Stephanie Thornton sells three novels at auction!

I've been sitting on this for the last week or so.  Now I can talk about it, because this announcement appeared in the most recent Publisher's Weekly:
Stephanie Thornton's THE SECRET HISTORY, in which a theater tart-turned-Constantinople's premier courtesan must decide what's more important: pleasing the emperor who claims to love her or keeping the son he can never know about, to Ellen Edwards of NAL, at auction, in a three-book deal, for publication beginning in 2013, by Marlene Stringer of the Stringer Literary Agency (World English).
Notice the three book deal and the at auction.  This is publisher-speak for, "These books are really, really good."

If the author's name looks familiar, it's because they're talking about Our Stephanie.

Stephanie first appeared on this blog in September 2009 (I went back and checked) and she's been a regular reader and commenter ever since.  In all that time, and well before, she's been working on her own novels, and now she's earned the reward for unremitting faith in herself, and quality writing.

All three are historicals.  The first is Byzantine.  Those of you who know Stephanie will have no trouble working out that another is Egyptian.


The glamour life of an international author...

This morning I took my younger daughter to school, along with her latest school project: a contraption of waterwheels fashioned from disposable plastic plates, toothpicks, wooden skewers, an old ice cream container, a pulley used in sailing dinghies,  and Daddy's old Meccano from when he was a boy.  She has so much stuff to take in that she does it in two trips, leaving me to stand at the drop off point holding The Contraption.

How come everyone is looking at me?  Oh, it's not because of The Contraption.  It's because I'm wearing baggy olive tracksuit pants, the T-shirt I slept in, a navy jumper, and warm, old sheepskin boots.  Also I haven't shaved (I did manage to comb my hair though).  All the other parents are wearing office suits or immaculate day clothes.  Seriously, those author photos are such a lie.

Hint fiction

In the last week I helped judge a hint fiction contest on the short-short story site Rammenas. The definition of hint fiction is a story in 25 words or less that hints at a larger story.

I wrote the judges' report. If you want to see what happens when Gary has to judge someone else's writing, you can read it here. That report was dangerously close to the blind leading the blind, but it was interesting to be on the other end of the critique analysis, just for a change.

It was also terrific fun working with fellow judges Martin Hingley (follow the link if saxophones are your thing) and Marcel Warmerdam. All three of us are 40+ males who've worked in IT. When we talked over skype it sounded like an IT analyst conference.

In the end we couldn't decide between two excellent entries, so they both won. I hope I'll be forgiven if I repeat them here:
Found, by Lisa Vooght
Found your USB drive in the desk. Beautiful photos, touching music selections. Curious as to the 2 obituaries. Mine and yours? What gives?
(There's a link to Lisa's blog on her name, but I don't think it's showing.)
Strangers, by Mike Jackson
We both entered the shop together, total strangers. I wanted milk, he wanted money. I had a credit card, he had a gun.
(Update: I've popped in a link to Mike Jackson's blog.)

Rammenas is an English/Dutch site run by Anneke Klein, who I am overjoyed to say has her own book of short stories on the way. Here's the cover draft!

The Chum

My brilliant literary agent is the somewhat well known Janet Reid. Honestly, I had no idea at the time that I was signing with one of the world's most famous literary agents.

Janet likes to refer to herself as The Shark -- it's a reflection on the general reputation of literary agents -- which has inevitably led to her authors referring to themselves as The Chum. I don't know how it works with other agencies, but quite a few of The Chum like to keep in touch, mostly over twitter, because writing 6,000 inane but incredibly witty tweets is so much easier know...working.

Two of The Chum have recently released books, and they both got starred reviews in Publishers Weekly, which is a big thing because PW is so influential. The first is Steve Ulfelder, whose day job is building race cars, plus he's a for-real P.I., all of which is just too cool. I met Steve for the first time at last year's Bouchercon, which is a fan conference. Not only do we have the same agent, we have the same publisher. Clearly we're in psychic tune. Purgatory Chasm stars car mechanic and detective Conway Sax, and it's going on shelves even as I write this.

The other is Bill Cameron, whose fourth book is County Line. I'm intensely jealous of Bill's ability to write brilliant one line synopses. He just whips them off while I struggle for days to do half as well. His hero is the rather oddly named Skin Kadash. His books are noir with a dash of subtle humour and a fine sense of the ridiuclous (I'm thinking particularly of Lost Dog, in which the missing canine of the title is a child's toy!).

Ruth Downie on resources for Roman Britain

If you're interested in Roman Britain, Ruth Downie has put on her blog an interesting list of sources for Roman Britain, to which she kindly added my own random comments about historical research.

Ruth seriously knows her stuff. She writes mysteries set in Roman Britain, starring the somewhat put-upon and incredibly funny Ruso. She's up to book 4. The first is called Medicus, from which we may deduce Ruso is a doctor. Some of his historically accurate prescriptions have to be read to be believed. It's a good thing Ruso and Nico will never work together, because it would be...utter...chaos.