Planetary Colonial Accessions Depot – Inprocessing Brief


Okay, kids, wake the hell up. I know you’ve been sitting in those desks since zero-four-hundred, wondering what the hell is going on, but never forget that you volunteered to be here. Nobody is making you do this. If you want to, you can go directly out that door in the back of the room, call your mommy or your daddy to come pick you up, then go home to your comfy little beds . . . No?

Right. Good. Now, pay attention. This is your official inprocessing brief.

A few days ago, the New Horizons probe did a close fly-by of the (dwarf) planet Pluto. Did you see the news? The pictures? I know, Pluto kinda gets lost in the shuffle — what with all the politicized, hyperbolic, narrative-laden bulls*** they cram into your brains all day. If it’s not the snooze news, it’s social media — where the way you change the world is by clicking your mouse, then giving yourself a hug. Because you care so much. No, don’t bother denying it. You’re children of your era, I know that’s how the game works. Virtue-signaling. Slacktivism. Never get your hands dirty.

Well, be prepared to get some soil under your nails, boys and girls. Because Pluto is where we’re ultimately headed. And beyond. Not with robots. But with human beings.

See, we used to be the kind of people who knew about frontiers. They were dangerous, wild places where a guy could literally lose himself. For a tiny period in the 1960s and early 1970s, we almost recaptured the dream. The moon truly is a harsh mistress. Like all frontiers, it’s mighty unforgiving on the careless, and the stupid. No room for politically correct doublethink. You either get it right, or you die. Mistakes — even the little ones — are fatal. Not an environment that’s terribly kind to Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes. Going to the moon requires engineering, guts, skill, and no small degree of stoicism.

I repeat: guts, skill, and stoicism.

When is the last time we cared about these things? And I mean, really cared? As a people?

Because the moon is just a puddle jump. Mars, the Jupiter system, and beyond, will require a quantum leap — not only in terms of dollars and infrastructure, but also in terms of civilizational grit. The fortitude and certainty we used to have, when we were still pioneers. The kind of cultural granite that our Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes are eagerly erasing from our collective consciousness.

Doubt me? I know some of you have had some college recently. Raise your hands. Were there designated safe spaces? Gender-flexible bathrooms? Was there free microaggression counseling? Did they teach you about how capitalism is evil? Were you warned to check your privilege?

Okay, put your hands down. Those questions were mostly rhetorical. Take my word for it. Once you pass through this facility, all that poofy s*** is over. Am I clear? Over.

See, I just shocked you. Your faces gave it away.

Let me step back for a sec. I know it’s pure heresy for me to suggest that running around like spoiled children — shrieking and crying every time something rubs you even a little bit the wrong way — is not just a bad idea, but a complete failure of moral fiber. It’s the truth, though. You cannot be a pussy and make it to the stars. I repeat: you cannot be a pussy and make it to the stars. You can have a pussy, fine. You just can’t be a pussy.

There, shocked you again. Get used to it.

See, our ships aren’t made of wood anymore, but the men still have to be made of iron. Women too, frankly. The fact you have a vagina doesn’t give you a free pass. That officer who filed you in here? Remember her? The one with the small scar on her chin? Mean look on her face? The one who didn’t smile back at you? Did she seem like the kind of person who pulls her dress up over her head when life gets uncomfortable? No, I don’t think so either.

She’s sturdy folk. The kind of woman who, one-hundred-and-seventy years ago, could put her husband and two babies into the ground, then let the tears freeze on her face as she kept the oxen and the wagon headed toward the snow-blown sunset.

Not that sturdy folk — men and women alike — aren’t still among us. They can often be found working in the ranks of our militaries and our blue-collar services: fire departments, police departments, emergency medical response teams, and so forth. They’re on the farms and ranches in fly-over country. They do your plumbing and your electricity. They pour cement and frame houses. They drink beer and watch sports and tell dirty jokes, and talk about their last deployment with the Guard or Reserve. They cringe and bite their tongues every time some yammering, pampered weenie in a suit gets on TV and lectures them about what terrible people they all are. Because they didn’t grow up in a tony upper-middle-class suburban world, going to tony upper-middle-class lib-arts colleges, where they got tony upper-middle-class degrees in Hating America.

But sturdy folk are the only chance civilization’s got.

Doubt me? Check it out.

Once upon a time, such folk left the western side of the Appalachians behind, and within a century they tamed a continent. The descendants of those pioneers endured the Great Depression, then went on to beat the Imperial Japanese, Nazi Germany, face off with the Soviet Russians and Red Chinese during the Cold War, and put spacecraft on the moon — just sixty-six years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

Something else: sturdy folk don’t give a damn if you’re male, female, trans, gay, straight, black, white, brown, red, or purple-polka-dotted. Sturdy folk only care about two things — are you reliable, and can you maintain your nerve and your sense of humor when the s*** hits the fan? ‘Cause I can tell you right now, the flakey ones, and squirrely ones, the brittle ones, and the people with chips on their shoulders, they’re going to be gunning for a little airlock justice. Do I need to go into detail about what I mean when I say airlock justice?

