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How to Make Yourself More Marketable

Sunday, February 15th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
An idea for yet another odd story waiting in a dark alley to jump Sarah!

An idea for yet another odd story waiting in a dark alley to jump Sarah!

This is Sarah.  Last week I attended a seminar in the springs, the Superstars Writing Seminar.

And while attending it, my thoughts went again to marketability, part of it in the mournful certainty I don’t have it.

To explain: marketability is an old foe.

Back when I was trying to figure out how to market my first trilogy, what is now being called the Magical Shakespeare trilogy, I called a publicist.… Who had absolutely no idea what to do with it.

I mean, normally you market fiction by appealing to people who might be interested in the subject, but when the subject is Shakespeare, I could practically hear this poor publicist thinking “I’d have to go trolling in colleges.”

It got worse. My next books out were the Musketeer mysteries and the shifter series with Baen books.

At this point when I tried to hire publicists they just ran in circles and more often than not would tell me how to market the Shakespeare books, because it was the first thing they latched onto, even though those books were then out of print and their marketing strategy consisted of “maybe you can write scholarly articles for university presses. (No, I couldn’t. I’m good enough to make up stuff about the time period but not to argue how many times old William washed his undies on any given week which is the level of expertise required to impress academics.  Also, publishing with university presses is difficult enough that it’s almost a career on its own.)

By this I don’t mean to say that I am too “smart” for the general public, but that I am too weird. In the Venn diagram of what the most people are interested in, and what makes my heart pound faster, there is a sliver-thin area that overlaps. That’s about it.  So though people might like my stuff, running a publicity campaign that will get them to try it was always very difficult.

If you add to that that since those early days I have branched out in all directions, from contemporary mystery to science fiction (and I have plans! Plans!) the imaginary publicist becomes even more confused.

So do I when I try to figure out a way to market myself.

The ideal writer for a publicist to push is obsessed with one subject. If he or she is lucky it is a relatively popular subject, or at least one that doesn’t make people think they’re about to be lectured (and you know you aren’t, with me, right?)

There is a reason there are so many cooking mysteries, or that you hear friends tell friends, “If you like sewing, you’ll like these romances, which are about—”

So, if you can,  – I can’t,  I write whatever attacks me in a dark alley — here is how to give yourself a publicity-friendly writing profile:

  1. Write one genre or at least a type of book.  You can usually stray between fantasy and science fiction, if they’re compatible subgenres.  So, say, historical fantasy and time travel science fiction.  “You must read so and so, she does this stuff set in Crete, and it’s great.”
  2. If you can at all, do something that links, at some level with something that people who don’t read more than a book a week might be interested in.  “You must read Bob. He does these coin collecting time travel books.”  Or “Have you read Jane’s baking mysteries?  She’s outstanding, and the books come with a recipe!”
  3. Go trendy.  This one is difficult, if you’re traditional.  Indy you can jump on a trend before it’s dead.  Though frankly you can do it with traditional too, if you go with a long-lasting trend: urban fantasy; vampire books; now zombies, etc.
  4. Stick with it long enough to be noticed, and try not to wonder off into the weeds to write regency fantasy or Kit Marlowe Mysteries.

I can never do it, but I wish I could because I think it would be more lucrative than being assaulted and held hostage by random ideas, out of the blue.

(And apropos marketing me, there are two of my books and an anthology with one of my novellas up in the running for this.  If you feel inspired go on over and vote.  For me or for writers whose work you’ve enjoyed.)


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Polymath
By Francis W. Porretto 

Young Todd Iverson is special: a master of the sciences, the technologies, and the arts. But his mother crippled him emotionally by artificially orphaning him. Other losses of love and guidance have made him a borderline sociopath.

Todd knows his power. He intends to use it to build a ladder to the stars. Allies will rally to him. Adversaries will seek to thwart him. And two mighty champions will guide him.

Polymath, the fourth novel of the Realm of Essences series, chronicles the bursting of an Onteora County giant from his chrysalis to begin an American Renaissance.


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Ride The Rising Tide
By Peter Grant 

Trapped in the Dragon Tong’s search for a lost legend, Steve Maxwell finds a way out by enlisting in the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

If he survives long enough to earn a commission, he’ll be able to hunt down the pirates who killed his mentor. To get there, he’ll have to slog through rain-swollen swamps, dodge incoming fire on a ‘peacekeeping’ mission, and face down a gang of angry smugglers. Even far away from enemies, a mistake can turn a spaceship into a deathtrap.

It’ll take resourcefulness and courage to succeed… but Steve hasn’t come this far in order to fail.


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Snapshot
By Dale Cozort 

Alternate Reality You Fly To.

For eighty million years, the Tourists have taken Snapshots, living replicas of Earth continents. Snapshots diverge from the real world, allowing humans and animals from Earth’s history to fly between Snapshots where dinosaurs roam, Indians rule the New World or Nazis or Soviets control Europe.

A new Snapshot cuts Greg Dunne off from everyone he loves and thrusts him into an old feud between U.S. ranchers from a 1950s Snapshot and Germans from a 1939 one over a strategically vital Madagascar Snapshot. Greg struggles to survive in this unique new reality, remain faithful to a family he may never see again and find his way home.

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No Olympus In Sight

Monday, February 9th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Does he look like a writer to you?

Does he look like a writer to you?

This is Sarah and this week I’ve been busy with the local (relatively) to me Superstars Writing Seminar.

During a time when I could talk to my publisher, we had a long talk about things that help writers (with plot, particularly.)  For which I want to recommend, yet again, Dwight Swain.

Another thing that works well for learning to plot is to take your favorite novels and diagram them. This consists of reading each chapter carefully and writing down which characters were introduced, and which events happened in that chapter.  At the end, go over what you’ve written, identify theme and plot, and then diagram how each chapter moved theme/plot forward. This can be very useful, as you’ll often think that a novel is introspective and doesn’t have much of action or plot, and then find, on diagraming, that you were completely wrong.

There was a time when I thought real, “pro” writers sat around in their Olympian heights and drank the ambrosia of fan adulation and enjoyed having arrived.

Now, thirteen years and 30 or so books into a writing career I have not yet glimpsed even the tippy end of mount Olympus, and as for ambrosia, it’s not on the menu.  Instead, I seem to be busy running after myself, forever conscious of what I’m lacking, what I need to improve, and the things I’d really, really would love to be able to do.

For instance, a recent re-read of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International series left me with an inferiority complex about my foreshadowing.

And I take at least two craft-improvement classes a year, as well as holding discussions with my sons and husband (otherwise known as the Hoyt Family Writers’ Workshop) about how to do this and how to evoke that and how to express this or that character.

It never ends. Nor does the doubt.

Once, at a panel, Connie Willis said that in the dark of night, in the secret of your own heart, you knew exactly how good or bad you were. To be fair to her, she said it mostly as a way of depressing the pretensions of newbie writers who think they are the best thing since sliced bread.

However, I hope she’s wrong.  In the dead of night, in the secret of my own heart, I know I sucketh mightily in a way not unakin to a Hoover. Which is why I keep striving to learn.

The balance between knowing where my flaws are and trying to improve is where I keep writing.  I think either certainty of eternal suckage, or certainty of having reached those ambrosia-sipping heights of writing Olympus would both guarantee I never wrote another word.

Fortunately neither seems like a likely conviction to take hold of my mind.

And so I write.  And I study.  And I write.


We’re running with some plugs for Sarah’s books again this week, as well on one new book, because Mercury is retrograde and that apparently affects people’s ability to follow guidelines.

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.

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. 

I might fudge it a little more.  

If I'm feeling friendly. 

Which last happened in about 2004.


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Seven Days in September
By Valerie Plum and Brett Moss

“Seven Days in September” is a political satire that chronicles the seven days in Washington, around Sept. 11, 2012 – the time when the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was assaulted. It is told by Valerie “Val” Plum, from her perspective as the CIA liaison to the White House.

Readers will meet President Obama, his advisers, Secretary of State Clinton and her advisers.

We watch as the crisis arises, the characters deal with it and the aftermath – all while avoiding responsibility, culpability and poor performance reviews.

The first installment of Val Plum’s long-anticipated memoirs.


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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All Night Awake (Magical Shakespeare Book 2)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

Touched by the magic of fairyland, unable to forget Lady Silver, Shakespeare goes to London to seek his fortune. But there, the elf will follow, on the trail of a creature so deadly that, unless Shakespeare and the king of Elves stop it, it might very well consume London and all of England. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2002)
Praise for All Night Awake:
“Ingenious… fans of the first book won’t be disappointed.” – Publishers Weekly
“Hoyt sustains her intriguing premise with a soaring, lyrical style. A most enchanting novel” – Booklist


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Any Man So Daring (Magical Shakespeare Book 3)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

William Shakespeare, successful playwright, receives word that his only son has died. Reality is far more complex. The young Hamnet is a hostage in fairyland, where a war rages, and where a young princess waits a Prince Charming who might never come.

Can an all too human playwright stop the magical war that threatens both worlds?
(This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2003)


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No Will But His
By Sarah A. Hoyt

Kathryn Howard belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, the same family that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s great love originated from. From a young age, her ambitious relatives maneuver to make her queen. Brought up in a careless manner, ignorant of the ways of the court, Kathryn falls victim to her kind heart, all the while wishing she could be the wife of Thomas Culpepper.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

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Chewing the Straw

Sunday, February 1st, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Don't be fooled by their smiles.  Straw writers are racist, sexist, homophobic, hate kittens and puppies, and give people herpes with a glance.

Don’t be fooled by their smiles. Straw writers are racist, sexist, homophobic, hate kittens and puppies, and give people herpes with a glance.

It has become a cliché of political arguments that when someone on the conservative-libertarian axis gets even mildly heated, the call for civility goes up. It goes up not only from the left but from our fellows on the right (I still protest libertarians being on the right, but never mind) who say that we have to stay civil to be taken seriously.

Well and good, and in principle I agree. I was taught to wipe my feet before entering someone’s living room, not to talk with my mouth full and not to slander people unless I’m absolutely sure of the charges and/or the charges matter to the discussion at hand.

However there are times when the most decent and professionally-minded woman in the world [which I’m not -- I’m just Sarah] feels like hoisting down the lacy handkerchief and running the jolly roger up the mast.

There have been many of these in the last two years or so since I came out of the political closet. My kids at cons where people don’t know who they are will be told that I’m racist, homophobic, a prude, and countless other things that make them wonder about whom, exactly, these people are talking.

Larry Correia, faced with the same dichotomy, found himself talking about THAT Larry, you know, the one who is racist and sexist and hates women and gays. He calls him Straw-Larry, and we all agree that guy is a d*ck. What precisely he has to do with the gentle, mild mannered and brilliant Larry Correia, though no one knows.

I suspect straw-Sarah (who is a b*tch) hangs out with straw Larry and they go out at night and beat up on people because there’s nothing good on the telly.

I wouldn’t know. I’ve never met her.

The latest of these moments was when our piece on editing was picked up by the Passive Voice, which, for those who don’t know, is one of the best resources for indie publishing around. (I so badly want their t-shirt that says “BezelBezos is my dark god.”)

The comments immediately sprouted a bunch of people talking trash about me.

Let’s take someone on the left of whose intellect I think less than… less than of the intellect of my cat Havelock who routinely gets lost in the hallway outside my room. If one of them, say, Damien Walter who is good for pronouncing himself on things he knows little about, did an article on editing, or covers, or how to start a book.

I might make raspberry sounds and say “well, when he has a book published, I’ll pay attention.” But I wouldn’t say that he was the worst person in the world. That would just be silly. He comes in a solid thousand, two hundred and tenth among the living. (What? Little list? My dears, it ain’t little.)

However the left can invent calumnies, destroy characters, repeat baseless accusations often enough that they become “everyone knows” without the slightest shred of truth.

And there’s no calls for civility, particularly not from other people on the left.

The right doesn’t act that way (well, not usually.) Not only do I read writers who are solidly on the left and also wobbly on the left, I still have friends who are so far to the left of me that we’d best not discuss politics.  On the other hand, any number of “friends” on the left of me dropped me like a stone when I came out of the political closet. And Straw Sarah goes rampaging through gossip from con to con.

There are reasons for this imbalance, and it’s not because libertarians and conservatives are better people (in general) or possessed of the milk of human kindness. No. It’s because of the power imbalance in the field.

For my entire conscious life, let alone my entire publishing life, the power in the field has been in the hands of the people on the left. The way to get promoted and hailed as the greatest genius since Shakespeare was to parrot leftist shibboleths.

In a field where writers were treated as supplicants and had to beg hat in hand for the chance to sell their product to a limited number of markets, almost every editor and publisher was a man (or more often a woman) of the hard left.

A rumor that an author was a heretic or even (gasp) an apostate in the church of Marxism-Leninism was enough to get a promising career stalled if not outright shut down.

So, of course, the left could call names, and accusing someone of being right wing became a weapon in fights among writers.

Also, in a field where everything was controlled by a small and not very open-minded minority, it was important to be in with the right people and rumor and innuendo ran rife.

In other words, it was middle grades in the parochial school of Our Red Lady of Eternal Redistribution.  Forever.

Now… well, now it’s not like that, and I’ll note several people came to my defense when the crazy people attacked me on… a technical article about editing!

And that, my dears, is the cure to the disease of rumor and innuendo.

We can’t have all these straw writers running around. For one, I’m sure they’d write very bad straw books, which would be flammable and stuff.

If you hear rumors, innuendo and insanity spoken about a writer you know, speak up.

If you see something, say something.

Rumor has a cure and it’s the truth.  And it’s time our colleagues on the left learned some civility.  Before the field goes up in flames.


I’m starting the links this week (this is Charlie) with a special mention. Rolf Nelson’s book The Stars Came Back, plugged here a year ago, has been nominated for a Prometheus Award.

And yeah, this is late. I had a really bad hardware weekend.


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The Stars Came Back
By Rolf Nelson

THE STARS CAME BACK is part space-western, the story of folks just trying stay alive, seeking work to earn money for repairs to get to the next job, with no shortage of action and adventure along the way. It is part military sci-fi, with a company of mercenaries, spaceship combat, mortar and rifle combat, spear-and-shield battle, and PTSD. And it is part philosophical investigation, pondering the lessons of Achilles, if a computer can have a soul, what freedom means, and how one stops a bar fight with earplugs.Written in a format similar to a screenplay, the book includes various graphics, including the blueprints of the ship.


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What Consumers Need To Know About Mortgages (A Guide About What Really Happens From A Mortgage Insider)
By Dan Melson 

After funding well over a thousand loans as a loan officer, and running a consumer education website for ten years, Dan Melson has written a coherent guide that gives consumers insight into how people qualify for mortgages, how not to sabotage their application, and how to stop wasting thousands of dollars making poor choices on your mortgage.

[Ed -- Notice this is reference, not fiction. We are more than happy to get indie-published non-fiction!]


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Take The Star Road
By Peter Grant

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants 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, including wars and 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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The Troll’s Belt
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.

Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll in J.M. Ney-Grimm’s richly imagined North-lands, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage . . . and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.

A twist on a classic, THE TROLL’S BELT builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.


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Crossing the Naiad
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Ancient, cold, and perilous.

Its truth forgotten in the mists of time, the old bridge harbors a lethal secret. Neither marble statues awakened for battle nor an ancient roadbed grown hungry, something darker and more primal haunts the stones and the wild river below.

Kimmer knows the stories, but she doesn’t know why the crumbling span feels so fraught with menace. Her way home lies across the ruin. Dare she take it? Or will horror from the lost past rise up to claim her, when she does?

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The Most Important, Visionary Science Fiction Stories of the 1930s

Saturday, January 31st, 2015 - by Pierre Comtois

The 1930s was a decade in which older, established, non-science fiction specific novelists ran neck in neck with rising young pulpsters who, for the first time, began to challenge their elders in originality and seriousness.

In past decades, writers like Jules Verne, Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells dominated the public consciousness with their novels of science and the fantastic. They proved to others that the nascent genre of science fiction could be used to good effect both to warn against social ills and the pitfalls of a rising scientific culture.

At the same time, a completely different set of readers, mostly young and whose view of the future and science was less gloomy and more optimistic than their elders, began to coalesce around the science fiction genre.

Isolated by an ocean or by the vast landscapes of the United States, some of those young people hunkered down at typewriters working long, lonely hours writing, their imaginations fueled by the early pulp magazines of the 1920s which brought science fiction for the first time to a mass audience.

Murray Leinster, Doc Smith, Edmond Hamilton, Ray Cummings, Stanton A. Coblentz, Harl Vincent, and Jack Williamson all made their first appearances in such magazines as Amazing Stories, Argosy, Weird Tales, and Air Wonder Stories.

Clearly, like interstellar gasses concentrating into stars, the genre of science fiction was coming together with increasing rapidity with the 1930s being the decade when it all finally seemed to come together. In no other decade did so many classic tales of SF appear and so many authors make their initial debuts in print: “The Red Plague” by P. Schuyler Miller and “Marooned on Andromeda” by Clark Ashton Smith in 1930; “The First Martian” by Eando Binder in 1932; “A Matter of Size” by Harry Bates in 1934; “The Faithful” by Lester Del Rey in 1938; “Marooned off Vesta” by Isaac Asimov, “Ether Breather” by Theodore Sturgeon, and “Lifeline” by Robert Heinlein all in 1939.

In addition, readers of science fiction began to organize themselves. Letters pages in the magazines brought them together and made them realize that living in their small towns or feeling isolated in big cities, they were not alone. The first fanzines were launched right at the very start of the decade which became known as First Fandom (the first of many fan “eras”), amateur magazines publishing their own fan fiction proliferated, and fan clubs such as the Los Angeles Science Fiction League Chapter and the Futurians would become breeding grounds for some of the biggest SF authors of the 1940s.

The first SF convention between New York and New Jersey fans was held in 1936.

But most of this activity was happening “underground” so to speak. The larger world of letters still mostly ignored science fiction, only taking notice when an established author used the genre as a platform to address larger philosophical concerns. The 1930s would be the last major effort by these kinds of writers. For decades afterward, SF would retreat further underground or be considered primarily as juvenile literature until being rediscovered by the mass media following the huge success of the Star Wars films in the 1970s.

But as things stood in 1930, the field was still considered ripe for exploration by serious writers such as Olaf Stapledon, a professor of philosophy whose first book, A Modern Theory of Ethics, lacked a popular audience. Hoping to reach a wider public Stapledon decided to use science fiction as his vehicle and ended up writing Last and First Men (1930).

In it, the author tells the history of mankind extending two billion years into the future. Nothing like its terrible sweep of time and history was ever attempted before and it caused a sensation in literary circles and especially SF fans whose vistas had been broadened. Stapledon followed up that first success with a number of other groundbreaking novels including Odd John in 1936 about a super-human’s attempt to live in a world of ordinary men and Star Maker, published in 1937, that goes far beyond even the scope of Last and First Men to tell the history of the whole universe while exploring themes of life, death, eternity, and God.

By comparison, peers such as Aldous Huxley covered very limited subjects though no less important and prophetic in Brave New World, his controversial novel published in 1932. In it, the author describes a future society of 2540, one governed by a politically correct world state that strictly limits personal freedoms while keeping the masses content with recreational drug use and sex.

In response to the secular humanist values explored in the work of such contemporaries as Stapledon and H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis wrote Out of the Silent Planet. Published in 1938, it became the first in a celebrated trilogy that posited alien worlds where original sin never took place (Mars) or was still in an Edenic state (Venus).

Contemporaneous with the British writers, American Philip Wylie anticipated the concept of the super-hero with Gladiator, a novel published in 1930. In it, the author tells the tale of Hugo Danner who’s endowed with super-strength and invulnerability. Through a number of adventures, Danner seeks a purpose in life until, asking God for help, he’s struck down by lightning and killed!

Meanwhile, the rising stars on the American pulp scene concerned themselves mostly with less weighty subjects than the novelists, although John W. Campbell made the attempt with a dramatic shift in his writing style beginning with the 1934 short story “Twilight.” Writing under the pseudonym Don A. Stuart, the author assumes a somber yet elegiac style to tell the story of an Earth where mankind is dying out with machines preparing to take over and continue his legacy.

The same year that Campbell embarked on his new literary trajectory, Stanley G. Weinbaum was revolutionizing SF with “A Martian Odyssey.” It told the story of a man lost on Mars who befriends one of the natives, a birdlike creature named Tweel whom the author creates as a fully rounded personality with a completely alien perspective. It was the beginning of the end of the stereotypical Bug Eyed Monster of the kind popularized by Edmond Hamilton.

Still riding high in the 1930s was E.E. Doc Smith who proved to fans that he still had what it took with the Galactic Patrol, published in 1937. In it, the author introduces the concept of the Lensmen, law enforcers armed with a device that gives them special powers to combat criminals who threatened the spaceways. Perhaps representative of an aspect of SF that was waning even as the story was being serialized in Astounding, it was influential on later iterations of space opera and in present day comic books.

Based on the outrageous theories of Charles Fort, Eric Frank Russell crafted the novel Sinister Barrier which first appeared in Unknown Worlds magazine in 1939. In it, Russell popularizes the concept that the Earth is the “property” of a race of beings that remain forever hidden behind a invisible, uncrossable barrier.

Taken together, the science fiction of the 1930s presented a vastly diverse field for a growing number of enthusiastic readers to explore. A field that would only grow more fantastic in the next decade, the so-called “golden age of science fiction,” when the serious novelists mostly disappeared and writers who began as fans took over, regularized the genre and matured it into a fascinating exploration of future possibilities.

