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The Top 10 Gods of the Pop Culture Pantheon

Sunday, July 27th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Whether you’re seeking salvation or inner peace, a god to worship or add to your home-made altar, the pop culture pantheon is at your disposal so that you may pick and choose the gods and tools of worship to service your every emotional, spiritual, and even material need.

10. Harry Potter

When they aren’t re-reading their holy texts, Potterheads commune at MuggleNet to chat about their god, study their faith and perform the usual acts of tithing. According to the Facebook page “Being a POTTERHEAD” (which is classified as a non-profit organization),

Harry Potter has reached out to 200 countries, spoke out in 69 languages, and has touched the lives of 400 million people. It is the phenomenon that ignores race, age, gender and religion and has brought us all together despite our differences.

Also known as Potterholics, Potterites and Pottermaniacs, Potterheads should never be confused with potheads as their allegiance is strictly Wizard, not weed.

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The Sun Strikes The Sculptures At the Federal Trade Commission Building

Saturday, July 26th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine
April 18, 2007

The building was constructed with some style but the best part are the two sculpture groups “Man Controlling Trade.” –
Mark Baird

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. Revised goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union. Completed July 25, 2014 but you can still send in your great photos to be featured.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

 

Completed United States Sunrise Collection

Alabama

Great Colors In the Alabama Sky At Sunrise in Cullman

Alaska

The Sun Rises Over a Town in the Alaskan Mountains

Arizona

A Very Cool Sunrise in Arizona This Morning…

An Encouraging Sunrise While Driving in Arizona

Arkansas

3 Invigorating Sunrise Shots From the Shores of the Arkansas River

California

A Bright Sunrise Over San Francisco Bay

Another Superb Sunrise Over Silicon Valley

The Sun Rises Over the Fog In Silicon Valley

A Huge, Colorful Sunrise over San Francisco

A Good Morning Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

The Sunrise Illuminates The Path By the Beach In Cambria, California

The Last Socal Sunrise of 2013

3 California Sunrises – San Diego – Santa Cruz – San Francisco

These 3 Photos Fail to Do Justice For This Morning’s Southern California Sunrise

Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple

A Subtle Sunrise From The San Fernando Valley This Morning

A Colorful Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

A Golden Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

Today’s San Fernando Valley Sunrise

3 Shots of the San Fernando Valley Sunrise This Morning

The Sun Rises Over San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Colorado

Stunning Shots of Sunlight Escape the Clouds In Roxborough Park

A Purple, Pink, and Gold Colorado Sunrise

Which of These 3 Colorado Sunrises Is the Best?

Garden of the Gods at Dawn

Colorado Sunrise Vodkapundit Style

An Orange Sunrise from Boulder, CO

Connecticut

Sunrise Over the Snow in New England

A Connecticut Church’s Stained Glass Sunrise

Delaware

A Delaware Sunrise That Looks Like Heaven

Florida

What Could Be Better Than Kayaking At Sunrise?

A Bold, Blood Red Sunrise Reflecting On Lake Maitland in Florida

3 Fantastic Photos of Yesterday Morning’s Florida Sunrise Courtesy of Myra Adams

The Sun Rises Over the Sea In Florida

A Heavenly Sunset in Cedar Key, Florida

Sunrise at a Damaged Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

3 Florida Beach Sunrises

Florida Sunset With 3 Dogs (All Sunsets Are Better With Dogs)

Don’t Miss This Breathtaking Sunrise Shot From a Kayak On Lake Minnehaha

Georgia

Many Colors Over The Sky In Yesterday’s Sunrise Over Atlanta, Georgia

How the Sun Starts the Day in Covington, GA

Another Beautiful North Georgia Sunrise

Hawaii

Sunrise Dances Across The Clouds in Maui

Idaho

Beautiful Clouds As the Sun Rises In the Idaho Hills

Sunrise On the Farm in Buhl, Idaho

Illinois

Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday

Indiana

An Indiana Cornfield Sunrise In the Rearview Mirror

Iowa

A Bright Red and Orange Iowa Sunrise

Kansas

An Artsy Kansas Sunrise

Kentucky

An Inspiring Sunrise Over the Ohio River Shot From the Kentucky Side

Louisiana

A Peaceful Purple Louisiana Sunrise over the Superdome

Maine

2 New England Sunsets

Maryland

A Superb Sunrise Canoeing on the Monocacy River in Maryland

Massachusetts

A Powerful Pink Sunrise From Framingham, MA

Michigan

Detroit Ice Fishing Sunrise

An Ice Fishing Sunrise From North of Detroit to Start Your Weekend

Sunrise on Lake St. Clair, Just Outside Detroit

Minnesota

Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Which Sunrise Is Better?

A Calming Sunrise Over Wolf Lake in Minnesota

Mississippi

An Overwhelming Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Missouri

This Missouri Sunrise On the Plains Is a Gorgeous Photograph

Montana

Sunrise from the Rooftop in Billings, Montana

Nebraska

A Truly Triumphant Sunrise From Nebraska

Nevada

A Hopeful Sunrise In the Nevada Desert

New Hampshire

A New Hampshire Sunrise Shot Through The ‘Glass Wall’

New Jersey

A Great Smile of a Sunrise On the Jersey Shore

New Mexico

Which State Has the Superior Sunrises? 2 From New Mexico Vs 2 From Colorado

New York

A Bright, Colorful New York Sunrise

North Carolina

A Sunrise to Start The Day at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

North Dakota

A Wide Open North Dakota Sunrise on the Farm

Ohio

It’s 3 Below In Newark, Ohio And The Sun Shoots Up Like a Shining Column of Light

‘Flying at 6500′ Msl Over Zanesville, OH in My Cessna 182 Heading South’

What a 17 Degree Ohio Sunset Looks Like

Oklahoma

An Oklahoma Driving Sunrise

Canada Vs Oklahoma Vs Tunisia: Which Sunrise Is Your Favorite Today?

A Wonderful Blue & Orange Sunrise Creeps Over the Oklahoma Grasses

Oregon

Which of These 2 Oregon Sunrises Is More Beautiful?

A Beautifully Composed Portland Oregon Sunrise Photograph

Oregon Vs. Oklahoma: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Pennsylvania

2 Gettysburg Battlefield Sunrises

Rhode Island

A Colorful Rhode Island Sunrise

South Carolina

5 Instagram Sunrises From Around the World

South Dakota

Golden Skies Over South Dakota at Sunrise

Tennessee

Cows At a Colorful Sunrise in Tennessee

Texas

Which of These 4 Texas Sunrise Photos From This Morning Is Your Favorite?

