Kevin J. Anderson’s Blog

i write. i make up stuff. i adventure hard, so you don’t have to.
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  • March 2015
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    TRAVELING IN TIME—ALL IN A BUNDLE

    Posted By on March 18, 2015

    Everybody loves time travel stories. As a little kid I remember my parents taking me to the movie theater to see THE TIME MACHINE, starring Rod Taylor, based on the HG Wells novel. It was fascinating to watch the machine spin forward in time as the sun and moon whirled over head. Then the time traveler arriving in the far future to fight against the (let’s face it, REALLY SCARY Morlocks), before racing back to the present (well, 1890s, actually).  The novel THE TIME MACHINE was the very first “grown up” book I ever read, when I was about eight years old.

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    Would you travel forward in time, as HG Wells’s intrepid adventurer did, or go back in time to change (or at least witness) history? Maybe back to World War II to prevent the first atomic bomb? Or back to the 1960s Summer of Love? Or the Kennedy assassination?  Or would you go sideways in time to see alternate timelines where the world is shifted into a new reality?

    I just put together a new Time Travel Bundle for Storybundle.com, 13 books exploring all facets of time travel. You can get the whole batch for as little as $14, or the basic group of six books for just $5.  Name your own price, either at the minimum or as much as you feel they’re worth.

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    I’m very proud of this bundle. I put together great stories by bestselling and award-winning authors as well as the best new indie writers.  If you want bestselling authors, you’ll get THE ROCK by Bob Mayer, TIME’S MISTRESS by Steven Savile, ALTERNITECH by Kevin J. Anderson, SNIPERS by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and THE EDWARDS MANSION by Dean Wesley Smith, and THE TRINITY PARADOX by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason. And you’ll also get SUMMER OF LOVE by Lisa Mason, PARALLELLOGRAM by Robin Brande, ANSIBLE, by Stant Litore, and two amazing anthologies of the best time-travel short fiction, FICTION RIVER: TIME STREAMS edited by Dean Wesley Smith and TIME TRAVELED TALES edited by Jean Rabe, which contain stories by Michael A. Stackpole, Aaron Allston, Timothy Zahn, Mike Resnick, Scott William Carter and many more.  As a special bonus, you get two complete issues of LIGHTSPEED magazine in the full bundle.

    But time is ticking away.  This bundle will be live for only three weeks.  Fill up your reading device and take all the time you need to read them all.  Download them all at http://storybundle.com

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    Remembering Louis Moesta

    Posted By on March 17, 2015

    Yesterday we laid Rebecca’s father Louis Moesta to rest in Ft Logan National Cemetery in Denver.  He was 89 years old and I was honored to know him for 25 of those years. He was my father-in-law, but I never had any problem at all calling him “Dad.”  You will see his name in the acknowledgments page of many of my books, and on the dedication page of several.

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    He was a former English teacher, a stickler for details, a science fiction fan (he let his little daughter Rebecca watch Star Trek with him when it was originally on TV), and he worked for me as a trusted test reader and proofer on my novels for about 18 years.  In that time, I think he worked on about forty of my novels, as well as Rebecca’s, and he also proofed many titles for WordFire Press. He edited all of my Dune and Hellhole novels with Brian Herbert, as well as my Saga of Seven Suns books. During our group discussions of my manuscript drafts, he always had great insights, digging down to the core of what was wrong with a scene or a section and offering excellent suggestions on how to make the book better.  He went through life with a surplus of commas, I think, because he never met a sentence that couldn’t use an extra comma or two.  He insisted that everyone in real life should speak with proper grammar even in everyday conversation, and he never stopped trying (even when I usually vetoed him) to make even my most deadbeat characters speak with the proper usage of “who” or “whom,” not to split infinitives, and to know the difference of “between” and “among.”

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    On August 12, 1998, I took Louis to climb his first Fourteener, 14,036-ft Mount Sherman. He made it all the way to the summit—he was 72 years old.  We took Louis and his wife Louise on cruises to the Mediterranean—Egypt, Rome, Turkey, Greece—and the Panama Canal, and Alaska. He loved to travel and went to six of the seven continents.  He was a cook in the Army in World War II, and I just learned yesterday that he joined up going into pre-med so he could be a battlefield surgeon, but was transferred to pilot school, but when the Army learned he was color blind, they transferred him to being a cook. He loved playing card games.

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    For Rush fans, Louis had a very small part in Rush history, in that when Neil Peart arrived at our house in ~2004, bedraggled and distraught because he’d lost one of his motorcycle saddlebags containing many items, including all his clean clothes (as he described in ROADSHOW), Rebecca’s dad was the only one in the family with pants that could fit Neil. So, Neil played the following night’s concert at Red Rocks wearing Louis’s pants. Without him, Neil might have had a commando performance.

    Last July Louis edited his final book for me, the massive 830-page manuscript for BLOOD OF THE COSMOS. He was just a few months shy of his 89th birthday.

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    Just before Rebecca and I left on a trip to Oregon to teach a writing workshop, Louis had us sit with him, and he made a point of talking with me about my books to be sure that everything was going well, and he wanted to be reassured that Rebecca’s health was well after all her spinal surgery last year (it was). I only had an inkling then that he was saying goodbye. He passed away at home a few days later surrounded by loving family. We will all miss him tremendously, but he also gave us a tremendous legacy.  Thank you for so many years of love and support.

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    Cover reveal: CLOCKWORK LIVES by Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart

    Posted By on March 5, 2015

    This book is going to be as beautiful as CLOCKWORK ANGELS! A new novel in the fantastic Clockwork universe, with all-new adventures of pirates and airships, the Watchmaker, the Anarchist, lost cities, sea monsters, and a woman’s quest to collect a book full of lives before she can have her own life back.

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    The cover art was created by Nick Robles, with design input from Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart, and hearkens back to an age of beautiful book making: each copy of the trade hardcover will have an oxblood leatherette cover with embossed gold stamping of gears and alchemy symbols.

