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Book Plug Friday: To Sign Or Not To Sign

Friday, April 10th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin


Welcome to Book Plug Friday. Gods willing, it will actually come on Friday this week.


This week, we’ve got a guest post from James Young, on his lessons learned from dealing with a “real” publisher.

Every independent author starts writing for their own reasons. An almost universal desire amongst us is to someday be offered a “real contract” from an established publisher or press. Therefore, getting contacted by an editor or agent is often a heady, euphoric experience.  However, after the initial surge of adrenaline, it is often a good idea to apply some calm, logical thought to the situation.  Like a bad marriage, a poor deal is something that may scar an author forever.  In the interest of keeping folks from becoming a cautionary tale, here are an even dozen things to think about before signing a deal:

1.) Anyone with a “take it, or leave it” attitude towards your questions is best avoided.  Not to stretch the aforementioned analogy too much, but remember that entering into a intellectual property agreement is only a few small clicks of the dial below standing in front of Elvis in Vegas in “this could go awesomely bad” potential.  Would it make your more or less suspicious if the person who was trying to woo you always responded with sullen silence or sobbing “Don’t you trust me?!” to basic questions?  That same jaundiced instinct of self-preservation should apply to the press or editor who is wanting you to potentially sign away your rights.

2.) Keep your head on a swivel.  When that really friendly editor from the cool sounding press runs up the “Help Wanted, All Takers” sign on Facebook, Twitter, or your local writers group, understand that this is not normal.  Yes, there’s a chance that you just may be lucky enough to have caught someone in a benevolent mood.  However, if so, they won’t mind waiting (a short time) while you check them out.  On the other hand, if the person gets cagey when you ask who the CEO / Chief Editor is, walk away.  Even if they give you a name, Google that person along with “sued” and see what comes up. In my personal experience, I found out that the head of a certain press (we’ll call them “Perdition, Inc.”) making me an offer had been sued by authors trying to get their rights back.  Yes, she won every time (albeit twice it took appeals), but a little digging showed that the cases involved authors trying to get out of $800-$1000 fees that the press required due to “processing costs.”

3.) BOHICA as a way of life. The aforementioned press and its Chief Editor, in response to the authors’ complaints, claimed both in court and on the Internet that these fees were “the industry standard.”  I prefer to translate the phrase “industry standard” as short hand for, “Well the big guys screw people like this, why can’t we?”  In other words, remember that, yes, it’s painful, annoying, and expensive to do everything yourself. It’s even more excruciating to sign an “industry standard” contract to a press that has sold maybe ~1000 books over 10 titles in the last five years, have them only give you 30% royalties on the dozen or so copies of your book that they sell, then realize that you’re still going to have to do the majority of things yourself.  [BOHICA: “Bend over, here it comes again.” – Charlie]

4.) Use the tools available. Much like the horror movie soundtrack which tells you the serial killer is in the closet or the shark is off the beach (“Why do these people never listen?”), there are sites which can warn you about these presses / bad agreements.  Preditors and Editors,  The Passive Voice, the SFWA’s Writer’s Beware, etc., are just a few of the resources available free of charge for an independent author.  Rather than learning from your own experience, look for the flaming wreckage of others’ misfortune then choose another path.

5.) Be that guy/gal.  Even if a press doesn’t show up on any of these sites and is generally charming when you deal with them, this is no reason not to ask a bunch of questions.  Figure out what the presses marketing plan is.  Inquire as to who some of their other authors are and what these individuals’ Amazon ranks are.  Look at the titles on their website then see where they’re available.  If the answers to your questions are things like “Well that’s proprietary…” or “We don’t know…”, time to move on.  If reviewer after reviewer of the works that the press has published complain about bad formatting, spelling errors, long waits for delivery, etc., that is also a sign it’s time to make like a white tail hearing a branch crack.  Bambi’s father probably got shot because he wanted to give someone the benefit of the doubt, and your work is just as unsold through benign incompetence and good-natured poor performance as it would be due to malevolent, scamming intent.

6.) The Devil told Faust about the interest rates up front.   As part of the quest for information, ask to see a press’ author’s guide up front.  The aforementioned Perdition, Inc.’s author guide had the following phrase:  “If, at any time, you fail to make edits, do not respond to your editor, or do not send in the corrections list, we will assume complete control of the manuscript and proceed forward in the publication process.” Yes, Perdition basically said up front that if I got sideways with an editor, by virtue of my writing agreement they could take my story, change protagonists, setting, dialogue, etc., then still publish it under my name.  When I raised an issue with this language, I was informed that I did not understand the editorial process despite having published four short stories, placed in multiple writing contests, and had my work published in a major academic journal.  In short, they were full of it, and despite the vehemence of their response knew that these were terms that gave all the power to the press / editor.  Like Old Scratch, most folks who don’t have your best interest at heart will reveal their malevolent intentions up front provided you actually read the information they give you.

7.) You are probably not a lawyer.  Even if you are one, remember what your 1L professor said about “fool for a client.”  Even given the fact that most scammers resemble B-movie bad guys and will tell you their entire evil plot, it is worth your while to get legal advice from a professional.  Bluntly, if you cannot afford a lawyer, you probably cannot really afford to enter into a contract.  In Perdition, Inc.’s case, their fees to break out of an agreement were $800-$1000 depending on which of their victims you asked. In addition, small presses have not only made people pay fees to get their intellectual property back, but then turned around and sued these authors for defamation when they took to the internet to complain about their treatment.  Therefore, it is better to pay $2-$500 to have a lawyer look over an agreement up front than $3-4,000 (if you’re lucky) fighting with some scumbag who knows they’re wrong but also realizes that you don’t have the spare funds to face them.

8.) But I thought he/she would change! This is pretty simple—if the person you’re dealing with is treating you like crap, doesn’t return your communications, talks down to you, etc., etc. before you sign, what makes you think they’ll be any different after?  Do not be the starry eyed author who constantly explains away unprofessional behavior, or you’ll be that bitter writer whose book is six months late leaving the fiftieth voice mail.  Plus, remember that the person who is a jerk to you probably does not have an off switch for that behavior.  Most bookstores, local chains, etc. do not buy books from someone who is abrasive, so do not go into business with a press that employs people who fit that description.

9.) Money flows to the author. Always.  When a press says “We charge you $$$ for our operating, printing, etc…”, that translates to “We have no clue how to actually sell books to make money, so we keep surviving on finding schmucks like you.”  The reason you get a lower royalty from a physical press as opposed to Amazon Kindle’s 70% is because said press should be paying for things like paper, printing presses, binding, cover artists, etc..  Anyone who expects the author to pitch in is either confused or trying to scam you.  Either way, not your problem.

10.) We are the Rabid Badgers.  Our Clan is strong, and full of wisdom. Regardless of what the group calls itself, there are many competent gatherings of independent authors out there.  Similarly, several authors, many of them who are successful enough to survive on their work full time, are willing to impart wisdom and point out pratfalls to the less experienced.  As long as you remember that these aren’t folks whose minds you’re trying to change on the pressing issues of the day (i.e., minimal politics, religion, sports, etc.), being part of an online writer’s group can be worth every bit of effort you put into the interactions.

11.) You are a special snowflake.  Fate’s blowtorch melts you all the same.  Keep in mind that writing is a business and there a literally millions attempting it.  Yes, there are people who do well enough to stop their day jobs. There are also people who get killed by lightning, bitten by sharks, and have their brakes fail at the most inopportune time.  In other words, even if you get an offer from a reputable press / publishing house, don’t assume that Lady Luck has cast her favorable gaze upon you.  It is just as likely that said deity is actually Loki, with Hera leaning happily on his shoulder, telling the gathered ranks of Olympus and Asgard, “Hey guys, watch what I do to this mortal…”.  Keep writing, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket no matter how sweet your current deal is.

12.) You can do bad on your own, you don’t need help.  Above all else, remember that you, your work, and your desire to succeed all have intrinsic worth.  Even if you are not selling well, it is better to be in the doldrums on your own then having a First Class ticket with Titanic Press, LLC.  While under no illusions that I have had several lucky bounces, I can proudly proclaim that after turning down Perdition Press, I still managed to singlehandedly outsell their entire catalog.  Sometimes the best deals are the way you walk away from.

