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Free: 8 New Short Stories To Fire Up Your Imagination

Thursday, April 24th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

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Editor’s Note:  To learn more about the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island check out PJ Lifestyle’s ongoing series of author interviews and story excerpts. The first fifteen can be read in this collection here; the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth are herehere and here. Find out more about Liberty Island’s new writing contest here, running through the end of April. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.”

Here are links to eight new stories released this week across genres and styles: 

1. Karina Fabian: “Beautification Claws: From the Case Files of DragonEye, PI”

She stood on my doorstep wearing hot pink shorts and a blouse that looked like an art fair threw up. I almost breathed fire on her just to put her out of my misery. Nothing cures the aftermath of an ethanol binge like dragon-style pyrotechnics. But I played nice. After all, she might have a job for me, though with that artificially whitened smile, I doubted it. Her type didn’t have much use for dragon detectives.

2. Michael Sheldon: “Better than Fresh Apricots”

Two slender figures were approaching, each with a heavy canvas bundle–half her size and weight–strapped to her back. They were young, beautiful. The kind you expect to find shopping Fifth Avenue, not out here, alone, fishing in Grizzly Canyon.

3. Pierre Comtois: “There Are No Regrets in Skyview Towers”

Stoney Vander sighed as he gazed out over the towers of the aging Municiplex. It was an unusually clear day and he was not only able to see the massive foundations on which Skyview Tower and its neighbors had been built almost three centuries ago, but far in the distance, a hint of the green wild beyond, where civilization ended and unsupervised nature began. What was out there? Stoney wondered.

4. David Churchill Barrow: “A Soul Restored”

Color Sergeant Edmund Findlay Churchill, Company E, 18th Massachusetts, 3rd Brigade, 1st Division, V Corps, Army of the Potomac, was wondering why the hell the withdrawal from the battle lines had to be at 9:00 that night. He was tired — more bone weary than he’d been his whole life; and the last few years had been some life. It’s not like the march would be any big military secret. Everybody, up to and including the Johnnies, knew that they always pulled back behind some river to lick their wounds after taking a beating like that.

5. Ouisie: “GreenGro”

The Obama administration announced yesterday a series of sweeping regulations intended to improve the bottom lines of grocery stores and ensure the health of all Americans. The reforms are also widely expected to reduce the environmental impact of grocery stores and enhance multicultural awareness.

6. Paul Clayton: “2038: San Francisco Sojourn – The Wrath of God”

I never thought I’d meet God in person. Actually, I never thought much about him. Nobody did anymore, or mostly nobody. But one day it happened.

7. Mike Baron: “Free Gershwin”

Sully was on a Boy Scout camping trip in New Hampshire the first time he heard Rhapsody in Blue. It was after lights out, although the boys continued to giggle and pass a rubber rat from bag to bag. As they dropped off one by one into sleep, music floated in the rustic window from a counselor’s cabin, faint, mysterious, and overwhelming. Sully poked himself with his Boy Scout knife to stay awake for fifteen minutes after the performance, so he could learn the name of the piece.

8. Sabrina Chase: “Inscription”

I wish there were another way to do this. You didn’t have any warning and now I’ve changed your life, just by writing the words you are reading. Your situation won’t get much worse if you read the rest, though, so if you can do so without getting caught, I’ll try to explain. It might help you survive.

*****

image illustration via shutterstock / Linda Bucklin

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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

Friday, April 18th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
She was warned.  But this indie writer couldn't keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

She was warned. But this indie writer couldn’t keep from checking her figures and rank every five minutes!

No, no, no, this is not alluding to Glenn Reynold’s study of the education bubble.  What I’m talking about here are the various crazy making pitfalls that haunt the indie writer.

Mind you, it wasn’t all that easy to be a traditionally published author either.  This is Sarah, and I was traditionally published for over ten years before I first dipped toe into indie waters with a publishing company I control (Goldport Press) and the innards and numbers of which I could see moment to moment.

As … ah… interesting as my first publication experience was, I’m sure I must have driven my editor crazier than any other writer had driven her before.  I wanted to know moment to moment what they were doing to promote the book – turned out nothing, but she couldn’t tell me that, I guess – and also how the book was doing.  I don’t think she could tell me the latter if she wanted. Statements the traditional way involve some arcane sampling, a lot of relying on Nielsen’s, and, in the more scrupulously run places, a counting of what came in for which book. (In the big houses none of this is very accurate because the practices date back to the early century “estimated printruns” accounting.)

Anyway, they wouldn’t have any numbers for a good six months, maybe longer, and to ask for them must have driven the editor insane.

Fortunately in indie, at least with a company you control, or an editor who will put up with you asking often enough, there’s a lot of data coming in from the very first minute.

I discovered the fascination of checking my numbers when I first put up one of my backlist short stories. This is a short story whose rights had reverted to me, and I decided to see if it would sell – I forget what it was, but I THINK it was The Play and The Thing.

Anyway, I put it up, and started checking. Considering it made me $12 that first month, you may guess how slowly that ticker moved.  But I had to check and itemize the milestones.  “Ooh, ooh, first sale in England.”

Then I put up a lot more stories and there were still times of driving myself insane: for instance, when I had a freebie running, I kept checking to see how many I’d given away, and if it was budging the others at all.

It did make the other sales go up (I do put links to similar stories at the back of the book, mind.) Two years ago, from November through Jan. I was making $400 a month and kept checking to see it go up.

Then came the summer-of-sales-death, last year. Nothing moved. I mean, my income dipped down under $100 for a month.  And for a while there I thought it was going to be $12. I swear all the sales came in the last week.

Still, largely, I had it under control.  I made myself check only once a week.  Even then it was enough to worry me.  Take the month ONLY No Will but His sold until the twentieth.  I was wondering what the heck was wrong.

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

Until this month, when I put out Witchfinder, my first indie novel.  And then the checking every hour or so started.

It’s been okay – with minor hiccups – save for… after the fifteenth.  Honestly, if I weren’t also selling used books via Amazon (mostly the kids’ old textbooks but also some specialized research I bought years ago and will never touch again) I’d think there was something wrong with my books.  But no.  The sales on the used books dipped even lower than the ebook ones, and I had my first day (in two weeks, granted) of no sales, yesterday.

My husband says this is known of every businessman for the two weeks after taxes.  Who knew?

So – in the interest of saving you from going as crazy as I am, here are some rules for indie mind-space management.

1-      Yes, you could suddenly sell 100 copies in the next ten minutes.  But there’s nothing you can do to make them do so, and if you sell them or not, the result is the same without you watching the numbers.  Try to limit yourself to say early morning and late at night.

2-      Stop trying to interpret patterns in your sales.  That’s like reading tea leaves but less coherent.  Why is it that as I was doing a big push on Witchfinder, I suddenly started selling my little how-to booklet May You Write Interesting Books all across the outlets?  Who knows?  Maybe people read Witchfinder and it was wonderful and they want books on how to do that?  OTOH maybe a writers group with 40 people, somewhere in Kansas (or online and all over the country) discovered the booklet.  This stuff happens.  At any rate, I can’t influence it.

