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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.


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The Troll’s Belt
By J.M. Ney-Grimm

Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.

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

A twist on a classic, The Troll’s Belt builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.


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Troll-magic
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.


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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


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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?


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Urdaisunia
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.


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Farmhand
By Lilania Begley 

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

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


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

Only $0.99 through 11/9/14!

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


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Wreathed
By Curtis Edmonds 

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

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

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


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

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

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

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

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

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Who is the Real Monster in Publishing? A Halloween Tale

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

Amazon — BOO!
Scared now?

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

Who is the Real Monster in Publishing?

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

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

Let’s start from the beginning. . . .

Amazon is like Isis, says literary agent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riiight.

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

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

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

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

Say what?

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

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

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

Pardon me but Bullsh*t!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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The Man Who Was A Santa Claus
By Walter Daniels 

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

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


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

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

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

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Who Creates the Books?

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

The field is your own. Harvest it.

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

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

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

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

Wait! What? Real books?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They were, in that sense, good hired hands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But maybe wait until tomorrow.

Just sayin’


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
By Sarah Hoyt 

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


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

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


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I Would Like My Bailout in Bacon
By Wesley Morrison 

Satire, politics, geekery, and dogs.

Any questions?


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

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


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Lone Star Sons
By Celia Hayes 

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


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A Few Good Men
By Sarah Hoyt 

The Son Also Rises . . .

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

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

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

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

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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.


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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.


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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.


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The Dwarf’s Dryad
By Cedar Sanderson

Free from Friday Oct 10 through Oct. 15

Short Story

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


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The Speedy Journey
By Eberhard Christian Kindermann

(Edited and Translated by Dwight R. Decker)

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


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The Sky Suspended
By Laura Montgomery

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

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


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Superintendent
By Jeremiah Wolfe

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


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Portals of Infinity:
Book One: Champion for Hire

By John Van Stry

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

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

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


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

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


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Giants (A Distant Eden Book 6)
By Lloyd Tackitt

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


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

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

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Book Plug Friday! Dear Mr. Bezos

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

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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

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it's on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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The 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.


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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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These girls were in fact, “bad girlfriends.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Worlds Of Wonder – August, 1956
By AUTHOR

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


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No Network Found
By Jerry Lawson

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

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


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A Patriot’s Act
By Kenneth Eade

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


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Sarya’s Song
By Kyra Halland

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


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Nine empathies: Apprehending love and malice
By Greg Swann

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

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


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Shot through the Heart
By Julia Blaine

Abduction. A duel. Murder.

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


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Acts of War
By James Young

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

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


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Suraiya Jafari: An American President
By Cindy Moy

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

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#IAmNotYourBitch

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.


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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.


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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.)


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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.


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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.


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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


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The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin
By L. Jagi Lamplighter

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

Who knew so much could go awry in one week?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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Memories of the Abyss
By Cedar Sanderson

Free novella from Sept 12-16

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


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

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

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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.)


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Survival Test
By David L. Burkhead

War!

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.


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Witchfinder
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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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.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Was this true?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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SKORPIO
By Mike Baron

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

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


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Monster Story
By McCarty Griffin

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


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Half-Inch
By McCarty Griffin

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


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ELSINORE CANYON
By “J.M.”

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


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Gods and The City
By Steve Statham

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


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

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

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

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


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland

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

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

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

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


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Across Four Realms
By James Young and Anita C Young

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

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Lies, d*mn lies and publishing

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

This is not the tsunami you’re looking for. 

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

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

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

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

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

What about the tsunami of cr*p, then?

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

But is there a tsunami?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes, yes, it was an indie book.

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

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

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

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

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

Go indie, young man, go indie.


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Crawling Between Heaven And Earth
By Sarah A Hoyt

Only 99¢ through tomorrow.

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


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Trophies of War
By Christopher Remy

Fighting in over 100 countries.

Economies shattered, empires dissolved.

More than 60 million dead.

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

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


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

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

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

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


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Genesis (Idolatry Book 1)
By Quent Cordair

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


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Marie’s Tale
By Alma T.C. Boykin

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


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The Warrior and the Holy Man
By Kyra Halland

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

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

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


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Stories from Arisa – A Short Story Collection
By Davis Ashura

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

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

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


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Bloody Eden
By T.L. Knighton

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

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

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


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The Pericles Conspiracy
By Michael Kingswood

99¢ through the weekend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I started reading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Charlie now.]

Dear Precious,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Most girls in Kris’s position last a year or two. The strong ones might last four. Kris survived eight before she was set free, thanks to the League Navy.

Unfortunately, eight years growing up in hell prepared Kris for nearly everything but freedom, and her new life isn’t at all what she imagined. Not only must she find her way in a bewildering society full of bizarre rules, but the very people who rescued her think she’s a terrorist plant, a beautiful interstellar celebrity is complicating matters in more ways than one . . . and now someone is trying to kill her.

But Kris hasn’t stayed alive by obeying rules, and her adopted society is about to find out what it’s like to collide with someone with no concept of a no-win scenario.


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Climbing Olympus
By Daniel Golliher 

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

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

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


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Sarya’s Song
By Kyra Halland 

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

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

As the disasters worsen, a beautiful, nameless man in chains appears in Sarya’s dreams, begging her to sing the music she heard in the wind: the music that will free him. He could be a god with the power to save the world from destruction, or a threat to everything she knows and loves. With time running out, Sarya risks all, including her growing bond with Adan, to discover the chained man’s identity and the meaning of his song before the world itself is torn apart.


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LOVE in the DARK
By Isabel Pietri 

NYPD surveillance expert, Detective Millie Angeles has made a name for herself working in the elite TARU unit of the New York Police Department as the go-to girl for surveillance and tracking. However, when tragedy occurs, she finds herself casting about for a new chapter. That all falls into place when she lands a job at a private company, which dispatches her to the West Coast to work for Adrian Zaragosa, a blind, and strikingly handsome owner of a winery estate in the Napa Valley. As the plot thickens and their passion sparks, Millie finds herself in the throes of both extreme danger and overpowering desire. Millie’s talents seem to be just what Adrian needs. Or is he simply manipulating a situation to have her near?

A romantic thriller for mature adults only, please.

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Indie Author Experience: Mark Wandrey

Friday, August 8th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

mark-wandrey

[Charlie here: Today we have a guest post by Mark Wandrey, who we often plug on BPF. ]

Sixteen years ago while watching an episode of Stargate SG-1, I thought they were seriously under-utilizing their universe. Here was a galaxy-spanning transportation network and the galaxy is populated by… humans. Sure, from the production standpoint of a TV show, having an alien a week was simply far beyond what could be afforded. Even Trek handled this mostly with a prosthetic head application here and there, and skin paint. Lots, and lots of skin paint.

Anyway that thought was filed away for later consideration. As any writer quickly learns, there is a big difference between an observation and an idea. But some time later I was re-reading a favorite of mine, Ender’s Game. The protagonist is a young child, plucked from his environment, who grows even at a young age to be a powerful war leader. Then in later books, the writer proceeds to spend untold thousands of words trying to apologize for what Ender does in the first book.

Such is the decision of a writer. Rather like a role playing GM; your game, your call. But it got me thinking. What if there was no apology? What if that kid became a legendary leader, and didn’t look back? Now I had something, and then I remembered the Stargate theme. It’s not like portals to the stars are anything new. Everyone from Carl Sagan to Robert A. Heinlein have used them. They’re not as common in hard/military sci-fi as space ships, but if you want to go to other planets you have to have a way to get there, and dimensional portals are a damned fast way of getting there!

Up until a short time before these ideas occurred I’d only really written short stories. Tons of short stories. They’re generally easier in execution than a novel. Oh, not easy! Shorts have their own issues, and they can drive a writer nuts in short order. You have to do a lot in only a few thousand words. But when you get into novels, you commit to a vast canvas. And the bigger the canvas, the easier to miss things.

The first novel I wrote front-to-back was a book about the colonization of Mars. Also motivated by what others did (wrong in my opinion), I was tired of every trip-to-Mars book being filled with aliens, and endless disasters. So I wrote about a guy running a project to both travel to Mars, and colonize it. That novel still sits in a hard drive, and may well forever (it’s horribly out of date now among other problems) but it was about 100k words of work that I hadn’t thought I could do, so this new idea wasn’t impossible.

Armed with a setting (galaxy full of aliens and intergalactic portals), and a basic plot (young person becomes warrior leader), I set out to put electrons in order. And that was the beginning of the Earth Song series. But it didn’t start as Earth Song, or even a series!

I wrote the original book, The Avatar’s Overture, in less than a year at lunch each day while working nights. With the basics of an idea, it came out fast. As often happens with a writer, it wasn’t what I’d originally thought. There was a galaxy of aliens out there, there were portals, and a protagonist. But she wasn’t young, and not a war leader. And I up and destroyed the whole planet. It was a good stand alone story, but that was it.

