Sean Hannity’s Advertisers

As of 8/4-2017, these are the companies advertising on Fox during Sean Hannity’s show. You know, the Sean Hannity of ‘Sandy Hook never happened’ (it did), ‘Hillary killed Seth Rich’ (she didn’t), and ‘Why sure, I’ll allow myself to be waterboarded to prove it isn’t torture!’ (he never did, not even for charity).

So if you’re tired of the fake-news spin Fox News and the whole Murdoch empire has dumped on the viewing public for the last two decades, you might want to let these companies know you have doubts about their dollars ultimately funding an anti-American terrorist organization.

23andMe (was considering it, but now not through your company.)

Australian Dream (I can buy local pain remedies, mate.)

Bayer (Just not this one.)

Beaches (yeah, no, not for me, anyway, since I hate the ocean and avoid the sun.)

Booking.com (who’re your competitors? Guess I’ll find out.)

CA Technologies (a company whose blurb is ‘Architecting the Modern Software Factory’. Seriously. Is this where Ivanka picked that up?)

ClearChoice (again, if I could afford 1st world cosmetic dentistry, I’d look at other options.)

DirecTV (who sucks, anyway.)

Dollar Shave Club (Aww, no DSC, pull your ads, please.)

E-Trade (daytraders have turned the stock market into a joke.)

Entyvio (way to dish on a captive audience already suffering enough)

Gillette (same as DSC, folks.)

GlaxoSmithKline (Well, we kinda already knew you were at least partially evil, right?)

HomeAdvisor (this is genuinely too bad, because they can be a good service)

Hometogo.com (save your money and staycation.)

Lending Tree (already a crock, not surprised they advertise to Fox viewers)

Liberty Mutual (cute commercials won’t protect you)

Match.com (is the STD insurance an extra fee?)

Mitsubishi (nice cars, should know better. Fox core audience is aging out of driving, and xennials will remember you badly.)

My Pillow (this hurts, because I genuinely like this guy’s commercials.)

NutriSystem (it’s called diet and exercise, fools, not pay hundreds of dollars extra for tiny meals. Make your tiny meals, or learn to portion control.)

P&G (Oh, Proctor & Gamble, at some point you might have to quit trying to win over everybody.)

Pfizer (same to you. And you wonder why we take our chances with sneaking medicine from Mexico, Canada, and India?)

Progressive (sorry, Flo, ya gotta go)

Publishers Clearing House (well, they do target the same victims as Fox)

Sandals (same answer as Beaches and Match.com)

Southern New Hampshire University (I see your ads everywhere, and they make you look like Apollo Group and EDMC. This already doesn’t look good for you.)

USAA (If you serve our Service Members, being *anywhere* on Fox is a travesty and an affront to your mission. Shame on you.)

Viking Cruises (again, marketing to Fox’s core aging population, or at least the part of it still wealthy enough to take European River Cruises. The rest of ’em just go to Branson or Laughlin.)

Visiting Angels (same complaint as USAA: you have wonderful goals, and I get that you’re advertising to lonely old people, who’ve been brainwashed to gravitate toward Fox’s pablum and fearmongering. But you’re betraying them with every $ you give to Murdoch.)

And here are the other companies who have recently advertised on Hannity’s show. I’m sure alert readers can see patterns forming.

AARP

Abeka

ACT

ADT

Ageless Male

America’s Biopharmaceutical Companies

American Petroleum Institute

Ancestry DNA

Animal Planet

Applebee’s

Ark Encounter

AstraZenica

AT&T

Audi

Bass Pro Shops

Blue Emu

Bounty

Business Roundtable

Cabela’s

CarFax

Cascade

Chewy.com

Christian Faith Publishing

Citi

CoolSculpting

Cosequin

Crest

Dawn

Discovery Channel

Doan’s

Duracell

EHarmony

Elite Singles

Entresto

Experian

Febreze

Fisher Investments

Future is Kenya

Future Steel Buildings

Gain

Genucel

Gold Bond

Golden Corral

Goldwater Lawfirm

Gotham Steel

Green Mountain Coffee

HarvestRight

Hebrew National

Hello Fresh

Home Instead Senior Care

Hyundai

IBM

Icy Hot

IHOP

Its Just Lunch

Infiniti

InventHelp

Jenny Craig

Jitterbug Flip

Kaopectate

Kardia Mobile

Kerasal

Kia

LegalZoom

Lexus

Life Alert

LifeLock

Linzess

Loan Depot

Marie Callender’s

Mazda

Mercedes Benz

Meta Appetite Control

Mr. Clean

MTailor

Namzaric

Nature’s Bounty

Navy Federal Credit Union

New Skin

Nissan

Non24

OfferUp

Office Depot/Office Max

Orkin

OurTime

OxiClean

Prevagen

Qunol

RectiCare

Reddi Wip

Restasis

Ring.com

RockAuto

Rocket Mortgage (Quicken Loans)

Salonpas

Sanofi

Seabond

SimpliSafe

Smart Mouth

SoFi

Sokolove Law

Stanley Steamer

Starkist

Eloqui

Terminix

The Jewelry Exchange

Tide

Trip Advisor

Trivago

Universal Pictures

UNTUCKit

Values.com

VariDesk

Victoza

Volvo

Wayfair

WeatherTech

Wonder Hanger

ZeroWater

Warner Bros.

