deborahjross: (Default)
 BayCon is my local science fiction convention, one I have attended regularly for quite a few years now. At first, the hotel venue was within commuting distance, so long as I did not indulge in too many late night events that left me driving twisty mountain roads when I was already fatigued. But as the convention moved to different hotels, as conventions sometimes do, each successive move took it farther away until I was faced with either driving over an hour in either direction or shelling out for a hotel room. Fortunately, a dear friend and writer colleague offered me a guest bedroom and the chance to carpool from her house. Her adolescent children attended the con, too, so my own experience was colored by becoming a temporary part of her family and also the rhythms and accommodations of young folks. Among other things, I heard about the teen track programs, the gaming room, and other aspects of conventions I otherwise would be oblivious to. The kids reminded me that although conventions are primarily work for me, they can and should be play, as well.

The other difference in this convention is that Book View Café had one of two tables in “author’s alley,” near guest registration (the other was Tachyon Books, featuring Peter S. Beagle). Although the various attending members were not particularly organized, it was a somewhat successful learning experience and some of us sold books, talked about BVC, and chatted with fans.

We arrived at the hotel Friday afternoon, in time to hear both Juliette Wade and Chaz Brenchley read. Listening to authors read their work, sometimes work in progress or yet unpublished, is a special treat. When I have a heavy schedule of panels, I regret not being able to attend, so this was a great beginning to a convention. Not only did I get to hear two very different but equally wonderful stories but sitting quietly in a convention atmosphere helped with the transition.

It seems the older I get and the longer I live in the redwoods, the more difficult it is for me to “shift gears” into convention mode. I’ve become accustomed to long, deep silences, not to mention a slower pace of conversation. I always feel as if I’m moving (and speaking) too fast, which of course increases the risk of mis-speaking or not listening carefully enough to what the other person is saying. Most of the time, no one seems to notice. Being so aware of my own limitations, however, does make it easier for me to respond with gratitude when I am called out on an error. I appreciate not getting backed into a defensive posture.

My first panel – and I was moderator for all of them – got things moving on Saturday with Science Fiction (and/or Fantasy) as a Tool for Social Change, with A. E. Marling, Stephen “Dirk” Libbey, and Carrie Sassarego. In preparing for the panel, I had the thought that the influence of literature can be both good and bad (Mein Kampf and the world of Ayn Rand being two examples). Various members pointed out how pop culture influences people, and the metaphors used in speculative fiction allow subversive ideas to slip “below the radar.” Superheroes and media like Star Trek fill emotional needs but also empower us all to see ourselves as  heroic (for example, how Uhura inspired generations to reach for the stars). Since the theme of the con was “dystopia/utopia, we pointed out how sf/f offers “cautionary tales” of “if this goes on” or “it can happen here.” It offers hope that life can and will go on after a disaster. We need Gandalf and Dumbledore after this last election!

Chaz Brenchley and R.L. King joined me for a lively discussion of Stand-alone or Series. We swapped stories from our own careers and debated the advantages and pitfalls of each form, and how what the publishers are looking for has changed over time. Writers who once regularly got multi-volume contracts found themselves having to market completed stand-alone novels. Chaz pointed out that a stand-alone can and often does become the first volume of a continuing series when and if the publisher decides that book has sold well enough to merit more (“like the first one only different”). R. L. represented authors who have chosen self-publishing to bring out a series in rapid succession. In her case, she set up her own imprint and hired professional editors and cover designers, so the final product had high values. Her urban fantasy series is targeted at a particular reading experience, which reminded me of Amanda Hocking’s highly successful self-publishing strategy. Readers know exactly what kind of experience to expect, and frequent new releases (ever 3 or 4 months) keeps them coming back for more. This contrasts to conventional publishing, where an author might typically take a year to write a novel, which would spend another year in production.

I had further conversations with R. L. King and A. E. Marling when we tackled Writing in Someone Else’s World. I’ve spoken on this topic a number of times, about continuing the “Darkover” series created by Marion Zimmer Bradley, and also writing a Star Wars short story (“Goatgrass” in Tales from Jabba’s Palace). Both other panelists came from a gaming tie-in background, where the rules are a bit different. For example, A. E.’s experience writing for Wizards of the Coast involved NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements, which prohibit him from discussing material in production and other aspects of the job). R.L.’s tie-in novel was set in “Shadowspawn,” a large and varied gaming world.

