The Vintage Egg is my one and only foray into short stories, and it just received a fabulous 5/5 star review:
acflory writes some great sci-fi, and though I’ve read her novels, this was my first experience with her short stories. Her imagination and polished writing skills never disappoint, and these six stories are original and entertaining. My favorite tale was broken into two parts—The Vintage Egg and Egg Run—which bookend the other offerings. I also thoroughly enjoyed The Christmas Roast. I read this collection in under an hour and highly recommend it. A great peek at acflory’s writing talent.
I’m happy-dancing my way to the kitchen now for some lunch. Have a great day or evening. 🙂
I’ve reached a point in my writing where I’m stuck. It happens. So what do you do when your writing is stuck? You read, of course. But who in hell can afford $10 USD for an ebook?
I read 99.9% Indie only and noticed a price hike from $3.99 to around $5.99 USD a while ago, but suddenly this morning, I discovered that a great long list of Indie authors are pricing their books around the $10 mark. Given that I’d already bought most of their books at the ‘normal’ Indie price, I was shocked at the sudden leap.
After rejecting book after book because it was simply too expensive, I finally thought to look at the book details and…doh. Without fail, these previously Indie authors are now ‘published’ by a company.
Indie to traditionally published… I understand. No matter how much we may extol the virtues of being an Indie – creative freedom, product control, more money – a part of every author wants to be traditionally published. Why? Because of the validation.
We still think that traditional publishers are the doyens of good taste and literary value, the way they used to be before publishing became a big business like any other. Even those who know that’s not true succumb to the siren song of validation.
I get that. What makes me furious is that these publishers are reaping the benefits of ebook sales without having done any of the work. And it’s loyal readers like me who suffer because we cannot afford to spend that much money on ebooks. Or any books for that matter. Not when we often read two books a week.
I’m also angry at the fact that it’s the pandemic that’s brought about this price grab by publishers. They can’t get their ‘normal’ books out there because most bookshops and retail outlets are closed, so they hoover up ebooks that cost them next to nothing, and suddenly they have a cash flow again.
The third thing that makes me spitting mad is that these previously Indie authors who had it all – money coming in, fans by the thousand, control of their art and their future – have probably signed away their copyright for ‘life plus 70 years’.
What happens when this pandemic finally ends, and most of them become the equivalent of midlist authors? Will the publishing companies be grateful that these authors gave them a cashflow for next to nothing? Or will they consign them to publishing limbo as they did with a previous generation of midlist authors?
Okay, I tell a lie. I do not care what happens to these authors. I care about me and readers like me. So…having struck a heap of authors off my to-be-read list, I’m asking you guys for recommendations, but true Indies only, please!
I love scifi, first and foremost, then fantasy, then thrillers, and murder mysteries. Can you recommend a good Indie for me to read? Someone who doesn’t charge $10 for an ebook?
As a reader, I’m loyal, and if I like the author, I will read everything he or she has ever written. My Kindle is testament to that.
I read one of Melinda Clayton’s book some time ago [psychological thriller ], and I read C.S. Boyack’s, ‘Serang’ just recently, so I know both writers are great value. But I need more, so please tell me about your favourite Indies in the comments.
Back in May, 2015, I wrote a post about faces which included photos of real people who reminded me of Miira Tahn and Kenneth Wu, two of the main characters of the story I was writing. Then, late last year  I discovered Plotagon and learned how to create animated cartoon characters for a different kind of storytelling.
These are some of the faces from Innerscape, then and now:
I haven’t found photos for the rest of the characters in the trilogy, but here are some Plotagon versions:
And last, but not least, Charles McGragh and Peter McAlister, both of whom work for the Innerscape corporation:
If any of you come across a real face that you think might suit one of these Plotagon cartoons, please let me know!
And now a reminder – the Innerscape Omnibus is still free and will remain so until midnight April 24, in the northern hemisphere.
To start, type in the name of the first city. I chose Seattle because that’s where Amazon is located.
Next, choose your own city. For me that was Melbourne, Australia.
The converter will now show you the current time in both cities. To work out what the time will be when the free period ends, click on the date in Seattle and change it to April 24. Next, click on the time and change that to 23:59 – i.e. one minute to midnight.
The timezone converter will now show you precisely when the promotion will end in your part of the world. For Australians along the east coast it will be at… :
I was checking my emails after dinner when something made me open my spam folder. The first few items were genuine spam, but then I found an email from Chris Graham [aka The Story Reading Ape] alerting me to a brilliant review of Vokhtah. If this were fiction, you wouldn’t believe it!
“They were now just two frail iVokh pitting themselves against the might of the wild.”