James Young is an independent author hailing from the Midwest.  His first full novel, An Unproven Concept, has sold over 2,300 copies since publication in December 2013.  His alternate history novel, Acts of War, was released on November 11 of this year. 

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


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.




no more than about 100 words.


By Greg Dragon

Robotics student Brad Barkley has created the perfect woman. The only problem is she’s an android, and her creator realizes too late he may have made her too perfect. After Brad’s ultimate failure with women nearly consumes him, he discovers Tricia, his android, may be able to rescue him from a life of loneliness, if he and the human race are willing to pay the price.


Portals of Infinity, Book Four: The Sea of Grass
By John Van Stry

With no otherworld tasks to run for Fel, Will has been able to spend the last year helping Rachel with her now larger kingdom. Barassa has been set back, but it’s only a matter of time until they’re at odds again.

Fel does have things for Will to do, even if they are the more mundane jobs that a Champion must perform. Escorting missionaries isn’t the most exciting or glamorous job, but at least the people are different, interesting, and friendly, and some perhaps a little too friendly. But that’s never gotten him in trouble before, right?


Manx Prize
By Laura Montgomery

When Charlotte Fisher was just thirteen, orbital debris took large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat. Haunted by visions of destruction and her father’s anguish, as a young engineer Charlotte determines to win a prize offered for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs her until a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off. With limited resources, a finite budget and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she must face the challenge of her life.


By Nicci Rae

When a rock star produces a gun and begins firing into his audience of adoring fans it’s up to Detective Corinne Drew to find out why …………and time is running out! A quirky and fast paced thriller, available from Amazon Kindle,


Nemo’s World: The Substrate Wars 2
By Jeb Kinnison

In this thrilling sequel to 2014¹s “Red Queen”, the student rebels have escaped Earth, but the US and Chinese governments continue to try to copy their discovery of quantum gateways to find them and destroy the threat they represent to security interests. The rebels hold off Earth government attacks and continue to develop the new technology, which will change life for everyone and open a million habitable planets for colonization.

“Nemo¹s World” continues the cat-and-mouse game with the governments of the world as young rebels learn to use the weapon that will free the world, and unlock the universe for mankind. If they live!

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Book Plug Friday: Kickstart the Hawaii Project

Sunday, April 5th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin


Yes, this is Book Plug Friday, and yes, it’s Sunday (Happy Easter and Happy Hanamatsuri and Gute Pesach) and yes, things have been a little ragged recently. And yes, this is Charlie.

Here’s an abbreviated version of the story: Sarah had reasonably major surgery and has been recuperating, successfully; I recently left my old day job at Sumazi.com, and joined another startup, Bloc.io, as a curriculum developer, which is to say writing and editing curricula for “boot camp” programmer training; and the combination has had both of us with entirely too much real life and too little spare time. So, BPF slid off the table and then the cats pushed it behind the couch and we’re just getting back on track.

Now, with that said, we’re accumulating some guest posts and should be getting back onto the weekly cadence soon.

Today’s guest post is from Mark Watkins. He’s been doing an interesting new startup of his own, with the idea of helping people find the books they want to read more efficiently. I think this is the next big problem for the indie publishing world, and Mark has an interesting approach indeed. But better I let him tell you.

Readers of this column are familiar with the ongoing battles between Amazon and the major publishers. At the root of this is the simultaneous rise of ebooks and independent authors, raising issues of control, price and quality. Contrary to conventional wisdom, books aren’t dying, they’re growing. Authors can now go direct to consumers, rather than having to go through the publishers, the gatekeepers. The result: an enormous rise in the number of books (up 437% since 2008 according to Bowker, an industry group).

Now, this can be a good thing (famous indie author Hugh Howey argues “The Glut is Good”), even a great thing for Authors. But for Readers, there’s a downside.

Let’s face it — there’s an ocean of books out there and it’s hard to find the right ones for you. What if there was a bookstore where every book was specifically selected to match your interests? That knew what kind of books you read and what authors you love? A service that was always on the lookout for you, magically finding interesting books you’d never find on your own, and bringing them to you so you didn’t have to go looking? An assistant that told you when your favorite author puts out a new book and tells you when they recommend a book they love. Imagine something that’s not just books — that could immerse you in the world of books — through articles, cover art, blog posts from your favorite authors, even photos and videos about authors and books you’ll be interested in?

Imagine a company that gave back 10% of all their revenue to support reading and literacy.

We started The Hawaii Project to do all that and more. We’re launching today, with a campaign on Kickstarter to get The Hawaii Project off the ground. Join us and Do Good by Reading Well.

The Hawaii Project on Kickstarter

In spite of the energy invested in the digital world of books, book discovery online in still broken. People still discover new books offline, through friends and physical bookstores. Online, you’re pretty much left to sort through a pile of a gazillion ratings and reviews. (Some books have over 100,000 reviews on Goodreads – are you going to read them all?). And people are rightfully cynical about ratings & reviews. Too often they are fake, gamed, or bought.

We’re different. We start by learning what authors and books you love. We marry that with an insight. If somebody (especially a well-known curator or blogger) takes the time to write long form content about a book, that book mattered to them. Smash those two things together and you get personally relevant recommendations about quality books. Now, you may or may not care what The New York Times says is a good book, so we also learn what sources you value. The more you use it, the better it knows you.

I started The Hawaii Project after a string of very successful tech startups. As I grow older, I want to work on something that matters. Something with a mission. Books Change Lives. So The Hawaii Project’s mission is to get you reading the best books you possibly can, and help others do the same.

Life’s too short for mediocre books. Read Good books. Books that Matter. Books Change Lives. Join us, and Do Good by Reading Well.

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


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.




no more than about 100 words.


Company Daughter
By Callan Primer

Aleta Dinesen doesn’t see the point of hanging around home, not when she can cook a mean paella. But her plan to conquer the universe one meal at a time runs afoul of her overprotective father, commander of a tough mercenary company. And when he puts his foot down, he’s got the firepower to back it up.

Undeterred, Aleta escapes the dreadnaught she calls home one step ahead of the gorgeous, highly disapproving Lieutenant Park, the unlucky young officer tasked with hauling her back. But the universe isn’t the safe place she thought it was. Stranded in a dangerous mining community, she clings to survival by her fingernails. Only by working with someone she can’t stand will she have a chance to escape, proving to everyone that a teenage cook can be the most dangerous force in the universe.


By Bonnie Ramthun

In the exciting sequel to The White Gates, thirteen-year-old Torin Sinclair must solve a mystery after he adopts Roscoe, a stray young dog. Tor and his friends venture into the haunted box canyon where Roscoe was found where they encounter a deadly enemy. The White Gates was a Junior Library Guild premiere selection and a finalist for the Missouri Truman Award. “Fast-paced, solid entertainment that is accessible and fun. A rollicking downhill read.” Kirkus Reviews, The White Gates.


By Sabrina Chase

Young Jin, starving and cold, desperately searches a burned-out building on a bitter winter’s night. Deep in the ashes he finds a glowing crystal sphere–and unwittingly opens a portal to another world.
Unable to return, forced to hide from the dangerous and mysterious masters of the strange world he finds himself in, Jin finds friends and adventures as he learns to survive…and fight back, with the magical powers he never knew he had.


Pixie Noir
By Cedar Sanderson

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…


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?

As a wildfire threatens the countryside, 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?


By D. W. Walker

Snootom is D.W. Walker’s first book written in the ancient Polish
language of Samizdat. As well as being a literary text of great
importance, this book is illustrated with Medieval paintings depicting
a glorious period in history prior to the invasion of the United
States by the forces of evil, a time when the world was filled with
happy peasants singing paens of praise to their dear leaders. If you
are imprisoned for thought crimes, this is the one book you will be
happy to have as you await your sentencing.


Surviving the Home Inspection: The Essential Seller’s Guide
By Paul Duffau

Surviving the Home Inspection gives every home-seller the tools to reduce the stress involved with selling a home, save money, and sail through the inspection. Written in an accessible style by a veteran inspector, Surviving the Home Inspection ends each chapter with a checklist to guide you as you get your home ready for the inspection.


Circuits and Crises: Book 6 of the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

Spring comes to ColPlat IX with hell and high water!

