Read Tuesday will Launch with Thunder

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Xina Marie Uhl:

Attention readers and authors! You won’t want to miss Read Tuesday on 12/09/2014.

Originally posted on ReadTuesday:

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SPREADING THE NEWS

Read Tuesday is a Black Friday type of event just for book lovers on December 9, 2014.

Authors can participate for free. Signing up and participating is easy.

Readers and gift-givers just need to browse the Read Tuesday catalog in early December. Find the books you like here, but buy them at Amazon or Smashwords like normal. Except for saving big, of course.

To help spread the news, we have a ThunderClap promotion scheduled for the morning of December 9.

Our ThunderClap currently has a social reach of over 300,000 through 100 supporters (thank you, everyone), with 18 days left to improve these numbers. We have our sights set on a million, and we’re nearly one-third the way there.

What the ThunderClap does is announce the big Read Tuesday sale by synchronizing posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. It’s easy to add your support (see below).

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Dubious Math and a Work in Progress

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Happy Wednesday! Today is the day that our most excellent monkey maven, K.L. Schwengel, has designated as WIPpet Wednesday, which involves posting a date-related snippet of one’s work in progress. I’m working on an alternate history of sorts which takes place in a slightly different version of the world from 1880-1930. The theme is that it involves icy regions of the earth – the Antarctica and the Arctic and other desolate and fascinating places and the people who inhabit them (thus, the series is called “Icebound”). Here is the beginning from volume 2, “All Mouth and No Trousers,” currently in progress. My math is suspect, but involves: 27 lines (11+19+2+0+1+4-1)

Commandant Gorge Elderbatch didn’t actually read the letter from his wife until two days after receiving the bundle of mail. He was sitting in his office, laboriously attempting to compose and inspiring speech after delivering the latest round of orders to attain the impossible, create triumph out of disarray, and endure the unendurable for the sake of God, glory, and Shepherd’s Pie. A waft of Mrs. Elderbatch’s perfume rose from the crisp, neatly handwritten letter. She had told him the name of the perfume countless times, but he never could remember it. Something like Athena’s musk or St. Brigid’s Rose Arbor or maybe it was Henley’s Delectable Concoction. Whatever the name actually was, he conjured in his mind and image of his stately, rather prudish, carefully manicured, and pleasant smelling wife. He read the letter all the way through, blinked, wiped at his eyes – for they seemed to suddenly blur everything – and sat for a moment staring at his office wall before reading it again, slower this time.

Dear Gorge,

It is with little regret and great satisfaction that I pen this letter to you now. By the time you receive it, I will have left behind our modest home at 10 Will Bury Ln. and arrived at the sprawling veranda of Rodrigo Rodriguez Scardina’s cattle ranch in Brazil. You and I will have at last ended this farce of a marriage officially – for the vicar Williams assures me that your desertion of me and the children to that God-awful southernmost post is more than cause enough to file for divorce. If it is not, however, adultery on my part should seal the deal entirely. I warned you that if you left you would live to regret it. I imagine you assumed that threat was not something I was prepared to enact.

Miss Electra Yellowsmile appeared in the doorway, her luminous blue eyes attentive. “What was that, sir? I didn’t understand what you were saying.”

It was at that moment the Gorge realized he had been reading the letter aloud. There seemed to be something wrong with his vision, which blurred and sharpened at irregular intervals. And there was a most tremendous throbbing in his temples the likes of which he had never experienced before. A voice rasped out:

“Mrs. Felicia Elderbatch has filed for divorce.”

The voice was a man’s. Since only he and Miss Electra occupied this room, logic told him that the voice was his. It got louder.

“She has taken Phebe, Edward, Maurice, Andrew, Prudence and even Methuselah the dog to South America to live with some bloke named Rodrigo! Do you hear me, Miss Yellowsmile? My wife has left me and filed for divorce!”

“Oh,” Electra responded, a dimple appearing in her pixie-like chin as she frowned, lips downturned in a perfect half-arc. “How very unwise of her.”

Join us if you’re game.

Note to SF/F Writers: Random House’s Hydra Imprint Has Appallingly Bad Contract Terms

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Xina Marie Uhl:

And another big publisher does all it can to screw authors over.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Random House recently started Hydra, an electronic-only imprint for science fiction stories and short novels. But, as noted by Writer Beware here, the terms in a Hydra deal sheet shown to them are pretty damn awful:

* No advance.

