K. Ceres Wright

Cover Reveal for S. Craig Zahler’s Book: Corpus Chrome, Inc.

by , on
Oct 29, 2013


Who should be given a second chance at life? 
Decades in the future Corpus Chrome, Inc. develops a robotic body, dubbed a “mannequin,” that can revive, sustain and interface with a cryonically-preserved human brain. Like all new technology, it is copyrighted.
Hidden behind lawyers and a chrome facade, the inscrutable organization resurrects a variety of notable minds, pulling the deceased back from oblivion into a world of animated sculpture, foam rubber cars, dissolving waste and strange terrorism. Nobody knows how Corpus Chrome, Inc. determines which individuals should be given a second life, yet myriad people are affected. Among them are Lisanne Breutschen, the composer who invented sequentialism with her twin sister, and Champ Sappline, a garbage man who is entangled in a war between the third, fourth and fifth floors of a New York City apartment building.
In the Spring of 2058, Corpus Chrome, Inc. announces that they will revive Derek W.R. Dulande—a serial rapist and murderer who was executed thirty years ago for his crimes. The public is horrified by the decision, and before long, the company’s right to control the lone revolving door between life and death will be violently challenged….
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp

Cyberpunk/Transhumanism novel  coming from Dog Star Books in January 2014

What They’re Saying About S. Craig Zahler

“Zahler’s a fabulous story teller whose style catapults his reader into the turn of the century West with a ferocious sense of authenticity.”
—Kurt Russell, star of Tombstone, Escape from New York, Dark Blue, and Death Proof

“If you’re looking for something similar to what you’ve read before, this ain’t it. If you want something comforting and predictable, this damn sure ain’t it.  But if you want something with storytelling guts and a weird point of view, an unforgettable voice, then you want what I want, and that is this.”
—Joe R. Lansdale author of Edge of Dark Water


by , on
Oct 25, 2013

The Science Fiction Romance Brigade is hosting an If You Like… series. Here’s one installment of comparisons of science fiction romance books:


Rx-cover Cog

If you like Robert Brockway’s Rx: A Tale of Electronegativity, read K. Ceres Wright’s Cog.

Similarities: Cyberpunk, nanotech, corporate ne’er-do-wells, addiction, killer agents, gritty underworld

Williams-Dix-The-Prodigal-Sun_web AMBASADORA_cover3-1

If you like Sean Williams’s and Shane Dix’s Evergence series, read Heidi Ruby Miller’s Ambasadora series.

Similarities: Strong female protagonist, interstellar travel, biomodification, genetics, complex society

Magic Study Unlikely

If you like Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder, read Frances Pauli’s Unlikely: A Kingdom’s Gone Story.

Similarities: Strong female protagonist who goes on the run, magic, cabals, secret schemes, self-discovery

Intentional Abduction Kidnapped

If you like Intentional Abduction by Eve Langlais, read Kidnapped by Maria Hammarblad.

Similarities: Abduction, hardened warriors, galactic-scale background, slow-burn romance

Digital Imprints

by , on
Oct 23, 2013

Image from Booksquare.com – http://booksquare.com/the-publishing-quadrant-where-do-you-belong/

Publishing. It’s been experiencing a revolution, and for a time, no one was quite sure where it was going…especially for traditional publishers. They were using outdated business models that involved printers, shippers, wholesalers, distributors, marketers, and booksellers, all of whom took a cut. And those writers who chose to forgo this process and self-publish (also known as vanity publishing) were frowned upon by the “establishment.” 

But as self-publishing success stories proliferated, it started to become less stigmatized and more authors were willing to dip their toe in the pool. Writers were beginning to take control from the publishers—control over format, pricing, publication dates, type of content, and other areas.

“The revolution of digital publishing has leveled the playing field for writers,” says Ron Gavalik, creator of the Emotobooks™ format and self-publisher of Grit City Books. “But it requires us to use new technologies to garner readers.”

One of those technologies is Amazon. Amazon provides a platform for authors to display their books, and for customers to write reviews and rate books. Amazon began forcing the big-box bookstores out of business, and the advent of e-books just hurried the process along. In a “fight or flight” response, traditional publishers had to develop new business models just to compete. They needed a way to publish more simply and at lower cost. Enter digital imprints.

An imprint for a traditional publisher is a trade name under which certain types of books are published and can be used to segment the market. For example, Harlequin LUNA is an imprint of Harlequin romance for fantasy-related stories. Harlequin TEEN appeals to adolescents.