My friend Cliff Winnig played sitar in concert. He usually accompanies an author reading for one of his pieces, but this year the author he’d invited couldn’t attend, so I filled in at the last minute. I read the sword fight scene from Thunderlord, and Cliff’s music made the dancing come alive.

After dinner, it was time to play and relax. I particularly enjoyed the Masquerade and Variety Show this year. One of my Darkover anthology authors, Jeremy Erman, won “Best in Show” in the variety show for his keyboard performance of the music of James Horner, but all the other entries and costumes were highly entertaining, too. The musical duo “Library Bards” did their usual hilarious and musical job at the microphone.

Sunday morning began with a panel I actually wasn’t on. (That’s not a joke; I’ve been to far too many conventions over the years where the only panels I got to go to were those I was a participant in.) I wanted to hear the discussion of Women’s Utopias or Queer Utopias, with Meg Elison, Heather Rose Jones, Skye Allen, and Wanda Kurtcu, and I was not disappointed. With a huge audience for a 10:00 Sunday panel, the conversation with animated and thoughtful. People are not uniform, so one person’s utopia is another’s dystopia. Meg described her Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel, The Book of the Unnamed Midwife as The Handmaid’s Tale with queers and pointed out that most apocalyptic stories are asymmetrical with regard to gender and sexual orientation. Typically, such tales don’t question the binary nature of gender, and they often reinforce gender role stereotypes (with notable exceptions like Mad Max: Fury Road). Early feminist utopias didn’t even address sexual needs/preferences, assuming celibacy for equality. Novels set in utopias often incorporate the element of misfits or those who resist (Brave New World, Logan’s Run) to contrast and point out the impossibility of setting up a system that works equally well for everyone. “Who is this utopia for?” becomes a central question. While hell as dystopia is a popular topic, almost no one is interested in heavenly utopias, perhaps because “heaven” pertains to life without the body (“meat suit”) and that’s inherently boring, while the structure of a novel requires conflict or dissatisfaction. “People will always find ways to be unhappy.” All-lesbian utopias assume a uniformity of sexual activity, but people aren’t all the same in this dimension, either. “Incidental queerness” occurs when the sexual orientation of a character is not his or her central problem, it’s just one facet of that person.

My last panel was Care and Feeding of Your Creative Muse, with Skye Allen, Jennifer Nestojko, Mark Gelineau, and R.L. King. We talked about how to balance the different parts of your life: family and other obligations, self-care, day job, and writing. How to keep the ideas coming (and not forget them!) and then wrangle them into stories. How to keep the whole process fun. It’s important to develop strategies that work for you to keep you writing on a schedule and not just “when the muse strikes.” Mark encouraged us to have courage, and faith in our creative process. We talked about how to keep that faith alive when our lives fall apart and we can’t write. Hope during difficulties means remembering that “this too shall pass.” We all need reminders of how our creativity sustains and nourishes us during difficult times. Having a writing ritual can keep us going through distractions. Detractors can undermine our confidence in our work by denigrating its importance; instead, we remember that our art is how we fight the darkness.

deborahjross: (Default)
Originally posted by [ profile] sartorias at Editorial comments
Linda Nagata talks extensively about dealing with editorial comments. I wanted to ruminate further, but felt it would be rude to blather in a public forum. This is my safe blather place.

I first want to get the every process is different, every editor and editor-and-writer relationship caveat out of the way. The idea here is not to say anyone or thing is wrong. I find that a dead-end discussion.

Red: First Light, which made it to the Nebula finals as the first very small press novels to do so, I believe, was edited by fellow member Judith Tarr. One of the back-med processes of Book View Cafe is editing; again, writers and styles are different, but there are two or three BVC people to whom I turn for editing, and Judith is one of them. (Deborah Ross and Katharine Eliska Kimbriel are the two others. Though we have more editors, I haven't tried some, and others our styles don't jive.)

It's easy to say "I'm an editor"--in fact the Net is full of people offering to editor your books. Whether or not they actually can depends on your point of view: you can look at reviews of traditionally published books, where you know there was an elite team of Ninja editors at work, and see "Where was the editor on this thing? Asleep at the switch!" Followed by reviews that state the work in question was perfection, of course.

