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Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

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Good News for a Friend…

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Sometimes, it’s fun to be an author. And to have friends.

(And an author with friends…priceless? But I digress…let’s get to the good stuff.)

I’m very happy to let you know that my friend, Jason Cordova, and his co-writer Eric S. Brown have sold their entire Kaiju Apocalypse trilogy to Takeshobo, a major Japanese publisher. They are both incredibly excited about this.

Plus, as Eric Brown said on Facebook, “Personally, I think it’s awesome that we sold KAIJU to the birthplace of kaiju.” (And he put four smiley faces after it. which gives you an idea of how jazzed he is about this.)

Jason’s comment on Facebook was this: “This is a big deal. We’re talking print run that makes people notice. This is huge for Eric and I, and we’ve been forced to sit on the news for months.”

So, I’m very pleased to let you know that Jason and Eric are expanding their world domination to Japan. (And I’m not even being sarcastic.)

But if you want to read their Kaiju series now, you should take a look at this following link to the three-book set of e-books from Amazon, and go get them for yourself:

So, there you have it! (Go forth and multiply, or something.)

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Written by Barb Caffrey

April 27, 2017 at 1:44 pm

Jason Cordova’s “Wraithkin” — and Music?

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Folks, it seems to be my week for stories, so let me tell you another one.

Years ago — I’m not sure how many, now — my late husband Michael told me, “Barb, I swear, you think in music, not words.” It was Michael’s contention that every time I wrote something, I was automatically translating it from the music I heard in my head.

I don’t know if that’s true or not, mind. But it was a poetic conceit he enjoyed, and as such, I appreciated it.

For some reason, that came to mind when I recently read an advance reader copy of Jason Cordova’s WRAITHKIN. Something about this book reminds me of a musical suite, and as I’m both a musician and a writer, I thought I’d use that to my advantage to try to explain why I like this book so much.

As I’m having no luck today uploading the cover, here’s the blurb instead:

How far would a man go to protect those he loved? For Gabriel Espinoza, the answer was simple: to the ends of the universe.

When a failed genetic test ruins his life, Gabriel and his fiancée prepare to run to a world where the laws aren’t as strict. There they could remain, in peace, for the remainder of their days, their love unspoiled by the strict regime which controls the Dominion of Man.

But Fate is a cruel, fickle mistress.

Torn from the only woman he had ever loved, Gabriel is prepared to burn the galaxy to get her back.

How far would a man go to protect the empire he was sworn to uphold? For Andrew Espinoza, the answer was a bit more complicated.

Torn between family loyalty and his duty to his country, Andrew must infiltrate a rich and powerful clan to determine if they are plotting against the Dominion of Man, but while undercover he discovers something far darker and more dangerous is lurking in the shadows, and he is the only man who can stop it.

But Fate is a cruel, fickle mistress.

How far will Andrew go to ensure the success of his mission?

One brother must save himself; the other must save the universe. But can either survive long enough to achieve their goal?

Now, here are my musically-related thoughts:

To my mind, WRAITHKIN is like a symphony in four parts. First, we have a slower, quieter, more intense first movement, where all the major themes are laid out. We meet Gabe and Sophie, see their love for one another, see it dashed after Gabe fails a genetic test (technically, he’s supposed to be sterilized right away, but his family is wealthy and powerful and keeps that from happening), and then they attempt to run away.

But Sophie has to pretend to be angry, and leaves her world in feigned grief and despair, meaning she goes out to a lightly defended colony world all but undefended. And when Gabe finds out that world has been attacked, and Sophie is missing, he vows revenge.

Then we have the second movement, which is more about Gabe’s brother, Andrew. Andrew is a spy, pure and simple, or if you’d rather, he’s a chameleon/mole. He has been trained to do what he does, but because of that, he submerges himself in other people’s roles — or, as this is my blog, the music of other people’s thoughts. So while the second movement moves faster, and hints at much, it uses similar themes as the first, but reversed and in retrograde…as befits a symphony, where many things must come together to make a greater whole.

