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That Shall Live in Infamy

This Wednesday is the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Japanese attack upon Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into World War II. As such, I'd like to take the opportunity to remind everyone of Joseph T Major's wonderful alternate historical family saga. While many works of alternate history begin with the big, visible point of divergence, his begins with the slow but steady cumulative effect of different choices by ordinary people in extraordinary situations in the US, in the UK, in Europe and at sea.

Bitter Weeds by Joseph T. Major

"There are bitter weeds in England." The Dunkirk Evacuation was a great deliverance. But some of the soldiers did not make it. If someone had only known . . . A troubled man, a man divided between two nations and several natures, delivered from the continent, pursues a twisted course in a wilderness of mirrors to serve his masters. A woman staging a great pretense that is almost true finds herself in the heart of darkness, seeing the advance of evil. Their relatives and connections each struggle with his or her own burdens as the horrors of war spread. The simple kindness of stopping to give the dead some small dignity begins a wave of change that will wash across the world, in this first volume of a series highlighting the great and the petty, the powerful and the victims, and finding both pain and hope.

No Hint of War by Joseph T. Major

As America is flung into the World War, a troubled man and a secretive woman are brought together across the world, while they and their families find themselves engaged all over the world. Against their struggled, the United States girds itself for war, the United Kingdom and its Empire settle down to meet their fate, and battles take place by sea, air, and land. The great and the small are set on the course to victory, the long struggle that must be won, In this second novel of the series, the story continues with its characters going forward to triumph or disaster.

The Road to the Sea by Joseph T. Major

On the world scale, the Allied powers mass their forces and prepare to confront the Axis on their home grounds.
On the individual scale, the newlyweds try to build a life together while the shattered groom tries to repair his spirit.
The home front sees more stringencies and more pressures while the fighting men and women have to prepare themselves to confront themselves and their foes.
However, some of the plans can have great effects, or great catastrophies, and as ships, planes, and poor bloody infantry slog it out across the world, the pressure of secret knowledge can be too much to bear.

An Irresponsible Gang by Joseph T. Major

It is not the beginning of the end, but the end of the beginning has been accomplished. Allied troops (including our protagonists) have landed on the shores of Normandy, but the Germans are resisting desperately, striking at both the troops and the civilians behind them.
But plots lurk in the depths of the conflict, and when they come together, the war takes a different and bizarre turn, with allegiances shifting, conflict spreading and shrinking, and decisions being made.
Across the world, the armies and navies are massing to crush the Japanese -- but how? Where? Decisions must be made, egos accommodated, and lives put at hazard.
While in between the fighting, domestic politics suddenly is thrown into turmoil and tumult, as counsels are struck down, command is shifted, and new and old forces take the stage.
Much has changed but much remains as our characters seek to survive and to pull themselves along and together in this new twist in the war.

The Ten Just Men by Joseph T. Major

The fighting in Europe is over but the war is not yet done. The allies cannot agree. The defeated must rebuild, faced with the problem of overcoming the last eleven years, of creating a new structure of society, of making some sort of economy.
All the while, the former allies are facing problems inside and out.
In the not very pacific Pacific, the power of the Allies is converging on the last enemy. The price needed to be paid to overcome them may be more than can be paid -- even if wonder weapons provide a final out.
In the midst of this tumult, ordinary people try to pick up and carry on, to bring new life into the world and to reconstruct existing life.
The war is grinding to an end . . . but only the dead have known the end of war.

(And while the US was dealing with the shock of a surprise attack, the USSR was reeling from an invasion. Leningrad, formerly the imperial capital of St. Petersburg, spent the next two and a half years besieged, a time of heroic endurance and horrific suffering.

Leiningrad/St. Petersburg is also a place where, in Russian literary tradition, the boundaries between the material world and the supernatural are apt to grow thin, particularly during the period of light at midnight known as the White Nights. My own story explores the intersection between history and literature).

The Shadow over Leningrad by Leigh Kimmel

In Stalin's Soviet Union, Tikhon Grigoriev lives a precarious life. He knows too much. He's seen too much. A single misstep could destroy him, and if he stumbles, he will take his family down with him. With Leningrad besieged by Nazi armies, the danger has only increased.

He's not a man who wants to come to the notice of those in high places. But when he solved a murder that seemed supernatural, impossible, he attracted the attention of Leningrad's First Party Secretary.

So when a plot of land grows vegetables of unusual size and vigor, and anyone who eats them goes mad, who should be called upon to solve the mystery but Tikhon Grigoriev. However, these secrets could get him far worse than a bullet in the head. For during the White Nights the boundaries between worlds grow thin, and in some of those worlds humanity can have no place.

If you'd like to have your indie or small press publications promoted in upcoming promo posts, let me know at
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Books for the Season

As Western Christendom begins Advent, the season of awaiting Christmas, I've put together some books for the season.

Whispered Magics by Sherwood Smith

As a child, Sherwood Smith was always on the watch for magic: no fog bank went unexplored, no wooden closet unchecked for a false back, no possible magical token left on the ground or in the gutter. In these nine stories, the impossible becomes possible, magic is real, aliens come visiting. How would our lives change?

(Contains one of my favorite Christmas short stories, "And Abideth These Three.")

The Workhouse War by Leigh Kimmel

An afternoon for sketching in peace – that was all Nadine Darby wanted. She thought she was taking a shortcut to get past an overgrown levee and gain a better view of the Mississippi for some landscape work. Instead she ended up somewhere else. A place called Elyssium, where the past walks alongside the present. Where you can see a modern car pull up and a Confederate Navy officer climb out, talking on a cellphone.

On the riverbank Nadine met a strange little man who told her he was an artist as well, and showed her his sketchbook to prove it. But no sooner had Nadine made her first friend than she discovered all was not well. She watched in helpless horror as a young man was pursued, arrested and beaten by thugs from an institution that goes by the official name of the City Orphanage, but is generally called the Workhouse by the inhabitants of Port of White Fleet.

Nadine can count herself fortunate that she fell into the company of a man who has little use for this organization. But his efforts to help her attain her artistic ambitions instead attract the attention she must avoid, and draws her into quarrels that have simmered for decades.

Can Nadine thread her way through the myriad perils of this world and save herself and her new-found friends? And even if she defeats the Workhouse, will it be at the cost of losing everything she's found here?

(Another Christmas story).
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Catching Up on Books

One of the things that's suffered while I was so crazy busy has been reading. I've had several different books I was reading, both fiction and not, physical and electronic. And all of them have been sitting waiting for me to return to them in more than bits and snatches of reading time.

But I haven't forgotten about reading, or books, or all of you out there. So I wanted a brief post to catch everyone back up on what's going on out there.

The Atlantis Grail by Vera Nazarian

From Book 1: You have two options. You die, or you Qualify.

The year is 2047. An extinction-level asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and the descendants of ancient Atlantis have returned from the stars in their silver ships to offer humanity help.

But there’s a catch.

They can only take a tiny percent of the Earth’s population back to the colony planet Atlantis. And in order to be chosen, you must be a teen, you must be bright, talented, and athletic, and you must Qualify.

Sixteen-year-old Gwenevere Lark is determined not only to Qualify but to rescue her entire family.

Because there’s a loophole.

If you are good enough to Qualify, you are eligible to compete in the brutal games of the Atlantis Grail, which grants all winners the laurels, high tech luxuries, and full privileges of Atlantis Citizenship. And if you are in the Top Ten, then all your wildest wishes are granted… Such as curing your mother’s cancer.

There is only one problem.

Gwen Lark is known as a klutz and a nerd. While she’s a hotshot in classics, history, science, and languages, the closest she’s come to sports is a backyard pool and a skateboard.

This time she is in over her head, and in for a fight of her life, against impossible odds and world-class competition—including Logan Sangre, the most amazing guy in her school, the one she’s been crushing on, and who doesn’t seem to know she exists.

Because every other teen on Earth has the same idea.

You Qualify or you die.

(The first two, Qualify and Compete, are currently out, and the third, Win, is on its way to completion.)

Visions VI: Galaxies by Carroll Fix, editor

With hundreds of billions of galaxies in the Universe and hundreds of billions of stars in most galaxies, the possibility of habitable planets other than our Earth is a certainty. When humankind spreads outward, as it must in order to survive, communication and interaction between galaxies must also reach unforeseen capabilities.

Life in a distant future, where moving between galaxies is accomplished with ease, will be different…yet in many ways the same. Human interaction is a constant—love, hate, trust, fear—emotional qualities of life cannot change. Or can they? What will future humans be like? For that matter, could our cousins already exist and be waiting for us to contact them?

(This is the latest in the series of anthologies that has involved successive steps outward from Earth. The previous one, Milky Way, included my story "The Long Shadow of a Dead God.")

