Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Blog Ring of Power--Matthew Cox

It seems like it's been a long time since we had a Blog Ring of Power interview. Today Matthew Cox returns to share his words of wisdom with us. You can find the other parts of his interview at the links below:

About You
The Writing Life
The Creative Process
About Your Current Work

 Are you working with the same publisher on your second/additional books? Has the dynamic changed at all since your first book was published?

Yep. I am currently sending things to Curiosity Quills. The dynamic is more or less the same; they’re a great crew!

Do you have any advice for other writers just starting out?

Characters are the heart of your story, keep them believable in their reactions and the rest should fall into place. Seek feedback. Don’t take criticism personally (if it is offered constructively).

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

I hope I’ve been able to take you out of the real world for a little while and let you share in the strange things that go on in my head. Nothing pleases me more than providing an escape for others, even if it’s brief.

What are your current / future project(s)?

Books 2 and 3 of Division Zero (Lex De Mortuis, and Thrall) are written and with the publisher now. The first 4 books in the Awakened series are also with CQ. I’m currently working on notes for book 5 of The Awakened series. I’ve got an MG fantasy (Emma & the Banderwigh) on submission with them as well as an anthology of short stories.
I’ve also got an ongoing fiction project on my blog.

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:
Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- after="" and="" deliberate="" fiction="" happens="" intellectual="" it.="" life="" nature="" of="" p="" questions="" reality="" science="" that="" the="" what="">
He is also fond of cats.

Author Contact Information

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @mscox_fiction

When thirteen-year-old Natalie Rausch said she would die to meet DJ Crazy Todd, she did not mean to be literal.

Two years is a long time to be stuck between two people who want nothing more than to destroy each other. A tween crush on the larger-than-life jock from a local radio station is the only trace of a once-happy life ruined by warring parents.

Whenever WROK 107 ran a contest, she would dive for the phone, getting busy signals and dead air every time. She never expected to get through, but at least with her best friend at her side, it used to be fun.

Before her parents ruined that too.

Her last desperate attempt to get their attention, falling in with a dangerous group of older teens, goes as wrong as possible. With no one left to blame for her mess of a life but herself, karma comes full circle and gives her just a few hours to make up for two years’ worth of mistakes–or be forever lost.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Permafree Lyon's Legacy, Seasons' Beginning Update, and IWM

There will be a Blog Ring of Power post on Wednesday (the day was shifted to fit with a blog tour), but I have several pieces of exciting news in the meantime.

First, I've decided to make Lyon's Legacy permafree as an experiment. You can currently get it free on Amazon, Smashwords,  or Kobo. (Barnes and Noble is pending.) So far, about 900 copies have been downloaded on Amazon, and all I personally did was mention it in a few places on Facebook and Goodreads. The book peaked at #2 on the 100 Free Time Travel best seller list and below 500 for overall free books
on Amazon before downloads slowed down yesterday. I'm still waiting to see if this new-found visibility will translate into sales of other books, though I don't expect all readers to continue with the Catalyst Chronicles series.

Second, I've started working with a cover artist for Seasons' Beginning  and have sent it out to several beta readers. I've also added it to Goodreads; you can find it here. It will be available in both eBook and print, but I'm considering putting it in Select first for 90 days before making the eBook available everywhere. It should be interesting to see how Kindle Unlimited works, but I don't want it to be permanently exclusive to Amazon either. If you read on a non-Kindle platform, please let me know if this would affect you.

Finally, if you're not reading the Indie Writers Monthly blog, you're missing some good content. Briane is wondering if talking turtles are speculative fiction, Andrew is exploring the blueprint of modern fantasy, and I'm discussing how to break grammar rules in fiction for effect. Pat Dilloway also announced a special omnibus edition of his work. Stop on by and see what's new this week!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guest Post--Birth of a Hybrid by Stephen Weinstock

I have a guest post today from Stephen Weinstock, author of  1001, or The Reincarnation Chronicles. He's here to tell us about how his work is both science fiction and fantasy--and more.

