Coming out of the Wardrobe

Not a closet. I’m not gay, and that phrase is lashed to that.

But a wardrobe…

That could mean you’ve just left ‘Spare Oom’ , which, to judge by mine, is a place less attractive and more cluttered than Lantern Waste in Narnia.

In the traditional sf-fantasy world, coming out of the closet as homosexual is not unusual, and, rather than career destroying, may well open doors for you. I know at least half a dozen, and that’s without caring and trying to find out. Shrug. That’s not really my concern. You’ll also find homosexual characters in far more books that you will find authors professing to be that. When last did you see one as the villain, BTW?

But that’s not really what I was going to write about. I don’t care, personally, what an author does or believes in, or makes their characters do. Just as long as you don’t wake the children or frighten the salmon. In an open market-place, and we have that, thanks, principally, to Amazon and Kindle, and independent publishing, people will buy what they want to buy, and that will, in the end (both the in author numbers and earnings, and characters in their books) reflect the demographics and tastes of the readers.

Getting to that point, however, is probably going to be ugly. It’s the entire trumpet-and-thunder of vast herds of Wooly Mammoths in the room, with the increasingly ugly attacks on Amazon, on Indies, and on anyone who doesn’t toe the traditional publishing establishment line. Because it’s not about a few writers letting the market decide if they like them. It’s about their keeping power and control. Power to promote their agenda and darlings with that agenda, power restrict what you read, power to destroy an author’s career if they step out of the prescribed lines… and the fear that the self-proclaimed high priests of those prescriptions have of losing that power.

So: what is all of this preamble about, Monkey? Get to your point. You usually have one, although it’s hard to tell at times.

Well, it’s just this: I am coming out of the wardrobe as one of those people the traditional publishing industry – particularly in sf and Fantasy — love to hate, with the book I am self-publishing. It’s a book with Christian priest as the heroine, a Cozy, comfortable mystery story, set in the country, with the rather conservative values of the country (which are actually quite tolerant, as long as you leave them alone, they’re quite content to let you do your own thing.).

And yes, the picture is a link. And if you want to pay a lot more, you can order – and get – the paperback before it is available as an e-book, because I’m a klutz, not because I support paper.

I wrote this book for one simple reason (and, of course being me, several complex ones). I have given the entire income from it to my little Church on the Island. The Island is at least as nominally Christian as the US – which I see comes in 76%. Not something you’d guess looking traditional sf-fantasy, where I know far more Wiccans or atheists than openly Christian authors. Still, here, you’ll see that at funerals, ANZAC Day and to an extent at Christmas. I suspect if we had another disaster like our massive fires, nearly a decade ago, or real hard times (there are no empty Churches in Harare) you’d see the same. I know from my own experience that the bit about no atheists in the foxholes is very accurate. I was a conscript soldier, and I’ve been on enough grim rescues, with praying families, and prayed myself searching for lost children, to know that is almost always true. But in the meanwhile, Sunday to Sunday, it’s a very small group. Most of them are old. The church is important to them. They don’t have enough money to have a priest, or even to fly one in regularly to take mass. That is important to them. It’s important to me. They’ll take dawn service on ANZAC day, on Remembrance Day, and I’ll be there while I am still breathing, to pay my respects to the fallen, and honor those who served. They’ll bury me here, one day… if there is anyone left to bury me. They’ll be the ones making teas and comforting the grieving, as they do now, regardless of creed or color or background, or if you ever came to church. I’m a very mediocre Christian, of the C.S. Lewis kind (hence the wardrobe) that figures God’ll have to judge my efforts rather than my piety, because I’m a very rough diamond – a lot closer to coal than diamond. But I reckon that if I don’t support them when I don’t need them, they’re not going to be there when my family or friends or others do. They need help. I’m not one to sit on my hands and leave it to others to do the heavy work. I’ve put my money (which as you may gather, I don’t have much of) and my career where my big mouth is, because that is what I do and what I am.

This is effectively six months work – and income, that I’m handing over to try and help out. This, because I am not the inimitable John Wright (and he survives on genius despite traditional publishing disfavor), almost certainly blacklists me with everyone but Baen. Shrug. Sometimes you have to come out of the Wardrobe… even if my make-believe world smells rather of burned Marsh-wiggle foot.

