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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
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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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I Have No Arms, and I Must Type

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And indie is doing that for writers, now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

TITLE

My Book

AUTHOR

My name as it’s on the book cover.

AMAZON LINK

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

BLURB

no more than about 100 words.


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The Warlock in Spite of Himself
By Christopher Stasheff

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

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

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


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The Grey Man- Vignettes
By JL Curtis

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


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Her Majesty’s Wizard
By Christopher Stasheff

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

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

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

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

For once, he was right!


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

Book 4 of The Hounds of Annwn.

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

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

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

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

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


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A Wizard in Bedlam
By Christopher Stasheff

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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Mind Out of Time
By Christopher Stasheff

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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The Thank You Angel
By Ann Trenton

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

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Author By Choice!

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

shutterstock_177549233

I’ve been a writer for as long as I remember. “I”, here, being Charlie. (Sarah’s as sick as an oyster. A dog will at least whine. All an oyster does is twitch when you put lemon juice on. The oyster tells me she’s on Godzillamycin and will be better soon.)

Anyway, as I say, I’ve been a writer certainly since about 20 minutes after I realized that someone actually made up those Tom Swift Jr. stories. By the time I was nine, I was writing and selling a mimeographed local “newspaper” for a penny a legal-sized sheet. Which cost a couple cents a sheet to publish; I was already ahead of my time in the news business.

After the first time I dropped out of college, I made some professional sales to the True Confession magazines and had my first experience with that special feeling when your characters are doing all the work and you’re just typing out what they’re saying. I also published a few non-fiction things in small markets, sometimes for money and sometimes just for the glory — or at least as much glory as you can get for publishing an article arguing that Japanese monshogaku really is a form of heraldry, under a made-up name in a Society for Creative Anachronism journal.

Then I got more serious about school, and then I got a job, and then I got another job, and then I went to graduate school, where I had a dissertation to write so I obviously had to write fiction instead.

I wasn’t wholly unsuccessful. Orson Scott Card read one of my stories and wrote me back “you are a writer!”, and after I requested permission to quote one of Ray Bradbury’s poems, he not only granted me the permission and complimented the story, but entered into a correspondence that lasted several years. And I embarked on a collection of one of the largest troves of Writers Of The Future Honorable Mentions in history.

I don’t remember how many any more, but I think if I’d have gotten one more I’d have gotten the complementary steak knives.

Then things happened, and I stopped writing and submitting fiction, and in fact I didn’t show anything I’d written to anyone until the Day of the Blog. I started commenting on Roger L Simon’s blog, and then PJM started, and I started writing for actual money. In fact, I’ve sold something over 300 articles now, and to a number of markets. Still no fiction, unless you count the DARPA grant applications in grad school.

This is all a long prologue — luckily pixels is cheap — to commenting on an article I read a few days ago. The article is “Is Traditional Publishing a Choice? Not really.” I recommend the whole article, but the basic point is simple: when someone says a writer “chose to go indie” or “chose traditional publishing”, what they really mean is that they chose to publish independently, or chose to enter a lottery in which the winnings are usually meager, the lottery administrators treat you like a serf, and then seem likely to cheat you on your winnings.

And that’s only if you actually win the lottery. Losing really sucks.

What happened is the Internet. I could start writing for publication, if not money, by commenting on blogs, and saw that some people actually liked what I was writing. Amazon and Kindle meant people writing books could publish the books for essentially nothing and make them available in the World’s Largest Bookstore™ — for better royalties than conventional publishing, and without the upfront costs and stigma of “vanity publishing”.

What’s more, it worked. John Locke became the first Kindle-only author to sell a million books — at 99¢ each, but still. Ric Locke, as far as I know unrelated to John, sold many thousands of his first (and, sadly, only) book, Temporary Duty, thanks to a plug on Instapundit. Just a couple of days ago, I got emails from two of the authors we’ve plugged here in Book plug Friday, who have sold between them several thousand books in a few weeks, which means they’ve probably gotten paid more than they might have gotten as an advance from a “real” publisher. All because they decided to be an author by choice — instead of entering the tradpub lottery, and becoming an author by chance.

Here are this week’s plugs for people who have become authors by choice.


Please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.

Also: This has been a big couple of weeks for people offering us free copies of their books. It’s not that we don’t appreciate it, but honestly, we’re not reviewing these books, and speaking for myself the only way I’d have time to read more than I already do is if I could learn to read in my sleep. Sorry.


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Temporary Duty
By Ric Locke

A pair of enlisted sailors are assigned to an alien spaceship, to clean and prepare quarters for the real human delegation. Once there, they find that there’s a little more to it…

Alien worlds, exploding spaceships, IRS agents, derring-do, and a little sex. Oh, and mops, brooms, and dustpans. Truly there are wonders Out There.


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Passing In The Night
By Michael Kingswood

A year-long shift in the middle of the interstellar void can get pretty boring. For the Fourth shift crew of the starliner Pericles, enroute to Earth from one of the colony worlds, the passage could best be called routine.

Until the forward sensors detect an unknown and unexpected object ahead. What they find there, in the endless night of space, will forever change the universe, for them and for the all mankind.

Assuming they survive to tell anyone about the encounter.


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Twisted Breath of God
By Cedar Sanderson

A short story of the second contact with an alien civilization. Trade is good, luring humans into rushing their translations and contact with the aliens. A young man and a classroom of alien children are caught in the misunderstandings that ensue.


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The Smolder
By Kathryn Judson

Oleevaba is the proud, pampered breed representative of the Advanced Midstate New York breed of humans – until she’s kicked out of society for having too much initiative. She’s expected to dutifully and quietly starve to death like other expersons. Instead, she’s rescued by a parallel society that has, over several generations, become very good at staying out of sight. However, not all the Subterrans are happy about simply staying out of the clutches of the Topside government. Some of them yearn to live as free men, above ground, whatever the cost.

Other books set in The Smolder universe are The Birdwatcher and The Unexpecteds, both of which are set out West in Northam during the same time period as this book.


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Mutterings
By Clark Eugene Sutton

At age 93, after two careers, and after an active and satisfying retirement, Clark Sutton finds himself in Post-Retirement. His beloved Nora has passed on, the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids, have busy lives of their own, and Clark has to adjust to life in an assisted living facility. He buys a laptop computer and begins a journal.

Mutterings operates on two different levels. The first level is entertainment. Clark is good company. Reading his journal is like spending summer nights on the front poach with a favorite great uncle who fills the evenings with stories and eccentric opinions as to how the world should be. The second level is substantive. Be it campaign finance, taxes, welfare, the war on drugs, education, or many other topics, Clark has ideas you won’t hear on either Fox News or MSNBC. (Fox News because they are preoccupied with the buzz-issues-of-the-day; MSNBC because they are clueless.) Because Clark is such good company, you will enjoy reading his views without the need to agree with him. But then you put down the book and start to think: could the old geezer actually be right? If the old man is crazy, why do his ideas seem to make sense? After even more thought, the question becomes: Why is no one else proposing things like this?

Read Mutterings the first time for entertainment. Read it the second time to change your world view.


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

Sean Gleeson has searched all of literature to bring you what is, without a doubt, the world’s finest anthology of works by authors with the initials “S.G.” Spanning centuries, continents, cultures, and genres, this collection of highly enjoyable reads features writing by Susan Glaspell, Saxo Grammaticus, Samuel Gompers, Saint Gregory, Sun Guoting, Sidney Godolphin, and more.

Also, it’s the only book anywhere with the infamous article “Hack Heaven” by disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass.

You know what? This book would be a unique, thoughtful, and yet very cheap gift for a acquaintance with the initials S.G. You should keep a couple copies in your car or something. “Oh, hey, Sandy! Yeah, happy birthday. I got you this book.” You win.

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10 Things You Must Never/Always Do

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

It’s the Book Plug Friday!

Just go YOUR way.

Just go YOUR way.

Brad Torgensen has a blog up, on the contradictory advice writers get. His list reads like this:

1 and 2 — You must never/always self publish
3 and 4 – You must never/always use a well known trope for your story
5 and 6 – You must never/always offend someone with what you write
7 and 8 – You must never/always write short fiction
9-10 – You need a writers’ group to help you polish your work/your work is best right off the bat.

Brad is very rational and sane in his post, and you should read it.  Here’s an excerpt:

1. You must never self-publish.
This was gospel when I was plowing through my proverbial first million words of “practice” fiction. And at the time, it was good advice. Self-publishing invariably meant vanity publishing, which is a form of publishing where the author spends hundreds or even thousands of dollars of his/her own money, to put his/her book into print. Vanity presses tend to be scams as often as not, and with the advent of widespread electronic book platforms (Kindle, Kobo, Nook, etc.) as well as print-on-demand options like Amazon.com’s CreateSpace, vanity presses are also wholly unnecessary. Plus, self-publishing doesn’t carry the same stigma it used to. Once upon a time self-publishing was a warning flag to the rest of the genre—hey guys, I couldn’t cut it with editors! These days, not so much. There are good writers who are self-publishing, and making a decent amount of money. You have no doubt heard of a few.

2. You must always self-publish.
A lot of bogeyman-mongering has been going on the past few years, where traditional publishing and publishers are concerned: that they will always rip you off, that they don’t abide by their own contracts, that the editors suck and don’t know what they’re doing, that anyone who signs with a traditional publisher becomes a “slave” to that publisher, and so on, and so forth. Frankly, it’s up to you to know your markets. Traditional publishing is still the best bet: to make money and get exposure. And it’s also got a degree of branding power that’s tough to argue with. Why? Because writers who make the editorial cut have at least survived one kind of significant professional filter. There are lots of readers who pay attention to this. So scope out those houses beforehand, talk to writers already under contract, and do your homework. An educated writer with a bit if business savvy can do well in trad pub.

Sarah, as you know, is less sane and far less polite.

So, her answers would go something like this:

1 and 2 — other than Baen and a couple of indie presses I have no intention of writing for anyone else, but should another house emerge that is rational and treats its authors as people not interchangeable widgets, I might be tempted.  The future will tell.

3 and 4 -  since I usually can’t find that box that people can’t think outside of — being so far out of it I can’t see it with a periscope — I don’t really have the option of using a familiar trope. Though since I grew up in Heinlein novels, I do sometimes go home again.

5 and 6 – Well… since apparently some people were offended with the politics of my shifters fantasies, which don’t got any, and since I seem to offend people by continuing to breathe, this too might be a moot point.  However my feeling is that you should write is what you FEEL intensely about. That’s what will be most present and alive to you. If you are lukewarm, the readers will be too.  So, some people will hate you for what you write.  Let them. Think about it, by raising their blood pressure you’re giving them all the benefits of exercise without trouble.

7 and 8 -  I am a natural novelist.  I trained myself to write short fiction because I thought that’s how one always broke into writing.  I’m glad — now — that I have the skill.  Was it worth the three years spent acquiring it?  Probably not.  But it was done, and now it is what it is.

