Monday, August 31, 2015

Off to Write

We made it through the storm okay, and I hope everyone else in the strike zone did too. The biggest problem for us was the lightning, which got scary a few times. All of the unplugging we did kept me from updating PBW, and now I do need to catch up on some work, so I'm going to bail on you all for a few days. See you once I get caught up.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

You Animal You

My daughter loves animals, and during a recent vacation trip with her dad took some amazing pics of the critters she saw. Since I have three jobs to finish this weekend before this tropical storm hits us, I'm going to post some in lieu of a post:

I wonder if he thinks no one can see him.

Gorgeous. And maybe a little cranky.

This big guy looks sad -- and dreamy, too, in a strange way. Maybe it's the pink on his hide and the soft focus.

My writing animal!

Someone needs a baby carrier.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Officially Speaking

I have been booked by clients through the fall and into the winter now, which means I won't have the chance to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. So that's the bad news.

The good news:

I'm going to pep talk, cheer on, post useful links for and otherwise mercilessly nag everyone who does join in. :)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Have to Do

Art quilter Jane Frenke explains her process in this video, which includes many shots of her amazing work (with narration and background music, for those of you at work):

ArtVoice: Jane Frenke from Jack Kelly on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 113.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


How well do you remember famous book titles? Take this online quiz, fill in the word missing in the title, and find out.

My results:

What surprised me is how many titles of books that I haven't read that I remembered -- about half of the quiz, actually -- which goes to prove that a memorable title sticks, even when someone doesn't read it.

How well did you do? Let us know in comments.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Sub Op

Here's an open call for a charity dark fiction anthology being published by Josh Strnad:

"Stories are powerful—they can open our perspectives to allow us to see things in ways we haven’t before and can be used to provide a voice to those who otherwise would remain silent. With that in mind, I am pleased to announce that I am now taking submissions for the upcoming horror/dark fiction anthology, Silent Screams. The focus of this anthology will be to give a voice to and point public attention toward those who are vulnerable who have no means to speak for themselves—from victims of human trafficking and the sex industry, to the aborted unborn, to third-world sweat shop workers. As writers (and perhaps particularly as writers of dark fiction), we have the opportunity to do some good by shining a light on the uncomfortable truths that our society often prefers to ignore.


I’m looking for unpublished stories (no reprints) ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 words (soft) that EITHER focus of the plight of specific silent victims of our modern world OR that play with the idea of silence in general. (Think of Harlan Ellison’s classic “I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream,” or the famous tag-line from Alien: “In space, no one can hear you scream.”) What does it mean to be a voiceless victim, and what could be done to alleviate that kind of suffering?

I want horror stories of pretty much every subgenre, including dark science fiction. My tastes for this sort of thing lean more toward the surreal and uncanny than to the realistic, and most of what I enjoy would fall under the “Dark Fantasy” sub-heading (think the type of stuff written by guys like Robert Bloch and Jeff VanderMeer). I love stories that don’t spell everything out. Feel free to leave some mystery.

I’m a sucker for great writing (who isn’t?) and I love a good twist ending. Even though the overall tone of this anthology will most likely be rather grim, I’m certainly not opposed to a little levity or even humor, where appropriate. I’m big on metaphor and symbolism. A solid moral core and understanding of right-and-wrong is a must. Stories that inspire a sense of compassion are gold.


Overly political stories. If the entire purpose of your story is to bash a certain political party or ideology (whether liberal or conservative), I won’t be interested. Fair enough?

I have nothing in particular against traditional monsters (zombies, werewolves, vampires, and their undead kin), but unless you have something stunningly original to do with them (or if they just fit so perfectly with the anthology’s theme that your story knocks me down with its brilliance), they will probably be a tough sale. Ditto to Lovecraftian/Cthulhu stuff (although I wouldn’t be opposed to a Lovecraft-inspired piece that took his concept of cosmic horror in a different direction than the typical elder gods route). I’m also not likely to purchase any straight sword-and-sorcery stories.

I’m not easily offended, but I’m also not impressed by graphic sex, buckets of gore, or piles of profanity. Do what you need to in order to tell your story in the best and most effective way possible, but let’s keep it classy.

It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: Even though this anthology is designed to point the finger at real-world social ills, any depiction of sex involving a minor is a no-go.


