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Showing posts with label books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books. Show all posts

Friday, September 22, 2017 4 comments

Boys, Books, Birthdays, and B…

Get the shot, Granddad, I’m about to pull it off!
Somewhere along the line, I’ve become Charlie’s favorite. It might be because, most days, I’m the first person he sees in the morning and the last at night. I also spend a fair amount of time with him through the evenings, usually either reading to him or helping him walk through the house. He likes to go from one end of the house (door to the garage off the kitchen) to the other (shower door in the master bath), then back. Several times. It’s beneficial in several ways: he enjoys it, it helps to wear him out and get him ready for bed, and his (supported) walking has improved greatly over the last couple of weeks. No more drunken stagger, although he does do the pigeon-toe thing.

Most mornings when I drive to the office, I drop him off at daycare. He likes riding in the Miata because there’s always someone next to him. He also likes for me to lay my right hand over on his car seat, so he can touch it. I also keep a little toy car for him to play with. When the sun shines in on his side, he starts squinting, so I grab my hat (much like the one in the pic) and put it on him. He gives me a big grin and pulls it off… I guess he’d rather squint than have something on his head. But that’s what gave me the idea for the picture, and the knowledge I’d have to be quick on the shutter.

Charlie’s favorite book
Oh, and Charlie has re-discovered his joyous ear-splitting screech. He doesn’t reserve it for Mason, either. If he’s enjoying whatever he’s doing or seeing—the dogs tug-of-warring over a chew toy, walking around, Mason doing something silly—he cuts loose. (I’ve often joked about looking forward to going deaf as I get older, even if I wear ear plugs when I mow the lawn, but I’ll likely get a chance.)

I’m sure the hat is a coincidence, but this is his favorite book. When I’m reading this one to him, he doesn’t try to flip to the end to read the blurb or whatever. Personally, I think it’s because he loves the water so much, he’s always ready for a story about a little boy getting to play in/near the water. It’s a blast to watch him in his float, screeching with joy and splashing water everywhere. I want to get him and Mason up to the resort to play in the pool before it gets too cold.

Speaking of Mason, I kind of get the impression he’s been feeling left out lately. I’m constantly taking care of Charlie most evenings and weekends, and the wife is constantly taking care of her dad, so where does that leave him? I take him to soccer practice twice a week, wife takes him to school and occasionally has a dinner date with him. But of late, he’s been hostile, demanding, and often doesn’t want much to do with Charlie. It didn’t help that I couldn’t get out much from May into the first part of August (the resort trip in July taxed my knee and relaxed most everything else). Now that I can do most of what I could do before the knee started acting up, I’m working on changing that. That’s one reason I want to get them both up to the resort.

It will also help (and cause trouble) once Charlie starts walking on his own. The physical therapist that will soon start working with him thinks once he’s fitted with leg braces, he’ll be walking in less than two weeks. On the other hand, the daycare people told me he took one step today, then got really wobbly and sat down. I figure once Charlie starts walking, he’ll be beelining for Mason’s room (his personal concept of Heaven)… the only thing that will slow him down is deciding whether to get into Mason’s Legos, cars, plastic army men, or the rest of it. Angsty teenagers got nothin’ on Mason when someone starts messing with his stuff. Mason turned 8 earlier this month—I told him now he could learn how to change Charlie’s diapers, because I was 8 when I learned how. I think only the father-in-law could have given a better “deer in the headlights” look when I said that.

Will he have the patience?
We got Mason his own book from the book fair. It’s a pretty good how-to on creating stop-motion animations (making a movie one frame at a time), and Legos are a great way to get started with that. Mason, however, is definitely a child of the wife’s side of the family—no patience, and will argue with a fencepost. First, he expected me to read the entire book to him, when he’s quite capable of reading it himself. (THIRTY-EIGHT PAGES? *rage quits*)

Once he settled down, he went through the book, and learned how to storyboard a movie. He sketched out an idea for a simple “cops and robbers” story, and did a pretty good job of it. But (lack of patience again), he tore one of the backdrops included in the book… the one he wanted to use, of course. I taped it up and it works okay. We’re experimenting with a hybrid of stop-action and motion video, and hope to make some good progress over the weekend. Maybe I’ll have a new Weekend Cinema post for y’all soon.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017 3 comments

Blink has launched!

Skyscraper City’s newest superhero(?) is ready to teleport into your eReaders!

You can get it from all the major eBook outlets right now.

Amazon: US UK FR DE IT ES JP CA BR IN MX AU NL
Smashwords iBooks Nook Kobo

Synopsis:

In Skyscraper City, kids often dream of getting a superpower when they grow up. Stevie Winkler never expected to "manifest" at age 13! Being able to teleport is cool, but keeping it a secret sucks. Professor Zero and some of Skyscraper City's most famous superheroes are training him, but Blink finds the line between hero and villain is often blurred… and Skyscraper City is home to other forces with their own agendas.

Blink has three goals as a teenage superhero: survive, keep Mom from finding out—and maybe get a girlfriend.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Blink includes a collection of backstories and capers from other Skyscraper City heroes and villains. I have some longer stories in the works, both for Blink and other supers.

Here’s a quick excerpt:

As he penetrated deeper into the alley, he felt something behind him. He stole a backward glance, and saw two shadows detach themselves from the walls. This is just a drill, this is just a drill, he told himself, but his heartbeat quickened. If this was for real, there would be light at at the other end of the alley; he could pop down there, grab the entire fracking garbage can, and pop back to Professor Zero. But this is just a drill, so it would not be quite that easy.

Ahead of him, two more shadows rappelled down the walls while a third appeared to block his way. This one whirled a staff around himself. Blink almost laughed—this was a clichéd scene from a bad kung fu movie—but stayed in character. Professor Zero wanted to see how Blink faced off against five ninjas? Fine. He could probably “achieve his objective” (as Captain Heroic put it) without a fight. Pop past the three ahead of him, find the message, and pop back.

“Yah!” Blink and his opponents turned toward the shout. A sixth figure ran his way, from the same direction he had come. With a couple fancy handsprings, he(?) cleared the two guys behind him and came to a stop before Blink.

“A student is in need of help.” It was Ma Ling, the Masked Warrior who had trained him since last summer.

Blink gave her a quick, stiff bow, keeping an eye on the others. “I am always ready to hear, Master Ma.”

“You take those two,” she ordered, pointing to the two ninjas behind them. “I will see to the others.”

“Okay.” Blink faced off with his two opponents, wondering if this was a message from Professor Zero. You will not fight your battles alone. The black-clad figures took “ready” stances.

Blink knew he was still a beginner when it came to martial arts. If he were facing real ninjas (or Masked Warriors playing villain, in this case), he would get his butt kicked. Except for his superpower… glancing around the alley, he spotted a garbage can without a lid. Captain Heroic’s improv lessons took over, and he had a plan.

