by K. Lynn Bay - A brutal invader. A peaceful world. And one woman born to stand between them. For twenty years, the Maga invaders have been ravaging the world. Now the world has forged a defender: a woman who can touch its living power. Kara, daughter of a great healer, knows only the life …View full post
a dark fantasy Evil speaks the words we wish most to hear For the price of a loaf of bread, young Jen spins her spells in the squalid marketplaces of the City’s slums. But when her father sells her to the wizard Barras for gold, Jen finds herself bound to a man who holds her …View full post
A sweet romantic retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth. Perry has the courtship from Hell– literally. Too bad that isn’t her only problem. When Perry’s powers as an earth sorceress finally come just before her nineteenth birthday, she’s thrilled. Then comes the bad news. Her powers are a little extreme. Wherever she goes, everything …View full post
Something is devouring wizards. And Amethyst Rey just discovered she’s next on the menu. Amethyst is being stalked. Odd gifts appear on her doorstep. A black Mustang lurks in front of her house. But when the car—minus a driver—snatches her off her Albuquerque street, Amethyst is plunged into a hidden world of magic where no …View full post
a Land of Enchantment short story An unexpected new career. A hunky new boyfriend. Two flirtatious neighbors. A block party that spins out of control. How much more complicated can things get? For Amethyst Rey, a lot more complicated. She’s just discovered she’s a wizard, and her boyfriend is her familiar. And if the gorgeous …View full post
A slipstream short story. Around the edges and between the cracks of the ordinary world lurks a shadow world, an otherplace of unrealized possibilities, where you might have been someone else. Something waits there for Dee, a smiling face in the mirror, her own shadow, reaching for her. But there’s room in the world for …View full post
In another world, an evil mage called the Storm Lord fights for his life. As his enemies breach the walls of his fortress, he pours his strength into a desperate spell that opens a portal between realities. His power shatters under the strain and he leaps, tumbling into darkness. Driving along a gravel road in …View full post
Springtime in Hades is a sweet romantic retelling of the Persephone and Hades myth.
Perry has the courtship from Hell—literally. Too bad that isn’t her only problem.
When Perry’s powers as an earth sorceress finally come just before her nineteenth birthday, she’s thrilled. Then comes the bad news. Her powers are a little extreme. Wherever she goes, everything grows like crazy. That’s awkward enough, but it gets worse when people try to ravish each other when she walks by.
According to her uncle, the sorcerer Zeusse, what Perry needs is a man, and his student Aros is just the one for her. But when she rejects him, Aros decides to teach her a lesson. He casts a spell that makes Perry irresistible to Hadis, the Lord of Death. Perry finds Hadis plenty attractive, but being kidnapped and dragged to his bleak, barren realm isn’t exactly a recipe for romance.
Now the captive of a powerful sorcerer blinded by a love spell, Perry must discover what exiles Hadis to his terrible domain. Only when she learns where her wild magic fits into the puzzle can she free both herself and Hadis—and make her unexpected love for him possible.
Ever since I was little, I’ve been fascinated with mythology, when I had this great children’s book of Greek and Roman myths and legends that I’d read over and over. The Persephone and Hades myth was my favorite, but I never felt the story was told right. I wasn’t all that interested in what Demeter was going through during the search for her daughter. What I wanted to know was what happened to Persephone. “Pining” for months on end wasn’t convincing, and it certainly wasn’t interesting. I mean, come on. She couldn’t be that much of a weenie. Obviously something more was going on here.
Over the years, I imagined what that “something more” might be. For one, thing, maybe a little active effort on Persephone’s part. The guy who’s Lord of the Underworld wouldn’t want a fainting female for a queen. And what about that pomegranate? She goes months without eating, then at the very end Hades coaxes her to eat a few seeds? There clearly had to be a growing rapport, maybe even trust, especially since Persephone and Hades are one of the few faithful couples in Greek mythology.
Springtime in Hades is my lighter, modern take on what Persephone’s experience in the Underworld might have been.
There was a four-foot-tall letter “F” in neon pink on the left hand side of the garage door. Amethyst glared at it, grinding her teeth, then hauled up the door. It rattled and clattered, just like always.