To talk briefly about the book – It’s up for pre-order, as I’m hoping to build enough pre-orders to get it onto various Amazon bestseller lists. They must have a lunatic ex-Ichthyolgist list surely? Doesn’t everyone search under that?

Because I’d rather be up-front than irritate my readers. 1) This is not Science Fiction or Fantasy (of course there IS a fan in the book) 2) This is a cozy. A comfortable, small, rural set village who-dunnit story with no on scene blood-n’-guts. Think Agatha Christie, rather than Rats Bats and Vats. Yes, I know. It’s not exactly what I am known for. I’m a hack. Which means, actually, I am a professional writer, and not just someone who is good at their little passion. I can get into the head of a timid lady priest and write from her point of view. Hey, I believe this. Buy the book – a whole $3.99, read it and tell me I’m wrong (that way, the little Parish of the Furneux Islands gets $2.70 odd AND you get to tell me what a jackass I am. A win for everyone.) 3) The lead character is everything I am not. This is probably the hardest book I have ever written. Some people (well, Sarah) think it is the best book I have written. You probably won’t agree. Venture $3.99 for that pleasure. But please don’t expect it to be what Dave usually writes. 4) The lead character is a Christian priest. It’s not an overtly religious book, except that it is from her point of view, and she is, and by-in-large the people she deals with are her congregation. It’s a murder mystery, and as such I did fly it though a number of readers who aren’t church-goers. Your conservative mother would like it. Do buy her a copy. Your average SJW would detest it. Do buy them a copy so they can enjoy pillorying me (and yes, put another $2.70 in coffers –and get the pre-order list higher, and irritate them enormously by its success).

Goodness me. It’s snowing in here. And was that a faun? And surely that can’t be the SFWA committee pulling a sleigh full of Traditional Publishers all called Jadis…


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76 responses to “Coming out of the Wardrobe

  1. John in Philly

    Dave, how cruelly you manipulate me. ” Since your average SJW would detest it,” it becomes a must-have. I have pre-ordered for the Kindle.

    The second Heirs of Alexandria is parked on my Kindle, and I have read a good part of your other writing, the Navy veteran voice in my head almost snapped my neck nodding in agreement when reading the Rats, Bats, and Vats stories.

    John in Philly

    • So long as you’re not expecting anything at all like RBV, John. Y’know, I believe writers need to write to entertain their audience, and if they want catharsis by writing they should not expect audiences to pay for their therapy. But RBV was my ‘catharsis’ book ;-). People who haven’t been there, just don’t get that side of it.

      The SJW disapprove of a book that puts solid country folk as anything but brain-dead red-necks going to church after screwing their sister, with a priest who curses homosexuals while raping pre-teen choir boys – so they’re in for a bitter disappointment. How could I be so inaccurate (about something they imagine fondly, and people I actually know.)?

      • John in Philly

        If ever asked the question, “What do you read?” I think my face would look like a dog’s face upon hearing a very high pitched noise, and then after a meaningful pause, my answer would be “Almost everything.”

        Yes, I enjoy some genres more than others, but I read across a wide spectrum.

        My only expectations are that the book should well written and be entertaining. If I am not willing to try something new from time to time, shame on me.


  2. emily61

    Thanks for writing this. I’ve been looking for a new cozy to read.

  3. Cozies are fun and I’ve got to have something to read over the (American) Thanksgiving weekend. Unless I find myself spending most of the time rewriting my current (nearly finished) novel. If I do, I’ll let my wife read it and then try to get to it during the Christmas holidays (an excellent time for anything cozy).

    But whenever I get around to reading it, you’ve already made the sale and the church will have the money. Good luck garnering more sales.

    • 🙂 give it your wife first. That way you get your book finished, and with any luck she’ll let you have it back. And maybe she’ll want copies for her mother/sister/friend (cross out those that do not apply). and that’s a double win.

      • robfornow

        Ain’t no way I would give a book I haven’t read to my wife first. There isn’t any luck in that regard. I don’t know how many books went directly to a black hole after she read it. Nope, she only gets it after me, or I will have to use Amazon’s liberal policy and redownload. Another thing I’m grateful to Amazon for.