Pop. He grabbed the garbage can and turned it over, while his opponents whirled to find him. A few bags and chunks of styrofoam tumbled out, representing actual garbage.

Pop. Behind the nearest ninja. He brought the metal garbage can down over the head of his opponent with a clonk, and jumped to avoid the expected sweep kick. The extra weight of the garbage can unbalanced the ninja, and Blink pushed him into the wall, making him bounce back and fall. Blink banged on the garbage can until he heard a heavily-accented “I surrender.” Up the alley, he saw Ms. Ma had somehow taken the staff, and was holding the other two at bay. The former staff-wielder was down, but watching the battle.

But his second ninja was coming for him, fast.

So how did Stevie get a superpower at age 13, when 19 or 20 is the typical age? How did he get one at all? It’s all revealed in Blink, so get your copy now!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016 3 comments

CreateSpace Cover Calculator (Tech Tuesday)

To be honest, I’m surprised that CreateSpace doesn’t have something like this on their own site already. Any time you want to publish a paperback with CreateSpace, you need to include a cover (or pay them to make one for you). The DIY guidelines include a formula for calculating spine width, based on the number of pages and what kind of paper you’re using. But even if you’re decent at math, and I am, it can be nerve-wracking enough to double-check and check those measurements again.

Now if there was a way you could feed your page size, number of pages, and paper type to a calculator and get a no-sweat measurement that you could use for that cover…


Oh. Just look to the right. Over there in the sidebar. I’m no JavaScript whiz, but I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do and there’s plenty of information online. I had the thing going in not much time, which surprises me all the more that CreateSpace hasn’t done it. It’s been around for a month or so now, but I figured it was a good topic for Tech Tuesday.

The “Page size” dropdown lets you choose from all the standard CreateSpace sizes, plus a “Spine Only” selection if you’re using a custom page size. The widget automatically adds the 1/8" bleed to all four sides of your cover, expands to show the results, and collapses again if you click Reset. The rest of it should be self-explanatory.

Feel free to drop by and use the widget any time you need to calculate a cover. If you want your own copy, that’s fine, too. I released it under a Creative Commons attribution/share-alike license, which means give me credit and pass your changes on so all indies can benefit. Then again, I’m not sure what else it might need… except maybe a way to select Lightning Source.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 1 comment

Cover Wars! Final Round…

Thanks to all of you, Beyond the Sea of Storms made it to the final round of Cover Wars! And so did all the covers I highlighted in my previous post.

Keep voting daily!

Wednesday, August 05, 2015 3 comments

August Cover Wars!

I entered Beyond the Sea of Storms in the Masquerade Crew’s Cover Wars promo for August. Go check it out, and vote every day:

Click the pic to go vote!
So which covers stand out for me?

My own, of course!
So I'm a sucker for gears…



Dragons… need I say more?
Takes me back to 1978!


There’s 30 covers, and you can vote for up to 25 per day. I’d appreciate it if you guys could bump me into the next round (and maybe these other three covers as well).

Go forth and vote! And do it again tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 4 comments

Beyond the Sea of Storms has launched!

Boom!
And… there’s the Launch Cannon! The sixth story in the Accidental Sorcerers series, Beyond the Sea of Storms, takes Sura, Mik, and Bailar… well, you can guess from the title. ;-)

The newly resettled town of Vlis seems an ideal place for Mik to recover from battle-shock—quiet, remote, and on the edge of the Deep Forest. But the Deep Forest has a mind of its own. Soon, Sura’s compulsion to return home takes them farther from home than ever.

Befriended by a Lesser Dragon, hailed as a prophet by the locals, Bailar and his apprentices must find their way in an unfamiliar place. When an invasion forces them to choose sides, Mik must come to grips with his deepest fear to save his friends and innocent folk.

Check out the cover, too!

Links, you say? Glad to oblige:



It will get to Kobo and other eBook stores once Smashwords gets a round tuit. If you’ve been waiting for it, wait no more—hit a link and go!

Wednesday, March 04, 2015 4 comments

Writing Wibbles: Is B&N Flirting with Vanity Publishing? Yes. (UPDATED)

We—that is, those of us at Green Envy Press—are making the push into print this year. This came about a year after what I had planned, but we’ll have some very nice-looking books indeed. Since most of our eBook income is from Amazon, using Amazon’s CreateSpace service was the first and obvious choice. But being an indie author is about anything but the obvious choice, so we started poking around. I remembered hearing that B&N’s Nook Press had set up a print on demand (PoD) service, and I thought, “hey, that’s a no-brainer… maybe people can order books in the store for pickup.”

Well… no. In their own words:


Well, crud. Seems like they’re missing out on a really good opportunity to skewer Amazon here. Amazon can’t say “hey, order this book and have it shipped for free to your nearest brick-and-mortar for pickup… and while you’re there, check out the thousands of titles” etc. And while Amazon can’t, B&N simply won’t.

Okay, maybe there’s some stuff happening behind the scenes, something beyond the usual hidebound “we ain’t never done that way before” you see in lots of old-guard businesses. Maybe their suppliers (aka big publishers) are leaning on them to stifle competition, they way they tried (and failed) with Amazon. Or maybe they consider it too big of an expense or something… who knows? If they wanted to limit this to “serious” authors, they could easily require an ISBN.

But I got an email from B&N recently that, in combination with the above, got my alarm bells ringing. I guess it wasn’t enough to have a PoD service that they won’t help you sell, now they have author services as well:


Now those prices are in line with what I’ve seen from freelancers, but the whole thing smacks of a vanity publishing setup, especially if you scroll down to see their “packages.”

I emailed B&N to ask them about these issues; their auto-responder said “we’ll get back to you in 24 to 48 hours,” and that was a week ago Tuesday. If they do respond, I’ll update this post.

UPDATE: OMG. B&N still hasn’t responded, but Katherine Hajer pointed me to an article at Nate Hoffelder’s Ink, Bits, & Pixels. It’s worse. Much worse. They’re using the well-known scam factory Author Solutions, and trying to hide it. No wonder they ignored my request for info.

Other reading at:
David Gaughran’s Let’s Get Digital
The Passive Voice

So… thanks, but no thanks. We’ll stick with CreateSpace for now to test the waters, and maybe move to Lightning Source or another printer later if the sales warrant it.

Everything from here on out is speculation and opinion from yours truly, so adjust your filters accordingly:

Amazon may not have created indie publishing, but (like Apple with computers) they made it work for a lot of people. And yes, CreateSpace offers author services, but they also provide you with a marketplace to sell your books. I guess the point is, Amazon is trying to make money with indies, while B&N and vanity presses try to make money from indies. One treats you as a partner (however junior), and the other as an income source. I hasten to point out that there are plenty companies with a similar outlook to Amazon’s (Smashwords being one of the most obvious), but there’s one company that most of us think of first, at least in the Western Hemisphere.