9 and 10 – At some point — listen to me, all of you — everyone outgrows their writers’ group.  At that point, you’ll have to stand on your own two feet.  As for things being perfect off the bat… well, mine aren’t, but that’s why I have beta readers.

For all of these and the other contradictory pieces of advice you’ll get breaking in, remember — You might break in by following them, but to remain published and have a career, you must do it your way.  (Cues Frank Sinatra.)

Go and read Brad, who is, as I said, far more rational than I am.  Then come back here for the book plug Friday!


Last week we asked you to “please pass word to all your writer friends that we accept submissions for Book Plug Friday at book.plug.friday@gmail.com. Submissions should include the TITLE, AUTHOR’S NAME as written on the cover, a short BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK AMAZON LINK.”

And it worked! So do it again!


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Weight of Worlds
By Alma Alexander

A collection of breathless and enchanting tales of magic, cruelty, and sacrifice – a connoisseur’s box of chocolates, dark and bittersweet. to be nibbled at and savored. Alexander’s stories owe a debt to the dark and twisted fairy tales of Oscar WIlde and the passion and poignant drama of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen; the dozen stories here are fairy tales for grown-ups – they are not the sort of stories you might want to read to your young children at bedtime. But if you read them just before go to sleep, your reward is likely to be dreams that are rich and strange, and that you may feel you have walked for a little while on roads paved with real magic.


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Glimmer Vale
By Michael Kingswood

Lydelton, a small fishing town in a remote valley called Glimmer Vale, is the perfect place for two fighting men on the run to stop and decide on a plan. But when Julian and Raedrick arrive they find the town besieged by a ruthless band of brigands. Worse, the brigands have taken up station in the mountain passes, blocking the two friends’ escape. With no way around the brigands and no option of returning the way they came, Julian and Raedrick accept an offer of employment. Their mission: defeat the brigands and restore peace to Glimmer Vale.

They are outnumbered at least twenty to one, long odds even if they recruit help. But that help may not be enough when the specter of their past rears its head, forcing Julian and Raedrick to openly face what they are fleeing or risk losing not just their freedom but the lives and fortunes of Lydelton’s inhabitants.

Glimmer Vale is a short, fun fantasy adventure novel, the first installment in the Glimmer Vale Chronicles.


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

Meditations on Japanese art of sumi-e and the essence of catness. All the illustrations in this book are original sumi-e (Japanese ink on paper) paintings by Poul A. Costinsky. The so-called poetry is too.


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

Those with MS and the people whose lives they touch will find this book helpful in understanding the wide ranging effects with a firsthand look at what it is like to live day after day, year after year with the disease. Written by a woman who is still walking after more than 40 years, the author paints a full and encouraging picture of how it is possible to have a satisfying life despite illness. Kathleen Scully Aquilino experienced the first symptom while in college but was not officially diagnosed until she was 44. Through the growing number of ailments and afflictions her mysterious disease brought, she kept going. Working, Marrying. Making a home. Adopting and raising a daughter. The delay in diagnosis actually did a great deal to help her stay positive and active. There are some lessons here in the power of expectations.


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Ierna (Refrain of Legends)
By Les Hauge

Ierna is an island on a world at the center of the universe where magic and legend converge and an epic battle is raging between the forces of light and the forces of darkness. Ancient Ireland of Earth is a reflection of Ierna and what happens there will ultimately affect Earth and all other worlds.

Cuhal O’Connor has murdered his brother the King and, with the help of Porthcodal, the arch-druid of Tara, seeks to take the throne for himself. To support the king and his own ambition, the druid has unleashed old gods and dark forces to support the king in his subjugation of the country. He has called a race of evil sorcerers, the Fomorians, to the island to assist in his plans.

Opposing Cuhal are Sean O’Connor, his younger brother, and Brian O’Mordha, former King’s Champion and high general of the army. They are determined to stop Cuhal, but have few resources and a price on their heads. They rescue Sean’s niece Maggie, the former king’s daughter, who escaped when Cuhal murdered her parents. Sean knows the true ruler of Tara must have the Gift, a psychic feel for the land, and while he doesn’t have it, Maggie does. They escape from Tara and set out for the fortress of another major family, the O’Neills, in search of allies.


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The First Impression
By David K. Thomasson

A man framed . . . his life ruined . . . and then the twists begin. Jack Bolt rose from a hillbilly childhood of poverty, neglect, and abuse. Thanks to his unusually keen mind and the faith of a teacher and a bookstore owner, his future looks bright. At age 25 he’s working maintenance in a college town, studying on a scholarship, and about to marry the girl of his dreams. During a routine service call at a church he runs into 13-year-old Sarah Ellison. Moments after he leaves, Sarah is brutally murdered. Bolt is charged with the crime and convicted by a brilliant prosecutor who uses his own honesty against him. He’s been framed with tainted evidence, but this is no whodunit. Bolt knows exactly who did it—Conrad Baylor, church deacon and deputy chief of police. Held in jail during his trial, Bolt is haunted by the ‘howdunit’: How did Baylor manage to tamper with the evidence and frame him? And how can he discover the secret and clear his name if he goes to prison? But then, in a strange turn of events, Bolt is offered a chance to prove his innocence and recover his once-promising future. That’s when a deadly game of cat-and-mouse begins . . .


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MUSES OF ROMA
By Rob Steiner

Marcus Antonius Primus began a golden age for humanity when he liberated Roma from Octavian Caesar and became sole Consul. With wisdom from the gods, future Antonii Consuls conquered the world and spawned an interstellar civilization.

Three weeks before the millennial anniversary of the Antonii Ascension, star freighter captain Kaeso Aemelius, a blacklisted security agent from Roman rival world Libertus, is asked by his former commanders to help a high-ranking Roman official defect. Kaeso misses his lone wolf espionage days – and its freedom from responsibility for a crew – so he sees the mission as a way back into the spy business. Kaeso sells it to his crew of outcasts as a quick, lucrative contract…without explaining his plan to abandon them for his old job.

But Kaeso soon learns the defector’s terrifying secret, one that proves the last thousand years of history was built on a lie.

Can Kaeso protect his crew from Roman and Liberti forces, who would lay waste to entire worlds to stop them from revealing the civilization-shattering truth?


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The Prisoner and The Assassin
By Tom Nixon

In the future, America is divided. It’s been two decades since Washington D.C. was destroyed and the West Coast devastated by EMPs and The Federal Council rules the country. Only the Free Territories, carved out in the bloody aftermath of two revolts against the Council defy them.

When a shocking assassination threatens the uneasy peace, the Prime Minister of the Free Territories, Chelsea Andrews is faced with a choice: fight to save the peace or take a chance to make America free once more. As both sides race to prevent a war that no one wants, a shadowy enemy from her past waits for his chance at revenge and the secret he holds could be the most powerful one of all:

Who is Prisoner 112?

The answer to that question may decide the fate of America, once and for all…


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Demi God
By Zoey Ivers

In a world where prayers are often answered, and saints talk to the Gods . . .
The First Gods created the Universe. And their time done, returned their Fire to their creation.

The Ancient Gods crafted the World, and the People. And their time done, gave their Fire to their creations.

Then Men became so great souled they became gods themselves upon the death of their final mortal bodies.

The Elder Siblings have long ruled the Continents, attending to Dynasties, Nations, and Wars.

The Younger Siblings are not yet so strong, and content themselves with matter of local importance. Hearth and Hone, Trade and Piracy. Death and Birth. Storms and Tides.

But men continue to act like men. Power accumulates, attracts and nurtures both good and bad stewards.

This is a time of the bad stewards. A time when the Church has ceased to serve god and congregants, and insists that the congregants serve the Church. A time when the saints are constrained in what they ask the Gods to do. A time when the son of a saint and a god is well advised to keep himself away from the gaze of the powerful.

This is a time when the gods themselves have become corrupted.

This is a time when a demi god can save the world—if he manages to first save himself.

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A Cover Story

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
Sometimes covers are supposed to create an impression

Sometimes covers are supposed to create an impression

A supplemental series to Selling Your Writing in 13 weeks.  Post 1.

I’ve been meaning to do a post on covers, as a supplemental to my 13 weeks posts on selling your writing, but I couldn’t seem to do it, until I realized that I was in fact trying to cram several posts worth into a single post.  Whenever I do that, I get highly bizarre comments, from people who read their own stuff into what I elided.

Part of this is a problem that I don’t remember what lay people know and don’t know anymore.

By lay people in this case, I mean people outside of publishing.  Even avid readers might never have noticed consciously that covers are meant to signal genre, nor all the other subtle signals they give.

Before I start, I took the cover workshop with WMG publishing, and that made me aware of things even I hadn’t noticed, and I’ve been a professional in the field for several years. For anyone doing indie publishing, if you can afford the workshop take it.  We’re right now scraping up the money to put older son through it.  A I don’t use the same tools they do (I judged it was easier for me to use less professional tools than to spend a lot of time – more important than money – learning InDesign.  So I use tools that I’m used to, the highly outdated but very familiar to me JASC paintshop. The newer versions, by Corel, which I own, aren’t nearly as good, but the last JASC version I can make sit up and sing, because I’ve been using it for ten years.  And what it can’t do GIMP can.  Both programs I’m familiar with and therefore find preferable to a program that I found oddly counterintuitive and would have to learn to use.) But even so, what I learned transferred. I won’t say it made me an awesome cover designer.  That is an actual profession and you need years of practice and usually specialize in one genre.  But it has made me a decent cover designer.

The other thing I should say is that every time I make one of these posts, I get people offering to design my covers.  Most of these people have a background in art and design and usually some experience in tiny presses (or advertising layout.)  All of the offers I’ve had, when I look at their samples, they’re very pretty… and all of them signal “literary and little” which is inappropriate for my books which are, unabashedly genre.  Looking over the covers, I see myself at a con, passing the tables with books for tiny presses with names like Necrophiliac Duck Press.  This is not the image I want to project, since my books were once published by big publishers, and I want the same feel for the re-issue.  Also, I’m still publishing with one major publisher, and don’t want people to think everything I bring indie is “too precious for words.”

Some of it will be, but when it is, I shall so signal.

Fortunately for me, the big houses don’t usually give midlisters like me experienced cover designers.  (I’m not talking of Baen here. They’re always an exception.) They usually hand the job to the first under-designer just hired from community college.  And that level I can imitate.

However, to know where we are and what we’re doing, let’s start with a look at some bestseller covers in some distinct genres.  And pointing out how they signal genre/subgenre.

This is something you should always do before you start designing covers.  Go look at what other people are doing.  Look at the bestsellers under paper (because that’s usually the professional books, that got lavish attention) and their covers, and figure out what to do for yours.

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How To Write A Proposal

Saturday, January 11th, 2014 - by Sarah Hoyt
You want to write a novel?  For me?

You want to write a novel? For me?

If you’re going to go through traditional publishing (which might still be feasible at times) or even if you’re submitting to one of the new micro presses, there will come a time, after you’ve done a pitch for the book or after you met an editor at a convention, or even after you sent in a query asking if they wanted to see your idea, where someone will say, “Sure, send me a proposal and three chapters.”

