New Titles & Upcoming Schedule

Just a quick announcement to let you know we have some new titles available for purchase from our webstore as well as from Amazon.  They will also be available shortly from Barnes & Noble and other e-book outlets.

Cat’s Paw

by Robert A. Hoyt

($4.99)

The Mountain at The End Of The World upon which a bird sharpens its beak is down to where one more beak-wipe will eliminate it, and thus bring about the end of the universe. The only ones who can save us are… a bunch of stray cats.

This isn’t your children’s bedtime story.  It has been described as “Watership Down meets the Terminato”r as well as “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — on acid”.  Check it out!

 

Be Careful What You Ask For

by Amanda S. Green

($0.99)

All she’d ever wanted was to get out of the dead end town she’d lived in all her life.  Well, that and find a job that wasn’t as much of a dead end as the town.  Perhaps even find someone to share her life with.  Then Alexander Reed  walked back into her life just as suddenly as he’d walked out years before.  There’d been a time when she’d have done almost anything to be with him.  Now he offered her the chance to do exactly what she’d been wishing all her life.  But at what cost?

 

For Conspicuous Valor

by Darwin A. Garrison

($0.99)

In Conspicuous Valor. Darwin A. Garrison gives us a wonderful science fiction short story with a believable main character who would rather be doing anything but playing with her younger sister. Until, that is, her daydreaming results in danger for her baby brother and a well-deserved dressing down by her uncle. In an attempt to prove herself, she sneaks out the next morning, only to find herself hip-deep in trouble she’d never expected and having to find a way out to save not only herself but her family as well. Whether she has the strength and determination to do it is a question she has to answer — and she’s not sure she can.

 

In the Absence of Light

by Sarah A. Hoyt

($0.99)

In this short story, Sarah A. Hoyt takes us to a time when space travel has many of the same sort of tales that sea travel did several centuries ago. So these monsters really exist or are they just the figments of overly active imaginations? The crew and passengers of the the Amadryad will all too soon learn the answer to what happened to those who’d traveled on the the Tenebras, the first colony ship to Tau Centauri as well as learning if the drifters are real or nothing more than tales meant to frighten people so they don’t look too closely at what is really happening.

 

Night Shifted

by Kate Paulk

($0.99)

The unexpected is commonplace when you work the night shift at the local convenience store. But even that doesn’t prepare you for the Buffy-wanna be who walks through the door and all the trouble she brings with her.

 

The Blood Like Wine

by Sarah A. Hoyt

($0.99)

In the French revolution rivers of blood flowed. From the blood evil arose. Ancient evil engulfed Sylvie. Now in a twentieth century of fast cars and faster living, she must try to expiate evil and recapture her lost love.

 

Here is a list of our upcoming novels.  We will also be publishing at least two short stories a month.  So check our website often for new titles.

November 2011

 ConVent
Kate Paulk

ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways.  If there is a plot further from her novel Impaler, I can’t think of it.  When I asked Kate last night to give me a quick synopsis of ConVent, she emailed this:  A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time. Just so you know, that pretty much sums up the book which is one of the most fun reads I’ve had in a very long time.

 

Quick Sand
C. S. Laurel

When a dying man rings his doorbell, secrets from Professor William Yates’ past rise up, which threaten his relationship with Brian Quick, his reputation and his life.  Caught in the quicksand of his past, he has to solve the murder to get free.

 

Quick Change Artist
C. S. Laurel

In this story, Professor William Yates’ gets more than he bargains for when he wakes up with a snake tattoo, a pierced tongue and an even bigger surprise. It turns out a serial rapist who answers his description EXCEPT for having those, has kidnapped him and made him match. Bill and Brian interview “ink artists” and various one night stands to find him.

 

December 2011

A Flaw in Her Magic
Sarah A. Hoyt

In A Flaw of Her Magic, Sarah A. Hoyt gives us her take on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. This time, Austen’s England is populated with weredragons, werewolves and magic.

 

Nocturnal Serenade
Amanda S. Green

In this sequel to Nocturnal Origins, Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

 

January 2012

Scytheman
Chris McMahon

Book 2 of the Jakirian Cycle, Chris’s wonderful fantasy, begun in The Calvanni.

 

Demise of Faith
Ellie Ferguson

Murder and dirty cops make for a very bad week for Liza Ashe as she tries to learn the truth about her father’s death.

 

February 2012

A Deadly Paws
Elise Hyatt

This is the first of the Orphan Kitten Mysteries by Hyatt.

A litter of kittens in a bag getting dropped on the lawn of any family can be expected to create some stir.  But when the litter is dropped on the devil strip of the Goldport, Colorado,home of a creatively eccentric family, what ensues is a murder investigation, a fun romp, and a new all absorbing passion for kitten rescue.

 

Skeletons in the Closet
Ellie Ferguson

Every family has its skeletons they’d prefer stayed hidden in that proverbial closet. That’s especially true when it comes to Lexie Smithson’s family. The only problem is, her family’s skeletons are all too real and they refuse to stay in the closet. It not only plays hell with her home life, but what’s a girl to do for a love life when those old bones start rattling and demanding attention?

 

March 2012

Sword of Arelion
J. T. Schall

Book 1 of a new fantasy series.

