Tag Archives: Tom Easton

An update and a few thoughts

The good news first.  Our new storefront is up and functioning wonderfully.  Everyone at NRP has worked hard to make the change-over and to make sure all our customers still have access to the books and short stories they purchased through the old storefront.  If you haven’t received and e-mail from us saying either a new account has been created or giving you a coupon code for downloads, please let us know at info-at-nakedreader-dot-com (you know what to do to make it into a real email addy).

The second bit of good news is that we have three new titles up and more on the way.  Firefight by Thomas A. Easton is a digital reprint of the novel, the first time it has been available as an e-book.  Part techno-thriller and part sci-fi, it’s a fun and thought-provoking tale of what can happen if those who are worried about what humans are doing to our planet go too far.

Family Obligations by Stephen Simmons takes us on a quest for vengeance that isn’t quite what it seems.  Bump in the Night is a digital reprint of a short story I wrote that appeared in the anthology Better Off Undead. These titles are now available through our storefront and will soon be available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-stores.

As I said, we have other titles coming out this month as well.  Included is Quicksand by C. S. Laurel, the second book in the Quick Mysteries series.  The first book, B. Quick, is currently free not only on our site, but also on Amazon, iTunes and most other major outlets.  Other titles will include, among others, Cat’s Paw by Robert A. Hoyt and For Conspicuous Valor by Darwin A. Garrison.  So keep checking back for announcements about these titles and others.

Now for those few thoughts I threatened — er, promised.  Not too long ago I blogged about the need for authors to follow submission guidelines when sending something to anyone, be that person an agent or a publisher.  I know we’ve all heard the horror stories about some of the “interesting” submissions editors and agents received when all submissions had to be mailed in.  Back then, it wasn’t all that uncommon for submissions to come in brightly colored envelopes with things like “attacked by aliens”, “dictated by my dead grandmother” written on them.  The pages themselves might be bright pink if the submission was a romance novel or blood red, even black, if horror.  Fonts, omg, fonts were in all different shapes and sizes.  Glitter might fall out of the envelope as the editor pulled out the perfumed pages.  Is it any wonder most publishers and agents have gone to electronic submissions?

Yes, it is environmentally better to go the electronic route.  It’s also easier and cheaper for all involved.  But — and this is a big BUT — that doesn’t mean guidelines are only to be looked at and then the author gets to decide if he is going to follow them.

Look, guidelines are there for a reason.  They are to make it as easy as possible for the agent or editor to read the story.  You want them to focus on content, not on format.  That won’t happen if you submit your novel or short story in something that isn’t what they ask for.  Their first impression is not going to be a good one.  I promise you, the first thought they’ll have isn’t “Wow, what a great idea!”  It’s going to be, “Well, here’s another one who couldn’t be bothered to read the guidelines.”  Is that the way you want to start out what you hope will be a profitable relationship for all involved?

A couple of commenters on the original post pointed out that they don’t write in standard manuscript format.  They change it after they finish and are ready to submit.  I have absolutely no problem with that because, depending on what machine I’m using at the time — I write on a laptop, a desktop, a netbook and a tablet depending on the when and where I’m writing — neither do I.  But, like those commenters, I make sure I have the piece formatted in the way requested by the publisher before sending it off.

Someone else made the point that we, as agents and editors, ought to be glad when we get a submission by an author who uses different formats because it means they are more apt to find mistakes before sending it off and, by inference, that we’d see more mistakes upon first reading.  Yep, you guessed it, my head sort of exploded then.  The first time an editor or agent reads a submission, it isn’t to see how many mistakes are present.  We aren’t editing then.  We are interested solely in determining if the submission is something we want to represent or publish.  Nothing more and nothing less.  When we see a submission where it is obvious the author didn’t try to meet our guidelines, we have to ask if this is an author we want to work with.  If they can’t be concerned to do as we ask before we have a working relationship, does this bode well for what will happen after there is such a relationship?  Will it be worth the potential headaches?

So, do yourself a favor.  Read the guidelines.  Do your best to follow them.  Believe it or not, there are some agents and editors — not us — who use software that will toss out your submissions if you don’t follow those guidelines.  That includes making sure you include the appropriate information in the subject line of your email and the information you include in the body of the email.  Don’t start off with one or two strikes against you before the editor has read the first page of your submission.

