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Aug 30, 2013

Today Only Buy a Book from Dragonwell, Get $5


A colleague of mine, whom I first met ten years ago (online) in the Online Writer's Workshop, is celebrating his book release today. He has a beautiful writing voice and this story is well-researched, a work of both passion and philosophy. I've only read excerpts of it so far, but I am looking forward to reading the whole thing.

Visit Dragonwell and learn more about W.B.J. "Walt" Williams and his new fantasy novel The Garden at The Roof of the World. Or just head over to Amazon and grab the book! Today only if you buy a copy and send a screen shot of your proof of purchase, Dragonwell will give you a $5 gift certificate toward one of their other books.

In fact, I can recommend most any of those too, such as Assassin's Gambit by Amy Raby,
The Princess of Dhagabad by Anna Kashina, Crossfire by Nancy Kress--she had good books on Writing as well, by the way--The Far West by Patricia C. Wrede, and Spellbent by Lucy A. Snyder. Dragonwell Publishing is one of those super awesome small presses that give voice to new and exciting authors the larger publishing industry too often overlooks. If I hadn't decided to go indie, I might have gone with them myself.

So, go on, check out The Garden at The Roof of the World.

P.S. I just bought it, quickly snapped a screen shot (Ctrl, Shift, 4 on my Mac) and emailed it to Dragonwell at dragonwellpublishing(at)gmail(dot)com and they sent me the gift code, just like that! Thank you, Dragonwell!


Incubus: The Daughters Of Lilith: Book 2 by Jennifer Quintenz

Braedyn Murphy used to think nothing important ever happened in her sleepy town of Puerto Escondido. But that was before she learned she was a descendent of Lilith, the mother of all demons.

Now Braedyn fights to protect humanity from the Lilitu - the beautiful, souls-stealing daughters of Lilith. As she fights the Lilitu, Braedyn must also fight her growing love for her boyfriend Lucas - because giving in to temptation could end his life.

Their only ray of hope is an angel’s offer to make Braedyn human, but it’s an offer she can’t accept until the world is safe from the Lilitu. Braedyn knows she’s a key player in this ancient war...

...but she’s not ready to believe she just might be humanity’s best hope of surviving the final battle for Earth.

What readers are saying...

“I had already fallen in love with the author and the story line, but this is the best book. The plot twists were amazing, and as an avid reader many books can be pretty predictable. I will continue to look for new books by this author!”

“I couldn't wait for book 2 to be released. I enjoyed the first book and this one was just as good. It had a lot of twist and turns and I just couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the 3rd book!!!”

“Despite the long wait between THRALL and INCUBUS, it takes only a couple of pages before author Quintenz pulls you back into the world of Braedyn, the teen who has to battle all the regular first-love high school insecurities plus training with the Guard to protect the world against her own kind... The road is rough; the ride a rollercoaster. The story well written... to the author I say: Please be writing volume 3. I can't wait that long until the end!!”

Like Jenn on Facebook
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Check out “Thrall” on Amazon
Check out “Incubus” on Amazon

Aug 29, 2013

Mist by Cheree Alsop

Mist takes us to the world of Shadows when the royal family is threatened by an assassin and a handmaiden puts her life on the line to protect them. Rya is then sent to tend the injured prisoner as soldiers search for the true source of the threat. Battling volatile mist, Sathen, and revelations about her past, Rya is pushed far beyond the limits of a normal Duskie. She finds strength and love where she least expects it, in a pair of light grey eyes and strong hands ready to catch her should she fall.

Mist tests the limits of love and strength during a time when Lumini and all within the Shadow kingdoms are threatened by darkness far more sinister than any they have ever faced before.

You can download Mist from Amazon (also in paperback), Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.

You can find more from Cheree on her website, Facebook and Twitter


Aug 28, 2013

Alien, Mine by Sandra Harris

THE BLUTHEN HAVE ONE CONSUMING PASSION: THEMSELVES.

IN THEIR EXPANSION ACROSS THE GALAXY, THEY WILL GO TO ANY LENGTHS TO DOMINATE SPECIES THEY ENCOUNTER.

Torn from modern day Earth and stranded on the far side of the Galaxy, Sandrea Fairbairn must use every particle of courage she possesses to adjust to her new life and live for tomorrow.

Eugen Mhartak, a general in the Tri-Race Alliance Army, refuses to bow to the merciless Bluthen. Haunted by the loss of far too many innocent lives he has vowed to drive the ruthless invaders from Alliance space.

The strength and valor of Eugen Mhartak attracts Sandrea as no man ever has, but she struggles to read the enigmatic general’s heart. Determined to help him triumph over the Bluthen she uncovers a diabolical plot against the Alliance.

Drawn by the courage and exotic beauty of Sandrea, Mhartak battles to overcome the barriers of cross-cultural differences that separate them and claim her ardent interest. He must conquer his deepest fears to be the man she needs. When his principles are betrayed by his own government and he is faced with the impossible prospect of taking Sandrea’s life in order to save his home planet, Mhartak desperately searches for a way to keep safe both his world and the magnificent woman who has stolen his heart.

Alien, Mine is available to download on Amazon.

Excerpt


Fleeing Bluthen (the antagonists) hunting groups, Sandrea (the heroine), and a secondary character, T'Hargen (the hero's long lost brother) have taken refuge in the house of a family recently murdered by the Bluthen. Sandrea has just been secretly adopted by the family's empathic pet.

Wooden bench tops and cupboards gleamed with silver speckled, dark grey elegance.

“What, no food replicators?” she asked.

“I beg your pardon?”

She flapped a hand at him. “Never mind. Long story.”

A quizzical frown crossed his brow. “This planet is recognized as an agricultural haven. People come here to pursue a simple life.”

“Is that what you did?”

He opened cupboards and drawers and pulled out plates and cutlery. Long strides took him to a refrigeration unit where he withdrew an assortment of food. A couple of minutes later, he placed a loaded plate on the table.

“Yes. Sit,” he ordered.

Okay, I won’t pry, not my business.

She stared down at the repast and an image of three fresh graves sucker-punched her vision. Her appetite fled.

“They would have been disappointed had we refused their hospitality,” T’Hargen murmured, “should they have been here to receive us.”

And that’s supposed to make it easier?

Oddly enough, it did. She would not disrespect this last generosity of the unknown family. She sat and speared a piece of fish with a two-pronged forked. A warm, strong, moist tongue flicked against the inner crook of her elbow.

Don’t get anxious, I’ll feed you.

T’Hargen seated himself across the table from her with his own plate.

“Do you know . . . Did they have any pets?” she asked.