A digital imprint is a trade name that publishes only electronic forms of media. And the traditional publishing houses have developed several of them in response to the changing market.

Random House has developed the digital imprints Alibi for mystery/thriller/suspense stories; Hydra for science fiction and fantasy, Flirt for New Adult; and Loveswept for contemporary romance. The imprints offer two remuneration models:

  • Profit share model—No advance is given the author. The imprint and author share profits 50-50 from the first copy sold. “Profit” is defined as net sales revenue minus deductions for print editions (actual costs directly attributable to production and shipping of the book). For digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover the cost of production. For both print and digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover all marketing costs connected with general, category- or imprint-wide marketing programs.
  • Advance plus royalty model—Authors are given a more traditional publishing arrangement, with Random House’s standard eBook royalty of 25 percent of net receipts. The imprint will cover production, shipping, and marketing for all formats at 100 percent of cost.

However, the imprints acquire the rights to every book for the term of copyright, which is for the life of the author plus 70 years. Essentially, you’re selling all your rights, unless your book fails to sell a certain number of copies. If you’re a writer, be sure to carefully consider the terms of the contract before signing on the dotted line.

HarperCollins takes a slightly different approach with Authonomy. It’s a website where writers post works of at least 10,000 words and other writers comment on or rate them. HarperCollins publishers review the site for the most popular works, and then work with those authors toward publication. HarperCollins has also recently announced a romance digital imprint, Impulse.

Harlequin books is launching the romance digital imprints The Harlequin, Harlequin TEEN, Harlequin MIRA, and Harlequin HQN. Harlequin also recently announced that it will establish Harlequin E, an imprint to focus on mystery, romance, erotic romance, young adult, fantasy, fantasy romance, sci-fi, and sci-fi romance categories. 

Other publishers have joined the digital bandwagon, as well. Penguin has announced that it is reviving the Dutton Guilt Edged Mysteries line as a digital imprint, Kensington has launched eKensington as a digital imprint, and F+W Media is moving its Crimson Romance e-book imprint from a beta test to full launch.

Profound changes in the publishing industry were brought on by technology, an external force; but these changes will be furthered by a desire for profit, an internal force. The proliferation of digital imprints demonstrates that the platform is here to stay, at least until the next big thing comes along. Direct-to-brain upload anyone?


Bonus points to anyone who can name the episode this quote came from: “Brain and brain! What is brain?”

Science Fiction Romance Brigade – 10/18/13

by , on
Oct 17, 2013

Bo and Cheng are friends in the Guangzhou district of China. Bo is half American and a freelance IT consultant. Their neighborhood is subject to visa raids on occasion:

Footsteps sounded and the front door burst open, spilling in a handful of Guangzhou police who immediately leveled their guns at Bo. He froze, hands up. The head constable strode in and surveyed the party’s remains, then approached him. She held out her hand.

“Visa,” she said in English.

Bo’d seen the trio countless times before on raids, yet they always acted as if he had just washed up on shore in a rowboat from Madagascar. Bo held up his index finger. “One moment. Just woke up and it’s not something I keep on me while I’m sleeping.” He headed for the bedroom, followed by two of the police. Cheng was stretched out on the bed, dead to the world.

“Who’s that?” one of the constables said.

“Cheng. Doesn’t live here. Native, though,” Bo said.

The constable grunted. She knew who it was, Bo thought. He drew the visa from his nightstand and handed it over. The constable inspected it and gave it back, apparently satisfied. The two policemen withdrew. Bo tossed the visa back into the nightstand and followed them out.

Bo called after them. “Call ahead next time and I’ll have some sago tarts.”

The head constable threw him a stare that chilled his skin. Then left. Bo breathed relief, suddenly envying Cheng, who’d slept through the entire ordeal.

DNA Tattoos = Dattoos

by , on
Oct 16, 2013

skinputWhen I was coming up, the only people who got tattoos were bikers, prisoners, or gang members. Of course, times have changed. It seems everyone has a tattoo now. And even my 15-year-old daughter wants one (Me: “Uh, no.”)  But…I almost have to say yes to a dattoo. What is a dattoo, you ask? Read on…

Imagine your skin as an interface platform that you can program and choose which tools it can become—microphone, camera, speaker, phone, calculator. The list goes on. Other functionalities could include nanosensors, pattern and image recognition, education applications, flexible organic light-emitting diodes, cyborg components, and interactive touch reading (think Braille). And your body would power that platform by transferring its own energy to the processing device.

