Oh, Please!

I always find myself a little weirded when someone links me for something like a comment I made on facebook, or a blog post, and someone else comes along and says “Oh, I’ve read one or two books of Sarah’s, I think, and she writes the kind of thing she writes very well, but it’s just so girly and not my cup of tea.”

I swear I’ve started like… 20 answers to those, and stopped, staring at the screen. And then I remember the number one maxim: Never argue with readers or potential readers.

I am, however sorely disappointed in all of you who read my fiction, because I’ve yet to see anyone answer as they should. “The kind of thing? You mean books, with words and everything? Because dude, the only thing she hasn’t written is picture books and that is changing, for a given definition of picture books.”

Look, it’s a problem, okay. I can’t imagine anyone who is a massive fan of the Shakespeare trilogy going insane for Darkship Thieves (no link for now. Coming next week for sure. Well, the first one, as reissue.) Or someone who loves Darkship Thieves adoring Dyce Dare. And that’s just in the stuff I was allowed to publish, which yes, is a little girlie because traditional publishing (truly guys when is the last time you saw a newly launched action hero that was male and trad pub?) Though I don’t think DST is girly, not even — particularly not, perhaps — the ones featuring Athena.

And yet, there are a few people who do like all of them, and frankly, so do I, or I’d not have written them. Though I’ll confess that to write the Shakespeare trilogy now would take me a lot of effort to get back into that mind set, and my obsession with Shakespeare. Which is a pity, as I’d planned on 5 books, but barring my becoming fabulously wealthy (I’m okay with that) I can’t see taking the three to six months needed to get back into the mind set and finish the series. Heck, even the musketeers which are easier because they don’t require language stuff are languishing because I don’t feel like doing ALL the research again. (It doesn’t help that I’ve somehow lost — I think in a computer crash) the book I had started.

But I write everything because I read everything. Everything that came into the house got read, partly because I read really fast (concussion and stupid eye tricks resulting from has slowed me down some) and couldn’t buy enough books. So I read the books dad bought, which went all the way from WWII memoirs to high literary, with a heavy deep into mystery. And the books my brother bought: adventure, anthropological research and engineering, tech speculation, westerns, mystery and science fiction. Also a lot of comics. And the books my cousin who is 14 years older than I and was raised with us read: westerns and romance. Including PORTUGUESE romance. Look, the guy is a bullfighter. He and the girl have a fight. He goes out mad and dies. She mourns him ever after. Happy ending. Don’t ask. Took me years to realize that was ONLY a Portuguese thing. Yes, I ran away with science fiction at 11. But I still loved EVERYTHING. So, you know. I still read everything. From which comes writing everything.

Now, I have something like 40 novels started, not counting the “idea jotted down.” A lot of those are probably as dead as the Dodo because they were from the “heavily researched historical novel” phase. And because I’m not sure I have the patience anymore. Or the time. Memento mori and all that.

What was published was a confluence of what I wanted to write and what trad pub would accept. The overlap is not amazing, and I’ll confess for some things they probably have the right idea. Yeah, wait till I finish No Man’s Land. I expect half of you will sit there, jaw dropped, going “I guess Sarah’s gone insane.” The thing is that I’ve gone sane, since that book has been with me since I was 14, and has been written five times in different ways. However publisher bias is a definitely influence. To give you an example of the influence trad pub has/had on what gets published, though, you kind of have to look at the workshop in which I sold the Shakespeare Trilogy (in idea and first page only) you have to know that I had a time travel, mil sf story featuring the red baron ALMOST finished. That was rejected, because the Red Baron fought Snoopy, so people wouldn’t buy it. Also, Shakespeare in Love had just made a big splash, so… there must be a market. Or take the musketeer’s mysteries: they sold at the same time the DaVinci Mysteries were rejected (Yes, I know, but research, so it’s being pushed back till we move and … well, the way things are going maybe hiding in my library with books isn’t a totally bad idea. NM.) because “This is not at all like the DaVinci code.” (Well, no. Because, you know, that would be plagiarism.)

Which brings us, round about and sideways to the subject of our amazingly awkward weekly promo: the Shifter Series.

I had published the Shakespeare series and it had “tanked” by the special definition of tanking that means “it sold enough to pay off an advance that was double the normal first book advance, and they took it out of print the week it earned out, because it wasn’t slated to sell well, duh.”

Unfortunately no matter the reason your series is declared a failure, you learn early that it’s always the author’s fault. But what if the publishing house picked something that was obviously niche market, brought it out hard cover with no publicity, and didn’t even put fiction on the cover, much less fantasy, so 90% of the book stores had a memgrim and never unpacked it from the closet, and/or shelved it in art or theater or history. (I will forever cherish the anti-fan letter from the academic whom I picture turning so purple while typing it that he had a stroke shortly after. He asked if I was out of my mind to think Shakespeare really had met fairies. He seemed to be under the impression I’d written an history book. Even with all the bushwa in Shakespearean biography, I’m amazed he could think so.) If the book fails, or is deemed to fail (as discussed earlier, they actually don’t have a very clear idea how many books they sold) it’s always the author’s fault. Even though the author has absolutely no control over anything, once the manuscript is turned in.

More importantly, it is deemed that if the author failed with one book, the author will fail with all books, not matter how different, or in what genres. This is the most complete and utter bilge to anyone who reads the older authors. Look, Agatha Christie can’t be topped for cozy mysteries, but her thrillers make me cry inside. Georgette Heyer’s regencies spawned an entire genre, but her mysteries…. ah, no.

And as a new writer, you sell what you sell. You can’t ACTUALLY choose what you sell. It’s kind of like applying to all sorts of universities and then having someone judge you because you went to some small, boutique college. “Well, I applied to all of them, that’s the one that accepted me.” (Keep in mind I’m talking of being a new writer in the 90s. Newbies now have so much MORE control.)

In fact, traditional publishers know it too. I mean that it’s bullshit to blame the writer or to assume the writer will never sell in anything else. Why? Because sometime in the oughts they wrote things saying that if any agent submitted a writer under a pen name and didn’t tell the publisher what the real name was, the agent would be banned forever. This was because someone had failed big in “women’s fiction” and then submitted a cozy under a closed pen name, and went bestseller. And her agent kept her secret. Makes no sense for the publisher to be mad at this, except they didn’t want the myth exploded.

Anyway, because trad pub was the only reality back then, what they said was the law. And they said I had failed. To complete the mess I was in, my agent dumped me. (Or I dumped him. I actually don’t remember. Doesn’t mater anyway.) And no one would touch me.

In the middle of this, of course, I was doing what I do: leaning into it. Lots of people were “fired” as writers in 2002 and 2003, when the “worst quarter in American publishing” (then, I bet the covidiocy was WAY worse for trad pub) came home to roost. I had friends far more talented than I that just walked away. I feel a little weird some of them think I stayed on because I had some kind of edge on them. Though I suppose I did. It’s called: stubborn as a mule.

That summer I wrote seventeen proposals and started shopping them to agents first. I was also interviewing agents and forcefully punting all that said “Well, I see you doing a book maybe every two years, and getting a teaching post on the side.” (If I wanted to teach, I’d do that.)