I think the editing process works best when the editor takes the time to explain what they are seeing, and why. In BVC, because no one has the authority to say "You have to do what I say or return your advance," there is an opportunity for dialogue.

One of the things Linda brought up is the "This should be a scene" note. Again, writing is not like math. There is no equation for what ought to be a full scene, a half scene, a bit that occurs offstage and gets reported (and discussed) by characters, or the narrative voice summarizes it as part of a transition. Generally speaking, when I employ this Note of Doom (I suspect every writer's heart sinks at least at first when they see it, because after all, they didn't write the scene in the first place) it's because I feel that the narrative voice is telling the reader what to think, which can be felt as a cheat, or else is shortchanging character evolution/emotion.

Of course, sometimes the writer doesn't write the scene, but discovers a place earlier on that can fortify that bit, then the summary snaps into a tight transition.

I don't like to look at reviews of my own stuff until way after the fact (too wince-making when it's too late to fix) but I do look out for reviews of books I edited. And I love seeing praise, though I am an utterly invisible part of that book's process. But the work still feels important even though what the book is saying is not my words.
deborahjross: (Tajji in meadow)
Book View Cafe is having a Dog Days of Summer sale. But we're having trouble deciding which mascot should headline the banner. Tajji's one of the contestants.

Go here to vote:
deborahjross: (Default)
Nathan Bransford, who worked as a literary agent and then turned author, hosts Nathalie Whipple on the subject of the difference between "legacy" (traditional) and indie (self) publishers. The article explains the basics without going into too deep a discussion of why an author would choose one form of publishing over another.

The bottom line is that we are in the midst (or perhaps the end) of a period of time when most authors who went indie didn't have a choice. They were dropped by their traditional publishers or their advances went down past the point of sustainability or some other reason that caused them to look elsewhere. If they were going indie, they had to figure out how to get the same professional level of editing and book production that we take for granted with traditional publishers. Now that's happened -- which is not to say that there are no sloppily produced, unedited self-published books, but that there is an emerging understanding of how to do it right. This includes more readily available resources. Promoting self-published books takes an enormous amount of time and energy, that many authors feel could be better spent writing the next book. But it may not be necessary to perform every function of a legacy publisher by yourself.

When Book View Cafe (the online writer's cooperative) was founded over 5 years ago, we concentrated on epublishing our out of print backlist books. These had already gone through the editorial process and while they needed proofreading, they were essentially ready to go. Gradually we created internal procedures (a consensus understanding leading to a publication checklist) that enables us to not only put out quality original ebooks, but printed editions as well. (This latter is still in process, but I'm confident that there will soon be a BVC POD imprint.) We have contracts with audiobook producers and library distributors. We did this collectively, pooling our skills, but many of these opportunities are available to single self-published authors as well.

It will be fascinating to see what the next 5 years brings.

Self-publishing vs. Traditional: Some Straight Talk | Nathan Bransford, Author
deborahjross: (Default)
Did you get a new e-reader for the holidays? Or maybe you discovered some empty space on an old one? Well then, hi thee over to the Book View Cafe. Over 100 books at half price, some of them mine - Jaydium, Northlight, Other Doorways, and Azkhantian Tales. Also Marion Zimmer Bradley's The Complete Lythande, which contains a previously-unpublished story!

Go look! Many authors, many genres.
deborahjross: (Default)

... some about my work, others just plain delicious. This week's round-up:

The latest Sword and Sorceress, just released, includes my story, "Pearl of Tears." It's a companion piece or reflection of "Pearl of Fire" from S & S XXII. The narrator, and the consequences of her actions, wouldn't leave me alone. The anthology is available in ebook and print editions from the usual places.

From Book View Cafe, a delicious and awesomely wonderful anthology of "author's favorite" stories (edited by me and Pati Nagle). "From the fantasy and science fiction of our roots to steampunk, romance, historical and mainstream; from humor to life’s hardest challenges, across the spectrum from light to dark. Stories by Ursula K. Le Guin, Vonda N. McIntyre, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and many more." Here's the link to order it or download a sample story. The Table of Contents:Read more... )

deborahjross: (Default)
My latest anthology, from Book View Cafe!
From the age of steam and the heirs of Dr. Frankenstein to the asteroid belt to the halls of Miskatonic University, the writers at Book View Café have concocted a beakerful of quaint, dangerous, sexy, clueless, genius, insane scientists, their assistants (sometimes equally if not even more deranged, not to mention bizarre), friends, test subjects, and adversaries.

