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In Which Edmund Schubert Withdraws From the Hugos

Edmund Schubert is a dear friend and has been since IGMS was but a twinkle in Orson Scott Card’s eye. For this reason (and because he has no true platform of his own from which to speak), I am posting this on his behalf.

I fully support Edmund in his decision. He continues to have my love and respect.

–Alethea

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Hugo AwardMy name is Edmund R. Schubert, and I am announcing my withdrawal from the Hugo category of Best Editor (Short Form). My withdrawal comes with complications, but if you’ll bear with me, I’ll do my best to explain. I am withdrawing because:

1. I believe that while the Sad Puppies’ stated goal of bringing attention to under-recognized work may have been well-intentioned, their tactics were seriously flawed. While I personally find it challenging that some people won’t read IGMS because they disagree with the publisher’s perceived politics (which have nothing whatsoever to do with what goes into the magazine), I can’t in good conscience complain about the deck being stacked against me, and then feel good about being nominated for an award when the deck gets stacked in my favor. That would make me a hypocrite. I can’t be part of that and still maintain my integrity.

2. Vox Day/Theodore Beale/Rabid Puppies. Good grief. While I firmly believe that free speech is only truly free if everyone is allowed to speak their mind, I believe equally strongly that defending people’s right to free speech comes with responsibilities: in this case, the responsibility to call out unproductive, mean-spirited, inflammatory, and downright hateful speech. I believe that far too many of Vox’s words fall into those categories—and a stand has to be made against it.

3. Ping pong. (Yes, really.) A ping pong ball only ever gets used by people who need something to hit as a way to score points, and I am through being treated like a political ping pong ball—by all sorts of people across the entire spectrum. Done.

Regrettably this situation is complicated by the fact that when I came to this decision, the WorldCon organizers told me the ballot was ‘frozen.’ This is a pity, because in addition to wanting ‘out’ of the ping pong match, I would very much have liked to see someone else who had earned it on their own (without the benefit of a slate) get on the ballot in my place. But the ballots had already been sent off to the printers.

Unfortunately this may reduce my actions to a symbolic gesture, but I can’t let that prevent me from following my conscience.

So it seems that the best I can do at this stage is ask everyone with a Hugo ballot to pretend I’m not there. Ignore my name, because if they call my name at the award ceremony, I won’t accept the chrome rocketship. My name may be on that ballot, but it’s not there the way I’d have preferred.

I will not, however, advocate for an across-the-board No Award vote. That penalizes people who are innocent, for the sake of making a political point. Vox Day chose to put himself and his publishing company, Castalia House, in the crosshairs, which makes him fair game—but not everybody, not unilaterally. I can’t support that.

Here’s what I do want to do, though, to address where I think the Sad Puppies were off-target: I don’t think storming the gates of WorldCon was the right way to bring attention to worthy stories. Whether or not you take the Puppies at their word is beside the matter; it’s what they said they wanted, and I think bringing attention to under-represented work is an excellent idea.

So I want to expand the reading pool.

Of course, I always think more reading is a good thing. Reading is awesome. Reading—fiction, specifically—has been proven to make people more empathetic, and God knows we need as much empathy as we can possibly get these days. I also believe that when readers give new works by new authors an honest chance, they’ll find things they appreciate and enjoy.

In that spirit, I am taking the material that would have comprised my part of the Hugo Voters Packet and making it available to everyone, everywhere, for free, whether they have a WorldCon membership or not. Take it. Read it. Share it. It’s yours to do with as you will.

The only thing I ask is that whatever you do, do it honestly.

Don’t like some of these stories? That’s cool; at least I’ll know you don’t like them because you read them, not because you disagree with political ideologies that have nothing to do with the stories.

You do like them? Great; share them with a friend. Come and get some more.

But whatever you decide, decide it honestly, not to score a point.

