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Ereading and Reading Indie Stuff


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

So, shocking as it is, I read. I read Big 5, I read the ingredients on my food, I even read independently published and some small press stuff.

As you probably know, I’m not a big fan of ereading. I have a tablet that’s got a great screen, but never felt the need for a specialized reader. So i decided to try something on my phone. Glynn Stewart’s Starship’s Mage didn’t seem like too much of a commitment.

Perhaps the most surprising given my dislike of anything shorter than 90k words or so, is:

Starship's Mage a Novella by Glynn Stewart

This is a lovely hybrid of space opera and whatever you call mages in space. The science side and the magic are done well. There are two additional installments right now on Amazon (and other venues) and firmer-than-rumors- of other chronicles. Each is about 20k words and a good chunk of world and story. The main character is a recent graduate of the mage academy who runs afoul of some unpleasant folks when he’s just doing the best he can. Really fun stories.

The first was fun, and after reading it I figured I wouldn’t hate myself too much for trying something longer.

So I went for:

SanClare Black a novel by Jenna Waterford

SanClare Black is fantasy, the world isn’t the stock “vaguely England with dashes of France or German for variety” that we see in so, so many fantasies that so, so few do well. Jenna Waterford has a fantasy world with working trains, steam ships, the odd fire arm, and a gigantic tear in space/time in the middle of the world. Wizards, family feuds, and social conflict are all drawn deftly to enhance the characters and inform the world.

About 20 pages into SanClare Black I realized I could adjust the color of the font and text in my ereader. Going with sepia text on black was amazing. I zoomed through the rest of SanClare Black and picked up the other two Starship’s Mage installments. All four reads were quite good.

My devious and ubiquitous spies whispered in my ear that July 19th is Glynn Stewart’s birthday, and like most writers he’ll take sales as the sincerest form of birthday well wishes. The hoarders of hearsay also bespoke Jenna Waterford’s birthday as July 28th. I can safely promise you that even if your taste somehow isn’t met by either writer, there are thousands, upon thousands upon thousands of much, much, much worse books in the world.

One of the things that my time in the industry has taught me is that there is an avowed love of easily quantifiable books with very, very small variations (like sparkly vampires) that make them just slightly different from a dozen other books with similar premises tan came over the transom the same day. Neither Starship’s Mage or SanClare Black are something fit into the neat categories the book buyers at chains like and understand.

I suspect that if traditional publishing and the chains want to remain viable they are going to have to become a touch more flexible on the subject of subgenre. I’d truly like to see something like the keyword cues one science fiction and fantasy publisher uses become universal with say a range of seven to ten keywords required for each book. For those of you who are up for something new, when you read these come back and suggest keywords for them, I’m always interested in what readers think.

Food Porn and Ruminations


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

So, cooking, its something we do. Arguably all sentient races will have some form of food variation and arrangement that they engage in, which may or many not include the application of heat. Last night I experimented with a staple; stuffed, roasted chicken. I wanted to do two things; combine things I never had before, and make a stuffing that was lighter than traditional bread based stuffing.

Ingredients:

  • One whole chicken, rinsed.
  • Greens (mix of chopped kale and chopped collards, raw)
  • GARLIC (real garlic, not powder, not pre-chopped out of a jar)
  • shallots
  • carrots
  • FRESH mint leaves
  • Jim Beam Maple*
  • 2 slices thick bacon or four slices regular*
  • mushrooms (white button, about 10 golf ball sided ones)
  • red quinoa
  • millet
  • margarine (or butter, or some form of spread, I used a non dairy spread)
  • spices: Turmeric, salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, sage,

 

One of the things that always amuses me in far future science fiction is when they mention going out to eat and getting cuisine that’s from Tuscany or is Jamacian, or Bavarian. I just find the idea that cooking styles won’t fuse, mutate and rearrange beyond recognition as humans spread to a hundred stars or more. Just from life here on our own dirtball we know that onions grown just outside Toldeo, Ohio are going to taste different from the same variety of onions grown outside Austin, Texas or Kingston, Jamaica. A whole different planet? Assuming they grow at all, the local conditions will dictate a different taste.