Five years ago the Eastern Empire and its allies defeated the Turkowi at the Great Plate River, ending their threat forever. Emperor Andrew turned his attention to more important matters: rediscovering lost Lander technology. South of the empire spats turn to civil war and bitter divisions threaten the peace of the region. And then a letter arrives from the Rajtan of the Turkowi: worship Selkow the Beautiful or die.

Three men must save the world.


By David L. Burkhead

Emergency Medical services on the Moon present new challenges, not all of which come with the territory. Kristine is an EMT in the Lunar Ambulance Service. Budget cuts and inadequate equipment make it increasingly difficult for her to do her job. William Schneider is finding that some of his subordinates have ideas of their own, ideas contrary to the corporate philosophy he is building, ideas that lead to shortcuts and trading lives for money. They find themselves riding their problems on a collision course to avoid disaster.


Warrior: The War Chronicles I
By Sean Golden

The Testing Time has arrived… The world is falling into darkness.

The Seven Gods are at war. Lirak has become a pawn in their all-consuming conflict. Born of an outsider mother, feared by superstitious villagers, resented by his own brother, Lirak must lead his people into battle against an invading malevolent horde. But first he must control the destructive forces that surge through his mind and body before they devour him.

Can Lirak fulfill the prophecy?

To do so Lirak must master the spirit realm, the dream world where anything is possible, including sudden and violent death.

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When A Giant Leaves: RIP Sir Terry Pratchett

Friday, March 13th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

A Human Wave writer should not have to write this many obituaries.  I don’t like them, and they leave a bad feeling, like the lights are going out one by one leaving me alone, chilled in the dark.

Today I heard of Sir Terry Pratchett’s death.

He wasn’t Heinlein, and he didn’t occupy for me the position Heinlein occupied.  He wasn’t conservative (for here) or even libertarian.  You see, he was European and but for the grace of Heinlein and my (20 years late) arrival where I always belonged (in the US) I probably would have shared many of his opinions.

But he was the only author I met as an adult who rose to the pantheon besides Heinlein.  And unlike Heinlein I had the pleasure of meeting him half a dozen times, and of attending a con in his honor and in honor of his creations.

I first met him I wanna say in ’99, but all I know is that it was before 2000.

I was a fairly new author with a book accepted but not coming out yet. It was world fantasy which in those days of the fat cows involved a little reception at the start of it, commonly referred to as “the swill and mill.”

We didn’t often get there in time for it, since conventions in those days involved a fine juggling of babysitting for kids under ten.

And at any rate I was advanced enough in the writing disease to be uncomfortable in a crowd and newly-minted enough as a professional to have the vague suspicion that if they figured out I’d snuck in, they’d throw me out.

But that year we got there in time and I had on my cocktail dress and all.

So I was walking around trying to be inconspicuous when I saw this bearded man, leaning on a column, looking around with an amused glint in his eye.

Being me, of course, I approached him.  “I’m so pleased to meet you,” I said, after which my subconscious took over.  “I have a shrine to you in my writing office.”  And as his eyes widened, “But I don’t sacrifice goats to it.” Pause.  “Can’t.  Would kill the carpet.”  At which point he laughed, and we talked a while, mainly about not just how hard it was to break in but how much difference a good agent and a publisher who believed in you could make.

Years later, I was to remember this and realize that the death spiral of my first series wasn’t (entirely) my fault.

Later that same con, we ran into each other while both of us waited for the friends we were with to use the bathroom. We sat at the same table, while waiting, and of course, faced with the possibility of asking Pratchett many, many craft questions, I asked him about cats.  We talked quite pleasantly and I told him I’m cut off at four cats.  He shared that while in the wilderness, selling around 5k copies a book in the US, his wife told him he could have a cat per bestseller.  She never thought it would happen.  So at our talk, he had twenty cats, and problems keeping them from getting run over until he got bloody expensive invisible fence – which is how we still refer to the contraption in this house.  He suggested I extort the same promise from my husband, who, alas, has refused to make it.

We then saw him again when we went to a reading by him in Denver, which right now is a sad memory as we went with our friends the Lickisses, and Alan Lickiss is now also dead.

At that talk, Pratchett vanquished my fear of trusting my subconscious and just letting myself go.  The richness of the Darkship books is due to my stopping the obsessive outlining and then pruning of anything not clearly advancing the plot.

And four? Five? Years ago I attended the first US discworld con, the first and only con I’ve attended as a fan, and where I got to hug Sir Terry Pratchett, which I’m glad I did, in retrospect.  It will have to last a long time.

Terry wasn’t just a humorist.  If you think that, you’re missing the breadth and depth of rich humanity, the vein of gentle understanding in his books, the startling moments when he held a mirror to life and reflected it in all its glory.

Terry wasn’t a conservative, not in American terms.  But then he wasn’t American.

On the other hand, his books taught self reliance and responsibility for those weaker than you whom you can help.  They taught the virtues of endurance, of patience, of hard work. They taught that evil acts come around to you again.

You could do worse and many have.

My sons grew up on his books.  This morning I had to break the news of his passing to them.  It’s one of the few times I’ve seen both of them cry.  And since they’re 23 and 20 and fierce bearded men, those tears are some homage.

Of course we knew it was coming.  And of course the manner of his passing was one of the most terrible a writer can imagine, as your mind dissolves into everything that might have been, and reality leaves you.

But we had hoped for the chance in a million, the miracle cure, the happy ending.

And perhaps we got it. Is a man wholly dead whose words will reach millions yet unborn and talk to them as a friend?

Somewhere Pratchett is walking with Shakespeare and saying “What was the thing with the dog, after all?  I never got it.  And weren’t your three witches entirely too serious?”

Fare thee well, Sir Terry Pratchett.  May DEATH you wrote so well and so humanely be kind to you.  May he meet you at the door between and treat you to a ginger biscuit as you pass through.

And may you rest in peace knowing that your words live and will live.

Death is balked of its triumph.

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


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.




no more than about 100 words.


Asylum (Loralynn Kennakris #3)
By Asylum (Loralynn Kennakris #3) 

First, they called her a hero. Then they called her a medical problem. Now they’re calling her a criminal. It’s been an exciting first year of active duty for Lieutenant Loralynn Kennakris.

She started by proving herself to be the League’s most promising young fighter pilot, earning decorations and gaining both admirers and enemies. But those rumors wouldn’t go away: dangerous mental instability, hostile tendencies, latent psychosis. Pushed too far, she did the unforgivable, and now her enemies have the excuse they wanted.

They’re right about one thing, though: Kris is dangerous, and now she has nothing left to lose.


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?


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?


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

Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series inspired by the Old West. Silas Vendine is a magical bounty hunter on the hunt for rogue mages. He and Lainie Banfrey, a young woman both drawn to and terrified of her own developing magical powers, team up to stop the renegade mage who torn the town of Bitterbush Springs apart. Only Silas’s skills and Lainie’s untamed, untrained power can save them and the town from the rogue mage and the dark magic he has loosed into the world.

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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.)


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.


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.


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


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.




no more than about 100 words. 

I might fudge it a little more.  

If I'm feeling friendly. 

Which last happened in about 2004.


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.


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)


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


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)


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.


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.


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.


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!]


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…


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.


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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In Defense of Editing

Saturday, January 17th, 2015 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin


Hi, this is Sarah and I think I’ve covered the topic of editing before.  However, Charlie suggested it’s time to hit it again, and he’s probably right.  I know I’ve hit the topic of covers a million times give or take ten thousand, and still people who are contemplating going indie tell me they could never afford it because covers are so expensive.  The short answer to that, again, is here.

The other point is editing, as in “I can’t afford to pay an editor, and editing is so important.”  Then you talk to them and you find out what they really mean is copy editing, which, yes, is important, but it’s also cheap and that they have no clue what other kinds of editing there could be or why it’s important.

And no matter how many times I explain, they come back to the same.

I think it’s because indie publishing is so new that it’s getting infusions of new blood all the time, so that, like Young Adult literature it needs to repeat itself because no matter how often you’ve said it, it’s always brand new for a significant number of newly-interested people.

So for those who are newcomers to the field, I will explain editing once again.

First of all, the first editing, that must happen, is your own.  Yes, you’ll sometimes hear of writers who publish their first drafts.  If their books are worth spit one of two things is happening: either they are lying (not necessarily on purpose.  What I consider first draft has undergone significant editing because I back-edit while writing, even though I know I shouldn’t), or they are so experienced that the writing is almost flawless outright.

Even so, I guarantee no one publishes first drafts without copy-editing. What is copyediting?

This is where you go in and fix words and punctuation.  Most of the time it means catching typos your spellchecker won’t catch. “Ours” for “hours,” for instance.  Ears for years. But it also means catching the “word of the day” (everyone has one.  Some days you repeat a word without noticing.  Could be something simple like “extraordinary,” or a really odd one like “counterproductive.” But your brain becomes enamored of the word and goes to it by preference if even remotely applicable.  When you’re copy-editing, you’ll find these patches, and you should fix them.

So copy-editing is the minimum level of editing you should have done.  You can do it, but if you do it you have to find a way to break the eye-glaze that comes with editing your own stuff.  Reading aloud or reading backward work for some people.  [Like me. Nothing better for technical writing.--Charlie] I can’t do reading aloud, because my training was in poetry, and I become obsessed by the sound of the words, and edit in such a way that the books read artificial, as though you should be declaiming.

However, I recommend you have someone else copy-edit your manuscript.  This should be someone you know has a grasp on basic grammar and preferably on the lingo of the time-period you’re writing in. (I had a lot of readers send me in “typos” in Witchfinder, that were actually Regency lingo.)

Now copyedits are the cheapest form of editing too. I’ve paid $10 for 10k words for it, though I suspect I got a discount.  It’s still not prohibitive.

You can also swap with another writer. We have a group of us who does that.

Next level up from copy-editing, sometimes included in it but often not, is “Continuity and fact-checking editing.”  This is where your copyeditor verifies that Henry the VIII really did have six wives.  Or that your character only has two arms in that action scene, not seven.  Good ones go further than that and will verify minutia in your books.  My favorite editor whom I used for my indie novel once got up on my case because I had the wrong kind of taper in an Elizabethan tavern scene.  He’s expensive and worth every penny. (And the publishing houses are bad at this, particularly for historical, because their copyeditors think they should do this and lack the ability.  This is how I had a copy editor tell me to capitalize Terra Firma because it was a country.)

For this, expect to pay more like $40 for 10k words. Or find your most obsessive friend and rope him into doing it.  (Or my older son.  No, seriously.  He chases every rabbit down the hole and all the way to China.)

The highest level of editing is structural editing and it is almost book doctoring. The line between the two blurs. Here the editor will tell you that your story lacks a climax. That you need to rewrite the ending.  That your male character should be female to enhance the impact of chapter 27.

Most of the time my advice on that level of editing is “don’t. Just don’t.”

Why do I say that?  Is it because I think it’s not necessary?  Oh, heck no.  At least once that type of editing – from Baen – saved the book. I had two climaxes of equal weight in the same book, and so it left you feeling strangely like it hadn’t ended.

Now, for those keeping score at home that was my 22nd published book, my thirtieth written book. Which means you can make these mistakes even with a ton of experience, and that editing absolutely saved my sorry behind.  So… why do I say don’t have it done?

Because it’s a d*mn difficult skill, an art really, and most of the people willing/offering to do this aren’t any better at it than you are and might be markedly worse. I’ve seen enough books botched by this type of edit, and the poor writer paying a mint for the privilege, to say “better not do it.”

If you absolutely must do it:

Make sure the editor is someone whose work you know and admire. Whether that work is writing or editing. If it’s editing, not only talk to the client and ask what the editor had them change, but read the book with an eye for how it worked.

Make sure the editor works in your genre/subgenre. As with covers, if they don’t, they’re likely to give you something that won’t work at all. For instance, having a Romance editor do SF or vice versa will mess up the book.

Make sure the editor is experienced.  Yeah, I know.  It’s unfair.  But editing is like writing something you learn b doing.  Not enough experience means bad, no matter how much book learning you have.

Make sure your personalities are compatible.  My indie editor has a snide, acerbic sense of humor.  Before I got used to it, I thought he hated my work.  (And no, Mister, if you read this, you shall never be forgiven for that cat picture. ;))

The reason it’s so important to make sure you get what you pay for, is that Structural editing is expensive.  I would expect to pay somewhere North of 1k for a normal size novel, supposing you don’t get special-friend discounts.

However, finding a good Structural editor is almost as hard as finding a good artist. In the meantime, you can sort of roll your own with Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. I recommend it in any case if you write novels.  It helped me get fluent in novel writing.

And whatever you choose to do, good luck.  Remember the goal is to create the best product you can, not to make it perfect. It will never be perfect. If you read traditionally published books, you’ll find some glitches too.  Your goal is for your indie work to be no worse.


Quantum Zoo
Edited By J.M. Ney-Grimm

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!


Devouring Light
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Can one good deed offset ultimate destruction?

Mercurio guards the first planet, guiding it through the perils of the void. Part messenger, part prankster, he cocks an eye for danger.

When a beautiful celestial wanderer seeks refuge at his domicile, will he recognize his role as cat’s paw? Or will a looming menace – more lethal than Mercurio imagines – threaten the solar system’s very existence?


Peaks of Grace: Book Five in the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin 

A hundred fifty years after the Great Fires, only a few small enclaves west of the Triangle Mountains remain free of Frankonian control. The deSarm family’s valley is one of them. When Marta deSarm’s father makes a desperate offer to Phillip of Frankonia, his daughter must deal with the results. But the valley holds two secrets: a young woman with a terrible burden and a glorious gift, and the mountain called Godown’s Grace.

And the Sarm Valley guards its secrets.

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Gadflies and Offense

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


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.


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.


Nocturnal Lives (boxed set)
By Amanda S. Green

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


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?


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?


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.


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

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.


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…


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.


Resonant Bronze (Lodestone Tales 2)

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.


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…


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.


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.


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?


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.


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


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!


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)


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


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)


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.


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


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.


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?


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.


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.


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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It’s Human, But Is It Art?

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

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.


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


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


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…


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.


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


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)


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.


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.


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…


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.


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?


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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Famous Writers Never Give Birth To Snakes

Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
We believe this is a picture of the baby birthed by the Los Angeles Times!  Exclusive!

We believe this is a picture of the baby birthed by the Los Angeles Times! Exclusive!

Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m sorry we’re late again, but my eye has been doing weird stuff, so I had to have a pretty thorough exam to make sure I wasn’t going to need surgery.

This week, several people have sent me links to this Ursula Le Guin appearance.

This made me think of something.  My paternal grandmother was a wonderful woman, whom I credit both with my being more or less sane, and with my storytelling.  Between the ages of one and six, she told me a story every night, usually involving werewolves or magic, stories she made up herself.  Until much later than that I was her shadow, following in her footsteps.  In a way, I still am.

Imagine my surprise when I went back after getting married, shortly after she turned eighty and the family tried to gently give me a hint something was not right.  What was not right was, in point of fact, scary.

You see, grandma grew up in very different times.  So, when she passed one of the local (illegal, this is Portugal) dumps, returning from the field where she went to cut grass for the rabbits, she would notice “perfectly good, just need a little mending” baby clothes.  She’d taken to rescuing them, bringing them home, washing them a million times, sewing any holes, and stacking them in her built in cabinets in the downstairs hall.  The cabinets, which were floor to ceiling were almost full.  No one could convince her that she wouldn’t, sooner or later, be besieged by a lot of new mothers with nothing to put on their kids.  The idea that onesies and baby socks had become more or less disposable simply wouldn’t enter her head.

While visiting and talking to her, other things emerged – like she was afraid of the “wave of crime” sweeping the country.  There really was no wave of crime, but she lived alone and she read the papers and watched TV news too much.  Worse, for a woman who’d always been sharp enough to look behind the story she was told, she’d started giving credence to the sort of tabloids that publish stories about women the next county over giving birth to snakes.

Since then, I’ve seen other people go that way.  It is a combination, I think, of aging and losing touch with the world, and of being too respected for people to actually have a word with, quietly.