3-      Why does the first book in a series sell very well, the next sells okay, and the third one sells not at all.  Death of A Musketeer is a good seller every month; The Musketeer’s Seamstress sells pretty well; The Musketeer’s Apprentice sells not at all.  This puzzle is made more complex by the fact that the fourth book, The Musketeer’s Inheritance, is selling like crazy.  Yes, The Musketeer’s Apprentice has a bad review (for the Berkley version.  There was some… interesting editing).  But surely people who trust me with the other books would give it a chance?  Or did I go nuts and have a spelling mistake on the cover?  (It wouldn’t be the first time.)  If it does, I can’t see it, so maybe it is the fact that online selling, because of the huge market place involved (all the world) slips the bonds of logic to an extent.  It partakes the mechanics of a sand pile.  There might be a reason that grain moved and not that other, but the calculations would be infinitely complex.  As for knowing how to start an avalanche of sales; if anyone knew how, the big companies would be doing it.  So, stop checking the numbers and go write.

4-      You are human.  I keep telling people this in hopes they’ll make me believe it. There will be mistakes.  Some typos will escape you.  For instance, I know there are five typos in Witchfinder because I’ve got that many lists with at least one valid typo.  The others (curiously, usually five, also) were only things people thought were typos.  (Guys, the subjunctive is not a typo.  Main publishing houses decided to eliminate it in copyediting about ten years ago because “it’s old fashioned.”  That’s like saying the possessive is old-fashioned.  It reads strange to you because you haven’t seen it, but this ex-English-teacher (ESL) begs you to look it up and reacquaint yourself with it.)  That many typos – and more – escape the big publishers.  Take a deep breath and stop cowering.  My worst snafu was when my glasses weren’t working and I missed a row of “ghost” text, (the title, misspelled and upside down) on my cover of Something Worse Hereafter.  (And yes, that cover is a crime against humanity or at least humanity’s eyes.  I’m redoing the old ones as I have time. It was all cutting edge at the time!) Oh, that was fun.  Also, no one said anything until a fan asked me what that meant.)  You know what, I survived it.  You are human, not a machine, and your errors are probably not worse than things big publishing houses have done.

5-      Not to say you should put stuff out and never look again.  One of the best things about indies is that we can be flexible and fast, like the English ships against the Armada.  Lacking formidable size, we have adaptability.  Keep your ear to the ground.  Form connections.  Learn if your cover style is out of date, or if your pricing has fallen out of sinc with trends.  Sometimes that’s all it takes to goose sales.  But don’t change your cover every day or your price every week.  Take a deep breath.  Set yourself a time, like every three months, and do it then.

6-      Write the next book.  Even if you are the best salesperson in the world, the best way to sell a book is to write the next one.  That way you have many more chances one of them will take off, and when it does, you might start an unstoppable avalanche of sales.  At least there will be a chance.  So, shut up and go write!


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

Duty brought Lia to the backwater planet. Honor bound her to fulfill the promise she made to Daz before his death to see his daughter, Serene, safely away and enrolled at the Academy. Neither expected their trip to be interrupted by distress signals, abandoned ships and space pirates. A novella of a galaxy returned to the explorers after civilization has collapsed, again.


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

tro·phy ['trō-fē] tar·get [ˈtär-gət] – A uniquely high value individual captured and used by an enemy as leverage for political, military or other strategic purposes

Deep in the jungle of French Guiana, a once anonymous soldier of the French Foreign Legion mysteriously disappears. Days later, word reaches his younger brother, Prince Erik Rohde, second in line to the Danish throne. Doubting the government’s capabilities and questioning the Prime Minister’s sincerity, Erik turns to the world’s top mercenary, Fadi Khaldun, to rescue his brother.

Fadi Khaldun is a former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past. In his new life as a hired gun, clients contract Fadi to rescue hostages, avenge the deaths of loved ones and destroy terrorist and organized crime rings in the deadliest conflict zones on the planet. Now he embarks on his most high profile and dangerous job yet to rescue the crown prince of Denmark. From the jungles of South America to the mountains of South East Asia, Fadi meticulously hunts the prince’s kidnappers while enemies at the highest level of government conspire against him.


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

Bled white by corrupt politicians, the country has bottomed out.

Each day is an effort to survive with the meager remnants of what’s left.

When Sophie Cook is found dazed after a brutal assault by local thugs, she is considered an outsider in the town she must now call home. Only with the help of Wolf Harndon, can she get by.

Life is hard, almost impossible. In Wolf, Sophie sees compassion. In Sophie, Wolf sees a future he didn’t believe existed.

Peace is a fantasy as long as the Russells continue their raids. Wolf is tasked with stopping them. That’s when the war begins and the losses start.

Wolf and Sophie have no idea that even with nothing, there is still so much to lose.

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

A compelling legal novel by the best selling author of “An Involuntary Spy”. Brent Marks had paid his dues as a lawyer, having taken his share of divorces and drunk driving cases over his 20 year career, but had finally reached a place in his life where he could take on cases of social importance. What he least expected was for April Marsh’s predatory lending case against the big banks for wrongful foreclosure on her parent’s home to turn into a murder investigation. April’s mother was murdered. Her father was beaten within an inch of his life, and she believes their predatory lender is to blame. Are banks really that above the law?


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com 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.

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.

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Witchfinder: How to Use Your Blog to Write a Novel

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It's the day before the launch and I'm biting my nails.

It’s the day before the launch and I’m biting my nails.

Hi this is Sarah. The ever excellent Kristine Kathryn Rusch did a post this Tuesday about the element of surprise. She says – and I believe her – that it’s an excellent way to catch reader’s attention and to get sales you might otherwise not have gotten.

I think she is right, but the surprise I gave to those who follow my group writing blog at Mad Genius Club this week was quite unintentional.

You see, I’m releasing my very first indie novel on Saturday the 5th. No, I’m not leaving Baen, and I hope they’re not firing me any year soon. This novel is not quite a Baen novel and it was also part of an experiment: I wrote it over a year and a half, a chapter a week on my blog.

When it started, I’ll confess that all I wanted to do was avoid having to think up a topic for posts on Friday, since it’s my cleaning day and I usually wake up groggy and grouchy at the prospect of dealing with cat boxes. A chapter in a continuing saga is often easier than thinking up something to astound the world every single day of the week. (Okay, I didn’t say it did astound the world. Only that this is what I aim for.)

So I started writing it, and I promised those who contributed $6 to the novel fund that I would send them the ebook format of their choice for the final collated product. That’s how it started. Next thing I knew I’d made what used to be a standard advance for a beginner in my field – five thousand dollars. (Now it’s three thousand dollars. Good thing that inflation is going backwards for us writers!)

This put it on a different footing than “blog filler.” I decided I would revise it – once it was all done – and give it a professional level cover, professional level editing (after all, it had “paid” for this) and release it as well as I could.

Turns out there were many detours on the way. For instance, three of the artists sort of disappeared, and the fourth delivered a cover that wasn’t quite right for the book. So I had to figure out another cover, which involved a bit of improvisation. My editor used a program that didn’t speak to my program, so before I could access his edits, I panicked and sent it to two other editors. Then I got the flu just before I started the final work on the book.

