Bookbub promotions, back when it was easier to get into Bookbub.  The initial early leaps were in the days when putting a book free would have a tangible impact on your sales.  [The third biggest peak, incidentally, is the release of In Arcadia.]


Earnings by book and store

The Touchstone Trilogy is by leaps and bounds my bestseller, as can be seen by the pie chart.  No prizes for guessing which books are represented by the right of the chart.


Numbers and dollars by book

Dividing this by seven years makes the amounts seem much less impressive - but still definitely nothing to sniff at!  Not anything I could gamble on early retirement with, but a solid supplement to my income.  [Publishing and Amazon algorithms are such variable things that I don't think I would ever bank on book royalties until I no longer had things like mortgages to worry about.]


For the future...well, I'd still rather just write and publish and see what happens - the beauty of self-publishing is that the books are mine, and they're not going away, and I'm comfortable with letting my mailing list grow slowly and organically.

Not that I'd object to wild success.  I recently had a rather heart-stopping query from a very major production company about the film/TV rights for Touchstone.  It came to nothing, sadly, but it sure did give me some fun daydreams.  I re-read the trilogy afterwards, and really don't see how it could be adapted without cutting down on the massive cast list - but I thought it would be fun to have a show that paralleled Zan and Cass.  They both technically 'graduate' around the same time and are such different people.

02 February 2017

In Arcadia magnet winners

Whoo!  The random number generator has spat out the following names for their own fancy magnet
:

- Jen (entered on Goodreads)
- AtillatheMom (entered on blog)
- G  (entered on blog)
- Eun dong Park  (entered on blog)
- TheSFReader  (entered on blog)
- Meredith  (entered on blog)
- katayoun  (entered on blog)
- Lexie  (entered on blog)

Congratulations!  To claim your magnet, email me at mail at andreakhost.com with the address you want the magnet sent to, and the quote (from In Arcadia, or anywhere else in the Touchstone trilogy) you would like me to write in shiny gold pen across the magnet (you can also optionally include my signature, your name, bad drawings, other things - let me know what you'd like!)  It's a big magnet!  [But my handwriting is neither small nor neat.]

Magnets not claimed by April will be redrawn.

09 January 2017

In Arcadia TPB Giveaway

Here is a Goodreads giveaway for the TPB version of In Arcadia.  Competition starts 9 January.




Goodreads Book Giveaway

In Arcadia by Andrea K. Höst

In Arcadia

by Andrea K. Höst

Giveaway ends February 17, 2017.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

08 January 2017

A Touchstone special edition

The Book Smugglers are celebrating their ninth anniversary and have announced another Touchstone surprise for 2017: a special limited edition reprint of the trilogy with covers by Kirbi Fagan.

I'm SO looking forward to this - it's wonderful to work with Ana and Thea (and, well, I'm just a sucker for covers).  Will post more info as it arrives.

01 January 2017

In Arcadia - Release and Competition

So it's 2017.

On the world scene, 2016 had quite a few down points, so I thought I'd start the new year off with a small gift for my fans.  Now I know I've been promising a Touchstone short story for years, but I'm afraid I'm just not a short story writer...so you're going to have to make do with a brand spanking new Touchstone novel.

My first outright romance novel, in fact, with the story of how Cass' Mum Laura gets together with Tsur Selkie.  Well, you know me - it's more a slice-of-life geek-fest because how would you feel getting to move to a place like Muina?  Though Tsur Selkie sure as hell knows how to make a romantic gesture.  [And I hope you all fall in love with Aunt Sue, because I sure did, and Aunt Sue will definitely be getting her own adventure some time.]

I love this cover image, btw.


One does not simply walk onto another planet.  At least not without the help of a daughter who has developed unlikely powers, fought an intra-dimensional war, and then arranged for a family relocation to a futuristic clone of Earth.  Laura Devlin would gladly have paid any price to have her daughter back, so living in a techno-paradise with spaceship views is merely an added bonus.  And a dream come true.