I read and enjoyed the Earth Sea Trilogy.  (Fourth book?  What fourth book?  Let’s be charitable, okay?) and The Left Hand of Darkness was a beautiful if flawed work. I can’t say I’ve liked a lot more that Le Guin has done, but then most science fiction writers didn’t even write four books that I enjoyed.

So what is one to make of such statements as:

Ursula K. Le Guin gave a scorching speech at the National Book Awards on Wednesday, calling out Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and saying of capitalism “its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.”

Surely a woman praised for her learning knows the difference between a social construct like the divine right of kings and “capitalism” which is simply a name for the barter and trade humans do to survive and which, btw, is not unfettered ANYWHERE in the universe, being hemmed in by governments and regulations everywhere.

And why on Earth she’s calling out Bezos is beyond me.  For allowing writers, at long last to make a buck?  Who knows?

And what about this:

“We need writers who know the difference between production of a market commodity and production of art,” Le Guin said.

We do, of course. For instance “art” is a subjective term which applies or should apply only to works that enduringly touch the emotions of humanity across the times and changes in society.  Shakespeare still touches us, for instance.  That’s art.

OTOH, thinking that any government, any entity, any academic can define art is to labor under the same sort of illusion as people who believe tabloids announcing women giving birth to snakes.

Art is proven in enduring. And most art – Shakespeare, Austen – was pretty commercially successful, as well. Art is what you aim for, and hopefully it happens. But there’s no guarantees. Competent and selling is the best you can be sure of.

One could make a comment about her being out of touch and believing too much of what she’s told, but we’re not the side that derides our elders for being old. People as old and older than her have embraced the digital revolution without fear and understand that while capitalism is an awful system, it’s better than any attempts at controlling it.

Instead I choose to believe this is the equivalent of her having cabinets full of baby clothes. I’m sure she still has contributions to make in areas where she doesn’t have blind spots.

For this, OTOH there is no excuse:

The Los Angeles Times thought Le Guin “stole the show” and said she accepted and shared her award with “all the writers who were excluded from literature for so long.”

Perhaps Le Guin doesn’t realize it, but The Los Angeles Times should realize that those excluded people – like say, people whose politics don’t agree with the establishment in publishing – are finding their voice and their audience with indie publishing. You know, people who can at last speak truth to the overwhelmingly leftist power in science fiction? One hesitates to ask if The Los Angeles Times believes that women give birth to snakes over in San Diego County?

Folks, remember to tell all your writer friends to send an e-mail to book.blug.fridat@gmail.com for submission guidelines.

Then, please ask them to follow the guidelines. Grrrr.


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.


By J.M. Ney-Grimm

North-land spellcasters who wield excessive power transform into trolls – potent, twisted, and hungry for dominance.

Prince Kellor, cursed by a troll-witch to live as a north-bear, wrestles with the challenges of a beast’s form. He sees his childhood friend Elle as the key to his escape.

But charming Elle will be no easy task. Traversing that delicate passage between adolescence and adulthood, she struggles to balance family loyalty against her passion for music.

In this epic adventure across a stunning landscape, from cool pine forests to an icy pinnacle of basalt so real it leaves you shivering, Elle and Kellor must summon essential wisdom and grit to prevail against a troll-witch’s malice in a lethal battle of wills.

Fighting against a nightmare pales beside fighting for a dream.


Karma Putz
By J. Van Pelt

Imagine Keith Richards as a life insurance agent! Janis Joplin as a butcher! Mick Jagger as an anti-abortion activist! Jimi Hendrix as a youth pastor!

Karma Putz imagines characters very similar to five rock icons whose lives took a different turn. They end up living in the suburbs, battling crabgrass and watching “Pox News.” One day, they kidnap the world’s most famous pop musician, who bears a striking resemblance to Paul McCartney, and put him on trial for “crimes against humanity.”

Things don’t go as planned


Dreaming Tower
By Elizabeth Bruner

Freed from a curse, Aidan finds himself at a loss in a world that he doesn’t quite recognize. When he starts dreaming of a woman also out of time, he wonders what she has to do with his future. A witch reveals that Aidan being released from his curse might have wide-ranging consequences, including costing the woman of his dreams her life and sanity.

Dawn went into a magic sleep expecting to wake up to a prince. When a fairy bent on mischief warped the spell, she found herself transported to the world of dreams while her kingdom disappeared. She begins to wonder if she’ll ever wake up when a horse gallops through her dreams and gives her hope.

With help from unexpected sources, Aidan takes off on a mission that has killed every other person who’s attempted it. Will he meet the same fate?

Will Aidan be able to find the missing kingdom in time to save the dreaming princess?


By Kyra Halland

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered her land. Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, walks the dangerous edge of treason to do what is right for all the people of Urdaisunia. When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, sending peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, love, and war as they fight to save the land they both love – Urdaisunia.

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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.


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?


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…


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.


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?

Read bullet | 11 Comments »

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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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’


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.


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.”


I Would Like My Bailout in Bacon
By Wesley Morrison 

Satire, politics, geekery, and dogs.

Any questions?


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.”


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.


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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The Nano Wrimo Commeth

Sunday, October 19th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
As October draws to a close, the scary novel writing time is upon us!

As October draws to a close, the scary novel writing time is upon us!

It was November again, and the voice of NanoWrimo was heard in the land…

What is NanoWrimo and why am I touting it?

NanoWrimo is National Novel Writing Month. The first draft of Darkship Thieves was written during NaNoWrimo.

What you’ll hear about NanoWrimo:

  1. No professional writers take part in NanoWrimo
  2. It’s impossible to write a good novel in less than a year – or two, or according to a friend of mine, five.
  3. If you do NanoWrimo you must be involved in all the groups and all the social activities, and then you’ll have no time to write.
  4. The goal to win NanoWrimo is to have written 50 thousand words and that’s not enough for a modern novel.

The Truth:

  1. I belong to several writers lists online, all of them chockablock with professional writers.  Many of them take part in NanoWrimo every single year.
  2. Not only is it not impossible, but the history of literature is full of novels written in a month or less. On the Road, for instance, and The Prime of Miss Jane Brodey and A Study in Scarlet and almost anything Rex Stout ever wrote.

My own claim to fame in the area of fast writing is Plain Jane, written under the house name Laurien Gardner (the house owns the name. This means the other books under the name aren’t mine.) I could only write it that quickly because my name wasn’t on the cover.

I have no idea how good it is, but of all my books, despite a relatively low royalty rate (it was a work for hire) it has made me the most in royalties.

The truth is that the more you write the faster you get at writing. This is the same as any other skill. For instance, by dint of typing a lot I can type about 150 words per minute, or could the last time I was clocked ten years ago. For all I know it is faster now. Does this mean my typing is inferior to the hunt-and-pecker beginning typist who only types 20 words a minute? As someone who was once that typist, let me assure you it isn’t. I was also far more likely to typo back then.  Being slow didn’t make me better, just slower. And being faster doesn’t make me worse.  I’m simply enjoying the wages of practice.

I’ve never done what could be called “NaNo for public consumption.” Part of this is because the first year I did it, when I wrote Darkship Thieves, my husband was working out of town, and the local group met five miles away for dinner. I’m night blind, and also I had a toddler and an elementary-school-kid I couldn’t leave with anyone. So my challenge/support group was my husband and a couple of friends, who were also doing it.

It worked just fine. Having a small group, or even reporting your daily wordage on Facebook can give you as much momentum as going to dinner every night with a group of strangers. More maybe, as the people cheering you on know you better.

Eh. I wrote 120 thousand words in a month, and my husband wrote 90 thousand. We wrote in fact full functional novels in a month. Of course, they each underwent a couple of revisions afterwards, but it’s much easier to revise when you have something to revise.  At any rate, in the world of indie, fifty thousand words is a marketable novel.

So, why don’t you give NanoWrimo a try? The worst that can happen is you fail, and you know what, if you don’t try you’ll fail anyway. I belong to a group called Novel in a Week.  All professional writers. I haven’t managed to do it yet, (when I did the novel in three days I was not a member) but some of those people do.

Now, that’s crazy daredevil writing. Writing a novel in a month is tame by comparison.

[Charlie sez:] Okay, yes, Book Plug Friday is coming on Sunday this week. It’s like this: Thursday night I tried to upgrade to Mac OS/X 10.10 “Yosemite”. It did not work out. After leaving it at “2 minutes remaining” overnight, I finally interrupted and tried to restore from Time Machine.

