Not a Blog

The Jean Cocteau Channel

May 23, 2020 at 8:19 am
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My theatre in Santa Fe, the Jean Cocteau Cinema, has been closed up as part of the coronavirus lockdown in New Mexico.

But I’ve kept my staff on, and they’ve been busy working virtually… on our JCC YouTube channel (among other things).

Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCwZDqU56IzUFXmzpMF4jRRg  — and give us your thumbs if you enjoy what you see.

Among other offerings, the site includes video of most of the other events we’ve done in the past year or, featuring a wide range of terrific writers, including Lee Child, John Scalzi, Erica Jong, Alan Brennert, Marlon James, John Nichols, and more.  You will also find recipes for some of our award-winning cocktails, music and magic, children’s book reviews, and our art show openings.   Lots of fun stuff.

And more to come.   We hope to keep adding content to the JCC… including new book events… once we reopen.

Current Mood: satisfied satisfied

All Aboard for Lamy

May 19, 2020 at 2:36 pm
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We lived in an apartment when I was a kid, in the federal housing projects on First Street in Bayonne, New Jersey.   We did not have much money, and we did not have much room.   One Christmas, I decided I wanted a set of Lionel electric trains.   Santa brought them to me, good guy that he was.  It was years later that I learned that they were hand-me-down trains that had originally belonged to my cousin Richie.  He was a few years older than me, and had outgrown toys.  By then he was more interested in girls.   His train set was pretty basic, to tell the truth.  A circle of track, a transformer, a locomotive, a couple of cars, and a caboose.   None of the really cool cars that Lionel was making in the 50s.   I had friends who lived in houses whose train sets occupied their entire basements, with a whole town, a mountain, tunnels, bridges, all kinds of cool cars that did stuff.   My train went in a circle around the Christmas tree, and when the tree came down, it was time to put away the train set for another year.   Eventually my trains vanished unaccountably, and I later learned they had been handed down again, to another cousin, one who was a few years younger than me.

Perhaps these experiences during my formative childhood years gave me a deep-buried case of Train Lust.

Or maybe it was my middle initials.   I remember when I first started going to SF cons, there were a lot of guys named George around.   George Zebrowski was “George,” Gardner Dozois informed me.   George Alec Effinger was “Piglet.”  So I would have to be “Railroad.”   Jack Dann still calls me that, half a century later.

Whatever the reason, yeah, it’s true.   I bought a new train set.   Well, me and a couple of friends and partners, Bill Banowsky of Violet Crown Cinema, and Catherine Oppenheimer of the New Mexico School for the Arts.   All three of us are involved in Santa Fe’s resurgent Railyard neighborhood, at the heart of which is the old, defunct Santa Fe Southern Railroad, which hasn’t run regularly for years.   The SFSR only ran eighteen miles, from just behind my theatre the Jean Cocteau down to the old historic depot in Lamy, New Mexico.   But it was a great fun ride once upon a time, and Bill and Catherine and I think it could be a great fun ride again.

The JOURNAL NORTH has all the details, here:

https://www.abqjournal.com/1456291/working-on-the-railroad-ex-trio-plans-to-revive-train-service-between-santa-fe-and-lamy.html

It is going to take a lot of work, more than a few bucks, and a fair amount of time to get the railroad running again.   There are tracks and trestles to inspect and repair, old historic coaches to restore to their former splendor, a dead locomotive to bring back to life.   And the coronavirus has slowed the process way down.   But sooner or later, we do hope to have the old Lamy Line chuffing and puffing once again, and we have all sorts of fun ideas for the future, live music and murder mysteries and train robberies and escape rooms and… well, we shall see.

And best of all, we won’t need to pull up the tracks when Christmas is over.

Current Mood: excited excited

The Folio Society does it again!!

