New Snippets! And a New Blog Post! And New Links!

Hoo-boy, what a month it has been.

Folks, starting a school year with elementary-school age kids, AND a new job, AT a new school, when it’s the first time both your wife and you have ever worked full time?

It’s no joke.

I am incredibly blessed to have all these opportunities, but I do not deny that it has been frantic and hectic. Good, but not relaxing. And some things have suffered.

This blog is definitely one of them. But I’m starting to be able to bring it back.

Over the past week, I have been fixing and improving book links. My new books are available over on the right sidebar: $3.99 for ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS and $2.99 for THE GIRL WHO WASN’T THERE. In addition, if you want a taste of each, I have brand NEW SNIPPETS UP FOR EACH ONE in the SAMPLE SNIPPETS link above.

I hope to have new snippets up soon. Also, I have confirmation that I have sold a new short story: no shit it’s a CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE LOVECRAFTIAN NIGHTMARE. Never thought I’d sell it, but Stupendous Stories has picked it up!

Thanks for reading, friends.

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DragonCon AAR: Legends and Dragons and Book Sales.

DragonCon was beyond awesome this year. Here are some of the highlights:

Thursday, I met with my publisher, Jason Rennie, and we helped to set up Bard’s Tower, a well-known bookselling staple of DragonCon (and others). Alexi was awesome, allowing Superversive Press to sell our books through the Tower.
I mean, okay, they were going to have featured signings, and I was going to have a chance to sell my book to passers-by, but hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Friday, we opened. In between the aforementioned selling copies of my book, among others, I ducked out to sit on panels about Arthur and the Round Table, and Cordwainer Smith, one of my favorite Golden Age authors. Four people bought books, the first of them being the awesome Dave Butler, award-winning author of the Witchy War series. I picked up his first book in the series, WITCHY EYE, as a prize last DragonCon. This year, I managed to pick up the third from the Baen Roadshow, who was giving away books to all active-duty military, teachers, and librarians. Thanks, Baen Books!

Butler DragonCon

I also met Brad Torgersen for the first time. Brad was nice enough to agree to blurb ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS earlier this year, and is just a great guy to meet in person

Saturday was a big day at the Tower. It began with a new experience for me: it was the day I got to collaborate on the upcoming redesign of the cover for ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS. By the end of the day, I had sold 90% of my books, including a copy that I gave away to Jim Butcher (mostly so I could say I did).

All-Things-Huge-and-Hideous-Kindle

Then I was able to reconnect with my Clarion mentor Tim Powers, who introduced me to a fellow Writers of the Future place-winner, Carrie Callahan, who I now consider a friend. Late that night in the Speaker’s Speakeasy, we both enjoyed an hour’s conversation with Larry Niven, who is certainly one of the greatest influences on my own work. That was amazing.

Finally, Sunday I managed to sell out. My last book went to an awesome lady who cosplays Dark Helmet, and thought the book was a riot. She actually came back and said that she’d found it hilarious and even brought a veterinarian friend with her. I also got to see Brad Torgersen win his Dragon Award for A STAR-WHEELED SKY. And Brad was later kind enough to spread the word about THE GIRL WHO WASN’T THERE! So DragonCon ends with a Dragon Award Winner recommending my books!

The Girl Who Wasn't There - KDP Cover

All in all, it was a wonderful con, and God has truly blessed me in giving me this chance to meet and work with such fine people.

ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS BONUS GIVEAWAY WINNER!

So, two weeks ago I announced that there would be a drawing amongst people who shared the news of the ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS release within 24 hours online for a FREE Kindle copy of the eBook. And now that I am back from vacation I am able to announce that the winner is…

ANDREW WOODS! You’ve won a free copy! Get in touch with me on social media, that I may reward you!

All-Things-Huge-and-Hideous-Kindle

New Stories and His Missing Materials: The Logoccentric Returns!

Hi, everyone! Well, it was a good vacation, but now I’m back! It’s the start of a bright new school year full of many good things! I got some great news in and around my vacation, so let’s get cracking!

First, if you’d like some real content, I’d like to direct you to my latest article published with SciPhi Journal (which is gaining readers by leaps and bounds) called “His Missing Materials” in which I take Philip Pullman to task for pretty much slandering the Christian faith.

As far as upcoming sales, I can’t name any right now, but it looks like I’ll have at east one if not two new announcements to make in the near future.

Finally, I’d like to share this awesome possible cover art for my next book, forthcoming as soon as I can get a small amount of edits back to the publisher:

Girl Who Wasn't

BOOK RELEASE: ALL THINGS HUGE AND HIDEOUS! WITH BONUS GIVEAWAY!

“Hilarious! Veterinary horror like Terry Pratchett would write!”
— D.J. Butler, author of WITCHY EYE

“A rollicking adventure that hits all the right notes.”

–Christopher Ruocchio, Award-Winning Author of The Sun Eater Series

 

Yesterday, a dream of mine came true. I became a published novelist for the first time. All Things Huge and Hideous has been released in Kindle format. Sometime before September, it will be released in print format as well.

I’d like to thank all the readers who have made this possible, as well as Jason Rennie, my publisher and Superversive Press. Special thanks also go to D.J. Butler and Chris Ruocchio whose blurbs are above.

Now, I’d also really love it if folks would spread the word, so for the people who share this on Facebook, or Twitter, or even better, reblog it TODAY, I am going to put your name in a drawing to win a signed copy of the book! Make sure to tag me if you post it on Facebook or Twitter. If you do it somewhere else where I’m not a member (like Instagram or Twitter) then please shoot me a note on my Contact form with a link so I can see it. This offer is only good for the next 24 hours, starting at 7:00 am CDT July 27, 2019!

Anthology Give-Away! Holy C.O.W!

Hey, want to win an anthology with a bunch of awesome stories, including my latest, “Day Of Atonement?”

Holy C.O.W. Anthology Volume One: SFStories from the Center Of the World

Just enter at this link, right here, on Amazon!

And now, a teaser:

Rabban Shimon and Rabban Hillel each took hold of one of the thick doors leading inward and pulled it aside. Yossef entered.

            The room was just as unimpressive on the inside as it had been on the outside. It was no larger than a small house, from which all furnishings had been removed. In the northwest corner, a steep staircase descended into thick darkness. The only thing in it was a wooden table, tall but only about a cubit square. On the table lay a perfectly ordinary knife. Across from him, looking slightly stricken, was Matthias, and standing by him, the Bishop of Jerusalem, with his Chief Elder.

            The Bishop, a thin, spare man with a curiously rounded face, bowed slightly from the waist. “Peace be with you, Rabban Hillel and the followers of the Law. I greet you in the name of Iyesos Christos, the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach, and of St. Nicodemus the Rav Nakdimon.”

            The Nasi returned the bow. “Peace be with you, Bishop Konstantinos and the followers of Y’shua. I greet you in the name of the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, the God of Ya’akov, and of the Elder Gamli’el of blessed memory. Give thanks to the God of gods.”

            “His mercy endures forever,” the Bishop answered. “Today, September 30th, in the Year of Our Lord 635, we present for ordeal before the throne of the Father, Matthias, a novice whom we would ordain a priest of Iyesos Christos.”

            “And today, on the 9th Tishrei, the year 4395, we present for the ordeal before the throne of the Most High, Yossef, whom we would ordain a Rabbi to teach the Law. Let His Will be revealed as it has been since the time of Y’shua, and the time of Moshe.” And he withdrew from his robes a box of acacia wood, polished with age. From it, he drew two stones.

            Yossef swayed where he stood, and he thought he heard Matthias gasp. Surely the Urim and Thummim had been lost in the time of captivity. He dared not speak, but stared at Hillel. But it was Bishop Konstantinos who spoke. “They are not the ancient relics of Israel,” he said kindly. “But they serve the purpose. As once we cast lots to determine the successor to our Lord’s betrayer, so we now cast them, that we may know the Will of God concerning you.”

            Yossef’s vision darkened and his breath quickened. This was the secret of ordination, then? No wonder they kept it a secret! He felt as though he were in a dream. God is present in this room, he thought. It was too big to take in.

            “We ask the Will of God concerning these men.” The words and the action cut across Yossef’s reverie. Konstantinos and Hillel cast their lots into the wooden table. The rattle of them echoed off the walls. Yossef stared. They were inscribed with ancient letters whose meanings he could not guess at. The Bishop and the Nasi gazed at them for a long moment. “The Will of God is that the disobedient should perish,” said the Nasi, and his voice was dead in the air.

            “This is the Will of God,” echoed the Bishop.

            The disobedient should..? What did that mean? Yossef turned to ask, but the men had the stones in their hands again, and the Bishop intoned, “We ask the Lord to reveal the disobedient.” The lots spun through the air as one and rattled in their tray. They gazed upon the stones. “The disobedient is the Jew, Yossef.”

            What? No, that couldn’t be!

            “The disobedient is Yossef,” the Nasi repeated, and he looked old and shaken. “Blessed be the Name of the Lord.”