I knew the chances for a publisher to buy an unknowns book, especially a rather large one (160k). But I fished around, with the expected results. So, I figured WTF, and went self pub. But this was before the days of POD (print on demand) changed the world. I went with a company that’s still around, called Authorhouse. Pay them, and they make it available. I did, they did, and sold a few books. The internet wasn’t what it is now too, so without stacks of cash I was very limited in my ability to promote. It went nowhere, and I move on.

Then about 6 years ago, I revisited the world of the ‘Avatars’. Because a guy named Cameron was coming out with a movie called Avatar. Crap. If it couldn’t get worse, it was also sci-fi (albeit badly written sci-fi). But again, it got me thinking about that book, and the original idea. The thought struck one night. “What if that was just the prologue to  a vast saga?”

As is often my style, I started writing before I’d fully formed an idea. But within a few chapters, I knew I’d hit on something. The descendant of that first heroine, many centuries later, earth long dead, and now they meet the aliens. Lots of aliens. Lots of aliens that don’t like us. Lots of aliens with better technology. But the galaxy is also in decay, decadent, falling apart.

As I wrote more and more pieces came into focus. This is a trilogy, I realized. But by the time I finished the book (2nd in the series), I knew it was a lot more than three books. Probably five. As I’ve written it went to six, and now seven. The galaxy got more and more crowded. Plots began to evolve, and motivations (both hidden and obvious) materialized. There was stuff going on I had no idea what I would do with later, just wrote it anyway.

With the 2nd book done, I went back and fixed the 1st. It had to be a clear series now, so I repaired some bad writing and some glaring plot holes, and brought it into the modern realm of a series launching book. I actually almost trashed it entirely, just leaving it as an unmentioned prologue of sorts, but friends convinced me otherwise. They said; “Overture is a good book by itself”. Overture. Well, that was the basis of the name. Dump the Avatar crap. More editing. But a series needs a title. “Overture” is a musical term for the beginning of a much larger movement. The second book takes place in humanities new home, Gamma Orionis. The title would be Sonata in Orionis. Another musical term. And now I had a series title, Earth Song.

As the second book launched and the first book relaunched, this time on Amazon’s Createspace, I set to work doing what I didn’t do nearly as well last time, and what wasn’t really that possible. I started building a web presence online. I use Facebook almost exclusively (to my detriment maybe). But even an indie has to have time to write, so if I’m on Facebook, twitter, G+, etc. all the time, when can I write?

The presence building has been a careful combination of cultivating fans I gathered from new sales (not a lot, but they started coming in), people I came across from wandering other writers pages (avoid plugging your stuff on other writers walls, it tends to piss them off), and building writers pages on Goodreads, Amazon, etc. I also never pass up an opportunity to write a bit for someone else (like this) and to self promote.

Next came conventions. And THAT can be a double edge sword. They’re expensive (even if you do them on the cheap), and as an indie you have to buy boxes of your own books to sell. I invested in some advertising, cards, flyers, and a nice banner that came from the cover to my third book (getting good cover art as an indie is a must). These are things you just have to do. If you show up at a con, buy a table, and just sit a couple books there, no one will even slow down. Put a nice looking book there, at a 6 foot banner with nice graphics, and they’ll slow down. If they slow down, they might look at a book. If they look at a book, they might buy it. And you get a sale! Indies make it one sale at a time.

And this is where I advise against eBook only. Yes, it’s easier. Yes, it’s cheaper. Yes, it’s also often a lot faster. But dead trees will be popular for a long time to come. I sell almost as many hard copies as eBooks.

So here I am now, 15 years after the adventure began, and the 3rd book in the series (The Lost Aria) is about to come out. I’ve been done with the 4th book for over a year (Etude to War), and am about ¼ of the way through the 5th book (Nocturne’s Reckoning). Promotion has become a lot of my online time, but when the eBook of Aria went live this week, I instantly saw sales. It came up a few days early (by mistake), and I looked at their tracking information and was surprised to see a bunch of sales. And this one was priced at $5.99. Remember, if you have a series, resist the urge to go for the money and reduce the older ones in steps. My first book is now only $0.99 (I barely make anything on each sale), the 2nd is $2.99, and the third $5.99. You’ve got to make that first taste cheap. Almost anyone will pop $0.99 for an eBook. I have fans that buy a half dozen a week just looking for that one good one.

I’ve been ordering paper copies of Aria for weeks, slowly building up inventory in prep of the 6/28 official launch (at Libertycon in Chattanooga). In the course of that, I put up on my blog a paypal button to preorder autographed copies. Sold quite a few of those as well. It’s beginning to develop momentum. Will I sell thousands? I really don’t know yet. Readers love a good long series with engaging characters and a dynamic story. That is my goal. So I will continue onward.

Oh, book 6 is titled Oblivions Waltz and book 7 Requiem, just in case it was eating you alive.


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

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it's on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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Meet Bri (Part Two)
By Lilith Revnik 

Free Friday 8/8 and Sunday 8/10Jerry is dead and Charlie’s in jail. Saul turned out to be a bigger jerk than she could have imagined–what else could go wrong?

Bri races back to Charlie’s side to find he’s more than her next boyfriend. He’s the man she’s meant to be with. But before she can marry Charlie, she needs to confront Saul. The only problem is–he’s dead, too. Coincidence, or are Bri and Charlie headed for more than a simple Key West honeymoon?

[Note: This is an erotic thriller. If you don't like erotica, it's not for you.]


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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 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 search, delving into forbidden books hidden away for centuries. When the most dangerous book of all falls into the Professor’s hands, magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre 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.


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The Sky Suspended
By Laura Montgomery 

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

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

[I love the blurb. --C]


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Cities and Throngs and Power
By AUTHOR 

Which is stronger, love or honor?

The Collapse of 2015 left parts of Denver in ashes, the US economy in a mess, and the Salazar family with little besides their pride and honor. Now Alicia Salazar must repay her father’s debt by working in Illif House. She discovers a recluse, a wonder, too many tomatoes, and freedom. When Cousin Ernesto threatens to drag her away, Alicia must choose between freedom and honor. Will love and a Power prove stronger than lead and fury?

Novella includes bonus teaser.


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Cat’s Paw (King of Cats Book 1)
By Robert A. Hoyt 

Many humans know there is a mountain at the end of the universe to which a bird flies every thousand years to sharpen its beak, until the end of the mountain comes, and thus the end of eternity. What few of them know is that of the mountain only a few small grains of sand remain. And the bird that is to end eternity is alive and ready to fly. At half past noon at the end of the universe, the last great hopes of everything that exists, ever existed or has yet to exist, rests with a stray cat with alcohol issues, a Siamese cat with gender issues, and a Persian cat with pregnancy issues. Things are just about to get fun.

[Yes, those Hoyts. --C]


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A Touch of Night
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

PriDe and Prejudice – now with more dragons.

In a world where shape shifters are forbidden and being a shape shifter is forbidden, the Bennet family has a terrible secret. So does the Darcy family. They’re not what you expect.

Pride, Prejudice, werewolves and dragons, oh, my.


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The Kitsune Stratagem (Inari’s Children, Book 1)
By David A. Tatum 

The Inari’s Children Series: Once magic was plentiful and the world was dominated by a singular empire whose name has long been lost to history. In its time, the great wizard Inari developed his greatest creation: The kitsune. His enemies were quick to copy him, and soon the world was populated with many different types of this remarkable creature. Two thousand years later and these different breeds of kitsune are fighting amongst themselves, and the rest of the human world joins them.

Book I: The Kitsune Stratagem: To avoid being used as a political pawn against her father, a young kitsune vixen named Kieras must leave her homeland. She soon gets caught up in the fortunes of Mathis, a vagabond hunter from Ekholm, a once sleepy little town on the verge of becoming a small city. To find a way to return home, Kieras must first help Mathis save Ekholm from threats both inside and out.

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Why the Freed Tiger Sings

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
FREEDOM!

FREEDOM!

This is Sarah and I have a message for my friends and colleagues still trapped in and only in Traditional Publishing:

First of all, that moist stuff on the back of your neck?  I don’t care how often they tell you that, but that ain’t no gentle rain.

Look, people, you might choose to close your eyes, put your fingers in your ears, and believe that your publishers are your friends.  They’re not.

Oh, okay, perhaps a small exception can be made for Baen books, a small family run company that treats its authors like family.  The others?

They’ve made it very clear what you are.  Widgets.  Another can of beans.  Burn your career (snap of fingers.) No skin off their noses.  There are another ten saps, patsies, writers just like you in line waiting to break in.

I learned this lesson in 2003.