She Dreams Day and Night by Leigh Kimmel

Nancy White they called her, a good, solid name for a troubled girl. But she knew her father had called her by another name, before he disappeared through the gate into another world of strange stars and stranger moons. No matter how hard the staff of Hildred House try to force her to forget, she remembers. And longs to reopen the gate, to rejoin her father on that alien shore where cloud-waves break.
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Crawling Out from Under

I've been a bit scarce the last few weeks, mainly because I've been doing three events on three successive weekends. The first was great (but exhausting), the second meh, and the third very disappointing. It's sad when you have no hotel expense, minimal gas, and only a very small booth cost, and it's all you can do to break even. I'd already decided we wouldn't be going back by noon, so getting on the promoter's wrong side because we couldn't get everything packed and loaded out fast enough wasn't quite so disastrous. Still, I would've preferred to have left on a high note rather than a bad one.

I'm going to try to get back to regular posting here again. Tomorrow after I unload the van I'm hoping to get another promo post up, so please, please let me know if you have something you'd like promoted.
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Books, Books, and More Books

Better than water, water everywhere, which is what our plumbing is threatening to give us. While we're trying to nurse a failing drain along until we can get a plumber out here to work on it, here are some delightfully spooky reads for Halloween.

Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland by L. Jagi Lamplighter

It’s Halloween at the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts, and Rachel Griffin is stirring up the dead!

All her life, Rachel has wanted to visit Beaumont Castle in the kingdom of Transylvania, the last known location of her hero, librarian-adventurer “Daring” Northwest. Only falling out of the land of dreams onto her face was not how she had expected to arrive.

Now, the castle is right there, looming over her. Only her best friend, the Princess of Magical Australia does not want to go in, so as to avoid an international incident. But what if the castle holds some clue as to her hero’s final fate?

And who was that mysterious figure hanging by the neck she glimpsed in the dreamlands, just before she fell. Could the Dead Men’s Ball, where the spooks and ghosts of the Hudson Highland gather once a year on Halloween to dance to the music of some very unexpected musicians, be the key to discovering the hanged man’s identity?

(The third in the Rachel Griffin series, which began with The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffith and continued in The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel, it will be on sale October 31 for Halloween.)

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian

Many are called... She alone can save the world and become Death's bride.

COBWEB BRIDE (Cobweb Bride Trilogy, Book One) is a history-flavored fantasy novel with romantic elements of the Persephone myth, about Death's ultimatum to the world.

What if you killed someone and then fell in love with them?

In an alternate Renaissance world, somewhere in an imaginary "pocket" of Europe called the Kingdom of Lethe, Death comes, in the form of a grim Spaniard, to claim his Bride. Until she is found, in a single time-stopping moment all dying stops. There is no relief for the mortally wounded and the terminally ill....

Covered in white cobwebs of a thousand snow spiders she lies in the darkness... Her skin is cold as snow... Her eyes frozen... Her gaze, fiercely alive...

While kings and emperors send expeditions to search for a suitable Bride for Death, armies of the undead wage an endless war... A black knight roams the forest at the command of his undead father… Spies and political treacheries abound at the imperial Silver Court.... Murdered lovers find themselves locked in the realm of the living...

Look closer—through the cobweb filaments of her hair and along each strand shine stars...

And one small village girl, Percy—an unwanted, ungainly middle daughter—is faced with the responsibility of granting her dying grandmother the desperate release she needs.

As a result, Percy joins the crowds of other young women of the land in a desperate quest to Death's own mysterious holding in the deepest forests of the North…

And everyone is trying to stop her.

Blood Spirits by Sherwood Smith

Everyone's favorite sword-wielding California girl returns-from the author of Coronets and Steel.

With the man she loves set to marry a look-alike princess, Kim Murray returns to California from the magical country of Dobrenica to heal her broken heart. But family politics soon have her leaving for London, where she is forced into a duel with a Dobrenican nobleman. He reveals that her great sacrifice, leaving Alec, was a disaster. To fix her mistake, Kim returns to Dobrenica, but what she finds there is far more shocking and dangerous than she ever imagined. Not just politics and personalities but ghosts and magic, murder and mystery, await her as she struggles to understand the many faces of love. Once again Kim has to take sword in hand as she tries to make peace and learn the truth. Only, whose truth?

(The sequel to Coronets and Steel, it delves deeper into the supernatural elements of Sherwood Smith's Ruritanian kingdom of Dobrenica).

