FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
2023 is history. And boy was it a year for the history books. We lost some notable people, many who lived long and productive lives and leave us with a rich tapestry of art, music, writing, and acting. We survived another year of a pandemic that seems to have no end. But more and more of you are making the wise choice to be vaccinated and to be careful in large gatherings. Sooner or later we will triumph over this virus. Be of good faith.
A substantial number of new and exciting books were published last year. And you bought them, lots and lots of them. This year’s offerings promise to be even more exciting with an increase in comics and graphic novels as well as more additions to favorite series. 4horsemenpublications.com has a great line up of everything from cozy romance to spicy cute meets, occult mystery to horror, and some fantasy and science fiction. As well as a few great books that defy genre categorization.
Some of you may have seen podcasts, news commentary, or blogs asserting that reading is dying out. This could not be farther from the truth. Book sales are up, book stores are coming back with independents as well as chains showing increases in customers, and a welcome increase in signings and “meet the author” gatherings. Yes, there is an increase in audio book sales, a rather dramatic increase. But I’m not going to get into the argument as to whether or not listening to a book is “reading” a book. My personal opinion is it doesn’t matter, as long as the book is being consumed. We authors don’t write in a vacuum; we are writing to you, and however you choose to hear or read our words is your choice.
Pre-orders are now available for my second book, The Madness of Trees. Get your copy before it releases on January 14th!
Barnes and Noble- https://bit.ly/3TUm6Xb
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
Fall is a time for rest, for preparing for the coming winter. I have taken this month off, allowing myself to catch up on reading, listen to music, watch some silly television, and do a lot of quilting. It has been wonderful. I highly recommend it.
However, while I have been sleeping in and shedding responsibilities like maple leaves in my back yard, my publishers have been hard at work. It has been exciting to see my book arrive, both in paper and hardback. There is something so magical about a hardbound book. There is a solidity, a “realness” about it; there’s nothing quite like it.
And in three days, your pre-orders will go live and you will have the ebook, the audio book, the paperback or hardback sent out: whatever you ordered. Here’s the link, just in case you missed it.
As I said above, this is a month of rest and retreat from writing. I am loving quilting again, and lots of different things are coming out of my stash. As a surprise for readers who have read this far, anyone who sends me their mailing address to email@example.com just might find a surprise on their doorstep.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYONE!
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
This month is jam-packed with obligations both personal and professional, hence the shortness of this newsletter. Jim Burch (you can read all about him and review his activities at https://booksprout.co/reviewer/review-copy/view/133910/the-secrets-of-water) wants me to tell you that I have left him and his friends on the shelf for far too long. He wants his next story told!
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
What a month this has been! It’s been hard to write with all the exciting and honestly frightening things going on in the world. It feels like our democracy is under attack, and I know that people on both sides of the political aisle feel that way. It is hard to keep politics out of our social discourse these days.
The most pernicious thing happening, however, that we as authors and readers should be concerned and vocal about is the increasing amount of book banning. This is a very real threat to us as creators, to diversity in writing, and to the education of our populace at all ages. We must band together and protest this trend toward ignorance and disinformation.
I don’t have many words about the writer’s strike, now joined by SAG and AFTRA. I am not a script writer, nor will I ever be. But the moves being made against the WGA are again a threat to writing and free speech, as well as to our livelihoods as writers. The whole AI issue affects us all, not just those who write for television and movies. I’m too old to get out on the picket line, but if I were younger and healthier, I would be there. A free society depends on the free exchange of ideas. Book banning, withholding adequate and realistic compensation, threatening to replace writers with AI: all of this is a very real threat to education, to learning, to the open exchange of ideas, and to our livelihoods. Please do not remain silent.
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
This month has gone by so fast. The heat waves across the US and Europe have been devastating, as has the flooding in the East Coast of the United States. India and other countries in the Middle East are also experiencing flooding. I am not going to go into a climate change polemic. This is not the place. But I do urge you to get involved with groups and movements whose mission is to save our planet. To that end, my Ask the Author column this month is with an author dedicated to teaching children to respect the creatures with whom we share our home.
The WGA strike continues, now joined by SAG/AFTRA. Please do continue to enjoy your streaming services and any movies you planned to see. These were written and produced before the strike, and patronizing them provides royalties to the production crew, authors, and actors. On a more serious note, I have heard of several authors, myself included, who have been approached about writing scripts for productions to “fill in the blank” so to speak. These are SCAB jobs. Please support your fellow creators and refuse to write these scripts.
In the spirit of promoting the work of fellow authors, this month I am featuring a number of websites for authors you may not have heard of. In this crazy world of self-publishing on Amazon and other sites, along with new publishing ventures seeming to pop up everywhere, it is getting more and more difficult for authors to be seen. I hope you will visit these web sites, take a look at what is being written, and buy a book or two or ten.