Too bad, B&N. You coulda been a contender. Your brick and mortar stores give you an advantage that Amazon (or even Apple, who isn’t likely to start selling fiction in their stores any time soon) can’t easily match. You just needed the will to buck the system, instead of crawling into bed with the scummiest of scammers. You could have built a solid business with indies, but instead you treat us as marks to suck dry.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 4 comments

Writing Wibbles: New Serial on the Way!

With Lost in Nightwalk done, I’ve turned to cleaning up Blink’s newest adventure. For a lark, I collected his earlier stories, and most of the other Skyscraper City stories, into an eBook for my mailing list members. (Not a member? Sign up quick!) Here’s a little blurb…

At age 13, Stevie Winkler is the youngest known super. Being able to teleport is cool, but keeping it a secret sucks. Professor Zero and some of Skyscraper City’s most famous superheroes are training him, but Blink finds the line between hero and villain isn’t always clear.

Blink has three goals as a teenage superhero: survive, keep Mom from finding out… and maybe get a girlfriend.

I’ve finished writing this adventure, and it’s going to run 20 episodes. This is a departure for me—before, I’d write the first few episodes and turn it loose. I was having so much trouble with the middle, though, that I thought I’d better finish the whole thing first.

Each episode will drop on Monday morning at 7am Eastern time (noon GMT). Having the entire thing done means I can focus on the next part. Update: if you want to catch up on Blink’s earlier adventures before this one starts:

Blink
Blink’s First Adventure

Comments on each episode are encouraged! Remember to check in each Monday to get the latest.

I want to thank Icy Sedgwick and Tony Noland, whose superhero stories inspired me to write my own. And special thanks to Catherine Russell, who beta-read this adventure and caught some issues. And +Angela Kulig, of course, for the cover art.

Friday, December 05, 2014 4 comments

War Games (“Lost in Nightwalk” excerpt) (#FridayFlash)

If you’ve been avoiding my post-launch giddiness… I can’t blame you. But Lost in Nightwalk is out, and I didn’t have a #FridayFlash put together, so why not excerpt something?



It’s out!
“Strike, forward march,” Firgar ordered. “We are now in hostile territory. Our torchlight gives us away, but all we can do for that is to be at the ready, aye?”

They reached the next intersection. “Here begins the test,” the Grand Commander whispered. “We’ll put two soldiers on each side, shields out, and dash across one by one.”

“Grand Commander,” said Sura, “with your permission. Mik and I had an idea last night, and it might be worth trying.”

“It was mostly Sura’s idea,” Mik added, “but we worked out the details together.” He explained what they had in mind.

Firgar chuckled. “Let’s try our try,” he said. “It hurts nothing if it doesn’t work.”

Soldiers lined up before the corner, and Bailar held the torches, as Mik and Sura shed their white cloaks. Away from the entrance, Nightwalk was equally cool in summer and winter. The cloaks were meant to protect them from bruising by the practice weapons, but they did keep their wearers warm. The apprentices waved their staffs, as Bailar had taught them to do in front of folk, and the cloaks drifted from them. Two torches joined the cloaks, and they floated into the intersection together. The apprentices made the torches move back and forth, as people would if they were deciding which way to go.

From their left came: thwock, thwock, the sound of two crossbows, and a practice bolt struck one of the cloaks. Bailar brought the False Dawn, lighting up the corridor, as two soldiers dived into the intersection and loosed their own crossbows. They rolled across, and two more soldiers did the same.

“Five!” one of them shouted. “Now three!” the other added. “No, two!”

“Charge!” Firgar and Narvin whooped a battle-cry and rushed the remaining defenders. Each threw a spear as they charged, then drew their practice swords. One of the spears found its mark, and the victim sat down. Three of the four mock casualties scrambled out of the way, as the last defender standing drew his own practice sword and tried to back away. It was over quickly.

Four of the defenders lined up against the wall. “What’s with him?” one of them asked, gesturing at the last man lying on the floor.

Bailar made his way down the hall, using the wall to keep his balance. He knelt next to the man, who gasped and sat up. “You died in your sleep,” Bailar explained. “I cut your throat.”

“Five to one,” one of the defenders said, shaking his head. “From what I’ve been hearing, that’s the best showing from your side yet.”

“Five to none, actually,” Narvin grinned. “Our mages floated empty cloaks into the intersection for you to shoot at.”

“Clever.”

“Hundred Thora is an excellent tactician,” said Firgar, “but Lady Sura descends from the finest tactician in Termag’s history.” He nodded to Sura, approaching with Mik and the rest of the strike.

The defenders looked at each other. “A girl planned that? Is that the Matriarchy girl, then?”

“Aye. She’ll make a fine warrior-mage, the first in centuries.”

“Good work,” the defenders’ leader said. “Perhaps we’ll have another round of this. Both sides can learn from its mistakes and successes.” They lifted torches and shuffled away.



Things get messy from here—get “Lost in Nightwalk” with Sura, Mik, and Bailar and find out just how messy!

Friday, November 28, 2014 6 comments

Writing Wibbles: Search Engine 101 for Authors

Monday night, I saw this tweet:


Being the diplomatic soul that I am, I responded “I call BS” before even reading the article. Then, I thought I should expand on that statement. Which meant I had to read the article.

In summary: Stephan Eirik Clark (the author) wrote a literary novel he called Sweetness #9. In the article (written in March), he complained about the search engine first not finding his novel at all in the early pre-order phase, then burying it under Sweet Valley High and artificial sweetener products. (Or maybe writing the article was a clever way to boost his book—Salon will always run a “bash Amazon” article, and click-throughs and sales are always good ways to push a page up Amazon's search rankings.)

Clark goes on to quote a New Yorker article by George Packer, in which he claims that publishers can pay Amazon to push books up the search rankings. Oh, the horror!

Um, wait a minute. Actually, I’ll wait an hour or so. Go to your nearest bookstore. Check out those tables at the front. Why are those books there, and not the ones you might want to see? If you answered “the publishers paid the bookstore for favorable placement,” you get a gold star!

But hey, I’ve not paid Amazon a dime for search engine placement. And yet, if you type “Accidental Sorcerers” into Amazon’s search, guess what comes up #1? (and #2 through #5?) Someone else’s book, The Accidental Sorcerer, appears a little farther down.

One of the things that +Angela Kulig taught me, early on when I joined the co-op, is that titles matter. If you pick a generic title, your book will flounder in a sea of other books (and in the case of Amazon, other products) with similar names. Just like in poor Mr. Clark’s case. A little closer to home, I once titled a book in progress Chasing a Rainbow. Angela suggested I search that title on Goodreads. Ouch. We came up with the replacement title, The Crossover, only after much banging of heads on tables (at least on my part) late at night. There are other titles that show up in a search for that, and mine still doesn't make the first page.