An Optimistic Sunrise Over Dallas

Sunrise From Galveston Island, Texas

Utah

A Utah Camping Sunrise

Vermont

Golden Dancing Clouds in this Tranquil Vermont Sunrise

Virginia

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

Charlottesville, VA: When the Morning Sun Gets Under the Clouds and Lights Them Up

Washington and West Virginia

West Virginia Vs Washington: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Wisconsin

3 Artsy Sunrise Photos From Milwaukee

Wyoming

Wake Up in Wyoming And Start Today With this Bright, Beautiful Sunrise

Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)

What Does a Sunrise Look Like on Mars?

The International Sunset Collection

1. Australia:

The Sun Sets in Sydney, Australia

2. Brazil:

The Sun Sets at a South American Achipelago

2 Very Different Brazilian Sunsets

3. Canada:

6 Sunrises to Start the Last Week of January

4. Cayman Islands:

An Insta-Sunset From the Cayman Islands

5. Chile:

Fire Dances In the Skies As the Sun Sets in the Chilean Mountains

6. Costa Rica:

3 Bright Sunsets From Costa Rica

7. England, 8. France, and 9. Denmark:

3 European Sunrises

10. Finland

Brazil Vs Finland Vs Chile: Which of These Sunsets is Your Favorite?

11. Italy:

An Italian Sunset in Miramare, Trieste

12. Germany:

A Red Sunset in the Woods of Hagen, Germany

This Bright Orange German Sunset Is Like the Conclusion of an Epic Quest

13. Greece:

A Soothing Sunset On the Greek Island of Oia

14. Malaysia:

Sunsets On 3 Continents

15. Maldives:

Tropical Paradise: A Sunset in Maldives

16. Mexico:

Gray Crashes into Gold in This Striking Mexico City Sunset

17. Mozambique:

5 Golden Sunsets From Africa

Orange and Blue in the Mozambique Skies: The Sun Sets Over Nacala

An Absolutely Amazing, Haunting, Spiritual Sunset From Mozambique

2 More Magical Mozambique Sunsets And a Bonus Sunrise

18. Philippines:

A Panglao Island Sunset

19. Russia:

6 Sunrises from Australia to Paris to Russia to America…

20. Sweden:

6 Sunsets to End the Week

21. Thailand:

2 Thailand Sunsets

22. Trinidad:

A Trinidad Sunset Bursts Through Gray Clouds

23. South Africa:

A Waterfront Sunset in South Africa

24. Scotland:

An Astounding Scottish Sunset on the Isle of Mull

25. Serbia:

Purple and Gold in the Skies Over Serbia

26. Spain:

A ‘Naughty Sun’ Tries to Sneak Down the Chimney In Catalonia

27. Wales:

A Beautiful Burst of Sunset at Broughton Bay Yesterday in South Wales

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

27 Sunrises:

5 Sunsets:

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Which Fantasy Stories Most Inspire You to Want to Fight For Freedom?

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email.

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle.

From Page 77:

"Tolkien detested Wagner's neopaganism." - David P. "Spengler" Goldman, page 77 of It's Not the End of th

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A Utah Camping Sunrise

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

Amazing weekend at #boardfest  #utahsunrise #truckcamping #beachfront #wakesurfung #sunrise #maverikgas #bodyglove #supremeboats

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

States that we still need to get: Montana, Vermont

Alabama

Great Colors In the Alabama Sky At Sunrise in Cullman

Alaska

The Sun Rises Over a Town in the Alaskan Mountains

Arizona

A Very Cool Sunrise in Arizona This Morning…

An Encouraging Sunrise While Driving in Arizona

Arkansas

3 Invigorating Sunrise Shots From the Shores of the Arkansas River

California

A Bright Sunrise Over San Francisco Bay

Another Superb Sunrise Over Silicon Valley

The Sun Rises Over the Fog In Silicon Valley

A Huge, Colorful Sunrise over San Francisco

A Good Morning Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

The Sunrise Illuminates The Path By the Beach In Cambria, California

The Last Socal Sunrise of 2013

3 California Sunrises – San Diego – Santa Cruz – San Francisco

These 3 Photos Fail to Do Justice For This Morning’s Southern California Sunrise

Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple

A Subtle Sunrise From The San Fernando Valley This Morning

A Colorful Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

A Golden Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

Today’s San Fernando Valley Sunrise

3 Shots of the San Fernando Valley Sunrise This Morning

The Sun Rises Over San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Colorado

Stunning Shots of Sunlight Escape the Clouds In Roxborough Park

A Purple, Pink, and Gold Colorado Sunrise

Which of These 3 Colorado Sunrises Is the Best?

Garden of the Gods at Dawn

Colorado Sunrise Vodkapundit Style

An Orange Sunrise from Boulder, CO

Connecticut

Sunrise Over the Snow in New England

A Connecticut Church’s Stained Glass Sunrise

Delaware

A Delaware Sunrise That Looks Like Heaven

Florida

What Could Be Better Than Kayaking At Sunrise?

A Bold, Blood Red Sunrise Reflecting On Lake Maitland in Florida

3 Fantastic Photos of Yesterday Morning’s Florida Sunrise Courtesy of Myra Adams

The Sun Rises Over the Sea In Florida

A Heavenly Sunset in Cedar Key, Florida

Sunrise at a Damaged Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

3 Florida Beach Sunrises

Florida Sunset With 3 Dogs (All Sunsets Are Better With Dogs)

Don’t Miss This Breathtaking Sunrise Shot From a Kayak On Lake Minnehaha

Georgia

Many Colors Over The Sky In Yesterday’s Sunrise Over Atlanta, Georgia

How the Sun Starts the Day in Covington, GA

Another Beautiful North Georgia Sunrise

Hawaii

Sunrise Dances Across The Clouds in Maui

Idaho

Beautiful Clouds As the Sun Rises In the Idaho Hills

Sunrise On the Farm in Buhl, Idaho

Illinois

Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday

Indiana

An Indiana Cornfield Sunrise In the Rearview Mirror

Iowa

A Bright Red and Orange Iowa Sunrise

Kansas

An Artsy Kansas Sunrise

Kentucky

An Inspiring Sunrise Over the Ohio River Shot From the Kentucky Side

Louisiana

A Peaceful Purple Louisiana Sunrise over the Superdome 

Maine

2 New England Sunsets

Maryland

A Superb Sunrise Canoeing on the Monocacy River in Maryland

Massachusetts

A Powerful Pink Sunrise From Framingham, MA

Michigan

Detroit Ice Fishing Sunrise

An Ice Fishing Sunrise From North of Detroit to Start Your Weekend

Sunrise on Lake St. Clair, Just Outside Detroit

Minnesota

Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Which Sunrise Is Better?