There was a time when these words struck terror in me.  This is because I had clue zero how one wrote “a proposal” or a synopsis, or any of that stuff.  (Technically the “proposal” is three chapters and a synopsis, but half the time the editor asks for a “proposal and three chapters.”  Don’t stress, she really means a synopsis.  Well, sort of. Calm down, all will be revealed.)

Then while I was sitting at a writer’s group meeting, I told the lady next to me I had no idea how to do this, and she sketched it for me in the back of an envelope.  This was not QUITE all that was needed.  The subtleties of the different types of proposal and developing the art of a “selling” proposal took a little longer.

I can’t in a single article propose to teach you all the details of writing a selling proposal, but I can perhaps help you along.

First, remember that a proposal/synopsis is a selling tool.  Unless you’re asked to do a chapter by chapter synopsis, don’t do that.  I thought that was the only form of proposal for the longest time, but if you read a proposal that is written that way, your eyes quickly glaze over.  Yes, it might be a complete picture of your plot, but a book is more than a plot.  First, the person must know why they would care about what your characters are doing.  This is often a mistake of newbie writers, too, when you ask “tell me about your novel.”  They don’t give us what is neat about their novel, or the overarching reason I should care, but (using Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because even if you haven’t read it – philistine! – you can look up the plot or watch a mini-series – but not the movie, because it sucks) they’ll tell you something like this,

“There’s this family, and they have all these girls see, and then there’s this assembly in town, and then the older one meets this guy and he’s rich and they like each other, but then the younger one meets his friend who is even richer, but he’s all like stuck up and proud.”

A chapter by chapter synopsis is often like that, but at greater length and even more boring.

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Making the Most of What You Have

Saturday, December 28th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling your writing in 13 weeks, week 12

You can't have everything you want.  Learn to make the most of what you have.

You can’t have everything you want. Learn to make the most of what you have.

My grandmother was a great one for making the most of what you had.  Things got mended and sewn, and made to serve another turn.  In another sense, too, she was one for making the most of what you have.  One of her sayings was “when you lose heart, run on your gut.”

Recently on my blog, I got accused of being Irish for essentially saying the equivalent of “the food is terrible in this establishment, but I keep coming back because the portions are so large.”

The weird thing is that in the world of indie publishing these are good things.

I recently took a marketing class with WGM publishing.  Did it tell me much that I didn’t know?  No.  But sometimes it’s important to get a confirmation of what you know to be true through someone else’s eyes.

We’ll return to this again because there is another point there – that the field is shifting so fast that sometimes you see things changing and you can’t be sure if it’s changing just for you or for everyone else.  And you can’t tell if it’s a trend or a bleep like the ridiculously low sales figures over summer.

So you take classes, or you get together with friends to talk how sales are going, or you throw out an SOS on indie publisher boards – to see how it’s going and what’s worked for other people.

The main thing I learned is that the old ways don’t seem to work.  I was talking to a friend about this and I pointed out that from what I’ve seen, unless you have the kind of money that can blanket the airwaves and tv stations with advertisements; unless you can put an ad up on Time Square, unless you can give your book the send off party to end all send off parties… don’t bother.

It used to be that you could give your book a relatively solid send off by having parties at a few of the larger conventions, or by going to BEA and charming the book sellers.  You still can, to an extent, if you have a publisher behind you, pushing all the way.  (Though I’m not sure how effective that is – and neither is anyone else, because the metrics are slippery.)

To an extent publicity has always bedeviled authors.  Readers approach reading as a personal relationship to the author, and it’s very hard to create those with any sort of one-size-fits-all campaign.

Some people I knew back in the nineties hired publicists.  I tried to hire one.  But even the expensive ones didn’t seem to have any clue how to promote my books.  I remember one in particular who, three years after the Shakespeare Series crashed and burned and just before the last of them was taken off print designed this entire proposed marketing campaign based on… my writing about Shakespeare for Academic journals to promote these books.  Forget that writing for academic journals was a career in itself, and one I didn’t want, I couldn’t seem to get these people to understand the books were out of print, a death more final than that of any mortal body.

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Know When to Hold It

Saturday, December 21st, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
You're in it for the long haul.  Time your game.

You’re in it for the long haul. Time your game.

Selling Your Writing In 13 Weeks, Week 11

I’m not recommending any of you give up on indie publishing because you think you hold a bad hand.  This is more a matter of “you’ve got to learn to pace it.”

Look, when I was young, before I got married, I used to run. I was about to say I used to run marathons, but I only ran a few formal ones. Mostly what I did was go for a good run to shake out the stress (as I was going to college, tutoring, writing, and had an active social life, there was a time interning in a newspaper and… well… things got stressful.  Oh, yeah, also I was politically involved.)  But I ran long distances.  I sucked as a sprinter, but I was really good long distance, even in competition, because I knew how to pace myself. I wasn’t that fast over any stretch of road, but I kept going and going and going so that as other people fell (panting) by the wayside, I would be one of the first if not the first across the finish line.

Writing indie is not a sprint – it’s a marathon.

One of my friends who is an indie writer and doing fairly well is accruing her own cluster of “starting out writers looking for advice.”  This is normal. This way of publishing is so new that each of us that goes a little way out of the starting gate will become a “guru” in no time.  It reminds me a lot of computer programing back in the eighties (my husband was a programmer at the time) or even of aviation in World War I or – further back – of “established settlers” in the West.

What all of these have in common is that they are fast-changing landscapes filled with adventure and peril (of a sort.  No.  Really.  No one is going to shoot you for publishing indie.  I hope.  But you can make a fool of yourself very easily.)

And in all of these the space between “newbie” and old man is incredibly short.  If you’ve been around the scene for even a little while, you become one of the “old, trusted ones.”

My friend Cedar Sanderson – two books out, a lot of mistakes made, a lot learned, and her second book selling shockingly well – found herself the guru of a small, starting out group.

Because I’ve been her mentor for about 11 years (during most of which she wasn’t writing, but dealing with life issues – but wanting to write eventually) she comes to me when she doesn’t know QUITE what to do.

One of the problems she brought me was one of her own fledglings, who is just starting out, and who – with a few short stories out – intends to make a living out of this in a couple of years.

She didn’t know how to explain to him that while this can happen, it’s not the most likely way for things to shake out.  (I didn’t either.  I mean, I can say things, but if people aren’t going to believe me…)

So, for those of you who are willing to believe me, before you get the idea that indie publishing (or any publishing) is the fast way to fame and fortune: writing is a business.  More importantly, writing is a craft and a profession.

We all know rich lawyers, rich doctors, rich artists, for that matter (well, I know a few who are very well off.)  However, no one sane has ever made a life plan that consists of the following: week one – graduate law school.  Week two – get a million dollar check.

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How to Make Your Book Look Important

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

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

Selling your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Um… why not?

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Measuring Up Outlets For Indie Publishing

Saturday, November 30th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Selling Your Writing in 13 Weeks, Week 8

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

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

For a long time ebooks were sort of a mirage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Book Plug Friday: The Cutting Edge

Friday, November 15th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Welcome to the Wild West -- keep your keyboard loaded!

Welcome to the Wild West — keep your keyboard loaded!

This is Sarah speaking – since this has been an odd and over-full week for both Charlie and me we agreed I’d do the introduction, and he’ll do the links. [Which is actually usually the way we do it. --C]

For me, I caught some sort of flu – though it seems not to be flu-flu, or else I have a very mild case, as I’m getting better after a few days – which for three or four days made me very tired, but not tired enough not to work – if that makes sense. Instead, I was just tired enough that I couldn’t write new stuff.  (That part lasted almost a week, and I thought I’d just hit one of the patches of weird block, where I don’t have the strength to write the words even though I know what happens almost word per word.)

So I thought this was a good time to catch up with my publishing. I’m giving Draft2Digital a try.  They’re a reseller who will put the book in Apple and Kobo, who are problems for different reasons: Apple because it requires you to have a Mac (and I don’t. Um… wonder if I could borrow Charlie’s and come up once a month to upload stuff) [Of course.] and Kobo because their interface is a right pain.  Yes, I’ve heard about Draft2Digitals possible payment issues, and other horror stories, so I’m trying them, but keeping a close eye.

In the same way, I had a few books to upload to Smashwords, who were the original of these “reseller” ebusinesses.

Smashwords was the very first platform into which indie publishers could upload.  As such, it started by educating a lot of people – and let’s face it, most writers are the least technical people on the planet – about how to put together an ebook.

This meant that their “how to” was a comprehensive manual about how to put an ebook together, including how many spaces you could have clumped together, and exactly how things should look.

Part of the reason for this was that – to make it easy for those non-technical writers – smashwords had a piece of software called “the meat grinder” which took your doc file and turned it into all the sorts of ebooks on the market.

The end result was fraught with errors and often baffling (half of one of my books because small caps for reasons known only to the gods of software) but it allowed people who were otherwise incapable of figuring their way into ebook format to put books up.  And Smashwords placed it on all those other platforms too.  It was push-button. And they added other platforms every day.

Times have changed. Times have changed a lot.  Nowadays, needless to say, the big player is Amazon, with everyone else trailing.  I hear All Romance does well for Romance, and I must say that Barnes and Noble is not bad for mystery (though it is for everything else.)  Places like Amazon and Draft2Digital accumulate complaints and allegations they don’t pay properly and on time.  Partly this is because it’s not very easy.  My husband has written software to extract the numbers and correlate them and does the books for a couple of small publishers, but things change so fast, that every time he does it he has some puzzle in the numbers he encounters, which takes hours to resolve.  And frankly, given the complexity, we don’t know if anyone else has that type of precise accounting software.

Part of it is that things change so fast.  It’s the wild west.  It’s the unknown frontier.  So I’m trying Draft2Digital, and I still go through Smashwords for the more obscure ebook platforms: Sony and such.

But I only put stuff up there LONG after it’s gone up on Amazon and the others.  And I often do it when I’m tired/burned out for anything else.

Which is how I found myself yelling at the screen when they said I’d made some mistake in my format, and quoted their manual at me.  Even if I had read their manual, I wouldn’t have memorized it.

But I came to indie “late” and there were Amazon and Barnes and Noble, practically push button.  The idea of having to read a manual seemed absurd.

And yet, Smashwords is stuck in the far distant past, three or four years ago, and doesn’t realize its elaborate manuals and its careful rules are things of the past.  They were the cutting edge.  Now they’re not.  But they’re not aware of it.

If indie publishing is the wild west, Smashwords is the old, fastest gun slinger, who doesn’t realize the danger in the new kid in town.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t be relevant again tomorrow.  All it would take is a change in interface and better up-to-the-minute accounting software.  And it would happen.

The advantage of wild frontiers is that you can always reinvent yourself. Right now people are mining indie as writers, as editors, as artists, as publishers – and nothing is written in stone.  Amazon is making all the right moves, but it could find itself dethroned tomorrow by some new kid in town with a brilliant idea and the right attitude.