T’Hargen stared at her as though she’d suggested the family indulged in the kind of activities that took place only when the planets aligned, under cover of darkness and involving naked skin, prosthetics, and oil. Possibly feathers.

Or goat leggings.

“Such as?” he asked.

She lifted a shoulder. “I don’t know. What sorts of pets are kept on this planet?”

His lids lowered then rose with his eyebrows. “Pets are not useful on a farm.”

“Ah, I see.” Got news for you, T’Hargen, pets are always useful.

She picked up a piece of fish in her fingers, placed it in her mouth, and bit off a portion.

“Some of the locals have not objected to caped lizards taking up residence in their external storage sheds. They keep the vermin down,” he said. “If you see one, though, keep away from it. They’re extremely dangerous.”

Yeah, they’ll steal your heart with just one emerald-eyed glance.



Find more from Sandra Harris on her website and Facebook.

Aug 27, 2013

Book Trailer: DIVERGENT by Veronica Roth

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw by Suzy Turner

Adopted sisters Lana Beth and Emma Jane are polar opposites, but when the same strange 'tattoo' suddenly appears and winds its way up their bodies within days of each other, they soon realize there's more to their relationship than they could ever have imagined.

Sent off to London for two weeks of 'work experience', the Morgan Sisters soon find themselves being initiated into the ancient Praxos Foundation, one that protects the innocent while fighting evil, both human and supernatural.

At the same time, Lana Beth and Emma Jane must also investigate why the sweet but sometimes pesky ghost of Josiah Grimshaw just won't leave them alone.

The Ghost of Josiah Grimshaw is FREE to download on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble and iTunes.

For more from Suzy Tuner, visit her website, blog, Facebook or Twitter

Aug 26, 2013

Gray Skies by Brian Spangler

Centuries ago something catastrophic happened. Historians claim it was an accident that spilled the clouds out of the sky, leaving humanity under a relentless veil of gray.

For young Declan and Sammi, all they've ever known is a world of gray skies and dense fog. Now, at odds about the past and uncertain of their future, they're of age, and it's time to build their lives together.
Yet the coming of the End of Gray Skies has been declared. For a world shrouded in the mysterious fog, the promise to fix a centuries-old accident brings new hope that they might one day see and feel the warmth of the sun on their faces.

But questions begin to surface. Questions of whether there ever was an accident. Questions asking what really happened that changed the Earth and what will happen if their world once again sits under the sun.

Gray Skies is a 38k word short novel, and is Book 1 of the Gray Skies series. Don't forget to check out the other books in the Gray Skies series, available and coming soon on Amazon:

Gray Skies -- (Gray Skies Series: Book 1)
Blinded By Sight -- (Gray Skies Series: Book 2)
Union (Gray Skies Series: Book 3) -- Available Fall 2013
The Return (Gray Skies Series: Book 4) -- Available early 2014

Find more from Brian Spangler on his website.

Aug 23, 2013

Call of the Herald by Brian Rathbone

It's been thousands of years since anyone on Godsland has displayed anything beyond normal human abilities, but that's about to change. When power returns to Godsland, no one is prepared and the course of the world will be changed. There are legends that tell of the last age of power, but it was so long ago that what remains is scattered and out of context. One thing that remains clear is the prophecy of the destroyer, which says that one will come to destroy entire nations. When Catrin Volker, a teenage horse trainer, accidentally fulfills this prophecy, she must find a way to convince the rest of the world she's not out to destroy them.

This ebook is permanently free, and the premium audiobook read by Chris Snelgrove is just $1.99!

Download Call of the Herald on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Sony Reader Store, Google Books, Smashwords, Feedbooks, PDF (direct download), EPUB (direct download), MOBI (direct download) and audiobook and ebook bundle (direct download).

Excerpt


Sitting on a bale of hay with his knees pulled to his chest, Chase kept to the shadows, not wanting to cause any trouble for Strom, who was busy saddling a pair of horses. So many things had changed in such a short period of time that Chase could hardly believe it. He no longer felt safe in places where he'd once felt quite at home. People he had considered friends no longer met his eyes, yet he could feel the stares that lingered on his back as he walked away.

Aug 22, 2013

Karin Kross Defends Pacific Rim

I took my three little boys to see Pacific Rim when it was out. Giant robot dudes versus godzilla-monsters? Heck, yeah. They loved it. They had their transformers fighting their godzillas for a whole week afterward. (Later I think Angry Birds were involved as well. And Rainbow Puppy. They are eclectic.)

In a piece for Tor, Karin Kross asks why people feel compelled to insult movies they like:

There’s a kind of meme going around right now with regard to Pacific Rim that really gets up my nose: that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie.” As in, a friend recently asked on Facebook if anyone had seen it, and amongst the responses was a comment along the lines of, “It was a dumb movie, but I really liked it.”

...Respectfully, I would like to disagree. Or at least, insist that we stop using the word dumb. Simple? Sure. Uncomplicated? Absolutely. Spectacular, in the truest sense of the word? Hell yes. But none of these things are dumb...

When people say that Pacific Rim is a “dumb movie,” what exactly do they mean? Is it code for “I liked a movie about mechas fighting monsters, but I’m kind of embarrassed about it, so I’ll say it’s dumb to prove that I’m smart”? Is it a reaction to the fact that the plot wasn’t some convoluted mess that you had to “figure out” á la Inception or the later Matrix movies? Is it discomfort with the absence of an Important Life Lesson neatly spelled out over the closing credits? Is it just that it wasn’t dark enough? It’s probably one or more of all of the above.

...As thrilling as the kaiju fights are, the greatest pleasures of Pacific Rim are, dare I say, simple, old-fashioned, and humane. A lot of people don’t seem to know how to deal with this anymore, or accept it without irony.
Read the whole thing.

I like how she phrases it, "Simple doesn't mean dumb." After I came home from the movie, I wondered why I find it so hard to write a story that is simple enough to be made into a movie. I tend to pile on characters, and points of view, and storylines and timelines, and complications, until the whole thing is a tangle. That can be its own kind of pleasure, granted, but I think that to write something simple--but not dumb--is not at all as easy as it seems.


Aug 21, 2013

Whisper of Memory by Brinda Berry

Weapons training and winter formals… a deadly combination

All Mia ever wanted was to fit in at Whispering Woods High. But being a portal-finder who dates a guy from another dimension sort of makes it hard. Mia's brother disappeared over a year ago, and now agents from the IIA are policing people’s movements through dimensions. She’d trusted Dr. Bleeker from the local university when he’d told her the IIA were the bad guys. But even a girl with an extraordinary ability to sense things can make mistakes.