In the middle of it, I was doing a deep dive in “what is selling.” And what was selling at the time was Urban fantasy. Um…. when Urban Fantasy was less sexy time and more action with fantasy.

I’d written fantasy with Shakespeare. And I can write magic and spells and stuff. I just don’t…. like it? My mind doesn’t really bend that way. This has a lot to do — probably — with a fictional tradition scoured clean of the myths of the little people, and where most supernatural is malevolent.

The fantasy author I prefer is Pratchett, and he’s…. not standard.

I got the formula for Urban Fantasy down easily. Kind of like Buffy, with the forever flirting with the monster, thing, etc. And the brave and beautiful girl.

But dear Lord, I can’t do anything the way I’m supposed to. It’s like I came into life spinning sideways and upside down, and I’m likely to remain that way.

Which brings us to Shifters. They came out of a dream. I actually describe the dream in the afterword of the first book, so I won’t repeat it here.

It’s not unusual for me to have these dreams. I will be reading a book I wrote, only I didn’t write it. Normally in the morning I can’t remember the book or story.

This one I made a point of reading two pages and the back and I remembered it. I woke up in the morning — at the time my office was half of the bedroom — ambled over to the computer, and wrote a chapter.

I was up to three chapters later that week, when Jim Baen called and asked if I wanted to sell him a book. I sent him three chapters and a cover page, and went for a walk with my husband. When I came back, I’d made my first sale to Baen.

Of course the book was completely wrong for the house, but that’s neither here nor there. I’m not sure it’s right for any house. In fact, I’m not sure it’s Urban Fantasy as such. For one, it’s not the brave and beautiful girl (though there are three of those to date) it’s an ensemble cast of misfits. The romance is very incidental. The sex is definitely and decisively OFF SCREEN. And there’s jokes like the shifter couple adopting a cat and naming him “Not Dinner.”

But my fans seem to like it. And it think it has legs, and what the heck am going to try. There are 20 books planned, and I really AM hard at work on Bowl of Red and All Hot, as well as on a short novel (space opera) that should be done today.

Right now what I can write and earn is limited by my time and energy, and part of our plan is to make sure I have more of both.

Anyway, that’s your incredibly awkward promo of the week. I think. For a given definition of promo. And now I need to go write (more directly) paying words.

I’ll just say “if you’ve read one or two things by Sarah Hoyt” and you think it’s very good for that sort of thing, but you don’t read that sort of thing, maybe you should download samples of the other things by Sarah A. Hoyt. Heck, I have it on good authority that some people who don’t read cozies like Dyce… And after all, that’s what samples are for.

And now I’ll go work.

258 thoughts on “Oh, Please!

  1. This was not an awkward promo, this was a really cool personal anecdote, combined with behind-the-scenes looks at industry processes, that was related to the books you’d like us to have a look at. I dug it. 🙂

    1. Oh, hey! I just bought a collection of yours, in paper because the cover art is beautiful and I wanted to have it. Haven’t sat down and gotten comfortable to read it yet, but a little skimming makes me sure it’s going to be good.

    2. Can I admit to having a fangirl moment when I saw you comment on here? And I only just now got to the computer with the keyboard that’s signed in to tell you about it? Because OMG! You’re here!

      1. Not a fangirl – or a girl period, despite what our hostess will tell you – but I did enjoy Three Jaguars.

  2. I have to admit, I would not normally have picked these up. It’s a taste thing: shifters just don’t geek me. Vampires don’t, either – which means for a number of years, my paranormal romance options have been … slim.

    But I’m enjoying the heck out of these books – and the sense of humor is a large part of why. (A dragon shifter wearing a “Meddle not in the affairs of dragons” T-shirt made me laugh out loud and startle my dogs.)

    There are 20 books planned … kill me now. GRIN

  3. My favorites of your writings are DST and Witchfinder. I have to admit that I am not really into Shakespeare fan fiction so I like those less. I do like the Musketeers… but then… Musketeers. What really dragged me into your worlds is Athena. I may not be a genetically engineered clone, but I saw a few parallels to her life compared to mine. For instance when she ran away she found her mate. I did the same when I joined the Navy. I basically ran away from the expectations of my gender and class.

    Anyway– keep writing. I really enjoy what you are doing now. I understand about getting into the right mindset. I’ve been stuck … and I am coming back to the writing. A lot has to do with moving, illness, and death. Plus with the doggy stuff… I realized that my life has a black hole in it and I need to write to add texture.

    Getting back to your writing. 🙂 I’ll read whatever new stuff you have. You are one of my favorite authors. I don’t think most of your stuff is girly– btw… I think you write women who live, love and survive.

        1. oh i thought I’d mentioned it to you… “Something Worse Hereafter” really touched something for me.

              1. The problem is that I’m afraid to do it.
                F. Paul Wilson wrote, IMHO one of the BEST short stories EVER written: Midnight Mass.
                And then he expanded it to a novel, and the novel is a hot mess.
                I had started the novel of that short, and then….

              1. Radio Free Colorado? I wish to know more about your activities, and wish to subscribe to your newsletter. Even if we’re planning to move away, Denver will always be the city of my heart and what they’ve done to it is breaking me.

                1. I don’t live anywhere near Colorado. The nickname (which I use only on your site) was inspired by your remarks about your state’s lockdown policies.

                  I don’t have a newsletter or Web site.

                    1. Sigh. First time I read that joke on line, back in the day, it was aimed at me; I was utterly clueless and fell hook, line and sinker.

                    2. I wonder from which neighboring state Radio Free Colorado would need to broadcast.

                      Now, is it peak the grid and dip the plate, or peak the plate and dip the grid? }:o)

        2. My favorite is the John Lennon one. Purple Banana Something? I don’t remember the collection it was in, either, but that is excellent. SO much packed into so little space. Short stories are HARD, let alone existential ones. It’s right up there with Nine Billion Names of God (although entirely different).

  4. As you might have read in an email I sent (assuming email program isn’t being stupid again…) I am currently re-reading the Shifter series (started with Sweet Alice, am now about 3/4 though Draw One in the Dark) and compiling my own list* of characters, places, etc. I plan to continue with Gentleman Takes a Chance and Noah’s Boy. I am wondering if there is anything I missed. I know ‘Bowl of Red’ is.. pending. And I also wonder, is ‘Camels of Christmas’ cannon and where in the chronology does it fit? If it fit at all…

    * If you (Sarah) desire a copy [I know it might be duplicate effort…] I will most certainly send it. My version might be incomplete, overcomplete, or… just plain weird, I admit.

      1. Well, the Dyce books are a little bit girly. And comfort reading page-turners.
        The Shakespeare & Musketeers don’t call to me. I’ll enjoy a chapter OK but they don’t call me to pick the book back up. Not your problem, everybody has different tastes.
        Nearly everything else you write does, DST, Shifters, Dyce, Uncharted, Magis, the shorts you post here. Finish some so you can take our money!

          1. Expanding to specific authors/characters: Dorothy Sayers mysteries are whimsical, Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries are arch.

      2. If I had to guess, it’s probably that most of the stories have at least one or two successful romances going on with major characters. I think that gets pegged as romance by some people, and they assume it will follow the tropes and conventions of “chick lit.”

        While I did read Black Sheep, (and it was a very good book), I have not read many romance novels or any bodice rippers, not felt the need too, so my assumptions about the genre as a whole are likely flawed, but there do seem to be some conventions that make my brain hurt. That segment right at the end of Black Sheep, the author (or the editor, not sure which) beats the female lead upside the head with the idiot bat just hurts my head so much. And that was a really good book. (Your conversion of that whole segment made way more sense.)

        I think it’s an issue in setting expectations. If I’m understanding the romance genre, it’s focus is on the drama of relationships. If the relationship does not have enough drama, it makes some.

        From what I’ve read of your works, your focus seems to be more on how humanity reacts and interacts with things. Relationships are part of that, often a key part of that, but it does not require relationship drama to drive the story.

        Sorry, this is about 2/3 of a thought. Not sure how to complete it yet.

          1. Romance Novels/Stories are IMO All About The Romance between the two main characters.

            Plenty of non-Romance Novels/Stories can touch on the romance between characters in the Novels/Stories.

            Dorothy L. Sayers’ later Lord Peter novels did include the “romance” between Lord Peter & Harriet but the mysteries “interfered” in the “romance”.

            Oh, Dorothy Sayers and some of her friends talked about “romances interfering with the mysteries” but apparently Ms Sayers thought about the Characters seeing the mysteries interfering with their romance.

            Apparently that thought lead to “Busman’s Honeymoon” where the honeymoon of Lord Peter & Harriet got interrupted by a Murder Mystery (which they solved). 😀

            1. Yeah, but it is well known that Romance does not work in SF novels – that’s why nobody bought any of Bujold’s VorKosigan books.

              1. SF romance writers advise (trad) publishing as SF, not romance, because the SF editors will let get away with a lot more science, and because romance readers read a lot more out of genre than SF readers do.

                1. There’s a reason most SF Romance Writers are now Indie. Because they’ve realized their readers aren’t morons and will actually read and enjoy the science if they include it.

              2. I recommend the Mercenary Instinct series for SciFi Romance Fluff. I think someone here (or MGC) started me on Ruby Lionsdrake, which quickly led to Lindsey Bouroker (sp?). Because she is a Romance author, there are times when I think to myself “get on with it!!” because it sometimes take several books for the romance to become romantical (e.g. Empire of the Edge series [same genre as the Dragon Riders of Pern, whatever that might be] – three books until they start romancing).

    1. It’s a little bit girly compared to Otokojuku.

      And apparently Redo of Healer is such that Hoyt’s stories are so relatively respectful of human dignity that they count as feminist. 😛

    2. Agreed – W.T.F.? I’m a guy; thoroughly enjoyed DS/ER and Shifters…. waiting patiently for the next ones….

    3. It seems somebody just assumed the story’s gender.

      As we now know that is simply W.R.O.N.G. thinking. Cancel the heretic

    4. Girly “may” be coming from the internal comment style, but only if that female is very competent and feels otherwise. Personally, I get more of a gay vibe from certain voices. But that’s probably just me. (I mean aside from the actual gay characters).

  5. > Anyway, that’s your incredibly awkward promo of the week.

    GREAT SCOTT! Sarah’s using her promotional blog to… promote her books! The horror! The uncouthness! The raw mercantilism!

          1. I wasn’t desirous of undue specificity of just what was being whipped out — fact is I was thinking of “Whip it off” but couldn’t figure an appropriate rhyme in doubt’s place. Given the reference was to naked capitalism my thought was that the noun referenced by “it” would be “the goods” — which does make your plural the more correct term, but for scansion sake I would abbreviate thusly “When in doubt, whip ’em out.”

    1. The Dyce Dare books are mysteries???? I thought they were adventures in furniture refinishing with a little side story thrown in for leavening!

      1. Character + setting + humorous retelling (the kind of thing you get to on the second bottle of wine) plus a clever puzzle to drive the plot.

        Frankly, the failure of DD to go full Mary Stewart on the world is proof that nowadays trad pub editors hate readers to the depths of their wizened Marxist souls.

    2. Yep. I have the Shifters series near the top of the TBR stack, and will likely binge read when they pop off.

      FWIW, I report to surgery 12:30 PST Monday. Procedure to take an hour, for various values of an hour.

  6. I feel guilty about not reading more, but when my focus is on my own writing, it’s hard to shift gears. Is that normal, or am I making excuses???

      1. One of the golden age authors (Asimov maybe?) said something about reading, reading, reading, enough that you reached a critical mass, and the writing thing would fire off.

  7. couldn’t really get into the Shakespeare one and I, completely cannot tell you what the Vampire Musketeer book is story-wise even though I know I read one. Must have been a hard stretch of my life as I just have a vague recall of how it goes, and haven’t reread it since. But I love DST et al, and Shifters, and Dyce, and get giggles over the Dyce/Shifter crossover bits.

    1. Me too. Vampire mysteries and Shakespeare fantasy didn’t appeal, though the Shakespeare nerd found the use of conversational Shakespeare sprinkled throughout fun.

      I really like Dyce, though I don’t in general read cozies. It’s light and silly and comfy.
      Shifters and DST are both fun but more emotionally wearing. The stakes are higher. 🙂
      The shifter/Dyce crossover makes me giggle too.

    2. Aye, I like the little refs that it’s all the same Goldport, though Dyce and the shifters do not explicitly (not that way! sheesh!) cross. But weirdness of Goldport is… always present in Goldport. And, as far as I know, there is no silly ‘Keep Goldport Weird’ group/event – none needed.

            1. So…. a sort of collage/montage of Colorado cities? Just not anything that allows one to say, “well, that (the whole thing) is obviously $CITY” but some “I recognize bits, but…” ?

    3. The Vampire Musketeer book is a little too much setup for a series to have a good overarching theme. Musketeer becomes vampire, hates fact, fights tooth-and-nail to not convert to evil (which apparently requires drinking human blood for the first time), and they work toward fighting the vampires back harder than before. But there’s a lot of world-building there that hasn’t really been pulled together yet. Hopefully she’ll get a chance to write the others.

  8. Side note, when you are doing the finishing touches on that Red Baron novel, I recommend finding someone who can run you through a Virtual Reality session of Flying Circus.

    The planes were wicker lawn chairs strapped to lawnmower engines, with a machine gun in your lap and a crate of high explosives under your seat.

    I vividly remember the first time looking over the side of the plane, to find the only thing between me and that guy with the machine gun over there was a lacquered bed sheet…

      1. close, except the old Cast Iron lawn mower engines so maybe notsolights on the nose, but damned close to ultralight from there back . . . and for fun, the cranks were anchored to the frame and the engine blocks and cylinders spun.
        Holy Moment Of Inertia, Batman

        1. Which explains the odd (to modern ears) buzz-stop-buzz of WWI setting flight… the controls were… interesting. But with THAT inertia, well, the engine WOULD turn over… that’s what it DID. Now, getting one started thus… I suspect that something of a job.

