Books Anne has written or has a chapter in.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A fabulous review, bumps and all

Fabulous review of SHAMAN'S BLOOD - doesn't get much better than this!

The funny thing is, this 5-star review was in spite of the reviewer's antipathy for novels told with a dual trackline, where one part of the story is told in the past and the parallel track is in the present. In the case of Shaman's Blood, the main character is in the past trackline, not the present (where he is an ephemeral presence). For my own taste, my natural inclination is toward telling stories this way, where the deep past and the immediate present cannot be separated. I always want to see what lay in the dim past that caused the events and characters of the present to turn out the way they did.

The novel I'm writing now does the same thing, only this time the main character is in the present and most of the 16th century trackline is handled through flashbacks. I just can't seem to tell a story without pulling in some history from way back when. My head just works that way, I guess. Maybe some day I'll try writing a novel just from what happens in the immediate present. I suspect I'd probably get too bored with it to finish.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Real Deal

My recent flash fiction story, "The Real Deal," will appear in Slices of Flesh: A Collection of Flash fiction Tales from the World's Greatest Horror Writers, published by Dark Moon Books, March 2012.

The anthology will officially be launched at the World Horror Convention taking place March 29th - April 1, 2012 in Salt Lake City. Cover art for Slices of Flesh is being provided by Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Freedom to write, and be read

This blog post is FYI, in case you weren't aware of this developing situation.

You may feel that it doesn't concern you because you don't write erotica or don't use Smashwords. But if you read further, you'll see that literary works containing the themes Paypal and its partner financial institutions have deemed offensive are not necessarily exempted. This veiled form of censorship coming from the entities that process payment for books (digital and print) could have a significant effect on everyone's freedom to write - and read - legal fiction.

Yes, this censorship has already affected my literary press Kitsune Books. So... you should be aware.

The following is an open letter from Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.

In case you haven't heard, about two weeks ago, PayPal contacted Smashwords and gave us a surprise ultimatum: Remove all titles containing bestiality, rape or incest, otherwise they threatened to deactivate our PayPal account.

We engaged them in discussions and on Monday they gave us a temporary reprieve as we continue to work in good faith to find a suitable solution. PayPal tells us that their crackdown is necessary so that they can remain in compliance with the requirements of the banks and credit card associations (likely Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, though they didn't mention them by name). Last Friday, I sent the following email to our erotica authors and publishers: Then on Monday, I issued an update, and announced we would delay enforcement of PayPal's guidelines so we and PayPal could continue our discussions:

THE PROBLEM: PayPal is asking us to censor legal fiction. Regardless of how one views topics of rape, bestiality and incest, these topics are pervasive in mainstream fiction. We believe this crackdown is really targeting erotica writers. This is unfair, and it marks a slippery slope. We don't want credit card companies or financial institutions telling our authors what they can write and what readers can read. Fiction is fantasy. It's not real. It's legal.

THE SOLUTION: There's no easy solution. Legally, PayPal and the credit card companies probably have the right to decide how their services are used. Unfortunately, since they're the moneyrunners, they control the oxygen that feeds digital commerce. Many Smashwords authors have suggested we find a different payment processor. That's not a good long term solution, because if credit card companies are behind this, they'll eventually force crackdowns elsewhere. PayPal works well for us. In addition to running all credit card processing at the store, PayPal is how we pay all our authors outside the U.S. My conversations with PayPal are ongoing and have been productive, yet I have no illusion that the road ahead will be simple, or that the outcome will be favorable.

BUILDING A COALITION OF SUPPORT: Independent advocacy groups are considering taking on the PayPal censorship case. I'm supporting the development of this loose-knit coalition of like-minded groups who believe that censorship of legal fiction should not be allowed. We will grow the coalition. Each group will have its own voice and tactics I'm working with them because we share a common cause to protect books from censorship. Earlier today I had conversations with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). I briefed them on the Smashwords/PayPal situation, explained the adverse affect this crackdown will have on some of our authors and customers, and shared my intention to continue working with PayPal in a positive manner to move the discussion forward. 
The EFF blogged about the issue a few days ago:
 Today, ABFFE and NCAC issued a press release: I will not be on the streets with torch in hand calling for PayPal's head, but I will encourage interested parties to get involved and speak their piece. This is where you come in...

HOW YOU CAN HELP: Although erotica authors are being targeted, this is an issue that should concern all indie authors. It affects indies disproportionately because indies are the ones pushing the boundaries of fiction. Indies are the ones out there publishing without the (fading) protective patina of a "traditional publisher" to lend them legitimacy. We indies only have each other.

Several Smashwords authors have contacted me to stress that this censorship affects women disproportionately. Women write a lot of the erotica, and they're also the primary consumers of erotica. They're also the primary consumers of mainstream romance, which could also come under threat if PayPal and the credit card companies were to overly enforce their too-broad and too-nebulous obsenity clauses (I think this is unlikely, but at the same time, why would dubious consent be okay in mainstream romance but not okay in erotica? If your write paranormal, can your were-creatures not get it on with one another, or is that bestiality? The insanity needs to stop here. These are not questions an author, publisher or distributor of legal fiction should have to answer.).

All writers and their readers should stand up and voice their opposition to financial services companies censoring books. Authors should have the freedom to publish legal fiction, and readers should have the freedom to read what they want. These corporations need to hear from you. Pick up the phone and call them. Email them. Start petitions. Sign petitions. Blog your opposition to censorship. Encourage your readers to do the same. Pass the word among your social networks. Contact your favorite bloggers and encourage them to follow this story. Contact your local newspaper and offer to let them interview you so they can hear a local author's perspective on this story of international significance. If you have connections to mainstream media, encourage them to pick up on the story. Encourage them to call the credit card companies and pose this simple question, "PayPal says they're trying to enforce the policies of credit card companies. Why are you censoring legal fiction?"

Below are links to the companies waiting to hear from you. Click the link and you'll find their phone numbers, executive names and postal mailing addresses. Be polite, respectful and professional, and encourage your friends and followers to do the same. Let them know you want them out of the business of censoring legal fiction. Tell the credit card companies you want them to give PayPal permission to sell your ebooks without censorship or discrimination. Let them know that PayPal's policies are out of step with the major online ebook retailers who already accept your books as they are. Address your calls, emails (if you can find the email) and paper letters (yes paper!) to the executives. Post open letters to them on your blog, then tweet and Facebook hyperlinks to your letters. Force the credit card companies to join the discussion about censorship. And yes, express your feelings and opinions to PayPal as well. Don't scream at them. Ask them to work on your behalf to protect you and your readers from censorship. Tell them how their proposed censorship will harm you and your fellow writers. 
American Express:
Ebay (owns PayPal):

Starting Sunday, if our email systems can handle it, we will send out an email to several hundred thousand registered Smashwords members who are opted in to receive occasional Smashwords service updates. The email will combine Read an Ebook Week with the censorship call to action. Let's start a little fire, shall we? Thank you for your continuing support of Smashwords. With your help, we can move mountains.

Best wishes,
Mark Coker, Founder, Smashwords