  4. There was a monkey in Narnia? *dodges coconuts*

  5. Does pre-ordering have the same effect as one of Larry Correia’s “book bombs”—that all the orders happen together and push the book up the lists?

    • herbn

      I’m pre-ordered but will a paperback bring the church more money? I’d happily buy it if that’s the case.

      • I think there is 70 cents extra in it – and it costs you a lot more and has no effect on the rankings which are pretty important at this point, so if you don’t mind reading e-books, I would appreciate you sticking to the e-book. 🙂

        • Dan Lane

          The reasons to pick up *both* are that you get one for yourself, and one for visitors to read whilst they sit around the table. You know, the ones that can’t see a book but they must pick it up and read the tagline on the back cover, at the least.

          Then you tell them the book stays here, but the ebook is mighty cheap, and proceeds go to a good cause, too, so mightn’t they ought to pick one up for their own self? And thus the word of mouth advertising grows. Of course, this doesn’t affect the pre-order sales ranking, but it does generate sales once it gets going, and perhaps gives it some legs for the long-term.

          One more pre-order for the pile, good sir. Most of my curmudgeonly friends are resisting the e-reader with all the suspicion of a group of old biddies eyeing the handsome widower’s new girlfriend, else it’d be more, I shouldn’t doubt.

  6. “And surely that can’t be the SFWA committee pulling a sleigh full of Traditional Publishers all called Jadis…”

    No, Dave. As far as folks like you and I are concerned, they’re called Jihadis.


  7. I am probably one of those p.c. people you generally rail against, but I will buy it to help your parish, even though I am an atheist. We’ll see if you are a worthy successor to Agatha Christie and her like. And while I might be one of the left wing rabble, I believe everyone comes to the table equally, and will be treated that way until they prove that they are there to abuse. I respect what you believe, I just don’t necessarily agree.

    • With all due respect, if you believe everyone comes to the table equally, and treat them that way, you are not one of the p.c. people Dave rails about. You might be a left winger, but having a different opinion isn’t the problem. Most of his Baen work was co-written with Eric Flint, a self-professed Trotskyte.

    • He is a worthy successor. The book is excellent. H*ll, he got me to like it despite the fact it has a female priest and I’m staunchly opposed to female clergy. (Because women have different styles than men, not because they’re not capable of leadership.)

      • masgramondou

        Yes that makes it interesting to decide whether to give it to my father as a Christmas present. He’s actually written books about the inappropriateness of female priests from a theological perspective. He did however complain recently about the lack of enjoyable modern fiction and particularly Miss Marple like whodunnits

        • He’ll like it. It didn’t rub me the wrong way, so it won’t rub him the wrong way. Probably.

        • Eh, do it. It’ll give him something to grumble about and dissect as to how wrong I am, and I don’t mind in the least. Joy was a convenient vehicle to stir up the rural parish in the story, and have to learn how to cope with the people in it. The theology is about what you’d expect from an Ichthyologist. It’s not a book on doctrine, but a whodunnit about a dead priest. For the record, my position is that I’d judge the individual on their ability to do the job. Maybe more males are right for it than women, but there are always exceptions. And it’s not like we have too many young men lining up for the job. The opposite is the problem.

          • I don’t think one needs to agree with Joy about female ministers to enjoy the story. I disagree with her about a lot of things, such as the incarnation, and I enjoy it.

          • masgramondou

            So the dead tree edition is now also ordered. If I decide he won’t like it once I’ve read it I guess I get to keep it. Shucks.

    • (Wry smile) Rail? Only if you judge individual’s merits on (for example) their genital equipment or skin color, which I am sorry makes no sense to anyone a solitary functioning brain-cell, let alone two. The best man for a job is not a woman. It’s Susie or Fred, who ever actually does that particular job best. Paris Hilton will not shift coal or cow shit better than Joe Farmworker just because she’s a woman. Josie Farmworker might, but only if she’s built like a brick outhouse, and Joe isn’t. The only exception is where the feature is the job, and PC still gets it wrong. If the job is to be photographed with a product, to make heterosexual men think with their gonads instead of their brains about buying a product, it isn’t John Scalzi, not even in a dress. If it is to appear on the cover of a romance novel and make heterosexual women do the same with the bare chest and half unzipped jeans, a fine muscular man (sorry not up on names of actors let alone males ones) will be best, especially if they don’t mind their head being cut off the picture. The PC rubbish I do rail about, would have the former as having to be dear John… and the latter somehow unchanged.
      PC does not involve judgement. It involves following a hierarchy regardless of merits. Does that describe you? If so you are PC. Up to fifty or sixty years ago labeling and hierarchy was a core feature of the right wing. Now it has become a core tenet of the left. It’s not the wing I object to – my own politics fail to fit any neat mold as to policy, What I dislike intensely is where merit is trumped by PC or ideology. Where merit rules there will not be – as now exists – a massive difference in the demographics of readers and the demographics in writers of books. That means there will be books by atheists – and I’d fight to see there were… but in the US they’d be around the US population stats for the same – a couple of percent IIRC. In Sweden, far more. Likewise for gay authors, or Neo-Nazis.

