Advice to Authors...

 Dear Authors:
     Thinking about an interesting pseudonym? Considering just going by a pair of initials and a last name?

Please don't! Especially if you've got a relatively-common last name...

Why? Well, those of us seeking to buy your books, or check them out at a library, will be using that name to search for your books, and with most search engines, a single initial = "wild-card". You will get back EVERY first name that starts with that initial. Particularly "helpful" search engines will even include names which use your first-name initial but a different middle-name initial, or names where your last name is the first name and the last name matches your initials, or even last names which START with the letters of your last name, but are longer... SERIOUSLY, just DON'T.

I just got back a list of over TWO THOUSAND available titles on the name "J.E. Ellis" (an attendee at this year's WesterCon, who MAY be an Author). That was AFTER eliminating all the audio-books and books in languages other than English... Now, if I *knew* that "J.E. Ellis" was a published author*, I'd dutifully search through at least the past three to five years' worth of those 2,000+ titles (my search results were returned in publication-date order, newest first) to find their books amidst the ones by J.J. Ellis, or Johanna Ellison, or J. whatever Ellis who writes romance, or textbooks, or children's "Choose-Your-Own-Adventure" series books, or...

As it is, though, if "J.E. Ellis" who's coming to WesterCon *is* a published author in science-fiction, fantasy, or any related field... well, s/he is outta luck, 'cause I didn't spot anything promising enough on that first page of search-results to entice me to look deeper, and there's no annotation (or hot-link on the Guest's name to their website) on the WesterCon 66 Guests page to tell me who s/he is or what (if anything) s/he writes. 

like C.J. Cherryh for instance (who also, bless her heart, altered her last name to make it decidedly UNcommon), and not, say, a science guest, a filker, a costumer, or whatever other attribute qualifies someone to be on panels at a science-fiction convention...
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SQUEEE!!! New "Temeraire"!

I just finished my first e-galley from NetGalley, which provides early review-copy e-books to online and print reviewers and bloggers, librarians, and booksellers. The book in question: Naomi Novik's BLOOD OF TYRANTS, the 8th (and, says its "blurb", the "penultimate") book in her "Temeraire" series (which began with HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON). (For anyone who's been living in a cave since 2006, imagine the Napoleonic Wars, as chronicled by O'Brian and Forester, with a draconic "Aerial Corps"... or "Horatio Hornblower crossed with 'Dragonriders Of Pern'"...)

This book is a worthy addition to the series, but should NOT be read alone; do NOT start reading with this one! It shares with several of its predecessors (and with the individual volumes of Tolkien's "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy) a feeling that it should have been one segment of an even larger volume. The ending, especially, leaves us desperate for the next volume. Despite this, the non-stop action kept me up all night reading, and there's a big plot twist at the beginning which adds tension and uncertainty to the previously-established relationships.

As in the previous volumes in the series, Novik doesn't hesitate to show the less-admirable sides to her historically-based characters. One of the things I've liked throughout the history of "Temeraire" and Captain Laurence is the way the characters, raised within a society with various inequalities and injustices ingrained in its structure, learn to question and critically examine such moral dilemmas as slavery, racial/cultural bias, and the rights of women. Even when she's setting up her heroes to act in ways more consistent with modern sensibilities, though, she isn't writing them as characters with modern, "PC" sensibilities themselves. She shows WHY, for instance, Captain Laurence begins to question the rightness of the power-structure of his society, by putting him in the position of having to explain its illogical underpinnings to his dragon Temeraire, an exceptionally-intelligent "alien" he's attempting to integrate into that society. Since Laurence is, himself, an intelligent, honorable, and ruthlessly honest man, his inability to reconcile his experiences and what he learns of the truth of his world with the prejudices and preconceptions underlying British society ultimately leads him into conflict... which makes for some great stories!

This new volume of Laurence and Temeraire's adventures leads them from Japan through China and finally to Napoleon's Russian campaign, with a number of exciting plots and sub-plots along the way. Novik adds several new and interesting characters (making up for some we've lost along the way!), and never lingers too long in one place.