May 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm
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Check out the splendid collector’s editions of A Song of Ice and Fire from @foliosociety, they are truly masterpieces of the bookmakers art. The second edition A Clash of Kings has just been released – here’s a look at some of the book’s stunning artwork by Jonathan Burton.

www.foliosociety.com/asongoficeandfire

 

Here’s some more great attention these collectors editions are getting:

 

How The Folio Society designs its gorgeous collector’s editions of Game of Thrones

https://www.theverge.com/2020/4/22/21228705/folio-society-game-of-thrones-design-clash-of-kings-interview-george-r-r-martin

 

George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings Gets a Gorgeous (and Bloody) Collector’s Edition

https://io9.gizmodo.com/george-r-r-martins-a-clash-of-kings-gets-a-gorgeous-a-1842999785?utm_campaign=io9&utm_content=1587570902&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_source=twitter

 

Game of Thrones: Folio Society Unveils Epic New Edition & Exclusive Artwork for A Clash of Kings

https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/the-folio-society-game-of-thrones-a-clash-of-kings-illustrated-edition

 

THIS MESSAGE HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE MINIONS OF FEVRE RIVER

 

Current Mood: happy happy

Khan Has Come (Again)

May 6, 2020 at 1:42 pm
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Marko Kloos’s new Wild Cards story, “Berlin Is Never Berlin,” went up this morning on Tor.com.

Khan is back, and kicking ass.   Check it out.   It’s FREE.   Be sure to leave a comment.

Berlin Is Never Berlin

If you missed Khan’s first appearance, hunt up a copy of LOW CHICAGO.   He’s our cover guy.   Autographed copies are available from Beastly Books via mailorder.   https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/signed-books/

I hope all of you reading this are safe and snug and socially distant.

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Brad and H’ard

May 2, 2020 at 1:08 pm
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Hey, Wild Carders.  There’s a cool new interview up on the Wild Cards website, wherein Brad Denton, one of the newest members of the consortium, talks with Howard Waldrop, one of the originals… author of the very first Wild Cards story, “Thirty Minutes Over Broadway.”

If you’ve ever wondered how Jetboy’s last adventure came to be, who actually wrote his final words, or how H’ard pissed off Roger Zelazny, the world’s nicest man, this is the interview for you.

Of course, it is all done on the telephone, so everyone can stay safely socially distant, donchaknow.

Check it out at:

Fifty Minutes Over Manchaca (now Menchaca) Road!

Current Mood: amused amused

Wild Cards, Wild Cards, and Wild Cards

April 29, 2020 at 1:47 pm
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Something old, something new, and something else new are in the offing for all you Wild Cards fans out there.

April 28 was the official publication date for Tor’s trade paperback reissue of TEXAS HOLD ‘EM, the third book in our America Triad.   Hop on the bus with the Amazing Bubbles, Rubberband, Rustbelt, and the Jokertown Mob and travel down to San Antonio for a high school jazz competition like none you have ever seen before!   Copies will be on sale at your local bookstore (which is probably closed, alas), but also from your favorite online bookseller, be that Amazon, B&N, or Beastly Books.

That’s not all, though.   We also have a couple of brand new Wild Cards treats coming your way Real Soon Now.

This Friday, May 1, will see the release of the hardcover edition of THREE KINGS from Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   This one is a sequel to KNAVES OVER QUEENS, and like that volume it is set almost entirely in the British Isles, featuring a cast of English and Irish aces, jokers, and knaves, including the Seamstress, the Green Man, Badh, Double Helix, and Enigma.

THREE KINGS is a mosaic novel.  For those not familiar with that term, or Wild Cards in general, that means there are no separate stories;  each contributor writes from the viewpoint of his or her own character or characters, but the storylines are completely interwoven to create one big on-going five- or six-way collaborative novel.   This time around the contributing writers were Melinda M. Snodgrass, Peadar O Guilin, Mary Anne Mohanraj, Caroline Spector, and Peter Newman.   They have quite a story to tell; I think you’ll enjoy it.   I sure did.

