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No Place Like Home

I love going to conventions, and really missed them during the years when we weren't able to get to many of them. But no matter how big or important the convention, no matter how many cool people I got to see, from celebrities to the authors whose works informed my childhood reading, it's still good to get back home, to cook in my own kitchen, to sleep in my own bed.

Now to rest and recover. I'm looking forward to tackling several projects with renewed energy over the next few weeks.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: tired tired
  • Current Music: "Home" by Phillip Phillips
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Better Late than Never

I was going to get a book promo post up yesterday, but by the time we got our unsold merchandise loaded out of the MidAmericon II dealers' room and got to our waystation for the night, I was too thoroughly exhausted to compose a coherent post. So here it is, only one day late, as we pause and rest on the journey home.

Silent Meridian by Elizabeth Crowens

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is obsessed with a legendary red book. Its peculiar stories have come to life, and rumors claim that it has rewritten its own endings. Convinced that possessing this book will help him write his ever-popular Sherlock Holmes stories, he takes on an unlikely partner, John Patrick Scott, known to most as a concert musician and paranormal investigator. Although in his humble opinion, Scott considers himself more of an ethereal archeologist and a time traveler professor. Together they explore lost worlds and excavate realms beyond the knowledge of historians when they go back in time to find it. But everything backfires, and their friendship is tested to the limits. Both discover that karmic ties and unconscionable crimes have followed them like ghosts from the past, wreaking havoc on the present and possibly the future. Silent Meridian reveals the alternate histories of Conan Doyle, H.G. Wells, Houdini, Jung and other notable luminaries in the secret diaries of a new kind of Doctor Watson, John Patrick Scott, in an X Files for the 19th century. Stay tuned for A Pocketful of Lodestones; book two in the Time Traveler Professor series by Elizabeth Crowens.

(Steampunk and paratime travel)

A Lake Most Deep by Rob Howell

Every year hundreds of warriors and swordsmen travel to the grand city of Basilopolis to audition for the Emperor of Makhaira's personal company. Only the greatest are admitted into that elite corps. Most are found wanting and sent on their way, with nothing more than the tales of how they were almost good enough to serve him.
Edward Aethelredson knows that he is worthy to pledge his blade for the Emperor's service. His entire life has readied him for this moment, and now he must only finish his journey and claim his rightful place amongst the best.

In the midst of his journey, however, he finds himself pledging his sword - and his life - not to the Emperor but to a lowly innkeeper. He swears an oath to discover who kidnapped and murdered a young and innocent girl. He finds himself unraveling a conspiracy that could threaten the very foundation of the Empire.

Armed with his ancestral sword of glittering water-steel and knowledge passed on to him by the greatest magician in his homeland, Edward must also face the memories of a father slain, a king defied, and past oaths sworn.

His future awaits...

(A novel of Shijuren, an intricate and beautifully imagined fantasy world)

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 fourth volume of the Alternate World War II series which began with Bitter Weeds.)

Qualify by Vera Nazarian

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.

(I'm about a quarter of the way into this, and all I can say is wow. It's got all the stuff I'd have loved to pieces when I was a teenager).

And Horses Are Born with Eagle's Wings by Sherwood Smith

Anxious, indecisive Barbra is ferocious about one thing: her daughter. When a mysterious music teacher appears at the local school, Barbra and some local parents are up in arms. . .

So many things can steal the magic from life. So few things can restore it.

(Although Sherwood Smith considers herself primarily a novelist, every now and then she writes a perfect little gem of a short story. I first read this one in the now-defunct magazine Realms of Fantasy, and like a fine wine, it just keeps getting better with age).

Forging Freedom: Dimensions by Val Muller (editor)

This anthology is for those who appreciate the freedom in our lives. For those who have seen their freedoms stolen and those who see freedom at risk. For those who have sacrificed their time and energies and risked their lives to preserve freedom. Those who believe that humanity has not yet reached its peak, that there is more to the world than we can currently imagine. This anthology is for those who gaze at the stars and wonder.