Even now, things aren’t quite as planned. I planned a paper/ebook release at the same time, but the book is about 50% larger than anything I’ve previously typeset, and requires different margins and gutter. At the moment I’m fighting it. When I set the book for release tomorrow, I will – if I can – set up the paperback for pre-order. Unless I can’t figure out how, in which case, rest assured it will be coming out in about two weeks.

Anyway – my post at Mad Genius Club betrayed my nervousness at the whole process… And it shocked my readers who are indie-published themselves. One asked me if I got this nervous when a traditional book is published. Another asked why, after 23 (I think, I haven’t counted lately) novels, I’d be getting nervous about THIS one.

Well – because it’s indie.

The good thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. By which I mean, I don’t have to stand by helplessly while someone else overlooks something obvious or neglects some clear step on the way to the launch, as happened with, say, the third one of my musketeer mysteries. (The cover of the third was too similar to the first, so you know… since they came out three months apart, people got confused.) You don’t have to worry that your book will be given an awful cover. You certainly don’t have to worry that the blurb put on it will be completely insane.

… on the other hand…

The bad thing about indie is that it’s all my responsibility. In the past, while bringing out my backlist or short stories, I’ve found I’m a long way from infallible.

Because the indie publishing is a part time job and usually undertaken at night or on weekends after a full week of writing, strange things happen. I’ve had covers go up with a “ghost” of the title – misspelled at that – showing on the bottom. (I was overdue on my glasses prescription and missed it until a reader asked me what it meant.) I’ve had books go up that had appalling mistakes, because I uploaded the wrong file. I’ve had books go up and fail to sell a single copy.

(These were, fortunately, so far, short stories.)

I’m going to try very hard not to do this with Witchfinder. On the other hand, it wouldn’t be the first time I invent a completely new mistake to make. In fact, you could say that’s pretty much my pattern.

I could put Witchfinder up and find out I put up the wrong file. Or the wrong cover. Or that I forgot the copyright notice. Or that I set copyright in 2114. (Laugh. I did that with one of the reprints.)

Or I could put it up and – despite the fact that the first readers and early subscribers are raving about it – I could discover that everyone else hates it.

I used to think it was bad enough to submit my book to the editor and get it rejected. What if I put the book up, now, and the whole world rejects it? Even worse – what if not a single copy sells?

Wish me luck. I’ll be in the corner, biting my nails.

[Good luck! --C]


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com 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.


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Astronomical Odds
Edited by Juliana Rew

A new collection of science fiction stories with a mathematical twist.


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Pandora’s Memories
By AUTHOR

December 1943. Adolf Hitler is dead. Queen Elizabeth II reigns on the Commonwealth throne while a usurper sympathetic to the Nazis inhabits Buckingham Palace. Having turned aside the Soviet Union’s initial assault into the Greater Reich, the Wehrmacht is now stymied at the gates of Moscow. With the Red Air Force bloodied, the Kremlin under steady blows from the Luftwaffe, and Joseph Stalin comatose, the desperate Soviet Triumvirate turns to the United States in a plea for aid against the mutual Nazi foe. Indifferently equipped, the young men of the American Air Expeditionary Force (AAEF) are thrown into action in order to keep the Soviet Union in the war.

December 1965. Tabitha Cobb, a Masters student at Berkley University, sets out to learn the truth about the AAEF and the scars it left on its survivors. Attempting to earn a scholarship, Tabitha quickly learns that sometimes ignorance truly is bliss.

“Pandora’s Memories” is an alternate history short story that is the first in the Usurper’s War series.


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Stolen Lives
By G.K. Masterson

Who are you, really? Who would you be if your memories, your identity, and your life were taken away from you, leaving you a bare, blank slate?

Matt Tyler no longer remembers who he was. His life prior to waking up at the Farm might well have never been lived. Was he married? Did he have children? And what of these strange dreams he has? Gwen Marshall no longer recalls her life but she knows that something is missing. She struggles to regain her memories and her identity, determined to fight her way free of the haze — even if it kills her. Together, Matt and Gwen make their way through this strange, new world, following their dreams and the vague hints that offer tantalizing glimpses of who they were and who they might become…


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Dragontamer’s Daughters, Part 1: Pearl
By Kenton Kilgore

It is the unforgiving high desert of an alternate Old West, where the native people defend their lands with dragons very different from the fire-breathing monsters of our legends. Where sisters Isabella and Alijandra scratch out a meager life with their exiled parents.

Into their lives comes a small, injured dragon from far away. While caring for it, the girls discover its strange and terrifying powers—and learn that the hunt for their father, an outlawed former dragontamer, has intensified. At the same time, the dragon grows more and more compelled to complete the mysterious journey that brought her to these lonely lands.


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Dragontamer’s Daughters, Part 2: Stormcaller
By Kenton Kilgore

The story of the dragontamer’s daughters continues. After finding and tending a small, injured dragon, sisters Isabella and Alijandra try to keep “Pearl,” as they call her, a secret. But others find out, and want Pearl—and her powers—for their own purposes.

Soon, the girls will be forced to contend with the native people on whose lands they live. With the ambitious governor whose soldiers hunt their father. With a man who has no name but wields immense, eerie powers. With Pearl’s yearning to fulfill her journey. And with their own dreams and wishes for a life they once lived—and might live again.


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Perchance to Dream
By Cyn Bagley

Kat Igardson is a visionary, a psychic, and a protector, but doesn’t gain her hereditary powers until the death of her Grandma. Daisy Amulda, a black witch, is stripped of her power by her father. These two unlikely women become allies to fight an evil that corrupts and taints Earth and its innocents.

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I Read Dead People

Friday, March 28th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It came from the bookstore, and it wants your sales!

It came from the bookstore, and it wants your sales!

They’re dead. And they outsell you.

This is Sarah. Lately I’ve been culling my used books. That is, the books on my shelves that I need to get rid of if we ever (let alone this year, which we’d like to, though I’ll admit is not looking likely) are to move.

Several things have changed, since the last time I’ve done this 21 years ago when moving from Columbia, South Carolina, to Colorado.  First of all my son, who had to be put in a playpen to keep him from running around while I sorted books and teething on the Agatha Christies is now 22 and is helping me enter stuff for sale on Amazon.  Second, we’re getting rid of way more books, proportionally.  (In total too, since it’s a 21 year accumulation instead of seven.)

We’re getting rid of almost everything except my research books (I can’t do research on the kindle.  It simply won’t work.) signed books by friends, books which aren’t available in e-format (Brother Cadfael, at least last I checked) and books which I’m likely to re-read at least once a year (so, all of Heinlein.)

I’m picking up every book and going “justify your existence to me, in this format.”  Because… in 21 years the world has changed and the ability to read on the kindle paper white means I don’t have to have bookcases in every room and the attic and basement filled with boxes. I can carry my reading needs with me wherever I go. Even the research books are getting culled. I’m now fairly sure I will never write anything set during the Russian revolution, for instance. I just don’t like the period enough.

Anyway, so as we’re culling these books and putting them up on Amazon, my son first noticed something: some of the old writers still fetch a good price, even though you’d think the world would be flooded with their books: Agatha Christie, Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke.