The third movement is about how Gabe meets up with a bunch of guys in his position — they all have failed genetic tests, so are considered expendables, the lowest of the low. But they all want to serve…something. Or at least blow up stuff. So there’s training involved, and a bunch of gadgetry to use, and all the military SF trappings that are required are there for the use…almost as if there’s a template for the third movement.

Still, there are touches of humor. Pathos. Genuine characterization. Friendship, all unlooked for, and camaraderie, too…proving, as if there was any doubt whatsoever, that new music can be reminiscent of older music, but still pack a walloping punch.

Then comes the fourth movement. Andrew and Gabe must somehow complete their joint missions. Will they manage to do this, or won’t they? And what will be the consequences either way?

This fourth movement ties up all the themes of the book nicely, and lays hints for books to come…kind of like how if you’ve heard one symphony by Haydn or Brahms or Mozart, you want to go hear another one if you’re smart. They all have things in common, sure, but they’re all a little different and they all have much to teach you, much for you to appreciate, and much to savor, time after time…

Anyway, I liked Jason’s book quite a bit, in case you couldn’t tell. I think it has a little bit of everything. Slam-bang action. Romance. Family. Friendship. A big canvas, with a dystopian government to be alternately fought and defended…Jason’s writing keeps getting better and better, and this is a story to immerse yourself in fully.

That’s why I compared it to music, and I hope you’ll understand why, once you read it.

(And do go read it, will you? If you like milSF, you will love this book. And even if you don’t, but like big novels full of life and vigor, you will still love this book…)

Written by Barb Caffrey

December 16, 2016 at 1:55 pm

Two New Books from Friends to Share…

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Folks, it’s Saturday. Time turns to reading, at least for me…sometimes to book reviewing, too (though I’m way behind on that, I do intend to get back to it sooner or later).

Today, I have two great books to share with you, especially if you enjoy military science fiction/adventure stories.

ConfederatedStarSystems_medFirst, my friend Loren K. Jones’s second e-book from Twilight Times Books is out; it’s a short story collection called STORIES OF THE CONFEDERATED STAR SYSTEMS. I edited this book, and it’s a fun, fast read with a lot of great stories…right now, it’s only ninety-nine cents, too! (That won’t last long.) I grabbed my e-book copy right away, and hope you will, too.

Edited to add: If you want a copy from OmniLit, go here; if you want a copy from Barnes and Noble.com, go here. I now return you to your regularly scheduled blog post, already in progress…

“But Barb,” you protest. “I want to know what I’m getting into, before I buy this book, even for ninety-nine cents.”

Ah. Well, I have you covered…there is a free sample of Loren’s newest up right now at the Twilight Times Books website.

“So, who’s your other friend, Barb, that you’re ‘pimping’ today?”

Hmmm. I’d not use that word, quite…it’s more of an informative thing, really.

“Spit it out, Barb.”

OK, OK. My friends Jason Cordova and Chris Smith recently released KRAKEN MARE as an e-book. It’s about a disillusioned former Marine, who stumbles onto a mystery after taking a job on Titan’s moon. But it’s not a benign mystery; oh, no. (That would be too easy.) Instead, it’s a mystery that will “shock the foundations of the universe…something out of a nightmare,” as the book description says.

I don’t have a picture to add to this one…but I can tell you I’ve read several chapters already, and am enjoying it quite a bit. (No one does military SF/horror hybrids quite like Jason Cordova. And Chris Smith’s influence is felt in myriad ways…this book will not disappoint.)

Hope you enjoy them!

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 16, 2016 at 11:29 am

Friendship, and the SF Controversy “du jour”

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Folks, I continue to be consumed by my edit for A LITTLE ELFY IN BIG TROUBLE, which is the main reason I haven’t been online to blog in the past week-plus.

But there are other reasons.

