Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: Dave Freer (Page 1 of 3)

Friday thoughts and reading recommendations

Just a quick post today. I’m doing my best to stay away from politics — my blood pressure thanks me as does the mush of what calls itself my brain. Why is it that the first few days after finishing a book are lost when it comes to accomplishing much more than getting out of bed and vegging for the rest of the day?

Monday, I start the final review of Nocturnal Challenge and then it is off to the beta readers. Yay! Of course, Myrtle the Muse is already hitting me with more stories, including more detail about what the next Nocturnal Lives book will be. I’m going to try to make a few notes today so I don’t lose the thread. That’s important since this next book will tie up the final threads of the current story arc. Myrtle, being the evil muse that she is, has also given me the threads for the next arc for the series.

I’ve spent the last two days doing things that needed to be done — cleaning my office. It’s amazing how much stuff I accumulate while writing a book. Everything from slips of paper with notes on them to research materials to who knows what. I’ve also been reading. That’s always my reward for finishing one novel. Before moving on to the next, I get to hit my very large TBR stack. I’ll post some reviews over the next few days.

In the meantime, Next up are a short story (possibly a novella) in the Eerie Side of the Creek universe as well as the next Honor and Duty novel. It looks like I will be working on them at the same time — we’ll see how that works. But both are being very loud right now.

In the meantime, here are a few good books to try if you haven’t already. Oh, there may be one or two of mine in the list as well.  😉

Dipped, Stripped & Dead

by Elise Hyatt

A Dyce Dare Mystery

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

Life is just about to get crazy… er… crazier. But at least at the end of the tunnel there might be a relationship with a very nice Police Officer.

Tom

by Dave Freer

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.

The Chaplain’s War

by Brad Torgersen

The mantis cyborgs: insectlike, cruel, and determined to wipe humanity from the face of the galaxy.

The Fleet is humanity’s last chance: a multi-world, multi-national task force assembled to hold the line against the aliens’ overwhelming technology and firepower. Enter Harrison Barlow, who like so many young men of wars past, simply wants to serve his people and partake of the grand adventure of military life. Only, Harrison is not a hot pilot, nor a crack shot with a rifle. What good is a Chaplain’s Assistant in the interstellar battles which will decide the fate of all?

More than he thinks. Because while the mantis insectoids are determined to eliminate the human threat to mantis supremacy, they remember the errors of their past. Is there the slightest chance that humans might have value? Especially since humans seem to have the one thing the mantes explicitly do not: an innate ability to believe in what cannot be proven nor seen God. Captured and stranded behind enemy lines, Barlow must come to grips with the fact that he is not only bargaining for his own life, but the lives of everyone he knows and loves. And so he embarks upon an improbable gambit, determined to alter the course of the entire war.

Nocturnal Origins

by Amanda S. Green

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.

Vengeance from Ashes

by Sam Schall

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

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

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

Monday morning, oh how I loathe thee

This is the morning so many employers dread. Super Bowl Monday. The day when employees drag in, suffering from too little sleep, too much over-indulgence and either too much bragging because their team won or too much angsting because their team lost. Those who supported the Falcons — or at least wanted to see the Pats lose — might admit it was a great game, especially the last few minutes. But, there is still the fact the Falcons lost after holding a 21+ point lead at one point, something no other team has done in history. So, Falcon supporters have ruffled feathers, adding to the Monday morning blues.

As for me, I started the day off much too early — thank you, BratCat — and have already been to PT. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am firmly convinced physical therapists are frustrated sadists in their private lives and they take it out on their clients. All I can say right now is OUCH!

Which is also sort of what I’m feeling right now about my muse. Myrtle has never been an easy muse to live with. But, right now, she is taking great glee in causing me problems. Normally, when I finish a project, I need a week or so to recharge the batteries and get the new novel’s “voice” in my head. Except this time, Myrtle has different plans. I’m not officially finished with Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). Sure, it’s up for pre-order. Yay!. But there are still a few tweaks that need to be made and I need to finish the print set-up because I’m not happy with how it looked when I did it earlier. But is Myrtle letting me do it? Nooooo.

As you saw yesterday, she has ambushed me with the next Nocturnal Lives opening scene. Except now it is scenes. And, let me tell you, the book is already throwing me for a loop. Not only because I hadn’t planned on it being the next book I wrote but because of how it starts off. Worse, as I think I said yesterday, I don’t know where this is going. Myrtle is hiding more than the next few pages from me. Sigh, someone come take my muse on vacation for a week or so. Hell, I’d be happy if you’d just take her out for drinks and let her spend the night with you.

Why do I feel like Rodney Dangerfield right now when he would joke, “Take my wife — please”?

I guess I don’t need to sleep.

One more thing before I head off to do some work — after finding coffee. If you haven’t read Dave Freer’s Mad Genius Club post today, do so. He hits it out of the part with this post.

Third Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale

*Updated with a new title.

Many thanks to the wonderful Amie Gibbons for wrangling this this year. If you haven’t read any of her books yet, please do. She writes fun and interesting UF.

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!