    Nick Robles also created striking new line drawings to illustrate the featured “tales” in the book, so that this will be a remarkable and innovative volume to be placed proudly on any mantelpiece.

    ECW Press will release CLOCKWORK LIVES in September. Copies available for preorder now at  amazon or direct from ECW Press or at your favorite bookseller.

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    A Frog Kiss for a Belated Valentine

    Posted By on February 21, 2015

    When we were first dating, Rebecca diligently read most of my stories. After she’d finished quite a few, she gave me a near-impossible challenge: “I want you to write a story that has a happy ending.”  So I did.  This was her Valentine’s Day present—which we’ve just put up in a new e-story edition. 

    A humorous fantasy tale. An evil wizard has turned the entire royal family into frogs and set them loose in the marshes, and only a kiss can restore them to their natural forms . . . but there are so many frogs, and so much swamp, who is willing to kiss them all?

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    read it for only 99¢

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    On the Road Again: 2015 Appearance Schedule

    Posted By on February 20, 2015

    Considering all of the trails that I have walked, sometimes it’s easy to forget how important to tell people where you are going.

    That holds true for all the conventions and workshops I’m going to this year—places where you can track me down, talk with me, get a book signed.  I will be on the road a lot all year, all over the country…even to Australia and Puerto Rico.

    In order to see the most fans possible, I will be appearing at a lot of large pop-culture shows, which have been very successful for us in the past year. Rebecca will be attending some of these with me, and others will feature some of my author friends. If you have not met up with us at an event, our “island of awesome authors” booth is quite an experience from all sides. This year, some of the authors joining me at the table will be Dan Wells, Jody Lynn Nye, Larry Correia, Peter Orullian, David Farland, Peter S. Beagle, Peter Wacks, Cat Rambo, and others still in the works. For me it is a wonderful chance to meet and interact with everyone from across the country.

    And Rebecca and I will be teaching some workshops, presenting awards at Writers of the Future, and even touring Australia with Nathan Fillion as part of the gang for Supanova.

    This is not a complete list, but it’s what we know now on the calendar. I’ll update it as more shows come on board.

    ****

    February 27–March 1
    Pensacon (Pensacola, FL)
    (also with Jody Lynn Nye, Dan Wells, Peter J Wacks, David Butler)

    March 4–7
    Lincoln City Oregon
    Instructors, WMG anthology workshop
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    March 13-15
    Planet Comicon
    Kansas City, MO
    (with Dan Wells, David Butler, Peter J Wacks)

    March 27-29, 2014
    Emerald City Comicon
    Seattle WA
    (with Rebecca Moesta, Dan Wells, Cat Rambo, Peter Orullian, Ramon Terrell, Peter J Wacks)

    April 3–5
    WonderCon
    Anaheim, CA
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    April 9-12
    Writers of the Future Awards and workshop
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    and, looking farther ahead…

    June 18-30
    Supanova, Australia
    Sydney and Perth
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

    September 3-7
    DragonCon, Atlanta
    (with Rebecca Moesta)

     

     

     

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    Teaser Tuesday: CLOCKWORK LIVES

    Posted By on February 4, 2015

    A special announcement AND a sample to whet your literary appetite.  Even though this hasn’t exactly been a secret, with a few announcements coming out—and I talked about it extensively at this year’s RushCon in Toronto—we’ve finally posted the first official press release about CLOCKWORK LIVES.  Here is what ECW Press released today:

    Follow-up to the New York Times Bestseller CLOCKWORK ANGELS Set to Release in September from ECW

    CLOCKWORK LIVES
    Kevin J. Anderson and Neil Peart

    In the New York Times bestselling CLOCKWORK ANGELS, author Kevin J. Anderson and legendary Rush drummer and lyricist Neil Peart created a fabulous, adventurous world in a novel that accompanied the Rush concept album of the same name. Anderson and Peart have returned to their colorful creation in CLOCKWORK LIVES, a steampunk Canterbury Tales that explores the lives of secondary characters in CLOCKWORK ANGELS and introduces a new protagonist.

    Marinda Peake is a woman with a quiet, perfect life in a small village. Her alchemist father’s will leaves Marinda a mysterious inheritance: a blank book that she must fill with other people’s stories—and ultimately her own. Styled after Marinda’s book, the ECW volume itself  will be a beautiful homage to traditional bookmaking. A limited-run collector’s edition will also be available.

    Peart’s bestselling memoir FAR AND NEAR: ON DAYS LIKE THESE (October 2014) will also be released in paperback in August 2015. The Huffington Post calls FAR AND NEAR “a beautiful text, rife with interesting photos, anecdotes, and factoids.”

    Kevin J. Anderson is the bestselling and award-winning science fiction author of over 120 novels. He has written spinoff novels for Star Wars, DC Comics, and The X-Files and, with Brian Herbert is the coauthor of 14 bestselling novels in the Dune universe. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series; Terra Incognita; Resurrection, Inc.; Hopscotch; and the Dan Shamble, Zombie PI series. Neil Peart is the drummer and lyricist of the legendary rock band Rush and the author of Ghost Rider, The Masked Rider, Traveling Music, Roadshow, Far and Away, and Far and Near. Anderson and Peart have known each other for more than 25 years.

    AND HERE’S YOUR TEASER, PART OF THE FIRST CHAPTER
    I read a draft of this aloud at RushCon. Here it is in a more polished form…and I hope you’ll want to read the rest. I think it’s one of my very best works.—KJA

    **********

    Some lives can be summed up in a sentence or two.
    Other lives are epics.

    Chapter 1

    As a blue alchemical glow illuminated the rails, the steamliner came into Lugtown on its weekly run from parts unknown toward Crown City, the heart of the land of Albion. The chain of cargo cars and passenger gondolas were suspended by multicolored balloon sacks, each marked with the iconic honeybee symbol of the loving Watchmaker.

    The steamliner touched down, steel wheels striking the rails outside of town and decelerating with gouts of blue-tinted steam and showers of sparks. As the steam vents hissed, lowering pressure inside the coldfire boiler chambers, the pilot damped his engines and let the steamliner simmer in place. He would park at Lugtown for the better part of a day to refill water tanks and take on cargo.