            “Rabban Hillel,” breathed Yossef. “What have I..?”

            The older man gripped his upper arm with surprising strength. “You must be silent, Yossef. This is the Will of Adonai, which you swore to obey.” Yossef stood as if paralyzed. He had sworn. Sworn to obey the Will. Sworn by the Name.

            Bishop Konstantinos approached the table. To Yossef’s distant surprise, he left the stones on the table.

            He picked up the knife.

            Moving swiftly, he pressed its hilt into Matthias’ hand.  “Do it quickly, son.”

            Matthias’ face was a mirror of Yossef’s own. “Father, I don’t understand.”

            “This is the ordeal of ordination. You have sworn by Christ to do the Will of God as it is revealed to you. Do it quickly.”

#SFFPIT Today! Retweets Urgently Requested!

#SFFPit is an annual contest in which unagented authors, like myself attempt to attract the attention of agents and publishers for their novel manuscripts. It’s going on today. So if any of my followers have a manuscript they want attention for, this is a great time to get out there and start pitching. On that note…

If any of you are on Twitter and can today, I could really use your help. I am participating in #SFFPit today. It’s a Twitterpitch contest for novels to attract the attention of agents and publishers. I’m pitching two books today, and the more retweets I get, the more likely I am to be seen. Please do NOT like the Tweets (unless you are an agent or publisher and want to see the manuscripts! Then, PLEASE like them!) because that’s how publishers and agents signal they are interested! Starts at 8am CDT and goes on until 6pm. I’m @GScottHuggins Thanks very much!

Movie Reviews (or something) Far Too Late: Paranormal Activity

DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT: As far as the film goes, I’m going to reveal a plot point.
As far as the review goes, I couldn’t even finish this movie.

I wanted to watch this because I was in the mood for a good creepy ghost story, and I’d heard good things about it.

OPENER: Dude and Dudette moving into apartment. Setting up camera in bedroom to record source of creepy noises that sometimes trouble them at night. Dude is slightly annoyed at Dudette for inviting a psychic consultant to advise them on the source of these noises, which has been messing with her since childhood.

EXPERT: Hey, this thing you’ve got here is not a ghost, but a demon. Potentially very dangerous.

DUDE: So, how about we get a Ouija board and ask this thing what it wants.

EXPERT: Okay, that’s a really terrible idea because that would be inviting it to notice you. Goodbye.

DUDE: Well, I don’t believe in this enough to take an expert’s advice seriously, but I believe in it just enough to still think Ouija boards are a good idea because I was the one who thought of them.

DUDETTE: Hey, babe. Since I’m the one being haunted by this thing, maybe I should get to make the call on how we deal with it.

DUDE (pouty): Well, okay, but you know I think I get a say, too because I didn’t know you came with a demon.

DUDETTE: Just promise me you won’t get a Ouija board.

DUDE: Okay, I promise I won’t buy a Ouija board.

Aaaaand, that was it. I was out. At this point, I can’t spend another second of my precious and finite time on this planet with these two morons. I’d rather be doing something less predictable, like picking my nose. Dude is a complete ass who wants to poke the demon because he wants to be in charge and be right. Dudette is a complete idiot who can’t see that Dude is about to go borrow or otherwise acquire the Ouija board that he only promised not to buy (oh, he is so clever, a master of verbal trickery, this one) so he can poke the demon. This is the very archetype of the Idiot Plot. And I’m going to be expected to spend the rest of the film sympathizing with these two morons, who will check out books about demons, but will never once consider going to church. At this point, I’m rooting for the demon, but figure that watching it eat them slowly from the feet up isn’t on the table.

Shame.

In Defense Of The Road More Traveled: Novels and Short Stories

The other day I was on a friend’s page and I saw a debate raging on whether writing short stories is a necessary, or even a desirable step, toward learning to write novels. I didn’t weigh in then because I didn’t have the time, but I kind of wish I had, because the debate seemed to miss the point from my perspective.

To summarize the arguments that I admittedly skimmed, the perspective generally expressed seemed to be that 1) short stories really only help you write more short stories because b) the pacing required in a novel is completely different, and includes iii) much more worldbuilding and the inclusion of subplots that cannot be present in the short story. So if you want to write novels, you’re going to have a lot of unlearning to do. Also, there was brought into the discussion the examples of many people who wrote chiefly novels and had enjoyed success without ever writing a short story.

Let it first be admitted that such people exist. They are slightly more common than the Harper Lees and J.K. Rowlings of the world that publish their first manuscript to worldwide acclaim. But not a LOT more. I would like to set forth my rebuttal to the above points, and add some experience of my own.