Now two people are dead, and as a portal gatekeeper for the IIA, Mia needs to find Dr. Bleeker before he hurts anyone else. And her boyfriend Regulus, an Agent for the IIA, carries secrets of his own. Between learning about weaponry, finding the perfect dress for the winter formal, and catching bad guys, who has time to fit in?

Whisper of Memory is the second book in the Whispering Woods series. It is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Omnilit and Kobo

Excerpt

Fight Training

"Portal finder. I can do that. I didn't sign up for this other part." I shivered in the cold morning. Deep in the woods, a fine mist hung in the damp, sticky air. We had walked at a brisk pace to match Regulus's for a couple of miles, and now my hair clung to my neck and cheeks. Irritated, I shoved the strands off my face.

"These skills are necessary for all agents of the IIA, portal finder or not." Regulus nodded at Arizona. "Arizona is adept in judo, jujitsu, and several other martial arts. He is small but quick."

I looked at Arizona, a head taller than myself.

"I am skilled in everything from hand-to-hand combat to weaponry. You do not have time to become skilled in anything," Regulus said.

"Gee, thanks," I answered.

"You will rely on your ability in marksmanship, which you recently demonstrated irresponsibly." Regulus referred to an incident over a month ago at Dr. Bleeker's involving a gun and a precise shot into the thigh of a bad guy holding Regulus. Video gaming had paid off for once.

Arizona smirked. "I think she did pretty well. Saved your backside," he said.

Aug 20, 2013

Movie Trailer: The Secret of Walter Mitty



So, the problem with writers is that we are boring people in real life. Or maybe, to be nice about it, we are like twinkies. Yummy on the inside. That is the point of the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. (Maybe not the twinky part.)

This doesn't translate well to movie form so well. Who wants to follow a boring character for two hours? Even if he has a vivid imagination? A movie version of this short story was made decades ago, and Hollywood decided that it would be more interesting if Mitty, who dreamed of being an adventurous spy (among other things), became embroiled in a crazy plot and really became a spy!

That was much more interesting, but completely missed the point of the story.

I'll be interested to see what this movie does with the story.

Eternity by Teresa Federici

Anna Greer is a quiet microbiologist with her feet planted firmly in reality. Her life gets turned upside down when she finally meets her elusive employer, Gareth Macgregor. Gareth is mysterious, sexy, powerful…and a vampire.

Soon she's drawn into a world she only thought was mythical, creatures and beings that existed only in nightmares that turn out to be very real.

Anna and Gareth are drawn together in a fight for their lives and Anna finds that there is a part of her that has lain dormant since her childhood, a power that could save them, or mark them for death.

Gareth’s powerful enemy would stop them from finding what Gareth has been trying to find for centuries—a cure for vampirism and a love that transcends time.

Download Eternity, Book 1 in the Immortals and Magick series on Amazon.

Excerpt


We stared at each other across the small space between us, our chests equally rising and falling. His strange brown eyes locked onto my green ones, and he moved toward me.

I put my hand out in a stop gesture, not sure where I dredged the strength from to accomplish it.

“Please, don’t.” I whispered, and what he heard in my voice must have stopped him from coming closer. “Look, Gareth, I don’t know what is going on here, but I can’t do this.”

“What do you think is going on here?” he asked. He ran his hands through his hair then shoved them into his pockets.

I shook my head futilely. I didn’t know.

“I think that we’re two people that are attracted to one another. You just happen to work for me.”

Aug 19, 2013

15 Minutes by Jill Cooper

The future can be a dangerous place when you changed the past....

15 minutes is all the Rewind Agency gives a person when they travel to the past, but for Lara Crane it’s enough for her to race through the city, find her mother, and stop her from being killed in a mugging that happened over ten years ago.

But the story she’s been told all her life is a lie. When Lara takes a bullet meant for her mother, her future changes forever. A new house, new friends and a new boyfriend turns Lara’s life upside down. She thinks if she can save her father from prison, reunite him with her mother, everything will be fine.

15 Minutes is an edgy high octane YA thriller where the people Lara trusts change in an instant. She is in a timeline she doesn't understand, and is about to make one fatal mistake as she faces an enemy so familiar, he’s family.

Excerpt:

A photo falls from my papers and lands face up.

Her face. Her eyes. It's like looking in the mirror.

I scoop the picture up and head down the hall. A piano chord strikes. The soft tone echoes toward me, and the digital watch on my wrist beeps. A rush of memories slam into my mind, knocking me off balance. I wobble on my feet as if the collision were physical. I retch, the vomit threatening to spill. Swallowing, it burns like racing lava. I check my watch.

I only have thirteen minutes left.

I don't bother to look through the doors to find five-year-old me. Instead, I race down the hall, feet gliding across the linoleum. My hood flaps behind me as my body crashes into the elementary school front doors. Blinding sunlight greets me, and I am flying down the hill. My arms pump, and I suck in deep breaths of air, like I learned in my time as a sprinter at Cambridge High.

Rounding the corner into Mass Avenue, I see Tower Records off in the distance.

Beep.

I now have ten minutes to run eight blocks in time to save Mom. If I don't make it, if I fail, I won't get another shot.


15 Minutes is available on Amazon.

Find more from Jill Cooper on her website, Facebook and Twitter.


Aug 17, 2013

Book Trailer: Gamer's Quest by George Ivanoff


George Ivanoff talks about how he made this fantastic trailer over on Writing for Children.

Only $0.99! The Complete Souls of the Stones Trilogy by Kelly Walker

A convenient omnibus edition of the three main works of the Souls of the Stones series.

Souls of the Stones follows Emariya Warren as she navigates the three divided lands of her world, as well as the three families striving for control. The series incorporates traditional fantasy elements such as prophecy and magic with a love story that transcends genre and time. Books 1-3 are included.

Cornerstone - When Emariya Warren learns enemy forces have captured her father, she'll do anything to save him. Anything. Even marry a mysterious prince she knows nothing about in order to rally the strength to arrange a rescue. During her journey to Torian's foreign castle, Emariya comes face to face with her mother's killers--and a deadly secret.

Not only does Emariya possess a powerful but unexpected magical gift. So does the prince she's promised to marry, and an ominous prophecy has warned their gifts must never be combined.

If she breaks her promise to marry Torian, she won't be able to save her father and if she keeps it, she may bring a curse upon everything she holds dear. Determining which choice is best won't be easy, but when she meets the gorgeous prince who may desire more than just her heart, she realizes she will have to fight just to have a choice at all.