Then I started noticing other patterns. It’s gotten to the point if a book has a gorgeous cover and obviously got lots of publisher push, I know the hard cover, used, five years later, will be selling for one cent. OTOH you come across these books that look like they were thrown together with a clip art cover by an illiterate intern, and the paperback goes for $70 a copy.

The latter was a sign of how out of touch with what customers really wanted publishing got to be in the last few decades.  They printed some books way too tight, thereby making their copies precious, while they pushed books that really had no market.

On the other hand, if you look at how the greats of the past and how they’re selling, it proves that there is a deep market just waiting to happen.

It is a sobering notion that I’m being outsold — massively outsold as my indie sales this month were painful — by a bunch of dead people.  But it is also an incentive to try harder.

The good thing about indie is that all your sales depend on you. That’s the bad thing too of course.  but over all, I’m glad of it.  My own failures is something I can deal with. Other people’s are out of my control.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com 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.


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Cat’s Paw
By Robert A Hoyt

The Mountain at The End Of The World upon which a bird sharpens its beak is down to where one more beak-wipe will eliminate it, and thus bring about the end of the universe. The only ones who can save us are… a bunch of stray cats.


Pager
By Gerry Garibaldi

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.


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Hubris:The Azdhagi Reborn
By Alma T.C. Boykin

What price empire?

A genetics research team promised they could make the Azdhagi endothermic, larger, and perhaps telepathic. All they needed was permission to modify two little genes. But remaking the species triggered a crisis no one could have imagined, when genetic modification collided with greed and a touch of madness. As a generation of juniors begins dying, long-simmering disputes within the Azdhag Pack boil into near civil war. King Emperor Seetoh needs all his strength to hold the Empire together. Can Lords Tarkeela and Kirlin set aside their fight long enough to help reunify the Pack?

When disaster strikes, OutClan and PackLord must hunt together or the Azdhagi will perish.

A novel, set 400 years before A Cat Among Dragons.


Sufficient Ransom: A Novel
By Sylvia Sarno

Ever wonder what it feels like to have it all—family, career, health, money—and not be happy? Ann Olson takes her life for granted until her young son, Travis, disappears from the backyard one evening. Searching for her son, Ann throws caution to the wind. Soon, she finds herself enmeshed in the seedy world of Mexican drug dealers who operate just across the border in Tijuana. Does Ann, an atheist, embrace Christianity despite her husband warning that her pastor friend is more interested in converting her than in finding Travis? Does she make it out of the drug tunnel alive, or is her rashness her downfall? And is Travis’s disappearance related to that of other recently missing children in San Diego? A story of a mother’s love, courage in the face of evil, and her unexpected journey of self-discovery along the way.


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The Musketeer’s Apprentice
By Sarah A. Hoyt (writing as Sarah D’Almeida)

It’s August in Paris 1625 and Porthos, once a dancing and fencing master, has taken as apprentice a young nobleman, whom he’s teaching to fence and ride. When the young man dies, poisoned, the stories of his ancestry and domicile unravel into layer after layer of deception and blackmail, involving Porthos’s relatives and his own past.

Can Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan dodge the Cardinal’s guards while finding the real murderer? Who was Guillaume Jaucourt, and who could have killed him? And why?

It’s one for all and all for one with the swashbuckling sleuths, in a race against time and their own misgivings.

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I Have No Arms, and I Must Type

Friday, March 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
It's a metaphor for the writer's existence!

It’s a metaphor for the writer’s existence!

Hi, this is Sarah, and today we’re going to talk about Lloyd Biggle, Jr. Or, more particularly we’re going to talk about one of Lloyd Biggle, Jr’s books, The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets. There will be some spoilers, but the point of something like The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets is not the solution, but the execution.

It was always one of my favorite space operas, and then about five years ago, I started to get the impression it was more than that.

Back when I was in a writers’ group, one of our friends, Alan Lickiss, used to start his comments on every story, no matter how silly, with “Well, I thought it was a metaphor for the human existence.” No, he didn’t actually think that, it had just become a running gag and it made people nervous about getting a critique laugh.

Well, more and more, up till a few years ago, I got the impression that The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets was a metaphor of the writer existence specifically as it existed at the close of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty first.

The novel’s main character is a diplomatic envoy, or perhaps a diplomatic operative. Earth at the time encourages democracy, but doesn’t impose it from outside. In fact, the motto of the department is “Democracy imposed from the outside is the worst of tyrannies.”

So these people go in and are supposed to ease things so the prospective colony wants democracy.

The planet our hero finds himself in has a culture (the people are essentially humans) so starved for beauty and art that they’ll risk their lives to get them.

The harpers who play before the king are the most highly respected artists, each with an adoring fandom. But the king is mad. The punishment for crimes in this world is to have your arm cut off. Periodically for no reason at all, he has one of these man mutilated and become pariahs, like other criminals, living in “camps of armless.”

They can no longer play and therefore cannot reach their adoring fandom. And since by custom the armless don’t exist, these men are the living dead.

If you’re not following along with the similarity, until two, three years ago, this is what happened to writers. Suddenly one of the mad kings of the NYC establishment, determined you must be thrown out of the field. Perhaps you really didn’t sell very well, but in the cases I know nine times out of ten the cover was horrible, or they failed to print enough books, or no one pushed them. But when you didn’t sell the fault was yours. The lightest punishment might be that you got told you couldn’t work in that field/series/subgenre anymore. This is how I ended up with a string of names and different series. Sometimes, they just shut their ranks against you. And some of these were inexplicable. For instance, not only did my friend Rebecca Lickiss’s second book, Never After undergo three printings, but it was an SF book club alternate selection. But her multiple proposals were all rejected by the house, and no one else picked her up. I have theories, but mostly it’s the act of a mad king.

If you stayed on, you had perhaps the hardest time. When people told you they’d just discovered your first series, ten years after it had gone out of print and asked why you weren’t writing more, you couldn’t say “The house dropped it on the floor and then refused to buy more.” You had to smile and say “Well, I just didn’t want to write it anymore.” And accept the anger from the fan.

And sometimes, you just disappeared. And you were so embarrassed, you stopped going to conventions or interacting with the fans, and people thought you’d died or had stopped writing.

In The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets, the main character finds a way to bring those dispossessed, mutilated men to the attention of their fans again.

And indie is doing that for writers, now.

My friend, Cedar Sanderson went to her first convention as a professional this last weekend, and there she met Christopher Stasheff, whom many of us thought was dead or had stopped writing. (The two often being indistinguishable for writers, themselves.)

She interviewed him for a post in my blog last Monday. You might want to read the full interview. This is how Cedar met him, and what she found out:

I did a doubletake, then caught my First Reader, who was serving as my escort, and brought him back to where the gentleman was now standing looking at the table of bookmarks and promotional goodies. It was Christopher Stasheff, who I knew was my First Reader’s favorite fantasy author, and neither of us had any idea he would be at the convention. Nor, as it turns out, had the concom; he had decided to attend with his son on the spur of the moment. We chatted briefly, and after I got home and was talking online about meeting this living legend, I came up with the idea of asking him for an interview.