Vokhtah is a difficult but rewarding book. If you like unusual conceptions of extraterrestrials, this is for you. Once you’ve read about half of it, the complexities begin to clarify themselves, but two readings are needed for complete understanding. For example, it took me quite a while to grasp that the Blue and the Messenger were the same individual, and I also didn’t realize that there were two traders’ caravans wending their way to Needlepoint – I thought the Junior and the Messenger were in the same caravan and I got confused. Part of the problem is that the characters don’t have names, only titles. In her end matter, the author addresses this – it seems there is a taboo in this culture about enunciating your real name.
Vokhtah is a grim and forbidding planet; it has two suns, one a hot white star and the other a red dwarf. Sometimes they both shine at once, creating a climate of extremes. The planet is populated with an assortment of mostly vicious and predatory lifeforms and that includes the intelligent ones, who prefer to consume their food animals live. It’s a tribute to the author that she can take these basically repulsive intelligent lifeforms and make them sympathetic. And I would recommend that any human ship of exploration steer clear of the planet Vokhtah – humans would probably be seen as prey animals!
My guess would be that the Vokh evolved from bat-like creatures – their ability to echo-locate is mentioned briefly. They have wings (which contain their lungs), so most of them can fly. They have two hearts. And they are telepathic hermaphrodites with seemingly magical inner powers, like mind-healing and also mind-killing (their Healers are also trained as assassins). There are two variant species – the Vokh (large and dominant) and the iVokh (meaning literally “small Vokh”). The Vokh have a serious flaw – breeding is consummated by means of violent rape; nobody wants to bear an offspring because the “female” always dies in childbirth (this doesn’t occur with the iVokh).
However, the people have a strong sense of honor and obligation – if you accept help from someone, you incur an obligation and if you don’t fulfill it, you are ostracized. In the second half of the book, after the episode at the Little Blue River, the main characters – the Messenger and the Apprentice – are shown developing a sense rare in these people – empathy, an ability to relate to and care about others with whom one has a relationship, beyond the obligations of the code of honor.
All this just scratches the surface of the author’s astonishing creation. I should also mention that the book is a cliff hanger, and no second volume has yet appeared.
I must say a few words about the language. Unfortunately, the Kindle version has no Table of Contents and so I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the author provided a brief treatment of the language in the end matter. It seems to have no pronouns, and verbs are consistently rendered only with the present participle form, all of which helps to create the alien language effect. Certain words used in the text are self-explanatory, like “ki” for “no” and “s’so” for “yes.”
There is one etymological gaffe that I can’t help commenting on – the explanation of the word “boot” (a foot-covering). The character doesn’t know what the word “boot” means and it’s explained as a contraction of “bucket for foot.” And yet that derivation would be impossible since the iVokh aren’t speaking English. You have to assume that the Vokhtah words reflect a similar construction, which the author could have fabricated.
But that’s only a quibble – don’t be deterred! This really is an amazing book and while the culture may not be palatable to everyone (you need a strong stomach sometimes), I definitely recommend it to any serious reader of science fiction.
The review was written by Lorinda Taylor, also known as The Termite Writer. Some days just get better and better.
I copied this review straight from amazon.com yesterday, but after the posts about Covid-19, it didn’t feel right to ‘blow my own horn’, so I decided to wait till today. Stay safe, Meeks
Audrey Driscoll 5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Alien World Reviewed in Canada on March 11, 2020 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is remarkable for the imagined world on which it’s set. Vokhtah has two suns. Its dominant life forms are the Vokh, creatures I visualized as similar to pterodactyls, and their smaller cousins and supporters, the iVokh. Most of the story is about the latter. These creatures are not human. Humans to not exist on this world, but human readers can relate to the thoughts, dilemmas, and emotions of the iVokh who are the primary actors. The Vokh reign like feudal lords over their eyries, which are managed and maintained by the iVokh, who are divided into a variety of physical types with different abilities, including (in the case of a few) telepathy and mind control. Traders are a clan who distribute goods among the eyries, and Healers are a guild with skills and knowledge to maintain life, and end it when necessary. The interactions of the groups are governed by iron-bound protocols and traditions and complicated by secrets and enmities. Sex, especially for the Vokh, is a brutal, violent business, but outside of mating occurrences, there is no gender. The only personal pronoun is “it.” This is not a quick, easy read. I re-read the first half of the book before writing this review to make sure I understood some of the details. The characters, even the sympathetic ones, don’t actually have names. They are designated by ranks and titles, some of which change over the course of the story. The reader is plunged into this alien world on the first page and has to figure out how things work while following the action. Some might give up in confusion, but the dilemma of the Drudge who is the first character encountered is eminently relatable. By the time that’s resolved, I was thoroughly engaged in the world and the story, keen to find out more about the strangely fascinating creatures with two hearts and inflatable wings. The book features a constructed language (conlang), but it does not appear frequently enough to be daunting. There is a helpful glossary at the end, which also explains how the creatures vocalize. Otherwise, the prose is clear and straightforward, with description kept direct and businesslike. There is no hyperbole. Dialogue is minimal, even though the iVokh have a characteristic (and curiously attractive) way of expressing themselves. Setting aside the alien aspects, the theme of this book is change and difference. Individual characters, and the groups to which they belong, must come up with ways to cope with situations they find unacceptable or challenging. Both the physical environment and the social structure are harsh and unforgiving. Transgressions come with a high price. It appears this is the first book in a series, and indeed much remains unresolved at the end. I hope a second volume is forthcoming.