Life on the cutting edge is tough – the edge cuts, and having cut moves on.  But it’s also a land of endless possibilities, exciting and fraught with danger.

And for you (and us, who also read) the endless possibilities include discovering new writers – which Charlie and I hope to foster with the books below. Download a sample that sounds likely and give it a try.  You never know.  You might like this wild west of ours.

(Email book.plug.friday@gmail.com for submission guidelines, which don’t include a multipage contract in the middle of a chapter, but which also don’t include a fully-furnished dungeon in a penthouse apartment.)


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

When Porthos finds his pupil dead of poisoning, the four friends — Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan start investigating. Little do they know what the investigation will discover, and the past secrets that will reach out to shake Porthos.


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Altering Course
By George Eliseo

Carmine LaRosa medically retired from the San Diego Police Department almost a year ago. So far, he hasn’t found anything to replace the thrill of police work until an old friend offers him a next to impossible job: find a local businessman that went missing after he sailed from the San Diego Yacht Club bound for Cabo San Lucas a week ago. Carmine takes the case but for reasons other than money, reasons he can’t tell anyone about.

During his investigation, Carmine discovers that a beautiful blonde bartender went missing in Las Vegas around the same time. A mysterious Russian lawyer with ties to the Las Vegas underworld hires him to find her. As both cases progress, a lot of people are suddenly very interested in the missing boat and the missing bartender.

The case takes Carmine from his dilapidated fixer-upper of a house in Pacific Beach to Cabo and Vegas then back, tracking down the boat, the businessman and the girl. As he gets closer to the solution, it’s obvious someone doesn’t want him to succeed, and will use deadly force to stop him.


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Cobalt Agonistes
By Frederick Key

Cobalt is a retired superhero—retired after the rest of his team was wiped out in an apocalyptic battle against their greatest enemy. Now someone is trying to kill him. But he knows that all his enemies are dead… or are they?

Cobalt also is the creation of Gary Vykk, whose amateur comic books kept him sane in school. But nothing can help him now, it seems, with his best friend marrying his ex-girlfriend and his father dying of cancer.

Both men are racing toward destruction, faster than a speeding bullet. Can our heroes be saved?


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MacFinster
By Frederick Key

Rex MacFinster has gotten a windfall — the father of his foster mother has left him a mansion. MacFinster takes a loan and quits his job to dedicate himself to his life’s unfinished business, from appearing in a play to dating his high school sweetheart. But a nephew of the deceased millionaire wants that mansion, and will stop at nothing to get it.

George Darmowycz explains how being MacFinster’s best friend can lead to all kinds of things — a part in a musical about whaling, an attack by vicious watchpugs, a dash through the woods in someone else’s bedroom slippers, and a death-defying race in the Rolling Coffin of Doom.

Hilarious and fast-paced, MacFinster is the great suburban adventure of our times.


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31 Days of Marketing
By JP Jones

If you’ve avoided the prospect of marketing your product in the past, fear no more! In her book, 31 Days of Marketing, JP Jones unmasks thirty one different aspects of marketing that can be applied immediately — one day at a time. From press releases to public speaking you’ll glean the ‘how-tos’ you need without wading through a lot of confusing buzz words and trendy speech. For each marketing tactic, Jones shares practical advice and information in bite-size pieces for you to incorporate into your advertising strategies.

Pulling on her experiences and over 10 years in the ever-changing marketing landscape, JP shares openly about what works and what flops when it comes to successful promotion. Each chapter contains highlighted objectives and frequently asked questions to make the book an easy reference guide and great addition to your business library.

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How to Make Sure your Story Is Publishable

Saturday, November 9th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
You must look for the flaws in your own work, so you can fix them.

You must look for the flaws in your own work so you can fix them.

So you’ve decided to go indie. What is the first thing you should do?

No, you shouldn’t – really, truly, trust me – make space in your basement for all those piles of money you intend to roll around in. Yes there are some people who made quite a lot of money right off the bat. There are also a lot of people (cumulatively) who win the lottery. However, just like your retirement plan shouldn’t be “first, win the lottery” your plan for indie success shouldn’t be “put one book out, make a pile of money.”

Most of the people who buy a lottery ticket do not win the lottery. And most of the people who have a single book out do not immediately and suddenly become bestsellers with millions of dollars flowing in.

If you are one of those people, you’re one of luck’s own children, and you don’t need my humble advice any more than you need an extra arm or a third eye. Go forth and perform magic, or something.

However, let’s suppose you’re a normal human being and you just wrote a short story or a novel, or a novella, which you’ve decided to throw out there for sale to the general public.

First of all let me caution you: the first piece of completed writing you ever do will seem to you like the most amazing and miraculous thing.

Even if you’ve been writing for years, and have been aware that there was something lacking in your efforts, there will be a story you finish that you know is “a real story.” And you’ll think it’s the best thing since sliced bread.

The same thing happens with your first “real” heart piece, your first “real” song, your first “real” computer program, and just about any other endeavor that involves both art and craft. The first one that you think is “good enough” will also seem wonderful to you.

Most of the time it will not be.

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Selling Your Writing To The Public

Saturday, November 2nd, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
setting up shop by the side of the information superhighway can be a daunting endeavor.

setting up shop by the side of the information superhighway can be a daunting endeavor.

Selling your writing in 13 weeks, week 4

So, you’ve decided to eschew traditional publishing.  It takes too long, or there aren’t many choices, or you think that you don’t have a chance, or you’d rather start making money now, even if it will be less, or you want to cut out the middle man and reach the public.  Last but not least, you might have decided that the best chance at breaking into traditional publishing is to be a success at indie.

All right.

First, note that last sentence, above.  You needn’t abandon all hope (of traditional publishing) once you enter here.  No, in fact there is a very good chance this will be your path to traditional publishing.  My colleague Larry Correia did just that.  He published Monster Hunter International, was a success, and is now happily publishing with Baen books.

Is it guaranteed?  Nothing in life is guaranteed, particularly for writers and particularly right now.

But if you’re going to try this Indie thing, there are ways and ways to do it.

Before we set off, always remember “Money Flows To The Writer.”  This is the same as in traditional publishing.  If you remember that and “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is” you’ll probably keep off the biggest pitfalls.

Now, let’s start with some decisions you have to make.

So – you’re going indie.  But how?

Are you going to self-publish?  Go in with a group of friends? Go with an established small or micro publisher?

Which is it best to do?

I can’t make that decision for you – it’s all on how you feel about it, how much work you’re willing to do and how much self confidence you have.  In fact, you probably will want to try all three forms.

First, let’s consider small or micro publishers – the same process for submitting to them applies as for submitting to the majors.  They are usually faster, more responsive and willing to give a try to an unknown.  But they aren’t ALWAYS that.  Some of them are just as bad as the traditionals. And some are worse.  For instance, some of them have worse contracts and some of them are very new and have clue zero how to parse out payments.  (This is not as easy as you might think.  The way electronic outlets pay can get maddening.)

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Book Plug Friday: Ringing in the Changes

Friday, November 1st, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
Sometimes you can hear change clear as a bell.

Sometimes you can hear change clear as a bell.

Hi, this is Sarah, and I’m writing this on Halloween night, while my sons and husband man the door for trick-or-treaters (the things I give up for you guys. Apparently I just missed a toddler dressed as an elephant.  You owe me.)

Halloween to me personally was always the change between light and dark, between a time of warmth and a time of cold, but something more too.  The quick explanation is that in Portugal Halloween isn’t associated with trick or treating or costumes or spooky stuff.  Instead, it’s a time to go to the cemetery and talk about lost family members, and then we initiate the winter season which is both colder and more perilous, and filled with wonder.

The wonder part got particularly associated with late fall and early winter in my mind because for my extended family what was the time most birthdays happened.  So Halloween initiated a time of lights and parties, and a time for gathering in and getting close to your family, unlike Summer when you might be out doing your own thing.

Yes, this is relevant, in a way.

It’s important that I write this column on Halloween night because in publishing too, we’re ringing in the changes.  The changes have been fairly gradual up till now, but they seem to be accelerating and it’s becoming obvious that one time is passing away and another time starting.

Take for instance how, even last month, while teaching at a workshop in Texas I told people if they wanted to see their books on a bookstore shelf, they should consider traditional publishing. Mind you, even there it wasn’t guaranteed you’d end up on the shelves, (one year I published six books with Berkley and Bantam and not one made it to a bookstore in Colorado) but it was more likely than if you went solo or indie.

It seems that too is changing. Take this article from Publisher’s Weekly this last week:

Format has been a long-simmering topic of debate in book publishing, and the question of when, and if, a title is published in hardcover, paperback, and/or digital has become even more pressing as bricks-and-mortar bookstores dwindle and e-book sales grow. The idea that any standard deal from a major publisher guarantees a print format release—which was previously a foregone conclusion—is something agents no longer take for granted, with some expressing concern that the big houses are starting to hedge on print editions in contracts.

While e-book-only agreements are nothing new—all large publishers have imprints that are exclusively dedicated to digital titles—a handful of agents, all of whom spoke to PW on the condition of anonymity, said they’re worried that contracts from print-first imprints will increasingly come with clauses indicating that the publisher makes no guarantee on format. The agents say this is a new twist to the standard way of doing business.

I submit it’s not so much a new twist but one of the stronger fore-shocks of the earthquake hitting publishing.  Or, if you prefer, the first frost of winter.

For a while now things have been blurring.  Going traditional is no guarantee you’ll have a better copyeditor or a better cover or better publicity than if you go indie.  The writers have been having to do more and more.  But, ah! at least you had a “real book” and might be on shelves, right?

Well, the major shift has hit, like the first snow of winter which usually comes around Halloween, in Colorado.  From now on there will still be many print books out of traditional publishing, just like there will be warm days after tonight.  But you can no longer be sure of them.  And they’ll grow rarer.

Is it all bad? *Shrug.* Just like the shift from summer to winter, each has different attractions.  Yes, there will be more completely unedited books.  But there were already quite a few from traditional houses.  In exchange, we’ll get to see books that the houses would have considered too “unconventional” or “not appealing to enough people” — which included a great deal of censorship of political or social views that didn’t agree with those of New York publishing.

So we’ll have greater variety.  There will be lights in those naked trees in the “winter” ahead.  And indies are already starting to band together for mutual comfort and security.  So, there will be that too — family of a sort, to get you through the difficult storms ahead.

And before I storm the metaphor any further, give a look at our offerings below, and maybe download a few chances, to give the New Ways of Publishing a chance.

Remember to send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines to submit to Book Pulg Friday.


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Jingles All The Way
By Barbara Morgenroth 

Jingles is a dog on the lam. He’s met the perfect person, and wants to stay with her forever but his former owners have millions of reasons why that’s impossible. After escaping from uncaring owners, Jingles discovers canine paradise with Sassy Collins and her Eat Dog Eat Gourmet Take-Out Dog Dinner Shop. Sassy is easy to love and Jingles falls hard for her. So does the town police officer, Ethan Monroe. But Jingles is carrying a secret that could destroy their happy family before it even begins.