And let me be clear about this: While I strongly disagree with the way Sad Puppies went about it… when the Puppies say they feel shut out because of their politics, it’s hard for me to not empathize because I’ve seen IGMS’s authors chastised for selling their story to us, simply because of people’s perceptions about the publisher’s personal views. I’ve also seen people refuse to read any of the stories published in IGMS for the same reason.

With regard to that, I want to repeat something I’ve said previously: while Orson Scott Card and I disagree on several social and political subjects, we respect each other and don’t let it get in the way of IGMS’s true goal: supporting writers and artists of all backgrounds and preferences. The truth is that Card is neither devil nor saint; he’s just a man who wants to support writers and artists—and he doesn’t let anything stand in the way of that.

As editor of IGMS, I can, and have, and will continue to be—with the full support of publisher Orson Scott Card—open to publishing stories by and about gay authors and gay characters, stories by and about female authors and female characters, stories by authors and about characters of any and every racial, political, or religious affiliation—as long as I feel like those authors 1) have a story to tell, not a point to score, and 2) tell that story well. And you know what? Orson is happy to have me do so. Because the raison d’etre of IGMS is to support writers and artists. Period.

IGMSOrson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show—is open to everyone. All the way. Always has been, always will be. All I ask, all I have ever asked, is that people’s minds operate in the same fashion.

Consider this the beginning then of the larger reading campaign that should have been. To kick it off, I offer you this sampling from IGMS, which represents the essence of how I see the magazine—a reflection of the kind of stories I want to fill IGMS with, that will help make it the kind of magazine I want IGMS to be—and that I believe it can be if readers and writers alike will give it a fair chance.

If you have reading suggestions of your own, I heartily encourage you help me build and distribute a list.

(Yes, I know, there are already plenty of reading lists out there. But you will never convince me that there is such a thing as too much reading. Never.)

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“Small Magics” Available at Cast of Wonders

“Small Magics”, one of the very first short stories I ever wrote (and published), is now available on audio through Cast of Wonders. narrator is the wonderful Danielle Daly.

Listen here: http://www.castofwonders.org/2013/05/19/ep-80-small-magics-by-alethea-kontis/

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

My new (and final) review column is up at IGMS.

It’s been a wonderful four years of reviewing — thank you all so much for reading!

Title: Darkbeast
Author: Morgan Keyes
EAN: 9781442442054

I had the pleasure of interviewing Morgan Keyes in July during my yearly Month of Author & Artists. In doing the requisite digging for her bio, picture, and most recent book, I stumbled across the cover for Darkbeast and knew I had to have it for review. Happily, Morgan and her publisher complied with my pleading request.

From the first chapter, Darkbeast reminded me of the high fantasy novels by Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey. Duodecia is a rich world full of gods and tithemen and original magic. Keara’s story is far simpler . . . though it seems to be less coming-of-age than it is the avoidance of growing up…  (Read more)

Title: A Confusion of Princes
Author: Garth Nix
EAN: 9780060096946

I’m a fantasy girl. My father read to me at bedtime from infanthood, so the stories that molded me were born of Muppets and Goops and fairies. I love delving into science fiction, but it requires more of a commitment. In fantasy, magic works based on the price paid. In science fiction, there are entire worlds of economies and social structures the reader must understand while simultaneously enjoying the journey of the main character.

I adore Garth Nix, so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt when I picked up A Confusion of Princes. Right off the bat, it’s got “Confusion” in the title, and boy, does it deliver. I did not start at page one of this book and barrel all the way to the end — I was forced to read much slower to understand this world, and I’m very glad I did.  (Read more)

 

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

New book reviews are up at IGMS!

Title: Home from the Sea
Author: Mercedes Lackey
EAN: 9780756407278

I adore Mercedes Lackey – By the Sword is one of my all-time favorites, as is her beautiful collaboration with Andre Norton: The Ship Who Searched. I keep the Bardic Voices books on hand at all times for my re-reading enjoyment. They are all in hardcover, and the dust jacket for The Lark and The Wren is very worn.

