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Elf Blood, Free Novel, Chapter 24



*You guys know we talked about doing a shared world.  We went with a whole continent so that Dave can have his jungle and I can have my big city with diners.  We’re working on a contract which we should have in a week or two (and yes, we’ll post it for your enlightenment although we haven’t decided yet if anyone not in the group can play.  OTOH if it’s very successful, we’ll inevitably enlarge it.  For now, here’s the eighth chapter of Elf Blood, book one of Risen Atlantis. And for now it is ©Sarah A. Hoyt 2014.  All rights reserved.  Do not copy, distribute or otherwise disseminate without the author’s name, and a link to this page.  You do not have the right to alter it.  You do not have the right to claim it as yours. For permission to do anything other than quote it for review or recommendation purposes, email This is a work of fiction, all coincidence between it and real people place or events is assuredly imaginary.*

For previous chapters, see here.  There will be some missing, but you can find them by paging back.  I need a minion to keep an up to date compilation and send it to me every Saturday night.  If you’re good, you’ll get a t-shirt or something.*


Chapter 24


We’d reached the street where I had my lodgings, and I wasn’t sure how to take leave of this man, or what it would mean. If he was telling the truth, did it mean that I could be jumped on by a mob at any time. And worse, I had the feeling that he had ideas. Yes, that sort of ideas.

We’d been walking together through the darkened city, and I had a feeling he was thinking this was some sort of romantic occasion and perhaps he would try to kiss me at the door.

Question: what happens when you slap a powerful Un’uruh who is also a policeman?

I wasn’t dying to find out. Not dying being, rather, the whole point.

So I was trying to find a plausible excuse that would allow me to duck up into the stairs to my room. I was also trying to remember the little formal magic I’d ever learned, wondering what protections I could set on my lodgings. If he was right about Un’uruh power then none would be powerful enough. On the other hand, I was also Un’uruh.

And then, as we stopped in front of my lodging, and he smiled at me, and I turned to tell him that I must go in, and thank him for his protection, there was…

A light.

That’s how I perceived it at first. A bright light shining from my right, illuminating the street in a weird, bluish glow.

I said “Oh,” and then my eyes adjusted and I perceived an image within the glow, and then I blinked and realized I was looking at sending performed by a powerful elf-king.

A sending was not exactly a projection of the elf creating it. I mean, he wasn’t here in any sense, except that we could see him. It was more like, through his power, he caused our eyes to perceive him where he was.

It was Ardghal, and where he was was in the middle of a well appointed room. I had the vague idea it was an office, but I couldn’t know for sure, since all I could glimpse was part of a fireplace and bookcases.

He was wearing a business suit, but his tie was askew and his shirt collar wrinkled, as if he had tried to get more air by shoving two fingers under the collar and pulling forcefully. He was pale, which was saying something for an elf who seemed to be made partly of snow. His hair stood up as though he’d run a hand through it without any idea what it was.

And yet he projected an aura of majesty he hadn’t projected when perfectly dressed and combed, in my office. Power crackled around him and from him, filled the sending with the sense of it, and seemed to project outwards into the street where we stood, to such an extent that I expected it would wake up the people sleeping in the lodgings around us. It was, to those capable of sensing power, like a punch in the nose. Not that he was doing anything, or hitting us with his power. His power just was. And by being, it was so massive, so unconquerable, that it couldn’t help but affect all magicians.

Officer Ian Applewood had felt it too. He took a step back, as though reeling, and looked towards the sending with a belligerent expression, like a man expecting a challenge. “Yeah?” he said.

But Ardghal Parthalan only ran his hand backwards over his hair again, and opened his mouth, and when no sound came, pulled at his collar again and swallowed audibly. “Come. Please come,” he said. “You must come. Something has… something has happened.”

“What has happened?” I asked, and officer Applewood echoed me a moment later.

“It is my brother,” Parthalan said, and swallowed hard again. “He—”

He moved aside. There, on the heartrug, in front of the blazing fire, lay the elf I was sure had just tried to kidnap me. His head had a hold on the side of it. Blood had leaked onto the rug, making a red and sticky puddle. He was undoubtedly dead.

“I need help,” Ardghal said. “Something is stalking my house and killing us. Please help us.”

“Mr Parthalan,” Applewood said. “You must know the police has to come. I know you sent this to Miss Smith, but the police—”

Parthalan seemed to focus for the first time, “Yes, yes, the police too, but we must have Miss Smith, also, please. Please come.”

And then the sending shut off.

I started awake, as though I’d been dreaming, just as a fairy steed, in sports car form pulled up. “I am sent by King Parthalan” formed in the air, not quite sounds, but a strong feeling. I took a step towards it and Officer Applewood grabbed my arm. “Don’t be a fool,” he said. “You know you won’t be safe.”



The Core of Science Fiction

Overnight, I find, there has been a controversy erupt on the internet. Well, this is hardly new. Ah, but you see, this has to do with SF. Oh, you say, the SFWA again? No, it’s the boy witless wonder once more. Now I see, you reply, and this is why you aren’t providing a link, because all he really is, is clickbait. Precisely.

I will, however, give you two other links. One is to Brad Torgerson’s blog, where that normally mild-mannered man loses his temper, just a little. “Unfortunately, ignorant snobbery of this sort is nothing new in the genre. You find out very quickly (once you begin publishing) which writers, editors, publishers, and artists enjoy the favor of the “society” people, and which writers, editors, publishers, and artists do not. My from-the-hip observation is that the “society” people want to see SF/F turned into a lightly speculative and fantastical carbon copy of the “prestigious literary” world. Replete with ambiguous covers that don’t really tell you anything about the story, but follow the general pattern of all things deemed “prestigious” and “literary.” If this year’s talked-about lit work features a somewhat fuzzy, off-focus photo of a pair of muddy Converse sneakers sitting on somebody’s front stoop, then by golly SF/F needs to follow suit with similar photos of similarly mundane, slightly off-focus objects which may or may not have anything to do with actual science fiction; as practiced traditionally by the greats.”

And also, because these people who consider themselves ‘literary’obviously can’t be bothered to read (perhaps this is the secret to literary fiction, after all: it is not mean to be actually read with comprehension). Here is a link to the original article by Toni Weisskopf, and a central paragraph, although I urge you if you have not read it all, to do so. “So the core of science fiction, its method, is still a valid way of creating the cultural artifacts we want. But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.”

I’m awfully tired of all of this. I’d ask what he thinks he is accomplishing with his weasel words (weasels: kill upon detection of movement, keep killing until everything stops moving. This is why an animal who can’t possibly eat all of that will destroy an entire henhouse. For joy of slaughter) except I’m not sure even he knows. Analyzing the words and overall drift of his articles, it’s difficult to see a true motive intelligence behind them. Which means I avoid them.

The internet gives a lot of people who are borderline a safe outlet for their activities. People who couldn’t function in normal society, can have a social life and even employment, contributing to society in a positive way, through the internet. I’ve written at length about this. However, a small fraction of the people who are online interacting are so lost to ration and reason they are unreachable. Kate’s post earlier this week about a pair of people who went beyond the pale and just would not let matters drop is a good example. I’ve dealt with, and had to block, similar folks. There is no piercing of the veil of delusion. They aren’t going to listen, and arguing is only damaging your own blood pressure.

Sometimes, it’s best to just back away slowly, and avoid that landmine, now you know where it is. Others, like today, I chose to defend someone I like a lot, because she didn’t deserve this (does anyone?) and perhaps by making her words more broadly findable, people who thought the weasels were reasonable will see the truth.

We’ll never be free of weasels. But we don’t have to allow them to rule over us and cause us to live in fear.

On a lighter note, and because I think Toni would approve of my pointing out that “winning the George Washington awards (every royalty period) is all the recognition needed” here are links to a few books…

Some are mine, most are not. The Great Labor Day Book Sale forges onward, with cheap books (gasp!) accessible to all.