Take the quinoa (about 1 1/2 cups) and Millet (about 2 tablespoons) combine in a sauce-pot with four or five medium or large garlic cloves (crushed then chopped) and bring to a boil in roughly twice the water as dry ingredients for five minutes. Allow to cool, dump into a large mixing bowl.

Cook the bacon* in a skillet on medium-low, retain grease in pan. Slice the mushrooms top to bottom and brown on one side in the skillet (lightly salt), sprinkle turmeric on the other side.  Remove from pan place in mixing bowl with quinoa and millet.

Do not dispose of the skillet.

Turn on oven, preheat to 350f. Prepare roasting pan (make sure you have a rack).

You’ll need about a gallon (not packed) of chopped, rinsed greens (this time was roughly 2/3rds kale, 1/3 collards. I’d prefer the reverse, substitute spinach if you love it. Put half of this into the mixing bowl with the quinoa and mushrooms.

Chop very finely (to slightly larger than peppercorn size) about a cup and a half of carrots. Add to the mixing bowl.

Add about 3/4ths a teaspoon each of sage, rosemary, thyme, 1/2 a tsp each of salt and pepper to mixing bowl. Add about two or three more garlic cloves also smashed and chopped fine.

Rinse and finely chop the mint leaves add to bowl.

Rinse the chicken in cold water.

Hand mix all the ingredients in the mixing bowl. (If you are any judge of volume you’ll note this is way more than actually fits into a chicken, shut up and keep mixing.)

Stuff the chicken.

Take the rest of the stuffing, put it in an oven safe glass bowl, cover with foil, put into the oven and remove at the same times as the chicken.

Rub the chicken down with margarine or whatever spread you use. (Unless its vegemite or marmalade because that’d just be weird.)

Peel and cut into large chunks 2-4 carrots per person and drop into the pan.

Add an inch or two of water to the skillet you cooked the mushrooms in. Warm on medium for one to two minutes so that it loosens the bacon grease, mushroom bits and spice, pour into the bottom of the roasting pan.

Add about 2 tablespoons of margarine to water and carrots in the bottom of the pan.

Remove the skin from the shallots, cut into thirds. Place in pan with carrots. Add some salt and pepper, and if you’re so minded, another garlic clove or three. Add about 1 tablespoon of lime juice to pan.

At this point your oven should be preheated.

Cover pan, cook until meat thermometer says 150f (yes I know.), baste the birdy.

Now that the chicken is nearly cooked, take that other half gallon of greens you’ve nearly forgotten, dump them into the pan.

Keep covered unto the thermometer says 165f, remove cover from pan and allow to brown.

When browned, remove from over, remove chicken from pan, allow to stand for 5+ minutes minimum then slice.

You now have something that will look like this on your plate**:

P1030875

Wherever we end up as a species, here on earth with the last human taking one last breath or twenty one millennia from now dying a few billion at a time in a galactic war, I doubt we’ll ever lose the love of sharing meals with each other.

 

P1030875

*The bacon and Jim Beam Maple are to make the cooking more enjoyable, no need to add them to the mix.

** For whatever reason chicken or white meats always look slightly pink with my camera, I suspect the lighting.

 

Also, note there will be bloggage tomorrow to, and its even about books.

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Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

Good Day,

I’ve had the privilege of meeting many very smart, talented and interesting people in the years I’ve attended conventions and been part of the professional end. It’s been an undiluted pleasure to meet people like Elizabeth Bear, David Drake, and Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve met artists and editors, publisher, agents and publicists. The one unifying thing each and every one of us has in common; an abiding desire for the industry to be taken seriously.

Well, newsflash ladies, gents, undeclareds and undecideds; the current crock in crockery isn’t how we get there. The name-calling, that most of the folks I know on either side wouldn’t tolerate from a seven year old in their charge. The sexual sniping is something that one would expect from the middle school kids who known there’s something going on down there but haven’t figured out anything other than its messy and makes them uncomfortable. Yes, that is how it looks to (me) the movie companies, fans, and anyone else who might be considering your intellectual property.  Do you really think anyone wants to work with a chronological adult like that if they can avoid it?