However, I haven’t read a Lackey novel in quite some time. I never warmed to her seemingly never-ending Valdemar series, much to my disappointment. But I was in the mood for some really good, fun, fantasy, and Home from the Sea had just arrived on my doorstep, so I thought, why not? (Read more)

 

Title: Thieftaker
Author: D. B. Jackson
EAN: 9780765327611

First and foremost, I would like to thank D.B. Jackson for being one of the most patient and wonderful souls in the universe. I fought long and hard to get Thieftaker into my TBR pile – I’ve wanted to read this novel for years, since the first time he mentioned this labor of love full of magic and Revolutionary New England to me. Once in hand, I carried the ARC everywhere with me for weeks before going on book tour, trying to find time to sneak a page in and failing miserably, and then right before I left on my 21-day non-stop whirlwind, I promptly lost it somewhere in my very small apartment. <sigh> I saw Jackson on my way to Nashville and he lent me his own, personal copy of the ARC when I admitted my untimely absentmindedness. (I found the book as soon as I got home, of course.)

Happily for everyone, Thieftaker did not disappoint, and I’m very glad I was forced to wait for a less tumultuous time in which to lose myself in the wilds of its lush description. (Read more)

 

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On Reviews

Recently on Twitter (I seem to be on Twitter a lot while I’m writing fiction–it’s quick and easy) a bunch of us were discussing reviewers who blatantly ask for free books, and the value of such reviews.

Since then, I’ve been mulling over how to respond to these folks. Because according to some of my considerably more published friends, these requests will never stop.

I am a reviewer for a prominent online SF magazine. I am on the mailing lists of several publishing houses. To keep from overwhelming me with product, some publishing houses have let me know that I am free to ask for whatever I want, when necessary. From time to time, I have taken them up on this offer.

I am fully aware that what I provide for the authors I review is a free advertising service, as much as anything. But what about book bloggers? Those readers who are just really big fans of a particular author’s work, or of reading in general?

Book bloggers are valuable in that they spread the word. What I give with my review is a certain level of credibility. What book bloggers give with their input is reach — word of mouth to all their followers. Both of these things are incredibly important in this electronic age.

So where are these book bloggers? They’re online everywhere–throw a virtual rock and you’ll hit one. They have blogs and vlogs–sites and YouTube channels.

They’re on Goodreads. You know where they’re not? On Amazon.

Take this example: Enchanted on Amazon has 140 “likes” and 48 customer reviews. Enchanted on Goodreads has 1530 ratings and 385 reviews.

enchantedSeriously — who the heck is going to sift through 48 reviews, never mind 385? Even if I wanted to read them all, I just don’t have the time. So if a reader/reviewer contacts me with the promise of reviewing my book on Amazon and Goodreads (etc), what good is this really going to do? In my eyes: None. They will be review #386, and their friends will see it, if I’m lucky.

But they’ll have a free book — one that I had to purchase (at my discounted author rate) for them. For Enchanted, that’s about $9.00. Plus shipping to them (roughly $3.oo book rate domestic). Right now you can purchase a copy of Enchanted yourself on Amazon for $10.98. And if you play the Amazon game correctly (all us bibliophiles do), your shipping is free.

It actually COSTS ME AN EXTRA DOLLAR to send a reviewer a free copy of my book. On top of that I also lose the 10% royalty I would have made on that book…meaning that “free” book is an extra $2.70 out of my pocket compared to what you would pay on Amazon to get a copy yourself.

Quick recap:
Reader’s cost for Enchanted: $10.98 (and I make ~$1.70 in royalties).
My cost: ~$13.70

I should be sending reviewers $2.70 to buy the book themselves. And we’re talking about hardcovers here. Readers can get the Kindle/Nook versions for even cheaper than that.