Harrison, Tan, and Morris of the Human–Computer Interaction Institute and Microsoft Research have developed Skinput, a process by which your body can be used as a touchscreen device or your fingers as buttons on a controller (http://www.chrisharrison.net/projects/skinput/SkinputHarrison.pdf).

To get a dattoo, you would access an online design portal that would allow you to view, test drive, and select a processing device that you print onto your skin or clothes. You could even program its appearance. Think of all the external devices that you could replace, such as smart phones, tablets, and laptops. There would be no need for separate physical space, surfaces, or energy sources that these devices require. With functionality only a tap away, your multitasking capabilities would be expanded exponentially.

And there’s no need to worry about permanence, as with a regular tattoo. Dattoos could be washed off at the end of the day. The user would set the lifespan of the dattoo, for as long or as short as desired. For example, if you were taking a trip to Europe, you could print out a specialized dattoo to quickly calculate exchange rates or offer translation in Italian.

Dattoos also read your DNA, which allows them to serve as unique identifiers in cyberspace or for security systems. No more wearing those annoying key cards around your neck.

You could also communicate with others across the globe through dattoos. Perhaps instead of phone numbers, we would use DNA sequences to reach others.

Of course, science fiction writers had already envisioned this capability years ago. In Steel Beach by John Varley, which was released in 1984, he wrote, “I snapped the fingers of my left hand…Three rows of four colored dots appeared on the heel of my left hand. By pressing the dots in different combinations with my fingertips I was able to write the story in shorthand…”

In my book, Cog, my protagonist, Nicholle, pays for a drink at a bar by tapping her thumb to her temple. Such technology would allow anyone to forgo having to carry around a debit card, fob, checkbook, or even cash.

It seems that science is finally catching up more quickly with science fiction than in decades past. SF writers are constantly having to outpace the next technological breakthrough. So while we wait for faster-than-light travel or teleportation to be discovered, we can at least anticipate skin surface interface in the coming years. But remember: Don’t give out your DNA to just anyone.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Saturday

by , on
Oct 11, 2013

Since I’ll be at Capclave this weekend, I’m posting my snippet early. This is part of the banishment scene for Dantalion, a Duke of Hell in charge of 36 legions of demons. Calandra and Gina were sent ahead to scout the area and find a surprise.

Lightning crashed down, a single bolt, to the ground in from of her, charging the air. Pinpricks of static flowed across her body as she fell backward and slammed into the pavement. Ozone filled her nostrils. A gust of wind caused her bandana to fly up and a roach shot into her mouth, followed by more until they overflowed. She rolled over, choking, spitting them out as the rest swarmed in the alley, clinging to her clothes and settling in her hair. Gina was down, as well, and Cal began to crawl over to her, fighting against the gale-force wind as she spat out the last roach. She wanted to vomit, but she tamped it down.
Gina’s fingers raced across her phone. Calandra was next to her now. The lines of a blueprint lit up the display with the layout of the first floor of the house at the end of the alley.

Two More Military Science Fiction Writers

by , on
Oct 8, 2013

budI began a short series of military science fiction writers last week with Mike McPhail and Alan Smale. This week, I feature Bud Sparhawk and Charles Gannon. Hope you enjoy.

Bud Sparhawk

Bud Sparhawk began writing in the 70s while in the Air Force. He was stationed in Japan during a cold winter with not much to do. After finding a copy of Dangerous Visions, a short story anthology edited by Harlan Ellison, he read it for 4 hours. Not too impressed with the writing, and thinking he could write better stories, he completed a short story in a few weeks. He said to himself, “Well, that wasn’t too hard. Maybe I better start sending these things out.” Thirty-five stories later, all rejected by 19 different magazines, Sparhawk finally made his first sale, “The Tompkins Battery Case,” to Ben Bova at Analog.His short stories have since appeared in Asimov’s, several anthologies, and other print media and online magazines in the United States and Europe. He is also a three-time Nebula Award finalist.bud4

A member of SIGMA, Sparhawk is part of a group of science fiction writers who offer futurism consulting to the United States government. Many members have earned Ph.D.s in high-tech fields, and are accomplished science fiction authors. They suggest various new technologies, while explaining the possible science and speculating about the effects on the human race.

Sparhawk admits that his experience in the military has influenced how he portrays the characters in his stories. He said that in order to draw readers into a military SF story, he writes protagonists exhibiting realistic reactions to being in battle: “Oh my god I don’t want to die oh no oh no.” Said Sparhawk, “I try to write about people and their problems. If you don’t include their inner lives and emotions, all you are doing is writing formulaic war porn.”