This book is mine, Pixie Noir, my urban fantasy, will be on sale for only a dollar starting today, then slowly increasing to it’s regular price over the weekend. Remember, it’s easy to give ebooks as gifts!

And I have a cute little children’s story that is free today. Meant to be read aloud with your favorite youngling, it is a story of a boy, and his baby sister.

The Great Labor Day Weekend Promotional Sale

Or “this is what happens when a bunch of indies decide to band together”.

A couple of weeks ago, Sarah and I started talked about the long weekend coming up and what we could do to try to leverage it into a promotional event. What started as a simple discussion has turned into a sales event that, to be honest, boggles my mind. If I counted right, more than 30 authors signed up and more than 80 titles are included in the sale. Every title is $2.99 or less.  The offerings range from science fiction and fantasy to romance, historical fiction to mysteries and suspense, non-fiction to inspirational to YA. In other words, there’s a little bit of everything. Because there are so many different titles and genres represented, I split them into genres and then listed the offering by author and title. Here is a sample of some of the books and short stories being offerend:

*     *     *


murder worldJason Cordova
Kaiju Apocalypse

The oceans rose and from their depths the Kaiju came. Mankind survives in fortified, domed cities, fighting what seems an eternal war with the giant monsters and the smaller creatures they use as foot-soldiers. Now that war is coming to an end as one by one the city states of humanity fall to the Kaiju. Kaiju Apocalypse is the tale of the human race’s desperate, final stand.

kaiju apoc 2

Kaiju Apocalypse II

The oceans rose, flooding the world of man, and from their depths emerged the Kaiju, armies of giant monsters and their bestial foot soldiers intent upon the destruction of the humanity. A desperate plan for the survival of human race was put into action during the early days of the war. A massive colony ship, the Argo, was constructed in orbit and launched for the Alpha Centuri system in hopes of finding a new home among the stars. The Argo’s mission failed. Now, years later, the Argo is returning to Earth. Will its crew be ready for the horrors that await them? Have the island city states of man held their own against the Kaiju armies or has the Earth become nothing more than a wasteland dominated by giant monsters? The all out action of the Kaiju Apocalypse series continues here as the battle for Earth rages on.

Kaiju apoca 3

Kaiju Apocalypse III


Though scattered, ragtag groups of humans still continue to fight back, the war with the Kaiju was lost. Humanity teeters on the brink of extinction and the world has become a wasteland of dead cities and scorched Earth. One scientist has a plan to end the Kaiju once and for all but will it come at too high a cost?

murder world

Murder World: Kaiju Dawn

Captain Vincente Huerta and the crew of the Fancy have been hired to retrieve a valuable item from a downed research vessel at the edge of the enemy’s space.

It was going to be an easy payday.
But what Captain Huerta and the men, women and alien under his command didn’t know was that they were being sent to the most dangerous planet in the galaxy.
Something large, ancient and most assuredly evil resides on the planet of Gorgon IV. Something so terrifying that man could barely fathom it with his puny mind. Captain Huerta must use every trick in the book, and possibly write an entirely new one, if he wants to escape Murder World.

*     *     *

doamSarah D’Almeida
Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)

April in Paris 1625. D’Artagnan, and his new friends who hide their true identities under the assumed names of Athos, Porthos and Aramis, discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France. Suspecting an intrigue of Cardinal Richelieu’s and fearing the murder will go unpunished they start investigating. But the enterprise will be fraught with danger, traps from the Cardinal, duels with guards and plotting from the king himself.


Musketeers SeamstressThe Musketeer’s Seamstress (Musketeers Mysteries Book 2)

Aramis emerges from the water closet to find his lover, a duchess, murdered on her bed. The room is locked, and Aramis is the only one who could have entered it. He’s sure he didn’t do it, but no one else believes him. Even Monsieur de Treville, Captain of Musketeers, doubts Aramis’s word. Aramis must leave Paris and go on the run, entrusting the solving of the murder, and the defense of his honor, his freedom and his very life to Athos, Porthos and D’Artagnan. Can “one for all” carry the day when every powerful person in France believes Aramis a murderer and when powerful interests would gladly frame Aramis for it?


Musketeers apprenticeThe Musketeer’s Apprentice (Musketeers Mysteries Book 3)

It’s August in Paris 1625 and Porthos, once a dancing and fencing master, has taken as apprentice a young nobleman, whom he’s teaching to fence and ride. When the young man dies, poisoned, the stories of his ancestry and domicile unravel into layer after layer of deception and blackmail, involving Porthos’s relatives and his own past.

Can Porthos, Athos, Aramis and D’Artagnan dodge the Cardinal’s guards while finding the real murderer? Who was Guillaume Jaucourt, and who could have killed him? And why?

It’s one for all and all for one with the swashbuckling sleuths, in a race against time and their own misgivings.


Musketeers InheritanceThe Musketeer’s Inheritance (Musketeers Mysteries Book 4)


A letter from Gascony calls D’Artagnan home. His father is dead and D’Artagnan must come and take charge of the estate. His friends, of course, accompany him. But what Athos, Porthos, Aramis and D’Artagnan don’t know is that the older D’Artagnan was murdered and that they must find the killer, if they want to keep the younger D’Artagnan alive.

By award winning author Sarah A. Hoyt writing as Sarah D’Almeida

*     *     *

HuntedEllie Ferguson
Hunted (Book One of Hunter’s Moon)

When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what. Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

(This is a new edition of Hunted and includes new back material.)

Hunters DutyHunter’s Duty (Book Two of Hunter’s Moon)

Maggie Thrasher is looking for a man, not to love but to kill. Duty to her pride and loyalty to her family demands it. Joshua Volk has betrayed pride, pack and clan. All he cares about is destroying the old ways and killing anyone, normal or shape-changer, who gets in his way. Jim Kincade is dedicated to two things: upholding the law and protecting the pride from discovery. When Jim is called to the scene of a possible murder, the last thing he expects is to discover the alleged killer is a tracker from another pride. Now he’s faced with a woman who is most definitely more than she appears. Complicating matters even more, there’s something about her that calls to him and his leopard is determined to claim her for his own. Joshua Volk is looking for revenge. Maggie killed one of his own. His vengeance will bring Maggie’s worst nightmares to life. Is the passion between Maggie and Jim enough to defeat Volk’s plans or will Maggie’s determination to fulfill her duty to her pride be the death of them both?

(This is the second edition of Hunter’s Duty and includes new back material.)


Wedding Bell Blues

Weddings always bring out the worst in people. Or at least that’s the way it seems to Jessica Jones as her younger sister’s wedding day approaches. It’s bad enough Jessie has to wear a bridesmaid dress that looks like it was designed by a color blind Harlequin. Then there’s the best man who is all hands and no manners. Now add in a murder and Jessie’s former lover — former because she caught him doing the horizontal tango on their kitchen table with her also-former best friend. It really is almost more than a girl should be expected to handle. . . .

*     *     *

mankind witchDave Freer
A Mankind Witch

To the North of the Holy Roman Empire are the pagan Norse-lands. It is here that Prince Manfred of Brittany, and Erik, his Icelandic bodyguard, must venture in the dead of winter to a mountainous land of trolls and ice to find a stolen pagan relic, the arm-ring of Odin, something so magical that it should not be possible to move it beyond its wards, let alone take it away. It is gone, and unless it is recovered before Yuletide and the re-affirmation of truce-oaths, a new Viking age will be born. King Vorenbras will lead his berserkers in an orgy of killing, rapine, looting and destruction, across the Empire’s unguarded North-Western flank.

Princess Signy is the King’s older stepsister, and everyone believes her to be the thief, a witch and a murderess. Everyone, that is, but Cair, her stable-thrall, a man plucked from the ocean, with a hidden past. Cair doesn’t believe in witches or magic, let alone that Signy could steal and murder. If he has to drag the foremost knight of the age, and his deadly bodyguard kicking and screaming though the entire Norse nine worlds to prove it and free her, he’d do it. No Kobold, dwarf, or troll is going to stop him, or his scepticism. Not the wild hunt. Not even a Grendel. He doesn’t believe in this superstitious rubbish. He’s a man of science and learning, and he’s used that to fake his way into being feared as a magic worker. But for Signy, he’ll be all of mankind’s witches.
He’ll have to be, because that’s what it’ll take to defeat the dark magical forces which are marshalled against them.