A Calming Sunrise Over Wolf Lake in Minnesota

Mississippi

An Overwhelming Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Missouri

This Missouri Sunrise On the Plains Is a Gorgeous Photograph

Montana
Nebraska

A Truly Triumphant Sunrise From Nebraska

Nevada

A Hopeful Sunrise In the Nevada Desert

New Hampshire

A New Hampshire Sunrise Shot Through The ‘Glass Wall’

New Jersey
New Mexico

Which State Has the Superior Sunrises? 2 From New Mexico Vs 2 From Colorado

New York
North Carolina

A Sunrise to Start The Day at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

North Dakota
Ohio

It’s 3 Below In Newark, Ohio And The Sun Shoots Up Like a Shining Column of Light

‘Flying at 6500′ Msl Over Zanesville, OH in My Cessna 182 Heading South’

What a 17 Degree Ohio Sunset Looks Like

Oklahoma

An Oklahoma Driving Sunrise

Canada Vs Oklahoma Vs Tunisia: Which Sunrise Is Your Favorite Today?

A Wonderful Blue & Orange Sunrise Creeps Over the Oklahoma Grasses

Oregon

Which of These 2 Oregon Sunrises Is More Beautiful?

A Beautifully Composed Portland Oregon Sunrise Photograph

Oregon Vs. Oklahoma: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Pennsylvania

2 Gettysburg Battlefield Sunrises

Rhode Island

A Colorful Rhode Island Sunrise

South Carolina

5 Instagram Sunrises From Around the World

South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas

Which of These 4 Texas Sunrise Photos From This Morning Is Your Favorite?

An Optimistic Sunrise Over Dallas

Sunrise From Galveston Island, Texas

Utah
Vermont
Virginia

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

Charlottesville, VA: When the Morning Sun Gets Under the Clouds and Lights Them Up

Washington and West Virginia

West Virginia Vs Washington: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Wisconsin

3 Artsy Sunrise Photos From Milwaukee

Wyoming

Wake Up in Wyoming And Start Today With this Bright, Beautiful Sunrise

Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)

What Does a Sunrise Look Like on Mars?

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Deeply Religious Marriages Are Better Than Secularist Civil Unions

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

shutterstock_119848441

Dear Helen,

Thank you so much for your provocative, engaging reply to my post challenging you on the issue of who is ultimately to blame for sexless marriages:

I have a few questions for you, Dave. What if the man does all of the things you suggest such as put her in the mood, goes through all of the rituals etc. you suggest and then ends up with nothing? Then what? The man should then continue in a sexless marriage? Bask in the glow of his “self-control” as he wonders where the sex went? According to you, he alone (the loser!) is to blame. It takes two to tango, if you blame him alone for their lack of sex, you see women as having no responsibility and no agency in sex. Isn’t this a little sexist?

In framing the question this way, you’re kind of understating the degree of our disagreement. What I advocate for in my post goes far deeper than just rituals and more foreplay. I put the philosophy embedded in Shmuley Boteach’s three books on Jewish mysticism and Biblical marriage on the table. It’s not that this is just some magic trick that will result in more sex, it’s that I’m advocating that both husband and wife together choose to embrace a religious attitude toward sex and marriage instead of being secularists.

A sexless marriage is not an actual problem — it’s just one outward symptom of a deeper disease. In focusing on fixing sexlessness in a marriage we miss the source of what’s driving it. In any marriage — apart from where physical illness prevents partners from performing — when either husband or wife all of a sudden isn’t interested in sex the reason is so obvious and simple it seems silly to point it out: something else exists that is more important to them than their marriage. They have found a new idol and their devotion to it will destroy their lives as a result. They are engaged in self-sacrifice in service to their new deity.

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An Old Couple Reminisces On Falling In Love…

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

 

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The 10 Most Underrated Destinations in the Midwest

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014 - by Ari J. Kaufman

cincy

10. Cincinnati, OH

Cincinnati may be in the Buckeye State, but its southwestern corner placement often keeps the worst of brutal winters away and instead offers hills, history and much else. The Queen City is home to numerous universities and museums, baseball’s oldest team, great architecture, a vast riverfront overlooking the Kentucky Commonwealth and, of course, Skyline Chili. 

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12 Signs You’ve Sought Redemption Through the Religion of Pop

Sunday, July 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

Pop culture has become as much of a religious powerhouse as Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism or any other faith. Don’t believe me? Sit in a college classroom. Better yet, attend a fan convention or simply rent the film Trekkies. Films, shows, bands, comic books and their like have become, for some, sources of spiritual nourishment. Do you feel the power?

12. What was once DVR-able is now weekly appointment television.

“Appointment TV” doesn’t begin to describe your weekly ritual. All pressing engagements are pushed aside, phones are silenced, and ritual food is laid out on the coffee table to be partaken in as the ceremony commences. You still DVR the show for good measure, being sure to re-watch at least once, if not multiple times in deep study so that you may discuss the meanings of both text and subtext with fellow fans.

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Back When Cartoons Taught the Miraculous Power of Prayer…

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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10 Ways ’90s Pop Culture Destroyed the American Male

Monday, July 14th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. If guys didn’t look like heroin-addicted street dwellers…

Before committing suicide, musician Kurt Cobain copyrighted the grunge look that came to define Gen-X/millennial crossovers in the ’90s. A reaction to the preppie style made famous by ’80s yuppies, grunge involved a level of disheveled that transcended even the dirtiest of ’60s hippie looks. Grunge trademarks included wrinkled, untucked clothing complemented by greasy, knotted hair and an expression best defined as heroin chic. The style depicted an “I don’t care” attitude that took punk’s anti-authoritarian attitude to a darker, more disengaged level. Grunge became the look of resigned defeat among American males.

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Why the Freed Tiger Sings

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

FREEDOM!

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

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

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

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

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

I learned this lesson in 2003.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oh, that’s right, Amazon does.

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

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

Ah!  Fooled you, did they?

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

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

Oh, yes, here it is:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Hunter’s Home
By Ellie Ferguson

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

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

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


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Vengeance from Ashes
By Sam Schall

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

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

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


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Chosen of Azara
By Kyra Halland

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

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

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

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


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Wings
By Sarah A Hoyt

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

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


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Witchfinder (Magical Empires)
By Sarah A. Hoyt

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


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Elizabeth of Vindobona: Book Three in the Colplatschki Chronicles
By Alma T.C. Boykin

All’s unfair in love and politics.

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

Fortune favors the bold—but gunpowder settles everything.


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The Grave Artist
By Paula Lynn Johnson

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Cold Trap
By Jon Waskan

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


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What the Deaf Mute Heard
By G.D. Gearino

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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The Mystery of the Dying Woman
By Paul Leone

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


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Trail of Second Chances
By Paul Duffau

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

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What Is the Coen Brothers’ Best Movie?

Friday, July 11th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. 