But Arcadian paradises do not come without complications.  Laura's include a plethora of psychic grandchildren.  Interplanetary diplomacy.  Her daughter's immense fame.  And KOTIS, the military watchdog that seems to consider Laura's entire family government property.

Forewarned by her daughter's experiences, Laura had anticipated as many problems as she could, and didn't doubt her ability to cope with the rest.  But she had not planned on Gidds Selkie, a military officer 'chipped from flint' and not at all the sort of man lifelong geek Laura had ever imagined would find her interesting.

Burned in the past, Laura is surprised to find herself tempted.  Is this a new start to go with a new world?  Or a mismatch doomed to failure?


Ebooks
Amazon USUKDEFRAU
Kobo 
Barnes & Noble  
Google 

Trade Paperback
Amazon 
CreateSpace 


Competition!
I had a number of large magnets made up from the cover to give away, for those who are really keen on some new fridge decorations.  When I say large, I mean large:



To enter, just add 'enter' in the comments of this post (or, if you can't comment, email me at mail at andreakhost.com).  [Feel free, of course, to squee as well, but try to keep this relatively spoiler-free.]

Competition closes end of January.  I can also sign your magnet with a glittery pen, if you so choose, or even a short quote from the novel of your choosing.






10 December 2016

FFXV (mild spoilers)

Final Fantasy Boy Band came out last week, and I racked up 50-60 hours of gameplay and now it is done.

Another very pretty game, and gameplay-wise it was pretty solid Final Fantasy, with endless side quests and open world stuff that you could meander through at your own speed - at least until you hit the end game railroad.


Like many Final Fantasy fans, I was a bit dubious about the 'boy band' aspect.  No female playable characters at all is disappointing - though not irredeemable to me - there has been at least one all-female FF game, and all male playable characters aren't necessarily a gamebreaker for me.

'Cindy the mechanic' nearly was.  Cindy's outfit was a painful piece of fan service, and boy did they love posing her for viewing pleasure.  The windscreen washing was particularly egregious.  She was also the female character we spent the most time with.  Still, at least she was competent.  Aranea and Lunafreya were both better dressed, and we even got to do a dungeon-crawl with Aranea, who has a nice line of snark and some hilarious dragon cosplay going on.

Unfortunately, FFXV has a massive plot problem.  For one thing, most of the plot isn't in the game, it's in an entirely separate movie called Kingsglaive (which I haven't watched).  And what started as a reasonably enjoyable game dissolved into a shemozzle of epic proportions during the end-game, with most of the characters you met during the first forty hours of the game getting a brief mention rather than satisfactory final scenes, and even the primary 'brotherhood' theme coming off pretty weak since we needed more of the _beginning_ of these four's friendship to really appreciate that friendship being under stress, and then finally enduring.

So, for those trying to decide on whether to play the game - the first two-thirds are great classic FF, if lacking in playable female characters and backstory.  The last third isn't particularly fun to play, and reads more like cliff notes or dot points of a plot rather than a satisfying story.

But it's very pretty, and I play quite a few of these games for the pretty.

19 October 2016

The Towers, the Moon release

France, under the Court of the Moon, is a country of cyclical change, where the true rulers arrive every night to compete among themselves, and humans are backdrop, witnesses, inessential – and yet inextricably intertwined.

It is the reign of the Gilded Tower, and fashions are daring.


Two Wings: Griff Tenning has suffered too much change in the past year, and wishes everything would quiet down for a while - or, better still, would go back to when his parents were alive. But, even so, it's useful that his odd aunt can afford airship tickets to France. On such a quick trip, his hated travel sickness won't be enough to keep him from a chance to stand beneath the impossible Towers of the Moon.

Forfeit: Forfeit is the newest game of the Court of the Moon, and one seemingly designed for humans to lose. But Arianne Seaforth is willing to pay a great deal to help her oldest friend – and she is learning to extract a price of her own.