*     *     * 

Nocturnal lives boxedAmanda S. Green
Nocturnal Lives (Boxed Set – includes Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, Nocturnal Interlude)

Special price of $2.99 though September 5th.

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series,


Nocturnal OriginsNocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Nocturnal InterludeNocturnal Serenade

Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

Nocturnal Interlude2Nocturnal Interlude

Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact — they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

 *     *     *

Ill met by moonlightSarah A. Hoyt
Ill Met by Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)

Young Will Shakespeare is a humble school master who arrives home to find his wife and infant daughter, Susannah are missing, kidnapped by the fairies of Arden Woods, the children of Titania and Oberon. His attempts at rescue are interrupted and complicated by a feud over throne of fairyland, between Sylvanus, king regnant, and his younger brother Quicksilver who is both more and less than he seems. Amid treachery, murder, duel and seduction, Shakespeare discovers the enchantment of fairyland, which will always remain with him, for good and ill. (This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2001)

“Filled with quotations and references to the Works of Shakespeare, this debut novel will interest the playwright’s fans of any age” VOYA

“Sarah Hoyt has taken tremendous chances: She has told a tale of how Shakespeare became Shakespeare, weaving the language of the plays deftly through the narrative. Reading the book feels like discovering the origins of the quotes we know so well, rather than something derivative.” San Jose Mercury News.


all night awakeAll Night Awake (Magical Shakespeare Book 2)

Touched by the magic of fairyland, unable to forget Lady Silver, Shakespeare goes to London to seek his fortune. But there, the elf will follow, on the trail of a creature so deadly that, unless Shakespeare and the king of Elves stop it, it might very well consume London and all of England.


(This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2002)


any man so darinAny Man So Daring (Magical Shakespeare Book 3)

William Shakespeare, successful playwright, receives word that his only son has died. Reality is far more complex. The young Hamnet is a hostage in fairyland, where a war rages, and where a young princess waits a Prince Charming who might never come.

Can an all too human playwright stop the magical war that threatens both worlds?
(This book was originally published by Ace/Berkley 10/2003)

*     *     *

ATONSarah A. Hoyt and Sofie Skapski
A Touch of Night

When Netherfield is let at last, Mrs. Bennet is very much afraid that the new neighbors will be shape shifters. The English countryside is much plagued with the creatures and the Royal Were Hunters have their hands full. Meanwhile, Elizabeth Bennet tries to hide a deadly secret, one that could destroy the whole family. In a world where being a dragon is a crime can a dragon ever find love?

The novel is set in the world of Sarah A. Hoyt’s Magical British Empire.

*     *     *

barton streetZoey Ivers
The Barton Street Gym (Doors into the Dimensions Book 1)

In a future where no one needs to sleep, homes are unnecessary. A simple dimensional cubby in a hi-rise gymnasium is all anyone needs.
Perhaps the designers ought to have considered the possibility of unintended effects from thousands of multi-dimensional bubbles in close proximity to each other. But they weren’t physicists . . .

Joe is independent, his divorced father a bit absent minded. Joe and his “bio-model” friend were exploring the pedestrian tunnels under the Barton Street Gym when they found themselves trapping in a strange landscape with a hungry dinosaur.

Alice Brown is used to getting in trouble; her parents are quite strict. But being attacked by a Tyrannosaurus Rex in a strange dimension just a step across a malfunctioning D-door is not her usual sort of trouble.

*     *     *

conventKate 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.

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.



There are vampires in the lobby, succubi in the beds, and bodies in the bathroom. It’s ConSensual, where the editors are demons, the writers are crazy and the vampires and werewolves might be the most stable people in the room.

If that isn’t enough, Dracula is staying at the hotel on a business trip for his wood-based hardware chain, Kit Marlowe is one of the authors, and there’s an out of control baby vampire to deal with. Once again, the “Save the World” department is caught with its pants down.

 *     *     *

PixieCedar Sanderson
Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

Lom is a bounty hunter, paid to bring magical creatures of all descriptions back Underhill, to prevent war with humans should they discover the strangers amongst them. Bella is about to find out she’s a real life fairy princess, but all she wants to do is live peacefully in Alaska, where the biggest problems are hungry grizzly bears. He has to bring her in. It’s nothing personal, it’s his job…

“They had almost had me, that once. I’d been young and foolish, trying to do something heroic, of course. I wouldn’t do that again anytime soon. Now, I work for duty, but nothing more than is necessary to fulfill the family debt. I get paid, which makes me a bounty hunter, but she’s about to teach me about honor. Like all lessons, this one was going to hurt. Fortunately, I have a good gun to fill my hand, and if I have to go, she has been good to look at.”


tricksterTrickster Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 2)

After the battle of Tower Baelfire ended, Lom lay dying. Bella was tasked with not only the job she never wanted, but the one she did. Could she keep Lom alive long enough for him to come to the rescue when their kingdom needed them? And what did Raven, mysterious trickster spirit and honorary uncle to Bella, want with them? If the threat was big enough to have the trickster worried, Bella knew she needed to have Lom at her side. Underhill might look like a soap-bubble kingdom, but Bella and Lom knew there was a gritty underside. Why else would fairyland need a dark man willing to carry a big gun and be the Pixie for Hire?


the eternity symbioteThe Eternity Symbiote

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


vulcans kittensVulcan’s Kitten (Children of Myth Book 1)

12-year-old Linnea Vulkane is looking forward to a long, lazy summer on Grandpa Heph’s farm, watching newborn kittens grow up and helping out with chores. That all goes out the window the night Mars, god of war, demands her grandfather abandon her and return to Olympus for the brewing war.
Now Old Vulcan is racing around the world and across higher planes with Sehkmet to gather allies, leaving Linn and an old immortal friend to protect the farm and the very special litter. But even the best wards won’t last forever, and when the farm goes up in flames, she is on the run with a daypack, a strange horse, a sword, and an armful of kittens. Linn needs to grow up fast and master her powers, before the war finds the unlikely refugees…

*     *     *

VfASam Schall
Vengeance from Ashes

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

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

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

 *     *     *

outcasts and godsPam Uphoff
Outcasts and Gods (Wine of the Gods Book 1)

*First book* of the Wine of the Gods

Wolfgang was a nice kid–until they decided he wasn’t even human.

Genetic engineering.
First they cured the genetic diseases.
Then they selected for the best natural traits.
Then they made completely artificial genes.
As the test children reached puberty, abilities that had always been lost in the random background noise were suddenly obvious. Telepathy, telekinesis.
At first their creators sought to strengthen these traits. Then they began to fear them.
They called them gods, and made them slaves.

Wolfgang Oldham was sixteen when the company laid claim to him.
He escaped, and stayed free for three years.
When he was arrested, identified and returned to the company, they trained him to be useful.
They didn’t realize that they were training him to be dangerous.

*     *     *

For the complete list of authors and books taking part in the Great Labor Day Weekend Promotional Sale, click here.

I must go. Someone is being stupid on the Internet

I really need to step away from the internet now and then (who am I kidding? Like that’s going to happen without my network access being pried from my cold, dead hands), particularly when there is idiocy on display.

I have this terrible urge to play whackatroll and the next thing you know my news feed explodes with long threads as someone suffering extreme recto-cranial inversion tries to back up their first round of stupid with even more stupid.

Me, at least I’ve got the sense to back off when it turns out I’m wrong. I’ve even been known to apologize. In public.