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See the previous installments in this series:

The 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Stories of the 1910s

The 10 Most Influential Science Fiction Stories of the 1920s

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Gadflies and Offense

Friday, January 9th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

JesuisCharlie

Je Suis Charlie. Actually I’m not Charlie.  I’m Sarah.  But for the purposes of this disquisition, I wanted to indicate that I stand with Charlie Hebdo, the magazine in Paris where people were murdered for drawing cartoons of the prophet Mohammad.

In the wake of this dreadful event, we were treated to a spectacle of frothing at the mouth, whining and screaming – no, not in support, though heaven knows quite a few brave souls rallied to support – about the people who refuse to give in to the head-slicers.

People on Facebook, before the blood stains dried on the floor of the magazine headquarters, were whining about how the “right wing” would take “advantage” of this, and claiming that the magazine “really was very bad” and that they knew what they were risking and therefore had it coming.

Crazier fringes of social media, for instance, my colleagues, either claimed that it is still easier to be a cartoonist in France than a Muslim. (Question for the class: if it’s so difficult to be a Muslim in France, why do they immigrate there? Oh, wait, because it’s more difficult to be a Muslim – or alive – in the majority Muslim countries they came from.) Or that the “right wing” was demanding all Muslims apologize – this from a leading light who then apologized to Muslims for this – or that the right wing was filling Facebook with negativity. This last, the precious flower who claimed this, countered by posting pictures of baby animals.

A particular jewel of preciousness residing in California tweeted the following:

@SofiaSamatar when you live under white supremacy & Islamophobic paranoia, the line between supporting free speech & bolstering hatred is so thin.

I’m not a hundred percent sure what they think white supremacy is, or what race they think the Muslims in France are. However, let me clarify that for them: France is while a bit more xenophobic than the States not in any sense white-supremacist. And the Muslims in France are mostly of Mediterranean origin, that is about the same color I am.  Or, you know, the same as Portuguese, Greeks, and Italians who also immigrated to France.  I don’t see any of those being driven mad by “white supremacy” and killing cartoonists.

And if this precious flower thinks that the US is a white supremacy regime after electing a black president twice, she might need therapy. Whatever she’s seeing is not reality.

Then there are the people who say that Charlie Hebdo had it coming because they were “nasty” and “disrespectful” to everyone, not just Muslims, that they were a polluting element in society, which “upset” people.

I have for years now decried the nonsense of trigger warnings and people who confused PTSD with “being mildly inconvenienced.” I’m not doubting the existence of PTSD, mind, I’m saying that when you get to trigger warning for “holes” or “spiders” for people READING a text, you’ve gone well beyond sanity.

I suspect half the people who say Charlie Hebdo courted their fate are people who believe they have a right to be protected from unpleasantness.

To them I say: Grow up. (Actually I say something more forthright, Anglo-Saxon and four letter, but PJMedia would cut it out.)

Oh, sure, you’re free to say whatever you want – see, our side recognizes that – but I’m also free to tell you to make the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in that part of your anatomy where the sun don’t shine.

You don’t have a right to never be offended. You don’t have a right to never be questioned. You certainly don’t have a right to never be made uncomfortable.

This is not only because giving you that right would cause other people to be uncomfortable.  No.  This is because giving you that right is actively detrimental to civilization.

First of all, people can find offense and things to upset them in just about everything, regardless of content. I recently talked to a young lady whose parents forbid music with a rhythm – even classical music – because they deem that sexual. I know people who consider fiction – all fiction – offensive, because it creates something that doesn’t exist. I know people – and for those who’ve read me and know the most sex in my books is a kiss this will be great fun – who think my books are pornographic. I’ve simultaneously been accused of proselytizing Christianity and of being anti-Christian for the exact same book.

People can find offense wherever. Give the pointing finger the right to decide what anyone can do and no one will do anything. Some people will object to chipping flint, as it violates the rocks of Mother Earth.

Second of all, civilization needs reality checks.  Most people like the cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo are gadflies.  They will attack everyone equally and most of their attacks will be somewhere between fart jokes and armpit noises.

But sometimes the gadflies are needed to point out what’s wrong with things that have gotten entrenched in society to the point no one analyses them anymore.  Take Marxism. (Please! I’ll give you a free barf bag as an additional prize!) Most people aren’t aware of the extent to which it has penetrated their thoughts, and it takes a joke juxtaposing, say, equality of results and the town drunk for them to see what is wrong with it.

And sometimes the gadflies expose the amount to which the “reasonable people” are cowards who have allowed themselves to be cowed.  Their silly bravery in the face of physical attacks and eventually death stands in contrast to the fear at CNN which immediately banned all non-respectful references to “the prophet” as though there were only one.

They definitely expose the hypocrisy of those who constantly chide others for “victim blaming” but who would blame these most hapless victims who were killed over some lines drawn on paper?

Je suis Charlie, even though this is Sarah – but Charlie is 100% with me on this – we will not shut up, we will not be cowed, we will not kowtow to desert hillbillies who critique art with machine guns.

We will write and say what we want to, and we will defend the right of free speech of everyone else. Even of Ms. “White Supremacy Believer” above, and of CNN.

Even as we think they should do the sign of the double emu with an umbrella up in the part of their anatomy where the sun don’t shine. And THEN open the umbrella.


Je suis Charlie, C’est vrai — mon prénom est Charlie. But for the purposes of this article, my point, as with Sarah’s, is to indicate my support for free expression against the people who want to tell me what to think or what to say.

All of them.


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Wisdom From My Internet
By Michael Z. Williamson

You learn some amazing things on the internet. The War of 1812 was just a dispute over labor and hiring practices. Pico de Gallo was not a conquistadore. Hugo Chavez is not a line of clothing. There was no medieval siege engine called the Battering Lamb. Americans apparently like debt–they keep voting for more of it.

Join SF writer and satirist Michael Z. Williamson for a collection of snark, comments, random typings and alcohol-fueled puns that is worth at least half the cover price.


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Nocturnal Lives (boxed set)
By Amanda S. Green

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.


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Duty from Ashes
By Sam Schall

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?


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One-Eyed Dragon
By Cedar Sanderson

One-Eyed Dragon is a story of medieval Japan, a man retired from war, and the quiet village he set up shop in. When a strange woman comes to him for a tattoo, he reluctantly takes her money, and tries to unravel her mystery. Meanwhile, savage men threaten his newfound peace. Can there be friendship in exile, for a man who is so scarred and cast out?


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Rainbow’s Lodestone
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

A lost birthright and unending agony.

On a whim, the rainbow’s child falls to earth, where a cruel adversary takes advantage of her innocence. Can she reclaim her thunder-swept heavens? Must she dwindle and die? This transcendent short story of J.M. Ney-Grimm’s troll-ridden North-lands explores how inner freedom creates outer opportunities.

Earth trumps heaven until ancient music plays.


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Star-drake
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Gefnen – troll-herald and hound for Koschey the Deathless – hunts life across the moors of the far north.

Not deer, not pheasant, not meat for the table. His master eats choicer fruits. When the piercing scent of youth tingles his senses, Gefnen focuses his chase. The prey – a boy – lacks guardians strong enough to best a troll. Swift triumph awaits.

But other seekers tilt the chances of this game. Spirit of storm, poignant memories of a sea-prince, and something more ancient than memory or the wind shape the looming tumult.

Gefnen hunts victory, but a darker victory hunts him.

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Two Sides of the Mind

Friday, January 2nd, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Hi, this is Sarah, and I know that I’ve mentioned before that I have this small problem: when I’m writing, I can’t edit, clean up and put books up for sale.

In the same way, when I was working for the traditional short story markets, which involved  a lot of making spreadsheets and keeping track not just of where things had been sent, but where things might be acceptable, where similar things had gotten a sale or a “close but no cigar.”  I could and did this highly rational and logical task, but I couldn’t do it at the same time that I was writing.

Charlie pointed me to this article this week, which explains why, no matter how many decisions I made, no matter how much I tried to write and submit the same week, I could never do it. Instead I’d go through months and months of writing stories, and then through a month or two when I submitted.

Turns out that while you’re engaging the rational part of your brain, you can’t engage the emotional area of your brain, and vice versa:

The new study shows that adults presented with social or analytical problems — all external stimuli — consistently engaged the appropriate neural pathway to solve the problem, while repressing the other pathway. The see-sawing brain activity was recorded using functional magnetic resonance imaging. 

(There’s a lot more to it, and you should read the whole thing, but that’s the gist of the article.)

It also solved another problem for me, to wit why so many of my colleagues, who are otherwise smart and logical people think that the purpose of writing is to engage in “social justice” issues, and are both completely unable to see that “social justice” is an oxymoron which would punish people for crimes they didn’t commit and circumstances in which they had no choice, while elevating other people for similar circumstances, but also that their stories, conceived for the purposes of “social justice” fail not only on logical sense, but also on emotional engagement with the public.  These very intelligent people, be they writers or editors will engage in all manner of explanation for why the print-runs and sales keep falling, but never the obvious reason.

This is because the part they are engaging when writing these tales is purely emotional. Now, as illustrated by my dilemma above, we all engage different parts of the brain when writing and when considering how to present our work to the world.

Normally the emotional part of the brain is engaged by the story itself. I grieve with my characters, and live with them through their challenges. That is a difficult and not particularly rational process – I often spend the rewrite process making my story more logical and closing up plot holes – but here is the thing: those reasons and emotions are essential to the story, and at some level, there is always a certain amount of following the journey the way the reader will. Part of this is built on our own experience as readers and writers (and it’s why experience at both is essential to making a good writer.)

But the authors who write for “social justice” and who seem to market as though they are on a religious crusade which promises them victory if they’re pure enough, write from a narrative that gives them feelings and emotions in exchange for believing the right beliefs and saying the thing they were convinced – emotionally – need to be said.

Their emotion comes from saying those things, not from creating a story that can pull others along with the story. At the same time their marketing comes from the certainty that they’re “on the right side of history” and other such quasi-religious beliefs.

And there you have it why the publishing business got itself so backward and sideways. This is not unique to this time and place, but happens any time that the arts establishment are under the sway of a strong faith. This is how establishment art always ends up losing popularity and being open to takeover by rebels and outsiders.


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The Hammer Commission
By John Van Stry 

To most people, Mark’s job seems dull, he investigates crimes committed against Church property; theft, vandalism, the occasional robbery.

But that’s just window dressing. Mark is actually an elite member of a thousand year old secret society that hunts down devils, demons, and other evils. His job is to find them, remove, dispel, or kill them. He’s on the front lines of the secret ongoing war between Heaven and Hell. However as wars go, this one seems to be finally winding down.

Unfortunately for Mark, all of that is about to change…


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Skies of Navarys (Lodestone Tales 1)
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

A royal geomancer announces that the goddess Evaia shrugs, and every citizen on the island springs to action. Amidst the uproar, the aeromancer Palujon steals unique and magical lodestones.

Mago discovers the theft and vows to retrieve the stones. His friend Liliyah questions Palujon’s motives. Why would a man of his stature break the law? Is he truly a rogue? Life and death hang on her answers.


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Resonant Bronze (Lodestone Tales 2)
By AUTHOR 

The warriors of Torbellai brought back a prize in the night, and young Paitra wants to see it. Even hidden away in the armory, the artifact changed the whole mood of their mountain citadel from dread foreboding to hope.

But the warlord hid the fighters’ plunder for good reason. Forged by trolls and radiating magic, it presents grave risk to any who approach it. Will Paitra survive his curiosity?

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New Year, New Page

Monday, December 29th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
In the New Year, control the popcorn kittens!

In the New Year, control the popcorn kittens!

All right.  It’s time to start preparing for the new year.  No, this doesn’t mean you should make a whole slew of resolutions.  Why not? Because if you’re a writer, but particularly if you’re an indie writer, you no longer have a governor for your efforts.  There is no publisher saying “only one book a year.”  Heck, there isn’t even a publisher saying “only a book a month.”  And so, you feel so free and will over-resolution yourself to death.

So, instead of new year’s resolutions, the friendly staff at your Book Plug Friday headquarters, high on the side of the mighty Rocky Mountains would like to offer you…

New Year’s Suggestions:

1-      Don’t overbook yourself.  Not only us, but all our friends who have gone indie, the moment we write in hard and fast “A novel a month” or whatever, our muse decamps to Southern climes to watch scantily dressed strangers and drink fruity alcoholic drinks, leaving us high and dry and blocked. Popcorn kittens are the perennial problem of the indie writer.  Give them a valium.

2-      Pencil those deadlines in as “would like to” but don’t kill yourself  if you don’t. Just because you work for yourself, there’s no reason to abuse your employee.  Make sure you pencil in a free month now and then, so if you blow one month, it can take that one.  Otherwise you’ll suffer a tsunami of deadlines.

3-      Pencil in time for all your other work, too. Remember you’re not only writer, but also publisher and at the very least art director, if not art designer.

4-      Consider different computers for writing, publishing and whatever else you do on the net.  (In my case, catering to my political news obsession.) If you can’t afford that many computers, have a laptop and change the location. Your brain is a creature of habit.

5-      If you can, designate a day “publishing day.”  It’s something Dean Wesley Smith told us to do three years ago, and we still haven’t done, because… time and things interfering.  But if you can, it will keep production more steady than our habit of writing for months at a stretch then publishing for one month, then…

6-      Make time to research the market, the marketing, the covers, the tags.  Yes, I know, you researched it all years ago.  It’s probably outdated.  It changes very fast.

7-      Make contact with other indie writers. The most valuable information has come to me via a friend saying “Hey, did you notice that—” And for things like KULL, not to mention mutual publicity, friends are invaluable.

8-      Remember it’s all about the writing.  It’s always about the writing.  If your other stuff is stealing from the writing, find a way to minimize it. Trade editing and cover design with friends; let the house go without cleaning every other week.  Whatever.  Just keep writing.

And if you’re a reader of Book Plug Friday and JUST a reader, I have just one New Year’s suggestion for you:

Read more.  We’re counting on you!


[Charlie here:] Yeah, it’s late again. Look, I’m really not a big fan of the holidays.

In the mean time, I want to announce a mild change in the submission guidelines — which you can, as always, get by emailing book.blug.friday@gmail.com — because there’s one point in them that is nearly uniformly being missed. That would be the desire for short blurbs.

Last week there were a half dozen submissions with excessively long blurbs, up to 400–500 words. Some of them were very nice words, but there were too damn many of them. So here’s the revision:

Blurbs should be 100 words or less. If a blurb is long enough to make me wonder, it will be word-counted (using the UNIX command wc(1)). Anything in excess of 125 words will be rejected automatically. Between 100 and 125 words, you’re in the lap of the Gods.


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Broken Eden
By Wesley Morrison 

After seeing his entire unit die in a failed black op, Brahm Tanner retreats from the military and even his family. Now running a freelance hostage retrieval unit, life—and business—are good. At least until the President of the United States insists on hiring him.

A covert, underground facility has gone dark, apparently taken over by its own commander. Why the military of the most powerful nation on Earth is now standing down, however, and who the partners in this “shared” facility truly are, the President refuses to say.

Every instinct tells Brahm to walk. And every experience says that he and his current team are being set up as scapegoats.

Then the President names the commander of the base: General Benjamin Tanner.

Brahm’s father.

A Screenplay for a Film That Never Was…


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The Lost Book of Anggird
By Kyra Halland 

Stodgy Professor Roric Rossony and his free-spirited assistant Perarre Tabrano have been asked to find a way to stop the deterioration of the powerful magica. When the professor delves too deeply into lost and forbidden books, magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre are forced to flee from the authorities on a dangerous journey to discover the origins of magic.


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

Life was never easy in the Methuselah Cluster, but when her alcoholic father found her a ‘job’ so he could look for ‘work’ off-planet, 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn how ugly it could get. Within months, she was sold to a brutal slaver, who took the last thing she owned: her name.

Most slaves last a year or two. Kris survived eight before she was rescued.

Unfortunately, eight years in hell prepared Kris for everything but freedom, and her new life isn’t what she imagined: the authorities think she’s a terrorist plant, a beautiful celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and someone is trying to kill her.

So now she’s mad. Game On.


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Livli’s Gift
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

In Kaunis-spa′s magical spring, Livli achieves spectacular cures. A born pioneer, she hopes to match new ways for healing with new ways of living. But the Kaunis-sisters fear rapid change. While Livli pushes forward the new, one influential foe pushes back. Home will keep its ancient customs, even if Livli loses everything. Must surrender spell defeat? Or could letting go harness real power?


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A Knot of Trolls
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

North-lands spellcasters who reach too boldly for power transform into trolls – grotesque villains wielding a potent magic and destined for madness. A KNOT OF TROLLS features seven of these evildoers, each pursuing a unique design for troubling their neighbors. Across the ages of the world, ordinary youths must rise to the challenges laid down by trolls. Destiny and hope lie in the balance.


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Beverly Hills Is Burning
By Neil Russell 

Rail Black, a former Delta Force operator, is rich and lives in Beverly Hills. But unlike many wealthy people in the world’s entertainment capital, Rail is not in show business. In fact, he avoids it at all costs. Until now.

From ninety years in the past, a time when gangsters and tycoons roamed Hollywood and scratched each other’s wallets–Rail is thrust into a labyrinth of murder, duplicity, money, sex and power.RB


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Starship’s Mage: Omnibus
By Glynn Stewart 

In a galaxy tied together by the magic of the elite Jump Magi, Damien Montgomery is a newly graduated member of their number.

With no family or connections to find a ship, he is forced to service on an interstellar freighter known to be hunted by pirates.

When he takes drastic action to save the Blue Jay from their pursuers, he sets in motion a sequence of events beyond his control – and attracts enemies on both sides of the law!

(The first episode is now free, and can be found here.)


On special from Sarah!


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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All Night Awake (Magical Shakespeare Book 2)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

Touched by the magic of fairyland, unable to forget Lady Silver, Shakespeare goes to London to seek his fortune. But there, the elf will follow, on the trail of a creature so deadly that, unless Shakespeare and the king of Elves stop it, it might very well consume London and all of England. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2002)
Praise for All Night Awake:
“Ingenious… fans of the first book won’t be disappointed.” – Publishers Weekly
“Hoyt sustains her intriguing premise with a soaring, lyrical style. A most enchanting novel” – Booklist


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Any Man So Daring (Magical Shakespeare Book 3)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 4.99!!!

William Shakespeare, successful playwright, receives word that his only son has died. Reality is far more complex. The young Hamnet is a hostage in fairyland, where a war rages, and where a young princess waits a Prince Charming who might never come.

Can an all too human playwright stop the magical war that threatens both worlds?
(This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2003)


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No Will But His
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

On limited time sale from 5.99!!!

Kathryn Howard belongs to a wealthy and powerful family, the same family that Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s great love originated from. From a young age, her ambitious relatives maneuver to make her queen. Brought up in a careless manner, ignorant of the ways of the court, Kathryn falls victim to her kind heart, all the while wishing she could be the wife of Thomas Culpepper.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

ON SALE FROM 6.99 for a limited time!!!

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

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These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

Sunday, December 21st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Yesterday [for some value of today -- this is Charlie, and I am once again way behind, and it's not Sarah's fault]  I (hi guys, this is Sarah) was looking for information on writers of SF/F.  Long story short, my novels in science fiction started out having chapter titles from pulp shorts/novels I remembered reading (the trick is they’re sometimes not the English titles, as Portuguese translators changed them.) In the fourth book, now, I’ve run out of easy titles and had a choice of changing the system or finding more titles.

So I was trolling the least savory corners of the net and finding bibliographies. (Well, not the least savory. That would be Dino-on-girl or beastie-on-boy.)

I came across about 20 lists of “the best women writers” and the “best female writers” of science fiction and fantasy. Weirdly, none for men. Geesh, for an oppressed minority, female writers sure get a lot of attention.

I’m not on any of these lists – duh – which brings me to when I was asked to produce a list of “best female writers” of SF and was unable to come up with ten. It’s not that there aren’t ten good female writers, it’s that I don’t READ that way – who does? – and therefore don’t remember my authors that way. And when I asked for help, what I got was “lists of female authors I heard were important because they were the “first” – actually just “the most talked about” or “the first of the right (left) political persuasion” female writer to do/be/whatever.”

Most of the most ballyhooed first or best are demonstrably false, but beyond that this bothered me beneath the skin, as it were, because they weren’t lists of best ANYTHING. They were lists with training wheels.

For instance, my friend Kevin J. Anderson, often jokes by introducing me as “the best Portuguese-born female science fiction writer published originally in America.” (If he just threw in “libertarian” I think he’d have a list of one, if he doesn’t already.) He gets away with this because it’s obviously a joke. I know where I stand. I’m mid-mid to high mid-list. That’s where I belong for now, not in “best” anything. But see, I have plans.

If someone did this seriously it would be the equivalent of telling me “You’re pretty good for a Portuguese chick writing in English as a second language. We don’t think you’ll ever get any further, so we’re pinning a medal on you now.” Do that, in seriousness, and you’ll withdraw a bloody stump.  Who are you to patronize me?  I might never get any further than I am, but trying is my prerogative. (Oh, and buy my books.)

So I’ve been thinking on this concept of lists and “best” writers, and I discussed it with Charlie. As usual, we are but two minds that fester as a single one. Most of the lists of “bests” go by awards or what someone said was first or important.

That’s, pardon me, the end product of a bovine digestive tract. There’s only one real measure of what is best: “What stays with you.” And there’s only a real measure of what is classic: “What stays with a lot of people.”

So, below is a – non-gender-segregated, because no one gets prizes for having a vagina – list of writers that stayed with me or that I return to time and again.  In no particular order, IMHO, YMMV, TANSTAAFL and BBQ also OIMMBLTTA*.