Her heart wants him desperately. Her head begs her to run. If she doesn't want to share her mother's fate, she'll have to find a way to untangle the truth from the lies in time to save herself.

Second Stone - In the second installment in Souls of the Stones, the stakes are higher, the romance is hotter, and Emariya's power as a Cornerstone is growing.

Determined to make sense of the betrayals, lies, and her undeniable attraction to Torian, Emariya and her prince begin the journey to Sheas to confront her uncle and bring her father home.

Broken Stone - Unable to avoid her destiny any longer, Emariya has become the leader her mother always envisioned. Before she can focus on embracing her gifts to unify her three lands, she must first stop her own land from dissolving into civil war.

The whole series is available for $0.99 today on Amazon!

For more from Kelly Walker, visit her website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

Aug 16, 2013

The Defiance by A.G. Henley

It hasn't been long since Fennel, a Sightless Groundling, and Peree, her Lofty Keeper, fell in love and learned the truth: the Scourge, and their world, are not what they seem.

Fenn and Peree are determined to guide their people to the protected village of Koolkuna, but first they must convince them that everything they believe is a lie. An impossible task, especially when someone seems hell-bent on trying anything--even animal sacrifice and arson--to destroy the couple's new bond and crush the frail truce between the Groundlings and the Lofties. Not everyone wants to uproot their lives in the forest, and those who stay behind will be left terribly vulnerable.

Fenn and Peree's resolve to be together, and the constant threat of the Scourge's return, push both groups to the breaking point. Unable to tell friend from foe, Fenn must again decide how much she's willing to sacrifice to ensure the future of the people of the forest.

Only this time, the price of peace may be too high to bear.

The Defiance (Brilliant Darkness, #2), the highly anticipated sequel to The Scourge (Brilliant Darkness, #1), a 2013 Next Generation Indie Book Award Finalist!

Download The Defiance on Amazon.

For more from A.G. Henley, visit her website, Facebook and Twitter.

Aug 15, 2013

Hilda the Wicked Witch by Paul Kater

Hilda and William leave for another vacation, some time away. Knowing the witch and her wizardly partner, this will end up in work of course. Tremors, flower witches, dwarves and trolls are only some of the elements that will turn this trip into yet an unforgettable one for the magical couple who will also have a few fun surprises along the way!

Available to download on:
Amazon
Smashwords
Barnes and Noble
Kobo

Rock 'n' Troll is the 11th book in the Hilda the Wicked Witch series. The first 7 books in the series are free in most places.

Excerpt

Slipton was one of those quaint little villages that had a typical charm to it. Slipton's charm was in its smell, because many a famous baker came from there, and new bakers were constantly being trained so the scent of freshly baked bread was always around.

"Bakers?" William wondered. "That's special."

"The baker in our village is from here also," Hilda lectured. "He was the best of the baker's dozen of his year. They only deliver thirteen bakers each year, you should know."

"Oh?" William was not prepared for that revelation.

"One a month, and a spare just in case," Hilda clarified as she saw the wizard's surprise. "And I think I see where we're wanted." She pointed down at a huge area of land, half of which was carefully coloured with budding flowers that attempted to withstand the cold wind, and the other half looked like a battlefield. As the two brooms flew lower, the magicals saw six people standing at the edge of the field of flowers. They all stared at the part of the field that looked freshly destroyed. Once Hilda and William touched down, they saw a massive amount of garden gnomes in the deflowered field. The six people stood and stared at the small army of grey stone men with their shovels and wheel barrows.

"I wonder what they're doing," William wondered as they walked to the human and hopefully talkative contingent of the staring contest. The gnomes looked like a boringly silent lot.

Hilda announced their arrival. A woman asked the others 'if they had them', without taking her eyes off the gnomes. Only after at least three confirmations were voiced did the woman blink and look at the magicals. "I am so glad you are here," she said as she rubbed her eyes. "They're really becoming a problem."

Hilda looked at the garden gnomes. "Not the regular kind I guess?" The little creatures did not strike her as odd, except that they stood still.

"No. As long as we look at them they stand there. If we don't look, or when we blink at the same time, they approach and start damaging the flowers. In the daytime it's not too difficult to keep them under control this way, but when it's dark it becomes hard. We lack proper light, and it's still very cold at night."

"How long has this been going on already?" Hilda asked, as William and Obsi walked over to the grey statues.

"A few days. At first we thought they were here to help so we did not pay attention to them. But then they did this, in half a day," the woman said as she pointed at the dishevelled area. "After ruining one of our larger flower fields further to the south."

"Damn, these things are heavy."

Hilda looked up and saw William come back. He carried one of the gnomes in his arms, the thing wrapped in a piece of rough cloth. "Are you crazy, wizard? You don't carry garden gnomes around like they're... statues!"

William laughed. "That's how this one feels though. And if looking at them is the problem, then blindfolding them is the solution I think. This one is quite harmless at the moment." He laid the wrapped up gnome on the ground. It didn't move.

"Is that really all we have to do?" the woman asked as she prodded the rigid shape with her foot."Hermina, can you take over from Joe for a while?" someone of the staring group called out. "He got some sand in his eyes."



Find more from Paul Kater on his website, Twitter and Smashwords.

Aug 14, 2013

"Readers are not simply page turners, they are thought turners..."

"Readers are not simply page turners; they are thought turners, as well—true imaginative partners, not passive audience members."

I love that.

This is from a thoughtful essay about the mid-list by the author of the traditionally published Red Sonja series, and also the now indie-published Fall of the First World series:


Midlist authors reaching their readers in this age of instant gratification brings me to another observation, this one regarding my former agent, Don Maass, who has been spectacularly successful in developing precisely these sorts of instant-gratification, industrial-quantity products that regularly appear on the bestseller lists, where sales “consistently override all product development decisions.”
Maass and I once talked about the possibility of my writing my breakthrough novel. When I knew him, early in his career and, as it turned out, near the end of mine, he championed my fantasy trilogy The Fall of the First World, then recently out of print, and tried to get it picked up for republication. No one wanted it, but I credit him for his hard work and his appreciation for a book series that had nothing in common with the Tolkienesque clones that were as popular then as they are now. On the other hand, Maass failed me in a number of ways. He refused to show Magicians(later retitled The Fair Rules of Evil) to Doubleday, even after an editor there asked to see it; he preferred to pitch it to paperback houses. It was published under its new title by Avon, who dropped the ball miserably on distributing it. I also recall Don’s dismissing one my pitches (for a manuscript titled Sinister) because it mixed genres. “Is it a horror novel?” he asked me in 1987. “Or is it a police procedural? It has to be one or the other.” Perhaps I was ahead of my time, given the enormous success we’ve seen over the past fifteen or so years with precisely those kind of cross-genre novels.
Don would have no interest in representing me now because I myself am no longer interested in trying to develop the kind of book-as-product that he has so successfully managed to promote in this modern era of readers-as-consumers. (I know this because I recently pitched him with a new idea and never received a response.) But I think it’s important to keep in mind what Don has helped to accomplish for his brand of writer. His methodology has been undeniably profitable and has helped shape the current system of fiction publishing in New York. However, we are moving at the speed of light into fascinating new regions of author-reader exchange as a benefit of digital publishing, web publishing, independent publishing. In a year-end blog dated this past December, Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, reports an encounter he had with Maass in which they came down on two different sides of writers publishing independently. Mark Coker thinks that the future for many writers is in self-publishing; Maass, contrarily, says, “If you don’t care to reach readers, then by all means self-publish.” ( http://blog.smashwords.com/2012/12/mark-cokers-2013-book-publishing.html) As a woman who responded in the Comment sections of Coker’s blog says, Maass turned her down when she pitched him, and if she’d listened to him, she’d still have no readers. Instead, she now has thousands as a result of self-publishing her novels. It’s simply the difference between writing to reach readers, even if the cost-benefit ratio does not look good in a purely business sense, and writing to produce a product that will appeal to customers and succeed in a purely business sense. (Again, there used to be room for both types of story, back when we still had the midlist.)
Much of the discussion in the Comments section of Coker’s blog has to do with the concept of black swans—the outliers in any field that seem to come out of nowhere, exactly in the way that the latest writers or hit novels used to appear from the midlist. Where are these black swans now? They’re coming from the self-published authors and independent publishers.


Read his whole essay

Aug 13, 2013

Movie Trailer: Kill Your Darlings





So just as the author of Harry Potter has been trying to rebrand herself, the lead actor from the Harry Potter movies is trying to prove that he can play a role other than a school boy... by playing a school boy. Baby steps.

This is a brilliant movie to cast him in because: 

(1) It will appeal to people who read...
(2) ...who are in are in their twenties....
(3) ...and therefore want to see Harry Potter Daniel Radcliff in a movie about a bookish twenty-something. In other words, every Potter fan out there.



Lichgates by S.M. Boyce


Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things: Ourea.

Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother's recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With nothing to do, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book's untamed power. Discovered by Ourea's royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict - a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn't trust anyone... but she's being hunted and can't survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn't know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.

For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.

Get your FREE copy of Lichgates, the first novel in the Grimoire Saga, at any of the following retailers:
Amazon
Amazon UK
Kobo
iTunes
Smashwords

Find out more about S.M. Boyce on her blog and Twitter. You can also follow The Grimoire Saga on Facebook.

Aug 12, 2013

What did Charlotte Bronte think of Jane Austen?

A Bronte Rogue or  an Austenian Gentleman?

“I had not seen Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Darcy till I had read that sentence of yours, and then I got the book. And what did I find? An accurate daguerrotyped [photographed] portrait of a commonplace face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers; but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy, no open country, no fresh air, no blue hill, no bonny beck [stream]. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen, in their elegant but confined houses.”

And you thought only contemporary authors could be snarky!  (More here.)

Considering Bronte had been told to write like Austen, she might have been justified for being a bit miffed. She decided to go a step further and slam her rival in classic nineteenth century style.

Was this more than writerly rivalry, though? Does it represent a real difference in what kind of writing --  and what kind of hero -- or indeed, what kind of society, is preferable? Bronte was a Romantic, who idealized the violent passions, whereas Austen captured the aspirations of the nascent middle class. Both were rebels, I think, against the existing order, but Austen's heroines were determined to conquer the class divisions of the old system through sense and sensibility, whereas Bronte heros were more likely to burn it to the ground.



Moonlit by Jadie Jones

Eighteen-year-old Tanzy Hightower knows horses, has grown up with them on Wildwood Farm. She also knows not to venture beyond the trees that line the pasture. Things happen out there that can’t be explained. Or undone. Worse, no one but she and the horses can see what lurks in the shadows of the woods.

When a moonlit ride turns into a terrifying chase, Tanzy is left to question everything, from the freak accident that killed her father to the very blood in her veins. Broken and confused, she turns to Lucas, a scarred, beautiful stranger, and to Vanessa, a charming new friend who has everything Tanzy doesn’t.

But why do they seem to know more about her than she knows herself?



Moonlit is the first in a trilogy and is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Excerpt

The glow from the barn quickly dissolves into the inky night. Not a shred of it accompanies us past the mangled gate. But the dark offers little relief from the shadows that plague me in the light of day.

The full moon casts a blue glow over the rolling field, making the dark places that sway in the steady breeze look alive. I release the breath I’d been holding as we near the riding ring. Hopewell stands still as I lean from the saddle to let us through the gate.

Once we’re closed inside the safety of the lit arena, I take a quick scan of the tree line. The woods and their shadows are still.

Aug 10, 2013

Copywriting for the Rest of Us



I picked up Copywriting for the Rest of Us free last night and read it this morning. It's short but useful. Although it's not targeted specifically at authors, I recommend it to authors who need to write blurbs or queries. In other words, all authors with a book to publish. 

Coincidentally, I just read this advice again, in a different source. This book is on copyrighting (writing ad copy), and it's free on Amazon right now (Aug 10): Copywriting For The Rest Of Us (Marketing For The Rest Of Us)  -  http://amzn.to/19UBYgN

One of the things he says is the "best" way to learn copy is to write out other people's ads word for word. It both teaches and inspires.


This sounds crazy, but it's true. I first learned this technique from a book on writing sentences: To actually copy, word for word, a sentence or a scene of a writer whom you admire. The logic: we remember admiring a clever sentence, we remember the way a beautiful passage made us feel, but we forget the mechanics of how it happened. So when we go to copy it, we end up doing a clumsy job.

If you actually copy the sentence/paragraph out word for word, you have intimate knowledge of how it was done, and you are actually "doing" it.

The next step is to copy the form of the sentence but change the content to your own -- but keep verbs, adjectives and nouns in place.

I tried this technique with a few of the most beautiful, and to me, emotional scenes from my favorite books, and was amazed at how much the author HADN'T said. One of my problems is overwriting, I think, trying to spell out exactly what the reader should feel… this was not the right approach at all. This method helped me see that in a direct way.