This week has included two Facebook fracases (or should that be fricasees which would at least be tasty), one of which resulted in the alleged gentleman in question earning the dubious honor of being the first person Sarah ever blocked on her Facebook feed. Impressive, no? I have to say I was amused when he lost his marbles so spectacularly that the best he could manage was to call me (paraphrased slightly) a fornicating female dog. I didn’t do that much – just mocked his rather obviously passive-aggressive non-apology for being what it was.

Er… after dissecting his arguments, and doing the oh-so-plodding explanation of why A is funny and B is not (they just don’t appreciate me, Igor).

Anyway, this must be the season for it because today my Facebook feed acquired another case of severe recto-cranial inversion and I’m playing again. I really need to stop playing with the trolls. It only irritates them and who knows what I’ll catch.

This particular troll started with what could have been a decent discussion point – the matter of realistic portrayals of female character in extraordinary circumstances (particularly in mil-SF, but not entirely). Said discussion point started to lose validity when the “men with boobs” argument came out. Seriously, unless you’re writing SF comedies of manners where your characters are sitting around in Sfnal drawing rooms taking vat-brewed tea and discussing whether that latest clone needs physical behavioral therapy or not, you’re going to be writing characters who are at the end of their personal ropes, and hanging on by their fingernails over a bottomless abyss… metaphorically speaking (also possibly literally speaking but that’s your plot point).

They’re not going to act like normal people in normal situations. They just aren’t.

People in crisis situations do things they’d normally never do. Hell, people do different things in different environments. I worked with a geologist (female) who was as much “one of the guys” as it was possible to be without gender reassignment surgery and who really loved the girly-girl activities in her time off. I’ve done similar things myself, turning off as much of the weirdness as I could to be one of the guys on a 6 person camp in the middle of nowhere where I wanted and needed to be seen as their equal. I fail to see anything remotely unbelievable about women in any military unit doing the same thing.

Now, this isn’t to say that an author needs to have the five foot four woman kicking the asses of six foot males around her – particularly if they’ve had more or less the same training and are in similar condition. That’s unrealistic. But said woman being equally capable with the equalizers she has access to, be that rifles, pistols, powered armor, or anything else a twisted authorial mind can devise is well within bounds, as is her being just as willing to kill and just as willing to do her share of the dirty work.

Simple, right?

Wrong… at least to this specimen. He went on to trot out that women should be married housewives and mothers and that no “real” man would want a female boss, even a good female boss. That it’s better for a man to have a mediocre male boss than a good female boss because having a female boss damages his masculinity or some such nonsense. Obviously the result of empirical observation: “Oh noes! My boss is a woman and my dick is shrinking!” (Yes, I’m joking. Mostly. But seriously that was about the intellectual level of the dude’s commentary).

He also shifted goalposts fast enough to hit lightspeed. And committed quite a few other sins from the troll argument playbook. So far (around 8pm) he’s been quiet for almost an hour after I called him “Mister” (Which in Kate-speak means I’ll need help to hide the body if he opens his trap again because the gloves are coming off and I’ll eviscerate first, defenestrate second, then ask questions of the battered corpse (What? Jeez, what’s wrong with a bit of necromancy for a good cause?).

Honestly, what else is a writer to do?

And like the proverbial bad smell he came back, with some more goalpost shifting, evidence of extreme idiocy, with a grand finally of a preemptive accusation of racism – when race had not once been mentioned in the entire thread. This is going to be one extremely messy and gory redshirt-with-extreme-prejudice.

I just have to find a situation where I can legitimately put the specimen at ground zero of a nuclear detonation. It’s the only way to be sure.

Short Story Workshop 8 – Piddle Twiddle And Revise

Piddle Twiddle And Revise


So you’re sitting there and your story is a shambles, and you think you need to revise it.

My first advice is that you lie down till the urge passes.

When I was a wee little writer, knee high to a manuscript, I heard Kris and Dean say that you shouldn’t revise unless you have a lot of experience. When you start out as a writer, if you try to revise, you’re more likely to do harm than good.

Did I listen? Oh, heck no. I didn’t listen.

Were they right? Oh, heck, yes, they were.

There are three big dangers in revision:

The first one is that you’ll have no clue what is wrong with your story. This is quite normal when you’re just starting out. Oh, you might think you know. Trust me, there’s more than half a chance you’re not only wrong but disastrously wrong. A lot of the stories I “revised” I ended up keeping only the parts I should have tossed.

The second one is that you’ll go after the wording. This is the place where most of us hit when we’re just starting out. We get wording, or we think we do. Our brains are full of all the cr*p we learned in school: No adverbs, strong verbs, simple sentences, no repeating two words close together…

None of these are exactly wrong, and if you’re writing a business paper, you should ABSOLUTELY follow all of those. For a piece of fiction. Well, believe it or not the whole thing with adverbs, simple sentences, nothing but said is not a universal prescription (no matter how much the big publishing houses thought so) but a style. It’s the Minimalist Style of writing.

Look, there are fads in writing, just like there are fads in other arts, and they aim at solidifying rules for a particular kind of taste. If you like your fiction spare and to the point, by all means do imitate the minimalist style. Just be aware it’s not the only style or the only way to write. And no, you don’t need to go Dickens. But if you’re a newby, it’s entirely possible the charm of your writing is the cacophony of adverbs, the repetition of a word that shows a theme. You won’t know. And it’s likely that if you go after the words you’ll kill your story and turn it into a mannered, flavorless “recital piece.”

My first publishable (but not my first published) short story was Thirst. It took me 8 years and 80 rejections to sell. And every time it came back I revised it. And what I revised was the wording, of course.

After rejection 80 I looked at it. It was a well mannered story with everything in place, and it had as much life as a really dead dinosaur. I pulled up the first version. Oh, it had typos, but it was alive.

If you revise the wording and you don’t know what to do, chances are you’ll kill that thing daid.

Third: You might never be done. I have a friend who spent ten years revising her first novel which was pretty good to begin with.

Now, it wasn’t going to set either the Thames or the Delaware on fire, no. No. It was a decent midlist adventure in foreign lands thriller. She could/should have sold it and moved on to the third, the fourth and the fifth and so on ad infinitum.

Instead she revised that first book. And revised it. And revised it. For all I know she’s still doing it.

I learned this lesson with my very first series/world. I spent years revising, recasting, rewriting.

There’s only one problem with that and something I want you to consider: there’s only a limited number of people/categories of people your story will appeal to. And no matter if it’s the perfect story, it won’t improve that. And if the theme/type of story don’t appeal to most people, it’s not going to be a bestseller, no matter what.

This was, of course, worse when we were limited to traditional publishing. Your story could be gold plated gold, if it wasn’t something the establishment knew what to do with, you’d still be left out in the cold. Hence my first series, which I spent years writing and polishing and cleaning, was never going to sell. You see, I had hermaphrodite humans for the fun of seeing how the society would work out. (Also there was the little tongue in cheek fact they came from a society that was supposed to create equality.) But I wasn’t making a point about evil patriarchy (on the contrary) so that series would never, ever, ever, ever sell.

Took me years of revising/trying to make it perfect before it dawned on me.

But still, if you write a story about a poisonous frog and most people hate the idea of poisonous frogs, you’re not going to be a runaway bestseller. Shrug it off and move on.

“But Sarah,” you say. “My story really needs revision. Does that mean I have to take whatever comes off the keyboard?”

No. But you have to go in with a battle plan and know when to withdraw.

We’ll tackle that next week with “This story is all wrong.”

For those of you who’ve been writing for a while, this week I want you to do something painful. Go back to your very earliest stories and read them. Figure out why they didn’t work, or what you could do better.

Next week we analyze story flaws and how to fix them, if they can be fixed.

Of Promos and Cons and Other Things — not necessarily in that order

Whew! There for a moment, I thought I’d lost my mind. I logged into the Dashboard for the blog and was greeted with a new interface. Worse, it went “Beep, Boop” and I’m only on my first cup of coffee this morning. Finally it loaded the new post page and OMG! it was different. Apparently, someone at WordPress took a page out of Facebook’s book and decided to fix something that wasn’t broken. Just as I was about to email Sarah and whine at her, I saw the button letting me revert to the old interface. Needless to say, I wasted no time doing just that. Now I can get on with the blog.