* The author is charged “set-up costs” for editing, artwork, sale, marketing, publicity — i.e., all the costs a publisher is has been expected to bear. The “good news” is that the author is not charged up front for these; they’re taken out of the backend. If the book is ever published in paper, costs are deducted for those, too.

* The contract asks for primary and subsidiary rights for the term of copyright.

Writer Beware notes, appropriately, that this information comes from only one deal sheet it’s seen from Hydra. But, you know what: One attempt at this sort of appalling, rapacious behavior on the part of Random House is bad

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This Might Be the World’s First Book on Color Palettes

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This Might Be the World’s First Book on Color Palettes

Xina Marie Uhl:

One of my very first blog articles was on the History of Color (http://xuwriter.wordpress.com/2013/07/30/color-me-intrigued-history/). Fascinating stuff!

Originally posted on TwistedSifter:

dutch color pantone swatch book 1692 by a boogert (2)

At Bibliothèque Méjanes in Aix-en-Provence, France you will find an 894-page book from 1692 dedicated entirely to color. One A. Boogert is credited as the author to this fascinating manual written in Dutch.

According to Erik Kwakkel, Boogert describes how to make watercolor paints; explaining how to mix colors and change their tone by adding varying amounts of water. To illustrate his instructions, each facing page is filled with various shades of the color in question. There’s even an amazing index at the end of the book for every color listed.

Thanks to e-corpus the entire book can be seen in high-resolution online and you can zoom in and out of every single page. If you like old, handmade books, definitely check out the link and explore.

[e-corpus via Erik Kwakkel, Colossal, Gizmodo]

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Tempus Fugit! And works in progress ….

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Hello all!

I hope November is treating you right. I’m trucking along. I joined a “mini” NaNoWriMo challenge over on Livejournal with a goal of 750 words per day. I’ve made it every day so far although I can’t say it’s always been easy. I did switch to writing a nonfiction article for several of the days in order to get me through over the weekend. Whatever works, right?

I want to let everyone know about a promotion opportunity that I’ll be participating in this year – and that you can participate in as well. It’s called READ TUESDAY and it takes place on December 9, 2014. Learn more on the website http://readtuesday.com/

Now for my work in progress (WIPpet) which is supposed to take place on Wednesday every week. I’m just a little early. And we’ll gloss over the fact that I haven’t participated at all for the past two weeks. I’ve been doing stuff. Making mosaics of dubious quality, selling cockatiels, riding bikes with my dogs, taking painkillers for an ornery hip, and eating FAR too much. Among other things. And time management? So not my forte. Or even calendar management. I should just accept that about myself and remain an intermittent participant, it seems.

Ahem.

Okay, K.L. Schwengel is the organizer of this weekly affair, which involves posting a date-related snippet of one’s work in progress. I’m working on an alternate history of sorts which takes place in a slightly different version of the world from 1880-1930. The theme is that it involves icy regions of the earth – the Antarctica and the Arctic and other desolate and fascinating places and the hunky dudes people who inhabit them (thus, the series is called “Icebound”). Here is the beginning from volume 2, “All Mouth and No Trousers,” currently in progress. For your enjoyment here is 11 sentences for the month of November and an extra sentence as a bonus. Some of you may remember Electa from previous snippets. Written quick and dirty, without editing, which is probably all too apparent. Oh, I should probably note that I know nothing about military ranks, British or otherwise, but that is something I will fix before finishing the story.

Of all the foes Commandant Gorge Elderbatch had fought in his thirty-odd years as a British naval officer – enemy combatants, pirates, insubordinates, pestilence, penury, and probably some other he couldn’t think of off the fly – one stood out above the others. One who was the most difficult, the most intractable, the most completely infuriating. That one was his secretary, Miss Electa Yellowsmile.

Oh, she looked harmless enough. Young enough to be his daughter – twenty or twenty-five at the most – all of 105 pounds soaking wet, most slender and willowy, doll-like with her perfect blonde hair and clear wide blue eyes, her long and delicate fingers and tapping away on the Smith Premier typewriter, unfazed by his rather imposing (if he did say so himself) presence. 

“You will most certainly retype that order, Miss Yellowsmile,” he instructed, jabbing his finger at the trash bin like a bayonet. She had taken one look at the order for two boxes of premium cigars and six tins of grade A snuff and ripped it down the center before depositing it in the waste can.