I just finished Duplicate Effort and left this review on Amazon. Can’t provide the link yet, but here’s a copy of what I wrote:
Not since C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series have I come across a saga with such great sci-fi, great storylines and great characters.
Why do I call the Retrieval Artist series a saga? Because each volume has it’s own, standalone story, but also adds to the character arc of some really interesting, no, fascinating characters. Characters like Miles Flint, Noelle DeRicci and even Ki Bowles. Bowles is not a ‘likable’ character, but she’s still 3 dimensional and human; someone we might not like but who deserves some compassion nonetheless.
And, of course, there’s Talia. 13, orphaned, traumatised, and a clone. Not a ‘real’ child. What happens to a living, breathing person who’s classified as a ‘thing’? Talia will change Miles Flint’s life. She will also make you think about what it really means to be human.
You can read Duplicate Effort as a standalone story. I guarantee you will enjoy it. But if you love deep, well thought out sci-fi and characters with a life of their own, I would very strongly recommend reading books 1 to 7 of this series in sequence. You won’t regret it.
If you’ve never read Rusch’s work before, this series is a good place to start.
Rusch began as a traditionally published author and became a very successful Indie. Some of her business knowledge and experience is distilled into a series of blog posts she calls Business Musings. She talks about everything from contracts and agents to IP [intellectual property] and copyright for Indie authors. A great resource.
Forgive me if I reproduce this review in its entirety, but as a pantster, it’s validation of a sort I never expected to get:
Oooh, I loved this series, and now that it’s over, I’m suffering from a book hangover.
Nabatea is the final book in the Innerscape series. Book 1 primarily introduces the main character Miira Tahn and guides the reader through her entrance into the virtual world of Innerscape. During Book 2, sabotage, scheming, and political intrigue results in multiple victims including two people close to Miira. In Book 3, the search for truth commences and resolves amidst a cover-up that threatens Miira’s life.
The plot takes off quickly when Miira is confronted with disturbing information about the murders, and her prying questions raise alarms among those who want to hide the truth. A plot to silence her brings in two dedicated investigators who start gathering clues and unraveling the web of lies.
Miira is tenacious, a strong woman, but also vulnerable both physically and emotionally. Her character is compelling and consistent throughout the series, and I teetered on the edge of my seat as the danger to her life increased. Several pivotal new characters enter the action in this book, and though late in the overall story, the author pulled it off without a glitch. All characters are distinct, believable, and emotionally charged.
Flory did a marvelous job of tangling up the truth by loading the story with lies and misinterpretations. The unraveling of the events around the murders as well as the investigation into the cover-up required an intricate job of storytelling that was rather impressive. Several characters are investigating the truth simultaneously, and because they’re coming at it from different angles, their assumptions and conclusions are often erroneous and mismatched. I would recommend reading these books in a tight timeframe to help keep all the complex plot threads straight.
The worldbuilding is exceptional, the dialog natural, the writing and editing flawless. And the ending was highly satisfying as all of the threads tie up nicely. I will definitely read more of this author in the future.
Update April 4, 2019: I was so carried away that I totally forgot to add a link to the actual review. Here it is!
I’m so excited, I don’t know what to do with myself. I finally got up the courage to ask Amazon to make Miira [book 1 of Innerscape] permafree to match B&N, Kobo et al,… and it’s happening!
So far, I’ve checked amazon.com and amazon.com.au, and the ebook is $0.00 on both! Sadly, amazon.co.uk hasn’t gone to permafree yet, but I’m sure it’s on the way. This has literally just happened, or at least I’ve only just noticed. If anyone sees Miira going permafree somewhere else, please let me know.
It’s odd, this feels like an early Christmas present. At least now I have the hope that more people will give Innerscape a try. And to celebrate, we’re getting pizza tonight.
-thinks- I might just indulge in some Cabernet Sauvignon as well. 🙂
I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂
Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:
The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.
If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.
Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:
Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.
Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app. You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:
The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow. I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