          1. That was the cutout switch, which grounded the magnetos on rotary (not Wankel) engines to reduce power for landing, since effectively metering fuel-air ratio while throttling on an engine that is rotating as fast as the propeller was future-tech in 1918. Both sides used rotaries.

            Note that both sides also used non-rotating engines, like the V-8 Hispano on the SE5 or S.P.A.D, or straight-six Mercedes on the Albatross – those could be throttled for landing.

            All of the WWI aero engines had service lives in the less-than-50 flight-hour range, which didn’t really matter when the odds were they’d be shot down or lost in accidents long before that.

            1. The designers hated the blip switches with a burning passion, but the pilots kept insisting on putting them in on rotories, too, so they stayed.

              The Camel was bonkers. Because of where they put the center of gravity, and the big rotory engine, it did not recover from stalls normally. I gather it was later figured out you’d need to do something like what the F-16 has to do if it gets into a spin the FBW system can’t recover. The joke was if you flew a Camel you’d get a red cross, a white cross, or a Victoria Cross.

              The SPAD XIII has something weird about its CoG and moment arms that you really can’t legally build and fly one in the US without modifications. The FAA won’t certify it under any form without fixing it.

              The Fokker Dr1, apparently has a design flaw that ends up concentrating forces on the upper wing. I gather it led to enough excess wing failures in flight that the type was discontinued, even before the D.VII was ready to sweep the front like a storm.

              They were all ridiculously dangerous things to fly it.

              1. The guys who climbed into those planes were flying at the bleeding edge of technology. They might not have understood the design errors that were killing them, but they bunked with, messed with, and flew with the people who died from those errors… and fully knowing the risks, chose to lift off and engage the enemy anyway. Because they were men, and that was what they did.

            2. Radial engines were around pre-WW1, but had no impact in the war. The rotaries hit the limits (getting fuel-air mix through the hollow crank was one of the limits in power), and more modern radials started in the early 20s. Lindbergh’s flyer used the Wright J-5, (wiki says) the first commercially viable radial.

          2. with these controls, is it any wonder they thought board track racing bikes were a cool way to go? They too used wide open throttles and used spark advance and a kill switch to adjust speed

        2. For those wondering, here is a vid of a new build (#008 in new series production) Gnome rotary with a propeller installed being started and run on a stand by some very talented kiwis:

        3. And here is a Sopwith Pup with a new-built 100HP rotary installed going for a flight, also in NZ – from the vid notes:

          Video of Pup flight Tuesday 23rd Feb 2021 Have only trimmed a little bit out of the warm up at the start. Some points to note: After the initial couple of coughs and a warm up and just prior to the chocks being pulled you can here the engine miss a little. What Wayne is doing is closing the Tampier (fuel control) till it starts to miss, then goes forward towards to make the mixture rich and then settles the tampier in about the middle of those 2 points. Wayne made some mods to the steerable tail,skid which you can see from the video work well. Part of the reason for the flight this morning was to try running on the 1/2 ignition which as you can see from the video is a good portion of the flight. Worked very well, hopefully will be slow enough for the Neiuports so they can keep up!!


        4. And in answer to “Wait, how does that all work?”

          Nobody ever said the folks back there in the past were not clever.

        5. That moment of inertia meant it was MUCH easier to turn right than left. In fact apparently with fairly hard rudder you could really whip the rotaries around to the right, presuming you didn’t end up in a spin.

        6. One side effect of the rotary engine was the large gyroscopic inertia moment from the spinning mass. Depending on which way you turned (or changed attitude), you’d get something 90 degrees off. So, a plane might do a great diving turn in one direction, but if you had to go the other way, you better be prepared to climb. Similarly, a climb or dive gave you a turning moment.

          Oh, and the lube in the engine was castor oil. Legend has it that some form of booze (a berry brandy, I think) could stave off the laxative effects. That’s the pilot’s story and they stuck to it. 🙂

          1. I used to conduct public tours at Mather AFB, to include the little base flight museum – and the major who was the museum manager often told the tour groups that one of the first things that WWI pilots had to do, almost at once after landing and breathing in all those castor oil fumes … was to run to the latrine.
            Don’t get in their way, when those fliers sprang out of their cockpits and went running … or so said the major who managed the little museum, and often amused the school-kid tours by riding a unicycle…

  9. Hum, hum hum, hum, hum.
    Just bought Sarah’s All Night Awake at AbeBooks. I’ll decide for myself if it’s too girly or not. 🙂

    So, so so, so , so.
    Just a thought I’m passing along: I’m rather not do business with Amazon, though I won’t bite my nose off to spite my face, I will deal with them if their the only source or extremely convenient. On the other hand I do like Abe Books. So! Though I bought A’N’Awake there, I did also drop a nickle in Sarah’s paypalme, hence she gets a little more monetary return for her work even though my non amazon purchase adds nothing to her Mistress Of The World Best Selling Author numbers.

    Just passing that thought along in case anyone else wants to acknowledge her efforts w/o Amazoning.

      1. I checked and you’re right. Sigh.

        I just saw a note saying that Amazon said that they will no longer sell books with “material we deem inappropriate or offensive” .

        I wonder if they’ll apply that to Abe & take Huck Fynn, etc., off the market.

        1. You realize that the Bible “justifies” slavery … Of course, so does (I am told) the Koran. Any bet which disappears first?

            1. “You can always tell a Harvard man …”

              It ought be noted that John Adams was a Harvard graduate … it might also be appropriate to acknowledge that he was obnoxious and disliked.

  10. For what it’s worth. The vampire musketeer stuff is probably my least favorite, and I still read it, and would probably still read more.
    The Darkship and Witchfinder books are probably my favorite. Again, for what it’s worth…

  11. Including PORTUGUESE romance. Look, the guy is a bullfighter. He and the girl have a fight. He goes out mad and dies. She mourns him ever after. Happy ending. Don’t ask.

    I wish to state for the record that there be something rotten in Portugal.

      1. Eighties “saga” romances. Everybody dies except the heroine. Or Eighties murder hobo fantasy heroines like Aleytys – go someplace, get captured and raped, alien SF magic object kills rapists, continue journey….

    1. Out of curiosity…

      I used to* have a pathological need to find an angle from which observations made sense.
      I still have a sentiment that anything that’s been around for a long time probably has some redeeming qualities.
      A kneejerk impulse to defend an underdog.
      A tendency to be entirely too impressed with my own cleverness. Up to and including passionately believing my own BS when selling something that I know darned well I just pulled out of my fundament.
      A feeling of discomfort when a mob gets an emotional hate on for “outsiders”.
      And a complete inability to keep my big mouth shut.

      So… About a decade back, it was once again time for ritual denunciations of bullfighting.
      And I felt the need to grab a red cape.
      Did I let the fact that I know little of the culture and less about bullfighting stop me?
      Of course not.
      After all, it was clear that the very passionate opponents I confronted knew even less.