***

The Gods Defense (Laws of Magic Book 1)
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…

***

Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)

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 Blood (Vampire Musketeer Book 1)

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 Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

By Amanda S. Green

$$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.

***

Jade Star (Tanager Book 1)

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 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.

***

The 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 of the One (Wine of the Gods Book 14)

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.

 

***

TOM

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.

***

An Unproven Concept (Kraken Edition) (The Vergassy Chronicles Book 2)

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 Reborn: A Sindri Modulf Novella (Architects of Lore Book 2)

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.

***

Taking Flight (Honor and Duty)

By Sam Schall

Price: $0.99

Taking Flight is a short story set in the Honor and Duty series universe.

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

 

Battle Bound (Honor and Duty)

By Sam Schall

Price: $0.99

Battle Bound is a short story set in the Honor and Duty series universe.

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

***

New Title!

Shifting Ice: A Laws of Magic Paranormal Romance Novella

By Amie Gibbons

Price: $2.99.

Kidnapped kids are the least of her problems…

Lion shifter Tyler Carmichael’s day starts with a telepathic cry for help from children shifters who have been kidnapped by scientists and even she’s not so cold as to leave children to suffer. Now she has to work with the wolves’ king Caesius to rescue them and stop the scientists permanently, before all of humanity finds out about shifters and magic.

But Tyler and Caesius have been teasing each other for years and the sexual games could be their undoing.

And the shifters’ magic isn’t the only kind at play.

Beginnings

Every time I start a new project, I want to scream. I have the first very rough draft done. (Of late, that means I have probably half of the final word count done but little dialog, scenes that may or may not make the final cut and a lot of editorial notes about what needs to be done.) But the beginning chapter or two have yet to gel. I worry about whether I’m starting the book in the right place, with the right characters and in the proper POV. I swear, sometimes it takes me longer to write the first three chapters than it does the rest of the book.

That is where I’ve been most of the last week with Dagger of Elanna.

Dagger, for those of you not familiar with the series, is the second book in the Sword of the Gods series. The first book, Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1), was a blast to write and I’ve been anxious to get back to the series. Dagger is the second of what I anticipate to be a three book story arc. Unlike Sword, however, Dagger has been fighting me — at least where the opening chapters are concerned.

I know part of the problem has been switching mindsets from military sf to fantasy. But I got past that pretty quickly. No, the problem was a familiar one — doubt about where I was picking up the story. I knew I needed to introduce a new character up front. He would impact the story arc of not only Dagger but potentially the next book as well. But I also have a story thread from Sword that needed to be pulled back in fairly quickly as well. Had I chosen the best way to do both of those things? Or was I, as often happens with authors, starting the story too soon or too late?

The breakthrough finally came over the weekend. With that breakthrough came the words. The story is flowing and I’m loving where it is going. Assuming real life doesn’t interfere too much, the book should be done and up for sale by the end of next month. That means I can get back on schedule with the next Nocturnal Lives book as well as with Victory from Ashes.

I should begin snippets in a week or two. In the meantime, I am writing and editing and loving where this project is headed. I guess I ought to get back to writing. I’ll be back later with a more substantive blog post — but it may be tomorrow. If the writing starts flowing, I don’t want to interrupt it.

Oh, before I go, be sure to check out Dave Freer’s post at Mad Genius Club this morning

If only Mondays could be delayed

There will be a blog later today. I have some errands to run this morning and I need to get some writing done. In the meantime, there are two blog posts, both by fellow MGCers Dave Freer and Dorothy Grant, I’d like to point everyone to.

The first is Dave’s post today. I warn you ahead of time. I am not liable for ruined keyboards or homework or monitors or anything else. This is Dave in full Dr. Monkey mode and I love it. Here’s a small taste:

To save the Puppy Kickers over at file 770 effort and time I would like to accept responsibility on behalf of the Sad Puppies (for whom I neither speak, nor represent, but these details have always been mere trivia to the Puppy Kickers) for Brexit. I figure as it is all going to be our fault anyway, regardless, I may as well accept responsibility now and save us all from the smell of burning of brain-sawdust that they’d have to fill the air with, coming up with convoluted bizarre theories as to why this particular thing is also our fault. You know, we white Mormon men (especially female ones and those who would have to pour on whitewash by the bucket every morning, let alone those poor blokes trying to fake special underwear) plan on world domination, or just untrammeled eeeeevil, and the entire grab-bag of …isms.

For the record we also caused Global Warming, Global Weirding, Oceans rising, Rains of Frogs, Reigns of Frogs, Mondays (my personal contribution), bad hair days and of course George Bush. So everything they used to blame on him is really our fault. And as that took inventing time travel, we’re also responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs (we introduced them to the AR15 and techno music and tobacco, oversized sodas, and those that didn’t die from smoking went mad and shot each other, baring those who exploded because there were no regulations to stop them drinking too much soda – except for the ancestors of the chicken who were too chicken) and everything else, including the heat death of the universe. That happened because I personally forgot to turn the lights off, when the dolphins finally left.

Dorothy has done what I haven’t taken time to yet. She parsed some of the data from the dataguy and Author Earnings and posted it for us. There is a great deal of information and she breaks it down into easily digestible pieces. Check it out.