You see, while we were chatting that first time, he had responded to my question of “are you still writing?” with “yes, but no one is buying.” He went on to tell us that his son has set up a website for him  and they are beginning to release both his recent work, in snippets, and past work which has reverted to him.

Below, I know there will be links to Christopher Stasheff’s books. Buy one. Or two. Or three. I remember him as one of the best fantasy writers. For a long time, he was in exile, unable to reach his readers.

Now he and others are making their way out of the camps of the mutilated.

Think of your favorite writers, the ones who disappeared, and you don’t know if they’re living or dead. Maybe we should make a list of the disappeared and call them back to their fans. Because indie will let them return and reach us. This field was never about the intercession of a gate keeper. It was always about the relationship of the artist and a public who loves his/her art.

And now mad kings can’t keep us away from the fans anymore.

Hark, do you hear the call of indie? It’s the still, small voice of freedom.


[Charlie now.] I want to second Sarah’s recommendation for Chris Stasheff’s books. I honestly thought I’d read he had died, so I’m pleased to be wrong. (And how often do you see me write that?)

The thing is, he’s got lots of books. So here’s what I’m gonna do: I’m going to link four of his books instead of the usual two per author, and mix them into the others. Remember Rule 10: The whim of the editors is law, even with respect to the preceding rules. But I’m also going to strongly suggest you visit Chris’s Amazon Author’s Page for more books and more information.


Remember, tell all your writer friends to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com 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.


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The Warlock in Spite of Himself
By Christopher Stasheff

Rod Gallowglass is a man of science who does not believe in magic. ** Gramarye is a world of witches and warlocks. Of strange abilities and phenomena. A world where society mirrors Earth’s own Middle Ages, and a world headed for doom. **

Rod Gallowglass must become a part of the local fabric to save the world from both itself and external forces that threaten its existence. But to do so, he must put aside his own convictions and beliefs, and become a warlock, in spite of himself. **

A grand adventure mixing science fi ction with elements of fantasy, this is the book that launched a whole series (fourteen books and counting).


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The Grey Man- Vignettes
By JL Curtis

John Cronin is a Texas rancher and lawman, a decorated Vietnam vet with connections to law enforcement agencies all around the world. Whether it’s a sniper competition or teaching the feds a thing or two about police work, Cronin doesn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Of course, this slow-talking lawman’s biggest challenge yet might be when his granddaughter Jesse falls in love with a Marine. When drug smugglers stir up trouble in Cronin’s backyard and try to kill Jesse and her new beau, all hell breaks loose, and Cronin and his granddaughter are just the people to set things right.


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Her Majesty’s Wizard
By Christopher Stasheff

This 25th anniversary eBook edition of this classic story includes a new introduction by the author and new cover art by Anne Maria Brant!

Matt didn’t know the scrap of parchment was a trap. So he read the runes – and found himself on a world where reciting poetry verses worked magic. His first effort got him locked in a dungeon by the evil sorcerer Malingo. Trying for light, he brought forth a fire-breathing, drunken dragon, who told him Princess Alisande, rightful ruler of Merovence, was also held in the dungeon.

Naturally, he had to free her, himself, and the dragon, using poetry lifted from Shakespeare. And because she was young and beautiful, he swore to serve as her wizard. Then he learned that his job as wizard was to fix it so the three of them could overcome all the dark magic and armies of Malingo!

The addition to the party of a lust-witch and a priest who became a werewolf now and then didn’t seem much help. Matt figured he had got himself into quite a predicament.

For once, he was right!


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Bound into the Blood, Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn
By Karen Myers

Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn.

DISTURBING THE FAMILY SECRETS COULD BRING RUIN TO EVERYTHING HE’S WORKED SO HARD TO BUILD.

George Talbot Traherne, the human huntsman for the Wild Hunt, is preparing for the birth of his child by exploring the family papers about his parents and their deaths. When his improved relationship with his patron, the antlered god Cernunnos, is jeopardized by an unexpected opposition, he finds he must choose between loyalty to family and loyalty to a god.

He discovers he doesn’t know either of them as well as he thought he did. His search for answers takes him to the human world with unsuitable companions.

How will he keep a rock-wight safe from detection, or even teach her the rules of the road? And what will he awaken in the process, bringing disaster back to his family on his own doorstep? What if his loyalty is misplaced? What will be the price of his mistakes?

http://www.amazon.com/Bound-into-Blood-Virginian-Elfland-ebook/dp/B00IPY38Q6/


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A Wizard in Bedlam
By Christopher Stasheff

The rebel slaves need a leader. Even if he’s a wizard. Even if he’s dead…

The revolutionary DeCade died generations ago, leading the last great revolt of the planet Melange’s churls against their despotic feudal masters. His staff and bones were broken and lost; only his songs remain.

The churl Dulain joined the Resistance in his youth – an exile Resistance, devoted to readying the churls for their next great attempt at freedom. Now that moment finally nears. Back on Melange for the first time in years, Dulain must now hasten that revolt… or die.

The Giant Gar is the mysterious stranger whom no one knows, a power greater than he seems. More powerful, perhaps, than churls, masters, or even the Resistance…

This ebook edition contains new cover art by Margaret Miller and Ashley Cser, and an introduction by the author!


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The Dragonslayers, Volume 1: The Righteous and the Lawless
By Matthew Maynard

A clerical error. A loss. An opportunity. A hope. A pursuit…

When Scott Philipson loses his parents to a no-knock drug raid on the wrong house, he turns in desperation to selling marijuana to make ends meet. He gets plenty of help from his girlfriend Carley, but can he evade the grasp of Officer William Cavanaugh? The stakes rise when a doctor approaches him with an offer he shouldn’t refuse…

(Note: Matthew Maynard will be signing copies at the Virginia Festival of the Book Annual Book Fair in Charlottesville, VA on March 22nd.)


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Mind Out of Time
By Christopher Stasheff

Angus McAran, born brilliant but deformed, had as little use for other people as they had for him. Until the day he met the Neanderthal… and discovered that he had destiny, one he wasn’t sure he wanted. This is the origin story of Doc Angus and his time traveling organization, GRIPE.


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The Bookworm Returns: Life in Obama’s America:
By The Bookworm

In 2008, President Barack Obama promised that he would fundamentally transform America — and that’s one of the few promises he’s kept. In a series of clear, elegant, witty essays, Bookworm looks at the changes in American society since Obama became president. These changes have seen America become a poorer, less safe, less free, more racially-charged nation, adrift in a world that, without America as both protector and anchor, is also become increasingly poor and dangerous.


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Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam: Season One (The Strangelets Series)
By Michael Angel

After the original short story spent 21 months on the Top 100 Lists, Strangelets with a Side of Grilled Spam: Season One takes us through the entire post-apocalyptic saga.

Pursued by packs of deadly ‘steelies’, Lieutenant Shane MacWilliams and his Humvee crew journey through an America shattered by an alien invasion.

Things look grim…until MacWilliams comes across something that could turn the tide. It falls to him and his crew to get the word out across a land choked with post-apocalyptic wreckage and teeming with deadly alien monsters.

Their journey is blocked by steelie hunter-killers, vision-shrouding sand storms, and nightmare plains turned to radioactive slag by nuclear fallout.