Table of Contents:
The Jacobean Time Machine, by Chris Dolley
Comparison of Efficacy Rates, by Marie Brennan
A Princess of Wittgenstein, by Jennifer Stevenson
Mandelbrot Moldrot, by Lois Gresh
Dog Star, by Jeffrey A. Carver
Secundus, by Brenda W. Clough
Willie, by Madeleine E. Robins
One Night in O’Shaughnessy’s Bar, by David D. Levine
Revision, by Nancy Jane Moore
Night Without Darkness, by Shannon Page & Mark J. Ferrari
The Stink of Reality, by Irene Radford
“Value For O,” by Jennifer Stevenson
The Peculiar Case of Sir Willoughby Smythe, by Judith Tarr
The Gods That Men Don’t See, by Amy Sterling Casil

You can download a sample from the  bookstore, too. This anthology includes both original and reprint stories and is available as mobi and epub formats, so you can download the version that's right for your ereader. Best of all, because BVC is an author's publishing cooperative, 95% of the price goes to the authors themselves.
deborahjross: (Deb and Cleo)
Over at Book View Cafe's blog, I answer questions about how I became an editor, how I approach a shared world anthology, my thoughts on how each anthology takes shape, and a bunch of other cool stuff. In part, the interview is to celebrate tomorrow's release of Mad Science Cafe, a delicious and more than slightly wacky, grim, inventive concoction of well, mad scientist tales that I had the joy of editing.

Q.) How did you decide what you wanted for Mad Science Café?

A.) I tried to approach the process with an open mind. The writers at Book View Café are all seasoned professionals with individual creative styles. Suggest a theme and no two will come up with the same interpretation. Even within as narrow a topic as “mad scientists,” I found a rich variety in approach, in setting, in character–some hilarious, others grim; some closer to the tone of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, others wildly different. Much to my delight, I received a healthy mix of original stories and reprints, some of which have been unavailable for some time. As I read through the submissions, I realized that “mad scientist” is a jumping-off point and that I could open the scope from the original image of the wild-eyed genius in a white lab coat with great results.

deborahjross: (Shield #1)
Chris Dolley on Book View Cafe -- how we got started, how we work cooperatively, our successes and challenges.

We find that cooperation works surprisingly well. Part of this comes down to our selection procedure where ‘plays well with others’ is seen as an essential prerequisite to membership. Plus volunteering is catching. When you see people giving up their time to help you with your book, guiding you through the maze of book production and giving you marketing tips that you’d never even thought of…you feel compelled to return the favor. As one of our newer authors said recently, “This place *rocks.* I’ve never been so supported in my writing career!”

An Author-run Publishing Co-op With a Record of Success | Publishing Perspectives
deborahjross: (Shield #1)
At some conventions, I'm so heavily scheduled for panels, I don't get to actually attend any and listen to the discussions. Sometimes that's frustrating, other times, it's just the way things roll. Typically, panels and other events are an hour or an hour and a half long, wrapping up 5 minutes before closing to give everyone barely enough time to scramble to the next one. This time, Baycon scheduled 2 hours slots with 1 1/2 hour panels, which had the dual effect of ample discussion time, leisurely transitions, and far fewer panels. I think this is a worthwhile experiment. People, both pro writers/artists and fans, attend conventions for many different reasons. I doubt it's possible to create a programming schedule that fits everyone's needs, but trying different things is a good way to find the best balance.