I am seeking first digital and print rights with two-year exclusivity from the date of publication. At the end of the two-year contract period, all rights will revert back to the author.

Silent Screams will be a charity anthology, with all after-costs profit going to The Salvation Army, which provides humanitarian support for the homeless, those who have been hit by natural disasters, and victims of human trafficking. That said, I think it’s important that authors are paid for their work, so I am offering payment of one cent a word for accepted stories. Contributors will also receive a complimentary print copy of the anthology.

The submissions period will end on October 31, 2015. Final selections for the anthology are anticipated to be made in mid-November with a goal of publication in December, 2015 or early 2016."

For more information see the guidelines page.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Diary Free

In My Diary is a "free, multi-language, personal diary application to help you organize all your upcoming tasks and events, store your passwords, keep track of notes and manage your contacts. The diary supports one-time and recurring events with customizable colors, linked notes and early alert options. You can also configure the application to send you email reminders, using your own mail server or the provided SMTP service. In addition to diary entries, you can use In My Diary to keep a daily journal, store your passwords as well as personal notes. The program also integrates a contacts database with optional birthday reminders and label printing features. Other features include support for import/export (iCal, vCard), keyword search, built-in password generator, anniversary and special event options, and more." (OS: Available for all Windows systems, Apple Mac (10.4+), and Linux [native or wine])

Sunday, August 23, 2015


I'm seeing a lot of indy published authors recommending Draft2Digital as the way to go for formatting and distributing e-books. Here's what the site has to say about their services in a nutshell:

"Here's the deal: There are no fees for formatting or distributing your book. When you sell a book, we both make money. We keep about 10% of the retail price. We don’t try to upsell you to some expensive services package or nickel-and-dime you for making changes to your e-book. You can list your ebook at whatever price makes you happy. It’s your call. You can even offer your book for free."

I like that they have a page here that breaks down what you have to do to get your e-book rolling with them. It seems very simple and easy to do. They handle all the formatting, which in my POV is the hugest headache. They also place your e-book with what appears to be all the popular online vendors, give you an ISSN for free, generate monthly sales reports and make paperback editions available via CreateSpace (and this is one of the deal-breaker options I would have to have if I went indy; I want to see my work in print as well as electronic format.)

That they charge "about 10% of the retail price" is the only flag for me. I don't like the slight vagueness there, so if you do want to try them, be sure to get a real figure of what they "keep."

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Hidden (or Not)

Everyone is supposed to have a hidden talent, yes? If you've always wondered about yours but aren't sure what it is, take this online quiz to find out.

My (not very surprising) results:

I don't think I'd be covered in paint, but my clothes might be.

So what's your hidden talent? Let us know in comments.

Friday, August 21, 2015


I have never taken a ride in a hot air balloon, but it's on my bucket list. I'd also love to see a massive launch of them during a festival, like the one chronicled in this gorgeous video (with background music, for those of you at work):

Hot Air Balloons from Greene HD Productions on Vimeo.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer, with new material beginning on page 110.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Design Freely

The free starter edition of WebPlus allows you to "create amazing websites, design bespoke web graphics and banners all with simple drag and drop tools in this amazing website design software. Take advantage of the most up to date technology and design web pages exactly how you want them, without any coding experience. WebPlus allows you to add creative content to your website and help you stand out and shine. Add pre-designed objects ranging from buttons, navigation bars, graphics and background images, and design with dedicated drawing tools, stylish effects and a huge range of fantastic colour schemes. WebPlus makes it easy to optimise, export and get your website online in a couple of clicks. Upload your site to the host of your choice, or use Serif’s own easy web hosting – it’s so easy to do." (OS: Microsoft Windows® 8, 7, Vista, or XP (32-bit) operating system)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Indy Temptations

I've been getting a lot of e-mails asking about when/if I'm going to publish under my byline again. I don't have much to offer as an update. I have not been sending anything out to publishers because it just seems like a waste of time now that I've got the ghost writer gig working out so well (along with a nice, reliable income.) This past week I did reach out to my publisher for the Disenchanted & Co. novels, just to be absolute sure there was still no interest in publishing a third book, and while they wish me well there still isn't.

Ever since finding Payhip I have been thinking about indy publishing for profit -- mainly to continue series like Disenchanted & Co., for which I had three more novels planned, and would like to write at least one more. I could also finish other series that were dropped, like the Youngbloods books, or publish the stories readers wanted but NY didn't, like John's story from the Darkyn series. I also have some new works I would prefer to sell versus giving away, like the Novels of Netherfield.

