Tag Archives: Pam Uphoff

The Absolute Basics

 

I was surprised by the number of people last month who were having trouble with the first step of writing—writing the whole story.

So you’re getting the Kindergarten level talk, in the hopes that you can spot where the problem lies.

So . . . at its simplest, what is a story, after all?

A story requires:
• One or more characters
• A problem that matters to them
• How they solve the problem
• What they are like after having solved the problem

That’s it.

Oh sure, depending on the length and complexity of the work there will be several attempts and failures, before they grit their teeth and give it their all. But let’s start with the absolute basics. Take out that story you’re having problems with, and let’s have a look.

Who’s the Main Character? Not necessarily the only POV character or even the only Protagonist POV character. But who is doing the heavy lifting in your story? Don’t lose track of that.

What is the problem? Why does it matter to the MC? It doesn’t? Well there’s a point you need to address. Sometimes the first problem is the tip of an iceberg, but make it matter TO THE GUY WHO IS GOING TO RISK ALL FOR IT! Do you just need to show the character’s motivation, or are you using the wrong character as your Main Guy Gal Person Sapient Being?

How is the MC going to solve the problem? Does he need to acquire knowledge, skills, equipment, clues? Does he need advice? Does he need helpers? Does he need to study the problem and understand it better before he can solve it? All these things are interesting adventures and the meat of the story. If you’re writing a Mystery, your detective has to go around asking questions, interviewing people, getting beaten up, following red herrings . . . A Fantasy? Must find magical items, companions, steeds, sword fighting lessons, whatever.

Make your character do some work! You can put in a whole lot of world building while getting your hero ready to go. Get some try/fail sequences in there. Nothing like failure to make the MC realizes he needs [fill in the blank].

Think of several ways a sensible person (or hysterical, if that’s what the MC is) would try to deal with the problem. Then have him try one and fail. Get more stuff/training, try the next way, and fail. And the next.

Don’t make winning easy. Make him or her have a desperate dark moment, an emotional crisis, followed by renewed determination to win/solve/escape or whatever. Maybe a whole new strategy is needed?

And then go out there and do it.

And then, after the Big Win, show the character more mature, better skilled, filthy rich, more confident . . . or just going back home. A story has to have an ending. It has to have a conclusion.

That ending is an important part of the writing process.

Figure out what it is going to be. This will give you something to aim at, while you write.

You may decide later that it’s unrealistic, and change it.

No problem.

But if you don’t have a clue, not even “Frodo drops the ring in the ocean, then goes home and lives happily ever after” you are going to have trouble aiming your story. When you decide, “Wait, the ocean won’t work . . . umm . . . oooo! Let’s melt it in a volcano! And it has to be *the* volcano deep in enemy territory!” you’ve at least already got him on the road and collecting companions, weapons, experiences, and magic dodads. You’ve described the world, the people, established the personalities of his companions . . . you just have to get off the river and hike for the volcano.

Then you have your MC after the Big Win. Or if he made the ultimate sacrifice, you show your other characters getting with life, and the big hole left that the character used to fill. But show the reader that he died for a purpose, and achieved it.

And that’s it.

Main Character. Problem. Solution. Aftermath.

If you are missing any of those, you’re mucking about with the trained and honed expectations of a reader’s lifetime of stories.

Now, here is an old post with some story type and basic plot information: Back the the Basics
Which may also help clarify your problems.

But the number one problem with never finishing writing a book, is starting editing before it is completely written. Rereading may be necessary if a manuscript has been tucked away for very long between writing sessions. But in most cases, reading the last paragraph or two is sufficient to get your mind back into the story.

And the second reason many manuscripts are never finished? Not enough time to work on it. Do you need to find more time, or just pull the plug on the greatest time sink on the Earth? Yes, the Internet.

Master it, use it.

If you have trouble leaving it, try writing away from access. Bargain with yourself. “Five hundred words every morning before _any_ internet at all.” or “I can only have a soda/coffee/tea/beer if I’m sitting at the computer, writing.” “News and weather with the first cup of coffee. Then it’s time to go to work.”

Whatever works.

Get out that “never could finish it” manuscript. Analyze it. Main Character. Problem. Solution. Aftermath.

You can do this. I know you can.

And the Promo:

If you’ve never read anything of mine, try this one, the first taste is only $0.99

Or my most recent book:

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Filed under BY THE MAD GENII, PAM UPHOFF, Uncategorized, WRITING: CRAFT

Third Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale

I’d like to thank Amie Gibbons for pulling this together. Between school and life, I’ve been too busy to think straight, let alone do the legwork. You should really check out her work – she writes fun, original urban fantasy/mythology that is as perky as she is. 

It’s that time of year again. The kiddies are back in school, vacations have been vacationed, the season of burned skin is over, and people are getting back into their usual routines.
And you know what that means.
The Third Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale!
Whether you are eating pumpkin spice everything or counting the days until Halloween, as the nights cool, you’re going to want to check out the latest sales in Sci Fi, Fantasy and Mystery from your favorite indies.
Enjoy!

gods defenseThe Gods Defense  
By Amie Gibbons

Sale price: $0.99 from 9/3 to 9/6; $2.99 from 9/6 to 9/9.
Blurb: In a world where the gods and magic have returned, enforcing justice just got a lot more hazardous!
Cassandra Berry is a prosecutor with a problem; the Defendant in her latest case is claiming Dionysus made him do it, and if he wins, defendants across the country will be pulling this excuse in every case. In order to get the god to answer a subpoena, she asks Apollo for help.
But divine favors always come with strings attached…

witchfindercoverfinalWitchfinder 

By Sarah Hoyt

$2.99

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

sword and bloodcoverfinalSword and Blood

by Sarah Hoyt

$2.99

The France of the Musketeers has changed. Decades ago, someone opened a tomb in Eastern Europe, and from that tomb crawled an ancient horror, who in turn woke others of its kind.
Now Paris is beset by vampires, the countryside barren and abandoned. The Cardinal has become a vampire, the church is banned, the king too cowed to fight.
Until now, the three Musketeers, Athos, Porthos and Aramis have stood as a bulwark against the encroaching evil, their swords defending the innocent and helpless.
But last night, in a blood mass, Athos was turned into a Vampire. And a young vampire orphan has just arrived from Gascony: Monsieur D’Artagnan.
Things are about to get… complicated.
This book was originally published under the pen name Sarah Marques.

Sword of Arelionsword of arelion
By Amanda S. Green
Sale price: $$2.99
Blurb: War is coming. The peace and security of the Ardean Imperium is threatened from within and without. The members of the Order of Arelion are sworn to protect the Imperium and enforce the Codes. But the enemy operates in the shadows, corrupting where it can and killing when that fails.
Fallon Mevarel, knight of the Order of Arelion, carried information vital to prevent civil war from breaking out. Cait was nothing, or so she had been told. She was property, to be used and abused until her owner tired of her. What neither Cait nor Fallon knew was that the gods had plans for her, plans that required Fallon to delay his mission.
Plans within plans, plots put in motion long ago, all converge on Cait. She may be destined for greatness, but only if she can stay alive long enough.
Dagger of Elanna, Book 2 of Sword of the Gods, coming October 2016.

Yep! This one's mine. It will be coming out later in the month, and you'll see it again as a link. But the cover for this is a fractal starfield and nebula, bought elements of the spaceship and station. I painted the engine flames, the green element under the title, and that was it... So clean and pretty. For my next project, I'll be working on creating my own spaceships so I'm not stuck buying and altering them.

Jade Star

by Cedar Sanderson

$2.99

Blurb: Jade is determined to die. She is old, and useless, when she points her tiny subspace craft at the cold stars. She wakes up in the care of others who refuse to grant her death, and instead give her a new mission in life.

Jade isn’t happy, and she only gets angrier when she learns that her mysterious new home hides a horrible secret. It’s time for this old lady to kick butt and take names. Aliens, death, destruction… nothing trumps the fierce old woman who is protecting her family.
Big BlueBig Blue 
by David L. Burkhead
Sale price: $2.99
Blurb: When an accidentally detonated nuke from a stolen submarine releases something never before seen, Sea Hawk pilot Lieutenant Steve Pomerantz is sent to investigate. He finds a blue-green monster ten times the size of the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex and seemingly impervious to every weapon in mankind’s arsenal.
Earthquakes in the South Pacific, at a location dubbed as the most remote spot on Earth, raise tsunamis all along the West Coast. Air Force Captain Jamal White, pilot of a C-130 Hercules is pulled off of search and rescue duties to ferry two scientists to investigate. What they find is a new continent arisen from the deep. And on that continent something stirs, bringing terror and madness in its wake.
Two monsters, one from the frozen North Atlantic, one from the remote South Pacific, on a collision course with the survival of mankind hanging in the balance.

