Archive for the ‘Books & Movies’ Category

After talking with my husband, I will indeed be attending the MosCon Revival convention. The dates are June 21-23, although I will be there Saturday and Sunday only. My topic is “Do Women Game Differently?” I’m hoping they will put a man on the panel with me, so we can have some back-and-forth to compare our experiences. This is even more on-the-fly than Sandemonium, the week before. I’m really not worried, though. I can talk and be entertaining for an hour, no problem.

For those not familiar with Inland Northwest conventions, MosCon holds a special place in many hearts. When they started in 1979, it was the only SF event in the region. The next closest were in Seattle, WA or Portland, OR. One of the two founders was the late Jon Gustafson, an expert in SF art. At his urging, MosCon became the first SF convention in the nation to have an Artist Guest of Honor. They may also have been the first to invite a Science Guest of Honor, but I won’t swear to that.

The conventions continued for 20 years. Although time took its toll in concom burnout or having to leave for career opportunities, they were excellent for many years. I’m thrilled to be part of this revival. If you’re in the region, I urge you to come up and join us.

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Today I’m talking about one of my favorite online magazines, Daily Science Fiction. As the name implies, they publish one story every day, five days a week. Their stories span the spectrum of the genre — science fiction, fantasy, horror, and odd things in between. The link above is to Friday’s story, a mother’s bittersweet take on Portal Fantasies. But every day is different, you never know what it will be, and for me that’s part of the pleasure.

Subscribing to Daily Science Fiction is free, and I’ve been getting their stories for three or four years now. Yet, despite being free to the reader, Daily Science Fiction is a paying market. They pay the SFWA standard. In fact, it’s one of my dream markets. Any time I write something that might fit their length, I submit to them first. So far, they haven’t taken anything of mine, but hope springs eternal. They say you should read the publications you want to sell to, after all.

You might see a small conflict here. The site pays writers, but readers don’t have to pay. Recently, they have begun asking for memberships. At $15 a year, it’s really cheap. So I’m urging you to check out Daily Science Fiction. Come for the free stories. Maybe you’ll stay for the membership, after all.

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At last weekend’s convention, my volunteer position was to sit at the registration table and put people’s cards through a Square. Most people paid with cash, and attendance was unfortunately light. One way I got through slack times was by browsing a table of second-hand books that were being sold for charity.

As I picked through them — because, books! — I got a very interesting look at the back cover copy over decades spanning maybe 1960 to 2010. The cover art and title styles were interesting, too, but the copy was what caught my attention. After the art sparks an interest, you want to know what’s inside, so cover copy is an important sales tool.

During the 1980s, cover copy was really focused on what you could call Author Reputation. They mentioned awards, especially the Campbell Award, or previous best-sellers. One book’s copy consisted of a brief, general statement, something like “the brightest new voice of this generation.” This was oddly amusing, since I had never heard of the author. How bright was this voice, actually?

Later, in the 1990s and 2000s, author reputation was supplanted by Famous Author Blurbs. No book cover was complete without a snippet from a review. Even today, some cover copy is made up of nothing but blurbs. There also were, and are, comparisons to more famous books. This is fantasy, so Tolkien was the main comparee. Possibly this was an inspiration for the current Also-Bought system on Amazon.

These covers bothered me. As a possible reader, I want to know three main things: 1) Who are these people? 2) What are they doing? 3) Why does it matter?

You probably remember about a month ago, when I was testing variations on my cover copy for The Tower in the Mist. You can see how my focus was on the characters and story rather than awards and blurbs. (Although, if someone wanted to give me an award, I wouldn’t turn them down.)

Anyhow, it was interesting to have such a big sample of books and get that insight into how publishers tried to market them.

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Amid all the excitement of publishing The Tower in the Mist, I also managed a third draft revision of its sequel, which I’m now calling The Grove of Ghosts. It started out being 36,850 words and ended being 36,760. Having only a 90-odd word difference convinces me that the story is really solid at its length.

The whole exercise made me think a bit about word counts and why they matter. One factor is that the word count is a defining characteristic for our genre. The way I was taught is this: 1) Flash fiction is anything under 1,000 words. 2) Short stories are 1,000 to 10,000 words. 3) 10,000 to 15,000 is a novelette. 4) 15,000 to 30,000 is a novella. 5) 30,000 to 90,000 is the Dead Zone. No publications buy stories at this length. 6) 90,000 words or more is a novel.

