Tag Archives: The Broken Lands Jacket Art

THE BROKEN LANDS: the Cover, and a first introduction to Sam and Jin


From Chapter Three: The Broken Land Hotel

The blond man named Ambrose sat in the dining room, poring over a newspaper at a table beside a huge window overlooking the waterfront. “There’s your friend,” Sam said, pointing. “Guess I’ll head back.”

Tom patted his shoulder. “How about you join us, Sam? You eaten today?”

Sam hadn’t, and before he could protest, he found himself sitting between Tom and the newspaperman named Ambrose, feeling very self-conscious as a jacket-and-tie-clad waiter appeared out of nowhere and began depositing a large breakfast on the table before him. Dishes steamed as their domed silver covers were removed. On a cart beside the table a gleaming samovar promised coffee. In each polished surface, Sam saw his face reflected with a look of utter confusion and insecurity. How had he wound up sitting here?

“It’s Sam, isn’t it?” Ambrose passed him a cup of coffee. “Chat if you like, relax if you don’t. Eat, either way. And quit looking like you snuck in under somebody’s coat. Neither of us get meals like this usually . . . but here we are. You’re among friends, and we’re glad to have you with us.”

“Which is saying a lot,” Tom added, “because Ambrose generally isn’t what you’d call the warm and friendly type on any given calendar day.”

“Very true,” Ambrose agreed, taking a flask from his pocket and dosing his coffee with it.

“Thank you, then.” Sam picked up the cup Ambrose had offered him, then eyed the creamer and sugar bowl that stood just out of reach. He hesitated. “Can I—could I trouble you for the cream and sugar, sir?”

As he stirred in a scandalous number of sugar lumps, Sam began to relax. He let his gaze wander past the table and across the lawn that stretched between the hotel and the beach.

A gilded cart trundled along one of the garden paths, drawn by a small gray pony and glittering in the morning sun. An old Chinese man in a red silk robe and cap with a long, thin braid hanging down his back lead the pony by its halter. There was a name painted on the side of the cart under the gingerbread of the eaves, and a girl perched on the roof.

Her hands were full of fire.

“By God,” Ambrose said, following Sam’s stare. “Is that the Fata Morgana Company? What on earth are the odds, Burns and Liao turning up here?”

Tom must have replied, but Sam paid no attention to the men at his table, only to the girl outside. There were details he would remember later: her long, black hair falling out from under a newsboy’s cap, the name on the cart and the motto painted below it (Fata Morgana: arte et marte), the color of the sparks flying from her palms (blue, a shade just a touch lighter than the water behind her), the fact that they must have been fireworks of some kind and that she appeared to be trying to make them stop.

Just then, however, all that registered was that she was a girl, and there was a world of fire under her fingertips, and she wasn’t afraid.

The Broken Lands, a First Look: Introducing High Walker

Have fun, kids. Draw me something cool.

From The Broken Lands, Chapter One: CHARACTER, CHANCE, AND CHEATING

Coney Island, August, 1877

The arrival of the four o’clock train at the terminus of the Prospect Park and Coney Island Railroad line announced itself with a squeal of brakes battling the forward momentum of two hundred tons of iron. The freckled man in the white linen suit scowled as a fine dust fell onto his cuffs. He looked up at the luggage rack, malevolence in his red-rimmed black eyes, and stared at the carpetbag that had fallen over onto its side.

He brushed the dust from his sleeve with fingers tipped with nails that had been filed to points. It had been about a week since the man had last used those nails to mark a hand of cards, though, so the points were dulling a bit.

With the handle of the bag in one fist and his slim wooden gambler’s case under his other arm, he joined the stream of holidaymakers spilling onto the platform and surveyed his surroundings. To the west, he knew, were the streets of Norton’s Point, all full of thieves and gamblers and criminals in hiding from the law. A few miles to the east, wealthy guests lounged in grand hotels where piers stretched like manicured fingers into the water. The expanse in between, the bright festal wilderness of West Brighton, was given over to bathers, garish painted banners, grifters, mugs of lager that were two-thirds froth, questionable intentions, and carousels.

Taken all together, this jumble of folks, rich and poor and working and thieving, was Coney Island, the notorious seaside town just south of Gravesend, Long Island.

The black-eyed man leaned on the rail watching, listening, and acclimating while he inhaled the brew of sea air and coal smoke. There was something else in the air, too; a deep note, buried far below the scents and sounds that stirred on the summer breeze. It would’ve been nearly impossible for anyone else to detect. Humans were notoriously blind to the simmer of violence—which always amused him, considering how like a drug it was to them.

The freckled and black-eyed man, not being human, could smell it as sharply as cologne. It was everywhere here, just like it was everywhere he’d been in this country in the last twenty years, at least. Maybe more. It was easy to lose track of the passing years. He was far older than the flashy young fellow he appeared to be.