Robert A. Heinlein – Duh. I named my first son after him, not after any other writer.  (Beyond the fact that my husband wouldn’t let me name him Clifford, and Ray wasn’t even in the running.)  Widely credited as inspiring more scientists than any other science fiction writer.  The opinion of which works people like varies, some people (deviationists in the Church of Heinlein, which my fans and I have – ridiculously – been accused of being) excluding the later ones, some the earlier ones.  I like them all, but my favorites that get read every year are The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, Starship Troopers, Puppet Masters and The Door Into Summer. When you talk to someone and they say they no longer read science fiction, they inevitably end with “no one writes like Heinlein anymore.” I concur, though some of us try.

Isaac Asimov – is here because he was prolific and popularized science fiction. I remember him and reading a ton of his books when I was little. What I don’t remember is the books. I remember a short story “Liar“, mostly because I was afraid I was on track to be the female character. [Charlie: I liked Asimov although a lot of his stuff hasn't worn well for me. But still, the I, Robot stories, and the Lije Bailey books, like The Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, are worth the time.]

Ray Bradbury – Yes, I know.  Possibly an acquired taste, but if so, I acquired him.  Part of it is that he translates magnificently to Portuguese, but the other part is that he’s just a good writer, period.  Unorthodox for Science Fiction, but very good.

The first book I read in English for Americans was Dandelion Wine.  I was 14, and I still have the book, with all the difficult words with a translation penciled over it in Portuguese.  Towards the end of the book, the “explanation” is in English, as I’d graduated to an English-English dictionary.  I bought both my sons’ copies at 12, but they say Bradbury is depressing.  Don’t care.  Fahrenheit 451 remains and will always be a favorite of mine. [Charlie: Ray was pretty much the first person to encourage my own writing.  I'd recommend his later novels, like Death is a Lonely Business and Green Shadows, White Whale, and of course his short stories.]

Clifford Simak – In Portugal he is considered one of the “great three” – Asimov is often dropped from the list – and I used to get up really early to snag a copy of his books when they were released in Portuguese.  Portuguese books rarely go back to press, so that was my one and only chance. I love particularly Werewolf Principle and They Walked Like Men.  They Walked Like Men used to bother me as I thought it was anti-money.  Re-reading it, I realized it was anti-fiat-currency.  Fine.  I’m okay with that. [Charlie: I'm not a Simak fan for no reason I can explain.  But I will note that an awful lot of Simak is now available in Kindle collections, being out of copyright.]

Anne McCaffrey – okay, fine, she’s not to everyone’s taste, and when I tried to re-read her recently, I couldn’t.  But the reason I couldn’t was that so many things kept kicking me out because they’re tired tropes of fantasy.  The thing to remember though was that they weren’t, until she made them so.  (And also that she was writing science fiction.)  I’m going to recommend all the Dragon books through White Dragon. Though my favorite when I first read them was Moretta.

Ursula LeGuin – Why is she beneath Anne McCaffrey? Don’t I know she was way more “relevant.”  Well, yes, I do know that. Pfui.  She was relevant because at some point she flipped over into female supremacy.  She was also, more or less explicitly more left than other women writing at the time. However, recently, when introducing someone to fantasy I recommended the Tombs of Atuan [Earthsea] trilogy.  (What do you mean there are four books?  Pfui.  I can’t hear you!) I remember that one because for a kid who read all sorts of weird religious stuff, it struck a chord.

Then there’s The Left Hand of Darkness. I tried re-reading it recently and couldn’t because the narrative technique is SO seventies. (And the best thing about getting older is that each decade takes me farther away from the seventies.) BUT for better or worse, this is the book that got me into writing. As a biology-geek (in my spare time) I was offended by the design of her hermaphrodites. As a history-geek I was offended by the society derived from it. So I said to myself, I said, “Sarah, you can write hermaphrodites better than that.” I couldn’t.  But now I think I can and it’s on the slate for when the other stuff is done.  (Could be twenty years, of course.)

[Charlie: I liked LHoD and The Dispossessed. On the other hand, if someone hands you LeGuin's translation of the Tao Te Ching, drop it quickly and wash your hands. And, look, Ursula, if you wanted to call it "poetry inspired by..." then I'd have no trouble, but passing this off as a translation is a travesty.]

Terry Pratchett – Appears this late only because he’s rather recent.  His disk world is a creation of genius, which allows him to do anything he wants to, historical or not.

I have a little crush on Captain Vimes, which is shameful for a libertarian.  And I think older son IS Captain Carrot.

If you’re reading Pratchett and you think he’s just “funny, ah ah” you’re missing layers and layers of meaning. Pratchett writes characters that LIVE which considering their background is amazing.

He also falls into the category of artists whose art can go against his own explicit beliefs to touch something eternal about the human condition. Highly recommended. I revisit him regularly.  Off the top of my head: Night Watch, Witches Abroad, Thief of Time, Small Gods, Monstrous Regiment.

Diana Wynne Jones – Okay, I’m going to admit right now that the woman could never write a satisfying ending and that her last books were… uh… odd. (She died of brain cancer, so I don’t think we can hold it against her.)  However, I recommend the Chrestomanci series and also The Merlin Conspiracy.)

Jerry Pournelle – why is he so far down? No reason except I only discovered him when I came to America. Also, that he is a personal friend, and one always feels a little guilty about recommending a personal friend. Read everything he ever wrote, alone or with Larry Niven.  Favorites are Footfall and Lucifer’s Hammer.

Jerry has been a great influence on fans – particularly not-on-the-left fans – about ten years younger than I.  As big as Heinlein for me and my generation.  He was also one of Mr. Heinlein’s protégés and has some great Heinlein stories, if you can sit down with him.

BTW it has reached my ears that he had a stroke this weekend, and I’m praying, so hard. He’s one of my favorite colleagues.

There are a lot of other writers I enjoy and remember, some of them contemporary and my friends, but if I get into that, I’ll be here all day. Quickly: A. E. Van Vogt; Philip Jose Farmer, Larry Correia, Dave Freer, John Ringo, about a million and a half writers whose names refuse to come to mind right now (including some of my own) and a bunch of indies you can find if you follow my blog, or even check out the announcements here regularly.

So, go forth, happy holidays and happy reading.

*Objects in Mirror might be larger than they appear.


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Sarvet’s Wanderyar
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

Running away leads right back home – or does it?

Sarvet walks with a grinding limp, and her mountain culture keeps girls close to home. Worse, her mother emphasizes all the things Sarvet can’t do. No matter how gutsy her spirit or bold her defiance, staying put means growing weaker. Yet only boys get wanderyars. Lacking their supplies and training, how can Sarvet escape?

Can dreams – even big dreams – and inner certainty transform impossible barricades into a way out?


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Worlds Apart Book 10: Eventide
By James Wittenbach 

The 10th Book in the Worlds Apart series finds the badly damaged Pathfinder Ship Pegasus limping into the Eventide system, hoping to make repairs. Instead, they find an undeveloped, backwater colony with limited technology and scant resources. And worse, Eventide has drawn the attention of the Kariad: Alien busybodies who meddle in human civilizations that fail to meet their standards. Commander Keeler has seen other colonies ruined by their misguided social engineering. He makes a wager with the Kariad; if he can fix the civilization on Eventide, the Kariad must never meddle in human affairs again.


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Manx Prize
By Laura Montgomery 

In the second half of the twenty-first century, orbital debris takes its first large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat. Haunted by visions of destruction, Charlotte Fisher, a young engineer, determines to win a prize offered by a consortium of satellite and orbitat operators for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs these efforts until the reentry of a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off. With limited resources and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she faces daunting odds.


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A Cat for Christmas: A Cat Among Dragons Short Story
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

Major Rahoul P. Khan returns to the 58th Regiment of Foot. The holiday season calls up memories he’d rather have left in Afghanistan. Can the Cat help him keep Christmas?

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34 Holiday Gifts for the Southern Culture Lover on Your List

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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This holiday season, I know you’ve been wondering: what can I give the Southern culture lover on my gift list? Well, worry no more, because I, your intrepid Southern culture expert, have decided to swoop in like a Christmas miracle and save the day!

Here’s a list of 34 awesome gift choices that cover just about every area of the culture below the Mason-Dixon line. The best part: nearly everything on this list is eligible for Amazon Prime, for all you procrastinators. Enjoy!

5. Explore The Literary South

One of the greatest traditions in the South is storytelling, and a classic Southern story makes a wonderful gift for the bookworm on your list. Here are just a few recommendations.

William Faulkner is one of the best known and most respected authors in the South or anywhere. I’ve always had a difficult time keeping my concentration reading his novels, but I love his short stories. I highly recommend The Collected Stories of William Faulkner (also available for Kindle) as a sort of greatest hits collection and The Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner for deeper cuts (get it here for Kindle).

Georgia’s own Flannery O’Connor also made a name for herself in literary circles, and her short stories are some of the best in American literature as a whole. Check out The Complete Stories (also on Kindle) to experience her true genius in all its glory, but I also recommend the slim volume A Prayer Journal (also on Kindle) for some of the most beautiful, lyrical Christian prayers I’ve ever read.

Of course, there are plenty of great Southern novels to choose from, but here are some of my favorites. Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God delves into the lives of black people in rural Florida with a lyrical flair. In Ellen Foster, by Kaye Gibbons, a precocious orphan tells her own story. James Dickey’s Deliverance is the same harrowing story as the movie, but with greater depth. And Family Linen by Lee Smith is my all-time favorite novel — a twisty, darkly comic family tale.

You can’t go wrong with any of these choices for literature lovers.

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It’s Human, But Is It Art?

Friday, December 12th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Shakespeare

If only this guy had listened to the critics of his time, he could now be obscure and ignored just like everyone the critics admired! Instead, he’s still read and performed. Hack!

I am not going to give you a link, but that great intellect for the ages (the man who has a grant for writing a novel, but hasn’t) Damien Walter, over at Al Guardian is pronouncing again.

Apparently he was all over Twitter with a cover of Jim Baen’s Universe (now defunct) claiming that these terrible covers are the reason Science Fiction isn’t taken seriously.

It’s been a long day that involved having blood drawn for medical tests, and I am old enough and tired enough that I’m not putting up with this anymore.

There are people out there who complain about Heinlein’s end to The Number of the Beast in which critics are imprisoned in a pocket universe from which they can only escape if they ever have a single, solitary creative thought.

All I can say is that those people aren’t as tired of critics and opiners on what constitutes literature or worthy literary expression as I was even back when I first read that book and snorted with glee at the ending. I was twenty one. On the other hand I had already acquired a bachelors in literature, one of those experiences likely to rip all illusion from your eyes and all forgiveness from your heart.

So, not exactly in response to Damien Walter, (who is loonier than a moonstruck moonling dancing in the moonlight) but in response to his ilk, I feel it’s time I set the record straight on what is literature, what isn’t and what is worthy and isn’t.

I will confess that part of this is in response to many people who have asked in groups I frequent – as we’re trying to build a culture away from Marxism – for “worthy” books for themselves and their children. This always devolves into a list of “approved” books, well thought of by the talking heads who are, of course, wholly-owned subsidiaries of the establishment.

No mas. Enough is enough.

So, what is literature? Should your kids read it?  Should you read it?  How can it improve your life?  And should you be worried if science fiction isn’t considered “real literature”?

Charlie has a definition of literature that involves Aristotle’s Poetics. That’s fine.  It’s way too intellectual for me, and I’ll let him talk about it. I merely have a degree in this stuff, and most of it consisted of people blathering about things that had nothing in fact to do with literature.

For my purposes I’m going to define literature as a narrative/emotional experience packaged into words.

Is it an art?

Oh, assuredly. You can still read Shakespeare, Austen and Kipling (and Dumas and fill in your own favorites) and still understand it at an emotion-level as well as a narrative-level. Which means that there is art there, to touch something essentially human across the centuries.

The problem is judging the art. This is not a problem unique to writing. We partake the same thing with the plastic arts, with music and with practically every artistic field.

The problem is this: for the last century and a bit a self-hating, sour-faced minority of the reading public, aka critics, has installed itself as the arbiters of what is and isn’t art.  And they are applying it not in terms of the emotions the story touches, or in terms of the narrative cogency, but in terms of “being socially relevant.”

In this century that has come to mean Western-hating, male-hating and most of all – and this is very important – fun-hating.

Instead of rousing tales that touch humans enough to read them for pleasure, literature has come to mean “beautiful words telling us establishment messages.”

We’ve seen this in art before. Look for instance to when French in the regency had defined what plays should be. Good plays, to be worthy, should have no blood on stage.  No panic or death or anything else should happen on stage. These were decorously relayed by messengers telling us what had happened off stage.In the more eventful plays, so many messengers crossed on stage it looked like a relay race.

The critics of the time often said that upstart, Shakespeare, would be better off imitating them and showing more class and taste.

Those other playwrights are not seen or heard from anymore. For some reason, Messenger Relay Race is less stirring than Romeo and Juliet. Who would have thought it? Other than any human being with a pulse, of course.

And therein lies the rub.

Literature happens, and we can tell when it has happened, and when it’s art. But we can only tell it’s art when it’s stood the test of time. Until then we call it “rousing good stuff.” In other words, stuff people buy and read for fun.

The first indication of art, we can take it, is the pleasure of readers in reading it.

And as for being taken seriously – by the likes of little Damien – who cares? Those are social games people play to make sure they’re in with the smart set.

They’re welcome to their games.

We’re playing for the ages.


Charlie here. Yes, you’re right, Book Plug Friday is late this week. In fact, a week late. The story of how that happened is boring even to me, but it was my fault.

Second, this is a SPECIAL EDITION because we have four of Sarah’s ebooks on sale. Go check them out.


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Frizzy, the S.A.D. Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #4
By Dorothea Jensen 

Frizzy, one of Santa’s Izzy Elves, styles Christmas dollies’ hair, but misses them when Santa takes them away for delivery. She decides to change her job so she doesn’t get so attached to the toys she works. Her plan doesn’t work out exactly as she intended, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“…a highly original and wonderfully developed children’s book…appeal[s] to girls and boys alike,…the rhymes…fit into the story perfectly…full color images are superbly done…with a creative and engaging story, Jensen has succeeded at crafting a memorable Christmas story for children that is so good it’s possible it will be enjoyed year round.” -Red City Review


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Dizzy, the Stowaway Elf: Santa’s Izzy Elves #3
By Dorothea Jensen 

Dizzy, one of Santa’s tech-savvy Izzy Elves, knows all about his friend Tizzy’s Great Adventure and he wants to have an adventure too! When he sneaks aboard Santa’s sleigh, Dizzy finds all the adventure he’s dreamed of, in this award-winning illustrated rhyming Christmas story for kids aged 4 and up.
“A little elf’s clandestine adventure as a stowaway on Santa’s sleigh takes an unexpected turn in an engaging contemporary spin on the classic 19th century poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas”…The author propels her present-day take on the classic Christmas poem with gentle humor and suspense…appealing energy and colorful verbal imagery…” -Kirkus Reviews


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Santa Hunk
By Kirsten Mortensen 

First of all: forget everything you ever heard about him being a fat old
guy who’s never seen a razor.

I mean, think about it. Santa’s an immortal. He’s immortal. A god,
basically. And I’m telling you, he looks like a god.

The guy is gorgeous.

Those things you’ve seen about the goofy red suit and the big jiggly
belly? Most of it comes from a poem a guy wrote for his kids. “’Twas the
night before Christmas.” You know the poem I mean. And it’s a nice poem.
It’s a timeless classic.

But the guy who wrote that poem? He’d never seen Santa.

He made it all up.

Me? I have seen Santa.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I saw him — but I’m not the one who found him.

Clare found him.

She found him — then she nearly lost him again…


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Red Queen: The Substrate Wars
By Jeb Kinnison 

Set on a California college campus just a decade or two from now, the world
of Red Queen is post-terrorist disaster, repressive and censored ‹ rather
like China today, but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people.
In that sense it is a dystopia, though not so far from our own day and time;
only a few steps beyond where we are now. The students are cowed but not
unaware, and they seize the opportunity to make a difference when their
smarts and courage allow it. And so they change the world.

This is Book 1 of Substrate Wars, the series: A growing band of campus
freedom-fighters discover a new technology that could either destroy the
world, or save it.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.

It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth


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Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)


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Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

April in Paris 1625. D’Artagnan, and his new friends who hide their true identities under the assumed names of Athos, Porthos and Aramis, discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France. Suspecting an intrigue of Cardinal Richelieu’s and fearing the murder will go unpunished they start investigating. But the enterprise will be fraught with danger, traps from the Cardinal, duels with guards and plotting from the king himself.


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.

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My Cup Runneth Over

Saturday, November 29th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
We live in a time of magic (even without flying cars.)

We live in a time of magic (even without flying cars.)

It seems appropriate, this being the week of thanksgiving, to make a list of everything that I – hi, I’m Sarah, and I’m a writer.  I’ve tried to give it up, but … oh, heck, not very hard – am thankful for as a writer, living in this, the early decades of the twenty first century.

First, let me pile on to register my disapproval with the lack of moon colonies, spaceships to Marsh and, oh, yeah, flying cars.  No, I don’t really care if they’re impractical, I want them because cool.

Turned out, though, the future didn’t look like we expected.  It didn’t turn out glitzy and superabundant.  Perhaps it never will, since we’re humans and the question is always “abundant with what?”

I mean, very few among us are starving (looks down at waist. We could use a little more starving around here) but very few of us in this economy are exactly well off or unworried, either.

And yet, with all this, the future also did not turn into the rusty and decaying future so beloved of seventies leftist writers and other dystopians. We’re not all sweating in factories, skulking amidst the rusting remains of the past, and living at the mercy of the state.  Okay, maybe that last, but even then not the way they expected.

Because you see, on their way to taking over the institutions, the left ran into the obstacle they never saw coming: technology.

I grew up in Europe and I don’t remember a time when I didn’t know the essential industries to take over when communists (or the feared Soviet invasion) took over a country: News, entertainment, communications, education.  The military, of course, would have to be co-opted or defeated.  But those other industries?  Once you had them you could co-opt the military, or give the impression of a “popular revolt.”  You could change people’s minds, or if not, you could make everyone who opposed you feel like they were lone nuts and people of no account.

For those who are looking at that and saying “but that’s what happened here!”… Yep.  The left has only one playbook, and it involved the long march through those essential industries, the ones that told people what the world was like and allowed them to create an image/ideal of how it should be.

Note technology is not among those fields.  Oh, I know that a lot of computer technicians (but not all) are left.  Most of all, the firms are left, since being on the left has become a way of signaling class (high class) so executives all make the appropriate noises.

But there are still no-go zones, and those are the ones where technology is created.  Engineering, technical work, the harder sciences.  Those were left untouched by the long march, because math and physics are immune to both bullsh*t and guilting to “give the other side a chance.”  Calculations are either right or they aren’t.

And ignored by the left, the sons of Martha were building structures that replaced the ones that the left had taken over.  (Something the left doesn’t seem to realize is that they have the Mierdas touch.  Everything they touch turns to offal. They’ve managed to take the magic out of movies, the creativity out of books and the news out of the news business.)  With official structures in crisis, the unofficial is superseding them.

I know right here, in the belly of the beast, it doesn’t look like we’re doing much. But look back just ten years, and you’ll see the difference.

So this Thanksgiving I’m thankful for the sons of Martha who created the structure that allows for blogs and communication among peers; for e-tailers; for indie publishing; for online schools.

I’m thankful that we can save ourselves from the wreck being wrought upon us by our so-called elites.

Yes, they still have some sway and some of the technology is not quite there to supersede things like Hollywood.  But it will be. It’s a matter of time.

Don’t allow them to have their Brave New World. We know it’s not a how-to. Build under, build parallel. Ignore their corrupt structures and make your way.

We live in the future, and the future belongs to us.


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Deadline 70 AD
By Jim Lion 

The day John Salmon graduates from college, he thinks his turn has come to go out and conquer the world, but instead the world comes to conquer him. At the campus chapel, he encounters an attractive young woman named Jill. She warns him to walk away from a mysterious stranger who will soon arrive offering adventure and world travel. But why would he listen to her, a complete stranger herself? She exits in a hurry, frightened even, but leaves behind a curious device resembling a wristwatch.

John finds he can’t walk away from Cyrus, the mysterious stranger, and this decision casts him into the dark places of history, racing against that damnable clock.

The clock keeps ticking, counting down, running out…


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland 

Juzeva, the princess who sacrificed everything to try to stop a war, and instead found herself caught in a web of evil and deceit…

Sevry, the last king of the war-ravaged land of Savaru, tasked with finding Juzeva’s secret, the secret that can bring Savaru back to life…

Lucie, a sheltered young noblewoman, unaware of her true heritage and the power she has to restore a lost land…

Then a mystery from the past becomes real and sweeps Lucie away to adventure, danger, and a love that will change her life and the lost land of Savaru forever.


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Crossing the Naiad
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

Ancient, cold, and perilous.

Its truth forgotten in the mists of time, the old bridge harbors a lethal secret. Neither marble statues awakened for battle nor an ancient roadbed grown hungry, something darker and more primal haunts the stones and the wild river below.

Kimmer knows the stories, but she doesn’t know why the crumbling span feels so fraught with menace. Her way home lies across the ruin. Dare she take it? Or will horror from the lost past rise up to claim her, when she does?


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Perilous Chance
By J.M. Ney-Grimm 

If only Mama were well. If only Papa were . . . not like this.

Clary needs a miracle, but wonders rarely step forth to solve life’s problems. While her mama lies wearily abed and her papa spends the day . . . elsewhere, Clary struggles to look after her younger sister and their baby brother. And longs for more than making do. If only.