    Restless passengers disembarked, men wearing frock coats and top hats or bowlers. The women wore voluminous dresses, gloves, button-up black boots; some even carried parasols as they accompanied their gentlemen. They chose such finery for the journey because they wanted to be presentable just in case the Watchmaker, or at least some of his Regulators, caught a glimpse of them when they disembarked at the Mainspring Hub.

    They also thought this brief stopover in Lugtown might be a formal occasion, but in that, they were sorely disappointed.

    Standing impatient with the other townspeople, Marinda Peake watched their expressions shift from optimism to disappointment, sometimes even withering scorn. She had seen it time and again, and she felt reciprocal scorn toward these frivolous visitors whose impact on Lugtown was as lasting as a few strands of morning fog.

    Marinda found the steamliner’s weekly arrival bothersome because it disrupted the routine that served her just fine for the rest of the week. A well-established routine surved a valid purpose, and schedules were the perfect safety net. She had often considered shifting her regular supply trip into town to a different day of the week, when her business wouldn’t be so disrupted. But she had always come into town on Wednesday, and it would be too unsettling to change now.

    The steamliner pilot emerged from the front motivator car, which was connected to a passenger gondola and smoking compartment. Though she didn’t like to admit it, Marinda held a long-dampened resentment toward any steamliner pilot. When Marinda was just a girl, her mother Elitia had spent a lot of time—far too much time—being friendly with the regular steamliner pilot when he came to town, mesmerized by his stories of far-off places, the freedom, the flexibility to travel.

    Elitia Peake had run off with that man when Marinda was only seven years old, and she was never heard from again. Her father rarely spoke of his long-lost wife, except with a wistful smile and few details. That was more than twenty years ago. . . .

    Marinda had either forgotten or repressed most memories of her mother. The woman was never coming back, so there was no sense wasting time or mental energy thinking about her. She had been taken off the schedule, and Marinda had other things to do.

    Now, the barrel-chested pilot barked commands, and cargo workers swung down from their drab bunk car to unload designated merchandise in exchange for what Lugtown had to offer. Others hooked up pipes to the steam pumps and boiler chambers to refill them for the long journey into Albion.

    The villagers came forward, eager to see what interesting items had been brought for trade, but Marinda didn’t bother. Such exotic fripperies were a waste of time and imagination, and she and her father had what they needed.

    The people brought wagons and chugging carts loaded with their finest craftsmanship. Lugtown was best known for agates and burls. A perennial fungus twisted and distorted the local oaks with leprous burls. But, in keeping with the tenet of the Clockwork Angels that “even the ugly can be made useful, possibly even beautiful,” the burls were carved into fantastic sculptures, furniture, decorative pieces, particularly carvings of the angels. Every house in Lugtown had burl tables, burl chairs, burl countertops, even clocks framed with burlwood.

    The burl carvers sent their figures to market in Crown City, but none of the wood sculptors bothered to go to the big city to see their art displayed in galleries. When Marinda had asked about it once, a woodcarver responded with a baffled look. “The Watchmaker granted me the gift to be a sculptor, not a traveler. Why would I diminish something I am, for something I am not and do not want to be?” Marinda found that logic eminently reasonable.

    A nearby quarry produced many thunder eggs, agates, which the Watchmaker supposedly found beautiful, or at least intriguing. Outside the agate quarry, children sat around smashing the little thunder eggs, hoping to find a rock pearl made of concentrated quintessence. The polished colorful stones were sent to Crown City in crates neatly separated from the burlwood items.

    Showing no inclination to hurry, for the steamliner would be there for hours, the villagers loaded burl furniture, wooden angel carvings, and burl-framed clocks, as well as racks of polished agate slices into the cargo cars. Meanwhile, the rest of the town’s business ground to a halt, which Marinda found bothersome. She had a schedule to keep.

    She reached into the pocket of her gray wool skirt to withdraw her list, reviewing the items she needed to purchase at the general store. She knew full well what was on the list, since she had written it herself and since, with only minimal alterations, the list remained the same every week. Still, it was always good to double check.

    Since Camberon Greer, the grocer, knew she came in every Wednesday, Marinda never understood why he didn’t just have her order packaged up and ready, so as not to waste her time, but the grocer didn’t have the same respect for time as Marinda did. He never had. Marinda wondered what she had ever seen in that man. If circumstances had been different…

    With the crowds distracted by the steamliner arrival, she thought it might be a good time to do her business while the town was quieter than usual. She had to make a special trip to the apothecary for unguents, prescription powders, and ophthalmic salves, though they seemed to do less and less good as her father’s health continued to decline.

    Marinda nearly bumped into a dapper-looking man in a button-down vest, black waistcoat, and a bowler hat. His thin mustache had waxed tips curled upward in remarkable contrast to the disapproving downward turn of his lips. His fine clothes looked disheveled, as if he had slept in them for days aboard an uncomfortable steamliner passenger car.

    Beside him was a woman whose complexion was so pale and perfect that she looked like a porcelain doll—and just as hollow and just as easily broken. She started blankly while the man cleared his throat, sniffed the air, and said, “Excuse me, ma’am, can you tell me if this … habitation”—he said as if unable to come up with the correct word—“offers a suitable dining establishment? We’ve had miserable food in the steamliner restaurant car for three days now.”

    “It’s so bland,” the woman said. “No variety.”

    The man’s gaze skated past Marinda as if he didn’t actually want to look at her, just wanted an answer to his question. He was clearly uninterested in her life. Marinda realized that she didn’t care much about his life either.

    “No one comes to Lugtown for variety,” she said. “We find what works best and we stick with it. We have meat pies in town, mashed potatoes on Wednesdays, but I’m not the restaurant owner. You’ll have to take up your questions with him.” She walked off, more concerned with her own business.

    Lugtown was laid out on the same general map as all of the villages in Albion; the Watchmaker had standardized the whole land more than two centuries ago when he imposed his benevolent Stability. Thus, Marinda adhered to the philosophy that if she’d seen one town in Albion she had seen them all, and it was a lot easier just to continue seeing this one.