So yesterday was mostly a schmoozing day, connecting with other members of Book View Cafe, as well as friends. I tend not to include Lists of Notable Names in my convention reports, and I won't do so now. Suffice it to say that it's a delight to meet in person fellow writers with whom I've been working with online. The internet creates its own kind of community. Well, many kinds, but mostly mediated through text -- emails, forums, groups, blogs, etc. Occasionally phone conferences and even less frequently video conferences. None of these substitute for face-to-face conversations. When the members of a community (in this case, Book View Cafe) are scattered not only across the US, but over the world, getting more than two or three of us together at the same time in the same place is nigh impossible. This is where conventions come in, because as pro writers, we often attend these anyway, so we seize upon the opportunity to "meet-up."Read more... )

Despite the fact that a number of us specifically requested that we be on the panel on the Future of E-Publishing, none of us were. So a bunch of us went. The panelists included various writers, editors, and publishers, and I have no complaint about the discussion...except that BVC is on the leading edge of innovative epublishing. To the best of my knowledge, we're the first online author's cooperative, we have over 40 members, we've published work that made it to the New York Times Bestseller list, we sell our ebooks to libraries internationally, we include a wide range of genres (sf/f, Romance, historical fiction, YA, nonfiction, mystery, thriller, horror, etc.), and we are actively developing new models of cooperative publishing. Surely such a panel might make some slight reference to what we're doing?

So we made our presence known. At least, one of us went up and spoke to the moderator and got added to the panel. The usual result is that afterwards, panelists and audience members want to know more about us. Some of these conversations get as far as, How do I join? and a few of those go farther. Sometimes we as individual BVC members make contact with other groups of authors and we're still trying to figure out ways of supporting one another. BVC has an organic, consensus-based decision-making process that drives many people nuts and often results in very slow changes.

You meet people, you chat, you plant ideas on one another's minds. Maybe hearing how we do things will inspire other authors to group themselves together in ways that best serve them. Maybe some of the other seeds that are scattered bear unexpected and innovative fruit. Most will likely come to nothing other than a pleasant chat. But you never know...
deborahjross: (halidragon)
Pati Nagle was born and raised in the mountains of northern New Mexico. An avid student of music, history, and humans in general, she has a special love of the outdoors, particularly New Mexico’s wilds, which inspire many of her stories. Her fiction has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Cricket, Cicada, and in anthologies honoring New Mexico writers Jack Williamson and Roger Zelazny. Her fantasy short story ”Coyote Ugly“ was honored as a finalist for the Theodore Sturgeon Award. She has also written a series of historical novels as P.G. Nagle. She is a founding member of Book View Café.
Q: What is the working title of your book? 
A: CURSE OF THE FALLEN or CURSE OF THE ALBEN, not sure which.  What do you think?  Is CURSE OF THE ALBEN confusing?

Q: Where did the idea come from for the book?
A: Short answer: This is book 4 of my Blood of the Kindred series, inspired by my short story, "Kind Hunter" (which you can read at Book View Café - it's the free sample from the anthology DRAGON LORDS AND WARRIOR WOMEN).

Q: What genre does your book fall under?
A: Fantasy

Q: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
A: Well, Orlando Bloom is the quintessential elf in my eyes, so I'd cast him as Turisan. Read more... )
deborahjross: (blue hills)
Patricia Burroughs — Pooks of Book View Cafe — began her writing career in romance with five published novels. She received nominations and recognition from RT Reviews and was a Finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Rita.

Then she got lured over to the dark side — screenwriting. She received a Nicholl Fellowship from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences for an adaptation of her first published novel, What Wild Ecstasy, under the title, “Redemption.” Uncredited but paying work followed, and she was happy with her Hollywood dreams… Until one day she woke up with a new story rooting itself into her heart, a story that couldn’t be told in a script but needed many more pages to spread out, flex its muscles and take wing. She returned to novels and is presently writing an epic fantasy trilogy.

1) What is the title of your book?

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
My muse had madcap heroines from the 20s/30s on her mind, I’m afraid, even though I was writing about a world firmly set in the (then) contemporary 90s. Before I knew it, speakeasies and flappers and romances of Christmases past were occupying my mind and the life of Paisley Vandermeir.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
Romance. It was meant to be a romantic comedy, and it definitely has those elements, but it ended up having a bittersweet poignancy as well, as Paisley deals with the death, bequests and scandals of her great-aunt.

4) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Louise Brooks is the obvious choice, but alas, she is dead. So I’d go for Jennifer Lawrence, whose spin in Silver Linings Playbook is spot on perfect and has the kind of tough vulnerability (compounded by being downright weird) that I see in Paisley, even though the characters are very different from one another.

Also, even though she’s much too young, I definitely can see Susan Sarandon as the fiercely independent Aunt Isadora [aka Auntie Mame on acid]. I wrote a screen adaptation of this book in which Aunt Izzy comes back as a ghost and haunts Paisley in an attempt to make her do things she wants done. That was more fun than a bag of monkeys.