I first started to write when I came to the US in ’85.  It’s not the publishing industry’s fault I didn’t make it in earlier.  Oh, okay, fine, maybe it is a little, as barriers to entry had accumulated and the preferred method of selling by the time I broke in was to meet the editor and pitch in person.  It took me to ’98 to be able to do so.  One of the books (oh, heck, Darkship Thieves) I’d later publish had gone in the drawer by then because my agent (which I’d acquired by then, the first of four) didn’t want to send it out.

So in ’98 I pitched my Shakespeare trilogy on proposal. The first came out October 2001.

You might have heard of the little contretemps a month before.  I don’t know if you remember what you were doing then.  I do.  I was trying to finish the third book in the series only I was so anxious I could only work in front of the TV, with the news on.

No one was buying books. Some people might have been reading old favorites for comfort.

Of course the publishing industry knew this, right?  I mean, had to.  They are in NYC.

Of course – considering all the paeans we hear to how caring, how wonderful traditional publishing houses are – publishers accounted for this, and gave all those writers who were new and hadn’t sold any so well another chance, right?

Are you kidding me? Baby, Cold Equations and its strict calculations of mass and fuel didn’t have anything on the publishing industry. It had taken me almost twenty years to break in, hand over hand from pays in copies to penny mags, to finally professional shorts, to going to a workshop and selling my novel, to—

But you see, my book didn’t even get unpacked in most stores. It spent the entire time in a closet.  I know.  I tried to do drive by signings. And then it went back.

And at the 2003 World Fantasy, my editor attempted to fire me.  She had fired most of the people who came in that year by then.  I’ve never seen so many crying people, not even at my grandfather’s funeral.

Tried to fire me? Well, I refused to say fired, but that’s a story for another day.  For months after World Fantasy I thought I was fired, and that all the years of working and improving my craft meant nothing.  That I’d done it all for nothing, because events outside my control could kill my career forever.

Hey, readers, did you like Darkship Thieves? Consider I already had it in the drawer at that time. Imagine Baen hadn’t picked me up, and Berkley hadn’t decided they didn’t want to be left behind.  You’d never have read it.

Now think of all those Darkship Thieves, or perhaps better books, languishing in drawers.

Hey, you know who allows writers to put their work up, to let readers decide what they want to read?

Oh, that’s right, Amazon does.

Which is why SFWA is so grateful to Amazon hates Amazon with the fire of a thousand suns.

Wait, what? Isn’t SFWA supposed to be a writers organization?

Ah!  Fooled you, did they?

They’re not really, you know?  They’re an organization of the establishment and their main function is to keep the establishment going without change. Otherwise, explain to me letter the first, and letter the second, both supporting a publisher known for its numerous dirty tricks, while berating the people who would set them free.  (Or to quote my colleague Cedar Sanderson, F%$K me, SFWA, One More Time.

Oh, wait, I can explain it.  In a novel (Revolt in 2100 unless it’s the Benadryl speaking) Heinlein talks about a tiger who is set free but who still paces in the confines of imaginary bars.

Oh, yes, here it is:

“Please understand me-it is easy to be free when you have been brought up in freedom, it is not easy otherwise. A zoo tiger, escaped, will often slink back into the peace and security of his bars. If he can’t get back, they tell me he will pace back and forth within the limits of bars that are no longer there. The human mind is a tremendously complex thing; it has compartments in it that its owner himself does not suspect. I had thought that I had given my mind a thorough housecleaning already and had rid it of all the dirty superstitions I had been brought up to believe. I was learning that the ‘housecleaning’ had been no more than a matter of sweeping the dirt under the rugs-it would be years before the cleansing would be complete, before the clean air of reason blew through every room. “

Right now SFWA and those of you who agree with SFWA are that tiger. You’ve grown so used to and so comfy in your prison – treated like widgets, forced to do more and more of your publicity and even your editing, all for the princely fraction of profit you get of your books, and even in that scammed – that you’re afraid of the bars going down.  You’re afraid of being free.  Freedom is scary and cold. Or as the ever loving Grauniad  El Guardian tells us self-publishing is a reactionary activity and antithetical to community.

Oh sure, I have more colleagues I cooperate with, help and encourage than I did when I was strictly traditional, because there are no publishers playing mind games, and this is no longer a zero sum business. But never mind that.  It’s “anti-community” and you’re afraid of dying alone in the dark with no one to close your eyes. (You are aware, right, that your publisher would steal the sesterce from your eyes before you cooled. Never mind.)

Which brings us to my second point: You’re free. You’re not dependent on anyone to get your stories in front of the reading public. Whatever you want to imagine the bars are gone.

Get used to the scary now. Once you get over your fear you’ll realize you have control – real control not just doing all the work and being blamed for others’ mistakes and even for national tragedies – over your career for the first time in your life.

You’re free.  Surely you can get out of that cage at the computer and walk into your own career.

Do try. You’re letting the writer side down.

Even if you never came up against the “Writers are widgets” mentality, you are bound to, sooner or later. Because you see, in traditional publishing, you have no power. The publishers have all the power  When things get pinched, you’re out of there. They think they can replace you just like that.

Indie publishing is scary, but it’s also yours.  You do it, you take responsibility.  You reap the rewards.

I understand that freed slaves walked as far away as they could from their place of captivity, just in case someone changed his/her mind and enslaved them again.  Surely you can at least stop beating the companies that allow indie publishing long enough to start your own career.  All it requires is that you walk the road to freedom in your own mind.

Forget the Stockholm syndrome.  You’re free.  Act like it.


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Hunter’s Home
By Ellie Ferguson

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?


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Vengeance from Ashes
By Sam Schall

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

Juzeva: Born a princess of the beautiful land of Savaru, dedicated to the service of the magical Source Azara, she is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know for the sake of her country’s survival, and finds herself trapped in a web of evil and betrayal…

Sevry: The last king of the war-ravaged land of Savaru, he is tasked by Azara with finding the secret that his aunt Juzeva carried with her when she disappeared – the secret that will bring Savaru back to life – and finds himself hounded by evil men who want to use that secret for their own terrible purposes…

Lucie: A pampered young noblewoman, haunted by visions of a desperate man, she is unaware of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore life to a long-dead land…

Then Sevry, Savaru’s past, and Juzeva’s secret catch up with Lucie, leading her to adventure, danger, and a love that will forever change her life and the lost land of Savaru.


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Wings
By Sarah A Hoyt

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.

Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
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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Elizabeth of Vindobona: Book Three in the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

All’s unfair in love and politics.

Countess Colonel Elizabeth of Vindobona has fought against Frankonia and the Turkowi, faced down a heretic traitor, evaded the romantic attentions of the emperor’s brother, and rebuilt the estate of Donatello Bend. But Court politics prove too much even for her. Sent to the far end of the Empire, Elizabeth and her allies race to save the Empire when a surprise invasion puts all else to naught. Even if she succeeds, love may prove Elizabeth’s final undoing.

Fortune favors the bold—but gunpowder settles everything.


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The Grave Artist
By Paula Lynn Johnson

“Johnson presents a believable, multilayered heroine whose narration is lively and insightful . . . The action is brisk, with a surprising but believable twist near the end. Never stilted or clumsy, this debut novel reads like the work of a far more experienced writer.” – Kirkus Reviews

16-year-old Clare can’t stop drawing the bizarre, winged skulls she calls “Sammies”. Her psychiatrist assumes the compulsive drawings are just expressions of Clare’s grief over her father abandoning her. But then Clare discovers that her Sammies are exact matches for the Death’s Head on the grave of Samantha Forsythe, a teen who reportedly fell to her death over two centuries ago.

Before long, Clare’s drawings morph into cryptic writings that urge her to uncover the truth behind Samantha’s death. Together with Neil — the friend she might be falling for — Clare scours the local history for clues. She finds that, although Samantha was engaged to a wealthy landowner, there were whispered rumors of her involvement with a younger, biracial man.

Soon, Clare is haunted by disturbing dream images — a mysterious eye, a broken chain — that point to someone Samantha called her “Dearest”. But who is Dearest? And why does Samantha need Clare to find him so badly?

Isolated and carrying hidden scars of her own, Clare fears her obsession with Samantha will threaten her sanity and safety. But it seems she has no choice in the matter . . .

The Grave Artist is a compelling paranormal murder mystery and a poignant story about loss and what it means thrive in a less-than-perfect reality.


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Cold Trap
By Jon Waskan

Economic geologist Og Rowley knows Unity well. He helped design it. He led its first science team. And upon his return home, he looked forward to reuniting with gal pal Moochy and plucky protégé Sej, who were each completing Unity missions of their own. But when word arrives that Sej has vanished, NASA sends Og back to Unity to investigate, launching him headlong into a secret battle to thwart the global aspirations of the Sino-Russian Entente. As for Moochy, well she has a secret of her own, one that could unlock the mystery of complex life and even deliver up a key to the stars … if it doesn’t cause a mass extinction first.