Unrelenting Optimism

Or in other words, the Twitter phenomenon that is #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha, begun and hosted by media entrepreneur Marsha Wright.

Okay, many of us roll our eyes at those inspirational quotes slapped on lovely or heartwarming posters, and presented in slim metal frames. You know, the ones your boss and mine put up on our office walls?

I can be deeply cynical, but I have a soft spot for those posters. Sometimes they’re a guilty pleasure, like listening to ABBA or having Nutella toast.

Sometimes they truly help me deal with an awful week of everything going wrong.

Some of the best places I’ve ever worked had such things on the walls. And a lot of their owners and upper management actually tried to operate by the noble, kind, or funny tenets the posters proclaimed.

So imagine my joy when a chance Twitter follow opened my eyes to Think Big Sunday With Marsha, a weekly extravaganza of optimistic, positive, inspirational tweets, quotes, and images.

This is such a quintessential American phenomenon: the kind of stubborn, willfully optimistic outlook that gets stuff done. Or bankrupt and on fire, in a ditch.

As entrepreneurs and inventors, creative people must look beyond that latter fear. Life is full of mistakes and obstacles. So are business careers. When problems happen…and they will…the most adaptable people can learn from them, not remain shackled by them.

It took me years to understand the highest goal of the optimism industry isn’t to sell vague dreams and bridges. It helps open people up to possibilities they hadn’t considered, and goals they never knew they had. Sometimes all we need is the right opportunity at the right time, and we can work miracles.

And along the way we can drink coffee and look at gorgeous posters and GIFs.

***

Help keep the power on so I can keep blathering about art, jewelry, writing, and politics! I’ve joined Amazon Affiliates and Rakuten Marketing, so your click on the links below will give me a micropayment.

Humor helps lift our spirits. I’ve always found the movie-streaming commentary service RiffTrax LLC (yes, from the same folks who brought us Mystery Science Theater 3000) to be a ray of snarky light.

Taschen is one of my favorite publishers of beautiful, thought-provoking books in fine art, photography, culture, and the humanities.

TASCHEN - Beautiful Books

CraneHanaDesigns now on Etsy

Trying another sales portal, this time on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/CraneHanaDesigns

 

I’m conflicted about Etsy. They’re the best game in town for many crafters. They’ve made some colossal blunders in the past, and I feel terrible for them that the only way they can save the company now is at the cost of their allegedly benevolent company ethos.

I say ‘allegedly’ because many of those blunders involved touting themselves as a ‘handmade item’ portal, while allowing some of the worst of the buy-sell trade to dominate many of their categories. Buuutt…Etsy took itself public, and now pays the price with stockholders who don’t actually give a damn about ethics.

Maybe they…and we…can strike a balance between Return-on-Investment and the love of skilled handmade work.

We’ll see.

***

Help keep the power on so I can keep blathering about art, jewelry, writing, and politics! I’ve joined Amazon Affiliates and Rakuten Marketing, so your click on the links below will send me a micropayment.

To celebrate my 32 years of collecting beads, here’s a paid link to a charming collection of high-quality glass beads and other jewelry-making supplies: BeadRoom.com

And another to a favorite publisher of incredible books in the arts, humanities, and politics.
TASCHEN - Beautiful Books

The Gear’d Heart, by AG Carpenter

This has been a *long* time in the works, but I’m so happy to see ‘The Gear’d Heart’, a new steampunk serial by AG Carpenter. I’ve read it in an earlier beta form, and seen the kickass sequel.

Now’s the chance to get in on a charming, devious, and dark story, via Patreon!

Artist’s Invocation

All glories I have wrought by hand and gift of seeing,

All dreams I have brought from dreamscape into being,

All mysteries I’ve taught, however fast or fleeting,

Mingle toward the truth I’ve sought: streams at the Sea completing.

Spirit of Probability, Spirit of the Single Path, I have sought you. You are not here. You are nowhere, but in me.

Spirit of Possibility, Spirit of the Branching Path, I have sought you. You are not here. You are nowhere, but in me.

Spirit of Serenity, Spirit of the Still Pool, I have sought you. You are not here. You are nowhere, but in me.

Spirit of Change, Spirit of the Fountain, I have sought you. You are not here. You are nowhere, but in me.

(A little secular prayer I began in 1985, and tend to say before every major undertaking. It helps me focus on what I want out of that particular project. I’ve always intended to make it into a book art project, and might yet.)

Begging for Eyeballs: authors and reviews

Now that I have your attention, here’s a little rant about authors asking for reviews.

In short, we shouldn’t get grief for this.

We shouldn’t be made to feel guilty for asking, or told we’re ‘pandering’ or ‘imposing’ on our readers. Likewise, we shouldn’t hold ourselves loftily above promoting our work in careful, tactful, honest, and sometimes even funny ways.