No success: most everything from my Applications folder that started with a letter higher than “I” was gone. Including some useful things like, say, “launchpad”. And all the Apple utilities.

So I tried rebuilding again. Still no job. I tried installing 10.10 from recovery. Nope.

I finally downloaded and reinstalled OS/X 10.9 and got a marginally working system again, but all my applications were still gone.

I set up a chat with Apple Support. The guy I talked to, “Brian,” was sympathetic and honestly pretty well-informed for first-tier support. But honestly, he could offer me only two things:

    • Sympathy
    • The suggestion that I completely wipe the disk and completely reinstall.

I’ve pretty much spent the intervening weekend reloading applications, such as, for example, Sublime Text, the editor I use to do the links, and the various templates and such I use to build the links. It’s now Sunday afternoon and I’m finally able to actually work.

And that’s why Book Plug Friday came on Sunday this week.


The Erl King’s Children
By Jordan Leah Hunter 

Lyllith, last of her royal line, has become the rightful war-prize of her kingdom’s ruthless conqueror. The choice she faces—being wife to the man who ruined her land and murdered her father, or death—is no choice at all. Imprisoned in a lonely tower on a deserted headland, she waits to die as though waiting for an old friend.

But when a strange young boy appears in her cell one night, Lyllith is offered the only thing still worth living for: revenge. Accepting the chance plunges her into a contest thousands of years in the making, for the boy is not what he seems, her new freedom is illusory, and she is the unwitting heir to an ancient legacy with the power to destroy the world.


The Shattered Empire, Book II of The Shadow Space Chronicles
By Kal Spriggs 

Baron Lucius Giovanni has managed to buy the human race a brief reprieve from the two alien races which seek humanity’s extinction. In the process, he has become the leader of a new nation and the commander of a powerful fleet. However, victory comes with consequences. Without an imminent threat, old feuds have sparked back to life and tenuous alliances falter. There are also old enemies who cannot forget that Lucius has what they want. He must find a way to hold off scheming rivals, sociopathic psychics, and even former friends. If he can’t do all that and take the fight to humanity’s true enemies, billions may die under alien servitude.

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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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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Book Plug Friday! Dear Mr. Bezos

Friday, October 3rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin


Dear Mr. Bezos,

I don’t often have the opportunity to say “you’re doing that wrong.”

To begin with let’s get something straight.  I’m not saying you’re doing wrong as in “you villain, Bezos, you, destroying publishing.”

To put it mildly, sir, I am your fan.  You have managed to free publishing from the yoke of the big traditional publishers with their clubby attitude, their “I want to impress my fellow editors more than I want to sell” and their blinkered insistence on the “correct” politics, because they want to get invited to all the good parties.

They were strangling science fiction and fantasy, and you’ve freed it.  For that alone, you have my gratitude.

The fact that you’ve also allowed me to make a considerable part of my income on my backlist through your company is just the icing on the cake.

And I confess I’ve been wrong before.  I thought KULL was a mistake, and that people would just borrow and not buy books.

I was wrong.  It doesn’t impact my sales at all, but my friends who write erotica are making huge amounts of money on the borrows.  And I’m all for that.

I still think your chart versus listing of sales is a mistake, because it often shows different numbers for hours, and that undermines confidence in the numbers.  But that’s a software issue, and that is probably being worked on as we speak.

As I said, when it comes to Amazon, I’m a fan.

In my view you’ve made only a mistake: when you had a publishing program via Amazon which operated as a traditional house. (Do you still have it?  I don’t keep up.)

Some of the other Amazon-fans were all excited.  “Now, he’ll show traditional publishing.”

I looked at whom you’d hired – most of them with “experience” in traditional publishing and I shook my head.

And in fact, last I paid attention a year or so ago, you’d failed to set the world on fire with that program.

Well, you’re a learning man. And a man who tries new things.  (I did mention I’m a fan, right?) So you’re trying something else.  A friend sent me a link tonight.

Amazon’s crowdsourced publishing platform will launch soon for mystery, romance and sci-fi authors

I read it shaking my head.

The Digital Reader first reported on the program a couple weeks ago, with Amazon confirming details. It’s somewhere between Amazon Publishing’s “traditional” imprints and self-publishing platform KDP: Authors whose books are selected get a $1,500 advance and 50 percent royalties on net ebook revenue. The contracts are for ebook and audio rights, with authors retaining print rights; initial contract terms are 5 years.

Perhaps I’m all wrong on this.  It’s quite possible I’m very very wrong.  Who knows?

But what I understood from reading around the net is that these books are submitted (with a cover image!) and the crowd votes on which ones are to be published.  Hence a “crowdsourced” publishing platform.

Mr. Bezos, can we level? Adult to adult? Free-marketeer to free-marketeer?

The only reason I don’t call this the dumbest thing I’ve ever read is that I assume you’re not a writer and have no experience of workshops, online workshops, contests and prizes.

Look, if this program is as I imagine, then people will vote on what they want to see “published” by Amazon.  That means you’ll get mostly writers who hope to be published in this program voting on other authors.  Oh, you’ll also get some friends and family.

I suppose there is some merit in picking people with the largest support community. They will talk them up.

But mostly what you’re going to get in votes is from other writers and even when they’re doing their best people are going to vote for two kinds of books: those that they think are technically good; and those that make them sound intelligent.

You see, we writers don’t read like other people.  If we’re evaluating other writers, we will judge them against our own technique.  A truly advanced performer who breaks rules will fall behind the unthreatening craftsman who does everything the how to write books advise.

So, mostly you’re going to get anodyne books that are perfectly executed and which have some element of intellectual snobbery that makes the voter feel smart.  Well-cooked oatmeal with a sprinkling of exotic fruit, say.

The only way to vote on a book we wish to see published is to pay for it.  That is the only sincere vote.

Beyond that $1500 advance?  And 50% for five years?  Why?  Why would anyone do that?  My own novel, unpushed and priced higher than it should have been, has made me more than that.  Friends have made more from their self-published books on Amazon, in the first month.  And could then make more the month after.  At a higher percentage.

$1500 is not enough of a trade off, nor does it make any of us sure you’re going to back this book with everything at your disposal. Particularly when you want us to do the cover ourselves.  I could see some people signing up just to have their covers done.  But this way?  No.

I’d like to suggest that instead of this gimmick, you ask some old pros.  They’ll tell you nothing sells like selling.

You have the heuristics behind the sales.  Look it up.  I’m sure there are writers doing surprisingly well with no push at all and often so so covers.  Several come to mind in science fiction, of all places: Chris Nuttall, Mackey Chandler, Doug Dandrige, Peter Grant.

These are all people who are performing very well, and have multiple books out.  Instead of doing the equivalent of panning for gold in your shower, put some money behind these “pretty well selling, not setting the world on fire authors.”  Give them a decent advance and then bring one of their books out and push, as I’m sure you can: top of the line cover, publicity, tour (if tours work.)

I’d bet you you’d make more money that way.  You see, they’re already doing well before they have any push. With push they could be extraordinary.

And you’d avoid the devil of the workshops.

I could be wrong. For one the program might be badly described. But if it’s not, it will be blah. And the authors who fail to take off will hold it against you.

Consider trusting the free market instead. It won’t disappoint you.

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


My Book


My name as it's on the book cover.




no more than about 100 words.


The Lost Book of Anggird
By Kyra Halland

Stodgy Professor Roric Rossony has been asked to find a way to stop the deterioration of the powerful magica. He hires talented translator Perarre Tabrano to translate books for his research, and finds his orderly existence turned upside down by his unexpected romance with her. Caught up in his new-found love and the most important work of his life, he goes too far in his research, delving into forbidden books hidden away for centuries. Then the most dangerous book of all falls into the Professor’s hands. Magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre are forced to flee from the authorities in search of the secret of the magica’s origins, a journey that only their growing magical powers and their love for each other will help them survive.