Grey Man ChangesThe Grey Man- Changes
By JL Curtis
Sale price: $0.99 from 9/3 to 9/6; $2.99 from 9/6 to 9/9.
Blurb- When Texas Deputy Sheriff John Cronin thwarts the Cartel’s plan to get paid to smuggle Muslims across the border, he becomes the target of the Cartel once again. One try fails, but the cartel isn’t about to give up. With his granddaughter, Jesse, still recovering from her last run-in with the Cartel and now far away with her Marine husband on a military base, Cronin only has to worry about the innocents around him.
One way or another, this old school law man plans to end this cat and mouse game for good. But, this time, the Cartel is playing for keeps; ending this war might just cost the old man his life.
Either way Cronin plans to go out on his feet, fighting tooth and nail.

Empire OneEmpire of the One
By Pam Uphoff
Sale price: $0.99
Blurb: They’d been attacked through a dimensional gate. Now they’ve located the attackers’ world and it’s time for Xen Wolfson to do some hands-on spying. Can he and his fellow spies learn enough to stop an all out war? As “Endi Dewulfe” he infiltrates the High Oner society from the bottom.

 

tomTOM 
By Dave Freer

Sale price: 9/4 8am-7.59pm -99 cents
9/4 -9/5 8pm-7.59am -$1.99
9/5 8am-7.59pm -$2.99
9/5-9/6 8pm-7.59am $3.99

Blurb: Tom is a cat in trouble. The worst possible kind of trouble: he’s been turned into a human. Transformed by an irascible old magician in need of a famulus — a servant and an assistant, Tom is as good at being a servant as a cat ever is. The assistant part is more to Tom’s taste: he rather fancies impressing the girl cats and terrorizing the other toms by transforming himself into a tiger. But the world of magic, a vanished and cursed princess, and a haunted skull, and a demon in the chamber-pot, to say nothing of conspiring wizards and the wickedest witch in the west, all seem to be out to kill Tom. He is a cat coming to terms with being a boy, dealing with all this. He has a raven and a cheese as. sort of allies. And of course there is the princess.
If you were looking for ‘War and Peace’ this is the wrong book for you. It’s a light-hearted and gently satirical fantasy, full of terrible puns and… cats.

Unproven ConceptAn Unproven Concept
By James Young
Sale price: Countdown sale starts at $.99 on 9/5 and ends at $2.75 on 9/12. Concurrent sale on Amazon.co.uk
Blurb: In the year 3050, First Contact goes horribly wrong when the starliner Titanic is set upon by previously unknown aliens. Outnumbered, outgunned, and with their crippled vessel in a decaying orbit around a gas giant, the Titanic’s crew must choose between saving themselves… or saving Humanity.
“This is a space opera that plays out on a grand scale, and Young conducted it with aplomb.” – Pop Cults, the website of Geek and Alternative Culture.

fenrir rebornFenrir Reborn
By Anita C. Young
Sale price: Free from 9/4 to 9/8.
Blurb: Sindri Modulf has been tested many times throughout his long life, but for every feat he has faced, he has artfully dodged countless more with easy humour and a deadly axe. Those well-honed abilities will prove useless when he is faced with one of the greatest challenges of his life; he must bring back a grief-stricken Seer from the edge of catatonia. Unwilling to let the mind of the most powerful woman in 1000 years be ravaged by Empaths and Telepaths, Sindri does something he hasn’t done for centuries: bare his soul.

 

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Filed under CEDAR SANDERSON, PROMOTION

Sort of a repost and sort of not

With Christmas almost upon us, I know there are folks out there like me who still have gifts to buy. So, with indulgence from Cedar, I am going to re-post the Indie Author Christmas Sale. After spending some time yesterday trying to find a book for my mother and absolutely refusing to pay $10.99 – $13.99 for e-books, I appreciated going to the Indie Author Sales listing and finding books that didn’t cost the price of a meal out.