I have been editing these Wild Cards books since 1986.   I have edited a lot of traditional anthologies as well, some by myself (the John W. Campbell Award anthologies back in the 70s), some in partnership with the late great Gardner Dozois (ROGUES, DANGEROUS WOMEN, OLD MARS, OLD VENUS, WARRIORS, and the like).   All of them fun, all of them challenging… but for my money, editing a shared world anthology is the hardest sort of editing there is.   And a mosaic novel… a full mosaic, all the parts blended together into one whole… that’s a form unique to Wild Cards, I think (we did the first one back in 1988 with JOKERS WILD), and it is really really demanding.   That’s why I think it is important to point out here that THREE KINGS was edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass.  My name is larger on the cover, but Melinda did way more on this one than I did.   We had the correct credit on the title page — edited by Melinda, yours truly assistant editor — but the cover, well, the publisher wants this one shelved with all the others, which means under my name.   (This is an issue Gardner and I had to deal with as well, on our collaborative books).

Melinda has been part of Wild Cards since the very beginning (along with Walter Jon Williams, John Jos. Miller, the late Victor Milan, and a few others ), and around the time of the second triad she came on as assistant editor.  She has worked with me in that capacity on almost all of the books since.   On one of them, LOWBALL, she stepped up when other obligations were distracting me, and on that volume, the two of us are credited, correctly, as co-editors.   On the title page and cover both.   On the others, I’ve been the editor and Melinda the assistant editor.  Until THREE KINGS, where we reversed our roles.   I started the ball rolling on 3K, but then I stepped back and handed it off to Snod… and she did an amazing job with it, in my estimation.   The first time I even read the finished stories was when she sent me the assembled manuscript, and I was VERY pleased.   I think you will be as well.

In any case… there will be an American edition of THREE KINGS available from Tor, but probably not for a year or two.   Tor has a number of other Wild Cards books, both old and new, in their pipeline… like TEXAS HOLD ‘EM, above, and the forthcoming reprint of DEALER’S CHOICE.   For the time being, the only edition of THREE KINGS available for sale will be the British edition from Voyager.   Honestly, I am not sure if Americans  are allowed to purchase that… but in this age of the internet, I’d have to think it was possible.   You can read a preview and place an order here:  https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008361518/three-kings-edited-by-george-r-r-martin-wild-cards/

THREE KINGS is the twenty-ninth volume in the Wild Cards series (by virtue of this British publication, it leapfrogs the forthcoming JOKER MOON, which was actually written and delivered earlier)… but no, you don’t need to read the first twenty-eight to understand and enjoy it.   It might help a little if you do read KNAVES OVER QUEENS, the previous British book, however.

And that’s two… but that’s not all.   A few days after THREE KINGS goes on sale, we will also be debuting  a brand new Wild Cards story on Tor.com.  “Berlin Is Never Berlin” is by Marko Kloos, and features  Khan, half-man half-tiger, kicking ass and taking names.  Khan was originally introduced in the pages of LOW CHICAGO, where he had trouble with Al Capone and Bugsy Moran.  In this tale he faces some more contemporary adversaries.   It’s a helluva trip.

“Berlin Is Never Berlin” will be available on Tor.com on May 6… and best of all, it’s FREE.   So head on over and give it a read, and do leave a comment or two after you’re done.   (And while you are there, check out some of the other Wild Cards stories on Tor.com as well, original tales from Daniel Abraham, Cherie Priest, Carrie Vaughn, Stephen Leigh, Mark Lawrence, David D. Levine, and many more.  Those are free as well).

The cover art above is from Micah Epstein.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print from Wild Cards… for now.  Enjoy the reads.

 

 

Current Mood: pleased pleased

Virtual Drafts and Computer Football

April 28, 2020 at 2:47 pm
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I had a few nice days watching the NFL Draft.   Both the Giants and Jets did quite well, I think.   Not many exciting skill players drafted for either team, admittedly, but they both picked up building blocks to fortify their offensive lines, which I think is key.  Games are won and lost in the trenches.  Of course, even though the talking heads have all been busy “grading” each team’s picks, no one will really know anything for a year or two.   The history of the draft is littered with sexy “can’t miss” college stars who totally flamed out in the NFL.  See Vernon Gholston, Blair Thomas, Eric Flowers.   The list is long.   So… proof, meet pudding, let’s wait and see.   But I am hopeful.