“But that’s the cost of advertising!” you say. And you are right. But as it is my money coming out of my pocket, I get to decide where and to whom my advertising dollars go. The two things I look for? That’s right: Credibility and Reach.

Chances are good that if you are a blogger in a niche market (like my friend Soumi Roy in India, or my friend Precious in the Philippines) I’m going to jump at the chance to appear on your site.

I did not know Precious or Soumi before the publication of Enchanted. These ladies each contacted me on their own and inquired about reviews and interviews pre-publication date. Because of their professional and forward-thinking manner, I asked them to be part of my 2012 blog tour. In fact, I did the same with every blogger who contacted me pre-publication date–these folks became the basis for my tour. I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome, and will be happy to promote future books at their sites.

Enchanted has been on bookstore shelves for three months now, and I still get requests for free books, in return for reviews. What do you think I’m going to say to those requests?

What would you say?

Now…book bloggers are all different. I say they have reach, but I they also have credibility because they have made the effort to go out, find the book, obtain it, read it, and then take time out of their life to review it (for better or worse).

If someone is asking me for a free book specifically in exchange for good reviews, isn’t that a bit unethical? Beyond that, doesn’t it belittle the reviews out there written by people who CARE?

Take this reviewer, for instance. He read one of my books, enjoyed it, and–despite limited computer skills–convinced someone to blog about it on his behalf. He loved my book so much that he said, “We could give it to someone else, and then tell everyone in the world to give it to someone else, after they read it.” I am flattered by such high praise.

I am also flattered by the fact that this particular reviewer is only four years old. You can read the rest of his review here. (Do — you’ll get a kick out of it!)

People all over the world are going to read my books. They are going to love them and hate them and writer about them–or not–in their own words.

I’m going to advertise my books to the best of my abilities upon their release, but I am not going to belittle a four year old’s sentiments by continuing to stuff the ballot box.

And this is what I’m going to tell those folks who ask.

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MoA&A Interview #4: Kevin Wasden

Hello, everyone! Welcome to July, and the Month of Artist and Author Interviews here on the website!

Today’s interview features fabulous artist Kevin Wasden! Kevin illustrated my story “Counterclockwise” for the November issue of IGMS last year. He also collaborates on the incredibly awesome Hazzardous Universe books with equally incredibly awesome author Julie Wright. (Hey, I need to get Julie on here!)

And…HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!

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Author or Artist?
Artist

Who are your professional role models?
James Christensen for illustration, Thomas Dewing for fine art, and Jim Henson for just about everything else.

What’s your favorite sketching weather?
Sun, rain, wind, etc . . . I like to experience them all at different times. Each inspires something different and I would hate to have too many of the same ideas and experiences.

Set your current playlist/musical device to “shuffle all” and hit PLAY. What’s the first song that comes up?
I left my ZUNE at school (I teach high school visual art), so I can’t hit shuffle right now, but I can tell you, that when I do, I hope something by Ramona Falls comes up first.

If you could win any award, which would it be?
Best Dad.

Would you rather have magical powers, or a spaceship?
Okay, that’s a tough one.  How fast can the spaceship go?  Can it travel faster than light. Do I get to travel through worm holes or some other such theoretical means? If intergalactic travel is possible, I’m all for the spaceship.  I’m curious to see what’s out there.  It would be amazing to be able to take a sketchbook and travel the stars drawing everything I could see.

What was your favorite book as a child?
The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.  I can’t remember which I liked best, the story or the cover and interior illustrations by the Brothers Hildebrandt . . . regardless, I became absorbed in the world of Shannara for several years.  Unfortunately, I burned out on the never-ending sequels.

What thing do you wish you could go back in time and tell your 10-year-old self?
“Draw a lot more from life, read more, don’t be afraid to try acting in school plays . . . and you will survive high school.  I promise.”

What’s your favorite constellation?
Nothing too fancy.  I always like to know which direction is north, so I’m a fan of the Big Dipper because it always points me to the North Star.