And at the end looms their final confrontation with a horde of aliens set to wipe out the human species!


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The Thank You Angel
By Ann Trenton

A little girl learns about the joy of saying “Thank You” from her grandmother and the Thank You Angel.

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5 Secret Emotions Only E-Reader Addicts Understand

Saturday, March 15th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg
woman-reading-kindle-mobi-e1357903297243

I love my Kindle, and my Kindle cloud account, which allows me to read books I’ve purchased on any device (for the times when I forget my Kindle, have to take an unexpected Metro ride, or carry a ridiculously small purse to match my outfit). I used to be that person who never went anywhere without a book. I still am that person — but instead of having to tote around a paperback, reading the same book I read at home, from the same page I left off, is as simple as whipping out my phone. My name is Hannah Sternberg and I’m an eReader Addict.

You, too, may be an eReader Addict, if you’ve experienced one or more of the following:

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8 Lessons I’ve Learned By Self-Publishing 3 Kindle E-books

Saturday, March 8th, 2014 - by Bookworm

Book publishing back in the day

When I was in my 20s and 30s, my dream was to publish the Great American Junk Novel. I had no illusions about my ability (or, rather, inability) to write something profound, but I truly believed I could write a Bridges of Madison County or Da Vinci Code. I was wrong. After innumerable efforts, I gave up. I have no imagination, no sense of character, and I’m incapable of writing dialog.

Thanks to the blogosphere, however, I discovered in my 40s that, while I’m not and never will be a novelist, I am an essayist. Over the past decade, I’ve written over 11,000 essays, which easily qualifies me for “expert” status. My blog has become a vast repository of my thoughts on just about everything: politics (mostly politics), parenting, education, Hollywood, social issues, national security, travel — you name it, and I’ve probably written about it.

Considering how many hours I’ve spent at the keyboard, I’ve always hoped that I could monetize my blog. Unfortunately, while I’ve got a solid, and very dear to me, following of readers who genuinely like the way I think and write, I’ve never leveraged my way into the Big Time amongst conservative bloggers. Not being in the Big Time means that any monetization I’ve done has earned me just enough money to buy a few books, not to make a mortgage payment or two.

A few years ago, it occurred to me that I might be able to make some money if I took my writings to a new readership. That’s how I decided to try my hand at self-publishing. I saw it all clearly:  I would assemble my essays, package them attractively, upload them at Kindle Direct Publishing, and sell them for a profit on Amazon. It seemed so easy….

Sadly, it wasn’t easy, at least not the first time around. That didn’t deter me from publishing a second e-book and, just recently, a third. Each book has been easier than the one before, so I’d like to share with you some lessons I’ve learned, many of which I learned the hard way.

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Join The Club

Friday, March 7th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
In the Human Wave clubhouse, we only care about the stories you tell.

In the Human Wave clubhouse, we only care about the stories you tell.

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.”

I’m tired.

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.com 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.


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A Blue Frog Occasion
By Robert D. Rose

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.


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The Running Girl
By D. Alexander Neill

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.


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I, Geek: Confessions of a Geeky Mind
By Joseph Dickerson

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.


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The Book of Helen
By Sherry G Antonetti

“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?


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PAGER
By Gerry Garibaldi

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.


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A Warrior’s Path
By Davis Ashura

“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.”

Kirkus Reviews.

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.


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The Cenacle Scroll
By Anthony F. Lewis

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.


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Aqua Vitae
By Anthony F. Lewis

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…


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Big Boys Don’t Cry
By Tom Kratman

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?


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Iron Magic
By T. M. BRIDGELAND

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.

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Author By Choice!

Friday, February 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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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 book.plug.friday@gmail.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.

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.


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Temporary Duty
By Ric Locke

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.


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Passing In The Night
By Michael Kingswood

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.


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Twisted Breath of God
By Cedar Sanderson

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.


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The Smolder
By Kathryn Judson

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.


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Mutterings
By Clark Eugene Sutton

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.


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Subjective Grounds: Writings by Persons with the Initials S.G.
Edited by Sean Gleeson

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.

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10 Things You Must Never/Always Do

Friday, February 7th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

It’s the Book Plug Friday!

Just go YOUR way.

Just go YOUR way.

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.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.”

And it worked! So do it again!


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Weight of Worlds
By Alma Alexander

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.


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Glimmer Vale
By Michael Kingswood

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.


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A little book of cat: Meditations on Japanese art of sumi-e and the essence of catness.
By Poul A. Costinsky

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.


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Muddling Through MS: 40 Years of Doing It My Way
By Kathleen Scully Aquilino

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.


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Ierna (Refrain of Legends)
By Les Hauge

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.


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The First Impression
By David K. Thomasson

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 . . .


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MUSES OF ROMA
By Rob Steiner

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?


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The Prisoner and The Assassin
By Tom Nixon

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…


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Demi God
By Zoey Ivers

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.

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Writing: We’ll Be Rich Beyond The Dreams of Average!

Friday, January 17th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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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?

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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.

Writers often fan themselves with money -- when they're tired of swimming in the stuff. At least writers in movies do.  In real life, not so much!

Writers often fan themselves with money — when they’re tired of swimming in the stuff. At least writers in movies do. In real life, not so much!

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.


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Nocturnal Interlude (Nocturnal Lives)
By Amanda S Green

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.


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The Stars Came Back
By Rolf Nelson

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?


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Notes To My Kids: Little Stories About My Grown Up Kids
By Jeffery W. Turner

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.


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Forgiving Michael
By Walt Pimbley

“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?


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Tour of Duty: Stories and Provocations
By Michael Z. Williamson

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.


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Little Red-Hood and the Wolf-Man
By Cedar Sanderson

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…


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Take The Star Road
By Peter Grant

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…


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Being Me (BBW Romance)
By Mac Flynn

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?

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Book Plug Friday: Creativity and Creation

Friday, January 10th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
By itself, this is not an instrument of artistic creation.

By itself, this is not an instrument of artistic creation.

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.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.

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.


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Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives)
By Amanda S. Green 

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.


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ConVent (The Vampire Con Series)
By Kate Paulk 

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.


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The Empathy Effect
By Bob Lock 

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.


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Hunter’s Duty (Hunter’s Moon)
By Ellie Ferguson 

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?


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Stakeout at the Vampire Circus (Dan Shamble, Zombie PI)
By Kevin J. Anderson 

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.


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The Musketeer’s Seamstress (The Musketeers Mysteries)
By Sarah D’Almeida 

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.


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Lights in the Deep
By Brad R. Torgersen 

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.


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Bolg, PI: The Vampire Bride
By Dave Freer 

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.

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Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 13: Bringing It All Together

Saturday, January 4th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
Take notes.  There will be a quiz... only not by me.

Take notes. There will be a quiz… only not by me.

No, this is not actually the last posting, since I still owe you a post on covers and a – long delayed – post on proposals (to traditional publishing houses.)

I do apologize for the delays on those, but I was doing my very best not to die through what might have been the worst health-season I’ve had in a long time.

But, for now, this is my post trying to bring together everything I tried to cover on selling your book in thirteen weeks.  Sort of a summarized version of the entire thing with easy bullet points.  A “selling your writing in thirteen weeks for people who only discovered the series halfway through and are having trouble finding the previous posts (as I did when I tried to direct someone to them.)

