The Barron Is BACK!

BLS On sale nowJoin The Revolution Happy Release Day!! The e-book link for BARRON’S LAST STAND is now active! Snag your copy and let me see your hashtags!!
#BarronsLastStand #TheBarronIsBack #ThisTimeItsWar
http://a.co/6s0XkuZ

 

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Daughters of Destiny Is Here

I am pleased to announce that SOVRAN’S PAWN has just been released in the DAUGHTERS OF DESTINY collection!

Ten full-length novels, ten heroines at the right hand of destiny…

Whether you’re slaying vampires or holding your own alongside superheroes, one of the best things about heroines is that they show us how strong, cunning, and magical they can be.

This box set contains TEN complete novels, all gripping and intriguing stories with women rocking rebellions, handing out justice, battling shadow gods, and bending the wills of kings.

Contributing authors include: Seattle Times bestselling author Raven Oak, Amazon bestselling authors Alesha Escobar, Devorah Fox, Christa Yelich-Koth, NIEA finalist HM Jones, the fantastic sci-fi/fantasy mavens HM Clarke, Sara C. Roethle, HB Lyne, JC Cassels, and Kylie Qullinan.

These science fiction and fantasy tales will take you on a thrilling journey!

As of right now, it can still be had for $.99 but the price will soon go up! Grab it while you can!! (And don’t forget to leave a nice review!)

Why I Self-Publish

“What do you do?”
“I’m an author.”
“Oh? Who is your publisher?”
“I am.”

 

Promo 1991
1991 – While everyone else’s promo pics at the time came from Glamour Shots, I set up a photo shoot with a real photographer.

I wrestled long and hard with myself about going the self-publishing route. I’ve been in the business a long time (since 1987) and it was hard for me to get past the self-pubbed stigma. Personally, I couldn’t shake the reminder of “Vanity Press” publishers that were the bane of the writer’s existence back in the day.

For the low cost of around $3,000 way back when, you could send your manuscript to a publisher (printer really) who would slap a lame cover on and send you back a slick-looking, but completely amateur product. There was a certain type of person who did that. They were considered by the reputably published as no-talent, wannabe hacks who couldn’t get published any other way.

Vanity press publishing was the kiss of death to any hope of having a “REAL” writer’s career. If you mentioned in a cover letter to a publisher that you’d self-published previously, I’m pretty sure they would laugh cruelly and toss your submission — unread — into the return pile, if not the circular file, depending on whether you’d included a return SASE, (that’s Self-Addressed, Stamped Envelope for you whipper-snappers.)

It was a brutal industry with high and demanding standards. I got out of the publishing industry in 1999 and threw myself headlong into my television career out of financial necessity. I knew I could rely on a steady paycheck in television. Freelance writing can be an iffy proposition, especially when you’d rather devote your full attention to fiction and not articles about dogs, apartment living, and dating. So I only wrote to supplement my paycheck on occasion.

In the time I was out of publishing, Amazon rose from a novelty online bookseller to the mega-giant of publishing that it is today.

“E-books will never take off,” I said. “They’re a passing fad. People who read love physical books, not to mention the screens are hard on the eyes.”

I’ve never been good with investments either. Self-publishing surged and I resisted. Several friends encouraged me to look into it. I used to brag that I’d been rejected by some of the finest publishing houses in the industry, which is true. Del Rey, Avon, Tor, Ballantine have all rejected my early manuscripts. (Re-reading them now, I can’t blame them.) I stubbornly clung to my old-school ways. Self-published means you’re not a “REAL” writer and you can’t get published any other way.

Ten years rolled on. I was content to remain in retirement from publishing. I’d married and was raising a family at long last. Promo PicOne day, a friend emailed me one of those fun chain letters in which the sender has answered a bunch of questions and spammed their friends with them and now it’s your turn to replace their answers with your own and spam your own friends. One of her answers lit a spark inside me.

“I wish I could meet Darien Roarke for the first time all over again…”

Outside of my local RWA chapter and the slush pile readers, only a precious handful of friends had ever read any of my fiction. She was my biggest and most devoted fan. I had a manuscript she hadn’t read, so I sent it to her. I hadn’t touched it in ten years. She gave me the kick in the butt I needed, and I started rewriting with an eye towards publishing once again.