And 3 Bonus questions:

1. Is Anton Chigurh the Coens’ scariest villain?

2. Where does Miller’s Crossing rank in their filmography?

3. Is Big Lebowski the Coens’ supreme comic achievement or does one of their other films bring you more laughs?

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Reality TV’s 10 Biggest Lies About America

Sunday, July 6th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. Americans are all obese.

From the messy buildup in the fat folds of Mama June’s neck (affectionately known to her children as “neck crud”) to Honey’s proclivity for bathing in mayonnaise, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo embodies the myth that everyone in America weighs a minimum of 300 pounds. One of the best episodes involves Mama June dumping a 5 pound bag of sugar into 2 gallons of lemon juice in order to make homemade lemonade. For the record, 64% of Americans are not obese. But with shows like HHere Comes Honey Boo Boo, The Biggest Loser, Extreme Weight Loss, Shedding for the Wedding, Thintervention, Dance Your A** Off, Celebrity Fit Club, I Used To Be Fat, and Ruby, we’re just a bunch of big, fat Americans.

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Is Wolf of Wall Street One of Martin Scorsese’s Worst Films?

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Pop Culture Debates!

Is the Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese's most decadent celebration of evil? #movies #culture #crime #evil

In partnership with the new fiction publishing platform Liberty Island, PJ Lifestyle is going to begin promoting and co-hosting a series of debates and discussions about popular culture. The goal is to figure out what works and what doesn’t so that in the future we can promote and create better fiction and culture of our own. These are public brainstorming sessions for writers and culture advocates interested in developing a more vibrant popular culture. You’re invited to submit your answers to any of these questions — or a related one of your own! — that interests you:

A) in the comments

B) Via email to PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle.

C) at your blog, then let us know in the comments or via email. 

The most interesting answers may be linked, cross-posted, or published at PJ Lifestyle. For this week’s debates we’re going to focus on crime in fiction. Monday’s discussion: “What Is the Most Shocking Crime Drama on TV Today?

Read bullet | Comments »

These 4 Incredible Capitol Photos Taken Over 43 Minutes Show the Colors of the Sunrise

Sunday, June 29th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

6:03 AM

I am sure you can tell by the photos we have shared that I have watched and enjoyed a lot of sunrises. Most of them (even the spectacular ones) are pretty much a one color event.  Once in a great while there is a full spectrum of colors in a sunrise. This one for instance. While sitting there enjoying it I was just about jumping out of my shoes knowing what a rare thing I was seeing (and in amazement that I had the whole place to myself). Mark Baird BTW the red image at 6:36am is actually the first photo I shared with you.

I am sure you can tell by the photos we have shared that I have watched and enjoyed a lot of sunrises. Most of them (even the spectacular ones) are pretty much a one color event.
Once in a great while there is a full spectrum of colors in a sunrise. This one for instance. While sitting there enjoying it I was just about jumping out of my shoes knowing what a rare thing I was seeing (and in amazement that I had the whole place to myself).
Mark Baird
BTW the red image at 6:36am is actually the first photo I shared with you.

6:20

6 20 am

6:36

6 36 am

6:46

6 46 am

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

The Washington D.C. Collection So Far:

23 Sunrises:

5 Sunsets:

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Canada Vs Oklahoma Vs Tunisia: Which Sunrise Is Your Favorite Today?

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Sunshine

Canada

I love Canadian's mornings! #sunrise #goodmorningworld

Oklahoma

#sunrise

Tunisia

#tunisie #tunisia#sun#sunrise

Since December of 2013 PJ Lifestyle has been collecting sunrise and sunset photos from contributors, readers, and Instagram. Now we’re going to begin an effort to organize the ongoing collection. New goals:

1. Collect a sunrise from every state in the union.

2. Collect a sunset from as many countries around the world as possible.

3. After getting all 50 states’ sunrises then switch to collecting their sunsets and begin the global sunrises collection.

Updated April 2014: 4. The extraordinary submissions of Mark Baird have inspired a new collection of photographs devoted specifically to our nation’s capital. We’re going to try and organize fantastic sunrise and sunset photos from all the different monuments and scenic views.

States that we still need to get: Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wyoming

Alabama

Great Colors In the Alabama Sky At Sunrise in Cullman

Alaska

The Sun Rises Over a Town in the Alaskan Mountains

Arizona

A Very Cool Sunrise in Arizona This Morning…

An Encouraging Sunrise While Driving in Arizona

Arkansas

3 Invigorating Sunrise Shots From the Shores of the Arkansas River

California

A Bright Sunrise Over San Francisco Bay

Another Superb Sunrise Over Silicon Valley

The Sun Rises Over the Fog In Silicon Valley

A Huge, Colorful Sunrise over San Francisco

A Good Morning Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

The Sunrise Illuminates The Path By the Beach In Cambria, California

The Last Socal Sunrise of 2013

3 California Sunrises – San Diego – Santa Cruz – San Francisco

These 3 Photos Fail to Do Justice For This Morning’s Southern California Sunrise

Beverly Hills: A California Sunrise in Memory of Shirley Temple

A Subtle Sunrise From The San Fernando Valley This Morning

A Colorful Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

A Golden Sunrise From the San Fernando Valley

Today’s San Fernando Valley Sunrise

3 Shots of the San Fernando Valley Sunrise This Morning

The Sun Rises Over San Diego’s Working Waterfront

Colorado

Stunning Shots of Sunlight Escape the Clouds In Roxborough Park

A Purple, Pink, and Gold Colorado Sunrise

Which of These 3 Colorado Sunrises Is the Best?

Garden of the Gods at Dawn

Colorado Sunrise Vodkapundit Style

An Orange Sunrise from Boulder, CO

Connecticut

Sunrise Over the Snow in New England

A Connecticut Church’s Stained Glass Sunrise

Delaware
Florida

What Could Be Better Than Kayaking At Sunrise?

A Bold, Blood Red Sunrise Reflecting On Lake Maitland in Florida

3 Fantastic Photos of Yesterday Morning’s Florida Sunrise Courtesy of Myra Adams

The Sun Rises Over the Sea In Florida

A Heavenly Sunset in Cedar Key, Florida

Sunrise at a Damaged Honeymoon Cottage in Cedar Key, Florida

3 Florida Beach Sunrises

Florida Sunset With 3 Dogs (All Sunsets Are Better With Dogs)

Don’t Miss This Breathtaking Sunrise Shot From a Kayak On Lake Minnehaha

Georgia

Many Colors Over The Sky In Yesterday’s Sunrise Over Atlanta, Georgia

How the Sun Starts the Day in Covington, GA

Another Beautiful North Georgia Sunrise

Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois

Chicago: 7 Sunrises to Start Your Sunday

Indiana
Iowa
Kansas

An Artsy Kansas Sunrise

Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine

2 New England Sunsets

Maryland

A Superb Sunrise Canoeing on the Monocacy River in Maryland

Massachusetts

A Powerful Pink Sunrise From Framingham, MA

Michigan

Detroit Ice Fishing Sunrise

An Ice Fishing Sunrise From North of Detroit to Start Your Weekend

Sunrise on Lake St. Clair, Just Outside Detroit

Minnesota

Michigan Vs. Minnesota: Which Sunrise Is Better?