Good, I didn’t think so. This is the deal: we all piss yellow, we all s*** brown, and we all bleed red. Someone hacks you off? If it’s not a mission-critical issue, forget it. Water on a duck’s back. This ‘aint about you and your ego. Your feelings don’t matter. Keep your noses out of business that ‘aint yours to mind, especially among your crewmates, and you’ll be fine. But the minute you think you deserve an exception, you become a danger to not only yourself, but everyone else around you. Again, this is no place for Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes.

Now, you may be thinking, there’s no frontier anymore. The whole Earth has been swallowed up in the 21st century web of technology and ultra-convenience. Besides, your history teachers taught you that pioneers were evil, genocidal, racist maniacs, destroying Gaia and Her peaceful tribes. Right?

I see you nodding your heads.

Well, this is the place where you will unlearn much of what was spoon-fed to you by people who aren’t qualified to poor warm piss out of a cold space boot, even with the instructions stenciled on the heel.

The frontier still lives. Pioneering still lives. It lives right here in our hearts.

If we could just boost a few thousand sturdy folk into Earth orbit . . . no, not just Earth orbit. Think bigger. The asteroid belt. Endless mountains of raw ore. Drifting. Waiting. It’ll take a blue-collar, can-do attitude to harness that untapped river of iron, silver, platinum, gold, and titanium. Haul a few of those rocks back home. Set up the interplanetary shipyards overhead. Get the emigration bureaus churning. Are you good with your hands? Do you have a sharp mind? Can you be taught to do technical things under difficult conditions? Can you take and obey orders, from people who’ve earned the right to give them?

Wait, don’t answer, we’ll test your asses — to be sure. No trophies for participation, on the accessions exams. You’ve either got what it takes, or you don’t. So keep on your toes.

Here, I want you to look at this picture on the big screens in front of you. See that ball? That’s Charon, Pluto’s runty sibling. There’s a dark blotch at the top. See it? Good.

Ladies and gentlemen, some day — maybe in fifty years? Maybe in a hundred and fifty? — we simply will walk into Mordor!

But not after we’ve sweated, bled, and died for the right to do so.

Yup, I said it. Death. No pioneering effort can escape it. We lost three good men with Apollo, and almost lost three more. We lost fourteen people with the shuttle. Both of those programs had thousands of specialists and billions of dollars working to ensure the crews were as safe as possible, and it wasn’t enough to make things foolproof. Where we’re all going in the future, there will be even greater risks, using even more cutting-edge technology, to strive for higher goals. So make no mistake about it. Men and women are going to lose their lives. Remember that giant wall of little empty plackards you passed when you came in the door today? We expect to fill the whole thing with names, and then some. Some of you sitting in this room, might be up there eventually.

Don’t get scared — it’s all in a day’s work. Your great-great-grandfathers used to walk I-beams in the sky over New York, thirty stories up, without so much as a single safety belt. And just like your great-great-grandfathers, you’ll have plenty of caffeine, nicotine, porn, and poker cards; to help you cope. They did it. I have faith that each and every one of you, sitting in those desks, can do it too. You just have to want it. You just have to have the will. Again, it don’t make a damned bit of a difference if you’re male, female, trans, straight, gay, brown, white, or purple-polka-dotted. The only thing that matters is, you can’t be yellow down your spine.

Alright, that’s the end of the brief. If you’re a Speshul Sparklee Snowflake, please depart to your rear — and don’t ever dare show your face in my depot again; not until you’ve gotten over yourself, and have grown a pair.

But if you’ve got what it takes . . . first door behind me — your front — please. Single-file. When the accessions battery is concluded, we’ll feed you lunch, prior to giving you your results. After that, they will laser-size you for your space suit, issue equipment, and coveralls. Pick up your space-standard foot locker at the end of the building, right before you exit onto the tarmac. Those lockers are heavy. Don’t worry. One end has wheels.

The training shuttles will be waiting.



Marketing Your Book to a Large Library System

I will be out of pocket for the better part of two days, but fortunately Overgrown Hobbit was generous enough with her time and knowledge to send me a guest post. This is a guideline for having a book accepted to a large library, such as the one she works for. We hope that it will offer some of you a way to get your books out to a broader audience. And thank Overgrown Hobbit, because I think everyone here loves a librarian! From a regular hobbit sized author and former librarian to our guest: I really appreciate this. 


For Small Presses and Local authors.

Revised 8/28/13

This is based off the guidelines for my own large public library system and is applicable to small presses and local authors. Since this will be posted for a wider audience, I’ve redacted the specifics. Your mileage may vary—widely—based on your own local library’s collection policy. I hope by sharing this information to make it easier for writer and publishers to connect to the readers I serve

I cannot recommend highly enough doing your research: by which I mean calling, e-mailing or live-chatting (modern libraries use all three modes) your local librarian and having her do it for you. Find out who the “selectors” are (see below) and what the “collection policies” are.for your local library system

—Your friendly neighborhood librarian.

While public library systems actively seek out books that meet their selection criteria, and are written or published locally, they usually stick to content for the general reader rather than the specialist. They generally don’t collect textbooks.