Some form of low-key indy publishing is attractive to me for other reasons. Because Payhip has such a reasonable transaction fee I would be able to keep the prices reasonable. Not having to learn the ins and outs of the bookseller platforms, which have always seemed overly complicated and rather intimidating to me, is another big plus. I'd also have complete creative control over each publication which, after fifteen years of entrusting my work to others who weren't always as invested in it, would be a nice change. My sale pages would finally be protected, too. I wouldn't have to impose on friends to help me (and as it happens several have already very kindly offered to help push my stubborn ass into the new publishing reality.)

There are just as many downsides. Indy publishing under my byline would take time away from my ghost writing gigs, which are paying the bills. Next fall income is going to be a major issue for us, as our daughter is planning to go off to college in another state. I'd want a decent cover designer and an experienced editor to help me produce a professional-level product, and they're not cheap. I really don't want to impose on my friends to help me, and since I don't know how to make anything other than a .pdf on Adobe, I'd have to look into what it costs to covert files into the various formats people want to buy.* PBW still gets a respectable amount of traffic, but I think selling strictly from the blog would bring limited profit at best.

I don't know. My guy says to try indy publishing one book and see how it goes, which seems reasonable, but I'm really enjoying the ghost writing, which has done good things for my creativity and my bank account. Then my ulcer chimes in and advises me to run and hide under the bed until it all goes away, which is pretty much all the ulcer ever does. What I do know is that I don't want to go back to the stress of traditional publishing, and all I can promise you is that I am thinking about the indy alternatives more seriously than I ever have.

*I've just found a service that does this for free if you sell your books through them, and I'll have more on them later this week.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sub Op

Timeless Tales magazine has an open call for their upcoming Baba Yaga-themed issue: "Timeless Tales exclusively publishes retellings of fairy tales and myths. We only accept stories that are retellings of the fairytale or myth listed as our theme. We don't accept original fairy tales or stories outside of our current theme. Length: Up to 2,000 words. Under 1,500 preferred. Genres: Please be creative! We love to see modernizations, sci-fi retellings, continuations, mash-ups, etc. Just no eroticism, please. While Timeless Tales is not targeted specifically at children, it is a fairly conservative magazine, especially when it comes to sexual content, so I intend to keep the stories in the PG-13 range or below. However, I have a deep appreciation for the darker side of many original fairy tales, so don’t assume I only want “happy” stories. Pay Rate: At the moment, we’re just starting out and budget is tight, so we will pay a flat rate of $15 per story accepted, but we hope to increase this amount in the future. You'll also get a free year of our premium subscription." Reprints okay, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: September 4th, 2015.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Still Off Writing

See you tomorrow.

Image credit: vitaliy_sokol

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Off Again

I'm taking the weekend off to finish up a writing project for one of the clients. So your stop here was not entirely wasted, here's some interesting freeware to check out:

Paint.NET is a "free image and photo editing software for PCs that run Windows. It features an intuitive and innovative user interface with support for layers, unlimited undo, special effects, and a wide variety of useful and powerful tools. An active and growing online community provides friendly help, tutorials, and plugins.

It started development as an undergraduate college senior design project mentored by Microsoft, and is currently being maintained by some of the alumni that originally worked on it. Originally intended as a free replacement for the Microsoft Paint software that comes with Windows, it has grown into a powerful yet simple image and photo editor tool. It has been compared to other digital photo editing software packages such as Adobe® Photoshop®, Corel® Paint Shop Pro®, Microsoft Photo Editor, and The GIMP" (OS: Windows 7/8/8.1/10 [32-Bit/64-Bit])

Friday, August 14, 2015


This very cool little film turns a book into animation (with background music, for those of you at work):

"A World I Never Made" by Rachel Kwak from Robert Lyons on Vimeo.