Inside, the sharp smell of paint filled the air. Neon pink spattered the floor, the workbench, the wall. Judging from the pattern, the paint should have been all over the Mustang, too. Its black body was pristine.
A spray paint can lay on the garage floor. She bent and picked it up. Pink Flamingo. The can was split down one side.
“What happened here? How the hell did this get in here?”
“Your caller from yesterday made a little midnight visit with the intent of advertising his disapproval,” Talys said, sounding smug. “I opened the door for him. I fear the fate he had envisaged for me befell him, instead.”
Her hammer was on the floor, too. “And this?”
“Alas, ineffective. He grew marvelously frustrated. We had a little chat, and I ushered him out.”
She picked up the hammer, hung it back on the peg board and started laughing. The laughter went on too long, though, and she had trouble catching her breath.
“What next? A little arson, maybe, just for variety?”
“Amethyst,” he said. “I sincerely doubt he’ll return.”
She sagged against the workbench. “I can’t take this.” She walked out, down the driveway. The car started. She stabbed a finger at it. “Stay. Here.”
The engine abruptly cut off. She stormed along the sidewalk, not caring that she had to pass Caramela’s house on the way to Eubank. Not caring that, after yesterday’s ordeal on the mountain, it was probably incredibly stupid to take off on her own.
The sun was already diamond-brilliant and intense, stinging her back and shoulders through the fabric of her t-shirt. Her ankle stung, too, and ached. She didn’t care about that, either.
She rubbed her eyes. Her head still hurt. Her shoulder hurt, too. She was scared, and she couldn’t even talk to anyone she trusted without getting committed to a psych ward.
Morning commute traffic, much of it doubtless headed for Kirtland Air Force Base and Sandia National Labs, streamed by on Eubank, a dull seethe of tires and engines. Normal people with normal lives beginning a normal day of designing nuclear weapons or maintaining fighter jets or developing the next generation of supercomputers.
What had happened to her normal life?
She turned down a side street onto a quieter residential street. Another older neighborhood, but the homes were larger, nicer than those in her own. She came to Indian School, half a mile or so. Snow Park was just ahead. She checked traffic and jogged across the street.
The park had an arched bridge that spanned Embudo Arroyo. She crossed it to the grass and trees beyond, sat down in the shade and leaned her head on her knees.
She had to do something. She had to get control again somehow. The whole horrible mess had started with Talys. It would have to end with him, too.
* * *
Talys’ attention fell on her, heavy and somber, but he didn’t say anything. Not even when she opened the trunk and tossed in some AutoZone bags. They clanked, loud as that stick’s crack in the woods. She wouldn’t think about what was in them. If she did, Talys might suspect—
No. She wasn’t thinking about it.
For the sake of verisimilitude, other stuff had to go in: the boxes of scrap glass she’d never gotten around to doing anything with (remember Dr. Korhonen’s beautiful glass mosaic table—? She didn’t want to think about Dr. Korhonen, either.), an old CRT monitor she hadn’t been able to find a home for but couldn’t bear to throw away because it still worked, boxes of her first set of mismatched dishes, which had been taking up space in the spare bedroom. A few lengths of maple moulding and some metal channel went through the window and into the back seat for good measure.
Back the car out, oh-so-casual, nothing worse going on today than a mood black as the burned stuff on the bottom of an untended pot. She moved to get out and shut the garage door, but it rolled smoothly down on its own—no rattle, no clatter. Talys, being helpful again.
She clamped her jaw. Did he really think that would make everything better? That seeing how useful and convenient magic could be would make her change her mind?
Over the growl of the engine, the radio came on softly. She tensed, but only smooth jazz, harp music—maybe Andreas Vollenweider—came over the speakers. Dammit, now he was trying to soothe her.
Don’t bother, she wanted to snap, but then he’d know something was up.
Don’t think about it.
The harp music ended and the DJ said, “Are you feeling better?”
It took her an instant to realize the DJ was Talys. “Just dandy,” she said.
“Where did you go?”