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What the Deaf Mute Heard
By G.D. Gearino

When ten-year-old Sammy awakens in an empty bus after an overnight trip, it’s a moment of paralyzing disorientation: He doesn’t know where he is, his mother has disappeared, and he’s surrounded by strangers.

The town is Barrington, Georgia, and Sammy grows up there — never leaving the bus station, in fact — and almost three decades pass before he speaks another word. But the man who everyone in Barrington assumes is a deaf-mute handyman reveals the town’s secrets, and in the process learns the story of his own life.

The basis for the most popular television movie in a generation (not to mention the most-watched Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation in history), “What the Deaf-Mute Heard” is a tale that stays with you long after the last page is turned.


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Slow Death in the Fast Lane
By J.W. Kerwin

On the surface, Slow Death in the Fast Lane is a wildly entertaining story about an unconventional attorney who defends a client charged with criminal tax fraud by putting the IRS and America’s tax laws on trial. But underneath the fast action, quirky characters, and outrageous courtroom stunts is a scathing indictment of a federal agency that many believe has become far too powerful.

Although a work of fiction, the book reveals a number of IRS practices, including a little known sting operation targeting small businesses.

In the particularly entertaining chapter, “Dean Wormer must be running the IRS,” an expert witness uses the “double secret probation” scene from National Lampoon’s Animal House to explain why the Internal Revenue Code violates constitutionally mandated due process requirements.


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The Mystery of the Dying Woman
By Paul Leone

London, 1888 AD. Zillah Harvey came to the city to make a better living than the country could offer… but a brutal encounter on the streets of Whitechapel opens doorways to a new and sinister world. The first in an occasional series of Victorian occult detective stories.


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Trail of Second Chances
By Paul Duffau

A high-octane adventure on a wild Montana mountain as one girl finds herself racing for her life against a malignant fire. It should have been the highlight of the summer, a training camp for elite runners in the mountains of Montana. Coached by her father, and frustrated by his efforts to hold her back, Becca Hawthorne dreams of competing in the Olympics. She earned her chance to test herself against the best runners in the Pacific Northwest. But now she faces a tougher opponent than even the fastest girl. An action-filled roller coaster ride that keeps you turning the pages as the fire creeps closer.

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The Declaration of Independents

Saturday, July 5th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

uc006330

“When in the course of human events….”

The funny thing about revolutions is that they don’t stop, even though there are always Tories who think things would be better done The Old Way. These words, 238 years ago, started a revolution that goes on today — a revolution of people who asserted their right to their own life, liberty and property.

For all the halting and inconsistent progress, this revolution continues — this week, there were demonstrations in Hong Kong demanding greater political freedom. In the Anglophone West, the revolutions are smaller, but happen every day: cell phones making us independent of the old Ma Bell, and independent even of wires; the Internet letting us contact people world wide in real time; the World Wide Web becoming the platform from which we do business with everyone from major corporations to a small-time craftsperson on e-Bay.

One of those revolutions is the e-publishing revolution: now we get our music, our news, and increasingly our books in the form of bits transferred over the Internet. In some ways, perhaps, the most exciting part of this revolution is the e-book publishing revolution: through Amazon (primarily) and the Kindle platform (again primarily) it has become possible for a writer to publish a book and make it available to an international audience without needing a publisher, or the limited and expensive resource of a printing plant and a distribution network.

(See, this is a Book Plug Friday column, even though it’s probably Saturday when you see it because that’s the way Thursday and Friday went; and this is Charlie, by the way. If you listen closely you can probably hear Sarah struggling against her bonds in the background.)

Even better than being able to be published, the e-book revolution has made it possible for writers to make a living by getting published, with everything from 99¢ thrillers to porn to science-fictional series that would be wrist-breaking volumes in physical realization.

This is really new, and as Sarah has been detailing for the last year, it’s causing consternation and dislocations that have been amazing to behold. Fiction had become, really, pretty limited — personally, I blame the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and MFA programs. We have been learning to see “good fiction” as approved fiction, and the approvers increasingly have seen themselves as an Elite, the Guardians of Proper Literature, with the Right Attitudes and the Politically Appropriate Opinions.

It hasn’t been quick, but it’s been amazingly thorough, and while it went on, we saw the death of many markets, especially for short fiction. The funny thing was that when there was a market for short fiction, it was publishing Hornblower, and Heinlein, and Agatha Christie — writers and characters we still read today. But as it became necessary to write serious IWW fiction to get published, it also became harder and harder to pay for a fiction magazine. By the time I was first trying to write fiction, there were probably at most a dozen commercial magazines that still published fiction, and usually one short story a month.

Strangest thing though — if you looked at the magazine stand, down a couple racks and to the left, there were another two dozen or more monthly “true confession” magazines that had pretty immense circulation. But they weren’t “serious” fiction, just as the pulps weren’t “serious” fiction. What they were is emotionally involving, mimetic, and cathartic. Basically, Aristotle would recognize true confessions and pulp as good art. The IWW literati would say those were boring old clichés and not good art at all — and this recent generation would ask if there were enough women, gays, people “of color”, and transgendered people, and whether the author was from an under-represented group.

All that has changed because of the possibility of publishing independently through Amazon, and the Boston-New York Literature Mavens don’t like it. People are writing, and sometimes writing wonderfully well, the fiction that Aristotle would recognize, and they’re selling it too.

The big publishers, and the literature Tories, don’t like it. They’re like everyone to stay in proper line and read what’s good for us.

The ability to publish without their permission that comes from ebook publishing is a Declaration of independence, a revolt against another aristocracy that knows what’s good for us.


I wanted to correct something from my piece last week. Since it was published, I was contacted by a source, an industry insider with some knowledge of the big publisher contracts with Amazon. It appears that the big publishers do indeed manage to get the 70 percent royalty from Amazon, even when their books are outside the Kindle Direct guidelines.

Here’s the kicker, though: they pay the same royalty to the author (assuming they report ebook sales honestly, which is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.) So, if a publisher sells a book for $30 in hardcover, they get something like $15 for it, out of which they have to pay for the printing, shipping, warehousing, and so on. Then they pay the author something like $3.

If they sell the ebook for $13, they get $9.10 from Amazon. It costs them effectively nothing on the margin to “print” or “warehouse” the book. They still pay the author $3.


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CRIMSON
By Warren Fahy 

Voyage into an enchanted world in this epic fantasy of adventure and romance as a young king with god-like powers inherits a kingdom and a curse: what he loves most will be his doom. How he decides to fight his fate will endanger his entire kingdom, unite him with his true love in another world, and launch a desperate voyage across a sea of seething monsters and fearsome illusions that will test the will of an intrepid crew of mariners and determine the fate of their world forever. Get ready for an epic fantasy like no other in CRIMSON by Warren Fahy, author of the New York Times bestseller FRAGMENT and PANDEMONIUM.


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Extendedcompanion
By William Krasinski 

Breakthrough technology is great, until you live long enough to become obsolete. Wilek and the other ABC Captains have successfully handled this over the past century, but a resurgent Earth jealousy eying the Off Worlds will soon put the hype to the test. Add to the mix an unasked for new crew ‘mate’, salty recruits and a happy bio, Captain Wilek may reach his last good nerve long before Earth.


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Au Pair Girl
By Judy Klass 

Janine Larson’s parents don’t like her spending her summer hanging out with her boyfriend and her ditsy friends. To teach her responsibility, they get her a job taking care of the kids of a rich, unpleasant doctor and his wife in their summer island home. Janine wins over the small boy, but not the creepy little girl. Janine tries to see the rotten job through, and wonders if she is paranoid about some things . . . When the doctor and his wife realize she has discovered their unsavory, criminal secrets, her cell phone disappears. That night, they chase her around the island, trying to kill her.


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

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

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

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

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A Mainstream Publisher May Not Be Your Friend

Friday, June 27th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

mrpotter

Charlie here. So Sarah is away at science-fiction-writer summer camp, and I’m doing the prose for the book plug links this week. (Don’t forget to email book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines if you would like your book plugged here, leading to fame and fortune.) I can’t promise a fiery Latin rant like last week, but think of this as an appendix — small, kinda slimy, and no one is quite sure what it does.

This time, I’m going to do a little arithmetic. Amazon’s royalty options are a little bit arcane, because of special programs and multiple currencies, but here are the basic rules:

  • You can get 35 percent of the sale price as a flat rate for any book from a minimum of between 99¢ and $2.99 — depending on the size of the book in megabytes — up to $200. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a $200 ebook.
  • Or if you meet some conditions, you can get 70 percent of the sale price, as long as the price you set is between $2.99 and $9.99. You also pay a data transfer fee, which is 15¢ a megabyte. (Which, for most fiction, means about 15¢.)