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Bittersweet Farm 4: Counterpoint
By Barbara Morgenroth 

Greer Swope has something to prove. But even she doesn’t quite know what.

Always believing that even if she was good enough for nothing else, she was good enough on a horse. History hasn’t borne that out. Now Greer’s left equitation and hunter classes behind for show jumping but it won’t happen overnight. It might even take the help of a new trainer. Enter Cameron Rafferty whose horse is lame, who was fired from his last job and who wants the newest Bittersweet prospect. He’s one of the top riders and he is a player. Can Greer handle her horse, Counterpoint, and Cam Rafferty, too?

Talia can only look on at what might be the latest train wreck.


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The High T Shebang
By Mark Philip Alger 

Everyone around Gabrielle Francesca East — Dolly to her friends — has an agenda. Mitchell Drummond, her lover, guardian, and Geppetto wants to wrap her up in bubble wrap and protect her from the world. Dolly just wants him to make her forget her name by making hot, monkey love with her. Her family resent Dolly’s fortune: a fortune they assert is rightfully theirs. Dolly? She just wants to shop. Half the Gods want to control her; the other half want her dead; Dolly just wants to party with her friends.

When clones of blonde, Hollywood starlets — probably from the same lab that made Dolly’s body — start showing up halfway around the world, Drummond and Dolly set out at the head of the Troll Action Team to find out what’s behind the clones. The answer will send shock waves through the whole shebang.

Growing out of a long series of email exchanges on The Center for Xena Studies, a Xena: Warrior Princess mailing list, The High T Shebang is the first volume of the long-awaited epic, the Dolly Apocrypha. See where it all began.

Truth in advertising disclaimer: Violence. Explicit and graphic sexual dialog and situations. Adults only. Parental discretion strongly advised. Not for children or young teens.

Coming in 2014, The Baby Troll Chronicles continue.


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Hellfire
By Karla K Goodhouse 

Air Force fighter pilot and rookie astronaut Martina Redrick is flying the space shuttle when disaster strikes. A satellite about to be repaired explodes above the cargo bay, damaging the shuttle and knocking the mission commander unconscious. But the explosion was no accident. When an unmarked spacecraft attacks the defenseless, crippled shuttle, Martina must save the ship and crew. And she soon discovers, returning to earth will not put them out of danger.

The shuttle isn’t the only target. Someone is systematically destroying US communication and surveillance satellites. Determined to protect America’s assets, the President sends Martina and Navy pilot Rachel Ansetti back into space, flying top secret space-fighters on a search and destroy mission.

However, the attacks are only the beginning of a far more sinister plan, which threatens the heart of the free world. Now it’s up to Martina and Rachel to stop them before it’s too late.


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Mexican Hit Girl
By S.C. Smith 

“FROM THE GET-GO I WAS HOOKED” The Mexican drug war has reached critical mass, and the U.S. Government, under the direction of the INL and National Clandestine Service, must take drastic measures. Mason Church, a decorated U.S. soldier, returns home plagued by the emotional scars of war and the fragmented memories of his father. Loveless, broke, and jaded, he’s recruited by National Clandestine Service to assassinate Mexico’s biggest drug kingpin. 16 year-old, Valentina Vargas, witnesses the massacre of her family by the ruthless drug lord. Suddenly orphaned, she must make a decision to remain a peasant or retaliate against the sadistic murderers. Following the D.C. bombing death of the Head of INL by an unrecognizable and grotesque assassin–a mole is suspected within the high ranks of Washington. In order to succeed in Mexico, Mason must partner with Valentina, maneuvering through the dangerous labyrinth of menacing drug cartels, and corrupt government officials. Brought together by accident, Mason and Valentina realize that their only hope of survival lies with each other.


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Girl Act
By Kristina Shook 

She wanted Hollywood to discover her…
She wanted her name in lights…
She wanted the glitz and glam…
And true love.

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Being A Professional, The Traditional Way

Saturday, October 26th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Who Stole The Mouse's Cookie might be a riveting "true crime" but that's not what the publishers mean by "True Crime Stories."

Who Stole The Mouse’s Cookie might be a riveting “true crime” but that’s not what the publishers mean by “True Crime Stories.”

Selling your Writing in Thirteen Weeks: Week 3

Check out Sarah Hoyt’s previous entries in her new ongoing series chronicling the collision of new media publishing’s possibilities and the opportunities that still remain in traditional publishing:

Introduction, October 5: Payment Is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

Week 1, October 12: To Market, To Market With Words to Peddle…

Week 2, October 19: Reasons to Brave the Indie Publishing Jungle

*****

Okay, so you want to try traditional publishing.  This is not a bad idea, if you’re writing short stories.  It’s also not a bad idea if you’re writing science fiction and fantasy novels and want to submit to Baen books.  For all else… well, I wouldn’t do it.  However, it’s your decision.  Just don’t say I told you to.

At any rate, whether you’re submitting short stories or novels, first make sure you’re sending them to the right place.

No, I don’t mean anything as silly as mailing – or emailing – your submission to the wrong address, though heaven knows if you’re sending out a lot of submissions sooner or later you’re going to do just that.  Sooner or later you’re also going to put the story in the wrong envelope.  That’s just one of those fun facts: if you’re human periodically you’re going to do something abysmally stupid, because you’re rushed, sick, or just not feeling yourself. That’s acceptable.  Even if this is a magazine and you have reason to think the editor is tracking you/keeping an hopeful eye on your submission – I’ll go into the reasons to believe that later – don’t imagine that a completely stupid mistake like that will be held against you.  Everyone knows periodically you will make a mistake. That’s fine.

What is not fine, though, is sending a children’s picture book, with hand-drawn pictures to a True Crime publisher.  (Not even if it’s a True Crime children’s picture book called If You Steal A Mouse’s Cookie.)  In the same way, it’s not acceptable to send nonfiction books on making money by flipping real estate to a science fiction publisher.  It’s not acceptable to send short stories to a book publisher and (except in certain circumstances, when the guidelines say they might serialize a novel) it’s not a good idea to send novels to a magazine.

So, first thing you do is you go to Ralan.com or to any other listing for the type of market you’re looking for (in the last resort the Writer’s Market book) and you look for markets that might be interested in your work. And, because this is now the internet, use your favorite search engine to look up the potential markets. Visit their sites, if they have them.

Make absolutely sure that you’re sending something this magazine/book publisher will buy.  Look, sometimes we all take desperate gambles.  If your short story is a little bit science fiction and a lot fantasy, and you’re out of fantasy markets, you might try a science fiction market.

But…

Well, take me for instance.  I’ve told you that I made every possible mistake coming up, right?  Well, my idea was that if my story/book was good enough, people would buy it even if it was completely inappropriate.  Look, I was 22 and had been raised on the myth of the genius.

So I sent a horror short story to a fantasy magazine.  They sent me back a personal rejection and a free copy of their magazine, told me how much they loved my story, but that it was totally inappropriate.  Could I please read the magazine and try again?

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To Market, To Market With Words to Peddle…

Saturday, October 12th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt
Banks that hold mortgages steadfastly refuse to be paid in purrs.  No, we don't know why either.

Banks that hold mortgages steadfastly refuse to be paid in purrs. No, we don’t know why either.

Last week we agreed – well, at least I agreed, since I am after all writing this – that the purpose of writing is to be read by as many people as possible and that the best way of knowing there are people reading and enjoying your work is to sell it. No one is going to give you money for your writing just to make you feel better.  Okay, maybe your mom.  But she isn’t going to keep doing it.  So, if you’re making a living from your writing you have to know people are enjoying it.

Besides being a useful indicator of popularity, money is good for all sorts of things. For instance, the local grocery store takes it in exchange for food (and takes more of it each week it seems) and no matter how much we explain to our bank that we’re running what amounts to a non-profit cat shelter for delinquent cats, it still insists on having us pay our mortgage in cash instead of warm fuzzies.  (I know, I know.  Very narrow minded of them.)

So, you’ve finished your manuscript, be it a novel or a short story, or even a collection of articles on delinquency in cats, and you’re looking for a way to market it.  But how exactly do you go about it?

Well, first of all, you don’t know how lucky you are.  When I finished my first novel, back in pre-history (it was 1985 and we chiseled our work on slabs of rock) I honestly had no idea what to do with it.  As it turned out, I should have burned it, but since I didn’t know it at the time, I went to the library, got a copy of Writers’ Market and proceeded to send it out to all sorts of inappropriate places, from whence it was returned at speed (The Writers’ Market is more reliable for non-fiction, and event here the listings are often outdated by the time it goes to print.)  It was years before I found the appropriate places (which as it turned out also returned it at speed.)

Nowadays, you can do a lot of the research for where to market your book on line.  Sites like Ralan list markets for Science Fiction, Mystery, Fantasy and Horror ranging from the professional-paying to literary and little.  I was actually chuffed to find out they still existed.  They used to be my go-to market listing back ten years ago when I was regularly submitting to magazines.  (I haven’t done that in about ten years, because I’ve been submitting to by-invitation anthologies, and fulfilling book contracts.  It’s one of those problems you trade up for in the writing field.)  A friend of mine also uses something called The Grinder Diabolical Plots which is a combined submission tracker and market resource.

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NANOWRIMO-Edition Book Plug Friday! Time for National Novel Writing Month

Friday, October 11th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

If you're going to Nanowrimo, you'll take a lot of showers.  It not only helps you continue your story, it also ensures you won't write dirty books!

If you’re going to Nanowrimo, you’ll take a lot of showers. It not only helps you continue your story, it also ensures you won’t write dirty books!

Do You, Do You Nano?

Around this time of year, as reliably as sane people ask each other “what are you going to be for Halloween?” Writers ask each other, “So, are you going to nano?”

This does not refer to a really bad science fiction series of the seventies, nor does it refer to the engineering of the infinitely small (though some of us doing poems and short stories have often felt like we’re engineering the infinitely small.)

What it refers to is National Novel Writing Month, colloquially Nanowrimo.

For reasons of saving the world, neither of the authors of this column Nano.  It’s that not that we think it’s a bad idea, or that we believe the canard that writing a novel too fast makes it bad (Rex Stout is among the list of writers who wrote a novel in less than a month, as is Sarah’s Baen colleague, John Ringo.  Sarah’s own personal best is a book in three days – Plain Jane, written under the house name Laurien Gardner, and still consistently earning royalties every single pay period.)

No, the reason neither Sarah nor Charlie intend to Nano is that when they do people die.  Or at least get very ill.  Sarah’s personal horror tale involves the year when both she and her husband (Dan Hoyt) did Nano and they lost a brother/brother-in-law, a beloved cat and most of their equipment (to a thunder storm.  Don’t ask.)  There was also the minor matter of a hole in the roof of the office, and their younger kid developing heart trouble.

Since then, Sarah has steadfastly refused to Nano.  Though, to be fair, that was the month she wrote the (first version) of Darkship Thieves in.