Based on this, maybe you can see why I was worried that my novellas were 32,000 words (The Tower in the Mist) and 38,000 words (The Grove of Ghosts) in their first drafts. Strictly by the word count, both of them are too long for the novella format.

The word-count-as-definition trope comes from the 19th and 20th Centuries, when all publications were on paper and editors had to gauge how many pages a given story would take up in their magazine. And the calculation still holds true in print books and magazines, which require editors to balance page counts vs. price point.

However, as an author of e-books, page count is really a non-issue. With no actual book to fit on actual shelves or ship in actual boxes, I can write 38,000 words and call it a novella. I don’t have to worry that it’s in the Dead Zone. The calculation that I have to make is price point vs. value to customer. After buying my e-book, I want my reader to believe they got a fair value for what they paid. If the book is too short, they may feel cheated. It it is too long, they may suspect I padded it to inflate the word count.

What’s your thought about word counts and story length over all?

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After all those guest posts, it seems like time for me to write something new just for this blog. We went to see Avengers End Game over the weekend and enjoyed it a lot. There is one time paradox that wasn’t resolved, and I felt in many cases that they lingered too long on the emotional shots. The editors could have trimmed a good 15 minutes by controlling those better. Still, these quibbles weren’t enough to interfere with my pleasure in the story.

One thing I had heard in advance was that all the women characters were sacrificed to make the plot go. For a long time, activists have been pointing out that characters in movies/TV who represent an outsider — gays, women, minorities — very often are killed or suffer some other grievous harm, such as a rape. This spurs the hero — almost always a white guy — to seek revenge or whatever the plot entails.

Having seen the movie, I must partly disagree. Not ALL the women were sacrificed to push a man’s plot. Several were, but at least one of them completed her own arc rather than merely dying to propel her male comrade forward. Also, there was a gay character who was not killed off. It was a small part, but significant, I think.

And that, actually, is about all I can say without giving anything away. If you saw Avengers End Game, I’m interested in whether you spotted the same time paradox that I did, and what else stood out for you. Tell me your thoughts in the comments!

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One of my good friends, Charles E. Yallowitz, has kindly agreed to let me do a guest spot on his blog, Legends of Windemere, about my brand new novella, The Tower in the Mist. But it’s only fair I return the favor, so here is Charles with his own new book, War of Nytefall: Rivalry. With a full cast of vampires, this book is sure to please all you goths out there.

Welcome, Charles, and take it away!

Clyde & the Dawn Fangs return to face a new enemy: The Vampire Queen!

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

Seeking the pleasure of revenge,

an ancient rumor will reveal herself to be a deadly legend.

Lurking within the shadows for centuries, the Vampire Queen has been drawn to the conflict that surrounds Clyde. Only whispers have been spread about this elusive figure, who has amassed a kingdom that can rival Nyte and Nytefall. All that she is missing is the strongest vampire to crown as her king. In one fell swoop, she has taken the most powerful of her kind, including Clyde and Xavier Tempest. Hosting a tournament where the rules seem to change at her whim, the Vampire Queen threatens to shatter the already strained world that lurks beneath Windemere’s surface. Yet, there is more to her desires, which seep from a soul that is pulsing with fury. For her kingdom can never be complete until she holds the head of the one who wronged her centuries ago.

Can Mab stand against her ancient rival and save her monstrous partner?

Excerpt: Party Crashers

Among the well-dressed vampires, the pair are obviously out of place, but they are not approached thanks to everyone seeing them enter with the beautiful desserts. The lack of suspicion allows them to move around the room and mingle with the waitstaff, who they talk to about the other dishes. Clyde makes sure to stay as far away from Xavier and Nadia as possible, but not appear too obvious. He watches the couple talk with their new council, all of them standing atop the dais where the thrones of Nyte have been placed. There are a set of nine smaller chairs being set up at the base of the steps, each one adorned with its owner’s house symbol. The Dawn Fang notes that they are all some kind of flower, which mimics the fanged orchid crest of the Tempest family. Meeting Lady Sylvan’s blue and yellow eyes, Clyde politely bows his head and is relieved to see that she ignores his presence. He chuckles at how her sparrow pendant does not match her black and red dress, the wooden bauble still on the leather strap it came with centuries ago. A gentle elbow to the ribs from Mab stops him from smirking at his own thoughts and reminds him that he is dressed like a woman, so he tries to walk with more of a sway in his hips. The exaggerated motion causes his partner to put an arm around his waist and end the horrible imitation that is earning a lustful leer from Archillious.