Visit his website: www.budsparhawk.com.


Charles Gannongannon

Before he became a famous author, Dr. Charles E. Gannon worked as a television producer and professor of literature. He has written military SF (Extremis), hard science fiction (Fire With Fire series), and urban fantasy (Taints).

In his academic career, Gannon has achieved the position of Distinguished Professor of English at St. Bonaventure University and was a Fulbright Senior Specialist in American Literature & Culture from 2004 to 2009. Also a member of SIGMA, Gannon helps to advise U.S. government intelligence and defense agencies on proposed new technologies.

When asked about diversity in the military while on a panel at the Baltimore Book Festival, Gannon said, “Cultural shifts regarding women in the military have been dramatic in the past 30 years.” He noted that men belonging to his generation would tend to worry about protecting women in combat, further endangering their safety.

gannon2Acknowledging that military SF uses high-tech terms for futuristic equipment, Gannon said he doesn’t use slang until halfway through a novel. He tries to focus on why people decide to go to war and why they commit to enlisting in the military.

For prospective military SF writers, Gannon recommends reading The Art of War by Sun Tzu and biographies of Julius Caesar, General MacArthur, and Erwin Rommel.

Visit his website: http://charlesegannon.com.

Two Military Science Fiction Writers

by , on
Oct 8, 2013

This week, I will feature military science fiction writers, Mike McPhail and Alan Smale. They may have different backgrounds, and may have come to military SF in different ways, but both imbue the field with their unique flavor. Read on:

mcphailMike McPhail

Mike McPhail is an author who’s capitalized on both books and gaming. He has written a military science fiction series called Defending the Future, which takes place in his science fiction universe, the Alliance Archives (All’Arc). The All’Arc also serves as the backdrop of his gaming universe, which was “designed for players and game masters who are tired of the fantasy of fight, and wish to experience the hard truth of personal combat and warfare.”

DTF-CenterCoreA veteran of the Air National Guard and son of an Army Air Corpsman, McPhail is steeped in the tradition of the military. He is also a member of the Military Writers Society of America and attended the Academy of Aeronautics in New York.

On how he began writing, McPhail said, “It was an accident. My wife had long been after me to let her write a story set within my gaming universe, but I was worried that she didn’t have enough experience playing the game to get the finer points right. So I wrote a back story, which was heavily laden with techno-babble, terminology, and in-game historical reference, in order to help her along. Well she read it and said, ‘I don’t need to write the story, you can do it yourself.’ and thus I was proclaimed to be a writer.”

lgDTF1-BreachTheHullMcPhail’s books include the anthologies, Breach the Hull, No Man’s Land, and Dogs of War, and feature distinguished military science fiction writers such as Bud Sparhawk and David Sherman, as well as a story or two by Seton Hill University’s Maria V. Snyder.

DOW_lgWhen asked about self-publishing, McPhail said, “Generally I would not advise self-publishing if you’re looking to become a “mainstream” author. Writing the story is only part of the process. There are a lot of different skills needed to produce a professional-looking book, everything from editing and layout, to cover art and back cover copy, and yes, you will be judged by the cover of your book. My wife and I have been out on the frontline as authors, books sellers, and promoters for over a decade now. In our case, we had the advantage having worked in the printing / publishing industry.”

Visit his websites—Book series: http://www.defendingthefuture.com/; Martial Role-Playing Game: http://www.alliancearchives.net/

alan_LoCAlan Smale

Dr. Alan Smale has been writing since the tender age of 12 and now has more than 30 published short stories. He recently signed a three-book deal with Del Ray, which will feature his novel, Clash of Eagles, due out in mid-2014, and two subsequent novels in 2015 and 2016. His work has appeared in Asimov’s Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy, and Abyss & Apex

5_sisika_thumbA native of Leeds, England, who gained his American citizenship in 2000, Smale works as Head of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center at NASA. He holds a doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Oxford.

Multitalented, Smale also sings with a vocal band, The Chromatics, and is the co-creator of the band’s AstroCappella project of astronomy songs. The band has sold more than 10,000 copies of their AstroCappella CD, which students use in classrooms across the United States. Here’s a link to “The Sun Song”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a358QLi4Wgs. Smale also acts in community theater and has been in “The Foreigner,” “Lend Me A Tenor,” and “Deathtrap.”

Visit his website: http://www.alansmale.com/; read his short story, The Mongolian Book of the Dead, here: http://www.alansmale.com/pdfs/MongolianBookOfTheDead_Smale.pdf