    With measured steps, she walked down the main street, past shops, clerk’s offices, the local newsgraph station. A cloud obscured the sun, and the shadow reduced the glare from the window of the solicitor’s office, enhancing her reflection as she passed by.

    With the unexpectedly candid view of herself, Marinda saw what others saw when they looked at her: plain features, smooth skin, blue eyes, brown hair done up in an efficient bun so the strands would not be blown astray by breezes. Marinda believed in stability in her hair arrangement as with all things. Though she hadn’t even turned thirty years old yet, she had already adopted the persona of a much older woman. In that, Marinda was ahead of schedule.

    The hours ticked away. She ticked away . . . and her father was ticking away even faster than the rest.

    She turned away from the window, not caring about her appearance. Everyone in town knew Marinda Peake full well, and they weren’t likely to change their opinion of her as easily as she could change her hairstyle . . . not that she found it easy to change her hairstyle. It is what it is, she thought. All is for the best.

    As she passed, the solicitor’s office door popped open, startling her with its jingling bell. Benjulian Frull was Lugtown’s only lawyer, a master of the fine art of legal language, obfuscation, and loopholes. The fact that he had no competition in Lugtown made it difficult for any legal disputes to become contentious, because Benjulian Frull, Esq., represented both sides, quoting chapter and verse to each party until the matter was resolved.

    “Ah-hem, Miss Peake! I saw you staring in my window, which is quite fortuitous. I need to discuss a matter with you.” Frull stepped out to join her on the street.

    “I wasn’t staring in the window. I was staring at the window. At my reflection, and I wasn’t doing that for long.”

    “It’s convenient nevertheless.” He was a man with a round face and a round belly; in contrast, his arms and legs were quite spindly, so that, in summation, he was an average-sized man. “And how is your father doing?”

    “The same as always,” she said. “Poorly. His eyesight is mostly gone, and he is in constant pain, but he putters around the house and gardenb, and keeps his clockwork Regulators functioning, although they don’t work as well as he thinks. I believe he’s much more ill than he lets on.” She put her hands on her hips. “My eyesight is perfectly good, and I can see his condition.”

    The solicitor frowned, “But how is Arlen’s mind? Ah-hem . . . can he still think? Still invent things?”

    “We converse as always. He can still daydream, and he likes those silly stories of his more than ever. He wants me to read aloud for him every night.”

    “Good,” Frull said. “I just wanted to verify that in your opinion he is of sound mind?”

    “Of course. His body may be failing him, but his mind is not.”

    “Agreed. I also thought he seemed quite clearheaded when he engaged my services a few days ago, but I wanted to make sure.”

    Marinda raised her eyebrows. “When did he talk to you? He never leaves the cottage.”

    “Arlen summoned me, sent one of those clockwork contraptions marching into town while you were away on your weekly errands. I went out ot the cottage and spoke with him for hours.”

    Marinda was surprised. “He didn’t mention that to me.” She had always known her father had plenty of secrets, but she didn’t know how much he kept truly private from her.

    “It was legal business, a redrafting of his entire last will and testament. He wants to make certain that you’re taking care of, dear lady. He wants what’s the best for you.”

    “I can take care of myself,” Marinda said, “always have.”

    “True.” The solicitor tapped his upper lip. “I believe you know that he amassed a significant nest egg from his time in Crown City.”

    “I’ve heard the rumors like everyone else, but he refuses to speak of whatever he did there.” Occasionally, her father made comments that seemed to fit the wild stories, but those hints only increased his mystique. Some said that Arlen Peake had once worked for the Watchmaker himself, such an ingenious inventor he was qualified to fix even the Clockwork Angels. . . .

    She hardened her expression. “It’s all just so much nonsense. People say he has a secret stash of the Watchmaker’s gold. If that’s the case, he certainly hasn’t used it to make our lives easier.”

    Marinda wasn’t actually interested in a lavish or easy life; she was content with her quiet, perfect life, setting her ambitions low enough so that she met every single one of them. Even if her father did have unimaginable riches from his secretive past, she wouldn’t know what to do with wealth, and she definitely wouldn’t want to be like those steamliner passengers who frowned at the “squalid, uncivilized conditions” of a place like Lugtown.

    Benjulian Frull clucked his tongue. “Arlen had me draw up the documents, which are signed and notarized. Although his wishes seem strange, I believe he is in full possession of his mental capacity. I’m glad you agree. He is preparing for the day when he is no longer with us.”

    Marinda felt uncomfortable with the subject. “I’ve tended my father for years. Sometimes, he’s prone to overreacting.”

    The solicitor frowned. “Ah-hem. You would be foolish not to think about what is to happen when he dies, Marinda.”

    She didn’t have time for this. She pulled out her list of items for the general store and the apothecary. “I need to pick up these supplies and get back to my father in time to prepare him dinner. Good day.”

    Nodding, the solicitor stepped back inside his office.

    CLOCKWORK LIVES IS AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER NOW

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    The Miracle of the Purple Unicorn

    Posted By on February 3, 2015

    Unicorns are magic, so how can a book about them not be magic in its own way? And if the unicorns are purple, it has to be even more special. This will show the wonderful possibilities that are now available to writers and publishers.

    This is a story about a joke comment, then a crazy idea, then a group of people who wanted to make that idea happen—and teamwork, the full support of a group of dedicated writers, an editor, an artist, and a publisher.

    And a little magic.

    And a scholarship.

    For more than a decade, Rebecca Moesta and I have given lectures and workshops on professionalism for the writer. One of the things we teach is that a writer must always deliver his or her best work. You are not allowed to “phone it in,” no matter what the assignment.  Even if you get asked to do a story for, say, a silly anthology about purple unicorns—if you accept the assignment, you cannot blow it off. You have to do the best damned purple unicorn story you possibly can.

    We’ve given that talk more than a hundred times. Every once in a while, a writing student will come up to us jokingly and offer to write a purple unicorn story, just to prove it can be done. But, no, we weren’t really intending to put together an anthology about purple unicorns. Not then.