What was really fascinating this year was the format.  Instead of thousands of screaming fans gathered together in New York City or Chicago or (as planned this year) Las Vegas, and the draftees parading up on stage to get a hug from the commissioner and a jersey, the NFL went virtual.   But that was fascinating in its own way.   We got to see the homes of the coaches, players, and talking heads, from Kliff Kingsbury’s palatial digs to the commish in his basement man cave to the very modest apartments of some of the young men being drafted, we got to see their families, their pets, the pictures on their walls…

… and their bookcases.   For whatever reason, a lot of the commentators  sat in front of bookcases.   I could not help peering at the titles on their shelves, being a writer and all.   Alas, I failed to spot any copies of my own books on anyone’s shelves.  But Marshall Faulk seems to be a big fan of Harlan Coben, and on other shelves I spotted Edgar Allen Poe and Philip Roth.   A lot of football books too.   Many ex-players and coaches had ONLY football books visible behind them.   Which still trumped the guys who owned bookcases, but (seemingly) no books.   Just pictures, trophies, footballs.

I hear that next year, if COVID-19 is no longer a factor, the NFL may combine elements of this year’s draft with the traditional format.   That would be cool.  This was the most viewed draft in history.   Maybe because the country is desperate for SOMETHING sport-ish to watch.

I was impressed at how well the virtual draft worked.  Very few technical glitches… though the time lapses were noticeable from time to time, as commentators waited to make sure the previous speaker had finished.   This bodes well for the forthcoming virtual worldcon, I think… hope… pray.   It proved it can be done.   Of course, ESPN and the NFL channel have considerably more resources and expertise than fandom, but still…

It still remains to be seen whether we will actually have an NFL season this year.  Which puts me in mind of a story I wrote back in 1971, called “The Last Super Bowl.”   Eventually it saw print in GALLERY magazine, surrounded by naked Girls Next Door  (none of them actually lived next door to me, I should hasten to add).   Computer sports were still a dream back then (PONG would not appear in my local bar for several more years), but they were coming, so I donned my prognosticator’s hat and predicted that by the far future year of 2014 computerized football would have become so much more exciting than the real thing that actual football would go extinct.

Well, that didn’t happen.   Turns out we were wrong about the flying cars, the household robots, the cities on the moon, and a whole lot of other things as well.   Never mind about that, though.

Maybe this is the year that my predictions come true.   If the virus does not relent, and we have to cancel the 2020 NFL season… why not go with an ALL VIRTUAL season instead?  We know who is on each team, we know who they drafted, we can MADDENify the entire league and play out the schedule week-by-week on television, with SFX and animation.   MADDEN has the player stats.   The actual coaches can sit by their own computers and call the plays and the defenses.   The play-by-play announcer and the color guy can sit by their screens and do the commentary, just as if they were talking about a real game.  And we can all watch our favorite (virtual) teams.

Hey, the networks need something to televise, after all.   And all us hopeless football addicts need something to watch, besides reruns of SuperBowls past.   And maybe, if we go all computer, the Jets will finally get back to the SuperBowl.   I wrote “The Last Super Bowl” only two years after their last (and only) appearance, as it happens… and I put them in that bowl, against the Green Bay Packers.

 

Current Mood: mischievous mischievous

Hope Springs Eternal

April 22, 2020 at 2:52 pm
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… in the National Football League.   Even for beleaguered Giants and Jets fans, like yours truly.

The annual NFL Draft starts tomorrow, and I’ll be watching, as I do every year.   This will be a strangest draft since… well, forever.   In the past decade or so, ESPN and the NFL network have made the draft a huge televised event, with thousands of fans in attendance and top college players being flown in from all over the country to enjoy their moment of glory when their names are called.    Not this year.  Thanks to Covid-19, there will be no big party in Las Vegas, no green room crowded with hopefuls praying they won’t slide, no stars-of-tomorrow parading up on stage to get a jersey from Roger Goodell.  The teams will all be working from their own war rooms, or maybe virtually, and the players will be at home.

Considering that the draft began many decades ago with a bunch of guys sitting at card tables and shuffling index cards, maybe this is a throwback year.   When you stop to think of it, it is amazing that the NFL has made a huge televised extravaganza of a show where something significant happens every ten to fifteen minutes or so.

