Terry Pratchett said that ultimately the key to success in life was to be yourself as hard as you can.

Good advice. Frankly, there is a lot of good fiction out there–a LOT of good fiction, and I am constantly amazed at the new voices I read and see as a reviewer for Abyss & Apex, and in our slush. Don’t worry about being better than anyone else; be you. Or, to put it another way, the only thing you can be better at than anyone else is being you.


My seven from 2017 Goodreads post

Fave reads of 2017 from my post on Goodreads
I loved these books. I hope you will, too.

1. The Horn Series (Oathbreaker, Original, Overseer) by J. Kathleen Cheney.
Migod, these books are great. Cheney does a fantastic job of logically mashing up medieval elements with science-fictional themes. There’s great world building, the plots have occasional twists, but the characters are real people and drive it all. These are the sorts of books I will reread over and over again for pleasure. You want these!

2. The Genehunter: The Complete Casebook by Simon Kewin (Stormcrow Books). Noir detective fiction in a believable future where genetic code is worth money. Fantastic read. (And it’s only 99 cents right now!)

3. Walking on the Sea of Clouds, by Gray Rinehart (Wordfire Press) Fans of The Martian will want to read this book, which is as close to living on the moon yourself as you’ll ever get. Hyper-realistic, up to and including the financial aspects, but the characters drive the story.

4. Another Girl, Another Planet by Lou Antonelli (Word Fire Press) Larry Niven blurbed the book; he said it was great ideas, well told. He was right. If they don’t make this into a blockbuster movie, they’re nuts. You’ll love it.

5. fragment: a novel by Craig Russell (Thistledown Press) Save the whales? How about the whales and we learn inter-species communications, and we both face a common threat together? The posited peril is several hundred sq miles of the Ross Ice Shelf that break off, threatening whales with places they cannot surface to breathe, and humans on places like the Falklands with being scraped off the land by the juggernaut. It gets much further north than you’d believe. Fantastic book.

6. Angel Keep (Where Angels Die, Book 1) by Tom Simon (Bondwine Books)
This series will be so much fun! In Book one, we learn of a land where demons have brought eternal winter wherever they posses folks, and merely jump to another when their poor hosts are killed. Knights that are also exorcists are required, and there are not enough to go around. And the exorcism is usually fatal unless an “Angel”–a woman skilled in restoring their souls, immediately helps them. The personalities, the world-building, the battle scenes…this is the best and most original sword-and-sorcery tale I’ve read in ages. And there is more coming!

7. The Books of Unexpected Enlightenment by Jagi Lamplighter (Wisecraft Publishing) I hope the Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series cured us all of thinking young adult novels are beneath us. This series is great, and the 4th book came out in 2017. In the most recent installment we follow Rachel Griffin, a girl going to a school of the magical arts in the upper Hudson river valley, on even more adventures. Her photographic memory means all spells involving veils and obfuscations disappear if she pays attention. But what she sees in book 4 –that no one else can see–is her greatest and most frightening challenge yet. The books are charming, sort of like Supernatural goes to Hogwarts. Give ’em a try.

Annual Holiday Feature @ A&A

Watch for Abyss & Apex’s annual holiday story, which will be published Christmas Eve.: “The ADF Project.”

Why did people live here? It was summer, and there were stupid Christmas trees everywhere. No ornaments, just standing around growing. And he’d seen an actual porcupine the other day. What kind of a place had needles on both the animals and the trees? There should be warning signs!

Oh, there were.

Do all the things!

I took yesterday off for a scratchy throat and other symptoms that had me reaching for the Zicam, but thanks to a good night’s sleep and some Sudafed I’m getting some work done today. As usual, much of it will be done in videochat with Tonya. I just sent off two of short stories to new markets and am uploading A&A book reviews at the moment. Here’s to a productive day!

Pastel Florida Fog

Although I did not take this photo, it comes closest to what I was trying to describe in my journal when I wrote this about the dawn during my drive north through Florida.

Sunrise along the edge of the Atlantic in the distance was magical. There was a mist on the ground between silhouettes of palms and pines, in layers determined by farmland and timbered land and lakes. The ethereal fog picked up the pastels of dawn, in colored zones. It made me long for an ISO 1000 digital camera. What a privilege it was to watch that slow sunrise! When the sun finally burned off the mists I nearly wept at the loss.