Then, one spring morning, Clary and Elspeth visit the old bramble-grown quarry to pick wild cabbage leaves. Hidden within the rock’s cleft, Clary’s miracle awaits. But this miracle sports razor-sharp talons, world-shaking power, ravenous hunger, and a troll-witch to guard its sleep. When it cracks the egg, will Clary survive?

Something wondrous this way comes!

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How to Shop for a Book

Sunday, November 16th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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This is a guest post by Cedar Sanderson, author of Pixie Noir.  Sarah blurbed Pixie Noir thusly: “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

It is an open secret that Cedar is the nice one of Sarah Hoyt’s friends, besides looking like a Heinlein character, red hair and all.  But she’s also sensible about things like books.

First, look at the cover. It might look like a child’s rendition, but this doesn’t mean the content is bad. I’ve seen some pretty bad writing under that pretty wrapper. What the cover ought to tell you is a little about what to expect. Not a faithful rendition of a scene, more a feeling for the tale you are about to immerse yourself in. This doesn’t always happen, and it’s something that can be forgiven, like a chocolate bar in a plain brown wrapper.

Next, check out the blurb, reviews, and other details. Are there typos in the blurb? Oh, so not good. Head on to the next option on the shelf/alsobot/list of titles below. Has the book won an award? Then it depends, was it an award given by fans who enjoy good stories? Then feel free to go on to the next step. Was it an award like the Hugo or Nebula, given out for writing approved message fiction? Step away from the book, and maybe do a little squirt of hand sanitizer, just to be sure.

The book has made it past the first steps of scrutiny, now it’s time for the next step. Look at the publisher? Why would you care who published it? Do you read publishers, or authors? No, wait, there is one exception. A certain flaming rocket logo is a good thing to scan for if you’re perusing a bookstore shelf. Online, the Baen cover art is generally a dead giveaway, being reminiscent of a certain scientist’s shirt.

If you’re shopping online, this is the fun part. Scroll down and look at the reviews. Ideally, you’ll see a mix of good and bad, tilted more to the good side. A book with only 5 star reviews should raise an eyebrow. No readers will all love the same book, and the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure is based in reality, after all. On the other hand, cogently written and on-point negative reviews should raise the other eyebrow, and have you clicking away from this title. Now me, I’m contrary. I have bought books based on negative reviews. Strawman reviews, attacking the author’s politics or perceived ideology are cues that whatever lies between the covers, it’s most likely not dull.

Now, the next step is to crack open the book and look inside. On Amazon, you can do this free and easy with the preview option. In a paper book, you can do what I do, cull a small stack, plop cross-legged on the floor, and start to skim. At home, you can legally do this wearing only a cat. I don’t recommend that in the bookstore.

Generally, Amazon gives you access to the first 20% of an ebook. Speaking as a former slush reader, this is usually plenty of time to get a feel for what’s in there. You want to find a good hook that draws you into the story, not a dull, draggy beginning that makes you feel gloomy. There should be some interesting characters, whom you can connect with. You should be able to immerse yourself in the fictional world and not be thrown out of the story by non-sequiters and egregious research errors.  You’ll know when it’s right, because suddenly you’re at the end of the sample and you click the buy button without a second thought.

Now that you’re hooked on a book, what next? Well, read! Enjoy! And when you’re done, remember where you found that one, and come visit us regularly, there are always new titles and authors to discover. Want more? I know, I know, I’m a greedy reader too. Check out blogs to find one that does regular reviews, and the reviews seem to align with your tastes (a good way to do this is to search for a book/author you really liked and find the reviewers who felt the same way).

Speaking of reviews, this is how you tip an author: review their book. It’s not hard to go to Amazon and write a review, it doesn’t need to be long, and it should not be a plot summary (please, for the love of spoilers, no plot summaries!). Or share a link to the book on social media. Or… both. Because you liked that book, and you want to have more, right? Authors need support, and readers need books. It’s a mutual admiration society. Speaking as a reader, I’m always tickled to do something fun to promote a favorite author, whether it’s simply sharing a link, putting the effort into a review, or even further like taking fun pictures of books and posting them to gloat when I have a new release… Ahem. Right. Sometimes I slip into fangirl mode.

So start your book shopping today, with the links below, and remember, escaping the mundane world gives your soul ease and amuses the brain. It’s food for the mind, and doesn’t go straight to your hips.


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Five by Five 3: Target Zone
By Kevin J Anderson (and others, including Sarah)

TARGETS ARE LOCKED!

Five short novels by five masters of military SF capture the excitement, and hell, of fantastic future war—on and off the battlefield. Stories of terrifying monsters, dangerous aliens and staggering cosmic dreadnaughts march alongside far-flung courtroom dramas and cautionary tales involving man and his devices.

Michael A. Stackpole—The Star Tigers are commandeered by a powerful alien overseer on a covert mission to a world long abandoned by an ancient species. There, the ruins of a forgotten war will tip the balance of their war, unless the Star Tigers can prevent it.

(Contains “And Not To Yield”, a novel in the Darkship universe.)


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Sparrowind: The Dragon Who Lived As A Knight
By R.K. Modena

Tiny Sparrowind can’t hunt from the sky, cannot hope to best his siblings in contests of strength, and scrapes by to survive. But in the books stashed in his parents’ hoard of gold and gems he finds a greater treasure: ideals.

Deciding to make his own way in life gives him more hope than he could have if he tried living only by the way of Dragonkind, but can this dreamer of a Dragon find his place in the world?

A delightful tale for all ages, that may be shared by reading out loud – either to a young audience, or those who are young at heart.


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Playing with Matches
By Suri Rosen

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt, where life becomes a torment. Her sister blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One – including her alienated sister. A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina’s journey is both hilarious and heartbreaking as her life unravels from the effects of firsthand matchmaking.


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SECRET WAR
By Albert Schwartz

Tom Ryan, best-selling military novelist, has arranged a ride to familiarize himself with submarines. On August 10, 1991 he arrives at USS Haddock (SSN 621) as it prepares to depart San Diego for Japan. It would be a final deployment before going to the shipyard for nuclear defueling and decommissioning.

The transit is routine with plenty of opportunity for training. It doesn’t stay routine when Haddock is diverted to search for three Soviet submarines that had deployed from their base. Then events in the Soviet Union result in Haddock being given unprecedented orders. As history is made in Moscow events proceed under the ocean.

Join Tom Ryan aboard Haddock and enjoy the ride.


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Julia Blaine
By Vampire Music

Evil vampires cannot love — can they?

Vampire Gregory Weston loves the tinge of printer’s ink that flavors the blood of those who work with books; printers, publishers, editors and librarians are among his favorite sources of nourishment. Bored and lazy, seeking amusements to fill his endless existence, he has given up his unceasing quest to become human again — until accidentally, he employs Nia, a pregnant librarian. With child? Gregory has never experienced this situation. What a diversion for dispassionate scientific study! That she is beautiful has nothing to do with it.


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Children of Prophecy
By Glynn Stewart

An age in the past, the world’s two greatest Mages fought a bloody war to a draw that slew them both.

In the time since, the Kingdom of Vishni has known quiet, and the Swarm beyond the mountains has grown in strength and numbers. Now, with the Time of Prophecy at hand, dark forces move to fulfil ancient visions.

Two men, born to poverty but bearing the blood of those ancient Mages, will rise to decide the fate of both Swarm and Kingdom as the fires of this ancient conflict rise anew.


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Quantum Zoo
By Bridget McKenna, D.J. Gelner, et al

From a haunted old zoo filled with ghosts to a dying starship on its way to a new home – humanity’s final gasp, Quantum Zoo presents a dozen compelling stories featuring a dozen exotic and unusual menageries.

Jack the Ripper arrives for one last murder, while a dinosaur – out of place and out of time – bridges the gap between two poignant lovers in the wonderfully atmospheric England of Hugo-­ and Nebula-­nominated Bridget McKenna.

Quantum Zoo propels you on an enthralling journey through awe and emotion, highs and lows, with tender romance following hair-­raising action.

Join some of the hottest independent science-­fiction and fantasy authors writing today in the fascinating worlds they create from the zoo!


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Devouring Light
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Can one small good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio stands watch over the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger, but not from afar. Close to home lurks the real risk that his festival for Sol’s 25th anniversary will be a bust.

Failed negotiations with constellations and his fellow guardians send him to the brink of complete frustration…when a beautiful celestial wanderer fetches up at his domicile, seeking refuge.

Her form beguiles. Her mystery intrigues. And Mercurio’s fascination with his visitor poses yet another threat to Sol’s celebration.

Will Mercurio recognize his role as cat’s paw soon enough? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than any of the guardians imagine – threaten the solar system’s very existence?


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Elizabeth and Empire: Book Four of the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

The higher the peak, the greater the fall.

Twenty years after the Seige of Vindobona, Duchess Elizabeth von Sarmas and her husband Col. Lazlo Destefani stand near the top of their world. But when a Frankonian army refuses to roll over and play dead, it sets off a series of conspiracies within the Imperial court that threated Elizabeth’s marriage, her position, and even her life. Emperor Thomas, young and untried, finds himself matching wits with King Laurence and even Elizabeth may not be canny, or strong, enough to stop Laurence this time.

They say the Age of Miracles is ended, but Elizabeth needs one more than ever!

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The Women Some Women Can’t See

Friday, November 7th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Image captured at a meeting of the downtrodden women of science fiction sewing circle and feminist empowerment society.

Image captured at a meeting of the downtrodden women of science fiction sewing circle and feminist empowerment society.

So The Atlantic has discovered women in Science Fiction. To be more precise, The Atlantic has discovered that women are “rising” in science fiction.  Again. Apparently they asked Ann Leckie about women and awards in Science Fiction and Leckie, best known for writing a novel in which people have two genders and pretend to only see the female one, explained:

But both Leckie and Hurley express a combination of optimism and cynicism when it comes to whether or not women in the science fiction world are actually making progress, and how quickly. Leckie points out that this isn’t the first time women have been in the spotlight for writing award winning science fiction. “Sometimes I feel very optimistic about it, I say look at this, there are more women getting awards,” she says. “And then I look back and the ‘70s. The ‘70s was a decade that was crammed with prominent women science fiction writers, and a lot of women made their debut in that decade or really came to prominence.”

This was the time of Ursula K. Le Guin and Vonda McIntyre, who both won joint Nebulas and Hugos. Anne McCaffrey, Kate Wilhelm, Joan Vinge, and Marion Zimmer Bradley were all nominated for Hugo Awards that decade. In 1973, the Alice Bradley Sheldon, who wrote under the pen name James Tiptree, Jr. wrote the famous, feminist short story called “The Women Men Don’t See.” Joanna Russ’s feminist science fiction book The Female Man was published in 1975 and nominated that year for a Nebula.

Then, Leckie says, the ‘80s and ‘90s happened. The rate of women nominated and winning awards dipped down again. And today, once again, society has this idea that women who write science fiction are a strange and interesting breed. In other words, today the community is having the same conversation it had in the ‘70s about women writing science fiction.

This is beyond precious.  First of all, I’d like to inform The Atlantic that the (ever-shrinking) community they’re talking about is the Science Fiction Writers of America, the same organization that went on the war path against two members for using the word “lady” which is apparently derogatory.  Of course, people with such high standards are having the best conversations.  At least, they’re having the best conversations, if the conversations you’re looking for are “excuse me, is the sky made of Swiss or Guyere?”

As for Ms. Leckie, I believe she is confused about the history of the field.  In fact, women went right on winning awards through the eighties and nineties.

For instance, this is a list of the Nebulas won by women since 1982 to 2011:

  • 2011 NOVEL: Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis NOVELLA: “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky SHORT STORY (tie): “Ponies”, Kij Johnson SHORT STORY (tie): “How Interesting: A Tiny Man”, Harlan Ellison
  • 2010 NOVELLA: The Women of Nell Gwynne’s, Kage Baker NOVELETTE: “Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast”, Eugie Foster SHORT STORY: “Spar”, Kij Johnson RAY BRADBURY AWARD: District 9, Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell ANDRE NORTON AWARD: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente
  • 2009 NOVEL: Powers, Ursula K. Le Guin NOVELLA: “The Spacetime Pool”, Catherine Asaro SHORT STORY: “Trophy Wives”, Nina Kiriki Hoffman
  • 2008 NOVELLA: “Fountain of Age”, Nancy Kress SHORT STORY: “Always”, Karen Joy Fowler ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J. K. Rowling
  • 2007 SHORT STORY: “Echo”, Elizabeth Hand SCRIPT: Howl’s Moving Castle, Hayao Miyazaki, Cindy Davis Hewitt & Donald H. Hewitt ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Magic or Madness, Justine Larbalestier
  • 2006 NOVELLA: “Magic for Beginners”, Kelly Link NOVELETTE: “The Faery Handbag”, Kelly Link SHORT STORY: “I Live With You”, Carol Emshwiller ANDRE NORTON AWARD: Valiant, Holly Black
  • 2005 NOVEL: Paladin of Souls, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELETTE: “Basement Magic”, Ellen Klages SHORT STORY: “Coming to Terms”, Eileen Gunn SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
  • 2004 NOVEL: The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon SHORT STORY: “What I Didn’t See”, Karen Joy Fowler SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Stephen Sinclair & Peter Jackson
  • 2003 SHORT STORY: “Creature”, Carol Emshwiller SCRIPT: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson
  • 2002 NOVEL: The Quantum Rose, Catherine Asaro NOVELETTE: “Louise’s Ghost”, Kelly Link SHORT STORY: “The Cure for Everything”, Severna Park
  • 2001 NOVELLA: “Goddesses”, Linda Nagata
  • 2000 NOVEL: Parable of the Talents, Octavia E. Butler NOVELETTE: “Mars Is No Place for Children”, Mary A. Turzillo SHORT STORY: “The Cost of Doing Business”, Leslie What
  • 1999 NOVELLA: “Reading the Bones”, Sheila Finch NOVELETTE: “Lost Girls”, Jane Yolen
  • 1998 NOVEL: The Moon and the Sun, Vonda N. McIntyre NOVELETTE: “The Flowers of Aulit Prison”, Nancy Kress SHORT STORY: “Sister Emily’s Lightship”, Jane Yolen
  • 1997 NOVEL: Slow River, Nicola Griffith SHORT STORY: “A Birthday”, Esther M. Friesner
  • 1996 NOVELLA: “Last Summer at Mars Hill”, Elizabeth Hand NOVELETTE: “Solitude”, Ursula K. Le Guin SHORT STORY: “Death and the Librarian”, Esther M. Friesner
  • 1995 SHORT STORY: “A Defense of the Social Contracts”, Martha Soukup
  • 1994 NOVEL: Red Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 1993 NOVEL: Doomsday Book, Connie Willis NOVELETTE: “Danny Goes to Mars”, Pamela Sargent SHORT STORY: “Even the Queen”, Connie Willis
  • 1992 NOVELLA: “Beggars in Spain”, Nancy Kress
  • 1991 NOVEL: Tehanu: The Last Book of Earthsea, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • 1990 NOVEL: The Healer’s War, Elizabeth Ann Scarborough NOVELLA: “The Mountains of Mourning”, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELETTE: “At the Rialto”, Connie Willis
  • 1989 NOVEL: Falling Free, Lois McMaster Bujold NOVELLA: “The Last of the Winnebagos”, Connie Willis
  • 1988 NOVELLA: “The Blind Geometer”, Pat Murphy SHORT STORY: “Forever Yours, Anna”, Kate Wilhelm
  • 1987 NOVELETTE: “The Girl Who Fell into the Sky”, Kate Wilhelm
  • 1986 SHORT STORY: “Out of All Them Bright Stars”, Nancy Kress
  • 1985 NOVELETTE: “Bloodchild”, Octavia E. Butler
  • 1983 NOVELETTE: “Fire Watch”, Connie Willis SHORT STORY: “A Letter from the Clearys”, Connie Willis
  • 1982 SHORT STORY: “The Bone Flute”, Lisa Tuttle [refused]
  • 1981 NOVELLA: “Unicorn Tapestry”, Suzy McKee Charnas

And this is a list of Hugo Awards for the same period:

1981 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Devention in Denver, CO. 1981 Hugo Nominees

Novel: The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge

Dramatic Presentation: The Empire Strikes Back written by Leigh Brackett & Lawrence Kasdan, directed by Irvin Kershner (20th Century Fox)

Fan Writer: Susan Wood

Fan Artist: Victoria Poyser

1982 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon IV in Chicago, IL. 1982 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Downbelow Station by C.J. Cherryh

Fan Artist: Victoria Poyser

Campbell Award: Alexis Gilliland

1983 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Constellation in Baltimore, MD. 1983 Hugo Nominees

Novella: “Souls” by Joanna Russ

Novelette: “Fire Watch” by Connie Willis

1984 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at LACon II in Los Angeles, CA. 1984 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “Speech Sounds” by Octavia Butler

Professional Editor: Shawna McCarthy

1985 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Aussiecon Two in Melbourne, Australia. 1985 Hugo Nominees

Novelette: “Bloodchild” by Octavia Butler

1986 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Confederation in Atlanta, GA. 1986 Hugo Nominees

Professional Editor: Judy Lynn Del Rey [Note: Lester Del Rey rejected this award on the basis that Judy Lynn would have objected to the award being given just because she had recently died.]

Fan Artist: joan hanke-woods

Campbell Award: Melissa Scott

1987 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Conspiracy ’87 in Brighton, United Kingdon. 1987 Hugo Nominees

Campbell Award: Karen Joy Fowler

1988 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at NolaCon II, in New Orleans, LA. 1988 Hugo Nominees

Novelette: “Buffalo Gals, Won’t You Come Out Tonight” by Ursula K. Le Guin

Campbell Award: Judith Moffett

1989 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Noreascon III in Boston, MA. 1989 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Cyteen by C.J. Cherryh

Novella: “The Last of the Winnebagos” by Connie Willis

Fan Artist: Brad Foster and Diana Gallagher Wu (tie)

Campbell Award: Michaela Roessner

1990 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConFiction in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. 1990 Hugo Nominees

Novella: “The Mountains of Mourning” by Lois McMaster Bujold

Short Story: “Boobs” by Suzy McKee Charnas

Fanzine: The Mad 3 Party (Leslie Turek, ed.)

Campbell Award: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

1991 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon V in Chicago, IL. 1991 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: The Vor Game by Lois McMaster Bujold

Campbell Award: Julia Ecklar

1992 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at MagiCon in Orlando, FL. Photos from the MagiCon Hugo Exhibit 1992 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold

Novella: “Beggars in Spain” by Nancy Kress

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, ed.)

1993 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConFrancisco in San Francisco, CA. 1993 Hugo Nominees

Novel: A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (tie)

Novelette: “The Nutcracker Coup” by Janet Kagan

Short Story: “Even the Queen” by Connie Willis

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick and Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Fan Artist: Peggy Ranson

Campbell Award: Laura Resnick

1994 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Conadian in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. 1994 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “Death on the Nile” by Connie Willis

Professional Editor: Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Campbell Award: Amy Thomson

1995 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out on Sunday, August 27 at Intersection in Glasgow, Scotland. 1995 Hugo Nominees

Novel: Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)

1996 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out on Sunday, September 1 at L.A.con III in Anaheim, CA. 1996 Hugo Nominees

Short Story: “The Lincoln Train” by Maureen F. McHugh (F&SF, April 1995)

Dramatic Presentation: Babylon 5 “The Coming of Shadows” written by J. Michael Straczynski, directed by Janet Greek (Warner Brothers)

1997 Hugo Winners

The 1997 Hugos were awarded at LoneStarCon II in San Antonio, TX. 1997 Hugo Award Nominees

Short Story: “The Soul Selects Her Own Society…” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s 4/96; War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches)

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

1998 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were awarded on Friday, August 7 at the Convention Center in Baltimore, MD at Bucconeer. Charles Sheffield served as Master of Ceremonies.

Fanzine: Mimosa (Dick & Nicki Lynch, eds.)

Campbell Award: Mary Doria Russell

1999 Hugo Winners

The 1999 Hugos were awarded at Aussiecon III on September 4 in Melborne, Australia. Complete voting records. 1999 Hugo Nominees

Campbell Award: Nalo Hopkinson

2000 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Chicon 2000 (VI) on Saturday, September 3, 2000. Novel: A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Novella: “The Winds of Marble Arch” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s 10-11/99)

2001 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at the Millennium Philcon on Sunday, September 2, 2001. Esther Friesner was the MC.

Novel: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (Bloomsbury; Scholastic/Levine)

Novelette: “Millennium Babies” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov’s Jan 2000)

Fan Artist: Teddy Harvia

Campbell Award: Kristine Smith

2002 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at ConJosé on Sunday, September 1, 2002. Tad Williams served as the MC.

Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow

Dramatic Presentation: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring screenplay by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens & Peter Jackson, directed by Peter Jackson (New Line Cinema)

Fan Artist: Teddy Harvia

Campbell Award: Jo Walton

2003 Winners

The 2003 Hugo Awards were given out at Torcon 3 on Saturday, August 30. Spider Robinson served as Toastmaster. Photos from Torcon. 2003 Hugo Award Nominees

Non-Fiction Book: Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary (Between the Lines)

Fanzine: Mimosa (Richard & Nicki Lynch ed.)

Fan Artist: Sue Mason

Campbell Award: Wen Spencer

2004 Winners

The 2004 Hugo Awards were given out at Noreascon 4 on Saturday, September 4. Novel: Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold (Eos)

Semiprozine: Locus (Charles N. Brown, Jennfier Hall, and Kirsten Gong-Wong)

Fanzine: Emerald City edited by Cheryl Morgan

2005 Winners

The 2005 Hugo Awards were given out at Interaction on Saturday, August 6.