She bit back another sarcastic remark. “For a walk. To the park. To the store to pick up some things.” It had been a long, hot walk. Longer and hotter on the way back, carrying those heavy bags. But with a Westerner’s devotion to the auto, she didn’t know the bus routes, and didn’t want to waste time finding out.
“When you are ready, we can speak of what occurred yesterday.”
Silence from the radio for a moment, then, “Where are we going?”
She flashed on 2001: A Space Odyssey—What are you doing, Dave?
Amethyst said, “Doing some housecleaning.”
What had Dave told HAL, before he started removing memory banks? She couldn’t remember.
The music came back on. It irritated her more than before.
The procession of strip malls, gas stations and fast food joints slid by. Talys let her drive today. She was impatient, but she kept to the speed limit. No point in risking a traffic stop that would make this drag out even longer. She stopped at a light, turned right. Now apartment buildings lined the street, and rental houses, ill-maintained, cars parked in yards of packed dirt fringed with kochia and the emerald green shoots of tumbleweeds. A sign up ahead on the left announced her destination. She turned into the driveway and faced a rolling chain-link gate topped with razor wire.
She took a deep breath, turned off the engine, climbed out of the car and walked into the little office outside the gate.
She wouldn’t look over her shoulder, wouldn’t slink. Why should she? She was just clearing out some junk that had accumulated.
The middle-aged woman behind the desk smiled.
“I called earlier about a storage unit,” Amethyst said. “You suggested a ten by twenty.”
“Oh, yes.” The woman put half-glasses on her nose and rummaged in a drawer. “I’ll just need you to fill out a little paperwork, then I’ll need payment.”
“No problem.” Amethyst glanced outside. The Mustang waited, long, low and sleek, exuding power.
It was also a storm of chaos that had sucked up her life and spat it back out in mangled pieces.
She signed the rental agreement and handed her debit card across the counter. The woman drew on a map with a pink Hi-Liter, wrote “D-7” and the gate’s access code.
Back to the car. The gate jerked, jingled, then began to roll slowly open. Rows of storage units slid by like concentration camp barracks, encircling fence, razor wire and all. She turned at the block labeled with a big, white “D,” spotted unit 7, backed the car.
Calm, she told herself. Her heart wasn’t beating hard, her breath wasn’t shaking. Get out, roll up the storage unit door.
Now back in the car. There was just enough room.
Talys didn’t say a word. The driver’s door banged against the wall when she opened it. She squeezed out, edged around to the back and opened the trunk. Any minute now he would suggest that it would be simpler to unload the boxes if she pulled forward a bit. Or worse still, do it himself.
She hurried, not too much. Not enough to make it look like she was hurrying. Just lifted out the boxes. They were heavy, shifting, and glass chimed as it slid, plinked when she set down the boxes. She shoved them with her foot, making sure they were right in front of the wheels. The AutoZone bags remained. Her heart galloped. She had to settle down, feel the calm she pretended.
She pulled out the bags. They went clink as she carried them around to the front of the car, clank when she lowered them to the dusty concrete floor of the storage unit. She was glad she’d backed the car in, otherwise she’d be trapped between the car and the storage unit’s back wall.
She popped the hood release and raised the hood. Smells of gasoline and hot oil unfurled around her.
“Amethyst. What are you doing?”
She wedged a length of two-by-four between the open hood and the engine and kept her mouth shut. She took a wrench out of the bag and attacked the battery cable clamp.
“Amethyst!” The engine thundered to life.
She jerked back. The hood banged her head. No, she’d hit it, not the other way around. She took an unsteady breath, leaned back in and twisted at the nut on the clamp again. The Mustang gunned and roared. The fender shuddered against her thigh, hood shook over her head. The two-by-four fell, bounced on the valve covers and through the engine compartment with a clunk and clatter.
“Going to run me down, Talys?” In one savage handful, she yanked the spark plug wires off the distributor. The engine spluttered and died.
In the sudden silence, his voice went from hot cocoa to thin, bitter coffee. “Have you gone mad?”
She cracked a laugh. “Damn near, thanks to you.” She went back to work on the battery cables.
“I’m your familiar! I’ve done nothing to deserve this!”