(This anthology contains my short story "Bringing Home Major Tom").

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.

(Like "Bringing Home Major Tom," this novella involves an encounter with the Gus on the Moon timeline for someone here in the Armstrong timeline).

If you would like your book to be promoted in this blog, please send me your entry at

Free Range Oyster has more books to read over at Sarah Hoyt's blog.
  • Current Location: parental abode
  • Current Mood: drained drained
  • Current Music: "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles
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Books for Worldcon

I've been a little more scarce than I would've liked the past few days because we're at a hotel with serious WiFi issues. I think it's stable enough to let everyone know that I've got two books on special this weekend: The Workhouse War and Khuldhar's War.

Grab them before they go back up to regular price.
  • Current Location: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Current Mood: excited excited
  • Current Music: "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles
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Everything's Up to Date In Kansas City

The World Science Fiction Convention is returning to Kansas City after an absence of forty years. And we're going to be selling at it.

I'd been wondering whether we'd even make it -- there's a problem with our van's suspension that causes it to vibrate, and at some speeds it'll get a resonance that makes the whole van shake. At first we thought we'd wait until we got home to take care of it, but after a couple of scary episodes, we decided that we're going to get it looked at as soon as we get it unloaded.

To celebrate Worldcon, I'll be reducing the prices on a number of my novels and stories for Amazon Kindle over the next several days. And the best part is that you don't even need to own a Kindle to read them -- just download the Kindle app onto your computer, tablet, or smartphone and start reading.
  • Current Location: Kansas City, Missouri
  • Current Mood: exhausted exhausted
  • Current Music: "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
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Books on the Go

Another week, another road trip. That's August for us, but sales at conventions help pay the bills.

The Sun Never Sets by Joseph T Major

A passionate defense of an exiled prince leads to changes that shake the course of European and world history, and lay the stage for a wider and wider yet monarchy.
In our world, the Electress Sophia of Hanover, sister of the gallant Prince Rupert of the Rhine, was made heir to the British throne, only to die just too soon, leaving the succession to her son. Once, though, she got a little too exercised about the poor exiled Pretender . . . and if she had been just a little more exercised, William of Orange might have changed his mind.
Such a change could put a strange and striking monarch in reach of the British throne. But the heirs of the Stuarts were not yet gone, and they could strike back. The result of this bold decision would mean wars across the world, involving people from lands spreading from Poland to Virginia, from Scotland to Naples. It would mean battles in the Cockpit of Europe, in the wilds of Saxony, and indeed on the green fields of England itself.
Not all is war. Literary figures such as Swift,Johnson, and Voltaire have strange and different meetings. The universal genius Benjamin Franklin, Printer, has an entirely new field of endeavor.
The opposed royal houses, and the other princes of Europe, face off in new and strange alliances in this novel.

(If you've been enjoying the World War II alternate history which began with Bitter Weeds, the author has a new series dealing with a very different British Empire>

Mansfield Park and Mummies by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

Spinsterhood or Mummification!

Ancient Egypt infiltrates Regency England in this elegant, hilarious, witty, insane, and unexpectedly romantic monster parody of Jane Austen's classic novel.

Our gentle yet indomitable heroine Fanny Price must hold steadfast not only against the seductive charms of Henry Crawford but also an Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh!

Meanwhile, the indubitably handsome and kind hero Edmund attempts Exorcisms... Miss Crawford vamps out... Aunt Norris channels her inner werewolf... The Mummy-mesmerized Lady Bertram collects Egyptian artifacts...

There can be no doubt that Mansfield Park has become a battleground for the forces of Ancient Evil and Regency True Love!

Gentle Reader—this Delightful Edition includes Scholarly Footnotes and Appendices.

Official Mummies Website:

(This is the first in Vera Nazarian's Supernatural Jane Austen series, which plays with the classics gently and wittily rather than crassly).