Death and the Moon: Eluned Tenning can barely remember all the names of the vast network of cousins making her sixteenth birthday party so overwhelming. But she has no problems with would-be actor Milo, who is so calmly quiet and friendly. She'd never step on a stage herself, but she's happy to help him rehearse.
The Towers, the Moon's cover is by the wonderful Likhain.  Covers are one of my favourite parts of any release, and it was awesome to watch this image come to life.
Note: These short stories sit between The Pyramids of London and Tangleways in The Trifold Age series. They contain mild spoilers for The Pyramids of London. "Two Wings" is 7,500 words, "Forfeit" is 20,000 words, and "Death and the Moon" is 2300 words.

Ebooks

Smashwords
Amazon US, UK, DE, FR, AU
Kobo 
Barnes & Noble 
Google (coming)

Trade Paperback

CreateSpace 
Amazon 

29 September 2016

Epistory (game)

I've not played a typing game before that wasn't designed to teach typing.

Epistory is definitely not here to teach you typing.  In fact, if you're not a plus 50 wpm (and preferably more like plus 80 wpm) typist, I don't recommend this game.


I mean sure, it has an origami girl on a cool origami fox trotting through an origami landscape that unfolds before your eyes.  And you can change the landscape - spawning trees or flowers or removing logs by typing their names.  And the creepy crawlies coming toward you every so often are easily banished with a quick key word or several key words.  And you even get skills to take out multiple enemies at once, and can manage boss battles where a dozen things are heading toward you from all sides and you're typing and owning them with your skills and your three and four and five letter words and then it hits you with nocturnal and polysyllabic and hyperglaecemic and...

Beginner typists simply aren't going to survive.

It was fairly short on the story part, and the control mechanism for the fox is a bit irritating, but for those who are fast typists, this game will give you a nice challenge.

24 September 2016

Slownesses

Much hard work lately, but no releases to show for it!  I'm about three-four chapters from the end of my current project, though, and have nearly figured out how I want to rewrite the beginning of the main story of The Towers, the Moon after feedback.  This means two releases by the end of the year, although I'm not going to set any fixed dates.

I've really been enjoying writing MMO-related stories, though it makes me SO tempted to pick up an MMO and lose myself for a few months.

It's spring here in Sydney, which means lots of flowers, but also more weeding and mowing.  The brand new leaves on deciduous trees are very lovely as well.








24 July 2016

Stranger Things (mild spoilers)

This is a Netflix science fiction series set in the 80s, where the disappearance of a young boy and the arrival of a girl with mysterious powers are linked to strange happenings at a shadowy research facility.  Think Firestarter combined with Super 8.

Like Super 8, there's a small group of boys involved, and a solid chunk of the story is about their friendship.  There's also an older sister who has a boys-related plot, which morphed into something better.  And a Sheriff who never really recovered from losing his daughter.

There's not a lot of...original in this story, but it's fairly gripping in parts (I'm a shameless skipper-ahead when there's boring scenes).  And there was stuff that, inevitably, annoyed me.

The boyfriend related stuff I simply found tiresome, even though they were clearly attempting to deconstruct some of the usual beats of that tale.  But what I disliked about the sister's plotline was where the sister's less-attractive best friend ended up.  Painfully predictable outcome.

I appreciated some of the brave and logical things 'frantic Mum' did.

One of the things that bugged me most, though, is that these D&D-playing, SFF-loving kids, have zero imagination about 'Eleven', the mysterious girl.  They are genre-savvy and she's clearly an escapee, clearly traumatised, has powers...and they are constantly attacking her for being 'creepy', for not explaining things clearly.  The same goes for the two older teens - at times they seem to be acting not out of bravery, but a complete failure to have any awareness of horror narratives, even after seeing more visual proof of creepiness than anyone else.  Who crawls through mucus-filled holes in trees and doesn't expect to find anything horrible on the far side?

It kept my interest to the ending, but then I was again rolling my eyes at the "reset to normality but not" final beat.  So a partial recommendation: some good suspense, a couple of occasions where girls got to step outside expectations, but we're definitely going back to the 80s with this - not anywhere new.