Outrageous! Indubitably and irrefutably outrageous!

Electa continued typing for several excruciating moments, posture erect, crisp lace collar shockingly white and open slightly to reveal the unblemished skin of her pale neck. Her eyes flicked to his scribbled notes at her right and her smooth, painted red fingernails created a discordant staccato on the keys with practiced efficiency.

“Miss Yellowsmile, do me the honor of looking me in the eye when you commit mutiny!”

That got her attention.

That’s it for this week. Join in if you like:

Book Review: Lower Education by A.M. Leibowitz

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Lower EducationLower Education by A. M. Leibowitz

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Hard-nosed educational consultant Phin Patterson is used to breezing into town, analyzing troubled schools and taking off before his superiors bring the hatchet down, disrupting the status quo. When he takes a job in small town New York, though, he figures he’ll do what he’s always done and be finished in no time. No harm, no foul. This town is different, though. For one thing, it doesn’t take administrative assistant Dani long to figure out that Phin’s hiding something. And then there’s deliciously attractive school psychologist Alex, who’s someone he has a significant past with. It seems, though, that Phin’s past is now wrapped up with his present and it’s proving harder than he thought to keep the two separate.

Lower Education is a slow build kind of story, one which relies on multi-faceted characterization and strong dialogue to guide the reader through the tale. What it lacks in narrative tension it makes up for in a real world premise, a well-rounded setting, and characters who juggle work and home. I particularly liked how refreshingly open they were about their sexuality. The heart of the story lies in the relationships, like it does for any satisfying romance. Most satisfying is the front row seat to savor the fissures that appear in bad boy Phin’s carefully constructed emotional walls when he slowly lets love in

View all my reviews

Purchase here: Lower Education

Say What? Lots of Languages in Charlemagne’s Realm.

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Xina Marie Uhl:

One of the challenges faced by historical writers….

Originally posted on Anna Belfrage:

KimBookPhotoSmallerI have a thing about languages. So much, in fact, that I would warn you from ever initiating a conversation about the subject, as chances are you’ll be quite bleary-eyed by the time I finish my little lecture about the Indo european languages. Turns out, I am not alone in my fascination for languages, and today I welcome Kim Rendfeld to my blog to give you a little flavour of the polyglot court Charlemagne ruled over. Kim has recently published her second book, The Ashes of Heavens Pillar, and both of her novels are set in that somewhat hazy past we tend to fob off as the dark Ages. Somehow, I don’t believe Charlemagne would agree – or Kim, who on her excellent blog gives multiple examples of just how vibrant this era was – plus she brings it all to heaving life in her books! So, dear Kim…

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Greener — no, Whiter Pastures

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Happy Wednesday, everyone! Last week found me freaking the heck out over a hellacious car repair bill and other personal drama and I was a bit of a basket case. I didn’t even answer comments to my post – my apologies! This week has been much better, though. I’m a freelance writer of various educational projects but I’ve been getting burned out on that front lately. I’ve done a few children’s nonfiction books work for hire (my name wasn’t on them) and I so enjoyed them that I’ve really been wanting to do more – and Tuesday I was offered that chance for a new client. YAY! And this book will actually have my name on it! Amazing!! I’m jazzed.

Wednesday is the day I join K. L. Schwengel‘s band of merry writers in doling out a date-related snippet of my work in progress. Today I have 18 paragraphs from my story Whiter Pastures. Don’t worry – they’re mostly short. Florance is struggling with a load of coal when …

She had gone no more than a dozen yards when suddenly the weight in her right hand vanished.

“Let me help you with that, miss,” said a warm, strong male voice.

“Oh!” Florance squeaked in surprise. “Why thank you, sir.”

A flash of white teeth and a cheerful grin. Lively brown eyes met hers.

“My pleasure, you can be sure.”

She glanced at him as they walked. Younger than her, most probably. A foot taller at least. Thick dark hair neatly combed back around a zigzagging side part. And a face that she found utterly, completely, transformatively gorgeous in all ways. She tried to control her burgeoning excitement. He must have arrived on this morning’s ship. She would certainly have recognized him otherwise.

On the steps of the administration building he paused, looking out at the post as people scurried about hatless and in shirtsleeves. At 35° she was practically sweating herself.

He looked vaguely troubled. “I was sure it would be different here.”

“In what way, sir?”

