The Hugo Awards Controversy

I’ve been obsessed with this issue for some time now, so here’s my two cents (and no, I won’t pay anybody two cents to read this).  I’m taking the Puppy arguments from several sites and their comment sections.  They are probably not held by all the Sad and Rabid Puppy followers, but they are representative.

Cent One: The Sad and Rabid Puppy slates don’t work, and will eventually turn around and bite the people who created them.  By showing the effectiveness of recruiting voters, you make this into a contest of numbers, not quality.  And, considering demographics and mortality rates, I think the 21st century is going to beat the 20th in that fight.

Cent Two: Their reasoning isn’t going to win the Puppies a new generation of converts and so boost their numbers.  For example, one of the Puppy arguments I’ve run across is that Hugo-winners are preachy, the so-called SJWs (sidebar: I’m ashamed to say it took me forever to figure out who they were mad at, Single Jewish Women?  Slow Jesuit Wardens?).  But have the Puppies read Heinlein or Niven and Pournelle?  Their old-timey sic-fi adventures are infomercials for their politics, and not very subtle ones either.  By the time I was 18, I was yelling, “Shut up and tell the story!” at my last Heinlein books.  A second irritating point is the puppies claim the current Hugoists are too literary . . .for a literary award.  Yikes!

As a writer with no awards and never a hope for a Hugo, I can say this with the utmost objectivity: stop messing with the system just because the results offend you.  Create your own awards.  Or better yet, vote as an individual and leave slates for the world of politics.  I’m afraid I won’t change a single Puppy’s mind with this blog, because for them, the Hugo Awards are political.  It follows then that writing itself is political, and, by extension, all art.  If art is political, it must serve the politics of its maker.  Come to think of it, that’s what Chairman Mao said.  Maybe he was a secret Puppy.

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City of Sand

The title of the sequel to City of Demons and City of Masks is City of Sand.  It takes place in the dry country south of the river Ar, and involves some characters from the first two books.  They are one of several groups trying to find the origin of the demons so that the threat can be ended for all time.

The problem is that Marick is part of the expedition.  Although he has certain skills (such as lying and thieving) that could come in handy, he has certain character flaws (such as lying and thieving) that might get him into serious trouble.  As I write the novel, the question seems to be: will Marick mature enough to be a help instead of a hindrance in their mission.

I’m still working on the answer to that, but, if I figure it out, the working title for the book after this is City of Shadows.  There is another project that I might finish first.  Actually, there are a lot of other projects that I have in mind.  I think they call that job security for the self-employed.

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City of Masks is out there (for sale)!

Thanks to Tyche Books, City of Masks is available for sale on the Tyche website, Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, and who knows where else.  I hope it is received with the same generosity as its older sibling, City of Demons.

There are more books to come in the series.  Cities of Sand (tentative title) is next.  I can hardly wait.  Marick, Dorict, and Vinir go south to try and find the source of the demons.  Things do not go smoothly.  Marick probably has something to do with that.

As for City of Masks:

Life in the Banehall of Shirath has not gotten any easier for Garet and his friends.  The Caller Demon is dead, but now the beasts seem determined to overrun the city.  Attacks come day and night; the demons kill in packs, and terrible new forms of these monsters appear to spread terror among the citizens of Garet’s adopted home.

There is one hope.  Masked figures hunt through the night-shrouded streets, killing demons and saving many lives.  One such demon-killer has been following Garet through the streets, but whether she means to help or harm him is unknown.

What is known is that the demons –or the power behind them – will not stop until Shirath is destroyed.  Unless, of course, the Masks destroy it first.

Cover by Galen Dara

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Questions from A.R. MacNeil Secondary Students (Part 1)

Okay, I finally have enough willpower to start answering questions from the students at A.R. MacNeil.  I gave an author talk to two classes (Ms. Phillips’ and Mr. McDowell’s) a few weeks back and was presented with an envelope full of questions.  Here are the first five along with my answers:

1. Why fantasy?  It’s what I read and still read.  I read other things, of course, but fantasy started me off.  I love it because you can let your imagination run – as long as your writing can keep up!  From mythology to Tolkien and Le Guin to comic books, fantasy is pure out lovely.

2. Why did you become an author and quit being a teacher?  Was it worth it?  Aha!  Two questions for the price of one.  Very sneaky.  I found that I couldn’t do the best job on either one when I was dividing my time.  Stephen King wrote in his excellent book, On Writing, that the one job that prevented him from writing was teaching English at a college.  I did all the writing I could on holidays and during the summer, but it was not enough.  The question I faced was, which do I want to do more?  After seventeen years of teaching, I wanted to write more.  Maybe after seventeen years of writing, I’ll want to drive a taxi.  Was it worth it?  You read the book (I hope).  You tell me.

3. Does Garet and Salick’s romance remind you of your own?  Yikes!  Personal space!  Personal space!  Not really.  Mine was much calmer and lacking in any homicidal attacks by sword-wielding assassins.  Same result though.  Love.