The Giants, courtesy of the truly dismal season they had last year, get to pick fourth.   If their season had only been a little MORE wretched, they might get to draft Chase Young out of Ohio State, who is widely regarded as the best player in the draft.  Alas, he will probably be snapped up by the Redskins, who pick second.   There is a lot of buzz about this year’s quarterbacks, but the G-Men got their new young signal caller last year when they picked Daniel Jones, so they won’t be playing that game… though their GM has stated that he is open to trading down if someone really wants to jump up to grab Tua or Herbert (Burrows will probably be gone with the first pick, to the Bengals).  If Big Blue stays put, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both have them drafting the linebacker out of Clemson, Isaiah Simmons, a defensive stud.   Other mocks show them taking an offensive tackle instead, to protect Daniel Jones.   There are four good ones in this draft, it seems.   The ideal outcome, for me, would be for the Giants to grab Simmons with the fourth pick, and get one of those big tackles at the top of the second round… assuming one drops that far.   That may be too much to hope for, however.  And knowing the Giants, they are just as likely to go a different way entirely and surprise everyone, as they did last year.

The Jets pick eleventh, since they had a somewhat better (losing) season.   The mock drafts are all over the place for them.  Then again, by the time you reach eleven, all the mocks are worthless anyway.   All it takes is one team zigging when the “experts” have them zagging, and everything below that is up for grabs.   Myself, I think Gang Green should grab a wideout.   There a bunch of good ones coming out this year, and the Jets lost Robby Anderson, their best receiver, in free agency.  Sam Darnold needs someone to throw to.

Beyond the draft, though, the real question is whether or not we are going to have an NFL season at all in 2020.   Yes, training camp is months away, and the season openers even further out… but if the coronavirus is still raging unchecked by then, packing tens of thousands of fans into a stadium is a recipe for disaster.   As much as I love my NFL Sundays, I hope the NFL will do the prudent thing if the virus has not abated by then.   Life may be meaningless and full of pain for Jets and Giants fans, as I have asserted many a week these past few seasons after watching my teams lose and lose and lose… but it is still life.   And as Tyrion Lannister once said, life is full of possibilities.

((I am going to turn comments on for this one, but only for talk about the draft and the NFL season.   Off comment posts will be deleted)).

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

Come On Back to San Antone, Y’All

April 19, 2020 at 6:25 pm
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Did you miss TEXAS HOLD ‘EM when it first came out in hardcover?

No problem.   Come APRIL 28, Tor will be releasing the book in trade paperback.   All the fun, for fewer dollars.

TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is the twenty-seventh volume of the Wild Cards series, and the third in our America Triad… but it stands alone just fine, and you do not have to have read any of the preceding volumes to enjoy it.   It’s the story of a group of kids from Xavier Desmond High in Jokertown travelling to San Antonio for a jazz band competition, and all that befalls them there, starring an all star cast of favorite characters both old (Mr. Nobody, Jade Blossom, and Bubbles) and new (Rubberband, Bacho, Skeeter, The Darkness and The Dust).   Contributing writers on this one were Caroline Spector, William F. Wu, Walton (Bud) Simons, David Anthony Durham, Max Gladstone, Diana Rowland, and — in his last solo outing for Wild Cards — the late great Victor Milan, who helped launch the series back in 1987.  I edited, assisted by Melinda M. Snodgrass,

The Wild Cards universe is vast, and contains both darkness and light.  TEXAS HOLD ‘EM is one of our lighter outings, a good fun read.   If that’s what you are looking for during these grim days of isolation and quarantine, give it a try.   I think you will enjoy it.

You can reserve an autographed paperback, signed by yours truly, from Beastly Books, mailorder.   We also have a good stock remaining of the original Tor hardcover, with signatures by several writers as well.   All at https://jeancocteaucinema.com/beastlybooks/

Current Mood: pleased pleased

This, That, and T’Other Thing

April 14, 2020 at 3:41 pm
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No big news here, but it has been a week or so since my last blog post, so I thought I would say hi.   I am still up in the mountains, doing the social distancing rag, and writing WINDS OF WINTER.   I have good days and bad days, but I am making progress.