“Let’s see. I guess that night in the alley and the destruction of my Isuzu don’t count. But how about my life? I kind of enjoyed it up until recently. You know, little things like my friends, my art. Uneventful breakfasts at restaurants, peaceful walks in the woods. But since you came along, all that seems…” She pursed her lips. “How shall I say it? To have become an unfortunate casualty. Collateral damage, I suppose.”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry about your car, about frightening you. But yesterday—”
“Yesterday was the last straw!” She got the positive cable loose and flung it aside, then one by one, jerked the wires loose from the spark plugs.
“I would help you, but you refuse to tell me what happened!”
“You want to know? That—that—tree thing hunted me through the woods. Just like you hunted me before. Is that how it goes? Whoever grabs me gets to keep me? I’m not a toy, and I’m not a prize!”
“Never—never have I considered you such.”
“That thing wanted me, and it did some kind of weird time-shift thing to separate me from Melodie. And then it caught me, and it dragged me and shook me, and squeezed and squeezed—”
“Amethyst, listen.” He spoke quickly, breathlessly. “This is precisely why you need me.”
“Oh yeah? But you weren’t there, were you, Talys? It didn’t grab you, crack your head, try to twist your foot off and damn near break your ribs. No, you don’t even have a head or feet or ribs to injure, do you?”
“I have had. I understand your vulnerability. Why do you think I wish to remain close?”
“So it’s my own fault now, huh?”
“No. No, of course not. But what you’re doing now will not end what is happening.”
She popped off the distributor cap. “I’ve walked that trail a hundred times, and nothing ever happened before. Then you come along. Don’t you find that just the least bit coincidental?”
She stuffed both cap and wires into one of the bags and pulled out a hydraulic bottle jack and set of jackstands.
“Perhaps…perhaps I am to blame. My presence…” He stopped, then went on. “Yet it was only a matter of time before your power manifested, with or without me. You must understand, I am not the cause of your troubles.”
“Keep on telling me that. I’m sure to believe it sooner or later.”
She pulled a star wrench out of the bag. Amazing how she’d schlepped all this stuff for blocks. The things a person can do when there’s a will.
“You don’t know how to conceal yourself,” he said. “And when you evade me, I cannot obscure you. Do you not see, Amethyst? In your ignorance, you are incapable of protecting yourself. I can teach you.”
“Interesting. Then how come you never bothered to?”
She cracked the lug nuts loose first. She’d changed enough tires to know that. Slip the wrench on, lean into it, crack! and do the next one.
His voice rose. “I would have, but you—” The sound of a breath taken came clearly over the radio speaker. “You had no desire to learn.”
“Funny, I remember asking an awful lot of questions you declined to answer.”
“I had no wish to frighten you.”
She gave an incredulous laugh. “Really?”
“If I’d told you—” Another breath. “Wizards have been disappearing. Others have attempted to discover how, only to vanish as well. The homeless man yesterday—he was empty of power. Damaged, but not destroyed. Not totally.”
She braced her hands on the fan shroud. “And you wanted me to touch him? Why?”
“From him, we may have discovered the source of the danger.”
“Oh, sure, and what else? ‘Give me some,’ he kept saying. Give what? Magic? My lifeforce, maybe?”
Damn, the bump on her head pounded. She hoped it wasn’t swelling like the balloon it felt like, pumped up with every beat of her pulse. And the shoulder she’d cracked on that guardrail—it was objecting strenuously to the wrench-twisting and jack-cranking. It would have to hold out a little longer.
“I would let no harm befall you,” he said.
“Harm! You? Thank God you’re not out to do me real damage.” She propped a knee on the tire to keep it straight and spun off a final lug nut.
“I am not your enemy!” he said as if through gritted teeth.
“I can’t imagine what leads me to believe you’re anything but my friend.”
That last bit came out nasty. She hadn’t realized she was quite that angry.
“I am your friend,” he said. “Or would be, would you allow me. Possibly one of the few you’ll possess as a wizard.”
“Good thing I don’t plan to be one, then.”
She shoved a jackstand under the car, let down the jack and scooted the wheel underneath, too.
“You are a wizard. And no other wizard you meet will believe differently, no matter what you profess.”
“Don’t give me that crap. You keep telling me wizards are gone.”