His eyes flickered to hers, and he gave a rueful smile. “Greener.”

She didn’t understand for a moment. Out here, green was for tinned vegetables and putrefying wounds, nothing else. Then she realized what he meant.

“Glory be, not another one! No one told you that you are headed to Mason’s Point and not Mason’s Mill?”

He shook his head mournfully.

“And that Mason’s Point lay in Antarctica?”

“Australia… Antarctica. They sound a bit alike.”

No, love, she thought. They really don’t.

“If it’s any consolation, you’re not the first to have made that same mistake.”

“I’m afraid I need a bit more than consolation right now,” he said, looking rather crestfallen about the whole situation.

That’s it for this week. Join in if you like:

Cover Reveal! Island of Glass by Ruth Nestvold

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Ruth Nestvold’s YA Fantasy Novella is available for pre-order now – just $.99! It will debut on 10/28/2014.

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything  — and everyone  — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

 Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy. 

Now available for pre-order for an introductory price of only 99c!

Excerpt 1:

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”

Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.

“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”

She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.

He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”

She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”

He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”

Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.

He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.

Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Excerpt 2:

Chiara wiped her hands on her apron and lifted the goblet up to the light, inspecting her work critically. The fluted glass flared out like a lily beginning to bloom, and as hard as she tried, she could find no discoloring or bubbles. She breathed a sigh of relief: a nearly perfect piece. It would command a high price among the nobles of Venice and beyond.

The work of the Murano glassmakers was in great demand throughout the world. Their craftsmanship was the basis of their riches — and their curse. Out of fear that they might reveal trade secrets, the laws of La Serenissima decreed that members of the glassmaking families of Murano were never to leave the islands of their lagoon. Murano glass was more precious than gold, after all. Anyone who knew the recipe of the alchemists could make gold, but only the artisans of Murano could make glass so fine, one could nearly touch one’s fingers together on either side; cristallo without an imperfection or blemish, clear as the sky, with a sparkle to rival that of diamonds.

Author bio:

Ruth Nestvold’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Baen’s Universe, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. It is now available as an ebook in the original English.

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com

Web site: http://www.ruthnestvold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author

Twitter:  @Ruth_Nestvold

Switching Gears Yet Again

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Welcome to another version of WIPpet, the work in progress extravaganza run by the intrepid K.L. Schwengel. To participate, make sure the snippet of your work in progress has something – however tenuous – to do with today’s date. I’m going short and sweet today, and switching gears as I do so frequently. Last week I posted a bit from my children’s nonfiction history book – thankfully I was able to send out the requested chapters to an agent who displayed the barest hint of interest in it, so now there’s nothing to do but wait and drive myself up the wall, or work on something else entirely. This snippet is from Whiter Pastures, the first volume of my Icebound series, which is a sort of alternate history of the polar regions of the planet from about 1880 – 1930. Here is 18 sentences (10 + 8 = 189) from the story’s beginning. All comments, reactions, whatever are welcome. Oh, and the rather unusual spellings of the names are intentional.

The coal pan in the bottom of the room heater had jammed again. Florance tried all her usual fixes: shoving it in further and yanking it out quickly, shimmying it from side to side, wedging the metal handle of her favorite scrub brush in it to pry it open, but nothing would work.

“Do you have to make such a racket, girl?” Electa said in a voice which somehow managed to communicate boredom, disdain, and irritation all at once. She didn’t bother looking up from her typewriter. She was plucking the keys one by one, hunting and pecking for each one as if she were a particularly choosy hen searching for the perfect piece of corn.

Florance gritted her teeth. Electa knew her name – Florance had informed her of it on at least three separate occasions – but she couldn’t be bothered to call her anything other than girl. When she deigned to speak to her at all, that is.

It vexed Florance that people insisted upon referring to her as a girl when eternal spinsterhood was drawing ever nearer the closer she got to 30. Florance knew the reason for it, though. She was a rather quiet person usually, not a stupid one. The help always had to scurry around – seen but not heard — while the decent people went on with the important work. Her ability to be so very invisible had brought her here to begin with, after all.

With a discordant screech, the coal pan slid free, unbalancing Florance so that she landed squarely on her bustle. Coal dust puffed up in a cloud around her. Florance sneezed. Electa rolled her kohl-lined, brilliantly-blue eyes in exasperation.

That’s it for this week. Join along if you like: