Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m tired.
So, lately I’m looking over all the “controversies” over who gets to be recognized as writing science fiction and who gets not to be, and how the cool kids club in SF/F needs to be restricted to people who are genetically diverse, endowed with vagina or in other ways part of the “victim club.” Then there’s the whole thing with “stealing victimhood.” Unless you’re a member of a mean girls approved victimhood class or you spend your entire life beating your chest, you’re not allowed to write about anyone who is from a different genetic/orientation/handicap class than you. That’s stealing victimhood. I’m so used to this that I didn’t even blink at the article in Salon ragging on white belly dancers.
Note the arrow of victimhood goes only one way. I’m completely able to write a white male because, since he’s supposed to be an oppressor, I can’t steal his “victimhood.” No, not even if I write about a white male who’s been beaten from birth, and who never had anything. Because… he’s supposed to have white male privilege, which I suppose is a magical attribute that keeps him warm and dry and fed.
In case this is not obvious I’m tired. I’m tired of people importing Marxist privilege and victimhood classes into their heads without a whit of thought. I’m tired of their trying to justify their casual racism.
Casual racism? Yes, what else do you think the entire confusion of culture with race is? My kids, (half Portuguese) were repeatedly put in ESL classes taught in Spanish, leading to my descending on the school in escalating rages, until I got in the secretary’s face and said “Why are you teaching my children in the language of their ancient enemies?” This they got. This stopped it. And this is extreme nonsense. My kids are American. They speak English as their first language. They belong to the curious Geek subculture. They’re American. But in the mind of people for whom race equals culture, it made sense they’d hate Spaniards, because their ancestors fought them. (And traded with them. And mated with them, because nearby countries do. But I couldn’t say that, because then they’d put the kids back in Spanish.)
What is this belief that people’s characteristics are determined by their ancestors’ genes and nothing else, but casual racism? Every supermarket shopper (I wish I were joking) who chided me for not teaching my kids “their language” believed that language is somehow genetically inherited, never mind that this goes against the evidence of the entire history of mankind. (No? Are you speaking Caldean? Or whatever proto language Og the caveman spoke?)
Worse, note that it is enough to be part-blood of one of the oppressed, downtrodden or just unfashionable (well, once upon a time, Portuguese and Spanish did divide the world between them) ethnicities to be of that ethnicity and to be unable to speak English as your native language. Because, you know, we little brown people (well, give me a month at the beach and I am. I consider the lack of a month at the beach a violation of my basic human rights) can never possibly speak the language of the “oppressors” who must therefore be obviously superior.
In the same way, the article at Slate drips with “leave them belly dancing, because, I mean, that’s all they have.”
And when I’m tired, I do revert to type. There is a tendency to put my hands on either side of my hips and speak frankly. Only I’ve done that, and the insanity continues.
So, I say undermine them. Take their victimhood away and flush it in a river of good fiction that doesn’t care what color you are, or what language your ancestors spoke: a flood of good storytelling that doesn’t care about anything but telling a convincing story that makes internal sense and that people want to read.
Years ago, tired of all the books in which humans are the villains, western culture is the villain, white males are the villains, males are the villains, and no woman, gay or person of color can possibly do any wrong, I wrote a post about a new kind of literature, “Human Wave.” The reason I called it that was an answer to the “New Wave” which, back in the seventies tried to be revolutionary and challenging and ended up devolving into the political correctness we see today.
The requirements of Human Wave writing are: It should be human positive. This doesn’t mean other races can’t be awesome, or that we can’t have bad endings, just spare us the pseudo-profound “humans are a cancer upon the Earth.” You know you don’t really believe it. If you did, you’d have offed yourself before writing it.
So enough with the pseudo-enlightened chest-beating. I’m not the only one who is tired of it. Judging by the way the print runs have dropped in the last forty years, most people are.
If you’re a human wave writer, you can be any color, gender or orientation. So can your heroes. So can your villains. We don’t care. All we care is that you’re readable, and that you’re not beating up on humans or pushing Marxist victimhood classes down our throats.
And the people who insist you need to be this tan to get into the club? Their culture is dead and walking. They just don’t know it yet.
Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to firstname.lastname@example.org to be plugged here on PJ Media.
Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.
That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.
It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like
TITLE My Book
AUTHOR My name as it’s on the book cover.
AMAZON LINK http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/
BLURB no more than about 100 words.
Great Ward is now crumbling, after 3,000 years of peace,. Two unstoppable enemies prepare to invade…and blue frog magic is almost gone.
Now comes the death of a very uncommon acolyte, revealing centuries of secrets when the wizard Vorin investigates why she died…reopening an ageless war between himself and the ever-grasping Order she joined.
If he fails, his magic will be gone forever and East Thumb Peninsula will be lost. If he wins, an entire society must change.
Ally of Eldisle, sword-thegn and sometime mage, bears twin burdens: a complicated heritage, and a penchant for finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Faced with false accusations of treason and murder, she flees to foreign lands, finding enemies all around, friends in unexpected places, and wonders undreamed-of. While struggling to keep an ancient treasure out of unfriendly hands, she is forced to reconcile her preconceptions about the wider world and its myriad inhabitants with her own origins – and to come to terms with the meaning of a bloodline lost in the depths of antiquity, created by ancestors both inhuman and unknown, and with the awful powers they have bequeathed her.
A collection of essays on all things geek – technology, Star Trek, Doctor Who, Dungeons and Dragons, and more!
From the introduction:
A few years ago, this open geekness would have been shunned, and I would have been subject to random wedgies from strangers as I walked down the street. Well, no more. Now, geek is chic. Shows like The Big Bang Theory has allowed people like me to let our “geek flags fly” with pride, and all of a sudden we are the cool kids… mostly.
The geek have inherited the earth.
“Everyone thinks they know what happened in the Trojan War and afterwards, but no one ever bothered to ask me.” –Helen of Troy
At 65, the famous Helen of Troy finds herself in a new role, that of having no title, husband or things to do as she faces exile on the island of Rhodes. Her hoarded wealth, fabulous stories of the past, and a newly acquired servant/scribe named Pythia , should allow Helen to establish her own legacy, but there are some who won’t be courted.
Helen begins to ply her legendary charm, wit and capacity to create beauty and spectacle in her new home to win the hearts of the people with great effect. But Helen rarely recognizes that as she ascends, others might resent her casual winning over of everyone. Queen Polyoxo has granted sanctuary to her childhood friend for reasons other than friendship, leaving Pythia caught in the wake of two very powerful women with very different means of conveying and maintaining authority.
Can Helen with all her treasures and stories and charisma win over everyone? Or will the need for revenge, threaten the life of the most beautiful woman in the world and those who serve her?
Does romance have a future? It’s the year 2165, and one man thinks so… As a pager, Peter Mandrin’s job is to track things down – criminals, shipments, missing transports, anything that turns a profit – and he’s just sacked the catch of a lifetime, infamous embezzler Roger Finlay. As a reward Mandrin wins Finlay’s vintage 1960’s four bedroom, ranch-style house, complete with sports court and old-fashioned swimming pool, on the most expensive planet in the universe, Earth. From low-life pager, he’s hit the sweet, sweet big-time. In Pager two hundred years have passed and a hostile, canyon-like divide has developed between men and women. Marriage is an arcane word, mutual suspicion abounds, and Wallys (artificial life) fill in the emotional void. Up to now, it’s just been Peter and his insouciant, sexy Wally, Debris, the replicant woman of his dreams. That is, until he meets the real woman who lives next door, the mysterious Wendy Roseland. In Wendy, Peter discovers that the human touch and passions it arouses are greater than anything he imagined. Unlike Debris, it’s Wendy imperfections that beguile him the most. In her arms, he suddenly feels the ticking clock of his own mortality — and it frightens him. He wants to be with her forever. When Wendy suddenly flees the planet, Peter does what he does best: tracks down the truth behind her disappearance.
“The characters, dialogue and action are mature enough to satisfy readers at the older end of the YA range, and the author weaves them all into an attention-sustaining tale…the milieu is markedly original…first rate world-building.”
Two millennia ago She thundered into the skies of Arisa: Suwraith, a demon bent on Humanity’s extinction.
Into this world is born Rukh Shektan, a peerless young warrior from a Caste of warriors, devoted to the sanctity of his home and his way of life. He is well-versed in the keen language of swords but all his courage and skills may not save him. A challenge comes, one that threatens all he once thought true and puts at risk all he holds dear. And it will enter his life in the form of one of Humanity’s greatest enemies – and perhaps its greatest allies.
Worse, he will learn of Suwraith’s plans. The Sorrow Bringer has dread intentions for his home. The city of Ashoka is to be razed and her people slaughtered.
Jennifer Goodwyn, a Cornell University graduate student, inadvertently returns home to sleepy Ithaca, N.Y. from an archaeological dig at the Cenacle—the purported site of the Last Supper—with an ancient bone box. The ossuary is found to contain several pieces of early first century stoneware, and a mysterious, tiny scroll. When the Aramaic glyphs on the slip of crumbling papyrus are translated, they identify the humble dinner setting as the one used by a rabblerousing Nazarene rabbi at his Seder meal, on the evening he’d been arrested by the Romans.
One ill-considered impulse—asking a local parish priest to say Mass with the cup—sweeps Jennifer away to churches, cathedrals, sports stadiums, and to a powerful Cardinal’s basilica to celebrate Mass with the vessel and to exhibit it before ever-growing crowds of believers.
But soon, all hell breaks loose. While the State Department is aggressively seeking its return to Israel, a nationwide political movement starts rising up around the relic. And Jennifer soon discovers that the storied artifact is causing sickness and even death among those who remain too long in its presence.
In an effort to stem the political mayhem and insure the safety of the faithful, Jennifer hits the road, trying to stay one step ahead of the feds until she can find a way to quell the growing public chaos unleashed by the revelations of The Cenacle Scroll.
Wildlife biologist Jackie Bannon may have found just the job to jump-start her stalled career. A potential client with seemingly bottomless pockets and plans for an unorthodox business venture has invited her to his private Caribbean island to discuss her coming on board.
At first glance, the place seems a textbook tropical paradise: glistening white sand beaches, lush highland forests, every inch teeming with exotic flowers and wildlife. But a closer look reveals widespread abnormal behavior among the native animal species; behavior that Jackie recognizes as deeply problematic.
Despite her misgivings, she wasn’t about to turn down a high-paying job on a luxurious private island, especially one that could remake her career, and she relished the independence she would be allowed. But with that independence would come responsibility, and she could already see that there was much more to this island than meets the eye…
Big Boys Don’t Cry is a novella from military science fiction author Tom Kratman, known for A Desert Called Peace. The story concerns the life cycle of a Ratha, a sentient future supertank that dutifully fights Man’s battles on dozens of alien worlds. But how long will an intelligent war machine with enough firepower to flatten a city be content to remain Man’s obedient slave?
The wind blows from the sea to the mountains, bringing snow and rain in season, creating a paradise so enchanting that the first inhabitants named it ‘Eden’. This year Eden was invaded and sacked. The books were burned, and fanatics hunted and killed the few who still studied the old knowledge of magic.
In the ancient, haunted city of Selzburg, a new power is rising. A local guild has uncovered a book revealing the secrets of black magic, long lost and nearly forgotten.
Kail, a young magician from Eden hopes to ally with these new sorcerers, though he mistrusts the source of their power. His plans go awry when a princess is abducted and circumstantial evidence points to him as the perpetrator. Now a wanted man, Kail still hopes to turn the sorcerers from enemies into allies.
With the help of an abusive girlfriend, a street boy named Rat and a possibly possessed horse, he has to save the princess, clear his name and gain the sorcerers’ aid against their common enemy.
[Charlie here: Yes, this is way late, because I suck. And it's way long for a BPF, because Sarah said something that needs to be said.]
From the moment I started trying to get published, I felt like I was cringing, cap in hand, at someone’s door, hoping for a handout.
This was because, broadly speaking, I was standing at someone’s door, cringing, hoping for a handout. To get into the door, to get where I wanted to go, I needed the magical gate to open. And I couldn’t open the gate myself. Worse, I knew that I wasn’t the only one standing at that gate, with my fresh morning face and starched pinafore. There were all sorts of competitors, from somber non-fiction writers to glamorous vavaboom erotica writers in low-cut evening frocks. If you didn’t get past that point, you wouldn’t be published. Period. That is all there was to it.
Every book on publishing, every lecture by a passing writer stressed one thing: you have to act professional. Yes, we know, you might be writing in your spare time, burning the midnight oil, surviving on cheap tuna and dreams, but when the publisher talks to you, you have to act as though this were your only job, your only assignment. Present a professional appearance, act in a professional way.
By and large, most people did. I mean, there were crazy people out there, don’t get me wrong; there are crazy people everywhere. When I ran a small press magazine that paid a fraction of nothing, we got all sorts of ah… interesting people. There were people who somehow found our unlisted number and called us to ask if we had read their submission… the day the submission should have arrived; people who submitted on purple, violet-scented paper; people who stamped the envelope “the aliens ate my shorts.”
These were not professional behaviors, but we were not a professional magazine. And even then most of the submissions were professional and correct, angling for the average $15 we paid per story in a quiet, matter of fact, well behaved way.
Which brings us to the shoe on the other foot. At the same time I was also a writer, and submitting to small press magazines. Don’t ask. Someone had told me you had to break in by steps.
The lower the magazine paid, I found, the crazier the rejection was likely to be. Forever treasured in my bosom is the rejection that accused me of being xenophobic against Portuguese people, of never having left the US and of being a “narrow minded pain.” But there were other extremely interesting ones. For instance the person who – on my giving a semi-pro (the old Pirate Writings) credit on my cover letter – accused me of being stuck up and rubbing their nose in how superior I was. (I swear, all I had written was “I’ve sold a short story to Pirate Writings.”)
The professional magazines were, of course, more professional, but even there… well, they might say they would reply in three months and take six. Yes, we know, everyone has unexpected crunches, but that lack of congruence between advertised time and real time has been around as long as I have been a writer (far too long.)
Then there were various agents… We won’t go there. Half the time you sent in a submission, you got back a note recommending his friend the book doctor. Agents would lambast you apropos nothing, and treat you like a lowly petitioner.
You took it because you had to. And you kept smiling and acting professional. I expect it was a lot like going to casting calls [She's right -- Charlie], all dressed up, and being asked to show your behind, or whatever, because the producer is in a funny mood. But if you want the job, you perform.
In the middle of all this if you got a courteous response back, you almost expected something bad. I still remember the rejection from an editor with whom I ended up working (no, not Baen) telling me I wrote very well, but they hated my world, my characters and my plot. The rejection had taken four years, during which I could not submit anywhere else.
This is not a tale of woe. It is the way it was. There were many suppliers, and a bottleneck when it came to demand. There might be a million readers for my book, but I had to convince one of six publishing houses of this. And there were thousands of other writers trying to do the same.
So you pulled up your pants, you brushed your teeth, and you did what you had to.
Which is why a lot of writers have a very fuzzy idea of what “professional” means.
After years and years of having to stand there, cap in hand, you start to think not just that people have the right to order you around, but that being a writer is some sort of sacred priesthood, instead of a skilled craft that produces objects for sale.
Perhaps this is also an effect of writing being an art and an undefined art, at that. Undefined? You say. Undefined. It’s not like there is a universal way to judge how “artistic” a book is.
My own internal judgment of what constitutes art is that it leaves behind a feeling larger than itself, or an insight that transcends the medium. When contemplating, say, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, I experience a more intense feeling and a …realization that would evade me in looking out at a starry night. When reading Pratchett’s I Shall Wear Midnight or Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy, I receive feelings and understanding deeper than reading the summary of the plot.
This effect is of necessity subjective, particularly with books. With the visual arts, or even music, the “entry” is easier. A sad piece of music, say, is likely to make 90% of people sad. If you draw something truly beautiful 90% of people will agree it’s beautiful. (Unless, in both cases, you’re in one of the more… outré areas of composition.)
But when you’re telling a story, the reader might hate your book for the plot, the character, the world building or – simply – for the language. I find for instance that in trying to read Dragon Riders again, the language puts me off. No idea why. Any or all of these being slightly off, might mean that you only hit that “sublime effect” on 10% of people. Or none at all. (Heck, most of them might not pick it up, because you have a rocket on the cover. Or something.)
So, the “It’s interesting, but is it art?” always comes up, and a lot of the “real artists” will sneer when writers try to be members of their fraternity. “You’re just telling stories.”