      (The Argument)
      Yes. Bullfighting is brutal. Bloody. Barbaric.
      It’s a passion play, designed to write a moral lesson on the psyches of the viewers with the bull’s heartsblood.
      The matador assumes the role of Fate, and the bull represents Man.
      The bull will be tormented and die. As will we all. But there is glory in bravely facing one’s fate, in shrugging off the pain of the barbed lances, in defiantly attempting to overcome the inevitable.
      And sometimes, even with everything in the arena actively conspiring against him, the bull gores the matador.
      He’ll still die, of course.
      As will we all.
      But he will be remembered.
      And his mortal remains will grant sustenance to widows and orphans grappling with their fate.
      It is, indeed, a Moment of Truth. And we in our decadence are poorer for never having witnessed the spectacle.

      (The Query)
      How close was I?
      It “feels” right. But I’ve certainly projected a great many beautiful fantasies onto an uncaring reality, and been burned by the model in my mind not being congruent with actuality more than a few times. (Let’s face it, something obscure and far away is the best focus for flights of fancy. It’s much safer that way.)

      * Defeated by the woke. As they’ve so conclusively proven, a mind can stretch only so far before it snaps.

  12. This is how I’d promote Sarah’s work: “It’s fucking awesome. Read it. You’ll like most if not all. Tell your friends.”

    I just finished the first Shifter book and am headed with lightning speed to read the rest. Sarah’s a great storyteller, and I’m interested in everything. My favorite character was Keith; simple, goofy, totally real and normal.

    I started with Sarah’s short stories. It reminded me of the first time I read Guy de Maupassant or Antoinne de St. Exupery’s works–you get sucked into a world for awhile and it’s magic. So far I prefer the short stories because I’m just now regaining the ability to read, so they are easier and more life giving right away.

    I read now, first thing when I get up. Mostly Sarah’s work, before I start with the pastel painting. They’re tied together somehow.

    So, yeah. Her work is the shiz. Let’s make her rich and famous. So she can afford great, big good looking bodyguards.

      1. I would trade cleaning your house* (now that I am able to get down on my hands and knees again) for someone who can figure out how to format Indy graphic novels (not manga. Not superhero – it’s *not* a full bleed) for printing.

    1. Just finished re-reading Draw One in the Dark myself. Did I miss it, or was the owner of the ‘Castle’ never actually named? I can see the ‘Castle’ always having a Mystery Owner and a never-quite-actually-happening Grand Plan for Renovation and Use. But maybe ox just slow.

      1. I don’t remember that she had a name. She was the second to Frank’s first beetle, and nothing beyond that. IIRC. The story is moving quickly by the end.

  13. I need to object just a little bit here because I frequently point out that your shifter books are a unique thing, nearly their own genre, because they are not much like those “girly” shape-shifter books that are out there. Okay, maybe I never used the term “girly” but it was the same idea.

    Now, I do love me some paranormal “shifter” romance which is why I try to point out that THAT is not THIS.

    Though, like I tried to tell someone this morning about something else entirely (my phone ate my comment) I can’t promise that the characters in the story don’t like each other, but these aren’t kissing books!

    Urban fantasy? Well, I guess so. But that carries a bit of baggage as well. Middle America fantasy? Fly over fantasy? Regular people trying to deal with magical creatures and portents fantasy?

    Darkship Thieves and related books are just awesome space opera, adventure.

    And sure, Dice Dare is girly. But I bet guys would be entertained as well.

          1. I’ve been known to use “Ladies, gents, and anyone else who snuck in . . .” Although, one time (6th grade life-science class) I said “Ladies and germs,” and one of the boys grinned and called out, “That’s us!” Far be it from me to correct someone who identifies as a microbe!

            1. Far be it from me to correct someone who identifies as a microbe!

              When I was little I identified as a virus but eventually I outgrew the notion.

            2. Ladders and gerbils
              Liters and gallons
              If and buts
              Dudes and dudettes

              …I have some fun mixing it up. Those got requests for repeats.

    1. Aye, I think the Shifters series only vaguely fits ‘urban fantasy’ as it has come to be. It fits the Technical Definition, sure, but if I say I want to read UF, I get told how ‘gritty’ some work is… and, well, that’s NOT what I am interested in.

      It’s like some of the new Dr. Who… yeah, real places would be dirty, including spaceships. But I want the fantasy of shiny metal and clean panels and such. I want the future (or the present) for all its problems, to be a brighter in at least some way. And, hey, we have things like the Roomba & copycats *now*. As tech/AI advances, why wouldn’t the future be at least LOOK cleaner?

        1. Grew up poor enough to be forever disqualified from hipsterdom (fake poverty as alleged style…). So I’ll be as racist against that as I damn well please. Anyone having issue with that is invited to kiss me under my tail. After I have a large meal or three and a dose of laxative.

        2. Leftist writers like “nostalgie de la boue”. Which to me has an emotional tone of wallowing in the degradation instead of having the character struggle to improve things. I suppose it goes along with the way that they elevate most sins instead of struggling against them.

    2. Yep. And I’ll refinish furniture, too (though the last chair was a botch, but it’s the back^3 up.)

    3. Re-reading your comment, I like “Flyover Fantasy” – it doesn’t have to be full-on urban, but isn’t necessarily rural. It’s just… NOT LA/NY/DC.

  14. There are 20 books planned, and I really AM hard at work on Bowl of Red and All Hot, as well as on a short novel (space opera) that should be done today.

    That all makes me happy. I love Space Opera, and 20 books in the Shifter series? YAY!!!

    I’m finding it hard to find reading time lately. I have been writing more though, which makes me happy, even if nobody reads it. One day I’ll work up to something good enough that someone might want to read it. My ONE regular reader quit reading because I got blocked on the thing she liked (couldn’t figure out where to take the story) and she wasn’t about to start reading about fairy creatures (the other thing I’m writing). Funny thing is, the Space thing she was reading featured a female lead, but my reader (a close personal friend) couldn’t separate the character from the author (it was written in first person) so she just read it as me running around doing all those things.

  15. Put me, too, in the list of those who like DST, Shifters, and Dyce Dare. I’d welcome new stories in any of those series.

      1. Erf…

        And a Strange Interlude…

        My mind (such as it is) has been throwing screwball lyrics at me for Ages.

        People smoking Persians rugs,
        Taking anti-depressent drugs…

        It doesn’t go beyond that. I know it makes no sense. And I know more than person who has tried antidepressants and found they made things Tired, if not Worse, and gave them up as a bad show.

        Also, I do not recommend the smoking of rugs, Persian or otherwise.

        “No. What you see is actually my version of normal. This is me NOT on anything. There’s Good Reason I try very hard to stay that way.” (Alright, an after-work drink.. or two.. or.. is an exception. You do NOT want a non-mellow minotaur. And of late, I am pondering acquiring an ax, at least. Though [mainly?] to deal with errant foliage that is beyond what the Fiskers shears can handle.)

        1. Well, in Pakistan and a few other places, they take “Persian” rugs fresh from the looms and lay them on the road for a few days, so they get “antiqued” for sale to tourists. So putting smaller rugs in a smoker and claiming that they had been used in tribal tents by [insert historical figures or Mongols here] would fit. Sort of.

          1. In grocery store I noticed a decided smoky smell. I asked about it. A glass bottle of “liquid smoke” had broken… a couple days earlier. Yes, they cleaned it up. But that stuff is concentrated, potent, and it lingers.

