Nocturnal Lives

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

Tag: Mad Genius Club (Page 1 of 4)

Busy, Busy

The title says it all. The last 24-hours have been very busy. Between work around the house (mainly painting), getting started on Light Magic (the next book in the Eerie Side of the Tracks series) and blogging, I felt like I was meeting myself coming and going. The results are more than satisfying, however. Of course, Myrtle the Evil Muse being evil, the opening of Light Magic changed from what I thought it would be but I think it works. At least I hope it does. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been up to.

Yesterday was my regular day at Mad Genius Club and I blogged about why some people really do want heroes with human flaws over superheroes suffering from the Mary Sue syndrome. It led to some great discussion in the comments.

I also did a piece over at Victory Girls blog about a “new” form of microaggression. This one, called invisible microaggressions, came from a study of a whopping 13 women of color at 5 universities. Apparently that was a large enough sample pool to not only “discover” this new form but to break it down into 5 different forms. Riiiiiight.

This morning, I have two more posts up. The first, over at According to Hoyt, discusses the controversy over removing Confederate statues and the PR debacle Six Flags Over Texas created for itself by removing not only the Confederate States of America flag (and not the battle flag so many object to), but also every other flag except for the U. S. flag. It is more than ironic for a park named for the six national flags that have flow over the state, including the Republic of Texas, now flies only one.

The last is another post at Victory Girls. This one discusses the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision to stay the lower court order tossing out parts of Texas’ Voter ID law. This decision will allow the state to proceed as usual with the November election. What pleased me about the decision is how the court not only looked at the law but also applied common sense in coming to its ruling.

Now it’s time for another cup of coffee and then it’s to work. I’m excited about getting back to Mossy Creek and the characters that inhabit that most unusual town. Besides, it keeps me from worrying about how the beta readers are liking the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them in the next few days. (To be fair, I told them I didn’t need to know until next week. Whimper.)

 

A couple of quick notes

I’ll be back later with a full post, but there are a couple of notes I wanted to share this morning.

First, since it’s Tuesday, it’s my day to blog over at Mad Genius Club. As a Texan, my mind is on Houston and all the other communities that have been — or will be — impacted by Harvey. As a writer, I can’t help but look at what has been happening and drawing inspiration from it.

Second, and this is really exciting, I am going to start blogging over at Victory Girls. My first regularly scheduled post will be tomorrow. If you’ve never visited the blog, take a few minutes and head over to look around.

Finally, I should finish inputting the edits and new material into the expanded version of Vengeance from Ashes today or tomorrow. I haven’t done a final word count comparison but I am adding somewhere between 10,000 and 20,000 new words. Once done, it will be off to the beta readers to get their opinions. Once I hear back from them, I’ll input any changes needed and then ramp up for the release of the new edition. If everything goes as planned, that will be by the middle of September.

Before I go for the morning, my thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Houston and all those impacted by Harvey. Please keep them in your thoughts as well and, if you are the praying kind, add a prayer.

Until later!

 

Back to Work

Just a quick post this morning. Since it’s Tuesday, it’s my day over at Mad Genius Club. Today’s post is about inspiration and how it can hit when you least expect it.

To go along with the the posts I’ve written over the last few weeks about how we have to look at, and face, the consequences of our actions, Marvel had to do just that over the weekend. If you want to see not only an epic fail but what happens when you do something to alienate your core fan base, check this out. Click on through to the Twitter comments. They are perfect examples of consequences coming home to roost.

Today, I’m going to finish the final draft of Nocturnal Rebellion. I have the last scene already written in my head and it perfectly sets up the next book — which will be the final book in the current story arc. What that means for future books featuring Mac and company, I haven’t figured out yet. I doubt they are going away. But just how I’ll continue on with them and what the new story arc will be, I’m not sure. However, there will be one more novel after Rebellion. Hopefully by the time I get to it, I’ll know where the future books will go.

