Saturday, October 31, 2009

So Much For That Experiment

So the argument is that e-books go up on the torrent sites, a bazillion people download them for free and those who enjoy the book go out and buy a legit copy, once they've found out for sure that the book is worth spending money on. I was skeptical, but figured I should give folks a chance. So back in July I issued a challenge to the pirates. Someone had uploaded a copy of my story, "Learning to Love Yourself," to the torrents and I was willing to wait for my next quarter's royalty statement to see if there'd been any positive impact on sales. I promised that if there were a clear (or even a squinty) increase in sales after the story had been torrented, that I'd stop chasing after pirates; my publisher would still issue take-down notices and such, but I myself would stop doing so and let the uploaders do whatever they wanted.

Well, it's next quarter and I have my royalty statement, and there was nothing. Not even a blip. So much for that theory. Sorry, folks, the cease-fire is over.

Given recent discussions [cough] on the net, I want to make it clear that I don't get too excited if someone likes my story and thinks, "Hey, I'll bet Mary would love this one!" and gives Mary a copy to try. A personal rec is more likely to turn someone into a fan, if they do like the story. My objection is to the torrents, where people steal copies of my copyrighted, for-sale books en masse. I'm not even going to deny the possibility that some people out there use the torrents to try before they buy; a few people have said they do, and I'm willing to provisionally take their word for it, although I still think torrent piracy itself sucks.

Reading the pirate message boards, though, there seem to be far more people there who actively mock the whole idea of paying for something you can get for free. These people think anyone who pays money for an e-book they could get for free is stupid, period. This isn't a case of try-before-you-buy, or of poor people being unable to afford to buy books. When people can't find a copy of something to "share" on the torrents, and someone in the group says, "I might actually have to spend money on this one, haha!" and everyone laughs on cue over how ridiculous that is, yeah, my spirit of compassion and generosity shrivels up pretty quickly.

You know, I was really hoping this would turn out differently. If there'd been any kind of visible up-tick in my sales, I'd have been willing to let things go and been happy to do so. It's really a shame.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Is YOUR Senator Pro-Gang-Rape?

Yeah, that's pretty inflamatory. I'm feeling pretty damn inflamed right now, so I think that's appropriate.

In 2005, Jamie Leigh Jones, a twenty-year-old employee of KBR -- at the time a subsidiary of Halliburton, and hey look, they're hiring -- was working in Iraq. Her co-workers drugged her, gang-raped her, abused her so badly her breasts were disfigured permanently, then locked her in a shipping container for twenty-four hours without food or water. She was told by her employer that if she left Iraq to get medical attention, she'd be fired.

According to an ABC News post:

Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.

"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.

"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" -- from her American employer.

Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.


Jones told that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.

Wow, what a shocking misfortune.

Her assailants were never brought to trial, either, neither criminally nor civilly. Why? Because Ms. Jones's employment contract with KBR states that a victim of sexual assault surrenders the right to prosecute their rapists; all such matters must be taken before a private arbitrator, where there's no transcript kept and the proceedings are not public record.

And this is by no means an isolated incident. See the links below for more cases, more women who've been raped and brutalized and threatened while working abroad for defense contractors, coming forward.

So essentially, if you work for one of these companies overseas, your co-workers can gang rape you, leaving you permanently injured, the company you work for can threaten you with the loss of your job if you try to go home for medical help, their security people will "lose" key evidence of the crime against you, and your only recourse is private arbitration. Your assailants will never see prison time, and there'll be no official record of what happened.

Or rather, this was the case until last Tuesday. According to a story in

In one of the most public tests of his political skills since taking office in July, Sen. Al Franken pushed through an amendment Tuesday that would withhold defense contracts from companies like Halliburton if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.

So essentially, if a company tries to create an atmosphere encouraging rape and assault among their employees by preventing victims from seeking prosecution, they're cut off from defense contracts. That's kind of minimal, but since the only thing these people understand is money, it might just work. Note also that the author of the amendment has only been on the job for three months -- way to go, Senator Franken!