    • Cat

      Let me join my voice to bhalsop’s; I am definitely one of the p c people Dave rails about. As far as I am concerned, “social justice warrior” is an immense compliment–one I don’t feel I actually live up to, but never-the-less feel a little flush of pleasure about when it is directed my way. Though really–Social Justice Bard, please; I’m much better at music than combat.
      I’m an atheist, but like the vast majority of us in the US, I don’t have any particular problem with a Christian or priest POV character–why would I? Like you, I grew up in a world saturated with Christianity; I understand that point of view even though I don’t share it. And frankly, if I wasn’t willing to be friends with a Christian, I’d be a very lonely person–something like 85% of the population here is Christian.
      If country people are content to let you do your own thing as long as you leave them alone there must be much more support in the country for gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose than I had realized. Or perhaps the tendency of rural voters to vote against these things is a purely US issue; that could be the case also.
      So good news, I guess, p c people *are* reading what you have to say, reading your blog, reading your books! We don’t despise you after all!
      I won’t be buying it so much to help your parish, (not that it doesn’t sound like a good cause, but the world is full of good causes and I have to pick and choose) but because I enjoyed Cuttlefish and The Steam Mole, and I also like cozy mysteries. So your gift to the parish is bulked up a bit because you attracted some money from me. Well done!

      • Sigh. I actually live in rural area. Have for the last 30 years. The island I live on now has 700 people, and very few secrets. There are five openly homosexual people. There were briefly 8. Come over and I’ll introduce you to them. All of the remaining five are very popular – AS PEOPLE. One is is the Island deputy mayor, and one of the other couple was on the island council for last 4 years – you only get to either position by popular vote. The reason they’re popular… is simple. They worked damned hard at it and are nice people. Their orientation is an aspect of them, not their everything. At any function, and any civic program, they’re there, not doing gay pride but working their butts off for their community. If there is firefighting to do or cooking for a function, or donations being collected for a charity raffle… they’re among the first to offer. On the other hand, they’re not promiscious, and quite conservative in their values, appear long-term faithful to each other. I doubt you’d muster 10% objection to their marriage, if they decided to do so. The couple who left… were typical city gays, and everyone – including IMO the other gay couples were not unhappy to see them break up and go. And yes, as foreign incomers that is exactly what Barbs and I have tried to do. it’s in our nature, I like to think, and I think in the nature of these individuals. Is that something which is typical of your American rural (or even urban) homosexuals? Maybe if PC hadn’t entitled them to ‘demand’ but had said ‘let’s judge people on their merits’ they’d work on those merits. Or is that a silly idea?

        • The reason they’re popular… is simple. They worked damned hard at it and are nice people. Their orientation is an aspect of them, not their everything. At any function, and any civic program, they’re there, not doing gay pride but working their butts off for their community. If there is firefighting to do or cooking for a function, or donations being collected for a charity raffle… they’re among the first to offer.


          They sound like fine people, and any community with fine people in it will be a good one. It’s nice to hear that there are still good people out there.

          • 🙂 To be justifiably proud to be a small part of it – in the last census it emerged that our puny little island has the highest level of volanteerism… in Australia. Right-o, that’s us 700. What is with the rest you 23 million?

  8. Ah, the last homosexual/bisexual (?) baddie I can think of was in Tom Kratman’s _State of Disobedience_. Which has been a while.