As for Chris–I don’t know. He just needs to be able to look charmingly befuddled, as if he doesn’t know what just hit him, splendid in a tux, and also be willing to fight like hell for love when he finds it.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
“All she needed was a safe little scandal, and he seemed as safe as they come. Oops.”

6) Was your book self-published or represented by an agency?
Represented by an agent in its print format. The digital edition available now was published by Book View Café. I’m currently looking for an agent who specializes in my current areas of writing interest, science fiction and fantasy.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Probably three months, though that was once I sold the proposal. Creating the idea, characters, proposal–that all takes more time than I can usually calculate because some of these things live in my head for years before I actually put them down on paper.

8) What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The fashion! Aunt Izzy left a magnificent couture wardrobe behind, and Paisley is having to let go of it one memory at a time.  I am not a fashionista, but I had so much fun researching this book!
deborahjross: (blue hills)
Book View Cafe member Katharine Eliska Kimbriel reinvents herself every decade or so. It’s not on purpose, mind you – it seems her path involves overturning the apple cart, collecting new information & varieties of apple seed, and moving on. The one constant she has reached for in life is telling stories.

“I’m interested in how people respond to unusual circumstances. Choice interests me.  What is the metaphor for power, for choice? In SF it tends to be technology (good, bad and balanced) while in Fantasy the metaphor is magic – who has it, who wants or does not want it, what is done with it, and who/what the person or culture is after the dust has settled. A second metaphor, both grace note and foundation, is the need for and art of healing." She adds, “A trope in fantasy is great power after passing through death. Well, at my crisis point, I didn’t die.  That means that I’m a wizard now.  Who knows what I may yet accomplish?”

What is the working title of your current book? Spirit Tracks

Where did the idea come from for the book? It's the third Alfreda novel, about how her family ships her off to fabled Cousin Esme's school for young wizards to get that pesky need for ritual magic under control.

What genre does your book fall under? It's dark fantasy for ages 8-108.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh, that's hard. The actress who could have been Allie has grown up. Now? Who do you think? My friend Mike Moe could be Allie's father, and Claudia Christian could be her mother. Diane Lane could be Esme -- beautiful, professional, enigmatic, everything a wizard should be. Jodie Foster could play Marta, I think! And the Asian wizard in Spirit Tracks could have been George Takei in an earlier incarnation.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A young wizard discovers that you can survive fantastic change.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Excellent question. Haven't decided if I will offer it to NYC or not. Will discuss with my agent after it's complete.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of this manuscript? It's not quite finished, and too long, ARGH!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? Allie was unique when she came out -- if anything, Night Calls and Kindred Rites were "Little House on the Prairie with werewolves and vampires." Check out those two books -- if you like strong, grounded, very brave heroes, whose stories take place in an alternative early North America, Alfreda might be the teen for you.

Who or What inspired you to write this book? Jane Yolen talking about an anthology for young adults that she was opening for submissions. My subconscious sent me the image of Allie hanging a woven braid of garlic over an interior door. It was such a strong picture I thought I'd swiped it from somewhere.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? It has magic, humor, sentient magical creatures, spirit guides, and a touch of romance. Oh -- and a cat decides that Allie belongs to HIM. We also get great food!

No matter how this book is going, I plan to get Night Calls and Kindred Rites into ebook next year. So progress is happening.

In the meantime? Fires of Nuala, the first of my SF series The Chronicles of Nuala is on sale at Book View Cafe, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The queen of thieves meets the mutant king, and the planet Nuala will never be the same again. Far future science fiction driven by character and culture.

You can reach all formats through Backlist eBooks.
deborahjross: (Default)
Originally posted by [ profile] sartorias at Living in Threes
Living in threes

This is one of those projects that needed the freedom of small press.

Judith Tarr, whose name many of you will recognize, had written the project of her heart--her agent read it, loved it, said, "I'm not sure how to market it." But sent it out anyway. And after a few ice ages had passed, notes came back from editors that boiled down to: Loved it, but not sure how to market it.