I looked into e-publishers and small houses figuring I’d be most likely to find acceptance there. Angela James of Harlequin’s Carina Press put out a submission call, so I put my rewrites aside and took the backstory notes and knocked out a novella to send to her. I never sent it. During the process of writing, I did a lot of research into small press e-publishers, and finally, into self-publishing itself. What I learned changed my perspective completely.

Ultimately, I chose to self-publish the novella which became SOVRAN’S PAWN because:

  • BWC SOVRAN'S PAWN - FINALIt offered me more creative control over my brand,
  • I wouldn’t feel pressured to compromise my core values to satisfy a publisher
  • Looking at the smaller publishers from a publisher’s perspective (I edited and published a lifestyle magazine in my youth) I knew that if my sales didn’t meet their expectations, I could be dropped like a hot rock. Nothing personal, it is the ONLY way they could make their numbers work. High turnover is the only way to quickly build a back catalog and visible presence among customers. Keep what sells well and drop what doesn’t pay the bills. Never mind the fact the burden for marketing and networking was squarely on the author’s shoulders and not the publisher’s. I also knew that no publisher would believe in my series as much as I did, and wouldn’t feel as driven to market it. And lastly,
  • The quality of editing in far too many of the smaller press e-books that I was reading would NEVER have made it over the transom let alone out the door back in the day. Having aspired to being published by the lofty, “big” houses with their exacting standards, I wouldn’t allow my name to be associated with a publisher who turned out less than quality work. If there are editing errors in my books, they are solely MY responsibility, but I can promise my readers that I have done everything possible to turn out the best quality product it is within my ability to produce. I couldn’t guarantee the same from some of the smaller e-publishers whose books I was reading.

If I hadn’t had so much experience in the industry already under my belt, I may not have opted to go the self-publishing route. As it was, I knew what was involved before I started. I had done the writing, editing, layout, design, art, and marketing before. I couldn’t see where a small press or digital first publisher could do anything for me that I couldn’t do for myself. I knew that I could turn out a product that was at least as good as any digital first publisher, if not better than most.

I’m old school. Quality and integrity are of paramount importance. I want readers to know that if they pick up a book with JC Cassels’ name on it, I am providing them with the best book it is within my power to produce, technically as well as creatively. Smaller press e-publishers couldn’t guarantee that, not from the quality of products that I’ve seen out there.

FloppyDiskFor me, the biggest learning curve was unlearning everything I knew about traditional publishing. It’s not the same industry it was back in the late 80’s. On one hand, that’s good for authors who write outside the mainstream. On the other, the ease of self-publishing has relegated some damn fine authors to a different kind of slush pile in which they vie for readers rather than publishing contracts.

Ultimately, I believe a quality product will find its niche in the marketplace. The current environment means authors, self-pubbed or otherwise, just have to work harder to get the attention of readers slogging through the virtual slush pile on Amazon. This means to succeed, you can’t skimp on editing or packaging. The longer you can hang in there, and the more quality books you can get OUT in front of readers, the more likely you are to survive, self-pubbed or otherwise.

So when I’m asked who my publisher is, and I answer that I am my own publisher, I do so proudly. I bring nearly thirty years experience in the publishing industry, several awards for excellence in writing and editing, and a reputation for high standards and a quality product. It doesn’t get more professional or reputable than that. Arcana Double Cross Cover2

Oh, and as for my friend, the book she was referring to in her email is ARCANA DOUBLE CROSS in which I introduced Darien Roarke as the gambling alias of the one and only Blade Devon. It is a much darker, grittier story and more of a “James Bond in space” than a romantic adventure. As for the manuscript I sent her to read, the backstory notes for that became SOVRAN’S PAWN and HERO’S END.  The “new” manuscript I sent to her is still being rewritten and will be released under the title it has always had:  BARRON’S LAST STAND.

From Jay To Jedi – Making The Tunic

The more I get to know my fellow SF writers, the more I realize we have in common. Like me, a goodly number of them also enjoy needle craft, be it sewing, knitting, crochet, cross-stitch, quilting or fancy work. It’s hard to sew and write at the same time, and when I’m deep in the throes of book construction, my needlework suffers. I was delighted to follow my friend Pippa Jay’s progress in making her own Jedi tunic as she shared photos and agonized over the process. If I couldn’t spare the energy to sew my own projects, I could vicariously enjoy hers.

