Planet Fleep is Here!

Today I’m excited to share my new middle grade novel with you! It’s on pre-order starting today for just .99 (if it’s not available at your favourite retailer yet, it will be along soon!).

Robots don’t always know best!

When a meteorite storm wreaks havoc on their family’s cargo ship, sort-of-twins Rudi and Trudy find themselves stranded on an alien planet. In their search for help, they uncover a fiendish plot against the friendly and mysterious alien critters the twins call “fleeps.” With only an overprotective robot for company, can they survive on their own, find their parents, and save the fleeps from a horrible fate?

I’m really pumped about this beautiful and fun cover from goonwrite.com, and early comments from advance readers are very positive. The print version of Planet Fleep will follow in September, but all ebook formats are available to pre-order now. The book’s official release date is June 20th.

If you can’t wait for the full release, you can read the first five chapters in this preview. You can subscribe to my newsletter at that link as well, but it’s not required.

This pre-order sale is a great chance to pick up a copy for your e-reader, just in time for summer vacation reading to your kids! I promise there’s lots of fun and fast-paced adventure ahead!

An Interview with Marcelle Dubé – Short Flights Bundle Author

See? I promised another Canadian author interview, and here we are! Marcelle Dubé grew up near Montreal, but now lives in the Yukon. Her novels have been published by Carina Press and Falcon Ridge Publishing, and she has published many short stories, most recently in On Spec and Superhero Universe: Tesseracts Nineteen. (Personally, I can highly recommend her Mendenhall Mysteries!) Marcelle also writes under the pen name Emma Faraday. She keeps a website at www.marcellemdube.com/.

SDR: Marcelle, tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

MD: In “Chimère,” our heroine Bittan lives in modern-day Montreal. She is the daughter of the high priestess of an ancient god who expects Bittan’s obedience and love, and has sent a mythological guardian to Montreal to protect her. Now Bittan must choose between the power a dangerous, jealous god offers her, and the very fragile love of a human man. And she must choose quickly, before the god destroys him.

SDR: That sounds fascinating! Now, imagine you’ve been kidnapped or trapped by a natural disaster. Which of your own characters (from any work) would you want to rescue you? Why?

MD: Definitely Kate Williams, Chief of Police of Mendenhall, Manitoba and heroine of my Mendenhall Mystery series. She’s smart, stubborn and quick-witted. If anybody can rescue me, it’s her and her team of intrepid constables.

SDR: Since I’m familiar with Kate, I have to agree she’s a good choice. What’s your current writing project? How do you feel about it right this minute?

MD: Right now, I’m working on Book 2 of the A’lle Chronicles, the first of which—Backli’s Ford—came out in 2012. I am little anxious about finishing it because it’s been so long since Backli’s Ford came out. I have been busy in the interim, of course (5 novels and 16 short stories), but there are so many stories to be told in the A’lle Chronicles world that I may not live long enough to write them all…

SDR: I know you’ve written series characters. What’s their appeal for you?

MD: To my utter surprise, I find myself with not one, but two series on the go. Both are mystery series, though one is a police procedural and the other is an alternate history series.

I’m not really a series person, but after I wrote The Shoeless Kid (Mendenhall Mystery #1), with the aforementioned Chief of Police Kate Williams, I found myself wondering what she and her constables were up to now. I liked these people and I wanted to know what was going to happen next. So I wrote The Tuxedoed Man. Then, of course, I was doomed. I’ve just released the fifth in the series, The Forsaken Man.

The second series is The A’lle Chronicles. I can’t lie—I knew exactly what I was getting into when I started the first one, Backli’s Ford. I had so many ideas about the people and events and how they veered off from our timeline… I’m happy to finally be getting back to Constance A’lle and Chief Investigator Desautel.