 

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Hear ye! Hear ye!

As promised, I’m back with a couple of announcements and other news.

I want to start by assuring those of you who have been waiting impatiently for Impaler to come out in print, that your wait will soon be over.  Barring unforeseen problems, it will be available for purchase the beginning of next month.  We’ll post updates as the time gets closer.

This next bit of news is more personal to me.  I found out the end of last week that the bosses have given the green light, provisionally, for the sequel to Nocturnal Origins.  What that means is they want to bring it out and the numbers are looking good.  However, for me to write the book and have it done in time for it to come out when they want, I’m going to have to take time off from NRP.  So, it would really be nice for my numbers to increase — while the image of the starving artist or writer is one we’re all familiar with, I like my Blue Bell ice cream and starving really isn’t something I want to do 😉  That means, I need your help.  Tell your family and friends about Origins, if you liked it.  As I’ve said before, you guys are our greatest promotional tool and we do appreciate all you do to spread the word.

Here is the tentative schedule for the rest of the year.  I say tentative because there may be some shuffling of titles.  There will also be some short stories and at least one more novel added to the list.  However, just to give you an idea of what is coming, here you go:

May

  • Here There Be Faeries (fantasy short story) by Stephen Simmons
  • Without a Trace (fantasy middle grade novella) by Dave Freer
  • Revocare (fantasy short story) by Leslie Fish
  • Lawyers of Mars (science fiction novella) by Pam Uphoff
  • The Flight of the Phoenix (fantasy novella) by Chris McMahon

June 6th

  • Blood Price (urban fantasy short story collection) by Sarah A. Hoyt

June 20th

  • A Deeper Silence (sf/f short story collection) by Charles Edgar Quinn
  • The Calvanni (fantasy novel) by Chris McMahon

July 4th

  • Blackie (Pony Express short story) by James Snover
  • Vengeance Mine (mystery novel) by Jenny Schall
  • Short story collection — author to be announced shortly

August 8th

  • Firefight (novel) by Thomas Easton
  • Quicksand (mystery novel) by C. S. Laurel

August 22nd

  • Cat’s Paw (fantasy novel) by Robert A. Hoyt

September 5th

  • The South Shall Rise Again (romantic suspense novel with a touch of supernatural) by Ellie Ferguson

September 19th

  • A Flaw in Her Magic (urban fantasy adaptation of Mansfield Park) by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Short story, title to be determined, by Taylor M. Lunsford

Otober 3rd

  • Five from the Past (short story collection) by Sarah A. Hoyt
  • Halloween themed short stories

October 31st

  • Halloween short story collection
  • Nocturnal Serenade (urban fantasy novel) by Amanda S. Green

November 21st

  • Holiday Collection by Robert A. Hoyt

December 5th

  • Scytheman (fantasy novel) by Chris McMahon

December 19th

  • ConVent (urban fantasy) by Kate Paulk

As noted above, we will be adding short stories to this schedule as well as at least one or two more novels.  Check back over the next few weeks for blurbs and more information about these titles.

–Amanda

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More News

This is a busy day here are NRP.  First is the news that Tom Easton’s wonderful sf novel, The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy, is now available.  As with all our books, it is under $5 AND is DRM free.  It is currently available through our web store and will soon be available through Amazon, B&N and other online e-tailers.

Our second bit of news today is the announcement that some of our titles can now be found at Coffee Time Romance as well.  Now, don’t let the title throw you.  CTR is a wonderful site and you can find just about any sort of book through their web store.  We’re very pleased to be associated with the wonderful folks there.  You can find our CTR store here.

 

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The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy

is now available.

Now, to tease you so you will have to check it out, here’s a quick snippet from somewhere in the book. . . Yes, I’m evil.  I know.  Even more, I enjoy it 😉

*   *   *

Monday afternoon Gabe had had the anthro hall in the other wing of the building.  Two hundred padded seats, burgundy plush and polished plywood, rising like a wave before him.  Perhaps a fifth of them were occupied, though not always by attentive students.  There were three couples that seemed to have their minds on something else entirely, and several bent heads, closed eyes.