One of them caused me to ponder what the meaning of the word “friendship” is all about. For when someone knows you for a long time, there is a presumption that if there’s a disagreement — regardless of what the disagreement is about — the other person will listen to you.

He or she may not agree with what you’ve said. But the other person will at least listen, and try to understand.

During this past week, I’ve seen more distress coming out of the community of science fiction and fantasy writers than I’ve ever seen before. I can’t really summarize this for people who don’t understand it, and it seems like “inside baseball” unless you’ve been caught in the crosshairs of this particular bit of internecine strife.

But the upshot of it is this: Writers are fighting other writers, mostly using words — something writers are very good at using, by definition. And rather than trying to find any common ground with one another, writers are continuing to duke it out with our words instead.

How does this have anything to do with friendship, you ask?

It’s simple. I have a friend, Jason Cordova, who got nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in SF&F — the John W. Campbell Award. He got nominated due to the auspices of a group that many other long-term SF&F writers do not like (this group being called the “Sad Puppies”). Jason was not the only writer to be nominated by the “Sad Puppies,” mind you, but he’s the one I know the best.

He is my friend. (You may have gathered this, yes?)

So when some long-term writers started saying that all the people who’d been nominated by the “Sad Puppies” were racists, or homophobic bigots, or the like, I protested. (Anyone who regularly reads my blog knows that I am not shy about such things.)

Jason is Hispanic. He has a sister who’s married to another woman. He is far from wealthy. He is an honored and honorable veteran of the military. And he’s written some lovely short stories along with his solo novel, CORRUPTOR, and several co-written novels with Eric S. Brown, most particularly KAIJU APOCALYPSE and MURDER WORLD.

I don’t think Jason in a million years thought that he’d ever be considered for the John W. Campbell Award, whether the “Sad Puppies” nominated him or not. But he was.

And, being a friend, I congratulated him. And then defended him, even though he probably did not need my defense, because that is what friends do.

To make things a bit more complex, one of the people who was upset was also my friend. This person saw my defense and became irate.

Instead of asking me what I was about, this person walked away. At this point, I don’t know if this person will ever return, either.

Now, there’s a whole lot I’m leaving out, partly by design. (As I said, it’s “inside baseball” for those who aren’t following it — lucky you.)

But the important thing is this: If you are my friend, I know we’re not always going to agree on everything.

(How boring would the world be if we did? But I digress.)

What I would hope we’d agree on is the fact that our friendship deserves at least a little care. A little understanding. A little bit of hope that maybe, just maybe, common ground can be re-established.

I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten upset with my friends, including Jason at times. I’m sure he’s gotten upset with me, too. We don’t agree in our political philosophy, we don’t always agree on other issues…but we are friends, and we work things out — sometimes by agreeing to disagree, sometimes by trying to meet each other halfway.

This is what friends do.

I wish that the SF&F community could try to do that now. Because SF&F writers have far more in common with each other than we do with anyone else…and it’s sad that instead of using our immense energy and creativity to create new worlds with, we’re instead savaging each other.

And as for my other friend? I will care about this person until the day I die. I owe this person a great deal, and I haven’t forgotten this.

But like Lillian Hellman, I will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.

******
Note: I thought long and hard before writing this. I am willing to discuss the issues of friendship and whether or not SF&F writers can somehow try to find common ground with one another again. Anything else will probably raise my blood pressure unduly; besides, there are many other places discussing these issues in far greater depth than I am.

I’ve taken a general course mostly because I wanted those who are just finding out about this issue to understand just how messy this nonsense is. I’ve already lost one friend over this because I chose to defend another friend I felt was being unjustly attacked.

I neither like nor dislike the “Sad Puppies.” I do respect many of them, most particularly Brad Torgersen and Amanda S. Green. (Before anyone asks, we’re not going to discuss the merits of the “Rabid Puppies” group right now. Or the lack thereof.) I feel they have a right to be heard, and under the rules, they did nothing objectionable. But to some, me saying that is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

And I neither like nor dislike the vast majority of writers on the other side of this mess.

One thing I do know, though: No one should be threatening anyone else over this. Ever.

Anyway, the floor is open. I welcome comments, providing they are civil. Any that aren’t will be deleted. (You have been warned.)

Written by Barb Caffrey

April 13, 2015 at 6:31 am

#MFRWAuthor RT Day is Tomorrow…and Other Stuff

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Folks, tomorrow is Marketing for Romance Writers’ monthly ReTweet event. As I’m a member of MarketingforRomanceWriters.org (which you can find on Twitter as @MFRW_ORG), I’ve signed up to take part in something called a “Thunderclap,” which causes many Tweets and Facebook messages to go out at once as I understand it. (I’ve never taken part in a Thunderclap before, so that’s all I can tell you regarding this particular promotion.)

MFRW Author's Blog

Mind, I always support #MFRWAuthor RT Day — the hashtag works out to “Marketing for Romance Writers Author” and of course “RT” means ReTweet — because I find the Marketing for Romance Writers group to be quite beneficial. They help you to understand marketing, for one (as I’m sure you’d expect, considering their name and all), as they are fellow writers who’ve all walked — or who are now walking — the same path you are. MarketingforRomanceWriters.org tends to help indie or small press authors the most, as we need the most help because we don’t have major publishers behind us. But it’s a group that will help any writer if he or she is willing to acknowledge what they do in return…do check them out (they have both a website and a blog as well as a Yahoo Group), as they are an invaluable resource.

Aside from that, I’ve been editing, doing a spot of writing, and editing some more, as per usual.

I do have some semi-bad news to report as my newest short story was rejected by the Writers of the Future contest. I call this “semi-bad” only because I am happy I wrote the story; while I’d have appreciated it if WOTF had loved it the way I do, it’s OK that they didn’t. (You wouldn’t believe how many thousands of stories they get during each quarter.)

Aside from that, Jason Cordova has been mentioned as a possible choice for the John W. Campbell Award. I know Jason quite well, as I’ve worked with him over at Shiny Book Review for years (yes, I intend to write a review this week; why did you ask?), and I’ve read most of his output. His first novel, CORRUPTOR, came out in 2010, but didn’t sell enough to be considered a first, qualifying pro story — which means he’s still eligible to win the Campbell Award.

“But Barb,” you say. “Aren’t you eligible, too? AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE came out last April, so you should qualify…right?”

Well, therein lies a tale. I sold my first story, a co-written affair with my late husband Michael, to the BEDLAM’S EDGE anthology back in 2004 (edited by Mercedes Lackey and the inestimable Rosemary Edghill). That was definitely a qualifying pro sale under the rules, albeit a qualifying half-sale (as Michael receives credit for the other half, which made perfect sense to me at the time and still does).

My second pro-qualifying sale, I believe, was made last year after I sold a story to STARS OF DARKOVER (edited by Deborah J. Ross and Elisabeth Waters). (I say “I believe” because I can’t remember when SFWA raised their rates for a pro-qualifying story from .05/word to .06/word. Under the new SFWA guidelines, this story would not count.)

And that’s it as far as pro-qualifying sales go. Everything else I’ve written to date, including AN ELFY ON THE LOOSE, leaves me eligible for the Writers of the Future Contest, meaning I’m largely unknown. (Something I’ve said all along, mind.) But because of my one, early half-sale, I believe I am ineligible for the John W. Campbell Award.

Even if I were eligible, I’d be astonished if anyone nominated me.

Why? I’m not known. (Neither is my late husband Michael, despite my efforts to the contrary — and his while he was still here.)

Anyway, Jason’s much better-known than I am. He also has more short stories and novels (some co-written with Eric S. Brown) to his credit than I do, and has more on the way. He definitely deserves to be considered for the Campbell Award as he remains eligible, and I’d love to see him win it.

EDITED TO ADD: My friend Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s novel SPIRAL PATH is eligible for the World Fantasy Award, the Andre Norton Award, the Nebula, the Hugo Award for Best Novel, and even the Newbery Medal. I reviewed SPIRAL PATH at SBR last September; I’d anxiously awaited it for over a year, and I was not disappointed. So please, do not forget about her and her excellent work…you could not ask for a better writer. (Or a better person, though awards do not measure that, usually.)

Back to my original post, already in progress…

Aside from that, to answer a few questions — Yes, my hand is better. (Thank goodness.) And yes, I’m definitely looking forward to Spring Training. (Go, Brewers, Go!)

If you have any questions for me, go ahead and ask in the comments…I’ll do my best to answer, as always.

Labor Day Book Sale (Not Mine)…and Other Stuff

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Folks, Saturday was one of those days around Chez Caffrey.

Why? Well, Saturday was the day my car decided to stop running. And this looks to be a major repair, something I had not been expecting as I bought the car in late 2011 used with just under 40K miles on it from a reputable local auto dealer, am now up to 67K miles or thereabouts, and it was under warranty for the first 60K miles.

So my car is a piddly seven thousand miles over the extended warranty. And it’s now facing a major repair, cost as yet unknown as it’s a holiday weekend and there’s no way I can get an estimate until the garage I frequent opens on Tuesday morning.

This was obviously not in my plans, to put it mildly.

And because of this unexpected, unanticipated problem, the review I’d hoped to write over at Shiny Book Review (SBR for short) had to be postponed yet again. (Now I hope to write something next Wednesday evening, as that’s the best available day for me to write a book review next week.)

Anyway, I’d much rather talk about books — and most particularly, sales on those same books — than car repairs any day. So let’s get to it!

Writer Amanda S. Green has listed a number of writers — quite a healthy number, in fact — who have priced their novels, novellas, and stories at $2.99 or less for the entirety of Labor Day weekend. This is called the Labor Day Weekend Promotional Sale (or as I put it, the 2014 Labor Day book sale, for short), and features many authors whose work I’ve either reviewed over at SBR or who I’ve known for years, one way or another, including:

And, of course, Ms. Green herself (among many, many others — way too many to list).**

Now, just in case you’re wondering what kinds of stories are available, here’s just a few of the categories available:

  • Urban Fantasy (what, you thought I was going to list anything else in the first position, being an urban fantasist myself? For shame.)
  • Romance of all sorts (including paranormal)
  • Alternate History
  • Horror
  • hard SF
  • military SF
  • fantasy (dark and bright)
  • nonfiction

. . . and much, much more!

And did I mention that all of these stories are available for $2.99 or less? (Yes? Well, I’m excited about that, so it’s not surprising.)

Please go and check out Amanda Green’s page listing all of the books taking part in the 2014 Labor Day book sale. Because who knows? You may just find yourself a new, favorite author, all because of your love of cheap books. (Who said being cheap can’t pay off?)

———-

** I like book sales, whether I’m a part of them or not. Hope you do, too!

The Archon Mess — Context, Anyone?

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For the past several days, I’ve been bemused by the current controversy regarding the Archon science fiction convention and Archon’s disinvitation of Tim Bolgeo as Fan Guest of Honor. I don’t understand why a science fiction convention would first invite someone, then disinvite the same someone, without giving that person a chance for a fair hearing.

I’m also more than a little disquieted by the fact that social media played such a big part in Tim Bolgeo’s disinvitation. It appears that one person — just one — was offended by something Mr. Bolgeo wrote in a private publication, and believed it to be racist and inflammatory. And that one individual, after not getting his way behind closed doors, took to social media to stir up a whole lot of bad feelings in order to get his way.

But what he did was wrong. It’s like a two-year-old having a temper tantrum until he gets what he wants. Most parents know better than to give the two-year-old whatever it is, but some can’t be bothered to wait out the temper tantrum so they give the kid whatever and hope it’ll all blow over.

Temper tantrums of this sort shouldn’t be tolerated.

Besides, considering we are SF&F writers and/or readers, aren’t we supposed to understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, with all different sorts of political views?

I believe firmly that as American citizens, we’re supposed to believe in free speech. It’s the First Amendment to the Constitution, for pity’s sake . . . and it used to be that whether you were a moderate Democrat, like me, or a conservative Republican like, say, Rush Limbaugh, you’d defend the other person’s right to say anything he or she pleased — even if you didn’t like it.

When did it become OK to shout down someone you don’t like in this country? Is it because of the increasing polarization of our politics that we can’t seem to remember that we actually have more in common with each other than not?

In this case, Tim Bolgeo’s free speech rights were shouted down by one person who took to the Internet to get his way. And as far as I can tell from reading many, many good blogs on the subject (including several pro-Archon blogs), Mr. Bolgeo never got a chance to explain the comments Archon found offensive or to put them in any sort of context.

And I’m sorry. Context does matter.

Any writer or editor knows this.

Context matters. So showing a bunch of things out of context isn’t just wrong under these circumstances. It’s deceitful and offensive.

Because my friends Jason Cordova and Stephanie Osborn both know Mr. Bolgeo, and I don’t, I wanted to share with you a bit of each of their blog posts on this particular subject.**

First, take a gander at Jason’s blog, where he lays out just how stupid Archon is for knuckling under to social media pressure in less than 24 hours:

I’m going to tell you a little story about a good man who has been slandered and libeled by one individual who is hiding behind the anonymity of the Internets. That good man? Tim “Uncle Timmy” Bolgeo.

You see, a pathetic troll whose name I’m not going to bother typing (because it’s a nickname that the individual hides behind because they’re afraid of owning up to their actions) has, after taking random snippets of conversations and tacky jokes that Uncle Timmy publishes on something called “The Revenge”, managed to get Uncle Timmy uninvited from Archon this year. Archon, apparently, is “listening to the fans” (the one who has slandered and committed libel, but we won’t get into that at the moment) and decided that it was in their best interest to not have Uncle Timmy as their Fan Guest of Honor this year.

Next, take a look at Stephanie’s blog, which discusses just how stupid it is to describe Tim Bolgeo as a racist:

Uncle Timmy is not some redneck unlearned hillbilly. He is a nuclear engineer who made a successful career at the Tennessee Valley Authority, working on nuclear reactors, only recently retired. He is a thinking man. He puts out a newsletter of information, jokes, and other such that he and his readers (I’m one) run across, and he discusses them, and he invites and prints discussion by his readers on that information. Sometimes this involves putting a distasteful story into the newsletter so that he can point out a fallacy. Somehow some anonymous person took a couple of these and twisted them around to make it look like Uncle Timmy believed that tripe AND AGREED WITH IT.

Nothing could be farther from the truth — I’ve had any number of conversations with Timmy, and he is fair-minded, “color blind,” and I have never, EVER, heard the word “bigot” used in the same sentence with his name until today. And yes, I said today. Insofar as I have been able to determine, from the original protest to the revocation of the invitation took less than 24 hrs.

So there you have it, folks. We have another controversy in the SF&F community that’s been worsened significantly due to social media.

And the only good thing about this — the one, single, solitary blessed thing — is that it’s given more than a few SF&F writers, including yours truly, the opportunity to point out the importance of free speech.

But the price was too damned high.

———–
**Note that my blog, Jason’s blog and Stephanie’s blog all are positive uses of social media. I’m obviously not against social media. (I type this reflexive disclaimer due to some of the nonsense I’m already seeing on Facebook regarding the many excellent blogs that have taken Archon to task over this, including Cedar Sanderson’s, Amanda Green’s over at the Mad Genius Club, and Quilly Mammoth’s.)