But now we get to the part which is relevant to the title of this post. One would think that every person with two brain cells to rub together for mutual warmth would be in favor of this change, but unfortunately that's not the case. Thirty senators -- all Republican, coincidentally I'm sure -- voted against the amendment. Is your senator among them? If so, please write or call and tell them what you think of how they voted.

There's a complete list of how everyone voted on the U.S. Senate web site. This is official, a dot-gov web site; it's not some unofficial nose-count by a partisan press. Is your senator on the "Nay" list?

Also, props to the ten Republican senators who voted for the amendment:

Bennett (R-UT), Collins (R-ME), Grassley (R-IA), Hatch (R-UT), Hutchison (R-TX), LeMieux (R-FL), Lugar (R-IN), Murkowski (R-AK), Snowe (R-ME), and Voinovich (R-OH).

It's pretty sad that voting in favor of punishing gang-rape is something worth particular praise, but still, I applaud these senators for voting for what's right, rather than going along with the Boys-Will-Be-Boys Club.

Thanks to a friend of mine on LJ for giving me a heads-up to this.

More sources:

Celluloid Blonde
Firedog Lake -- Ms. Jones says eleven more women have contacted her about similar incidents
Huffington Post
The Minnesota Independent
The Nation -- and another KBR rape case.
Think Progress -- this one has an embedded video of Sen. Franken's speech.
Think Progress -- this one talks about three other women who've come forward


Thursday, October 15, 2009

I'm On Amazon

Google alerts finally got around to telling me one of my stories is up on Amazon, in a Kindle edition, and apparently has been since 30 September.

I have to admit I'm of two minds about this. Part of me was jumping up and down and doing the virtual "Woot!" thing, because Amazon is a freaking huge market and there's no getting away from that. Another part of me was going, "Huh..." though, because Amazon's not my favorite corporate entity these days. And I have some technical issues with the Kindle, even aside from Amazon's corporate ethics, although that's one of those "if it works for you" kinds of things. But yeah, as far as marketing goes, this probably isn't one of my better efforts. [cough]

Still, more formats is always a good thing. If any Kindle users out there are interested, there's a version available now for $2.49, and there'll be another version (with no image available at this point; I have no idea what the difference will be) available 17 December for $1.99.

Even if you're not a Kindle user, if you're browsing Amazon and you feel like wandering by my page(s) and clicking on the tags, I'd appreciate it. Thanks!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reading Habits

A meme-thing about reading habits, gacked from Charles. Questions are in italics.

Do you snack while you read? If so, favorite reading snack:

I eat or drink while reading sometimes, but not every time. And there's no particular thing I go for while reading. Sometimes I'll be eating a meal, sometimes I'll just feel like popcorn or a bagel or some tea (peppermint with honey) or whatever else pops into my head and is available in the kitchen.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in books horrify you?

I have to admit I find marking in books pretty horrifying. Even when I was in school I never wrote in my books, clear workbooks -- the kind composed of newsprint, which have lines obviously long/tall enough for the full answer to be written in -- excepted. I don't even write my name in my books. (Which, BTW, is why I just eyeroll when people say that obviously Shakespeare never owned any books because we haven't found any books with his name in them. Not everyone does that, ya know?)

How do you keep your place while reading a book? Bookmark? Dog-ears? Laying the book flat open?

Usually I use bookmarks. I have a stack of 3x5 cards, left over from when I was taking language classes and made bazillions of vocabulary flashcards, which now serve mainly as bookmarks. If I don't have a bookmark to hand, I'll occasionally lay the book down very carefully, over the edge of another book if possible. Bending the spine is anathema, almost as much as writing in a book.

Fiction, nonfiction, or both?

Both, although mostly fiction these days. My non-fiction is about a quarter research for some project and the rest just whatever interesting stuff comes to my notice.

Are you a person who tends to read to the end of a chapter, or can you stop anywhere?

I prefer to read to the end of a chapter, and if not that, then to the end of a scene. It's rare that I'll stop in the middle of a scene; I have to be so tired I'm having massive trouble keeping my eyes open, or travelling and forced to put the book away Right Now because it's time to get on the plane, or something like that.

If you come across an unfamiliar word, do you stop and look it up right away?