Is it true that short stories only train you to write short stories? And the answer to that, in my experience is absolutely NO! It’s completely wrong. For one thing, too many of the same skills are involved. Short story writing and novel writing both demand clarity of writing, good prose style, the construction of a coherent plot and the depiction of engaging characters. AND good short stories include excellent worldbuilding as well.

Arguing that short stories don’t help people become good novel writers is a bit like marathoners looking down their noses at people running the mile. THAT won’t help you run a marathon. To a certain extent, that’s true: the pacing and running style will be different and in may ways, more demanding. But what running the mile WILL build is basic athleticism.

However, isn’t there some truth to the idea that you should do what you want to do? Isn’t the best training for running marathons, well, marathons?

And the answer to that question is “yes and no.” Because we always have to remember that the VERY first rule for writing books that sell is, “If it results in books that sell, then it was a good method.” So, if you want to write novels, and you write a novel without any trouble, and it sells, then none of this applies to you. But for MOST of us, that’s not how the process starts. Most of us encounter great amounts of difficulty even finishing a BAD first novel. And for most of us, the first novel IS bad.

The major advantage of writing short stories (and I will admit to stealing this list from Steven Barnes) is that it is MUCH easier to finish a short story, to receive criticism on a short story, to re-edit a short story, and to sell a short story professionally. The sheer time and effort that goes into writing a novel precludes those processes from being as easy. And in the event that you write a short story that is an irredeemable pile of shit — which you are likely to do at least a few times — then you lost only a fraction of the time you would have lost writing a novel that is an irredeemable POS.

Bear in mind also that marketing short stories takes much less time than marketing novels, except for small presses and places you might already have an in with. Even for very good stories, go back and read DJ Butler’s story of how he came to sell Witchy Eye to Baen Books if you don’t believe me. It took me 2.5 years to get a rejection from one major house. They’re still considering another one of mine, four years later.

If you can stomach a decade of rejection with NO successes and few hints as to whether you are on the right track, then perhaps writing novels IS your best strategy. But if you need some success to keep going, and want some evidence as to the general caliber of your writing, then short stories are the way to go.

A minor advantage of writing short stories is that they can be bridges to novel contracts. My first novel that I get prorates for (which should be coming out later this year) happened exactly this way. I got noticed by Digital Fiction Corporation, a fine, if small, publisher, because I wrote a story that performed well for them. And many, many writers still do this today. As I understand it, that’s how Brad Torgersen got picked up at Baen, primarily because he’d been wowing the readers of Analog with awesome shorts. Now it sure as hell isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be noticed, but it is not uncommon.

Now, obviously, this advice is going to be more for people who are looking at trad pub options than for those who are determined to go indie. If you’re not looking for a publisher, then this doesn’t really matter a darn. But if you are publishing indie, and the books aren’t selling, then I have to wonder how you know the work was ready to publish.

Admittedly, that question can be asked of any work written by any author: you might ask me, “then how do you know that your unsold novels are ready to publish?” And that’s correct, I don’t until they sell. But having a dozen or so pro short-story sales under my belt means that I can look back and say that there is some evidence that I have achieved a certain level of professional expertise in writing in general. And that can be very important indeed. So if you’re having trouble writing and selling novels and don’t know what to do, I very much suggest that getting short stories out there is the way to go.

 

Whoever Is Not For Us: Author’s Note

One of my favorite things to do when I write SF is to screw around with genre expectation. And there is one that is almost never messed with that was too fun not to try to deal with, and that is the Parasite.

In SF, whenever people are infested by an evil parasite-like creature determined to enslave them, body and mind, it is always a hideous, nasty thing. Or it’s invisible. By contrast, on the rare occasions (like STNG’s the Trill, say) that a symbiote is beneficial, it is always invisible. For whatever reason, we’re wired to believe — or maybe it’s just that we really, really want to believe — that beauty is truth and truth is beauty. It might have something to do with the fact that beautiful people are usually healthy ones, and breeding with the healthy only makes good evolutionary sense. But there’s certainly no rational reason to believe that this would be the case.

Beneficial symbiotes aren’t even common in SF. I can’t name a single case in which a disfiguring symbiote has been good for someone. The closest I can get to it is the symbionts from the Babylon 5 episode “Xenogenesis,” which was a very bold move on the part of the show. But even the hideous symbionts caused pain and disfigurement only for a moment, and then they vanished invisibly within their hosts.

So for “Whoever Is Not For Us,” I wanted to break that trend and ask what would happen if the truth came disguised in ugliness. It was a fun story to write. I hope you enjoy it.