In the meantime, check out Dave’s latest book.

TOM

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.

From Peter Grant, Dorothy’s husband:

Brings the Lightning (The Ames Archives Book 1)

When the Civil War ends, where can a former Confederate soldier go to escape the long memories of neighbors who supported the winning side? Where can Johnny Reb go when he can’t go home?

He can go out West, where the land is hard, where there is danger on every side, and where no one cares for whom you fought – only how well you can do it.

Walt Ames, a former cavalryman with the First Virginia, is headed West with little more than a rifle, a revolver, and a pocket full of looted Yankee gold. But in his way stand bushwhackers, bluecoats, con men, and the ever-restless Indians. And perhaps most dangerous of all, even more dangerous than the cruel and unforgiving land, is the temptation of the woman whose face he can’t forget.

When you can’t go home again – go West!

And I haven’t pushed this book recently:

Sword of Arelion (Sword of the Gods Book 1)

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.

Beginnings

The opening sequence of a novel has always been the hardest part for me. Oh, I know what I want to say — or at least I think I do — but somehow when I sit down at the keyboard, it just doesn’t come. There will be fits and starts before I finally get it. That may take days or, in some cases, even weeks before I have an opening I’m satisfied with and, once that happens, the rest of the novel usually flows easily.

I’m not sure why that opening scene or chapter is so difficult. Sarah Hoyt told me early into our friendship that the problem a lot of new writers have is starting a novel either a chapter too soon or too late. Then she went on to tell me to simply write the first chapter as it comes and not obsess about it. After all, material can be added or deleted during edits. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple for me.

And that has been part of the problem with Victory from Ashes. I have the very rough — and I do mean very rough — draft completed. But I knew I had an issue with the opening. When putting that first draft together, I really didn’t even bother writing a first chapter. It was a series of notes and that’s about it. While that helped with the first pass, it did nothing to help with the current draft version.

So I have struggled for the past couple of weeks, trying to get that first chapter written. It simply wasn’t coming. Instead of beating my head against the wall, I drafted out three short stories and did other work. All the while, the opening of Victory continued to percolate in the back of my mind. Yesterday, I’d finally had enough. I needed to sit down and write, whether the chapter came or not.

With that in mind, I did what I suggest to my critique group: I moved to a different work area and I wrote in a different manner. In this case, I used pencil and paper. With my notes in hand, I sat at the kitchen table and gave my muse free rein. Thankfully for my muse’s continued existence, she decided to cooperate and the words started flowing and, with them, the realization of what had been blocking me.

I’d made a wrong turn at the end of Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3). No, nothing serious and nothing that impacts that book. It was just a decision made by a character about something that was supposed to happen in Victory from Ashes. Fixable, in fact, easily fixable, but I had to recognize the problem first. Then I had to figure out how to deal with the decision and change that character’s mind. Until my subconscious did all that, I was at a standstill.

Fortunately, my subconscious did just that and, over the next hour or two, 2,700 words flowed. No, not all by hand. What happened was I wrote a page or two longhand and that jogged the brain and I was then able to return to the keyboard. With coffee at hand, I pounded out a chapter that feels right and that got the problematic decision corrected. Even better, it allowed me to show a new facet of growth for Ashlyn. Best of all, it means the rest of the work of wrestling the very rough draft into a workable draft will flow easily.

Not that I won’t take time out this week to finish the first short story in the Honor and Duty universe. My plan is to have it up by Friday. If everything goes according to plan, there will be one short story every two weeks. Of course, life being what it is, I know there may be bumps along the way. That is one reason I’ve already done the rough drafts for all three stories.

What this also means is, if the muse continues to cooperate, I will begin snippeting Victory later this week. Most likely, Wednesday. In the meantime, here are some books I recommend as well as a shout out to a game being released later today.

Through Fire (Darkship Book 4)

Sarah A. Hoyt

A new chapter in Hoyt’s celebrated Darkship series dawns with revolution on Earth as the Good Men fall.

DOWN WITH THE TYRANNY OF THE GOOD MEN!

A spaceship mechanic has no place in a fairytale. But now Zen Sienna finds herself in a beautiful palace being courted by the ruler of vast lands. Yet soon Zen is caught up in a revolution that comes a bit too close to imitating the original French revolution—complete with beheadings. Swept up in a turmoil of fire and blood, she must find her footing. Torn by divided loyalties, unexpectedly in charge of protecting the innocent while trying to stop the guilty, Zen discovers both her inner strength and discovers who will remain true friends and comrades, and who will be revealed as enemies in disguise waiting to strike!

Through the fire of revolution and war, Zen must earn her citizenship on Earth and find her place in a world that’s totally changed.

TOM

Dave Freer

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.

Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge

Larry Correia and John Ringo

TWO MULTIPLE NEW YORK TIMES BEST-SELLING AUTHORS TEAM UP TO EXPAND LARRY CORREIA’S MONSTER HUNTER UNIVERSE!

When Marine Private Oliver Chadwick Gardenier is killed in the Marine barrack bombing in Beirut, somebody who might be Saint Peter gives him a choice: Go to Heaven, which while nice might be a little boring, or return to Earth. The Boss has a mission for him and he’s to look for a sign. He’s a Marine: He’ll choose the mission.