I don’t care about the sides. I didn’t when it was still a “discussion” about who should or shouldn’t be kicked out of SFWA. I didn’t when it was almost possible to view it as a purely intellectual debate over the content of the SFWA social media and other outlets. Sadly, it hasn’t been about either of those things in weeks. It’s become dogmatic drivel slinging as a litmus test for who’s cool and who isn’t. That isn’t supposed to be what SFWA is for. None of the sniping promotes the welfare of writers. None of it is getting more accountability from publishers. None of it is getting more recognition for self-published writers. Not a damn bit of it is attracting new readers and con-goers. The garden path y’all and hootin’ and hollerin’ down just eats creditability, time, and creativity.

But I get where it’s coming from. I’ve read many of the people busy pissing in the punch. Many of you were unpopular in school, and some of you still are in your non-publishing lives. Bullying, exclusion, and self-doubt were the other three horsemen when you walked the halls of whatever high school you longed to escape. Today, you’re striking out as you couldn’t then. It is great you’ve found your fighters stance and steely eye.

Unfortunately that fight is over. You can’t avenge yourself on you fellow outcasts, they didn’t push you from the herd in school. More importantly, you job is to entertain. You aren’t trapped five days a week 180 days a year in the same building with anyone. Some of the people you’re hissing and spitting at you’ve never met, and have probably spent less than a week in the same building as in the last decade. Is it worth it? Is it productive? Does it make you a better writer or protect the livelihood of some other writer? Nope, not a chance, and hell no. It’s all lost product.

There are a lot of people in the industry I like spending time with. Some like that guy way on the left who isn’t over tall and that lady on the other end with the funny accent wear their politics like a suit of armor. Some like Lois Bujold have politics that are nigh on impossible to guess. Why do I like people so far apart? Wit. Verve. Drive. More importantly, I don’t do cliques, I don’t care about what clique someone might be in because it doesn’t make me, my friends or my clients any money. I didn’t do cliques when I was a kid, didn’t as a teen, never been tempted.

So for the love of writing, reading and profits can we all just please, please, please and thank you pretend to get along?

Introducing: Marshall Ryan Maresca

art of storytelling

Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

Just before Christmas I came to a tentative deal for two books with the fantastic folks at DAW books. Seeing as the wheels of publishing turn slowly, it took a tiny bit of time to get all the details nailed down. Since then poor Marshall has been sitting on the knowledge he had finally gotten his dream. He wasn’t allowed to tell anyone because the contracts weren’t signed, witnessed and returned. After you read this (or before, it’ll still be here) go congradulate and comiserate with him, you can find him in several places on the intertubes.


Q: So who is this Marshall Ryan Maresca fellow?

A: Marshall Ryan Maresca is a fantasy and sci-fi writer living in the Austin area.  And he’s just sold two fantasy novels to DAW!
Q: What are a few books that made you fall in love with fantasy and science fiction?
A: A few early favorites are David Eddings’s The Belgariad, Asimov’s Caves of Steel, Richard Adams’s Watership Down, and Zilpha Keatly Snyder’s Below the Root.
Q: What makes you laugh?
A: What specifically?  Hard to say.  It doesn’t take much, I can tell you that.  I’m pretty easy.
Q: What’s the hardest lesson you have learned about writing?
A: It took me a while to figure out that enthusiasm alone for my settings or ideas wasn’t enough to truly make a story.  I had to push through a phase where I wasn’t really writing, I was essentially being a fandom of one for a thing that was only in my head.  I had to sit down and really figure out how to outline and structure a story with a driven center.
Q: What’s the most difficult thing you’ve learned about publishing?</p>
A: Patience.  Still working on that.
Q: With the explosion of self-publication what made you seek an agent and traditional publisher?</p>
A: Frankly, self-publication is too easy.  I couldn’t see the value in taking that route.  There’s a bit in A League of Their Own that I like to bring up, where Geena Davis says that the game “got too hard”, and Tom Hanks replies, “It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it.  The hard is what makes it great.”  That sums it up quite nicely.
Q: What was the process in getting your agent like?</p>
A: I first became aware of him quite a few years ago, when he did a public challenge of pounding through as many slush entries he could in a single day.  I sent something to him that, in retrospect, had very little business being shopped around. But I had to learn that.  He– quite rightfully– passed on that one.  But he stayed on my radar, and when I was querying for Thorn of Dentonhill, he was at the top of my list.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  That draft of Thorn was, for all intents, unsellable: a 70,000 word manuscript in a genre that really demands at least 90K.  I can only imagine that a number of agents passed on it without blinking when they saw that statistic at the top of the query.  But Mike read the whole damn thing and came back with, “This is great, BUT it’s far too short.  Fix that and get back to me.”  Up until that point, I had been clueless about the fundamental flaw in the work.  So I got back in there and figured out how to make it longer without causing fundamental damage to it.
On top of that, there were plenty more queries, sending partials and fulls upon request, and a lot of form rejection letters.
Seriously.  A lot.
Q: When you went agent hunting how long did it take you to land the aforementioned scoundrel?
A: Well, that’s a complicated question.  I started the query process for Thorn in 2009, and I heard from Mike there in October.  It took me a few months to rework it, and then send it back to him.  And then the process of further querying brought more drafts, and in early 2011 I sent him a even more revised version, which he accepted in May.  So: two years, give or take, where the manuscript went through a lot of evolution in the process.