So, in a nutshell, this is Search 101 for authors: pick a title that’s as unique as possible. If you have a generic-sounding title like “Sweetness,” you need a lot of sales to get your ranking pushed to the top. Or your publisher can pay the online bookstore for placement, just like they do for brick-and-mortar stores. One is a little more work, but cheaper and more effective. Or, just bash Amazon and let Salon do the rest. Doesn’t matter if you prove yourself clueless in the process, eh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 No comments

Launch: Dust of the Dead Sea, by Angela Kulig

It’s a busy time at the end of November. Baking bread, turkeys, beans… and books?

Yup. Angela Kulig has at long last released Book 2 of the Hollows series, Dust of the Dead Sea!

There are many things between Heaven and Hell, and Marlow the Skeleton is just one of them. Taking the fight to the Hollows who tried to take her, Marlow travels with Raiden, the other half of her soul, to the worst place she can think of. The Dead Sea. Part crazy religious cult, part vengeful god, The Dead Sea isn't what she thought it would be—it’s worse.

The thing is, you don’t know you’re addicted until you’re in the monster’s teeth. Marlow doesn't think she needs The Dead Sea, but it’s poisoning her with every drop, and every raging wave, and all the dust collecting in her lungs. How do you fight a villain when the villain isn’t a man, but a place?

Old characters with new agendas break the surface again, bringing fresh pain. Beneath a starless desert sky, Marlow and Raiden will confront a destiny that will end everything. They should have never gone to The Dead Sea to look for answers—they should have gone looking for questions.

Get it here:



Connect with Angela here, here, or here:



If you haven’t read the other books in the Hollows series, grab them while they’re on sale:

Thursday, November 13, 2014 6 comments

Lost in Nightwalk COVER REVEAL!

The story is with the editor now, and I don’t have an exact publication date set just yet, but I’m still hoping to launch by month’s end. Here’s the blurb:
Lord Darin is pursuing Sura. The Web is pursuing Bailar and Mik. Still, they continue teaching combat magic to sorcerers in Koyr and the Northern Reach.

Training for conflict in the Goblin fastness, soldiers and mages start using Nightwalk, the vast maze under Ak’Koyr, for war games. Fleeing an assassination attempt, they find themselves lost. Now the problem isn’t Lord Darin or The Web—it’s getting out.
Okay, how about a look at the gorgeous cover?


Meanwhile, Beyond the Sea of Storms (Book 6) has been drafted, so at least one of them survives Nightwalk. Or maybe it’s a reluctant Charn or Isa who pick up the mantle…

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 1 comment

New release: Green Zulu Five One by Scott Whitmore

Scott Whitmore’s new Military/Sci-Fi novella, Green Zulu Five One (and other stories from the Vyptellian War), is out! It could use a little signal boost, so go check it out. I’m reading his steampunk/vampire mashup Carpathia, and it’s racing toward the conclusion now.

A war of millions is fought by individuals. For sixteen years humanity and the alien Vyptellians have battled in space and on hundreds of planets in a distant corner of the galaxy.

Tyko is a teenage space fighter pilot who has never known peace; insulated from the horrors of the battlefield, he’ll learn war isn’t a game. Sergeant Siengha is one of a handful to survive the war’s first battle; surrounded and vastly outnumbered by a merciless enemy, it takes everything she knows to keep those around her alive and fighting.

These are just two of the countless stories from the human side of the Vyptellian War. To those on the frontlines and their families at home, why the war began is unimportant, forgotten when the first shot was fired. What matters is the survival of the species.

But after years of bloody conflict, the war’s end is closer than anyone realizes.


OK, now that we’ve talked about the book, let’s talk about—I mean, to—the author:

Where did the idea for Green Zulu Five One come from?

In August last year I was asked by writer and editor Tara Maya to contribute to the Space Jockey anthology, and I submitted a story about Tyko, a fifteen-year-old pilot whose call sign is Green Zulu Five One and who is fighting in a war against an alien race that started before he was born. The first reviewer of the anthology mentioned the story favorably and said he thought it would make a great opening chapter to a longer work. That got me to thinking about where Tyko’s story may lead.

But the book isn’t just about Tyko, is it? 

No, Tyko’s story is just one of many, hence the subtitle “and other stories from the Vyptellian War.” Each chapter is essentially a short story about some event or aspect of the war; some characters appear in more than one chapter and some are one-offs. Tyko’s story arc is told over several chapters and is the longest, with that of battle-hardened Platoon Sergeant Siengha the second longest. Tyko and Siengha represent space and ground operations of humanity’s war against the Vyptellians.

I’ve read a couple books using this connected vignette format, most notably 3024AD: Short Stories Series One by DES Richard and Planks by SC Harrison, and wanted to try it for myself. It was fun but challenging because I was determined to keep the book short, less than 50,000 words, while still exploring as many aspects of the war as possible.

Tyko’s story arc has some similarities with Orson Scott Card’s Ender novels. Were they an influence?

No, I’ve actually never read any of Card’s work or seen the movie. There are a lot of influences on the stories, including some books and movies, but not those.

Okay, so what would you say influenced you in writing these stories?

For starters, a lot of real-world events. Growing up in the 1960s the war in Vietnam was never far from my consciousness, through hearing my parents talk about it to movies and the nightly news on TV. For the longest time as a kid I did not realize being at “peace” was an option and that’s something Tyko realizes at one point. We’re right back in that state of perpetual war, too.

I served twenty years in the U. S. Navy, starting out as an enlisted Sailor and then being commissioned as an officer, so certainly that is an influence in everything I do, not just writing. I was never in combat, but I was in uniform for the end of the Cold War, Bosnia, Desert Shield/Storm, 9/11 and the beginnings of Iraq II and Afghanistan.

Other influences on my writing are books like The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien and Dispatches by Michael Herr; movies like Zulu, Three Kings, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket; and  TV shows like Battlestar Galactica and Space: Above and Beyond — among others.

Who created the cover?

I asked Norman Dixon Jr., who is the author of several excellent novels, to beta read the rough draft. In addition to giving me great feedback he offered to do the cover. Norm created the covers for his own books and is interested in branching out, doing cover work for hire. Working with him was wonderful and he created a very cool cover.

Your favorite character? Favorite chapter?

Ah, that’s a tough one — like which of your kids do you prefer? I like Tyko a lot but honestly Sergeant Siengha is probably my favorite. She was going to just be a one-off character, too, but after introducing her I realized there was more of her story I wanted to tell.

The people I asked to beta read the rough draft really liked the final chapter, “A Promise Kept,” which is good because it’s one of my favorite, too. “Three Minutes Out” is another chapter I like a lot; it was actually written after getting comments back from my awesome beta readers because I felt the book needed something with a little more action in the early chapters.

Any chance there will be more stories told from this sandbox?

I would never say never, but for now my thinking is probably not. My goals starting out were to do something fairly short that was a thought-provoking look at war, character-driven but with action sequences, too. I believe Green Zulu Five One (and other stories from the Vyptellian War) checks all those boxes.