A Calming Sunrise Over Wolf Lake in Minnesota

Mississippi

An Overwhelming Sunrise on the Mississippi River

Missouri
Montana
Nebraska

A Truly Triumphant Sunrise From Nebraska

Nevada
New Hampshire

A New Hampshire Sunrise Shot Through The ‘Glass Wall’

New Jersey
New Mexico

Which State Has the Superior Sunrises? 2 From New Mexico Vs 2 From Colorado

New York
North Carolina

A Sunrise to Start The Day at Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina

North Dakota
Ohio

It’s 3 Below In Newark, Ohio And The Sun Shoots Up Like a Shining Column of Light

‘Flying at 6500′ Msl Over Zanesville, OH in My Cessna 182 Heading South’

What a 17 Degree Ohio Sunset Looks Like

Oklahoma

A Wonderful Blue & Orange Sunrise Creeps Over the Oklahoma Grasses

Oregon

Which of These 2 Oregon Sunrises Is More Beautiful?

A Beautifully Composed Portland Oregon Sunrise Photograph

Oregon Vs. Oklahoma: Which Sunrise Do You Like More?

Pennsylvania

2 Gettysburg Battlefield Sunrises

Rhode Island

A Colorful Rhode Island Sunrise

South Carolina

5 Instagram Sunrises From Around the World

South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas

Which of These 4 Texas Sunrise Photos From This Morning Is Your Favorite?

An Optimistic Sunrise Over Dallas

Sunrise From Galveston Island, Texas

Utah
Vermont
Virginia

Sunrise Over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia

Charlottesville, VA: When the Morning Sun Gets Under the Clouds and Lights Them Up

Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin

3 Artsy Sunrise Photos From Milwaukee

Wyoming

Mars (which we might as well go ahead and start counting as an American state now)

What Does a Sunrise Look Like on Mars?

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A Mainstream Publisher May Not Be Your Friend

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

mrpotter

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

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

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

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

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


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The Hurricane Sisters: A Novel
By Dorothea Benton Frank 

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

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

[Shortened....]

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t you wonder why?


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Golf Cart Blues
By Walt Pimbley 

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

FREE on Kindle for a few days!


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Master Minds
By Edited by Juliana Rew 

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


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In Treachery Forged
By David A. Tatum 

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

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

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

And then he learns about the dragons….


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Urdaisunia
By Kyra Halland 

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

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

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

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


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

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


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Fate and Fair Winds
By Dory Codington 

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

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

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


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Self-Publishing With Burning Slug
By Anthony W. Hursh 

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


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Scout’s Honor
By Henry Vogel 

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


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Dark Invasion
By Mark Whittington 

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

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


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War To the Knife
By Peter Grant 

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

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

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

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In the Ashes: A War Screenplay

Thursday, June 26th, 2014 - by Liberty Island

HELLOMOTO

Editor’s Note: This is the twenty fourth in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first 22 can be read in this collection here, yesterday’s 23rd here, and an index of 8 newly-released stories can be found here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” 

Most importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

My father has always been a reader.  To this day my mother implores me to take some of his books home with me when I visit because there are just too damn many in her house.  I grew up with his ever increasing library in the room right next to mine and started reading Heinlein, Asimov, and Tolkien among others. I grew into Stephen King – my father was never a fan – then grew out of him again. The older I got the more I started reading non-fiction and became something of a military history buff. George Lucas made me love the movies.  Harold Ramis and Bill Murray kept me coming back. Oliver Stone helped me to realize movies can lie to us.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

I grew up thinking I was a Ronald Reagan conservative, but I’m now more of a Penn Jillette Libertarian.  It’s much easier to label what I’m not, and that’s a statist or progressive of any kind.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

My formative years were spent listening to my father’s endless political arguments with friends at the dinner table. Rush Limbaugh then showed me how the newspapers can report facts and still get the story completely wrong. George Will’s intellect has always frightened and amazed me.Lately I’ve re-discovered Milton Friedman.  I listen to Russ Roberts’ podcast every week and read James Taranto and Jonah Goldberg when I can.

4.  What are your writing goals?

I want to tell a good story and write authentic characters that people care about.  If I can get that right I’m pretty sure everything else will fall into place.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

@realtomweiss on Twitter. Because, you know, there are a lot of fake me’s floating around.

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I used to play chess competitively until I found another game of skill, poker. I’d like to win a World Series of Poker bracelet one day.

An excerpt from the script “In the Ashes“:

FADE IN:

 

INT. GARAGE – NIGHT

 

TWO IRAQI MEN, early 30s, dressed in begrimed coveralls and work boots, tinker with a nondescript white 4-door sedan.

 

The garage door is shut, its interior lit harshly by bare bulbs and portable lights shining where the men are working.

 

MUSTACHE MAN, sporting a thick full growth obscuring his upper lip, is at the driver’s side door. 9-FINGER MAN, missing his left index finger and sporting a few nasty scars on both hands, works on the trunk.

 

These men are constructing a moving bomb. Concealing explosives in the car’s interior.

 

UTHMAN, 40, jet black hair slicked back and wearing a dress shirt and slacks, smokes a cigarette on a stool next to a clean, organized workbench. He pays the men no mind.

 

INT. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSROOM – MORNING

 

MAJOR MARK THOMAS stands in front of the whiteboard, a Google Earth shot of Baghdad projected on the screen next to him.

 

Mid-30s, he is over six feet tall and casts an impressive shadow in his military uniform, his head shiny from a fresh crew-cut.

 

Animated, he enjoys talking to the thirty high-school kids in front of him.

 

MAJ THOMAS

It looks like we’re running out of time. Let me take one more question.

 

A PRETTY GIRL in the third row raises her hand and MAJ THOMAS calls on her.

 

PRETTY GIRL

So after this…surge or whatever, is over with, everyone can come home, right? We’ve been over there for years…

 

MAJ THOMAS

Counterinsurgency takes a long time.

 

PRETTY GIRL

Since I was in junior high.

 

MAJ THOMAS

But the thing to understand is that the only way for us to lose is to quit.

 

PRETTY GIRL

But why are we there in the first place?

 

MAJ THOMAS

As long as we commit ourselves to helping the Iraqi people stand on their own two feed, they’ll have a bright future.