What’s your favorite fairy tale?
I love Feathertop by Nathaniel Hawthorne.  I’ve always wanted to illustrate this story, at least for my own satisfaction.

What thing are you most proud of?
Professionally, I would have to say, I take greatest pride in my TECHNOSAURS and HAZZARDOUS UNIVERSE projects. TECHNOSAURS was recently picked up by Visionary Comics, and book two of the HAZZARDOUS UNIVERSE series was just released by Covenant Books.

The Colin Harvey Memorial Question: Name 3 things on your List of Things to Do Before You Die.
Hmm.  I don’t usually think that far ahead.  Let’s see . . .
1.    Make an impact on art education.
2.    Write, illustrate, and publish 4 or 5 of my own stories.
3.    See David Bowie in concert (I’m beginning to question if this one will happen, but I’m still holding onto a small flicker of hope).

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Kevin Wasden has an overactive imagination, is unable to sit through meetings without drawing, and tends to be silly at the most inopportune moments. He is an advocate of creativity in education and enjoys speaking to youth, writers, artists, and educators.  He studied illustration at Utah State University and has studied figure-drawing and painting from the exceptional figure artist, Andy Reiss, in New York City. Kevin teaches visual art at DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts.
Website: www.kevinwasden.com
Blogkevinwasden.blogspot.com

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

New reviews are up at Intergalactic Medicine Show!

I’m off for the next two months while on book tour — in the meantime, my review column will be usurped by my dear friend and fellow Codexian Jamie Todd Rubin. I for one am really looking forward to his reviews–which have a decidedly more sci-fi flavor. I’m hoping that after the tour, Jamie will stick around to be a co-reviewer…

Title: The Vicious Deep
Author: Zoraida Córdova
EAN: 9781402265105

Zoraida Córdova is one of those impossible beautiful young women, the kind you keep glancing at to make sure she’s really still there, and not just a figment of your imagination. When she read from her debut novel The Vicious Deep at Lady Jane’s Salon this month, I expected from the title that the content would be dark and angry and thick. But the scene she began to read was in the startlingly light and honest voice of a handsome teenage lifeguard on Coney Island . . .who has just discovered that he’s a merman.

And Tristan Hart isn’t just any old merman – he’s the grandson of the Sea King, and heir to the throne. Tristan’s gorgeous, red-haired mother, Maia, was the Sea King’s eldest daughter who fell in love with a human and traded in her fins for a life on land. It’s hard to force Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” out of your mind when reading – it’s almost a continuing tale, as if Ariel and Eric had a son, and this is his story… (Read more)

 

Title: Wuftoom
Author: Mary G. Thompson
EAN: 9780547637242

Mary G. Thompson and I are book twins: our debut titles released on the exact same day (May 8, 2012) from the exact same publisher (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). We were also scheduled to appear on the same panel at Books of Wonder the weekend before our release date (along with David Macinnis Gill, Paolo Bacigalupi, Galaxy Craze, Kat Klimo, and Elizabeth Norris) to chat about young adult fantasy and science fiction. I thought it only fitting that I acquire her book from our publisher (which is a magical power book twinsies can perform before release dates) and read it.

I had no idea what I was getting into. But then, I had no idea what a Wuftoom was. Where Vicious Deep was deceptively delightful, Wuftoom brought the dark, in spades. (Read more)

 

 

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IGMS Awards Antho FREE on Amazon!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen — from Saturday, March 24 through (and including) Monday, March 26th, the e-book version of the InterGalactic Medicine Show Awards Anthology, Vol. I will be absolutely positively FREE ON AMAZON.

This anthology contains a cast of writers I’m honored to be among…and I’m not just saying that. I honest-to-god LOVE these people. I’ve roomed with them at conventions. I’ve invited them into my home. I have shared in their triumphs and disasters, and one day maybe I’ll be half as good a writer as they are. Aliette deBodard, Eric James Stone, Eugie Foster, James Maxey…if you are not fans of these folks already, you really, really should be.