First things first. A major erotica publisher has announced it has released its freelance editors and cut staff because sales from Amazon have dropped dramatically over the last few months. Ellora’s Cave is a major digital first erotica publisher. Until the staff cut, it published something like 10 titles a month. As with so many publishers and authors, Amazon is its main outlet. So when there is a decline in sales there, especially if the decline is marked, it is a cause of concern. What has impressed me with the announcement from EC is that there is no blame being thrown at Amazon (despite the rather incendiary headline on this Publishers Weekly article). Instead, EC has taken steps to lessen their financial burden in the short run and is doing something unheard of with the Big Five — it is actually talking with Amazon to try to figure out what the problem might be. The suspicion is that it is due to a change in Amazon’s search algorithm and that very well may be it. Many of us have learned the hard way that you have to keep up with the current search terms to make sure our books come up not only when you search for title and author but also key words.

What I find ironic — or maybe just interesting — is the fact that there isn’t a big hue and cry going on on FB about how evil Amazon is killing EC. The usual suspects are silent. Perhaps it is because EC is an erotica publisher and below their notice. Perhaps it is because they haven’t heard — doubtful. My suspicion is that they are silent because EC isn’t jumping on the Amazon is Evil bandwagon. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens over the next few weeks and I hope EC stays as communicative about what it finds as it has been in discussing the issue and their steps to deal with the drop in sales. If the cause is the change in search algorithms, it is something all of us need to keep in mind.

In other words, once we publish a book on Amazon — or any other outlet for that matter — we don’t just walk away and wait for the royalty payments to come rolling in. We need to revisit the blurb periodically and keep an eye on the tags we used when we first put the title up. It is amazing what there is to see — and correct — on a blurb after a bit of time has passed. I challenge each of you to do just that today for anything you’ve had published for more than six months. Look at your blurb — including its layout — and ask yourself if it looks and reads right. In other words, do you have a hard return (extra space) between paragraphs or does it look like you have one long paragraph as your blurb? Are there spelling or grammar problems in the blurb? How about a period at the end of the last sentence? It’s amazing the things that looked right when first published don’t look so wonderful after some time has passed.

Now, for the latest post to send me into near head-explosion land. I say near head-explosion because, unfortunately, this is the sort of crap I’ve come to expect from a certain segment of folks. The Daily Dot published an article about the “growing generation gap” and how it is changing fandom. It was readily apparent from the beginning of the article that the author has little use for those in sf/f who are over a certain age. If the classification of WorldCon as a “huge old dinosaur” didn’t tip the reader off, perhaps this did: “Younger fans would regularly cringe as Worldcon veterans stood up to make some kind of mildly offensive or irrelevant comment—or to steamroll young female panelists when they tried to talk.” Funny how the author doesn’t give any specifics to back up this comment. Not that I’d expect it.

Now, I will admit that we need to do something to reach out to younger fans. That’s a given. But in doing so, you don’t alienate those who helped make the genre what it is today. If you are one of the “new generation”, you don’t come in and push out those who have been there long before you. Instead, if you are smart, you sit back and you listen. You learn. They were once the new generation and, guess what, you might actually learn something from them. Sure, they might not play WoW or know that you can find slash fic online but they know how to reach readers. Their books are the ones still selling, years after being first published. How many of us will be able to name this year’s Hugo winners in five years? Heck, how many of us can name them now, only a week after the award?

Another problem I have with the article is that it compares WorldCon with NineCon (iirc). They are two very different sorts of cons. WorldCon is not a huge fan con, not really. Oh, I know there will be those who say I’m wrong but think about it. It is a con that has been basically built around the awards. It is where authors and editors get together. It isn’t one that really reaches out to give fans a reason to spend thousands of dollars to attend. Admit it, the only reason many folks even knew about WorldCon this year was because of the controversy surrounding it.  WorldCon isn’t meant, at least in its current iteration, to celebrate things like graphic novels and video, much less video games. Comparing it to a con that does revolve around those formats is another case of the SJW/GHH crowd comparing apples and oranges.

I’d also suggest thinking before hitting the enter button if you want to be treated with respect. Comments like, ““It’s okay, because someday they’ll all be dead,” isn’t going to make those “dinosaurs” want to include you. Why should they when you show such derision for them and for what they did for the genre?

If you really want to have your head explode, read the comments to the article. If you ever had any doubts that there are folks out there who believe “boys bad, girls good” and no in-between, you’ll see them there. It’s all too much for me without more coffee — or maybe booze.

Finally, there are a number of indie and hybrid authors doing a Labor Day Weekend Promo. You can find a preview of participating authors and titles by clicking here. All titles will be $2.99 or less. Now, a couple of caveats. First, the promotion starts Friday. If you follow the links before then, you may find higher prices. Second, there are still authors asking to be included, so this isn’t the final list. It will be updated throughout the day today. Everything should be finalized by tomorrow afternoon. Finally, the titles are broken down by genre first and then by author within the genre.

And, on the promotion front, here are a few of my titles that will be included:

coverforvfaVengeance from Ashes

(written as Sam Schall)

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

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

boxsetcover2Nocturnal Lives (Boxed Set – includes Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade, Nocturnal Interlude)

(written as Amanda Green)

Special price of $2.99 though September 5th.

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.

This is more than a 60% savings over what you’d pay if you bought Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude individually. The price will go up after the promo to $6.99 (iirc).


A very surprised looking sperm whale and a bowl of petunias.

Or why, if the people ‘really the only reason ‘Ancillary Justice’ won a Hugo Award’ was that it was much better than ‘Warbound’, that there is no ideological bias at all in the entire Hugo Award process, and that, indeed, they personally didn’t know what so-and-so politics were, are right, then Ann Leckie and her fellow winners should buy a lottery ticket and become a multi-millionaires overnight.

Try, if you can, to realize this is not an attack on any one individual or work, I’m not saying so-and-so should have won. Nor do I think no outspoken left-winger should ever win. If that was happening, I’d be here fighting to see they got a chance. Nor is this an attack on the Hugo committee – their sins seems to be largely of omission, not commission. I would love to see the award become – as it was in my youth, a commendation, above ideology. People claim this is the case. If that is true, it is easy to test.

So let us take the hypothesis ‘There is no ideological bias in Hugo awards,’ which we’d love to prove true and test it mathematically to do so. Yes, I know, I used a bad word and my mamma should wash my mouth out with soap. But it works, is the basis of huge industries which have worked for centuries if not millennia, and I promise I’ll keep it as funny, simple and clear as possible

When I got the second of these comments after my post, last week, and a few more trickling out of Larry’s post, I said something like ‘Expletive deleted, expletive deleted. Do these expletive deleted idiots think everyone is brain-dead? (yes, actually I had just been reading about Watergate). The odds are so astronomical no one in their right mind…”

And my wife, who takes it as her duty to see that I don’t become too much of an ass, said unto me: “Maybe they just don’t understand odds. Not everyone knows everything you do.”

Now, being a fairly normal human being (well, normal monkey), this is always a hard thing for me to get my head around. I’m my own point of reference, and I don’t think I’m particularly bright (I have met a few real geniuses). I said: “Come off it. The kids could calculate odds before they went to school. Remember…”

And she cut off my boring reminiscences at the pass. “The kids are both their Uni’s top math graduates for their years. They’re not typical either. And you taught them in the car, playing numberplate games before they went to school.”

“Umph. I still find it hard to believe. I think they’re just pretending not to, because it destroys their arguments. Let me ask a few people.”

So I did. “Off the cuff, with three dice, what are the chance of throwing three sixes at once?” “I dunno. I haven’t played board games since I was a kid.” “Not good.” “What’s 36 times 6… yeah, 1/216” and “roughly 4 in a thousand I’d say”, and “Huh?” “Oh go on, guess, how many times would have to throw the dice to get that result?” “I dunno. Ten?”