    Book pre-ordered. I need up rebuild my karma’s bank account. 😉

  9. Hmmm. Pre-order: explains why I couldn’t find it earlier. Something about five-month-olds not being terribly considerate of their parents’ limitations. I shall have to abide with patience.

  10. I’m like you, a “Practicing Christian.” At the current rate of progress, in another 300 years, I should succeed in 24 (consecutive) hours of actual Christian living. Sigh. Fortunately, God cares more about the trying, than the succeeding. “Church” is more about supporting us in our efforts than in judging (done right). After all, it’s *full* of sinners. 🙂

    • herbn

      One of the most moving parts of Orthodox litury is before communion the congregration confesses:

      I believe and confess, Lord, that You are truly the Christ, the Son of the living God, who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.

      That acknowledgment that we are to first look for and struggle against sin with ourselves is a key reason why I have found my home there. It’s not my favorite part of the liturgy (that would be the Refrains of the Second Antiphon) but it is the most striking every Sunday.

    • 🙂 It’s when it comes to doctors that the ‘practice’ part gets worrying

  11. robfornow

    Preorder in. The Father Brown mysteries are very popular on PBS as are most cozies. I hope it will do well.

  12. I got paid today, which means time to find books. I’ve added this one to the list for when I get home. 🙂

  13. Uncle Lar

    With this and Sarah’s enthusiastic endorsement how can I not?

  14. Uncle Lar

    Apropos nothing special other than this piece’s title:
    Back in olden days in some jurisdictions residential property taxes were determined by the total number of rooms, and closets each counted as a separate room.
    Thus the popularity of free standing wardrobes for the purpose of storage.
    And thus also demonstrating that sticking it to the tax man is a fine and long standing tradition.

    • It’s not wardrobe. It’s a mobile home… or at least room.:-) A similar sort of thing accounted for the development of ornate beds – when I was researching Corfu for TRM, I found that beds were not permitted to be seized (although other property could be) for non-payment of rents.

  15. Eamon J. Cole

    Sarah was talking about it the other day, somewhere…

    Anyway, I tagged the pre-order then, because it sounded intriguing.

    I only wish I might have waited to add my click to the list and boost rankings.

    Looking forward to it, sir. Very much.

    • It’s still added 🙂

      • Eamon J. Cole

        Happy to help, then.

        Now I just have to wait for the release. *mumble-grumble*

        • Dan Lane

          “Just” waiting involves writing, too. ‘Cuz it’s that month of the year, ya know.

          And maybe, it involves picking *one* to finish, rather than a half dozen or three…

          • Eamon J. Cole

            Was that a poke? Seemed to have a poke-like character…

            I’m hammering around the plot for the folllow-on novel to the last short you read for me. But it’s resisting. I’d like to have something roughed by the end of the year. If I can figure the shape of this plot!

            • Dan Lane

              Shaped charges work quite nicely when the plot’s being recalcitrant. Explosives and opposable thumbs- it’s what separates us from the lower order mammals.

              Totally not a poke. A *poke* would mention space waitresses. And third plots. And potted plots. And plots of land. And vicious, nasty little plots that are cooked up in dark, smoky rooms that smell vaguely of industrial cleaner with a vague undertone of copper…

              • Eamon J. Cole

                Sshhh! I’ve got the space waitress safely ensconced in the kitchen arguing with the octapartite cook. Oh, and the spider-monkey looking fellow, their crabby accountant (don’t mind the extra limbs). They can go on like that forever (space-dockside diners ain’t easy things to run).

                If they stay occupied I can work on other things. Tell me more about this dark, smoky room.

                • Dan Lane

                  For big plots, where countries, continents, and worlds spin at the whim of a mighty few, there’s a fortress or a fastness to house them. For small but wicked plots, there’s a darkened, smoky room.

                  When the big boss says “Hugo. Make an example of him,” and waves away a thickset fellow with heavy brows and heavier fists, the latter goes to the smoky room to plot out the how-tos and wherefores of the job. Rumors that the cheat sheet comes express mail from an address in Schenectady are utterly false, no matter how true.