The conditions aren’t particularly onerous: first, if you have the right to publish the work in some country, Amazon has to be able to e-publish your book in that country; second, the book can’t consist primarily of public-domain content — you can’t ebookify something from Project Gutenberg and get the 70 percent rate; third, the e-book has to be enabled for text-to-speech; and you have to set the e-book price at least 20 percent below the cover price of the physical edition.

So, now I picked a novel at random from the ones Amazon is pushing, The Hurricane Sisters. It’s from the most mainstream of mainstream publishers: William Morrow, part of HarperCollins. From the blurb, it’s a standard sort of Southern-gothic chick-book, with the powerful lover, the gay brother, the BFF, family troubles. (God, no, I haven’t read it! The blurb sounds like it would be a more honest work redone as porn, but that’s a topic for another time.)


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The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel
By Dorothea Benton Frank 

Hurricane season begins early and rumbles all summer long, well into September. Often people’s lives reflect the weather and The Hurricane Sisters is just such a story.

Once again Dorothea Benton Frank takes us deep into the heart of her magical South Carolina Lowcountry on a tumultuous journey filled with longings, disappointments, and, finally, a road toward happiness that is hard earned. There we meet three generations of women buried in secrets. The determined matriarch, Maisie Pringle, at eighty, is a force to be reckoned with because she will have the final word on everything, especially when she’s dead wrong. Her daughter, Liz, is caught up in the classic maelstrom of being middle-age and in an emotionally demanding career that will eventually open all their eyes to a terrible truth. And Liz’s beautiful twenty-something daughter, Ashley, whose dreamy ambitions of her unlikely future keeps them all at odds.

[Shortened....]

The Lowcountry has endured its share of war and bloodshed like the rest of the South, but this storm season we watch Maisie, Liz, Ashley, and Mary Beth deal with challenges that demand they face the truth about themselves. After a terrible confrontation they are forced to rise to forgiveness, but can they establish a new order for the future of them all?


But look at the price. $12.99. Easily more than 20 percent less that the hardcover price, text-to-speech is enabled, and I’m sure that HC will happily sell it anywhere they have publication rights.

So, this is the part of Book Plug Friday where we do arithmetic.

$ 12.99  
x  0.35  
-------
   4.65  

Amazon is paying $4.65 to HarperCollins for each copy of the e-book they sell. But they seem to be able to qualify for the better rate in terms of the other conditions. Which means

$  9.99  
x  0.70  
-------
   6.99  

Let that be a lesson to you indie writers: 70 percent is better than 35 percent. Also, let that be a lesson to you, HarperCollins: 70 percent of $9.99 is better than 35 percent of $12.99.

And let that be a lesson to you, Dorothea Benton Frank: for some reason, HarperCollins is happy to give up $2.34 of your money.

Don’t you wonder why?


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Golf Cart Blues
By Walt Pimbley 

“A foursome from Fordo (Iran’s nuclear bomb research center) take a breather on the links, where they discover that Commies make poor caddies. When Mossad
shows up to play through, things get dicey.”

FREE on Kindle for a few days!


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Master Minds
By Edited by Juliana Rew 

A new collection of science fiction and fantasy stories for Summer 2014 on the theme of “intelligence.”


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In Treachery Forged
By David A. Tatum 

Following the rebellion of the Borden Isles, the Kingdom of Svieda was forced to make a pact with the Sho’Curlas Alliance in order to maintain the world’s balance of power.

Many years later, that pact was betrayed, suddenly and irrevocably, when the Sword King of Svieda was brutally assassinated by the Sho’Curlas Ambassador in the opening act of an invasion.

To help save his country in the ensuing war, Sword Prince Maelgyn must travel to the Province of Sopan, take command of his armies, and join his cousins in battle. Along the way he rescues a Dwarven caravan, forges a badly needed alliance, and accidentally gets married.

And then he learns about the dragons….


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland 

Rashali, a widowed Urdai peasant, has vowed to destroy the Sazars who conquered Urdaisunia and brought her people to ruin.

Prince Eruz, heir to the Sazar throne, walks a dangerous line between loyalty and treason as he tries to do what is best for all the people of Urdaisunia.

The gods who once favored Urdaisunia have turned their backs on the land and left it to die.

When Rashali and Eruz meet by chance, the gods take notice, sending peasant and prince on intertwining paths of danger, intrigue, love, and war – paths that will change their lives, the destiny of Urdaisunia, and even the fate of the gods, forever.


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Wizard’s Heir
By Michael A, Hooten
Gwydion ap Don is a talented harpist, and a known rogue. But his Uncle Math sees something more: a young man with the magical talent to succeed him as Lord Gwynedd. But to learn magic, Gwydion will also have to learn self-control, duty, honor, and the martial arts. He’s not sure which will be the hardest. And when his training in magic begins in earnest, his whole world will change, as well as how he sees himself.

Based on the ancient Welsh myths from the Mabinogion, but set in the world of Cricket’s Song, this new series looks at one of the three great bards of Glencairck, Gwydion. But long before he became a great bard, he had to learn how to be a good man. This is the story of how his uncle tries to temper him into a leader, and a suitable heir.


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Fate and Fair Winds
By Dory Codington 

Adventure / Romance: Fate and Fair Winds takes place in Philadelphia in the months after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The novel explores what it means to be free and independent from both a personal and a political standpoint.

Rebecca is a stubborn Pennsylvania farm girl, searching for her right to independence. Her father has used her dowry to buy a neighbor’s land and has offered to arrange her marriage to that neighbor as an alternative to having a dowry. This is an option she finds repugnant, but perhaps inevitable.

John FitzSimmon has been traveling the coastal colonies to learn what he can about the mood of the Colonists for his commander Gen. William Howe. He stops in Philadelphia to meet with his brother Jason, the captain of a merchant vessel docked at the harbor. When his shadow falls over the sketch Rebecca has made of the pretty ship, she asks him a question that will change both their lives.


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Self-Publishing With Burning Slug
By Anthony W. Hursh 

The Burning Slug book engine (http://burningslug.com/) is quite possibly the fastest way to get your text into book form. From the same manuscript file you can produce:

  • EPUB format (iBooks, the Barnes & Noble Nook, and many other readers)
  • MOBI format (Kindle)
  • Print-ready PDF
  • Stand-alone website

This manual was itself compiled with Burning Slug. The EPUB, Kindle, and print versions were all generated from the same manuscript without any text changes for the different versions.


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What About the Boy? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son
By Stephen Gallup 

Nobody knew what hurt little Joseph, and no one was offering a way to help him. He cried most of the time, and thrashed about as if in pain. He wasn’t learning how to crawl, talk, or interact normally. Doctors told his parents to seek counseling, because nothing could help their son, and the quality of their own lives was at risk. Refusal to accept that advice changed their lives forever. WHAT ABOUT THE BOY? A Father’s Pledge to His Disabled Son chronicles a family’s rejection of hopelessness and their commitment to the pursuit of normalcy.


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Father’s Day: More Married. More Husband. More Father. More Man.
By Greg Swann 

Families without fathers typically are not families for long, and they are rarely strong families. The families from which children emerge the strongest – best-prepared intellectually, emotionally and in future earning-power – are the best-fathered families. Dad is the unchallenged leader of his brood, and everyone recognizes that it is his steady, unwavering, mission-critical leadership that most makes them a family. He never stops driving his family, and – in direct consequence – they are proud to go where he takes them.

Father’s Day is about making more families like that, helping Dad find his way back to his leadership role, helping him take charge and get his family moving again.


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Scout’s Honor
By Henry Vogel 

Told in a relentlessly fast-paced and breathless style, SCOUT’S HONOR is an exciting modern homage to the classic tales of planetary romance made famous by writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, as well as the cliffhanger-driven energy of the early science fiction movie serials. If you like your heroes unabashedly heroic, your heroines feisty and true, and your plots filled with dangers, twists, turns, and double-crosses upon triple-crosses, you’ll enjoy SCOUT’S HONOR.


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Dark Invasion
By Mark Whittington 

Having escaped the Nazi vampire hunter, SS officer Kurt Hesselman, the Contessa Gabriella Doria finds herself in neutral Switzerland and in the company of American spy master Allen Dulles. Dulles sends Gabriella on a mission that might cut short the war by a year. She is to infiltrate occupied France, contact Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and persuade him to change sides and fight on the side of the allies. But Gabriella will soon face peril from all sides, including from an enemy that she had thought dead and buried.

A direct sequel to Gabriella’s first World War II adventure, Dark Sanction.


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War To the Knife
By Peter Grant 

Laredo’s defenders were ground down and its people ruthlessly slaughtered when the Bactrians invaded the planet. Overwhelmed, its Army switched to guerrilla warfare and went underground. For three years they’ve fought like demons to resist the occupiers. They’ve bled the enemy, but at fearful cost. The survivors are running out of weapons, supplies, and places to hide.