So Judy brought it to the rest of us at Book View Cafe. When I read it, I saw what the Big Six was whinnying about: much of the subject matter was definitely YA, without the familiar-these-days love triangle centered around an angsty iteration of Draco Malfoy. Instead of a variation on teenagers enduring some form of gladiatorial violence, there is a nasty plague threatening to go pandemic.

The protagonist is an everyday horse girl, texting constantly with friends in the here-and-now, but there is also a historical element. And a sfnal element.

And a mystery to be solved.

And a fantastic element, in the psychic link across time and space. A fantasy, then? But the subject matter was profoundly real: love, death. Friendship. Dreams and duty. And the big questions: paradigm, meaning, identity.

As Judy worked on the book, no longer constrained by trying to fit it into a definitive marketing slot, those disparate elements became its strength. I read it three times, and though the voice is breezy, at times funny, I teared up all three times.

It starts out the summer Meredith turns sixteen. At last her life seems more or less normal--her mom has recovered from life-threatening illness, her horse Bonnie might be pregnant. Then Mom drops the bomb.

“Seriously?” said Cat. “They’re giving you Egypt for your birthday?” When Cat gets excited she gets squeaky.

She was up in bat territory now.

Between that and the arctic air conditioning and the solar-flare lighting, the Ice Creamery was a migraine waiting to happen. I’d had a psycho break and ordered a Bama Slammer, which was a double banana split with blackberries, pecans, peaches, three different sauces, and enough ice cream to feed a third-world country.

I already had brain freeze from eating the first few spoonfuls too fast. I picked at the rest while Cat gnawed on her Choco-Cone. In between bites she kept squeaking. “Egypt! King Tut! Pyramids! Barging down the Nile!”

“Terrorists,” I said, two solid octaves down from her. “Sandstorms. Mummies.”

Meredith does not want to be packed up and sent overseas, but the adults have decreed, and it's the part of a kid to obey. Even if you're sixteen, so no longer a 'kid.' Meredith is furious, withdraws to write . . . and falls into a vision.

. . . against the wall, a shadow stirred. Wings unfurled, half mist, half solid. Eyes glittered above a drift of fog that might have been a beak. The starwing stroked its half-substantial wingtip across Meru's cheek, a touch like ice and smoke . . .

The vision is not Meredith's story, it's a vision-vision, of a girl named Meru who, with her best friend, a boy named Yoshi, are determined to be picked for star pilot school, but then Meru gets a message that her mother is missing. And Meredith falls out of the vision. What to make of that?

Events begin to accelerate Egyptward, in spite of Meredith's wishes, and it happens again.

A hawk hung on the pinnacle of heaven.

From the temple far below, it looked like a bird of metal suspended in the sky.

The sun’s heat was fierce, but Meritre shivered. The choir was so much smaller than it had been a year ago: so many lost, so many voices silenced. Of those whom the plague had left, too many were thin and pale, and their singing barely rippled the air above the courtyard.

They would be strong again. New voices would join the chorus. Pharaoh had promised, swearing that the promise came from the great god Amon himself.

This time the vision is not in the future, but long in the past . . . and the weird thing is, when Meredith gets to Egypt at last, little things begin to look familiar from the vision.

The visions come together to solve a mystery--a race against time, only how do you measure it when the three voices are separated by thousands of years? There are two climaxes, with Meredith emerging, with profound and painful insight, onto the threshold of adulthood.

I don’t cry for humans. I cry for things that are so beautiful I just can’t stand it, like Bonnie in front of me, all crusty from rolling in the sand, with a mouthful of half-chewed hay and eyes that knew everything I’d ever thought or felt or been.

Impatient Bonnie, who always has to be moving and thinking and doing, stood for a long time while I cried into her mane. Her warm animal smell filled my nose.

I think this book is so warm, so wise. I'd put it into the hands of a ten year old, yet the adult me was swept up in it with all the old intensity.

I hope you'll give it a try.

deborahjross: (Default)
Earlier this year, I had the joy of co-editing (with [ profile] ramblin_phyl an anthology of new interpretations of fairy tales - Beyond Grimm from Book View Cafe. One of the stories was an edgy, lyrical version of "The Twelve Dancing Princesses" - Sue Lange's "Princess Dancer." Now Sue has done a book trailer of her story. It's quite an amazing thing to see a story I edited give rise to another art form.