Okay, she was right, time to re-evaluate. Maybe some people don’t do this automatically… If you knew the answer, you can skip through to after the graph. You’ll be bored out of your tree. And yes I do know the subject slightly and realize this is a very simplistic take on it. I want to try and keep it anyone can more or less do this.

For the rest: I need to explain but I won’t delve into the esoteric or anything complicated. No, I’ll just keep it to an imaginary black bags (if you want it esoteric, you can imagine they’re black velvet with little stars and crescent moons appliqued to the outside) and a bunch of billiard balls.

None of this is rocket science. Many of you will know it well. Please re-assure those are going ‘aaaaaaagh!” that they will not actually be required to fondle either their brains or the balls, or even the bag. There is really nothing magical about it despite the imaginary applique. If it didn’t work, there would be no casinos, no insurance (health or otherwise) and a slew of other industry in total disarray. It can get complicated but we don’t need to go there to disprove the hypothesis: ‘There is no ideological bias in Hugo award’ beyond any vestige of doubt.

I’m going to begin at the very beginning (because it’s a very good place to start).

There is a red ball and black ball in each of 100 imaginary black bags. We have – seeing as this is entirely imaginary, a gentleman in high-heeled lumberjack boots, suspenders and a bra, reaching into each bag and taking out one ball, one bag after the other… now there is no way he can tell by feel red billiard balls from black. Possibly sometimes he will draw 2 red in a row, sometimes three black. You never know, before the ball comes out what he will draw. BUT as sure as death and taxes, the number of red balls drawn will be very close to equal the number of black balls drawn… (you can actually predict how many times and how likely it is to be 49:51 48:52 and so on, but just bear with me. It’s not important here.). If you keep on and on, until your lumberjack drops dead… and you count the total number of balls and divide it by the number of red balls 1 red to 2 total will be your ratio, or odds. You could take the red balls and put it over the red+black and express that as ½ or 0.5. There is, every time a ball is taken out of the sack 0.5 probability it will be red.

Now we’re gambling. I’ve got a bet with Freddy-the-casino-owner. He has two bags from above: I bet that the ball coming out of the bag will be red (1/2), and the next ball will also be red (1/2). Freddie offers to pay me 3 dollars for every one dollar I bet. (for clarity, this is not you put in a dollar and Freddy puts in 3 to a pot, and winner scoops the pot, That would be a payout of 4 dollars. If you want to look at it as a ‘pot’ freddy is putting in 2 dollars, and you are putting in one). Am I in the money? (Sorry if this is really simple guys – but it is really fundamental to my argument.)

Let’s look at the possible outcomes. Black black; black red; red black; red red. Or ½ x ½ = ¼ . So, 1 out of 4 times you will win. You might win trying this three times in a row, but if you kept playing all night, you’d have won 1 out of 4 times, and Freddy is making a fat profit.

And lo, I happen to be lucky that first time. And Freddy takes the third bag and says ‘$ 6 to one if you do it again (starting from fresh) 3 times in a row.’ Which I am sure you can see is ½ x ½ x ½ = 1/8 or one time in eight, or 0.5 x 0.5 x 0.5. = 0.125 It will happen… one time out of 8 tries if you keep repeating this often enough.

We can make it more precise, but keep this firmly in mind: the joint probability of independent events (what the Hugo nominations and winners are
postulated as being in the hypothesis) is calculated thus.

Okay – time to move on. What is the chance that a novel/short/novella etc will come from someone who is politically outspoken, who loudly champions causes dear to the Left wing (for example, Gay marriage, affirmative action, abortion, militant feminism, pro-Socialism) or Right wing (for example Anti-abortion, the right to concealed carry, equality of opportunity not outcome, pro-death penalty)? Defining the open left/right thing is difficult, because what do you call someone who admits he is communist or a republican but pointedly avoids pontificating on it? That’s why I left proportions at a generous 0.15. Note this not a post about these issues – please do not use it to discuss that, and I not taking a position on them. I’m just using them as markers. Jonathan Haidt kindly explained that the right were a lot more likely know what the left thought than the other way around, which may go a long way to explaining many things – but that’s a long way past the scope of this post.

Look – political viewpoints in any society are described by a Gaussian (aka bell-shaped ) distribution curve. To save explaining it I’ve drawn it with a brilliant 10 second masterpiece. It also makes a great design to make tinfoil hats to keep off alien mind rays, if you’re worried about them.
gaussian 001
For the hypothesis ‘There is no ideological bias in Hugo awards,’ to be true, then this distribution of political viewpoint would have to be true in the winners, and in the nominees. There is no reason why should not be if the system were fair and unbiased in any way.

For the purpose of this proof I’ve chosen a very generous 0.15 (or 15 out of 100 or 15%) as the proportion of any population who are likely to be loud, fervent, open supporters of the ideology of the left, or the same on the right. In reality, the loud fervent part makes the figure much smaller. Guys, you can argue about the figure, but essentially you’re splitting hairs. Take it down 0.00005, or up 0.4 (beyond that allows no undecided votes) – the outcome is the same.

“Oh but still, 0.15 – it’s still roughly a one in seven chance that that Ancillary Justice would win. And there were only 5 books nominated so really that’s a 1:5 chance. It’s just sour grapes…”

Let’s start. Now to get a Hugo nomination, without manipulation, bias etc. a book/story/etc. must be:

1) Well known by lots of people. Most folk don’t bother to do noms. Say, without any form of peer pressure and collusion (in any sense) the chances of a book/story that has less than about 20K readers getting there is basically non-existent. Worldcon attendees are not 1 in a hundred readers anyway, and assuming that 1 in five of those could be bothered to do a nomination… that would give you 40 nom votes, which I think might get you on. Tens of thousands of great stories fall at this hurdle.

2) Good enough to get voted for – which even of those novels selling 20K is probably not one in 20… lets guess at 100 books a year which could get onto the slate. (the figure could be 50 or 1000 – It’s just a convenient number to work with)
So there are 100 novels 100 novellas 100 shorts etc. and if the ‘no bias’ hypothesis holds true, they are representative of the normal distribution of political viewpoint. So: to symbolize these 100 choices…

We have fifteen red billiard balls (outspoken left wing) fifteen black billiard balls (outspoken right wing), and seventy white billiard balls. And we have an imaginary Johnathan Ross to draw 5. (Don’t worry. He’s imaginary, any fat jokes he makes will be about imaginary fat, the best kind.) And we make the poor beggar time travel back to 2005.

He draws a red ball. There is, remember, according to the hypothesis supported by among others John Scalzi, no bias, and no reason for the highest number of noms to go to anyone except merit, which is not based on ideology. The crowds clap, there was a roughly 1/7 chance that would be the case. There are 4 more to draw this year, and basically if you took 4 years of noms (20) 3 should be red, 3 should be black 14 should be white. If it deviates from that you can work out how unlikely that is. But that’s going too deep right now. Settle for this:

THERE SHOULD BE A RED BALL AT LEAST EVERY SECOND YEAR, AS THERE SHOULD BE A BLACK BALL. There are 5 places a year and they had a 15/100 chance of drawing red or black.

He draws another red ball! Wow. 15/100 x 14/99! WOW! Greater than 1:50 odds. A happening that should only happen every nearly 10 years by chance. Aren’t the reds LUCKY!

He draws a third red ball! The crowd are stilled in awe. They know the chances of 3 red balls in one year… is an occurrence that will only occur 15/100 x 14/99 x 13/98 tries because as everybody knows there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards. An old man turns to his son and says, “Well, son, your grandchild might see that again! That has a 0.0028 probability of happening! More or less 1:350! Be more than 70 years worth of tries to have it happen again. What LUCK the reds have! Still, that’ll be much less for them in future. After all out of every 100 noms they should get 15. And they’ve already had 3. And the other two balls are more-or-less white. No blacks.