Then a young officer, Dave Carson, uncovers an opportunity to smash the foe harder than they’ve ever done before, both on and off the planet. Success may bring the interplanetary community to their aid – but it’ll take everything they’ve got. Win or lose, many of them will die. Failure will mean that Bactria will at last rule unopposed.

That risk won’t stop them. When you’re fighting a war to the knife, in the end you bet on the blade.

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How to Compete With Amazon — if you really want to

Friday, June 6th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Whining is not fighting, and complaining is not competing.  You want to be a contender?  Put your gloves on and fight.

Whining is not fighting, and complaining is not competing. You want to be a contender? Put your gloves on and fight.

So, Amazon.  We’re now supposed to have a mini hate in or something, right.

What I – Sarah, by the way, nice to meet you – would like to know is why?  Why has hating Amazon become the cool or chic thing to do?  Why is Amazon the villain?

Oh, never mind me, I understand it from the other side – that is the side of the traditional publishers, the distributors, the people who were used to controlling who got to see what on the shelves, the people who before Amazon’s ascendance, could make or break a book, sight unseen, and make sure that either no one ever found it, or it was a mega success (at least on paper).

I understand why they’re upset at Amazon.  Why they’re screaming that everyone must now destroy the monster.  But why?

I am not implying Amazon is perfect.  As I cued my stuff for various promotions today I was reminded again of Amazon’s extremely stupid requirement that you give them exclusive rights in order to do a give away or sale.

Stupid, you say?  But it’s the stuff of evil geniuses!  They get exclusivity on the book!

Stupid I said, and stupid I meant.  See, yeah, they get exclusivity on the book – but none of the big names are availing themselves of this – so the exclusivity they get is at best with us, midlisters.  Look, guys, I have a head as big as the next writer, but I think the only people who REMEMBER my book for three months are people who sleep with me. And there’s only one of those.  I don’t mean I write unmemorable books, I mean that with the spoiling for choice we get, the only people who remember I had a book release, three months later, are people who really, really, really like me.

So, let’s see how Amazon’s exclusive-to-promote policy shoots itself in the foot.  Let’s say I’m a compulsive reader (I am) and download Pretty Darn Good Writer’s book when it’s free.  I download it, and get around to read it in a month or so, when it’s no longer free.  To my shock, it rocks my world.  So I go to my Reader Friend (I have a few!) and say “you must, must, must read this.”  Reader Friend says, “Oh, okay.  But I have a nook.”  She goes and searches it on B & N and the book isn’t there – of course, since it’s still in the three month exclusivity period.

By the time the book comes out of that and goes on B & N Reader friend has forgotten all about it.  Which means that Barnes and Noble lost a sale, you say, and no skin off Amazon’s nose?

This is as stupid a line of thought as the old traditional publishers’ idea that people choose books by publisher, instead of by author, plot or title.

See, Reader friend has twenty other friends to whom she would have recommended the book.  But she can’t do it because she never read it.  And I guarantee 18 of those friends would be on kindle.

So, in the long run the exclusivity policy – I don’t think even with my moderate name anyone is going to change reading platforms for me – hurts Amazon, as well as being an unholy annoyance.

The same with pricing.  I don’t actually object to having a $2.99 floor for novels.  All my indie friends whom I yelled at and said “you can sell it for $2 more and you’ll be fine, know I think the natural price is more like $4.99.  But to put that floor (via pricing incentives) under short stories is not the best thing in the world in the current economy.

And this is why Amazon needs competition, you say.

Yes, yes, they do.  And I have been working (in my copious spare time) on a four part series on how to compete with Amazon – at least on ebooks, which isn’t even the core of Amazon’s business.

You see, I work across five ebook platforms and what I’m here to tell you is that none of them are serious competition.  I only get about 10% of the income I get from Amazon from any of these places.  And that’s on a good month.

But the thing is I know why.  I also know why, with the best will in the world, I end up putting only 1/10th of my books in other platforms.  And it’s not Amazon’s fault.  It’s the other houses’.

A forceful breakup of Amazon will do nothing to help these houses, because they are too stupid to help themselves.  I will expand on this in the articles, I promise, and if I weren’t up to my neck in work (as are my friends – and my husband) who can program I’d give it a crack myself.  BUT for now, I’ll give some areas in which the other ebook sellers drive me nuts:

1-      Stop treating me like an amateur.  I have almost 20 years experience as a published author.  If you send me congratulations whenever I sell a copy of a book on your site and talk about the wonderful occasion and how it will change my life, I’ll get testy.  It’s not that we can’t be friends anymore, but I get a feeling you think I’m less than five.  Treat me like a professional, please.

2-      While you’re treating me like a professional, realize my time (particularly for us hybrid authors) is limited.  STOP telling me that I got error 342 and I should check your manual to see what I’m doing wrong.  Either have a clickable explanation or – here’s an idea – have your site so that when I upload an ebook format that works everywhere else, it doesn’t gag on imaginary code.  I really don’t have the whole day to spend uploading a short story into your site.  And uploading novels is a tortuous process that I gave up on after the first.

3-      Make sure your platform is intuitive and self explanatory.  This breaks my heart with the site that comes second to Amazon in making me money.  Their platform for uploading books is SO visually oriented, it takes me an hour and help from younger son to find out where to upload.  Make it obvious and easy to return to.

4-      One more thing – make sure your reports of sales and payment makes sense.  Do not change the report six months later, and pay me for some sale I didn’t know about.  I need to know things like how my promotions did.

 

So, that’s for attracting writers.  What about readers?

5-      Give up on exclusivity.  Yes, I know.  You want me to read from you only.  Tough.  I’m not giving up my kindle library.  Make it possible for me to beam a kindle-format book to my kindle, and you got me.

6-      If you want to have your proprietary reader, same thing applies.  Make sure I can read my Amazon books on your system.  I refuse to keep two separate libraries, and I’m not alone.

There is more, and a lot more detail.  As I said, I’m working on it in my copious spare time.  But this should be enough to get started.

Amazon is not evil.  (My friend Cedar Sanderson explains the thing with Hatchette here. And my friend Dave Freer explains it here.) BUT it needs competition.  The thing is to compete with Amazon the competitor must give up on being the “anti-amazon.”  That gets you anti-sales.  You should instead steal what works and improve on what doesn’t.  And then maybe you’ll have a fighting chance.

(Special Note: Sarah’s books, and Cedar’s book, this time are on special. Which is why it’s a special note. Isn’t that special?)


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TITLE
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.

Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”


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Heart’s Fire
By Sarah A. Hoyt 

When a priceless magical jewel is stolen, Ausenda, who has no magical power, has to track it down before the thief uses the jewel for some unspeakable crime.


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The Eternity Symbiote
By Cedar Sanderson 

On Sale for the month of June!

Earth sits at the center of a galactic power struggle humanity knows nothing about. Then an alien delegation suffers a fatal accident and hidden plans unravel around the wreckage in the Alaskan wilderness. Infectious disease expert Gabrielle McGregor discovers the hidden machinations and what they’ll mean for her and her family.


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Finishing Kick
By Paul Duffau 

A humorous peek inside one girl’s dream to guide her team to the winner’s podium, Finishing Kick takes an inspirational look into girls cross country. Callie finds herself holding the keys to the nuthouse when she agrees to be team captain of the cross country squad. She cares so much and tries so hard, you can’t help but cheer her on as Callie and her team challenges powerhouse Fairchild Academy.


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Right to Know
By Edward Willett 

A fast-paced space opera about first contact – with a difference. When Art Stoddard, civilian information officer of the generation ship Mayflower II, is kidnapped by a secret military organization determined to overthrow the power of Captain and crew, he becomes embroiled in a conflict that tests everything he thought he knew. Now, he is forced to choose between preserving social order and restoring the people’s right to know. But what if knowledge is the most dangerous thing of all?


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Fenrir Reborn
By Anita C. Young 

Sindri Modulf has been tested many times throughout his long life, but for every feat he has faced, he has artfully dodged countless more with easy humour and a deadly axe. Those well-honed abilities will prove useless when he is faced with one of the greatest challenges of his life; he must bring back a grief-stricken Seer from the edge of catatonia. Unwilling to let the mind of the most powerful woman in 1000 years be ravaged by Empaths and Telepaths, Sindri does something he hasn’t done for centuries: bare his soul.

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Doing the Work

Friday, April 25th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Sometimes you just need another hand on the job.

Sometimes you just need another hand on the job.

So, hi, this is Sarah, and I’ve been writing for a long, long time.  Okay, I’ve been writing since I was about two, but writing with intent to become a professional since about six.  Obviously I didn’t have a very focused business plan for this, since it took me more than thirty years, though perhaps it was slightly more realistic than my previous career plans of becoming a cat or an angel.  (The first being morphologically unlikely and the second just unlikely, unless it were one of those angels with very dark wings.)