    Rebecca and I have also run the Superstars Writing Seminars for the past six years, and last February in Colorado Springs, Rebecca and I gave our usual lecture, with the same purple unicorn anecdote. Again, some of our students jokingly suggested that they were going to write a purple unicorn story someday. But this time Lisa Mangum was in the audience, an editor for Shadow Mountain Books. She loved the idea and approached me afterward. “Why don’t we really do this? A purple unicorn anthology?” She volunteered her services as editor, to read and select all the submissions.

    This time, we couldn’t say No.

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    What changed? One thing—Rebecca and I now have our own publishing company, WordFire Press. And if we’re the publishers, we can do whatever books we want, dammit.

    After brainstorming with Lisa Mangum, we decided to do the purple unicorn anthology. (Yes, we know, “anthologies don’t sell,” blah, blah, blah.) Lisa would donate her services as editor, with submissions to be drawn from among the nearly 200 past and present alumni of the Superstars Writing Seminars. WordFire Press would publish the book, and all profits would go into a scholarship fund to bring a disadvantaged student to the next Superstars.

    And that just got the ball started. Time was short. All the members of the Superstars “tribe” got behind the project and dove into writing their stories, which they agreed to donate to the anthology and the scholarship fund. Then word got out. When New York Times bestselling authors Todd J. McCaffrey and Jody Lynn Nye heard about the project, they each donated a new story to add star power to the table of contents. Todd McCaffrey, in fact, had so much fun that he wrote two stories, one to open the book and one to close it.

    But wait … did someone say Unicorn? You can’t say unicorn without saying Peter S. Beagle, author of the phenomenal classic The Last Unicorn.  And, yes, Peter S. Beagle agreed to give us a story for the Purple Unicorn book!

    But there’s more. One of our main instructors at Superstars is New York Times bestselling author and award-winning artist James A. Owen. So I asked James if he would do the cover art for the anthology. (Ridiculously crazy, of course, but you never know unless you ask.) He said yes.  Even better than that—James wanted to wait to do the cover art until he could read all of the stories, because he intended to include an image from every story in the wrap-around cover art.

    Oh, and he also agreed to design the book cover as well.

    Lisa suggested the title One Horn to Rule Them All. We all loved it.

    Yes, that’s all cool and exciting, but it’s only the first part of the miracle. WordFire had two major shows coming up, DragonCon in Atlanta (75,000 people) at the end of August and Salt Lake City Comic Con (100,000 people) the following weekend. We had a lot of fans attending both, and a lot of Superstars tribe members at both shows, and Peter S. Beagle would be at the Salt Lake show in person to sign copies! Both shows were tremendous opportunities to sell copies of the book and raise money for the Superstars scholarship. We didn’t want to miss those deadlines—so it was all hands on deck!

    But Lisa wasn’t even receiving the story submissions for her consideration until July 15. That meant we had one month for the editor to read through the slushpile, make her choices, do her editing, and then WordFire had to put the files through our proofing team, our formatting and production process. James Owen had to read every story and then do his amazing wraparound cover from scratch, incorporating elements from every single story.

    Now that’s a miracle.  Lisa read through the stack of manuscripts, made her choices, worked directly with the story authors for any rewrites or revisions (which they had to do within a day or two). Because WordFire is a new-model publisher using cutting-edge technologies that simply weren’t available to traditional publishers a few years ago, we had ways to accomplish book production that common wisdom says is simply not possible.

    We did it.

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    Many members of our WordFire Press team are also past attendees of Superstars, so they had a double incentive, not only to prove that WordFire could meet the impossible deadline, but also to help out the scholarship fund.  Keith Olexa and the proofing teams took the manuscript and immediately started combing through it for typos. I wrote an introduction for the book, explaining the whole crazy idea. Quincy J. Allen did the text formatting and a very snazzy design for print and eBooks. Vivian Trask, our Production Team leader, was the air-traffic controller to make sure every step happened on schedule. James Owen did indeed read all the stories and managed to include an image from every single one in his cover art.

    Once Quincy finished the page layout, we had the page count and the spine width, and James Own adjusted the cover layout accordingly. Then the very moment all the pieces came together, James Sams uploaded the eBooks on all platforms and submitted the print version to the printer, reviewed the electronic proof as soon as it was available, did a few necessary fixes, and then pushed the green button. David Boop did the specialized task of getting One Horn to Rule Them All up in the iBooks store.

    We ordered cases of the books to be delivered in time for DragonCon, and more cases of the books for Salt Lake City Comic Con the following week. And we did it.

    Let me go over those dates again:  The editor received the slushpile submissions on July 15.  We had finished, printed copies on sale at our table at DragonCon on August 29.

    And if that’s not enough of a miracle—with all of our tribe members talking about One Horn to Rule Them All at the conventions and helping us sell, posting on their blogs and social media, we made enough profit in only two weekends to fund TWO Superstars Scholarships.  Both winners—Chris Baxter and Joy Dawn Johnson—will be attending Superstars this week, with their attendance paid for by sales of the Purple Unicorn Anthology.

    There’s magic in those purple unicorns—I knew it!

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    More New Frank Herbert Work

    Posted By on February 1, 2015

    WordFire Press is pleased to released the fourth, and last, of Frank Herbert’s previously unpublished novels.  A THORN IN THE BUSH is an atmospheric and tense short novel set in an isolated Mexican town, just released in trade paperback and all eBook formats.

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    Everything of beauty must have at least one flaw in it. Otherwise people do not realize how beautiful it truly is.

    Mrs. Ross is an expatriate American who has found a quiet life in the small Mexican village of San Juan, a place where she can be content, a place where no one knows the secrets of her shadowy past life. Until an ambitious American painter takes up residence in San Juan, attempting to depict—and expose—everything about the sleepy Mexican town. But he may have underestimated the lengths a seemingly harmless old woman will go to protect her secrets.