Hunt Across Worlds by Sherwood Smith

CJ wrote up this adventure for her journal, though the M girls only come in at the end. It begins with two kids from Earth who discover a boy from another world being kept hostage. When they rescue him, they end up having to cross the USA before being blasted by magic to Mearsies Heili, where they meet a sailor girl who's been stuck in charge of a Mysterious Magical Object.

CJ and the gang try to come to the rescue, discovering that being on the edge of big events can lead to bigger questions . . . leading straight to the troubles chronicled in Fleeing Peace.

First written when Sherwood Smith was a teen.

Khuldhar's War by Leigh Kimmel.

The war was over, but where was the peace the victors had promised?

Geidliv the Tyrant was dead, and the rogue nation of Karmandios now lay in ruins, its people prostrate before the occupying armies of the five allied nations. But now the winners are quarreling among themselves, and where brothers fight, enemies will enter to widen the gap.

Merekhet is a man torn between competing loyalties, tormented by guilt over his past failures. Raised the scion of a Karmandi noble family, he discovered upon puberty that he was in fact the son of a senior war commander of the telepathic People of the Hawk. Yet he could not entirely disavow his mother's people, and thus became entangled in Geidliv's regime and his nephew Khuldhar's doomed attempt to fight it.

Now Merekhet has evidence that Geidliv used telepathy and the bioscience of the mer-people to create a living weapon from Khuldhar's genetic material and hid it in plain sight. Worse, a former ally now estranged is seeking that weapon, and must not be allowed to capture it, lest all the world of Okeanos fall to far greater tyranny than Geidliv could ever have hoped to create.

Merekhet must regain Khuldhar's confidence, and together they must find the five young men who are the keys to Geidliv's final vengeance weapon.
  • Current Location: parental abode
  • Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
  • Current Music: "Paperback Writer" by the Beatles
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Hiring and its Dysfunctions

Over at The Arts Mechanical there's a interesting article about the problems of revealing your previous salary while looking for a new job. One of the biggest problems is faced by the person who accepts additional responsibility in the course of employment (especially when employed at the same place for years), but doesn't insist on a promotion to make title and salary match actual responsibilities.

A lot of people accept this sort of arrangement because they're afraid of doing anything that could alienate their employer, especially in a bad job market or a line of work in which being viewed as cheerful and easy to work with is as important as actually accomplishing work tasks. So rather than risk conflict, they put a ceiling on their earning capacity that will follow them for years, even their entire working life.

And to be honest, the fear is not misplaced. I still remember when, prodded by several friends who told me I needed to insist on a better rate for my work, I was let go with a "good luck in your future endeavors" that was very clearly don't let the door hit you on the way out. I'd warned these friends that the rate was fixed and non-negotiable, that I was viewed as eminently replaceable, and that any such request would end badly. But they insisted that I needed to insist on my value, until I proved it to them and ended up without that line of income.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: contemplative contemplative
  • Current Music: "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive
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The Problem With Ads

is that most of the time, they're for things I'm not interested in and wouldn't buy even if I had absolutely no money woes.

Hence the arms race between ad servers and ad blockers. Facebook is upping the ante with new software to make it hard for ad blockers to detect ads. However, I doubt they'll retain the lead for long, since as long as people find the ads unwelcome, there will be a market for better ad-blocking software.

Now if they could just take all the energy they put into trying to force people to receive ads and instead put it into predictive software that would actually serve potential customers ads for stuff they're actually interested in, things might change. But no, that would mean reconsidering the push model of advertising, which isn't likely to happen.

And it's a shame, since Amazon does seem to be doing a good job with its system for identifying customers' interests and suggesting books they might like to read (assuming of course that the book is already getting customers, and isn't sitting off in a corner unnoticed). So it's pretty clear that the software can be created and implemented, if the will exists.
  • Current Location: home
  • Current Mood: annoyed annoyed
  • Current Music: "Taking Care of Business" by Bachman-Turner Overdrive