Novel: Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury)

Novelette: “The Faery Handbag” by Kelly Link (The Faery Reel Viking)

Non-fiction Book: The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction ed. by Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn (Cambridge University Press)

Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow

Web Site: SciFiction ed. by Ellen Datlow, Craig Engler, general manager

Fan Artist: Sue Mason

Campbell Award: Elizabeth Bear

2006 Winners

The 2006 Hugo Awards were given out at L. A. Con on Saturday, August 26. Guest of Honor Connie Willis served as MC, aided by Robert Silverberg.

Novella: “Inside Job” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s January 2005)

Non-fiction Book: Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writers’ Workshop by Kate Wilhelm (Small Beer Press)

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Fanzine: Plokta edited by Alison Scott, Steve Davies & Mike Scott

Special Committee Awards: Betty Ballantine, Harlan Ellison

2007 Winners

The 2007 Hugo Awards were given out at Nippon on Saturday, September 1. Toastmasters were George Takei and Nozomi Ohmori 2007 Hugo Award Nominees

Professional Artist: Donato Giancola

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Fanzine: Science Fiction Five-yearly edited by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan & Randy Byers

Campbell Award: Naomi Novik

2008 Winners

The 2008 Hugo Awards were given out at Denvention on Saturday, August 9, 2008. The Master of Ceremony was Wil McCarthy.

Novella: “All Seated on the Ground” by Connie Willis (Asimov’s Dec. 2007; Subterranean Press)

Short Story: “Tideline” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s June 2007)

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Campbell Award: Mary Robinette Kowal

2009 Winners

The 2009 Hugo Awards were given out at Anticipation on Sunday, August 9, 2009. The MCs were Julie Czerneda and Yves Meynard.

Novella: “The Erdmann Nexus” by Nancy Kress (Asimov’s Oct/Nov 2008)

Novelette: “Shoggoths in Bloom” by Elizabeth Bear (Asimov’s Mar 2008)

Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Semiprozine: Weird Tales edited by Ann VanderMeer & Stephen H. Segal

Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan

2010 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Aussiecon IV on Sunday, September 5, 2010. Garth Nix served as MC. 2010 Hugo Award Nominees

Graphic Novel: Girl Genius, Volume 9: Agatha Heterodyne & the Heirs of the Storm Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor – Short Form: Ellen Datlow

Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan

Campbell Award: Seanan McGuire

2011 Hugo Winners

The Hugos were given out at Renovation on Saturday, August 20, 2011. Jay Lake and Ken Scholes served as MCs. 2011 Hugo Award Nominees

Novel: Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

Short Story: “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s, September 2010)

Non-Fiction Book: Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It edited by Lynne M. Thomas & Tara O’Shea (Mad Norwegian)

Graphic Novel: Girl Genius, Volume 10: Agatha Heterodyne & the Guardian Misuse Written by Kaja & Phil Foglio; Art by Phil Foglio; Colours by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)

Editor – Short Form: Sheila Williams

Semiprozine: Clarkesworld edited by Neil Clarke, Sean Wallace, & Cheryl Morgan; podcast directed by Kate Baker

Fan Writer: Claire Brialey

As you see, women quite disappeared from science fiction and fantasy in the eighties and nineties being kept out by the man. Whoever that man was. (Some men might actually have sneaked into the compilation above because I’m cut-pasting on a faulty mouse.  Some women probably got cut out, too. Let me assure you right now that this is a plot of the patriarchy. Your worst fears are justified.) Or perhaps while in other countries women are being enslaved and sold and killed, Ms. Leckie is trying to use the Gramscian tactic of claiming victimhood to make herself look interesting?  And therefore tries to claim discrimination that women in science fiction have never actually suffered, much less in the last thirty years? Nah, surely it would never happen. For heavens sake, that’s about as likely as the organization that used to represent all the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and which is now determined to represent only the POLITICALLY CORRECT Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America voting for all females for an award, and then celebrating the fact that only females won the award and saying that even if the stories aren’t all that good, the males deserve it for keeping women out of the awards women have been winning all along. As we know, that would never happen.  Not in a sane world.  Or an insane one.  Not unless the moon were made of green cheese. Which it’s not, since SFWA has narrowed it down to Swiss or Guyere in their latest important conversation.

And it’s a good thing that never happened, because if The AtlanticThe Atlantic, that’s like a real magazine, right?  And they have layers and layers of fact checkers, right? – were to publish an article about how women disappeared from the science fiction and fantasy awards in the eighties and nineties, we’d have to point at them and laugh and make duck noises, which would definitely leads to take them less seriously the next time they make grandiose claims based on the self-serving narrative of a small and vocal group, right.

But fortunately that never happened. Because if Ms. Leckie had said something as ridiculous as:

Leckie agrees, saying that there is a community of women writers who have been bolstered by their ability to find and support one another. “The Internet really lets people connect that wouldn’t have in the past, and lets conversations happen and connections happen. That’s really something that happens, I’m not sure it’s a club with membership cards but I think there’s some kind of community.”

One would be forced to respond, “Oh, Sweet Pea” (totally allowed. After all the Democrats used it in an ad) “A community of women is not in the nature of a writers’ society which, after all, cares more about excellence in writing than about what is between the writer’s legs.  A community of women is a sorority, a lesbian dating club or a sewing circle.  Given how conventional you all are and how you draw together for comfort and protection, Sweet Pea, I’m going with sewing circle.”

But since that embarrassing article never happened, I don’t have to say that.  And that’s good.  Imagine if I did have to say it.  Why, it would be rude.  And I’m never rude.  Even when sorely tempted by the self-aggrandizing nonsense of pseudo-pioneers.

The real pioneers are in indie, where we have some recommendations for you today.


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Farmhand
By Lilania Begley 

Wounded veteran Dev Macquire needs some farm help until he recovers. When his father, Gray, brings home a new hand, he’s dismayed to meet Irina. How can a woman do the rough, heavy work they need? As she works her way into their life, and into his heart, he’s faced with a new dilemma. Can he persuade her to stay, and to accept a new role in his life?
Irina took the job on a whim. She just wanted to work hard enough to forget why her life was on hold and her future uncertain. Daily reminded of a brighter past, a childhood spent on horseback…but her new feelings for Dev were definitely not sisterly. At the end of the summer she’d leave, it was too dangerous to risk staying near him.

As a wildfire threatens the countryside, racing toward the Macquire place, Dev and Irina discover what true partnership can feel like, working together to find the arsonist who is responsible. When the fires die out, are there embers left smoldering in hearts?


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Beneath the Canyons (Daughter of the Wildings Book 1)
By Kyra Halland 

Only $0.99 through 11/9/14!

Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series set in a world inspired by the American Wild West. Silas Vendine is a mage, a bounty hunter authorized by the Mage Council to hunt down and stop renegade wizards. He’s also a freedom fighter, committed to protecting the non-magical people of the Wildings from the overreaching ambitions of the mages. It’s a dangerous life, and Silas knows it. Still, when he comes to the town of Bitterbush Springs and meets Lainie Banfrey, a young woman born in the Wildings who is both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical abilities, he finds far more trouble and excitement than he bargained for…


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Wreathed
By Curtis Edmonds 

Wendy Jarrett is smart, tall, and lonely. Adam Lewis is tall, gorgeous, and available. They meet at the funeral for Adam’s crazy uncle Sheldon, and seem made for each other. But there’s a catch.

Sheldon was previously married to Wendy’s overbearing mother, and leaves the only possession in his estate—an ugly old Victorian house in Cape May—to her. This causes a serious rift between Wendy and Adam.

Wendy must take charge of the situation and learn the secret of the old house—and what she finds there may cause her to lose her chance at true love.


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Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty, Book 2)
By Sam Schall 

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?

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Who is the Real Monster in Publishing? A Halloween Tale

Friday, October 31st, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Amazon -- BOO! Scared now?

Amazon — BOO!
Scared now?

Hi, this is Sarah.  Today we have a guest post by my friend Amanda Green.

Who is the Real Monster in Publishing?

I don’t have time and I don’t have the spare brain cells to move away from final edits into blogging. Unfortunately, the idiots just won’t let me alone. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t have gone to Facebook to check out what was going on. But, really, is that so bad as I have my last cup of coffee of the morning?

Anyway, I wander innocently — quit snickering — into one of the groups I belong to and find this waiting for me. Now, I know the Telegraph isn’t the most unbiased reporting site on the net. But it tops even the Guardian with this piece.

Let’s start from the beginning. . . .

Amazon is like Isis, says literary agent.

Wow, nothing like hitting a butt-ton of hot buttons right off the bat. Funny, you’d think with all the media coverage of the evil that is Amazon (yes, I’m being sarcastic), someone would have picked up the stories of the corporate troubleshooters going around beheading folks who it saw as being wrong. Hell, they’d have started with more than a few publishers and agents long ago. Funny, but I haven’t seen anything about that. Have you?

The online retailer has long been accused of making it nearly impossible for authors to earn a living.

What?!? Uh, not only no, but HELL NO.

Before Amazon started the KDP program, there was very little an author could do to get their work into the hands of the reading public. We vied for a very few slots available for new authors, sending our work out first to agents. Why first to agents? Because the vast majority of “real” publishers wouldn’t look at anything that didn’t come via that route. Then, if you were lucky enough to find an agent — who would take at least 15% of anything you earned plus expenses — your work was submitted to publishers. There was never any guarantee that you would be picked up by a publishing house and, if you were, you’d get your advance and probably never see another penny from your book.

Why? Because publishers, even after the Digital Age began, continued to follow the same business plan they had had since the invention of the printing press. For every book sold, the publisher received anywhere from 70% or more of the monies made plus expenses. The rest was divvied up between the author and his agent. Oh, one other little accounting anomaly they don’t talk about in mixed company — they use the figures from BookScan to determine how many books were sold. In case you don’t know what what BookScan is, it is the Nelson ratings for books. You know Neilson. That’s the company that puts little boxes in a small number of homes across the nation and the networks use hand-wavium to determine, based on that small number of “randomly selected” homes, what shows are popular and what are not.

But Amazon, the company that gave authors the first viable avenue to get our work directly into the hands of the public and that pays us up to 70% of monies earned, keeps us from making a living writing.

Riiight.

American agent Andrew Wylie “condemned the ‘brutality’ of Amazon’s tactics. . . .”

Sigh. Amazon is so brutal it offered to pay Hachette authors for sales made during the contract negotiation period. Hachette is the side in the dispute who declined. Even when Amazon said it would solely be responsible for payments to the authors, the publishers stepped in and, citing how evil Amazon was, declined this offer of help for their authors. But Amazon is brutal.

Oh, I know. Amazon is brutal for taking away the pre-order button on Hachette titles. Hmm, titles it may not be allowed to sell when they are published. Titles Hachette may decline to send to Amazon because they are still in contract negotiations. But Amazon is brutal.

“I believe with the restored health of the publishing industry and having some sense of where this sort of Isis-like distribution channel, Amazon, is going to be buried and in which plot of sand they will be stuck, publishers will be able to raise the author’s digital royalty to forty or fifty percent.”

Say what?

Hmm, why can’t they pay that sort of royalty on e-books now? Major publishers don’t have to re-edit, have new art done, store, transport, etc., e-books. All they have to do, if they know their jobs, is convert the file for digital release, resize the cover image and then save it in the appropriate format. Then they hit a button and upload it to the appropriate stores. They don’t even have to change the listings for the books because, duh, they have already set the listings up for the print version. The only thing that costs extra in the digital conversion is their idiotic belief that they have to include DRM.

So tell me again why authors aren’t making 40 – 50% royalties on e-books right now? Especially when mid to small size presses are already paying their authors up to that much?

“Writers will begin to make enough money to live.”

Pardon me but Bullsh*t!

The way they have the system gamed, there is no way most writers will ever make enough money to live. I’ve seen too many statements from writers I know, I’ve talked to too many others who get what can only be called works of fiction when it comes to their royalty reports. If the publishers can’t present accurate sales reports now to their authors, why in the world would anyone believe they would do so after they managed to crush Amazon — hahahahahahahahaha! — and the authors no longer had a viable alternative to what is, at best, voluntary indenture?

[He] went on to urge publishers to form a united front to turn the tide against Amazon. Only then, he said, could authors begin to profit again from sales of their books.

No, only then would publishers convince themselves that they were once again profiting from the sales of their books. Look folks, publishers want to return to the agency pricing model that the courts threw out. There were plenty of contracts signed with authors during that time and I don’t recall the publishers touting how they were increasing royalties for authors because now the publishers were free to set their own e-book prices. Oh, there was a slight increase in what some authors made but no where near what this almighty agent who has been drinking his own Kool-Aid seems to suggest they will become. And why? Because the publishers didn’t have to increase royalties. If they get their way with regard to Amazon, I guarantee they won’t do so unless forced and who is going to force them?

According to Wylie, Hachette is the great hero for standing tall against the evil of Amazon. Why? Because Amazon no longer offered the deep discounts for Hachette books and slowed shipping times, etc. Well boo fracking hoo. They are in contract negotiations. Amazon is a company out to make a profit. Guess what, boys and girls, so is Hachette and it makes that profit on the backs of authors.

Let’s be real for a moment. Amazon is no angel. But it is the height of hypocrisy for an agent to get out there and proclaim that all it will take is for Amazon to go down for authors to start earning a living wage from their work. For one, Amazon is the main distributor of books, print and digital, to the reading public. For another, raising prices for books — which is what the publishers want to be able to do at their whim — will not lead to an increase in sales. At least not an increase in sales for their authors. It might lead to one for those of us who are either hybrid-authors or indie authors. Finally, Wylie needs to climb out of his ivory tower office, quit hobnobbing with the publishing elite and get down in the trenches. He needs to talk to all those authors who have been orphaned by their publishers or who have been on the receiving end of what are obviously fictitious royalty reports but who have been too scared to challenge them because their agents have said the author would never again get a contract with any publisher. Add to that the need to listen to the authors when they discuss just how much more — chuckle — they would make with the royalty increase on e-books. We are talking pennies per copy, not big bucks. And remember, all that is after Wylie and agents like him get their cut, which very likely would go up as well, and after the publishers take out their cut. Wylie also needs to talk to the reading public and, more importantly, he needs to listen to it.

So, on this All Hallows Eve, Amazon is not the big bad monster. It is, in fact, the gladiator that came in and opened the market for authors in a way it has never been opened before.

Amanda Green is older than 20 and younger than death and that’s all you’ll get from her about her age. After all, it’s not polite to ask a woman how old she is. She’s a mother, a daughter and was a wife. She’s spent most of my life in the South and loves to travel. She’s also a writer, among whose works can be counted Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, and Nocturnal Interlude. When not writing under her own name, or under Ellie Ferguson or Sam Schall, she’s known to make trouble for the proponents of gynocracy, the defenders of the traditional system of publishing and other pesky critters online.


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Forge: Book I of the Thrall Web Series
By T.K. Anthony 

The shared colony planet of Forge is at the crossroads of three great peoples: the Scotian Realm, the Xern Cluster, and the Tormin Accord. Only a few know that Forge is also in the crosshairs of imminent invasion.

On Forge, a mindblind and amnesic Scotian labors under the whip of his Tormin master. Tazhret wants to believe the beautiful dream woman who whispers hope to his harrowed heart. But is she real, a memory of his forgotten past? Or merely the single bright thread in the grim visions induced by the same hallucinogen that took his Elemental talents and put him in the chains of indentured servitude.

Real or vision, Tazhret loves her just the same, never dreaming they share a dark future pitting them against their Scotian high king, and the predatory psychics of the Khevox Dominion…with the fate of the three peoples hanging on the thread of their love. An Instapundit reader recommendation.


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Seeds of Enmity: A Forge Prequel (Thrall Web Series)
By T.K. Anthony 

Thirteen-year-old Col Adair doesn’t realize the petty hostilities of young Duke Arran are only a screen for a dangerous foe, targeting Col, Clan Adair, and the Scotian Realm they serve. When an assault leaves Col alone to defend the lives of his family, will victory cost him his future?


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The Man Who Was A Santa Claus
By Walter Daniels 

It’s easy to believe that one person can’t make a difference. Joe never believed he would, and neither did eight-year-old Charlie. She didn’t believe in Santa, because they were all over, and never brought the Christmas Present that she really wanted. Neither knew what would come from their meeting, nor the lives that would be changed. Joe would have a bigger “family” than he ever expected. Charlie would get more than she ever dreamed of, when her “wish” was finally granted.

Like Charlie, maybe the next time you see a “Santa Claus,” you may be seeing a real one.


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Portals of Infinity, Book Three: Of Temples and Trials
By John Van Stry 

With the first of what he suspects will be many favors completed, William finds himself busy with important tasks back at his home on Saladin. Queen Rachel has several jobs she needs him to do, and Feliogustus has similar tasks in mind for him as well. All in all, it seems easy enough to Will, it’s not like he’ll be fighting in any wars, or traveling across the infinite on a strange quest after all.

But things aren’t always as easy as they might seem, and both politics, as well as the other gods, aren’t going to ignore Will, or the tasks he’s been set to complete. And is if dealing with that isn’t problem enough, when the time comes to do some serious diplomacy between Hiland and a neighboring Kingdom, a deadly problem comes from a most unexpected quarter, forcing Will to take immediate action to payback both his, and his God’s foes.

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Who Creates the Books?

Friday, October 24th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
The field is your own.  Harvest it.

The field is your own. Harvest it.

Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m a writer.  Yes, I have actually tried to give it up, but the longest I lasted was two weeks, and then my sons and husband got together to beg me quite eloquently (which was a miracle as the younger kid was then one and a half) to go back to writing, because what I did instead of writing (obsessive cleaning and minding THEIR business) was driving them nuts.

I’ve been a writer since then, nineteen years woman and… woman.

Which is why there are some things that have the ability to make my blood boil, make me foam at the mouth.  This happened when I read my friend, Amanda Green’s post on our shared writers’ group blog, Mad Genius Club this week.

Let’s start with this article from USA Today. I knew from reading the headline that it was probably something that would have my blood pressure rising. After all, how else would I react to “Real books can defeat Amazon and e-books”?

Wait! What? Real books?

Then I started reading and I realize the headline was only the beginning.

And then she quotes the article.  Oh, my, does she quote the article.

The book business believes that Amazon is unfair in the way it sells books. It believes, in fact, that Amazon in its sales practices — pressuring the book publishers to lower their prices and profits — is the enemy. Amazon’s ultimate design, publishers believe, is to ruin them or to wholly shift the center of gravity in the business from the creators of books to Amazon, the dominant seller.

You should probably read all of Amanda’s post, but this is about the time that I turned Green and started stomping around the room, screaming “Sarah Smash.”

It might not have been so bad if it weren’t for an experience my friend Cedar had this week.  Cedar Sanderson is a young and upcoming writer.  I’ve been mentoring her for the best part of – eep – thirteen years, back when all she wanted to do was write some inspirational essays.  Well, a couple of years ago she started writing books, and now she has four in two series out and this year she’ll make in the low five figures from them.

She was talking to me about this a few weeks ago and said “I know it’s not much” which is when I told her the first time I made 15000 came when I’d been in the business for ten years, and had written ten books.  Oh, sure, I get almost that per advance, but advances aren’t paid outright.  They’re paid in three (sometimes four) installments linked to signing, delivery, acceptance and, sometimes, release of the book.  It’s amazing how many years that can stretch across.

Oh, and I was in the business four years before I got my first royalty check, after which the book was immediately taken out of print, because in the then-model, the publisher didn’t count on paying royalties.  Not to midlisters.  (Unless the publisher was Baen.  Which is why I’m still with Baen.)

Well, last week, Cedar went to a panel at the university she attends and was talking about career prospects.  The doyenne of the assembled group was an elderly woman staunchly against self publishing, who just loves her publisher and all its works (and all its empty promises – oops, sorry, thought I was in church for a moment.)

When it came Cedar’s time to talk, she said something about hoping to be able to make a living from writing.  At which point the elderly love-my-publisher writer laughed and said, “Honey, you can’t make a living from this.  I’ve been writing for twenty years and I’m not even close to that.”

That is not only factually wrong, (ask Chris Nuttall, Peter Grant, Doug Dandrige and a dozen more I can’t call to mind right now) but it is also morally wrong.

When I was a kid in Portugal, during the revolution, there was a whole lot of screaming about “the land to them who work it.”  This was mostly in the South where, since Roman times, the land has been held in a system of Latifundia.   And the cry to expropriate the owners and hand out the parcels to the workers was wrong on several heads: first because most of them wished to form collective farms, aka going broke on the installment plan; second because the land in the South of Portugal is so poor that even if you dolled it out into little parcels, each person would starve.  By having the huge farm, the owners made it possible for their various hired hands to make a living from farming.

When I read that journalist above talking about the publishers as the “creators” of the book, I thought of the same “The books to them who create them.”

Except the publishers don’t create the books anymore than those hired hands each farmed a parcel of land.

The publishers used to be an essential part of getting the book to market, pre-amazon.  They printed large numbers, publicized, acted as an intermediary between the writer and their public.

They were, in that sense, good hired hands.

And then the costs of producing a book and getting them to market, through print on demand (which according to my Berkley editor they were using in 03) dropped.  Electronic typesetting dropped it more.  Publishers outsourced the search for books to agents (all but Baen, which still has a slush pile.) And then they had the bright idea of making the writers publicize their own books.

This would be like the hired hands taking a break and demanding the owners of the fields use robots to do all the work, but they still expect to be paid.  What do you think would happen?  Well, it happened.

With the market in a shambles, with publishers using their power to bring to market books they thought were socially relevant and not what the readers wanted to read, Amazon gave writers a chance to go to the public directly.