So, as briefly as I can make it, here is your “lessons learned” recap.  Get our your number two pencil and a notebook.  There will be a test.  (Actually there will, but not administered by me, but by the world/publishing.  Though my way isn’t the only way and though things change constantly, this will get you some ways towards actually successfully publishing, in whichever mode you choose.)

First –  Traditional or Indie? How should you publish? (For the purpose of this article, indie refers to self publishing or publishing through a micro company in which you have a controlling interest.)

I know the decision I made for me, but I can’t make it for you. Depending on the field you’re working in, the book you’re working on, and your own personal preference, the answer could vary.

If you are writing the sort of book that will need a big-publisher sendoff to do well, and you’re fairly sure that you can get it, then by all means go with a traditional publisher.

If on the other hand you are writing what the publishers would consider a midlist book – your typical genre book: a romance in the style of those already out, or a cozy mystery, a quest fantasy, or a space opera – and you have the resources to self-promote, and you know or can learn your way around a cover you’re probably better off self-publishing/indie publishing.

The truth is that the traditional publishers have been taking resources away from the midlist for some years now, and now are less inclined than ever to spend promotion dollars on “this is also an enjoyable book.”  Also, some of the contracts being written don’t “guarantee” paper publication.

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Polishing The Crystal Ball

Friday, January 3rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Cross my palm with silver. Or Visa. Or Mastercard.

Cross my palm with silver. Or Visa. Or Mastercard.

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.

From Forbes:

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.

From Digital Book World:

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.

(If you feel a need for a more in depth post, our friend Amanda does that over at Mad Genius Club.)

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.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 book.plug.friday@gmail.com.


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Freedom’s Fury
By Francis Porretto

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.


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The Silent Saga: Desolate
By David Whelan

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.

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Book Plug Friday: Everything Changes – The Center Cannot Hold

Friday, December 27th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
A sunset is just a sunrise looked at from the wrong location.  Sometimes you have to change your writing career location.

A sunset is just a sunrise looked at from the wrong location. Sometimes you have to change your writing career location.

[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!

[Charlie here:] A bigger crop this week, with one special deal: Michael Joseph’s books A New Dawn Rising and Death In July are available for free from today, 27th December, until 31st December.

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.


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Elizabeth of Starland
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

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.


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Tri-Time
By Hailey Monacko 

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?


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The Awesome Adventures of Pickle Boy
By Jack Bee 

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?


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Armageddon Girl
By C.J. Carella 

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!


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The Erl King’s Children
By Jordan Leah Hunter 

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.


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Eyes of Osiris (Architects of Lore Series)
By Anita C. Young 

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.


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An Unproven Concept (The Vergassy Chronicles)
By James Young 

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.”


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A New Dawn Rising
By Michael Joseph 

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…


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Death In July
By Michael Joseph 

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.


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Periphery
By Alexx Bollen 

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.

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2 Turtle Doves: A Gift Guide for the Tech-Savvy

Monday, December 23rd, 2013 - by Becky Graebner

Today is Monday, December 23, 2013.  If we were having a literal countdown of the “Twelve days of Christmas” song, we would receive “two turtle doves” today.

There are only two days until Christmas!

Here is a gift guide for the people on your list who love electronics and gadgets.

61lYpytqmXL._SL1500_Audio:

Bose:  QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones

The best way to hear your music—without any interference.

HDMX: Classic Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

Connect this handy speaker to your Bluetooth-enabled device whenever you want to listen to music–at home, at work, and even on the beach!

full_GoPro_HD_Hero_3_357728Cameras:

Canon: Canon PowerShot A2500 16 MP Digital Camera

This camera’s 2.7-in LCD screen makes photo and video review/playback clear and easy.

GoPro: GoPro HERO3+ Black Edition

A tough, waterproof camera that allows even the most active owners to document their adventures.

Gadgets for the Car:

Belkin: 2-Port Car Charger with Lightning to USB Cable for iPhone 5/5S/iPod touch/iPod nano/iPad/iPad mini

This charger fits into any car power outlet and will charge two devices at once.

Garmin: Garmin Nüvi

Never get lost again.

Kids:

Leapfrog: LeapPad2 Power Learning Tablet

Over 800+ games, videos, and eBooks that are appropriate for kids.

51N76BDtFgL._SY300_

Phone:

OtterBox: Commuter Series Case for Samsung Galaxy S III

A durable case that will keep your S3 safe!

 

 

 

61URCnA-MtL._SL1500_Photos:

NIX Digital: 8 in Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame with Motion Sensor

All your photos in one place.

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What IS a Writer?

Friday, December 20th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Are you a writer?  Well? You tell me!  Do you write?  (Pipe glasses and obsolete writing instrument are optional.  And I refuse to wear a fake beard.)

Are you a writer? Well? You tell me! Do you write? (Pipe glasses and obsolete writing instrument are optional. And I refuse to wear a fake beard. I compensate by frowning much worse than that, while working.)

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines, which include the suggestion that you send AUTHOR, TITLE, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK. These are mandatory suggestions.
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Jury Doody
By JP Mac

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.”


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The Alecto Initiative
By Jordan Leah Hunter and Owen R. O’Neill

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


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Pride of the Samurai
By Kenneth Jorgensen

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.

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How to Make Your Book Look Important

Saturday, December 14th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Just like when setting out to claim your kingdom it's important to look like a princess, when setting out to look for bestsellerdom, it's important to look like a bestseller.

Just like when setting out to claim your kingdom it’s important to look like a princess, when setting out to look for bestsellerdom, it’s important to look like a bestseller.

Selling your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 10

Yes, I know, it sounds like I’m always saying more or less the same thing: “you have to give the impression that you are traditionally published if you want to really sell.”

Unfortunately, this is true.  The public still views traditionally published books as better.  Though there is an interesting effect happening, maybe because I’ve talked so much about indie publishing, in that some of my fans are contacting me about typos and issues with my traditionally published books, forcing me to say “well, there’s nothing I can do about it now.”

But in general, you want to look like the traditionally published books in your sub-genre.  (Minus the typos – which frankly happen in any publishing, and, yes, will happen to you too.)

Only you don’t want to look like just any books in that subgenre.

Look, in the bad old days the publishing houses had to limit their resources. This meant that most of the books got thrown out into that big, cold world with barely enough work put into it to look decent and professional.

For instance, at a panel at a con, a friend and I were discussing her just-accepted book with the two editors who, supposedly at least, worked on it, and it became obvious to us they’d only read the proposal and never the completed manuscript.

This is because my friend’s book was a second novel, and had been slated to be released with as little support and fanfare as possible.

Now, you’ve gone out and got yourself a publishing house name, and you have a publishing house webpage (don’t do what I do, and forget to update it/not settle on a theme for months on end) and you – frankly – look professional.

So… are you going to just release your book out there, with minimal work/support, like any other mid-list book?

I can hear you protesting now.  “But Sarah, you say, I am a shoe-string operation with exactly one editor and one writer.”

Yes, of course, and we will talk about compromises you can and have to make, but there are also things you can do to make it look like the book is “high list” and important to the house.