Q: NightWing and Hawkeye get into a battle to the death; who wins?

A: First of all, both those guys operate on a No Killing code, so I don’t know how this battle to the death came about.  But, accepting the premise, I’ve got to put my money on Hawkeye.  He’s a crafty bastard that everyone underestimates.  Plus: he beat Death itself and saved the universe from complete destruction using nothing but a carny trick.
Q: Who are your three favourite superhero’s?
A: If my answer above didn’t already clue you in, I’m a sucker for archers: Green Arrow and Hawkeye.  Some people will mock them for being, you know, just a guy with a bow, while next to them are the likes of Iron Man or Superman or such. But you’ve got to flip the script on it: they’re just guys with a bow… who are good enough to be standing next to Iron Man or Superman.  For a third, I’ve got to go with Nightcrawler: pure panache and style.
Q: What form does your writing procrastination take?
A; Maps and worldbuilding for other things.  My space opera setting has grown quite literally exponentially while not writing various projects.

Q: Your bio says you do some acting, would you want to play any of your characters in an adaptation? If so who?

A: Oh, absolutely.  Probably one of the minor bad guys in Thorn– Nevin or Bell– or Captain Cinellan in A Murder of Mages. But just about anyone would be fun, because… well, I write with the perspective of a guy who’s played “Citizen #4″ in Julius Caesar.  You’ve got to make even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What movie have you seen the most times?
A: This is the hardest question here.  I’ve seen many movies many, many, many times.  And quite a few of them were really not worth the repeated viewing.  I don’t know if I’ve seen it more than any other, but the movie I can always pop in and be utterly engaged in is Die Hard.  And like I said above, that’s a movie that makes even the most minor character dynamic.
Q: What can you tell us about the books you sold?
A: Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages are street-level fantasy novels set in the same city.  In Thorn, Veranix Calbert is a magic student at the University who spends his nights slipping off campus to wage a one-man war on the drug dealers in the adjoining neighborhood, and their boss Willem Fenmere.  Using his magic skills in his fight, Veranix draws the attention of Fenmere, mystical circles and street gangs, and they all want a piece of “The Thorn.” With professors and prefects on the verge of discovering his secrets, Veranix’s double life might fall apart, and the assassins and mages after him could end it completely.  In Mages, Satrine Rainey is a working mother and an ex-spy who fakes her way into a Inspector position in the Maradaine Constabulary.  She gets partnered with Minox Welling, an eccentric genius and an untrained mage.  Together, they have to solve a series of gruesome murders, in which all the victims are mages.  Both books stand on their own, but as they take place in the same city, there are little hints and connections tying them together.
Q: When they build a statue to you, how will you be posed?
A: Slumped in front of computer, writing.
Q: Where on the internet can we find you? (List all social networks that are publicly you, website, blog and whatever)</p>
A: My webpage is www.mrmaresca.com, and my blog can be found at blog.mrmaresca.com.  I’m also on Twitter (https://twitter.com/marshallmaresca) and Facebook.