That is the sort or a repost. The sort of not is simple and short. If you find a book on the list — or any other book you would recommend to someone else — leave a review for it on Amazon or elsewhere. If you have a blog, write a blog post about it. That is the best form of promotion any author, and especially an indie author, has. I know I’m not the only one out there who appreciates every review. Well, almost every review. The negative ones can hurt and the ones left by folks who haven’t read the book but who leave negative comments simply because they don’t like the price or author politics or whatever are always a head meets wall moment.

And now for the list:

***

Dragon Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 3)

By Cedar Sanderson

On sale for the first time from Dec 17-23rd

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

Or if you would rather give the whole trilogy, Pixie for Hire: Omnibus Edition is now available in ebook form only.

***

Young Warriors (Wine of the Gods Book 10)

by Pam Uphoff
Free for five days!
It’s traditional for young lords in the Kingdom of Ash to spend two years in the army. Xen Wolfson is a young wizard, and Garit Negue a young prince. And the world is filled with adventures and danger . . . and learning experiences.

Their world has been in sporadic contact with two different cross-dimensional worlds–generally as a target for conquest. When the Empire of the One returns, the young warriors are standing foursquare in their path.

***

Nocturnal Challenge (Nocturnal Lives Book 4)

By Amanda Green

Brand New Release!

The one thing Lt. Mackenzie Santos had always been able to count on was the law. But that was before she started turning furry. Now she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy to keep the truth from the public-at-large. She knows they aren’t ready to learn that monsters are real and they might be living next door.

If that isn’t enough, trouble is brewing among the shapeshifters. The power struggle has already resulted in the kidnapping and near fatal injury of several of Mac’s closest friends. She is now in the middle of what could quickly turn into a civil war, one that would be disastrous for all of them.

What she wouldn’t give to have a simple murder case to investigate and a life that didn’t include people who wanted nothing more than to add her death to the many they were already responsible for.

The first three volumes (Nocturnal Origins, Nocturnal Serenade and Nocturnal Interlude
are available individually or as the Nocturnal Lives “boxed set”.) are also available.

***

Hilda’s Inn for Retired Heroes

By Cyn Bagley

In Delhaven, there is an Inn run by a retired mercenary. If you are a down-on-your-luck mercenary or men-at-arms, come to the public rooms and Hilda Brant, the owner, will give you a bowl of stew. If you want ale, hand over the coins. Hilda may give you floor space, but she expects you to pay in favors or coins.

Hilda isn’t prepared for the damage and chaos caused by a dragon, black mage, and elementals. And a very angry Lord Barton.

***

The High T Shebang (The Baby Troll Chronicles Book 1)

By Mark Alger

Dolly was reborn into a new body just last week. Right out of the birthing chamber, she was tumbled into a conflict that goes back to the stone age. Her creator, the Greek Goddess, Aphrodite, has disappeared, and the God in charge of her institution — the Babylonian Marduk — has called for her death. Her lover and Geppetto, Mitchell Drummond, is threading his way through political minefields to keep Dolly safe.

New in love, they soon find they can’t keep their hands off each other. Their sexual fever comes to worry them. They suspect there’s more to the situation than mere new love. Meanwhile, they have a job to do. Keeping up the pretense that all’s well and nothing’s going on is wearing thin. But in Upothesa, you’re not allowed to talk about secrets. Dolly is a secret. Trying to keep it together, Dolly and Drummond go on a mission to New Zealand to protect the Dolly’s secret and the life of a major TV drama star.

***

Collisions of the Damned: The Defense of the Dutch East Indies (The Usurper’s War Book 3)

By James Young

My God, we are losing this war.—Lt. Nicholas Cobb, USN

March 1943. The Usurper’s War has resumed, with disastrous results for the Allies. In Hawaii, the U.S. Pacific Fleet lies shattered after the Battle of Hawaii. Across the Pacific the Imperial Japanese Navy, flush with their recent victory, turns its gimlet eye towards the south and the ultimate prize for their Emperor: The Dutch East Indies.