Working The Trenches
By Dan Melson

Graciela Juarez has been an Imperial citizen for several years. She’s got a solid marriage into one of the Empire’s most important families. The Empire has been very good to her. For her self-respect, she wants to spend some time with her shoulder to the wheels of the Empire. Pulling the cart of Civilization. Working the Trenches of Empire


By Rob Steiner

Marcus Antonius Cordus thought he’d left his past behind when he escaped Terra and the Roman Consulship six years ago. All he wants is to explore the universe with his adopted mercenary family and stay far away from Roman politics.

But when a new sentient Muse virus invades Roman space—one even feared by the strain infecting Cordus—he is forced to choose between the freedom he’s always wanted and stopping the apocalypse that he was born to prevent.

MUSES OF TERRA is Book Two of the Codex Antonius and sequel to the exciting sci-fi/alternate history novel MUSES OF ROMA.

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Book Plug Friday! Bad Romance

Friday, September 26th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
YouTube Preview Image

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.


Worlds Of Wonder – August, 1956

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!


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!


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.


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?


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.


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?


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.


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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Friday, September 19th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
SHE might be your b*tch.  I'm not.

SHE might be your b*tch. I’m not.

Hi, this is Sarah. One of my friends who, I think, hopes to see my head explode and my brain showered all over the walls some day (um… maybe I should revise the notion that he’s a friend) sent me this link: Authors United vs. Amazon, a primer.

Now to make things clear what I object to is not the link itself, but the site/movement it righteously mocks. Or to put it another way, I’m linking that site, because if I linked the original, there would be blood, possibly even someone else’s, as I mutated into the other form of Sarah, the one who walks around saying “Sarah smash.” (They won’t like me when I’m angry!)

Reading it once was bad enough.  (The things I do for you.)

The letter in the bad site, the one you can get to from the good site, but which I wouldn’t advise if you prize your sanity, is full of strange and wondrous claims that made me wonder what kind of world these people live in, and whether it has swiss cheese for a sky.

Take this gem for instance:

books are not mere consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply, nor can authors be outsourced to another country. Books are not toasters or televisions. Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers.

First of all, there is the counterfactual: Books are not mere consumer goods. Books cannot be written more cheaply nor can authors be outsourced to another country.

Really?  Fascinating.  The first one is particularly interesting in view of the fact that just in the time I’ve been a professional – since around 1998 – the average advance on a book has gone down from five thousand to – I hear, now – two thousand. If the books are not being written more cheaply, they are certainly being bought more cheaply by traditional publishers.  And few of these books get royalties. No matter how much the statements/royalties have to be tweaked to avoid it. (Used to be that books were taken out of print on the day they earned out the advance. I know. Happened to six of mine. Now they just go into a sort of limbo, and you get zero sales reported, which considering that I sell more than that on my backlist on Amazon, I call shenanigans on.)

The second one is also fascinating, since I know people in several other countries who write, such as Dave Freer, for instance.

Then comes the tautological: Books are not toasters or televisions.  Indeed.  They’re also not peanuts, computers, wooden shelves or automobiles.  This is not an exhaustive list of what books aren’t.  I’ll leave it as an exercise for the great minds of Author’s United to provide the exhaustive list.

Then comes the interesting: Each book is the unique, quirky creation of a lonely, intense, and often expensive struggle on the part of a single individual, a person whose living depends on his or her book finding readers.

Oh…  You mean like those books that traditional publishers routinely send back with the instruction to “make this more like Fifty Shades of Grey” or whatever the latest manufactured mega-seller is?  Or, wait, wait, wait, this is why publishing executives refer to books as “widgets.”  Or it is why publishing houses routinely fail to “push” or do much of anything for midlisters, thereby leaving them to not sell at all, and thereby “firing” them after two books? (Or making them change names.)

Yes, siree, it is the way that traditional publishing respects the act of book creation and the uniqueness of the book that means we need to support traditional publishing against Amazon at all costs.

Or, this is an idea – we could stop being supine mats on the floor begging for traditional publishing to give us validation and love – and support Amazon, a company that pays authors on time, that pays any author who is willing to work hard enough a living wage, and that deals fairly and openly with its providers.

At some level, you know, I think the good folk of Author’s United is aware of this.  There are sentences in this letter that read like what we novelists call “Signal from Fred.”

From Turkey City Lexicon, one of SFWA’s decent creations:

  • Signal from Fred

A comic form of the “Dischism” in which the author’s subconscious, alarmed by the poor quality of the work, makes unwitting critical comments: “This doesn’t make sense.” “This is really boring.” “This sounds like a bad movie.” (Attr. Damon Knight)

Our position has been consistent. We have made a great effort not to take sides. We are not against Amazon.

Which given they’ve been agitating against Amazon from the beginning can only be read to mean “Help, the publisher is holding  our books hostage and demanding we come down on amazon good and hard. We have made a great effort not to take sides. We are not against Amazon.  Help! Help!

In fact this letter sounds rather familiar. Like those hostages forced to tape messages condemning their country, but signing with their blinks “I’m being coerced.”  Only, since I think these authors are also lying to themselves as hard as they can.

Which makes the situation very familiar. Look, I’ve had friends in bad relationships, before.  Arguably I was in at least one very bad relationship when I was very young.

You lie to yourself.  You tell yourself he really loves you, and he wants what’s best for you.  And you turn against friends and relatives who tell you he’s no good for you.

Only with publishing, this has been going on so long, that writers are treated like no other profession on Earth. In fact, we’re not treated like professionals at all. We’re treated like sluts. (And not the kind who hold slut walks.) “You’ll do this for near-nothing because you like it.  We’re so nice, that we’ll give you a little gift to make you happy, even though you write because you love it, you dirty girl, you!”

It’s time for those poor souls in Authors United and the others like them to realize that because you love to do something doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be paid for it. Arguably tons of people love their jobs.  But we never say “Oh, teachers love to teach, so we shouldn’t pay them.”  On the contrary, it seems the teachers Union (Teachers United!) is always agitating for higher pay.

And the publishers, do they ever say “I love publishing, I’d do it for free!”

No. They don’t.  They do it for money.  And there is money in publishing, because they have offices in Manhattan and publishers don’t have day jobs to support their publishing habit.  It’s writers who must have day jobs to support their writing habit, because they love writing, and they don’t deserve any better.

Is that what you’re thinking?

Well then come off it. You know what we call the person who takes the money someone makes by doing something they love, and then abuses that person? A pimp.  An abusive pimp at that.

Publishers like Hachette are evil pimps browbeating their authors into submission and making them give it up for next to nothing while they grow fat on the writers’ efforts.

It doesn’t have to be like that. I got rid of all my pimp-like publishers and kept only Baen books, who treat me with respect.

But what if you don’t write science fiction or fantasy, which is the only thing Baen publishes.  What if you can’t find a house that will treat you with respect?

There’s an Amazon for that.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t do the occasional freebie for a friend or a cause you love.  It’s okay to do things for free for people you like. But love it or not, your craft is worth money and you should be paid.  If other people can sell it, what makes you think you can’t? (Witchfinder has now made me my regular advance from Baen, which is far more than two thousand dollars.)

But those publishers who hold you down? Who pay you nothing and blame you for their failures?

Stop carrying water for them and writing whiny letters to Amazon.

Dear traditional evil pimps: #IAmNotYourBitch.

[Charlie here:] This is the section where I remind you to let your friends know that you can mail book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines, which say to send me your AUTHOR’S NAME, TITLE, a BLURB of close to 100 words and no that doesn’t mean 100 words each for every story in your story collection, and an AMAZON LINK, preferably to the Kindle book although if you’re doing paper only for some reason I’ll cope, grudgingly.

I thought it might help if I were to explain how I do these. When you send me a plug, I copy and paste the pieces into an HTML template. One reason I prefer the Kindle version is that, for inscrutable reasons of their own, Amazon makes the cover of a Kindle book easily hotlinkable, but puts covers of print books into some goofy encoded form that’s a pain to cope with.

When you don’t include the author’s name, and send it from, say, Frederick Xavier Ample’s email account, I have to dig around to find out that it was published under Fred X Ample, or worse, Mary Worthy. This doesn’t help me get it right.

Similarly, when you send me a three page excerpt as the blurb — don’t laugh, it’s happened — then I end up having to edit it down, write a blurb for you, or depending on how egregious it is and how cranky and pressed for time I am, simply send you back the guidelines with “about 100 words” highlighted.