 

MRS. WILLETTE, mid-50s and looking every bit like she’s been a high school social studies teacher for 30 years, stands up from behind her desk.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Let’s give the Major a warm round of applause.

 

Polite applause, interrupted by the bell.

 

Mrs. Willette offers her hand to MAJ THOMAS as the students file out of the room.

 

REBECCA THOMAS, mid-30s, dark brown hair framing soft features, weaves through the students to join them.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Thank you for coming in today.

 

MAJ THOMAS

I used to love it when you’d bring in a guest speaker. No homework.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

And thank you for making me feel old. When do you head back?

 

MAJ THOMAS

Tomorrow.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

And how much longer will you be in Baghdad?

 

MAJ THOMAS

A twelve month tour turned into fifteen with the surge, and I have eight left.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Be careful, please. We’re praying for you.

 

MAJ THOMAS

Thank you Mrs. Willette.

 

MAJ Thomas slides an arm around Rebecca.

 

MAJ THOMAS

We’re going to run. Lots to do before I leave.

 

MRS. WILLETTE

Be safe.

 

Smiling, Mrs. Willette watches the pair out of the room.

Continue reading at Liberty Island

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The Road Might Be His Best Work, But My Favorite is No Country for Old Men.

Monday, June 23rd, 2014 - by Liberty Island

Editor’s Note: This is the twenty-third in a series of interviews and story excerpts spotlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island. The first 22 can be read in this collection here and an index of 8 newly-released stories can be found here. Please check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow here to learn more: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” 

Most importantly, support Liberty Island’s crowd-funding efforts here where you can pre-order the upcoming novels and learn about other incentives.

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1. Who are some of your favorite writers, books, movies, and intellectual influences?

I’m a terrible fiction reader. Been that way since I can remember reading anything more advanced than Hop on Pop. The first book I ever read cover-to-cover (without being forced to by a teacher) was The Ox Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark. I think I was 10 or so then, and I struggled to read anything larger than a novella until I discovered Cormac McCarthy’s work. The Road might be his best work, but my favorite is No Country for Old Men. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, my favorite movie is No Country for Old Men. I tend to love everything the Coens make, however. I’m also a fan of Hemingway, and my favorite Hemingway work is his first, The Sun Also Rises.

As for intellectual influences? That whole crew of modernist writers who hung out in Europe in the early 20th Century came up with some wonderfully pretentious and snobbish ideas that provide me with an objective while writing. Hemingway, Pound, and Joyce, namely. I don’t look to them for political advice, but their explorations of syllabic rhythms and imagism have had profound impacts on my writing goals.

2. How do you describe yourself ideologically?

If I had to check a box, I’d go with “Classically Liberal.” In that sense and that sense alone I am currently “conservative.” I value the rights of the individual with highest regard. Without free individuals you cannot have a free society. And, to me, freedom is as simple as: “My freedom ends where yours begins, and your freedom ends where mine begins.” None of this “freedom from; or freedom to” dialectical nonsense. I generally use another word for “nonsense” there, but I’m trying to be good. Anyway, through individual sovereignty and mutualism we shall succeed. That’s the idealist side, anyway.

3. Which thinkers/commentators have influenced you?

Commentators? Like John Madden? Personally, I think the Mike Tirico / Jon Gruden duo is fantastic on Monday Night Football. Absolutely wonderful. Other “commentators” – especially political pundits – get on my nerves.

Thinkers? Well, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson are two that greatly influenced my political views. Eric Hoffer, with his book, The True Believer, has had a profound impact on my views of society, and Karl Popper is continuing to wreak havoc in my mind as I work through his two-volume epic, The Open Society and its Enemies. Popper’s philosophical contributions to science are excellent. There are also countless others who are not public personas. Well, I can count them, but I don’t know if they’d appreciate the name-dropping.

4. What are your writing goals?

To be better than my heroes. I don’t want to sell a million formulaic books with the same bones and different skin. If I sell a million books one day, that would be cool and all, but I’d feel unfulfilled if there wasn’t at least one amongst the lot that stood out as something beautiful and moving. I know how stupid it sounds, but it’s genuine. I want to write something that’s experiential – something that leaves imprints and images in the minds of readers – something that, after they put the book down and walk away, reverberates through their thoughts as if what they had just read was real. Those modernist snobs talked a little about a fifth dimension. No one really knows what that is. To me, it’s leaving an imprint on a reader that forms as a lasting memory and feels as real as something that had actually happened to them in reality in a really real way that really happened… but didn’t.

5. Where can people find/follow you online?

My books are on Amazon, and I keep a little presence (mostly poetry or short stories) on the web with my blog at

http://www.erichforschler.wordpress.com/.

I also have an author page on facebook: www.facebook.com/Erich.Forschler

6. What’s your craziest hobby/pastime/interest?

I like a lot of things, and not many of them are very “crazy.” I like random acts of kindness. Cliché, sure, but it only seems that way because I am omitting the nuance. I’ll put it this way, I like to observe my environment – sit back and watch people be. Watch them do. And there are times in life where others are in need of help – these are the “no brainers.” How often do we keep driving past the folks in the car on the side of the road? It’s not always easy to tell whether they need help or not. No, I don’t always stop either. That’s an example. Other times, random acts of kindness evince themselves after observing people in otherwise normal situations. A good group of youngsters working at the local Subway restaurant. They get along, are happy in their current time and space. Maybe a random act of kindness is as simple as dropping a $20 bill in the tip jar. Split three or four ways it barely buys them a gallon of gasoline, but how often does anyone tip those kids, and let alone to the tune of 20 bucks. Little things like that. And I’ve got a soft spot for wildlife in the road: turtles and stray dogs especially, and there was even one time when a Brown Thrasher had survived hitting a car. That little guy got a ride to the local veterinary hospital. They probably put him down, but… ya know.

Yes, I am that boring.

If I could live on the beach I would. Literally on the sand like that. Exposed. But eventually I think the wife and kids would complain about not having anywhere to put their shoes or whatever, so that wouldn’t work.

But I’d do it if I could.

An Excerpt from “Coyote Skull” at Liberty Island:

The tree trunks made black lines from where they broke the white snow and rose until the frozen needles met in one dark mass. High above, the moon held bright and full. The treetops, sealed in ice, glinted bluish white. A wind came then, carrying a distant yelp that spread and sank away in the renewed quiet.

The first shadow broke the silence, sprinting on four blurred legs and wheezing smoky breath with each push. Plumes of white followed as it sprinted past. The others pursued, their silhouetted muzzles catching the hanging plumes of white in the air. Shadows chasing shadows in the harlequin calm.

The pursued grew shorter strokes with longer wheezes. He turned at a gentle rise in the tree line and made for the stream on the other side. The pursuers gained ground with each lunge. They hacked the air with white teeth and crunched the snow in rhythm.