But … if readers really like this book and ask for more, I know there are more stories to be told about this part of the galaxy, the war, and at least a few of these characters. So, again, never say never.

About the author

Born and raised in the American Midwest, Scott Whitmore enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1982 and was later commissioned as an officer. After retiring from military service he joined the sports staff at The Herald, a daily newspaper located in Everett, Washington. In 2009, his feature story about a young Everett sprint car racer was awarded third place in the annual writing contest held by the National Motorsports Press Association.

Scott left The Herald in 2009 to begin working as a freelance writer. In addition to his novels, he has written for various sports and motorsports magazines and blogs, and his profile of NASCAR driver Danica Patrick was included in the August 2011 New York Yankees Magazine as part of a special issue celebrating women in sports.

His previous novels are Carpathia and The Devil’s Harvest, available on Amazon.com. Contact him by email at 40westmedia@comcast.net or follow @ScottWhitmore on Twitter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014 2 comments

I Write Escapism, and I’m Okay With It

Source: openclipart.org
From Wikipedia: “Escapist fiction is fiction which provides a psychological escape from thoughts of everyday life … The term is not used favorably.”

I don’t hear it as often as I used to, which may reflect the decline in reading overall—or maybe it’s because those who used it most have gone to the Great Library in the Sky. The description does seem to have a sneering quality to it, that implication of not reading the “right” kind of fiction—usually published in the 19th century at the latest, because surely nobody born after 1820 has had anything worthwhile to say, right?

What brought this to mind was a recent The New Yorker article called The Percy Jackson Problem. A literary-minded mom writes about Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels, which her son incidentally loves to pieces. If you’re like me, and haven’t read them, they’re about an adolescent demigod, the son of Poseidon and a human mother. There’s this tension between “well, at least he’s reading,” and “but he’s not reading the claaaaaaaaaassics” oozing all through the article. Still, she at least implies that he knows more about Greek mythology at this point than she does. I’m intrigued, and will have to check them out myself now.

I remember those pre-junior high years as a near-dystopia, not that it got much better afterwards. Books were my escape from that life, and even back then I knew I wanted to write my own stories someday. I read a lot of different things, but none of them were “classics” nor titles that literary types of the day would have approved (with the possible exception of Rabbit Hill). One series I remember was The Boxcar Children, the stories of four orphaned kids who moved into an abandoned boxcar. I’ve forgotten the title of another story, but it was about a brother/sister duo who rowed out to an island on a lake and got stranded there. And of course The Hardy Boys, about two brothers who solve mysteries. (Ironic that, since I was such a timid child.) I suppose you could classify the first two as survivalist tales, but without the boxcar full of weaponry or tinfoil-hat politics.at, since I was such a timid child.) My White Pickups books, from that angle, are an adult version of those older stories—abandoned or stranded, people fight to survive and somehow beat the odds.

In junior high, the local librarian pointed me to the sci-fi section, and I was hooked. Who needs a boxcar in the woods when you have a fracking spaceship, am I right? Thus began a stretch of years when, like Cody in White Pickups, “the only books I ever picked up [had] a spaceship on the cover.” I’m not sure who it was that pointed me to Lord of the Rings in high school, but fantasy became an ever-increasing part of my reading mix. Who needs a spaceship? Just zap yourself to another world, and defeat that overwhelming evil with determination and heart!

I read a lot, and I needed stories that would take me Elsewhere for a while. Things did get better in college, but the habit was set. I got into Dungeons and Dragons, and that was addictive—acting out a story on the fly, where your own decisions and reactions affected how it ended. As you might imagine, that pulled me even farther into the fantasy realm. In our D&D group, we passed around our own book collections. I discovered The Sword of Shannara, Dragonriders of Pern, and the collaborative Thieves’ World anthologies came out around then. I spent the summer of 1980 in Biloxi MS and points south (i.e. the Gulf itself, working offshore helping cooks feed hungry drilling platform workers). I took a sheaf of scrap computer paper with me for my off-time, and wrote the first novel I actually finished, The War of the Seventh Trumpet. I never gave serious thought to finding a publisher, because even in the 1980s that kind of fantasy was already getting formulaic. (Not to mention it’s a typical first effort, pretty awful.) While I won’t ever publish that one without some extensive rewrites, it became background material for other Termag stories.

Thirty years later, here we are. I’ve published four Accidental Sorcerers stories, with the fifth (Lost in Nightwalk) coming out later this month and the sixth (Beyond the Sea of Storms) drafted. A sorcerer and his two love-struck apprentices travel Termag and have lots of adventures.

It’s escapist fiction, and I’m okay with that.

Sometimes—or all too often—you just need to get away from everyday circumstances. Fly that spaceship to Antares and fight the Vegans (aliens from Vega, that is… seems like they’re always hostile). Or follow Bailar, Sura, and Mik around Termag and see what kind of scrape they get embroiled in this time. Or stay out of those talking pickup trucks and try to make a better world for yourself, and the other four dozen people around you.

In the Victorian era, they had what they called “improving” literature. The “right” kind of books, written by the “right” kind of people. Maybe it was about building character, a phrase used only by people who aren’t doing the work (or reading those kind of books). Reading escapist fiction lets you try on a different person—that timid boy I was could become a survivalist, or even a hero, if only for a little while. Did I grow out of that timidity, or was I “improved” by escapism?

And now, I have another escape—I mean a new book—to get ready. Until then…

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 3 comments

Writing Wibbles

I always feel like
somebody's watching me
(And I have no privacy)
—Rockwell

I had a couple of things to share this week—an interview with the creator of the #amwriting hashtag was at the top of the list—but something else reared its ugly adobe head, and vaulted to the top of the list.

Nate Hoffeider at The Digital Reader broke the story a little over a week ago. Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) version 4 “[seems] to be sending an awful lot of data to Adobe’s servers.” Most EPUB-based eBook readers on the market use some version of ADE, although I’m not sure whether any are using ADE4 just yet. Older versions are less intrusive.

How intrusive is this? Let me quote Mr. Hoffeider here:
Adobe is gathering data on the ebooks that have been opened, which pages were read, and in what order. All of this data, including the title, publisher, and other metadata for the book is being sent to Adobe’s server in clear text. …

Adobe isn’t just tracking what users are doing in DE4; this app was also scanning my computer, gathering the metadata from all of the ebooks sitting on my hard disk, and uploading that data to Adobe’s servers. …

And just to be clear, this includes not just ebooks I opened in DE4, but also ebooks I store in calibre and every Epub ebook I happen to have sitting on my hard disk.
(emphasis mine)

The Passive Guy, a lawyer who writes on self-publishing issues, has an excellent summary and links, both in the article and from readers in the comments.

Much of the outrage in the tech side of the community focuses on Adobe’s use of plain text. That is a little disturbing, yes—it means anyone who can put a packet sniffer anywhere along the path between you and Adobe can see all this data. But for me, it’s what the people owning the servers are doing that’s more important. Scraping your hard drive for eBooks makes ADE4 spyware, in my opinion.