 

Hell Bound
Sarah A. Hoyt

Since Claudia Neri’s fiancé died under mysterious circumstances, she’s not been herself.  So when she starts seeing his ghost and getting signs he’s still around, she thinks she’s going insane.  The truth turns out to be far more distressing and will include and archangel, several ancient gods and blood sacrifice.

 

April 2012

Rye Crisp
Sarah A. Hoyt and Amanda S. Green

Alicia Rye learned long ago that life was never as simple or “normal” as those shows you see on TV. Divorced – and boy had her ego taken a beating over that. Not because she was divorced. No, because she’d been a fool to marry Howard for so many reasons – working to provide for herself and her cat, she finds her life once more intersecting that of her ex-husband as she investigates why his boss suddenly lit up like a Roman candle. As if that’s not enough, she has to deal with other, inherited troubles of the sort “normal” folks didn’t worry with – like the Vane, a ghost who has decided she’s his new best friend and who refuses to move on to the afterlife and a fire elemental that really wants to burn her bridges while she’s on them.

 

Musketeer’s Confessor
Sarah D’Almeida

Book 6 of the Musketeer’s Mystery series.

 

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Another Nail in the Coffin – Part 2

Last week, I wrote about how publishers and agents were crying “FOUL” over news that Amazon would be publishing some 120 over the last few months and yet few were talking about how Perseus was going to “help” authors self-publish.  My basic points regarding these two pieces of news were that publishers wouldn’t have to worry about authors leaving them IF the publishers and agents were really doing the job they said they were.  I honestly thought that would be the end of the post and I’d move on to something different this week — of course, it is never that easy.  So, to continue from where I left off, sort of. . . .

Publishers were busy puffing out their chests and declaring that e-books were reaching a saturation point in the market when July’s sales figures were released.  After all, hard cover sales had increased 33%.  At the time those figures were made public, a number of people — yours truly included — wondered if that was an anomaly caused by the sell-off of stock held by Borders.  Well, confirmation, at least partial confirmation, of our suspicions came this week when the Association of American Publishers announced the sales figures through August.

From Publisher’s WeeklyFor the first eight months of 2011, e-book sales increased 144.4%, to $649.2 million, from 18 reporting publishers to the AAP monthly statistics program. Sales were off by double digits in all trade print segments in the January-August period, although sales in the religion category were up 9% in the year to date at the 22 reporting houses.

GalleyCat has the complete breakdown:

With regard to the August figures, for the month, hard cover sales declined 11% and adult paperback sales declined close to 6%.  According to the AAP (again from Galleycat), “Strong, continuing revenue gains from digital formats in the Trade market – both e-books and downloaded audiobooks – helped offset declines in revenue from physical formats, resulting in only nominal, near-identical decreases vs the previous year’s and YTD’s figures

So, for the first eight months of the year, e-book sales are up 144.4%.  It is this increase that kept the figures from looking truly abysmal.  The only other areas to post gains are religious books and downloaded audio books.  If you’ve been tracking the figures for the last year plus, this follows the trend.  Even I, who run far and fast in the opposite direction when someone tells me I need to do math, can see that the figures for July when hard covers posted a double digit increase were not the start of a new trend.  Instead, it was an artificial increase in sales caused by the discounting of merchandise during the Borders bankruptcy sale off.

And yet, even with the figures staring them in the face, legacy publishers refuse to admit that e-books are not only a viable part of the marketplace, but all that is keeping some of them afloat right now.  Just think how many more units they might be able to sell if they simply lowered the prices of their new releases below hard cover prices.  Oh, I know.  They tell you they have to price e-books at near hard cover prices in order to make a profit.  Bull!  Remove DRM, admit that once they have the final text, all they really have to pay for above cost of setting the book for print is the conversion price and then the cost of having someone do a check of the conversion files to make sure nothing got screwed up.  Lower the price to even $9.99 — a price point most e-book buyers will pay for a new “best seller” — and they will sell more copies and that, eventually, will lead to more profit.  Not to mention more good will for the publisher which will also lead to more sales.  More sales equal more money.  Makes sense to me.  But then, I’ve never been a bean counter, much less one in a rarified office in NYC.

Going back to the cries of anguish last week caused by Amazon, there was a deafening silence this week when Kobo announced it would now start publishing books.  For those of you not familiar with Kobo, it’s an online presence, not unlike that for Amazon or B&N when it comes to e-books.  When Borders still existed, Kobo was associated with it for e-books.  This isn’t a self-publishing venture for authors.  No, according to the article, Kobo will do editing, design, marketing and the selling of the books.  Sound familiar?  So, why no hue and outcry by the publishers?  Simply put, they aren’t scared of Kobo because its name isn’t Amazon.  It doesn’t matter that Kobo is offering the same service as Amazon.  All that matters is that Kobo isn’t the 800 pound gorilla.  The publishers have forgotten about the tortoise moving slowly and surely toward the goal.

So, does all this mean the end of publishing as we know it?  Eventually.  Even if legacy publishers were to suddenly understand the importance of e-books and reasonable pricing, the snowball has already started rolling down the mountainside.  Publishers — and agents and authors — are going to have to adapt to the changing expectations and demands of the reading public.  Just as publishers had to change as technology and society changed in the early to mid 1900′s, they are going to have to do so again.  If not, the publishers will perish.  But, in their places will be new publishers, those flexible enough to adapt to the changes.  In other words, there will always been books and short stories.  It’s just the format and pricing that may change.