Which brings me to what a publisher can do for you, which is… Give me a minute… Other than Baen which has a brand that will bring you at least a few thousand readers, like that, with no effort… what the other publishers can do for you is… uh…. Yeah….

Oh, yeah.  They can fudge your statements and take your money.  There I knew they did something.  Fortunately writers who used to work from Harlequin have won the right to class action suits this week, which means more will follow.

And at some point, will stupid journalists realize they’ve been sold a pot of message and that publishers as they exist now are as essential to the book business as a bicycle to the fish?

I doubt it.  They’re too busy putting playing cards in the spokes of publishing, because they like the noise so much.

As for the rest of us, we have work to do.

We work for a living.  And making a living from our hard work is a beautiful thing.

And as a final musical interlude, to remind you of what mainstream publishers REALLY do, by and large, sang to the tune of “Putting on the Ritz”

Robbing the Midlist
Have you seen the well to do?
Walking down Marx avenue
Crying that everything’s unfair
While their butlers do their hair
High-toned, caterwaulers
Condoned with lots of dollars
Spending every dime
Made on other guy’s lines!If you’re blue, and you want dough
Why not lean on someone you know
In the pubbing biz?
Robbing the midlistDifferent types will write a dystop-
ian cliché or bash on the pope
It all fits
When you’re robbing the midlist
 
Cashing in their six-figure advances
Even if their book has got no chances
Of a profit
 
Come let’s mix where pampered authors
Politic to get job offers
Hope they’re picked
For robbing the midlist
 
Tips the scales to favor their own voices
Tries to “Push” to cover their bad choices
Disappoint usNYT Bestsellers topping the list
Make readers stop or numb their wits
Robbing the midlist
Robbing the midlist
Robbing the midlist!

“Mercury retrograde” is the term used in astrology for the times when the planet Mercury appears to be moving backwards against the “fixed stars”. According to astrological lore, during periods when Mercury is retrograde, matters of communication, information, and relationships are impaired. Computers and networks are more likely to fail. Mail may go astray.

Mercury went retrograde on the 4th of October this year. I am a scientific materialist and of course don’t believe in this astrology stuff, but Mercury goes back prograde on the 25th of October. And not a minute too damn soon.

So, if you want to get your book plugged on Book Plug Friday, send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com.

But maybe wait until tomorrow.

Just sayin’


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
By Sarah Hoyt 

In Avalon, where the world runs on magic, the king of Britannia appoints a witchfinder to rescue unfortunates with magical power from lands where magic is a capital crime. Or he did. But after the royal princess was kidnapped from her cradle twenty years ago, all travel to other universes has been forbidden, and the position of witchfinder abolished. Seraphim Ainsling, Duke of Darkwater, son of the last witchfinder, breaks the edict. He can’t simply let people die for lack of rescue. His stubborn compassion will bring him trouble and disgrace, turmoil and danger — and maybe, just maybe, the greatest reward of all.


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Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss, & Edgar Allan Poe
By David Niall Wilson 

Nevermore is a dark, historical fantasy filled with romance, southern charm, and all the trappings of a classic historical romance. Walking the line between the occult, the paranormal, and the reality of 1800s life in The Great Dismal Swamp, Nevermore is also chock full of action and adventure. Follow Edgar Allan Poe and Lenore into The Great Dismal Swamp and experience one version of the birth of Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.”


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I Would Like My Bailout in Bacon
By Wesley Morrison 

Satire, politics, geekery, and dogs.

Any questions?


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A Deed With No Name – A Rae Vigil 911 Story
By Jenna Vincent 

“In Jenna Vincent’s Romantic Suspense novel, Rae Vigil stumbles into an ugly case of domestic violence with a young child caught in the middle. The parents are very powerful and the police are powerless. Torn between saving the child and professional confidentiality, every instinct tells her not to get involved, but sometimes instincts are wrong.”


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Lone Star Sons
By Celia Hayes 

Jim Reade, a volunteer Texas Ranger, is the sole survivor of an ambush in the contested Nueces Strip. Rescued by Indian scout Toby Shaw, the two pursue a mysterious wagon carrying a cursed treasure. Sworn blood-brothers, Jim and Toby meet with other challenges and mysteries, including a trove of documents sought after by spies of three nations and a den of murderous robbers on the Opelousas Trace. The classic Wild West rides again, in this collection of adventures intended for younger readers by the author of the Adelsverein Trilogy.


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A Few Good Men
By Sarah Hoyt 

The Son Also Rises . . .

On a near future Earth, Good Man does not mean good at all. Instead, the term signifies a member of the ruling class, and what it takes to become a Good Man and to hold onto power is downright evil. Now a conspiracy hundreds of years in the making is about to be brought to light when the imprisoned son of the Good Man of Olympic Seacity escapes from his solitary confinement cell and returns to find his father assassinated.

But when Luce Keeva attempts to take hold of the reins of power, he finds that not all is as it seems, that a plot for his own imminent murder is afoot—and that a worldwide conflagration looms. It is a war of revolution, and a shadowy group known as the Sons of Liberty may prove to be Luce’s only ally in a fight to throw off an evil from the past that has enslaved humanity for generations.

Sequel to Sarah A. Hoyt’s award-winning Darkship Thieves, and Darkship Renegades, this is Book One in the Earth’s Revolution saga.

At the publisher’s request, this title is sold without DRM (DRM Rights Management).

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Atlas Shrugged in 7 minutes: Saving You 47 Hours, 21 Minutes, and Perhaps Your Very Soul

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 - by Scott Ott

Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn RandI just read Atlas Shrugged. It was my third attempt in 20 years. It took me five weeks of fierce determination. If you’ve mulled reading the book, I may be able to add precious days to your span on this mortal coil. (WARNING: The rest of this little essay is pure, unalloyed spoiler.)

Dagny Taggart runs a transcontinental railroad company. Dagny is slim, elegant, bold. In her spare time, she’s writing a 1,168-page novel in which she has sex with three different slim, elegant, bold men. She’s not a slut, mind you, nor horny as a rabbit during the rut.

No, she has sex with each man because she agrees with his philosophy, best summarized thus: I am the most important being in the universe, and my pleasure is the goal of the universe, so leave me alone.

Dagny has sex in her youth with Francisco D’Anconia, heir to an historic copper fortune and the richest man on earth, who’s also writing a 1,168-page novel.

Dagny has sex repeatedly with Hank Rearden, a rich (unhappily married) steel magnate, who, in his spare time, is writing a 1,168-page novel.

And finally, Dagny has sex with John Galt, the most interesting man in the world (who’s not pushing Dos Equis), but  who IS writing an 1,168-page novel which, like the others’, contains a mix of economics, philosophy, daily news and sex. It’s basically the Huffington Post, in book form.

Galt has worked as a laborer for Dagny’s company for 12 years, in the same building as she, though Dagny doesn’t know it. In his spare time, Galt works to shut down the economy of the entire world by getting a handful of effective producers to abandon their life’s work and to defect to Galt’s Gulch, an idyllic hideaway in the mountains.

Is it just coincidence that each svelte, ingenious, wealthy member of this foursome has all of this amazing perfect sex while running his or her massive business, and writing a 1,168-page novel?

No, not coincidence: It’s Ayn Rand.

Miss Rand (whose first name is pronounced any way you please) is the author of a 1,168-page novel called Atlas Shrugged. She’s her own inspiration for each of these characters. So, in a very real sense, Atlas Shrugged is about a svelte genius who wants to be left alone, to fantasize about an industrial Utopia while having sex with herself.

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Come On In, The Publishing Is Fine

Friday, October 10th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Come on in.  The publishing is fine!

Come on in. The publishing is fine!

Sometimes we need to get back to the oldies but goodies.  For me, right now, the proximate cause of this is that this week someone sent me two articles by Lawrence Block.

Combined, these articles constitute such a close mimicking of my own experience as I became aware of indie and started publishing in it that it could have been written by me three years ago.

And I don’t think you can find two writers more different than Lawrence Block and me.

In “Are you sure Knopf started this way?” he chronicles the experience of self-publishing back in the eighties, when the world was new and self publishing was not only the worst possible of all alternatives but – at least by the time I came along in the nineties – often amounted to career suicide.

From the article: For many self-publishers, the alternative is no publication at all. Writers turn to self-publishing when they’ve been unable to interest commercial publishers in their work.

But do go and read the whole thing, including the unloading and storing of trucks-full of books from the publisher.

In “All changed, changed utterly,” he describes his experiences with self-publishing after Amazon and realizing the potential out there.

To me the salient section of it is this:

3. A few years ago I led a seminar at Listowel Writers Week, in Ireland’s County Kerry. There were ten or a dozen participants, but I’ve forgotten everything about all but one of them. She was a young Englishwoman whose stories just sprang off the page at you. And she was a demon for work, too, with a trunk full of unsold novels.

After class I took her aside and told her how much I liked her work, and that she’d probably have a hell of a time getting published. Her stories were a mix of genres, all the products of a wholly original imagination that defied categorization. But if she kept at it, I said, something would resonate with the right person, and it would all Work Out Fine.

We’ve stayed in touch. A few times I’ve suggested she try this editor or that agent, and nothing’s ever quite come of it. She got a gig writing a pair of biblical romance novels, and they’re better than they have any right to be, but her own work hasn’t made anyone stand up and salute.

She emailed me last week, and here’s what I found myself writing in reply:

“Have you thought about self-publishing? It seems to me you’re a great candidate for it, with a stack of unpublished books waiting to be shared with the world. I know that you know how much the publishing world has changed, and that self-publishing does not have the odium that once attached to it. And I know you know, through personal experience, how the gateway to commercial publication keeps narrowing—and what’s on the other side of it isn’t so great, anyway.

What strikes me as wonderful about self-publishing is that it allows material to find an audience. What struck me about your work way back in Listowel was the originality of your voice and vision; I think I said then that it might be a while before you found an agent and/or an editor who shared it. (It’s taken rather longer than I thought it would!)

In fact, self publishing or indie publishing with smaller presses removes the fetters from your imagination. If you can think it, you can publish it.

Even supposing that big publishers weren’t politically motivated in what they push and what they fail to push (hey, indulge me, okay, I write fantasy!) there would still be some blinkered decisions, because you see, publishers don’t view books the way you do. They tend to shove them in categories whether they belong there or not. Say you write regency romances, with little on-screen sex (or none). You are going to get compared to Heyer, even if your work is far more introspective and contains, say, a murder mystery.  (Or a dragon – but I view being compared to Heyer as a compliment.)  If you write Mil SF then Drake or Weber will come up, no matter how differently nuanced you are.

And the problem with this is that they’ll then decide that your book will sell or not based on how those do.  Take a friend of mine who wrote a mystery with gay characters.  He couldn’t get them published even though the house loved the book because “we published a book with a cross dresser before and it didn’t sell.”  The differences between those, and the very different audiences they’d attract were completely non existent to publishers.

Or take my book Witchfinder. While it is nothing new to science fiction/fantasy readers, the book takes place mostly in a parallel world that is stuck at a regency level while the main female character was raised on our Earth and is a computer programmer. My agent (back when I had one) wouldn’t even send it out, because “we don’t know if it’s science fiction or fantasy.  It involves machines and spells.”  (No, really, mostly it involves spells and magic.  The woman is a computer programmer, that’s the extent of the tech involved.)

So after years of the proposal sitting, I finished it on my blog in weekly installments and it’s doing quite well on Amazon. (Though not this month.  Nothing is doing well for me this month. Really, guys, good escapist fun!)

Indie in fact, allows the renaissance (naissance?) of new literary movements that the publishers would stomp on pretty hard.  You heard of Human Wave, right?  It now has a sister movement called Superversive.  Read about it here.

The difference from Human Wave is pretty obvious here.

An Example:

I don’t want to give too much away about Winter’s Tale, part of the wonder of the story is that everything is so unexpected. But I think I can describe this scene without ruining too much of the joy.

Crime boss Pearly Soames approaches another man in 1915 New York, reminding the second man that he owes Pearly a favor. He asks for help in his plan to kill Beverly Penn. The second man wants nothing to do with it, but Pearly calls the debt and insists.

Then, suddenly, in the midst of this intrigue scene, Pearly says:

I’ve been wondering.

With all these trying to go up…and you come down.

Was it worth it, becoming human?  Or was it an impulse buy?

You must miss the wings, right?

Oh, come on. You must.

And in that instant, you suddenly realize that something very different is going on that you first thought, and it opens a glimpse into some greater working of the universe, a glimpse that makes you pause and think…about heaven and fallen angels and what it means to be human and whether it is a good thing or no.

And that, my friends, is Superversive.

Can you write superversive Human Wave? I don’t know. Why don’t you give it a try?  There’s an indie for that.

Of course I still (also) publish traditional and so if you like my short stories be on the look out for the Baen Big Book of Monsters, in which I not only invented a very odd monster but returned to some of my favorite obsessions. Also, consider preordering Shattered Shields, in which I also return to one of my favorite obsessions: the Red Baron. (And no, this doesn’t make the story Word War Two, no matter what a reviewer thought.)

And now I’m going to go back to writing Through Fire which is proving more difficult than any book has the right to be. Catch you next week.


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The Dwarf’s Dryad
By Cedar Sanderson

Free from Friday Oct 10 through Oct. 15

Short Story

Two people who share a common plight… His magic holds the key to release both of them, but first, she has to steal it back. It’s a good thing she is a professional thief, but it’s a bad thing that her target is a witch.


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The Speedy Journey
By Eberhard Christian Kindermann

(Edited and Translated by Dwight R. Decker)

“The Speedy Journey” adds a footnote to the history of both science fiction and astronomy by publishing the first English translation of what may be the first fictional account ever written about a trip to Mars, or at least one of its moons. A German astronomer thought he had made the discovery of a lifetime in 1744 — a previously unseen Martian moon over 130 years before any were officially discovered. Instead of announcing it the usual way, however, he wrote a pioneering science fiction story about it. This edition includes historical essays putting the story in the context of its times, including a possible solution to the mystery of what the astronomer actually did see, as well as both new and vintage artwork.


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The Sky Suspended
By Laura Montgomery

A generation has passed since asteroid scares led the United States to launch its first and only interstellar starship. The ship returns and announces the discovery of another Earth. People are star-struck, crowds form in Washington, DC, and a boy from Alaska and two lawyers fight for the chance for ordinary people to emigrate to the stars.

This is bourgeois, legal science fiction with a hearty helping of space policy wonkery.


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Superintendent
By Jeremiah Wolfe

Exiled to the far reaches of Empire, Brad Guthrie must take office as Superintendent of a backwater district to stake his last claim on a chance at redemption. He knows nothing of the oppressed natives, the failing economy or the plantation holders who cling desperately to power, willing to sell him cheap if it lets them hang on for just one more season. When the ancient past demands payment in the present, only Brad has a chance to answer for the sins of empire. Drawing strong parallels from our own history, Superintendent is science fiction, whodunit, and social commentary about the little people on whom history hinges.


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Portals of Infinity:
Book One: Champion for Hire

By John Van Stry

William is just your typical engineer fresh out of college with a stressful job, a boring life, and not a lot of prospects of anything better in the future.

Until one weekend while hiking in the woods he stumbles across a portal to another time, or perhaps another place. The more he investigates this new world the more he realizes that it may just be able to offer him a lot more than the one he’s been living in.

However, there are forces at work beyond anything that Will has ever come across before and the local Goddess seems to have taken a liking to him. Will may soon find himself getting an offer he cannot afford to refuse.


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Sci Phi Journal: Issue #1, October 2014: The Journal of Science Fiction and Philosophy
By John C. Wright et al.

Sci Phi is an online science fiction and philosophy magazine. In each issue you will find stories that explore questions of life, the universe and everything and articles that delve into the deep philosophical waters of science fiction universes.


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Giants (A Distant Eden Book 6)
By Lloyd Tackitt

A short story about two kinds of giants. One of stature and one of courage. Told in a steampunk setting a young boy is raised by a father with an indomitable spirit. Together they face the worst terror on the planet, a rampaging giant.


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COMING OF AGE, Volume 2: Endless Conflict
By Thomas T. Thomas

The Italian proverb says: “Hold your friends close, but your enemies even closer.” Sometimes you must hold family closest of all. Volume 2 of Coming of Age follows John Praxis and Antigone Wells as they benefit from regenerative medicine to enter that unknown space beyond the traditional three score and ten—only to discover that the endless conflicts of family, business, and politics still pursue them. They must cope with familial treachery, political reverberations from the Second Civil War, dislocations from a Bay Area earthquake, and societal collapse following a mid-continent volcanic eruption and foreign invasion.

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The Joy of Matchmaking

Monday, October 6th, 2014 - by Helen Smith

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I don’t generally read fiction, I prefer non-fiction. However, Glenn received a book from Instapundit reader Suri Rosen who wrote a gem of a book called Playing With Matches that I couldn’t resist reading last night while everyone else in the country was watching football.

I worked as a matchmaker at a dating service for a while in graduate school and it was really a skill to figure out what people actually wanted and liked in a potential mate. Rosen’s book tells the story of a 16- year- old girl who has these skills in a close knit Jewish community where she anonymously matches up desperate singles from twenty to seventy and older. From the description:

When 16-year-old Raina Resnick is expelled from her Manhattan private school, she’s sent to live with her strict aunt — but Raina feels like she’s persona non grata no matter where she goes. Her sister, Leah, blames her for her broken engagement, and she’s a social pariah at her new school. In the tight-knit Jewish community, Raina finds she is good at one thing: matchmaking! As the anonymous “MatchMaven,” Raina sets up hopeless singles desperate to find the One. A cross between Jane Austen’s Emma, Dear Abby, and Yenta the matchmaker, Raina’s double life soon has her barely staying awake in class. Can she find the perfect match for her sister and get back on her good side, or will her tanking grades mean a second expulsion? In her debut novel, Suri Rosen creates a comic and heartwarming story of one girl trying to find happiness for others, and redemption for herself.

I found the idea of a matchmaker who acts as a coach to nervous singles kind of interesting. Nowadays with Match.com or other online dating services, no one gets much good advice in an old fashion way about how to deal realistically with another person. Dating and relationships have lost a lot of the human touch that this book brings to life. It’s a fun book and was a nice change from the political and financial books I generally read.

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Cross-posted from Dr. Helen

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Book Plug Friday! Bad Romance

Friday, September 26th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
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No, this is not about Wuthering Heights which I – Hi, this is Sarah – hate with a burning passion, perhaps because I read it for the first time at thirty, when my husband found me laughing as I read it.  Because this whole dying for love thing, and the chick’s attraction for the unwashed one had to be meant as a comedy.

I still think the Brontes were trolling literature and generations of college professors have missed the point.  My husband says I’m wrong, though, and, who knows? He might be right.

Which brings us to another bad romance.  No, not my marriage.  We’re fine, thank you.  He might think I’m a little crazy, but I think I amuse him.

No, the bad romance I’m talking about is between two groups of people.  Or rather one group and each of several groups.

The first group we’ll call the Missionaries. They’ve been called Social Justice Warriors but that is a bit specific.  A lot of them wouldn’t think of themselves that way, because they don’t think they’re Warring with anything, precisely.  Instead, they think of themselves as Missionaries of civilization going among the benighted.  Just like the nineteenth century Missionaries to Africa never wondered why the natives didn’t wear pants, nor wished to acquire the native customs, so the Missionaries of enlightenment have no interest in the quaint customs and history of the groups they choose to grace with their presence.  Instead, they’re there to preach the one true way and bring the recalcitrant into civilization.

The groups they choose to embrace vary: science fiction and fantasy; gaming; hobby groups.  The Missionaries are an universalist lot.  They want to go everywhere and make everywhere conform to their ideas of good.

Of course, the funny thing is that one of the things these Missionaries preach is multiculturalism, but they have no problem at all imposing their values on various communities that had their own values before they arrived.  This is because a) like all multiculturalists they are in fact oikophobic, hating the “less enlightened” of those they live among and cleaving instead to an imaginary superior “other.” b) These are cultures and groups they perceive as low status, sometimes because (like the game community) they are weighted towards males, but mostly because they’re weighted towards geeks and people considered outliers by society.

If I had a dime for every time I’ve been at a convention and heard someone – usually female, although not necessarily – proclaim loudly they haven’t read any of the seminal works of the field I wouldn’t need to write for a living.  They will tell how racist and sexist those works are, of course.

After all, the Missionary of the superior civilization doesn’t need to read your primitive tracts to realize he or she is far superior.

In fact, that script has become a point of pride. Instead of reading the early work in the field, these people who want to totally reform your area of interest will lecture you on your evil ways, which they know about because they’ve been told about them by other people in their group.  Thus they will tell you with a straight face that science fiction had no female writers or writers of color until they came along, somehow sweeping under the rug the history of the very awards they now demand to be given as representatives of discriminated against groups.

I was reading about the various crusades online – the whole stompy foot careening into various groups and trying to shame people for not wearing pants, having the exact mix of gender/orientation and race that the Missionaries think is civilized, and then I realized this entire psychological scenario is something I remembered vividly from college.

You see, even though I was a geek girl, I can pass. Also, I was cute and enjoyed dressing up. I ran with a group of girls who were generally richer and more upper class than I was.  This being Europe, they, of course, dated within their class.  Usually.

But there came that time when they were either between boyfriends, or upset at their current boyfriend, and became aware that there was a boy not-in-their-class (either social, or academic, or of presentation) who was making eyes at them.  Most of the time, these boys were fodder for being made fun of.  But sometimes my “friend” (and by friend I mean friendly acquaintance) was bored or needed a self-esteem boost.

She would make this boy her project.  It was always the same.  “If only you dressed more like this” and “If only you bought a different car” and “If only you rented a place here” and “If only you changed your major.”  At the end of that long list of “if only” was the unspoken promise that “I, who am so superior and so much better, will DATE you.”