And, just to prove my muse is an evil bitch — as if we didn’t already know that — THIS is what kept me awake most of the night, trying to figure out where it is going and praying this isn’t the start of yet another series.

I was five when they came for my brother. Two men, one tall and thin the other short and stocky. Both wore uniforms I had never seen before with lots of medals shining on their chests. Mom cried. I’d never seen her cry before and Dad’s hands shook as he read the paper the tall man handed him. Then, with tears in his eyes, he told Mom there was nothing they could do. Before I knew what was happening, Aiden was gone and I haven’t seen him since.

I was thirteen when they came for me.

See, I told you my muse is evil.

 

 

Tuesday morning thoughts

It’s going to be a short post this morning, mainly because I’m blogging at Mad Genius Club today. Go check the post out. I talk about Books-a-Million and their indie publishing print platform as well as some of the changes over on the KDP side of things.

The other day, I posted a brief snippet of what I thought might turn out to be the opening to Nocturnal Rebellion, the next book in the Nocturnal Lives series. I’ll be honest. I had hoped by writing the scene, the muse would be satisfied and let me finish the final tweaking on Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2). But noooo, the book has taken hold and the muse is demanding my attention. So, it looks like the next couple of weeks will see me splitting my time between the two. Fortunately, all that is needed on Dagger is minor tweaking and the final check of the print file before taking the book life. For now, however, the e-book is available for pre-order and, hopefully, the print book will be ready to go by the time the e-book goes live.

If Rebellion continues as it started, it is going to be a roller coaster ride. When I started figuring out the plot for the book several months ago, it did not look anything like what is happening now. Of course, as I’ve said before, my muse is an evil bitch and she is loving not only throwing me for a loop with the book but also in not letting me know what is happening more than a few pages ahead at a time. So far, it’s working — or so my alpha readers have said. Well, they also told me I had to keep writing it, so I guess something is working right.

Now I’m off to find another cup of coffee — idiot dog and BratCat decided 0430 was a wonderful time to get me up. It didn’t matter that I disagreed. Sigh.

Later!

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.

Something to keep your mind occupied

This morning, when I turned on the news, one of the local medical reporters was talking about how everyone’s stress level was going to be up today. Her suggestion was to find something to do, something you enjoyed, and to stay away from social media, etc. Well, I’m all for doing my civic duty so here is a list of some of the books the Mad Genius Club have published. (Okay, I’ll grab at any excuse to do a promo post. VBEG)

Dave Freer:

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.

*

Changeling’s Island (Baen)

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way. For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Amanda S. Green:

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.

*

Witchfire Burning (Eerie Side of the Tracks Book 1)

Long before the Others made their existence known to the world, Mossy Creek was their haven. Being from the wrong side of the tracks meant you weren’t what the rest of the world considered “normal”.

Normal was all Quinn O’Donnell wanted from life. Growing up on the “wrong side of the tracks”, she had been the only normal in the family. The moment she was old enough, she left and began life as far from her Texas hometown as possible. Now she has a job she enjoys and a daughter she loves more than life itself. Their life is normal, REALLY normal, until her daughter starts calling forth fire and wind.

Quinn knows they must go back so her mother can help five-year-old Ali learn how to control her new talents. But in Mossy Creek nothing is ever simple. Quinn’s mother has gone missing. Secrets from Quinn’s past start coming back to haunt her.

And the family home is more than a little sentient.

Can Quinn keep everyone — particularly Ali — safe? And will she ever get back her illusion of normalcy?

Sarah A. Hoyt:

Dragon Blood: A Collection of Short Stories

From the trenches of WWI where the Red Baron just can’t help turning into a dragon, to the desert sands of a future world where humans have become something else, from a coffee shop between worlds where magicians gather, to a place where your worst nightmare can love you, let Dragon Blood take you on a series of fantastic adventures.

With an introduction by Pam Uphoff.

This collection contains the stories: Rising Above, From Out The Fire, Yellow Tide Foam, Hot, The Blood Like Wine,The Least Of These Little Ones,
Scraps Of Fog,Something Worse Hereafter,The Littlest Nightmare,Dragon Blood

*

Through Fire (Darkship Book 4)

Against all odds, spaceship mechanic Zen Sienna finds herself in a fairytale palace, being courted by the ruler of vast lands. But when revolution erupts and heads start to roll, Zen finds that the life of a storybook princess is not be all fancy balls and happy endings. Swept up in a whirlwind of fire and blood, Zen must earn her citizenship on Earth and find her place in a world on the brink of revolution.

Kate Paulk:

ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1)

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.

*

Impaler

Impaler by Kate Paulk revisits the tale of Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad Tepes and Vlad the Impaler. This is the tale of historical fact mixed with fiction and a touch of fantasy. But this is most definitely not the tired tale of vampires skulking in the night, lying in wait for innocent victims. Impaler tells the tale of a man devoted to family and country, cursed and looking for redemption. December, 1476. The only man feared by the all-conquering Ottoman Sultan battles to reclaim his throne. If he falls all of Europe lies open to the Ottoman armies. If he succeeds… His army is outnumbered and outclassed, his country is tiny, and he is haunted by a terrible curse. But Vlad Draculea will risk everything on one almost impossible chance to free his people from the hated Ottoman Empire.

Jason Cordova:

Kraken Mare

Sergeant John Manning was a simple Marine who liked spicy foods, big guns, and even bigger explosions- so long as those guns and explosions weren’t pointed in his direction.

When offered a well-paying job after being unceremoniously drummed out of his beloved Corps on a medical discharge, he jumped at the opportunity for good money and the prospects of a bright future. For the first time in recent memory, John had a chance at life.

Then his life turned into a horror movie.

The secret research station hidden on the moon of Titan was not just any government facility. It harbored dark secrets and frightening realities. The scientists here have not only studied more than just the local fauna, but have discovered something far more important. A discovery which would shock the very foundations of the universe. Something out of a nightmare.

The depths of Kraken Mare hid a horrifying truth, and the unwitting Marine stumbled right into it.

Pam Uphoff:

A Tale of Three Interns (The Directorate Book 2)

#2 in the The Directorate series

A Novella.

Ebsa, Paer and Ra’d have survived their first year at the Directorate School. No doubt this summer internship will be boring. It’s not like they’d let them do anything dangerous . . . like assist in a study of dinosaurs.

Peter Grant:

Take The Star Road (The Maxwell Saga Book 1)

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…

David Pascoe:

Tales of the Unquiet Gods

Unearthly darkness stalks the streets of Manhattan. Glowing eyes haunt forgotten tunnels. In the daylight, inhuman shadows grow ever deeper and … hungry. Six are chosen to confront this gnawing evil, and given help from an unexpected power. Hunting them come walking shadows and fallen godlings, abominations and darkling creations seeking to devour their very souls. Follow a busker, a bouncer, a homeless vet, and a cop as they the battle the darkness without and the despair within, for the fate of the city and the souls of those they love.

Cedar Sanderson:

Jade Star (Tanager Book 1)

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.

A Tanager Novella

*

Pixie Noir (Pixie for Hire Book 1)

You can’t keep a tough Pixie down…

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

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

Brad Torgersen:

The Chaplain’s War

A Chaplain’s Assistant, serving in Earth’s space fleet, is trapped behind enemy lines where he struggles for both personal survival and humanity’s future.

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.

*

Lights in the Deep

Ten astounding tales by triple award nominee Brad R. Torgersen. Go on fantastic new adventures at the bottom of Earth’s oceans and at the edge of the solar system. Meet humans who are utterly alien and aliens who are all too human. Originally featured in the pages of Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine as well as Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, these stories are gathered here for the first time, along with anecdotes and other commentary from the author. Introductions by Stanley Schmidt, Mike Resnick and Allan Cole. Features the stories Ray of Light (2012 Hugo & Nebula nominee), Outbound (2011 Analog Readers Choice Award winner), and Exanastasis (2010 Writers of the Future Award winner).

Cross-posted from Mad Genius Club.

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.

A Cautionary Tale

(Reposted from Mad Genius Club.)

Update at the bottom of the post.

Yesterday probably had to be the worst day in my life as an indie author. Release days are always nerve-wracking. Will people buy your book? Will they like your book? Or will they say your baby is ugly and laugh like mean girls? All of that paled into nothingness when I woke to find an email from Amazon telling me they had pulled Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) and it would not be on sale until I fixed the issue(s) reported by customers.

Gulp! The book had only been out for hours when the email had been sent. What was wrong?

I scoured the email for an explanation and the only thing it told me was “Metadata & cover image are of “Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)”, but the ASIN contains “Duty from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 2).”

What?

So, at 0730 I was trying to figure out how in the hell I had managed to upload the wrong file — except nothing I found showed that I had. The only possible explanation I could find was that I had forgotten to do one thing when I copied the legal page from Duty from Ashes to the Honor from Ashes file was change the AISN. The rest of the text was correct — in my upload file but not in the file that was being sent to those kind folks who had pre-ordered my book.

So, I did what any reasonable author would do in that situation: I panicked. I cursed. I even cried a little. But then I pulled up the base file, changed the AISN and re-uploaded it to my account. I also sent an email to Amazon at 0806 to let them know I had done as they asked. Then I blogged over at Nocturnal Lives to let folks know what was going on.

And I waited.

And I waited.

And I waited some more.

And still Honor from Ashes was removed from sale. At one point, you could hit the buy or read for free buttons but you would get an error message. Then the dreaded “this item is under review” language hit the product page.

And the returns continued.

At 1022, I sent another email to KDP to find out what was going on. As with the earlier message, there was silence. Around noon, I went to my dashboard for KDP and sent a message to the help desk, asking for an update, noting that I was losing money and all I could do was tell those who were hitting my boards on Amazon that I had done what had been asked of me but was as much in the dark right now as were they.

I spent the day, gritting my teeth, unable to work, as I watched the returns continue. Fortunately, those who checked the boards, saw what was happening and they, in turn, took to the two one-star reviews to explain what was going on. But the damage has been done. There are now reviews for Honor from Ashes, claiming it is nothing more than a reprint of Duty from Ashes under a different title. Any new readers who might consider buying the book may be run off because of that.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I did finally hear from Amazon at 2238 hrs last night, almost 20 hours after their initial email to me. Again, they alleged I uploaded the wrong file — but did not include the file so I could check it myself. Okay, I can live with that. I don’t like it, but I can live with it. However, there was nothing said about how long it would be until the book was once more available for purchase. (Note, too, that after I uploaded the new file a little after 0800, I received an email from them saying it was “live” at 1242 hrs. It showed on my dashboard as being live. The preview of the book on the product page showed the new file almost instantly. And yet it was still not available for purchase.)

I asked again, how long. So far, I have had no response.

I kept busy on the Amazon boards that deal with the book, answering questions, assuring readers that I had done everything I could and it was in Amazon’s hands. Their frustration over the delay matched my own — and I will be in contact with them when I figure out how to thank them for their patience.

Sleep was fitful last night as a result. Would I wake up this morning to find the book still unavailable? Even if it was finally available, how deep would the damage be? Returns had been taking place all day. Negative reviews were coming in. How would all that impact the first “day”/week sales?

So, when I finally rolled out of bed this morning, I very hesitantly checked email. Sigh. Nothing from Amazon. So I went to the product page, fully expecting to find it still reflecting the fact it was “under review”. Fortunately, it is now “live”. You can buy it or borrow it under the Kindle Unlimited program. Unfortunately, there are now two 1-star reviews. The only saving grace is the 4-star review (leaving an average of 2-stars — GULP!) and comments from those who had been following the boards to the reviewers that they needed to wait until Amazon made the correct file available. I thank each and every one of those fans who responded to those reviews. I hope those reviewers go back and edit their reviews but I’m afraid the damage has been done.

This entire affair has shown the one real fault in the KDP program, whether you are in KDP or KDP select/Unlimited. There is no way to pick up the phone and call them when you first see a problem. You are limited to e-mail. Sure, if the emails go on long enough, they may call you but that doesn’t help in situations like the one I faced where time is of the essence. It has left a sour taste in my mouth, as well as in the mouths of my fans.

Does this mean I will look for an alternative to KDP? No. It is the big dog in the game and moving away from it would be more than counter-productive. It does mean I will be even more careful about my uploads. It means I will continue trying to find out exactly what happened and how to avoid it in the future. Most of all, it means I need to those who read the book and enjoyed it to post positive reviews to counter the negative ones.

In the meantime, I will edit the product description to note that the previous download problems have been corrected. Hopefully, after a week, that will stem the damage that has already occurred. I don’t know.

All I can say is “damn it” and censor myself from saying anything else.

In the meantime, here is the link to the NOW live product page:

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.

UPDATE: If you downloaded the book as a result of pre-ordering it, please confirm that you have the corrected version. It appears that some people have not automatically received it. Check your settings (Manage My Devices and Content/Settings) to see if you have automatic updates turned on. If not, you may need to delete the file from your device — NOT your account — and re-download. If that doesn’t work, contact Amazon and let me know. Amazon should respond quickly and get you the correct file. If not, I need to know. Thanks!

TANSTAAFL

I was sitting here, listening to the local news on talk radio (What can I say? The current wip requires talk radio.) when a soundbite had me seriously contemplating tossing the laptop through the window. Someone was explaining why he was going to vote for Bernie Sanders. His main reason was simple. He is a father and he’s going to vote for Bernie so his kids can have a free college education.

At that point, two things happened at once. I stopped — barely — before I grabbed the laptop and tossed it through the window and I wanted to bang my head against the wall. Following close behind those was a voice in my mind chanting “TANSTAAFL! TANSTAAFL!”

You see, that’s the problem I have with a lot of those who are so enamored with Bernie. They love hearing that their taxes will be decreased — or done away with — while those of the “Wall Street speculators” would go up. They love the idea of their children going to college without having to pay tuition. They embrace student loans without interest. What they don’t do is stop long enough to think critically about the promise of free education, even if only for state universities, and whether or not it would really be free.

Hence the chanting of “TANSTAAFL” in my mind.

For those unfamiliar with it, TANSTAAFL stands for “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.” You’ll find the acronym in Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

“Gospodin,” he said presently, “you used an odd word earlier–odd to me, I mean…”

“Oh, ‘tanstaafl.’ Means ~There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ And isn’t,” I added, pointing to a FREE LUNCH sign across room, “or these drinks would cost half as much. Was reminding her that anything free costs twice as much in long run or turns out worthless.”

“An interesting philosophy.”

“Not philosophy, fact. One way or other, what you get, you pay for.”

So, if Bernie manages to get elected and manages to get Congress to go along with forcing state universities to offer free tuition and if the states go along and not take the federal government to court and if, when doing so, the courts back the feds and not the states — whew, already there are a lot of “ifs” for the program to overcome, aren’t there? — where do the Sanders supporters think the money is going to come from? Someone is going to have to pay for it. After all, colleges have to pay for their buildings and programs, pay their instructors, pay their bills, maintain their facilities, etc., etc., etc. That’s a lot of money and there isn’t an alumni association around that can step in and fill the void of loss of tuition from students.

So where would the money come from?

According to the Sanders camp, it will come by “imposing a tax on Wall Street Speculators”. But who are these speculators? They are those “who nearly destroyed the economy seven years ago.” Okay, I can see how some would stand up and applaud that statement. It’s a pretty safe bet to say there are few who like what happened back then. Yet, the statement is also very vague. So let’s look further at what the Bernie site says.

“If the taxpayers of this country could bailout Wall Street in 2008, we can make public colleges and universities tuition free and debt free throughout the country.”

Hmm, now it’s even more vague. “Taxpayers.” That’s like “speculators”. Hot button words without definition. No one wants to think they might fall into either when it comes to who would have their taxes increased to cover this new “free” tuition. But let’s face facts, it sounds good but the reality is taxes will be increased. Anyone who happened to have been invested in the stock market falls under “speculators”. Do they fall under who Bernie means? Probably not but when you look at his website, a case could be made for either side.

What bothers me is those who embrace his promises without looking at what the potential impact of them would be. Free college tuition means taxes will have to be raised. Much of the monies for state universities come from — wait for it — state funds, raised by state taxes in one form or another. Now you have a presidential candidate telling states not only that he wants to do away with tuition at those universities but that the federal government will have an even bigger say in how those universities are run because the state will be forced to accept more government monies to keep the doors open.

Sorry, Bernie, but there are things the Feds need to keep their hands out of.

Then there is the very real possibility that, no matter what Bernie wants, the tax load for this move would fall on taxpayers like you and me. Tell me now that the tuition is free when my taxes and yours go up to cover the costs. Even if it doesn’t fall to our tax bill, what happens if you raise the taxes on these so-called speculators? It increases their monetary output. That means they, understanding how business and economics work, will pass that increase on to their customers. High priced goods and services will result. Again, that passes the bill for the so-called free tuition on to you and me.

How is that a “free” education?

Just because you don’t have to write a check for something, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is free.

At best, Bernie wants to pass the cost of someone’s education on to others. Tell me this, do you really want to help foot the bill for someone who wants to get a degree in something that has no real world application and little to no hope of helping that person land a job? Do you want to help foot the bill for someone who doesn’t know what they want to do with their life when the grow up? Beyond all that, do you want to have to pay, through taxes and fees, for the court costs that will happen when and if the Feds try to enforce this on state schools?

So, for all those who love Bernie because he’s promising freebies — and, in doing so, promising a redistribution of wealth — ask yourselves what the real impact on you will be. Look beyond what he says and down the line of “if you do A, then B will follow.” Are you willing to pay the consequences, short and long term for such actions?

***

I’m blogging today at Mad Genius Club. Please take a moment and check out that post.

And to prove i’m a proud capitalist, here’s some promotion for a couple of good friends as well as for myself. Here are three books for your consideration.

The first is Changeling’s Island (Baen) by Dave Freer.

Teenager Tim Ryan comes into his own as he faces danger on a remote Australia island where magic lurks in land and sea.

Tim Ryan can’t shake the feeling that he is different from other teens, and not in a good way.  For one thing, he seems to have his own personal poltergeist that causes fires and sets him up to be arrested for shoplifting.

As a result Tim has been sent to live on a rundown farm on a remote island off the coast of Australia with his crazy grandmother, a woman who seems to talk to the local spirits, and who refuses to cushion Tim from facing his difficulties. To make matters worse, Tim is expected to milk cows, chase sheep, and hunt fish with a spear.

But he’s been exiled to an island alive with ancient magic—land magic that Tim can feel in his bones, and sea magic that runs in his blood. If Tim can face down the danger from drug-runners, sea storms, and the deadly threat of a seal woman who wishes to steal him away for a lingering death in the land of Faery, he may be able to claim the mysterious changeling heritage that is his birthright, and take hold of a legacy of power beyond any he has ever imagined.

Officially out today, although I know it started shipping before now. 

Next up is Sword And Blood (Vampire Musketeers Book 1) by Sarah A. 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.

Today is the “official” release date.

Finally, Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) by yours truly, written under the pen name Sam Schall, is available for pre-order.

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.

Release date for Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) is April 18th.

 

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