The stream gurgled in hidden seams between ice and rocks now covered in a blanket of exposed white. The moon held high above. When the shadow reached the stream its legs gave out and the head turned as the hips sank down. He pushed the back end up with another wheeze. The pursuers slowed and split apart, still hacking smoke as they surrounded the first.

 

They came at him separately. One to distract. Another to attack from behind. Again and again. He spun in the snow and snapped at them each time, and each time he was too late. He began to spin faster, snapping where there was nothing but empty dark. Chasing his own plumes of snow.

They backed him across the stream to the edge of the plain with snarls and flashing teeth. But when he broke off in a hobbled sprint they left him, offering only a momentary trot in pursuit before halting. Long faces hacking the air. A shadow alone across a smooth plain of white. The others lingered a while at the edge of the open land, pacing, sniffing, and marking the line.

*

Old Mr. Hall stood in his old buckskin coat with one arm hooked on the edge of his wagon and the other at his waist, holding his once-white Stetson, and stared down the snow-muddied road in the center of town. The Habersham boys stomped down the steps and hoisted the last two bags of feed up and over the edge. The heavy bags thumped into the small wooden wagon and bounced it out from under the old man’s arm. He shrank away from it and gave it a surprised look.

“You all right, Mister Hall?” asked Fred.

“Bad as ever,” the old man said with a wink.

“Well, that’s the last one,” Jack said, wiping his hands.

“I do appreciate it,” Hall said. He reached out and shook the boys’ hands. They said “Yessir” and then went back up the steps and inside. Their father stood on the porch and shook in the cold.

“Well, anyhow,” he said, “I still wish you would change your mind.”

Hall rolled his bony shoulders forward underneath the thick buckskin coat as he nodded his head. Then he looked down and patted his thigh with the hat.

Habersham smiled. “I know, I know–but…” He watched Hall and waited for him to say it.

“But I been here long before anybody else come around and whatnot.”

Habersham shivered and nodded and went on smiling. Then he took a deep breath and said, “Now I won’t impugn a man on account of his stubbornness lest I become the stubborn one myself…”

“But,” the old man said.

“But I’ll let it lie so long as I know you know you’re welcome to our empty bed upstairs.”

“Well I know it and appreciate it all the same.”

“All this with them Sioux and the Federals now. Don’t know how you can catch a wink out there, all alone like you are.”

“I get by.” Hall gave him a smile and topped his gray head with the dirty Stetson.

Habersham hugged himself and came down a step. “What I hear is that war parties are moving all over, and they don’t rightly take the time to ask if you’re a good white man or a bad one. Starting to believe all the stories about savages now. And maybe we brought it out of ‘em. I can’t say. Sometimes I wish I’d never come this far.”

Savages, he said. The old man was staring down the road.

“Been a long time,” Hall growled to himself, remembering.

He had peered through the opened window facing the creek. There along the bank were over thirty of them, painted up and walking their horses and casting long shadows in the fading sunlight. They let the horses stop and drink here and there as they mingled in the copse. One of them stayed on his horse holding a rifle across his lap. He watched the cabin. The whole party came closer, passing behind him.

Hall ducked down and eyed the Spencer rifle on the opposite wall. After about a minute of sitting there on the floor the old man stood and removed his hat. “No, they don’t want a fight,” he mumbled to himself. He dropped the hat on the bed and went to the door.

The old man opened the door and took one step out onto the porch, showing the palms of his hands. The middle of the pack walked directly in front of the cabin now, moving along the creek while the horses drank. All of them turned and stopped when he stepped out, and there they stood and stared. Then the one on his horse came by, closer than the rest, and gave the old man a long glare. They kept eye contact while the old white man walked forward to the porch steps and lowered himself down to a sit.

Hall turned his shoulders and swept one hand across his body and toward the door. “You hungry?” he asked in English.

The rider shook his head.

“Been a long time.”

The rider gave a nod. He looked away at the rest and watched them pass for a minute. A breeze came through the valley and rustled the leaves and needles on the trees that lined the creek.

“Winter’s about on us,” Hall said.

The rider looked at him and then down at the ground. Then he pointed his rifle at the ground beside him. “S’unkmanitu,” he said before he lifted his hands and looked up. “Iktomi.” Hall shook his head. He was still sitting there on the step long after they were gone

“Mr. Hall?” Habersham was saying.

“Oh?” he replied, shaking his head and waving a hand. “I was just thinking.”

“You all right?”

“Oh,” Hall started to say. Then he stopped himself, smiled and put his hand out. “Well, I do appreciate it.”

“And I appreciate your business.”

Hall pulled himself up to the seat and gathered the reins. The thick brown horse with graying eyebrows snorted and worked its jaw. “Oh hush,” Hall said. Then he gave Habersham a look and said, “Savages or not, they’ve never done me wrong. And I probably gave them plenty to hate me for over the years. But they don’t.”

“I know. I didn’t mean to offend–”

The old man waved a hand and shook his head.

Habersham nodded. “But it ain’t how it was before. Won’t ever be the same now.”

Hall gave a quick nod and looked down the muddy road. “Well, I better get back then.” He gave the reins a snap and said, “Come on, Old Brute!” and then rode off through the rutted, muddy street between the small collection of wooden buildings on his way out over the plain and eventually back to the cabin by the creek.

Continue reading at Liberty Island

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The 10 Most Underrated TV Comedies of All Time

Friday, June 20th, 2014 - by Susan L.M. Goldberg

10. Sullivan and Son

This working class comedy executive-produced by Vince Vaughn and Peter Billingsley is fraught with all the non-PC ethnic and sexual humor you’d hear in a working class, Irish-Korean, middle-American bar like the one in the show. Created by Korean American actor/comedian Steve Byrne and Cheers writer Rob Long, the TBS sitcom reminds you that some jokes are still OK to crack. The stellar cast features Dan Lauria (The Wonder Years) and comic genius Brian Doyle-Murray, along with Christine Ebersole and Owen Benjamin, who portray the drop-dead hysterical mother-son dependent duo Carol and Owen Walsh. 

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NSFW: Artist’s Wonderful Spoof of Modern Art Gets Her in Trouble

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 - by Andrew Klavan

British artist and comedian Miriam Elia is in trouble with Penguin Books after publishing an explicit — but absolutely dead on and hilarious — spoof of modern art in the form of a Penguin’s children’s Ladybird book. Elia says Penguin’s been kind about it and has tried to negotiate but has to keep its trademark rights. I do understand that and I’m not blaming them, but it’s really too bad because the thing is great. It’s called We Go To The Gallery, and has little Peter and Jane being taken to someplace like the Tate Gallery by Mummy to learn all about modern art and its vision of the world.  Here are a couple of panels – as I say, Not Suitable For Work:

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5 Suggestions to Make Soccer More Palatable for American Audiences

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

There are legions of soccer haters in America, including some on this site. As I’ve said in the past, there’s nothing wrong with this. Many soccer haters know the game as well as I do and still can’t stand it. Others don’t know the game at all and hate it, which is illogical. Either way, the haters have their reasons and who am I to try and convince them otherwise?