Well, as long as they didn’t snore.

He was talking to the others, anyway, clicking through slides and bulleted lists, using his mouse-wand to point and highlight.  “There’s never been much doubt that humans were special.  We’re a conceited gang, but it’s clear that there are significant differences between us and the rest of the animal world.

“What are those differences?  Language?  But many animals communicate with sound.  Vervet monkeys even have different alarm calls for different threats–eagle, snake, leopard.  Sound and meaning, definite communication.”  Click-click-click, vervets watching ground and sky, fleeing high or low.  They’d read about this in their text.  If they’d done their assignment.  “Apes use varied calls and gestures, and chimps and gorillas can learn Ameslan, American Sign Language.”  Click-click, Washoe asking for a drink, Koko trying to teach her kitten Sign.

“Tool use?  Again, chimps make and use simple tools.”  Click, a chimp with the famous termite-fishing twig.  Click, another bashing nuts with a stone.

“Laughter?  Many animals play, and some look for all the world as if they’re laughing.”  Click, click.  Baboons doing cartwheels down a desert slope, a baby chimp being tickled.  “Chimps even play practical jokes.”

“Intelligence?”  Click, a porpoise.  Despite concern, despite a worldwide ban on whaling, the big whales were no more and the small ones survived only in Marinelands.  People had left too few fish and plankton in the seas to support them in the wild.  “Some think we may be outclassed on that.”  A few quiet laughs rippled through the hall.

“All of these have been suggested, but at best our uniqueness in these respects is much more a matter of degree than one of kind.  We’re not alone, and that has long rankled some of us.  Just what is it that makes us unique?”

A hand went up, a smile, almost a smirk.  He could guess why.

“Yes, Mr. Clancy?”  A serious-looking fellow.  Short hair, no beard or mustache, not wearing a suit but easy to imagine in one.  Give him a few more years.  Maybe a Saucerite mask, too.  Would he be one of the few who believed his abductors had planted a mental eavesdropping device in his brain?

“A soul?”

“Is there even such a thing?  I know many people believe there is, but I suspect the concept was invented to provide an answer to my question.  If there is such a thing…  Well, consider this, when did we acquire it?  The very idea of evolution requires continuity, change by modification.  We don’t gain features all at once, presto-shazam!”  A scatter of laughs.  These were upper-level undergrads.  They’d had that course.  “So, did our ancestors have them?  How far back?  Homo erectusAustralopithecus?  The pre-hominid apes?  Early primates?  Snakes and fish and worms?  How do you know your dog or cat does not have one?  Certainly some religions hold that they do–and other animals, and even plants, as well.”  Click-click-click–he was ready with a Buddha, a mandala, a wheel of reincarnation.  “Either we don’t have them, or everything does.”

He shook his head.  Souls were not an answer.  “What is it, then, that makes us special?  Or is it all just a matter of degree?”  Click, back to the chimp licking termites off its twig.  “Look at that.  As far as we can tell, chimps have been picking twigs, stripping off the leaves, and poking them into termite hills just like that for thousands of years.  Some chimp genius had to think it up in the first place, but it hasn’t changed since then.  It works, and to a chimp that’s enough.”

A skinny brunette, glasses, braces, not much makeup, cute, raised her hand.  “Yes, Ms. Worth?”

“And humans would have changed it?”  The slightly nasal voice actually sounded excited.  He grinned at her encouragingly as she added:  “Improved it?  Decorated it, maybe.  Or given it a handle.  A fringe so more termites could bite it and you could catch more.”

He turned his grin on the rest of the class and noticed for the first time the bulky figure in the shadows of the back row.  A Placoderm, humanoid like most of the aliens but so massive and solid that it looked like it belonged on the wrestling circuit.  Its blocky head jutted from a colorful, tent-like dashiki.  It hadn’t been there the class before; indeed, even though the aliens were famous for auditing a wide variety of courses, he had never had one sit in on one of his.  The students were ignoring it, just as they would have on the street, where the sheer quantity of imitation aliens, the Saucerites, diluted the impact of the few genuine aliens.