Now, the weird thing is that even though I knew about this method for writing scenes and sentences, I still NEVER thought to apply it to writing blurbs, those book descriptions you put on the back of a paperback or in the book description on Amazon. And yet, I always struggle and sweat to write blurbs. DUH, this is something to practice by cooing other authors. I knew that. At one point. But I forgot. This book on copyright writing reminded me that this same technique is important for all the "secondary" kinds of writing we authors must do -- queries, blurbs, reviews, even blog posts.

If you want help writing your blurb  copy good blurbs of good books. If you're self-publishing, this is really important. I've seen many good indie books with horrid blurbs that don't sell the book at all. If you're trying to snag an agent and a big publisher, this is also great for practicing query letters, since a query is basically formed around a blurb about your book.

I believe it's still free, so hurry and grab your copy right now.

You might also want to visit Mike Shreeve's website. He has lots more on Facebook ads, videos, increasing your rank on social media sites all that juicy promotions stuff that we writers hate but need to learn.  :)

Five New Facts about the Book Industry


1.  "Online book retail, including ebooks, accounted for 44% of all spending by consumers on books in the U.S." 
2.  "Women increased their lead over men in book buying, accounting for 58 percent of overall book spending in 2012, up from 55 percent in 2011. However, men are bigger hardcover buyers – the only area where their buying outpaces women’s."
3. "The slowly improving economy has improved the climate for purchasing books. By the close of 2012, 53 percent of consumers said the economy was having no effect on their book buying habits, up from 51 percent at the end of 2011."
4. "Ebooks continue their steady upward trend, with an 11 percent share of spending in 2012, compared to seven percent in 2011."
5. "The growth of ebooks varies widely among the different publishing categories with their deepest penetration focused in fiction, particularly in the mystery/detective, romance, and science fiction categories, where ebooks accounted for more than 20 percent of 2012 spending."

The Art of Elysium





One of the cool things about cinema as an art form is that thousands of artists of all types collaborate together to produce one work of art. If you happen to be in the Pasadena area today, you can come meet some of the artists for Elysium in person.

Elysium is a highly anticipated science fiction film staring Matt Damon. In the year 2154, the very wealthy live on Elysium, a standford torus high-tech utopian metropolis located in orbit around Earth that is free of crime, war, poverty, hunger, and diseases, while everyone else lives on an overpopulated, ruined Earth below. The citizens of Elysium live a life of luxury which includes access to private medical machines that offer instant cures, while the citizens of the Earth struggle to survive on a daily basis and are desperate to escape the planet. Those who maintain Elysium will stop at nothing to enforce anti-immigration laws and preserve their citizens' lifestyle, even destroying ships that attempt to get there. Come see rare behind the scenes artwork by artists from the production design, storyboards, and visual development team.
Bring your questions for the Q&A session and meet the artists one-on-one as they sign copies of the new Art of Elysium book.
$5 Admission at the door. Seats are limited, standing room available. 
Featured Artists:
Scott Kravitz (Lead Animator)
Mitchell Stuart (Concept Artist) 
Event Schedule:
4:00PM - 5:00PM (panel presentation)
5:00PM - 5:30PM (Q&A)
5:30PM - 7:00PM (book signing)

Aug 9, 2013

Three Problems With Middle Novels

The Unfinished Song series is half-way through. Not coincidentally, I've been obsessing lately about how to write solid "middles."
Haven't you noticed how sometimes, especially in a long series, some of the middle novels end up falling flat? Here are the three biggest ways I've seen series fall on their face in later novels:

1. Filler


When the middle novel/s seem like mostly "filler," the problem is that the characters are basically treading water in terms of plot. Sometimes, they characters literally spend whole chapters stuck in some place in the world, uncertain what to do... it's the author who actually has no idea what to do, but the characters are made to suffer for it. Sure, there are times characters mope for years, or centuries, depending on their lifespan, whinging they don't know what to do, but we don't really need to see this. I love the Twilight series handled Bella's three months of moping. Each chapter had the name of a month as a heading...and nothing else. Three months in a row, three pages. It conveyed her devastation and detachment perfectly, without making us suffer through it too.


2. Repetition


Another failing of poorly-thought out middle books is that they become sloppy retellings of the earlier books. The characters go through the same motions again against a new villain, or new characters replay the same basic storyline as earlier characters.

Sometimes, an author uses repetition advisedly. Maybe a character is facing the same kind of problem because she didn't really grow as completely as she needed to when she faced it the last time, or maybe another character is having the same problem because that person needs to have a common cause with the hero. But this kind of deliberate echo usually resonates in a way that unthinking repetition does not. Most importantly, it advances the story in a way that mere repetition does not.

3. Jumping the Shark


Sometimes, writers trying too hard to avoid the first two problems veer off in such a different direction that what you love about the story is destroyed in the process. I actually find this worse than the first two. I'd rather race through a filler novel, where the heroine slays Son of First Book's Demon than have half the main characters killed off. (Unless you have already established from the start that Major Likable Characters Will Die, Suckers! *cough* G.R.R. Martin *cough*). The most important thing is to be true to the story: true to the characters, true to the world, true to the theme. Maybe I'm old fashioned but I believe an author should leave the dance with the Main Character she brought to the party.

My goal is to make every book in the series shine. Each one is a critical piece of Dindi and Kavio's story, none is filler. So I will be outlining the next six books exhaustively before I even begin the revisions on my trunk draft of Mask (Book 7). I now this will frustrate some readers in the short run, and maybe I'll even lose the impatient ones, but in the long run, the series will be stronger, better, and longer-lasting for it.

Render by Heidi C. Vlach

In a far distant land, where magic flows and legends bloom, three races face their troubles together.

A TROUBLED COMMUNITY

The insect-like aemets built new homes under mountain maples, and they wished for luck. But the years brought them much work and meagre reward. After poor harvests and a brush with forest fire, now wolves are striking down aemets who venture into the forest. Wolves have never menaced peoplekind in any of the teaching legends. Always a non-violent people, all the aemets know to do is
work harder and pray.

A GIRL CALLED LUCKY

Rue is a young aemet coming of age in this strained village. Named after the fortuitous rue plant, she has never cared much for the idea of luck. She believed from the start that it was folly to live in this place — and when fellow aemets turn up dead, Rue is through waiting for the winds to change. With her aemet skill of sensing air movement, her chemistry training and a guard dog at her side, Rue promises herself that she'll find the root of Aloftway's problems. But she'll need help from otherkind allies, including the local recluse, Felixi. He is a dragon-like korvi, and a hunter of big game — who knows more about the wolf attacks than he's willing to share.
Render is part of the Stories of Aligare, a fantasy series set in a magical, human-free world. It is a stand-alone novel, only loosely related to other Stories of Aligare.