Depends. If I'm reading an e-book at the computer, there's a dictionary right there and I'll look it up. If not, I'll try to remember it and look it up later. I can usually figure out the gist of a new word, though, from the roots and/or context.

What are you currently reading?

Unseen Academicals by Terry Pratchett
Whatever issue of Asimov's I'm currently on (I read those in spurts)
I Do! ed. Kris Jacen
Almost Everyone's Guide to Science by John Gribbin
14 Years of Loyal Service in a Fabric-Covered Box by Scott Adams

What is the last book you bought?

"Taylor's Personal Best" by Aaron Michaels

Are you the type of person that reads one book at a time, or can you read more than one?

I always have a bunch of books going, usually a few I'm currently working on (a couple of books by the couch, a couple of books in the bathroom, a couple upstairs) plus a larger set of older books I started earlier but which were supplanted by newer and more interesting books. I usually get back to them eventually, sometimes starting over because I don't remember what was going on. If a couple of years go by and I haven't, I've occasionally been known to give up. [duck]

Do you have a favorite time/place to read?

Whenever. I like reading before I go to sleep, and on planes if I'm not sleeping there. I spend a lot of time on cruises reading. But really, whenever I have some time.

Do you prefer series books or stand alones?

It really depends on the book or series. Some series just go on and on and on and clearly should've been put out of their misery some number of books ago. Some stand-alone books have wonderful characters and world-building and really could support sequels. I don't deliberately lean toward one or the other, though.

Is there a specific book or author you find yourself recommending over and over?

I recommend Laney Cairo's Bad Case of Loving You to anyone who even hints that they're thinking of trying m/m romance, because it's just that awesome. Lois McMaster Bujold gets a lot of recs, and Connie Willis, and Jo Beverley. Mike Resnick's Santiago is great, and Dave Brin's a master at creating aliens, up there with Larry Niven. And, and, and.... [laugh/flail] My recs list would be another post all by itself.

How do you organize your books?(by genre, title, author’s last name, etc.)

First, split up fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction is then sorted by subject, then by sub-subject, such as time/place for the history books, and particular craft for the craft books. Then alpha by author, then by title order, unless the author wrote a series in which case series books go in series order.

Fiction is sorted by genre, then by author, then by title, with the same series exception as above.

Another Plagiarist

LJ User Gwendolynflight, over in the Merlin fandom, decided that she didn't want to do the work to learn to write and refine her technique and develop her own style. She wanted hugs and pats and e-cookies for her wonderful writing right now. So instead of writing a novel of her own, she grabbed a copy of Jordan Castillo Price's first PsyCops book, Among the Living, did a bit of editing to change the names and the setting and such, and posted it to her journal as a Merlin fanfic. And of course, she got a lot of applause and e-cookies for it, because it's a very good story. (Jordan isn't a particular friend of mine, I don't even have her journal friended, but we both publish with Torquere Press and I have Among the Living -- it's a good read.)

Of course someone figured out what was going on -- 'cause there are fanfic readers who also read original m/m books, who knew?! -- and after some incredibly lame excuse-making, the plagiarist took the story down. But check out this screencap and read through the comments. :/

I love the part where Gwendolynflight assures a commenter that "it is completely and fully beta'd." Umm, right, because the real writer polished it, then sent it to a publisher where a line editor and a proofreader went over it. [eyeroll]

And then lower down where she actually admits that the story is a "fusion" with Price's PsyCops series. o_O This is where I get the idea that she's actually just that stupid, rather than a bold-faced thief. Not that being a moron is an excuse, but you know, it's something different to smack her for.