Created as a final project by animator Rachel Kwak, in my Spring 2010 "Experimental Animation" class at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, this film is a beautiful example of visual poetry. It is based on A.E Housman's "A World I Never Made". A variety of techniques are employed including; cut-outs, hand-drawn, stop motion and replacement animation. Music is "Eon Blue Apocalypse" by Tool.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

No Just Write This Week

I've just acquired a new client (hooray!) who needs a rush job done (whoosh), so I have to skip Just Write this week (*sob*.) I'll probably be off writing this weekend as well, but I've scheduled a few things to post in my absence. I appreciate your patience, and I'll be back once I whoosh my way through my new project.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nom Nom Nom Ten

Ten Things I Hate About Your Writing Pseudonym

By Suggestion: As with writing by committee, allowing your editor or agent to pick out your pseudonym is probably a bad idea. Unless you want to be called L.E. James, of course.

CopyCat: Naming yourself after a character is never a good move. Esepcially one of your own characters. Editors are going to make you their favorite cocktail party joke.

Doctor Doctor: That hip nickname you've given yourself to sound tougher or avoid gender recognition? Is the medical term for wart.

E-Name: Using the brand name of a popular e-reader as your first or last name doesn't look clever. It looks goofy, which makes me think you write like that, too (and if it's trademarked, probably not a financially wise idea, either.)

Miss Pell: If reading your name out loud results in a pun, a political statement or any other nonsense, I'm not going to buy your book. I might name an idiot in one of my books after you, though.

NickNabbed: If you steal a great family name from someone, chances are they're eventually going to find out. Like your Aunt Martha, the Catholic nun, who isn't aware you're writing erotica under her name, and just got an e-mail from Smut Tales asking for an author interview for their all-strap-on weekend.

One & Only: You know how people say that using only one name instead of the standard two is snotty and pretentious? They're absolutely right.

Porno-no: Don't come up with your pen name by playing the porn star name game. Really, the porn stars hate it when you do that, and they've asked me to tell you to stop.

Pranking Yourself: Never take the last name Hunt or Hunter and pair it with a first name that ends with a hard C consonant. If you don't understand why, say the entire name very fast and you will. And please, don't name a series like that and then trademark it (unless you want me to laugh myself into the hiccups every time I see your books.)

Uh-oh: That lovely pen name you put together from those pretty words you found in that cute foreign language book? Means Giant Ass Rabid Monkey in English.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Art Input

One thing readers hardly ever see are a traditionally-published author's ideas about what sort of cover art should go on their books. If the author is permitted to have any input (which very often they do not) they communicate behind the scenes with their editor or cover designer. I've been fortunate in that most publishers have at least invited me to contribute my ideas, and in one case even borrowed my own cover art design for an e-book release (and this sort of thing is extremely rare.)

Over the years I found what worked best with editors is to send sample images along with the cover art ideas. Here are two art idea outlines that I put together for my editor at Pocket to show him what I thought would look great on my books:

Harry's Charm cover art ideas

Clockwork Wolf cover ideas

Unfortunately none of my ideas were used for the final covers, but what I like and what is marketable are often two very different things, as you can see here with my cover concept for Dreamveil, and what actually ended up on the the cover:


Still, it was fun to put them together, and it was nice of both publishers to invite me to contribute my ideas.

If you're ever asked for cover art input, here are some tips:

Consider your brand -- if you want to set yourself apart from the herd, go for ideas that present an original look.

Make up a prototype -- to add visual impact to your presentation, make up a mock book cover like the one I did for Dreamveil that incorporates your idea.

Offer more than one idea -- it demonstrates you're flexible, and fixating on a single cover concept almost guarantees disappointment.

Refer your favorite artist -- I often recommended artists I love to publishers; if you have someone in mind provide contact information or a link to their web site.

Think about color -- when I was publishing the original Darkyn series my ideas for color themes made it onto two of the books, Night Lost and Evermore.

One final tip -- if an editor ever shows you example covers and asks for your feedback, no matter how lame they are, try to be polite. I was once very candid about how much I disliked all the cover art examples an editor sent me, and I didn't bother to mince my words -- at which point she got very miffed and informed me that she had picked them out because they were all her favorite types of covers.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sub Op