Except they didn’t. Not once. They would swoop onto this guy’s life as an “interested friend” and change everything about him, and then go back to their boyfriend/find a new boyfriend more of their type.

These girls were in fact, “bad girlfriends.”

Never once had they any real interest in the boy.  He was just a plaything to be molded into their image thereby giving them an ego boost.  In fact, they would loudly proclaim that they would never be seen with this boy as he was or had been, but if he “only.”

The Missionaries are exactly the same.  They are not fans of science fiction and fantasy.  They actually have no interest in the field as it is.  They have an interest in the work produced by the other Missionaries trying to enlighten the heathens, of course.  And they hold out the promise that “If only.”  If only we were more socially conscious.  If only we celebrated the Other more.  If only we were less obvious about those uncouth fantasy and science fiction elements in our stories.  If only we were more like those cool-stories-literature-professors like.  If only we did all of this, THEN, oh, then they would be fans.  They would love us!

What this means for any self-respecting field of endeavor is that we can tune them off with impunity.  They don’t love us.  They haven’t ever, and they never will.  They just want to get an Ego Boost by making us twist ourselves into pretzels, and then they’ll sail off to court the “real literature” crowd or more likely (because they’re all actually fairly low brow masquerading as intellectuals) the TV and movie crowd.

And if we play their game, they’ll leave us behind with our fun field in ruins.  In some of these fields, like science fiction and fantasy, it has almost gone too far already.  In gaming they’re being politely shown the door.

But even in science fiction and fantasy there’s hope.  You see, we had to conform to their demands because the authorities in the field (the publishers in the old system) made us. The publishers, you see, belonged to the same set as the Missionaries and had gone to the same schools. So we had to write the “right” (which mostly meant the “wrong”) stuff, even if it was driving real readers away.

Now we have indie, so we don’t have to conform to the agenda anymore.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Missionaries say we have to wear pants, have inconclusive endings and write according to their “enlightened” check list.

Fortunately, they’re not fans and they have no power, now we don’t need to go through their pet publishers.

We know they don’t love us and are only using us as step-stools to “greater things” and also having much fun berating us.

We all met women (and men) like them. They’re not worth the effort.

And it’s time we collectively stopped listening to them.

Nothing annoys this type of Missionary as being soundly ignored.  Let’s do it.

It’s time to put an end to this bad romance.


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Worlds Of Wonder – August, 1956
By AUTHOR

Do you miss the fun SF pulp magazines of yesteryear? Have you noticed a lack of enjoyable short fiction lately? Are you looking for fantasy and humor, for high adventure, drama, and hard science? Pick up ‘Worlds of Wonder’ today! Assault Normandy on D-Day with our unsung allies of the S.A.F.! Fly for your life in the clouds of Jupiter! Reclaim a ruined planet for humanity! DON’T try to trick a genie, and change everything! Pick up the latest edition of ‘Worlds of Wonder’ for your Kindle now! Only 99₵, and guaranteed in stock today!


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No Network Found
By Jerry Lawson

The Nevada Test Site in the summer of 1954… A hot wasteland of rock and sand – but the appearance of a small sphere carrying a cell phone from the future is about to change everything. That cell phone was a test article, loaded with data to be compared after a time travel experiment – tens of thousands of books on computers, networks, material science, medicine and history… on all aspects of Future Tech.

Now – the people of 1954 have to deal with technology from 2016… and the first integrated circuit hasn’t even been invented yet!


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A Patriot’s Act
By Kenneth Eade

When a naturalized American citizen turns up missing in Iraq, Brent Marks fights the Goliath U.S. government with its own Constitution. Santa Barbara accountant Ahmed Khury responds to the plea of his brother, Sabeen, a suspected money launderer in Iraq. Before Ahmed realizes what has happened to him, he is in Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp, being subjected to torture to extract information that he doesn’t have. The drama outside the courtroom explodes, and when murder, corruption and cover-up enters the picture, nobody, including Brent, is safe.


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Sarya’s Song
By Kyra Halland

In a world where music is magic, Sarya dyr-Rusac has risen from her destitute childhood to become a respected Arranger of musical magic rituals, until a wedding ritual she wrote results in tragedy. As unprecedented disasters follow, a beautiful, nameless man in chains begins to appear in her dreams, begging her to sing him free. With time running out, Sarya must discover the truth: is he too dangerous and powerful to deal with, a threat to the man she loves and to their world, or does he have the power to end the catastrophes that threaten to tear the world apart?


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Nine empathies: Apprehending love and malice
By Greg Swann

Virtually all of philosophy, not just reductionist science, labors under the delusion – an empathy for the impossible – that people can be controlled from the outside, and can thus be impelled to betray their own interests and values. My impression is that the sole interest academia takes in empathy is to try to figure out how to build a better shmoo.

How do you adore your self while your loved ones suffer? How can you be so deeply in love with them that you cannot distinguish loving from being loved? How can you plan to share a lifetime – to build a home, a family, a future – with someone you really only know by conjecture? This is why you need empathy – and why its real-life expressions are never a self-sacrifice.


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Shot through the Heart
By Julia Blaine

Abduction. A duel. Murder.

Since birth, Galatea was betrothed to Lord Harte Whatley. Conscientiously he visits every Tuesday and Friday. Only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Surely her up-coming, magical London Season will kindle love between them, overcoming obligation. Then Harte replaces his fickle younger brother Pierce in a fatal duel. A third shot strikes accurately. Who is the intended victim? Believing both shooters dead, Galatea and Pierce comfort each other, attempting to solve a mystery with more than one villain — in spite of meddling aunts and an important monkey. Is Harte alive? How can Galatea know who she really loves?


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Acts of War
By James Young

August 1942. London is in flames. Heinrich Himmler’s Germany stands triumphant in the West, its “Most Dangerous Enemy” forced to the peace table by a hailstorm of nerve gas and incendiaries. With Adolf Hitler avenged and portions of the Royal Navy seized as war prizes, Nazi Germany casts its baleful gaze across the Atlantic towards an increasingly isolationist United States. With no causus belli, President Roosevelt must convince his fellow Americans that it is better to deal with a triumphant Germany now than to curse their children with the problem of a united, fascist Europe later.

Acts of War is the continuation of the Usurper’s War series, which charts a very different World War II. As young men and women are forced to answer their nation’s call, the choices they make and risks they take will write a different song for the Greatest Generation.


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Suraiya Jafari: An American President
By Cindy Moy

Suraiya Jafari is an Indian-American Muslim Congresswoman who accidentally becomes the U.S. President. Suraiya, a Republican and former Marine lawyer, is serving as the House Minority Leader in 2022 when the vice president is charged with fraud and forced to step down. Suraiya is tapped to be vice president in an effort to rebrand the party. Then the president dies, and Suraiya moves into the Oval Office. Thereafter she deals with secession, distrust from her own party, sabotage from her political rivals, and even the threat of a third world war, all while coming to terms with how others try to define her and figuring out how she defines herself.

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In Which I Admit My Crystal Ball IS Broken

Friday, September 12th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Managed Economies, Comrade!  Always the future of the past.

Managed Economies, Comrade! Always the future of the past.

(Hi, this is Sarah.)

Making predictions is hard, particularly when they’re about the future.

If you’d asked me in the mid nineties what was wrong with the book business, I’d have told you.  It was the top down, planned-economy model, where the big chain stores stocked according to the whims of their business managers – whims that were mostly based on degree of “confidence” (read supposed print run and ability to pay for better shelving) from the publisher.

I had reason to know that more often than not no one in that chain, from acquiring editor to bookstore manager had read the book.  In fact, while editors read proposals, often the only person who’d read the book was the copyeditor.  (Who was a just out of college kid, more often than not.)

So, how were books stocked?  Mostly they were stocked on feel, on blurb, on general “sense of what should sell” and on – of course – prior numbers.

Only prior numbers were often a matter of GIGO.  For instance, if you only got stocked two books per store, it was known it would sell at most 50% (because of the low visibility and also shoplifting) and then the next book would only print that much, and in three books your career was dead.  (Though often not, it’s just they got to reset your name and take you back to the beginner level advance.)

With one of my books, I was told my best shot at a good distribution was if someone made a movie about the historical period.  Then all the bookstores would stock me.

Think about this.  This was an industry that was, almost exclusively, relying on another industry to do its publicity for it.  And who was stocking not on the basis of quality of the written word, but on the vague feeling that the subject was trendy and therefore people would want to see it.

If you’d asked me in the mid nineties what that would mean for the book business, I’d have told you “nothing. Chains are now the only game in town.  So they’ll keep on keeping on, selling a little less each year, and when they go under in 20 years, they take all of the book business with them.”

I should turn in my crystal ball right now.  Oh, wait, I don’t have one.

Because Amazon came in and everything changed.

For clothing and electronics and automobiles, that workflow is in sync with consumer behavior. Consumers want new fashion, the newest flat-screen, the latest model car. Book consumers aren’t the same. Yes, new titles can drive sales, but book buyers also look for forgotten classics and hidden gems. That means poring over shelves, and that requires old inventory. The chains and their management could have tried to set investors’ expectations for higher unsold inventories as a healthy part of the specific business of buying and selling books. But they didn’t. They treated old inventory as a drag rather than an asset and began to trim their shelves of titles. (Alternatively, they could have tried to position themselves as larger, better-stocked versions of the independents, focusing on the particular desires of book customers.)

Independent bookstores never had to answer to the dictates of public markets. Many of their proprietors understood, intuitively and from conversations with customers, that a well-curated selection—an inventory of old and new books—was their primary and maybe only competitive advantage. In the words of Oren Teicher, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, “The indie bookselling amalgam of knowledge, innovation, passion, and business sophistication has created a unique shopping experience.”

Or, in other words – readers prefer buying from other readers, and books aren’t pieces of fruit that go bad after two weeks.  Also, books (and authors) aren’t fungible.  Who knew?

Not I.  I could have told you five years ago to go long on Amazon, but the last thing I expected was a resurgence of indies.

So I’m not going to make any predictions – I’m merely going to say I’m very glad the misery and failure results of a managed economy have been curtailed for my field by disruptive technology.

And that these are interesting times to be alive in.


And interesting times to publish an independent book and get it plugged on Book Blug Friday! Send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines


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The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin
By L. Jagi Lamplighter

Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts—a school of magic like no other!

Who knew so much could go awry in one week?

Rachel Griffin has one goal. She wants to know everything.

Arriving at Roanoke Academy in the Hudson Highlands, she discovers that her perfect memory has an unexpected side effect. With it, she can see through the enchantment that sorcerers use to hide their secrets.

When someone tries to kill a fellow student, Rachel investigates. She soon discovers that, in the same way her World of the Wise hides from mundane folk, there is another more secret world hiding from the Wise. Rushing forward where others fear to tread, Rachel finds herself beset by wraiths, embarrassing magical pranks, a Raven that brings the doom of worlds, and at least one fire-breathing teacher.

Meanwhile, she’s busy learning magic, making friends and, most importantly, finding romance!

Curiosity might kill a cat, but nothing stops Rachel Griffin!


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Portals of Infinity: Book Two: The God Game
By John Van Stry

Will’s life has definitely changed since that day he went hiking in the woods. Learning about the portals opened his eyes to the wider reality. Being setup to become a God’s Champion was an even more startling event.

Now it’s time to pay for his ‘recruitment’. While Gods on a single world maneuver for power, the older Gods from the infinite spheres play a larger and more complicated game. The Goddess Aryanna has a quest she needs completed, and five Champions are needed to do it. Leaving Will to wonder, what could a Goddess possibly need?


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Memories of the Abyss
By Cedar Sanderson

Free novella from Sept 12-16

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

Lucie, a pampered young noblewoman, has no idea of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore a lost land to life. When a handsome stranger appears at her father’s house, claiming to be a long-dead king and telling tales of a beautiful, mythical land, she fights to deny what he says and cling to the comfortable life she knows. But in her heart, she knows she must find the courage to believe Sevry and join him on his quest to defeat the evil that destroyed Savaru and bring the land and its magic back to life.

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Read All You Want, the Forces of Writing Darkness Will Write More

Friday, August 29th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
An accurate of the villainous indie writing tying the publishing industry to the train tracks.  Don't it just break your hearts?

An accurate representation of the villainous indie writer tying the virtuous publishing industry to the train tracks. Don’t it just break your hearts?

Hello ladies, gentlemen and creatures not yet identified by science.  This is Sarah Hoyt, once more missing Dragoncon to bring you these pearls of wisdom.  Okay, fine.  I’m missing Dragoncon because I’m broke, so I might as well bring you these pearls of wisdom.

Over this weekend, forcibly away from my colleagues who are having way too much fun starting right about now, I’ve been giving some thought to the whole traditional and indie model, which, as you know, is something I never do – coff.

Cons and publishers and the whole enterprise of publishing as I entered it, oh, thirteen years ago or so with the publication of my first novel, was very much a social thing.  What I mean is, from the outside, it looked like a collegial and harmonious enterprise.  All the authors seemed to know each other and at least superficially get along.  And you read – at least in books published a long time ago – that all the authors helped each other.

Was this true?

Well, now.  Some of it was.  Some number of my colleagues were always big-hearted professionals, willing to help a newby who kept her nose clean and worked really hard.  I’m minded here of Kevin J. Anderson who unbent from his Olympian heights to keep me sane and keep my hope alive after the publishing world shut its doors in my face when my first book series failed, back in 2003.  I’m thinking of Dave Drake, who gave me my introduction to Baen.

But these were, at the time, almost acts of exceptional courage.  When I found myself on the outside looking in, the people who helped shine by their exceptional courage. It was a whispered truism in the field that you shouldn’t stand too close to someone the gods of publishing disfavored, because, you know, the publishers might think you were tainted.

This made perfect sense in an oligopsony that could control your fortunes not just what they did, but with what they failed to do (such as promote your books) and when you had no way to make a living through these at best indifferent gatekeepers.

The oligopsony created a finite pie, too.  There were so many slots for so many authors, so many spaces in the shelves of bookstores.  Even if it were your best friend being picked up and promoted, you felt a twinge of … not quite envy, because that slot couldashouldamighta have been yours.

This precluded the amity between writers from being quite as it appeared in public. As did the often random preferential treatment given to those with connections and publishing contacts.

My dentist once told me he knew I was a novelist because I had tooth grinding problems. (This worried me a little.  How many novelists are there in my neighborhood?)

How much things have changed. Nowadays, despite certain people at Teh Grauniad lamenting the “reactionary” and individualistic tendencies of indie publishing, where it’s apparently a writer eat writer world, in fact, I’ve found a lot more cooperation, a lot more help in the new model.

And why not? After all, in the new model there is no finite pie. If any of you falls madly in love with my historical mysteries, it doesn’t mean you’ll buy fewer historical mysteries, but rather more, as I can’t write as fast as anyone reads, and you’ll need more books to feed the habit.

There is also a sort of spontaneous cooperation.  For instance, I said on a couple of facebook groups “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could have a labor day sale?”  And lo and behold, there is a Labor Day sale, with writers who don’t even know each other, but who all figured that there is … sales generation in numbers.

So – at this link are a bunch of books, all of which are 2.99 or less.  Some of which are advertised below.  And some of which are mine. And it all happened spontaneously, through a bunch of authors, cooperating and stuff. Indie authors, you know, those reactionary forces of darkness. (If I’m going to be a force of darkness I must have a cloak and a moustache!)

Have a good Labor Day weekend and read a lot.  Don’t worry about finite pies, either. We’ll write more.


Congratulations,for this week’s links, every last one of the submissions wins the “Authors who can read as well as write” No Prize for submitting the TITLE, AUTHOR’s NAME, BLURN of less than 100 words, and AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Tell all your friends, let’s see if we can keep the run going.

Well, okay, except for one. If your blurb looks a little abbreviated (by which I mean massively cut) you’ll know who you are.

Remember, send your entries to book.plug.friday@gmail.com. In return you’ll receive your very own copy of the guidelines for submission.


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SKORPIO
By Mike Baron

Vaughan Beadles, Professor of Anthropology at toney Creighton University, is on top of the world. Married to the beautiful Betty, Beadles has just taken possession of the largest uncatalogued Amerindian collection in the US. For years Beadles has theorized that the previously unknown Azuma were among the conquistadors’ first encounters. But when one of Beadles’ students dies from a scorpion sting his world comes crashing down. Betty leaves him and the University charges him with grand larceny and manslaughter.

Beadles’ only hope for redemption is to prove the Azuma were real and find the epicenter of their civilization, a journey that takes him from Illinois to Arizona and a fateful encounter with a monster literally from his own nightmares.


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Monster Story
By McCarty Griffin

After years of self-imposed exile, Christy McCauley finally returns home, unaware that the hollows of rural Augusta County where she grew up have become the hunting grounds for an unknown creature that has authorities baffled as it grows ever bolder and more savage. When Christy finds herself caught in the beast’s path, she must choose between fleeing her home to save her own life or standing her ground, and with the help of her friends, hunting down the predator before it kills again.


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Half-Inch
By McCarty Griffin

On a lovely spring day in April, he finally pushes her that tiny bit too far and she snaps. Deep within her, a cold, cruel voice she barely recognizes as her own pronounces those fateful words, “I’m going to kill you, Bobby Hilts.” Ride the crazy train along with Pammy as she gleefully plots her soon-to-be ex’s demise and the diabolical means that ensure that his body will never be found.


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ELSINORE CANYON
By “J.M.”

Madness, morality, murder, revenge, and unrequited love: A modern take on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, suitable for adults and older teens.


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Gods and The City
By Steve Statham

For a thousand years, the new gods of mankind have protected the remnants of humanity. Reduced to a handful of survivors after a devastating alien invasion, a desperate human race accepted these gods as defenders against the terrors of a hostile universe. But when the greatest of man’s redoubts, The City, is assaulted by a power rivaling even that of the guardian god, the burden of protecting mankind’s future will fall to others. And what can mere men and women do against forces that can reshape and manipulate the universe itself?


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The Morning Which Breaks (Loralynn Kennakris #2)
By Jordan Leah Hunter & Owen R. O’Neill

For eight years, Kris was the property of a brutal slaver captain.
Now she’s free and a cadet at the League’s military academy. All she brings
to this new life is a unique set of skills, a profound ignorance of
‘civilized’ society, and a large chip on her shoulder.

But if Kris isn’t quite sure what to make of the Academy, the Academy isn’t
at all sure what to make of her. The medical staff thinks she’s homicidal,
her fellow cadets think she’s crazy, and her instructors don’t know what to
think.

So when she’s asked to help capture a terrorist warlord, she’s more than
happy to leave the halls of academia behind for awhile. Kris knows she’s not
signing up for any pleasure cruise. What she doesn’t know is that the key to
the mission’s success is reliving her very worst nightmare . . .


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland

Urdaisunia, once favored by the gods above all other lands, now lies defeated and in ruins. The gods, displeased by the Urdais’ weakness, have turned their backs on the land and left it to die.

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the conquering Sazars and restore Urdaisunia to greatness, but her people are too broken by famine, plague, and poverty to fight.

Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, is driven by his conscience to do what is best for all the people of Urdaisunia, Urdai and Sazar alike. His father the King views his concern for the Urdai as an unforgivable weakness, and Eruz must walk a dangerous line between loyalty and treason to do what he believes is right.

When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice. As Rashali struggles to find a way to free her people and Eruz risks all to bring peace to the land, a divine wager sends peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, love, and war in their fight to save the land they both love – Urdaisunia.


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Across Four Realms
By James Young and Anita C Young

Across Four Realms is a collection of short stories that introduces the reader to four disparate universes, with the sole constant that chaos knows no boundaries…and pain is a companion to all.

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Lies, d*mn lies and publishing

Friday, August 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
This is not the tsunami you're looking for.

This is not the tsunami you’re looking for. 

It never fails. (Sarah here.)  I find myself on some forum with traditionally, indie and hybrid authors, and someone brings out two old canards:

1-      You’ll never get there by your wits alone.  I.e. indie is all very well, if you want to sell a 100 copies of your precious little effort, but to make the big bucks you need traditional publishing.

2-      Indie publishing is submerged in the proverbial tsunami of cr*p.

Do I need to tell you that not only neither of these are true, but that they’re almost the opposite.

Yes, you can do very well financially from indie.  And I’m not talking the big name cases like Amanda Hocking, or Hugh Howey.   No, everyday people who have been publishing indie for five years or so and do well enough to make six figures and are considering quitting their job.  This might seem like nothing to you, if you think that every traditionally published author plays poker with Stephen King and has his own swimming pool filled with gold coins, like Uncle Scrooge, but “making a living from writing” has been impossible for most writers for the last forty or fifty years.  Ten years ago the average income from writing of the members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America was five thousand dollars a year.  And most people in the professional organization made less than that.  (And it’s probably worse now.)

What about the tsunami of cr*p, then?

This rings true, especially to many writers, because, well… we’ve most of us had to read for contests, or even have downloaded ebooks that are appalling.

But is there a tsunami?

I can tell you that whatever it was, tsunami or gentle rain storm, it was much worse back when ebooks started.  Either I’ve got better at picking books, or the really seriously bad ones have given up and gone home. And I think a lot of them have.  The people putting up a book in hopes of being millionaires tomorrow get disappointed and stop writing.

There is another factor too.  Almost every hopeless “die trying” case of wanting to write I’ve ever met doesn’t want to go indie.  They want validation and “books on the shelves” and to do the morning talk shows and…  In fact in the indie versus traditional battles they’re the loudest pro-traditional voices.  Hope springs eternal, I guess, and it prevents their ever coming to grips with their shortcomings.