The other day, in a site I like, a commenter was going on about how if you’re writing anything in genre, it’s not art, because it’s not going to evoke that “elevated feeling” and how commercial prose lacks “something.” I was irked, and I’m not a good person. I answered with “Yeah, that Bill Shakespeare, writing fluff to get apprentices to throw their greasy cloaks in the air. Not high literature at all. Now, Bacon, that’s elevated stuff.” And left.
Because the truth is in literature, you’ll never know if what you’ve done is art or not. You can’t. Art is judged by both reach and permanence. How many people experience that transcendental something from your work, and will it be so strong, will you speak to something so essential that they’ll experience it years from now; centuries from now? I bet you that in Alpha Centauri, if we ever have colonies there, they’ll be staging Romeo and Juliet, though all of the culture and history be lost. But will they be reading Harry Potter? Fifty Shades of Gray? The Bridges of Madison County? Who knows?
Harry Potter spoke to a lot of people, surely, but was it time/space bound? Or will it continue speaking? Who knows?
Which is why the best writers can do is “be professional” – write the best book you can. Be the best craftsman you can. Perhaps in centuries to come people will sing your praises. Or perhaps you’ll be a line in a trivia game about the twenty first century. Or maybe not even that. You can’t tell and you can’t control it. All you can is write the best you can, using the best techniques you can.
Which is a problem.
Because in a way it is art. I’ve spoken here before – and any of you who is a writer knows – of how much of it depends on what the subconscious knows or lets you do.
So you’re caught between the artistic and the commercial, and you develop weird rituals and weird ideas. (I was going to say illusions, but I don’t know if they are.)
Some of these illusions are benign. Or relatively so. For instance, I believe I’m “supposed” to be writing, that it’s part of my “purpose” for a given definition of purpose.
Does that mean it is? Well, it means it’s not worth my time arguing with myself to do anything else, because the subconscious has a “vocation” for telling complex lies stories.
The problem is that many writers are not … self aware enough to distinguish the purpose to themselves from the purpose of their work in the world. And that publishers, agents, and, yes, professional organizations, over the last …oh 40? Years, have encouraged this.
Your writing would be picked up, more often, for its “message” or its “startling idea” than for anything else. Partly because the gatekeepers also can’t judge except how it affects THEM. And also because, more and more, over the last 40 years, the gatekeepers were ideologues.
This is why we end up with publishers judging writers on things other than their writing, and getting the confused impression that they need someone who is “glamorous” or “interesting” and why if you’re of any ethnicity other than whitebread American, the publisher will try to push you to write about that. And it is why we are treated to the spectacle of a professional organization trying to enforce morality or enlightenment or whatever.
This is not a post about SFWA, but they are a case in point in this attitude. I’m tired of hearing “I don’t want to be in an organization with someone who believes x y z.” Really? REALLY? The organization is supposed to fight for professional rights. That means that it’s sort of like, oh, a plumber’s union.
Would you say “I wouldn’t be in a plumber’s union with someone who believed the Earth is flat”? Why?
Even if you get to moral behavior. Say one of your fellow plumbers is a philanderer. You might not recommend him to a client with a pretty daughter, but would you quit the organization in disgust?
However, since writers view themselves as minor preachers, this confusion occurs.
Mind you, I wouldn’t be in a writers’ group (particularly meeting at my house) with someone who hated foreign born people. But do I care if half of a large group – say RWA – hates foreign born Americans? No. I care if they monitor publishers and demand better rates, advise on tax issues, offer insurance!
The problem is, because of the imbalance of power in publishing, for years writers got used to dancing to whatever tune was piped. Did the publishers want people who were serious and wrote about mothers in the workplace: everything was mothers in the workplace, from romance to mystery. Did they want frivolous single women obsessed with shoes? They infected all genres. And the organizations, of necessity, became a club of who was in and who was out.
Well – that’s past now. Yes, the up-front money is still in traditional publishing. But there’s gold in them there indie hills.
You don’t have to dance to the tune of anybody’s piping. This article is about writers, but I think that’s propagating to most professions.
Respect yourself. Act like a professional, but demand your publisher or anyone you do business with do the same. I cut out everyone but the publisher who is as professional as I am.
I do appreciate not everyone can. And certainly not (yet) every profession. But I think some form of “indie endeavor” is coming for most professions starting with those with the grossest imbalances in power.
And when it does, you need to be aware of what’s real and what has been imposed by the distorted situation. What is your business, and what isn’t.
And the fact that a business is not, in fact, a holy priesthood. No matter how much people try to tell you it is.
Respect yourself. Do the best you can. And expect other people to behave as professionally as you try to. This is the way it must be, going forward.
Please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at email@example.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.
You only die once! War and mystery beyond the stars. Revolution, redemption resurrection: Is this discovery humanity’s worst threat or greatest gift? The authorities are willing to destroy whole planets to keep the revolution’s secret from reaching Earth…
Book One of the Slaves of Erafor series: Reading is forbidden, and the penalty for non-compliance is a life of slavery enabled by the forcible administration of a mind rotting drug. Yet, there are those possessed of the will to seek illumination. Kikkan, a former slave on the run, and Quillion, a mercenary and self-taught scholar. Together they seek out a small bad of rebels living in hiding who offer the promise of a better world. Their leader is a mysterious figure known only as The Reader of Acheron.
Two girls adopt a stray dog they find in a park, only to discover that it can travel through time, and likes to take children along. Accidental time travel can be fun, right?
Terra Vonn is fighting to survive in a destroyed world, surrounded by unspeakable horror … and things are about to get much worse. After witnessing the vicious murder of her mother, Terra Vonn (15) has a singular focus—exacting revenge on the killers. But before she can complete her plans, savagery intervenes and she is cast alone into a brutal post-apocalyptic world. As she trails the men south through a land filled with cannibalistic criminals, slave traders, and lunatics, the hunter becomes the hunted. Terra quickly learns that she is neither as tough nor as brave as she thinks she is. Worse, she may be the only one who stands between what little remains of civilization and destruction.
A vile Necromancer has been harassing the populace: raiding graves and accosting the living until they all live in fear. And so Lord Hadley posted a bounty – 500 crowns and a title to whomever can rid the land of the Necromancer’s blight.
Many have attempted to penetrate the Necromancer’s Lair.
None have returned.
Gareth intends to change that. Along with his sworn man, Hatherle, he takes up the Lord’s mission. But the Necromancer is master of the dead, and his servants are many and fearsome. It will take all of Gareth’s skill and courage to enter the Necromancer’s Lair, and even that may not be enough to bring victory.
A black WWII fighter pilot in 1944 is captured by a Nazi starship from the future.
Blending alternative history and time travel with a little bit of space opera.
If his father’s life wasn’t at stake, Tirón was the last planet in the galaxy Cyrus Trask would have visited. It was like Arizona in 1875, and he had miles to ride along a dusty trail with a killer behind him and right ahead a beautiful young woman with a very short fuse…
This is a light, old-fashioned western with a bit of adventure and a bit of romance. It costs 99 cents.
I’ve been a writer for as long as I remember. “I”, here, being Charlie. (Sarah’s as sick as an oyster. A dog will at least whine. All an oyster does is twitch when you put lemon juice on. The oyster tells me she’s on Godzillamycin and will be better soon.)
Anyway, as I say, I’ve been a writer certainly since about 20 minutes after I realized that someone actually made up those Tom Swift Jr. stories. By the time I was nine, I was writing and selling a mimeographed local “newspaper” for a penny a legal-sized sheet. Which cost a couple cents a sheet to publish; I was already ahead of my time in the news business.
After the first time I dropped out of college, I made some professional sales to the True Confession magazines and had my first experience with that special feeling when your characters are doing all the work and you’re just typing out what they’re saying. I also published a few non-fiction things in small markets, sometimes for money and sometimes just for the glory — or at least as much glory as you can get for publishing an article arguing that Japanese monshogaku really is a form of heraldry, under a made-up name in a Society for Creative Anachronism journal.
Then I got more serious about school, and then I got a job, and then I got another job, and then I went to graduate school, where I had a dissertation to write so I obviously had to write fiction instead.
I wasn’t wholly unsuccessful. Orson Scott Card read one of my stories and wrote me back “you are a writer!”, and after I requested permission to quote one of Ray Bradbury’s poems, he not only granted me the permission and complimented the story, but entered into a correspondence that lasted several years. And I embarked on a collection of one of the largest troves of Writers Of The Future Honorable Mentions in history.
I don’t remember how many any more, but I think if I’d have gotten one more I’d have gotten the complementary steak knives.
Then things happened, and I stopped writing and submitting fiction, and in fact I didn’t show anything I’d written to anyone until the Day of the Blog. I started commenting on Roger L Simon’s blog, and then PJM started, and I started writing for actual money. In fact, I’ve sold something over 300 articles now, and to a number of markets. Still no fiction, unless you count the DARPA grant applications in grad school.
This is all a long prologue — luckily pixels is cheap — to commenting on an article I read a few days ago. The article is “Is Traditional Publishing a Choice? Not really.” I recommend the whole article, but the basic point is simple: when someone says a writer “chose to go indie” or “chose traditional publishing”, what they really mean is that they chose to publish independently, or chose to enter a lottery in which the winnings are usually meager, the lottery administrators treat you like a serf, and then seem likely to cheat you on your winnings.
And that’s only if you actually win the lottery. Losing really sucks.
What happened is the Internet. I could start writing for publication, if not money, by commenting on blogs, and saw that some people actually liked what I was writing. Amazon and Kindle meant people writing books could publish the books for essentially nothing and make them available in the World’s Largest Bookstore™ — for better royalties than conventional publishing, and without the upfront costs and stigma of “vanity publishing”.
What’s more, it worked. John Locke became the first Kindle-only author to sell a million books — at 99¢ each, but still. Ric Locke, as far as I know unrelated to John, sold many thousands of his first (and, sadly, only) book, Temporary Duty, thanks to a plug on Instapundit. Just a couple of days ago, I got emails from two of the authors we’ve plugged here in Book plug Friday, who have sold between them several thousand books in a few weeks, which means they’ve probably gotten paid more than they might have gotten as an advance from a “real” publisher. All because they decided to be an author by choice — instead of entering the tradpub lottery, and becoming an author by chance.
Here are this week’s plugs for people who have become authors by choice.
Please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.
Also: This has been a big couple of weeks for people offering us free copies of their books. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but honestly, we’re not reviewing these books, and speaking for myself the only way I’d have time to read more than I already do is if I could learn to read in my sleep. Sorry.
A pair of enlisted sailors are assigned to an alien spaceship, to clean and prepare quarters for the real human delegation. Once there, they find that there’s a little more to it…
Alien worlds, exploding spaceships, IRS agents, derring-do, and a little sex. Oh, and mops, brooms, and dustpans. Truly there are wonders Out There.
A year-long shift in the middle of the interstellar void can get pretty boring. For the Fourth shift crew of the starliner Pericles, enroute to Earth from one of the colony worlds, the passage could best be called routine.
Until the forward sensors detect an unknown and unexpected object ahead. What they find there, in the endless night of space, will forever change the universe, for them and for the all mankind.
Assuming they survive to tell anyone about the encounter.
A short story of the second contact with an alien civilization. Trade is good, luring humans into rushing their translations and contact with the aliens. A young man and a classroom of alien children are caught in the misunderstandings that ensue.
Oleevaba is the proud, pampered breed representative of the Advanced Midstate New York breed of humans – until she’s kicked out of society for having too much initiative. She’s expected to dutifully and quietly starve to death like other expersons. Instead, she’s rescued by a parallel society that has, over several generations, become very good at staying out of sight. However, not all the Subterrans are happy about simply staying out of the clutches of the Topside government. Some of them yearn to live as free men, above ground, whatever the cost.
Other books set in The Smolder universe are The Birdwatcher and The Unexpecteds, both of which are set out West in Northam during the same time period as this book.
At age 93, after two careers, and after an active and satisfying retirement, Clark Sutton finds himself in Post-Retirement. His beloved Nora has passed on, the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, have busy lives of their own, and Clark has to adjust to life in an assisted living facility. He buys a laptop computer and begins a journal.
Mutterings operates on two different levels. The first level is entertainment. Clark is good company. Reading his journal is like spending summer nights on the front poach with a favorite great uncle who fills the evenings with stories and eccentric opinions as to how the world should be. The second level is substantive. Be it campaign finance, taxes, welfare, the war on drugs, education, or many other topics, Clark has ideas you won’t hear on either Fox News or MSNBC. (Fox News because they are preoccupied with the buzz-issues-of-the-day; MSNBC because they are clueless.) Because Clark is such good company, you will enjoy reading his views without the need to agree with him. But then you put down the book and start to think: could the old geezer actually be right? If the old man is crazy, why do his ideas seem to make sense? After even more thought, the question becomes: Why is no one else proposing things like this?
Read Mutterings the first time for entertainment. Read it the second time to change your world view.
Sean Gleeson has searched all of literature to bring you what is, without a doubt, the world’s finest anthology of works by authors with the initials “S.G.” Spanning centuries, continents, cultures, and genres, this collection of highly enjoyable reads features writing by Susan Glaspell, Saxo Grammaticus, Samuel Gompers, Saint Gregory, Sun Guoting, Sidney Godolphin, and more.
Also, it’s the only book anywhere with the infamous article “Hack Heaven” by disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass.
You know what? This book would be a unique, thoughtful, and yet very cheap gift for a acquaintance with the initials S.G. You should keep a couple copies in your car or something. “Oh, hey, Sandy! Yeah, happy birthday. I got you this book.” You win.
(Charlie here:) Okay, so the fact that I’ve missed two weeks of columns and Sarah’s theoretically on sabbatical is probably an indication that we’re still struggling with the workmonster in our own ways. I really had about a week of burnout where neither words nor code were making a ton of sense. This may have been a fit of sort of sub-clinical depression, as well as just being tired; starting the “walk to work” thing I talk about in my other column today may have resolved that. Certainly my mood is still sort of ridiculously good.
But while I haven’t been getting lots of production done, I have been thinking and trying to get something coherent together in order to start getting more things done. Basically, to review what I’ve done so far, I
- Picked a steno pad to serve as my “inbox”. When I have something I need to do, it gets entered on the steno pad.
- I have a second “projects” steno pad which captures more extended thoughts on something that will take more than a few minutes to do. The official Getting Things Done rule is 2 minutes.
- Every so often, usually while I’m writing my morning pages (when I often capture a lot of things for the inbox anyway) I go through the inbox pad and put things onto a Today’s To-Dos list. Sometimes I just cross them off, having decided they’re not worth doing. And here’s a practice that seems to be working well: when I do something on the To Do list, I cross it off the inbox list. At the end of the day, I throw away the To Do list. If it hasn’t been done, it’s still in the inbox; if it’s still important, it’ll get back on a to-do list eventually.
So, then, we come to the “projects” pad. Some of them are “little projects” and never get off the pad — they just become some specific to-do items. Others are bigger, and it’s those that have been a problem for me historically. See, I have so many ideas of things I want to do, and some of them didn’t fit at all on a single steno pad page. (Not that I expected them to, the steno pad was just a stopgap.)
So this week, I set up a project file box, shown below. Each project gets a file folder of some sort. I started off with some colorful ones but I could never remember what the colors meant, so I went back to vanilla manilla. Stuff about that project goes into the folder. You’ll notice the divider, artistically crafted from the cardboard back of one of the writing pads I use. (Two or three a week usually. Staples should hire me to do commercials.) The ones behind the cardboard are things I’m officially not working on, the things in front are thing that officially are on my mind.
Now we get to the good part: what do I do with those folders? Okay, this is now work in progress, but Getting Things Done has a description of “natural project planning” that rings true to me. It’s five steps.
Unfortunately we don’t have the whole truth.
What we have are a series of facts that might or might not give you access to the truth — and the “facts” such as they are are constantly manipulated by people who want you to go this way or that way.
Traditional publishing, of course, has a lot invested in having you go their way. Money in publishing has always been in volume, and the more authors they get to publish with them, even if the authors objectively make near nothing, the more money they make — particularly in these days when they’re selling ever-renewable electrons, as much as anything else. This is why they try to claim to own electronic rights due to the penumbras and emanations of contracts signed before any such thing existed. Volume.
However this week Hugh Howey brought the truth a little closer to us — almost within our grasp.
Now with every writer needing to choose between self-publishing and submitting to traditional publishers, the decision gets even more difficult. We don’t want to screw up before we even get started.