“You met Dr. Kohonen.”
“Who’s been decent enough to leave me alone. And I didn’t hear you warn me about him, either.”
The tire thumped to the floor. Amethyst moved to the last wheel and pumped the jack.
“Until he used magic, I had no way of knowing.” Amazing how calm he could sound while she dismantled him. “One will not realize a wizard’s true nature until he chooses to reveal himself.”
“Then what the hell good are you?”
“Please,” he said. “I beg you. Allow me to stay, even if only as a simple automobile.”
“Too late. I’m rebooting my life. Restoring conditions to their original state.”
The wheel fell off, wobbled into stillness on the concrete floor. Planting a foot on it, she shoved it underneath. She twisted the handle on the jack and the car eased down. It settled on the jackstand with a bump.
“Certain transitions once made, cannot return to an original state,” he said. “Allow me to help you through this one.”
“Kind of like a shaman, helping people on to the other side? Thanks anyway, I think I’ll pass, no pun intended.”
“What can I say?” His voice rose. “What can I do to convince you?”
She scraped the jack out. The handle weighted her hand like a murder weapon. So maybe he was telling the truth now. The truth—but only part of it, never all. What else was missing?
“Believe me, Talys. You’ve already convinced me.”
She stood, dusted off the knees of her jeans and removed the battery. It was heavy. She set it on the floor. She should’ve thought about getting one of those plastic used oil receptacles to drain the engine oil into, too. But with everything else she already had to transport home on foot, she probably couldn’t’ve managed to lug that, too.
She slammed the hood, whang! the last word of an argument.
“Sorry. I wish we could have parted on better terms.”
The Mustang filled the storage compartment like it did her garage. Sitting wheelless on jackstands, though, it didn’t look quite so formidable. Like a vigorous man in a wheelchair with broken legs. She hesitated.
No, no, no. She would not relent now. How stupid could she be, feeling like she was betraying someone. Someone devoted, patient, in the face of all her upheavals.
Devoted. Patient. Sure. And he’d make a perfect boyfriend, too. Please.
She gathered up the bags, wrenches, jack, spark plug wires, distributor cap and all, set them clinking on the pavement outside.
“I wouldn’t bother yelling for help, by the way. You might get someone to come open the door, but I don’t think you’ll be able to convince them to put your wheels back on and buy you a new ignition set.”
Amethyst caught the knotted nylon rope dangling from the door and pulled. It came rattling down, settled with a thump. She pulled a padlock out of her pocket, slid it into the latch and snapped it shut.
Check back next week for a new chapter.
I’m going over Blackthorne, my upcoming release, before publication next month. The story is a contemporary fantasy about an amnesiac dark lord from another universe who is befriended by a teenage girl in ours.
I had fun writing this book. The point of view shifts back and forth between 17-year-old Ro Cheney and Blackthorne (called the Storm Lord in his own world).
The interplay of viewpoints created some interesting contrasts: Ro’s view of Blackthorne as someone lost and hurt and alone versus the very real danger Blackthorne poses; Blackthorne, a monstrous tyrant in his own world versus Ro’s father, who tyrannizes his family and holds Ro in a thrall of fear; Blackthorne’s enemies from his own world, who should be the good guys, but who are the antagonists.
Blackthorne is my favorite character I’ve written so far. Villains and dark characters have always appealed to me. I find them much more intriguing than the noble, cleft-chinned hero. I’m also fascinated by the many facets of the human mind– what can go wrong, the strange twists and turns people can make in their lives.
When I first started writing the story, I knew how Blackthorne would change. But I soon thought, “Wait a minute. How can this guy who’s so evil and destructive and basically sociopathic change into someone benevolent and protective?” I liked the idea, but it didn’t seem realistic.
By happenstance, I began reading about the Enneagram theory of personality types. When I came to the Enneagram’s Type 8 personality, my hair stood on end. Because this is exactly the trajectory this personality type takes between health and unhealth. An unhealthy Type 8 can be the most destructive sociopath, but a healthy 8 has the potential to create equally great good in the world.