     A Thorn in the Bush is one of four previously unpublished short novels written by famed Dune author Frank Herbert. Early in his career Herbert moved his family to Mexico where he struggled to survive as a writer. This novel came from those life-changing experiences.

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    And I just edited a new anthology for the Fiction River line, PULSE POUNDERS, which includes a new and never-before-published Frank Herbert thriller story, “The Yellow Coat,” as well as a new SF thriller by myself and Peter J. Wacks, new fiction from David Farland, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and many others. You can get the book in print and all eBook formats. The special Kobo edition, however, has two free bonus stories.

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    Starts with a bang. Ends with a bang. And a lot of bang in between.

    Pulse Pounders. Ranging from straight thriller to science fiction, fantasy to pulp adventure, these stories make your heart race. Share the excitement as a woman held hostage in a chair has only a few minutes to escape; a man trapped in a time loop revisits a crisis point in the past; and a mother hunts after a psychotic lover who has stolen her child. Including an original never-before-published Frank Herbert story, these page-turners show why Adventures Fantastic says Fiction River “is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

     

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    Great Review for FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE

    Posted By on January 30, 2015

    Liberty Island magazine just ran a very thorough review on the newly released FIVE BY FIVE 3: TARGET ZONE, published in trade paperback and all eBook formats from WordFire Press.  Each volume of the FIVE BY FIVE series contains five military SF novellas by five military SF writers.  Volume 3 has all-new pieces by Michael A. Stackpole, Sarah A. Hoyt, Doug Dandridge, Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin, and Kevin J. Anderson

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    The Liberty Island reviewer had this to say:

    This anthology of five military sci-fi novellas gives a reader an excellent sense of the variety of authors and styles currently available to both fans of the genre and those still waiting to discover it for themselves. The authors are so different, however, that it is nearly impossible to review this publication as a whole; therefore, I will provide a short review of each entry and assign star ratings accordingly.

    Remains of the Dead (A Star Tigers Story) by Michael A. Stackpole
    The story grabbed me from the start with it unusual and richly imagined world populated by fully developed characters. The idea of humans, living as second class citizens in a world not of their own, but still retaining the best of the human qualities and wishing to prove their worth, both as individuals and as a race, is incredibly appealing and gets fair and thoughtful treatment. The action, once it gets going, is exciting and full of surprises, and in the end we are left wanting to spend more time in the world and read more about what follows the events of the story. 4 Stars

    And Not to Yield by Sarah A. Hoyt
    This novella takes place in Hoyt’s Darkship/Earth Revolution universe and is a ten-years-later sequel to A Few Good Men. As a fan of the original, I approached the sequel with a mix of excitement and trepidation, both eager to catch up with the characters I love and fearful that the short-form story would not live up to the original. I did find myself not only completely satisfied, but with a newfound respect for the author for her ability to both stay true to the characters and acknowledge the passage of time. Other than that, the story is very typical Hoyt: emotionally charged, with tightly written action scenes, occasional philosophical side trips and a dry sense of humor. 5 Stars

    Goliath by Doug Dandridge
    The most traditional military sci-fi story in the anthology, Goliath starts boldly with several pages of infodump before moving on to action, an equivalent of having Star Wars-like opening credits roll on and on for minutes on end. In the final analysis, though, it might have paid off because the story proper jumps right into an alien encounter and the tension does not let up until the final scene. This particular story has the highest action-to-character-development ratio in the anthology and so would probably appeal to a different kind of reader than the rest. 4 Stars

    Teach Your Children Well (An Unincorporated War story) by Eytan and Dani Kollin
    This was, in all honesty, the story I enjoyed the least, not because it was necessarily badly written but because in my opinion it did not lend itself well to short form storytelling. There is at once too much and not enough information for the reader about the world, and switches between backstory and present time make it harder to get attached to the characters and follow the many plot twists. The idea of the society with no/minimal self-ownership is intriguing, but it gets pushed aside to explore more traditional themes with only limited success. The action scenes are well done and the story did hold my attention throughout, but it could have been much better. 3 Stars

    Escape Hatch by Kevin J. Anderson
    This one is a piece of pure, unadulterated delight, from the first attention-grabbing scene to the exceptionally satisfying resolution. The reader can see the “what” of big twist miles (or rather sea leagues) away, but it’s the “how” that matters. This is a perfect demonstration of my point that many writers should stop focusing so much on being original/clever and just write solid stories with memorable characters. And that, kids, is how it’s done. Even though the story is self-contained, it will likely send you scurrying to the bookstore/website of your choice for more of this author’s works. Just make sure you have enough money on your card because, oh man, is he prolific. 5 Stars

    And so we got two 5 Stars, two 4 Stars and one 3 Stars, which my trusty calculator is averaging to 4.1. Thus, 4 Stars for the anthology as a whole. Strongly recommended.

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    And don’t miss the first two FIVE BY FIVE anthologies

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    Teaser Tuesday: THE SYNOPSIS TREASURY

    Posted By on January 28, 2015

    As we move toward the 2015 Superstars Writing Seminar, it’s time to show off another excellent writing book we’ve just released at WordFire Press.  THE SYNOPSIS TREASURY contains the actual proposals and synopses submitted by well-known authors for books that many of you have known and read.  An excellent snapshot behind the scenes of the business. Look at original proposals by H.G. Wells, Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert, Frank Herbert, Joe Haldeman, Connie Willis, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Jack Williamson, James Gunn, Ben Bova, Piers Anthony, Michael Bishop, Terry Brooks, Robert E. Vardeman, Orson Scott Card, David Brin, Janny Wurts, James P Blaylock, Bruce Coville, Margaret Weiss, Nancy Varian Berberick, Robert J. Sawyer, Sara Douglass, Louise Marley, Roberta Gellis, Ian R. McLeod, Julie E. Czerneda, Jacqueline Carey, Chris Roberson, Eldon Thompson. An invaluable treasury!