When I faced these decisions, I had to rely on my own sales data and nothing more. Luckily, I had charted my daily sales reports as my works marched from outside the top one million right up to #1 on Amazon. Using these snapshots, I could plot the correlation between rankings and sales. It wasn’t long before dozens of self-published authors were sharing their sales rates at various positions along the lists in order to make author earnings more transparent to others [link] [link]. Gradually, it became possible to closely estimate how much an author was earning simply by looking at where their works ranked on public lists [link].
This data provided one piece of a complex puzzle. The rest of the puzzle hit my inbox with a mighty thud last week. I received an email from an author with advanced coding skills who had created a software program that can crawl online bestseller lists and grab mountains of data. All of this data is public—it’s online for anyone to see—but until now it’s been extremely difficult to gather, aggregate, and organize. This program, however, is able to do in a day what would take hundreds of volunteers with web browsers and pencils a week to accomplish. The first run grabbed data on nearly 7,000 e-books from several bestselling genre categories on Amazon. Subsequent runs have looked at data for 50,000 titles across all genres. You can ask this data some pretty amazing questions, questions I’ve been asking for well over a year [link]. And now we finally have some answers.
When Amazon reports that self-published books make up 25% of the top 100 list, the reaction from many is that these are merely the outliers. We hear that authors stand no chance if they self-publish and that most won’t sell more than a dozen copies in their lifetime if they do. (The same people rarely point out that all bestsellers are outliers and that the vast majority of those who go the traditional route are never published at all.) Well, now we have a large enough sample of data to help glimpse the truth. What emerges is, to my knowledge, the clearest public picture to date of what’s happening in this publishing revolution. It’s a lot to absorb, but I believe there’s much here to learn.
Go read the whole thing. We wait the more detailed report too. And meanwhile, see below for some good reading choices.
Please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at email@example.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.
(Charlie here:) A couple of other hints: you don’t need to make a big pitch to get into BPF. Like Vivien in Pretty Woman, it’s pretty much a sure thing. IF you include the information above. Second, don’t knock yourself out doing fancy formatting in your blurb; I strip and clean it before I format the links anyway.
Now available on Kindle! This epic story of England in the first half of the seventeenth century, a half century of unrest that culminated in the English Civil War, begins with the accession of the first Stuart king, James I, to the throne of England, continues with the infamous “gunpowder treason” of Guy Fawkes, and proceeds through every crucial event leading to the fall of a 600-year-old monarchy.
This new edition of David Hume’s classic history is a gently updated “modern English” version. It contains the full narrative history; it is not censored, bowdlerized, or politically corrected. Hume has his full say, and now the modern reader can readily hear it.
The editor, a professional copyeditor, originally took on the project of updating Hume’s language so his son could read this great classic with pleasure and full understanding as part of his high school homeschool course on British history. Every sentence of the volume was rigorously inspected; only those changes that improved readability and comprehension were implemented, with great care taken to preserve the felicity, nuance, and power of Hume’s prose.
Baron Lucius Giovanni, Captain of the battleship War Shrike, finds himself without a home or nation, his ship heavily damaged, and crew in bad shape. The odds against their personal survival are slim. The time of humanity has come to a close. The great nations have all fallen, either to the encroaching alien threats or to internal fighting and civil war. The aliens who seek to supplant humanity, however, have not taken one thing into account: Lucius Giovanni. He and his crew will not give up – not while they still draw breath. If this is to be the fall of humanity, then the crew of the War Shrike will go down fighting…and in the heat of that fight, they may just light a new fire for humanity….
From airships lost between universes, to golems winning the fight against racism, Lou Antonelli explains the many ways the world might have been. Dip into this collection, where you’ll experience:
• Where technology suppresses magic in an apartheid-like state.
• Ancient civilizations that succumb to their own nuclear holocausts.
• Alternate worlds in which Christianity is just one of many minor Earth-bound religions, and others where it rules and spans outer space.
• How the America’s westward expansion would have happened if the New Madrid earthquake had allowed the North American inland sea to reform.
Here you’ll find Antonelli’s version of Brigadoon, and of the sinking of the Titanic and the Carpathia. You’ll visit alternate realities that have been hiding Neanderthals, and pick up the lost Kodak snapshots of what might have been. With cameo appearances by O. Henry, Robert E. Howard, and Rod Serling, join this wild ride and delve into demonic possession, immortality, and the infinite variety of other worlds.
Including the 2013 Sidewise Award for Alternate History finalist short story “Great White Ship”.
Lou Antonelli is a modern speculative fiction author with classic sensibilities, honed by a long career as a newspaperman.
Alex Sanderson doesn’t like much of anything, but of all the things he hates, getting locked up in an alien prison on trumped-up charges tops the list. All he wants is a fair hearing and he’s sure he can get out. His cellmate on the other hand, she has different plans for Alex….
Note: This story contains profanity, some violence, and sexual situations, although not especially graphic, they may be offensive to some readers.
This story is a Novellette, about 14,500 words long.
The medical miracle of the twenty-first century. First they cured the genetic diseases.
Then they selected for the best natural traits.
Then they made completely artificial genes.
As the test children reached puberty, abilities that had always been lost in the random background noise were suddenly obvious.
At first their creators sought to strengthen these traits.
Then they began to fear them.
They called them gods, and made them slaves. Wolfgang Oldham was sixteen when the company laid claim to him. He escaped, and stayed free for three years.
When he was arrested, identified and returned to the company, they trained him to be useful.
They didn’t realize that they were training him to be dangerous The first book in the Wine of the Gods Series
Don’t worry. The computers have everything under control.
It had started with the widespread use of Alert. If you didn’t need bedrooms, and didn’t like to cook and clean bathrooms, all you really needed was a locker for clothes at a gymnasium. Exercise, shower and change, go back to work. Or out to dinner, or drinking with the guys. So the gyms had started offering walk in closets, with locking doors. Added restaurants. Lounges with TVs. Bars. Privacy rooms. With the advent of the dimensional cubbies—six meter cubes of space that didn’t actually exist in the real world—those oversized closets were transformed into various versions of living rooms, privacy rooms and home offices. It was the new upscale housing. Towers packed with cubbies, restaurants, theaters, shops, and exercise rooms. All controlled by state-of the-art Artificial Intelligence level computers. And they still called them Gyms.
Joe Mata and his bio-model Tommy were exploring the unused pedestrian tunnels in the basement and found a cubby, apparently abandoned before the interior was finished. They hadn’t expected to find themselves lost in a maze of ruins, dodging a hungry Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Alice Brown was mad about being grounded. Again! Her attempts to get around the lock of the dimensional door trapping her inside her parents’ cubby landed her and her bio-model friends in more trouble than even Alice could have imagined.
“So, you’re the ones…”
A mysterious package appears just as Maya and Nate start helping in their grandparents’ store. Inside is just one book: a faded copy of Free to Choose. In a race against time, they must decipher a series of cryptic messages to discover the secret under the staircase. But can a bunch of kids really solve the centuries-old riddle? Can they save their beloved town before it’s too late?
Under the Staircase™ Books
A mystery and adventure series that teaches treasured values: personal responsibility, individual liberty, and economic freedom.
Psst! Grownups: The first book in the series introduces a variety of Milton Friedman’s concepts—the Power of the Market, the Tyranny of Controls, What’s Wrong with Our Schools?, and other topics—using examples from kids’ day-to-day lives in school, with friends, and in familiar situations. Explore Under the Staircase at underthestaircase.com.
What if you could see everyone else’s dreams?
Sara Barnes has just discovered that she can. And this gift – or curse – will lead her on an extraordinary journey.
Follow Sara as her newfound ability leads her into adventures she never imagined. She will hunt down a serial killer, investigate a plot to murder one of her teachers, unravel a conspiracy between a mobster and a corrupt politician and face off against her nemesis: a woman who shares her talent, but uses it to destroy lives rather than save them. And Sara will have to manage all that while finishing college, becoming a doctor and falling in love, too.
Here are the first five books of the Dream Series, along with bonus material created especially for this collection. Included in this set are DREAM STUDENT, DREAM DOCTOR, DREAM CHILD, DREAM FAMILY and WAKING DREAM. In addition, you’ll find the short story BETTY & HOWARD’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE starring Sara’s parents. But most of all, when you open this box of dreams, you’ll find romance, suspense, humor and plenty of heart…
Assigned to investigate a deadly accident, Lieutenant Steve Maxwell uncovers corruption and criminal collusion reaching far above his pay grade. To save his career, he’s dispatched to a distant planet to help upgrade its defense forces. He’s in the company of an old friend and some of the most experienced Marines Steve’s ever met – including one of the most distracting.
Trouble is, the planet’s antiquated defenses make its new-found wealth a very tempting target – and there are those planning to take full advantage. As Steve and his colleagues strive to whip a rusty, run-down defense establishment into shape, the clock’s running out…
It’s the Book Plug Friday!
Brad Torgensen has a blog up, on the contradictory advice writers get. His list reads like this:
1 and 2 — You must never/always self publish
3 and 4 – You must never/always use a well known trope for your story
5 and 6 – You must never/always offend someone with what you write
7 and 8 – You must never/always write short fiction
9-10 – You need a writers’ group to help you polish your work/your work is best right off the bat.
Brad is very rational and sane in his post, and you should read it. Here’s an excerpt:
1. You must never self-publish.
This was gospel when I was plowing through my proverbial first million words of “practice” fiction. And at the time, it was good advice. Self-publishing invariably meant vanity publishing, which is a form of publishing where the author spends hundreds or even thousands of dollars of his/her own money, to put his/her book into print. Vanity presses tend to be scams as often as not, and with the advent of widespread electronic book platforms (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc.) as well as print-on-demand options like Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, vanity presses are also wholly unnecessary. Plus, self-publishing doesn’t carry the same stigma it used to. Once upon a time self-publishing was a warning flag to the rest of the genre—hey guys, I couldn’t cut it with editors! These days, not so much. There are good writers who are self-publishing, and making a decent amount of money. You have no doubt heard of a few.
2. You must always self-publish.
A lot of bogeyman-mongering has been going on the past few years, where traditional publishing and publishers are concerned: that they will always rip you off, that they don’t abide by their own contracts, that the editors suck and don’t know what they’re doing, that anyone who signs with a traditional publisher becomes a “slave” to that publisher, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, it’s up to you to know your markets. Traditional publishing is still the best bet: to make money and get exposure. And it’s also got a degree of branding power that’s tough to argue with. Why? Because writers who make the editorial cut have at least survived one kind of significant professional filter. There are lots of readers who pay attention to this. So scope out those houses beforehand, talk to writers already under contract, and do your homework. An educated writer with a bit if business savvy can do well in trad pub.
Sarah, as you know, is less sane and far less polite.
So, her answers would go something like this:
1 and 2 — other than Baen and a couple of indie presses I have no intention of writing for anyone else, but should another house emerge that is rational and treats its authors as people not interchangeable widgets, I might be tempted. The future will tell.
3 and 4 - since I usually can’t find that box that people can’t think outside of — being so far out of it I can’t see it with a periscope — I don’t really have the option of using a familiar trope. Though since I grew up in Heinlein novels, I do sometimes go home again.
5 and 6 – Well… since apparently some people were offended with the politics of my shifters fantasies, which don’t got any, and since I seem to offend people by continuing to breathe, this too might be a moot point. However my feeling is that you should write is what you FEEL intensely about. That’s what will be most present and alive to you. If you are lukewarm, the readers will be too. So, some people will hate you for what you write. Let them. Think about it, by raising their blood pressure you’re giving them all the benefits of exercise without trouble.
7 and 8 - I am a natural novelist. I trained myself to write short fiction because I thought that’s how one always broke into writing. I’m glad — now — that I have the skill. Was it worth the three years spent acquiring it? Probably not. But it was done, and now it is what it is.
9 and 10 – At some point — listen to me, all of you — everyone outgrows their writers’ group. At that point, you’ll have to stand on your own two feet. As for things being perfect off the bat… well, mine aren’t, but that’s why I have beta readers.
For all of these and the other contradictory pieces of advice you’ll get breaking in, remember — You might break in by following them, but to remain published and have a career, you must do it your way. (Cues Frank Sinatra.)
Go and read Brad, who is, as I said, far more rational than I am. Then come back here for the book plug Friday!
Last week we asked you to “please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.”
And it worked! So do it again!
A collection of breathless and enchanting tales of magic, cruelty, and sacrifice – a connoisseur’s box of chocolates, dark and bittersweet. to be nibbled at and savored. Alexander’s stories owe a debt to the dark and twisted fairy tales of Oscar WIlde and the passion and poignant drama of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen; the dozen stories here are fairy tales for grown-ups – they are not the sort of stories you might want to read to your young children at bedtime. But if you read them just before go to sleep, your reward is likely to be dreams that are rich and strange, and that you may feel you have walked for a little while on roads paved with real magic.
Lydelton, a small fishing town in a remote valley called Glimmer Vale, is the perfect place for two fighting men on the run to stop and decide on a plan. But when Julian and Raedrick arrive they find the town besieged by a ruthless band of brigands. Worse, the brigands have taken up station in the mountain passes, blocking the two friends’ escape. With no way around the brigands and no option of returning the way they came, Julian and Raedrick accept an offer of employment. Their mission: defeat the brigands and restore peace to Glimmer Vale.
They are outnumbered at least twenty to one, long odds even if they recruit help. But that help may not be enough when the specter of their past rears its head, forcing Julian and Raedrick to openly face what they are fleeing or risk losing not just their freedom but the lives and fortunes of Lydelton’s inhabitants.
Glimmer Vale is a short, fun fantasy adventure novel, the first installment in the Glimmer Vale Chronicles.
Meditations on Japanese art of sumi-e and the essence of catness. All the illustrations in this book are original sumi-e (Japanese ink on paper) paintings by Poul A. Costinsky. The so-called poetry is too.
Those with MS and the people whose lives they touch will find this book helpful in understanding the wide ranging effects with a firsthand look at what it is like to live day after day, year after year with the disease. Written by a woman who is still walking after more than 40 years, the author paints a full and encouraging picture of how it is possible to have a satisfying life despite illness. Kathleen Scully Aquilino experienced the first symptom while in college but was not officially diagnosed until she was 44. Through the growing number of ailments and afflictions her mysterious disease brought, she kept going. Working, Marrying. Making a home. Adopting and raising a daughter. The delay in diagnosis actually did a great deal to help her stay positive and active. There are some lessons here in the power of expectations.
Ierna is an island on a world at the center of the universe where magic and legend converge and an epic battle is raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Ancient Ireland of Earth is a reflection of Ierna and what happens there will ultimately affect Earth and all other worlds.
Cuhal O’Connor has murdered his brother the King and, with the help of Porthcodal, the arch-druid of Tara, seeks to take the throne for himself. To support the king and his own ambition, the druid has unleashed old gods and dark forces to support the king in his subjugation of the country. He has called a race of evil sorcerers, the Fomorians, to the island to assist in his plans.
Opposing Cuhal are Sean O’Connor, his younger brother, and Brian O’Mordha, former King’s Champion and high general of the army. They are determined to stop Cuhal, but have few resources and a price on their heads. They rescue Sean’s niece Maggie, the former king’s daughter, who escaped when Cuhal murdered her parents. Sean knows the true ruler of Tara must have the Gift, a psychic feel for the land, and while he doesn’t have it, Maggie does. They escape from Tara and set out for the fortress of another major family, the O’Neills, in search of allies.
A man framed . . . his life ruined . . . and then the twists begin. Jack Bolt rose from a hillbilly childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Thanks to his unusually keen mind and the faith of a teacher and a bookstore owner, his future looks bright. At age 25 he’s working maintenance in a college town, studying on a scholarship, and about to marry the girl of his dreams. During a routine service call at a church he runs into 13-year-old Sarah Ellison. Moments after he leaves, Sarah is brutally murdered. Bolt is charged with the crime and convicted by a brilliant prosecutor who uses his own honesty against him. He’s been framed with tainted evidence, but this is no whodunit. Bolt knows exactly who did it—Conrad Baylor, church deacon and deputy chief of police. Held in jail during his trial, Bolt is haunted by the ‘howdunit’: How did Baylor manage to tamper with the evidence and frame him? And how can he discover the secret and clear his name if he goes to prison? But then, in a strange turn of events, Bolt is offered a chance to prove his innocence and recover his once-promising future. That’s when a deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins . . .
Marcus Antonius Primus began a golden age for humanity when he liberated Roma from Octavian Caesar and became sole Consul. With wisdom from the gods, future Antonii Consuls conquered the world and spawned an interstellar civilization.