by Stephen Weinstock
I am the white sheep in my family.  I am the sole artist among a group of scientists, and though I love the sciences and don’t believe my parents, brother, or Uncle Stanley ever worked for the Dark One, I prefer to think of myself as the brave little lamb who ventured outside of the dark laboratory, into the bright light of the Arts.
My parents met while working on The Manhattan Project at Los Alamos during World War Two.  Yes, we’re a nuclear family.  They were only in their twenties, my father a physics grad student at Columbia, and my mom a lab technician who got her job answering an ad in the New York Times.  Before their careers had even started, they were working shoulder to shoulder with the greatest minds in the world.  My mother remembered walking to work behind Oppenheimer, and holding hands with Richard Feynman after his wife died in Santa Fe.  Inspired by the war effort, my father continued to do science directly related to social needs, and ended his life pioneering the first scientific research on air pollution.
In the new era of DNA research, my brother George headed one of the main labs that mapped the human genome, and currently is at the center of the Human Microbiome Project.  The HMP aims to map every species of organism living inside the human body, and figure out what they’ve been up to for the last million years.  Talk about the arts meeting the sciences: the project surpasses anything in science fiction!
I’m proud of my family, and was a happy third-grader bringing my dad’s model of the atom to Show and Tell.  I went through an obligatory period of rejection, protesting Livermore’s nuke production when I was a grad student at Berkeley.  That passed, so as my path led into the performing arts, I rekindled my love of science through Star Wars, literary works such as Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics, and an interest in speculative works of art.
I was a composer for years, so I never took the one burning idea I had for a novel too seriously.  I thought it would be fun to read a book where a group of characters remembered fragments of their past lives, discovered their stories were intertwined, and solved the huge puzzle of their karmic history.  One thing I loved about the idea was that the past life stories could be historical fiction, science fiction, romance, or whatever, a hybrid of genres.
One Tuesday during my middle age crisis, while I was driving to Princeton to play a modern dance class, I realized how my book idea could be done.  The model would be The Thousand and One Nights, a book where every new story that Scheherazade tells the King ranges from history to romance to religious parable to dirty joke.  As I researched the Nights, I became fascinated by its mysterious history, imagined a host of mathematical structures hidden under my use of this model, and decided to be a writer!
My series, 1001, or The Reincarnation Chronicles tracks the past life stories of a qaraq, a group of ten (or eleven) souls traveling together through Time, currently living in the suburbs of New Jersey.  Since my parents helped build the bomb, and my brother is finding every extra-human creature inside us, I didn’t want to do anything too small.  The eleven books of the series contain a 1001 chapters, each chapter revealing a past life tale.  But that’s not the only way the book satisfies my science genes.
First, my work process for each chapter involves filling out a form that deals with basics like plot and character, but also selects what I need to include in terms of eleven hidden math structures at work in the text.  This process is a whole tale in itself, but suffice it to say I feel like a lab technician filling out a report when I prepare to write the next chapter.
Second, given the hybrid genre of the series, I get to write as many sci-fic/fantasy tales as I wish, which has fed my creative soul plenty.  There are stories about bored chunks of supercontinents gazing up at the heavens, sub-atomic particles having a lover’s spat, and the ten souls of the qaraq inhabiting the body parts of a single Carboniferous era dragonfly.  (You can get free reads of two dinosaur tales on my site, qaraqbooks; see the sidebar: Online Tales from 1001.)  Currently, I am writing the section of the qaraq’s history where they evolved from prokaryotes to the first species on land – plants, not amphibians!  It was a tough time for them, but at least they discovered sex.
Finally, the scope of the karmic history speaks directly to my love of things scientific.  The tales go back before evolution and the Big Splat by four or five universes, and stretch in a similar direction into the future.  I get to decide how our cosmos is going to sputter out, and of course reincarnate.  Book Five culminates with the qaraq’s involvement in The Manhattan Project.  And the qaraq incarnates as anything, not just humanoid creatures: inanimate objects, philosophical concepts, nuclear forces, or protozoan organisms living inside us.  Thanks, bro.
So now that I have published Book One, The Qaraq, I have successfully merged my arts and science background.  Perhaps I am no longer the white sheep, but a curious hybrid of white and black, my very own clone.
STEPHEN WEINSTOCK has created scores for theater companies, choreographers, and dance studios; he currently works at LaGuardia HS (the Fame School).  He is author of the series 1001, based on the Arabian Nights, about a group of people who discover they have shared 1001 past lives.
You can purchase Stephen's book on amazon, or email him at drstephenwATcomcastDOTnet with any questions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

WisCon--Walk the Walk?