  16. I think my favorite is the Witchfinder series, but I also like Darkship Thieves and the Shifters. I think I have the Musketeers and Shakespeare too, but my guess is I found them harder to get into. My memory for stories-I’ve-read is quite surprisingly poor. Of course I have a bad memory for things-I’ve-done too (and an excellent memory for people and emotions — I can sometimes reconstruct what probably happened by remembering how I felt.)

    I think I re-read a novel a few months back and it took me until 2/3 of the way through to realize that I’d read it before. It does make recycling novels more enjoyable 🙂 And I really really don’t care about spoilers. You pretty much get that automatically in most genre fiction anyway. And there have to be little hints seeded through the story, because people hate to be totally surprised, so I usually know how a story will go even without spoilers.

  17. I just bought “Draw One in the Dark.” Looking forward to reading it and the whole series too, I wager.

    My novel “The White Gates” was a mystery with a young snowboarder as the hero. B&N and Borders classified it as a “sports book.” It was shelved in the back corner, at the bottom, with books about baseball. Then the Library Journal assigned the book to a sports reviewer, who was astonished that the main character found a mysterious mummy in a Colorado mine tunnel. Very confusing, he harrumphed, and gave it a terrible review. The Shakespeare reviewer who was angry about William meeting some fairies? If they’d wanted to destroy the book on purpose, they couldn’t have done it any better.

    1. NOTE: *NOT* volunteering to run it.

      But now I imagine a web site dedicated to hilariously “failed to get it” reviews. Never mind even if the work is good or bad, but managed to utterly miss the “what it is about” thing – and not in the ‘well the author didn’t know, but’ crappola sense either.

    2. But… sports mysteries used to be a thing in kidlit, and even in adult stuff. I sorta remember it. And I know skiing mysteries were a thing. That’s why Scooby and the gang went to so many ski lodges.

      Btw, they are still a thing in Japan. Seriously, nobody can go skiing without road closures, avalanches, and murders. And a lot of US kids watch Detective Conan/Case Closed or Kindaichi Casefiles. A snowboarding mystery series should have done great.

      1. In 1954 Rex Stout published a novella, This Won’t Kill You (collected in Three Men Out) in which Nero and Archie attend a baseball game at the Polo Grounds (predating luxury boxes, so you can imagine Wolfe’s horror at the available seating.)

        His “authorized successor,” Robert Goldsborough, served up Murder in the Ball Park in 2016. although i this one Archie and Saul are attending the game – without Nero.

        More notably, two moderately (to gauge by length) series of “baseball mysteries” appeared in the Nineties: Troy Soos’ Mickey Rawlings Mystery Series (six books in the Nineties, one additional in 2014) and Crabbe Evers: Duffy House Mystery Series (five books between 1991 and ’94).

        Additionally the Mickey Rawlings books are historical fiction, set in the era of Ty Cobb, the “thrown” World Series of 1918 and even some of the Negro Leagues greats like Cool Papa Bell. According to Wiki the author, Troy Soos, is a ” well-regarded teacher of Advanced Placement physics” and “coauthor of six research papers published in nuclear physics journals.”

        Crabbe Evers is a pseudonym for the writing team of William Brashler and Reinder Van Til. Protagonist Duffy House is a retired sportswriter, called upon by baseball’s Commissioner to investigate (aided by his beautiful niece, Petey, who is about to enter law school and shares her dear “Unk” ‘s love of baseball) a variety of “mysteries.”

        The books are moderately enjoyable (more so if you enjoy baseball and can pick up on various in-jokes, Easter eggs, and references), I would rate them on a par with Stuart M. Kaminsky’s Toby Peters, a private detective in 1940s Hollywood Murder on the Yellow Brick Road, Tomorrow Is Another Day, Mildred Pierced and twenty-one other novels.)

      2. I think the big problem with The White Gates is indeed the cover. There is NO CLUE that it’s a mystery, and no subtitle to that effect. Marketing department couldn’t put blood or daggers on the cover, so they defaulted to a stock cover of a snowboarder. Bad cover design that didn’t fit purpose. Bad dog. No biscuit.

    3. Shoot me a samole or a copy of your book to my user name at protonmail.com. Mrs. Hoyt and others can attest that I am good for Author Gets Paid. If I like your book, I’ll pay you for it.

      I’m also pretty ruthless about reviews of children’s and teen fiction. The best I can offer the home team if I do not, in my best judgment (which might be wrong) is no review. Otherwise, I’ll post to the regional review publication, Amazon, etc.

      I would download a sample but the *%$1 “upgraded” Kindle will not let me view anything called “white gates”, but, you know GATES that are white. Even if you set the filter to ” books”.

  18. I am, however sorely disappointed in all of you who read my fiction,

    Sorry ’bout that – although in my defense I do not recall ever noticing anybody spewing such nonsense.

    OTOH, such statements tend to provoke non-constructive responses, e.g., “If that’s your takeaway on Mrs. Hoyt’s writing the only reason you ain’t an effing idiot is I very much doubt you’re effing anything but your hand.”

    Such defenses as that I suspect you can well do without.

    1. Aye. “You might not be a complete idiot, but I refuse to speculate as to exactly which parts might be missing.” might likewise not be… politic. Polonium, perhaps.

  19. I think I would be a disaster in tradpub, because I’m that weird writer that writes the rather off-the-wall stories. And, with a bit better marketing (and, boy, am I going to have to do more of that!…research my audience time…), I’d do pretty good. But, you’d have to handle the weird parts.

    Hell, my first novel’s elevator pitch can be summed up as “Usagi and Harry get in a knife fight in an elevator, and Dreden wins. Harry leaves with boobs and a disturbing new power set.” (Okay, this is one of many elevator pitches.) Try explaining that to a Tradpub agent or editor or such and you didn’t have three names or a POCLGBTQA+UpDownUpDownLeftRigthLeftRightBAStart credentials somewhere. They would think “creepy white boy culturally appropriating and jerking off to his fetishes.”

    (Well, maybe…but, I did do my research and stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night…)

    I think tradpub has murdered itself by not understand that there is actually people outside of the Manhattan literary scene that want to read other things. Even having Amazon numbers and authors that shouldn’t be selling were selling well didn’t get their attention. The problem is…they have too much history and too much of that legacy. Doesn’t matter how good your movies are-if you’re not big in Hollywood, you haven’t Made It. If you aren’t walking in without stopping to a tradpub office in Manhattan, you haven’t Made It.

    I’ve had this whole thing about the Making It thing over at Mad Genius (and how “Bull Durham” was probably one of the best sports movies ever made), and that’s the dream that Tradpub sells. That you’ve made it. You’re not just claiming that you are, you are an actual writer with people throwing rose petals at your feet.

    That kind of validation, after staring at a computer screen or typewriter for years…is very addictive. And very desired. And, very dangerous.

    1. Back when people read magazines like Analog, FSF and Galaxy to cite but three it was possible for an outré novel to get published and find an audience. The magazine’s editor knew there would be sufficient value elsewhere in the edition to warrant a chance on something outside the ordinary and not amenable to an elevator pitch.