Three weeks before the millennial anniversary of the Antonii Ascension, star freighter captain Kaeso Aemelius, a blacklisted security agent from Roman rival world Libertus, is asked by his former commanders to help a high-ranking Roman official defect. Kaeso misses his lone wolf espionage days – and its freedom from responsibility for a crew – so he sees the mission as a way back into the spy business. Kaeso sells it to his crew of outcasts as a quick, lucrative contract…without explaining his plan to abandon them for his old job.
But Kaeso soon learns the defector’s terrifying secret, one that proves the last thousand years of history was built on a lie.
Can Kaeso protect his crew from Roman and Liberti forces, who would lay waste to entire worlds to stop them from revealing the civilization-shattering truth?
In the future, America is divided. It’s been two decades since Washington D.C. was destroyed and the West Coast devastated by EMPs and The Federal Council rules the country. Only the Free Territories, carved out in the bloody aftermath of two revolts against the Council defy them.
When a shocking assassination threatens the uneasy peace, the Prime Minister of the Free Territories, Chelsea Andrews is faced with a choice: fight to save the peace or take a chance to make America free once more. As both sides race to prevent a war that no one wants, a shadowy enemy from her past waits for his chance at revenge and the secret he holds could be the most powerful one of all:
Who is Prisoner 112?
The answer to that question may decide the fate of America, once and for all…
In a world where prayers are often answered, and saints talk to the Gods . . .
The First Gods created the Universe. And their time done, returned their Fire to their creation.
The Ancient Gods crafted the World, and the People. And their time done, gave their Fire to their creations.
Then Men became so great souled they became gods themselves upon the death of their final mortal bodies.
The Elder Siblings have long ruled the Continents, attending to Dynasties, Nations, and Wars.
The Younger Siblings are not yet so strong, and content themselves with matter of local importance. Hearth and Hone, Trade and Piracy. Death and Birth. Storms and Tides.
But men continue to act like men. Power accumulates, attracts and nurtures both good and bad stewards.
This is a time of the bad stewards. A time when the Church has ceased to serve god and congregants, and insists that the congregants serve the Church. A time when the saints are constrained in what they ask the Gods to do. A time when the son of a saint and a god is well advised to keep himself away from the gaze of the powerful.
This is a time when the gods themselves have become corrupted.
This is a time when a demi god can save the world—if he manages to first save himself.
Or, strictly, in Erie. This is from the back yard. Not that much really, just about 6 inches, but it was wet and stuck to the trees real prettily, I think.
Hi, my name is Sarah, and I’m a workaholic.
It wasn’t meant to work out this way. Back in the eighties we discovered the “workaholic” syndrome.
At the time I remembered thinking it was nonsense. The theory, at least according to the experts, was that workaholics came into work too early, left too late and the reason they were doing this was some mumbo jumbo about avoiding your family and the emptiness of your own soul.
In fact, they classed workaholism at the same level as alcoholism, as a coping mechanism for the anomie of modern life, or what have you.
I still think it’s a load of hooey. Look, I came of age in the early eighties. I remember the tight labor market and the hero mode most intellectual industries worked under. My husband was in computers. He was expected to work till he dropped or the project was done, whichever came first. People who didn’t pull for the team were often let go.
Then it occurred to me that this workplace climate and the expectations might very well have encouraged workaholism.
You see, at least according to the experts, the problem is that workaholics are always “on” but their rate of return for the time invested gets smaller and smaller.
You’ve all known this person. He comes to the office before everyone. He leaves last. He is always insanely busy. But when you analyze what he’s done, it’s almost nothing.
And that’s where I found myself this week – and many weeks throughout the year. I’m always working, but I’m not accomplishing my most important tasks — to wit, finishing novels.
Hello all you writers and readers out there. This is Sarah A. Hoyt, coming at you from the bright, beautiful, shiny 21st century, where writers have all sorts of options for self-publishing and self marketing — where writers, in fact, often have to do their own marketing — and where, nonetheless, the traditional publishing houses still behave as though you had no other options and no other outlets.
Take, for instance the case of Phil Foglio, who wrote about his plight yesterday:
So after a year of this (yes, an entire year. We are Slow to Take Offense, here at Studio Foglio), I write to Mr. Hayden, asking him if our editor is dead, or just fired? This question surprises him, as he saw her in the office that morning. He seems sympathetic. We even have a face-to-face meeting at worldcon the next week where he explains that TOR just really doesn’t know how to sell graphic novels, and when someone takes on a job they don’t know how to do, they tend to just stick their fingers in their ears and hope that eventually, it goes away. Fair enough, I am occasionally like this with The Experiments.
I mention that we’ve been selling graphic novels fairly well for quite awhile, and that we’d cheerfully give them pointers. However, if they just can’t wrap their heads around it, which seems obvious since after three years they have yet to sell through the initial print run (We’d have done it in 16 months- and that’s with no advertising, which is a fair comparison, as they did no advertising either), then we’ll just sing a chorus of “So Long, It’s Been Good To Know You”, and then we’ll publish them ourselves, because if there’s one thing we know how to do, it’s publish and sell Girl Genius graphic novels.
But we can’t. Because our contract with TOR says we can’t publish “a competing product” for five years. Okay, what can we do about this? But now, Mr. Patrick Nielsen Hayden has apparently decided that we’re too much trouble.
As a writer who worked for years in traditional publishing with houses-other-than-Baen (Baen tends to be way more responsive, though sometimes overwhelmed) I can tell you this is about bog-standard treatment. I will never forget for instance, three years after the issue of one of my trilogies, getting a phone call form my agent saying she had been on the phone with the editor who had just realized my series was steam punk and they’d marketed it all wrong. So… what did they do about it? Nothing, that was the beginning and the end of that conversation.
Then there was the hot and cold running editor, who sometimes was my best friend and sometimes ignored me for weeks on end. I don’t know if this is sheer ineptitude, or just a way to keep writers off their stride or… yes. Just because it stems from ineptitude, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t serve the function of reminding the writer they’re at the mercy of the house.
And speaking of ineptitude… My friend Amanda Green (who also writes as Ellie Ferguson) is on the case covering Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s response to the whole mess:
According to Mr. Hayden, there are a bunch of senior editors but no editor-in-chief that they report to. They only report to the publisher. Yeah, right. I’m sure the publisher has time to know what’s going on with each editor and writer for the house. There’s an old saying about a chicken with its head cut off. Perhaps that is what’s happening at Tor. It certainly looks like it to me.
In fact, most of my experience in traditional publishing (except for Baen) has been that no one is at the controls, and things just sort of drift. Any other business would crash this way. Oh, wait. Traditional publishing is crashing too, even if in slow-mo.
So, let’s hear it for writers who take responsibility for their own business and mind their own store. Yes they did build that! Now see if by any chance you wanna buy what they have to sell!
And spell-check the blurbs, would’ja?
Short stories in which the fantastic encroaches on the everyday and everyday returns the compliment by encroaching on the fantastic.
A Review: “The sentences have a certain poetry to them and they read like silk. The descriptors that he uses fit the picture in my head so perfectly. His style of writing combined with his ability to describe pictures allows me to read this story so smoothly that I can see a movie instead of the words. ”
Earth needed help – and nobody else was going to step up Graciela Juarez has gone from a late-twenties college student to Second Order Guardian and one of the Empire’s better pilots. But events on Earth are building to a climax, and the Empire is determined to let Earth sort things out for itself – or not. It really doesn’t matter to them. But it matters to Grace. By whatever means necessary, she will save Earth from the demons – and from its own insanity.
Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)
“Filled with quotations and references to the Works of Shakespeare, this debut novel will interest the playwright’s fans of any age” VOYA
“Sarah Hoyt has taken tremendous chances:She has told a tale of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare, weaving the language of the plays deftly through the narrative. Reading the book feels like discovering the origins of the quotes we know so well, rather than something derivative.” San Jose Mercury News.
[Charlie:] Getting more done while not killing myself is sort of the core story today.
Well, I’ve been getting half of that done: I definitely got more done this week. I’m not exactly feeling like I got more rest however. But let’s talk about getting more done first.
I’ve been trying to adopt the Getting Things Done methods, and have found an adaptation that so far seems to work reasonably well. Call it Steno Pad GTD.
I started by doing the GTD brain dump into a steno pad. I have a bunch of them around, because the real secret of life is to have office supplies available at a moment’s notice. This ends up being a series of bulleted notes, like:
- Science column on cancer immunotherapy
- Experiment with Cucumber and Capistrano
- Science column on neurological effects of growing up bilingual
- Order fountain pen cartridges
- Order Schneider Xpress pens from Amazon. (They’re great pens by the way)
- Re-read the Google testing book
The first thing I did was start by writing all this … stuff down. In the morning, when I write my morning pages, I keep the steno pad with me, and add things, because during the morning braindump is when I have a lot of ideas and to-dos come to mind. After the morning pages I go through the list and see what I have to do that day.
Now, some of them are just to-dos that will take little time, but some of them are ideas or projects. This morning I had an idea for a mystery — I wrote it down on the first pad — then kept going with the pages. (Notice that from the standpoint of doing morning pages you have to be a little careful with this; sometimes I write the idea directly in the pages and underline it to move it to the steno pad later.)
So, last week I [This is Sarah] was on the internet, minding my own business, when someone posted an chapter of a book about burials in London.
Last thing I could possibly be interested in, right?
Except that it was fascinating. Having grown up in a place that has been populated and arguably civilized (for a meaning of civilized that restricts itself to some form of writing, and some form of social organization) since before the Punic wars, I’m familiar with the idea that what the great cities of the world are actually built on is… more of themselves, including their former inhabitants. But even so I hadn’t thought of things like the London subway having to detour around forgotten plague pits where the bones were packed so tight as to become impenetrable.
The flesh is weak and I ordered the book, Catharine Arnold’s Necropolis. As often happens (and this is inexplicable) the book was something I needed to read before I started the next book – Darkship Revenge – though no, it has nothing to do with funerals. It’s also a very good book in its own right, at least if you have the type of stainless steel lint trap of a mind that enjoys reading odd details of how such eternal things as burials were done in the past.
And the way in which I purchased it might be the only infallible way of attracting readers on the internet: if you give away a bit, and they like it, they will come.
It’s quite possible that nothing offends my sensibilities as much as a good writer giving away his work. It makes people think all of us should work for free.
On the other hand, like the bait hiding the hook, sometimes to give away a little only sells a whole lot more. After all, Jim Baen found that when a book went in the Baen electronic free library, it would only sell more copies in paper. And I have found that having a short story free on Amazon bolsters all my sales for weeks.
Sometimes we need to remember to be like pushers – the first hit is free.
This is something that traditional publishing – other than Baen – struggles to understand, and often it seems – witness the whole price fixing thing – that they don’t even particularly get “Loss leaders.” But we who are indie and have to make it on our own would better understand both concepts.
After all, no one is going to market us if we don’t. To be fair, that’s also true for traditional writers, most of the time.
And don’t forget, this week, that just about all the books we link here have a preview function, and the ability to download it.
Give yourself a chance to be hooked!
Send books to be plugged to email@example.com. Remember to include the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME as given on the cover, a BLURB, and — this is very important — an AMAZON LINK.
Young adults are not the only ones that fall in love and get married. People in their middle age do that too. This book is the story of one such couple as told by the “notes” written by the husband to his wife. These notes are not just love notes but also tell the tale of how life tests people and how its events sometimes feel overwhelming. They also show how couples do get through difficult times and proceed on through their lives, not knowing to what destination many times. If you sometimes wonder if you are the only one over 40 with a difficult adult child, a conflict at work, or something else trying your patience, you are not alone. You will also know that life is also good, and sometimes filled with hope and love. Even for a brief time. These tales of life’s events and stories that we all share are contained in these pages, these “notes to Stephanie”.
Continuing the stories told in Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters And Life Stories author Jeffery W. Turner tells us about days he remembers with Stephanie. Days that were good, frustrating, funny, or simply important in their lives. The days cover things like how Hurricane Ike effected them, places they drove to on Sunday afternoons, family gatherings at Christmas, their church, and many other things that all of us can identify with in our own lives. Regardless of what happened on each of these days remembered, they are days that one can treasure and enjoy reading about.
Graciela Juarez has become the first operant on Earth. Her mentor taught her the basic building blocks of her new abilities, but the Empire has had billions of operants for a hundred thousand years. They can teach her more in a few months than she will learn in years – abilities she can use to help Earth through a coming crisis. She undertakes a journey of self discovery and learning, and begins the hard work of secretly readying Earth for the coming crisis.
Yeah, this week it seems like the workmonster is winning.
This is Charlie, and I think Sarah will have some additions but we’re both late and we know it — and it’s because the workmonster goes untamed, at least this week. Sarah can tell her own story — although I know it includes unexpected veterinary emergencies and backed up plumbing — but in my case, it’s in the way that projects spawn projects.
Here’s where it stands for me: I did a lot of thinking about this, about which more anon, starting from my observation that I have ideas lots faster than I can execute them. (This is, I’m sure, something the PJ Editors can tell you — I’ve got several promised articles dangling.) Part of the solution is clearly to do something to keep that under control, not by stopping the ideas, but by capturing them in a way that lets me come back and pick and choose later without losing the original inspiration.
A second and equally vital thing is to keep the daily little tasks and steps under control — all the little to-dos that either grow out of a bigger project, or just come up in ordinary life.
The inspiration that both Sarah and I have been drawing on in trying to get these things under control is David Allen’s book Getting Things Done. This is a good book, although not a great one — I find it difficult to work through it without skipping. I’ve noticed this with other self-help books — they spend a lot of time convincing me that there is a problem and telling me anecdotes and endorsements. In general, if I’m reading a book on “getting things done” you can pretty much bet that I’m already concerned with getting things done, and while it’s nice to know that other people have been successful getting things done, there’s a black-swan problem: as with a diet book, they only include people whose Lives Have Been Utterly Changed. What about people who aren’t complete and total successes, what are their problems?
Hi. This is Sarah Hoyt, and I’m a writer. This, as we all know, means I live in my mansion, attended hand and foot by my devoted staff. On Wednesday nights, I have poker night with Stephen King. When not doing that, or you know, having my manicure done and my ankles polished, or whatever, I write 200 words a day. Well, I call it writing. Really, I just dictate to one of my ten secretaries, between splashes in the pool.
Those of you who know me and have visited can stop choking with laughter now.
What is depicted above is the Hollywood idea of a writer. No, not a bestseller, but a writer. Any writer. (And we’ll mention bestsellers later.)
I remember going with a friend to watch the movie Sliding Doors. My friend was also at the time my best writing buddy (Rebecca Lickiss) and our first novels had just come out within months of each other. As we sat there, the scene where the main character tells her unpublished boyfriend “I know this is only until you sell your novel, and then we’ll be rich!” and I laughed so hard I almost died. Rebecca was also laughing, so it took us a while to realize that no one else in the theater had even chuckled. You could hear them thinking in the silence “Well, it is true, right? Why are the crazy chicks laughing?”
Years later, a friend who was having issues selling had to get a minimum wage job to keep her family in roof and three meals a day. This was going well until the boss found she had three books published – at which point he called her into his office and asked her if she had got that job for research because, well, she had three (mass market paperbacks) out, so she was a millionaire, right?
Lately there’s been an awful lot of talk about how much you make as a writer, and I was shocked to find I compare well to the President of SFWA, but even so, I’m making about what a top administrative secretary commands in my area, or perhaps a smidgen more than what an untenured assistant professor at a college would make, teaching a liberal arts course. Since one or the other are my options for employment and I can write in the warm and commute nine feet from bed to office, I’m willing to trade that for having weekends off. (Well, yes, I used to speak seven languages, and I could get them back easily, but since English is the lingua franca of the world, translation jobs aren’t as plentiful as you’d think. Yes, back when I freelanced as a translator I did quite well in technical, scientific and financial translation, but, like writing, it’s a field in which you advance by reputation and recommendation, and I’ve been out of it for 22 years now.)
Part of this is the way that traditional publishing pays, where you can get nominally huge advances but it only pays over years. (My husband’s first blog post was about this, and it might be worth reading.) Indie opens a pathway to make more money faster, but it’s exponentially more upfront work. In the last year, I saw my income explode from indie, as I put more of my trunk novels up.
BUT I’m very slow at doing that, because I’m trying to fit an indie career around my commitments with Baen. Beyond my debt of gratitude to Baen for bailing me out of a couple of rough spots and for giving me a shot when my career was dead way back when, I also like both forms of writing. So, indie goes slow and right now accounts for about a tenth of my income, though that should grow this year.
Still, give some consideration to the books below. Maybe you can help some indie writer’s income grow.
Though I very much doubt that it will grow to the point of fictional writers’ money.
Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?
Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.