For the most part, a large system will accept books that are primarily commercially published.  Commercial publication standards include: a sturdy binding, preferably with the title on the spine; a title page clearly stating (on either the front or the back) the author, title, publisher and date of publication; an International Standard Business Number (ISBN) listed somewhere on the book or the jacket; and a price listed on either the book or the jacket.

Because books in a public library get heavy and sometimes careless use from the public, they look for ones which are sturdily bound, preferably sewn or glued.  Spiral and comb bindings do not stand up well in public library setting. Most libraries cannot use books with pages designed to be filled in by the reader, or torn out.  Books that include objects such as toys, or crafts kits are also not appropriate.

EBooks need to meet the same content criteria as print books, and, in addition, must be available to public libraries through one of the vendors that the library system uses. Overdrive is a common vendor (

The best way to bring your book to the attention of selecting librarians is through reviews.  A positive review in one or more of the library review journals, such as Library Journal, School Library Journal (for children’s books,) Kirkus, Booklist or Publisher’s Weekly or in The Seattle Times will give your book an excellent chance of being bought. At this time (~2013) less weight is given to reader reviews in places like and Goodreads, or to paid reviews.

Ways to contact the selection librarians begins with identifying them. In a large system look for a “Central Branch” or Service Center. Call during normal business hours to determine the contact information of the “selector” who purchases your type of book: Adult, nonfiction, “juvenile” (children’s’), audio- or e-book, for example. Or visit the library’s website and noodle around until you’ve found (for example) the Teen fiction selector or audiobooks selector’s e-mail.

Once you’ve identified the correct selector, send an e-mail which either describes the book or gives us the URL to your web site, or mail a flyer to their physical address.

Librarians generally have only a short amount of time to look at the information, so emphasize the essentials.

  • WHAT the book is about. This should be brief and pithy.
  • WHY the book is needed at this particular library. Here you should include quotations from reviews, or reader testimonials if you have them.  If the book has been reviewed you could also attach a copy of the review or citation to it.
  • WHO the intended audience is for this book. Is it intended for adults, young adults or children?  Parents, business persons, hobbyists, etc.?
  • WHO the author is. This should include qualifications, such as education, experience in the field, and experience as a writer.  Be sure to mention that you are a local author or publisher, since this can be a factor in some libraries’ decision whether or not to buy.
  • WHEN, WHERE, etc. the book was published. Librarians need all the bibliographic data, including date of publication, price, ISBN (very important), edition statement, type of binding.  If the book is self published, please give some indication of its physical appearance, including how it is bound.
  • HOW the Library can get it. Libraries prefer to buy from wholesale vendors, such as Baker & Taylor or Ingram.  Some will buy new books from Amazon when the book is not available through other commercial vendors.  If the book is only available directly from you, be sure to provide a phone number, address, and e-mail address if you have one.  Be prepared to accept purchase orders, and to wait several weeks for payment.  Also, you will almost certainly need to supply a signed W-9 form to the library systems’ Business Office.

Library selectors look at catalogs from local publishers as they have time. They really appreciate all of the bibliographic information listed above for each title, as well as indications of which titles are new.

You many also want to consider being an exhibitor at library conferences.  This is one way to reach many librarians in a short space of time.  National conference such as the American Library Association can be overwhelming, but smaller ones such as regional and state association conventions attract many librarians from this area.  See additional information below.

Please do not drop in to either branch libraries or Main Branch / Central Branch / Service Center expecting to be able to promote the book in person. The branch libraries will only be able to forward information to the Selection and Order Department. Librarian schedules are usually crowded, and you may end up wasting your time if no selection librarian is available when you arrive.


For Information on how to submit a book for a review:


50 East Huron St.

Chicago, IL 60611



770 Broadway

New York, NY 10003


Library Journal.

360 Park Ave. S.

New York, NY 10010


Publisher’s Weekly

360 Park Ave. S.

New York, NY 10010


Seattle Times

  1. O. Box 70

Seattle, WA 98111



The American Library Association conference planning calendar ( lists upcoming conferences.  Information on exhibiting at each conference is available through the links for the individual events.

The Public Library Association (a subset of ALA) is a good choice if you want to go national. Look for the “conferences” link here:






Filed under MARKETING


Yeah, I know, promotion has no hyphen in it. It’s early, I’m pre-coffee, so bear with me. Pro, or for, and motion. Or perhaps it’s ‘in favor of’ and motion. Either way, there’s energy in that. We’re going places! And we’re asking you to come along with us, dear readers.

Here’s the thing. Mad Genius Club is a conglomerate (another fun mashup word) of authors and professionals who donate their time in an effort to give back to the community that has supported them. This is very much a work of love. But you know how we also love our coffee, and that costs money. Cold hard cash, in lieu of pretty words. I’ve yet to find a market that would accept a well-turned phrase or bit of trenchant humor in exchange for the brown beans of life.

Really, we’re not asking much. Since the store won’t take our words, perhaps you will. And thus, capitalism and the free market wins again! And I get my morning brew of warmth and caffeine. Buy two, and we could have mocha…

sword of arelionSword of Arelion 

by Amanda S Green

War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.

Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.

Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.



shadow handsShadow Hands 

By David Pascoe

Melody Devreux sees things that shouldn’t be there. Shadows cast by the setting sun reach out for her with abyssal claws. She sleeps with the lights on and never goes out after dark. When the monsters she sees come for her, she must harness the light inside her to prevail.

There are now six short stories in this series, collect them all!


here be dragons completeHere Be Dragons

by Sarah Hoyt

A wonderful collection of work that shows the true breadth of Hoyt’s imagination. Here you will find tales of humanity, monsters who are all-too human, and some who claim human while showing their true colors. From cute kittens that aren’t what they seem, to vampires, this is a selection of stories that will pull you in and onward. If you’re already a fan of her Darkship world, you will find stories that hold the keys to some of her characters and their motivations in those novels. If you likewry humor, then you will find it in the story of Heart’s Fire, where the young heroine is reading a paperback novel, the key to her downfall. Sarah and I share a love of reading, and furthermore, reading stuff that everyone tells us is trashy and why aren’t you reading works with great and lofty messages?

Because sometimes it’s not about the message that blinks and flashes like a giant neon light tearing the quiet night apart. Sometimes it’s about the little stories, the lives of people who work and love and live quietly, never thinking they could make a difference until they have no choice. Because that is a message in itself. Stories give us hope, which enables us to continue. Stories show us how heroism really works, and romance, and all the big things that make us human and keeps us going onward into the future which might hold magic in the form of technology. Or maybe not, it could be things we haven’t even dreamed of yet, writers nor readers.


Racers of the NightRacers of the Night

by Brad Torgersen

Flying at the Speed of Night . . . Following in the successful footsteps of his previous short fiction collection (“Lights in the Deep”) award-winning and award-nominated Science Fiction author Brad R. Torgersen is back with twelve new tales. From the edges of explored space, to the depths of the artificial soul. At once breaking the limits of human endurance, while also treading the tender landscapes of the human heart. Originally appearing in the pages of Analog magazine, Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show magazine, Mike Resnick’s Galaxy’s Edge magazine, and elsewhere, these stories are collected here for the first time; with commentary and anecdotes from the author. Introductions by bestsellers L.E. Modesitt, Jr., Kevin J. Anderson, and Dave Wolverton (Farland.)


Bolg and beautifulBolg PI: The Bolg and the Beautiful

by Dave Freer

A humorous, satirical noir detective urban fantasy, set in a small city in flyover country, which has an unusually high population of Trolls, werewolves, fairies and a dwarf.

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds himself called on undertake paranormal cases: This time it’s a retired Fertility Goddess, and her daughter, who’ve been robbed by a con-man from their friendly neighborhood bank. They want a Norse berserker, with a two-handed axe loose in the banking hall. Instead they get Bolg trying to recover their money. The bank might prefer the berserker too.




forge a new blade cover for blog post v2Forge a New Blade 

By Peter Grant

The Laredo Resistance fought the Bactrian invaders to a standstill, but shattered itself in the process. Through battle, bloodshed and murder, Dave Carson became President of Laredo’s Government-in-Exile. Now he must dodge assassination attempts by his enemies while fighting the war on new fronts – with a little unorthodox help from Steve Maxwell of the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

Gloria Aldred, former head of the Resistance, has plans that run counter to everything Dave’s trying to achieve – and she’s not about to ask his permission to pursue them.

Satrap Rostam is trying to cut Bactria’s losses and rebuild his exhausted planet, but his generals and nobles have lots of guilty secrets to hide – and they don’t mind burying him right along with them if necessary.



by Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any convetional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.







Dragon Noir

The new book!

Dragon Noir 

by Cedar Sanderson

The pixie with the gun has come home to see his princess crowned a queen and live in peace. But nothing is ever easy for Lom. A gruesome discovery on his doorstep interrupts their plans and sends Lom off on a mission to save not one, but two worlds. It’s personal this time and the stakes are higher than ever before. With friends falling and the enemy gathering, Bella and Lom must conquer the worst fears and monsters Underhill can conjure. Failure is not on the agenda.


Earth gateEarth Gate

by Pam Uphoff

*17th* book in the Wine of the Gods Universe.
Dimensional travel had brought the Earth immense wealth, but also a cross-dimensional war with the Empire of the One.
Jaime Felis had been recruited by the United Earth Central Intelligence Agency and emplaced in the Army unit crossing the dimensions to a world that claimed to have magic. Magic created through genetic engineering, very like the genetic engineering of the One—and of Jaime’s home planet. They hoped that his faint abilities would give them some insights into the magic of both this low tech Comet Fall and the high tech Empire.
He hadn’t expected to be marooned. Nor for rescue to be so fraught with problems.



dead babylonThe Dead Of Babylon

by Jason Cordova

Campbell Award nominated author takes on zombies in this short tale.



Which reminds me, don´t forget to cast your ballot today in the Hugo Awards, this is the last day of voting! 

pour l´encourager, here´s a picture of a large part of the ELOE. Hear the evil laughter, and despair!  giggle along with us!