This year, though . . . this year it was strong. It had been building through the long years of Reconstruction; it had kept on building during the years of depression; and this summer it was as if it had been incorporated into the very molecules of the air. In the rebuilding South, in the growing West, even here in the North where folks claimed to be so very civilized. Silty, flinty, stony, metallic, the scent was edged with the smell of human sweat . . . and yet sweet, like the perfume of overripe fruit just before it turned and began to rot.

He stood there until the platform cleared, and then he remained a few minutes longer. At last he sighed, picked up the carpetbag and the wooden case, and started in the direction of the beach.

There was still plenty of daylight left, but long shadows were stretching across the sand as he trudged toward the relative dark below the ferry pier, rolling his eyes at the squeals of girls in their woolen bathing costumes and little boys chasing each other through the surf.

In the gloom beside the pilings, the man dropped the carpetbag. He peeled off his suit jacket, draped it carefully over the bag, sat and leaned back against it as if it was a pillow.  He removed glittering cuff links and rolled up his sleeves, folded freckled arms across his chest, and closed his eyes.

Then he winced and swore as a blow caught him between the shoulder blades. He sat up straight and punched the bag with his elbow. “Patience, you moldy old bastard,” he hissed. Then he sat back against the bag again, harder this time.

Nothing to be done until sunset.

Countdown to THE BROKEN LANDS: the Cover, and a Contest or Two

About a week ago I got to see the final cover of my next book at last. Yes, The Broken Lands jacket art has been finalized, and all I can say is that it’s truly beautiful. Not that I expected anything less for a moment. Andrea Offermann, the amazing artist behind the cover and illustrations of The Boneshaker, returned for this book, and I’m just in love with what she’s done this time. In fact, I’m so in love I want to celebrate a little.

Here is Andrea. Wonder what she's working on...

I’ve also been receiving some fabulous comments about the book from some fabulous writers, educators, and librarians. I want to celebrate that, too. I’m just feeling generally celebratory. So here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking: how about I show you the jacket art next weekend, and how about before do, let’s have a CONTEST? In fact, let’s have TWO OF THEM!

Contest #1: Draw some stuff.

I’ll post an excerpt from The Broken Lands later this afternoon, to introduce you to the setting and one of the characters. I invite you to bring either or both of them to life any way you like. Post a link to your art in the comments of the posted excerpt any time this week.

Contest #2 (for those of you who, like me, lack any drawing capability whatsoever): Help get the word out about this contest and the cover reveal next weekend.

Post a thoughtful comment or question here, tweet or re-tweet links about the contest, mention it on Facebook, do what you can to keep the chatter going. Those cool comments about the book I mentioned? I’ll be dealing some of those out on Tumblr this week, and you can re-blog one or two of those if you’re so inclined. I’ll do a random drawing from all chatter-amplifying commentary I can find, and select a few winners. It’s probably best, so that your efforts don’t slip my notice, that you also make it easy for me to find them. Use my Twitter name, @katemilford, or my Facebook name, @katechellmilford, or comment here on the blog as to how you’ve passed the word along. Thoughtful comments or questions will earn you an extra entry. What constitutes a thoughtful comment or question? I don’t know, but I know one when I see it.

WHEN DOES THIS AWESOMENESS CONCLUDE?

The deadline to enter is Friday the 10th. I’ll post the cover Saturday the 11th, and announce the winners Sunday the 12th.

HOW WILL YOU CHOOSE THE WINNERS?

The winner of the chatter portion will be drawn at random, but multiple contributions will earn you multiple entries. The winner of the art portion–well, it depends on how many entries there are. If you’re the only person who steps up and gives it a shot, YOU WIN. If you’re one of only two or three, you probably all win. My blog traffic isn’t that high, so honestly, your chances are pretty good. I’d give it a go.

ARE THERE PRIZES, OTHER THAN A VIRTUAL A PAT-ON-THE-BACK?

My endless gratitude. Oh, and yes, books. The winner of the art portion will receive the ANDREA OFFERMANN CELEBRATION PRIZE: a copy each of The Broken Lands (your choice, advance copy in about a month, or real-live bound book in September) and Sonya Hartnett’s The Midnight Zoo, which Andrea also illustrated.

The winner of the chatter portion will receive the SAYING NICE THINGS ABOUT MY BOOK CELEBRATION PRIZE: The Broken Lands (same choice, arc very soon or hardcover this fall) and your choice of a book by one of the wonderful writers who so generously gave their time to read The Broken Lands. I’ll let you know the specific choices at the end of the week, but there are clues here as to whose books will be up for grabs if you look closely enough.

I should also warn you that I’m overseas this week, six hours ahead of you. It’s 8pm here, and I have somewhat limited internet. So please don’t panic if I don’t reply right away–or, you know, for six hours. Or if something gets stuck needing me to moderate it. Just think of it as part of the fun. And while you’re waiting, here’s an interview with Andrea from just a couple of days ago to keep you busy.

So, without further ado…let’s start…NOW!