Short blurb: How do you stop a bar fight with… earplugs? You’ll find out in this space-western sci-fi in the Firefly vein. Part military fiction, part mystery, part space-opera, part action-adventure, with everything from Greek and Latin to Talk Like a Pirate day, from swords-and-sandals combat to space-ship combat strategies, from contemplating philosophy, duty, and faith to the simple reality of earning a living and making ends meet as an independent contractor while dealing with corrupt officials and mercenaries. How DO you earn a living when the most important things aboard could get you nuked on sight if anyone knew… especially if you don’t know about them yourself?
Jeffery W. Turner turns his attention now to his two children. This book is filled with stories about their childhood lives and experiences. The notes cover things that involve all children: their birth, when they were sick, how they started walking, times with their grandparents, special holiday times, the houses that were home, beloved pets lost, and leaving the nest. If you are a parent with grown up children you will identify with these tales. They tell the story of the lives of two children as seen through the eyes of their father as they grew up. And paint a picture we have lived as parents, one our own children will see when they too have kids one day.
“Mikey, what trouble he’s been!” thought Grandma Liu. “Why do we wish for smart children? Mikey’s so smart, he melted the basement and made us all run. Not on purpose, he’s a kindhearted boy. Except when he’s sending dirty pictures to his friends on the Internet and getting my children killed!”
A school project gone wrong. The secret to a doomsday weapon in a teen’s head. Michael’s wanted alive in Moscow, Peking, Tehran. Wanted dead by Tel Aviv! Even Washington’s grown a little peevish with this All-American boy. With sinister spies and comely assassins on the prowl, can Mike’s Christian family find a way to safety?
It’s a tough universe out there. A hard-hitting collection of the best fiction of Michael Z. Williamson, creator of the popular Freehold military SF saga, along with a helping of truth-telling nonfiction by a guy who has been there and done that, both at home and abroad.
Duty in the face of danger on a planetary scale. Pride and competence in the face of idiotic clients who hate that that they need your services, and an enemy who wants to make your bad day even worse. These are stories of the warriors and civilians who get things done in extreme situations, whether it’s rescue from a ship broken in space and leaking air and radiation, hard choices by a brigade of mercenary swords in a world of blood and magic, or scramble and response by troops in the Sandbox doing what it takes to make it through another scorching, rocket-filled day.
A short story retelling the classic tale, where little Red Riding Hood carries a shotgun and the Wolf may not be all bad. It is Grandmother, or as she is known in her native Russian, Babushka, who has the biggest secret of them all…
Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?
He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…
Mitsy Collins can handle herself with wit, but not with her weight. She’s content in her world of skinny coworkers and fulfilling the needs of her cat, Mr. Perkins, but that all changes when her office floor gets a new boss, Steven Dunner. The rumors of his physique don’t lie and the whole floor is in combat mode to win his attention with his heart as the consolation prize.
Mitsy keeps out of the war, but becomes a casualty when Dunner ignores the bloodshed and takes aim at her. Is his intentions pure? Can Dunner really want her? Will Mr. Perkins be jealous?
Hi, everyone. My name is Charlie, and I’m not a workaholic. Honest. I mean, I do tend to get up at 6AM and find myself sitting in bed at 10PM thinking I should be writing something more before I go to sleep, and I have been known to get stubborn about a programming problem and work 30 hours straight, but I can give it up anytime, really.
Okay, yes, I am being a little facetious and before anyone gets their drawers in a monkey’s-fist with six inches of square chain sinnet, I’m not making fun of alcoholics or addicts or anyone else who’s been helped by 12 Step programs; I’m making fun of myself. But with a point: I do tend to overwork.
What I am is a creative. I am continually assailed by ideas, things I want to write, build, paint, or create. My observation of creatives is that they live in one of two states: they are either driven, or they’re blocked. Being blocked is horrible (and a topic for another time, but let me say if you are blocked, go out right now and read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande.) Being driven is fun — you’re doing something you love and you’re excited and you don’t want to stop.
A running complaint that Sarah and I share is that while it’s great doing this, it also has its limits. Sarah knows she’s hit her limit when she gets some horrible respiratory bug or sinus infection. I know it when I get depressed, irascible (yes, even more irascible) and end up spending two days in bed, sleeping or playing computer solitaire.
I have a second issue with this. I tend to be what Barbara Sher calls a scanner — not my favorite word for it, since I’m a Cordwainer Smith fan, so maybe you could say “hummingbird” or “butterfly”. (Where does a 6′ 3″ 265 pound butterfly land? Anywhere he damn wants.) In any case, in a lot of ways I’m motivated by learning new things and rewarded by that first skin-prickling hit of a cool new idea, but tend to go “lookit, a squirrel” off after the next idea when it hits.
So Sarah and I have decided to collaborate on a new 13 week experiment in managing two competing desires:
- being optimally productive
- without sacrificing health and sanity. Or at least health.
We’ll be writing about this weekly (he said, typing carefully) in the form of a colloquy or conversation.
Let’s look at the issue again. I have, at last count, about 27 bazillion projects I’d like to do — fiction, nonfiction, computer programs, spec scripts for TV and movies, and I’m tied into a startup company — plus I’d like to make time for painting and drawing and I’m intent on getting a little more exercise and at least occasionally actually leaving the house.
I’ve experimented with David Allen’s Getting Things Done method, and while I see a lot of appeal in it, it’s directed more toward people who want to get things done in a limited time. When I do GTD, I end up with unlimited things. The GTD books seem mostly directed to people with limited time to want to do more; I see my problem as seeing things through to “done” and limiting my time.
For years, when I [Sarah] sold a book to a traditional publishing house, I had to sign a contract that said that in case of being sued for plagiarism I’d pay for any expenses the publisher incurred. Or something like that. It always made me a little uncomfortable because I knew that if a book got big enough someone would sue me for plagiarism. Witness the lawsuit over Harry Potter by some woman who had written a children’s book with a character named Harry Potter who had a scar. There was nothing else in common, and yes, it’s entirely possible that J. K. Rowling got the name from that book (because we read so much, as writers, that minor stuff like that sticks. You can usually track what I’ve been reading by the general trend of character names.)
But character names aren’t copyrightable. They’re trademark-able, (and I haven’t checked, but I bet Harry Potter IS trademarked now.) Ideas aren’t copyrightable either, but their execution is. This can be a hazy region for many people. Many people hear that ideas aren’t copyrightable and set about stealing everything in a book, because everything is an idea, right?
Well, yes, and no. You could say the idea is embodied in words, and so long as you don’t copy the words, you’re doing fine. So, say you want to write the story of a man who has a cat named Pete and who travels backward in time to fix something that he did wrong. If you keep it at that level, but the story, the future and the setting is all yours, you can call it a Heinlein homage. But make the man an inventor of household gadgets, make him be cheated out of his work by his crooked partner and the character’s ex-fiance, make him be put in cold sleep against his will, and then have to travel back to rescue his cat and the little girl who grows up to be his wife and… Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d be looking over my shoulder for the long arm of the Heinlein estate, if I plagiarized The Door Into Summer to that extent.
What I mean is, the general — very general — idea is not copyrightable, and you might even be able to “steal” the high level plot, but once you get to the details you’re in dangerous territory. At the worst you’ll get sued. At best, you’ll become known as not very creative.
Say you write about a family with too many daughters to marry and one of them makes an unsuitable marriage, while another aims too high… Even if Austen were still in copyright, no one would complain. But if you set it in the regency and follow the plot step by step… Well, I’d never have been able to write A Touch of Night if Pride and Prejudice were still in copyright.
If you write fanfic about something that is still in copyright, be sure you then rewrite enough to clean any traces of where it started. My friend Kate Paulk talks about this at our group blog. In the trade this is called “filing the serial numbers” off a story and there’s a way to do it. (And before you ask why there is a word for it: sometimes there are shared universe stories and novels that get rejected; work for hire that gets rejected, etc. People file the serial numbers to be able to publish it.) My friend, Amanda Green also talks about it on her blog.
This is important right now, because someone has sold a painting that is a copy of an Asimov cover for over five million dollars. IO9 covers it here. To quote:
What’s the difference between these two images? On the left is a book cover by legendary artist Chris Foss for Asimov’s Stars Like Dust. On the right is a painting by artist Glenn Brown, which just sold at auction for roughly $5.7 million, way more than it sold for in 2002.
How did this happen? Brown basically reimagined Foss’ work — although it looks as though all he did was repaint it, and fool around with the colors slightly.
Brown was actually sued several years ago by artist Anthony Roberts, after Brown copied Roberts’ cover for Robert A. Heinlein’s Double Star for his painting The Loves of Shepherds 2000. At the time, Foss reportedly expressed interest in joining the suit. To be fair, Brown’s pastiche of the Double Star cover was somewhat less blatant than the above copy of Stars Like Dust seems to be.
The “artist”‘s defense is that as there are no new ideas, he’s just doing the best he can… or something. I don’t know if he’ll get away with it — artists are even more impecunious than indie writers, and they might not be able to sue. But I know he SHOULDN’T get away with it and that I find him repellent as a human being.
So, don’t do that to other people. It’s okay to take inspiration, but theft is wrong. And on the flip side, as an impecunious indie agent, do yourself a favor and copyright all your work. Yes, it’s technically copyrighted from the moment you put it in “permanent” form, be it paper, electrons or carved on a wall. But my lawyer tells me it’s much easier to sue — and cheaper — for copyright infringement if you have filed copyright. I know the fee can be serious money for indie, but do it anyway. The world is full of bad people, and you need to protect yourself.
Charlie’s administrivia: We actually didn’t have many submissions for this week. Now, there are several reasons for this, large among them that I was overambitious last week in order to get a book with a special offer in the list in time for the special offer.
Now, that was okay, because Gods know we’ve got friends with books that deserve plugging, but this shouldn’t be just for our friends. So, it’s the New Year, and I want to encourage you all to send books to be plugged to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME as given on the cover, a BLURB, and — this is very important — an AMAZON LINK.
If you do have a special offer coming up, make sure to get us the information two weeks ahead of time so we can be sure to get it plugged on time.
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.
Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.
Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.
Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.
A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.
ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.
Cooper Jones is an alcoholic with a super-power, he is an empath, almost able to read minds … almost! He’s also a Swansea traffic warden and doesn’t have to read minds to know what people think of him. However, he had no idea how hated he was until he was bound to Mumbles Pier and left to drown.
Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it.
Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way.
Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery.
When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own.
Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?
Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble and his ghost girlfriend are called to the Vampire Circus when a fortune teller’s cards go missing. Not exactly the glamorous life, but the stakes escalate when a vampire trapeze act goes dead wrong, and Shamble discovers even more skeletons in the closet than the ones that live there. As he shuffles for clues through an unnatural cast of carnies, he faces a slate of suspects that could freak out even the most daring detective–a werewolf lion tamer, a fat lady with an enormous secret, an undead ringmaster. . .and what could be scarier than a circus clown? The only thing certain is that the show must go on–dead or alive.
Someone murders Aramis’ mistress, while the musketeer is alone with her. His friends help him escape, but even they can’t be sure he didn’t do it. Beset by peril and doubts, Aramis, Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan MUST find the true murderer before he or she finds them. All while the Cardinal stands ready to take advantage of their predicament.
Ten astounding tales by triple award nominee Brad R. Torgersen. Go on fantastic new adventures at the bottom of Earth’s oceans and at the edge of the solar system. Meet humans who are utterly alien and aliens who are all too human. Originally featured in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, these stories are gathered here for the first time, along with anecdotes and other commentary from the author.
Features the stories Ray of Light (2012 Hugo & Nebula nominee), Outbound (2011 Analog Readers Choice Award winner), and Exanastasis (2010 Writers of the Future Award winner).
Introductions by Stanley Schmidt, Mike Resnick and Allan Cole.
A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.
Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds himself called on undertake paranormal cases: in this case tracing the Vampire bride’s absconded or kidnapped groom.
The groom should have been a troll by the name of Billy Gruff, the manager and owner of the Ricketty-Racketty Club – a topless bar and nightclub. Bolg finds himself, and his client embroiled in murder, extortion and a Celtic wizard. The latter is supposedly helping him, but wizard’s help is not always what it you think it will be.
Book Plug Friday — the Saga continues
There is an old saying about how if you want to make G-d laugh you should tell Him your plans. This goes doubly so, with cheese and fries on the side, if you tell Him your predictions, particularly when your predictions are for what lies ahead for ebooks and ebook marketing.
We’re both old enough to remember when Amazon was a passing fad. It wasn’t so long ago all the bien-pensants were talking about how it would never sell more than “a bookstore in Manhattan” and also how much people loved — just loved — the smell of books. [If this is true, why don't they sell book-smell in a can? Inquiring Sarahs would like to know.]
Then Amazon brought out a kindle that didn’t look like it was drowning in green, and … and the rest is history.
As people who are in the thick of it — very thick at times — we both can get immersed in our stuff and become a wee-bit dense — we can tell you that the prediction thing routinely baffles us and that the ebook/indie book business takes turns on a dime that leaves us going “What, we must have a paper edition to sell the e-book at decent levels?” or “What do you mean if I double my prices I’ll sell better per unit?”
So in no particular order here are the predictions that baffled us or amused us the most.
– Publishers create or license their own e-reading apps: Bluefire, the white-label e-reading app company, is gathering more and more clients as more companies want to engage with readers outside of the Amazon, AppleAAPL -1.41%, Barnes & Noble and Kobo ecosystems.
– Amazon starts playing nice with publishers: This prediction directly contradicted other assertions in the article and while interesting just didn’t seem likely given Amazon’s current relationship with publishers and its overall historical business practices.
The first one utterly puzzles us. Unless we’re reading it wrong (possible) the person who wrote this must have had a severe blow to the head. No, seriously. If anything we think we’ll go towards a more open ap, not an ap-licensed-by-publisher. The only publisher I can think of who could get away with that is Baen, because they have such a dedicated readership. The other guys? Oh, please. I just bought three ebooks today (all research, but some days it’s novels.) They’re from three different publishers. Do I want to juggle all those aps? Please. I just want to read the book.
As for Amazon playing nice with the publishers… why would they? They have those people over the barrel
Oh, they also predict that switch to phones or tablets means … fewer… ebooks sold… WHAT? Both of us have friends (and occasionally ourselves) who read mostly on phones or tablets.
2. Amazon will go the way of Barnes & Noble… and open its own physical stores in 2014.
Amazon dabbled in physical retail over the past few years, opening up several locations where customers could have orders shipped to storage lockers for easy pick up. Retailers like Staples and RadioShack rented Amazon the space, reasoning that it would help generate foot traffic. When executives at some of these physical retailers realized that it wasn’t helping them, they gave Amazon the boot.
The company also opened up a pop-up store in the middle of a mall in San Francisco. Clearly not meant to be permanent, the store recently closed. But Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos has long been in favor of having a physical presence.
“Bezos and colleagues have always said they’ve considered physical locations, but that it would have to meet their requirements for return on invested capital,” said Stone.
Hello, 2004! No? Why not? It’s when people kept saying that brick and mortars would win out over this e-shopping thing. We don’t know. Maybe it will work this way in some really large markets like NYC and LA, but elsewhere… we’re just not feeling it.
7. More publishers will launch magazines and websites catering to reader interests and start selling ebooks directly to customers.
Some publishers have already started down this road. To name a few: Earlier this year, Simon & Schuster launched a romance-focused multi-platform online portal called Hot Bed; vertical publisher Demos Health has publicly eschewed traditional marketing and poured resources into a new health-focused portal; and F+W Media is deeply invested in this strategy, as mentioned above.
“Publishers are going to find they have content around which to publish magazines and websites,” said Shatzkin.
Maybe. Thing is the people predicting this seem to be completely unaware that most publishers have TRIED this to a resounding fail. Maybe it will succeed now, but we doubt it. Again, the mistake here is thinking the reader loyalty is towards the publisher. It isn’t. It’s towards the author when it’s towards anyone. Publishers (Other than Baen, always) who think they can count on loyalty to their brand will find they don’t have a brand and will get burned.
And that’s our predictions on their predictions. Our other predictions is that for good and bad 2014 will rock your reading world.
Administrivia: We have just a few books this week, in part because I used up a lot of late entries last week to get a special offer through. But another reason is that even though we send the guidelines out with each and every email to email@example.com, we still get submissions that don’t have what we need. Here’s the list:
- The TITLE of the book. Don’t make me look for it.
- The AUTHOR’S NAME. If you’re using a pen name, this is doubly important.
- The BLURB. I should probably do something more on effective blurbs, like for example hooks, but for now, remember, the soul of wit is brevity. Even War and Pease can be described in a couple of sentences.