In another bit of synchronicity while I was writing Blackthorne, I read ”What Psychopaths Teach Us about How to Succeed” in Scientific American Mind. To quote the article by Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths:
What if I were to tell you that the arsonist who burns your house down might also, in a parallel universe, be the hero most likely to brave the flaming timbers of a crumbling, blazing building to seek out, and drag out, your loved ones?
In a parallel universe. With that imagery, you can imagine my hair went up again. I wasn’t just creating some writerly invention.When he loses his memory, the traits that made the Storm Lord a destroyer of his world– fearlessness, ruthlessness, persuasiveness, supreme confidence– give Blackthorne the chance to become a generous and powerful protector.
Even so, what made him the Storm Lord is still a part of Blackthorne. Let him feel threatened, and that part is just waiting to take over. I won’t tell you if it does.
With great reluctance, I finally decided to re-title one of my books. What began as ThAUTOmaturgy is now Familiar Magic. A little history…
In searching for a good title, I was inspired by the title of an Alan Parsons album, Stereotomy. “What a cool word!” I thought and looked it up. I had to go to my “big” dictionary (Webster’s Unabridged) to find the term. If you’re interested, it means, “The technique of cutting solids, as stones, to specified forms and dimensions.” Although I’m pretty sure Alan Parsons used the term for its riff on the word “stereo.”
Well, I’m a writer, which means I really love words. So I set out to find a cool word of my own for the title of my story. Magic, hmm. I pull out my thesaurus and start looking for synonyms, then find the word “thaumaturgy,” which means “the making of miracles or wonders.” Bingo! The book has a familiar in the shape of a car, so… ThAUTOmaturgy!
I was thrilled with my new word for a title. I loved the way it rolled off my tongue: THAW-toe-muh-tur-gee. The word even had its own definition: The working of magic through the medium of an automobile.
Then reality struck. People didn’t like it. It was long. It was almost impossible to pronounce. I allowed myself to be talked into changing the title for a while, but in my mind, the story was still ThAUTOmaturgy. So when Amethyst’s story debuted to the world, it was as ThAUTOmaturgy.
In addition to selling my books online, I also sell the paperbacks at my place of business. And as people looked at ThAUTOmaturgy, without fail, they stumbled over the title. What was so lovely to me was long and almost impossible to pronounce for readers. And if a reader can’t say the title, how will they remember it? How will they tell their friends about the book?
So, sadder and wiser, I re-worked covers and headers and title pages, and sent Amethyst and Talys forth once more as Familiar Magic. I think the new title is much more friendly and approachable. But in my heart of hearts, it will always be ThAUTOmaturgy.
It might just be what I’m reading lately, but world building seems to be the new Big Thing for traditional publishers of fantasy. You can have a thin plot, little to no characterization, but as long as you create a fantastically detailed world, publishers will swoon.
Now, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, with its intricately detailed history, peoples and languages had me reading to the detriment of other pursuits. Back in the ’70′s, you couldn’t find adult fantasy. LotR changed all that, and modern adult fantasy was born. Before that, lovers of speculative fiction had to satisfy their taste for the outlandish with science fiction. Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea trilogy was another groundbreaker. Although it was, I believe, considered Young Adult fiction (even though it had an adult protagonist–more on that later), LeGuin developed world with a rich cultural tradition as well as history. Patricia McKillip’s Riddlemaster of Hed trilogy and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld were imbued with history and old lore. But you know what all these books had in common? A compelling plot (although I had to wade through Tolkien’s battle scenes) and characters you cared about.
Not so with the traditionally published fantasies I’ve read recently. In these cases, the world WAS the main character– and it’s hard to fall in love with a world. I won’t name titles, because I don’t want to pick on other writers’ work. What they did, they did very, very well. But a massively detailed world won’t keep me reading. On the contrary, I’m like, “Who cares about all this stuff?” For my taste, it’s the people who matter, the characters who make me want to find out what happens next. Instead, we’re faced with travelogues for worlds we can never travel to, populated with cardboard cutouts.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to find a traditionally published book that revolves around character. The attitude seems to be, “Oh, people growing and changing? Head over to the Young Adult section. Adults aren’t interested in that stuff.” And here I thought we’re always growing and changing. Silly me. Unfortunately, as an adult, I don’t get caught up in reading about 14- to 16-year-olds, which are all that seem to populate Young Adult fantasy now. I kind of thought books with kid protagonists were, you know, children’s books.