“You see?” he said.  “We can’t help ourselves, can we?  Show us something, and we have to improve on it.  At least change it.  Make it more complicated, even quite rococo.  A tool like this, a story, a religion, a language.  We never stop, and that’s something new.

“And we don’t really seem to be driven by necessity.  Sure, there are plenty of times when the changes we make seem to have a purpose.  To solve problems.  But there are plenty when they don’t, when we seem to be pursuing change for change’s sake.”  Click–a classic car meet, rows of antique cars with elaborate grills and fins.  “And the result is human culture, civilization, technology.”

Gabe hesitated before musing aloud, “Human only?”  He eyed the Placoderm in the back row thoughtfully.  Would it take offense at being brought into the discussion?  For all the peaceful intentions the alien species had loudly declared when they had appeared a few years before, they were surely quite capable of showing their displeasure.  Their embassies could not be broken into by stealth or force.  Why would the aliens be so good at defense if they had never had anyone to defend against?  And these would be the winners, the ones who had prevailed against the defenses of others.  Or their descendants.  Evolution in action for societies and technologies.

The next step was in the syllabus.  So don’t worry about it, he told himself.  “There are profound differences between humans and our alien visitors.”  Several heads twitched to peek at the back of the hall.  Click-click, click-click, click-click, a Placoderm, an Ent, a Spider, a Burd, a Furry, a Helf.

“Major differences,” Gabe repeated.  Similarities too, of course.  It had actually shocked some biologists to see them eat our food.  Earthly proteins have a left-hand twist, sugars and starches a right-hand twist, all due to a flip of the coin at the dawn of life, and lefties cannot digest righties, and vice versa.  Surely the coins must flip the other way on other worlds, and we should–sometimes, anyway–be toxic to each other, or at least non-nutritious.  Other biologists, who had insisted that biochemistry was just the way the parts went together, were delighted.  So were chefs, who very quickly noticed that some of the aliens tended to think of human dishes–even those heavy on chili peppers and wasabi–as rather bland.  Unfortunately, the aliens would not provide samples of their own herbs and spices.

Anatomy had raised similarly mixed feelings.  The aliens were all roughly humanoid, with heads and arms and legs and hands, and their voices worked in the human range.  Some had wished for slugs and insects, telepaths and color flashers.  Others had said, hey, it works, and besides the really weird aliens probably didn’t want to look at us anyway.

“They evolved from different stock,” he went on.  “They had to suit different environments.  For instance, we think the Helfs come from a high-gravity world.  Their broad base offers exceptional stability, which must be to protect the more fragile upper portion.

“The Furries–the chitinous caps may reflect a shelled ancestor, something like a crab, just as the pen of a cuttlefish is the vestigial remnant of a mollusk’s shell.  The fur does not suggest an aquatic ancestry, but there are Earthly crabs that live on land.

“These differences, these adaptations, these very different backgrounds or contexts in which the patterns of their thoughts were formed, must be reflected in their cultures.  Do Burds lay eggs?  Then perhaps, where we associate the opening up of potentials with emergence, as of a baby emerging from the womb, they associate it with breakage, with shattering.”

He noticed a few skeptical looks, but he went on anyway.  “Do Helfs think of intelligence–that delicate upper body, head and brain–as in some sense a passenger on the solid, animal base?  That might affect attitudes toward the natural world, and such a species might never face the sort of environmental crises we have had to deal with.

“I’m guessing, of course.  They haven’t shared that much about themselves.  But of some things we can be sure: They’re all intelligent, they plan, they speak, perhaps they laugh.  And of course they are just as much technological beings as humans are.  Just as much the creators of advanced civilizations.  They couldn’t be on Earth otherwise.”

A hand: “Mr. Gortley?”  A chubby fellow, hairline already receding.

“How can you say such things?”  He seemed genuinely puzzled.  “Aren’t they far too superior to us to be compared that way?”

Gabe hoped his smile did not seem condescending.  “You feel I’m guilty of lesé majesté.”  Gortley nodded tentatively, not sure of the phrase.  “But we compare ourselves to apes and monkeys and dogs and cats.”

A girl to the side of the room spoke up: “That’s okay.  It wouldn’t be if the cat was doing the comparing.”

“A matter of direction?”