SDR: Have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

MD: I know most writers say they don’t read their reviews, but that’s not me. I read every single one, good or bad. After all this time, I don’t mind the bad ones. I know not everybody will like my stories, and that’s okay.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

MD: I sail off into the darkness every time, hoping I won’t fall off the edge of the world…

SDR: I have to admit, I’ve been heartened during these interviews by how many other authors give this answer… :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

MD: Oh my. I loved the pulp writers: Edgar Rice Burroughs (Tarzan), Lester Dent (Doc Savage), Robert Heinlein (Stranger in a Strange Land, Podkayne of Mars), Robert E. Howard (Conan the Barbarian), C.L. Moore (Jirel of Joiry)… I still love the pulp-style stories and I’m sure that love translates into a lot of my stories.

SDR: Do you think the place where you live (or somewhere you have lived) influences what you write? In what way?

MD: I live in the Yukon and its dramatic landscape and wilderness lend themselves to great fiction. Quite a few of my stories have featured the territory as a character (Obeah, On Her Trail, Ghosts of Morocco, “Jules,” “Going to Liard,” “Root Fire,” “Running Away from Christmas,” “The Man in the Mask,” “A Yukon Christmas,” “Troll Country”).

SDR: And that’s reflected in the tagline on your website, as well… “Writing the North and other fantastic places…” I like that. :)

Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

MD: I am so easily distracted that I have to work in silence. I can ignore background sounds like traffic or kids playing outside, but any sound in my writing space demands my attention and takes me away from the story. I could never write to a soundtrack.

SDR:, Well, to finish off, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview!

MD: My most recent novels are Shelter, set in modern-day Ontario and featuring a young woman who stumbles onto a haunted house while running away from an abusive husband; Ghosts of Morocco, in which our heroine finds herself thrown back into a Moroccan nightmare from her youth when she tries to protect the child of her best friend; and The Forsaken Man, in which Chief of Police Kate Williams finds herself longing for a quiet spring after a long, hard winter. What does she get instead? The theft of valuable bull semen from a local vet and increasingly dangerous vandalism at a construction site.

SDR: Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting, Marcelle! And thanks for being part of the bundle.

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Marcelle’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

An Interview with Douglas Smith – Short Flights Bundle Author

Well, finally I get to chat with a fellow Canadian (and he won’t be the only one in this series, but you’ll have to stay tuned…)!

My interview guest today is Douglas Smith, an award-winning Canadian author of fantasy, SF, horror, and supernatural fiction. Doug is from Ontario, and his work has been published in twenty-five languages and over thirty countries around the world. He’s a three-time Aurora Award winner and has been a finalist for the international John W. Campbell Award, Canada’s juried Sunburst Award, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s ‘Bookies’ award, and France’s juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane. He keeps a website at http://www.smithwriter.com/.

SDR: As I’ve asked the others, please tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

DS: In “By Her Hand, She Draws You Down,” Cath, a beautiful sidewalk artist, is driven by a mysterious hunger that feeds from the portraits she draws of her victims. Joe loves Cath, but as Cath’s hunger grows, so does Joe’s fear that one day she may draw him down.

The story was described as “delightfully creepy” by Library Journal, which was just the reaction I was hoping for. It was a finalist for Canada’s Aurora Award and was selected for The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror that year. The following year, an indie film maker adapted the story into a 30-minute short film of the same name that went on to a batch of awards around the world when it toured festivals.

SDR: It does sound delightfully creepy! Do you remember what sparked the idea for this story? What was it?

DS: I was staring out a window, the window of a bus to be exact. I wanted to write a story about creativity, but a form of creativity other than writing. Maybe the constant flow of visual images flashing by the window led to the idea of a story about a visual artist. From there, I thought of the portrait artists that I’d often seen during family visits to Ontario Place, a lakefront tourist attraction in Toronto–and Cath and her situation was born.

I also wanted to try my hand at a pure horror story, something that couldn’t be classified as anything other than horror. I don’t know where the idea came from to start with a poem, and I can’t remember if the poem led to the rather long title, or the other way around. But once I had the poem, I had the story structure: single point-of-view, told in four sequential scenes, each introduced by a line of the poem that opens the story.

