• General

    Just for WriMos: First Time Author Giveaway


    Following the inital post regarding this giveaway, I would like to update everyone on our contest for first-time authors and fellow crazy people who participate in NaNoWriMo. This has been posted on the community forums.

    Self-publishing can be confusing for first-time authors, many of whom don’t have the money to hire professional help or the knowledge or skill to do it themselves. It can also be difficult to find good beta readers – we all know how useful the “Omigod, most amazing book ever!” feedback is from friends and relatives. :) A bad cover can help to sink a book, as can a lack of proofing and editing. What we want to do is give something back to the NaNo community by offering our help and services to one person. If there is enough response to this, it may become a yearly contest.

    The winner will receive:

    • Beta reading and feedback
    • Proofreading and copyediting
    • A professional book cover
    • A Createspace print template
    • Interior formatting
    • Facebook and Twitter graphics to tie in with the cover
    • Marketing/PR advice
    • Blog tour


    • NaNoWriMo “winners” of the most recent National Novel Writing Month.
    • First time authors (first time to actually publish a novel).
    • Any fiction novel up to 150k words. (Less is better – I had second thoughts about this one, but it’s already on the forums and I can’t edit it.)
    • Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Steampunk, Horror. (These can be YA or adult.)
    • Prospective authors must submit a synopsis and the first chapter of their project for consideration. If the chapter is short, submit two.
    • Post on this thread if you are interested in participating and we will contact you. (The NaNoWriMo site will show validation of participation for the most recent year and total words for your project.)
    • The judges will chose a winner based on the submitted material.
    • Winners will be chosen on April 8th, 2013.

    Professional Services

    Huge thanks to the following people who have volunteered their time, advice and services. (If you are interested in helping out, let me know.)

    Judi Rohrig: Editing
    Honored with the 2004 Bram Stoker for Excellence in Non-fiction for editing and publishing HELLNOTES, a weekly International electronic and print newsletter that served the horror communities, I also edited an anthology called STONES and served as editor, project coordinator, and marketing director for Lone Wolf Publications. My stories have appeared in MASQUES V, Cemetery Dance magazine, and several anthologies published by Daw Books. My story, “Tunes from Limbo, But I Digress,” will be included in the SHADOWS OF THE NEW SUN, a Gene Wolfe tribute anthology, to be released by Tor in August 2013.

    Rabia Gale: Beta reading and feedback
    Rabia is the very talented author of Rainbird and Mourning Cloak, as well as several short story collections. “I break fairy tales and fuse fantasy and science fiction. I love to write about flawed heroes who never give up, transformation and redemption, and things from outer space.”

    Andrew Toynbee: Beta reading and feedback, proofreading and edit
    Andrew is the author of A Construct of Angels. “A Construct of Angels pulls you in from the first page. I couldn’t put this book down…Lots of humor tossed in with a fast paced plot that has you flipping the pages to find out what comes next. The highest of compliments I can give an author is: The words disappeared and the scene played out in my mind. A Construct of Angels did just that for me.”

    Kellie Sheridan: Marketing and PR advice, blog tour
    Kellie is the author of Mortality and a marketing professional in the publishing field. “I am the author of Mortality, a YA zombie story set in a possible near future when the second wave of the zombie plague has destroyed our world. I’ve become a bit of a zombie addict in the past year and wanted to put a new YA spin on a genre that has been going strong for decades. Mortality will be available in both digital and print formats in Spring of 2013.”

    Ravven: Beta reading, book cover art, POD template
    I am a professional artist specialising in book cover art. (Hit the jump for examples of covers that I have done.)

    Qwerty & Quill
    Phil Worthington is a professional copywriter, award-winning Head of Creative, printer and book designer who has offered ebook and POD interior book formatting services.

    What are you waiting for? Sign up now!

  • General

    Among Others, by Jo Walton

    I’m in the middle of Among Others and absolutely loving it. I’ll try to do a proper review later on, but I just wanted to say that this novel deserves all of the applause that it has received.

    In an odd way, it makes me nostalgic, although not for a place but for the kid that I used to be. I wasn’t British, am not crippled, attended public school but not in the English sense  (which we call private schools in the States), but aside from that I was Mor. I was fiercely independent, difficult and shy, most people bored me and I loved books better than people. I treasured the same books that she reads, from Dhalgren by Samuel L. Delany to the Pern novels, Aszimov and so on. I loved -and still love- the public library as a place of magic and endless possibility, totally unmitigated by the fact that it continually let me down by not having enough books to feed my constant hunger.

    Periodically I’ll remember a book or author that I loved as a child or teen, and think that I really must start collecting all of those old novels so I can re-read them. It’s a strange feeling to suddenly remember Darkover, for instance, for the first time in decades. How could I forget Darkover? All of these books were important to me, they formed the person that I am today, and I’ve lost them all along the way.

    I need my old friends again.

  • General

    Let the Wild Rumpus Begin

    But the wild things cried, “Oh please don’t go – we’ll eat you up – we love you so!”

    And Max said, “No!”

    The wild things roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws but Max stepped into his private boat and waved goodbye.

    Rest in peace, Maurice Sendak. Where the Wild Things Are was a book that I loved as a child, and one that my daughter loved in turn. I still have her copy, complete with crayon scribbles. We all have wanted to be the King of all Wild Things now and then.

  • General

    La Estrella Book Trailer

    Despite my recent post about not understanding the need to put so much money into book trailers, I saw one recently that I very much liked. The book is a Spanish-language YA fantasy entitled La Estrella (The Star), and the trailer was lovely.

    A young man marked by a curse.
    A village hiding the biggest secret ever to be kept.
    A love as dangerous as it is impossible.
    A world whose surface is forever undergoing changes…when getting lost is the equivalent of death.


  • General

    Book Trailers

    Book trailers are an odd thing, at least to me. Some of them rival movie trailers in production value, while some…don’t. Basically, a book trailer is marketing for people who don’t read. This is the part which confuses me, since we are talking about a book. Or perhaps I’m just not understanding the whole concept.

    Sara Wilson Etienne had a very nice post recently on the making of a book trailer for Harbinger. In this case, the author says that she was lucky to live in Los Angeles and have professional, skilled friends who work in the movie and game industry, and everyone generously donated time and resources to make the trailer.

    In her post she says “When I watch this trailer, what is clear to me is this: it has a life and momentum of its own. People jumped in with both feet and made it theirs. The Harbinger trailer may have started off as my vision, but it became everyone’s. A fantastic conglomeration of long days and pizza and generosity and so much talent.” My lack of understanding of the value of book trailers aside, it would have been a lovely experience to be part of all of this.

    In 3 Vital Keys to a Book Trailer, Ezra Barany says “A good book trailer triggers an emotional response – The viewer gets the promise of an experience, one they know they will have when they read the book.” Again, I suppose this is true, but I think if words cannot convey the same thing, then the viewer is going to be unlikely to appreciate the book.

    I would also worry about visualising characters and settings for your readers, rather than letting them imagine everything themselves – your mental image of a loved character might be quite different from mine, but once I have seen an actor portray that character, my vision is supplanted. That is the beauty of reading, after all – the book as mirror, which reflects the reader’s imagination. It is a less passive experience than watching a film or TV, and the reader has a creative/imaginative role in the partnership.

    Despite my lack of understanding for the whys of book trailers, I would love to try my hand at actually making one. The artist side of me goes squee at the though of doing one, which is what led to looking at the trailers in this post. After the jump are the trailers that I most enjoyed.

  • General

    Leviathan Wakes

    I just finished Leviathan Wakes, and thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. It’s been a long time since I read any science fiction, which is odd because through most of my life I have been passionate about the genre. In recent years, I tend to perfer fantasy. Perhaps my desire to escape is focussed more on impossible worlds because I don’t have much hope for the future. I’m not sure.

    But back to the book. As I read it, I kept thinking “I would kill to see this as a movie. This would kick ass.” It was a fast-paced book, and the plot twists caught and held me all the way to the end. The entwined storylines of the main characters, the broken detective Miller and the inflexibly moral Holden, meet and part and meet again against a background of interplanetary conflict between Earth, Mars, and the scattered asteroids of the Belt. This book is quite often termed “space opera,” which to me seems dismissive (but I may not be understanding the term correctly). If space opera means that it is not hard science fiction, then I would agree. This story is about people with flaws and dreams, people who deal with the the consequences of the actions that they are pushed into. It is about real environments, down to the smell of the air in the corridors and the taste of the reconstituted food. This is why I loved science fiction – I was never a fan of hard sci fi, I got bored by pages of involved technical description. Just tell me how it feels, make me feel as though I am really there. So yes, Leviathan Wakes may be space opera in the sense that Firefly or BSG was: solid, suspenseful stories about real people.

