Level Unlock – Big Damn Trilogy Sale!!

Last summer, I started working on a collaborative project with Marie Brennan that ended up being more or less NaNoWriMo for four months straight. We finished the 220k word behemoth in October, tossed it back and forth between beta readers, our agents, and each other, and sent it out to editors this past spring.

This week, we accepted a deal from Orbit Books to publish it as the first book of the Rook and Rose trilogy! It will be coming under the joint pen name M.A. Carrick (there’s a story there, but that’s for later).

I’m still working on my elevator pitch for the series, but here’s the general gist:

Alta Renata Viraudax is actually Arenza Lenskaya, a con artist who has infiltrated the nobility in an attempt to set herself up with a cushy life… only to run afoul of The Rook, a Dread-Pirate-Roberts-style vigilante whose mission is to oppose the nobility — including the increasingly visible Alta Renata. Capers, banter, double-crossing, and identity hijinks ensue. Think The Scarlet Pimpernel meets Scott Lynch’s The Lies of Locke Lamora series.

This was the most fun writing that I’ve ever had, and I think it shows on every page. Marie and I bring out the best in each other, and because we’re both anthropology worldbuilding geeks, we were able to create an incredibly rich, dense setting for us to play in. We’ve got multiple, inter-locking magic systems — Marie developed a whole divinatory card system that will definitely be Kickstarted so we can create an actual deck, and I got to get my ritual magic on by creating another system based on sacred geometry. There’s politics and economics, swashbuckling and derring-do, queerness and genderplay galore (because hell yeah there is), and so many fun characters that it hurts sometimes to do terrible things to them.

More news to come as this moves from editing into production! A little over a year ago, all we had was an idea. Now we have a book deal. Soon we’ll have a book! These things move faster than you think. I hope you’ll all come along with us for the ride.

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with what has sort of become our unofficial theme song:

Advertisements

What I’m Doing This Summer

I’ve recently made passing mention to a super secret collaborative project I’m working on. I’ve been hesitant to say more because so often projects like this die before they ever get momentum.

However, after six-ish months of planning, plotting, and worldbuilding, and three weeks of intense writing that have already pushed us past the 25k point, I feel confident in saying this is a thing.

To get a feel for the flavor, listen to this:

Capers! Heroic vigilantes and antiheroes! Identity hijinks! Masquerades and mistaken identities! Romance and betrayal and rooftop assignations, all while wearing fabulous outfits!

So that’s what Marie Brennan and I are working on, if you can call it work. Writing with her is so much fun that I actively look forward to getting butt in chair every day.

Now that R&R (our code for it) is out of the bag, look for posts about collaboration, magic systems, clothing design, economic and political systems, folklore, civil engineering, and all the other fun things that come up when you knock two anthropologists together and tell them to design a world for fantasy intrigue.

The Conclave of Shadow Sticky Post

Preorders and reviews are an author’s best friends!

TheConclaveOfShadow-144dpi

The Conclave of Shadow

The Conclave of Shadow, by Alyc Helms
Published: July 2016
Publisher: Angry Robot
ISBN: 9780857665188

The line between enemy and ally is thinner than a shadow’s edge.

Ever since she saved the spirit guardians of China by selling out to her worst enemy, Missy Masters — a.k.a. the pulp hero Mr. Mystic — has been laying low. But when knights serving the Conclave of Shadow steal secret technology from a museum exhibit on the Argent Aces, everyone looks to Mr. Mystic for help. If Missy doesn’t want her masquerade blown, she’d better track down the thieves, and fast.

But stolen tech turns out to be the least of her problems. Recent events have upset the balance of power in the Shadow Realms, removing the barriers that once held the ravenous Voidlands in check. Their spread threatens destruction in the mortal realm as well… and only the Conclave stands ready to push them back.

In a world of shadow, telling friends from enemies is easier said than done. But if she wants to save San Francisco, Missy will have to decide who to trust. Including her own instincts, which tell her that something is stalking her with murder in mind…

 

The Conclave of Shadow, out July 5, 2016
Available for pre-order in print and ebook
Angry Robot | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Goodreads

The Dragons of Heaven, out now!
Available in print, ebook, and audibook
Angry Robot | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Goodreads

 

Belated Cover Reveal – The Conclave of Shadow

Back in mid-August 2015, Angry Robot sent me a gorgeous final cover for the second book in the Missy Masters series (in my head it will always be ‘The Adventures of Mr. Mystic’ but Missy Masters is easier for sales databases and stuff). The Qwillery did a lovely cover-reveal post. I put up the cover as my desktop wallpaper.

I failed to actually write an announcement post about the cover.