However, if you are trying to write and find yourself editing yourself to death, Nano can be a good way to forget your doubts and just get going, and at least try to have a first version ready.

If you do it, remember their mottos: No Plot, no problem and If you’re stuck, take a shower.

The resulting work might meander, but it will certainly be clean!

And if you’re not a writer, and you’re not Nanoing, (totally a verb) then consider reading one of the following books, or at least downloading samples, and supporting indie writers.

Photo Courtesy Shutterstock © Goran Bogicevic

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The Dream Metropolis
By Miles Cressman 

In dreams, anything is possible. It can be an escape from a tortured reality, no matter how ephemeral that may be, or it can be a horror that you can’t run from.

A man who calls himself The Magistrate has created a dream world more encompassing than any virtual reality, through unseen hands in an unseen corporation. He preaches transcendence through dreams, another level of human evolution that separates the mind from the body entirely.

His zealotry has swept up multiple dreamers into his project, from drug addicts to assassins to innocent children. The Metropolis, the first dream, is a city whose shape and influence are manipulated and altered by the dreamers inside; at times, it’s a nightmare, but also believable enough that reality itself becomes a memory.

The city kills those who try to push and expand its boundaries, for its dreaming existence is both limitless and constricted.

For Ash, a dying man spending his final moments in the Metropolis, dreaming forever doesn’t sound so appealing.


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Green White Green
By Lanre Badmus 

This book is a poetry collection of over 80 poems. It has political, romantic and nature-oriented poems.

[This is a UK book, and the Amazon UK website was failing when I set this up, so I hope this works. -- Charlie]


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In My Mother’s Words
By Mary McLeary 

When Mary McLeary received the prayer journals from her mother on the Christmas before her mother died, wisdom gleaned from years of Bible study and prayer was passed on.
The Christmas gift initiated a project that started with a blog and developed into a book of family faith stories that always end with the words of a mother who covered her children and grandchildren in prayer. This book is being shared with the hope that it will refresh and encourage others as they continue on their own walks of faith. As one review said, “It’s like sunshine on paper”.


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Conundrum (Nine Inch Bride)
By Anonym 

Dangerous Curves Ahead

Working at many levels to recast today’s big political questions in a fresh lens, Conundrum grows from the psychological study of Ken, a Wall St. analyst cut down in a market crash, into a kind of meta-democratic polemic led in riotous dialog by the uniquely eloquent Sa.

The conversation is sharply revealing of our times and all the more disturbing behind its gossamer veil of the future. Their uncanny story will enchant and inspire you with an enriched sense of the possible. Go ahead, give it your best read.


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Bittersweet Farm 1: Mounted
By Barbara Morgenroth 

When a handsome new trainer arrives at Bittersweet Farm, the competition between half-sisters is no longer limited to the show ring.

Talia Margolin’s life has been marked by events completely beyond her control–her mother’s death, her move to her father’s horse farm, the retirement of her show horse.

Now she faces the arrival of a new coach whose job is to get Talia’s half-sister, Greer, qualified for the finals at the National Horse Show. Greer is brutal on trainers but Lockie Malone is different. Handsome, talented, and with a will of hardened steel, Lockie can be an immovable object. He also becomes the agent for change in the lives of everyone at Bittersweet Farm.

For seventeen year old Talia, change has never meant anything but loss. Will this time be different?


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Unspeakably Desirable
By Barbara Morgenroth 

Three women, one man. What could possibly go wrong?

French pastry was the only thing Bel Miller found unspeakably desirable until she met Asher Lau. Unfortunately, she wasn’t the only one who wanted him.

He’s a lawyer with a television show and a girlfriend who enjoys wrapping men up in duct tape and trussing them like a turkey. Once she catered his Thanksgiving feast, Bel figured she would never hear from Ash again. Well…by Christmas, she was sure Asher Lau and his heiress gal pal with the predilection for plumbing supplies would be out of her life. When the photos of the private sex romp go public, everyone is embarrassed but the girlfriend, now ex-girlfriend. She insists on marrying Ash as a cover story. “It was a Halloween costume!”

And then there’s that fan no one counted on. When something is unspeakably desirable, people can get really desperate.


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Darkness Rising: Book One of The Catmage Chronicles
By Meryl Yourish 

It’s been hundreds of years since the Darkness last surfaced, a grim time when both humans and Catmages lost their lives. But now the Wild Ones work with humans again, and thirteen-year-old Andy Cohen gets the surprise of his life when a talking cat shows up in his front yard. Goldeneyes, a powerful Catmage, needs Andy’s help. In the exciting first installment of this new series, Meryl Yourish takes the reader into a world of magical cats, dark powers, and a boy who finds himself entangled in their war.


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Lost in Zombieland: The Rise of President Zero
By J.T. Hatter 

Who is Barak Hussein Omeba? And what is he really up to?

In between rounds of golf, President Barak Hussein Omeba is busy fomenting class war, redistributing wealth, undermining capitalism, inciting racial division, and burying future generations of Americans under colossal mountains of debt. Patriots, Tea Partiers and ordinary citizens angrily march on Washington to protest creeping socialism and economic destruction.

President Omeba calls for socialist revolution and the bloody Zombie War sweeps across the nation, killing millions. Patriot rebels surround the White House to overthrow the regime.

America’s enemies launch an insidious attack. In a heart-pounding race to stop nuclear Armageddon, Colonel Joel Plummer and his SpecOps commandos pursue nuclear jihadis in a deadly game of cat and mouse across the Middle East.

The struggle for the soul of America consummates in a brutal bloody showdown on the White House steps. In the final chapters of Lost in Zombieland, a shocking catastrophe changes America forever.


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I.O.U. University
By Max Justice 

I.O.U. University is about a recent college graduate who successfully paid all $43,678.46 of his student loans off in a year after graduating. It describes his journey through college, learning how to deal with the ever increasing cost of tuition, the burden of student loan debt, and how he balanced it all out to have the ideal college experience everyone wants.
Max shares how he planned out his higher education from high school to successfully save $150,000 in tuition, loans and interest. In it he tells the reader why college is still worth it, even with the skyrocketing costs of higher education, and unstable job market. He shares his insights on how to find your purpose in this world, and other real-world advice a student should know when attending college.


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A Phenomenal Llama: A Tall Christmas Tale for Children of All Ages
By Timothy Matthew Slemmons 

A pensive pastor finds his trip to the zoo transformed at Christmas when the inspired wisdom of the animals is revealed, and an ancient promise of God is fulfilled, in a tale told by one phenomenal llama. What did the llamas have to do with the first Christmas? Of all the animals, theirs was the most important, and the most mysterious, role of all!

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Putting Time and Effort into your Creative Life

Saturday, September 28th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt

Organizing your Creative Life in 13 Weeks, Week Thirteen

When organizing your creative life try not to get to this stage.  It plays havoc with creativity.

When organizing your creative life try not to get to this stage. It plays havoc with creativity.

So, we’re coming to the end of this series.  How did it work out?  Did it organize my creative life?

It was a good start.  I’m not by any means perfect yet at applying Getting Things Done (particularly the part about putting things on paper and out of my head, so they don’t cause stress.)  And sometimes I forget my penguin timer, or deliberately leave him behind, particularly if I’m going to be writing in a room with another person.

Still, these 13 weeks helped me at least start retraining my brain into working for longer stretches of time, after the years of “induced ADHD” brought about by working while watching small children.

I am producing more copy and working better and were it not for having contracted a massive sinus infection which then doubled back and hit both ears and my throat, I’d probably have finished Through Fire, now overdue to Baen Books, who publish my Space Opera series.

Instead, I’ll have to keep applying the methods to finishing the novel as soon as possible, once I’m over this upper respiratory infection thing.

Yes, I know I thought I was getting better last week, but then it doubled down.  In the meantime I had to fly to Texas, where I’m teaching a workshop this weekend at the Bedford Library, and that in turn seems to have caused a serious worsening of my condition.  I spent yesterday sleeping, and today I’m only working at about half power.  Those who know me will know how serious this is, since I need to be very ill indeed to not even try to work.

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When Indie Publishing Sings The Blues

Friday, September 27th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

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(Send email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines. Deadline is Tuesday the week before publication, that is, this weeks plugs came in before September 17. We reserve the right to adjust when things are plugged; this week we had 27 books, next week we have only 5, so some of them got pushed into next week. Money cheerfully refunded if unsatisfied.)

I’ll confess that round about the middle of August looking at my numbers on the publishing platforms made me want to cry or drink heavily. (Slitting my wrists is out of the question for religious reasons and also because it leaves unsightly rings around the tub.)

I posted about it on my blog and suddenly realized that I wasn’t alone.  Everyone’s sales always dip in the summer — no, we don’t know why, they just do — but this year was exceptionally bad.  Perhaps this “recovery” we are in just left everyone too flat broke to buy books — e or otherwise. Later, I heard the same thing from my friends, including my best-selling friends.  The summer was just blah.

What do writers do when their sales suck? They write about it!

This link has some great jokes on the theme of “My sales are so bad that…”

My favorite:

It’s not me, but I know a guy…  
Whose sales are so bad…
-   Panhandlers give him money
-   When you click on the link to his book, your computer locks up
-   His books don’t get reviews, they get warnings
-   His Pen Name ran out of ink
-   His buy button on Amazon qualifies as a charitable contribution
-   He had to give up coffee and cigarettes to buy more Kleenex

The numbers seems to be recovering somewhat now, though still not up to full sales strength.  Perhaps things just have got depressing enough that people are reading to forget.  Or perhaps there is a little more money to buy books, who knows?  It doesn’t seem to be a permanent trend, though, just a temporary, if steep, dip.  I can’t tell you how relieved I am by that.

I do wonder if the downturn also affected traditionally published books — who are less able to weather it — but I have no way of knowing.

At any rate, help an indie writer come back in off the ledge.  Download a sample from this week’s offerings, and consider buying your favorites.


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The Warrior of God
By George Milonas MD 

A religious epic about the ultimate battle between good and evil. At turns techno-thriller, horror novel, heroic fantasy and Old Testament tome, the central novelty is The Warrior of God’s clever conversion of biblical entities into modern superheroes and villains. Recasting these familiar canonical angels and demons, the novel serves up a Special Forces version of Gabriel and a pitiless advocate of the apocalypse in Baal. The novel’s entire political backdrop is unapologetically topical. Walter, the brilliant, Twinkie-loving, reluctant scientist hero, succeeds wonderfully as counterpoint and light comic relief throughout the novel. He, as much of humanity, is an endless exasperation for Gabriel. Expletives abound in this Torah-sized tome, and though it relies a bit too heavily upon these lexical choices for eliciting emotion, the book’s depth, imaginative revisions and engaging characters will move readers. The pulsing plot spans the globe and solidly incorporates the threat of nuclear annihilation into the broader cosmic struggle between good and evil. It’s eschatology on all fronts–metaphysical and political. As with most novels of tremendous breadth, there are some characters who are easily forgotten and some subplots less than germane. However, there is little room for a reader’s lamentation after the brutal endgame played by Gabriel and Baal in the novel’s denouement, and Walter’s final metamorphosis is an ironic image that satisfies in the best, unexpected way. A book for insatiate lovers of heavy, religious, action-packed fiction. –Kirkus Discoveries Review


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My Last Testament
By George Milonas MD 

Dr. John Miller has a very happy life. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife and children and works as a very successful surgeon. Then the Zombie Apocalypse comes to his door full force. Fighting for his life and that of his family, Dr. Miller has to use all the cunning and skill he has accumulated his entire life to ensure their survival. Facing overwhelming odds, the end is very uncertain for all those he loves and protects.