- The AMAZON LINK. Notice what that says: AMAZON LINK. Notice what it doesn’t say: It doesn’t say “link to your promo website”, it doesn’t say “link to your publisher’s website”, it doesn’t say “link to a cute cat picture”, it doesn’t even say “link to CreateSpace.” It says AMAZON LINK. If it doesn’t have an AMAZON LINK it doesn’t get plugged.
So remember, if you want a free book plug, send TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Althea Morelon, highest child of the anarchic world of Hope, has returned from Eridanus cluster. The Loioc have infected her with a self-replicating nanite that destroys the sentience potential of male zygotes, filling her with a lust for vengeance. But she has more to cope with than a nanite infection.
Interclan warfare has broken out on Hope. Though Althea must remain on the Relic, the orbiting husk of the planetoid-ship that ferried the original Spoonerites from Earth to Hope, until she’s certain she’s free of the Loioc nanite, only she can save her kin from subjugation. And there’s more and worse to come.
The State is rising again.
Freedom’s Fury, the third volume of the Spooner Federation saga, completes the tale of struggle and survival begun in Which Art In Hope and continued in Freedom’s Scion.
The Silent Saga: Desolate is the first chapter of an adventure saga that tells the story of the last survivors of an all out assault on the universe by a powerful enemy. Nobody knows who is responsible only that the universe was silenced and the colonies of Mandrania are thrown into disarray as they blame each other. The Silent Saga delivers old style action and clichéd fun with plenty of thrills.
[This is Sarah speaking] Yeats said when the center could not hold mere anarchy was loosed upon the world.
He was right and wrong. Sometimes the apocalypse is just the beginning looked at upside down.
So – when I first got into this writing thing, I was told, hold on fast, everything changes. But I don’t think any of my colleagues knew what change was. Certainly I didn’t.
Yes, yes, the writing field was a permanently moving whirligig, with everything changing constantly, but squint a little and you’d see it was actually a fairly predictable merry go round. Just like in a good merry go round, you’d have the impression of constant change, but it was only the same scenery viewing now from up, now from down: publishers came up; publishers failed. Light and shadows played differently depending to where you, personally, were in your career. And things might change depending on new stores opening or consolidating.
Mind you, throughout all this real change was taking place. The publisher consolidation of the eighties, which left us with only six big houses which gave discounts to the big chains (because they were easier to deal with) led to the indie bookstore die-off of the early nineties and actually made possible the push model of the late nineties and early oughts, where the houses dictated what appeared on the shelves and what the consumer might want or not meant nothing.
But from the perspective of the writer-on-the-ground nothing much had changed since the seventies, not even the advances. You wrote the book the same way (okay, you used a computer, but you still printed it in more or less the same format your mom would have done, if your mom were a writer), you submitted the same way, things moved in mysterious ways, you got accepted or rejected, and it sold or not, which dictated how your career went on or didn’t.
Writers that had broken in as many as twenty years before me were still reliable sources of advice on which conventions to attend, which editors to schmooze, and how to improve your standing…
And then came the indie revolution. Just like with learning punctuation, I sort of missed it. I stayed home that day from school – for the punctuation I mean – yes, every day for every one of the seven languages I learned. Deal. It’s a curse.
For indie, I was busy writing novels, which is like staying home from school but with less Ovaltine and more swearing and typing. So it took me a long long time to figure out something was different, and I might not have realized something was wrong, if I hadn’t needed to part with my agent and therefore contacted Kristine Kathryn Rusch and she told me what had been going on while I was furiously typing.
However, this was three (four?) years ago, and even with my level of novel-blindness, I think by now I’d have noticed something was different.
Here are the signs that something has fundamentally shifted in the writing profession. 2013 was the year that:
- I know more people who self-publish and are making a living wage (or close to it) than I know people who traditionally publish and are making a living wage.
- the standards expected of indie writers as to covers, etc. fully matches that expected of traditional publishing.
- People who were previously traditionally published talk openly about publishing their old works.
- Most of my professionally published friends are also indie publishing.
- It used to be when professional writers got together we talked taxes. Now we talk indie publishing, equipment, covers AND whatever the heck is the then current glitch with Amazon/Kobo/Barnes and Noble/Smashwords. Then we talk how to get around it.
- Writers are becoming more gregarious – this is slow. The traditional model put us all in competition with each other for a half dozen slots. The indie model rewards vast, freely cooperative networks who voluntarily exchange information and expertise. As slow as the change is, 2013 was when I noticed that a lot of my colleagues were being a lot more friendly and a lot less concerned about what the big houses would think of their friendships/circle.
- Fans acted like it was odd that I didn’t have a selling table for my indie works at a con. They literally don’t know how to find you/what to do, if you don’t have a selling table as an author.
This is upside down from a few years ago, when people with tables were rank newbies.
The poet was wrong, when he talked about how “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” Yes, everything is changing. Yes, a lot of it is unpredictable. But there is nothing “mere” about this anarchy. It is, on the contrary, glorious!
Authors: in general, the deadline for book plugs is Tuesday of the PRECEDING week. Last week and this week were light, and I happened to notice this one had a promotion going, but don’t bet on this working every time.
Elizabeth von Sarmas – a woman almost as impossible as her white mule.
King Laurence V of Frankonia intends to consign his problem to a convent. But Elizabeth has a different calling, despite her minders’ best efforts. Determined to put her talents to use, she and Snowy the Mule flee to the Eastern Empire. All she has to do is survive crossing half the continent, persuade someone to believe in her, navigate the imperial court, and outwit holy warriors who kill any woman they capture.
But Elizabeth comes from tough and sturdy stock. The planetary colonization company that abandoned ColPlat XI assumed everyone had died. Four hundred years later, King Laurence assumes that a gently reared young woman will obey. They are both in for a surprise.
The first novel in the four book series, The Chronicles of Colplatschki.
Tri-Time is a sci-fi adventure with elements of suspense. Atliy, short for Atlanta, is a; highly intelligent, wise, and quick-thinking eleven yr old girl. Atliy befriends Augey who is; comedic, loyal, and a bit cowardly. Towards the beginning of the book, weird weather occurrences begin to happen. Thresholds start appearing all over the earth and weird-looking shades of lighting cover the sky. Atliy and Augey set out to figure out what is happening. Soon enough they are greeted by a strange, quirky girl named Zinky, who seems to know more about the situation than she is letting on. It becomes increasingly evident that the cosmos could be in immense danger. Atliy, Augey, and Zinky are thrown into an adventure where they must save the cosmos from what Atliy determines is a Tri-Time. A Tri-Time is when three times begin elapsing over themselves. Will these brave girls save the cosmos? Or will all life get sucked up into a super black hole, dense beyond imagination?
The Adventure Begins! A mysterious Uncle relates to his young nephew the amazing tale of Danny Green. Danny is an otherwise ordinary eleven year old boy from Brooklyn who discovers a long-lost secret formula that grants him incredible superhuman abilities. To Danny, this is the most awesome thing that has ever happened to anybody. But this ultimate dream-come-true begins to turn into a nightmare, as Danny must contend with well-connected class bullies, hostile media, and the sinister organization that is attempting to seize the formula for its own nefarious purposes. All this, while keeping his identity safe from his annoying and nosy little sister! Will Danny have what it takes to overcome these challenges, as well as a terrorist threat that threatens to flatten Manhattan? Or will the forces arrayed against him prove too much for his inexperience to overcome?
An engaging protagonist, interesting characters, lots of conspiracies and super-powered people with all the foibles and character flaws of non-super-powered people. The book is a page-turner, which is good because it’s almost 500 pages long! Be prepared to sacrifice at least one day to it. You won’t regret it!
Lyllith, the last of the royal line of Érainn, has become the prisoner of Riv Orrsa, the ruthless man who conquered her kingdom and murdered her father. The choice she faces—becoming Riv Orrsa’s wife or death—is no choice at all.
But when a strange young boy appears in her barren cell one night, Lyllith is offered a chance at the only thing still worth living for: revenge. Accepting that chance plunges her into the middle of a contest thousands of years in the making, for the young boy is not what he seems, her new freedom is illusory, and she is the unwitting heir to an ancient legacy will the power to destroy the World.
Just when Dr. Kayara Ingham thinks she has finally escaped her dark past, a mysterious figure who calls himself an Architect of Lore enters her life. The renowned immunologist’s ordered world is thrown into chaos as she finds out not only are the things that go bump in the night real, but they want her. Kayara must learn to cope with this new reality while hoping her darkest secret does not come to light: she dreams of the future.
Since its inception, the Confederation Fleet has been divided between the Line and Carrier factions. In the year 3050, the battlecruiser Constitution has been designed to merge the best of both worlds. With an experienced captain but untested crew, the vessel is unexpectedly called upon to save the passenger liner Titanic from a new and pressing threat.
An Unproven Concept is based upon the short story “On Their Behalf,” a quarterfinalist (3 / 2004) in the “L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future” Science Fiction Contest.”
Haunted by the loss of his wife and young daughter, reclusive ex-cop Sam Carlisle is offered a job working for wealthy businessman Carl Renshaw. An opportunity to move on and make a fresh start. But when Carl is murdered, the police suspect Sam is responsible, forcing him to hunt down the real killer himself.
Only someone doesn’t want Sam Carlisle finding out the truth…
Blurb: When retired war veteran Geoffrey Compton is found dead in his home, all the evidence points to suicide. However, his son Benjamin suspects there was more to the death and hires maverick ex-cop Sam Carlisle to investigate. Sam discovers a number of Geoffrey’s old acquaintances have also passed away recently in suspicious circumstances, leading him to believe somebody is exacting revenge on these people, snuffing out their lives in the most calculating manner. To prevent more fatalities, Sam must trawl the past and find the cause of this twisted retribution, putting himself on collision course with the elusive figure responsible.
There is an old Victorian house posing as an office in “The Burned-Over District.” In that office, a giant, a waif, and a child wait for someone who can be shown the true nature of the world.
John is a man with a talent to see what is not there, or, at least, what was not there until that fateful day when a want-ad caught his eye and sent him into the depths of the woods… into the periphery.
This is Sarah. Charlie is doing the links again. (Thank you Charlie.)
Recently someone at my blog accidentally put words into my mouth. He must have remembered an old comment of mine about people being “professional” writers.
I must explain here, that “professional” in the old sense meant qualifying for membership in SFWA – science fiction writers of America – which almost the entire time I was involved in it required either 3 short stories at professional rates (I don’t know if those have changed from six cents a word) or a novel at a professional advance (last heard of that was three thousand, but it might be lower now.)
That used to be the threshold to be technically considered a professional in science fiction and fantasy. Mystery had similar rules, and I think so did Romance, though I only had an RWA membership for about a year.
Anyway, my reader conflated this with my having said that a writer was someone who had sold at least three stories.
I don’t know. I can see where defining the term was necessary back when people had to sort of move up through the classifications and the established field. It was necessary not for you, but for publishers and others to know where to place you. When a magazine said, for instance, that it was only open to “published” authors, it was assumed that anyone who’d sold to a magazine that paid in copies could apply (and would.) If they said “professionally published” then they would get everyone who had sold a story at six cents or more. And if they said to professional authors, then you assumed you had to be SFWA qualifying.
This had absolutely nothing to do with whether you were a writer or not. That was solved for me when Dan and I were applying to rent our first house almost 28 years ago. We’d talked to our potential landlord for a while – he was about our age. We were 22. Yes, they let children marry in those days (shud up) – and had found a mutual interest in science fiction, and I’d mentioned I was trying to sell the stuff.
When we were filling the application, I put down I didn’t have a job (which at the time was true.) He said “But you’re writing a novel.” So he crossed that out and put down “Writer.”
I tried to explain I hadn’t sold anything, I might never sell anything, and he said “If you’re writing and you’re serious about it, you’re a writer. Never mind the rest.”
In these days of indie publishing when the notion of “sales” is slippery – are you a sold writer if your first story out-sells five copies? Or when, like my friend, Cedar Sanderson, they’re well on their way to selling enough of a book to gather a medium sized advance over the next few months? What do you call someone who has a book out with a small press for a year and suddenly, out of the blue, sells 8000 copies or so, like my friend Ellie Ferguson? Was she a professional before, or only after she got all that money? She had done the work before selling! Years before!
For organizations like SFWA this is simple enough. You are not published unless license your copyright to a third party who pays you the prescribed amount and then publishes the book. Old-style writers adhere to this too, and it drives me nuts to be on panels with them. I’ll want to shake them and shout “you do realize these people you’re sneering at are making three times what you make per book?” I’ll never forget being at a panel at Fencon in which someone who sold his books for $1500 a piece to a small press was sneering at “self published people” while the late Ric Locke, in the back of the room, meekly took it – even though at the time he had already made ten times that from his self-published book. It was one of those moments when I felt embarrassed for my colleagues.
Okay – some people will keep holding on to the old definitions of what makes you a writer, but are you obligated to care? Not so far as I can see!
You are a writer if you are working at being one. Whether it’s your main job or not. If this is what you want to do, do it. (Of course, just talking about it and not doing it won’t work. Also, it will get me upset at you and no one wants that.)
But other than trying not to delude yourself – go for it. You want to be a writer? Be a writer. Don’t wait for anyone’s permission. (This actually applies to everything else that requires application, effort and learning. You want to do it, do it. You’re not getting any younger, you know?)
Send an email to email@example.com for guidelines, which include the suggestion that you send AUTHOR, TITLE, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK. These are mandatory suggestions.
A sardonic, hilarious short-story length account of jury duty in downtown Los Angeles. The author has the sad task of hanging a jury on a Friday afternoon, thereby ensuring that all jurors will have to show up on the following Monday. From the Amazon page: “JP Mac and eleven of his peers must sift conflicting tales to uncover justice in this short essay by an Emmy Award-winning animation scribe. Mac and the others struggle as they balance their interrupted lives with the task of deciding a man’s fate.”
Life was never easy out in the Methuselah Cluster, the most remote region humanity ever settled, but when her alcoholic father found her a ‘job’ while he went off-planet to look for work for a ‘few months’, 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn just how ugly it could get. Within the year, her employers sold her to a brutal slaver captain, who took from her the last thing she owned: her name.
Most girls in Kris’s position last a year or two. The strong ones might last four. Kris survived for eight before she was set free, thanks to the Nereidian League Navy.
Unfortunately, eight years growing up in Hell prepared Kris for nearly everything but freedom, and her new life isn’t at all what she imagined. Not only must she find her way in a bewildering society full of bizarre rules, but the very people who rescued her think she’s a terrorist plant, a beautiful interstellar celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and now someone is trying to kill her.
But Kris hasn’t stayed alive by respecting boundaries or obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it’s like to collide with someone who has no concept of a no-win scenario.
The Alecto Initiative is the gripping story of an extraordinary young woman forced to come of age while looking Death in the eye. It is the powerful and thought-provoking beginning to a new science-fiction series unlike any you have ever read
Akashi and Kanto are twin brothers, born to a role as samurai in the proud and ancient Kusunoki family. Strange events, however, reveal that Akashi can manipulate the forbidden magic of the tama. This ability brands Akashi as shinobi, one of the hidden ones the samurai are sworn to destroy. He is forced to flee to keep his own family from executing him.
The brothers pursue very different paths, one as samurai and the other as shinobi. Civil war among the samurai, however, brings the brothers to the same battlefield. There, Akashi learns that sinister barbarians, intent on conquest, have been manipulating the samurai toward destroying themselves. Both young men will have to make choices between their competing loyalties, with the fate of a nation and its people at stake.
As most of you know, here in Colorado we’ve been virtually fast-frozen this last week. This doesn’t make us all that much different from the rest of the country. My friends in Texas are also under ice.
This is Sarah, though if Charlie wants to add his own favorites, it might make this even more interesting. And now — with more interest!
I’m not someone who deals well with cold. In fact, you could say I deal very badly with cold. It makes me cranky and short tempered and it makes me feel hard-done-by. When snow and ice make it hard for me to take my daily walk, it gets worse. So…
This is when I turn to comfort stuff. Comfort foods, surely, sitting under the blanket with my husband and drinking (no sugar) hot chocolate, say. Most of my other comfort foods are now barred to me, by my attempts at low carb.
Fortunately in addition to comfort foods, I have comfort books, and even comfort movies, which come calorie free.
You know comfort books as well as I do — they’re the reads you turn to when you’re too tired, too nervous, too out of it to read something new. Going back to them is like greeting old friends, like pulling that blanket over you.