Finally, if you have a promotion coming up, remember that these things are published on Friday. That’s why it’s called Book Plug Friday. (Even on the days I’m late and it ends up on Saturday.) The theoretical deadline in the Tuesday of the preceding week to give some slack, but recently I’ve been able to get things published the week they come in. HOWEVER, it happens fairly often that I get a plug for a book with a promotion running from Monday to Thursday on the preceding Saturday or Sunday. It is a theorem in the algebra of rings on the natural numbers modulo 7 that if I get a blurb on Saturday, for a promotion running the following Monday through Thursday, and I publish on Friday, that your promotion ain’t gonna make it.

Now, on to the plugs.


U.S. Army Mage Corps: SWORD
By John F. Holmes

What if … magic were part of every day US Military Operations? In a backwater Central Asian Country, a threat to Western Civilization is growing, unnoticed by the world. The men and women of the US Army Mage Corps, feared on the battlefield and despised back home, enter into a struggle which may cost them their lives and their country.


Starship’s Mage
By Glynn Stewart

Starship’s Mage is a serialized adventure set in a future we would never have predicted: where humanity’s far flung interstellar colonies are tied together by the Protectorate of the Mage King of Mars and the magic of the Jump Mages.

Damien Montgomery is a newly-trained member of this elite order. Unable to find a ship to take him on, he joins the crew of a freighter as desperate as he is – without looking hard enough at why they’re desperate.
Thus begins an adventure that will take him to the edges of known space and to the limits of his own magic.

Starship’s Mage: Episode 1 is a 20,789 word novella, the first of five in a serial story.

(Charlie here: I’ve got to admit I was a little puzzled how to handle this: it’s a serial, and the author sent me links to episodes 1 and 4. So I’m linking episode 1, figuring no one wants to start a serial on episode 4.)


Impossible Odds
By Jenna Vincent

Impossible Odds contains a pair of stories involving everyday people, making difficult choices in uncertain times and coming out ahead, despite the odds.


Appalling Yarns
By Dutch Heckman

An anthology of truly bent surrealistic vignettes. There is the one about the bear in Yellowstone Park who wakes up one morning with human desires and tastes, playing off of both Hanna-Barbera and Franz Kafka. And then there is the one about the television broadcaster who sells his soul to the devil, with an unusual codicil . . . and then gets found out:

“The public reaction to the revelation that Apache and the rest of the entertainment industry were pawns in thrall to the Dark Master of all Evil was remarkably subdued…. It really didn’t surprise many people; they felt that unholy powers most likely held sway in the programming suites of most networks already, and clearly the basic cable channels had already fallen or verged on tumbling into their grasp. The fate of the premium channels troubled many.”

There is the one about tortoise, the ant, and the country mouse, who achieved success in the world of fables but grow into dreadful drunken bores later on in life.

The book posits a hilariously amoral universe with no happy endings, and yet places on display the brokenness of human nature, in all its warty glory, for Heckman’s readers’ amusement.


Auntie Jodi’s Helpful Hints
By Jodi Adler

In a world where small children are often allowed to run wild, snatching at strangers’ phones, someone has to stand up for adulthood. Auntie Jodi’s hints are partly a life guideline for negotiating parties, partly a sendup of cosmopolitan life—and all very funny. Auntie Jodi holds the line against political correctness while fighting rudeness, all without putting on a cape.

People who live on the coasts and big cities will especially recognize the awkward and dreary social situations Auntie Jodi addresses. Some of the hints are serious, and some are comic hokum: the reader has to decide which are which.

A sample hint:

“When in public, if you should be engaged in a mad, passionate, or achingly sweet embrace or kiss, be sure to slyly check for surveillance cameras, drones, or snoopy neighbors…. However, if you should be lucky enough to observe a high-profile A-lister in such a situation it’s best to snap your photos quickly—so that you can be first in line to collect a high finder’s fee from a tabloid, website, or government agency.”

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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


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!


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?


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?


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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Learning Liberty

Friday, September 5th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Give us your poor, your rejected, your tired writers yearning to publish indie.

Give us your poor, your rejected, your tired writers yearning to publish indie.

Hi, guys.  This is Sarah. Some time, now about two years ago, I realized that I was now free to write whatever I wanted and that I could sell whatever I wrote, without having to go through a publisher.

To explain what this means, I have to tell you how I used to sell.  The process went something like this: I had an idea.  My first procedure, when confronted with an idea is to try to forget it. You see, I already have … a lifetime worth of ideas.

When this didn’t work, I’d sit down and write the first few chapters. If the idea still wouldn’t die, I would then write a proposal for the book, explaining why it was marketable, (in my opinion) and what the rest of the plot was.

Then I would send it out.  And wait.

One summer, while I was unemployed, I wrote seventeen proposals. Of those I sold eight, but not all at once.  I sold one that summer, and then the sales trickled in.

The most time that passed between a proposal and an acceptance was eight years, and finishing that book was fun, since the long-dormant characters no longer were pushing to be written and I had other projects I wanted to do.

In case this doesn’t come across in the description, this was far from a normal process for writing, particularly for someone like me who, while not being a pantser, approaches books like all-consuming obsessions.  (I’m very lazy. I’m also obsessive.  I use the obsession to write.)

But for ten years, that’s how I made a living.  There was no virtue in finishing books the publishers wouldn’t buy, and I had to write books as fast as I could to survive.

So the realization that from now on whatever I wrote I could sell directly to the public, felt like… like utter relaxation.

And then the writing stopped. Not just on indie, but on the books due at Baen. For a year and a half now.

Now, part of this was that I was doing a weekly column for Lifestyle, and trying to work at other things, and it was simply too much.

The other part, though…  Ah, the other part.

I realized, sometime ago that part of my problem was that I had a lot of novels in process of completion that needed to be written now.  The problem … is not a problem.  I can write six novels a year. Though the last time I did that, I was also homeschooling and that’s a bit much. I can do it – have done it – while also writing five or six proposals which easily take the work of half a novel.

So, why the stop?

And then today I realized I was stopping myself.  You see, while my front brain KNOWS that the novels can be sold – by being put online and sold to the public – and that, in fact, Witchfinder is close to earning out a normal advance for me, the other part of me, the backbrain taught through years of experience in the field, tells me that I can’t do that.  I’m just wasting my time and no one will buy this and wha—

And the fight between me and the backbrain is stopping everything, even novels already sold.

Do I know how to solve it?  No idea.  I’m hoping writing this helps.

Sometimes it’s hard to be free. I understand tigers kept in tiny cages and then moved to large, more natural habitats have been known to pace within the confines of imaginary cages.

The way the book business is changing, we’re going to need to learn to tear down a lot of cages and teach ourselves we’re free.

Remember: Tell your friends to send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines. For submissions, please include author’s name, book title, a short blurb (no more than about 100 words) and a link to Amazon, preferably to a Kindle book as those are easier to list. Please don’t bother with fancy formatting, shortened links (like amzn.co), review copies (neither Sarah nor I have the time right now) or cover art (I get it directly from Amazon in the HTML.)


Survival Test
By David L. Burkhead


A series of diplomatic crises precipitate a limited nuclear war on Earth. Missile defenses block access to space. Nothing goes up and nothing comes down.
The people of the various space stations, the moon base, and a space colony whose construction had just begun must find a way to survive until the war is over.
The ultimate survival test.


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.


Nocturnal Lives (Box Set)
By Amanda S. Green

Special price of $2.99 though September 5th.

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


Gentleman Takes a Chance (Shifter Series Book 2)
By Sarah Hoyt

Shape-Shift Into Adventure!

Shapeshifters Kyrie and Tom try to live a normal life in a small Colorado town—normal, that is, considering one of them is secretly a panther and the other a dragon. But now a primeval Shifter feud grows infinitely more deadly, and Kyrie and Tom find themselves warriors in an ancient struggle for Shifter destiny itself!

Quick-witted fantasy doyenne Sarah Hoyt continues the brilliant contemporary fantasy “Shifter” saga begun in Draw One in the Dark.

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

“An engaging main character, and the book . . . romps along.”
—Publishers Weekly on Sarah Hoyt’s delightful Ill Met by Moonlight.

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