Unfortunately, the sign he’s to look for is “57.” Which, given the food services contract in Bethesda Hospital, creates some difficulty. Eventually, it appears that God’s will is for Chad to join a group called “Monster Hunters International” and protect people from things that go bump in the night. From there, things trend downhill.

Monster Hunter Memoirs is the (mostly) true story of the life and times of one of MHI’s most effective—and flamboyant—hunters. Pro-tips for up and coming hunters range from how to dress appropriately for jogging (low-profile body armor and multiple weapons) to how to develop contacts among the Japanese yakuza, to why it’s not a good idea to make billy goat jokes to trolls.

Grunge harkens back to the Golden Days of Monster Hunting when Reagan was in office, Ray and Susan Shackleford were top hunters and Seattle sushi was authentic.

Mirror’s Edge Catalyst

Available for PS4, XBox One and PC

  • First-Person Action – Get up close with your enemies. Use your freedom of movement and martial arts combat in conjunction with the environment to experience fluid first-person action unlike any other.
  • Explore the City of Glass – Roam the beautiful, high-tech city at your own pace, and unlock its many different districts. Run free and explore every corner from the highest, glass made skyscrapers to the hidden underground tunnels.
  • Witness the Rise of Faith – Brought up on her own on the margin of the totalitarian society, Faith found refuge amongst an outsider group called the Runners. Learn about her origin story, and take part in her journey as she stands up against oppression and becomes the catalyst that can change the City of Glass forever.

Bad, indie writer, bad!

At least that is what Michael Kozlowski over at Good Ereader seems to be saying. In an article I found via The Passive Voice, the headline really does tell the story. “Indie Authors Are Responsible for the US eBook Decline.” Now, I won’t talk about how the headline is poorly formatted. Anyone with a modicum of journalistic training will be able to spot what is wrong. Instead, let’s take a look at the post and see if we agree with Kozlowski or with PG who said, “too much choice is a terrible problem. That’s why nobody buys anything from Amazon or reads anything on the web.”

Why are bookstore chains like Barnes and Noble enjoying a robust increase in book sales? I think the main reason is because they only stock physical books by new authors that the publisher is really hyping and perennial bestsellers by recognizable authors. Simply put, it is far easier to discover a great book in a bookstore, than try and find one online. So why are digital sales truly down? The answer is too many e-books being self-published by indie authors.

Pardon me while I laugh for a bit. Kozlowski doesn’t seem to recognize the problem with his own statement. Bookstores stock only new authors publishers are “really hyping”. Hmm. What about those new authors who aren’t receiving all the hype? They are out there. Or is Kozlowski so out of touch that he really believes that publishers give that sort of hype to every new author they sign?

Or how about the assertion that they only other books being stocked are those by perennial bestsellers? I guess that means I could walk into my local B&N and check every author in stock and find them to be as he said. A best seller or hyped newcomer. Sorry, but no. There are still some midlisters there. Yes, the number is fewer but they are still there. There will also be — gasp — classics and nonfiction titles that aren’t “bestsellers”. But that wouldn’t fit Kozlowski’s either or scenario.

Independent and self-published authors release more books on a monthly basis than the trade houses do. This creates an influx of new titles that fall by the wayside and pollute the search engine results,  so it is almost impossible to casually browse and find something good.

My first reaction is, “Duh!” Of course indies release more books on a monthly basis that the traditional publishers. They aren’t limited by the number of slots they can justify to their bean counters. They aren’t having to go through gatekeepers who could — and sometimes do — keep out excellent books because they “didn’t resonate” or aren’t of the right “message” for that particular publisher. But, just because they are indie titles, they “pollute” search engine results. Bad indies. You aren’t pure and worthy. Forget about issues of whether the books are well-written or commercial successes. The fact they didn’t go through the traditional gatekeepers means they are dreck and pollute the very data streams they are stored on.

E-Books are immortal, so they never go out of print. Like cobwebs constructed of stainless steel, they will forever occupy the virtual shelves of e-book retailers. Every month there are more and more books for readers to choose from and there are now fewer eyeballs split across more books, this is the real reason why e-book sales are down across the board.

First, e-books can go out of print. At least they can if an author is careful about how her contract is written with first her agent and then her publisher — if she goes the traditional route. As for indies, they can also go “out of print” by the simple expedient of the author withdrawing the book from sale. As for e-book sales being down across the board, says who? Oh, I know. Traditional publishers. And that, my friends, is the real fault with everything Kozlowski says in his post. He is using traditional publishing numbers, as well as comments from Amazon competitor Mark Coker, to support his position without looking at indie sales numbers.

But let’s continue.

Not only do self-published authors write legitimate books that nobody reads, but some are doing some very shady things.