Reviews and word-of-mouth are some of the most effective ways to sell books, no matter whether those books are self-published, small-press, mid-sized independent, or Big-Five imprint.

Without reviews, we don’t get sales. Without sales, our agents and our publishers cut us loose as poor investments. Or if we’ve self-published, we un-publish or otherwise stop promoting our writing altogether. So then you never get to see more of it. Without reviews, this kind of work (and believe me, it’s hard work) is a solitary hobby.

Our review requests usually happen on social media, where they might get boosted by sympathetic allies…or lost in the static. Sometimes we’re lucky enough that our publisher will place a small note in the back of our books, saying something like this:

If you like our books, please review them!

Some savvy publishers add incentives for on-site reviewers, offering them points toward purchases with each review.

I’ll add: don’t like our books? Review anyway. Get that unhealthy anger and disappointment off your chest.

Our ulterior motive: your one-star or two-star negative review still has the potential to sell our books. Reviews can be highly subjective. Something you think is a bug could be a feature to someone else. Your intelligent, honest negative review can spark lots of curiosity! Likewise, your banal, ill-considered, or downright petty review can be so unintentionally hilarious it becomes the best marketing stunt you could give us.

As an author, it’s not my business to wade into your specific reviews of my books, good or bad. I’ll sure as hell learn from them, but I’m not going to start the social media equivalent of a teenage clique-fight over a Goodreads review.

Where I do get angry is when publishers themselves advise their authors against asking for reviews within the end matter of the book. I’ve seen this several times recently from different publishers. One’s an e-pub only press, the other two favor print editions first and e-pub a laggard second.

Um, hello, publishers? The end matter of your book is some of the most priceless real estate you have. It’s where interested readers, still in the afterglow of a story, go to find out what’s next. Most of them are predisposed to being friendly. Asking for a review at that moment is just solid business 101.

Especially if you’re already hampering sales by offering only one platform outlet at launch, whether e-pub or print.

Authors, this is something to seriously consider when researching publishers or signing an offer contract. How does the publisher approach reviews? Do they send out timely and professional Advance Review Copies (ARCs)? Do they court the larger buying outlets and distributors? Do they aggressively promote to the online book-blogging influencers of their genre? Do they have easy-to-use review platforms on their own websites? Do they ask for reviews within the front or end matter of their books?

Think about these factors before you sign that contract!

As for readers, we understand if you feel infringed-upon about our review requests. Sometimes we hate doing that, too. But please consider the relatively-tiny fraction of readers who bother to leave a review in the first place. We bug you for the same reason NPR does: we succeed or fail based in large part on our audience’s goodwill and participation.

Book Art Jewelry: Enlightenment

A teaser for a piece called ‘Enlightenment’, which I describe in more detail here.

I love book art. It’s one of my default settings after 20 years. ‘Can I make it into a book?’ is a question I now apply to everything from spam emails to a set of cocktail swords found in a thrift store. (The short answer is ‘Yes, that can probably become part of a book’.) I have more project ideas in notebooks than I’ll probably have life to make…and I’m fine with that.

Each new book art sculpture is a learning point.

***
I have a favor to ask of you, dear readers. To offset web hosting costs, I’ve joined Amazon Affiliates and Rakuten Marketing. I’ll gradually work paid buy links into the Amazon links I’ve already provided for other authors’ books. And on some blog posts I’ll include paid buy links (usually in discreet text) to some other companies and services I like. If you click on these links and buy something on the other side, the tiny amounts I earn will add up to keep this blog (and my power) running.

To celebrate my 32 years of collecting beads, here’s a paid link to a charming collection of high-quality glass beads and other jewelry-making supplies: BeadRoom.com

Taschen is one of my favorite publishers of fine art, photography, culture, and the humanities.
TASCHEN - Beautiful Books

‘By Blade and Cloth’: Helen E. Davis

In the mid to late 1990s, on the late-lamented site SFF.net, I hung out with a group of amazing writers who gave me courage to push forward with my own writing.

One of those was Helen Davis. I was lucky enough to read the first few drafts of what would become ‘By Blade and Cloth’. When I found it on Amazon over a decade later, I snagged a copy. The raw promise of the draft versions had coalesced into a tight, strong, emotional novel that didn’t wallow on for hundreds more pages (or books!) than it needed to, but still told a hell of a story.

Alfred D. Byrd’s Amazon review is so much clearer than my Goodreads review, that I’ll quote his here:

“Sword magic, death magic, a bitter rivalry between Humans and a magical people that they call Elves, a blood oath to avenge serial killings, a confused youth with a two-fold destiny that he must understand — these are a few of the treasures in Helen Davis’s rich fantasy, By Blade and Cloth. When David Lodger comes to the university in Bhrama, he finds the royal city divided between its Human inhabitants and the Frenis, miscalled by the Humans Elves, who have come there to force the Human king to grant them justice for the slaying of a Frenin named Huranumanu in a remote region called New Cumberland. To David’s unease he must live at the university among Frenis who might kill him if they learn his background, for David is from New Cumberland, and his birth was intimately tied up, in a way that he is struggling to learn, with Huranumanu’s killings and his violent death.

Around David Lodger’s struggle to come to terms with his origin and his destiny, Helen Davis has woven a rich tapestry of political intrigue and social struggle among both Humans and Frenis. Central to all is the long-missing Dragon Sword, symbol and source of royal authority among the Frenis, and shadowy half-Elven personages called Taerachulas, who strive to hold the Dragon Sword in check. The Frenis’ quest for justice for Huranumanu and David’s quest to understand his nature converge with the Dragon Sword and the Taerachulas in a moment of decision in which death for all may come with the slightest miscalculation.

By Blade and Cloth is a tour of a world like, yet unlike our own, yet never gets caught up in world-building, as the author keeps the focus tightly on characters in conflict. She weaves together the viewpoints of many intriguing characters as they move towards a moment of world-changing revelation. Many writers would have taken many times as long to tell the tight, compelling story of David Lodger and the world that he must understand to save it from a tragic, perhaps final war. By Blade and Cloth is no conventional work of fantasy, but a vision unique to itself.”

David’s story might ring close to Harry Potter’s, but I find the City and its university more deeply-drawn within the shorter length of the book. His stumbling attempts at fitting in, his accumulation of ‘found family’, and his anguish over the two conflicting threads of his heritage…all ring true.

I won’t go into the central mystery (no spoilers!), but I’m especially fond of Helen’s Freni. I love stories and authors who take the old Tolkien/D&D tropes of ‘elves’ and expand on (or twist) the idea of the arrogant, long-lived race of magic users. Tad Williams did it beautifully in his ‘Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn’ series. Lynn Flewelling’s Aurenfaie are another recasting of elves, in her excellent ‘Nightrunners’ series. Steven Brust has my favorite take with his splendidly surly Dragaerans and the smaller, weaker, shorter-lived humans who endure as second-class citizens among them. (One of the inspirations for the major species in my Lonhra Sequence, I’ll admit.)

Helen can easily match Williams and Brust with her Freni, who are only ‘elves’ in that the idiot humans who conquered the continent believe they are. The Freni are an old, complicated, many-layered people whose (likely temporary) subjugation by humans is met with reactions varying from philosophical to violent.

As I mentioned on Twitter recently, this book should have gone to Tor, DAW, Del Rey or one of the other big SFF imprints. It (and her other works) should have garnered Davis some agent attention. For whatever reason, that never happened. Helen E. Davis was early to the realm of self-publishing SFF, so many people have never heard of her work.

Give this one a try, if you love steampunk-ish fantasy, school stories like Harry Potter, political intrigue, dangerous enchanted swords, sparkling snarky dialog, and wild action.

Here’s a mood board more or less capturing the ‘feel’ of this book. (Train from Rossi Publishing.)

BY BLADE AND CLOTH, Helen E. Davis

  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Dead Fish Press; 3 edition (October 24, 2010)
  • Publication Date: October 24, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00495XSZG

Playing with cover art

original art by Marian Crane

I’m thinking about this for a fantasy short story cover. Still revamping the previously (anthology) published 25-page story, but seriously thinking about self-publishing this and some of the more-obscure Lonhra Sequence side stories. I have a lot of them.

Granted, this cover will be mostly taken up by text, but I like that it directly references story elements.

It wasn’t until revising THE PURIST and looking at my old notes for this story, ‘Saints and Heroes’, that I realized the huge volcano looming over Ajara City is called the Bell. Because the Sirrithani have twisted senses of humor.

Volcanoes are important in Sirr culture and myth: there’s a subset of earthwitchery dedicated to early warnings and control of fire-mountains. Their main goddess isn’t floating around in the sky; she’s below, curled around the world’s heart and trying to keep it from waking up and destroying everyone on the surface.

Tools: Painter 2017 oil paint filters, various tonal filters, volcano and banner sketched from web sources and heavily altered.

Patreon Ahoy!

Happy Independence Day, for my fellow US friends (and for everyone else!)

While we’re on the subject of independence, do you know about Patreon?

The company bills itself as the best way for creators to build a sustained income. From what I’ve seen from many Patreon accounts, it’s succeeding. 35 creators each earned over $150,000 in 2016, according to a recent Patreon blog analysis. Many more earn a respectable $500 to $1000 each month from their subscription services.

Who’s on Patreon already? Artists of every kind. Writers of fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, and webcomics. Science and pop culture bloggers. Musicians, gamers, teachers…it’s a dizzying array of skills and interests.

All operating under one simple idea: fans helping content creators afford to be creative, in return for regularly delivered content (often first-run or available nowhere else.) This can range from digitally delivered stories, interviews, podcasts, videos, songs, lesson plans, and even physical items. The Patreon service can run indefinitely, for a limited duration, or a set financial goal.

The webcomics on my right sidebar? Most have Patreon accounts. If you love them, subscribe!

Are you a content creator? What could you do with an extra few hundred dollars a month? What would you do if you didn’t have to rely solely on a day job, publishing royalties, a gallery or art agent, or a music label?

All you need to do is set up an account with Patreon, be somewhat social, and have the time, energy, and willpower to provide that regular content.

I’m not at the level of name recognition to jump on Patreon, and I don’t have enough professionally-edited content to do it well. If the Lonhra Sequence books don’t end up with an agent or a large publisher, I might bolster my self-publishing with a Lonhra/Blue Night Patreon. But that’s probably a year away, at least.

I have several friends who are researching their Patreon options right now. I plan on hosting their links when their accounts are operational. It will be an interesting experiment to watch!

Moro’s Shield snippet

In honor of a great opening week for my M/M space opera romance MORO’S PRICE, here’s a snippet from its direct sequel, MORO’S SHIELD.

Basically the start of the second chapter, because I can’t post the first chapter (it’s that smutty). But this is not just a series about sex: it’s about adventure, intrigue, and the definition of humanity. And (gasp!) it has a woman MC in it. (I have warned y’all repeatedly that Moro and Val are both bisexual, and I do not tolerate bi-erasure in ostensibly LGBTQI books.)

Say hi to Syene, who is not going to be the love interest you expect.

#

The stocky, gray-bearded miner slotted a supply case into a deep storage bin, stood up, and waved a hand in front of his face. “Why the rebreather and air tank? We have good atmosphere inside this rock, Sera Turan.” He sounded more puzzled than insulted.

Syene Turan tapped on the strips of colored tape across her dark gray mask’s forehead and cheeks. “I can breathe your air, Sero. You probably don’t want me to. See these stripes. Orange? Danger color? Remind you of anything?”

“Well, yeah, those cloth masks the Camalians wear when they’re on League worlds. We do things differently out on the frontier.” He squinted at the name tag on her heavy black flight jacket. “Sera, ah, Sy–”

Sy grinned and took pity on him. “It’s ‘Sahy-EE-nee’. Or Sigh-EE-nee, if you like. After a city on Old Earth where some science happened. My parents are scholars.”

“Interesting name, Sera Turan.”

“At least it’s not boring. My sisters got ‘Alexandria’ and ‘Geneva’. Please, call me ‘Sy’, Sero Dolan,” she said, eying the badge on his own battered canvas jacket. She wrestled the next case off Fortunero’s old hovercraft and handed it off to Dolan. She’d done something right, because the man’s voice and posture opened up.

“Sy, then. You won’t infect us by breathing our air. Not a man or woman on this asteroid would dare kiss you, true, but we like seeing new faces. We’re harvesting fresh blackberries tomorrow from the hydroponic gardens. Cook’s making some kind of soy angelfood cake with real sugar. It’s my youngest’s tenth name day. You and Captain Fortunero are welcome to stay. You’ve made a fair trade for the air you’d use.”

Sy felt ashamed of her automatic caution.  In more civilized parts of the Terran League, a Camalian woman wouldn’t be assaulted outright. She could be verbally harassed, discriminated against, and stolen from with almost legal impunity. Sy had expected worse treatment out on the frontier. It rarely manifested on the supply routes Benny Fortunero had cultivated during his long career as a supply-ship captain.

Like Sy, Benny was one of the rare Camalians who felt more comfortable away from their Commonwealth and its throngs of symbiont-linked citizens. He left because he couldn’t bear being unable to access that affectionate and disciplined group-mind.

Sy left because she couldn’t shut it off.

She popped two latches at her jaws, and lifted the mirrored visor up over her forehead and short, sweat-curled hair. A faint breeze slid across her skin. The air smelled almost planetary, clean and cool, the circulated atmosphere redolent with water, vegetation, and traces of machine oil. Not bad for a tunneled-out asteroid ten miles across. She took a deep, happy breath, noting Dolan’s proud response at her open appreciation.

“Well met, Sera Sy Turan,” said the miner as he returned her smile. “You’re easier on the eyes than the old man is, I admit. If he wants to come along, we can drape a sheet over him to keep the kids off.”

“We–I–haven’t been out this way before,” said Sy, as she clipped the helmet to a belt latch. “Would he scare them?”

Dolan snorted. “He’s a community legend. They’re a pack of baby engineers. They’d probably figure out how to commandeer his guns before we could stop ‘em. Captain Fortunero isn’t our only supplier, but he’s one of the most welcome. Go on, ask him to stay, please?”

Sy guessed what Benny would say, but she wouldn’t second-guess her employer. She flexed her right jaw in a certain way, activating the com link stuck to her skin between her jaw and right ear canal. “Boss? Can we stay a day longer? They’ll have fresh fruit tomorrow. We’re invited to a name day party for Sero Dolan’s youngest.”

The com crackled with static for a moment, then Benny’s voice came from the speaker in Sy’s helmet. “Yeremina’s day, is it? She’d be what, eight?”

“Ten,” said Dolan. “It’s been six since you saw her, but she still remembers you, Captain!”

“Alas, Sero Dolan, I wish we could linger, but the schedule rules us all. Syene, I’ve got the last load crated up for you.”

‘The Purist’ mood board 3

Playing with bits of art I’ve collected or created over the years, to give myself another visual image-set for THE PURIST, a big fantasy novel currently out in Queryland.*

Yes, this is SINGER IN RHUNSHAN revisited, massively revised, and (I hope) getting closer to being fit for outside reading. For now, I’m so happy the damn thing finally decided on a better…and brutally fitting…title.

My next problem is that it also decided it really, really wants to be a graphic novel, too.

*Update 7-3-2017: I decided on querying 23 agents. That’s not a large segment of the available agents who are interested in science fiction and fantasy. But these are the agents I thought might be the best fit. These are the agents who *didn’t* scare me off with the actions I’ve listed in ‘Filigree’s Rule’. I’d be honored to work with any one of them.

I know the query’s as solid as my limited skills can make it. In eleven days I’ve had two full requests, one partial request, and two rejections. Considering the no-response statistics from BLOODSHADOW in 2009, MORO’S PRICE in 2012, and SINGER’s dire performance last year, that’s a much better query performance!

I’ve given myself a set amount of time to wait for responses. After that, the novel gets submitted to two major SFF publishers. After that, I start talking to Draft2Digital, four years after deciding to turn a short story into a book.

What’s my point? There are many avenues to publication, all with positive and negative aspects.

I know someone who tried to get an agent, failed, was published by two small presses that failed miserably, then tried two years of self-publishing, and just gave up. He spent over $10,000 on the process, between editing and marketing. He made around $200. (Not an uncommon fate in solo self-publishing, I’m afraid.) He unpublished his two paperbacks a few days ago, and his ebooks will disappear at the end of the year. He said the worry and strain sucked the joy out of his writing. I hope he gets that back, because his writing is wonderful.

I know many capable authors who, as mid-listers, were faced with dwindling options and industry notice. Self-publishing their backlists gave them new income streams and new readers…and more respect from the trade publishers. Literary agent Russell Galen has a prescient moment where he talks about the big trade publishers eventually realizing they must court self-published authors.

We won’t talk about the self-publishing wunderkind authors who seem to appear out of nowhere with multi-million-dollar success stories. We shouldn’t; those are flukes, and their paths to success often hide a lot more hard work than dumb luck.

What we, as ‘aspiring’ authors CAN do, no matter our eventual path to publication? Write the best thing we can write. Don’t settle for the fast-fashion trend of the day, unless you already have something that might fit. Don’t settle for churned-out Kindle ‘novels’ that are repurposed or outright plagiarized pablum.

Just don’t lose the joy.

 

AG Carpenter: three novellas you should read

AG Carpenter has been a friend, writing buddy, and occasional critique partner for nearly seven years. In that time I’ve watched her writing grow from merely good to brilliant, with a dry and restrained style that shouldn’t convey as much emotion and depth as it does. Her blog offers more detail on her writing and philosophy.

I’m not the only one who thinks she’s a great writer.

The first two novellas of her Southern gothic ‘Touch Trilogy’ have already gathered solid reviews, and the third is coming out this year from Falstaff Press.

Updated 9/27/2017: There’s even an omnibus edition of all three novellas bound together, recently and rapturously reviewed by Charles deLint.

She’s represented by the ever-classy literary agent Bob Mecoy.

Sooner or later, you’re going to hear about a book deal for AG’s Jules Verne+LotR+Terminator epic fantasy series featuring a disabled female protagonist, vivid aerial battles, nasty political intrigue, sign-language-using gorilla airship engineers, time travel, evil robots, and hard choices.

Or her subversively beautiful F/F YA graphic novel fantasy script interweaving Norse and Arthurian myth in a moody contemporary semi-update to Susan Cooper’s ‘The Dark Is Rising’ series.

Or her erotic fantasy romance featuring a reluctant king, a misunderstood dragon, and the rebellious BDSM nun who might keep them from shattering a kingdom.

Or her…you get the idea. AG Carpenter is not only a strong writer, but (compared to my stodgy pace) a ridiculously prolific and versatile one. Tor? DAW? Orbit? Hello, folks, she’s right here, a rising star under your nose! Call Mecoy, he’ll back me up on this: you want to sign this author before your competitors do.

She branched into self-publishing on Gumroad with her previously-published short fiction, as well as some new short works and three new novella-length stories.

Just out are Brass Stars, her dark space western revenge tale previously published by Eggplant Productions;

Jacquelyn and the Sparkly Emo Vampire Goat, a hilarious female-empowered twist on ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’;

and Mothers’ Last Child, an atmospheric post-apocalyptic novel about lost bio-tech and regained trust.

The prices are reasonable. Give them a try, and get an advance look at AG Carpenter before she becomes famous. (You’ll help out a struggling writer living just north of the Deep South, too!)

Moro’s Price 2nd Edition

(Just because I love this Natasha Snow cover so much.)

Now that I have your attention: on Monday June 26, the second version of my M/M space opera romance goes live.

The paperback version is already selling on Amazon, but all the other links will be active on Monday.

NineStar Press formats e-book link

Amazon US Kindle link

Amazon paperback link

Kobo link

Smashwords link

Barnes & Noble link

For some reviews of the first edition, go here.

I’m pleased that my longtime friend Sherwood Smith bravely took up an ARC of this version, then gave me this jewel of a blurb:

“For fans of C.S. Pacat, m/m passion set against a space opera world of violence, power, and dynastic intrigue!”
(That one still makes me fall over. Thanks, Sherwood!)

 

Accidental worldbuilding

On a writer’s forum, I read a recent discussion of different storybuilding tools, among them the Snowflake Method. This existed long before there were alt-righties and GamerG4ters whining about ‘liberal snowflakes’, so settle down.

Randy Ingermanson’s method shows writers how to start small, with basic but sturdy frameworks, and build ever-increasing detail. This can help prevent a writer from being bogged down in superfluous detail instead of actual plot or useful settings.

Some of us take it a little too far the other direction. The fractal nature of snowflakes suits us, because we keep digging at the story for more detail, more background, more character arcs. Every answer comes up with a dozen new questions which we want to answer, dammit. Dig for a snowflake, get a glacier.

Fine, if you are a hobby writer. If you’re going for commercial success, don’t count on this obsession to lead you anywhere but rabbitholes filled with enigmas and plotbunnies. Unless you’re willing to plug away at it like Tolkien or Sanderson, there’s only madness ahead.

This bit of needlepoint from 1991-1992 helps illustrate my warning. I had a big fantasy world already built, and a vague idea of illustrating some of its legends with needlepoint pictures. The germ of book art was happening even then!

This depicts a specific creature, a hunt-goddess of a deceptively primitive race. When I created the species I thought they all ran around on four legs. Later, after some worldbuilding shakeups, I gave them sexual dimorphism and made the females bipedal.

But not this one, and not her reclusive brothers and sisters. I got to wondering why those thirteen creatures never adapted to the ‘new’ body plan. That led to another plot-twist: they hated the change, resented it, and abandoned all the mortals who agreed to it. How they got over their snit and came back as major players in their world…

Well, that’s another story.

Now on Ko-fi.com!

I get approached by advertisers more than than I expected, for a blog that has too many words, not enough pictures, and a very low (but loyal!) readership.

So far, none of those advertisers have made a compelling case for value-added vs annoyance factor…so, no ads on Blue Night. I’ll happily review products and works of my own choice, making clear that they are either an ARC or other kind of review copy, or my whim.

But the world is changing all around us, and content creators have to juggle lots of different earning and support streams. When I have more art and writing content that can be targeted to supporters, I’ll probably open a Patreon account.

For now, I’ve joined Ko-fi.com.

Their slogan is ‘Buy me a coffee!’ (meaning relatively small donations that might buy a cup of coffee, some writing paper, art supplies, etc). It’s a charming and simple idea. For me, a $3 donation can buy a pretty good cuppa. Or a fat-quarter of quilting fabric. Or some really nifty beads, which can turn things like this:

Into things like this:

If you like my weird mishmash of art, jewelry, fiction, social comments, and downright rants, you can still egg me on with comments to this blog. If you can afford it, please consider a Ko-fi donation. I’ll answer when I can, chat your ears off, and be deeply grateful (creating isn’t free or easy, as I’m sure most of you know!)

 

Memorial Day 2017

Here is an American flag.

I shot it a couple of weeks ago, looking west in Central Phoenix, outside a modest strip mall with a bakery, a pizza joint, a taco shop, a Buy Your Gold store, a cell-phone store, a nail-art salon, and some other little businesses.

That’s as representative a slice of modern, ‘real’ America as you can possibly get. I can’t review the nail salon, the gold place, or the cell-phone store (haven’t been inside), but the restaurants are all excellent. I was there with friends, after we’d seen ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ nearby.

The flag was enormous, blowing in just enough wind to make it ripple like a Reagan-Era political ad.

My friends and I ate too much food, and discussed the movie, lies told by tyrants, what a Stepford job they did on poor Mantis, and how to recognize when one is within an impending political disaster.

The general consensus is that by the time enough people realize it, it’s probably too late, but you need to resist, subvert, and fight on general principles.

On this Memorial Day weekend, in between beer and picnics, church and parties, please consider this flag. Its genesis, everything it has withstood, the triumphs and tragedies it has flown over, the honor and duty of the people who have defended what it stands for.

WHAT IT REPRESENTS. Good and bad. Not just to Americans, but to people all over the world. To some folks, it’s still a beacon of a better life. To others, the mark of a hated empire or a rival power to be humiliated and sullied.

By itself, it’s merely pieces of sewn or printed fabric, likely to be made overseas. Don’t worship this thing. It’s a cipher, an illusion, a moving goalpost, and an easy target for those who hate it or misuse it.

I’m old enough to remember the rather sweet and optimistic American flags painted everywhere in 1976. This truck reminds me of that:

These days, when you see an American literally wrapping themselves in this flag, it’s often as cover and misdirection for un-American, even inhumane and evil reasons. Here are some more flags and trucks, but this time, they come across as creepy and dangerous, from the Tea Party references and truck flags (and even from the trucks themselves).