So we go on to 2006. And lo. There are 3 more red balls… and two whites, and no blacks. Miracle of miracles because everybody knows there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards. And the old man says: “Well son. Two years in a row! It’ll be your great-great-grandsons’s time before that happens again two years in a row!” And his son says – “add a few greats… 1/350 x 1/350. That was something that could only happen 1:12250 tries by chance. But there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards, and they get very upset a shriek a lot if you imply their might be, so we won’t. But they’ve used 6 of their plausible 15 noms for the next twenty years. We’re bound see less reds in future. Probably not for a couple of years.”

2007 Son says: “Well, I told you so. There are less. 3 whites and 2 reds. That’s 8 gone, and no blacks out the 100 noms in the 20 years starting 2005. Still that’s exceptional. A 1/50 chance, which, following on… 1/350 x 1/350 x 1/50… “

2008 3 or is 4 red balls again…. Such a run they’re having. Even counted as three… 1/350 x 1/350 x 1/50 x 1/350… Still that’s 11 out of 15 gone. 2 whites and no blacks.

2009 Another 3 red, two whites. 14 out of 15 plausible reds for the next 20 years gone. No blacks. And another 1/350 chance. Oh well, we might see one more red nom before 2025…. I’ve given up calculating how many parallel dimensions you have to run this lucky sequence in. Thank heavens for a multiverse. And aren’t we lucky to be in the one dimension in all those millions where it all happens, because is no ideological bias in Hugo awards.

2010 A special year! 4 red balls But as there are 6 (there was a tie for winning) let’s count it as 3 red, 2 white. We’re now at 17 reds out of 15 possible in a 20 year run. And still no blacks.

2011 and 2012 were bad years for the red balls. Well. In the scale of only 1:50 events. 2 each year, that takes it up to 21 out a possible 15 in the 20 years starting from 2005… So we know there will be no more.

2013 back up to 3 red balls 2 white. 24 out of 15. And no blacks.

2014, 3 red, ½ a white due to the Sad Puppies… 1.5 blacks!!!!! OUTRAGE!!!!! There is no ideological bias in Hugo awards! HOW DARE THESE BLACK SCUM organize to get nominated! We must campaign against them! Start the abuse, accuse this evil Larry Correia of every possible imaginary evil. Yes it’s the sort of behavior that could tarnish an innocent man’s reputation destroy his career. Yes, all the accusation are baseless and false. But there is no ideological bias in the Hugo awards and he was trying to bring one in! Death’s too good for him!

So in ten years… I’ve given up on the sperm whale of nomination likeliness. There is doubtless a parallel universe somewhere that in the tens of millions of possible where that level of red ball selection would, by pure chance, happen. When you start adding the other categories –shorts novellas novelettes — into it, it just gets worse. You need that infinite improbability drive. But in 10 years the 50 nominations should be 7.5 red, 35 white, 7.5 black. – if that tested out, with reasonable error bars, the hypothesis ‘There is no ideological bias in Hugo awards’ would be true. As I make the figures 27 red, 21.5 white, and 1.5 black…

“Yes but what about winners. Every year is unique, you know. I mean we start afresh.

Hmm. The bowl of petunias. Oh no not again. Shall we look at this year, when thanks to the sad puppies there were at least possible black balls to chosen as winners? Not much use in selecting years when there weren’t any. Let’s just stick to writing. Graphics and movies and art and editors aside… Novel, novella, novelette, short, and fan writer – 5 categories, a roughly 1/7 chance of a red or black ball winning in each if there is no bias.

All red balls. 1/7x 1/7 x 1/7 x 1/7 x 1/7 – this is likely to happen once out of every 16807 years if there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards. Wow! Aren’t they LUCKY.

To forestall the ‘oh but 1/7 is too low’, let’s run it at a ridiculously high ½, which means only red and black balls. No neutral, but they are equally probable. You can’t get more generous and possibly claim that there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards. ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ x ½ . – that is still unlikely to happen by chance more than once in every 32 years. There is a 97% chance that won’t happen. Do more complex stats, it’s just as implausible.

The hypothesis is, I’m afraid, due for the trash heap.

This was the year when the ideological bias in the Hugos was openly questioned. And lo: instead of proving otherwise… there was a concerted campaign to reward the hard left, and deny the right (or even neutrals) victory. Yeah. That worked for proving there was no ideological bias like snatching the purse off someone who had just accused you of possibly being a thief. Really proved their innocence.

As for the “I don’t care! Ancillary Justice/the water that falls from heaven/Equiod is better than all the others…” Shrug. Guys, it’s like the bloke who called his boss to say his kid was sick he’d be late. The first time his boss believed him. By the fifth time… when his child really was sick, and he was in ER and he called his boss to say ‘my kid is sick’ he got fired. It’s kind of over to you: Either all the other winners didn’t deserve to win, and your darling has a reasonable probability of being there, or accept that it was ideological award, only of value to loyalists to that ideology.

So where do we go to from here? Well, we go to me stopping because this is way too long already. I’m giving up work time to write this, and unless it makes you buy my books it’s not paying me.

(the picture’s a link, and some advertising is obligatory.)
I do it out of loyalty to the genre. The first step is obviously to stop denying there is a problem and start looking at where comes from. I think there are several sources, firstly the traditional publishing industry itself, secondly the red-ball crowd, and finally those voters who have been unaware of the problem. I’m no believer in affirmative action. I don’t want to see no red balls on the slate for a few thousand years. But if the award is going to recapture credibility, those who nominate and vote need to accept there need to be as many black as red, and more white balls in play, and that black balls will have to win too, at least as often as the red. That’s to the benefit of prior winners and nominees, and to the benefit of the award, and to benefit of readers and fans. The status quo is self-serving short term and minor benefit to the red ball crew – who, judging by the slanders they put up to achieve this are about as delightful a group as you could find outside a little prisoner beheading party.

Then we can say there is no ideological bias in Hugo awards. Until then, if you believe this I can recommend the tinfoil hat design.

At the risk of being run out of town

I really can’t do a chapter.  I haven’t gone over Elf Blood, that’s part of it.  The other part is that I found the down-side of not taking decongestants.  As in, by last night, any direction I moved my head in hurt.  I’ve taken zyrtech and it’s helping some, but I suspect I have an infection and will need to see our family doctor before it’s fully resolved.

Meanwhile I’ve been noodling: How many of these things like POV violation, or the plot being “trite” or whatever do READERS care about?

Because it was an oligopsnoy, publishing needed to eliminate a great number of the suppliers, and thus came out with all sorts of rules, including, at a later date, “no first person.”

There were things like POV violations, for instance, which readers don’t care about, but writers and editors do, passionately.

And just saying “if it works as a reader” is a problem because as writers we have internalized what we were supposed to do, and we read like that.

But a lot of the new writers making it big are stomping all this under foot.  So — what is good writing?  Does anyone know?  What rules do we follow as we head into the future?


I started reading a book not that long ago, and two things sort of reached out and grabbed me while I was reading. One was a failure in foreshadowing, and once I got over my initial WTH? reaction, I was ok with it. The other… was very subtle, and one I can see in many books. 

The main character in this book is supposed to be a barely-above-teens gang kid (on another planet, true) who lives in a ‘nest’ a house in a city where it’s sort of post-apocalyptic… Anyway. He talks like a well-educated middle-aged man. The internal dialogue rambles on about his inexperience and naivety, but that he’s even self-aware of it, let alone talks so very well – it’s cogntive dissonance, I realized thanks to another book I’d read while taking a break from this one. 

Linguistics, a field in which I have only dabbled, but Sarah has promised to come heckle me about, can tell a lot about a person. For instance, I can tell a lot about someone from their facebook postings. I can tell in a private chat if a friend is in pain or distress from their word choices. I suspect if you focused on it, you would realize you can do the same. 

In text-based communication, you don’t have body language to rely on, and whether we realize it or not, most of us (even the socially oblivious) read another person like a book during a conversation. Some people are very good at it. I’ve never been formally trained in cold reading, but I sat through a lot of material on it while my ex was. It’s… fascinating. 

