Fictionista, Foodie, Feline-lover

Friday, September 30, 2016

Free Sci Fi and Fantasy Books

Love free books?  Click here to go to Patty Jansen's monthly promo site where you can choose your favorite retailer. Just one click gives you a choice of more than 100 books in all flavors of sci fi and fantasy. You'll find short reads like my book Daughter of the Midnight King there, along with Heartblaze 1: Vampire Soul, The Cobweb Bride, and many others I KNOW you've been dying to read. And did I mention it's FREE???

Cover reveal--my new urban fantasy series

I know that generally you reveal a cover when you're about to actually publish your latest novel, but I am so excited about this new cover that I can't wait. It was created by Kristyn McQuiggan of Drop Dead Designs, who sells both premades and custom covers. (There's a pre-made I have my eye on right now that's pretty stunning.)

This image is fabulous, I think. The model is gorgeous, the photoshopping is fine, and the overall urban fantasy concept just works beautifully. Go check out her work. She prices her work for the indie author on a budget but her work doesn't look like those cheap covers you pick up on Fiverr. (She includes the print book wraparound in her cover prices, and they are VERY affordable.)

An anthology of political satire

My story, "Looking Good America," is part of this new anthology, We've Been Trumped, timed to hit the bookstores a month before the election. The genre is political satire, the them is what life might be like under a Trump presidency. There are some excellent stories in the collection, and if you enjoy snark, you might enjoy them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

You Know This Already

But I'm going to say it again. If you're not registered to vote--register.
Just Google "How to Register to Vote" and all the info will come up.
And if you are registered to vote, VOTE.
Don't make me tell you again that my father voted on his deathbed by absentee ballot.
Don't make me tell you that that my great grandmother died before women had the right to vote.
Don't make me remind you that African-Americans had to die to win the right to vote.
Not voting is un-American.
And if you do vote, make sure your vote counts. It's all very well to write in a  no-hoper for Senior Class President, because there's not a lot at stake. What's the worst that can happen?
But only one of two people in this election has a chance at being elected President--Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. Even if there are elements of Jill Stein and Gary Johnson's platforms that reflect your values, they will not win. They won't.  But there are Libertarian and Green Party candidates in down-ticket races that might have a chance. If you believe America should have multiple party systems, be a part of building those parties up so that they are viable alternatives.
But in this race, in 2016, a vote for anyone but one of the two major party candidates is a vote that says you don't really care who wins because it's not the candidate you wanted. And "not caring" is how we got into this mess in the first place. This is a participatory Democracy.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Banned Books Week!

Don't just sit there--read something subversive. Go to the official Banned Books Week site for ideas.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Autumn sentinel

It's so much fun having fall weather again. I missed that in Los Angeles.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

Behold the Dreamers. You need to read this book. If your library doesn't have it, buy the paperback or the Kindle edition. Because seriously, you need to read it.

I have a history with this book. I was in the running for the job of editing it, and although I did not get the gig, I got to read the book last year as the author was refining it for publication. When I read it, I got that prickle on the back of my neck, the one that says, this is a fantastic book and if there is justice in the universe, it will be a best seller.

This is a story about an immigrant and his family whose lives become intwined with the lives of their employers--the typical "one percent" just before the economy crashes and burns in 2008. Like her immigrant protagonists, the author is herself an immigrant, and her portraits of the various "dreamers" are rich and layered and believable and true.

The writing is luminous. She takes us to the heart of several very different lives and takes us to a time and place that was a pivot point for history, a time that shattered a lot of people's dreams. The book came out last month and has already been picked as one of Good Housekeeping's fall reading picks. It'll be on a lot more reading lists before too long. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Strawberry corn

It's officially the first day of Fall so my local supermarket has gone all in on the harvest-themed displays. There are twenty kinds of pumpkins and gourds, and a half-dozen kinds of corn (sweet, Indian, you name it). And there was this...strawberry corn. It's hard to tell from the picture, but the size of the little corns is just about the same size as an extra large strawberry. I've never seen such a thing before, so I immediately came home and Googled it. Turns out "strawberry corn" is a kind of popcorn. But to me it looks like something fairy animals would eat. (They also look exactly like that strange hard candy with the nubbins on it.)