Why Are You Reading This?


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

You heard me!

Why are you reading this?

Oh wait. Let me guess. You’re that one person who has already bought, read, reviewed, and shared, on all your social networks The Broken Dragon? You know the latest in Irene Radford’s long running universe from DAW books?

That’s the book with this lovely cover:

BrokenDragon radfordI mean, honestly, between you and me (and the convieniently obsequious electrons helping us), I can’t think of any other reason for someone to be here right now reading this. Let’s be realistic, laundry, work, and the cat will still be there in a few hours, the book must be read (and the other stuff), now.

So stop reading. (Just share this post, eh?)


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

Find yourself a copy of Rayguns Over Texas, an anthology of fantastic fiction. There is a foreword by someone named Bruce Sterling who’s been in print since the 80′s, it is edited by Rick Klaw, and more importantly if features the writing of the amazing Marshall Maresca, along with more than a dozen others including Aaron Alston, Joe R. Lansdale and Michael Moorcock.

 

An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others

An anthology featuring Marshall Ryan Maresca and others


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

If like the rest of the explored universe you’ve been waiting impatiently for another fix of fantasy by marvel maker James Enge, you can breathe again.

 

James Enge's Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

James Enge’s Wrath Bearing-Tree released August 20 2013

In fact please, please breathe its very hard to run, walk, skateboard, or drive for very long. You certainly wouldn’t be able to do it long enough to make it to the store much less read the book.

In through the nose, out through the mouth.


Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

One of the things that you learn as you study history is that at some point someone has tried to explain everything from positions that don’t hold water. As a young nation, which America still was in the early 1800s it was wildly xenophobic. Worse as a large part of the movers and shakers who built America were from England their reaction to the Irish either Protestant or Catholic wasn’t always pleasant. The Irish in turn lashed out. Despite getting to vote fresh off the boat, no bars on employment and often language barriers as even the Gaelic speakers were integrated into the police, fire, political and union machinery, they lashed out at blacks to bolster their position.

This link is a pdf that I tripped over the other day that takes a look at things: click here

Black History Month: Simeon’s Story

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Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

One of the “lost” events of the civil rights struggle was the kidnapping, mutilation and murder of a 14 year old boy in the Mississippi delta for failing to follow the rules he, a visitor, was wholly ignorant of. Worse was the travesty of a trial afterwards. Simeon Wright is the cousin of that lost boy Emmett Till, and he tells the story as he lived it.
Simeon's Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett TillSimeon’s Story: An Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till by Simeon Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My only complaint about this book is that it isn’t long enough.

Simeon Wright plainly, and unbiasedly tells his part and memory of a dark, dark period of American history. Life in the Mississippi Delta in 1955 was precarious even if you’d grown up their and knew all the rules, Simeon Wright’s cousin from Chicago didn’t, and his life ended in the delta floating down the Tallahatchie river wired to a fan for whistling at a white woman.
Well told, good use of pictures and no grandstanding.

View all my reviews

Not so incidentally, the Emmett in Pyramid Power by Dave Freer and Eric Flint is named after Emmett Till.

cookie

Originally published at Agent Incite. You can comment here or there.

Water, Ice, Snow

One of the things a lot writers have to do is jump outside the known, into the stark cold reality of “making shit up” and not just making it, making it up and making it sound good. If you’ve never left the southern tip of Miami, or live on a beach in Panama, you probably haven’t spent much time in the cold and snow. One of the wonderful things about snow is that it doesn’t merely fall from the sky and stay on the ground. It blows.

blowing snow,

Trying to make it through the snow, on the ground is only part of it. It reflects light. It changes the shape of things, it can make it impossible to tell how far you are from something.

two lamp posts and trees

It can make landmarks you pass every day much harder to make out. same lamps and trees

Even without the differences of night and day, the changes can be dramatic.

Land, Sea, Air

The boundaries of land, sea and air can get a little blurry.

If you missed it earlier, Irene Radford’s newest book is available. Go get a copy, and wrap thyself around it.

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