Solarpunk Press has an open call for short fiction submissions: "Word count: 2,000 to 5,000 words; will consider shorter or longer, but they'll be a harder sell. Pay rate: 0.03 USD per word. (Word count will be determined using Google docs and rounded up to the nearest hundred.) Genre: Near-future SF (Solarpunk) What we're looking for: "Solarpunk" means different things for a lot of different people in the community, but on here, for the most part, we mean near-future science fiction that deals seriously with environmental crises, systematic oppression, global imperialism and other issues in dire need of solutions. These issues are complex, and we're interested in stories that treat them with appropriate complexity. Check out the Wikipedia page on wicked problems for an idea of what we mean. Vitally, we want stories that are optimistic about these problems. They don't have to be all solved as of the story's present-day; they probably shouldn't be; but we don't want to publish stories that portray hope and effort as absurd or pointless endeavors. We don't want "Resistance is futile" or "It's all downhill from here." We're fans of Kafkaesque fiction but it's going to be an extremely hard sell here. That said, if you've got a story that feels to you like it's solarpunk in its values and attitude, but that's urban fantasy or historical fiction or far-future hard SF or space opera or anything else, go ahead and send it. We are open to the possibility of being blown away, and we don't want to limit ourselves to an overly preconceived narrative structure." Query on reprints, electronic submissions only, see guidelines for more details. Deadline: I'm not seeing one, but has them listed as "Open to Submissions: August 27th, 2015."

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Creative Space

I'm spending the last weeks of summer working on my second quilt of the year, this tropical twin-size quilt:

Because I'm hand quilting the entire thing it's going to take another month to finish, but I'm not in a hurry. Like the heart strip quilt I made back in March it's simply a practice piece. As I go along my hand stitching is slowly improving, and once I complete the quilt I think I'll be ready to tackle something more ambitious, like a quilt I've been planning to make with some fabric sent to me by a lovely pal of mine.

Working with color and beautiful threads always energize me, and I've never made a tropical-themed quilt, so creating this one gives me a lot of joy, too. That's important for some of the other things I do when I sit down to work on it -- like writing. While I'm quilting I often sort through story ideas in my head, create characters, plot books, etc. Because sewing calms and clears my mind I get quite a lot of mental writing done, too.

That said, sometimes I don't think about anything when I sew. A few days ago I was having a tough time working out the last half of a proposal -- I couldn't come up with a really dazzling idea for the story wrap-up -- and finally I set it aside and went to work on the quilt. I knew that stepping out of my creative writing space and not thinking about the proposal for an hour would clear my head, and the quilting made me happy, which refills the creative well for me every time. When I did go back to the proposal I felt clear-headed and more focused, which helped me think of a different approach to the problem. An hour later the proposal was finished with a bright and shiny new wrap-up (which did work because this morning the client hired me to write it.)

How do you reset the creative space in your head? Let us know in comments.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Whatcha e-Reading?

I'm still debating on whether or not to get a new e-reader (or maybe get my old Nook fixed.) I still don't like e-readers, but so many authors I like are indy publishing now and releasing books in electronic format only that I may not have a choice. With the stricter limits on my book-buying budget an e-reader would help me read more for less $.

I think if I do go for a new e-reader I need to get one that doesn't shine in my face like the old Nook did, or that can be adjusted to a lower wattage or something. I'm still sensitive to electronic light, and my eyes get tired more easily since the surgery. I also hate touch screens of any type. Really hate them with a passion that burns ever brighter each time I'm forced to use a touch-only device -- not fun for the arthritic. And yes, I've tried the stylus approach and it doesn't despel my loathing at all. Touch technology is absolutely unforgiving of clumsy users like me. It's also why I don't use that idiot GPS my guy wants me to take everywhere; I know I'll try to program it for the market and end up in the Adirondacks.

While I dither on about devices, here's what I've got on my Kindle Cloud Reader in the computer to read during work breaks this week -- Hero by Elsa Jade, aka our blog pal Jessa Slade, which is part of a big shifter series collection by a bunch of authors. So whatcha e-reading now? Let us know in comments.

Friday, August 07, 2015


This brilliant short film by Eric Giessmann is like the story of my creative life (with background music, for those of you at work):

TYPEWRITERHEAD from Eric Giessmann on Vimeo.

A man with a typewriter-head tries to get rid of his out-of-control thoughts.

Blog making of:


Thursday, August 06, 2015

Just Write

Today I'm off to write something new and post it online before midnight. Everyone inclined to do the same is invited to join me.

My link: More on Ghost Writer (click on the title to go to the .pdf), with new material beginning on page 105.

For more details on Just Write Thursdays, click here to go to the original post.