Render is available to download for $2.99 on:
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Kobo
Smashwords

Excerpt


He jerked his chin toward the basket at Rue’s feet. ‘That’s my payment?”

“Yes, all hazelnuts.”

He stepped over the nurl and approached, tall and broad as he came near. Rue spotted another scar as he picked up the basket, a faded one concealed between the tendons of his hands.

Aug 8, 2013

Shadowhero by Jacob Dunn

Ninth-grader Jared Brooks is tortured by the shadows of his life. The shadows distract him during tests, they keep him up at night, they bring out the worst in him. And they give him so much power that he almost never loses in a fight.

Sadie knows what Jared is and what he can do. When she invites him to join a group of high school students who carry out questionable tasks for the secretive Shadowcouncil, Jared begins to hope he can use the darkness inside himself for something better.

After discovering he’s a Shadowhero, Jared thinks there’s nothing he can’t do. When his brother offers him a chance to go boxing, he can’t say no. But one bad choice leads to another as Jared’s shadow takes him down a dark path.

When Sadie gets hurt, Jared must choose between the darkness offered by his shadow, or the new life that Sadie has shown him.

Every Shade does something they regret...

Shadowhero Parts 1-3 is available on Amazon. If you purchase Shadowhero, read it and review it by the end of the month, you'll be entered to win a Kindle Fire HD. Contest details here.

Find out more about Jacob Dunn on his website and Facebook.


Excerpt:

All the students sat silent, reading or making quiet marks with their pencils. But their shadows were restless. Girls taking the test had shadows chewing gum, brushing hair and playing with makeup. Some shadows ogled at boys, and my cheeks burned as I noticed a shadow gazing at me, followed by the bleach-blonde fake-tanned girl actually looking up at me and smiling. She winked.

Some boy shadows seemed equally distracted by girls while other shadows seemed disinterested or aloof. And among the class were several shadows going insane. They angry about the quiz and upset that they hadn't studied or that that they didn't know an answer. All of them were talking.

All of them but one. I had done nearly a 180 in my seat before I saw Sadie. She didn't look tired from the night before. No one would be able to guess that it was her body that had gone flying through the air and dented the lockers out in the hallway.

Calmly, and in sync with her shadow, Sadie reached down down with her pencil write. As I focused in on her, all the other shadow's voices faded away and Sadie's voice entered my mind as clear as a bell.

So...the answer to 10 is D. Sadie reached out to write her answer down on her paper when her gaze snapped up to me. You know it's rude to eavesdrop, right?

All the other voices simultaneously flooded back could still envision Sadie's green eyes--it was liked I'd been looking right at the sun and then turned away. How had she talked to me like the voices? She had told me the voices were the shadows. Now I was confused...but not about the answer to question 10.

---

Tara's Comments:

I've only read the first of the Shadowhero books (I prefer the covers on the separate books) so far, and I will read the others. I enjoyed the unique magic in this series. The troubled young man, with anger issues and a talent for boxing, is a fresh YA hero. Jared discovers that he is a Shade, which means that he has a Shadowtalent. The ability to see and hear the true actions of people's shadows gives him strength, extra-perceptive powers and the ability to overhear thoughts.

Dunn merges two fancies about shadows. One is the idea that your shadow can do things on its own, and that these things represent the desires of your unconscious mind. The other sense of shadow is as our dark side, our more violent or selfish inclinations. The shadows heckle you to do terrible things. Jared joins a group of other teen Shades whose job is to help catch those Shades who have listened to their shadows and turned to a life of crime. He himself, however, must wrestle with his own temptations.

The main problem I had with the book was the formatting. It was wonky, which made it harder to read than necessary.



Aug 7, 2013

7 Things I'll Be Blogging About

This is going to be one of those blogging about blogging posts. 

Over in the Archive of my blog, is a list which reminds me how often I've posted a month. The last year looks like this:


Seriously, Tara? That's pathetic. I can do better than that.

Plus, I noticed that I haven't updated my cover art blog in two years. Now, the strange thing is, this is not because I haven't done any cover art. I have, but clients usually found me another way, through referral. I'd like to share some of those covers, and maybe do some other fun stuff with cover art, like more editions of "Help! My cover looks like crap!"

I was going to re-start my 500 Words blog in September. The reason I opened a second blog was to (1) share Initiate online for free -- this was before I was able to make it free on Amazon, and (2) showcase other authors, especially those with fantasy, sf, or young adult novels. I wanted to showcase a good book with an excerpt at least once a day. It was a distinct from a book blog proper, because I don't have time to read all those books, so I couldn't read all of them, never mind review all of them. But I loved connecting with other authors. I ran the blog for four months back in 2011, and I found a lot of good books that way.

As I revved up to restart 500 Words, however, I had to ask myself if spreading my energy over three blogs is a good thing. Probably not. So, I will moving 500 Words over here.

Between now and December, I promise this blog will have a post every day. If I can pull it off, there will be two or three. Here's what you can expect:

(1) Me, mouthing off about something. Cause it's my blog, so if I want to rant about something, or share something, dangnabbit, I will. Usually, this will be about writing or publishing. But if last year's calendar is any indication, not every day.

(2) Writing posts. I'll continue to have posts by Rayne Hall and possibly other guest bloggers about writing.

(3) Initiate. The entire book, 500 words at a time. I know a lot of you have read it already. This is for those who haven't. From time to time, I'll post excerpts of other books of mine too. If I have some juicy scenes from WIPs in the fall, I'll post those too. (Though it's always tricky to post the best stuff and avoid spoilers!)

(4) Cool books. Showcased with an excerpt. Keep in mind I haven't read all of them. Some I HAVE read and are FRICKIN' AWESOME. Some might suck. No, no, let's not assume that. Let's be positive. Anyway, that's the purpose of the excerpt, you can judge for yourself. I expect you to use your brain. You've been warned.

(5) Book trailers. Because I love book trailers and used to post about them, so I'd like to do that again. And movie trailers, if I think it's relevant. By relevant, I mean, of course, that I am crushing on the lead actor it is a fantasy or science fiction or book related movie.

(6) Book bloggers. I don't do reviews (or haven't yet) but I keep up with a lot of book bloggers who do maybe I'll showcase some of those too.

(7) Artists. There are some amazing artists out there and I love to showcase their work when I can.




Book Trailer: STYXX by Sherrilyn Kenyon (Update)


Sherrilyn Kenyon is one of the few authors I can honestly say I found through her book trailers. She has a lot of them, and they are always fun.