When pressed for an explanation, Adobe finally said (in the typical corporate lawyer speak of any company caught with their hands in your pockets) that it’s part of their DRM, and they gave themselves permission to do it through their “privacy” policy.

Now I can already hear the Kindle haters shouting “Amazon does it, too!” Well, yes, Amazon does send some information back to the mothership, but there are (as I see it) three important differences:

  1. Amazon is pretty up-front about what their Whispersync feature does, and it gives back by letting you sync your books across devices. Adobe gives you nothing (or maybe they use the info to target advertising at you, who knows?). You can also turn it off at any time.
  2. Whispersync isn’t a DRM mechanism, at least primarily. It works just as well with non-DRM books sold through the Kindle store.
  3. Amazon doesn’t presume to scrape your hard drive, looking for any MOBI or AZW files you might happen to have, just because they feel like it.

To Panic or not to Panic (probably not)


Since I handle all eBook formatting for Green Envy Press, and I work in EPUB format, I’m pretty sensitive to the idea of some corporation scraping my hard drive and looking over works in progress. Fortunately, I don’t use Adobe software in any part of my production toolchain.

But this is the problem: if people with access (legal or otherwise) to Adobe’s servers were to target a publisher’s typesetting department, they could get advance notice of upcoming titles or other intelligence. Or they could target individuals for blackmail purposes. I find it quite likely that Adobe’s legal department will use this info to shake down unfortunates who land in some kind of piracy profile (whether they’re actually pirating eBooks or not)—or sell the info to large publishers, so they can do the shaking down. I also expect Adobe to “share collected information with our third-party partners” (i.e. sell information about your reading habits to anyone who wants to spam you to death).

On the other hand, this affects only a small but growing number of individuals—those who have been suckered into installing ADE4 on their computers. I don’t know whether any eBook readers use ADE4, or will load that Trojan Horse in a near-future update. Obviously, people in the Kindle ecosystem are immune (beyond the Whispersync issues I mentioned earlier). Apple’s iBooks ecosystem is also Adobe-free, or so I’ve read. Earlier versions of ADE are not nearly as intrusive, so you’re safe in that case as well.

Fortunately, and I’ve said this before, eBook DRM is ridiculously easy to disable. Buy your eBooks from any authorized retailer, strip the DRM, and use Calibre or a third-party eReader to read on your computer. Or buy from those of us who make sure the “use DRM” selection is turned off when we publish.

And then, there’s the technical fix: block the IP addresses assigned to Adobe’s servers at your router. Whether you use DSL, cable, or fiber to get your Internet fix, your router has a fairly simple way to set this up. Look for something like “outgoing filters” and add the addresses shown in the image below. Here’s what I’ve added to my DSL router, just in case:


That won’t stop ADE4 from getting all chatty if you take your laptop outside the house, but it’s a start.



If you haven’t tried my eBooks—DRM-free, available for both Kindle and the rest of the world, and priced to move—why not check them out? The Crossover is free, and the rest are cheaper than a large latte. And unlike a latte, you can enjoy them again and again.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014 3 comments

Guest Post: Loni Flowers, “Witness to My Heart”

Since the writing brain just got back from vacation, about a week late, there isn’t much for me to wibble about this week. Fortunately, my friend Loni Flowers has a new romance novel out, and I invited her to talk about it! So take it away, Loni…

• • •


It’s my first time here at FAR Manor, and I must say, it’s an honor!

Larry was extremely nice and invited me to tell you a little about myself and my new book, Witness to My Heart, that just hit cyberspace yesterday. I tell ya, I’m so stinking excited about it, I can hardly stand to be around myself!!

This will be my third published novel, and I have to say that after a year and half of working on it, I’m actually excited to be finished and on to the next project. I’m still shocked I’ve managed to write three full length novels. I was never a reader growing up. I hated English class, too. If I could reverse the hands of time, I would have tried harder, actually gone to the library and picked out a “good” book, and picked a completely different career path. But since that isn’t possible, I’m thankful for a friend who convinced me to read Twilight by Stephenie Meyer (before it was popular).

I know, I know.

You’re probably moaning and groaning about that decision, but say what you will… it opened my eyes and had me obsessed with books… any book, no matter what it is, if it has the ability to engage readers… awesome! From that series I moved on to Harry Potter and learned the true meaning of what “sick days” should be used for when you finally make it to the last book in the series! (Shhhhh don’t tell my boss!) As you can guess, the rest is history. Reading sparked a creative side in me I didn’t know I had and before I knew it, I was writing my first novel at the age of 30… while working a 40 hour professional job, managing 2 kids, 2 dogs and a husband. I still can’t believe I did it.

But enough about how I got started… and let’s get you to the details of Witness to My Heart! This book was a challenge for me. Though it’s a contemporary romance, I mixed elements of suspense and mystery into it. It is a different mood than my other books, but it was so fun to challenge myself.

Here, have a peek at the synopsis:
Keep a low profile. That's what Abigale Peterson was supposed to do, especially when the person she was being protected from was one of the world's worst crime lords. After seven years in the Witness Protection Program, she felt no safer now than she did when she was seventeen. Revenge was rarely forgotten when it came to a professional criminal like Zerilli.

Low profiles meant no social life and definitely no love life.

Paranoia and lies became daily habits, going against everything Abigale believed in, but they kept her safe. They kept everyone safe.

Until a house fire puts her out of that safety and into the arms of a stranger. Max Smith is sexy, smart, and has major attitude. He’s the only one who seems to get her. He calms her fears and comforts her from her nightmares. But he also sees right through her lies.

Before Abigale can stop, she’s in too deep; confiding too much and breaking the one rule she promised herself to uphold: Never fall in love.
If you’re intrigued, I have an exclusive link (not released to the public yet) that will let you read the first 3 chapters.

Now if you are truly intrigued, be sure to grab a copy today… and if you’re interested in winning a few things, I have a big giveaway going on over on my website, http://www.loniflowers.com/

Good luck, if you enter.

Thank for taking a moment out of your day to read a little about me and my latest obsession. And Larry, thank you so much for having me over!!

• • •

Aha, now I know why we get along so well: I was another one of those people who hated English classes (although the College English class I took as a senior definitely did not suck), and I avoided literature classes like the plague. I was an avid reader, though, but Fantasy and SF were not on the curriculum in those days. Ah well, it’s never too late to have a happy childhood, right?

Maybe you want to go grab a copy of Lori’s new book, right? Here’s some links that might help with that:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Witness-my-Heart-Loni-Flowers-ebook/dp/B00MLN4IFW/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1407873663&sr=8-3&keywords=loni+flowers

B&N (Nook): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/witness-to-my-heart-loni-flowers/1120108466?ean=2940150704220

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/461981

If you want to add it to Goodreads, here’s the book page: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22056608-witness-to-my-heart

And, you can link up with Lori on Facebook or Twitter.

Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014 9 comments

Writing Wibbles

Lots of ground to cover this week, so I’ll get right on it…

• • •

First off, Angela Kulig’s mini-anthology Coffin Nails is free through Wednesday! Go get it.

• • •

Kindle Unlimited… I’m hearing a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth over a new lending service. Seems like we get this every time Amazon tries something new, huh? (Tip: instead of spending $10/month, go down to your local library and get set up for borrowing eBooks. It’s free and the selection is wider.)

My take: The per-borrow payout has been a over $2 for months, now, slightly more than the royalty on a $3 eBook purchase. Amazon has offered a 30-day free trial, so I expect that August is going to push down that payout quite a bit (my guess: it will be around 50¢) despite Amazon increasing the fund by 66%. For some authors, the increased borrows will more than offset the depressed per-borrow payout. Others will hate it—perhaps enough to yank their books out of Select.

Amazon is walking a tightrope. At current payout levels, an average of four borrows per member per month (about one per week) will nearly wipe out the monthly subscription fee. But if the payout drops too far, authors will pull their most popular books, making the service much less attractive.

I’d recommend taking Green Day’s advice: wake me up when September ends. The free trials will peter out, Amazon will adjust the lending fund, and I expect that things will right themselves by November.

• • •

I’ve been tagged in the Meet my Main Character blog tour by my Twitter bud and co-op partner, Tony Noland!

Here are the rules:

The taggee must write a post answering the same seven questions about their MC (main character). Then the taggee becomes the tagger and chooses five other authors.

Since I have an ongoing series, this is both a WIP and a published work. It has not one MC, but three. I thought it would be more fun to let them answer the questions.

1. What is the name of your main character? Is he a fictional or a historical person?

Sura: What is this “he” about?

Mik: I think this world uses “he” as a generic pronoun, Sura.

Bailar: Mik is right. No offense was meant. Now, let me introduce us. I am Bailar the Blue, once Sorcerer of Exidy, although we haven’t seen home in over a year now. These are my apprentices: Sura sam Bailar, also my daughter, and Mik sim Mikhile, whom I named Mik Dragonrider. Sura and Mik are 14 and 15, respectively, as of our latest adventure. I suppose you would consider us fictional, although we feel quite real to ourselves.

2. When and where is the story set?

Bailar: We have roamed a great deal of Termag, the name of our world, so far. The three of us are citizens of the Stolevan Matriarchy, and we hope to return there some day. We’ve seen great cities, little upriver villages, and the ruins of ancient sites that will soon be resettled.

3. What should we know about him?

Sura: There’s that “him” again, but no matter. As an infant, I was abandoned on my father’s doorstep. It’s unheard of for Matriarchy women to abandon their daughters, but he raised me as his own. I learned of my true parentage in The Sorcerer’s Daughter. Without a mother, I’m legally the head of our household. Still, I defer to Father on certain matters.

Mik: I grew up in Lacota, one of those upriver villages the mentor mentioned. Two winters ago, I awakened an ice dragon when invaders from Westmarch were set to overrun my home. I had no training in sorcery, but the spell was in a child’s rhyme. It drove away the invaders, but I didn’t know I was supposed to dispell it afterwards. So it flew me to Exidy, and I became an apprentice.

Bailar: There is a fairly complete history of my life elsewhere. To that I would add, I have my hands full these days. Not only with all our adventures, but keeping the apprentices focused on their studies. Sura and Mik are good people, and excellent apprentices, but Nature tempts them. The skirmishes we’ve been in have given them a taste for mayhem as well, and that sometimes troubles me.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

Sura: Patriarchies.

Mik: The mentor scrying when Sura and I are alone together.

Bailar: You need to whisper more softly, Mik.

Sura: That was second on my list.

Bailar: And that is why I scry. But my apprentices downplay our adventures. Each of the stories to date has a primary conflict, or perhaps a series of them. We have faced rogue mages, pirates on rivers and high seas, lovestruck suitors, and creatures thought extinct. We need not go looking for trouble, it finds us easily enough.

5. What is his personal goal?

Sura: His again. I give up. Let’s go, Mik. Father can finish this.

Bailar: Keeping the apprentices focused on earning their sashes, and keeping them safe. Although, sometimes, they end up rescuing me. Serving the Conclave, seeing new things. You know, I dreamed of adventure when I myself was an apprentice. As painful as it can be at times, I do enjoy this life.

6. Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?

Bailar: Of course! First, I shall link to the first four stories already published.

Accidental Sorcerers
Water and Chaos
The Sorcerer's Daughter
Into the Icebound

The next story, Lost in Nightwalk, is about our harrowing experience in Koyr, which was supposed to be a safe haven. There will be excerpts soon enough, I believe.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

Bailar: The first draft is complete, and the finished book should be available before the next solstice. Now, let me check on the apprentices before they get into too much mischief…



And… they’re gone. I guess I need to tag the next five victims. A lot of my Twitter friends are already tagged, so I’ll dip into the Google+ pool as well:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014 6 comments

Writing Wibbles

When I released the first three Accidental Sorcerers novellas, I had a good start on the next story in the series. That wasn’t the case for Into the Icebound—I only had about 3000 words down for the sequel (working title Lost in Nightwalk). After sending four of these stories into the eBook stores, I now have a pretty good idea how long it takes to get a first draft knocked into shape. If I want to keep my “roughly six months” schedule, I’ll need to have the first draft done by mid-July.

Scrivener is a great tool for this kind of thing. Select “Show Project Targets” in the Project menu, and you get a little window with the basic stuff you need:

Scrivener’s Project Targets

The “Options…” button lets you set the deadline date, and what days of the week you intend to write (I set it to take Sundays off). Clicking on the rightmost number under the top progress bar lets you set the target manuscript size. You can adjust it later if you need. I set a somewhat optimistic target of 40,000 words, as you can see, although I now think 32,000 is going to be closer to the actual word count.

It’s pretty simple, really. Tell it how big, how often, and how soon, and it gives you a daily word count target (the “Session Target”). It has moved around some, as I’d write over 1000 words some nights and not at all on others, but right now it’s pretty close to the 850 words/day target I started with… which means that, averaged out over the last month or so, I’ve stayed pretty much on target.

• • •

Salon Doubles Down

There’s a disturbing trend these days. Some organizations will say or print something that’s rather detached from reality, and people will call them on it. Instead of doing some research, or anything that might lead them to have to say, “dang, we really hosed our credibility running that tripe,” they dig in. In some circles, it’s called doubling down on the stupid.

Enter Salon. Andrew Leonard kicked off the month of June with your basic publishing industry press release stenography (because committing journalism is a misdemeanor or something), called Amazon’s scorched-earch campaign. He threw around inflammatory phrases like “monopoly power,” “heavy-handed tactics,” and (the worst insult of all) comparing Amazon to Walmart. Of course, he provided no evidence that Amazon has a monopoly on anything, nor that what they’re doing is disproportionate, nor that they’re sending thousands of publishing jobs to China.

So indies, from Hugh Howey and J.A. Konrath all the way down to me, called them on it, providing counter-arguments with evidence. In some alternate universe, a senior editor at Salon acquired clue, pulled the article, and ran a more balanced piece that used actual data and provided links. In this universe… Salon doubled down on the stupid. This time, it was Laura Miller and Amazon is not your friend: Why self-published authors should side with Hachette. (This disturbing lack of title caps seems to be a thing with Salon. But I suppose if you're not doing actual journalism, it doesn’t matter.)

In this article, the points are:
  • The only people defending Amazon are indies.
  • Many indies are angry with traditional publishers because the authors failed to get in (or are former midlisters who got screwed over and dumped).
  • Self-published authors really, really, really hate traditional publishing (actual quote here).
  • High prices for tradpub eBooks help indies by allowing us to compete on price.
  • A publishing contract is a business deal.
  • Most indie works are dreck, slush pile, etc.
  • Tradpub books are higher quality, and so deserve a higher markup.
  • Amazon might screw us over in some unspecified future.
OK, the fourth and fifth points are good ones. Stopped clocks, blind squirrels, etc. The rest is once again long on flamebait, short on evidence. Now I remember why I quit reading Salon around 2006.

C’mon, tradpub supporters. Is this the best you can do? Really? Regurgitate the same tropes from 2010 and pretend nothing has changed? If anything, traditional publishers have been squeezing their authors even harder since eBooks started booming. With almost zero production costs, eBooks give publishers more profit… and lower royalties to authors. Don’t take my word for it, Lagardère (Hachette’s parent company) put it on their slides in their shareholder presentation. Hugh Howey has them on his blog.

As far as tradpub books being higher quality goes, just saying “50 Shades of Grey” would be too easy. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at a book published 50 years ago, and one published now, and see how production quality has deteriorated. Typesetters have been replaced with Microsoft Word. Copyediting isn’t nearly as rigorous as it once was, and your typical tradpub book has plenty of typos and errors to go around. One of the hardcover editions of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas books had an entire line missing from the bottom of the first page! If they’d let that get by with Dean Koontz, what chance do midlisters have of getting a quality production run?

Finally, the notion that Amazon might stop giving indies decent terms—when the worst-case the detractors suggest might happen is still a better deal than authors get from traditional publishers—is laughable at best.

If publishers had some regard for authors and readers, beyond squeezing as much money as possible out of each, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Thursday, May 22, 2014 3 comments

“Into the Icebound” — setting sail May 29!

The fourth Accidental Sorcerers book is just about ready to depart!


Sura, Mik, and Bailar set sail for the Northern Reach, with Lord Darin in pursuit. Their journey is anything but smooth, with storms, raiders, and the prince of Westmarch standing in the way. Joining an expedition to the ruins of Isenbund, Bailar disappears in the night. Now, Mik and Sura must help rescue their mentor from a legendary foe thought long extinct.
The book’s about ready (just have to go through the checklist), and OMG just look at the cover…


May 29, folks! Add it on Goodreads, tell your friends, all that good stuff… and re-download the first first two during the first week of June, because I’m going back and re-formatting them to reflect all the stuff I’ve learned since.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8 comments

Guest Post: Icy Sedgwick

We pause in the headlong rush of #AtoZchallenge posts for a guest post. Icy Sedgwick has a new book out, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, featuring… mummies! Icy writes the best mummy stories, and she’s ready to share her thoughts about her favorite monsters…



It sometimes feels like horror monsters have been reduced to vampires, werewolves, zombies, demons and, at a push, ghosts. You just need to look at the classic Universal horrors of the 1930s, or the Hammer cycle of the late 1950s and early 1960s, to realise there any many more monsters to choose from. Personally, my favourite will always be the mummy. Look at Boris Karloff’s charismatic portrayal of Im-Ho-Tep in The Mummy (1932), in which the undead priest was a far more attractive romantic lead than the pathetic ‘hero’. Christopher Lee turned his Kharis into a formidable powerhouse in The Mummy of 1958. Even Arnold Loos’ mummy in The Mummy (1999) was an awesome prospect, simply because he wanted his old love back.

I love mummies for three reasons. Unlike vampires, who are the aristocracy of the horror world, or zombies who are sometimes coded as the working class, mummies are quite classless – not all mummies were royalty, after all. Mummies belong to another world, and another time, and their exoticism adds to their appeal. Furthermore, they don’t necessarily have to suffer the same limitations as other monsters. Aside from cats, Loos’ Imhotep fears nothing, and is all powerful. He isn’t restricted by time of day, or the time of the month. Finally, mummies actually exist. Granted, they’re not rampaging around a city near you, but it’s possible to visit a museum and see one for yourself. The mummy, even in its inert state, represents something more tangible than that of the vampire.

It was my love of mummies that led me to include them in The Necromancer’s Apprentice. I’ve written several flash stories about mummies in the past, and they were part of the story from the very beginning – it was after watching The Sorcerer’s Apprentice that I thought “Wouldn’t it be cool to replace the sorcerer with a necromancer, and the brooms with mummies?” They have an interesting relationship with the dead anyway, being inert until life is returned to them, yet they possess an element of consciousness that is denied to the zombie.

The mummies in the novella aren’t necessarily ‘traditional’ – the mummies are those of the royal family, and they’re kept in the House of the Long Dead, where the necromancer general acts as an intermediary should anyone need to consult with them post mortem. They appear in the story because the Crown Prince has decided he wants to include them in his Coronation parade, and so they need to be resurrected for this purpose. The job is such a big one that the necromancer general needs an assistant, and so she hires Jyx, a magickal protégée from the Academy to act as her apprentice. Of course, things don’t go according to plan but if they did it would have been a much shorter book.

I’m never sure exactly when or why mummies became viewed as monstrous, and while they are in The Necromancer’s Apprentice (although not through any fault of their own), I’ll still always have a soft spot for bandaged marauders.

What about you? What are your favourite monsters?

Bio

Icy Sedgwick was born in the North East of England, and lives and works in Newcastle. She has been writing with a view to doing so professionally for over ten years, and has had several stories included in anthologies, including Short Stack and Bloody Parchment: The Root Cellar & Other Stories.

She spends her non-writing time working on a PhD in Film Studies, considering the use of set design in contemporary horror. Icy had her first book, a pulp Western named The Guns of Retribution, published in 2011, and her horror fantasy, The Necromancer’s Apprentice, was released in March 2014.

Links

Website: http://www.icysedgwick.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Necromancers-Apprentice-Icy-Sedgwick/dp/0615964893/

Twitter: http://twitter.com/icypop

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/miss.icy.sedgwick

Google +: http://plus.google.com/+IcySedgwick/about

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