Several nods, yes, only the high can have the privilege of comparing themselves to the low.  Then Gortley was leaning forward. “It’s more fundamental than that.  Your whole thrust is that humans thought up their own advancements, but it’s obvious that we had help.”

“Ancient astronauts?  The Shining Ones who taught primitive humanity how to weave and farm and build?”

More nods, yes, this was what they had heard all their lives from Sunday supplements and tabloid feeds, TV and film, even in novels.  Not, he hoped, in school.  And the flourishing of Saucerites that had followed the aliens’ arrival had only strengthened the tide of rumor.

“The pyramids?”

“Of course!”  Gortley obligingly took the bait.  “How could mere humans build such mighty things so long ago?”

Cynthia Worth flipped the pages of her textbook and called out, “Page 217.”

Someone laughed.  Several more joined in as they got the joke.  Gortley flushed.

Gabe grinned at the class, and especially at Ms. Worth.  Yes, the reproduction of the tomb paintings showing how the pyramids were assembled.  Time was what it had taken, time and the effort of ten thousand strong backs and pairs of hands, not the machines of alien construction crews who could erect an impregnable Embassy almost overnight.  Not to mention all the trial and error, visible in the oldest pyramids of all, half-finished and collapsed, that it had taken the Pharaohs’ architects to get it right.

“A great many other ancient construction projects have also baffled modern understanding,” he said.  “Temporarily, anyway.  For instance, the statues of Easter Island, and they make a nice assignment for Friday.  A bit of research and a small report on how they were quarried, moved, and erected.  Please notice that our forebears right here on Earth were not dummies.”

He glanced at the back row, but the Plac was no longer there.  He wished he had noticed when it rose and sidled between the seats toward the door.  Perhaps it had just been beating the rush, the mob of students gathering their books and bags.  Those with another class or a work assignment next period moved faster, even sprinting toward the exit.  The rest seemed quite content to clot the aisles, drift toward the door, pausing, moving, always chattering.  As far as Gabe could tell, not a word of the chatter dealt with his lecture.

He had no idea why the Plac had shown up for this class and none of those before, or what it had hoped to learn, although his syllabus was posted on the Net.  It could have seen what he planned to talk about today, could have thought it might be interesting.  Or amusing, more likely, a provincial ape pretending that it shared its essential apeness with the gods themselves.  Was it lesé majesté to do so?  Perhaps, but he could hardly refrain, ape that he was. . . .

*   *   *

The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy by Thomas A. Easton is now available at the NRP website.  Look for it in coming days at Amazon.com and B&N.com and other e-book retailers.

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Don’t forget. . .

that we are currently giving away copies of Born in Blood, Kate Paulk’s prequel to her new novel Impaler, as well as B. Quick, a mystery by C. S. Laurel.

Also, don’t forget to check out our latest novels, Nocturnal Origins and Death of a Musketeer.

Finally, check back tomorrow for a snippet from Tom Easton’s novel, The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy, which will be published later in the week.

 

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The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy by Tom Easton

Today’s post is by Tom Easton, author of The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy (April 2011) and Firefight (August 2011).

# # #

The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy began as a back-of-the-envelope calculation in the middle of an evening anthropology class.

I was trying to tell my students that our forebears were not as dumb as people often make them out to be.  Go back a couple of million years and, sure, they had small brains and brow ridges and looked like the second cousins to chimps that they were.  But nobody was setting them any examples when it came to inventing new technologies.  Whatever they came up with, they came up with entirely on their own.  And there weren’t very many of them to do it.

People today have absolutely no clue what a stroke of genius the first chipped stone represented, or the first basket, or even the first leaf folded to make a drinking cup.  Today we think of such things as rather primitive, suitable perhaps for a “Survivor” episode.  We’re way beyond them, and new ideas are so common that we yawn a bit even at a Moon rocket, a computer, or an iPhone.  New ideas are also rather to be expected, for they just keep coming.  Every inventor has thousands of years of predecessors–example setters if you will–leaning over his or her shoulder and saying, “Of course you can do it!  You’re human!  It’s what we do!”