Science Fiction Authors

A large part of the ELOE at LibertyCon 28. Left to right is Kate Paulk, John C Wright (seated), Sarah Hoyt, Michael Z Williamson, and Cedar Sanderson





Filed under PROMOTION

Kate the Impaler and the Convention of Liberty

Part the Fifth

Kate the Impaler has survived the first day of LibertyCon. But the con isn’t over…

It came to pass that as the night did give way unto the day, the warrior maiden Kate the Impaler did awaken and roundly curse the miscreant who had – so she swore – crept in to her room while she slept and implanted a razor blade in her throat. Said miscreant must remain unpunished, alas, for there was much to do ere the first session of the day.

The parlous programming of the Beautiful But Evil Space Princess and her beloved Dread Mathematician ensured that Kate the Impaler would be busy the entire day, assisting her dear friends through this torture – for torture indeed it was, and the Lady Sarah was not the only one desiring the head (or other suitable appendage) of the Master of Programming in payment for his sins.

The programming did fall thusly:


10 AM Alien Minds: Portrayal in Science Fiction

11 AM The Hoyt Collective Reading (Sarah, Dan, and Robert)

12 PM How to Write Workshop (a two hour session)

2 PM The Baen Travelling Slideshow and Prize Patrol (another 2 hour session)

4 PM Indie: Is your book ready for prime time

5 PM Autograph Session

Lest it be thought they might rest after this, be it known the Beautiful But Evil Space Princess was required by Empress of Baen to attend an intimate dinner of some seventy close friends upon the finish of her autographing session, and as such, she would be working without break from ten of the morning until late that night – though at least the Empress of Baen would indeed ensure that her dear friend the Lady Sarah would not go without sustenance.

Thus did Kate the Impaler sip of hot water and lemon to ease her throat while breaking her fast, upon completion of which necessity she did locate the nearest merchant of medicinal goods and purchase a quantity of throat lozenges to ward herself against further soreness of throat (though in truth, the pain did not desist, merely reduced to a level at which the warrior maiden might endure it without complaint).

And so, she did assist by guiding the Lady Sarah from place to place, that the Mathematician might worry only about ensuring that all materials needed be present and not concern himself with his lady’s… unique grasp of navigation.

The workshop, Kate the Impaler had wished to attend that she might observe the workings of the Redheads of Doom, but alas! Matters beyond the control of mere mortals had prevented the Lady Amanda, the Redhead of Doom (or the Other Redhead of Doom) from journeying to the land of Choo Choo. And so it came to pass that Kate the Impaler did get dragged unto the presenting table wherein the most un-workshoppy workshop did take place – for one cannot work, much less shop, in a room bereft of tables upon which to work (and shop), with no places where posters or other such helpful items might be displayed, and too many attendees to suggest the more limber be seated upon the floor and use their chairs as impromptu tables.

Thus, the workshop became a discussion with all offering suggestions and comments and much enjoyment had by all.

It must be said that by the autographing session, Kate the Impaler did be in worse state than the Beautiful But Evil Space Princess, and with far less reason, so though she had greatly enjoyed all the panels she had attended and wished she were able to continue the evening, she was thankful the Empress of Baen did not require her presence. Such a mighty personage was far beyond a mere warrior maiden’s notice, and the warrior did make her weary way first to the Convention Place of Repast, wherein she did satisfy her hunger, and thence to her suite, where she was soon once more asleep, with hopes that the Dread Con Crud would be less severe come the morning.

To be continued (almost there…)


Filed under Uncategorized

Why Give Indie a Try

I didn’t forget my post day. I forgot what day today is.  This is partly because I’m still feeling like “every day is Sunday” after we finished the heavy part of the house, and partly because today is a wee bit crazy.  We just took a load of hazardous waste (paint, mostly) to the local facility, and we’re now getting ready to go to the eye doctor (which is actually a good thing.  I think we’ll all agree it will be better if I can write without squinting at the screen and confusing os and es.) Also, I have the Hugo voting to do, I’ve got my country’s 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder and Guilder to frame for it; I’m swamped.

So, what can I do that is useful to you on short notice?

Well, recently I had the opportunity to discuss indie versus traditional with someone I hope is becoming a friend.  So i sort of know the questions on your mind, and will try to answer them.  If I don’t cover them, ping me in comments and I’ll try to answer.

Things you wanted to know about indie publishing, but were afraid to ask:

1- Isn’t it a danger to do indie publishing?  Won’t it wreck my career?  I mean, publishers won’t take me seriously after that.

A- No.  No.  And also forget about it.  Not only Larry Correia, but a lot of other people whom I can’t be bothered to look up right now, start out indie, do well, then get picked up by a house.

2- Won’t having published indie first set off alarm bells at a traditional house?

Um… maybe.  But there’s alarm bells and alarm bells.  For ten years I’ve watched this kind of pick-up do better than traditionally submitted books.  From a business point of view, it makes sense: this person has proven that they can publish and sell, so if you give them a little push, who knows where they’ll end up?  But maybe it’s not a bad idea that a publisher also knows you have other options.  As Laurell K. Hamilton once told me “publishers are like men.  If you only have one, they’ll abuse the privilege.”  Now I’m not sure what that means about her relationships, but I know she’s right about publishers (except possibly Baen.)