NSM_sm

In honor of National Sewing Month, I asked Pippa if she’d share her project here. She graciously agreed.

***

From Jay to Jedi – Making the tunic

After seeing Star Wars: A New Hope on TV at the age of eight (and developing a huge crush on Luke Skywalker too), I wanted to be a Jedi. I mean really, really wanted to be one. I would stare at things in my bedroom trying to persuade them to move, and be bitterly disappointed when they didn’t. And the whole ‘Do or do not, there is no try’ from The Empire Strikes Back convinced me it was never going to happen.

Thirty something years on, and I’m trying to be a Jedi again. Oh, not the making-things-move-with-my-mind stuff, but with the outfit. I’m off to Worldcon next year (LonCon 3, yahooo!). I *could* go as one of my characters, but since Quin would pretty much wear what I would (or should that be I would wear anything that she would?!), and no one is going to know who that is anyway, I thought no. This time I’m going to be a Jedi like my…no, wait, I’m just going to be the Jedi I wanted to be. Since I’m not going as a specific character but just aiming for the general look, I’m not going for 100% accuracy on the details so please don’t Force choke me for it!

image002image001

So, I started with a bought pattern (Simplicity 5840) and a bundle of cheap fabric from my local charity shop (a pale sandy colour and a more mid brown/tan). The pattern came from ebay, and there are still some available on there if you want to get yourself one.

Now, I’m no expert at sewing or at following patterns – I’m self taught and don’t know what a lot of the technical terms mean. I can usually figure things out though. The pattern for the tunic (image bottom right of the pattern) comes in unisex and multiple sizes – Extra Small to Extra Large. So I dutifully measured my chest/bust size and came out in the gap between Medium to Large.

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Knowing how these patterns tend to be on the generous size (BTW, because this is a multiple size pattern, there’s no hem allowance included unless stated, and I didn’t find that out until AFTER I cut it. Luckily for me, the sizing is VERY generous and missing the hem allowance didn’t do any harm overall) I went for Medium. The pattern suggested lightweight linens or silky type fabrics, so I went for the lighter of the two I had – it looks and feels like chamois leather on the outside, but is kind of satiny on the inner side, and light with a slight bit of stretch to it. No idea what the fabric actually is. Then the wonderful job of pinning on the pattern and cutting it out.

Then stitching the sides and shoulders of the main body, and attaching the sleeves.

image004 image005

I then found that the pattern has a definite bias toward a male figure ie considerably more broad-shouldered than me. The pattern has tips for shortening and adjusting it, so I took up the shoulders and added a more tailored curve to the sides of the tunic so that it fitted better – otherwise it was hanging too far off my shoulders and the ends of the sleeves were swamping my hands. On reflection I might have been better aiming for the Small. That’s what I get for being 5ft 3. 😛

image007

Next was sewing up all the seams, including leaving small slits up the sides and generally tidying up the ends. After that comes the edging for the collar and cross-over opening of the tunic. This required four long strips of material wrapped around heavyweight interfacing (I didn’t know what that was until hubs went into a craft shop and asked – it’s stiff fabric that does things like make collars stand up straight or gives a more solid structure to your fabric). The brown fabric had to be stitched around this and then attached to the edges of the tunic to give the band that goes around the neck and along the cross-over flaps.

Finally, the pattern has a belt with it. Again, this requires stitching fabric around a broad piece of interfacing and adding ties.

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I think the belt is a bit too wide for me (the short factor again) so I may make a thinner one than the pattern suggested. I’m also looking at a replica Anakin belt, simply because I want something to hang my lightsaber from, and I’m not quite sure how to attach one to this fabric version. However, I’d wear this version under the leather belt anyway, since a lot of the costumes from the film do so. But this is the complete tunic for now.

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As I’ll be wearing this in August, I’m currently thinking that with the length of this on me I can probably wear tights or leggings with the knee high boots I have simply to keep cool, but I’ll be working on the Jedi robe to go over the top next. Oh, you thought I’d model this for you? Nah. When I have the whole outfit ready to go, THEN I’ll subject you to the full body shot. 😛

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In the meantime, in the spirit of National Sewing Month, I have a little contest for you. It’s been suggested that I should have a Jedi name to go with my outfit. So, I’m including a poll for you to vote on with some Jedi names (using a random name generator) and a few suggested names from Twitter, but you can also add your own suggestions. And I’m going to do a giveaway. I’ll send one Jedi patch (see picture) to the person who either makes the suggestion I like the best, or tells me which name they voted on in the comments with a clever reason why I should use it. Have fun!