Kozlowski goes on to discuss the title mills that have been out there as well as the debacle a couple of years ago over the erotica titles getting released as children’s titles. Funny though, he never mentions the plagiarized titles that were bought, published and promoted out the yahzoo by traditional publishers. I guess he doesn’t think the trads can ever do anything wrong or make a bad decision about what books to publish. Nor does he go into the fact that a lot of the books Kobo removed from its listings were not erotica and the covers did not violate the ToS. Funny that. Funny, too, that he failed to mention how those books wrongly removed were put into a limbo that, as far as I know, has yet to be resolved.

He shows his feelings about indie e-books, if there had been any doubt, with this next statement: Spamming out e-books is obviously working for indie authors right now.

“Spamming”. Not publishing, not releasing, but spamming. Way to show some unbiased reporting, sir.

The big reason why indies are enjoying more success right now is because their titles are priced anywhere between .99 and $5.99, while major publishers tend to charge between $9.99 and $18.99. 

Again, he sees only the financial reason and that not in full. Yes, indies sell more books at a lower price. However, readers have gotten more savvy, something he fails to recognize. They look at how well written the blurb is. If you don’t grab a reader with the blurb, they aren’t going to pay money for your work. Then the reader checks the preview — one of the best things Amazon and other retailers have done is put the “look inside feature” on the product page so you no longer have to download a sample. Again, if a reader doesn’t like what the preview shows, they won’t buy the book. Yes, there are some impulse buys but give the reader some credit for actually checking out the book before buying it.

Second, readers are learning that there are a lot of very well written, entertaining books being produced by indie authors. Why spend more than $10 for a single book when you can buy two or three for that same amount of money? Publishers put themselves behind the eight ball when it comes to pricing. They look at the profit per unit instead of the fact they would make more money in the long run if they would lower their prices and increase their sales.

I think indie authors days are numbered selling digital content online because of big new trends in the publishing industry that they are unable to capitalize on.

This is where I start laughing hysterically. First, he uses adult coloring books as an example of something indies can’t do. Funny, one of my friends and cohorts over at Mad Genius Club, Cedar Sanderson, just published her own coloring book — and she did so as an indie. I guess she ought to go take it off sale since Kozlowski said she shouldn’t be able to put one out.

Then he goes on to point out the Bookscan numbers and how they prove his point. Bookscan, the Nielson Ratings for books. That service taking the sales from a select number of bookstores, does some arcane version of hand-wavium and tells publishers how many books were sold by what author. Not a point-to-point accounting system or inventory tracker like every other manufacturer employs. No, something that estimates sales based on what is selling in certain stores in certain cities across the nation. C0ff — bullshit — coff.

He goes on and on about how indie publishing is leading to a decline in sales. But for whom? For traditional publishing? Yep. But it is not only indie publishing responsible for that decline. It is also the choice in books being published by the trads and the price they are charging. Traditional publishing knows this, at least when it comes to pricing. Ask yourself this: why publish an e-book at basically the same price as a print version of the same book? The answer is simple — to drive sales to the print book.

Is indie publishing in trouble? Not that my bank account is seeing.

Are there too many titles out there? I don’t think so. Sure, it makes “browsing” more difficult if all you do is type in search phrases. But if you are like me, you find a book or an author you like and you pay attention to the “if you liked this, you might like that” recommendations. You talk to your friends and see what they are reading. Most of all, you check the blurbs and previews. Now this indie author needs to get back to work. Despite — or maybe because — of Kozlowski’s complaints, I am going to continue “spamming” out my books and “polluting” Amazon.

So, here’s some spamming for you:

 Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

And my friend Dave Freer has a new book out.
TOM

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.

Indie Author Beginning of Summer Sale

Need something new to read for the long weekend? Looking for a new series to start or want to discover a new author? Check out the following e-books. Of course, the standard disclaimer applies. Always check the price before clicking the purchase button. Some of these books are already on sale and others will go on sale over the next 24 hours. (Updated to include two new titles.)

 

***

Stardogs

By Dave Freer

On sale for $2.99

The Interstellar Empire of Man was built on the enslavement of the gentle Stardogs, companions and Theta-space transporters of the vanished Denaari Dominion. But the Stardogs that humans found can’t go home to breed, and are slowly dying out.

As the ruthless Empire collapses from its rotten core outward, an Imperial barge is trapped on top of a dying Stardog when an attempted hijacking and assassination go horribly wrong. Trying to save its human cargo, the Stardog flees to the last place anyone expected – the long-lost Denaari motherworld.

Crawling from the crash are the Leaguesmen who control the Stardogs’ pilots by fear and force, and plan to assassinate Princess Shari, the criminal Yak gang, who want to kill everyone and take control of a rare Stardog for their own, and an entourage riddled with plots, poisons, and treason. But Shari and her assassin-bodyguard have plans of their own…

***

Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeer Book 1)

By Sarah Hoyt

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.

 

Death of a Musketeer (Musketeers Mysteries Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

When D’Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis discover the corpse of a beautiful woman who looks like the Queen of France, they vow to see that justice is done. They do not know that their investigation will widen from murder to intrigue to conspiracy, bring them the renewed enmity of Cardinal Richelieu and shake their fate in humanity. Through duels and doubts, they pursue the truth, even when their search brings them to the sphere of King Louis XIII himself and makes them confront secrets best forgotten.