For Commander Jacob Morton and the other members of the Asiatic Fleet, the oncoming Japanese storm means that the U.S.S. Houston and her Allied companions must learn to fight against overwhelming odds against an enemy who claims the night as their own. In the skies above Houston and the other old, tired vessels of the ACDA Fleet , Flight Lieutenant Russell Wolford and his men attempt to employ the Allies’ newest technology to even the odds. With full might of the Japanese Empire falling on them, the ACDA’s soldiers, sailors, and marines must fight to hold the line long enough for reinforcements to come.

***

Blackbird (The Colplatschki Chronicles Book 7)

By Alma Boykin

$.99 Dec 21-24, 1.99 Dec 25-28

One man becomes all that the Turkowi fear – and respect. Matthew Charles Malatesta, second son and rumored bastard of a mercenary, grandson of Duke Edmund “Ironhand” von Sarmas.  One man, who will fight to the last breath to carve a place for himself, who will create a court of learning and civilization, who stands alone between the might of the Turkowi Empire and all of Godown’s people.

***

One In Infinity: A Reality Crossing Novella

By Amie Gibbons

On sale for $0.99 from 12/19 to Christmas

Turns out coincidences do happen, and it sucks when it leads killers from an alternate reality to your door…

Rose plans on partying her last weekend of freedom before her residency starts, but fate has different plans. When men straight out of a fantasy novel attack, she gets pulled into a blood feud between magical beings thanks to a random stroke of luck. Now she has to adjust to her new world view and help one of the men to save herself from a fate worse than death.

***

Tick of the Clock

By Travis Clemons and Michael Z Williamson

A man awakens in a 21st century Illinois hospital, holding very distinct memories of being shot in Switzerland decades earlier. The nurse calls him Detective Crabtree and says the DuPage County Sheriff will be by to check on him shortly. Yet he remembers his name being Sherlock Holmes.

When Sabrina Worthington is killed during a home invasion, her billionaire husband has an ironclad alibi. But Adam Worthington does not appear to be the grieving widower people would expect to see. Meanwhile, their former girlfriend keeps tugging on every possible string to convince the authorities to indict the man for murder.

By the tick of the clock, it would seem impossible for a man to be shot in the 19th century and wake up more than one hundred years later. It would also seem impossible for a man to shoot his wife while she’s at home and he’s at a theater thirty miles away. But when the seemingly impossible is properly analyzed, will Holmes determine the improbable truth behind her death and his life?

***

The Spaewife

by David L. Burkhead

Pricing will be $0.99 the 19th through the 26th.

A young mother hears the Norns. They tell her of terrible things to come. When Ulfarr wants her gift of prophesy to serve him, he takes her, murders her husband, and steals away her children. Can the young mother escape from Ulfarr’s clutches and save her children from him? Only the Norns know.

***

Via Serica

by Tom Rogneby

on sale from the 19th to the 26th for $1.99

Marcus Aemelius Paullus has a problem – he is playing with fire and falling in love with the wrong woman. Appius Plinius also has a problem – he has a unit full of warriors who continually get themselves, and him, in trouble. Caesar Augustus has a solution to their problems, but it may cost them their lives. Eastward lies fame, fortune, and the key to returning home. Deserts, mountains, marsh, and ocean lie between, occupied by barbarian cultures and hostile rulers. On this grueling journey, Marcus and Appius will find their courage tested to the limits. But before they’re done, the world will know the unconquerable spirit of Rome!

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Filed under AMANDA, PROMOTION, WRITING

Halloween Sale and More

(Updated @ 1130 hrs)

It’s the time of ghouls and goblins and things that go bump in the night. Halloween is one of my favorite times of year. To celebrate this year, some of the Mad Genii and friends are taking part in a limited time sale of some of their work. (Be sure to confirm the prices before purchasing. All titles should be on sale but Amazon doesn’t always start sales early in the morning.) Please check back later for additional titles and details. Thanks!

***

A Cat Among Dragons
by Alma T. C. Boykin
$1.99
New listing

She wanted to live life on her own terms. Her enemies had other ideas. The galaxy is about to discover just what a cornered cat can do.