                  The darkened, smoky room is an Otherwhere kind of place, not Else, not Neither/Nor, at obtuse angles to reality. You’ve heard of L-Space, but it’s nowhere near. Not even in the same zip code. Or time zone. Or non-baryonic locality…

                  Plots are plotted by the cleverness and low cunning. Don’t underestimate the value of low cunning when it comes to nasty little plots-es, you never know what they’ve got in their pockets-es. These pocket-plots are cooked up by the villanous, they don’t spring fully formed into the air to perpetrate wickedness upon the masses (unless, of course, they do for you).

                  Perhaps there’s an opportunity ripe for the shakedown in this proto-plot of yours. Maybe it just takes the right- excuse me, the *wrong*- sort of mind to find where it’s weak and exploit it mercilessly. Of course, we both know that the good and the right win in the end. Don’t we?

                  But nobody told the bad guys that. Or, if they did, the nasties see themselves as the Good and Righteous, boldly going (or sneakily as the case may be) and doing what the Good and the Right need done, whether they want it or not. See: eugenics, et. al. Let the wickedness out to play. The heroes will react, at first, then seek to drive the action forward. Perhaps.

                  Complications are of course possible. Could be well worth pursuing, in fact.

                  And if this makes no sense, chalk it up to a shaky balance of illness and drugs (the legal kind) kicking in…

                  • Eamon J. Cole

                    I’ma gonna print this.

                    While I’d not wish illness on anybody (And who wants to be dealing with drugs when they don’t need ’em?) you should make note of this particular groove in your brain and revisit it.

  16. Pat Patterson

    I’m aggravated.
    I splurged and spent my budget on the Kindle Unlimited, which at $9.95 / month is a bargain, with the intent of reading and reviewing (straight or bizarre, your pick) all of the mad genius club writers. I read all the time, so I’m cranking out better than 1/day.
    And I can’t pre-order this book with Kindle Unlimited, because I’m only borrowing and not buying it. I have to wait to check it out when it comes out of the wardrobe on November 27.
    And as far as the reading goes, I just finished & reviewed Vengeance from Ashes by Sam Schall (who is that? A pen name, right?) and am now reading Jason Cordova’s Kaiju Apocalypse (56%). Maybe my plan for future reading will be to read a book by whoever writes the blog that day. So, after I finish reading warpcordova’s book, I’ll read one by Dave Freer. Query: do you get the same money when I KU and it’s multiple authors? Because it looks like all your KU books are written with Eric Flint or Stephan Dedman.

  17. Pat Patterson

    Well, I just got a message from Amazon saying I DID pre-order it, so either you CAN pre-order KU, or I bought the book.
    Either way, it’s cool.

  18. Hey! I said it was great too. This is totally different from anything Dave has written BUT it’s also just so Dave in so many ways. I’ve read it as a first reader and I’m buying it as well.

  19. Pat Patterson

    Okay, just finished and reviewed warpcordova’s Kaiju Apocalypse, now gonna check out a Dave Freer KU.

  20. Holly

    Argh, this must be a Firefox thing (I’m using Pale Moon, which best I understand is a stripped down for only some operating systems version of Firefox) because I can’t see the picture, or anything that resembles a link to buy this. And I turned on all the scripts, so it’s running really ragged now, and I ought to see whatever is there. (Why, facebook and twitter, do you increase my loading times so?)
    Does it matter? Is it (the non-existant-to-me-link) one of those affiliate things where Amazon gives you extra money? Or can I just go to Amazon and search for the book? (Or see if I can find a working affiliate thing link on one of y’all’s websites.)
    I might have to get a print copy–not that I don’t read ebooks, but I’m pretty sure Mom would love this and she doesn’t.

    • It’s not firefox (I haven’t got around to migrating, as I intended to). must be either Pale Moon or your system. It’s the Amazon Associates link, and gives them a few extra cents – seriously while I figured Amazon might as well contribute too, it’s not to worry about. Just go to Amazon and search ‘Joy Cometh with the Mourning’ – it is mourning (with a u) and NOT in the morning. I tried to write a book my mother would like, so I hope yours does. Let me know, or at least post the review, please.

      • Holly

        And obviously election day uses too many brain cells. The thing to do turned out to be open internet explorer, wait for Mad Genius Club to load, click link, wait, and copy and paste.
        Now to leave it open until I get to the store this afternoon to pick up an Amazon card. (Yeah, no credit card. When it comes to buying books I always fail my saving throw. Which is why I need another gift card for Amazon.)