I read here that it was no coincidence I found Kenyon through her trailer. There was a huge campaign associated with her first book trailer.
With a summer release for the paranormal romance, St. Martin's had a huge investment in a 350,000-copy first printing. They hired professionals to create a 33-second book trailer, Dark-Hunter Acheron, then hired Zeitghost Media to manage the campaign. The publishing house sent an e‑mail with a link to the video on YouTube.com to 90,000 people, which was preceded by teasers several days before announcing that something big was coming. Zeitghost Media distributed the video across the Web, and dozens of blogs and Web sites picked it up and continue to feature it. It's had more than 429,000 views. On the Dark Hunter website and offline, they also used these marketing tools:
Ebook giveaways Wallpaper, screen savers, cursors, banners Dark Hunter quiz Publicity through media channels such as Publisher's Weekly Twitter feed, Facebook Fan page, MySpace page, Free short story to download
The video was important as a destination for potential readers, but email announcements were used to jumpstart the video. Once on the site, there were other ways to find information about the book. There were downloads, giveaways. In addition, St. Martin's used traditional press and many social media. Was it the book trailer that made the difference in people choosing to buy the book? Or was it the combination of efforts?
This is mindboggling and, for an author, a little intimidating. I don't know about you, but I don't have a list of 90,000 friends to whom I might email my latest trailer.

There's an ongoing debate among authors and publishers about whether book trailers do any good at all promoting books. (This is a slice of the ongoing debate among authors and publishers about whether ANYTHING AT ALL does any good at all promoting books.) I think it's one of those things that doesn't help much if it's done cheaply, which, alas, is all that most of us can afford, but as part of a huge, well-funded campaign can do wonders.

Helpful, I know.  ;)

I'd be curious to know what experiences other authors have had with book trailers. Does a trailer have to be a big-budget production to help, or can a simple, home-made video also attract readers?

Sharknado in Two Minutes

My son is having a birthday party this month. He's turning seven. Water slide, kiddie pool, water guns and inflatable sharks. The theme: Sharknado!

If you still haven't seen this glorious masterpiece, here's the movie in a nutshell:



Kindred by Nicola Claire

"You may not be aware, ma douce, but not all vampyre have a kindred, some will live out their existence without such beauty in their lives. I have waited five hundred years for you." 

Vampires, shape shifters, ghouls and magic users abound in a world where the Norms, (those humans without paranormal abilities) are ignorant of the creatures of the night and the supernatural species that live alongside them.

Lucinda Monk is a bank teller by day and a vampire hunter by night, but she wasn't always a part of this world. Thrown into a heady mix of powerful people and sensual beings, she's had to find her way practically blindfolded in amongst the creatures of the night. But she's a capable and realistic kind of girl. Her motto: never show fear. But, there's something different about Lucinda, something those creatures she hunts, want. In order to stay one step ahead of the enemy she has to let the enemy in. In all his compelling, seductive and delicious ways. Sleeping with the enemy has never meant so much before. But, can she trust him?

From the urban streets of the city, to the dark alleys and sinful bars that promise a wickedness a girl from the farm has never before been exposed to, Lucinda gets drawn irreversibly into the dark side of life. And if the Master of the City had his way, she would always be his. For eternity.

Kindred is Book 1 of 7 in the Kindred series, with the last book in the series; Kiss Of The Dragon, due out in September. Find out more about the series on her website or Goodreads

Kindred is available free on Amazon right now, but is also available on: 

Excerpt: The Glow


I'd only been in my apartment about five minutes, managing a quick change and throwing some washing in the machine in the bathroom, when Nero appeared. I'd just walked back to the kitchen to switch the coffee machine on, and there he was.

“You could knock first.”

Aug 6, 2013

Should All Literature Be Licensed?

Flavorwire raised an interesting point in the article Why You Should Worry About Amazon Buying the Right to Publish Kurt Vonnegut Fan-Fiction by Michelle Dean. Should all literature be licensed?

The Kindle Worlds program, which struck the deal, has in the past limited its acquisition of rights to series like The Vampire Diaries. Vonnegut is a bit of a square peg in that company. Never mind that it seems to vastly overestimate the American public’s engagement with literary fiction. Are any Vonnegut characters household names? Am I missing something?
So it goes.

 The weirdness only acquires worrisomeness in a larger legal context.
Just a few years ago, a writer named Frederick Colting produced a sequel to Catcher in the Rye that J.D. Salinger successfully challenged as unauthorized. A federal court in New York ruled that any attempt to characterize the new book as commentary on the classic was, “post-hoc rationalizations employed through vague generalizations about the alleged naivety of the original, rather than reasonably perceivable parody.” Which is to say that she didn’t buy that just writing something that incorporated a character from the original book could constitute “commentary” or “parody” and therefore fair use. ...Do we want “serious writing” to be a place where people must license characters from each other? Does that do a disservice to the way in which literature is, for a lot of writers, an ongoing conversation with their predecessors? How would postmodernist novelists, for example, be curtailed by such rules, since they often incorporate commentary on the characters of others? Forcing everyone to get a license would send chills down the spine of any novelist thinking of writing, say, a feminist novel from the perspective of, say, Holden’s girlfriend Sally Hayes, not just anyone who wants to engineer a meeting between Holden Caulfield and Serena van der Woodsen.
Licensing may be fine for fan fiction of pop shows, and really, really great for slash (no comment), but is this the direction we want for the rest of literature?

Dean is afraid that the strangulation of new licensing laws would smother literary creativity, swallow it whole, and slowly digest it with enzymes. Or maybe I should blog while watching Discovery shows about snakes. I understand that fear. I'm deeply skeptical about letting lawyers dictate to writers the content and characters allowed in their books. Once you give lawyers that power where does it end? Then again, what if you want to mock or challenge a book? That's unlikely to be allowed by the original author.

Just to drag in the devil's advocate argument, however, what if it has the opposite impact? After all, as the Salinger case shows, writers can already be dragged through court for violating copyright. And slash fan fic, I'd like to point out, is still not legal if you try to sell it. Amazon Kindle Worlds specifically bans smut. (Hugh Howey encourages you to write characters of any sexual identity for Wool fan fic, however.) I think that Kindle Worlds is good for fan fic, in that it brings into the open market (rather than black or gray market) the lively world of fan fic. There are still limitations yes, but I think both the creators of the original world and the creators of the spin-off stories benefit. (Amazon, if you are interested, I am happy to license the Unfinished Song for Kindle Worlds....)

Why would this not be true for fancy-schmancy literature as well? Maybe instead of closing off creativity, it would open up new vistas of collaboration.