Or this guy, Jeremy Joseph Christian, filmed in April while at a free speech event. This flag-draped, Nazi-saluting loser just cut the throats of two good Samaritans on a Portland, OR train, after they tried to keep him from attacking two young (possibly Muslim) women.

This is on the Republican Party for its years of normalizing, enabling, and inciting the darkest, most psychotic dregs of American culture…you know, the Deplorables. The people Obama warned us about back in 2008, and took endless flack for it:

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

These days, the Republican Party and its allies would hail Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as their hero. It’s been hours since the Portland attack, and no condemnation from the White House. Hmm. That sounds like tacit approval of domestic terrorism. What will Trump say or do, the next time a white supremacist bomber strikes on American soil and kills American citizens? ‘You’re hired’?

Instead, we have Donald J. Trump setting up a War Room in the White House, with pricey lawyers to help him fight against the growing allegations of his and the GOP’s collusion with Russia. This war room is going to be funded and directed to go after journalists, researchers, and ordinary citizens of the #Resistance movement. Trump has already shown by his love affair with dictators that he wants to be one.

Trump’s recent actions on his Mideast trip and the NATO summit would be embarrassing taken singly; as a group they reveal a sick, tired, old man unprepared for the most powerful leadership position on the planet. His gaffes at the NATO summit, in particular, have shown other world leaders that America has lost that position of power. As pundits and world politicians have noted, America is in serious danger of being isolated and inconsequential…if not feared and targeted by former allies.

And the once-proud GOP is standing by or actively helping Trump and his supporters subvert what our flag means.

All flags wear out. There are entire sections of law books listing the solemn and respectful decommissioning of American flags.

There are no such rules regarding the dissolution of America. Or arguably worse: its steady ebb into ignominy as a racist, isolated parody of itself, as the rest of the world meets challenges too many American policy makers won’t.

Happy Memorial Day, America.

Phoenix Comicon 2017

That’s right folks, the madness that is Phoenix Comicon starts in just a few hours!

I probably won’t attend this year because of schedule conflicts with other work and art stuff. If you’re brave enough to deal with the heat and crowds, I can promise there will be lots of insane, wonderful, awe-inspiring moments for you.

This show is nowhere near as vast as San Diego, which still makes it approachable and fun. Phoenix is in the midst of reinventing its city center (yet again), which gives intrepid visitors and locals plenty of great food, drink, and entertainment…if you even leave the convention itself.

Moro’s Price revised edition now on sale!

The rewritten, expanded version of my smutty M/M space opera romance, Moro’s Price, is now up for pre-orders at NineStar Press. It should hit other vendors in a few days to a week after publication on June 26, 2017.

A shout out to my brilliant editors, and to cover artist Natasha Snow. She managed to craft a cover that is gorgeous, sexy, kinky, relevant to the actual book, and still somehow mostly Amazon-safe.

Here’s the blurb:

Crown Prince, techno-geek, and secret sadomasochist Valier has lusted for years after the gorgeous gladiator called “The Diamond.” Meeting the escaped slave on a rooftop, Valier discovers Moro Dalgleish wants suicide before his former masters can reclaim him.

Infected with a deadly symbiont, Valier proposes empty sex to satisfy his urges and grant Moro’s release from a horrible life. Neither man plans for Moro to survive, or how the morning after will shake three empires to their foundations.

If you read this book in its first version from Loose Id in 2012, this is not quite the same book. I hope it’s better. If you didn’t read it, and you’re a fan of space opera and smutty bisexual romance, the TV shows ‘The Expanse’, ‘Killjoys’, and ‘Firefly’…you might like this one.

Here’s another selling point: not only is this a bigger and tighter book, but its digital version will also be cheaper. NineStar is premiering Moro’s Price at only $4.99. That’s right: a 100K+ book with mainstream space opera elements, M/M sex, and it’s cheaper than the first version by at least $2.

There’s a pretty good chance this one will have a print version, too!

***

A favor, dear readers: To offset web hosting costs, I’ve joined Amazon Affiliates and Rakuten Marketing. I’ll gradually work paid buy links into the Amazon links I’ve already provided for other authors’ books. Some blog posts will include paid buy links (usually in discreet text) to some other companies and services I like. If you click on these links and buy something on the other side, the tiny amounts I earn will add up to keep this blog (and my power) running.

I’ve been writing in the Lonhra Sequence universe as long as I’ve been collecting beads: 32 years! To celebrate, here’s a paid link to a gorgeous collection of high-quality glass beads and other jewelry-making supplies: BeadRoom.com

 

 

STEM and art

Americans are so myopic, sometimes. In the rush to ‘teach to the test’ or advance our science and math education (well, until Betsy DeVos became Education Secretary), we’ve forgotten that art can involve some high levels of math and science, too.

Follow this Racked.com and Twitter thread for an in-depth look at the MetGala dresses and outfits, from scientist Mika McKinnon’s POV.