3- So, what about Baen?  Why can’t I just go with them?

Well, Baen is ONE house.  And they publish rather specific stuff: sf/f and sf/f of a certain bend.  For instance, I thought they wouldn’t do well with Witchfinder because it’s so weird.  They might accept it because I’m their author, but it would be a bit odd with their very distinctive fan base (who read it anyway, but because it’s Goldport they know what to expect.)  And if you’re not already their author and are doing something like mystery or thriller with no supernatural elements (or even if you ARE their author) they’ll not be able to pick it up.

Also, Baen has a long reply time.  Also, Baen might prefer to not pick up a totally untried writer when indie successes would like to publish with them.  Or at least they’d prefer tried properties.  Can you blame them?

4- But there’s no money in indie!

Well, for the last two years, when I have been almost completely sidelined traditionally, I’ve been making better than my average before I went indie.  From Amazon.  I’m not getting rich or anything, but those are the reprints, and they’re still nothing to sneeze at.  (Around 15k a year, or a little more.)  My first indie published novel got me the same I got from traditional in the first three months out.  BUT more than that, my friends with no publishing track record are making about the same or just a little less from their books.

5- But what if my book isn’t good enough?

Good enough according to whom?  Given their rate of flops, the fact a traditional publisher wants to publish it doesn’t mean it’s “good enough” for the public.  At best it means someone else took the responsibility for it if it’s a flop.  But not really, since if it’s a flop it’s ALWAYS the writer’s fault.

By all means make sure that you spelled everything right, and that you didn’t completely forget one of the subplots resolution (which sometimes happens traditional, too.)

But in the end what counts is if the book finds an audience.  And you can’t decide that.  As my husband is finding out, some people out there ARE waiting for a book just like his.

Put the book out and find out.  If you’re really afraid it sucks, (to quote Kris Rusch) use I.M.N. Idiot as a pen name.  But be prepared for Mr. or Ms. Idiot to be a ROARING success.

Go on, do it.

There’s gold in them there hills.


Filed under Uncategorized

Murphy, please go home

When I was young and it seemed like one thing after another broke at the house, my parents would talk about how they wished the gremlin would go find someone else’s house to play in. After one particularly bad stretch of luck — the refrigerator door handle came off, the air conditioner broke and the sink backed up  and all on the same day — my mother actually made grabbing motions in the middle of the kitchen and marched out to the back fence and tossed her imaginary gremlin over the fence. If that wasn’t odd enough for a tween to watch, hearing her usually level-headed mother yell at the gremlin not to come back certainly was. Of course, when the neighbor whose yard she had tossed the “gremlin” into started complaining about things breaking down all of a sudden, we just looked at one another and tried not to burst out laughing.

That gremlin was Murphy, he of the bad luck fame. It is clear he has decided to track us down again. It doesn’t matter that years have passed since he last wreaked such havoc on the family. It certainly doesn’t appear to matter that we have moved — heck, I’ve moved at least four times since then. No, with the tracking ability of the best trained drug dog, he has taken up residency again and I am ready for him to leave. Bad enough he broke the garbage disposal (and man have those gone up in price since the last time I replaced one). Then it was my 13 month old iPad. Firmly and carefully encased in the best protective case I could find, it dropped three feet and the screen shattered in a zillion pieces.

Color me not happy but I could live. I used the iPad mainly to research while writing. I could transfer that over to the Kindle Fire or the Surface Pro 3. At least when I wasn’t at my desk and could simply hook the laptop up to multiple monitors. Noooo problem. Right?


Last week, the Fire HDX, 121/2 months after purchase but still under extended warranty, started acting up. Upon waking it would sometimes give me a blank screen or only half a screen. Sometimes everything would be all right. A soft reboot would send my saves in my e-books back two to three days minimum. But only on the Fire. If I checked on the laptop or the Surface Pro 3, the e-book would open to exactly where I’d left off. And then there was the wonderful overlay screen that would come up and tell me I was in full screen mode. Sometimes I could dismiss it and sometimes I couldn’t.

So, multiple phone calls to Amazon on Saturday and then they call me Sunday. They have the solution. There is the wonderful new software update that will “solve all the problems they are having with their Fire HDXs.” I kid you not. That is what the tech who called me said. Only one problem. Murphy’s cousin was visiting Amazon at the time and the webpage I had to go to in order to download the new update came up with an error message. Let me tell you, the tech really went into a tailspin then.

Fast forward to yesterday and the main reason for this rambling post. The update was finally available for download. Like a good customer, and because I was making copious notes and mad enough to call if anything went wrong, I downloaded the update and side-loaded it into my Fire HDX. Then I waited as it installed. So far, so good. Installation completed and I opened up the book I’d been reading.

And that is when things went downhill fast.

Murphy has now become a frigging programmer for Amazon. Worse, he is one who did not think about the impact of what he has done. You see, with the new update, there is a “feature” that is added to the Kindle app that “helps” you by offering to let you buy the next book in the series or buy the Audible version of the book so “you can listen along while you read”. I kid you not.