    I loved the character of Miller, which is no surprise. I’ve always related to realists more than idealists, and like damaged characters who go on to do heroic things despite knowing how broken the world is. They make the best decisions that they can, and adapt to what they need to be. I related less to Holden, who seemed to want the world to confirm to his moralistic world view. Both characters, though, were extremely well written, with depth, realism and humour (as were more secondary characters, even down to the missing girl who starts Miller on the path to unravelling the mystery).

    All in all, a book that I enjoyed a great deal. It’s made me hunger to read science fiction again, and go back to the days when my favourite authors were Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. And perhaps that comparison is apt; it was Robert Heinlein’s character and plot driven books that addicted me to the genre in the first place. His books were, first and foremost, about people. Ok, to be fair, perhaps his books were first about message, but after that they were about people, and I loved that.

    Buy it. And someone, please, make a movie out of this. :)

  • General

    Illustrated Books for Adults

    The book project that I’ve been wanting to do for most of my adult life is an illustrated dark fantasy book for adults. There is a story that my parents read to me, and I somehow missed reading to my daughter – written in an overly sentimenal style, at its core is something very surreal, very dark, with a simple but profound message. I think it would work well with all of the original saccharine sweetness stripped away, completely rewritten and illustrated with lush, sensual full colour images throughout.

    Angela Carter is a writer that is the perfect illustration (see what I did there?) of someone whose books are just crying out for full illustration. If you haven’t read her books or stories, you’ve probably seen The Company of Wolves. She is a gorgeous writer, and I would very much recommend picking up The Bloody Chamber, if nothing else.

    Why don’t we see more illustrated books for adults? Of course there are graphic novels, but I’m talking about something that has story at the heart of it, with art to complete the experience. After all, much of the books that people would have read once upon a time were illustrated – Dickens, etc. Why has that fallen totally out of fashion, and would a modern version work?

    One of the old projects that I always wanted to do was a pillow book of sorts…not specifically in the Japanese sense, but as something very dark and romantic that an adult would read (or, more to the point, that a couple would read to each other in bed). Sensual dark-fantasy stories and poems and art – a book that you would give to a lover in hopes of reading it together. That one is still on the list. :)

    So, would a modern illustrated book sink, or swim?

  • General

    Heathcliff and Cathy, the Early Years

    I was in the bookstore last week (yeah, it’s where I spend a lot of my lunches. My home looks a lot like a second-hand bookstore, but there’s always room for more) and I saw a book which really made me laugh.

    I happened to be in the Teen section. Aside from my lamentable taste in vampire fiction, I am firmly of the belief that you find some of the best fantasy books there, just because they’re afraid to market them to adults. I have no problem whatsoever with buying kids books. And what do I see?  A very, very Twilight-esque cover. On Wuthering Heights.

    Oh, come on – that’s funny. The Amazon blurb (because I yoinked the cover image from them) was also very funny: 

    One of the greatest love stories ever told, beautifully repackaged for a modern teen audience. Love the Twilight books? Then you’ll adore Wuthering Heights, one of the greatest love stories ever told. Cathy and Heathcliff, childhood friends, are cruelly separated by class, fate and the actions of others. But uniting them is something even stronger: an all-consuming passion that sweeps away everything that comes between them. Even death!

    Even Death! hahahaha….

  • General


    Do you know someone who not only isn’t online, but doesn’t understand what value or relevance the internet could have to their lives? I think we all do – probably an older person. That opinion astonishes me, as I can’t imagine living an unconnected life.

    For instance, yesterday I read King Rat by China Miéville for the first time. I think he’s a gorgeous writer, but I haven’t read many of his books – Un Lun Dun and The Scar only so far. King Rat was lovely, with a nice political twist at the end. On the commute in this morning, I mentioned the book, and P. and I had a conversation about the book, Miéville’s left-wing opinions, and socialism. I realised that aside from some vague recollections from school that socialism was “for the workers” or “for the people” or something (hey, I said it was vague!) I didn’t actually know what it was. So I looked it up. According to Wikipedia, Socialism is:

    Socialism refers to the various theories of economic organization advocating public or direct worker ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a method of compensation based on the amount of labor expended.

    Well, there you go. All the reference libraries of the world at our fingertips. This morning I also googled “david lee roth california girls” to settle the question of what familiar voice was featured on that cover on the radio. That kind of information is priceless, I’m telling you!

    Anyway, back to China Miéville – if you haven’t read his books, do so because he’s an extremely talented writer. How can you not love someone who once described Tolkien as “the wen on the arse of fantasy literature”?