Steampunk Cthulhu by Brian Sammons and Glynn Owen Barrass, editors

"We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

So said H.P. Lovecraft in the first chapter of his most famous story, "The Call of Cthulhu" (1926). This is also the perfect introduction to Steampunk Cthulhu, for within these stories mankind has indeed voyaged too far, and scientific innovations have opened terrifying vistas of reality, with insanity and worse as the only reward.

The Steampunk genre has always incorporated elements of science fiction, fantasy, horror and alternative history, and certainly the Cthulhu Mythos has not been a stranger to Steampunk. But until now there has never been a Steampunk Cthulhu collection, so here are 18 tales unbound from the tethers of mere airships, goggles, clockwork, and tightly bound corsets; stories of horror, sci-fi, fantasy and alternative realities tainted with the Lovecraftian and the Cthulhu Mythos. Here you will discover Victorian Britain, the Wild West era United States, and many other varied locations filled with anachronistic and sometimes alien technology, airships, submersibles and Babbage engines. But the Victorian era here is not only one of innovation and exploration, but of destruction and dread.

(This anthology includes my own short story "The Baying of the Hounds," which features Gilded Age heroes Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison).

The Shadow over Leningrad by Leigh Kimmel

In Stalin's Soviet Union, Tikhon Grigoriev lives a precarious life. He knows too much. He's seen too much. A single misstep could destroy him, and if he stumbles, he will take his family down with him. With Leningrad besieged by Nazi armies, the danger has only increased.

He's not a man who wants to come to the notice of those in high places. But when he solved a murder that seemed supernatural, impossible, he attracted the attention of Leningrad's First Party Secretary.

So when a plot of land grows vegetables of unusual size and vigor, and anyone who eats them goes mad, who should be called upon to solve the mystery but Tikhon Grigoriev. However, these secrets could get him far worse than a bullet in the head. For during the White Nights the boundaries between worlds grow thin, and in some of those worlds humanity can have no place.

(The sequel to "Gnawing the Bones of the City," which was published in Fiction Vortex).

If you'd like to have your works included in future promo posts, let me know at

Crossposted at The Billion Lightyear Blogspot and Through the Worldgate.
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What's that on the Cover of My Book?

Apparently HG Wells intensely disliked the first illustrations of the Martians in The War of the Worlds. So much so that in a subsequent edition he added a snide little jab at it, in the form of a comment by the narrator about the inadequacy of the images on news pamphlets about the invasion.
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Is anyone else having trouble getting their LJ's to come up? I'm getting thrown into a search mode when I try to get to mine, but it seems that I can post.

Update: Looks like it was a temporary glitch. But it does seem reminiscent of last week's cyberattack.
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Books for the Road

I'll soon be on the road again, now that Grand Rapids Comic Con is over for another year. And it's time for books again.

The Raven, the Elf, and Rachel by L. Jagi Lamplighter

Before coming to Roanoke Academy, Rachel Griffin had been an obedient girl--but it is hard to obey the rules when the world is in danger and no one will listen.

Now, she's eavesdropping on Wisecraft Agents and breaking a great many regulations. Because if the adults will not believe her, then it is up to Rachel and her friends--crazy, orphan-boy Sigfried the Dragonslayer and Nastasia, the Princess of Magical Australia--to stop the insidious Mortimer Egg from destroying the world.

But first, she must survive truth spells, fights with her brother, detention, Alchemy experiments, talking to elves, and conjuring class. Oh, and the Raven with blood-red eyes continues to watch her. It is said to be the omen of the Doom of Worlds. Will her attempts to save her world bring the Raven's wrath down upon her?

And as if that is not bad enough, someone has just turned the boy she likes into a sheep.

The British boarding school mystery meets the best imagined of fantasies at breakneck speed and with fully realized characters." Sarah A. Hoyt, author of the Darkship Thieves

The Clock King and the Queen of the Hourglass

A far future "dying earth" science fantasy tale about identity, erotic desire, flying water and a mystery...

"This is science fiction the way that Jack Vance's Dying Earth books are science fiction." — Charles de Lint

"... believable character development, glimpses of science behind the solemn nomenclature, and enough irreverence to permit an occasional smile. Whether you expect a royal convergence, romantic destiny, or just a boost to a lackluster gene pool, what you’ll get is less definitive — and more interesting." — Faren Miller, Locus

Locus Recommended Reading List, 2005.

Rich Horton' Virtual Best of the Year 2005.


Many billion years in the future, the sun is a huge bloated golden Day God that fills the sky, and the earth is a barren desert. The last remaining water has pooled at the bottom of the Pacific Basin in a thick toxic sludge-lake called the Oceanus by the sterile post-humans that inhabit its salt-encrusted shores.

Liaei is different from the others. She is a fertile female created out of ancient homo sapiens DNA from the dwindling genetic stores, and has been manufactured by the horticulturists in a genetics lab. Liaei has been brought to life for one mysterious purpose -- she is to become the Queen of the Hourglass.

Growing up in Basin City, fostered by the quasi-female modern human Amhama -- the same technician who put her cells together -- Liaei knows she does not belong. She is lively and vibrant and has a savage full head of hair and eyebrows unlike the smooth doll-like humans around her. She is also curious and inquisitive, asking more questions than even the harmonium in all its complexity can answer -- harmonium technology powers everything, can regurgitate histories of civilizations, process liquid toxic waste, conjure music out of the air, run the agricultural hothouses, and fly hovercars, and yet its origins too have been lost in the murk of the ages and it cannot satisfy the restless mind of Liaei.

What does it mean to be the Queen of the Hourglass? Why do love and emotions seem to mean other things to her than to others? And what is that meandering ribbon of light up on the distant Basin Walls, a mysterious bit of ancient technology called The River That Flows Through the Air? Can water flow uphill?

Soon, when she reaches ancient sexual maturity and undergoes the proper training, the Queen of the Hourglass will embark on a journey to meet her consort the Clock King, and there will be even more questions.

But now, the harmonium-based machines are failing, and suddenly humanity is running out of time.

Lhind the Spy by Sherwood Smith

In this sequel to Lhind the Thief, Lhind has gone from castoffs to silks, back alleys to palace halls—and is not having an easy time of it. That’s before she’s snatched by an angry prince she’d robbed twice, who is determined to turn her over to the enemy who frightens her most, the sinister Emperor Jardis Dhes-Andis.

When her own dear Hlanan comes to rescue her, it’s Lhind who has to do the rescuing, setting off a wild chase to fend off mercenaries and then to confront an entire army intent on invasion.

Lhind and Hlanan try to negotiate the perilous waters of a relationship while on the run—straight into a trap.

Just when Lhind is beginning to figure out where she might fit into the world, she finds herself alone again, surrounded by enemies, in one of the most dangerous courts in the world.

And she begins to find out who she really is

(The first book in this series was included in Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set).

A Man and a Plane by Joseph T Major

Who could stop Hitler? Germany in 1933 tottered on the brink of revolution, dissolution, and destruction. The Nazis were some kind of a solution.
There was no one who could be an alternative.
A stroke of fate took from the scene one man who could have made the difference. In that fateful April of 1918, Germany's hero fell from the skies.
And if he hadn't?

Future Lovecraft by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, editor

Decades, centuries, and even thousands of years in the future: the horrors inspired by Lovecraft do not know the limits of time...or space. Journey through this anthology of science fiction stories and poems inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Listen to the stars that whisper and drive a crew mad. Worship the Tloque Nahuaque as he overtakes Mexico City. Slip into the court of the King in Yellow. Walk through the streets of a very altered Venice. Stop to admire the beauty of the flesh-dolls in the window. Fly through space in the shape of a hungry, malicious comet. Swim in the drug-induced haze of a jellyfish. Struggle to survive in a Martian gulag whose landscape isn't quite dead. But, most of all, fear the future!

(This anthology includes my own short story "The Damnable Asteroid.)

The Moon Mirror by Leigh Kimmel

Chelsea Ayles dreamed of going to the Moon since she was a child. Now her dream job at NASA has turned into a nightmare, thanks to those many blood-sucking arachnids. Yeah, politics, as in a Senator accusing her of destroying America's priceless heritage because she chose the moonrocks that were used to make a proof-of-concept mirror segment for a lunar telescope project. Now the mirror sits in her office like a bitter mockery of what might have been -- until the day her reflection turns into a handsome stranger who calls himself the Man in the Moon and offers her visions of a world that might have been. Visions that ignite a longing of an intensity she hasn't known since she was in grade school and watched videos of the Apollo lunar missions in science class.
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On the Necessity of Research

Over at Mad Genius Club, Sarah Hoyt has an article on how to do targeted research. This is the sort of research you do when you know you need to fill specific gaps in your knowledge (known unknowns), rather than when you're trying to discover all you can about a broad subject, including the stuff you didn't realize you didn't know (unknown unknowns).

Which reminded me that I'd written a blog post back in 2014 about the process of research, particularly when you need to go beyond print and Internet sources and ask people to help you.
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