When you've been going to a particular convention for a long time, it becomes a home away from home. Even if you don't speak to other attendees, you know their names and faces. You develop traditions (the first night of the con we go to this restaurant, we stop by these stores and these places in the dealer room) and memorize the hotel layout. So when something upsetting happens at the con, it affects you too.

Last year, a well-known editor who was employed by Tor harassed at least two women, one of whom is my friend. (What's especially upsetting is that this was my friend's first-ever convention.) One of the women wrote about the experience here. My friend's report about this year's convention is here. WisCon apparently misplaced the reports these women filed, and the former editor (he got fired after the incident became public) was allowed to attend this year's WisCon. A ruling finally came out last Friday, with the result that the guy is banned for at least four years and may be allowed to return if he demonstrates improved behavior.

I know this guy by sight, but I haven't had much occasion to speak with him. From reports I've heard, he has a long history of harassing women, which makes me glad that I got rejected from Tor ages ago. This history suggests that any changes to his behavior may be superficial or temporary. I don't know if WisCon has had to deal with a situation like this before; it's possible the ruling was issued this way to establish a precedent, allowing future harassers a chance to redeem themselves. However, this ruling doesn't do much (IMO) to address the victims' safety or mental well-being at the convention. Why would you return if you risk encountering your harasser again? And while I don't know how this decision was reached, I know this guy had connections. It makes me wonder if there is some power play behind this decision. I'd like to think the committee was as objective as possible, and maybe no decision would have pleased everyone. But even the suspicion of power plays supporting a harasser at a feminist convention is upsetting.

I normally register for next year's WisCon and make my hotel reservation while at the convention, and I did so this year. WisCon is the first con I ever attended, the birthplace of Broad Universe, and it's set in the city that I love. I see friends here that I don't see outside of WisCon. I don't want to boycott this convention. I just want it to walk the walk when it comes to supporting women. Whether that's something ordinary members can accomplish, or whether it's a matter for volunteers or committee members, I don't know. It's not an issue that can be solved in a single blog post. I don't care if Tor stops throwing parties at WisCon; I care that all attendees feel safe, no matter who they are. I intend to look for more information from WisCon and other people in the WisCon community as the countdown to WisCon 39 continues.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Blurb and Call for Beta Readers: Seasons' Beginnings

Last month, I finished the second draft of Season's Beginnings, Book One in my fantasy Season Avatars series. I am currently looking for beta readers for this project. Here's what I have so far for the blurb:

Kron Evenhanded is an artificer, able to enchant any man-made object, but he finds people more difficult to work with. As he visits the city of Vistichia, he encounters Sal-thaath, an extremely magical but dangerous child created by Salth, another magician Kron knew at the Magic Institute. Kron attempts to civilize Sal-thaath, but when his efforts lead to tragedy, Kron is forced to ally himself with a quartet of new deities and their human Avatars. Together they must defend Vistichia as Salth attempts to drain its life and magic. But Salth has Ascended halfway to godhood over Time. Will Kron’s artifacts be enough to protect the Avatars, especially the woman he loves, or will Time separate them?

If this sounds like something you'd like to beta read, please comment below or e-mail me at ulbrichalmazanATsbcglobalDOTnet. If you have any suggestions for improving the blurb, please let me know that as well. Thanks!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Digitial Book Day and Website Update

To celebrate Digital Book Day, I'm giving Lyon's Legacy away on Smashwords. Just click here and use code SW100 at checkout. Don't forget to check out all the other free eBooks listed here. There are over 400 books listed, so you should be able to find something you like.

Speaking of free, I've created free PDF samplers for Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes. You can find them both on my website. I've also added more information about Seasons' Beginnings and Indie Writers Monthly there as well. 

Speaking of Indie Writers Monthly, our first annual anthology should be available by now. Additional information will be posted as soon as I have it, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Semiannual Reading Update

Every six months or so, I go through my book list on Goodreads and summarize what I've read. As of Sunday evening, I've read 104 books this year. My goal is 200, so I'm on pace. Here's the breakdown:

Fantasy: 43
Science Fiction: 12
Other Fiction: 24
Non-Fiction: 25

Of these books, about sixteen were in paper format, which I think is a little higher than in previous years. I've been borrowing a mystery series from the library, so that accounts for the increase in paper books.