At any rate, that night I suddenly paused, thought for a moment, and said, “Y’know…”  I then turned to the board and started making a list of great ideas–ideas without predecessors, ideas that later folks could modify into thousands of important inventions.  Chipping stone was one.  So was the wheel, fermentation (bread, beer, penicillin…), and so on.  The list quickly grew to about 50 items.  I then added rough estimates for the dates of these inventions, and then of the approximate world population at those dates.  After a bit of arithmetic, I turned back to the class with an awed tone in my voice.  It appeared that for the last 2.5 million years, we had been coming up with great ideas at a roughly constant rate: one idea per million people per 20,000 years.

Later I refined the list, the dates, and the population estimates.  The constant changed a bit–instead of “every 20,000 years,” I had to say “every 20-100,000 years”–but it was still pretty steady.  I also noticed the rather surprising feature that over the last 130 years, the rate of great-idea innovation had declined.  The, without saying much about that apparent decline, I turned it all into an article for the online science fiction magazine, Tomorrowsf (January-February 1998 issue), and moved on.   You can read the article at http://www.sff.net/people/teaston/front7.htp .

A little while later, I began to think about the way the rate of great-idea innovation had dropped off.  I began to wonder why such a thing should happen, and I came up with a the kind of possible answer it’s really hard to take seriously.  Certainly if I had tried to make a magazine article out of it, it would have branded me forever as a crackpot. But as fiction, it could work.

Want to know what my answer was?  You can wait and read the novel, or you can make your own guesses.  Post them here, and we’ll blow fanfares for the best ones.

 

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New Schedule Announced

Let me start out by once again thanking everyone who submitted either short stories or novels to us in November.  We received quite a few submissions and it was difficult to choose exactly which ones to sign.  However, our editorial board was up to the task and contracts have been sent out and returned.  Now I have the pleasure of announcing the schedule for the first quarter of 2011 as well as some of the titles we will be publishing later this year.

January

The e-arc for Dave Freer’s YA novella, Without A Trace, is already available for purchase.

A Deeper Silence, a collection of short stories by Charles Edgar Quinn.

Legion, a short story by Dave Freer and Kate Paulk.

February

Lawyers of Mars by Pam Uphoff.

Short story collection by Dan Hoyt, title to be announced later.

Death of a Musketeer by Sarah D’Almeida.  This is the first of the Musketeer Mysteries and has never appeared in digital format.  We are very pleased to be able to add this title to our catalog and to announce that we will be offering later this year The Musketeer’s Confessor, a new book in the series.

We will also offer an as yet to be determined short story or two this month.

March

Impaler by Kate Paulk.  A mix of alternate history, historical mystery and a new take on the Dracula myth.  This is the follow-up novel to Kate’s novella, Born in Blood.

Hunter’s Moon by Ellie Ferguson is a mix of urban fantasy and romance.

Blood Ransom, a short story collection by Sarah A. Hoyt.

Last, but certainly not least, we will be offering our own irreverent take on St. Patrick’s Day, much in the vein of Robert Hoyt’s Christmas Campaign.

April

The Great Flying Saucer Conspiracy by Tom Easton.  Tom will be doing a guest blog for us later this month complete with information about the book and a giveaway.

An as yet to be titled short story collection by Dave Freer.

Want, a short story by Jay Caselberg that came to us during our November submission period.

Skipping Stones, a short story by Darwin Garrison that also came to us during the November submission period.

May

Revocare, a short story by Leslie Fish that was submitted to us during November.

Here There Be Faeries, a short story by Stephen Simmons that came to us also during the November submission period.

There will be at least one novel added to the lineup.  We’ll announce which title as soon as possible.

Summer/Fall/Winter

Among the titles we’ll be offering the second half of the year are the following:

The Musketeer’s Confessor by Sarah D’Almeida.  This is a new title in the Musketeers Mysteries and we are very excited to be able to offer it to you.

Firefight by Tom Easton will be published in August.

Tiltamouse is Hunger, a YA novella by Sarah A. Hoyt.

Vengeance Mine, a mystery by Jenny Schall that is also a product of the November submission period.

ConVent by Kate Paulk.

Robert A. Hoyt’s holiday collection which includes Christmas Campaign.

These are just a few of the titles we’ll be bringing you over the next year.  As new titles are added, we’ll let you know.

 

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