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    Here’s the Foreword, by our hard-working editor, Christopher Sirmons Haviland

    FOREWORD

    The Synopsis Treasury began in 2003, at what was then called the Maui Writer’s Conference, in a conversation with science fiction author Ben Bova. It went some-thing like this:

    “There are lots of books telling aspiring writers how to write synopses,” I said to him. “What they really need is an anthology that shows them what authors did in fact submit to their agent or publisher.”

    “You should put that together,” Ben said right away. “That’ll sell.”

    It took me longer than it should have to intuit what this meant. “You mean I should just approach authors out of the blue and say, ‘I am compiling a book of actual synopses that authors sent to their publishers. Do you have one I can publish in my collection?’”

    “Yes,” he said simply.

    I paused, considering this advice. “Okay, do you have one I can publish in my collection?”

    “Sure, how about Mars?”

    Next thing I knew, he pitched the idea to his wife, literary agent Barbara Bova*, who asked me to put together a book proposal so she could shop it.

    I spoke to a few authors at the conference, including Terry Brooks and Bruce Coville, and they made verbal commitments to help me as well. When I got home I reached out to a few more authors I had been in contact with over the years, starting with Andre Norton. Andre responded so quickly that hers was the

    very first I actually received. In a fairly short amount of time I had a handful of synopses from major authors.

    So life had assigned a project for me to do, and I rolled up my sleeves and got to work. But I had no idea what I was in for.

    Very early into the project I had to make decisions as to the goal of my book, although some would be tweaked over time. My first decision, which never changed, was that it would be about content, not about format. There are plenty of books that teach format, and every publisher has formatting guidelines. This relieved me from having to reproduce each author’s contribution in its original format. Instead, I chose a single, basic format for each synopsis to give the book continuity, and only diverted from that when necessary. I also decided I would not line-edit the synopses, except to make sure that my transcription was ac-curate. For the most part, I wanted my audience to read what the publishers read. (Except that, with the older typewritten transcripts, a few typos might have been inadvertently corrected.)

    From 2004 to 2005, when I lived in White Plains, New York, Barbara shopped the book proposal with every big publisher she could think of. But none of them would pick it up. Stymied, she told me I’d better try shopping it myself with the smaller presses. So in 2005–2006, when I moved to Hadley, Massachusetts, I tried to gain interest from independent markets. None of them would pick it up either. I visited the Book Expo one year and pitched it to whomever would listen, and many thought it was a good idea, but would not pick it up.

    In the meantime, I kept collecting synopses. I attempted to go after mainstream authors, but a vast majority of them were either impossible to contact, or did not have anything to submit. Science Fiction and Fantasy authors, however, were not only more accessible but often had synopses they were willing to contribute. I still don’t know what to conclude from that. Do publishers of science fiction and fantasy need synopses more often, even from established authors? Or do many genre authors find a greater use for them? Or is it just easier to make contact with more genre authors than mainstream, and so I don’t have a proper basis of comparison?

    Whatever the reason, the collection ended up with mostly science fiction or fantasy submissions, or mainstream submis-sions by authors who write in the genre.

    Most of the authors I established contact with were very excited and supportive of the project. But publishers were holding back. A large factor in the industry’s hesitation was economic. Book sales were declining, small presses were shutting down, and “niche” books were squeezed out of inventory.

    So I decided I’d try publishing the book with my own company at the time, LegendMaker Scriptoria. In the years between 2006 and 2009 I had built a new house for my growing family in East Longmeadow, Massachusetts and at the same time established publishing agreements with most of the contributors, paid them, and continued to find new synopses and outlines to include. It became a strain on me financially when I got carried away with what I could find.

    At various university archives I discovered synopses and outlines written by authors long deceased. Some of the most famous and prolific genre authors of all time. And I found story ideas pitched by authors to their editors in letters, who would respond with tweaks to those ideas, and so on, until a book emerged. The book was turning into a “Who’s Who” in science fiction and fantasy spanning over a hundred years, with a behind-the-scenes glimpse on how the stories were born. I amassed over seventy actual synopses, most of them written by genre heavyweights!

    So I struggled to find the copyright holders of the material, then a way of contacting them. That was a daunting process. In some cases I couldn’t figure out who owned the rights, or how to reach out to them, and some agents representing literary estates were unresponsive to my inquiries.

    Then in 2009 I was laid off from my day job. By that time I had two young boys and a third on the way, was just recovering from being hospitalized with pneumonia, and was barely making ends meet with the newly constructed house. Not to mention, the housing market had flipped upside-down, making it impossible for me to sell the house without killing my credit rating. After six years of work and lots of money spent, I had no choice but to fold LegendMaker Scriptoria and put The Synopsis Treasury on hiatus indefinitely until I could sort my life out.

    From 2009 to 2012 I was forced to take a lot of different jobs, some of them so stressful that they affected my health. One long gig took place in New York City, forcing me to live away from my family for weeks at a time. Imagine how hard it was on my wife, too!

    Finally I was offered a management job in greater Phila-delphia in 2012 that appeared solid. So I moved into a temporary apartment there, leaving the family behind in Massachusetts until I could find a suitable new home. In the summer of 2012, I finally found and bought one in Royersford, Pennsylvania, and I moved my family down. Reunited after about five months!

    I couldn’t afford to sell the Massachusetts house, so I rented it out.

    All I had to do was lick my wounds for a year or so and resurrect The Synopsis Treasury. But alas, the rug was yanked out from under me once again. I was laid off from my Pennsylvania job only a few months after our big relocation. And I lost my tenant in Massachusetts. By early 2013, I had no income except unemployment insurance with two mortgages on my back. It seemed like The Synopsis Treasury would have to stay in its coma for a long, long time.

    In the summer of 2013 things looked more promising again. I found a new tenant for my Massachusetts house, and I was offered two jobs in the same week. However, both jobs were out of state. I picked the stronger of the two, and once again left my family behind as I moved into a tiny, cheap apartment in Dallas, Texas to start work as soon as possible.

    It was history repeating itself, living away from my family. Much further away.