Don’t get me wrong– world building is an important element of fantasy fiction, especially those stories not set in the here-and-now. But it needs to be simply where the characters live, the place whose customs and history inform their actions. Backdrop, not foreground. This alone makes a sufficiently rich and textured world to satisfy me.
ChanceShaper is now available on Amazon!
This book was released under my pen name, K. Lynn Bay.
The cover for ChanceShaper is another fantastic job by Glendon Haddix of Streetlight Graphics.
Chance Shaper has taken a long journey. In the original version, Kara was a shifter and Selkellen, her teacher, was a tall, graceful catlike creature called a Siluthe’. Selkellen eventually turned into a human explorer and tinkerer from an Earth much like our own, and in the process, gained his partner, Jewel, a fey warrior-woman. Since Selkellen’s curiosity tends to get him into trouble, he needs all the help he can get. The version you’ll read takes place on an alternate Earth, but when I first began writing it, the story was set on an alien planet with two moons orbiting an orange sun. Somewhere along the line, I encountered James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis and was captivated by the idea of a living world. It was only another short step to a world with sentient awareness. So Kara shifted at last into her chance-shaping self, with her mystical link to the living world.
Click here to read a sample.
I read an interesting post, “Self-Publishing and Libraries,” from the Annoyed Librarian on Library Journal. What surprised me was the hostile tone toward self-publishing taken not only in the post itself, but also by many of the librarians commenting. When talking about the decision of writers to bypass traditional publishing and self-publish, Annoyed Librarian has this to say:
It’s not surprising that finding a publisher is an obstacle. Finding a publisher is supposed to be an obstacle. Publishers are supposed to stand between the public and awful novels and “inspirational” works. The stuff that gets published through traditional means is usually bad enough.
She finishes her post with this:
If an ebook is published in the wilderness and nobody reads it, does it still count as a book?
The basic message of the post is traditionally-published book=quality; self-published book=trash. Wha– Huh?
I worked as an assistant medical librarian for six years. I did work-study in high school, junior college and state university libraries. All the libraries I worked in were concerned with one thing: connecting customers (readers) with the information they wanted. We didn’t try to tell them, “Oh, you don’t want that. That’s not good enough for you.” So I’m bewildered by the attitude of some of the librarians speaking up on Annoyed Librarian’s post.
In today’s economic climate, I understand that librarians are feeling besieged. Year after year, they see budgets and hours cut when the public most needs the very resources libraries provide. They’re faced with the changing paradigm of ebooks and the Internet. And Big Pub apparently sees libraries as competitors to be crushed. After all, every book checked out from the library is a lost sale. (Never mind that if I really like the book, I’ll go ahead and buy it.) Big Pub’s response is to gouge libraries for books–both electronic and physical– and to put absurd limits on ebook circulation. But why should librarians turn their ire on self-publishers?
An underlying theme in many of the comments is this: We’re used to dealing with traditional publishers. We trust them. One comment toward the end of the thread, though, crystallized the source of the hostility: There are just so damned many self-published books. How can we decide which are worth purchasing? This is a valid source of librarians’ dismay. The person commenting goes on to suggest:
Help create the review sources for indie publishing that would help librarians find the good books which have been self-published.
An excellent suggestion. I guess the writer has never heard of Amazon. Or Goodreads.
I think the hostility boils down to the common human desire to stay in one’s comfort zone. Things are changing. People are feeling pressure. This is just one more thing to have to deal with.
The problem is, indies can be some of libraries’ best allies. For one thing, most writers read. A lot. We know good storytelling, and we know good writing. If librarians want to ask someone if a book is worth including in their collection, a writer can help them. Furthermore, most indies won’t gouge a library that wants to include their books in its collection. On the contrary, we’d be honored and thrilled. Readers have already discovered that indies are willing to offer books at an affordable price. If librarians would see us as a great new resource rather than a threat, they might realize that they’re directing their hostility at the wrong people.