Cross-posted to Mad Genius Club as well as here.

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New Titles Now Available

 

I love it when things work quicker than I planned.  We have three new short stories available today on Amazon and soon to be available from Barnes & Noble as well as our own webstore.  I’ll be honest, we figured it would take the other outlets until tomorrow to take the stories live, so they weren’t going up at Naked Reader until tomorrow…well, that’s changing and as soon as the tech guy has his coffee, he’ll be putting them up later this morning.  Any way, enough rambling.  Here are the new short stories and a list of other titles to expect in the next week.

Be Careful What You Wish For

by Amanda S. Green

($0.99)

All she’d ever wanted was to get out of the dead end town she’d lived in all her life. Well, that and find a job that wasn’t as much of a dead end as the town. Perhaps even find someone to share her life with. Then Alexander Reed walked back into her life just as suddenly as he’d walked out years before. There’d been a time when she’d have done almost anything to be with him. Now he offered her the chance to do exactly what she’d been wishing all her life. But at what cost?

The Blood Like Wine

by Sarah A. Hoyt

($0.99)

In the French revolution rivers of blood flowed. From the blood evil arose. Ancient evil engulfed Sylvie. Now in a twentieth century of fast cars and faster living, she must try to expiate evil and recapture her lost love.

Night Shifted

by Kate Paulk

($0.99)

The unexpected is commonplace when you work the night shift at the local convenience store. But even that doesn’t prepare you for the Buffy-wanna be who walks through the door and all the trouble she brings with her.

Coming later this next week are several more wonderful titles:

Cat’s Paw

by Robert A. Hoyt

Described as “Watership Down meets the Terminator” and the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — on acid”, this is by no means a children’s book.  Written by Robert when he was just 13 (and even then more mature than I’ll ever be), Cat’s Paw is one of those books you’ll laugh at even as you’re scratching your head and going back to see if you really did read what you think you just did.  You can find a snippet from it here.

For Conspicuous Valor

by Darwin Garrison

For Conspicuous Valor is a wonderful science fiction short story by Darwin.  He gives us a believable main character who would rather be doing anything but playing with her younger sister.  Until, that is, her daydreaming results in danger for her baby brother and a well-deserved dressing down by her uncle.  In an attempt to prove herself, she sneaks out the next morning, only to find herself hip-deep in trouble she’d never expected and having to find a way out to save not only herself but her family as well.  Whether she has the strength and determination to do it is a question she has to answer — and she’s not sure she can.

Absence of Light

by Sarah A. Hoyt

In this short story, Sarah takes us to a time when space travel has many of the same sort of tales that sea travel did several centuries ago.  So these monsters really exist or are they just the figments of overly active imaginations?  The crew and passengers of the the Amadryad will all too soon learn the answer to what happened to those who’d traveled on the the Tenebras, the first colony ship to Tau Centauri as well as learning if the drifters are real or nothing more than tales meant to frighten people so they don’t look too closely at what is really happening.

Check back next week for more news about our upcoming titles, including ConVent by Kate Paulk, a series of short stories by Dave Freer and much, much more.

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ConVent – Snippet 3

A bit of a change from the plans announced last week.  I’m posting this week’s snippets in full here on the front page.  Next week, I’ll start linking them to the snippet page.  Also, apologies for not getting Kate’s snippet up yesterday, but life and work interfered.  So, to make it up to you, here is an extra long snippet. Now, without further delay, here’s the next snippet from ConVent.  As usual, the standard disclaimer applies:  this is not the final edited product.  This is similar to the ARC of a book.

2. My Editor is a Demon

2. My Editor is a Demon

 

When mingling got me no new information, I meandered over to where the convention management committee was setting up a new art room — they had evicted themselves from the rest of the ballroom, scrounged some extra display boards, and were trying to make up for lost time and space.

I’ve never figured out why human perversity wins out over intelligence every time. The display boards are supposed to be modular, meaning that you set up the frame and slot the boards into position. The frames are supposed to allow four ninety degree connections.

So far so good, except that the boards — some kind of particle board with holes to take hooks for hanging the art works — weighed so much it took three or four people to get them into position. While someone on each support frame piece held it steady. By the time the room was set up, I’d learned that the word ‘fuck’ can serve as a noun, adjective, adverb, and verb — sometimes all in the same sentence — and that no-one in the room could possibly have set up the ritual I’d interrupted.

All of them, from the balding, overweight fellow who wore what remained of his hair long as some kind of compensation, to the skinny neurotic redhead with the nasal whine… They weren’t merely tired, they were drunk on fatigue.

No-one in that state could manage a demonic ritual without doing something wrong. What little I knew of demonic rituals suggested pretty strongly that they went wrong in ways best not examined too closely.

It’s just as well I’m immune to all magic except necromantic spells. Being technically dead isn’t a picnic — I’ll take every advantage I can get.

Once the concom let the artists in, I faded and slipped away.

 

#

 

By the time the con officially started, I was really worried.  Not only had I completely failed to find any hint of the would-be demon worshiper, rumors were flying through the crowds and warping into unrecognizable shape. The concom seemed to have decided it was better to know and see nothing – to the disgust of the cops, who understandably wanted to check the attendance list against their records. They weren’t being obstructive, per se. They just weren’t anywhere to be found.

Raph caught up with me somewhere around ten. We met up in my room, Raph sitting on the bed with his legs crossed and his wings — yes, white with feathers — wrapped around him. I paced.

“It’s worse than we thought,” he said in a low voice. “Lil got a second look, a proper one, and figured out who the gateway is for.”

“Just tell me the worst Raph. Get it over with.” At this rate I’d wear a hole in the carpet before the con was done.

He swallowed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an angel look that pale. “It’s Himself Below.”

What?”

“Yeah.” Raph’s wings rustled when he shivered. “It’s not like anyone except the Boss can control Him.” Raph shook his head. “You’d need to be crazy to try.”

I kept pacing. I know tradition has we made immortals firmly in Below’s camp, but it’s not true. Most of us stay more or less the same as we were before we got changed. There’s even a few churches in the bigger cities that hold special services for the immortals in their congregations. “I don’t suppose she managed to glean why anyone would do anything that stupid?”

Raph hunched his shoulders and wings. “Nothing. They cleaned their traces pretty well. The only reason she got as much as she did was the spell being broken before it could complete.”

Crap. “Have there been others that did complete?” Lil had said earlier that it took five of these things to open a dimensional gateway. That meant five spells, minimum, and at least five corpses as well.

“We don’t know. There’s nothing to indicate it, but there wouldn’t be until the opening spells were performed.”

I didn’t like Raph this subdued. It felt all wrong, like a frivolous Spock. Besides, anything that can scare an angel officially scares the crap out of me. I know when I’m outclassed. Not using everything in my repertoire of curse words — five languages, two of them extinct, and at least a dozen anatomically impossible phrases — took effort. “I’d suggest looking for a moron, but it takes at least some functioning brain cells to cast a ritual like that without screwing it up.”

“I know.” Raph looked miserable. “Lil went looking for minor demons sent to cause trouble.”

“At a con?” At least half the fen were sufficiently warped that they’d meet Below’s standard of ‘minor demon’. The percentage in official guests came closer to seventy. Something about science fiction, I guess. It seems to attract the perverse. Not the sick types, as a rule. Just the contrary idea-loving types who could live a personally moral life while writing about, reading about and publishing things that would turn stomachs Below. The current management didn’t like that sort of person terribly much, according to Raph. Apparently they disturbed the harmonious worshipers Above and started arguments over the validity of the whole business.

Since the previous incumbents mostly ran their paradises for warrior-types, that didn’t leave many afterlife addresses open. Personally, I planned to hang on to life as long as I could. I’d yet to find the faith that would let me near its paradise. Not that I have any complaints with the current management, mind you. I just prefer to leave them be and hope they offer me the same courtesy.

Raph shrugged. “I know. But Speculatorium’s purchasing editor is an actual minor demon, and he’s not the only one.”

I blinked. “You’re telling me Below is infiltrating the publishing industry?” How had I missed that?

“Has infiltrated.” Raph didn’t look happy. “Look, I’m not supposed to be telling anyone any of this but… This qualifies as an emergency.”

That didn’t sound good. Yeah, right. And the Pacific Ocean’s a little damp. “Stop dicking around and tell me what I need to know will you?”

He gave me a startled look and shook his wings out. With a sigh, he flopped back onto the bed and lay staring at the ceiling. I guess it was better than watching me wearing out the carpet. “Fine. Below’s mission is to spread despair and misery and all that, right?”

I nodded and didn’t stop pacing. Spreading misery and despair was definitely part of the tradition.

“Well, how better than by crushing the dreams of everyone who thinks they can write? And publishing grim, dreary, depressing literature?”

I stopped pacing and turned to stare at Raph. He lay without moving, staring at the ceiling. “This scene is hardly big enough for that.”

“I never said they confined themselves to science fiction.” Raph’s lips hardly moved. “They’re all through the entertainment industry. Oh, and Christian television.”

It made a horrible kind of sense. I’d given up on popular entertainment a long time ago, back when opera was political. The advent of late night shopping had lured me to bookstores, and the heady allure of a hopeful future brought me into the science fiction scene. It had been centuries since I needed to sleep through the day, but actually going out in daylight remained problematic so books were an excellent way to pass the time.

That was another enticement of the con scene – entertainment throughout the day, all in climate controlled and sunlight-free surroundings. It didn’t bother me that the con attendees often formed the entertainment. Taking pleasure from watching human absurdities kept me from becoming a bitter killer.

“Christian television. That would have to be the most lucrative avenue for them.”

Raph snorted. “Oh, quite. The Boss is kind of upset about that.”

Kind of upset. That had to be the understatement of the century. Possibly the millennium. “Kind of?”

I got a hint of a smile. “Well, yes.” Raph’s crooked grin could be charming when he wasn’t looking so miserable. Yeah, I kind of like the angel. “Kind of upset, and kind of ready to go Old Testament on the culprits.”

That sounded more like the deity I tried not to piss off. You don’t piss off something that can smite you with thunderbolts for thinking forbidden thoughts. It’s bad for the life expectancy. “So where does that leave us?”

He pushed himself off the bed and actually looked at me. “Screwed, Jim. If you want Vaseline you’d better supply it yourself.”

“Oh for fuck’s sake!” I folded my arms and glared at him. “You’re an angel not a frigging incubus.” Besides, last I’d heard Raph didn’t bend over for anyone. “I want tactical information. Patterns. Names.” I might not be keen to mess with high-powered demons, but I was a whole lot less keen to mess with the Prince of Hell. “I know screw-all about magic, so you’re going to have to tell me what to look for.”

Raph blinked and scooted back a few inches. “It’s not that simple.”

“So make it simple.” My lips pulled back from my teeth in a purely vampiric snarl, the kind that made my teeth ache to meet blood. Angel blood would do.

An angel scootching back on his butt isn’t dignified. That didn’t stop Raph pushing himself away from me until his wings hit the wall. He probably would have gone through the wall if someone hadn’t chosen that moment to knock on the door.

I yanked the door open and didn’t bother to be polite when I saw Sean and Lil on the other side of it. “Get in.”

Sean’s hair slicked down on his head and his wolf-shape hung in a hazy aura around him. If he didn’t change soon it would be a tribute to his willpower. Lil — to her credit — seemed to be trying to rein in the normal succubus lasciviousness. She kept her head down and didn’t smell too much of sex and perfume. Both of them scurried past me with the kind of nervous look that I usually only get when I’m projecting at humans.

I slammed the door and stomped back into the room. “What have you got?”

Lil winced. Her shape twitched and her tail wrapped around Raph’s waist. She wasn’t so much snuggled up to him as glued to him. “I can’t find anything.” Teardrops hung on her eyelashes. “Even the people I know are demons aren’t talking.”

Sean growled.

Lil cringed. Raph wrapped his wings around her in a protective gesture that should have been impossible.

“Leave her alone.” The tension in his voice got me wondering just how much I was projecting. Sure I was angry, but I don’t usually let the whole enchilada show. It scares the crap out of people. And angels and succubi, apparently. Weird. I’m not that powerful. “She’s only a very minor demon. If any of the stronger ones don’t want her to see something, she won’t.”

At least I knew better than to even consider succubus blood. Some things a man just doesn’t want to know. “Sean?”

He’d stripped off already. Fur covered his skin and his back arched, forcing his body into a quadruped pose.

“Get a grip, damn it!” I didn’t need the crack that punctuated my words, and I really didn’t need it to be the mirror on the wall opposite the bed. Damn. I needed to watch myself: if I’m not careful my voice gets extra harmonics that can do… interesting things. Like break mirrors.

I took a long, slow breath. My teeth ached. I’d be feeding tonight, and I’d better go hunting away from the con because it was going to take a kill to settle myself. Finding someone who could be safely removed from all the documentation and monitoring of the modern world was a stone bitch. Killing them and then disposing of the body in a way that didn’t attract headlines was worse. My personal requirement that anyone I killed be someone who’d fry if the authorities knew everything they’d done just added another layer of difficulty.

Not that people like that weren’t around, but there weren’t many who met all three standards. I hoped I could find one before the midnight Eye of Argon reading competition. That and the parties were my best hope of finding the summoner. People — and demons — with their minds relaxed by laughter or alcohol were easier to read. Usually I had to block out the stew of random thought and emotion, but this time I’d be trying to follow them and find the idiot who was trying to open a gateway to Hell.

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Another Nail in the Coffin

I’m a little late posting this morning and I apologize.  I’d really planned on putting up an open thread today, but a couple of articles caught my eye during the wee hours of the morning as I was trying to convince the scaredy dog (yes, that is a word and the nicest I could call the drooler at the time) that we weren’t about to be tossed into the air only to land in Oz.  In other words, the big, bad dog is scared of rain and kept the household up during the night because we had storms.

Any way, a couple of articles caught my eye.  One has been in the news for a week or so.  There have been the typical knee-jerk reaction from the legacy publishers and those who still believe they are the only hope for the publishing industry.  Another has been sort of ignored because it doesn’t deal with Amazon even though it is yet another example of how some agents are potentially getting into a conflict of interest, or at least a very grey and murky area of fiduciary duty to their clients.

But the Amazon story first.  On the 16th of this month, the New York Times published an article about Amazon bypassing publishers and signing authors to contracts to publish through Amazon.  For some months now, Amazon has been introducing “imprints”.  Several well-known authors signed exclusive publishing contracts with Amazon.  There were a few ripples when that happened, but nothing like the response to the Times’ article last week.  The specifics are pretty simple.  This fall, Amazon will publish 122 titles.  These titles will be across a variety of genres and some will be digital and some hard copy.  Among the authors will be self-help guru Tim Ferrias and actor/director Penny Marshall.And the cries of foul were heard far and wide from legacy publishers.

According to the Times, “Publishers say Amazon is aggressively wooing some of their top authors. And the company is gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.”

So let’s look at that statement.  While I can’t speak to whether or not Amazon is “aggressively wooing” top authors, it would be a fool not to.  The same publishers who are crying foul are the ones who backed the agency pricing plan for e-books.  This is the plan that lets the publishers set the price for their e-books so there is no competition across the different e-book retailers.  Worse, the general reading public doesn’t understand that Amazon can’t control the prices for those books from the agency model publishers, and it is the one on the receiving end of the bad customer feelings.

But more telling is that these same publishers are crying because Amazon is “gnawing away at the services that publishers, critics and agents used to provide.”  Used to provide is the key phrase here.  Past tense.  As in, these are services that were once provided by publishers, critics and agents and are no longer.  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  And, frankly, can you blame an author for signing with Amazon if it does offer the editing, copy editing and proofreading, promotion and placement legacy publishers used to and no longer do?  I can’t.

I also think it’s rather disingenuous to have an agent, who also happens to be a publisher, complaining about Amazon taking money out of the hands of agents.  What about putting money into the hands of writers, especially when so many agents these days are either turning into publishers themselves (which brings up the question of just how hard they are going to work to place their clients’ work with another publisher when the agency could be the publisher)?  I’ll be honest, those who are crying “foul” the loudest are those who have enjoyed telling the writer to bend over and cough, forgetting that, without the writer, they wouldn’t have a business.

Read the article and let me know what you think.

Then there’s the second article, which sort of falls in with my last set of comments.  The Perseus Books Group has announced a new venture to “help” authors who want to self-publish.  The catch:  these authors have to be represented by certain agents who have signed agreements with Perseus.  So, that’s how some agents are getting around the somewhat murky ethical issue of literary agents also being publishers.  They don’t.  They just sign agreements with companies like Perseus to “publish” and “distribute” the books.

The article notes that one of the “benefits” of doing it this way is the breakdown of authors getting 70% while Perseus will only get 30%.  Guess what, boys and girls, an author can get that from Amazon now by self-publishing through them.  More than that, any author is capable of putting their e-books into the outlets mentioned in the article.  Even if the author doesn’t have the required Mac computer for iBooks/iTunes, it can be easily done through Smashwords.  Again, quick and easy and without the middleman.

But there’s more.  At least I have more concerns.  Question one, if Author A is represented by one of the agencies that has an agreement with Perseus, does Author A owe a commission to Agent B if he goes through Perseus?  Question two, if so, how does the agency build the proverbial Chinese wall (no insult intended here.  It’s a phrase learned in law school.) to make sure there is no undue pressure put on the author/client to go this route instead of the traditional publishing route?  Conversely, what sort of pressure would the agent put on Author A if the author came to him and said he wanted to self-publish and Agent B really wants to take the book through the traditional route?

I know legacy publishers and agents are scared about where the industry is going.  Or they should be.  Heck, anyone in the business, including authors, should be at least a little scared.  But it really is those who have made their livelihoods on the backs of authors who are the most scared and who are doing their best to find new and imaginative ways to maintain the status quo.  My advice, whether you are shopping a book around right now or thinking about doing so in the near future, decide what route is best for you.  Most of all, if you are offered a contract by either an agent or a legacy publisher, hie thee to an intellectual property attorney forthwith.  Do NOT sign it without first having someone very familiar with the industry looking it over first.  And please, note I said legacy publisher AND agent.

(Cross-posted to Mad Genius Club and here)

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ConVent – Snippet Two

Good morning, everyone.  Before we get to the next snippet in Kate Paulk’s irreverent and hysterical take on sf/f cons, a quick word from the management.  If you look at the top of the page, you’ll see a new tab for snippets.  Starting next week, our regular snippets will be announced on the blog and the reader will then be redirected to the snippet page to finish reading.  The reason for this is so all our snippets are easier to find.  Also, we will start a regular snippet process.  Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we’ll have snippets from upcoming novellas and novels.  And now, without further delay, here’s the next snippet from ConVent.  As usual, the standard disclaimer applies:  this is not the final edited product.  This is similar to the ARC of a book.

*     *     *

    By the time the cops and paramedics arrived, Sean and I were in the middle of a crowd of rubbernecking con-goers. The nurse — her name was Gina — and I kept guard over the girl, while Sean helped hotel security keep the door clear.

The presence of uniformed, armed cops did what nothing else could. The onlookers faded off to other things. I doubted any of them had anything to fear, but the whole science fiction scene is kind of weird that way. Paranoia is the norm, not the exception.

At least I could do the vampire mind thing and make sure the cops believed what I told them. Not that it was anything exotic — everything except the reason Sean and I went into the art room was bare truth. If they checked out my credentials, they’d find it all matched up, too. I’ve been careful with that. Always make sure the paper trail matches your cover. Getting locked up on suspicion because your credentials don’t check out can do really bad things to your quality of life. Ending up in a lab as someone’s experiment would be worse.

All told, it was a relief when the cops left. For maybe five seconds.

Raph’s voice behind me put an end to any happy thoughts I might have wanted to harbor. “Lil says you’ll need help with this one.”

I didn’t groan. Yet. Instead, I turned around to face him. He had a succubus with him — the scent of sex mingled with expensive perfume overlying a hint of brimstone is unmistakable — presumably ‘Lil’. She oozed seduction, of course. The Star Trek costume helped: it was from the original series with the tight-tight minidress that showed off her legs and other… assets. This was one Uhura who had probably done the entire crew several times over. Even Scotty would have inspected that engine.

Raph was done up as Spock, complete with pointy ears and strange eyebrows. It would be the only time in history that anything involving Leonard Nimoy actually looked sexy. And no, I don’t swing that way, but I know hot when I see it. Raph sizzled.

It wasn’t because he was an angel, either. Most angels I’ve met aren’t earthy enough to be sexy. They’re more ethereal. Raph… I guess he takes his undercover work seriously enough to project like an incubus, only he doesn’t quite manage it. Typically your incubi and succubi project a kind of illicit sexiness. Raph gets the sex part, but it’s kind of wholesome sexy, if that makes sense.

“Thanks.” I might as well be polite — I’d never figured out precisely where we made immortals fit in with the natural immortals, and it never hurt to be on good terms with representatives of the current management. Besides, Lil was right. I might hate to admit it, but I did need help. Demonic rituals aren’t my line.

I nodded to the succubus. “Pleased to meet you, Lil.”

She smiled, the kind of demure, almost shy smile that would have been ordinary from anyone else. From her, it was practically an invitation. “The pleasure is all mine.”

Yes, she purred. Succubi do. It’s part of what they are.

Raph slipped his right arm around her waist. “You promised you wouldn’t go after the regulars, remember?”

Fat chance. Succubi and incubi are sex on legs. One of them thinking with their brain counted as a miracle in my book. “I’m immune.” I shrugged. “You might want to tone it down around Sean, though. He goes wolf when he’s aroused, and I’m not going to tweak the entire con because he couldn’t control himself.” I had to do that last time, and it takes all the fun out of a convention.

Lil giggled. “I’ll be good.” She turned a sly look on Raph that got the expected reaction. “You’re going to make it up to me, Raphie darlin’, right?”

That tight costume didn’t leave any room for imagination. Raph was trying to make it up to her right then and there. I half expected the spandex to tear.

“Get a room.” Sean’s low growl crawled up my spine. There wasn’t a hint of civilized in it. I hoped he was holding onto his human shape, because I really wasn’t ready to deal with another convention fiasco.

Raph blinked, and his eagerness deflated. Some. “Um.” He actually looked embarrassed. “Sorry.”

Lil tried to simper in Sean’s direction, and froze when he snarled. I got a glimpse of her true shape before she controlled herself: take away the hair and add wings, scales and a tail, and you’ve more or less got it.

Raph ignored her slip. “As far as I know, we’re the only regulars here. I haven’t come across any newcomers, either.” He shrugged. “Nothing to suggest any of the mortals are dabbling with anything they shouldn’t. All the interesting items in the dealer’s room are well warded.”

Pretty thorough, but then, that kind of thing is part of Raph’s job. Neither side is all that keen on a war — not what you’ll hear from those who are supposed to know these things, but most of them are fooling themselves. The world’s been pretty much neutral ground for years. Occasionally Someone will nudge, but for the most part it’s just people doing what people do.

Depressing thought, really.

Something nudged at my memory. Bill… and the Heart’s Blade. “You checked on Bill?”

Raph had the Spock eyebrows down perfectly — they moved the right way when he frowned. “Who?”

“Minor demon lord. I know him from way back.” I wasn’t about to explain when and why. “I saw him wheeling stuff in. Mostly he had books, but there was a Heart’s Blade on the trolley.”

Lil’s sharp gasp hissed just as much as Raph’s.

The angel shook his head. “I didn’t see any demons in there, or… that.”

I couldn’t blame him for not wanting to name a Heart’s Blade. The cursed things are the closest to pure evil you’re ever likely to see. “Crap.” I’d have to check the dealers myself. Not that I don’t trust Raph’s judgment or anything, but… I don’t actually know where he stands in the angelic hierarchy. A demon lord might well be able to trick him. Me being effectively immune to magic — I can feel the discharge when I break a spell, but that’s about it — I can see straight through illusions. It’s got to be a full masking to make me see something that’s not actually there.

I sighed, and turned my attention back to the more pressing issue. “Did either of you pick up anything from the… site?” I really didn’t want to call that setup in the Art Room a sacrificial altar. Old superstition, I guess. If it can hurt you, you don’t name it in case you summon it.

Lil nibbled on her lower lip. “I think it was supposed to be a gateway anchor.” With her eyes downcast while she thought, she looked almost demure.

I’ve seen Raph’s skin in circumstances I don’t want to think about, and I’ve never seen him this pale. “You’re sure about that?”

She nodded. “You big boys don’t need them.”

A few minutes ago I would have sworn a succubus couldn’t say anything like that and not sound flirtatious. You learn something every day.

“Mortals use them, same as we lesser demons, if we want to bring in one of the big players.”

Lovely. Major demons. Just freaking wonderful.

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Did I read that right? You want to do what?

I didn’t get up this morning wanting to rant.  No, I’d planned to write about the NYT article yesterday about Amazon’s latest foray into publishing and how it has legacy publishers quaking in their boots because they can’t figure out how to adapt to new technologies, pricing and product demands from their customers.  But that’s going to have to wait.  I have to rant.

As you’ve probably figured out from some of my earlier posts, my morning routine consists of feeding the animals before they start eating my ankles, pouring as much coffee down me as quickly as possible and reading the news and checking a few blogs and discussion boards before starting work.  Call it my way of making sure the world still exists and I haven’t, somehow, managed to get myself sent to Wonderland or Oz or the Twilight Zone while sleeping.