09 July 2016

Inside (game) (no spoilers)

A friend of mine emailed me about this game, noting that she'd seen reviews that said "buy and play and don’t look at reviews first so you get the full wonder of it" - and so I did.


The game starts with a boy, in a forest, who starts to run right...and that's about all I'm planning to tell you about the details of the game.  It really is a game that will reward discovering what happens by yourself.

"Creepy mindfuck" is the most common description I've been able to find for that game...and that fits well enough.  It certainly is an incredibly tense and atmospheric game, with good, mostly not-too-difficult puzzles and multiple moments of wonder, awe and horror.

I'm so-so on the ultimate ending, but this game was definitely more about the journey than the explanation.

You'll get about four hours worth of playtime out of it - and for those without the budget/inclination, this is a game which will probably be enjoyable to watch a few Let's Plays (especially a couple of the more shocking bits).

Potential spoilers in any comments, so if you haven't played don't read them just in case...

18 June 2016

June status and writing side-effects

I was just checking my Goodreads records, and it says I've read 26 books so far this year (as we near the halfway point) and twenty of them were read before March (so six books between March and June).  By contrast, in 2011 I read 159 books in the year.

This is one of the big costs of writing for me - when I'm doing first drafts, I tend to stop reading.  It's too distracting.  I also tend to avoid whatever genre I'm writing, so I've read barely any fantasy (reserving what I do read to re-reads, graphic novels, or fave authors).  Mystery is a useful genre for me since I don't write it, and usually am more able to put it down and go back to what I'm working on.

Anyway, the lack of books read does indicate a lot of writing, and in a couple of weeks I'll be able to send all three stories for the 'side trip to France' off to be edited, and will start working fully on Snug Ship.  If I'm diligent, I should have three whole releases this year, which will be interesting!

Writing 'interstitial' stories is a new experiment for me.  I have a plot-line for the Trifold stories that will be covered in five books.  Stories in between the stories need to be worthwhile in themselves, and yet not substantially impact the main story, allowing the shorts to be optional.  Two Wings, Forfeit and Death and the Moon are all a combination of showing the reader France, and character stories where Griff, Rian and Eluned are all focused on 'who am I just now'.

But I enjoyed it!  I think I will do some more in between stories in Trifold - but not until Tangleways is done.

[Note that there is no story from Eleri's POV - she's a harder voice for me to capture.  Griff is very funny, though.]

30 May 2016

Interview with Intisar Khanani (Memories of Ash Release and Giveaway)

I admit, I first read Intisar Khanani's Sunbolt because her name reminded me of Inisar (the Nuran Setari).  I'm shallow that way. :)

I enjoyed Sunbolt thoroughly - it's a fast-paced novella about Hitomi, a street girl with a secret and a lot of trouble heading her way, and when I saw Intisar was releasing a sequel, Memories of Ash, I grabbed the opportunity to ask her a few questions about the world of Sunbolt, and her plans for the story's future.

So for fans of Intisar, and those hearing of her for the first time, here's a little background to a grand new world (and scroll all the way to the end of the post to enter a giveaway that includes a couple of my books!).

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Q: In Sunbolt you use elements that readers currently associate with paranormal/urban fantasy (vampires, weres) in a secondary world – but, of course, they have a long tradition in high fantasy as well.  Do you think there's more scope these days to do interesting things with well-known creatures in secondary worlds?

A: Absolutely. I think the advent of indie publishing has meant a freedom for authors try new things in a way that traditional publishing wouldn't have approved of--if for no other reason than that it would make it difficult to decide which shelf to put the book on. I think there's scope both for trying new things with well-known creatures in secondary worlds, and for bringing in cultures and their mythos and legends that have been traditionally ignored.

For example, in Sunbolt, both Hitomi and Kenta are from a culture that is built around historic Japanese culture. Further, Kenta is a tanuki--a raccoon dog known as both a trickster and a drunk in Japanese folk lore. As Hitomi continues to travel through the Eleven Kingdoms, she will meet with other cultures reminiscent of real-world historical cultures, as well as their attendant fantastical creatures.