Highly recommended for fans of the series.
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Just double-checked some of my older posts, and found a bunch of comments (for which I hadn't gotten e-mail notifications), which either contained SPAM-links or were SPAM-journals (e.g.: innocuous-looking "good post!" comments, from someone I didn't recognize... so I clicked on their name and discovered their "journal" is a full-page ad for online Viagra sales or other internet drugs). Feh.

I guess I need to pay more attention to this LJ itself, instead of cross-posting from my DW account and replying to the comments when I get the e-mail notifications that someone commented to a post...
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RENOvation, anyone?

Hope to see some of you at WorldCon next week; I'll be tables E-3 + E-4 in the middle of the Dealers' Room (next to Alice & Marty Massoglia's used books). :-)
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pimping "DreamWidth" again...

I've got another slew of free Invite Codes. Dreamwidth is a LiveJournal-type system, but non-profit and much more progressive. If you're already on LiveJournal, you can "import" all your existing LJ content AND automatically cross-post new material to your old LJ site.
For more about DW, check here:
...and here:

If you'd like one of my Invite Codes, just ask...

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Was thinking about e-books and e-book devices for two reasons...

First, my dad got himself an iPad this spring. I've gotten to play with it quite a bit, since he waited 'til I was visiting to buy it, so I could get it set up for him. (Dad's 86 and been a PC user for the 1/4 of his life that he's actually used 'puters. Simply by being able to follow directions to install a DSL socket on his old desktop, or connect and set up the WiFi device he got along with the iPad, makes me a Computer Tech Genius in his book...) Anyway, during my last two visits with Dad, I got to try all sorts of things on his iPad, including downloading H.Beam Piper's LITTLE FUZZY (via a free i-App which accesses Project Gutenberg free books) and re-reading it. My dad, btw, has yet to BUY an e-book; I don't think he's read one on the Pad either... He wanted it, mostly, for the same reason I wanted a laptop instead of a desktop: so he can 'Net-surf, check his e-mail, and play computer games (solitaire card games and Mi-Ni-Pai) even while traveling. I rather doubt he'll ever buy an e-book: there are so many "classics" available free, and he'd rather be re-reading Austen or Trollope than paying for some new bestseller.

Personally, I've got a major case of geeky tech-lust for a new iPad... but almost anything I'd do on one I could do with my laptop, my iPod, and my cheap pay-as-you-go cellphone, particularly if I spent some $$ buying better bandwidth on my 'Net connection, and maybe a WACOM Tablet. I've already got access to plenty of free e-books for traveling, thanks to various CD-ROMs from Baen Books' Free Library and the HTML downloads from Project Gutenberg. :-}  It's a neat toy, but not in the budget this year...

Then I read this:

...which had some new reasons to dislike the Amazon Kindle, plus some I already knew. I didn't know about the lower reading speed when reading from e-devices, but did know about the Big Brother issues, and that even if you "buy" an e-book from Amazon, you don't OWN it the way you own a REAL book. They can delete it from your Kindle, you can't "loan" it to a friend, you can't give it away or re-sell it if you don't want to keep it... You can't even move it to a different device if you decide you prefer an iPad or whatever...

I'd never want an e-reader that was ONLY an e-reader (like the Kindle), even if it weren't part of's Evil Empire... The thing I like best about the iPad is that you can do more with it.
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Sometimes I've just gotta wonder...

...did certain self-published "authors" even pass High School English?

When I get SPAMmed with a "press release" for the latest PoD/vanity press epic to hit print, and there are grammar/spelling/usage mistakes throughout... ::rolls eyes::

Here. Read:

Subject:   Peter Paul: The Chase Begins
From:   "Stokely Gittens" <>
Hi. I am contacting you regarding the entrance of the novel, Peter Paul: The Chase Begins into your store.