They started it. Her father’s people declared her a corrupt half-breed, one unfit to live. Now she’s on the run, fleeing back in time. When she joined an interstellar mercenary company, she did not anticipate becoming the Pet of House Nagali, becoming the student of a mysterious but very well connected Healer and diplomat, and fighting her way into power as the only sentient mammal in the court of a reptilian empire.

This collection of short stories, the first in the Cat Among Dragons series, begins the saga of Rada Ni Drako and her odd assortment of allies. Join the adventure as Rada takes on her father’s people and tries to keep her head, and the rest of her, intact.

***

The Kinmar
by David L. Burkhead
On sale for $0.99 October 25-31.

Kreg and Kaila, knights of Aerioch, interrupt their mission to chase down the raiders that destroyed a village. Much to their surprise, the raiders turn out to be Kinmar, the half-man/half-animal remnants of the magical Changeling War. Outnumbered and surrounded, wounded, with only the strange magic of the Knightbond on their side, can they survive, much less ensure that no one ravages the people of Aerioch with impunity?

***

Jinxers
by Sabrina Chase
On sale for $0.99 from October 27 through November 2.

Young Jin survives on his own in the streets of Thama, using his wits and climbing skills to find food and shelter. On a bitterly cold night, desperate to avoid freezing, he enters the burned wreckage of a long-abandoned warehouse searching for anything of value. Searching despite the danger—for the warehouse once belonged to jinxers, and no one knows how their magic works…or how long it remains. Jin discovers a beautiful crystal sphere in the ashes—and suddenly finds himself transported to the desert world of Darha.

His foreign appearance immediately brands him an outsider, and he must rely on his Darha friends to conceal him from the mysterious rulers of the local fort. But Jin must face the fort’s dangers—for inside may lie the key to his return to Thama…and the key to his own hidden magic powers.

***

Bolg, PI: Away with the fairies
by Dave Freer
On sale for $0.99
New listing

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

Private Investigator Bolg, a Pictish gentleman who happens to be vertically challenging, a self-proclaimed dwarf and tattooed so heavily he appears blue, finds this restricts him to oddball clients. In this his first case, a wealthy fruitcake who want to dance with the fairies. Most PI’s would do their best to avoid this because they know there are no fairies. Bolg would like to avoid it because he knows the fairies too well, and they’re mean.

Aided by a gargoyle informer and an ancient Celtic wizard, he sets about trying to oblige his client, and keep both of them alive. It’s no sinecure.

***

Nocturnal Lives (Boxed Set)
by Amanda S. Green
On sale for 1.99 October 29 – November 2.

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

Nocturnal 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 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 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.

***

Hunted by Moonlight (Hunter’s Moon)
by Ellie Ferguson
On sale for $0.99 October 29 – November 2.

This boxed set contains the first three novels in the Hunter’s Moon series.

Hunted:

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?

Hunter’s Duty:

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?

Hunter’s Home:

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

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

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

***

Bloody Eden (Soldiers of New Eden Book 2)
by T. L. Knighton
On sale for $0.99.

Ten years after a nuclear war forced Jason Calvin to fight his way across Georgia and through a brutal warlord, life has settled down a bit in a town called New Eden. As the town sheriff, Jason keeps the peace.

After saving a family from a horrible fate, that peace becomes threatened when a sadistic military man shows up, claiming the family are fugitives from his draconian justice system and they’re coming back whether anyone in New Eden likes it or not…and maybe some of New Eden’s own as well.

Unfortunately for him, Jason isn’t about to just let something like that go.

“Bloody Eden” is the action packed sequel to the hit novelette “After the Blast”.

***

Bad Moon on the Rise (Soldiers of New Eden Book 3)
by T. L. Knighton
On sale for $0.99.

Sheriff Jason Calvin and the people of New Eden have managed to move on from a brutal war with a neighboring town. In the aftermath, a new government rose from the ashes to bring peace to the Tennessee Valley.

Unfortunately, there always seems to be people who have no interest in peace as a group of ruthless thugs with a personal axe to grind kills one of Jason’s closest friends. Now, the sheriff has to deal with meddlesome bureaucrats, a conniving rival, and old enemies in an effort to find the men responsible, plus the small army protecting them, and bring them to justice.