They have now put ads into their app and, glory of glories — not!, when you happen to activate the ad, it drops down from the top of the page and will cover up to 4 lines of text. Talk about throwing you out of the book. Oh, and it doesn’t disappear until you tap the page again and dismiss it.

So, yes, your Mad Genius, one of the Redheads of Doom, once again called Amazon. No, this is not something that can be turned off. It is a “feature”. No, it doesn’t cover the text. Oooh, sorry, it does. But we can’t do anything about it. No, we can’t roll your kindle back to the previous OS.

Head, meet desk.

As a reader, this pisses me off to no end. For one thing, I don’t want narration AS I’M READING. For another, if I accidentally tap the middle of the page, I don’t want an ad popping up to throw me out of the plot. But there is another issue that really bothers me. I paid to remove the “special offers” from my Fire. Why? Because I didn’t want ads. Now, even though I paid, I am getting ad. But, according to Amazon, these aren’t ads but are “additional features”.


From and author standpoint, it bothers me even more. I don’t want readers to think that I’ve authorized this sort of ad. I didn’t. I wasn’t consulted and, to the best of my knowledge, I’m not going to get any additional monies for purchases made through this new “feature”. It isn’t like clicking on an Amazon Associates link and making a purchase which will give me a very small percentage of the sales price. This is pure profit for Amazon.

More on that in a moment.

But it still not only violates the spirit of asking customers to pay to remove the special offers but, worse, it will upset our readers who, very possibly, blame us for this unwanted distraction. I don’t know about you but I’min the business of trying to keep my readers happy, not to upset them.

I don’t mind Amazon making a profit. It’s a huge corporation and it has to make money in order to continue doing what it does best. I appreciate all it has done to help indie authors and I have never been one to jump onto the Amazon Hater Bandwagon. But this is one of Amazon’s most boneheaded decisions in a very long time. I get wanting to direct customers to the next book in the series. But guess what, Amazon already does that with the page that pops up at the end of any e-book directing customers to where they can rate the book they’ve just finished and where they can see what else the author has for sale. The same sort of thing could be done for the Audible links. Heck, Amazon could include that information in what it gives in the popup that appears when you first open a book. It isn’t something that has to appear each and every time you happen to tap a page, whether by accident, to check your progress in the book or to be able to look up a word in the dictionary.

Add in a tear in my Achilles tendon and related problems that had caused and, well, Murphy the Gremlin can go visit someone else. I have books to write and it is hard to do when my tech keeps breaking and my body decides it needs to scream in pain.

So, does anyone know a good Gremlin extermination service they’d be willing to recommend?



On stereotypes

On stereotypes

It’s a word you’ll hear a lot of in the writing trade.
I believe it has something to do with Bang and Olufsen, or Bose, or dogs and birds (tweeters and woofers as they are colloquially known among the hoi polloi, like moi).

It must, like, be the opposite of monotype, because, like, a stereo’s got, like, two speakers and mono means one. And a monotype isn’t just hitting one key… it is the only one of its kind, absolutely unique, just like all of us.

Which of course is why modern litteratchewer sneers at it. It’s important to sneer in unison with modern Litteratchewer, or you will never be a unique voice in modern litteratchewer, you know. If you’re going to be ‘daring and innovative’ there are very strict rules! Do not dream of stepping outside of these boundaries or you will instantly be transformed into an evil reactionary, and no one in modern litteratchewer will have sex with you, or put you never-read novel on their coffee-table, before it begins its long sad journey to the thrift shop.

Of course… outside the dreams of the modern litterati, things are a little more complicated, and yet more comprehensible. Stereotypes – a word I believe derived from the Greek ‘stereos’ (and no, it’s not multiple recordings of slightly out of phase EU members complaining about austerity. That’s the Greek tragedy.) meaning ‘firm or solid’ and type – are both a blessing and curse in writing.

Stereotypes exist. “He was a stereotypical Greek”, “she was a stereotypical modern literary writer.” You know precisely what that is in your head (although it may not be the same in mine). Some fantasy authors have made a great success out of using the stereotype, as a kind of foundation onto which they build the character. David Eddings springs to mind. You may or may not like his books, but they worked for hundreds of thousands of people.

The word has (in some uses, usually when complaining about someone’s writing) come to mean formulaic, predictable. So for example you could predict in the last ten years out of Trad publishing, that the hero would be a kick-ass strong independent woman. The gay character – her sidekick and confidante — would be good, kind, supportive. The [insert POC flavor of the month] would be noble, strong, mentally acute friend of the hero/s. If the any of the above had to be American, they’d be hyphenated-American. The villain would of course be American (de-hyphenated for his sins) male, middle-aged, conservative, Christian, white and a mouth-breather. Naturally – because they all are in purely in the imagination of modern literati, where working men drink gin — misogynists, rapists, probably pedophiles and insane. Oh and they like guns, weapons, fighting, which oddly enough, they are defeated in the use of by the vegan heroes who abhor violence.