However, on the pages of a book we rely on the words. And a half-educated (at best) kid is not going to use the same words, or string a sentence together neatly. It’s easier to simply write without contemplating the semantics of a world that doesn’t exist, but a little bit goes a long way. On the other hand, you don’t want to be writing in a lexicon that means you need a massive glossary for your readers. 

The judicious use of a few made-up words, some mangled dialogue, and perhaps the removal of internal dialogue to third-person narration would have made my experience with this book a lot easier, wrapping my head around the character. And maybe have him do a ‘quick-learning’ session that we all know and love from classic SF. I know I could use those right now, as the semester is coming on like a frieght train. 

I’m keeping this short today, I need to go watch Spanish videos (slow learning!) and amuse myself with how much literal translation of Spanish to English sounds like Yoda-speak. Which reminds me, an excellent example of the use of linguistics to convey character backgrounds would be either Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, or The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. No, don’t ask why one thing led to another… my brain is leaping around like a grasshopper on a hot skillet today. 

We Can’t Just All Get Along

I didn’t wanna do it. Really, I didn’t. But I’ve got a teething three-month-old, which leaves about *that* much creative juice. Oh, you can’t see that? Oh, sorry. (Actually, that’s probably a good thing, for any number of reasons) Well, I’m holding my index finger and thumb apart. At least, I’m told it’s apart, but it feels like together. I’m also told physics gets a little weird when you get that small. Anyway, we have a temporary solution to Wee Dave’s concerns over his molars (yeah: definitely my child, though I send Significant Dark Looks toward his Avo, who appears to have passed on some heredity-by-adoption I could have done without), and hopefully I’ll get to the prologue for Signals (a project most of you don’t yet know about. Hush, you’ll find out in good time) today. See, there’s this guy, and he’s from the Revolutionary War and he’s dead, but he’s kinda not, and he’s in a dimension that kinda-sorta-maybe feels like a giant 1940’s noir New York-L.A.-Chicago-New Orleans. Anyway, it’s complicated, and there are demons. Except they’re not really demons. So I hope to get to that today, probably after my grandparents’ dining set arrives.

Where was I? Right: I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to write about the Hugos, as there’s been a metric crap-ton written about them already. Cousin Kate (long story, turns out we’re family. Be afraid.) wrote an excellent summary of how the voting works. That was up yesterday, if you missed it. Despite having participated for a few years, I could never wrap my head around it. I agree with her conclusions: good for politics. Which should tell you all you need to know about WorldCon and the Hugos Awards these days. I agree with her other conclusion, about how the best reward is green and folds. It’s the reason I got into this whole protituti-authorial gig in the first place. Well, that and my constitutional inability to fit neatly into corporate America (No, really: lengthy commutes make me break out in green skin and purple pants. It’s weird).

Larry Correia, Int’l Lord of Hate, Cismale Gendernormative Fascist, husband, father, and all-around great guy, put up his Aftermath to the Aftermath to the Hugos a couple of days ago, if you missed it. In it, he reiterates that the point wasn’t to win, but to expose the sham of a group of three thousand or so fans marching in lockstep (Aside: this is a rhetorical device used suggest that all of the WorldCon attendees/voters are more or less the same. It’s not true, as I know plenty of them. This, however, is an editorial piece, and I’m not pretending at objectivity, unlike those on the other side of this putative divide. See my authenticity, transparency, and honesty.) allegiance to a concept of scifi that seems to exclude the vast majority of the fanbase as a whole. For a worthy treatment of that last bit, see Brad Torgerson’s post mortem on the Sad Puppies 2 campaign. No, really: go read it. And the comments.

Which brings me to my point. This divide is killing science fiction fandom as we know it. It’s a microcosm of post-Marx politics, wherein you have no opponents, only enemies whose skulls you aren’t yet drinking from. This is a bit of problem in what is still, largely, a family affair. Seriously, we’re not all that different, despite the attempts to demonstrate that one side is composed of nothing but jackbooted theocrats, hoping in the dark hell of their spawning pits that this is the day they’ll get to crucify those people who choose to live differently, those who look different, and all those uppity women, too. Yes, even the female ones.

The cries of “Diversité! Egalité! Inclusivité!” are nigh deafening, just loud enough to cover the sound of editorial Guillotines chopping off the careers of those who speak out about the abuses of the system. If it wasn’t for indie (and Baen, who takes a remarkably American approach to selling the written word) I expect Brad, Larry, John C. Wright and the Most Hated Man in Science Fiction, the incorrigible Vox Day, himself (who, it should be noted, expressed a very gentlemanly response to coming in sixth out of five for that particular Hugo), would likely have to go back to their day jobs for all the quasi-public outcry. And character assassination, though I’ll get to that shortly.

I say quasi-, because outside of publishing and a certain subset of fandom, most people have no idea this conflict is even happening. Look, when I have to explain to avid readers how the publishing system works in order for them to understand why things are as odd as they are (and this – the Hugo controversy, the ongoing Amazon-Hachette wrangle, the combustibility of the Twitterverse, etc. – does looks strange to people who deal with madness-of-a-different-color every day), that should suggest to even the most partisan of my readers that our troubles amount to a pretty small hill of beans in this crazy world. Keep firmly in mind that readers go to a store, get a book, and read it. More these days, they’ll log onto Amazon, download a book, and read it. They certainly don’t ask pointed questions about the ethnic extraction of a given author, or what she thinks about the plight of the indigenous peoples of southeast Asia. They have little knowledge and less interest about the ins-and-outs of the publishing industry as a whole, beyond a vague, “huh, I wonder how that works?”

To paraphrase Sayre’s Law, “politics in the publishing industry is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so low.” When a minor celebrity – and outside of King, Rowling and a few others, authors are ALL minor celebrities, at best – gets accused of such things as beating his family, there might be a problem in the way you’re managing things, Science Fiction. This is arguably libel. Libel is bad. I may dislike a person personally and professionally, but it goes beyond the pale to suggest, just in passing, you understand, that I understand his wife had a couple of bruises on her arm at the grocery store the other day, and isn’t he such a big and angry man? This is the kind of rumor that can get families torn apart, under the watchful and well-armed eye of the government.

And that, right there, is the point of this whole screed. This kind of behavior is a rot. This rot is poisoning our family, and it’s poisoning scifi fandom. The outside world, when they notice us, is saying, “aren’t they the ones who can’t handle jokes? Who get all pissy when you mention Dark Vader (true story: I totally thought that was his name, when I was three) and don’t like football?” Consequently, despite all the press high-powered nerds have gotten over the past decade or so, with the continued rise of technology, and introduction of such freaking awesomeness as reactionless drives (I know, I know, still testing. I can hope, see?), handheld computing and carrying around a library on my touchscreen device (something I dreamed about as a kid), we’re still at the place of, “what’s with the funny-looking dice, nerds?” most of us experienced sometime in school.

This may sound like an appeal to unity. It’s not. If you want one, Toni Weisskopf wrote one back in March. I’m not that optimistic. I think the poison has gone too deep. I don’t expect scifi (or SF, or even SF/F: YMMV) to die, certainly. I do expect it to fragment. Given the accusations of sour grapes from one side, and collusion (not necessarily cheating, especially given Larry’s Aftermath post) from the other side, and the attending storm of angst and ill will, I expect fandom to fracture on ideological lines. Namely, those interested in art and literature, and those interested in having fun.
Which is really what this comes down to. Why are you part of this community? Is it for the sniping, the endless clever lines scoring points off of your “opponents?” Or is it a matter of enriching lives worn by the cares of the world? What are we, as a community, going to look like in a decade, two decades? Older, grayer and more tired, attending the same panels with the same panelists and the same tired, gray topics? Me, I’m in it for the money (Pipe down, you. You know who you are!), and that doesn’t happen without work, so I’m going to go do- oh, never mind: Wee Dave is complaining again.