 

Ill Met By Moonlight (Magical Shakespeare Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

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

Witchfinder (Magical Empires Book 1)

by Sarah Hoyt

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.

Wings

by Sarah Hoyt

From Elizabethan England to the Far Future, discover who really was Shakespeare and why Marlowe was called The Muses Darling. Discover the horrifying secret that Leonardo DaVinci found beneath a cave in his home village. In the far future, find a new way to keep Traveling, Traveling. Use cold sleep to find your love again, and join the (high tech) Magical Legion.
Seventeen short stories from Prometheus Award Winning Author, Sarah A. Hoyt. This edition features an Introduction by Dave Freer and a Bonus Short Story “With Unconfined Wings.”

 

***

Burnout: the mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281

By Stephanie Osborn

On sale for 99 cents.

Burnout is a science fiction mystery about a Space Shuttle disaster that turns out to be no accident. As the true scope of the disaster is gradually uncovered by the principal investigators, “Crash” Murphy and Dr. Mike Anders, they find themselves running for their lives, as lovers, friends and coworkers involved in the investigation perish around them. What happened to the Shuttle? Who is responsible and why? Why is the government calling it an accident? Why is someone willing to kill to keep it a secret? And how big is the conspiracy?

 

The Case of the Displaced Detective: The Arrival

By Stephanie Osborn

Displaced Detective is a science fiction mystery in which brilliant hyperspatial physicist, Dr. Skye Chadwick, discovers there are alternate realities, often populated by those we consider only literary characters. Her pet research, Project: Tesseract, hidden deep under Schriever AFB, finds Continuum 114, where Sherlock Holmes was to have died along with Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. Knee-jerking, Skye rescues Holmes, who inadvertently flies through the wormhole to our universe, while his enemy plunges to his death. Unable to go back without causing devastating continuum collapse, Holmes must stay in our world and adapt.

Meanwhile, the Schriever AFB Dept of Security discovers a spy ring working to dig out the details of – and possibly sabotage – Project: Tesseract.

Can Chadwick help Holmes come up to speed in modern investigative techniques in time to stop the spies? Will Holmes be able to thrive in our modern world? Is Chadwick now Holmes’ new “Watson” – or more?

And what happens next?

***

Tales from the Uplands

By Alma Boykin

Free!

Uncanny things haunt the high country, where mountains bring justice and men tell mysterious tales. A place where churches seek the lost and deadly forces lurk below the peaks.

Contains eight short stories drawn from locations and legends of Central Europe, including the Drachenberg version of a famous folk-tale, and an excerpt from the next Cat Among Dragons novel.

 

Four Dragon Tales

By Alma Boykin

New Release!

If dragons walked the earth . . .

From a missing hiker (with really bad taste) in the Appalachians to WYRD and Drako’s Dark Roast all-night show, to a water-expert with a talon-t for trouble, and a search for justice, this quartet of stories explore life in a world where dragons and humans live side-by-side.

Short story set, 15,000 words.

Mischief, murder, mayhem, and music to rock the night away!

***

The Scent of Metal (Argonauts of Space Book 1)

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $1.99

The expedition ship Kepler races to Pluto, intent on uncovering the secrets of the alien structure recently discovered under the ice. Computer scientist Lea Santorin can’t wait to figure out the alien technology. Instead, she wakes it up … and it continues its long-interrupted journey across the galaxy, taking Lea and Kepler with it.

 

Jinxers

By Sabrina Chase

On Sale for $0.99

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.

***

Hunted (Hunter’s Moon Book 1)

By Ellie Ferguson

Free!

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?

***

Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)

By Peter Grant

On Sale from May 28-30

Nineteen-year-old Steve Maxwell just wants to get his feet on the star road to find a better homeworld. By facing down Lotus Tong thugs, he earns an opportunity to become a spacer apprentice on a merchant spaceship, leaving the corruption and crime of Earth behind. Sure, he needs to prove himself to an older, tight-knit crew, but how bad can it be if he keeps his head down and the decks clean?

He never counted on the interstellar trade routes having their own problems, from local wars to plagues of pirates – and the jade in his luggage is hotter than a neutron star. Steve’s left a world of troubles behind, only to find a galaxy of them ahead…

***

Nocturnal Origins (Nocturnal Lives Book 1)

By Amanda S. Green

Free!

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.

***

Ninth Euclid’s Prince

By Daniel M. Hoyt

Welcome to New Rome!

The far-flung heirs of the empire have been called home to the capital of worlds. In these mean streets, no wife is above suspicion, and no man above assassination. With the Emperor poisoned and prince Oswald in jail, Ninth Euclid, a mathematically gifted secretary from a rural backwater, must solve the knottiest problem of all: How will he keep his liege lord safe from daggers in the back and politically scheming trollops in the night?

***

Cat’s Paw (King of Cats Book 1)

By Robert A. Hoyt

Many humans know there is a mountain at the end of the universe to which a bird flies every thousand years to sharpen its beak, until the end of the mountain comes, and thus the end of eternity. What few of them know is that of the mountain only a few small grains of sand remain. And the bird that is to end eternity is alive and ready to fly. At half past noon at the end of the universe, the last great hopes of everything that exists, ever existed or has yet to exist, rests with a stray cat with alcohol issues, a Siamese cat with gender issues, and a Persian cat with pregnancy issues. Things are just about to get fun.