      Alas, the demise of magazines (some call it geriatricide, some call it homicide, some call it suicide) eliminates that market, nor does the existence of anthologies much help. OTOH, authors can publish on the web and hope to build enough audience to justify (a la The Martian) publication of the serial or folk will to pony up for another book either by the author, hopefully a sequel.

      1. I remember reading short stories, buying short story collections… Not so much now. I remember when the content of a book might vary, or the voice, but the craft was pretty much the same.

        It’s been broken for a long time

        1. I’m sorry this happened to you. But you are right. You’re not the only one I saw this happen to. The excitement of getting chosen. The tight lips as things in the contract progressed. A few years of hell with a bizarre publishing schedule, followed by just quitting the industry. It was painful to watch.

  20. I am, however sorely disappointed in all of you who read my fiction, because I’ve yet to see anyone answer as they should. “The kind of thing? You mean books, with words and everything? Because dude, the only thing she hasn’t written is picture books and that is changing, for a given definition of picture books.”

    Yeah, I’m not very well read, because I’ve not read any of your xianxia, doujins, LitRPG, or whatever it is that Campione and Strike the Blood are. XD

    No second person RPF, no VNs, no omegaverse, no watching fics and no image board quests…

    I can’t think of a good punch line, and I’m about out of time.

  21. it’s always the author’s fault. Even though the author has absolutely no control over anything, once the manuscript is turned in.

    Surely you cannot mean to suggest the publisher has anything to do with (poor) book sales! Other than cleaning up the manuscript, house-training the author, and running a curry-comb through the more tangled parts of the story?

    Everybody knows it is the publisher who takes the rough gemstone of a manuscript and polishes it until it glows! Your refusal to accept the limitations of your talent is probably why no publisher is willing to waste energy making your books presentable for the market! When you ought be letting them powder your nose, fix your hair, curl your lashes, clean up your brows, and fit you into a suitable dustjacket you’re busy demanding that the look is all wrong, the jacket doesn’t fit and there’s no way your character would pair those slippers with that gown.

    Unappreciative, that’s you.

  22. Personally, I like the Musketeer Mystery books, but don’t really care for the Musketeer Vampires.

    I really like the shifter series, and the Dyce books. And the fairy tales you keep putting on your blog. ❤

  23. Ahem! Excuse me! WTF!
    Girly, seriously?
    Look, we all know you have a great rack, it’s canon what with that whole Sad Puppies kerfuffle.
    And some of your stuff may just have a rather remarkable insight to some feminine viewpoints.
    But how in blue bloody blazes does that gibe with you having been tapped as co-author on at least two rather bloody novels: one with Kevin and that little thing with the other Larry, the Portuguese one?
    As memory serves you were the arms expert on that first take off on a paranormal Lewis and Clark expedition. And I know for a fact it was your gentler side that gave Julie her non aggressive aspect personality in the last MHI book.
    Yeah, non aggressive go figure. Momma bear with her cub stolen and a demon witch mark from Cthulu’s second cousin. I forget, what was her body count in that one?

  24. Manfred von Richtoven?


    Are you telling me there’s a universe where you wrote novels with the undisputed are of World War I?

    I want to go to that one.

    I’d even accept President Lenny for it.

    Or Hill…uh, no, that would be a grift too far.

    But yeah, I put my vote in for those ones.

      1. First story in the collection. All I wanted to do was post a link to the Amazon page, but WorstPress seems to have done a mischief to it.

        1. Damned if I know. Went to the Amazon sale page and copied the link in my browser.
          Pasted here and got what you see which was why I cussed WordPress.
          Knew Herself had done something with the Red Baron, recalled it being in a short story collection, so delved into my files to remind myself which one.
          Really good bunch of shorts by the way even if it was a bugger to edit being originally in a defunct word processing format. Incredible number of translation artifacts. But as I said, worth it in the end.

          1. I get that every frippin’ time I post an Amazon book link here. I usually don’t post such links on other WP sites, but I suspect it’s a “feature” with WP and whatever relationship they have to the ‘zon.

  25. I liked the Shakespeare. I like the DST. I was amused by the Dare chronicles. My face got sore grinning through the MHI team you and Larry did. So what if they’re not life-altering or the defining novels of the 21st century? They were entertaining, occasionally puzzling, and a lot better on the liver and waistline than the beer I could have spent the money on. And doesn’t that meet the RAH standard for a commercial author?

        1. Emoticons can be your friend.
          Getting sarcasm to come through correctly in blog texts can be problematic.

          And now I’m imagining I’m seeing flappers dancing in the underbrush under the pines as the snow continues to fall. Damn the human mind and it’s programming to force patterns into consciousness even where there are none.

          1. It’s not sarcasm. Go look at his blog. Seriously. It’s amazing.
            The interesting thing is I didn’t approve his comment, so he’d commented here before, possibly under another name.
            My guess is he’s one of those that got beaten and ran away before being blocked.
            Oversight corrected.

          2. Yes, Im not great at context. It is also hard to tell people that I am not happy that Rush died but I am also not happy that he didnt seem to do the pertinent thing: create another ten voices.

            I thought someone would understand that marbles being thrown isnt a constructive use of time or marbles.

            Cant win them all. I have no beef with Sarah’s writing.

          1. Haven’t seen “spot opened up”, but I’ve seen turning against Rush because some think he took a devil’s bargain and so is just like everyone else in washington.

            1. bah. You know what? You do what you can, not what you imagine is perfect.
              Again, ten years old, or just completely devoid of historical and human understanding? I don’t know. why not both?
              Consider the fact that if he was here for other reasons, he didn’t need to comment on that post, unless he wanted to discourage being able to self-promo forever.
              Kind of like smells as “can’t do it, hates everyone who can.”

              1. I also wondered about the “person” who called your promo “naked capitalism”.

                Of course, that “person” may just be a “post & run” type.

                  1. My characters get naked a lot, for TOTALLY non-salatious purposes. mostly because I find it funny.
                    BTW, Banshee, email me, yes? I need to talk to you if you have time.

                    1. Well, I’m not getting naked without warning everyone first, and sounding the sirens 30 minutes prior. Even then people are going to complain about my violating the Geneva Conventions concerning weapons of mass destruction.

                    2. The human body is, by and large, an unattractive construct, requiring favorable lighting, camera lenses, angles and filters to be a welcome sight. Loss of clothing equates to loss of dignity, loss of humanity for most folk. Even with a strip tease dance the emphasis is o the tease, something oft forgot by amateur practitioners.

                    3. And one advantage of being a writer is that you can, by proper rhetoric, divert the readers’ attention to aspects of nakedness that may not be their first reaction to an image depicting it.

              2. The accusation (regardless of any truth or falsehood) is somewhat more understandable at this time, since 99% of the conservative establishment ripped off the masks in unison.

                But it still doesn’t work that well with Rush. At most they can say he wasn’t the most extreme possible firebrand. And sorry, but not being the MEPF is not the same thing as being a traitor.