See, it was such a great cover… it felt entirely wrong to write a post about it when I didn’t have a great book to go inside. Or any book! Mid-August, I was mired in a stressful new role at my job and kicking my own ass trying to meet somewhat impossible expectations for a platform release. I wasn’t writing, wasn’t even thinking about the book. And as much as I loved the cover, it hovered before me like Marley’s ghost. I didn’t have anything worthy of going inside. Shit. I barely had anything.

I forced myself to work through the stress of the job, a job change, and the loss of my grandmother. That fantastic cover became both carrot—I can do this!—and condemnation—why haven’t you done this yet?! The folks at Angry Robot were amazingly patient and extended my deadline several times.

I finished in December, started in on revisions, and realized I hated the book I’d written. Like, really hated it. Not authorial nerves. I could list all the specific elements that made it a celebration of cultural reductionism and appropriation at their absolute worst. It wasn’t just bad. It was something I would have been ashamed to put out into the world. I’d written the book from a bad place, and I got a bad book in return.

Did I mention how amazing and patient the folks at Angry Robot are? I should mention it again, because when I laid out that list and told them I was gutting the book and more or less starting from scratch, they agreed to push back the publication date so that I could maintain my artistic and ethical integrity.

Last night I turned in the final manuscript of the new and improved The Conclave of Shadow. I now have a book that I think maybe isn’t all that bad to go behind that awesome cover. And now that it has something inside, I feel like it’s an appropriate time for me to do the cover reveal. Here it is! Isn’t it pretty?

TheConclaveOfShadow-144dpi

The Conclave of Shadow

As for what’s inside, here’s the new teaser copy (with many thanks to Marie Brennan for her assistance refining it):

The line between enemy and ally is thinner than a shadow’s edge.

Ever since she saved the spirit guardians of China by selling out to her worst enemy, Missy Masters — a.k.a. the pulp hero Mr. Mystic — has been laying low. But when knights serving the Conclave of Shadow steal secret technology from a museum exhibit on the Argent Aces, everyone looks to Mr. Mystic for help. If Missy doesn’t want her masquerade blown, she’d better track down the thieves, and fast.

But stolen tech turns out to be the least of her problems. Recent events have upset the balance of power in the Shadow Realms, removing the barriers that once held the ravenous Voidlands in check. Their spread threatens destruction in the mortal realm as well… and only the Conclave stands ready to push them back.

In a world of shadow, telling friends from enemies is easier said than done. But if she wants to save San Francisco, Missy will have to decide who to trust. Including her own instincts, which tell her that something is stalking her with murder in mind…

The Conclave of Shadow, out July 5, 2016
Available for pre-order in print and ebook
Angry Robot | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Goodreads

The Dragons of Heaven, out now!
Available in print, ebook, and audibook
Angry Robot | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Amazon UK | Waterstones | Goodreads

Fuzzy Critters Love Dragons!

Today’s the second half of my book birthday, with the US/CAN print version of The Dragons of Heaven hitting the shelves. I’m traveling on business, so celebrations have been postponed until I can celebrate with family and loved ones.

I was feeling a little down about this, but then Brenta Blevins–my CW littermate, Cory Skerry’s nemesis, and a Mad Genius–posted a pic of her insanely photogenic new kitty, Abby, sitting next to her copy of Dragons, and it cheered me enormously.

Abby_cat

Then someone at Angry Robot posted a pic of their kitty with a copy of Dragons.

Fizz_Cat

I’m away from my kitty, Thrace, but he did help me open the box of my author copies, and I thought… this is exactly the way I want to celebrate my book launch. So if you have a copy of the book and any kind of animal companion (stuffed counts if you’re allergic), please take a pic and tweet it, post it on FB, post it here, whichever is easiest. Make sure to tag me so I can go look!

Thanks to everyone who helps me celebrate this milestone. Your fuzzy critters make the world a better place!

Happy Birthday to Me!

Book Birthday, that is. It’s official. I’m a published novelist: http://www.amazon.com/Dragons-Heaven-Alyc-Helms-ebook/dp/B00LKIBYQA/

This is how I plan to celebrate today:

1. Tea, Toast, Incense, and Faeries (my usual morning ritual)
2. Unplug to input my handwritten revisions on Chiaroscuro
3. Chew my fingers off to keep from obsessively checking the internet
4. Shower. Nap. Drive to the Peninsula
5. Play in Marie Brennan’s L5R game, wherein I have been promised romantic hijinks for my bishonen shugenja
6. Eat garlic noodles and Kyle’s ninja-bread cookies
7. Sing on the drive home. I’m thinking showtunes. This may change
8. Obsessively check the internet for an hour before I crash. BUT ONLY AN HOUR
9. Sleep the sleep of the novelist, which is somewhere between the sleep of the Just and the sleep of the Damned