Image credit: windujedi

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


I spotted a new indy publishing platform, Payhip, which allows authors to sell direct to their fans and followers using a link. Readers can buy using Paypal or credit cards. Evidently they charge a flat 5% fee for each sale once its made and then pay the author immediately (disclaimer: I did not read every single page on the site, so if you want to use them do check them out thoroughly.)

I don't indie publish for profit, so naturally I'm not the best judge of the service, but it looks pretty straight forward to me. According to their FAQs they ". . . support ALL file formats. Including EPUB, PDF, MOBI, AZW and many more."

Since and other host sites are charging a lot more than 5%, this could be a more attractive alternative to writers who simply want to sell direct from their web site or blog versus getting lost in the glut of the booksellers. I really like the idea myself -- this would be the sort of site I'd prefer to use if I ever decide to go indy. Are any of you all using Payhip, and care to comment? Let us know if you want to share.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

NaNoing November

I'm on the fence as to whether or not I'll be joining in National Novel Writing Month this year. As per usual my annual NaNoWriMo calendar reminder popped up on July 31st, and I thought it would be cool to turn Just Write Thursdays into a NaNoWriMo edition for November. On the other hand, with my shift to ghost writing full time now I am on call for a couple of clients, so I might not have the time to do 50K in 30 days. If I'm not able to jump in you can count on me to shake my pom poms, give pep talks and offer what support I can here on the blog for those of you who will be diving in this November.

Have you decided to take part in NaNoWriMo 2015? Let us know your plans in comments.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Sub Op

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly magazine has an open call for their 8th issue: "Theme for Issue 8 of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly: After the Apocalypse. Length: 2,000 to 7,500 words. Payment: 2.5 cents/word (US) paid upon publication, promotional biography with two links, and a complimentary quarter-page advertisement. Deadline for Issue 8: 01 September, 2015. Stories that tie-in to a previously established world will be considered, but story must stand alone. All sub-genres of science fiction will be considered. Any heat level, from sweet to erotic, will be considered. Original, previously unpublished fiction only. No fan fiction, please. Story should meld the Science Fiction and Romance genres, and must have an upbeat ending for the romantic relationship. Not quite sure what we’re looking for? Read our original fiction in previous issues. No multiple submissions. No stories that have previously been rejected by us. Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please inform us if the story is placed elsewhere."

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Summer at the Shelter

The college kid and I spent the morning at the local no-kill cat shelter, where I finally got a decent shot of the one kitty who has been dodging my camera for two years:

He reminds me of Venus the two-faced cat, but he doesn't like having his picture taken, so this was quite a photo coup.

We saw so many other lovely, adoptable felines while we were there, and I want to share some more pics. Sans explanation Blogger is no longer allowing me to embed a regular slideshow from Photobucket, so I'm going to try the flash version, which for equally mysterious reasons it doesn't block:

LynnViehl's Cat Shelter July 2015 album on Photobucket

If the flash thing doesn't work for you, you can see the slideshow over on my Photobucket account by clicking here.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

PBW's Book of the Month

My pick for July's book of the month is Ithaka Rising by LJ Cohen, which blew away the competition so completely my bookcase should have blast marks all over it. This is the second novel in LJ's Halcyone Space series, and it was, in a word, brilliant.

Just as Derelict, the first book in the series, made my whole summer last year, Ithaka Rising was worth the wait. Usually I can point out one or two reasons why a novel wows me, too, but this one was just cover to cover awesome. Expect great characters, who actually grow and change and have to deal with new problems; a nail-biter of a plot, that manages to be both twisting and absorbing at the same time, settings that expand to take us to new and scary-thrilling places in this universe, and the kind of SF adventure you probably haven't read in a very, very long time (if at all.) I still miss the SF I used to read when I was younger, those stories that grabbed you and held onto you for the full ride, and this is that kind of story.

It's not for everyone, of course. If you're a homophobe or a racist this is definitely not the book for you (because there are gay characters in it. And characters who are not white. Several characters who are not white, in fact. I know, shocking.) Likewise those of you who don't think women writers can write great SF; this is absolutely not a novel that's going to make you feel real comfortable in your little pinhead zone. I also think it's not a read for the cynics, the nihilists and the self-appointed SF police out there. But: if you love to be swept off by a story, and you want to become emotionally invested in its characters, and you enjoy exploring a fully-developed future universe filled with intrigue, danger and surprises, this should be your next new book purchase.

Here's where you can get a copy:


Barnes & Noble