Having broken into my chosen field at almost forty, you’d think I’d be safe from a midlife crisis.  And in a way I am.  So the field decided to have a midlife crisis around me.  Which is… special.  We won’t rehash how we got here, and I will say right away that I’m very glad there are indie options.  I love my publisher, and I have no plans to replace them with Indie, but I like having the option of going indie for some books.  It means there are no unpublishable books.  By this I don’t mean quality-wise.  There are regrettably published books.  Of course IMHO some bestsellers fall in that category, so what do I know?

What I mean though is that there is no longer a bright line, delineated by others that says “you can’t write that.”  For a long time the “you can’t write that” for me was space opera, which hurt, since that’s what I started writing to write.  My novel (Prometheus Award Winner 2011 and still selling) Darkship Thieves wasn’t even submitted by my agents until I had sold it by unusual means.  It sat for 13 years in a drawer.  This was based not on quality but on “it will never sell” – you see, it was science fiction but not “big idea” or “introspective” enough.  So there was no market for it.

I have at least 10 other books that were rejected, most of them by agents who wouldn’t submit them. One of them, the one I just released indie – Witchfinder – was never sent out because “you can’t have a computer programmer fall into a magical world.  People won’t know how to shelf it.”

So, I appreciate the openness and ability to publish whatever of indie.  But I still have a traditional career, and… let’s face it, okay? I am fifty one, and I don’t have all the time in the world.  I’m managing, barely.

But there are people who are older than I, and who can’t either take the time to learn how to do this, or who simply don’t have the time.  And for those there are support professionals.

If you’re going to get a support professional, it’s important to know what you’re getting and what you’re paying for.  You should for instance figure out exactly what an editor would do. A structural editor should be paid more than a copyeditor.  He/she would also have a completely different background.  My structural editor is a friend with a professional history as an editor.

I wouldn’t trust someone I don’t know with that sort of thing, and if I needed to hire a total stranger, I’d interview him/her and then ask him/her to do a sample.

Of the people linked below (and if you’re a support professional feel free to send us a link to book plug Friday, I’ve worked with Patrick Richardson for copy editing (because his background is journalism, I prefer him for non-fiction, but he edited a novel for a friend, and he did a fine job,) Rune Wright for typesetting, Jason Dyck for proofing and Cedar Sanderson for cover design.  I can recommend all four of them.

So for typesetting and formatting: Rune Wright.  He has all the details on his website.

For Jason Dyck, we have an email address.  He was both affordable and prompt with proof-reading for me.

For Pat Richardson, we also have an email address. And I can recommend him for proof reading.

Cedar Sanderson is new, but comes from a graphic arts background and if you need a cover designed, her work is simply a cut above.  This is her website.

Then there is Barb Caffrey who has a testimonial from one of her clients. I’ve never worked with Barb, so I can’t personally recommend her.

And that’s it for now.  If you’re an indie publishing support professional, send us your info.

And I’m out of here. Below are links to some fine indie works, some of which might be by yours truly.  (If I remember if I can squeeze in this week, which I don’t, since I’m mid novel and don’t have a brain.)


Remember, tell all your writer friends [Pssst, Sarah!] to send the AUTHOR, TITLE, a SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK to book.plug.friday@gmail.com to be plugged here on PJ Media.

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

That said, last week was a really big one, so some books are being put off until next week. Hey, we said the deadlines are flexible.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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After the Blast
By T. L. Knighton 

Jason wasn’t having a bad day, but all that changed with a blinding flash of light and a mushroom cloud on the horizon. Overweight and out of shape, Jason must struggle home, only to learn that finding his family would be more of a challenge.

Along the way, he transforms into someone different. Is he the kind of man that is the problem with this new world, or the kind of man this new world needs?


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An Elfy On The Loose
By Barb Caffrey 

He’s supposed to be the Watcher for his people, the representative on Earth from his dimension, but the small being known to his enemies as “Jonny-Wonny” wakes up to big trouble — trapped in a bizarre house in Knightsville, California with humans straight out of reality TV. Jon knows that something has gone dreadfully wrong — he’s starving, lonely and dressed in funny clothes.

Enter the couple’s ten-year-old diminutive daughter, who is “Not Daisy!” but is brilliant, sweet…and using high level magic with ease. She’s also desperately in need of a friend.

Insisting her name is really Sarah, and christening him Bruno, his new friend asks him how they’re going to get out of there.

The only thing that comes to mind is for Bruno to ask his teacher, Roberto the Wise, for help. But Roberto’s attempt at help only enmeshes all three of them further in a web of deceit and treachery. Bruno finds out that, unfortunately, most of what he thought he knew about himself was very wrong…and much of what Sarah knows about herself is also wrong, including her age.

Worst of all, a Dark Elf is on the scene and is intent on corrupting the local Humans, including Sarah’s parents.

New names, new locations, a new mission–Bruno is going to get to the bottom of all the craziness, and Sarah will be there for him every step of the way.

Watch out, universe–an Elfy is on the loose!


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In Time of Peril
By T.K. Naliaka 

Raised on the edge of chaos in West Africa, Christopher Decatur is back in America for college, leaving behind dunes, baobabs, and nomads. His history class embarks on a week-long American Revolution reenactment hiking trip near Lake Champlain, but the backwoods are no refuge from the dangers of the world as the group unexpectedly collides with a murderous and mysterious gang. As Chris faces an ordeal of deadly threats with uncooperative classmates in a high-stakes battle of wits and cultures against ruthless foes, Chris’s father Robert Decatur risks everything to rescue his son from the hands of evil. In Time of Peril launches The Decaturs adventure series, inspired by Louis L’Amour’s Sacketts.

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How NOT To Go Insane By Degrees

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BUT as I say, I kept it under control.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Voyageur’s Cap
By Cedar Sanderson

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


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Trophy Target
By Allen Mitchum

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

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

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


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BLED WHITE
By Barbara Morgenroth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can they survive?

Can their love survive?


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Predatory Kill: A Legal Thriller
By Kenneth Eade

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


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

Deadlines are flexible, but in general the deadline for Friday is Tuesday the preceding week. So, for example, the deadline for March 7 was February 22.

It really helps if you don’t bother with HTML magic at all, because we just have to parse it apart to put it into the template. The ideal submission is like

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

http://www.amazon.com/My-Book-By-Me/dp/B00ABCDEFG/

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.

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The World Turned Upside Down

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Surrender_of_Lord_Cornwallis

Sarah here. One thing for sure is that the publishing industry (following the footsteps of the music industry, the newspaper industry, and all the lemmings who went before it) would rather die sure of its convictions than change.

They will keep insisting that the old model was right, the new model is wrong, and dang it, people will soon realize and come back to them crying… or something.

My friend Amanda Green posted about this at Mad Genius Club this week. Yet another consultant telling the publishing industry what they want to hear: that ebooks are underpriced at…. what they’re selling for, that people should want to pay more for the “convenience”, that it’s just a rental of a service, and of course if you want it in more than one device, you should pay again.

Really, how many times have we heard this? It started with the traditionals manfully declaring that no, ebooks would never take a significant chunk out of paper sales.  They were a specialty, a fad, a curiosity.  No one really wanted to read on the computer screen (this while the kindle was becoming popular.)  Then we were treated to the spectacle of senior VPs in New York Publishing talking about how much they gave their authors in terms of support, of covers, of editing. Well, that is only going to sound good if you don’t know any mid-list authors who talk.  And even then, the reading public doesn’t care.  Once indie upped its game a little, it competed handily with the bottom of the publisher “support.” And customers bought indie.

Now we’re back to “we really should be able to charge a lot more” and the new twist of “ebooks are so much more convenient.”  (Apparently they got that we’re not lugging our CTR monitors to the bathtub to read there. Who knew?)

From Amanda Green’s article:

Now we have someone who calls himself a pricing consultant telling everyone that e-books aren’t a product but a service. Yep, those publishers and their bean counters are doing dances of glee. Someone finally understands!

“Ebooks should be more expensive than they are, more than print books — a lot more,” said Luby, adding that ebooks are relatively cheap because publishers and retailers don’t properly explain their benefits, namely, convenience.

And now those same publishers and bean counters are singing as they dance. Hallelujah! Someone is finally saying what we’ve said all along.We should be able to charge the reader more for something that costs us less, much less, because it is convenient for the reader.

The astounding thing is that they prefer to do this, to actually looking at other industries that have faced catastrophic change, and which went down the merry path to h*ll by holding on to their old model and paying high-priced consultants to tell them to keep jumping, everything was fine.

My friend and co-blogger Dave Freer has some ideas on how the Publishing Industry could restructure. His ideas are good and he gives them for free, but they won’t listen.  They want to be told everything will go on as it has been, and that their model is viable.

I imagine King George was told that the rebellion in the colonies was a passing fad too.