Then a few comments later where she's talking to a reader about how dark the story is, and mentions that Book Two is particularly dark, and she's glad that isn't turning the reader off. So she fully intended to go on doing this, through the whole series? Once she'd ripped off all the available novels, since she seems to think she's doing absolutely nothing wrong, I wonder whether she'd have had the balls to, like, write to Jordan and nudge her about hurrying up on the next installment. :P

Finally, about 2/3 of the way down, LJ user Throwawayreview calls it what it is and clues poor Gwendolynflight that this isn't a "fusion," it's not fanfic, it's plagiarism. And of course Ms. Gwen has all sorts of excuses, because plagiarism is "a social concept" and not absolute. And later on she says that "plagiarism isn't an inherent moral wrong - it's an issue firmly bound up in economic and patriarchal issues." Umm, right. It's a weapon of the Patriarchy. So her stealing the actual words of another woman writer and posting them as her own and accepting praise and credit for writing the words another woman actually wrote, is actually Ms. Gwen sticking it to the Patriarchy. Wow, good to know. [eyeroll]

Note that Jordan has no problem with fanfic. She said, in her reaction to this situation:

I'd also like to say that fanfic is an entirely different thing. If a reader said, "Wouldn't it be funny if Victor and Jacob got a flat tire...?" and wrote that story, using my characters and storyverse but their own plot and words, that would be fanfic. I've written half a million words of fanfic; it's how I learned to write, for good or ill. This re-tooling of Among the Living was not fanfic.

So this isn't a case of one of the uptight pro writers trying to stomp on the poor fanficcers. Actual fanfic would've been fine. Copying a whole freaking novel (with plans for the second one) and swapping out the names and places and a few police procedure details, but keeping the other ninety-some percent of the original author's verbage is not fanfic, in any way, shape or form. Gwendolynflight is one of the people who gives all fanfic writers a bad name. She's one of the people whose actions convince the New York publishers and the Hollywood producers, and their writers and their lawyers, that we're all a bunch of pathetic, talentless thieves who are too lame to write our own stories and get credit and praise and e-cookies for our own work, so we steal from them and pretend their work is ours and claim credit for the wonderful writing we didn't do. That's what they think of all of us, and one of the reasons they think that is because there are people who do it in exactly that way. Because that's pretty much what's going on with Gwendolynflight.

She's gone into hiding now -- her journal's been completely locked down, although it hasn't been deleted. I'm kind of disappointed by that, because it means she might slink back out from under her rock at some point. I'm sure she has her own little group of friends who are all rallying 'round her now, giving her pets and hugs and feeding her chocolate and assuring her that she did Absolutely Nothing At All Wrong, and that all those evil mean people are just being so meeeeeean to her, isn't it just terrible?! Those bitches!!

But you know, this isn't the sort of person fanfic fandom needs, any fandom. And if she were eventually to pick up her dolls and flounce away and find a new hobby, I'd be just as happy.

Angie, who's in no mood to give this idiot any slack whatsoever

ETA: LJ User Pecos pointed this out, from Gwendolynflight's LJ profile:

This journal is primarily for whinging about school and/or teaching, and for posting the fanfic and fanvids which i occasionally, sometimes, rarely produce. You know, every once in a while.

This woman is a teacher. O_O

Anthology Markets

I've been getting a lot of hits on these posts, so if you've just wandered in off the internet, hi and welcome. :) I do these posts every month, so if this post isn't dated in the same month you're in, click here to make sure you're seeing the most recent one.

Markets with specific deadlines are listed first, "Until Filled" markets are at the bottom. There are usually more details on the original site; always click through and read the full guidelines before submitting. Note that some publishers list multiple antho guildelines on one page, so after you click through you might have to scroll a bit.

Non-erotica/romance writers: The Mo*Con Anthology is looking for horror, Clockwork Phoenix is looking for non-traditional fantasy, and Panverse Two is looking for SF and fantasy.


31 October 2009 -- 28 Days of Heart -- AllRomanceeBooks

Charity drive to benefit the American Heart Association. 28 stories will be chosen from submissions received between July 1 and October 31, 2009. Any author who has an eBook available on ARe, or whose publisher lists eBooks with us, is eligible to submit. Submissions must be 10,000 to 20,000 words. The preferred heat rating is 4 or 5 flames, though stories rated a hard 3 flames will also be considered. An explanation of the flame rating system can be found on our site. We are looking for a wide variety of themes and sub-genres, as long as the story is a romance. Questions should be emailed to Final selection of participants will be made and announced in November 2009.