 

Ratskiller (King of Cats)

By Robert A. Hoyt

… 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.

***

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

By Kate Paulk

A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any conventional 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.

***

Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

By Cedar Sanderson

$0.99 from May 27-30

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

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

 

Memories of the Abyss

By Cedar Sanderson

Free from May 27-30

Violet is trapped in the prison of her own mind. Her body is dwelling in the insane asylum, but when her friend Walter is killed, she must make a decision to avenge his death, or stay safely locked in her own broken soul. He’d drawn her out of her shell, and she finds she still has honor left… But will anyone believe the crazy woman?

***

While not on sale this weekend, I do want to remind everyone that Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is now available.

 Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

By Sam Schall

War isn’t civilized and never will be, not when there are those willing to do whatever is necessary to win. That is a lesson Col. Ashlyn Shaw learned the hard way. Now she and those under her command fight an enemy determined to destroy their home world. Worse, an enemy lurks in the shadows, manipulating friend and foe alike.

Can Ashlyn hold true to herself and the values of her beloved Corps in the face of betrayal and loss? Will honor rise from the ashes of false promises and broken faith? Ashlyn and the Devil Dogs are determined to see that it does, no matter what the cost.

On Teacher’s Kids, and Hugos (reblogged from Mad Genius Club)

I had planned to blog today but my Mad Genius Club cohort, Dave Freer, posted something today that I feel needs to be spread far and wide. So I am reblogging his Mad Genius Club post. I may be back later with another post. If not, I will be back tomorrow. In the meantime, read and enjoy.

On Teacher’s Kids, and Hugos by Dave Freer

Now, I was a teacher’s kid – a child at the same school my mother taught at. Teachers’ kids tend to meet other teachers’ kids. I’ve never heard any one of them have this experienced any differently, so I would guess it is pretty universal: besides it makes sense. Authority is assumed to bias in favor of its own (whether children, or friends, or merely those like themselves). It is a perception which needs no proof – but needs a lot constant visible evidence to counter. If you’re a sensible teacher who loves their child, you make sure there are no signs of favoritism, and in fact are harsher and less trusting with them, than other kids. If you’re the kid… no matter how much you love your mother or father the teacher, you do not ever show this affection or close bond at school. In fact, if you’re smart, you’re a somewhat naughty brat, and get in trouble with the authorities (the teachers) – worse trouble than the other kids doing the same thing.

Because it is about perceptions, and credibility.

The same is true of competitions or governments. Your friend or cousin Freddie might have the best picture in the show, or might really be the best man for the lucrative government job… but if you want to have any credibility, any trust, any value… you can show no favoritism as the authority. You have to actively display bias against Freddy.

If your foes start saying you’re being a bit harsh on Freddy, you’re doing it right.

They trust you, you have credibility. Your prize (be it the Hugo or the Toronga Junior Prep art prize) is worth having. Your government is an asset, not a predatory liability.

That trust is a hard won.

And very easily lost.

Regaining it is twice as hard, if not impossible.

Now after the Hugos last year, a cabal centered on the site ‘Making Light’ asked for the Hugo Nomination data.

Making Light is essentially the mouthpiece of Tor Editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden and his wife Theresa. Tor as a company are financially affected by the outcome of various awards, they appear to be rapidly moving toward being the leading literary sf/fantasy publisher. Literary sf is really the only part of the genre positively affected in any major way by awards.  Many of participants in the site are at least in some way beneficiaries of grace-and-favor from Tor. Making Light was the site on which PNH revealed knowing the outcome of the Hugo Novel category nominations while the result were embargoed, making either the Hugo administrators to be dishonest and unethical (having informed someone with no right to know and a financial interest), or himself part of some form of corruption. It is thus established it is not a disinterested group, or one with a good reputation for ethical behavior. Among them are the prime suspects in the orchestrated media smear against the Sad Puppies last year in which they got libeled as racists, sexists and homophobes. This was retracted (as it was a provably false libel) but mysteriously popped up in other publications. Where possible we tracked back the linkages, and yes, it’s a very interconnected group, and those having both the motive and the opportunity for this are rare.  They’re also plainly the teacher’s kids. We have public statements on file from Kevin Standlee, saying what a friend PNH was and asset Tor was.

The people from Making Light wanted the data to test a new voting scheme going by the acronym EPH.

Everyone else out there thought releasing the anonymized data would be a great idea. On the puppy side of the table, we wanted to see if there was evidence that cabals (such as the group centered on ‘Making Light’) were conspiring to do in secret what the puppies had done in public (which it seems is supported by the evidence laid out in here). Now, there is nothing illegal about voting in concert or as a block. To do so in secret – and then to be outraged because others do so in public is, to put it mildly, hypocritical, especially if you have financial interest in the outcome.

The Hugo administrators for Sasquan refused. They cited the fact that it was impossible to sufficiently anonymize the data to avoid breach of privacy rules.