The story I have featured in this anthology is the infamous “Blood and Water”, the retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” where the mermaid is a vampire. There are also pirates. It’s not available anywhere else free online.

Here’s your chance to check out all of these great authors–and me!–FOR FREE. What are you waiting for? Just click on the book cover.

And please — spread the word!

Share the love. And the awesomeness.

Have a great weekend!
xox
Princess Alethea

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

And now…the March reviews!

Title: Cinder
Author: Marissa Meyer
EAN: 9780312641894

It is so incredibly wonderful when a delicious book comes along that you gobble up in less than a day . . . and so disappointing when that book doesn’t end.

Cinder was described to me as “Cinderella meets The Fifth Element,” so I was on board from page one. Well, to be totally truthful, I was on board from page -4, where the frontispiece listed the titles of the next three books in this series and their release dates (well done, Marissa!). But I have to say, knowing that there are more books in the series should not give a book permission to end without tying up more loose ends than it creates. Especially if it goes to all the trouble of making you an enormous fan first.(Read more)

 

Title: Glamour in Glass
Author: Mary Robinette Kowal
EAN: 9780765325570

I’ve been waiting and waiting to review this book, and finally the day has come! Its official release date is April 2012, so I didn’t want to jump the gun too soon. I believe I said it before with Shades of Milk and Honey and I’ll say it again for Glamour in Glass: If you are a fan of Jane Austen, you will enjoy the novels of Mary Robinette Kowal without disappointment.

While so many in literature try to resurrect Austen’s characters and carry on beyond where her stories end, Kowal breathes life into Austen by donning the clothes she might have worn and writing in words she might have used. Anyone who follows Kowal on a social network knows how much blood, sweat, and research goes into the writing of her novels. She maintains the utmost respect for both the era and the writers who made that era famous. (Read more)

 

 

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Princess Alethea’s Magical Elixir

There was a snafu last month with the February reviews — everything is fixed now, and they have been posted simultaneously with the March reviews. The IGMS book reviews for February are:

Title: Witchlanders
Author: Lena Oakley
EAN: 9781442420045

Take all the classic elements of fantasy and swirl them around (stirred, not shaken), and you have Witchlanders. There’s nothing particularly unique about the world that Lena Oakley has created in this novel, but she does not trivialize those tropes we love so dearly, ultimately making Witchlanders a thoroughly pleasurable read. (Read more)

 

Title: Shadow Ops: Control Point
Author: Myke Cole
EAN: 9781937007249

The day that John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars hit the stands, I dropped everything and read it straight through (thus putting my novel-in-progress and the fate of this column in jeopardy for a few days). Unfortunately TFIOS is not remotely science fiction or fantasy, and as I’ve already slipped a biography in here at the end, I won’t expound on it at the moment. Suffice it to say that I do not recommend it if you are not already a John Green fan (start with Looking for Alaska). I also suggest that you have some seriously adventurous Max Mayhem-style mass market fiction on hand to dive straight into when you finish drying your tears. (Read more)

 

Title: Happy Accidents
Author: Jane Lynch
EAN: 9781401341763

I had no idea what to expect of Jane Lynch’s memoir when it showed up, but I liked the title: Happy Accidents. I didn’t understand the fascination with Sue Sylvester until I became a fan of Glee, but I had been a fan of Jane Lynch in general, from her work in Christopher Guest’s projects Best in Show and A Mighty Wind to her surprise (for me, anyway) cameo appearance as Meryl Streep’s sister in Julie & Julia. I cracked the spine of Happy Accidents mostly wondering whether the tone would be more “Sue Sylvester” or “Dry Biography Written by Someone Else.”  To my surprise, Happy Accidents was neither. (Read more)

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I’ll post the March reviews tomorrow. xox

 

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