My Last Testament is the first book in this blockbusting new series from the author of The Warrior of God.

Dr. George Milonas lives with his wife and children in Wisconsin where he is a specialist in Pediatrics and Child Abuse.


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Renegades: Deserter’s Redemption
By Kal Spriggs 

Mike doesn’t want to be anyone’s friend. He doesn’t want to be a
leader. He sure doesn’t want to be a hero. He’s tried all of that
before; it didn’t work out then and he knows it wouldn’t work out now.

He doesn’t have a choice.

Caught by an invading alien race and shipped off to a prison station
as (expendable) labor, Mike will have to become all of those things in
order to escape. More, he’ll have to turn a band of misfits into a
group that can not only survive… but escape from a place where
survival is measured in hours. In the doing, he may have to do the one
thing he knows will get him killed: learn how to trust.

“Spriggs knows engineering and he knows combat, and it shows hard in
his writing. Fast-paced, believable action SF that doesn’t let go.”

-Leo Champion, author of Legion and Her Majesty’s Western Service.


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Mind and Madness of a Modern Magus
By Pendark 

Pendark is the alter ego of Richard Bateman; magician, mentalist, make up artist, and a mentor. In this collection of his thoughts on life, love, relationships, sex, fetishes, culture, religion, and social issues; You’ll find many things that make you mad, make you chuckle, and make you think.


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Now That We Have Established That We Are Mad… (Mind and Madness)
By Pendark 

Pendark is the alter-ego of Richard M. Bateman. He is a mad, eccentric magician, story-teller, fortune-teller, character actor, and special effects makeup artist.

He is also a father, a husband, a brother, a son, lover, and friend. He has begun to become known as an adviser and advice giver.

This is a collection of his strange, humorous, insightful, and sometimes maddening ideas on life, love, sex, politics, social issues, magic, and philosophy.

This is a followup to the book “Mind and Madness of a Modern Magus.” The idea behind this collection of thoughts is not to get you to think like he does, but to get you to think for yourself. This book can stand alone as an introduction to the madness of Pendark, or be a good followup to the first book.


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Chaos Quarter
By David Welch 

In the future mankind has spread itself across the stars…and promptly divided itself into dozens of competing nations. The worst of it all can be found in the Chaos Quarter, a hive of failed states, petty tyrants, pirates, and religious extremists. Into this mess comes Rex Vahl. Formerly a pilot for the democratic Free Terran Commonwealth, Rex was scape-goated for the death of a power commander’s son. As a result he is basically given a suicide mission: cross the Chaos Quarter and investigate the mysterious space beyond. Problem is that nobody who has entered that space has ever returned. Rumors abound of a reclusive super-power, so addicted to genetic engineering that they can no longer really be considered human.

When Rex discovers that all the rumors are true he finds himself being chased across the galaxy by two overpowering warships. What does he have on his side? His co-pilot is a former prostitute with tiger-striped skin. His gunner is a traitorous ex-nobleman wanted by his former countrymen. His engineer is a laid-back cyborg exiled for asking one too many questions about God. Armed with only a souped-up freighter, Rex and his motley band must out-fight, out-fox, and out-run their enemies if they are to reveal the terrible truth of what lies beyond the CHAOS QUARTER.


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The Cenacle Scroll
By Anthony F. Lewis 

Jennifer Goodwyn, a Cornell University graduate student, inadvertently returns home to sleepy Ithaca, N.Y. from an archaeological dig at the Cenacle—the purported site of the Last Supper—with an ancient bone box. The ossuary is found to contain several pieces of early first century stoneware, and a mysterious, tiny scroll. When the Aramaic glyphs on the slip of crumbling papyrus are translated, they identify the humble dinner setting as the one used by a rabblerousing Nazarene rabbi at his Seder meal, on the evening he’d been arrested by the Romans.

One ill-considered impulse—asking a local parish priest to say Mass with the cup—sweeps Jennifer away to churches, cathedrals, sports stadiums, and to a powerful Cardinal’s basilica to celebrate Mass with the vessel and to exhibit it before ever-growing crowds of believers.

But soon, all hell breaks loose. While the State Department is aggressively seeking its return to Israel, a nationwide political movement starts rising up around the relic. And Jennifer soon discovers that the storied artifact is causing sickness and even death among those who remain too long in its presence.

In an effort to stem the political mayhem and insure the safety of the faithful, Jennifer hits the road, trying to stay one step ahead of the feds until she can find a way to quell the growing public chaos unleashed by the revelations of The Cenacle Scroll.


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Aqua Vitae
By Anthony F. Lewis 

Wildlife biologist Jackie Bannon may have found just the job to jump-start her stalled career. A potential client with seemingly bottomless pockets and plans for an unorthodox business venture has invited her to his private Caribbean island to discuss her coming on board.

At first glance, the place seems a textbook tropical paradise: glistening white sand beaches, lush highland forests, every inch teeming with exotic flowers and wildlife. But a closer look reveals widespread abnormal behavior among the native animal species; behavior that Jackie recognizes as deeply problematic.

Despite her misgivings, she wasn’t about to turn down a high-paying job on a luxurious private island, especially one that could remake her career, and she relished the independence she would be allowed. But with that independence would come responsibility, and she could already see that there was much more to this island than meets the eye…


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What a Piece of Work is Man
By David F. Clark 

If you could rebuild your body and mind, become stronger, smarter–even immortal–would you? Should you?

By joining the grafters, Joaquin has become an outcast, part of a group distrusted and hated by the people of Laurim, the last vestige of humankind after the Days of Desolation. But the cybernetically-enhanced grafters have long been a necessary evil that bring stability to the fragile colony. Laurim is thrown into turmoil when news leaks that the recently-landed alien, the only other known life, has died under the care of the grafters. When Joaquin uncovers a conspiracy that would destroy the delicate balance of power, he must make a choice: Will he sacrifice his new identity among the non-grafters for the good of Laurim or will he remain silent? The stakes grow higher when a distress signal from Earth breaks over a century of silence. Are there really other humans left or is it a trick? As part of an envoy to Earth, Joaquin discovers nothing is as it seems, and the fate of not only Laurim, but of all of humanity rests on him forsaking his own humanness…


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Mysterious Albion (Vatican Vampire Hunters)
By Paul Leone 

Lucy Manning just wanted an ordinary life. But surviving a vicious vampire attack has put the young American in the middle of a holy war between a secret society of vampire hunters loyal to the Catholic Church—and an ancient and powerful vampire queen who has awakened from a long slumber with dreams of blood and conquest in her demonic mind.

Lucy may not want to do battle with a ruthless, eternal evil, but evil has other ideas….


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Bubbe, Mimi & Gigi: The Best Grandmother Name Book Ever
By Cathy Livingstone 

Congratulations! You are going to be a Grandmother! Now you need a name. This book is the ultimate resource to assist you in choosing the best grandmother name for you. Inside you will find over 300 grandmother names with fun definitions, celebrity grandmother names, an entertaining naming quiz and grandmother names by country and personality. Grandfathers can participate too by selecting a name from over 100 fabulous grandfather names and enjoy fun grandfather stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*****

shutterstock images via  Julien Tromeur / Julien Tromeur

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Eating a Mountain is Easy

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
mmmmm nummy!

mmmmm nummy!

First you get used to eating a pebble a day.

What I mean by this is that in writing, and in a lot of other things, ritual is important – ritual and routine and establishing an habit of doing something.

Charlie and I [This is Sarah!] were talking about this in the opposite and upside down of this – how and when do you break ritual and does breaking ritual liberate creative fire, or not?

I will leave that part of the argument to my partner in crime [Waves at Charlie] but for now, I’ll discuss the uses and importance of ritual.

There is a – perhaps apocryphal — story that goes around the science fiction community.  It is attached to one particular author and it is used to explain a prolonged dry spell of his.  I’m not going to use his name because I heard this story second, third and sixteenth hand (at least) but never close enough to be sure.

However the story keeps getting told, because all of us, professional writers, identify with it and can understand it.

It is said that a young and hopeful writer turned on his lamp by the desk before he started to write.  Maybe he started out because his desk was in a dark corner, or he wrote only at night. As he started selling, he noticed that stories he wrote while the lamp was on sold, while stories he wrote while the lamp was off didn’t.  Then he realized this light bulb never seemed to burn out.  Year after year he turned on the lamp and the magic light bulb cast its light on his work as he rose up the ranks to bestseller.

Which is when he got divorced.  And his wife told him that for years she’s been replacing the light bulb every week, to make sure it was always fresh and wouldn’t burn out.

And he didn’t write for years.

This story illustrates both ritual and superstition – and their dangers.

That they are dangerous goes without saying, and I’ll let Charlie explain why.  But they are useful, too, because they are what humans use to tame the unknown, and to try to reliably harness forces they can’t quite understand.

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Vampire Vs Terrorist and Chupacabra Pursuit

Friday, August 23rd, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin
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You know what they say: to catch undead Osama Bin Laden, you must send a vampire.  No?  Well, they’ll say it after they read Dark Hunt.  Today’s offerings have some other dark delights: a Chupacabra, a four hundred and fifty year old vampire who works for the British Intelligence Services, and memories of the abyss. But there’s other stuff too, including what reviewers call “the best darned ‘sci-fi’ novel I’ve read in years” and “A real barn burner” (Do barns in the future burn?) love stories and the story of what makes or breaks a close friendship.

Look through, download samples, and maybe you’ll find your next favorite!

Once again, to submit, send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com and please include the AUTHOR’S NAME, the BOOK TITLE, A SHORT BLURB, and an AMAZON LINK.


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Follow The Chupacabra
By Steve Statham

Ray is a broken man. His family and his will to live were swept away in a series of catastrophic storms. He is a man adrift—until the night of the dark visitor, the chupacabra of legend.

As Ray embraces the adventure of a lifetime, he’ll discover hidden elemental powers that command the shadowlands of Earth, and bizarre creatures of legend traveling endless pathways in a multiverse of alternate worlds more terrifying—and more beautiful—than any he has ever known.


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Perigee
By Patrick Chiles

Reviewers have called it “the best darned ‘sci-fi’ novel I’ve read in years” and “a real barn-burner.”

Stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out…

At hypersonic speed, Arthur Hammond’s fleet of Clipper spaceplanes has become the premium choice for high-flying travel, placing every corner of the globe within a few hours’ reach. When the line’s flagship is marooned in space with a load of VIP clients, its crew must fight to stay alive knowing that help may never arrive. As they struggle with dwindling life support and increasingly desperate passengers, one man will discover that escape may demand a terrible sacrifice.


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Let No False Angels (A Novel of the Many Earths)
By Wesley Morrison

While Drifters cause destruction to endless versions of Earth, the Magian are the only protection. But one magus hesitates during his first battle, causing his own mother’s death and banishment from his kind. Seventeen years later, he becomes the crucial player in the “final” battle between Drifters and Magian.


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China Harbor: Out of Time
By S. T. Gaffney

When she had run out of words, Madame Lee sat back in her chair, exhausted, and closed her eyes. For my part I was left speechless, but my mind was a tumble of words and half-forgotten images of who and what I used to be. And the last reference to the face of time had left me with a physical feeling not unlike that experienced on a roller coaster as it plunges down the height of a small building.


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Dark Sanction
By Mark R. Whittington

The Contessa Gabriella Doria, a 450 year old vampire, worked as a spy for British Intelligence in World War II Venice. But she is menanced by a Nazi vampire hunter with occult powers. As Venice is overrun with SS killers, Gabriella fights to stay alive with the help of an ancient Celtic mage.


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Dark Hunt
By Mark R. Whittington

Vampire vs. Terrorist

On September 11, 2001, the second day that will live in infamy, Gabriella Doria, an Italian noblewoman and an over 500 year old vampire, was meeting with investment partners at the World Trade Center when the building and her world fell on top of her. Later, when she had been dug out of the rubble, she vowed vendetta.

Her dark hunt for Osama bin Laden would take longer than she had imagined, would cost more than she had thought to bear, and would involve more dangers than she could imagine. Her enemy would himself turn to dark powers to fulfill his dream of a world enslaved to a perverted version of a world religion.


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Killing Chase
By Ben Muse

Sometimes second chances can kill you. From the moment he woke that early March morning, Chase Hampton knew, once he was released from prison later that day, he was never going back. No matter what.


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Break It
By Ben Muse

It’s 1995, and recent college graduate Caleb McIntyre has received a most unusual job offer, one that will move him halfway across the country, far away from Lizzie, the love of his life.


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Memories of the Abyss
By Cedar Sanderson

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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The Two of Us
By Marsha B Mantykow

Loyalty is a simple concept. When questioned, it can define a relationship in powerful and profound ways.”The Two of Us” chronicles the heartbreaking circumstances when two best friends find themselves testing the boundaries of personal integrity and trust. In the end misunderstanding, jealousy and envy result in disillusionment and sorrow.

*******

image courtesy shutterstock / Elena Sikorskaya

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Son of Book Plug, Enter the Sasquatch!

Friday, August 16th, 2013 - by Sarah Hoyt and Charlie Martin

Today we have a lovely round up for you, including a delightful heap of mass murders to rival Jack the Ripper, vampires who can’t be killed by silver, sun or decapitation — but it’s all right, they appear to be crazy for love! — and the travails of cattle rustlers.  But WAIT, there’s more!

There’s also haunted jukeboxes and ghost ships and UFOs — oh, my.

However, possibly the weirdest point is being enjoined to think like a publisher, because, dear readers, we’ve dealt with publishers enough that we’ll take wolf men and even red riding hoods before we understand how their devious minds work.

However this is what Dean Wesley Smith enjoins us to do [and it's a very good book if you or someone you love is considering indie publishing.]  It might be more timely than ever this week since, as Kristine Kathryn Rusch puts it in her blog from yesterday (which you should read whole):

There are now five behemoth publishers. And several mid-sized publishers, like McSweeney’s or Soho or Kensington or Sourcebooks. But the days of pitting editor against editor to buy a series or having a sales force work hard for your book otherwise some other enterprising company might snatch you away are long gone.

These megacompanies aren’t about books or authors or readers. They’re about profit. And they’re not even about long-term profit. It’s important for these megacompanies to make money every quarter for their stockholders.

This, she explains:

That emphasis on quarterly profits infects all major industries right now. This is why the United States’ financial press doesn’t understand Jeff Bezos. He’s all about long-term profit and building a solid company, not earning extra bucks for the shareholders, until the company no longer functions well.

This emphasis on quarterly profits started infecting the book business in the 1990s, and we’ve seen the results. Smaller books that readers love became unavailable. The blockbuster mentality, which we’ve all seen in the movie industry, began to infect book publishing. It became harder and harder to “grow” a series. Instead, books sold by high concept—one line pitches that could be distilled for a sales force that increasingly wanted “Harry Potter meets Twilight,” so that they could sell the book without reading it.

So, if you love books, support indie publishers and solo publishers.  They’re working against the tide.

And now, without further ado, this week’s books.


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The Snipers
By Kristine Kathryn Rusch 

 

The Carnival Sniper—as famous as Jack The Ripper. And like Jack The Ripper, never caught, his identity lost to history.

In 1913, the Carnival Sniper terrorized Vienna, murdering the famous and not-so-famous alike. Police Detective Johann Runge never caught the Sniper and his failure defined the rest of his life.

In 2005, bestselling crime writer Sofie Branstadter receives permission to use modern forensic investigative techniques on the Sniper’s victims. She believes she can figure out the identity of the Sniper, but she needs the help of Runge’s great-grandson, classical pianist Anton Runge.

Together the two of them plunge into a world of scientific evidence and fantastic clues, all leading to one unbelievable conclusion.


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Three Ways From Sunday: A Desperado Novel
By Kai Starr 

 

An unlikely band of brothers… A ruthless gambler, a reckless young outlaw and a tough Buffalo soldier find themselves accidental partners in crime. But things really heat up when the outlaw’s carelessness puts the law hard on their tail. They set out to flee New Mexico Territory and cross the border into Colorado…or die trying.


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Rustler’s Roundup
By Kai Starr 

 

Easy money–or a quick death! Joshua Love, the crazy kid with a dark secret, has seen the likes of Chewy Bill Roberts before. Rustling cattle is easy money-until they get caught. And Josh is sure Chewy Bill will end up just like all the others, with terror in his eyes and a hole in his head. Robbing stagecoaches turns out to be even more deadly. When the blood starts flowing, Josh and Bill are branded as outlaws, forever, true members of the Amarillas Gang, a ruthless bunch of cold-blooded killers. Josh has other things to worry about: a gunfight over a scheming girl named Jenny, the price tag of a banjo-and a wanted poster with his face on it! But if the law wants Joshua Love, they’re gonna have to get to him before the Amarillas, who now want him dead.


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Taken
By Michael J. Totten 

 

From prize-winning author and award-winning journalist Michael J. Totten comes TAKEN:

A writer is ripped from his home and hauled bound and gagged to a remote house in the wilderness.

Four ruthless captors with overseas ties and a plan here at home–the frighteningly rational leader of a homegrown Al Qaeda terrorist cell; a torturer who learned his trade in the dungeons of Egypt; and two henchmen, one a grinning sadist who can hardly wait to start cutting.

Taken on a harrowing journey across three states into his very worst nightmare, he faces a terrible choice. Prove himself and join them. Or die.


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Think Like A Publisher
By Dean Wesley Smith 

 

A Step-By-Step Guide to Being an Indie Publisher. Written by Dean Wesley Smith, USA Today Bestselling writer and former publisher of Pulphouse Publishing. Point-by-point, Dean tells you what is needed to start up a publishing house and sell your books both electronically but also to bookstores.

Bestselling author Dean Wesley Smith has written more than ninety popular novels and well over 100 published short stories. His novels include the science fiction novel Laying the Music to Rest and the thriller The Hunted as D.W. Smith. With Kristine Kathryn Rusch, he is the coauthor of The Tenth Planet trilogy and The 10th Kingdom. He writes under many pen names and has also ghosted for a number of top bestselling writers.

Dean has also written books and comics for all three major comic book companies, Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, and has done scripts for Hollywood. One movie was actually made.

Over his career he has also been an editor and publisher, first at Pulphouse Publishing, then for VB Tech Journal, then for Pocket Books.

Currently, he is writing thrillers and mystery novels under another name and working with WMG Publishing to put stories up for sale.


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Five From The Jukebox
By Dean Wesley Smith 

 

Songs often take you back to a memory of a friend or an event. In the Garden Lounge sits a jukebox with the special ability to take a listener physically back to the memory, but only for the length of the song. Included in this collection are five jukebox stories.

“Jukebox Gifts” is the story of a bar owner who wants to give his friends the ultimate Christmas present, no matter what it might mean for him. “Golden Dream” is the story about how one of the characters from “Jukebox Gifts” gets back to the Garden Lounge. “Black Betsy” is a story about the baseball player Shoeless Joe and how the jukebox helped a man who had done something to Shoeless Joe that haunted him for years. And “Our Slaying Song Tonight” is a story of the murder of a previous Garden Lounge owner. “Ghosts of the Garden Lounge,” a moving story about a couple who used to be regulars in the bar, but were murdered, anchors the collection.


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The Sasquatch Sheriff of Sorcerer’s Gulch
By Rebecca Lickiss 

 

Mark Ohath is the sheriff of Sorcerer’s Gulch, but the townspeople don’t know his secret, that he is also a shape-shifting sasquatch. Assisted by his centaur deputy, Ed-Ray, he has to keep the streets clear, the wizards from shooting up the town, the dragon trains rolling, and nothing interfering with the business of the various magical and ordinary people that inhabit Sorcerer’s Gulch.

When the dragon train master kicks a woman, sick with an unknown illness, off the train, Mark has problems hiding his true nature as a sasquatch while keeping the peace.


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Snow Angel
By Cedar Sanderson 

 

A short story of a brave mother protecting her family… and making sure her protectors are safe as well. Called “sweet and powerful” by a first reader, this tale will stay with you and have you wondering what you are capable of to keep your family safe.


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Little Red Hood and the Wolf Man
By Cedar Sanderson 

 

A short story retelling the classic tale, where little Red Riding Hood carries a shotgun and the Wolf may not be all bad. It is Grandmother, or as she is known in her native Russian, Babushka, who has the biggest secret of them all



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The Smelly Planet
By Guy Tellefsen 

 

The Smelly Planet takes place in the colony of New Southampton in 2066, eleven months after the town’s founding. The story is narrated by easygoing, sociopathic Physical Plant manager Chuck Strickland, and features many classic sci-fi elements, such as aliens, robots, and printers.


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Blood Guardians (Blood Guardians #1)
By Heidi Willard 

 

They are untouched by time, and ravaged only by silver, sun, and decapitation. One such creature finds himself in a small, dusty town in Ohio in 1837. There the Blood Moon, an ancient force spoken only in legends, forces him to take an unwilling young woman as his eternal companion.


To submit to Book Plug Friday, send an email to book.plug.friday@gmail.com for guidelines. (Hint: Authors name, book title, a short blurb, and a LINK TO AMAZON FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.)

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