I hate to be the bearer of bad news for the haters, but the World Cup has actually generated some interest in soccer. The ESPN broadcast of the U.S.-Ghana match drew a 7 share overnight, or 8 million viewers. By contrast, a usual broadcast of Monday Night Football draws an 8.6 share, or 9.3 million viewers. Somebody out there in America likes soccer and loves the World Cup.

But it is my belief that a few rule changes would go a long way to getting even more Americans interested in the game. Hopefully, these suggestions wouldn’t alter the character of the game, but simply make it more accessible to American audiences.

1. Injury, or “stoppage” time

The timekeeping problem in soccer is incomprehensible. Are the officials too stupid to keep accurate time? Why not stop the clock for an injury instead of adding on an indeterminate amount of time at the end of the half? (They’re rarely close to being right.) Why can’t they stop the clock after a goal is scored, or when there are long periods of time wasted on arguments with the officials? They rarely stop the clock, except in the case of very serious injuries.

There is nothing exact about timekeeping in a soccer match which is ridiculous in the 21st century. Either keep time or don’t. Add an official timekeeper as they have in football, basketball, and hockey. The ref can control when the clock is stopped and when it starts again. None of this nonsensical, subjective, inaccurate guessing about how much time was lost during a half.

No injury time. No stoppage time. Just 90 minutes of action. Isn’t that what they’re after in the first place?

2. A lack of precision on ball placement and out of bounds plays

How often do you see a foul called and, instead of the player placing the ball exactly where the foul occurred, he advances it 5 or 10 yards and puts it in play? Or you may have noticed when a ball goes out of bounds, the throw-in might eventually occur far from where the ball left the field of play.

The referee will occasionally blow his whistle and force the player to move the free kick back, or motion the player throwing the ball in to play to move closer to where the ball went out of bounds. But there’s no precision, no exactitude. (On throw-ins, I’ve seen players dance 20 yards down the sideline before putting the ball in play.)

It offends the American soul to see this demonstration of inexactness. It’s vaguely unfair. We’re used to games where precision makes a difference between victory and defeat. It can in soccer too.

I understand the attraction in not requiring the referee to handle the ball before putting it in play. It keeps the flow of the game going and maintains an advantage for an attacking team if they can quickly put the ball in play. But there are plenty of times when this rule is abused. Penalizing a team for abusing the practice by awarding a free kick to the opposing team should get players to be more exact in ball placement and out of bounds throw-ins.

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Long Before Spongebob: The Underwater Circus of the Merbabies

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Cartoon at Noon

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World Cup: U.S. Miracle Finish Dooms Ghana 2-1

Monday, June 16th, 2014 - by Rick Moran

The backstory to the U.S.-Ghana match in the World Cup tonight was that the Black Stars had eliminated the United States from the last two World Cups.

But if, as the Klingon saying goes, “revenge is a dish best served cold,” then the U.S. fell a little short.

In brutal conditions at Estadio das Dunas in the Brazilian state of Natal, where players were dropping like flies as a result of the high humidity, substitute John Brooks headed in a corner cross from fellow sub Graham Zusi at the 86th minute to give the U.S. men’s soccer team a dramatic 2-1 victory.

The win was tempered with the knowledge that the U.S. lost their best offensive player for the remainder of the tournament. Striker Jozy Altidore went down with a bad hamstring injury while making a long run down the left sideline. It is doubtful he will come back before the tournament ends.

Forward Clint Dempsey of Everton in the Premier League opened the scoring with a brilliant run through traffic with just 34 second gone in the game. FIFA says it was the 6th fastest goal scored in World Cup history.

But the anemic U.S. offense failed to generate anything for the next 85 minutes. Ghana was constantly on the U.S. side of the field, looking ever more dangerous as cross after cross went into the box.  But the U.S. defense — much maligned prior to the World Cup — stood the gaff nicely. And goalkeeper Tim Howard — considered one of the best goalies in the world — made excellent decisions about when to come off his line and when to smother the ball, as well as making two spectacular saves in the second half.

He needed to be at the top of his game:

Ghana might have levelled on the stroke of half-time when Christian Atsu raced down the right flank before finding Jordan Ayew, but the Marseille forward’s side-footed finish was tame.

However, it was a sign of things to come as, in the second half, Ghana began to lay siege to the U.S. goal. Asamoah Gyan was presented with a prime opportunity to level with just over an hour played but, as he turned to shoot inside the area, Geoff Cameron was able to make the block.

The U.S. were able to punctuate the pressure with the occasional chance of their own but an equaliser duly arrived on 82 minutes, when Gyan’s clever backheel allowed Andre Ayew the space to find the net.

Jurgen Klinsmann’s men reacted instantly: Graham Zusi sent over a corner for fellow substitute Brooks to head home and restore their lead on 86 minutes to secure a valuable victory.

The U.S. was simply unable to maintain any kind of possession in the second half. Midfielder Michael Bradley, usually an offensive force, played a horrible game. He gave away at least three touches, steered several passes out of bounds, and instead of his usual crisp, accurate through balls, he laid a lot of wet noodles out there to his teammates that the Black Stars easily intercepted.

But Bradley excelled at the defensive end, as he successfully kept the Ghanian playmakers from operating with too much freedom. It is likely that coach Jurgen Klinsman will continue to ask Bradley to hang back more and cover, especially on the left side where DaMarcus Beasley needed help covering the speedy Ghanian wingers.

Brooks replaced centerback Matt Besler who tweaked his hamstring in the first half. The 21-year old Hertha Berlin product is the first American to score a goal in his World Cup debut since Clint Mathis pulled it off in 2002. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

But Ghana, as good and talented a side as they are, is not Portugal or Germany. Both of those teams have the ability and talent to break down the U.S. defense over the course of 90 minutes. Portugal’s international star Ronaldo can do that by himself. If the U.S. expects to get at least a result out of either of those two games, they better find a way to generate some consistent offense. Otherwise, their back line will be exposed to the devastating attacks of Germany and Ronaldo’s magical runs.

But for now, the U.S. can celebrate a gutsy, well-deserved win over their nemesis, Ghana. Going forward without Altidore is a big problem, but solving it can wait until tomorrow. Given that out of 23 World Cup matches since 1990, the U.S. side has won only 5, they might be excused for living in the moment and savoring the victory.

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