Well, this morning was no different.  Except one topic on the Kindle boards sent me into full-blown rant mode.  I can grit my teeth and ignore — sort of — those authors and editors and agents who put their political beliefs out there on facebook and condemn everyone else who doesn’t agree with them.  I think they’re foolish for doing so because they don’t know who they might be needing to deal with tomorrow or the next day or the day after that.  So why risk making an enemy when you don’t have to?  If you have to talk politics or religion using social media, at least limit who can see it.  Remember your mother telling you there are two things you never talk about at the dinner table: politics and religion.  That really is a good rule to remember, especially when it comes to social media.  But that’s not what today’s post is about.

No, today’s post is thanks to the fellow who thinks we ought to outlaw trade paperbacks.  Now, when I saw the subject line of the thread, I figured he was like so many others, myself included, who don’t particularly like TPBs because they aren’t quite the size of hard covers and definitely larger than mass market paperbacks and, therefore, difficult to store.  But no.  It wasn’t that simple, or that reasonable.  He wants to ban them because they are bad for the environment.

Yep, you heard me.  Trade paperbacks are bad for the environment and should, therefore, be banned.  After all, we have e-books now and they are so much more environmentally friendly.  Apparently, now that we have such easy accessibility to e-books, there’s no reason to keep killing trees, using fossil fuels to make and transport trade paperbacks, etc.  Oh, we can continue to have POD books, but let’s get rid of TPBs.

Okay, I get the environmental concerns.  Of course, the original poster doesn’t take into account the environmental impact of making and then discarding of e-book readers.  But I’m not going to get into that.  What sent me over the edge were two basic issues I see with his statement.  The first is that it assumes everyone wants to read e-books.  They don’t.  It is going to be years before we see a saturation of the market with e-readers the way we see with cell phones or computers or TVs.  Until then, alternatives are going to have to be offered.  It just makes business sense to.  More than that, I honestly believe there is always going to be niche markets for printed books.

But what really got to me was the fact that the original poster suggested banning ONLY trade paperbacks.  He didn’t say ban printed books.  He didn’t mention hard covers or mass market paperbacks.  ONLY trade paperbacks.  They are not the majority of books printed, not by a long shot.  So, why target them as the segment that needs to be banned to save the environment?  It makes no sense.

And don’t say it’s because he didn’t know any better.  The guy’s an author.  If he doesn’t know there’s more than one format of books, he’s been living under a rock and has never been to a bookstore or browsed one online.  No, I can’t help but think this was his way of trying to garner interest in his own books without violating Amazon’s rules against self-promotion on the Kindle boards.  How, you ask.  That’s simple.  People tend to click on a poster’s name when that poster says something that either interests them or has them asking ‘WTF?”.  By doing so, you are taken to the poster’s profile and, from there, you can click on the OP’s weblink.  Which, gee, advertises his books.  Books that are, I’m sure, also listed on Amazon.

But there’s something else that bothers me about his post.  Whether he actually believes what he suggests or was trying to get a discussion started or just wanted to be a troll and get folks upset, I don’t know.  But when someone, anyone, starts suggesting we “ban” any form — or format — of a book, I start looking over my shoulder.  Paranoid?  Possibly.  But it is such a hot button word, I can’t help it.  It is a knee-jerk reaction.  If we “ban” one format of a book, what’s to stop us from doing it to others?  Say we did decide to save the environment by banning TPBs, that wouldn’t really impact the carbon footprint of the publishing industry.  It wouldn’t take long before the reports to say so.  Then we’d ban the other printed books.  After all, people don’t read that much any more.  All the studies show it.  Besides, fi they want to read, they can read e-books.  Right?  Oh, wait, Joe doesn’t want to.  No problem.  He can go to the library.  We’ll continue to let books be printed for libraries.

Picture me rolling my eyes and gagging right now.  There’s a simple economic truth that this argument forgets.  Libraries have to pay for their books.  Some they buy outright.  Others they lease.  That takes money and, whether you know it or not, libraries are strapped for cash.  Communities are cutting library budgets which often results in fewer hours of operation, fewer employees, fewer new books on the shelves.  Sometimes, it even means closing libraries.  So now we’ve banned the printed book except as POD for libraries.  The problem with this is that it wouldn’t be a money-making proposition for the publisher or author if they priced the book low enough for most libraries to be able to afford it.  If they price the book high enough for a reasonable profit, the libraries won’t be able to buy it.  So, no new books.

But, taking the original poster’s argument the next step, one he didn’t take.  If we are going to ban trade paperbacks and, presumably, all other printed books, shouldn’t we also ban printed newspapers and magazines?  What about all the printed junk mail we get through the mail?  Oh, and if we’re banning printed books, does that include textbooks?  What about prayer books, bibles and hymnals for churches, etc?  I can see it now.  Sunday morning mass and the priest turns to the congregation and tells them to get out their e-book readers or cell phones and go to the hymnal app for Hymn No. 32.

Rolling my eyes again.

Will there come a time when we will see e-book production outpacing the printing of hard copy books?  Sure.  But to argue that we should ban the printing of just one format of books to save the environment is not only ridiculous but short sighted as well.  Okay, no more ranting…at least for a little while.

(Cross-posted to amandasgreen.com)

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