Mind you, there are plenty of awful books out there.  I just returned one to Amazon, something I don’t remember doing with a free book, ever.

First, the main character had gender dysfunction issues he didn’t seem aware of. As in, I was in the head of a six foot something male and he was reacting/thinking/viewing people as though he were a small female. This is something that can/does happen when women write first person (or third person close in) males. Yes, it’s worse than men writing females, because then she just comes across “Strong” and “independent” because she’s not afraid to be out at night. But a tall, strong man doesn’t go all feely over “there’s a knot of people ahead. Oh, my, are they aggressive?” unless he’s wounded or otherwise incapacitated.

Second – I thought “maybe the character is a very swishy gay male. Whatever.” BUT it kept pulling me out. I kept seeing a petite female and then being told this was a male.

Third- the knot of people turned out to be a “disturbance”. There’s a man screaming at someone else in a square in Regency England. A guardsman shoots him, and then says “He was just a peasant” and there’s no consequences. France, before the revolution? Sure. England in the Regency? No. Yeah, it could happen in a riot, but if the guard weren’t lynched, he’d be tried. I thought “Oh, boy, someone read too much Marxist theory and knows no real history” but kept reading.

Fourth-The man goes in and has a pointless discussion with the alleged villain in which they explain all the social rules of Regency England and half of them are WRONG or at least the writer has no clue what she’s trying to explain having got the smell but not the taste of the thing.

Fifth- Our hero goes home. There’s a woman (ravishing, natch) waiting in his rooms and she makes sweet sweet love to him. Look, it’s not even the “why would she” it’s the SHE made love to him. I.e. he was utterly passive in a way I’d find hard to believe for most women, and I don’t think the most passive of men can be. The book got deleted.

Yes, yes, it was an indie book.

Now the kicker and the chaser. THE KICKER: it was an indie book republished by the author AFTER rights reverted from…. drumroll … Berkley Prime Crime. THE CHASER: It’s third for historical mystery and VERY high for historical romance.

This brings me to my final point: Look, we’re in unknown territory here.  For longer than any of us has been alive, the publishing houses have been publishing not what sold (if they even knew what that was, through their arcane accounting system) but two things: the correct politics and something to impress their colleagues.  So we got leftist litrachure.

We also got a whole bunch of things that editors decided was “good” and lost a lot of things they decided was “bad.”  When indie started, despite the fact that most golden age sf/f was first-person, the publishers were well on their way to banning first person.  Other things have been banned that were part of the story teller’s art forever: omniscient viewpoint, male action heroes, things that have nothing to do with quality but with the echo chamber of NYC publishing.

And what we’re finding with indie is that those often sell.  Because we’ve been trained in a certain type of market/storytelling, they often strike us as bad, but the public likes them.

So, if you’re a writer, indie or not?  Try things.  Your first book probably won’t sell a lot, but keep writing.  In indie, there’s a virtue in volume.  I hear there’s a huge increase in all numbers after your fourth indie novel.  Just get it out there. Write the best you can, and put it up.  If this is what you want to do, strive to improve and don’t lose faith.

Go indie, young man, go indie.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A Hoyt

Only 99¢ through tomorrow.

A collection of short stories by Prometheus Award Winner Sarah A. Hoyt. The first edition of this collection was published by Dark Regions Press in paper, only. This updated edition contains two bonus short stories: High Stakes and Sweet Alice.
It also contains the stories: Elvis Died for Your Sins; Like Dreams Of Waking; Ariadne’s Skein;Thirst;Dear John;Trafalgar Square;The Green Bay Tree; Another George; Songs;Thy Vain Worlds;Crawling Between Heaven and Earth


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Trophies of War
By Christopher Remy

Fighting in over 100 countries.

Economies shattered, empires dissolved.

More than 60 million dead.

The Second World War was the most destructive conflict in human history, but it was more than just a battle of ideologies and nations—it was a war on culture. As they marched across the continent, Hitler and the Nazis looted the art of occupied Europe for the glory of the Thousand Year Reich as well as their own personal collections. Many artworks are still missing today, while others are the subjects of modern treasure hunts as survivors seek to bring their property home.

In Trophies of War, David Lyon discovers a family mystery in his mother’s basement that takes him across a former war zone where the secrets of the 1940s—and those who would do anything to keep them hidden—are still alive today.


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Portals of Infinity: Book One: Champion for Hire
By John Van Stry

William is just your typical engineer fresh out of college with a stressful job, a boring life, and not a lot of prospects of anything better in the future.

Until one weekend while hiking in the woods he stumbles across a portal to another time, or perhaps another place. The more he investigates this new world the more he realizes that it may just be able to offer him a lot more than the one he’s been living in.

However, there are forces at work beyond anything that Will has ever come across before and the local Goddess seems to have taken a liking to him. Will may soon find himself getting an offer he cannot afford to refuse.


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Genesis (Idolatry Book 1)
By Quent Cordair

In the twilight of the Roman Empire, a sculptor struggles to keep an 800-year dream alive while honoring the love of his life and raising his adoptive son. Part I of the *Idolatry* series, an epic story in five parts.


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Marie’s Tale
By Alma T.C. Boykin

Duchess Marie von Starland, wife of the great Aquila von Starland, mother of Princess Miranda Sobieski, tells her side of the story of the war against the Turkowi and the Siege of Vindobona.


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The Warrior and the Holy Man
By Kyra Halland

The Path of Haveshi Yellowcrow: When ill fortune strikes Haveshi’s clan, the remedy is devastating for the young wife and mother. Guided by the Yellowcrow, god of the forsaken, she sets out on a path to regain what she lost.

The Path of Latan the Clerk: Latan, a lowly clerk in service to the magical Source Tiati, has discovered a historical document of great importance, and is summoned to present his findings to the high priest of the Empire. Accompanied by the warrior named Haveshi Yellowcrow, he embarks on the journey of a lifetime and finds unexpected danger and self-discovery.

A novella-length duology set in the world of Chosen of Azara.


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Stories from Arisa – A Short Story Collection
By Davis Ashura

Arisa: a world of loss and hardship; of legend and wonder; the world of A Warrior’s Path. Return there now with Stories from Arisa, a short story collection featuring four wonderful new fables from that mythic place; each one a polished gem; together, an assemblage spanning the realms of hope, humor, tragedy, loss, and love.

Stories: Received Wisdom, The Prank, A Lesson Learned, The Missing Diamond

Also included are the prologue and chapter 1 of A Warrior’s Knowledge, Volume Two of The Castes and the OutCastes.


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Bloody Eden
By T.L. Knighton

Ten years after a nuclear war forced Jason Calvin to fight his way across Georgia and through a brutal warlord, life has settled down a bit in a town called New Eden. As the town sheriff, Jason keeps the peace.

After saving a family from a horrible fate, that peace becomes threatened when a sadistic military man shows up, claiming the family are fugitives from his draconian justice system and they’re coming back whether anyone in New Eden likes it or not…and maybe some of New Eden’s own as well.

Unfortunately for him, Jason isn’t about to just let something like that go.


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The Pericles Conspiracy
By Michael Kingswood

99¢ through the weekend.

Josephine Ishikawa’s last shift as Captain of the starliner Pericles changed the course of history, but no one knows about it. The powers that be took charge as soon as she got back to Earth, with only a select few permitted to learn about the beings she encountered during the run from Gliese, or the eggs they entrusted to her care.

Satisfied that the government would make good on her commitment to return the eggs home, Jo returned to her job of getting Pericles through a major maintenance overhaul and then back out to the stars. But when she learns that the authorities reneged and have begun experimenting on the eggs instead, she faces a difficult choice: keep the life and career she loves or embark on a quest to rescue the eggs and keep the promise she made to their dying parents, out in the depths of space. That quest could cost her more than she ever imagined as it plunges her into a shadow war against a planetary government that will stop at nothing to keep its secrets.

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Meet the Knight Who Was Misplaced in Time

Monday, August 18th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

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We’ve talked about a lot of things together, here. What to read, how not to date jerks, why the internet loves to hate Lana Del Rey, that time I dodged bears in West Virginia, and much more. I’ve really enjoyed the heck out of sharing these episodes with you, and I look forward to continuing to do so. If you’ve enjoyed the heck out of following my adventures, it’s time to join me in my latest big one: the launch of my second novel, Bulfinch.

Bulfinch is a whimsical tale about a history student whose imagination is so powerful that the knight from the book she’s reading pops out of her head and into real life. But he’s no fairytale visitor — he’s a very medieval fellow indeed, and our heroine Rosie is forced out of her reclusive bubble as she sets out into Baltimore to track him down and put him back into history where he belongs. Bulfinch is appropriate for readers aged 14+, and entertaining for all. By turns funny and tender, it’s a book you won’t be able to put down.

Bulfinch was released last Friday, to my delight! Don’t miss another day in ordering your copy, in paperback or Kindle formats. Buy it here.

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How to Be A Special Snowflake (Who No One Reads)

Friday, August 15th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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Ladies, gentlemen and writers, this is Sarah speaking, and today I’m really, really, really myself.  I have, in fact, allowed myself to fall under my own influence. You may blame it on Pat Richardson who, under the amiable illusion that my blood pressure was too low, sent me the following article: Why I Will Never Self-Publish.

Now, first of all, I have to confess I looked at the title in wonder and puzzlement because I’ve been a professional in this field for going on sixteen years, and all along I’ve stuck to the principle I first heard from Kevin J. Anderson at a Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference around 1998 or so, which was “Sure, I can do that.”  In the ever-changing publishing landscape, I’ve seen arguably more prolific, harder working and far more talented people become lost along the way all for lack of “Sure, I can do that.”

I had a friend who refused her first contract for a YA series in England, because her lawyer said not to take the perfectly normal clause in the contract.  (Yes, I know, but back then the contracts weren’t even that bad.)  She didn’t get a second opinion.  She waited for the better contract that never came.  I’ve had friends who stopped writing because their advances weren’t increasing, friends who refused to write original mass market paperbacks, and friends who refused to write different series/short stories/other characters/different genres.

Sometimes you get lucky when you do that, but most of the time you just get abruptly retired.

But I thought, well, maybe this person is just under-informed.  After all, five years ago I’d have said the same thing, because my image of self publishing was Publish America or worse.  Yes, yes, in the days of Hugh Howey and after Amanda Hocking there is no excuse for that, but who knows?  Maybe he hasn’t heard that indie is viable and a perfectly respectable avenue for writers these days.  There’s no shame in indie, there’s shame in not selling.

And I’ll also confess I wouldn’t bother eviscerating this blog post, except that lately I’ve run into a number of people with the exact same ideas who will look down on those of us who write for a living.

So I started reading.

I sold my first novel to Unbridled Books without an agent and then, at my book release party at Watermark Books, during the Q&A section, someone asked me why I had self-published. I was crushed. I’d spent two years writing and rewriting the book, another six years trying to find an agent before giving up and submitting it to a few small presses.

Oh. Oh! You sold your book to Unbridled Books, did you?  Which is, exactly what? And you’re surprised people thought you self published?  And you had a … release party?

At this point it became obvious to me that I was in the presence of that ubiquitous creature in writing circles: the precious flower.

The precious flower is convinced his efforts at putting wordage on paper are going to make the world bow to him and explain their lives were empty – empty – until he came along.

The precious flower will clutch at a publisher like Unchained Unknown Unbridled Books rather than face the big, cold world alone, because, well, they’re a real publisher and they’ll do wonderful things for him.

The truth is, if he took two years to write his first novel, and six years to shop it around without (I presume) writing a second novel, the bigger publishers couldn’t have done anything with him, other than perhaps put him in the literary and little niche which doesn’t sell.  Rightly, wrongly or confusedly, to maintain a career as a traditionally published writer, you needed to have a book every year.  (Indie likes them rather more frequently.)

….Invariably there are the same old comments about keeping all my rights and getting to keep more of the money from sales. There have even been a few who have taken the semi-business based, utilitarian approach – just put your “product” out there and see if people will buy it. Most of the time, I let it slide because, frankly, I don’t have the energy to explain the publishing world to them, nor the difference between a utilitarian object – something used to accomplish other tasks and that has an objective, determinate value – and an object of art – something that is experienced for its own sake and has a subjective, indeterminate value.

Oh, my. You can’t explain the publishing world to them?  Dear ducky, you wouldn’t know the publishing world if it bit you really hard in the fleshy part of the buttocks.

The publishing world does make interesting noises like those you are making about Objects d’Art and “literachure” but in fact it runs on two things: prestige and cold hard cash. For prestige you need to be something special: a celebrity in another field; someone with an interesting life story or a particularly fascinating job. I see no evidence that you are any of these. And if you’re not going to be a prized status author, then you are there to make money. And if your book Object d’Art doesn’t make the house a sh*tton of money, they’re simply going to drop you after one book.  The value is neither subjective nor indeterminate.  Your book is worth what someone is willing to pay for it, and that’s not only true for the person paying the cost of a good carton of beer for it, but even more so to the publishers.

But I’m going to give it a shot now because, honestly, some people just won’t shut up about it. So, here it goes. First with the obvious: When a writer decides to self-publish, that writer then stops being a writer and becomes a publisher, which requires an entirely different skill set . . . and money.

largest publisher in the world, a small independent like my publisher, Unbridled Books, or Bob, from next door:

1) Editing and Proofreading
2) Book Design (yes, it’s even needed for ebooks)
3) Printing (optional if only doing ebooks)
4) Marketing and Publicity

And now I can’t read anymore.  You have just proven, dear ducky, that you know absolutely nothing about how the publishing world works.

1)      Editing and proofreading – at most publishing houses (I worked for a lot of them, and Baen is the only exception so far) the only person who ever reads your book start to finish is the copyeditor.  And most copyeditors, at least those I used to get at those other publishing houses, were recent high school graduates who knew less grammar, composition and style than I did.  For the love of … duckies… hire one of those.  Ten bucks and all the pizza she can eat ought to do it.  Or pay a real copyeditor. I recommend Jason Dycks though I’ll be danged if I can find his address right now, who does a better job than any of the “professionals” at the big houses. I think – and he can correct me in comments if I’m wrong, he will do your average sized novel for $500. Or you could, if you need more substantial editing, hire Pat Richardson who will even undertake some structural edits and will probably not cost you more than $1000.

2)      Book design – yes, we DO know it’s needed even for ebooks.  You could do worse than hiring Cedar Sanderson to do your cover design and she will hook you up with decent art, too, at a modest cost, the cost for the total package, purchased art + design being around $500 unless you really drive her insane. In traditional publishing houses, this usually defaults to a junior assistant, who gets some guidance from the art director.  I doubt that Unobtrusive Unbridled Books is hiring a top-of-the-field cover designer for you.  Most of the freelancers working for small press imbue their books with “literary and little” kind of clues that will ensure you never sell.  Oh, and most of them work for between $250 and $500.

3)      Printing.  Um… indeed.  But you do know that printing is only part of the package, right?  The real service of the big publishers is distribution.  And frankly they only really exert themselves for the darlings.  Mostly midlisters (which, trust me, is what you’d be) get hit or miss placement on store shelves.  Yes, that’s better than nothing.  And that’s better than Unfound Unbridled Books can do for you. If you go with a small or medium publisher, mostly you’re going to be stocked in a few small independent bookstores where, if you’re lucky, the publisher has contacts, or you’ll sell through Amazon.  For this, you can have your book on print on demand on Create Space for the grand total of zero.  And even technically illiterate me has learned to typeset books in three hours or so.

4)      Marketing and publicity.  Oh, doctor, really, it only hurts when I laugh.  Marketing and publicity!

I get some – not tons – from Baen (Not complaining.  It’s more than I got elsewhere.)  But for most publishers?  Ah!  Unless you’re the movie star du jour who just “co-wrote” a book, these days your marketing and publicity run something like “Will be listed in your catalogue.”  If you’re really lucky you’ll be part of a mass ad in some trade publication.

Most publishers and agents expect you to do your own marketing, anything from a blog/FB page, to your own self-paid tour.

Any substantive marketing from a publishing house other-than-Baen is pretty much an illusion designed to keep the writer happy.

And those are your reasons for not being self-published?  My dear Petunia, it’s time to wake up and smell the roses.  Come down off that unsteady pedestal you built out of your own ignorance and some really convincing cardboard boxes, and look around.

No, the world isn’t going to stop for your masterpiece, even if it really is a masterpiece – I don’t know.  It might be – and it’s not because most people are jealous of your genius.  Most people don’t know you exist. And that’s ultimately your problem.

If you write a book a year for a traditional publisher and make it good and it sells enough for them to keep buying you, your audience will grow.  Or if you write a book every six months for indie, and invest a very little, you could make a living in a couple of years.

Or you can continue being certain of your superiority and make nothing.

The choice is entirely yours.  Just remember if Shakespeare had written Object’s d’Art of indeterminate value, right now we’d consider Kit Marlowe the most important Elizabethan Playwright. Instead, old Will gave them what they wanted and plenty of it, with the funny bit with the man and the dog thrown in.  And centuries later we can ascertain that he did touch enough of eternal humanity for us to consider his books object’s d’art.

The rest, all the rest – your pride, your moral superiority, your ignorance about how publishing works or what the value is… is so much sound and fury.  Signifying nothing.

[Charlie now.]

Dear Precious,

You’re clearly an example of why MFA graduates aren’t hired for accounting jobs. Sarah, I think, has already soundly skewered your pretentious academic notions, so let’s just look at your arithmetic.  We’ll take as given your numbers — though I know some top New York copy-editors and they don’t get $40 an hour, you must put me in touch with that company.  But observe:

In this model, using the Scribe Freelance’s in-house editor, you can save some money, but it looks like you won’t get to choose your editor. I prefer to have a personal relationship with my editor, so I’d go with a separate freelance editor whose references and work I could look up and I’d end up spending the following:
$1,640 +$375 + $250 = $2,265

Now, I’m involved with some self-publishing, and I can tell you there are lots of people writing lots of things they self-publish for one helluva lot less than $2300, but as I say, take that as given, and let’s assume you were to publish it as an ebook at Amazon’s upper limit for the good royalties, $9.95.  You’d then make about $7 a book, which means you need to sell about 315 books to break even.

If you have a conventional publishing contract, you get a 25 percent royalty on ebook sales, and perhaps 10 percent on hardcover.  Let’s keep looking just at ebooks.  Whatever your publisher’s costs, we know they’re less than that $2300 — plus any promotion you get, but I haven’t noticed your name on any book tours recently — because the prices you quoted are all for contract labor. Those people have to charge more for each job to account for the risk they won’t have a job this week. For those services, you’re paying $4.48 per book.

Sell 314, and you are paying $1406 for that and netting $781. Sell 628, and you’re paying $2812. Sell 942, and you’re paying $4418.

Sell 2000 and you’re paying damn near ten grand.

What you’re really telling us is that you’re not a professional writer; you either have no actual pretensions of ever making a living from your writing, or you haven’t done the arithmetic. Writing is a hobby, and by refusing to self-publish, you’re paying even more than a “vanity press” would charge you for the privilege.


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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, but when her alcoholic father found her a ‘job’ while he went off-planet to look for ‘work’, 11-year-old Loralynn Kennakris began to learn just how ugly it could get. Within a 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 eight before she was set free, thanks to the 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 obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it’s like to collide with someone with no concept of a no-win scenario.


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Climbing Olympus
By Daniel Golliher 

Until now, humanity’s potential has been limited by its physical capability: of its body and its brain. In the middle of the twenty-first century, the mind itself is upgraded.

Three individuals hold humanity’s next stage in their hands:

Nikolas Rodrick, CEO of Rodrick Industries, oversees the largest corporate empire in the world. Grace Taylor holds the Earth casually on her shoulders as the aide-de-camp to Rodrick Industries. Both change when they meet Leo Apollus. Leo loves humanity, and sees its proper end above the clouds. Along with Grace and Rodrick, he takes it there.


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Sarya’s Song
By Kyra Halland 

Sarya dyr-Rusac has risen from her destitute childhood to become a respected arranger of musical magic rituals – until a wedding ritual she wrote results in tragedy. In exile for her failure, she hears powerful new music in the wind, heralding natural disasters like none ever before known. In hopes of learning what this strange new power is and finding a way to end the disasters, she returns to the musical service she left in disgrace.

There, she confronts the mistakes she made in the past and resumes her complicated relationship with the gloriously talented singer Adan Muari. Sarya believes that she and the wealthy, privileged Adan can have no place in each other’s lives. But, facing official resistance to her research and threatened by someone who is desperate to protect the secret of the mysterious music, she finds herself relying on Adan’s unwavering support – and increasingly unable to fight her attraction to him.

As the disasters worsen, a beautiful, nameless man in chains appears in Sarya’s dreams, begging her to sing the music she heard in the wind: the music that will free him. He could be a god with the power to save the world from destruction, or a threat to everything she knows and loves. With time running out, Sarya risks all, including her growing bond with Adan, to discover the chained man’s identity and the meaning of his song before the world itself is torn apart.


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LOVE in the DARK
By Isabel Pietri 

NYPD surveillance expert, Detective Millie Angeles has made a name for herself working in the elite TARU unit of the New York Police Department as the go-to girl for surveillance and tracking. However, when tragedy occurs, she finds herself casting about for a new chapter. That all falls into place when she lands a job at a private company, which dispatches her to the West Coast to work for Adrian Zaragosa, a blind, and strikingly handsome owner of a winery estate in the Napa Valley. As the plot thickens and their passion sparks, Millie finds herself in the throes of both extreme danger and overpowering desire. Millie’s talents seem to be just what Adrian needs. Or is he simply manipulating a situation to have her near?

A romantic thriller for mature adults only, please.

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