Usage f*ck-up in the first sentence. *sigh*
Peter Paul: The Chase Begins has bestseller potential for mass market appeal in the arena of adult and young adult fiction. The novel is an action thriller. It has four key aspects which create a successful platform:
*Exceptional, attention grabbing cover design

...which looks like the author hired his kid brother to Photoshop a bunch of random clip-art together...
*Unique story

...Yeah, RIGHT. SLAN updated with current bio-tech jargon. Genetically-superior super-kid on the run. That story's older than I am.
*Well written, complex characters, and plot with a sequel in process

"Well-written"? I actually did go to the website with the sample chapters. They're as cringe-inducing as the first sentence of this "press release". "Complex characters"? I've seen better characterization from fifteen-year-olds writing fanfic. "Sequel in process"? Gods help us all, he hasn't blown his wad getting Book 1 printed.
*Modern day political hot topic relating to the controversial subject of stem cell research

Wow. I didn't know they were using "stem cell research" to cross-breed cheetahs with humans!
In addition to these elements, the consistent and sustained marketing campaign will propel the novel to commercial success. 
The marketing campaign includes the following:
*Targeted marketing campaign to national and local media 
The poor schmuck of an "author" got a list of e-mail addresses to SPAM with this "press release" as part of the package deal from the PoD rip-off artists who published his opus.
*Marketing campaign targeted to readers in groups, social websites, online forums, etc.

*Marketing campaign via internet, catalogues, advertising, etc.

More SPAM, plus the "author" paid extra to get a blurb in the PoD house's "catalog", and maybe even paid for "promo copies" to be sent to reviewers. I wonder if Spider Robinson's hard-up for woodstove fuel these days?
A preview of the novel is available at

...which is just as dire as you might imagine...
If you have any questions or need additional information feel free to contact me at (###) ###-####. 
Available throuth Baker &amp; Taylor

I'm not going to knock him for failing to plain-text the "&" so it appears properly in e-mail, but "throuth"?!? Dude, turn on your Spell-Check!
Peter Paul: The Chase Begins by Stokely Gittens
Publication Date: February 24, 2010
Publisher: Stonewalker Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9798329-0-1
Price $14.95, Pages 328 
Stokely Gittens

Too bad the "Mood" field doesn't have a setting for "snarky"... Oh, and then there was the little flyer at NWC, advertising a website for authors seeking editing help and "advise"... *sigh* This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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NorWesCon 33

On the whole, things are good here. I've sold a LOT of books, being the only dealer here with new books (rather than used or small presses selling just their own books). If I'd had room to bring it all and show it, I could've sold three times what I brought of a number of new releases and attending authors' books. I'm now completely sold out of books by several of the attendees, and down to a fraction of what I brought for the author GoHs (Vernor Vinge and Cory Doctorow). Thanks to my FANTASTIC helpers (Nellie and Paul), we got set up nicely, despite a cramped location, and I was able to leave things in Nellie's capable hands for half an hour today while I made two trips to the 1pm Autograph session... where I spoke to most of the authors I hadn't previously seen in the Dealers' Room, got autographs on a load of stuff, and let several of 'em know that I had MORE downstairs in the Dealers' Room. Later, a BUNCH of 'em (Cory Doctorow, S.Andrew Swann, Carol Berg, and Mark Henry plus his whole posse of paranormal-fantasy pals... and at least three more I'm forgetting) all stopped by and signed stuff I hadn't had time to carry upstairs. (Authors ROCK!) So I now have lots more SIGNED books to sell.

TONS of friends found me in my little corner of the Dealers' Room, despite being in a claustrophobic corner with less than 7' of "frontage" (and about 1/3 smaller than many other 2-table spaces). Despite my saying SPECIFICALLY that I didn't want the corner location if the tables were in an "overlapped" configuration, that's what they gave me. They likewise shorted Marty and Alice Massoglia by about 2' (they got an 8'x8' space despite being TOLD they'd have 8'x10'). This has been a consistent issue at NorWesCon; ever since they moved me from the corner in the back of the room a couple years ago, they've been giving me less space... even though I'm willing to pay ANOTHER $150 for a third 6' table's worth. :-(

Still, I didn't lose one of my costumed stuffed animals, my van wasn't broken into, and my alternator didn't die at 3am on my way home... so despite kvetching about space allotments, it was still MILES ahead of last NWC!

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