SDR: Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

DS: I’m writing solely at novel length now, but will always keep my hand in writing short stories. I strongly believe that short fiction can help a writer in their craft and career in multiple ways: learning the craft of fiction; experimenting with styles, voice, story structures and points of view; testing the waters to see if editors are willing to pay money for your work; building your resume of writing sales; exploring and building ideas for novels; using short story tie-ins as loss leaders and giveaways to promote related novels; building a network of editors and contacts; raising your profile with award ballot appearances and wins; learning part of the publishing business, and many more. I go into the benefits of short fiction and how to use short fiction as a foundation for a writing career in my writer’s guide, Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction.

SDR: You’ve obviously put a lot of thought into short story writing–what’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

DS: “The Story of Your Life” by Ted Chiang, which was recently adapted into the movie, “Arrival.” The movie was excellent but the story was much better.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

DS: I’m a “headlights on the highway” writer. I wish I could tell you where I first came across that term, but I can’t. But it fits my approach. I think of it as a compromise between outlining and pantsing.

I’m a character-based writer, so I can’t / don’t start until I know my main characters. I know where I want a book to end up at the climax, and I generally know the main “tent pole” events in the book, typically the big turns, events, or surprises that happen, generally end of Act 1, 2, and before the climax. Then I just start writing, usually with the next 2-4 chapters outlined roughly either in the ms or in my head. If I’m happy with where those chapters go, I move on to the next batch. If I’m not, I fix / change / redo that batch.

The “headlights on the highway” metaphor comes from how the approach resembles driving across a desert at night. You know the highway will get you to your destination town, but you’ve never driven it before. You don’t know what twists, turns, crossroads, etc. you’ll encounter. But you can see enough of the highway ahead of you with your headlights to keep driving.

It’s an approach that lets you make discoveries along the way, but still keep control of the overall direction of the book. Most of the cool things that show up in my stories come from this approach. I know I’d never have discovered them in an outline. The story is discovered in its writing, as someone said. Yeah, I’m not great at attributing quotes.

SDR: I might know that first reference (because I used to have it taped to my monitor!). The one I’m thinking of is E.L. Doctorow: “(Writing is) like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” It’s certainly a similar sentiment, anyway. :)

Do you think there were early influences as a reader that have guided the stories you create as a writer? What were they?

DS: Not sure, but I’ve always been fascinated by shapeshifter stories and have my own Heroka series. That fascination might have come from an early love of anthropomorphic animal stories like those of Beatrix Potter and the “Freddy the Pig” book by Walter Brooks, and later the work of Jack London.

SDR: Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

DS: I tend to prefer to listen to classical music when I write (with headphones, since I’m often writing in a library, coffee shop, or public place). It drowns out the background noise, since conversations can be really distracting to a writer (we love to eavesdrop). Instrumental music, no vocals, and preferably baroque or early classical. Vivaldi, Corelli, Bach are all good. Their music is more cerebral than emotional, which makes it perfect for writing.

SDR: Tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview!

DS: I’m finishing up the second book in a young adult urban fantasy trilogy. I don’t like to talk about WIPs, so I’ll just say it involves mysterious artifacts, a lost jungle expedition, dream walking, astral projection, rune magic, a search for lost parents, and the end of the multiverse. After that’s done, I’ll write the next book in my Heroka shapeshifter series. I’m also planning a stand-alone novel based on my novelette, “Memories of the Dead Man.”

SDR: Well, thanks for stopping by for a chat, Doug! And thanks for being part of the bundle.

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Doug’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

Talking About Bundles

I’ve been pretty active with bundles lately, and a good writing friend asked if I could talk about them a little here. So I’m happy to dish the low-down on bundles as I’ve experienced them.

To start with, book bundles are primarily a marketing tool to draw in readers with a good value deal on multiple books, and from the participating authors’ perspective, introduce one’s works to a new audience. Bundles generally originate with publishers, author collectives, or through bundling sites or platforms. They may also be known as “box sets,” which are essentially the same thing.