Bad Moon on the Rise continues the story first told in After the Blast and continued in Bloody Eden.

***

Vulcan’s Kittens (Children of Myth Book 1)
by Cedar Sanderson
On sale for $0.99 Oct 29th through Nov 3rd

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…

***

Empire of the One (Wine of the Gods Book 14)
by Pam Uphoff
On sale for $0.99 through the Halloween weekend.

Cross-dimensional espionage!

Earth and the Empire of the One have clashed twice. Once the Empire lost a colony to Earth. The second time was a draw, with neither side gaining control of a mineral rich world with a medieval level society.

Alert for intruders from Earth, the Empire’s agents are about to be blindsided by spies from that medieval world–and magic.

***

Fenrir Reborn: A Sindri Modulf Novella (Architects of Lore Book 2)
by Anita C. Young
Free October 29 – November 2.

Sindri Modulf has been tested many times throughout his long life, but for every feat he has faced, he has artfully dodged countless more with easy humour and a deadly axe. Those well-honed abilities will prove useless when he is faced with one of the greatest challenges of his life; he must bring back a grief-stricken Seer from the edge of catatonia. Unwilling to let the mind of the most powerful woman in 1000 years be ravaged by Empaths and Telepaths, Sindri does something he hasn’t done for centuries: bare his soul.

***

Just added:

Neighborhood Bark-B-Q (Spooky-hoods Book 2)
by Dan Hoyt
Free Promotion for Halloween

A humorous fantasy short story by SF/F author and anthologist Daniel M. Hoyt.

Looking for a new home, Mr. Wolff? We have the perfect place for you: Moonlit Thicket, where all of your neighbors understand your special needs. Once you’re accepted, you’re pretty much part of the family, so don’t be shy! Oh? You work at Loopy’s? Great! You’ll fit right in here. And don’t forget the free haircuts!

***

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)
by Kate Paulk
On sale for $2.99. Marked down from $4.99

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.

***

The Blood like Wine
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Free

Sylvie would do anything not to be poor ever again. Unfortunately, at the time of the French revolution, wealth might cost her her life, or at least her soul.

A short story.

***

Something Worse Hereafter
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Free

Dying is easy. It’s staying alive afterwards that is difficult. Catrina finds herself in hell, fighting demons for her sustenance and only solving the riddle of her half-remembered past existence will allow her to escape.

A Short Story.

***

Ratskiller (King of Cats)
by Robert A. Hoyt
Free

… Long before the bird reared its ugly beak, there was beer. And lots of it.

In the humble world of alley cats, Tom has everything he needs: interesting enemies, a long list of girl cats who’d like to scratch his eyes out, and enough beer to make sure his repressed memories and his mysterious destiny stay repressed.

Until Wild Rat microbrewery shuts down.

To restore his favorite beer to its former glory, Tom will have to fight prissy bureaucrats, streetwise alley cats, and Broxton’s most barbaric rats. And behind it all, an evil so great that even Broxton’s most hardened rodents dare not squeak of it.

***

And now for the more — with an apology because WordPress is being its usual uncooperative self and the plug-in needed to make this work the way it is supposed to is refusing to install properly. Anyway. . . .

There is a new podcast out there. It’s name says it all for those who have followed the Sad Puppies for any length of time — The #WrongFun Podcast. Among those who have appeared on it so far are our own Mad Genii Sarah, Cedar and Kate. You can find the podcast here. (I promise as soon as I can get the plugin working properly to have the podcasts onboard here.) In the meantime, go take a look at the WrongFun site.

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Fantasy is Tough

I don’t like fantasy.

You heard me. I grew up reading Tolkein, CS Lewis, Madeline L’Engle, and loving them. I remember absorbing the Pern books all out of order and visiting different libraries to try and track them down (yes, I know technically Pern isn’t magic, bear with me). I read all fourteen Oz books and many of the series by other authors after Baum was gone. I adored Robin McKinley’s books, especially Beauty, which has to be my favorite fairy-tale retelling to this day. As a older verging-on-adult reader I found Xanth, and the Princess Bride (the movie, the book is… odd), and someone insisted I read a copy of Magic Kingdom, For Sale.