4. Where did you get the ideas for this book – from another book?  In a way, every reader who is an author gets ideas from other books.  I take the humanity of my characters from Andre Norton and Ursula Le Guin.  I borrow a sense  of horror from Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King.  The landscapes come more from personal travel then books, but I’ve perused many a map of medieval cities in planning Shirath.  As for the basic ideas: demons using fear and how to fight them, that comes from my own childhood.  When I was five, I feared what might be in the dark spaces of my room.  The closet was the worst, until the day I opened it and found it empty of monsters.  That always made me wonder about fear, and that was the basis for the book.

5, Are you secretly a demon?  Which character are you most fond of?  Another two-for-one, eh?  In the first book, I was fondest of Marick, since his dialogue was so fun to write.  In the second book, I liked Trax the most.  He’s a complex fellow, and I enjoyed exploring his devious nature.  As for the other question, I am not a demon.  Sorry if that disappoints!  However, on the bright side, I seem capable of producing  them at will.  Muuwhaahaahaa!

I will try and answer more questions when my natural laziness takes a vacation.  And thanks to Ms. Phillips and Mr. McDowell for their kind invitation.

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Milestone for Gods and Dragons Collection

The e-book collection, Gods and Dragons, has hit a significant milestone: over 50,000 sales!  Kudos are owed to Phoenix Sullivan at Steel Magnolia Press and to my fellow authors for making me look good.

I’m having a hard time processing this, since it means that 100,ooo eyeballs (barring Christmas accidents with Red Rider BB guns or the existence of Cyclopean fans) have seen City of Demons.  I hope the sequel will live up to their expectations.


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The Sequel (draft) Is Finished.

City of Masks (working title) is complete – except for the revising, editing, and polishing.  Oh yes, and finding a publisher.  Minor considerations.

Now for a week or two of reading other people’s writing.

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VCon Report

I’ve been putting this off to write, but it’s time to report on VCon.  I missed the Friday night opening, but went there Saturday and Sunday to participate in three panels: Religion and Atheism in SpecFic, Violence in SpecFic, and Kid Lit.  All three went well (meaning I didn’t lose the power of speech and at least made partial sense when I talked).  The panel on Violence in SpecFic had the added bonus of having David Weber as a fellow panelist.  He is a prolific author of military SF, and a man who is very thoughtful about his writing and SF in general.

Many thanks to the VCon staff and volunteers, especially Sandra Wickham, the coordinator of the panels.  Next year, the theme is time travel.  I might even try to figure out a costume for that one.

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Gods and Dragons Update and VCon Approaches!

The Gods and Dragons collection, which contains my novel as well many others, all of them good reads, is still charging forth.  Over 20,000 copies sold!  This means a lot of new readers for City of Demons, and I hope they are all happy with the experience.  I’m still on’s list of 100 top fantasy authors, which continues to be funny and terrifying.

VCon, The Vancouver Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Gaming Convention is set for October 3rd to 5th.  I’m pleased with the panels I’m on, since each topic could start a really vicious argument.  If you attend, please drop by and dispute:

Friday, 3pm: Are Fantasy and Science Fiction Inherently Violent Genres?

Saturday, 6pm: The Role of Religion and Atheism in Speculative Fiction.

Sunday, 4pm: Is There Enough Kid in Kidlit?

I look forward to seeing other writers, artists, and fanatics there.

VCon 39, Military Might

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Gods and Dragons Conquers the World! (Metaphorically)

Time for an update on the Gods and Dragons collection, which republished City of Demons.  It is doing amazingly well, so well that I’ve been on’s list of the hundred most popular fantasy writers for weeks now.  Sometimes I’m ahead of Haruki Murakami, which is just plain wrong, since he is the greatest author who has ever lived.

I’m waiting for the karmic retribution.

Since this is a republication rather than a new book, I blame it all on the skillful marketing of Phoenix Sullivan at Steel Magnolia Press and the talents of my fellow authors.  The lesson that new writers should take away from this is that figuring out the algorithms of Amazon and the return on investment for different types of ads is part of the writing game.  You can’t just write well, you have to market well (as well).  If it’s not your cup of tea, then find someone who can do it for you.

This is an amazing ride that will end soon, but I’m glad I’m on it now!

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City of Demons Reborn!

Steel Magnolia press has re-issued City of Demons as one of eight epic fantasy novels in a new e-bundle titled Gods and Dragons.  For all of 99 cents, you can have eight wonderful adventures.  The deal is a temporary one, so go over to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or wherever you shop for e-books, and get this.  I’ll leave the banner up while the deal lasts.  Echh, self-promotion makes me dizzy, but it really is a good buy with some fine authors included.

Garet’s story continues to unfold.  Why would men and women wear stone masks and prowl through the city of Shirath at night?  The Banes don’t know, and you will have to wait for the next book to find out.

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