1 November 2009 -- Mo*Con Anthology

First, all the stuff you really care about: Pays 5 cents per word up to 5,000 words. Deadline is November 1st. Reading period opens June 1st. Payment on acceptance.

If you’re unfamiliar with Mo*Con, you’ll be operating from an extreme disadvantage. It’s the annual horror convention, named after myself, that revolves around discussions of spirituality, writing, and social issues. Horror, too often, has been thought of as the non-thinking genre, home of the “monsters in the dark” with little to offer in terms of depth. Mo*Con defies that image of the genre. Its themes so far have covered spirituality, race, gender issues, art, and love.

So what am I looking for? Smart, literate stories that fit in with any of the themes of Mo*Con. Horror/dark fantasy stories with depth, that stretch the genre. Stories that make you think, that comment on the human condition and the social order. Stories that are rich in their language use. However, as much as I love social commentary, don’t forget to entertain me. You should also note that about half of the anthology has already been filled with solicited pieces.


15 November 2009 -- Teammates -- STARbooks

There you are in the locker room after a hard practice, watching your teammates strip and head to the open shower room, and suddenly the practice isn’t the only thing that is hard. Or, during wrestling practice, you are paired up with the best built, most handsome guy on the team, whose singlet is stretched beyond its limits everywhere possible. You are the quarterback and the new center has the hottest butt you’ve ever seen, and now he is bent over in front of you with your hands against his crotch, ready to hike the ball. What do you do? What have you done? What do you regret not doing?

Any one of us who has participated in sports has been any of the above situations and many more like them. How do you control yourself when you are surrounded by hot, sweaty men, who are pumped and randy? Well, now you can put those fantasies – or real-life stories – into writing! TEAMMATES will be your opportunity to make jocks sweat, strain, pump, and practice what they do best with other men who share their athleticism and passions.

15 November 2009 -- Clockwork Phoenix 3 -- Norilana Books

"My aim with the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX books is, somewhat selfishishly, to create books that satisfy my own tastes as a reader. And as a reader, I enjoy stories that experiment, that push the envelope, that dazzle with their daring, but I'm often personally frustrated when an experimental story ends without feeling complete, without leaving an emotional crater for me to remember it by. At the same time, I find myself increasingly bored with the traditional, conventionally-plotted and plainly-written Good Story Competently Told. For better or for worse, I envision the CLOCKWORK PHOENIX books as places where these two schools of story telling can mingle and achieve Happy Medium; where there is significance to both the tale that's told and the style of the telling."

UPDATE FOR THE THIRD VOLUME: "For the second book, I received a glut of sorcery stories, of which I only really used one, and a dearth of stories with the rococo sf elements I enjoy seeing. I hope that trend will reverse somewhat this year. Also, please see what I have to say below regarding multiple and simultaneous submissions."

RIGHTS PURCHASED: First English Language Rights and non-exclusive electronic rights. The anthology will be published by Norilana Books in a trade paperback edition in July 2010, to be followed by an electronic edition to be produced later.

PAYMENT: $0.02 a word on acceptance as an advance against royalties, then a pro rata share of royalties after earnout, plus a contributor copy.

WORD LENGTH: Stories should be no longer than 10,000 words, preferably shorter. This is a firm limit for unsolicited stories.

READING PERIOD begins Oct. 1, 2009; ends Nov. 15, 2009. Any unsolicited stories sent before Oct. 1 will be deleted unread.

SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Submissions are electronic only. Please submit your story via e-mail, as an RTF file attachment. Your e-mail subject line should say "Submission: Story Title". Include a brief cover letter in the body of your email. It should have your name, address, e-mail address, title of story, number of words, and brief biographical information in case we don't know you, with most recent publishing credits, if applicable. We are open to new writers and seasoned veterans alike. We do not accept reprints.


WILL SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS BE ALLOWED? The editor says, "Yes, but please notify me when you've done that. When a writer suddenly withdraws a story that I haven't even gotten a chance to look at yet, or worse, that I just read and liked, but can't make a final decision about yet, it tends to make me cranky. (Don't worry, I do acknowledge and accept that there are some circumstances that justify such actions.) However, no one is going to get a formal acceptance from me until after the reading period ends. If you can't wait that long to find out what I think, then please don't waste my time or Inbox space."



15 November 2009 -- Shot Through the Heart Taste Test -- Torquere Press

Valentine Stories.


15 November 2009 -- Silence Toybox -- Torquere Press

30 November 2009 -- Love and Fables -- Queered Fiction

A collection of tales featuring fable (legend/myth) elements in a uniquely queer way; stories about mythical , lengendary or supernatural beings or events combined with Romance...and a HEA (Happily Ever After). Your submission should be a short story between 3,000 and 20,000 words. We are seeking fiction with positive images of queer characters. We’re not looking for clich├ęs. We do not want reprints. We are seeking first world rights for this anthology which will be published as an eBook and in Print format. Your submission should be via email to with Love and Fables Anthology submission in the subject line. Please embed your short story within the body of the email and provide a brief author bio. Payment will be a 40% royalty split of eBook sales between contributors and a 20% royalty split of print sales.

Submissions open: 1st September 2009 to 30th November 2009
Reading period begins: 25th November 2009

As a queer publisher, QueeredFiction would like to have an emphasis on the queer community as a whole, rather than by segments. So ideally the perfect submission would have 'queer characters' in the forefront and in the background ... just mainly prominent!

What we're looking for is to create a HEA collection of tales featuring fable (legend/myth) elements in a uniquely queer way; our fables here are stories about mythical, lengendary or supernatural beings or events for example the grail, Tristram and Isolde, Blodeuwedd, Midas, a seal wife(/lover) even the Emperor's new cetera. I'm not looking for a re-telling of any of these fables/legends, but more an original tale simulating or borrowing from these.

Queries can be directed via the QueeredFiction Blog The contract is available upon request for your inspection.


1 December 2009 -- I Do Two -- MLR Press

The anthology, titled I DO, TWO, is a sequel to the January 2009 charity anthology I DO! All authors donate their stories to benefit the Lambda Legal Fund. The collection covers a range of times, places and people, and illustrates the universality of love and commitment.

To date, I DO! has raised over $1500 for the cause of equal rights in marriage. I DO TWO will be a similar, companion volume, published by MLR Press. (Contracts will be in line with their standard contract.)

We’re looking for stories between 1,000 words and 10,000 words long. M/M, F/F, Bi and transgender stories are welcome. There is no strict theme, but we have certain things we do not want to see, for example stories which undermine the purpose of the anthology -- that is, no stories which are about how gay people do not want to get married or do not deserve to get married. We do not want anything that reinforces negative stereotypes -- no snuff fiction, scat, golden showers, necrophilia or underage sex. Because of the potential copyright issues, we cannot accept fanfiction, either.

If you possess the copyright for your story and it isn’t currently under exclusive contract to anyone else, we are happy to consider stories which have been published before. Please make a note in the covering e-mail.

As long as your story follows these guidelines and comes within the word-count, please send it to Your story does not need to have an explicit marriage-related plot or even a happy ending! Any story that celebrates the theme of love as valid, no matter the genders of the players, is welcome.

This is for a charity anthology, so you will not get paid. All profits will go straight to the Lamdba Legal fund. Through education, litigation and public policy work, Lambda Legal works to achieve full recognition of the civil rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people, and persons with HIV. Since their founding in 1973, Lambda Legal has become an active and vital part of the GLBT civil rights movement instrumental in the fight for same-sex marriage rights both nationally and, most notably, in the fight to strike down California’s Proposition 8.


UNTIL FILLED -- MM and Menage Steampunk Antho -- Phaze

Call: M/M and Menage Steampunk Anthology, Title TBA
Edited by: Leigh Ellwood
Projected release date: late 2010
Format: eBook (with possible print release)
Publisher: Phaze Books
Payment: $50 for one-time electronic and print rights, plus copies

Hey, all you steampunk enthusiasts, grab your goggles and get to writing! Phaze Books is planning an M/M (and bi-M menage) steampunk collection for eBook publication in 2010. If you have a yen for 19th century history with a touch of good humor and technological innovation (and a whole lot of manlove!), we hope you’ll send us your hottest steampunk erotic romance of 10K - 20K words. If you’re not sure about the genre, check out this Wikipedia entry for steampunk ( to get an idea of the style of stories we’re looking for. Think H.G. Wells or Wild Wild West, then turn up the steam factor with an incredible M/M or MMF/MMM match-up!

This call is open indefinitely until the spots are filled. Contributors will offer one-time electronic and print rights to their works and receive a one-time payment of $50 and contributors copies (eBook and/or print, if the book goes to print).

To submit to this anthology, please follow the Phaze Books structural guidelines at and attach your RTF submission to Leigh Ellwood, c/o Phaze Books at submissions @ phaze (dot) com. Please use STEAMPUNK ANTHOLOGY is your subject header.


UNTIL FILLED -- Panverse Two -- Panverse Publishing

Editor - Dario Ciriello

PANVERSE TWO is the second of a series of all-original novella print collections, with publication scheduled for Late Spring 2010.

Interested? Please read the following guidelines carefully. We look forward to reading your work.

The anthology will be open to submissions until we have enough good stories.

Looking for pro-level novellas of between 15,000 and 40,000 words. Stories should be Science Fiction (except Military) or Fantasy (except Heroic/High/Superhero/S&S). We'll also look at Magic Realism, Alternate History, and Slipstream (whatever that is). The story should be original and unpublished in any medium (this includes web publication).

Depth of characterization will count for a lot – however clever the idea, if we don't care for the protagonist, we'll bounce it. We like stories that instill wonder. Subject matter is pretty wide open. If we care, can't put the story down, and find no big holes in the plot or worldbuilding, you've got a good shot.

What we don't want:

Military SF, High Fantasy, Sword and Sorcery, Horror, RPG, superhero, or shared-universe stuff, etc. Vampires and Cthulhu-mythos stories are strongly discouraged unless you've done something absolutely original with either theme. No gratuitous or wildly excessive sex or violence: what this means is that sex or violence which serves the plot is okay, within limits; the same goes for language. Think R-rated rather than XXX-rated.

NOTE: there are some unusual bits in their formatting and cover letter requirements. Nothing ridiculous, but definitely click the link and read the full guidelines before submitting.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Column -- Learning the Stitches


I have a new column up at Romancing the Blog. I was thinking about how I learned to crochet as a little kid, and realized that I learned to write pretty much the same way, and that the approach I took (purely through serendipity) seems to have worked out pretty well for both. Nothing profound, but rather a look at a way of learning something new and why I think it worked particularly well for me.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bullies Get Butts Kicked by Cross-Dressers

Gacked from a few places around the net. :D

A couple of homophobic thugs in Swansea, Wales, attacked two men who were walking down the street in short skirts and high heels. The two cross-dressers turned around and wiped the sidewalk with the jerks. It turns out the cross-dressers were a couple of cage fighters -- talk about picking a fight with the wrong guys! LOL!

Someone named CJ in comments to the above linked article suggested "Give these 2 badges and cuffs and get them out on the streets everynight dressed that way to attract idiots who only attack people (seemingly) weaker than themselves." I'd chip in for that, seriously. [evil snicker]


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Newsflash! Saturn Has a Massive Ring Around It!

No, really. Check out the photo.

The mass of the ring begins 3.7 million miles outside that of the inner ring system we're all familiar with, and the density of the ice crystals and dust is so low that no one's ever noticed it before. But "the cool dust -- about 80 Kelvin (minus 316 degrees Fahrenheit) -- glows with thermal radiation. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, used to spot the ring, picked up on the heat."

The ring is also tilted at an angle with respect to Saturn and the inner ring. The CNN article says:

One of Saturn's moons, Phoebe, orbits within the ring. As Phoebe collides with comets, it kicks up planetary dust. Scientists believe the ice and dust particles that make up the ring stems [sic] from those collisions.

This suggests that the newly discovered outer ring follows Phoebe's orbit -- that they're of similar size and tilt. I tried to find confirmation of this, but the Google-fu failed me. I found a couple of graphics showing Phoebe's orbit, but can't tell whether the tilt matches that of the outer ring. I suppose it makes sense that something discovered this recently wouldn't have generated all sorts of comparative diagrams yet.