“Thank you to everyone for attending!” Xavier declares, his voice rising above the music and conversations. Taking his wife’s hand in his, he directs Nadia to her throne and waves for the council to

take their seats. “On this day, the vampire nobility has been reborn. There will be no infighting or schemes to overthrow each other like with our predecessors. All of us have agreed that the only way for our kind to survive is to work together and form a global society with Nyte at its center. Many say that I have done this in order to call myself the Vampire King, but I assure you that this is a lie. Not that I would say no to the title, but my goals are not so vain and simplistic. Windemere is still changing and we need to be united under one flag. Otherwise, we will go the way of those who were lost in the Great Cataclysm. With these wise and powerful nobles at my side, I will make sure that our people will live and thrive. Extinction is not the destiny for vampires as long as I draw breath . . . so to speak.”

“We move as soon as he finishes the toast,” Clyde whispers to Mab.

The Lord of Nyte raises his drink over his head and says, “I am honored to present to all of you-”

“A real king requires the true queen!” a voice shouts from the back of the crowd. A vampiric halfling dressed in a bejeweled suit jumps onto one of the tables and shivers even though he is sweating. “This ceremony is a farce because it does not carry the favor of the Vampire Queen. It has been centuries, but now she is ready to assume the throne. As her emissary, I have come to warn all who would dare to deny her that they will be crushed. I also come with an invitation to those who have been granted permission to compete for the Vampire Queen’s hand. It is only through her blessing may you claim to rule our people. Do not accept forgeries who wish to draw you off the path!”

The halfling stops when a fang strikes him between the eyes, the shot from Archillious having very little effect. Stepping out from behind the tapestry on the back wall, Lou charges at the intruder. The hairy ogre knocks guests out of the way and lowers his head to display his horns, one of which is adorned with a colorful bow. He leaps for the smaller vampire, which he can easily crush in one hand. Decker is not far behind the bodyguard, his keen senses screaming that they are in danger. Crossbow bolts soar over the dwarf’s head to strike the halfling in the knees, but he does not buckle. The advancing warriors skid to a stop when Clyde, still wearing his dress, appears above the emissary and rears back to deliver a full-strength punch. His fist is about to make contact when the halfling suddenly bloats and the jewels on his suit begin to crack. The entire castle is rocked by a violent explosion, which fills the ballroom with a crystalline dust that hangs in the air like an immovable curtain.

Get War of Nytefall: Rivalry on Amazon for $2.99! Add it to your Goodreads To-Read Lists!

Start the adventure from the beginning with War of Nytefall: Loyalty!

Cover Art by Alison Hunt

Then, continue the vampire-filled fun with War of Nytefall: Lost!

Cover art by Alison Hunt

Interested in more Windemere? Then don’t forget to check out Charles E. Yallowitz’s first series: Legends of Windemere

All Cover Art by Jason Pedersen

About the Author:

Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After spending many years fiddling with his thoughts and notebooks, he decided that it was time to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house with only pizza and seltzer to sustain him, Charles brings you tales from the world of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and drawing you into a world of magic.

Blog: www.legendsofwindemere.com

Twitter: @cyallowitz

Facebook: Charles Yallowitz

Website: www.charleseyallowitz.com

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Here it is — the cover you all helped me fine-tune! The Tower in the Mist is getting closer to its publication date, on May 1st. There’s even a pre-order link if you are so inclined.

Mages vs. Warriors vs. Giant Badger vs. Tyranny! Zathi’s job is to capture renegade mages, but Keilos isn’t like any other mage she’s dealt with. Her drive to bring him in only leads them deeper into a cursed forest. Together, warrior and mage will face deadly beasts and grapple with decisions that compromise every principle. Until they stumble upon a place of ancient, forgotten magic. Zathi must choose — allow Keilos to claim it, or kill him once and for all.

Next step? I need to set up publicity and blog visits, and so I once again call on you friends for help. Some of you will soon receive e-mails asking about a visit to your blog, but I’d also love any ideas you have about other blogs I could approach. All suggestions are welcome.

I hope you’re all as excited as I am to visit the deep, dark Hornwood. Here’s that pre-order link again.

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