Vote for my Jedi name!

Bio:

A stay-at-home mum of three who spent twelve years working as an Analytical Chemist in a Metals and Minerals laboratory, Pippa Jay bases her stories on a lifetime addiction to science-fiction books and films. Somewhere along the line a touch of romance crept into her work and refused to leave. In between torturing her plethora of characters, she spends the odd free moments trying to learn guitar, indulging in freestyle street dance and drinking high-caffeine coffee. Although happily settled in historical Colchester in the UK with her husband of 20 years, she continues to roam the rest of the Universe in her head.

Pippa Jay is a dedicated member of the SFR Brigade, a community of science fiction romance authors and publishing professionals committed to writing and promoting the very best in the genre.

Website – http://www.pippajay.co.uk

Blogs – http://www.pippajay.blogspot.co.uk

http://www.spacefreighters.blogspot.com

http://www.romancingthegenres.blogspot.co.uk/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/pippajaygreen

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5054558.Pippa_Jay

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Pippa-Jay-Adventures-in-Scifi/114058821953752

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/u/0/101080630877126516448/posts

SFR Brigade – http://www.sfrcontests.blogspot.co.uk/

Feminism, Initials, JK Rowling, and Me

533642_552932778076373_588861722_nA writer friend posted this picture on Facebook this morning and invited my comment. You really don’t do that unless you mean it. I don’t like to get political and I don’t really like the term “feminism.” I’ve always joked that women who seek to be equal to men are underachievers.

The fact of the matter is that I strongly believe that each gender has its strengths and both male and female should support and encourage each other. The traditionally “male” role complements the traditionally “female” role and one is neither superior nor inferior to the other. I also believe that I can accomplish whatever I set my mind to and my gender has less to do with it than my determination and skill.

I believe that the term “feminism” is insulting to me. It implies that women cannot gain true equality to men without the help of enlightened men making adjustments and setting the bar lower so we poor, weak creatures can reach it. That’s not equality. It’s condescension.

Growing up in a home with three brothers and eight male cousins, there was very little doll-playing going on. When playing with my brothers, I crawled on my belly taking the beaches of Normandy with my stick rifle across my forearms along with everyone else. The taunt of “You can’t because you’re a girl” always resulted in “Watch me!” followed by my doing just what their friends said I couldn’t.

Of course my accomplishments were declared a fluke and I was shoved aside and told to go play with dolls while they went off to do “important” boy things.

My mother once told me that boys didn’t like when girls beat them, so I needed to let the boys win.

Screw that!

No power in the verseWhy should I hide who I am or pretend to be less than I am to make someone else feel better about themselves? By the same token, why should I expect someone else to lower the bar so I can reach it. If I want it badly enough, ‘no power in the ‘verse can stop me’ regardless of how high it sits.

I’ve been called a “femi-nazi” an “Amazon” and several obscenities that my brothers would have decked them for using. I knew going in what I was in-for by working in a male-dominated industry. Some men are intimidated by women and feel the need to denigrate them just to make themselves feel better.

Buffy_CheerleaderI’ve got news for you, some women are intimidated by strong women who don’t fit into the typical cheerleader mold and feel the need to denigrate them just to make themselves feel better, too.

I don’t feel that’s an issue that falls under feminism. That’s an issue that falls under some-people-who-have-a-sense-of-power-over-others-fear-those-who-will-not-fall-in-line-with-their-world-view. That’s not being a feminist. That’s being a free-thinking, intelligent human being. If there is an obstacle in the way of my goals, I will overcome it on my own, thanks. I don’t need a group of condescending men and women in power legislating it away for me.

Whether we like it or not, prejudice against women writers is alive and well. I see it with SF more so than with Fantasy, mostly because I’m most active in that genre. The stereotype of the SF fan being primarily male, between the ages of 13 and 30, socially awkward, living in his parents’ basement is still strong, but oh-so-outdated.

Recent scandals of sexual bias and harassment have rocked the SFWA. Women in the genre are marginalized and often vilified. Unless one is writing SF Erotica or SFR, having a feminine name on the cover does reduce sales.