Now, I think it is pretty obvious that these stereotypes exist as ‘real’ or ‘firm’ only in the head of the writer and those of similar beliefs. It’s got almost zero probability of being accurate. It’s predicable, formulaic, but not accurate. It’s a world of difference from the stereotype ‘all Latins have darker skins, and typically black hair and brown eyes, get very voluble and use a lot of hand gestures, and eat garlic.’ That’s not universally true either, but has at least a reasonable probability of being right at least on several points, and is not necessarily derogatory (I love garlic).

However, even wildly inaccurate to downright stupid formulaic predictable (since when have these last two indicated writing failure?) types of stereotypes work for writers too. At least, they work well with the UK and it seems NY acquiring editors, and their ‘client’ literati inner circle. They work for the simple reason that they’re saying precisely what those readers WANT to hear. They confirm their own biases and bigotry. Although in practice they don’t actually KNOW any of the kind of people they want to believe this about… and it is logically impossible to support their beliefs, they believe it emphatically. As Prof Jonathan Haidt demonstrated so well, the Left wing – which is almost all of Traditional publishing, are much more ignorant of the Right (or anyone outside their circle) than vice versa.

The problem starts when the book goes beyond this circle. If you’re only trying to sell to that circle: go for it. It’ll be beloved, and the same as much to a book stereotyping any group, Right, Left, off somewhere in third dimension… they will enjoy relaxing into their familiar dislikes and likes. Unfortunately, for sf/fantasy/horror to be a major success, the book HAS to sell outside ANY major division, and indeed to people who don’t buy a lot of any of those genres. Probably, to people who don’t buy a lot of books.

When your stereotypes are likely to offend those outside your ‘circle of fellow believers’ … it had better be a great, great story. That happens, but not often.

I don’t flatter myself as that great a writer, that I venture into this territory. Besides, while stereotypes – at least if they’re accurate and not just your biases, exist, at most they should be a foundation to help a writer to build more on. If I say a character has Latin looks and temperament, I don’t have to explain that and certain actions flow logically from that. I’m inclined to write about and build real people from people I have met and details I’ve picked up… and while someone may have all the stereotypical characteristics, Mr or Mrs or Ms Average is actually a rare bird, and quite boring.

What brought this up BTW was yet another stereotypical Guardian UK Puppy kicking. I’m not going to bother to provide the link because it was just the usual: Make shit up, because fact checking is too hard, and straw puppies are much easier to demolish than trying the real thing. Make snide implications about Puppies being Nazis (we are storm troopers) and cheat. You’ve read it all before, it’s been fisked to death. What caught my attention was something about the writer’s voice or style. It seemed oddly familiar, and not quite the same as the usual contributor (cats make contributions to cat-boxes too). So I bothered to look at the name: Sarah Lotz. It took a while for the penny to drop – sorry, slow-brained monkey. A month or so ago I got given her breakout novel, by a friend with one of those carefully neutral expressions on his ugly mug.

He said “Here. This is by another South African.”

I said, as I always do… “I’m Australian, mate.”

He laughed a lot, but granted I was trying a damn sight harder than most people born here.

It’s true enough. I understand Algis Budrys’s comment from a different age (1950’s), in his ‘Rouge Moon’ about “the fierce patriotism of the new American” of an escapee from the Soviet Union – Budrys, himself from Lithuania understood this too well (except I am a new Australian, but I understand that gratitude and feeling I owe my new country a debt of it I can never entirely repay).

I read… well read a bit and then skim-waded to see if it ever reached a worthwhile resolution (not IMO). It was not to my taste, an appeared to be taking a ghoul-like advantage of the sadness and sorrow, and car-wreck fascination with passenger plane crashes. It was sort of somewhere on the line of Sclazi’s Lock in – more a psychological thriller than horror or sf, and in a style cloned from some successful Zombie book, using bits of made up media. (snark on/ I guess that made her shoo-in for writing in the Guardian. Snark off/). But what I remember most about the book – she got vast support from her UK publisher including sending her to the US on a book tour, and media support and promotion in all the usual suspects of the client circle – EW (I think it was the same author who did the hit piece on the pups – incestuous bunch), I09,, the Guardian… was that I found she ticked all the stereotype boxes so perfectly. Her grasp of – and antipathy towards — Americans is so very typically upper-middle class South African white, particularly in the Arts and left of SA politics. Like the PC of the story it was bad enough to make my teeth hurt… because I actually know an American or two, from across the spectrum, and know how complex the country and people are. Well, that was me. It’s obviously very appealing to a probably very similar class in London. Maybe even in the US.

Curiously, the very Australian friend who gave it to me, did not like it. Neither did I. Different people like different things, I suppose.

Despite the hype, the push (and her poorly concealed fury that her chance at a crony-in-crowd Hugo is hurt by the puppies)… I’d never heard of her or the book that they all reckoned was going to be the next big thing. It was on the coat-tails of two air disasters, about air disasters. It had tons of expensive push, loads of media support.

So why didn’t it fly? (Well, besides being afraid to?)

It could be that the style is just too confusing or that there are too many POVs.

Or it could be the stereotyping that many readers found offensive. Stereotyping’s a tool, like a rifle. It can be used well, and in the right place. Or not.

Something to keep in mind when write your next book.