Which was irritating, but their decision to take. I took it as the teacher protecting their kids’ secret little slate. This is always the problem that authorities face with people they are known to favor. They bring their actions under suspicion of bias very easily.

Fast forward to this year. To File 770. Where Jameson Quinn – one of the Making Light cabal plotting to institute EPH announces that he and Bruce Schneier have been given the anonymized data, and tested it. Incidentally (because he’s not too bright, it seems) he announces that there is a weak correlation between the non-puppy nominations and what was nominated, but that this was much stronger in the puppies and what they nominated. Now, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that, without knowing the ‘secret slates’ Quinn and Schneier could not separate voters for those cabals from other voters. So: if a ‘weak’ correlation shows up with ALL of the data, there is a high probability that indeed, there was secret concert voting by some. After all, the pattern of ‘you nominate mine, I’ll nominate yours’ is well known and documented from the Nebula Awards, before they anonymized that nomination process. It may well still go on, but it is harder to see. Many of the same authors come up in Hugo nominations, which should be unlikely. The one is supposed to be a peer award, the other a fan award.

Which leads us to: how did Quinn and Schneier get data which was not available to everyone because giving it to anyone breached voter confidentiality and privacy rules? I don’t know either from Adam  — but Quinn & Schneier came from a group which has a questionable reputation, has a financial interest in the outcome of the Hugos. Unless they are babes-in-wood those who provided the data to Quinn and Schneier knew that they were not people who could be considered neutral by a substantial number of the people whose data they were handing over. The two ‘researchers’ also knew full well they were not considered neutral or trusted: Quinn posts on File 770, another well-known anti-puppy site.

As previously announced, it was determined that the data was unable to be sufficiently anonymized for a general release, so the researchers were provided data under a non-disclosure agreement.”

I see. A non-disclosure agreement… with a pair of ‘researchers’ from a partisan group with a questionable reputation and a financial interest. In secret.

My, that looks REALLY ethical. And no one spoke up. Not one of the Hugo Admins involved went public. Even those who objected… thought if they kept quiet, they’d get away with it. I see. Rather like: “I complained to him when he was molesting the little girl, I tried to get him to stop, but he did it anyway, and I didn’t go to the cops, because he was one of us.” My word! We can TRUST you after that. You would never permit anyone to diddle the system for their favorites.

And Jameson Quinn promptly breached their non-disclosure agreement. Well, what did you expect? Rules are for little people. They’re hoping for publication in a journal. I suggest they target the Huffington Post. Or Mother Jones, and even those might balk at this. Having breached a NDA makes it unpublishable. So does having data which cannot be independently assessed and verified. The ethical standards required by almost every reputable Institution make the use of confidential data without consent… pretty much a fire-able offence, let alone being able to use it in a publication. “Do you want fries with that?” is a phrase I would start practicing, were I a ‘researcher’ of this caliber. Or go into Social ‘science’.

I liked this this comment by Brian Z – which summed up effectively my feelings on the matter.

“I find it alarming that multiple administrators have chosen to secretly hand nomination data to persons associated with one of several rival factions within the membership.

The polite fiction that this data was provided for research purposes has already been exploded by Mr. Quinn, who is attempting to achieve his personal and political goals by selectively releasing information in order to convince 2016 voters to radically alter their voting strategies during the 2016 nomination phase, as he described in the original post.

We may assume that Mr. Schneier has more integrity than Mr. Quinn, who wants to “stop the puppies” by hook or by crook, but he has also violated your NDA. He has revealed additionally that he was given access to confidential nomination data from prior years. As a Loncon 3 member, I would also like to know whether 2014 data provided was raw, or “badly anonymized.” What additional years were provided? Was there any NDA signed with the other administrators to cover data from other years? Do the terms of the NDA really allow Mr. Quinn and Mr. Schneier to continue using the data for their desired political or research agendas after violating it? Halting the research immediately certainly seems like it would be the ethical thing to do.

And if other WSFS members are not allowed to review the same data on the same terms, well ahead of the close of nominations, the Hugo Awards may have lost all integrity for good.”

Well said, Sir.

That’s pretty much what I would have said, except that I would have also called for those who were involved to be named and shamed, and made an example of to try and fix it.  Look: the harsh treatment that a teacher would meet out to their son or daughter, is the only way they can hope regain credibility for Hugo Award process. I hope – for the sake of prior winners, they have the courage and integrity to do what needs to be done.

I am still shocked that the Hugo Administrators thought that bias like this for their ‘favorites’ was acceptable.

Maybe they hoped no-one would notice – which makes them even less fit.

Well, we have.

And like Patrick Nielsen Hayden’s advance knowledge of the nominations, we’re going to bring this unethical behavior from Hugo Administrators up at every opportunity. If they allowed unethical behavior once to help out their favorites, without punishment or consequence… what’s next in cooking the process?

How can we trust them?

What’s any award worth, without that trust?

For years the Hugo Awards participation has been dropping, and its value declining. That is sad for the great authors who lifted the award’s prestige and made it something important.  For their sake I hope some dramatic remedial action is taken.

Halloween Sale – Day 4

(Reposting from Mad Genius Club)

(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 theNocturnal 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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