One of my first introductions to being included in a box set or bundle was one my publisher, Tyche Books, put together a few years back. It was a space opera box set called Rogues, and (from my perspective anyway) sold well. It included the first book in my Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, so would serve as an introduction to this series for new readers, some of whom might go on to buy others in the series. Just the other day I happened upon a review of Rogues I hadn’t seen before, and the reviewer said,  “There were a few great stories (I really liked One’s Aspect to the Sun, for example)” so that kind of made my day! This reader might not have seen my book if it hadn’t been in the set, but they enjoyed it and who knows? They might buy Dark Beneath the Moon and Beyond the Sentinel Stars.

While I’m thinking of it, One’s Aspect to the Sun is currently in a new box set from Tyche, called Shadows and Light; it’s a “first in a series” set, again meant to introduce new readers to a series. And it looks beautiful!

A large part of the thinking behind bundles or box sets is cross-pollination–someone might initially buy this set because of one of the other authors included, but then read my book because it’s there, and become introduced to me as a writer in that way. And hopefully go looking for other things I’ve written.

I’ve also worked with a bundling platform called BundleRabbit. BundleRabbit is the brainchild of Chuck Heintzelman, and provides authors with a place to list works they’re willing to have included in bundles. Authors participating in a bundle share in the revenues generated from that bundle. I curated one of the first BundleRabbit bundles, and have just done a second one, the Short Flights of the Imagination bundle. I love short fiction and I’ve wanted to do a bundle featuring short stories for a while now, and it has finally come together. So the curator decides on a vision for a bundle and searches through available titles to find pieces to include. Authors are invited and may accept or decline. Then when the bundle is finalized, hopefully all the authors will participate in sharing and promoting the bundle out to their social networks; this is where more cross-pollination comes into play as readers learn about other authors from one they already know. BundleRabbit does all the heavy lifting of setting up and distributing the files and downloads, participates in promotion, and collects revenue and pays out royalties.

Of course, to list your work on a site like BundleRabbit, you must have the rights to do so; I wouldn’t list my traditionally published titles there because my publishers look after that marketing and have the right to set prices and oversee distribution. However, for my independent titles, I’m free to do as I wish. And of course I mention my other trad-pub works in the ebook files I use for bundles, so it’s roundabout promotion for those, as well.

I’ve been invited to several bundles, some of which are current right now: Immortals, Weird Fantastic Detective Stories, Gumshoes Redux, and Short Flights, which is on pre-sale now and will release in full on March 15th. It’s good to have a variety of titles available if you’re going to get into bundling, and of course, as with all independent titles, they should be of high quality, with professional covers and blurbs, so that curators can include your work with confidence.

More questions about bundles? Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Now if you’re looking for some new material for your ereader, be sure to click some of these links… ;)

Friday Desk Report – February 2, 2018

I was going to start this post with a pithy quotation about selling books, but all the ones I read were starting to make me depressed, so I changed my mind. Yes, this week I’ve been largely focusing on marketing, promotion, and how to help readers find my books (and want to read them). While I did make many pretty pictures, and learned many new things, I also came to realize that I need to get all of this stuff organized on my computer, in one easily-accessible place. Everything probably took me twice as long as it should have as I searched for cover images, blurbs, links…it’s definitely time for some computer housecleaning. *gulp*

On a brighter note, I worked on the next Nearspace novel (started in November, currently in the process of getting it back on track), and some editing on another, older project. Wrote some new words on the current Olympia Investigations story I have underway, but the brain was not really in a word-writing place this week. Considering the time of year it is, I’m in a remarkably good head space (much of which I attribute to my new daily yoga practice), but it’s still best to work with what my brain tells me it can handle. I think next week the words will be inclined to flow better, since I took a bit of a break this week.

I’ve also switched up the newsletter signup freebie, which has been the same for a while. As of today it’s a newly-compiled and packaged collection of five of my short stories, all about alien encounters. They’re a nice mix of serious, funny, heartwarming and thought-provoking. If you haven’t signed up before, or haven’t read these stories, click over and take a look! The cover image is a beauty by by Joel Filipe on Unsplash, where you can find some really amazing images the artists have made freely available for whatever use you wish. Thanks, Joel and Unsplash!

January Stats!

Okay, so I didn’t really get back at the treadmill desk until almost the middle of the month, but even then, I was a little spotty on it. 419 minutes for the month, which translated to 5.14 miles walked. I can do better!

Word metrics for the month worked out to 5633 written, and 12,509 revised. I’d like to keep up this revision pace for February, but really up the writing. Guess we’ll see how it goes.

Finally, both my Olympia Investigations stories are in bundles right now! The Immortals bundle and Weird Fantastic Detective Stories are both available at BundleRabbit, so hop over and take a look if you love getting great reads for reasonable prices. And really, who doesn’t love that?

 

More on the Immortals Bundle

The Immortals Bundle from BundleRabbit has now gone live on all platforms, so here’s a little more about it:

Gods, nymphs, vampires, deathless clones, cursed mages and those who serve them face perils where immortality acts as either curse or blessing or…both. Souls and selves lie at stake in this eclectic bundle.

 

Immortals includes 14 ebooks from short stories to novels, including my novelette, “The Goddess Problem.” This is the second installment in the Olympia Investigations series, featuring Acacia Sheridan, a private detective with a special gift – she can communicate and interact with supernatural creatures of all sorts. In “The Goddess Problem,” a heartbroken Greek goddess comes asking for her help. Acacia’s investigation takes her from an isolated cavern on Earth to the Olympian heights…but can a mortal sleuth wring the truth from a phalanx of dysfunctional deities?

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

The moment she walked into my office, limned in a faint silver sheen, with that grinning, lupine dog at her heel, I knew she was no ordinary client. She didn’t proffer a hand, just sat down in the blue leather chair opposite my desk, and said, “Hello, Ms. Sheridan. My name is Selene. Do you find missing persons?” Her eyes were very serious, very blue, and very fixed on mine. They shimmered a little with unshed tears.

She’d made it past the reception desk and Oliver, my often-annoying assistant and cousin, so he must think I should hear her story. Despite our frequent personality clashes, Oliver had developed a keen proficiency at weeding out the cases I’d absolutely hate. I gave Selene my most professional and sympathetic smile, and met those unnerving, if lovely, blue eyes. They were hard as sapphires; old as the sky.

“I do my best for every client, but I won’t make any promises beyond that,” I told her. “I’ve had some success with missing persons cases in the past.”

The dog, rangy and shaggy as a wolf—maybe it was a wolf?—settled on its haunches beside her and panted lightly, tongue lolling. Selene stroked the creature’s head with gentle fingers, never breaking our eye contact. “This will be a difficult case, Ms. Sheridan, and I may prove to be a difficult client. I will tell you some things that you may find challenging to accept.”

I leaned back in my chair, which protested with a squeak. I was suddenly intensely aware of the dust in the corners of the room, the scratched and scabbed surface of my desk, the faint layer of windswept grime on the window behind me, and the lingering scent of tuna sandwich from my lunch. Oliver had been pestering me to repaint the place and freshen it up, but I’d resisted. Maybe he had a point.

“I’ll try to keep an open mind,” I said. “Challenging clients are a bit of a specialty here at Olympia Investigations, which is probably why you chose me.”

She smiled a little, and didn’t deny it. I’m the person to see when a non-human client needs help, and I rely on a lot of supernatural word-of-mouth.

“So, will you be explaining why your skin seems to glow? And I don’t mean the kind of glow they promise in tv commercials.”

She lowered her head in a slow nod. “I will. What you make of that explanation will be up to you.”

I was intrigued, and business had been—let’s face it, boring—the past two weeks. Too many mundane insurance investigations and spousal surveillances, and I start to wonder why I wanted to be a private investigator in the first place. A faintly glowing woman with a half-wolf for a pet promised to be, at the very least, not boring.

“Fair enough,” I told her. “Two hundred a day plus expenses, I report to you at least twice a week, stop when you’re satisfied with the results or don’t want to pursue it any further. If that’s agreeable?”

She shrugged elegantly, nodded, and held out a hand. I shook it, her skin pale and cool and luminescent against mine.

And that’s how I first met Selene, Greek goddess of the moon.

~*~

The missing person in question, she told me, was her…hmmm. Not husband, because they’d never married, although according to legend he had fathered some fifty daughters for her. Consort, perhaps? I put him down on my information sheet as “significant other.” Endymion, the man who, either at Selene’s request or his own (reports varied), and by the acquiescence of Zeus himself, slept eternally in order to avoid growing old and dying.

I didn’t know that it was much of a trade-off, but there were those fifty daughters to consider.

We’d made it only that far when Oliver knocked on the door and bustled in without waiting for me to answer, even though he knows I hate it when he does that. He was the picture of the efficient assistant—ebony hair slicked to one side, not a strand out of place, lint-free black turtleneck with the sleeves pushed up just so, and charcoal grey trousers pressed with a crease sharp enough to cut paper. And a mild, disinterested smile, camouflaging his raging curiosity.

Oliver carried a tray bearing two steaming mugs; sweet black coffee for me, and something pale and floral-smelling for Selene. She accepted it with a smile so I assumed he’d asked her in the waiting room what she’d like. He looked a question at me with raised eyebrows—anything else? want me to stay?—and when I shook my head minutely he left us again. To listen at the door, I had no doubt. Oliver could play the detached professional but it was all an act.

Anyway, Selene’s story went something like this: after hundreds of years of peaceful slumber in a secret cavern, where Selene joined him every night, Endymion had somehow disappeared. A week ago, Selene arrived at the cave on a Tuesday night and found it inexplicably empty. Although she’d searched for him herself and questioned her fellow divine and semi-divine colleagues, she’d found no sign of him and uncovered no clues to his whereabouts. That’s when she decided to hire me.

 

In addition to “The Goddess Problem,” The Immortals bundle features:

Glamour of the God-Touched by Ron Collins
A Man and His God by Janet Morris
Unnatural Immortal by Russ Crossley
First Chosen by M. Todd Gallowglas
Walking Gods by Leah Cutter
Rainbow’s Lodestone by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Brainjob by David Sloma
Silver Dust by Leslie Claire Walker
Vale of Semūin by Eric Kent Edstrom
Fate’s Door by J.M. Ney-Grimm
Kaylyn the Sister-in-Darkness by Barbara G. Tarn
The Legend of Oeliana by A. L. Butcher
Jamal & the Skeleton’s Heart by Ezekiel James Boston

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can pay a minimum of $4.99 USD and receive all 14 ebooks. Find it at any of these links:

Universal Link https://books2read.com/Immortalsbundle

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/b/immortals

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-immortals-bundle

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-immortals-bundle-a-l-butcher/1127826108

I Tunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1335201648

Bundles are great fun and an excellent deal! I hope you check this one out.

Connections

bridgesThe other day I wrote here about not being really keen on marketing and promotion, and for the most part, that’s true. However, I was thinking afterward about a side benefit that sometimes goes along with promotion, and that’s connecting. Connecting with readers, connecting with other authors, connecting with others in the industry. And that part, I do like.

Over the past number of weeks, I’ve been very fortunate to forge some new connections, particularly with other authors, through these promotional efforts. In the Rogues bundle from Tyche Books, I’ve been in the company of Rebecca Senese, Michael Wallace, Daniel Arenson, Jamie Grey, and Edward W. Robinson. In the Middlings Bundle, I’m sharing space with Anthea Sharp, Michael Warren Lucas, Michael A. Stackpole, Dean Wesley Smith, Blaze Ward, Mindy Klasky, Leah Cutter, Kristene Kathryn Rusch, and Daniel Keys Moran. And tomorrow evening I have a Facebook chat for Dreaming Robot with Dianna Sanchez and Susan Jane Bigelow. Some of these authors I already knew from various places like the SF Canada listserv, Twitter, or Second Life, but others are new connections, and for all of them, I’m grateful. One never knows where new connections will lead or what might grow out of them.