When it first came out in my town that I’m a novelist, the local editor/owner for the free newspaper asked if I wrote about “trips to the grocery store.”

upwords-board-730x485Rather than start beating my chest and crying over the unfairness of it, I considered the source. He’s a condescending blowhard with few friends in town who is still angry over the fact that I beat him like a red-headed step child the one and only time he challenged me to a game of “Upwords.” I tried to warn him that I play cutthroat Scrabble and tend to make my opponents cry, but he just had to challenge me.

In case you’re wondering, I looked at him in disgust, told him to stop being an ass and said I was writing a SF series filled with political intrigue following a military officer wanted for treason while she tries to find her kidnapped father, clear her name, and prevent an assassination plot that will plunge the galaxy into civil war. I doubted she had much time for grocery shopping.

Women and girls are less likely to care about the gender of the author. Men and boys have preconceived ideas of what women write. It may not be right, but the fact remains that it *IS*.

We can stubbornly stick our given names on the covers of our books and whine about pathetic sales and wonder why men don’t buy them. We can also suffer the ridicule of males threatened by intelligent women while we’re tilting windmills over it.

ChewieMen in power are like wookiees, they don’t like to lose and tend to get upset and pull people’s arms out of their sockets. Let’s face it, it’s not about prejudice as much as it is about a group of people in power over an industry who are loathe to relinquish said power.

For now, that is the nature of the industry. Ideas do not change overnight. In the decades that I’ve been writing, I’ve seen many, many changes within society and within the industry. When I first began, the strong, kick butt heroine was anathema and completely unheard of. She was the kiss of death for a manuscript.

Xena Thanks to Xena, Buffy, and Charmed, or rather Sam Raimi, Joss Whedon, and Aaron Spelling, the female action hero is no longer a thing of the past, although I doubt without the male of the species putting his weight behind the notion, women writing and producing these characters would ever have gotten past the elevator pitch. Right or wrong, it’s the nature of the industry.charmed_season_1_promo-2

Feminist? Perhaps. Capitalistic? Certainly. I’d be willing to bet that these men who produced these cutting edge women saw the potential fan-base for strong female characters in the rising numbers of young men of the 90’s having grown up in single parent households and tended to view their mother as provider and protector.

I’m jaded enough to attribute their choices to dollar signs rather than any sense of social justice or feminist responsibility.

The gatekeepers of the industry can’t argue with sales. While the traditional SF/F publishers are less inclined to give shelf space to women writing in the genre, it *is* a business and sales are the bottom line. When the sales of female authors match or outstrip the male of the species, you’ll see change. To first get those sales at this point in time, one must play the game.

For the time being, women using initials or a male pseudonym in order to be taken seriously in a male-dominated genre is simply the way things are done. In time, with networking, the rise of self and indie publishers more inclined to take a chance on women writers, that will change.

Our daughters and granddaughters will thank our initialed nom de plumes for paving the way for them to use their own names on their own SF/F covers.

Cover Reveal: Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller

To celebrate the cover reveal for Greenshift, the e-book will be temporarily 99 cents at Amazon!

A tale set within the world of Ambasadora.

Mari’s rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people…except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.

But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look–an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.

When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn’t as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.

Greenshift by Heidi Ruby Miller

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Foreword by Dana Marton

Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance paperback coming from Dog Star Books in August 2013



To celebrate the cover reveal for Greenshift, the e-book will be temporarily 99 cents at Amazon!

GREENSHIFT BY HEIDI RUBY MILLER

A tale set within the world of Ambasadora.

Mari’s rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people…except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.
But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look–an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.

When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn’t as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Foreword by Dana Marton
Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance paperback coming from Dog Star Books in August 2013

LINKS:
Greenshift on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Greenshift-From-World-Ambasadora-ebook/dp/B00788320W/ref=as_li_tf_cw?&linkCode=waf&tag=heirubmil-20

Ambasadora on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Ambasadora-Book-1-ebook/dp/B004ZR9WOY/ref=as_li_tf_cw?&linkCode=waf&tag=heirubmil-20

Heidi Ruby Miller – http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com

Bradley Sharp – http://www.bradsharp.co.uk

Dana Marton – http://danamarton.com

Dog Star Books – http://dogstarbooks.blogspot.com