Cover Comparison The Stephen King edition

I love short story collections and continue to buy them even as my friends and colleagues bemoan the way short story markets have dried up. Paying markets that is. I started out writing short stories and it's still my favorite length. Some ideas are just short story ideas.
Somehow, in the middle of writing longer works and doing good works and just living his life, Stephen King still finds time to write short stories. The most recent collection of these is Bazaar of Bad Dreams, a title I love. But when the book came out, I didn't love the cover. Honestly, it looked like one of those photoshopped numbers that indie authors get slammed for. That's it on the left. The combination of black and white and red just doesn't say "Dreams" to me.

But since today is King's birthday, everyone is offering special deals on his books (Simon and Schuster, his long-time publisher, is wishing him a "Happy Birthday" with all kinds of offers on his backlist.) And so I saw an offer with the UK cover of Bazaar of Bad Dreams and for me, it's a winner. I'm drawn to covers with splotches of color anyway, and I like the typography and the whole "concept" just so much better. Which one would you rather pick up?

Happy Birthday Stephen King!

The first writer I sought out because I loved her books and wanted to read everything she wrote was Beverly Cleary, who just turned 100 in April. (Live long and prosper Bev!)  And then it was Carolyn Keene "who" wrote the Nancy Drew books but she wasn't really one person, so "she" doesn't count. And then it was Stephen King.
I didn't start with Carrie; my gateway to the Kingdom was a collection of his short stories. Back then, he wasn't writing six or seven books a year like an indie author, but he'd been writing for a couple of years by the time I discovered him and so it took me a while to work through the backlog. (Well, it probably took me a week. I read fast and back then, I still had a lot of free time.)
I was moved by The Dead Zone and scared by Pet Sematary and blown away by The Stand. To this day, the only epic apocalyptic novel that even comes close to it in terms of Dickensian breadth of characters is Robert McCammon's Swan Song.
So I've been reading along all these years and love that he's writing like his life depends on it.

Wait, maybe it does? Maybe the reason he's so prolific is that in the terrible accident that nearly killed him, he did die? And he made a bargain with the devil to come back. But if he doesn't write 10 books a year, he has to return.
Happy Birthday Stephen King.
Thank you for the books!

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Seven Skeletons

I am a sucker for books that tell a story through a collection of objects or similar items. (A History of the World in 6 Glasses is one of my favorite books.) This book, Seven Skeletons (from Penguin) bills itself as a "cultural history of each celebrity fossil" that combines into a work of science and history. I'm so there. Plus, I like the cover. It's clean and graphic.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Random Cat Picture--because cats!

My cat has recently taken to hanging out at the top of the stairs. He likes sitting in the sun and he also likes having a clear view of the upstairs and down into the kitchen. Whenever I see the cat following the sun around,  I always think of Robert Heinlein talking about the title of his book The Door Into Summer. It came to him while watching his cat go from room to room in the winter, looking for "the door into summer."

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


A Victorian mystery!  My favorite. Well, one of my favorites. Read a review on Criminal Element.

Thomas Mullen's DARKTOWN, a review

In Thomas Mullen’s novel DARKTOWN,  the murder of a young black woman exposes a secret that goes all the way to the highest levels of Atlanta’s white society.

In post-war Atlanta, LUCIUS BOGGS and TOMMY SMITH are cops. But they’re also black and “Negro policemen” don’t get a lot of respect from either civilians or white cops. Their authority is limited, and whites know flout that limited authority wheneve they feel like it. As when a white man drunkenly plows into a street lamp with a bruised black  woman in the passenger seat and repeatedly ignores Lucius’ polite requests to hand over his license. Instead, he simply denies hitting the light pole and rives away … slowly.

The ongoing information about the black police force and how it was formed and where it is located is dripped into the story as needed (sometimes a bit clumsily) along with information on the racial politics of the time and place. Real-life people are mentioned (including Rev. Martin Luther King SENIOR) and there’s a real feeling of verisimilitude to the story.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Free Short Story--a little September horror

I snagged this cover from Indie Author Services last year when they were having a blow-out on their pre-mades and I wrote the story around it. My heart still belongs to short fiction and I'm quite pleased with the way this dark little story came out. You can snag it free on Amazon for the next five days. Click here.

Friday, September 9, 2016

You'll Want to See Collateral Beauty

I read scripts for a living. Most of them aren't that good.  Some of them are so bad you despair for the movie industry. And some of them are so wonderful that when you read them, the hair on the back of your neck stands up because you know you're reading something that's going to make a great movie. I felt that way about The King's Speech.

