Brown River Queen cover art

Friday, March 30, 2012

Frank's Fantastic Free Friday Fiction Free-for-all, With TANTRUM.

Today I'm embarking upon a grand experiment in greed.

Oops. Did I say greed? I meant publishing. Specifically, I've entered a title into Amazon's KDP Select program.

For you, that means Passing the Narrows is free. That's right. Gratis. No charge. You click, and it's yours, delivered via the magic of Amazon, elves, and unicorn snorts.

"But Frank," you opine. "What do you get out of this?"

I rub my furry paws together in an overt display of unseemly glee. Because, dear reader, what I get out of it is exposure. So don't fret, because that might interfere with your clicking. Wouldn't want that, heavens no.

The magic of KDP Select is that I might get a thousand -- nay, ten thousand -- downloads in the next two days. And if people enjoy this freebie, well, they might be willing to part with the modest cost of my other works.

There is a catch, of sorts. Passing the Narrows is only free today (starting midnight March 30) and tomorrow (March 31). After that it resumes its normal price of forty-eleven dozen hundred gazillion dollars.

Okay, so it's free, and there's a link right above and another one right here. But some of you haven't clicked the links!  Why?  Reasons include:
  • You hate Frank, and are only here looking for incriminating blog posts with which to line the walls of your makeshift lair.
  • You bought Passing the Narrows already and you're beginning to think the guy with the makeshift lair has the right idea.
  • You are a Tibetan yak, and your attempt to Google 'hairball relief' was hampered by your hooves.
  • You aren't sure if you want to read anything about steamboats or the Civil War.
Okay, fair enough. I can't help numbers one through three above, but maybe I can nudge you fours into springing for something free. I did mention it's free, didn't I? I did? Good.

Passing the Narrows is the tale of a stubborn Mississippi riverboat captain and his downtrodden crew of Civil War survivors. Which probably sounds all too familiar, but hang on, this American Civil War was fought with spells and magics along with cannon and cavalry. 

Which makes it a sort of alternate history Southern fantasy. A darkish one, at that.  

Here's a taste of the opening, just to whet your appetite:


The Yocona surged ahead, paddle-wheel churning, cylinders beating like some great, frightened heart.

"Dark as Hell and twiced as hot," muttered Swain from the shadows behind the clerk’s map-table.

A ragged chorus of ayes answered.  The Captain checked his pocket watch; ten o'clock sharp.  Old Swain and his hourly announcements hadn't lost a minute in twenty years.

The Captain snapped his pocket watch shut and peered out into the darkness.  There, to port, loomed a hulking mass of shadow twice the height of any around it -- Cleary's Oak, last marker before the riverboat landing at Float.  "We're an hour from Float, Mr. Barker. Notify the deck crew we'll be putting in for the night."

"Aye, Cap'n."

"She won't like that," said Swain, whispering.  "Fit to be tied, she'll be.  Full of fire and steam."

"Who, Swain?"

"You know who.  The wand-waver.  The Yankee."

"Go back to sleep."

"I heard her talkin’ while the boys were hauling me up the deck,” said Swain, gesturing with the stump of his missing right arm.  “Said she was aimin’ to make Vicksburg 'fore the moon came again.  Said she had orders, and papers, and -- "

"I give the orders here, Swain.  Not any damn Yankee wand-wavers."

Swain cackled.  The Yocona churned past Cleary's Oak, picking up speed as the Yazoo River turned narrow and straight.  The Captain rang three bells, and the thump-thump-thump of the pistons slowed.
The Yocona’s running lamps began to touch the trees on each bank of the Yazoo River.  Shadows whirled and twisted, caught mid-step in some secret dance before fleeing back into the impenetrable murk beyond the first rank of trees.  Some few seemed to run just ahead of the light, capering and tumbling like shards of a nightmare given flesh and let loose to roam.

The shadows reminded the Captain of Gettysburg and Oxford and a hundred other haunted ruins left in the wake of the war.  The Yazoo River was the only safe route through the countryside now, unless you 
were a sorcerer, a Yankee, or a fool.

"Eyes ahead, boys," said the Captain, softly.  "They're only there if you look."

Monday, March 26, 2012

MidSouthCon 30 Roundup

MidSouthCon 30 has come and gone, and I'm pleased to say I was there for it.

I'm not going to post each and every photo I took, because A) that's what Pinterest is for and B) you've probably seen more photos of Stormtroopers than you actually need to see in a two lifetimes already. But I will post a few notables.

On the left is Dr. Ethan Siegel, who is a real live theoretical astrophysicist and part-time Spartan warrior. His Significant Other is on the right. He was a Guest of Honor at the con, and I had the pleasure of talking with him about dark matter and dark energy, which is not at all an unusual dinner conversation at an SF/F convention, regardless of how the diners are dressed. That's one of the things that make cons so exciting. The most fascinating people show up!

Fans of Dr. Who will recognize this costume immediately. For everyone else, she's a Weeping Angel. They only move when you look away or blink, and they only move when they're about to do horrible, awful things to you.  It's fun, watching them sneak up behind people and just stand there.

Storm Troopers!  Look, I've talked to a lot of these guys, and they're unfailingly helpful and polite. I know, I know, during the week they work for the Empire, but at the Cons they are a force for good.  And they're always happy to pose, and point their blasters right at you, but in this case it's all in fun.  It is all in fun, right guys? Right?

This young woman was later seen using that rifle to keep the hordes of eager fan-boys at bay. 

The lone Ghostbuster I saw Saturday had carried an amazing proton pack. I'm fairly sure it actually worked. 

Gotta love articulated wings!

Oh. this isn't from the Con. This is me, any Monday morning...

I think she was looking for a contact lens.

Now, lest you, gentle reader, decide cons are all leather and steampunk outfits, let me talk about the panels.

Panels consist of a row of editors or authors or publicists or agents or any combination thereof facing a room of festively-dressed fans, writers, and other parties. The experts impart knowledge. People like me sit in the audience and hope to soak up that critical mass of information that will send us skyrocketing from obscurity and onto the Jimmy Fallon Show.

I managed to hit several panels, and had a blast at each. But if I had to pick one panel to call my most valuable, it would be the Marketing panel.

Pictured are AP Stephens, Stephen Zimmer, Janine Spendlove, Mike Preston, and Peggy DeKay. Now, maybe you're thinking "Frank, why would you be interested in Marketing? You're a writer!"

Well, gentle reader, if you're not Stephen King, and I do not appear to be, marketing is a genuine concern in the whiz-bang electrified interweb-activated publishing landscape of the future which is, incidentally, today. 

It's market or die, baby. According to my Amazon rankings, it's mostly die. But we small fry authors have to keep swimming, regardless.

I learned a few things at this panel. Things I'll be implementing shortly. Be on the alert for a weekly podcast, hosted by me and my impenetrable Southern accent. (Side note: Anyone who has a Snowball Blue USB mic they don't want, get in touch. I maka you a deal, no?)

I met some great people at the con. The good Dr. Siegel is both brilliant and a gentleman. Janine Spendlove is both a Marine C-130 pilot and the author of a darned good book (War of the Seasons, Book 1: The Human). And publishing expert Peggy DeKay said my accent shouldn't be an impediment to creating a podcast!

My Con experience was capped off when my book All the Paths of Shadow was named the runner-up to the 2012 Darrell Award for a YA novel!

So that's my MidSouthCon 30 roundup. I enjoyed seeing my Con pals, and making new ones, and joining in the madness that is fandom, just for a bit.

Note: see more pics at my Pinterest account, here.