Check it out! (And the original prose story, too -- both are amazing!)

deborahjross: (Northlight)

Book View Cafe is holding a "Dog Days of August" sale through the 15th. See the specials page for our markdowns or use these coupon numbers at checkout for the books listed below:

  • Beyond Grimm, Shadow Conspiracy I, Shadow Conspiracy II, Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls, Dragon Lords and Warrior Women, and Brewing Fine Fiction: DOGDAYSANTHO
  • Nancy Jane Moore’s Changeling and Flashes of Illumination: DOGDAYNJM2012
  • Pati Nagle’s Immortal: AugustDog-Immortal; Swords Over Fireshore: AugustDog-Swords; and Pet Noir: AugustDog-PetNoir. Glorieta Pass is also half off, with no coupon required.
  • Jeffrey Carver’s Reality and Other Fictions and Dragon Space: DOGDAYJC2012
  • Chaz Brenchley’s Dead of Light and Light Errant: DOGDAYCB2012
  • Deborah J. Ross’s Jaydium and Northlight: DOGDAYDJR2012
  • Linda Nagata’s The Bohr Maker: SUMMERHOUSE
  • Katharine Eliska Kimbriel’s Fire Sanctuary, Hidden Fires, and Fires of Nuala: DOGDAYKEK2012
  • Jennifer Stevenson’s A Taste of You: DOGDAYJS2012
  • Laura Anne Gilman's Practical Meerkat’s 52 Bits of Useful Advice for New (and Old) Writer: DOGDAYLAG2012
deborahjross: (Jaydium)
In a fit of benevolent insanity, or maybe just summer wanting-to-dosomething-cool, I'm offering my novel, Jaydium in free serialized chapters on my blog.

The first chapter is up now, and others will follow, most likely on Fridays. If you're coming in later, there's an index and links under "Read A Story" so you can catch up. Enjoy! (And of course if you simply cannot wait to find out what happens next, you can get your very own copy from Book View Cafe, in a format that will play nicely with your Nook or Kindle or whatever.)
deborahjross: (Default)
Chain Mail 3: Book View Cafe | AMAZING STORIES

Here's my answer:

I’m going to sound like a gangster and respond, “Who’s asking?” If the reader is asking, what they really want to know is how to find good (or great!) books. The genre distinctions offer the illusion of making that search easier, but what happens is that large numbers of books that the reader would adore then become invisible. True, some readers want only one particular kind of reading experience (Big Ideas! Slice-of-Life! Happily-Ever-After!), and they want some way of sorting out their preferred genre from all the others out there. Hence, the separation of genres on bookstore shelves.

If who’s asking is an author, then the implied question is how can a book be positioned or marketed for maximum success? In this age of 25-words-or-less blurbs and elevator pitches, how can I reach the readers who will love my book? Easy labels, snappy slogans, and pigeonholes “R Us.”

If the question comes from a librarian – pause for a moment while said librarian tears out her or his hair – it’s a bit more complicated because afore-mentioned nearly-bald librarian must simultaneously play match-maker between reader and book, and discern the proper placement of the book within the larger body of works-of-words. Please note that the Library of Congress does not distinguish between science fiction and literary fiction. It’s all fiction. Such a boon this is to those of us who read widely across genres – we can actually find all the works by a given fiction author in the same place, under the same call number. (Not so most public libraries, which shelve science fiction or mysteries separately, although I once found Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books under “Historical Fiction.”) Then, of course, we authors get pressured into using different names for different genres, with the result that unless some astute librarian realizes we are really the same people, our work ends up scattered-by-pseudonym, rather than scattered-by-genre.
deborahjross: (Default)
The Book View Cafe grand-opening-ebookstore giveaway is over and we have 2 winners here:

bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com has won a copy of Laldasa: Beloved Slave by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. I'll be emailing you a coupon code shortly. Purchase the book in the normal way, but enter the code on checkout.

[ profile] princejvstin has won either 50% off either of my BVC titles (Jaydium or Northlight or a mass-market paperback copy of one of these Darkover titles: Zandru's Forge, A Flame in Hali, The Alton Gift or Hastur Lord. Email me at deborahjross at sff dot net with your choice (and if you want a print book, I'll need an address to which to send it.)


deborahjross: (Default)
Deborah J. Ross

May 2017

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