Diamond Splinters for Nook, Kobo and iPad (or iPhone, obvi…)

For most indie authors, all the focus is on Amazon. Kindle sales account for somewhere around 85% of all ebooks. Of course  by no stretch of the imagination can Apple possibly be considered “the little guy”, but people don’t only buy apps and songs from iTunes, they buy books too. In Canada, where I live, the Kobo ereader is a surprisingly popular device for the consumption of digital literature, and it’s pretty much the equivalent of Barnes & Noble’s Nook in the US.

So… with only three days to go until the release of Diamond Splinters, it’s time to give a shout-out to the other platforms.

Here’s a link to the book for iOS devices:

Diamond Splinters iTunes preorder screenshot

Fancy a Nook book full of Diamond Splinters? Here you go:

Diamond Splinters Barnes and Noble preorder screenshot

And last but by no means least, here’s where you can find the final book in the Embodied trilogy for Kobo:

Diamond Splinters Kobo preorder screenshot

If you like science fiction with a big dash of urban fantasy, or are a fan of Doctor Who’s blend of soft sci-fi, extra-terrestrial feels and savvy female characters, then I think there’s a good chance you’ll love all the books in the Embodied trilogy.


A new honorific in the Mx.

No, that title doesn’t contain a typo. The New York Times has just used the newly coined honorific Mx. that identifies neither marital status nor gender.

Maybe Mx. could also be useful for sci-fi and fantasy authors when writing politely about aliens or supernatural beings of indeterminate sex? Should Time Lords/Ladies like Doctor Who henceforth be called Mx. Who? Or Missy be called Mx. Master? No, that sounds like a kitchen blender. I’ve been thinking about this for far too long, as you can see…


Mx. Master and the Blender Men

Photo credit: BBC

Author A.L. Kennedy on writing a Doctor Who novel

In a Guardian article a couple of weeks ago, British novelist A.L. Kennedy not only had nice things to say about the deep meaning of Doctor Who for children and adults alike, she also made some fairly damning pronouncements on the state of traditional publishing:

In a literary landscape of nervous agents and terrified publishers, where no risk can be taken and the next novel should be like the last novel that did well, or a mash-up of two that did quite well, or a version of a version of something that had solid sales in 2010 … literate sci-fi may be the only arena where the wild, surprising and wonderful can hide.

A. L. Kennedy (Schriftstellerin)

A. L. Kennedy


To her criticism of the industry she also added this barb about the other end of the gatekeeping spectrum – literature in academia:

It’s sad that so much of the air has gone from literary endeavour, that academic theorising and categorising have come to decide which novels are acceptable and reviewed, that literary publishing has squashed itself into more and more predictable boxes more and more often. Storytelling, company, human solidarity – they never go away, but they do seem to be moving away from the mainstream. It will be the mainstream’s loss.

I’m personally going through a lot of soul-searching fuelled by some hard research on what my next publishing steps should be with regard to the final book in the Embodied trilogy, and which of several embryonic projects to embark on after that (or even before it’s published).

The sands under our feet as authors are shifting. Does that mean we’re paddling at the edge of an amazingly powerful and beautiful ocean that’s safe and fun to swim in or will we be sucked down by hidden currents into a jungle quicksand? Either way, the days of writing our names in the hardening concrete of traditional publishing seem to be over. (End of concrete-mixing metaphors…)

Photo: “A. L. Kennedy (3)” by Heinrich-Böll-StiftungFlickr: A. L. Kennedy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Van Gogh’s fluid dynamics

Vincent Van Gogh was both a tragic failure and and a talented success. Unrecognized and penniless in his own lifetime, his paintings are now among the most appreciated and valuable in the entire art world. Although he isn’t a character in my YA novel Starley’s Rust, he and his art certainly feature strongly for reasons that are too spoilerish to go into here. Of course I’m far from being the first writer to be inspired by Van Gogh. There’s Don McLean’s hauntingly beautiful Vincent, a song that I’ve loved since I was a child. British sci-fi series Doctor Who (my favourite TV show of all time) also featured Van Gogh in a 2010 episode written by the great Richard Curtis, the screenwriter of classics such as Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Bridget Jones, and Love Actually. The Doctor brings the real-life Vincent forward in time to a Paris museum in this tear-jerking scene with Bill Nighy (Van Gogh is superbly acted by Tony Curran).

In Starley’s Rust, the mysterious title character Starley explains that Vincent, “was always searching for a way to express visually what he could see in his mind.” Coincidentally, I recently came across a TED Ed video on YouTube that shows just how incredible Van Gogh’s vision of the world actually was. Fluid dynamics is an immensely complex field of mechanics. Its mathematical formulas attempt to describe and predict the flow of liquids and gases.

But sometimes art does a better job.

Van Gogh

The short video The unexpected math behind Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” shows how the artist captured this most difficult of subjects. The video blurb explains:

Physicist Werner Heisenberg said, “When I meet God, I am going to ask him two questions: why relativity? And why turbulence? I really believe he will have an answer for the first.” As difficult as turbulence is to understand mathematically, we can use art to depict the way it looks. Natalya St. Clair illustrates how Van Gogh captured this deep mystery of movement, fluid and light in his work.

As the video narrator says, “…in a period of intense suffering, Van Gogh was somehow able to perceive and represent one of the most supremely difficult concepts nature has ever brought before mankind…”

I had no idea about any of this when I wrote the following passage in Starley’s Rust. Near the end of the book, our hero Kari Marriner goes on Wikipedia to research Vincent’s life and work:

I clicked back to the main page, then on the Starry Night picture. It was the view from Van Gogh’s room in a mental institution. The swirls in the sky… the thing that made the painting so beautiful… and that’s when it dawned on me. In fact, it hit me like a ton of bricks. The shimmering web of the Dark Universe that Noon had shown me from the rooftop of the Warrington. It was so similar.”

Okay, so that actually is a little bit spoilerish, but you’ll have to read Starley’s Rust to find out exactly what part Vincent Van Gogh has to play in Kari’s adventure. As for me, I’m going to watch the clouds and stars…

PS – I wrote this last night when it was dark!





The Undercover Soundtrack – John Dutton

My post for Roz Morris’s The Undercover Soundtrack – which features writers talking about how music has influenced their work – is online today. In it, you’ll find out how I’ve been inspired by Blondie, The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Arcade Fire, and Talking Heads, plus an unlikely appearance by Doctor Who’s enemies the Daleks!

My Memories of a Future Life

for logo‘Music to find inspired randomness’

Once a week I host a writer who uses music as part of their creative environment – perhaps to connect with a character, populate a mysterious place, or hold  a moment still to explore its depths. This week my guest is YA fantasy author John Dutton @JohnBDutton

Soundtrack by Simon and Garfunkel, Blondie, Talking Heads, Arcade Fire, The Beatles

Creating a work of art is usually stochastic; a combination of logical planning and inspired randomness. A novelist needs to wobble across this stochastic tightrope from blank page to finished text.

John B Dutton colour official


Original, unexpected ideas come from a variety of sources. Dreams, alcohol and drugs fueled writers such as Ernest Hemingway, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William S. Boroughs. As for myself (and in the words of the great Meat Loaf) two out of three ain’t bad. The odd pint of Guinness has…

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