The danger with this kind of approach, of course, is cherry-picking cultures for exotic elements. We see that happening in more than a few mainstream fantasy novels that claim the "diversity" label. It's unfortunate, because a culture is more than just a pair of chopsticks, or some unusual architecture, or a few key dishes--or that really cool fantasy creature. For example, jinn seem to be quite the thing nowadays, especially among authors who haven't researched them past the obvious. I find it incredibly frustrating as someone who grew up with stories of jinn and have lived in cultures that maintain a strong tradition of believing in--and even interacting with--jinn. So while there is definitely more scope for incorporating fantastical creatures in all different walks of fantasy, I do believe there's a responsibility on the part of the author to not only do their research, but to incorporate the diverse cultures they are drawing on as fully as possible in their works.


Q: Hitomi starts off her adventure as the classic streetwise orphan – but with established connections to the city's underworld.  Do you prefer your protagonists to have a strong social network, or face new beginnings with new people?


It really depends on the story and the character. In my novel, Thorn, the heroine is not only leaving everything she knows for a new land, but her identity is forcibly stolen from her along the way. She ends up without connections or support beyond a single, magical creature who witnessed the switch. Being on her own, and responsible for choosing her own fate, are critical in Thorn's development over the course of the story. So I guess I've already written both ends of the spectrum! I do really enjoy pulling characters out of their comfort zones and throwing them at a completely new situation. Even in Sunbolt, Hitomi is quickly pulled out of her social network to face some unpleasant situations on her own.


Q: Hitomi obviously has quite an adventure still ahead of her.  Do you have plans for other stories within Hitomi's world, or do you like to create a new world for new stories?

I really don't know... I love Hitomi's world, and have put a good deal of time and research into building it. I suspect I'll want to place other stories there, though I sincerely doubt there would be any overlap in timelines. But I haven't decided yet--I'm still just trying to get Hitomi's story down!

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Thank you, Intisar, for the interview, and best of luck with the new release!  See below for details of Intisar's books, and to enter in a giveaway for a selection of SFF books - and a Kindle Fire.


15 May 2016

Uncharted 4 (no spoilers)

Uncharted 4 is the conclusion to a long-running action/adventure series that's been around almost as long as Tomb Raider.  I passed over the series when it was originally released because it had a greater focus on gun fights than I'm generally interested in, but when the first three games were released as a remastered collection I played through them (on "I don't care about combat" mode) and enjoyed the spectacular scenery, the strong characterisation, and the cool lost cities.




Story-wise, I'd say Uncharted is stronger than Tomb Raider (both old and new) because it sets up a small cast of 'good' guys and plays off the interaction between them over multiple games.  Uncharted 4 thoroughly delivers on a strong adventure story (and, happily, gets away from the supernatural element that made the conclusions to the the first three games feel...kinda repetitive).  There are two things pulling the story along - Nate's (previously unmentioned) brother, and the conflict between marriage/going straight and an in-born love of adventure.



It was the second point that worried me going into this story, and early on it seemed that my concerns would be realised, with Elena functioning as almost an 'anchor' keeping Nate from the stuff he loves.  Overall, though, I think the game managed to find a good resolution to the problem, and as a series I think it treats female characters reasonably well.


For gameplay (ignoring the gun fights, which still don't much interest me), this was a really well-balanced puzzler, mainly involving trying to figure out how to climb things, or survive buildings (inevitably) collapsing around Nate.  One thing that really stands out as a huge step forward was the companion interaction.  Nate has a companion with him at least half the time, and instead of passively waiting about, the companion will wander around, inspect things, kill the occasional thug, try out different climbing routes - sometimes even taking the lead - and make helpful suggestions if you spend too long faffing about.


Most of all, there was scenery.  Just, freaking awesome scenery.  And wondrous and completely unlikely ruins, soon to be recklessly destroyed by Nate, his friends and opponents - none of whom seem to understand that an object doesn't need to be made of gold to be valuable.


The one thing the game lacked was Chloe (a kick-ass lady from earlier games), but I guess you can't have everything.