These are not the sum total of my comfort reads, and some of them, to be honest, are also guilty pleasures. Most of them I encountered at the latest in my teens, though Heyer I discovered in my thirties. And this is a different list from my summer “comfort reads” and “comfort movies” though I couldn’t define the difference for you.
In no particular order, here are a few of my favorite (Winter) things:
Pride and Prejudice, both the book and the A & E mini-series. Yes, I know, women in Jane Austen’s time had it tough, and even the gentry lived worse than the poor today, in many significant ways. But this novel/series, while not being total fantasy is not unduly realistic, and it allows me to escape to a time far away where true love (and correct behavior) bring their own reward.
And speaking of true love, yep, I’m a geek girl. I like The Princess Bride so much that my kids can shout the lines along with me. The same goes for Galaxy Quest. Both are goofy and fun, and leave you smiling. (Well, they leave me smiling at any rate.)
When I have time — not this year — I find great comfort in sitting by the fireplace (or the heater) with The Three Musketeers, Twenty Years After and the much inferior (but more historically accurate) Vicomte de Bragelonne.
Other winter favorites — sort of like candy canes and chocolate chip cookies I can’t have — are The Harlequin Tea Set and other Stories by Agatha Christie, Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle by Georgette Heyer, Methuselah’s Children by Robert A. Heinlein, and Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett.
Of course, I’m always adding to my list of favorites and comfort reads. You probably are too. Maybe one of the books below will become one of your perennial favorites.
[Charlie here:] Honestly, between the cataracts and professional reading I don’t have a lot of time or eyesight to fall back on the old favorites recently. When I do though, there are a bunch of things you’d think I’d have memorized (and practically do — cue me with a random page of Stranger in a Strange Land), but when I want something familiar and comforting to read, I probably go first to the Horatio Hornblower series by C.S. Forester; Robert A Heinlein, especially the so-called Heinlein juveniles, which did so much to shape my childhood; the James Bond books by Ian Fleming (and not the modernized successors, which vary from readable to execrable); and Nero Wolfe.
When a dragon loses part of his horde, mending his heart may cost more than the Cat can bear.
Christmas at the Drachenburg will be bleak indeed unless Rada Ni Drako can break through her old friend Joschka’s terrible grief. But the Drachenburg family’s pain may shatter Rada’s still-healing heart. Or it may teach her a lesson about love.
A Cat Among Dragons short story.
Great Ward is now Crumbling, after 3,000 years of peace. Two unstoppable enemies prepare to invade … and blue frog magic is almost gone.
Now comes the death of a very uncommon acolyte, revealing centuries of secrets when the wizard Vorin investigates why she died… reopening an ageless war between himself and the ever-grasping Order she joined.
If he fails, his magic will be gone forever and East Thumb Peninsula will be lost. If he wins, and entire society must change.
Taking it Back: A Path to Freedom is an allegorical novel that echoes some of the ongoing events currently unfolding in the United States. It is meant to be a gesture of support for all the liberty lovers who, in the trenches today, are bravely working to ensure that there will be a land of the free tomorrow. I hope you enjoy it.
Diversity of voice has nothing to do with how well you tan.
Today I [this is Sarah. It wouldn’t be fair to let Charlie take responsibility for my sins] am not in the best of moods. I’m certainly not in the best of moods for suffering idiots gladly. Or, indeed, at all.
While I, like every other writer ever born, call a nice snowy, gloomy day the perfect writing weather, there is something about single digit temperatures that just gets on my nerves. For one, they prevent me from going for walks. Which means they leave me stuck at home, reading the blathering of fools.
In this case the new hotness of concerned fiction – at least science fiction – writers to debate is just how representative and gosh durned inclusive fiction in general and science fiction in particular should be.
It will surprise none of you who remember that SFWA went into convulsions over two elderly men referring to female writers as ladies and having the nerve to say one of them was beautiful, to find that the new hoo-ha originated in SFWA too.
See, SFWA wants to raise the rate that’s considered professional, but some people say this will limit diversity, because the publications that would be excluded are more likely to be minority. (This is by the way of being pernicious twaddle, btw. The publications that would be excluded are likely to be convoluted literary nonsense. Maybe that’s the new minority.)This has degenerated into a war where people agonize over how to get diversity into the field, and other people call them concern trolls. And those are just the ones I have on hand right now. All this makes me laugh like a hyena and then cry like a mourner.
Why cry? Because lost in all this is the fact that fiction is not a form of glorified social work. Fiction is not designed to make people understand or be more sensitive. We are not Maoists raising others’ consciousness. (Well, maybe some of those people are.)
Fiction is one thing only: entertainment. First of all you have to tell a story people want to read. An amusing enough, interesting enough story that people will pick that book up, pay good beer money for it, and not set it down till they’ve finished reading it.
The best compliment a writer can get is “You b*tch”(or b*stard, speaking of inclusiveness) “You kept me up all night reading this book.” It is not “I noticed you had statistically correct proportions of all minorities in this book.”
And if your main concern is making sure you collect one of each minority, including the rare one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbian, I find it highly unlikely you have any brain left over to actually entertain me. (Unless it’s with your contortions to find a yet more obscure minority.)
You know what the real “diversity fail” is? It’s being so afraid of stepping out of the PC iron maiden that you write exactly like everyone else. Which makes me think of Reiner Kunze’s lines “The trees grow top on top…. To the wind, they all whisper the same.”
A field that is tearing itself apart over whether its works are diverse and representative enough is a field that has lost touch with the fact that it’s a business.
Very few readers read for “someone my color” in the story, and those that do might be a very, very boutique market not worth pursuing.
Hook them with a fun story first, and think about that above all. Then bring up the plight of One Legged Samoan Transsexual Lesbians. Because at that point it’s your hobby, and who cares? Also you stand a better chance of being heard. Books left unread can push all the agendas they want. No one reads them.
And then they wonder why indies are eating their lunch (and dinner, and midday snack, too.)
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for guidelines, which include the suggestion that you send AUTHOR, TITLE, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK. These are mandatory suggestions.
Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…
“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”
“To those of you who thought there was nothing new worth reading in Fantasy: Pixie Noir proves that you are wrong. The pace picks up throughout, so save this book for a weekend, or you’ll be complaining about a lack of sleep at work. A very good read!”
– Dave Freer, author of Dog and Dragon
“The unlikely love child of Monster Hunter International and the Princess Bride, this book … is unalloyed fun all the way.”
– Sarah A. Hoyt, author of Darkship Thieves
“If Dashiel Hammett, Larry Corriea and Jim Butcher had a love child, it would be Pixie Noir. A wonderful mix of mystery and fantasy with just the right touch of noir.”
– Amanda S. Green, author of Nocturnal Origins
Genetic engineering.The medical miracle of the twenty-first century.
First they cured the genetic diseases.
Then they selected for the best natural traits.
Then they made completely artificial genes.
As the test children reached puberty, abilities that had always been lost in the random background noise were suddenly obvious.
At first their creators sought to strengthen these traits.
Then they began to fear them.
They called them gods, and made them slaves.
Seth Rogan was a sh*tty spy. Actually, he wasn’t a spy at all. Just a guy trying to do the right thing. As a biologist for the largest biotech company in the world, he had a great job, and thoroughly enjoyed all the perks. But when asked to do some tests on the company’s genetically engineered foods, he became entangled in a trail of corruption and fraud that he wanted no part of, but could not escape from. In a story so true to life it could almost be from today’s newspapers, Seth, having bit the hand who fed him, is on the run from them, and the full overreaching strength of the United States government as a fugitive, who finds temporary refuge with an old enemy of the U.S. But his peace is about to be broken as he finds himself in the role of an involuntary spy.
Undone By Fate’s Hand tells the story of a Polish soldier who having survived Napoleon’s invasion of Russia, returns to Paris to find his brother’s murderer. After reluctantly agreeing to undertake a secret mission for the exiled Emperor, he finds life and missions complicated by an extraordinary Englishwoman.
In the autumn of 1966 NYC guitarist Jimmy James arrived in London with his guitar and $30 he had borrowed from a friend. Four fast years later he died there as Jimi Hendrix. Jimi Hendrix London is the story of how Jimi Hendrix and pyschedelic London shaped each other told by poet and journalist William Saunders.
This was the best of summer vacations and it was stacking up to be the worst of summer vacations. When Jackie’s dream of having a horse of her own came true, she wasn’t prepared for the reality. Charlie was far from the perfect horse she had envisioned. He had a mind of his own and a will that was stronger than hers. Vet exam? Disaster! Trail rides? Disaster! Sleepy summer days? Disaster! She was dragged and dumped and desperate. As Charlie left Jackie in the dust, she chased after him, watching his tail disappear down the road but couldn’t keep him trotting during a riding lesson. He was cute, and charming, and knew more about riding than she did. It was less a matter of her putting up with him and more about how Charlie put up with her as Jackie struggled to become a horsewoman worthy of Charlie. In this battle of wills, who will win?
(middle reader/tween book 9-12 years of age)
Two girls plus two horses plus an entire summer equal…you do the math. Hint: enough calamity and escapades to exhaust a normal person. But Nicki and Wynne are far from average girls. Nicki and Wynne share a love of horses but not of adventure. Nicki finds herself being dragged by the strong-willed Wynne on trail-rides through thunderstorms, pig chases, hunts and a horse show with an escaped pony determined to find her stablemate even if he’s busy jumping on the outside course.
Afraid of nothing and glued to her saddle, Wynne wants to turn Nicki into a real rider and find a boyfriend for her single mother. Can anyone resist a force of nature? By the end of the summer, Nicki has the answer but will she have a horse of her own.
(middle reader/tween book 9-12 years of age)
BLURBThe story of a young soldier in the U.S. Army’s 36th Infantry Division who is sent in to join his unit as it fights its way up the Italian Peninsula, then up through France to the very doorstep of Germany. Transforming along the way from naïve small-town boy to a seasoned combat veteran, he finds himself not only battling enemy troops, but also, after the tragic death of his best friend, his own demons of guilt and self-doubt.
Trollopean clerics, comic peers with hidden depths, the villagers of a thousand cosy English novels … but in a very modern world: our own. The Woolfonts are the prettiest and most placid villages in England. All they’re wanting is a new rector. They get him; and, with him, sudden crises, deaths, arson, attempted murder, in which the new rector becomes a leader and an example, as sacrifice and grace play out between the village fête and the poppies of Remembrance Sunday.
1937 was the year of Guernica and the New London School explosion, of landmarks for Wittgenstein, Bohr, and Eliot; the year the Golden Gate Bridge was completed, Disney’s Snow White premiered, and Tolkien published The Hobbit. The Ohio River flooded, Buchenwald opened, George VI was crowned, World War Two began in China, Nanking was raped, and FDR got his head handed him by Congress, bipartisanly. It was a year of portent, of sign and omen; and it is recounted and its subtleties traced by the celebrated historians of the Titanic enquiries, Churchill’s 1940 triumph, and Congress’ 1941 war preparations. Here is history in the grand manner.
This being thanksgiving, we decided it was appropriate for me (Sarah) to make a list of things indie writers have to be thankful for.
Having thought long and deeply, only one thing came up: I’m thankful that the chance to indie-publish has allowed me to take charge of my own career.
It used to be that writers only had control of how well they wrote their book and when they delivered it. After that, all of it was out of their control: cover, publicity, whether the book came out in a format or the other. Of course all those things affected how the book sold, but the writers’ role was only in the writing.
If everything went well – and sometimes it did, such as when Baen published Darkship Thieves – the writer was left grateful and humbled by how much work was put in on behalf of her book.
But if things didn’t go well – and they often didn’t – the writer was left with the feeling he’d handed in his baby to be killed by a cruel stranger.
Worse, the writer, having spent a year or ten writing his book, was left to hope that a publisher would buy it, so that it could – eventually – see the light of day in more tangible form and so that other people could – eventually – read it.
This meant that if the writer wrote a book, no matter how close to the writer’s heart, no matter how beautifully executed, no matter how important, if it didn’t catch the eye – or fit the publishing schedule – of one of six publishing houses, there was a good chance no one would ever know it existed. Self publication was not really an option for wide distribution. Sure, it happened now and then, but most of the time self-publication only allowed maybe a hundred people to read it.
All of this might seem not that different from today – and yet, what a difference there is.
By putting an ebook out with Amazon – and Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, and Kobo and ibooks, and all the others – you’re putting your book in the same marketplace accessed by the big six. You stand as good a chance of being discovered.
Better still, you are in control of how your book appears as it goes before readers.
Oh, sure, if you can have a good relationship with a traditional publisher – such as mine with Baen – it is still preferable to doing all the work yourself. But that book that doesn’t quite fit your traditional publisher’s taste? The sudden, wild fling with police procedural or YA? You can do it. And people will read it. The old back-list that was doing nothing? You can put it out and this time give it the look you want.
Even if it didn’t bring much money, the limitless possibilities of indie publishing would be worth it. But there is money too – at least for me – in the form of a steadily growing trickle.
And for this I’m very thankful.
I’m also thankful for the many books out there which I’d otherwise never get to read. And below are some indie books that you might like to read.
This book of poetry has silly rhymes, some questing questions and even a reference to Monty Python, but only one because more would be silly. Come enjoy a hunter dance towards his prey, insanity brought on by certainty, and the love of nature, a wife, and a little dragon statue.
Great Ward is now crumbling, after 3,000 years of peace,. Two unstoppable enemies prepare to invade…and blue frog magic is almost gone.
Now comes the death of a very uncommon acolyte, revealing centuries of secrets when the wizard Vorin investigates why she died…reopening an ageless war between himself and the ever-grasping Order she joined.
If he fails, his magic will be gone forever and East Thumb Peninsula will be lost. If he wins, an entire society must change.
Old ladies standing with their feet in the sea are the unlikely stars of Hazel Preller’s unique debut book – these old ladies are in fact those quintessentially British seaside piers, and all becomes clear when you start reading this delightful tale of how Hazel and Jay Preller met and fell in love on Weston-super-Mare’s Grand Pier and then endeavoured to have a kiss on the end of every pier in the UK. The pier kissing odyssey saw the couple travel over 7000 miles, visiting long, short, old and new piers, debunking a few myths and falling in love with piers too. They ended their journey, as only pier kissers can, with a wedding on Brighton Pier in 2010.
This fascinating and beautifully descriptive story with 30 black and white photographs taken by the author tells of the history and vital statistics of each of the sixty piers that they visited and is told with a delicious sense of humour. A wonderful history, mini tourist guide and love story all in one book will compel you to visit your nearest seaside status symbol and see it in an entirely new light!
The book is about a South African President and leader of the Azanian National Convention who has fallen out of favour with his political party and is about to be recalled from parliament.
In order to consolidate his grip on power, he employs the help of an African vampire called an Asasabonsam and strikes fear at the heart of his enemies and detractors.
The ebook is not for sale to persons under the age of 18 as it contains explicit scenes.
This week Kris Rusch is blogging about “discoverability” which she says is the new publishing industry buzzword. (And do read the whole thing, and bookmark her blog if you’re at all interested in publishing.)
The traditional publishers use this discoverability thing to lure new writers to their stables. “Come with us,” they say. “We’ll make you a star.”
We all know how that worked in the old movies, and let me tell you, it works pretty much for traditional publishing these days. As Kris puts it, doing a step by step analysis of the cost of advertising in various venues, and your chances of getting it if you’re a midlist writer and even if the traditional publishers are bringing you out in print, which isn’t always the case these days:
Sure, a publisher might spend that $1050 to advertise the latest book in a growing series, but that ad will be viewed by a few thousand readers instead of a couple million. (And that’s still one-fifth of that mid list advance.) Suddenly, the print/online ads seem less likely for a traditional published book, don’t they? Here’s something else to remember: It’s not that hard for an indie author to reach 6,000 readers, through Amazon or Good Reads or a dozen other venues, which traditional publishers badmouth or ignore. Then there’s the expectation side of advertising. Book publishers know that book ads are informational only. The ads do not increase sales at all. The publishers buy the ads to inform the consumer that a new book is out. The consumer must see references to that new book several times before the book ever makes an impact on a consumer’s consciousness.
Also, let me tell you unless you get an advance over 10k, you’re not likely to see even that much advertisement. Or even placement on shelves. In the good old days, when Amazon didn’t force the publishers’ hands, Sarah once had six books out in a year, with two major publishers without seeing a single copy on the shelves – ever.
Later on in the same article, Kris says that book reviews do matter, since they’re seen by booksellers. Which is why the smart indie publishers are now doing print titles and sending out review copies months in advance. They might not get on the shelves, but they have as good a chance as any.
What about the quality of self-published work? Oh, sure. We’ve seen some terrible stuff out there. But then we see some terrible stuff from the traditionals. [And don’t talk to me about the superior editing and copyediting of traditional publishing. As I bring out my books that reverted, I find I had to go over them line by line – and that the published version often introduced errors – I don’t want to go over them line by line, but I want to make sure my indie version is better than the “traditional” one-- S.A.H.]
Also, later on in the article, Kris says that as far as electronic publishing only, you get no advantage from traditional publishing. This is probably right. So, if you choose to go indie, make sure you put a good product out and feel no regrets. Also, of course, send your book plugs here. We’re all about the discoverability. If you don’t go over and read Kris’ article, I leave you with this sentence, which blew me away:
That assumption was true, back in the olden days, y’know, about five years ago.
She’s right. It’s changing that fast. That means, whether you’re going indie or not, you need to stay alert, move fast, and the odds of success are all in your hands. I don’t know, guys. It sounds like we’re braving into a new frontier and the future is ours to forge. You got to like that about a future.
[Charlie here.] It’s a light week this week, largely because of a number of submissions that lack the necessities of making a book plug. That is, the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK.
Of the four, the AMAZON LINK is most important. We don’t have any arrangements with iTunes or Barnes and Noble yet. “It’s available on Amazon” is not an AMAZON LINK. A link to CreateSpace is not an AMAZON LINK, even though CreateSpace is owned by Amazon.
For more detailed guidelines, explaining the we need the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK, send an email to email@example.com.
To submit a book to be plugged, send the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They gave up everything and now they have it all.
Follow them as they leave the working world behind and become carefree boat bums and beachcombers. Read how one couple got rid of all their belongings, quit their jobs, and moved onto a boat. This is a story of finding happiness in paradise through simplicity of life. It’s tales from tropical adventures. It’s a simple plan for financial freedom. It’s social commentary on the state of today’s society, sprinkled throughout with lyrics from the songs that inspired them.
Film blurs the line between myth and reality better than any other artistic medium, one could argue. Using movies to explore the unconscious realms of society in order to reach a better understanding of what drives it, this book examines filmmakers and films that center on schizophrenic themes of alienation, paranoia, breakdown, fantasy, dreams, dementia and violence, and that address–as entertainment–the schizophrenic experience. The loss of individual identity as reflected in the films is investigated, as well as the shamanic potential inherent in the broader theme.
The Port of Houston is the second-largest port in the United States as measured by cargo tonnage. It is also 50 miles from the sea. How did such an improbable location become such an important port? The answer lies at the intersection of geography and technology mixed with a bit of Texas brag.
Seasoned with 191 illustrations, The Port of Houston tells the story. Starting with a not-so-wide spot on Buffalo Bayou in 1836, it follows the growth of a minor river port into a shipping colossus. It is a tale worth exploring.
This is Sarah speaking – since this has been an odd and over-full week for both Charlie and me we agreed I’d do the introduction, and he’ll do the links. [Which is actually usually the way we do it. --C]
For me, I caught some sort of flu – though it seems not to be flu-flu, or else I have a very mild case, as I’m getting better after a few days – which for three or four days made me very tired, but not tired enough not to work – if that makes sense. Instead, I was just tired enough that I couldn’t write new stuff. (That part lasted almost a week, and I thought I’d just hit one of the patches of weird block, where I don’t have the strength to write the words even though I know what happens almost word per word.)
So I thought this was a good time to catch up with my publishing. I’m giving Draft2Digital a try. They’re a reseller who will put the book in Apple and Kobo, who are problems for different reasons: Apple because it requires you to have a Mac (and I don’t. Um… wonder if I could borrow Charlie’s and come up once a month to upload stuff) [Of course.] and Kobo because their interface is a right pain. Yes, I’ve heard about Draft2Digitals possible payment issues, and other horror stories, so I’m trying them, but keeping a close eye.
In the same way, I had a few books to upload to Smashwords, who were the original of these “reseller” ebusinesses.
Smashwords was the very first platform into which indie publishers could upload. As such, it started by educating a lot of people – and let’s face it, most writers are the least technical people on the planet – about how to put together an ebook.
This meant that their “how to” was a comprehensive manual about how to put an ebook together, including how many spaces you could have clumped together, and exactly how things should look.
Part of the reason for this was that – to make it easy for those non-technical writers – smashwords had a piece of software called “the meat grinder” which took your doc file and turned it into all the sorts of ebooks on the market.
The end result was fraught with errors and often baffling (half of one of my books because small caps for reasons known only to the gods of software) but it allowed people who were otherwise incapable of figuring their way into ebook format to put books up. And Smashwords placed it on all those other platforms too. It was push-button. And they added other platforms every day.
Times have changed. Times have changed a lot. Nowadays, needless to say, the big player is Amazon, with everyone else trailing. I hear All Romance does well for Romance, and I must say that Barnes and Noble is not bad for mystery (though it is for everything else.) Places like Amazon and Draft2Digital accumulate complaints and allegations they don’t pay properly and on time. Partly this is because it’s not very easy. My husband has written software to extract the numbers and correlate them and does the books for a couple of small publishers, but things change so fast, that every time he does it he has some puzzle in the numbers he encounters, which takes hours to resolve. And frankly, given the complexity, we don’t know if anyone else has that type of precise accounting software.
Part of it is that things change so fast. It’s the wild west. It’s the unknown frontier. So I’m trying Draft2Digital, and I still go through Smashwords for the more obscure ebook platforms: Sony and such.
But I only put stuff up there LONG after it’s gone up on Amazon and the others. And I often do it when I’m tired/burned out for anything else.
Which is how I found myself yelling at the screen when they said I’d made some mistake in my format, and quoted their manual at me. Even if I had read their manual, I wouldn’t have memorized it.
But I came to indie “late” and there were Amazon and Barnes and Noble, practically push button. The idea of having to read a manual seemed absurd.
And yet, Smashwords is stuck in the far distant past, three or four years ago, and doesn’t realize its elaborate manuals and its careful rules are things of the past. They were the cutting edge. Now they’re not. But they’re not aware of it.
If indie publishing is the wild west, Smashwords is the old, fastest gun slinger, who doesn’t realize the danger in the new kid in town.
But that doesn’t mean they can’t be relevant again tomorrow. All it would take is a change in interface and better up-to-the-minute accounting software. And it would happen.
The advantage of wild frontiers is that you can always reinvent yourself. Right now people are mining indie as writers, as editors, as artists, as publishers – and nothing is written in stone. Amazon is making all the right moves, but it could find itself dethroned tomorrow by some new kid in town with a brilliant idea and the right attitude.
Life on the cutting edge is tough – the edge cuts, and having cut moves on. But it’s also a land of endless possibilities, exciting and fraught with danger.
And for you (and us, who also read) the endless possibilities include discovering new writers – which Charlie and I hope to foster with the books below. Download a sample that sounds likely and give it a try. You never know. You might like this wild west of ours.
(Email email@example.com for submission guidelines, which don’t include a multipage contract in the middle of a chapter, but which also don’t include a fully-furnished dungeon in a penthouse apartment.)
When Porthos finds his pupil dead of poisoning, the four friends — Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan start investigating. Little do they know what the investigation will discover, and the past secrets that will reach out to shake Porthos.
Carmine LaRosa medically retired from the San Diego Police Department almost a year ago. So far, he hasn’t found anything to replace the thrill of police work until an old friend offers him a next to impossible job: find a local businessman that went missing after he sailed from the San Diego Yacht Club bound for Cabo San Lucas a week ago. Carmine takes the case but for reasons other than money, reasons he can’t tell anyone about.
During his investigation, Carmine discovers that a beautiful blonde bartender went missing in Las Vegas around the same time. A mysterious Russian lawyer with ties to the Las Vegas underworld hires him to find her. As both cases progress, a lot of people are suddenly very interested in the missing boat and the missing bartender.
The case takes Carmine from his dilapidated fixer-upper of a house in Pacific Beach to Cabo and Vegas then back, tracking down the boat, the businessman and the girl. As he gets closer to the solution, it’s obvious someone doesn’t want him to succeed, and will use deadly force to stop him.
Cobalt is a retired superhero—retired after the rest of his team was wiped out in an apocalyptic battle against their greatest enemy. Now someone is trying to kill him. But he knows that all his enemies are dead… or are they?
Cobalt also is the creation of Gary Vykk, whose amateur comic books kept him sane in school. But nothing can help him now, it seems, with his best friend marrying his ex-girlfriend and his father dying of cancer.
Both men are racing toward destruction, faster than a speeding bullet. Can our heroes be saved?
Rex MacFinster has gotten a windfall — the father of his foster mother has left him a mansion. MacFinster takes a loan and quits his job to dedicate himself to his life’s unfinished business, from appearing in a play to dating his high school sweetheart. But a nephew of the deceased millionaire wants that mansion, and will stop at nothing to get it.
George Darmowycz explains how being MacFinster’s best friend can lead to all kinds of things — a part in a musical about whaling, an attack by vicious watchpugs, a dash through the woods in someone else’s bedroom slippers, and a death-defying race in the Rolling Coffin of Doom.
Hilarious and fast-paced, MacFinster is the great suburban adventure of our times.
If you’ve avoided the prospect of marketing your product in the past, fear no more! In her book, 31 Days of Marketing, JP Jones unmasks thirty one different aspects of marketing that can be applied immediately — one day at a time. From press releases to public speaking you’ll glean the ‘how-tos’ you need without wading through a lot of confusing buzz words and trendy speech. For each marketing tactic, Jones shares practical advice and information in bite-size pieces for you to incorporate into your advertising strategies.
Pulling on her experiences and over 10 years in the ever-changing marketing landscape, JP shares openly about what works and what flops when it comes to successful promotion. Each chapter contains highlighted objectives and frequently asked questions to make the book an easy reference guide and great addition to your business library.
Hi, my name is Sarah and I’m a dual-mode writer. I write for both traditional (Baen books is publishing my Space Opera and my Shifters fantasy and maybe as soon as I find time to write it, some other stuff as well) and for indie. And I would try to quit but who has time for a twelve step program?
Okay — more seriously — I am writing a thirteen weeks series on how to market your writing both indie and traditional. In that series I mentioned the best thing to do is go dual, so that no matter how the market turns, you’re okay. This is important because we’re in a time of very fast change, and it could turn one way or another and give the advantage to a mode or another.
While this dual strategy might seem very logical and sensible — and is, in general — when you try to implement it, you need to be a little mad. My current endeavors involve finishing an overdue novel for Baen, finishing a novella for a friend’s indie anthology, editing a couple of old pieces for publication, researching for a mystery series that will definitely be indie, and looking at edits and page proofs for another half dozen projects. Oh, yeah, and supervising the cover art for a project nearing publication. Meanwhile last weekend was consumed on a workshop on how to do interior design for print books. (And if you wondered why I haven’t done the addenda to the thirteen week series — notably the one on covers and the one on how to write proposals, it’s because this week, for extreme-writer’s-life, I’ve also been dealing with repairs to our furnace during the first really cold week of the year. Yay.)
As for how things are going, in the indie and traditional side, this week brought me more reports of insane contracts (not by Baen) of course, on the traditional side, including no duty to report and no termination clauses and owning your copyright forever, and it brought innovations from Amazon for Indie: now you can do a count-down sale on your book (I wish they allowed it for things other than those in the select program) and the abolition of the price for premium distribution from Create Space.
So, do things look better on the indie side? To an extent. Or at least they keep improving.
Now if I could figure out what ibooks is saying about tables of contents and someone could start a middle-distributor site more clued in than smashwords, we’d be gold.
Coming soon, I’ll do my holiday sale, where I put up a new short story every five days and take it free, with links to for-sale stuff. Last year when I did this, it greatly boosted my earnings. I shall report on how it works this year.
Most of this at this point — my efforts and others, indie and traditional, are a matter of experimentation and trying new things. It’s a little scary. On the other hand, as the poster by my desk says “If you’re going to walk on thin ice, you might as well dance.” As in, it’s all new and unknown and scary, yes. Yes, it could all backfire and end up hurting you. But if you’re going to try it go for the gusto and do as much as you can as well as you can. Or as Robert A. Heinlein said “Surely the game is rigged; but don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.” Or “Everything in excess. To enjoy the flavor of life, take big bites. Moderation is for monks.”
And now, I shall get out of the way and let Charlie introduce this week’s featured indie books.
I’m going to slip in a little administrivia here. Remember that our deadline for any Friday is the Tuesday of the preceding week, that is, the shortest span between submitting a plug and it getting published is 9 days, and it might be as much as 15 days. There are a couple of writers here who sent in plugs saying “this book will be free on Friday” or something similar… and that Friday is long gone by now.
From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling.
Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.
Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”
Gwydion ap Don is a talented harpist, and a known rogue. But his Uncle Math sees something more: a young man with the magical talent to succeed him as Lord Gwynedd. But to learn magic, Gwydion will also have to learn self-control, duty, honor, and the martial arts. He’s not sure which will be the hardest. And when his training in magic begins in earnest, his whole world will change, as well as how he sees himself.
Based on the ancient Welsh myths from the Mabinogion, but set in the world of Cricket’s Song, this new series looks at one of the three great bards of Glencairck, Gwydion. But long before he became a great bard, he had to learn how to be a good man. This is the story of how his uncle tries to temper him into a leader, and a suitable heir.
April seems to make a habit of rescues. Now two lieutenants from the recent war appeal to her for help to reach Home. The secret they hold makes their escape doubtful. North America, the United States of North America, has been cheating on their treaty obligations and a public figure like April taking a very visible vacation there would be a good way to remind them of their obligations. Wouldn’t it? Her family and business associates all think it is a great idea. She can serve a public purpose and do her rescue on the sly too. But things get difficult enough, just getting back Home alive is going to be a challenge. It’s a good thing she has some help. Why does everything have to be so complicated?
Dangerous Curves Ahead
Working at many levels to recast today’s big political questions in a fresh lens, Conundrum grows from the psychological study of Ken, a Wall St. analyst cut down in a market crash, into a kind of meta-democratic polemic led in riotous dialog by the uniquely eloquent Sa.
The conversation, continued in A Stone of Conscience, is sharply revealing of our times and all the more disturbing behind its gossamer veil of the future. Their uncanny story will enchant you and leave you smiling with an enriched sense of the achievable. Go ahead, give these books your best read.
Larry gets thrown from the roof of his dormitory—but his troubles are just beginning.
Larry survives with the help of an advertising character—Whitewall, a pitchman actually made of tires—and discovers that a group of advertising mascots have come to life. There’s Mitts, an oven mitt; Sweety, a fairy who glazes children’s cereal; and others—some of whom are up to something sinister.
Where did they come from? What do they want? Larry discovers a conspiracy that springs from the actions of one of his college’s patrons—one that threatens his campus, and perhaps even the entire nation.
Larry and the Mascots is an intriguing adventure, full of action and heart, and is part of a complete breakfast.
How did I get to this point?
That’s the question asked by John, a real-estate entrepreneur facing ruin; by Doug, a young man whose broken heart is the least of his problems; and Jennifer, an obese girl who is forced to live with her estranged father. The fates of these characters are entwined with a piece of property that becomes political dynamite in their small town—and leads to an act of arson that could send innocent men to prison.
Complex, funny, and powerful, Faster & Closer is a story of hope, sacrifice, and redemption, a story that reminds us that life is coming at us faster than we think, and that love and loss are closer than we know.
Since the dawn of time, war has raged between man and the undead. From the valleys of the antediluvian world to the skyscrapers of the 21st century, the battlegrounds change but the crusade goes on. And Manhattan socialite Nicole Van Wyck has just joined the battle.
Nicole’s life of fancy parties, expensive restaurants and easy luxury is over. As an elder vampire’s search for the most powerful grimoire in the world — the Book of Thoth — nears the end, only Nicole and her fellow vampire hunters stand between the undead and the ruin of the greatest city on Earth.
Have you ever wondered, why things get so complicated? Are you tired of how even the simplest of tasks often become a huge undertaking? Well wonder no more. Rocket Science Made Easy is all about “Bringing Simple Back.” Rodney’s laid-back, humorous outlook on life gives us new hope to get rid of the complicated and simplify our lives. The short stories and quick reads allow us to take a step back and look with new eyes on how we can get back to the basics. Rodney is a great speaker and has a way of communicating to get the point across in a fun and heartfelt approach. We hope this book will leave you laughing, crying or scratching your head. But most of all, we hope you’ll say, “It’s Not Rocket Science… It’s Rocket Science Made Easy.”