Most of the world remains closed, including my theatre and bookshop, the Jean Cocteau Cinema and Beastly Books.   I had originally announced that we would re-examine the situation come April 15.   That date is now upon us, and it is obvious that I was wildly optimistic in hoping we might even consider re-opening then.  No.  Won’t work.   We’re going to remain shut until JUNE 1.  Then, once again, we will revisit the question, once we see what state the world is in.

I am continuing to pay my staff during this closure, something I wish more small businesses would do.   Beastly Books is still selling signed books by mailorder.  Every order helps keep us afloat, so please take a look at our offerings: https://jeancocteaucinema.com/product-category/signed-books/

Along the same lines, though we cannot of course open our theatre to the public while coronavirus still rages, the JCC has gone virtual, and is screening new and old movies that way.  For details on our Virtual Feature of the Week, go to https://jeancocteaucinema.com/

Hollywood has largely closed down as well, at least as far as actual production is concerned.  (If this pandemic goes on long enough, I wonder if the pipeline will go dry, and we will start to run out of new films and television shows.  If so, sheltering in place is going to get an order of magnitude harder.  Television right now is doing a lot to keep us all sane — and no, not the news, which has the opposite effect).   But while nothing is being filmed right now, development is continuing apace, since writers can still write at home.  The only thing I am writing myself is THE WINDS OF WINTER, as I have said many times… but with my producer’s hat on, I am still involved in a number of exciting new shows for HBO, and a few film projects as well.  When and if any of these make it to the screen, well, that’s always the question… but I do know that Ryan Condal and his team are roaring ahead on the scripts for HOUSE OF THE DRAGON, and that one has a full season’s order from HBO.  As for the other stuff I may or may not be involved in, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you all.

Oh, of course, I am doing a lot of reading these days.  Rereading too.  Some of my favorite writers are Robert A. Heinlein, Roger Zelazny, Tony Hillerman, Nnedi Okorafor, Howard Waldrop.  Oh, and that GRRM guy did some good stuff too, before he started that fantasy series.   Some of his old stories might even make good movies, donchaknow.  (No, seriously, you guys should check out DREAMSONGS.  Signed copies available from Beastly Books).

I have also been trading emails with my friends down in New Zealand.   CoNZealand, this year’s World Science Fiction Convention, has also gone virtual in response to the crisis.   A prudent move, but a challenging one.   As this year’s Virtual Toastmaster, I am still going to be hosting the Hugo Awards… virtually.  That should be… interesting.  Especially for me, since I am one of the least tech savvy guys in fandom.   I still write my novels with WordStar 4.0 on a DOS computer, after all, and when I interface with the internet it is mainly through this blog.  (Good thing Howard Waldrop isn’t going to be hosting.  He still works on a manual typewriter).

Anyway, the Kiwis have some smart guys working for them, and they assure me everything will go fine.   They are working out the tech now, and we hope to have several trial runs before The Big Night.   We are all certainly going to try to do our best.  I expect there will be glitches and mistakes, many of them doubtless mine, but I do hope all those looking in will be patient and understanding.  In any case, the rockets will be handed out one way or t’other, though the actual delivery may have to be entrusted to DHL or Federal Express.

Some cool stuff happening with WILD CARDS that I should mention.   Check out our Wild Cards website, if you haven’t seen it in a while.  Lots of great content there for you to explore, including a new blog post every two weeks by a rotating cast of our amazing Wild Cards writers.  You will find it at https://www.wildcardsworld.com/   

We also have a brand new Wild Cards original coming out at the end of this month from Harper Collins Voyager in the UK.   The title is THREE KINGS, and it’s a full mosaic,  was edited by Melinda M. Snodgrass (yours truly assisting), and features contributions from  Peter Newman, Peadar O’Guilin, Caroline Spector, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Melinda herself.  It’s a sequel to KNAVES OVER QUEENS, and like that volume it is set entirely in the British Isles and features an English and Irish cast.   (More on that one in a later post).

There’s more, of course.   There’s always more.   But this post has grown long enough, and Westeros is calling.

Current Mood: busy busy