Collateral Beauty is a lovely story. It will be out at Christmas. You should go to see it. The cast alone makes it worth the admission--Will Smith, Keira Knightley, Helen Mirren, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I wish I drank coffee

Because I would be all over those pumpkin spice lattes. And also the chile mochas. I love Mexican chocolate. But alas, I am a failed adult in that I never acquired the taste for coffee. But I do love pumpkins. Aren't these little tiger-striped pumpkin-lets adorable?

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

My Next to Last Political Comment of the Cycle

I was reading the Dallas Morning News's lukewarm endorsement of Hillary Clinton this morning--they were much more impassioned in their anti-endorsement of Donald Trump yesterday--and thought, wow, Texas!  And then I read the comments.
Oh comments.

The poor editorial writer could not w. I suspect many subscriptions were cancelled in the wake of this endorsement. A conservative pundit immediately accused them of "becoming a liberal paper" because of their endorsement. One reader accused them of being too close to the Bush family. One reader slammed them for supporting a "criminal" for President. And that's when my head started to ache.

Seriously.SERIOUSLY, define "criminal" for me. Does it mean encouraging cyber-espionage? Does it mean donating money to an official who's considering bringing a lawsuit against you? Is it an allegation or rape?

Is it criminal to defraud students with a bogus university? Does "criminal" mean not paying contractors for their work? Does it mean encouraging employees to lie on immigration forms?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Now I know it's Autumn

Fall is my favorite season. I love sunny days that are cool. I love the colors the trees turn. I love Halloween and dark scudding clouds across huge full moons. And pumpkins. When the pumpkins come out, I know it's finally Fall.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

100 for 99! Ninety-nine cent books for your Labor Day Reading

Patty Jansen's monthly promotion is here! Click for your favorite ereader platform and search for more than a hundred books available for 99 cents. Writers like Shay Roberts, Tommy Muncie, Carysa Locke, Alycia Linwood, Christine Pope, and H. Leighton Dickson are yours for less than a dollar!

Meet the Editor: Susan Schader of Story Services 4 Wrriters

photo by Michelle Seixas
Susan Schader has worked as a freelance Story Analyst/Story and Development Consultant/Editor on feature film and television projects for companies such as DreamWorks, New Regency Productions, Village Roadshow, DeLuca Productions, Donner-Shuler-Donner Productions, Icon Films, Jagged Films, Showtime, Lifetime, Turner Pictures, among others, including private clients and international film brokers and producers (covering such film festivals as Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, etc.). She was Assistant to filmmaker Albert Brooks on Defending Your Life, from project’s inception (scripting writing and editing), pre-production, and casting, to production and post-production, publicity and marketing research.

In the publishing industry in New York and San Francisco, she worked as a Developmental Editor, developing, co-authoring, editing major college textbooks, including all ancillary and audio-visual materials, from planning through publication) for Harper & Row (now Harper Collins) Publishers.  She also served as a Marketing Analyst, Research and Development, Harper College Division East. As a freelancer, she did developmental/substantive editing, copyediting, research, proofreading, redlining for such major publishing houses as Prentice-Hall, McGraw-Hill Book Company, and Abrams.
She has a background in graphic design and photography as well, and has loved “Words & Images,” which is also the title of her blog at She is currently writing a Middle Grade novel  -- a new creative challenge. 

For information on Susan's rates and services, check out the Story Services 4 Writers gite here.

What is the last good book you read?

The debut novel of Brit Bennett, entitled The Mothers, which is due out this fall but I had the chance to read in advance. It’s a coming-of-age story about two young African-American teenagers and the book’s central question as Ms. Bennett describes it is, “how girls grow into women when the female figures who are supposed to usher you into womanhood aren’t there. How girls come of age with that absence. And it’s about how communities are shaped by loss… how in moments of grief, community can be both a source of comfort and a source of oppression.” It’s beautifully written, touching, and timely.

Who are your favorite writers? 

That question is hard to answer given that I read so much “professionally” that I rarely read for my own pleasure. When I can sneak in a read for “fun,” I tend gravitate toward crime/detective tales. I don’t know what that says about me, although I hope that instead of indicating I have a penchant for dark, dastardly deeds, it suggests that solving a crime or mystery is rather like solving the puzzle of what’s missing in a manuscript or screenplay, what needs to be there or needs to be removed to make the narrative soar. I do like the writing of the Scottish writer, Ian Rankin, who has penned the Detective Rankin novels. One of my all time favorite novels is Harper Lee’s, To Kill A Mockingbird, and my favorite children’s book is, Charlotte’s Web, by E.B. White, which I’ve seen described as a nearly perfect book. I agree with that assessment.