  26. I don’t have the patience to write, but since you, Sarah, are a Heinlein fan, have you ever thought about writing a work taking the basic theme of Stranger in a Strange Land and taking it in the opposite direction? This was done often in response to Starship Troopers, and the results ranged from horrible (Bill the Galactic Hero) to excellent (The Forever War). Here’s my thought: Mike Smith would probably be incredibly naive, and easily manipulated by malevolent forces, i.e., leftists. And they would present him as a wise outsider seeing the follies of the outdated American society. The story could be about the people resisting the con job.

  27. For me it was Darkship Thieves. Pretty sure I learned about it from Instapundit, back in the day.

    1. I suspect that it is a sign of advancing age when someone says “from Instapundit, back in the day” un-ironically, and you laugh hysterically, cause post-2001 doesn’t come close to counting as “back in the day”.

      1. Now if you heard about it on Usenet, that might count. OTOH, I wasn’t in fiction groups then, though rec.crafts.metalworking had commentary on Guy Lautard’s Machinist Bedside Reader books w/some fiction in there.

      2. There were people (legally) voting in the last election who were born after the 9/11 attacks.

        I doubt there is a standard period for “back in the day” but would speculate it is denoted in technological advance, thus anything pre-Facebook currently qualifies as “back in the day.”

  28. I’m giggling. Girly girl. Snicker. It’s amazing how people see what they want.

    And you are quite right about it’s always the authors fault. Oh yikes, I saw it happen over and over to people. The authors fault for the cover, the price, the release date. All of these people traditionally published, which meant not even a say so in anything.

    As I say, the more I saw, the more I realized what an abusive relationship it was. The one thing traditional had was reach. And even that is diminished.

    1. There’s one bookstore left in my town, and it has two shelves for science fiction/fantasy books (and a chunk of that space is devoted to media tie-ins).

  29. The chief access points, or hooks, that draw readers to books (never mind what they buy to impress visitors or for reference) are: plot/story, character, setting/sense of place, authorial voice and language*

    The more of these hooks you can nail down as a writer, the easier it is for me to sell your book. But different people value different hooks more, or less.

    For my money, Mrs. Hoyt has most of these down solid. Yes, “most” because some of her stories are (by modern feminist definitions of same) “books like that. You know girl books.” Where “girl” = the kind of women who edit for Tor.

    Here’s the thing: I expected not to like Mrs. Hoyt’s fiction (even though I was – and am – willing to pay cashy-money** for her NF), partly due to prejudice, and partly due to having read (DNF) Darkship Thieves. Years later, after having hunted down hardcover copies of Shifters so I could reread them and pass them on to my descendents, arranged for signed paper copies of the Dyce Dare books for my mom***, and hope to one day own paper copies of her short story collections… I’m still in no burning hurry to own anything more than digital copies of Darkship Thieves.

    Because although I was wrong (oh, so happily wrong) about Mrs. Hoyt’s fiction, the Darkship series is the one where the plot (in the first two books) does not move fast enough to make the … Hmmm… The parts in which Athena’s internal emotional conflict narration does not grow repetitive. I realized this was the deal when I got a deal on buying the whole set digitally, and went for it, and out of curiosity read the last one. Then, because hooked, I worked my way back and finally finished DST.

    By the way, this quality (My Emo Conlict) is *massively* popular in chicklit and YA lit, and where the editors are on the ball I can just barely tolerate it (It is a matter of taste). All the other “hooks” (especially story/plot) are so strong, I don’t mind. Like books so well-crafted you are willing to skim past the painfully embarrassing descriptions of sex scenes tampon deployment. I think this is something that might (see Tor editors) be associated with “books to avoid”, however, more than is deserved by the ah, actuality of the book itself.

    *And for my money the people who claim “language” are just really committed “impress visitors” types because none of them dig Tolkien, Shakespeare, or Kipling, etc.

    **Some people read essays for fun. Really!

    *** I’m her book heir 😋

  30. Darkship Thieves is my favorite of what I’ve read. The lack of traffic laws in Eden stressed me out though.

    1. Finished DS Revenge a few days ago, and it’s tied for favorite in the two series with Through Fire.

      Athena grows on you as she grows up.

    2. Yeah. Having worked in the computing industry for over a decade, I’m very familiar with the process by which Internet standards are created, and it’s almost all voluntary. Sometimes some government fiat, but rarely. Usually it’s people getting together and agreeing, “Okay, so to make our systems interoperate, here’s the process by which an email will be sent and received”, and then everyone goes off and writes programs that conform to those standards.

      I can see no reason why people in Eden wouldn’t get together and say, “Okay, let’s agree that we’ll drive on the left side of the road” (however that translates to 3D traffic), not because they want to dictate to everyone, but because it’s more efficient to have a standard that most traffic is following. (Note: *most*; you don’t need 100% compliance to get the positive effects of having a standard, so you don’t need to coerce people into following it).

  31. I suspect I know what they were talking about when they said “girlie”. I thoroughly enjoyed the Shifter series, recently re-read DoitD and grabbed the second (Kindle Unlimited). However, you will never find a male author going on and on about how the scent of the man in the story is driving the lead character crazy with desire.

    I also just finished reading the first book by another female author, which I also really enjoyed. Not sure if I should mention her here but it’s about mathematicians and topology. It also was pretty full of “attraction” references that no male author would ever write.

    That being said, not all books written by women are obviously different, but there is a distinct subset where it is completely obvious.

    I guess my one exception to the rule would be Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets. Which was hysterically funny.

    So there’s that.

    1. Oh. I’d never go on and on about how the scent of a man is driving a character mad with desire. You’re SUPPOSED to realize it’s a shifter thing. 😀

        1. ER….. Yeah. Well.
          And yes, that scent is a strong clue. Yes, I can imagine guys who have read romances (or Heinlein, who uses scent for attraction a lot) to think “Oh, this is girlie” but it’s I THINK the only time I’ve done it, and it’s because “shifter.”
          Most of my characters don’t realize they’re in love till they get angry….

          1. Most of my characters don’t realize they’re in love till they get angry….

            *weighs humor value of possible comments vs the chance of la chancla teleporting in*

            1. Points of information:

              The topology series is partially a romance series, and therefore romance cookies must be deployed.

              Margaret Ball who writes the topology series has been known to write romance for pro money.

              There are and have been lots of male authors who wrote girly romance novels on the side, because the money is good. They usually use female pseudonyms. (Peter O’Donnell, who wrote the Modesty Blaise comics and books, was also “Madeleine Brent,” with twenty years of Gothic romance bestsellers in hardback. Very emo. Lots of romance cookies. Also lots of killin’ and exotic locales.)

              1. I was just rather amazed, since I never considered that “signaling attraction” so much as “signaling they’re SHIFTERS.”
                You know, at the time the ONLY romance I’d ever read was Heyer (and not all f her. I’d just started) so I had no clue that was even a trope.
                I guess it means that writers should at least have working knowledge of all genres.

  32. Incidentally, do you plan to note that the reissues of the DarkShip books are the “Definitive Authors Edition”, in the vein of a”Director’s Cut” of a movie? Since you’re planning to undo some of the damage you feel the previous editors did.
    Might get you some re-purchases or re-reads you might not otherwise get…

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