It makes me wonder how this works, though. If Phoebe actually did create the outer ring, by smacking into comets over a long period of time, then why doesn't every moon have an associated ice-and-dust ring? There are cometary paths all over the solar system, and over however many millions of years, one would think there'd have been time for other moons to smack into their own comets and form ring systems.

Maybe other moons do have other rings in their orbits and we just haven't pointed the right types of cameras at the right angles to find them yet.

If they don't, then why not? What's special about the Saturn-ring-moons-Phoebe-bigger-ring system that it happened there and not elsewhere? For that matter, why does Saturn have the inner, more visible ring system at all, while none of the other planets do? Other planets do have rings, but only tiny, dull fractions of Saturn's. Saturn is less than 30% Jupiter's mass, so it's not that its mass draws in lots of space junk and none of the other planets are massive enough to do so.

Stuff like this always renews my interest in solar-system based SF, though; new discoveries always add to the "What if?" lists. :)


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Review -- "Spirit of Vengeance"

Book Utopia posted a great review of A Spirit of Vengeance.


From the very first words, the unrelenting emotion and overwhelming grief grip the reader by the lapels and refuses to let go. There is no preamble. The author shoves you straight into the middle of Josh’s confusion regarding his partner’s death, and holds you down in it until there’s nowhere else to turn. That’s not a bad thing. You’re hardly aware of being so expertly corralled until you’re there, and then, it’s just a short, intense ride through the rest of the story as it plays out around you.

Josh doesn’t know how to process Kevin’s violent death, a crime that seems to have been inspired by hate. His palpable feelings twist and turn until neither he nor the reader knows which end is up, so when Kevin’s ghost starts visiting him, it’s disconcerting at best. There’s absolutely no reason to distrust Josh’s fearful reaction to it, and the time it takes for him to come to grips with the possibility that, yes, he’s not crazy, only serves to further cement my belief in how hard this loss has hit him. This reaction, so real, so human, provides the fulcrum upon which the rest of the story balances. Because I can believe that, I can believe in Kevin, and the plot that follows, even if it seems to be secondary to the more relevant task of processing his grief.

The suspense portion of the story, that of satisfying Kevin’s need for revenge, felt rushed in comparison to the careful unfolding of Josh’s emotions. That holds it back a little, as the other players almost seem extraneous. The details supporting the so-called real world, too, never rang as vibrantly true as Josh and his feelings, but they were certainly more than adequate to keep the story believable and moving forward. The true thrust of this novella is Josh and Kevin’s love story – and I’m deliberately choosing to use that term rather than romance – and for this alone, it provides a poignant, compelling read.


Thanks so much to Book Utopia Mom. Hearing about how someone liked one of my stories just makes my day. :D


Friday, October 2, 2009

Flash Plagiarism

Someone named Richard Ridyard has been swiping lines from all over -- including from Stephen King -- and has just been exposed big-time by Angel Zapata. Thanks to Writtenwyrdd for the link.

One thing which makes this case notable is that, unlike every single other plagiarism case I've looked at in the last couple of years, there is no one sticking up for Mr. Ridyard here. Every other plagiarist who's been shoved into the limelight has had dozens or hundreds of fans who've rallied round with their indignation and counter-attacks to let the accusers know just how horrible and mean they're being. There's nothing like that here, and I have to say it's refreshing. Flash writers seem to be all on the same page when it comes to the evils of plagiarism and the need to find it, shine a light on it and stamp it out. Kudos to the flash folks.

It's also nice to see so many flash editors and publishers saying straight out that they're deleting Mr. Ridyard's work from their sites and blacklisting him. (The only publisher which tried to deny the charge was Valentine Publications, where Mr. Ridyard is an editor.) After all the denials of interest or responsibility, and attempts to brush off accusations and queries, and to ignore clear evidence by the larger publishers in earlier cases, it's good to see editors and publishers willing to take action and state in public that they're doing so. Kudos to them too.