This is how the world turns upside down.  The old model can’t and won’t adapt, and the new model becomes the only model.

Other industries caught in catastrophic change should take note.  And even those of our governing elites who think that applying an early twentieth century model will work, (and at that one that never worked anywhere) should take note.  The world is changing.  Technology is changing.  If you don’t think of new ways of doing things, the world will change OVER you.

Like King George, they should realize that new places, real or virtual, create a new spirit and the old cudgel won’t bring the desired results. But they won’t….

They’ll go to sleep, telling themselves pretty fairytales.  And while they sleep, we’ll build the future.


Charlie here. This is late again because I’ve spent the whole week dealing with issues caused by the Heartbleed bug. No, that’s not an emo band. I’ll have more about the bug up, but let me just say, I’m usually the guy telling you “Oh, it’s not that serious.” Well, this one’s pretty bad. Check every website you use often, and as soon as they are confirmed to have updated, change your passwords. In particular, if you use Amazon — and I’m guessing you do, since these links aren’t much use otherwise — you should change your password.

Go do it now. I’ll wait.


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.


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Witchfinder
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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The Unexpecteds
By Kathryn Judson

Out west in Northam, 11-year-old Shayna Miller finds that living underground to escape government persecution is only one problem among many. For instance, her dad never keeps his family in one community very long. It’s almost like he’s running from something horrible in Subterra. But what?

Other books in this series are The Smolder, and The Birdwatcher.


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Why We Raise Belgian Horses
By Kathryn Judson

When famine threatens a small fishing village in 19th-century Norway, 17-year-old Lars and his 5-year-old brother, Torvald, are sent to America to live with their Uncle Anders in the Dakota Territory. When Lars buys his first horse, he accidentally buys a horse that’s widely considered a joke. But that ‘crazy’ horse is about to prove his detractors wrong. Historical fiction. Roughly 78,000 words.


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In the Shadow of Death: Reflections on a Chronic Illness
By Cyn Bagley

When Cyn Bagley became ill in 2002, she thought that it was a case of conjunctivitis and would go away in a week. From eye problems to kidney failure, she tells the story of her diagnosis and treatment. The reflection also contains essays like “half-naked in the doctor’s office,” and “Tales from the Bed.” Even though she deals with a suppressed immune system daily, she has learned that survival is not only physical health, but mental toughness.


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The Reprisal
By Allen Mitchum

The Reprisal chronicles a revenge mission of the world’s deadliest mercenary Fadi Khaldun. A former assassin of the Saudi government determined to make amends for his malicious past, Fadi sets out to destroy an Iraqi kidnapping ring that brutally killed his client’s son. His relentless and lethal pursuit of the killers through the streets of Baghdad and rural Iraq leads him head on into a startling international criminal conspiracy.

The Reprisal is the first installment in the new Lethal Solutions Short Story Series featuring missions of Fadi Khaldun. The first thirteen chapters of Mitchum’s new full length action thriller Trophy Target also featuring Fadik Khaldun is included as a bonus at the end of The Reprisal.

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You’ll Never Guess What This Post is Ranting About

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

Is anybody else as fed up as I am by the trend of ultra-vague headlines and subheads on online articles? Upworthy made the format extremely popular; nearly all of their headlines or subheads are some variation on:

…will make you laugh, then cry

You’ll never believe #7!

What happened next will blow your mind

They didn’t exactly invent the idea of teasing the audience into reading more, but they definitely put their own unique stamp on the form and optimized it for social media sharing. Vague, but personal, headlines and subject lines were also popularized by the 2012 Obama campaign, which had unprecedented success rates with its email campaigns. The marketing world was slavering to learn what the Obama campaign did to generate such fantastic open rates, and part of the answer came down to their short, personal subject lines: “Hey,” “Check this out,” etc; the kind of subject line you’d write in an email to a friend.

Now nearly every marketing email that fills my inbox (and spam box) has a subject line like “Hey,” “Thought you’d like this,” or “For you.” Meanwhile, my Facebook feed is choked with articles whose meta-descriptions (the short block of text that appears below the headline) range from terse to nearly non-existent: “This will blow your mind,” “I couldn’t stop laughing at #4,” or  a simple “Heartbreaking.” And the more I see this, the less I click. Obviously the technique still works (or I wouldn’t still be seeing it everywhere) but it makes me wonder how long this trend will keep up before over-saturation renders it completely useless.

I used to click vague headlines like that because I wanted to find out what the article was about. Now I don’t click, because I’m tired of winding up on articles I have relatively little interest in. A good headline should tease the contents of an article, leaving something up to the reader’s imagination, to tantalize him into continuing reading. But a good headline should also give enough information to let the reader know what to expect — am I about to click through to a foreign policy expose or a video about baby pandas?

Writing an excellent headline like the one described above takes a lot of hard work and skill. It’s admittedly a skill I’m still working on — as my editor could tell you, after my numerous pleas for help. It’s especially difficult to write one for your own piece, which is why, within magazine, newspaper, and blog staffs, many times one person will wind up writing the headline for another person’s story. Vaguelining is a clever, and effective, trick, but maybe part of the reason I resent it so much is because it’s so easy. Anyone can write a vagueline. Maybe I just hope it goes out of style so I won’t feel so alone in the crowd of writers who struggle to craft good headlines.

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Interview: Adam Bellow Unveils New Media Publishing Platform Liberty Island

Saturday, March 22nd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
GP4jbWnTAAZI

Click to check out “Murder at CPAC” by Jamie Wilson.

A year or more ago I heard about this project called Liberty Island, supposed to give those of us whose politics make us pariahs with most of traditional publishing — though not Baen Books — a haven where we could meet our fans. I keep meaning to contribute to them, but of course, the last year I spent more time sick than well, and consequently I’m so far behind on books and contracts, I can practically see myself around the corner.

Well, they are up now (and have a story by Frank J. Fleming). And I’ve secured an interview with Adam Bellow, Liberty Island’s publisher and CEO. Bellow is a longtime nonfiction editor, currently running Broadside, the conservative nonfiction imprint of HarperCollins. He is also the author of In Praise of Nepotism, a lively contrarian take on an eternally divisive topic.

And, yep, sure, as soon as I get a weekend to pound it out, I’ll do a novella for Liberty Island.

Sarah Hoyt: I heard of Liberty Island back when it was in the planning stages.  I understand it is an online magazine-cum-community center for writers and readers on the right side of the spectrum.  Is this true?  What do you want to tell us about Liberty Island?

Adam Bellow: We started Liberty Island to help the new wave of conservative storytellers connect with their natural audience. Even before launching the site we’ve discovered dozens of new voices on the right that you won’t find anywhere else. These are talented and creative people who have previously been excluded from mainstream culture because they hold the wrong views and didn’t go to the right schools or attend the approved writing programs. This just confirms our hunch that something like Liberty Island is desperately needed.

SH: Who is the audience for Liberty Island? What is “conservative fiction”? Shouldn’t good stories just stand on their own?

AB: Great literature stands on its own, but the productions of popular culture often carry a hidden freight of ideology that reflects its authors’ biases. Sometimes not so hidden — the evil conservative businessman is essentially the default villain in Hollywood these days. But think about what happens when great stories are told from a conservative perspective: you get Tom Clancy, or Brad Thor, or James Patterson, or Vince Flynn. Mega-bestselling authors with a huge following. Our audience is anyone who loves great pulp writers like those guys. At Liberty Island you will find dozens of stories like these, in genres ranging from humor to thriller to SciFi. These writers aren’t heavy handed in the least – their conservative outlook is sometimes explicit but just as often merely implied or completely submerged. Besides, a case can be made that traditional pulp genres are inherently conservative.

SH: In what way do you intend to distinguish yourself from other online magazines?

AB: Liberty Island combines a magazine, a free range self-publishing platform, and a community of readers and writers who share a commitment to the values of freedom, individualism, and American exceptionalism. It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.

SH: What made you think of the project – and commit to it and work so hard for it?

AB: Two things: first, an impulse to carry the culture war into the field of popular culture. And second, the writers themselves. In 25 years as an editor of nonfiction books I’ve watched the conservative intellectual project thrive and flourish. But like others on the right I’ve been dismayed by the slowness of conservatives to challenge the liberal dominance of popular culture. It’s not enough to carp and criticize the frequently substandard and offensive crap that liberals produce. As Andrew Breitbart used to say, we have to make our own—and it has to be good. But recently we began to notice an exciting development: hundreds, indeed thousands of conservative and libertarian writers were seizing the opportunity afforded by new digital technologies to produce and publish original works of fiction. Others were making music, video, graphics, and other forms of entertainment right on their laptops at home. These were ordinary men and women all over the country, working in isolation, doing their best to hone their art and find an audience. Yet no one seemed to know that they existed. So we started talking about what we could do to help them. Liberty Island grew out of those discussions.

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