I'm not ready to pick favorites for the year yet, but here are a few books that stood out for me:

Meatonomics (this book convinced me to become a vegetarian)
Gooseberry Bluff Community College of Magic
America's Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines
Paladin of Souls
Lies My Teacher Told Me

Most of this list is non-fiction; only two of them are fantasy. At the end of the year, I'll pick favorites from each category.

As for what I'm reading now, I'm juggling All Joy and No Fun (parenting, paper), Quantum Zoo (SF, Kindle), and Ancillary Justice (SF, Kindle).

How's your reading coming along so far this year? Any favorites? Do you do most of your reading with paper or electronic books?

Monday, July 07, 2014

The Other Side of the Story

It's no surprise that the media supports traditional publishing. It seems that every few months, someone posts an article on the Huffington Post or elsewhere about "the true cost of self-publishing" using figures no business-savvy indie writer would use. Naturally, these articles blow up the cost of publishing a single book into the five-digit range because they attempt to emulate the way traditional publishers do things. You can also see articles by traditionally published authors lamenting that their careers will be shot if no one can preorder their books. While traditionally published authors are judged on the velocity of their sales, very few indie authors are allowed to have preorder buttons on Amazon. (Smashwords does allow this, though I haven't tried it.)

Anyway, if you'd like to hear the other side of the story, please check out this petition on by Writers and Readers. It's addressed to Hachette, and it calls for them (and all publishers) to stop fighting low prices and fair wages. It explains the conflict between Hachette and Amazon, along with the implications this has for writers and readers. Here are a few key quotes:

New York Publishing once controlled the book industry. They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book.
Amazon, in contrast, trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book.
You probably aren’t aware of this, but the majority of your favorite authors can’t make a living off their book sales alone. Very few authors could when New York Publishing was in charge. That is changing now that Amazon and other online retailers are paying authors a fair wage....

You may have heard that Amazon and Hachette are having a dispute about how books are sold. The details are complex, but the gist is this: Amazon wants to keep e-book prices affordable, and Hachette wants to keep them artificially high. Higher than for the paper edition of the same story....

Hachette is looking out for their own interests, not the interests of writers or readers. This approach is consistent with a long history of treating bookstores as customers, writers as chattel, and readers as non-entities. But we believe the Hachette approach is backwards. We know the only players who truly matter are the storytellers and their audience. That’s us. That’s you. We’re in this together.

 Read the rest of the petition at this link. If you agree, please sign it and share it with your friends. No matter how authors publish, they all deserve fair compensation for their labor, and all readers deserve access to a wide variety of reasonably priced books.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

July Issue of Indie Writers Monthly Is Out!

It's a Midsummer Issue of Indie Writers Monthly! Here are just a few of this month's features:

  • A new article in the "Lies Writers Tell Other Writers" series by Andrew Leon
  • Briane Pagel discusses and illustrates how to pick the right point of view for your story
  • An article by me explaining how to prepare an audiobook through ACX
  • A short story by me in which the Fab Four find themselves in A Midsummer Night's Dream

 And much more! Plus, find out how you can become our next featured author!

Download the issue here for only $0.99.

It's a Summer Smashwords Sale!

If it's July, then Smashwords must be holding their annual Summer/Winter Sale. This year, I have four works enrolled in the sale:

Click here for "Letters to Psyche" and use code SW100 at checkout to get it for free.
Cupid must find a way to break a curse on love between the Montagues and Capulets. If he doesn't, he'll never see his beloved Psyche again.

Click here for "The Mommy Clone" and use code SW100 at checkout to get it for free.
Set between Lyon's Legacy and Twinned Universes. Bouncy houses prove to be more scary than fun when a kidnapper stalks the clone of a rock star.

Click here for Lyon's Legacy and use code SW50 at checkout (Normally $2.99, on sale for $1.50).
A geneticist who blames her rock star ancestor for ruining her life is forced to travel back in time to clone him.

Finally, click here for Twinned Universes and use code SW50 at checkout (Normally $4.99, on sale for $2.50). 
 The way to solve a murder may be in an alternate universe--but an assassin lurks there too.

If you want to sideload one of these stories to your Kindle, all you have to do is look up your Kindle e-mail address (go into "Manage Your Content and Devices" on Amazon, then click the "Your Devices" tab) and e-mail the mobi file to that address. 

This sale runs through July 31, so make sure to take advantage of it. As Shakespeare said, "Summer's lease hath all too short a date."

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