“But I can’t make all my books look high list!” you say.

Um… why not?

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Comfort Books

Friday, December 13th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
These are a few of my favorite (winter) things.

These are a few of my favorite (winter) things.

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.


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On a Bleak Midwinter
By Alma T.C. Boykin

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.


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A Blue Frog Occasion
By Robert D. Rose

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.


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Taking it Back: A Path to Freedom
By Patricia Gillis

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.

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Book Plug Friday: Diversity in Fiction

Friday, December 6th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
I don't care if you're purple with polka dots and write one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbians. If it's interesting I'll buy it.  If it's not, I'll buy some beer. It's my money. It's not a social diversity tax.

I don’t care if you’re purple with polka dots and write one eyed, one legged Samoan transsexual lesbians. If it’s interesting I’ll buy it. If it’s not, I’ll buy some beer. It’s my money. It’s not a social diversity tax.

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines, which include the suggestion that you send AUTHOR, TITLE, BLURB, and AMAZON LINK. These are mandatory suggestions.


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Pixie Noir
By Cedar Sanderson

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


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Outcasts and Gods
By Pam Uphoff

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.

Telepathy.

Telekinesis.

At first their creators sought to strengthen these traits.

Then they began to fear them.

They called them gods, and made them slaves.


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An Involuntary Spy
By Kenneth Eade

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.


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Undone By Fate’s Hand
By Veronika Pelka

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.


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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.


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Dream Horse
By Barbara Morgenroth

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)


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Summer Horse
By Barbara Morgenroth

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)


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Rue Rachat
By Martin Crane

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.


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Cross and Poppy: a village tale
By GMW Wemyss

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.


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’37: the year of portent
By Markham Shaw Pyle and GMW Wemyss

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.

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Measuring Up Outlets For Indie Publishing

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 8

Like a beautiful mirage in the desert of publishing, for decades ebooks were cool, interesting, but never quite there.

Like a beautiful mirage in the desert of publishing, for decades ebooks were cool, interesting, but never quite there.

For a long time ebooks were sort of a mirage.

When I attended my first writers’ conference twenty years ago, the publishing world was abuzz with rumors of ebooks and how great they would be.

There were all sorts of panels which in retrospect seem rather silly about how ebooks would change the reading experience. You’d have these integrated “smart books” with lines you could click on to get more background.

Being a notoriously doubtful kind of person, I remember thinking “Uh… not unless people operate very differently from my household.”

There was no way I could lug my monitor to the bathroom or the kitchen.

Besides the whole idea of books with click through points seemed… odd.  It might be okay, I thought, for non fiction – while reading a book on, say, glass blowing, I could see the clicking on some link for “older techniques” (still, unless those excursions were brief, it would become disruptive.)  However, people were talking about “click through to find the character’s personal history” or “click through for a summary of how they got to this situation” or – more ridiculous – “click through for a map of the land” or schemata of the spaceship or…

I was greener than grass, but I was not so green that I did not know the experience of reading is following the writers’ voice and storytelling ability.  As tempting as it is, in the second and subsequent books in a series to cue in the readers who haven’t read previous books without distracting the others, my guess is that the experience would be lacking.

I must have been right.  For the next fifteen years, at conference, workshop, gathering of writers and editors, this wonderful idea of an ebook future was brought up. But, like rejuvenation or teleporting, it was a scientific development that was always in the future.

Does this mean nothing happened?  Oh, no.  Baen Books had a vibrant ebook store, and, as pagers gave way to personal organizers, people started reading on those and on other portable devices.  (At the time my own dream device was the Irex Iliad.  I was never able to afford it)

However most ebook reading devices were massively expensive, uncomfortable on the eyes, and not used unless you had some special incentive – like traveling a lot.  Baen sold comfortably to a segment of the population who liked ebooks, but most other houses – after a few abortive attempts at an ebook department – more or less ignored the whole thing.

The outlet for indie books I became aware of was Smashwords, and the quality of most books posted there, from the bizarrely off-size covers to the writing, reinforced every stereotype of the self-published author.

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A Writer’s List of Thankfulness

Friday, November 29th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Our indie cup runeth over

Our indie cup runeth over

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.


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Sugar Coated Pill Theory
By C. M. Moore

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.


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A Blue Frog Occasion (The East Thumb Chronicles)
By Robert D Rose

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.


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From Piers to Eternity
By Hazel Preller

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!


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The Naked President
By Jabulani Nzilane

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.

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Ensuring Your Book Is All That It Can be

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling Your Writing In Thirteen Weeks — Week 7

So you maggots think you're novels!

So you maggots think you’re novels!

This is important whether you’re going the “new, new indie” or the traditionally published route. The level to which you want your manuscript bullet-proofed might be different, but you should still have someone look over your story before sending it in.

Yes, I know, the big houses are supposed to do their own editing, checking and proofreading, just like the big newspapers are supposed to have layers and layers of fact checkers. Don’t count on it.

The quality of the editing you get is proportional to their hopes of your selling really well, which in turn is proportional to the size of your advance.

That means if your advance is under ten thousand dollars (and most advances are) you cannot expect your book to get more than a cursory look by someone who finished college last year, and whose most notable reading – let alone editing – achievement was devouring Fifty Shades of Gray at one sitting.

But the more important thing, if your advance is ten thousand or less, is that copy-editing for punctuation and typos might be the only editing you get.

And this is a problem, because no matter how good you are, how smart you are, or how carefully you researched your subject, in the middle of the book, your brain is going to do something utterly bizarre and you’re going to reverse the name of two towns; you’re going to introduce a technology that didn’t exist at the time, or you’re going to forget the color of your character’s eyes… or remember it wrong.

Now how much you spend depends on what you expect to be paid, whether you’re going indie or traditional, what your expectations are of the book and well… who you know.

It also is important that you know what you’re paying for – and what the person reading is supposed to do for you.

So, let’s take this thing in order –

You’ve finished a novel. Good for you! I suppose if it’s your first novel, I can’t prevent you from letting your mom read it. (Unless you’re like me. I give thanks daily that mom can’t speak/read English.)

That’s fine. Just don’t take it seriously. Your mom, unless your mom is a published author in that genre and notoriously mean (ask my kids) in critique, is not an appropriate judge of marketability or how publishers/the market will react to your story.

The first thing you should do is find what we call in the field “beta readers.” This comes from software, where they have beta testers. Every writer should have beta readers. Yes, I know that this can be a problem. Way back almost thirty years ago, as a young author, I had trouble finding three people who knew enough about the genre I was trying to break in and who were willing to read my book. Which was a pity because I desperately needed a reality check.

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Book Plug Friday: Discoverabiliy is Key

Friday, November 22nd, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
The key to the future of publishing rests with you.

The key to the future of publishing rests with you.

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 book.plug.friday@gmail.com.

To submit a book to be plugged, send the TITLE, the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com.


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Leap Of Faith: Quit Your Job And Live On A Boat
By Ed Robinson 

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.


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The Secret Life of Movies: Schizophrenic and Shamanic Journeys in American Cinema
By Jason Horsley 

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.


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The Port of Houston
By Mark Lardas 

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.

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