And then after a long gap, I started to read fantasy again, at an age where I was aware of the underlying costs in life. As a kid, you’re used to things being handed to you. Food, shelter, clothing… by and large your parents give you those things. As an adult, you become aware of the sacrifices and trade-offs necessary to make those things happen. You might work at a job you hate, but it pays the bills. You might give up dreams, in order to make others happen. Fantasy, in this context, stopped working for me. I still wanted to read for escapism (actually, I really needed it those first few years of adulthood) but I needed that grit of reality to be in the story to swallow it.

Fantasy worlds where saying the right words and poof, magic happens! just didn’t sit well with me. If repeating bibbidy-bobbidy-boo can shoot fire from your fingertips, the human race would have been extinct with the first babblings of a baby.  Worlds where all you need is a handy ley line, or a handful of pixie dust, or whatever the magical contrivance the author was using, left me cold. Worlds where everything was handily available, because magic! annoyed the heck out of me. And I read slush for a while, and there is only so much Tolkein pastiche one person can endure before drowning in it. I stopped reading anything that said fantasy on the cover.

I slowly came to a realization: that a lot of science fiction, purportedly, is fantasy. Pern, as above, and Star Wars, and Dune… there’s not enough science in them to make them anything but fantasy. They follow the fantasy tropes of being worlds caught in some medieval time-warp. I just got my copy of Diana Wynne Jones’ Tough Guide to FantasyLand, and am delightedly chuckling over it, and remembering why I don’t like fantasy.

Except when I do. I’m capricious… But I love Terry Pratchett, and Jim Butcher, and having just finished Larry Corriea’s Hard Magic trilogy I am sad to know there is no more of it. I was introduced to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn with pleasure (and it’s not on my shelf, I think my eldest has it…). I just bought Zelazny’s Prince of Amber, and the Lord Darcy series by Randall Garrett, although I haven’t had time to read them yet. I’ll fight anyone who says Glory Road by RAH isn’t about the best fantasy novel out there…

And I write fantasy. Pixie Noir is unadulterated fairy-tale stuff, as is Trickster Noir, which I finished (rough draft) earlier this week. I pulled Sasquatch, and ogres, and the Firebird, and Raven, all into this world I’m weaving. Vulcan’s Kittens, my first novel, is partly fantasy and partly science, with an explanation of Clarke’s Law for the younger generation who live with gadgets my great-grandparents were astonished by.

Magic done right can be marvelous. Sometimes, like with Sarah Hoyt’s or Amanda Green’s shifters, you never get an explanation of where it comes from. Shifters just are. With Terry Pratchett, the Tiffany Aching stories, beginning with the delightfully funny Wee Free Men, tell where the magic comes from, but in others of his books it is just there, part of the landscape. Im Pam Uphoff’s Outcasts and Gods series, it starts off science and becomes magical, but with a carefully explained system that does have costs, and limits, and I’ve been enjoying the books very much.

But flipping through the Tough Guide, I am reminded of why I don’t like fantasy. She says “The economy of Fantasyland is as full of holes as its Ecology,” and I am reminded of why I wrote my Pixie as having a job, and needing one. And part of his job is making sure predators don’t get out of hand. “Missing Heirs occur with great frequency.” Enough that if I see those two words in a blurb, I set the book gently down, and back away… I have a book on my desk that, in the back cover blurb, cheerfully and innocently includes (capitalization and all) ‘Dark Power,’ ‘Chosen One of Providence,’ and ‘Days of Judgement.’ I’m not looking forward to reading it. This list of top 100 Fantasy novels? I’ve read maybe 15-20 titles on it, and some of them remember with no pleasure at all.

There’s a line, somewhere, scratched faintly on a dungeon wall, no doubt, with the rats, and straw, and ‘scutterings’ in the dark to keep it company, between cliche and trope. Between ‘reader cookie’ and ‘oh, gawd, not again…’ Oh yeah… and if your story goes on, and on, and on… with no signs of ever ending, that’s another moment of backing away slowly trying not to make eye contact (I’m looking at you, wheel of time). How do you find that line? Well, I’m afraid it’s by paying attention, and reading rather a lot of fantasy, good and bad. You’ve only got a guttering candle stub in that dungeon to use to look, you know, and heaven help you if you drop it in the straw.

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