I don’t mean that I look on all these connections only from the point of view of how I might profit from them–not at all. I might be able to help someone else. Maybe they might benefit from something I share. I might learn something I didn’t know before, something that could be large or small and is valuable either way. I might just expand my network of friendly, fun, interesting, and helpful people–someone new to trade jokes and banter with on social media or get book recommendations from. And I might only bask in the reflected glory of having my name linked, even in a minor way, with writers who are far more luminescent than I.

Okay, yes, that last one sounds maybe just a little self-serving. I can live with that. ;)

When I look back at the trail of connections and interactions, especially in my writing life, that led eventually to something unexpected and wonderful, I feel quite amazed. We do so many things without any idea of where they may lead us. This is one reason I always encourage newer writers to become “immersed” in the writing world, whatever that immersion looks like to them. Writing groups (face to face or virtual), workshops, courses, critique groups, convention panels, speaking opportunities, professional organizations, library or school events, or whatever else may come up, say yes whenever you can. The connections you make can be one of the best parts of the writing life.

And I’ve found more great things to read in the course of the recent process. A not inconsiderable benefit all by itself.

Photo Credit: nicksumm at morguefile.com

Stuck in the Middle with Who?

Montage_Coupon_Adbig-rabbitThe Middlings Bundle launches today, from the newest entry into the bundle market, BundleRabbit. If you’re a fan of sites like HumbleBundle and StoryBundle, I’m pretty sure you’re going to love this one, too. And I’m excited to have a novella included in their very first bundle. I also love, love, love the BundleRabbit logo! BundleRabbit is the brainchild of Chuck Heintzelman, with whom I’ve shared many happy writer therapy writing group experiences in the online group The Quillians.

My novella, “Waiting to Fly,” is set in the Nearspace universe of One’s Aspect to the Sun and Dark Beneath the Moon. Like some of the Nearspace short stories I’ve released, it’s set in the earlier days of Nearspace, when wormhole travel is just opening up and the boundaries of Nearspace are expanding. And in keeping with the theme of the bundle, “middles,” it’s something that happens while the teenage protagonist is waiting for something else.RamseyWaitingToFlyCover

Middles make an interesting theme for a collection, because we’re all in the middle of something, all the time. (Usually many things!) But much of life happens in between those things we tend to think of as milestones or markers, so middles are rich with potential for storytellers. It’s also nice that these stories are of middling length–longer than short stories, but shorter than novels. I’ve been musing on current trends in short story publishing lately, and why shorter and shorter stories seem to be the trend. But that’s fodder for another post, which I’ll likely write this week.

The Middlings Bundle is curated by author Leah Cutter, and as you can see from the cover montage, she’s gathered together some quite heady company from the perspective of little ol’ me. The bundle also features stories by Anthea Sharp, Michael Warren Lucas, Michael A. Stackpole, Dean Wesley Smith, Blaze Ward, Mindy Klasky, Leah Cutter, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and Daniel Keys Moran. You can find out more about each of the stories over on the BundleRabbit blog, where Chuck’s been introducing the novellas and their authors over the past week or so. In keeping with the spirit of many bundles, this one is pay-what-you-want: $5+ will net you five of the stories, and $12 or more will get you all ten stories and a bonus–a coupon for an additional free ebook from Kobo two additional books from Kobo: “Collateral Damage” by Mark Leslie
“A Bird in the Hand” by Douglas Smith (there was an initial mixup about the Kobo bonus, so I’ve fixed the information here). This is really a deal that’s too good to pass up. You’ll also have the option to designate a portion of the bundle price as a charitable donation to The Washington State Talking Book and Braille Library. This service provides access to books for people unable to read standard print material, and also loans out magazines, music scores, and foreign language titles. I had very dear aunt who depended on library services like these when her eyesight failed, and I know the importance of support like this, so I encourage you to consider them if you’re purchasing the bundle.

The Middlings Bundle runs only until April 26th, so don’t miss out!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that, should you like “Waiting to Fly” and want to read more in the Nearspace universe, you can currently pick up the first book, One’s Aspect to the Sun, in a bundle as well! The Rogues set is available here, and is another awesome deal.