    Fortunately, my good luck continued. In early 2014 I managed to sell my Pennsylvania house in less than six days—for my asking price! With closing in mid-May, I elected to let my family stay at friends’ and hotels to finish out the school year. That kept them busy while I focused on a double-relocation. I moved all the Pennsylvania furniture down to a bigger apartment in Frisco, Texas, within commute of my new job, and I also moved out of my little apartment in Dallas and into Frisco. (These moves included my library of 3,500 books and various collections that can be the plague of science fiction and fantasy writers and enthusiasts.)

    With towers of unpacked boxes in my new apartment, and utterly exhausted, I fell under the delusion I could get some R&R at the Dallas ComicCon in May 2014.

    I was on my feet all day at the con, standing in lines for autographs like a geek, without food in my stomach. It was brutal, especially given that I have bad feet to begin with. Late in the day, my feet screaming in pain, and feeling dizzy, I wove my way through the retailer floor toward the overpriced hot dog stand. And I happened right up on Kevin J. Anderson’s pavilion. He was a contributor to The Synopsis Treasury back in 2006, and in fact it was via his newsletter that I learned of the timing of the Dallas ComicCon in the first place. So I stopped by to see him.

    I reminded him of The Synopsis Treasury, and told him of its fate.

    He said, “Did you know I am now also a publisher?” (A hint of epic proportions.)

    “Uhhh …” was all I said. To be honest I hadn’t had enough mental bandwidth to connect those dots over the last few years, and on the spur of the moment I couldn’t think of a clever response. I really needed to get that hot dog in me.

    “We’re looking for good writing books and I’d like this one,” he continued. He asked me to submit The Synopsis Treasury to him for publication in the Fall of 2014.

    I only remember staring blankly at him, like a deer mes-merized by the headlights of a fast moving truck. I had so much unpacking to do before my family moved in, and very little PTO left at work.

    I then bought a truckload of books from Kevin’s table and staggered off to eat junk food.

    Kevin’s first concern was that The Synopsis Treasury tried to accomplish too much. I had collected too many chapters, and the page count was exceptional. It had suffered from scope creep. The solution was obvious, I just needed to be forced to cut chapters. While stuffing myself with empty calories at a dirty indoor picnic table and trying to rest my burning feet, I yanked out my iPad, found my chapter list (God Bless Dropbox) and emailed it to Kevin, explaining my situation in more detail. Kevin advised, “Give me what’s finished. Shelve the rest for later.”

    He made it sound so easy. Maybe I was overcomplicating it.

    But first I had to find the project. It was still packed from my relocation. Somewhere.

    Then I had to re-read all the material, scan in all the agreements, reconnect with the authors I wanted to keep, and chart my progress.

    I had until July to unpack and set up the apartment for my family to move in, and until September to prepare and submit The Synopsis Treasury. Just the volume of cardboard after un-packing was an absolute nightmare! My wife, Sara, had accepted a four week job teaching Chinese at a Massachusetts summer school to make back a little of our expenses. Two of my kids attended the classes and the other one stayed with my mother in Connecticut. That bought me some time, but I didn’t want Sara to have to drive all the way down to Texas with three little boys by herself, after everything she’d already been through. I needed to take a week off work, fly up, and drive them down. If the apartment wasn’t ready before I left, there would be nowhere for them to park, to cook, to eat, to sleep, to sit …

    So when I wasn’t passed out in my recliner from sheer exhaustion, I juggled my “free time” priorities on an hourly basis. My day job also took turns compressing me, as day jobs usually do, and once in a while needed off-hours attention as well.

    I found my book project, which was very well filed and organized in hanging folders for each author, and read through everything as fast as I could. How was I to decide what chapters were finished? The criteria wasn’t as clear as I’d hoped. Most of my chapters had all their assets but the bios and photos were outdated by six to eight years, and so was all the contact infor-mation. Some of my agreements needed to be renewed. Some chapters were missing a minor piece—a photo here, a bio there. If the synopsis and introduction were great, and the author was paid and I had a signed agreement, why cut the chapter just because it’s missing a bio? I had to get it all together.

    From May through September 2014 I cut lots of chapters that I had no hope of finishing on time. Some of these cuts broke my heart, because they would have been a wonderful addition, but I could not establish rights to publish them on my new timetable. With what was left, I began reaching out to all my contributors again, reminding them of the project, getting them up to speed, and asking them to please send in a photo, or a bio, or even finish their introduction.

    I thought perhaps they’d say they were too busy, and couldn’t help me on such short notice. But instead they were very understanding, agreeable, and quick to respond. Professional writers are used to deadlines.

    I also decided I would really like to have an editor’s point of view. I wanted an editor with experience at reading synopses and outlines for a publisher to write the introduction to The Synopsis Treasury. But there was so little time! Could I find one? Who?

    On a whim, I reached out to one of the most well-known and respected candidates in the genre: Betsy Mitchell, former vice pre-sident and editor-in-chief of Del Rey, whom I had met all those years ago on Maui, before the book even began. Terry Brooks himself had introduced me to her, as she was his fiction editor.

    I thought it was a shot in the dark, but Betsy responded with a “yes,” and wrote a great introduction for the book on a very tight deadline.

    By some miracle I accomplished all my goals. I got the apartment unpacked and organized (mostly), moved my wife and boys in, and finished The Synopsis Treasury.

    Finally I reached the end of a ten year journey.

    What you will read here is only a fraction of what I originally compiled. But maybe there is life in it yet. Maybe all those chapters I had to cut will make it into a Volume 2 someday? Tell all your friends to buy this book, and we’ll see!

    In the meantime, here are my suggestions on how to use The Synopsis Treasury:

    Read the summaries herein.

    Buy and read the novels that were finally published, and compare. What changed? Did the changes improve the idea?

    As a bonus, compare these synopses to the cover copy if available—the summary of the story usually found on the back of the novel or in the cover sleeve. Cover copy is designed to entice a reader, whereas the selections in The Synopsis Treasury are designed to entice a publisher.

    I hope you are as fascinated reading all this as I have been!

    —Christopher Sirmons Haviland
    Editor, The Synopsis Treasury
    September, 2014

    You can pick up your copy in print and in all eBook formats.

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