Several of you have asked when I will have books for sale. As many of you know, I have pulled my books from Amazon and they are being re-printed and re-released by 4Horsemen Publications. They are doing new covers, and making certain that there are no typos and that the typesetting is as perfect as it can be. The first book will come out soon. We have renamed it to The Secrets of Water. You can see a preview of the release and cover here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWGj2VcDTQM
AUTHORS YOU SHOULD KNOW
The following selection of websites are of authors currently published by 4Horsemen Publications. There is a variety of topics to choose from, ranging from ecofantasy to dark erotic. Enjoy!
J.B.Moonstar | author
Join Ituria, Knocker and their friends on their wild adventures learning about nature – The Ituria Chronicles!
See below for my interview with JB in the Ask the Author column
Maria Dougherty-De Vivo
Maria writes horror and dark fantasy for both a YA and adult audience. Each of her series has been Amazon Best-Sellers and have won multiple awards since 2012. When not writing, she teaches language arts and journalism to middle school students in Florida. A lover of all things dark and demented, the worlds she creates are fantastical and immersive. Get swept away in the lands of elves, zombies, angels, demons, and witches (but not all in the same place). Maria takes great pleasure in warping the comfort factor in her readers’ minds — just when you think you’ve reached a safe space in her stories, she snaps you back into her twisted reality.
Beau Lake is a tattooed, blue-haired, queer romance writer skulking around the mountains of Virginia. She is very happily married and lives with a menagerie of children (2), dogs (3), and plants. Her current hobbies include digital art, social/animal activism, and screaming into the void. Mostly the latter. She is passionate about ending greyhound racing in the United States and worldwide, and shares her home with a retired racer named River. Other favorite activities include listening to true crime podcasts, staring at empty Word documents while having existential crises, and asking herself “What Would Stephen King Do?” Beau writes both traditional and horror/supernatural LGBTQIA romance. Werewolves are her favorite because they have sharp teeth and even sharper personalities.
T S Simons
THE ANTIPODES SERIES
The Antipodes series is a unique five-book science-based series that poses philosophical questions about how we live and the decisions we would make if the world as we know it irrevocably changed. Readers are challenged to consider their choices, values, and priorities as they share the characters’ struggles with science, community, and the complexity of human relationships.
The Latitude series extends the original Antipodes series. Set in the same world as Antipodes, Latitude is a futuristic perspective on what could happen if society doesn’t address the mistakes of the past.
In my 20+ years as a writer and editor, I have covered everything from travel and sports to gardening and food to architecture and design for a variety of publications. Now I am tackling my favorite genres—cozy mysteries and rom-coms—in a series of books for 4 Horsemen Publications. The Destination Murder Mysteries combine my experiences as a travel journalist with a stint working for a private investigator (a job I got because of my love of Sue Grafton novels), while the University Chronicles series of satiric rom-coms are drawn from my days as a college-level communications instructor.
Writing under the name Eskay Kabba:
Writer. Author. Motivator. Storyteller. Social Worker. Life Skills Coach. Mother. Wife. Partner. Sister. Friend. Visionary. Social Justice Warrior.
ASK THE AUTHOR
This month I sat down for a virtual conversation with author J.B. Moonstar. J.B. moved to Florida in her early teens and has lived there ever since, enjoying the mild weather and abundance of wildlife. She even spent several seasons raising orphan squirrels. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and has spent her working career in the legal profession. Her novels are inspired by her family and nature, and she also wants to encourage children to learn and care about the Earth’s wild creatures, so they understand that wildlife needs our help to survive in today’s world.
SE: Other than the obvious avoidance of adult language and situations, what changes do you feel to make, if any, from general writing to writing for middle graders?
JB: One thing that is different is that the main characters are still young enough to believe that good can happen, if you believe in yourself, and your mind is open to accept the unexpected. My books stress that courage and spirit are all that is needed to complete the mission. I also have a lot of female protagonists in my series. I want girls to see that girls can go on adventures, be the hero, and overcome challenges. Another difference is I provide a glimpse into the world from the animals’ point of view, what they must deal with on a daily basis just to survive in today’s world. There are so many stories of creatures struggling to survive human threats, that I just want to try and have a happy ending for some of these animals who have done nothing wrong, while getting children to care about what happens to these wild creatures.
SE: Would you define eco-fantasy for us?
JB: My stories are “fantasy” adventures because they have dragons, a unicorn, and magic potions and items. However, my dragons are vegetarian and don’t need to be defeated by the end of the story. My stories are “eco-fantasy” because the dragons and other fantasy creatures are working with the main characters to rescue endangered animals, and in the process gently showing children that the natural world needs their help and protection. So far, my young heroes (with a little help from a dragon) have rescued Red Wolves, Chinese Crested Terns, sick deer, a stranded manatee, and even tiger cubs – these wild creatures were being threatened by humans and needed someone to help them. My next book in The Ituria Chronicles series will be about Pangolins, one of the most endangered creatures on Earth. I have also just started a new series, The Mermaids of Crystal Cay, where the mermaids will be helping sea creatures survive the threats created by humans in their underwater homes. In the first mermaid book, they must deal with a ghost net and its devastating effects as it sweeps through a kelp garden, trapping everything that can’t get out of its way.
SE: Have you considered taking one of your topics and writing an adult fantasy?
JB: Because my stories are action-adventure stories, I consider them for ages 7 and up. They are not too long (+/- 20k words), and because they are safe for little eyes, I characterize them as middle grade (age 7-12). I also try to find different resolutions to difficult situations, rather than include violence, so I do not want to “go there” with the violence part. I’m not sure what would be considered “adult fantasy”, but I am comfortable where I am now, my books have a lot of action and adventure, as I have my dragons, and now mermaids, helping my young heroes as they protect wild animals from human dangers.
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
I’m writing this on Juneteenth, contemplating the 4th of July. Independence Day has always been my favorite holiday. When I was a child, we lived in the country on a small family farm. The pasture had a stream in the middle, and then the road went up and our favorite neighbors were on the opposite hill. My dad and our neighbor would shoot off rockets at each other and they would explode in the middle of the field. It was a grand time. And because my father was a naturalized citizen, we always celebrated America, and the freedom that he believed was well earned and deserved by all.
I say this because Juneteenth is and I hope always will be a celebration of freedom of a different kind. Independence Day is a country’s freedom. Juneteenth is the long overdue recognition by that country that all men truly are created equal and have equal rights. It is the declarations of the Founders made whole: the recognition that the color of your skin is not and never should be the determinant of your humanity.
We writers need to be aware of the incredible freedom allowed to us in this Democracy of ours. We get to write, without fear of retribution, imprisonment, or even death. In these troubled times, that freedom is under attack by small-minded bigots. We must be diligent in the protection of our right to free expression.
Two holidays, each so different and yet similar. Independence Day celebrating the freedom of a country from the tyranny of a European colonial government and Juneteenth, the celebration of the emancipation of people of color from the tyranny of slavery.
Freedom! That is what we are defending, that is what gives us the right of expression, be it romance or horror or mystery or fantasy. We have the freedom to write what we feel, what we believe, what moves us, what makes us real and authentic. That freedom is fragile and needs protection, always. Never forget, protection of yours and my freedom of expression should be foremost in our minds, and we should be willing to defend it at all costs, whether it be from the tyranny of the government or the tyranny of those who employ us, who hire our work.
Cj has long been one of my favorite authors. Her skill at worldbuilding is phenomenal. So it was a true privilege to sit down with her virtually and discuss nature, koi ponds, and worlds. I asked her one question.
SE: You have a connection with nature that is nothing short of amazing, as expressed in your descriptions of your ponds and bonsai. How does this love of growing and nurturing nature reflect itself in your writing?
Cj: My worldbuilding is more detailed than I have time in the story to use it. But nature, even in the interstellar stuff, does find its way in.
SE: If you had to define one basic, underlying theme to most of your writing, what would it be?
DG: The involuntary human.
Katherine Kit Kerr:
I loved the Deverry series and so sat down virtually with Katherine Kit Kerr and asked:
SE: Will you ever return to Deverry?
KKK: My answer is yes, indeed, I will as soon as I get the revised version of HAZE off to the agents. I am half-way done with the sequel to SWORD OF FIRE, which is technically still under contract with DAW. I got blocked badly in the middle, which is one reason why I started something else. I now know what’s wrong. I can fix it and go onward, I hope, from there. Once this book, which may be titled “The Iron Mace”, is done, I have a novella length story in mind from Deverry, but after that, I should I hope be finished with tales from that world.
Fred Eder and I continue to make videos. Our newest, The Lake, can be found at @shoshanaedwards on Youtube. This piece is actually an introduction to a novel I have outlined and will begin working on after I finish the third Harper’s Landing Story, Soul Survivor. You can see and hear more of Fred’s work at www.fredsfrontporch.com
Over at 4 Horsemen Publications, June 2023 brought us a tasty potpourri of new books.
by Steve Altier
Whether told around a campfire or with a storm raging outside, ghost stories aren’t always just stories.
When the power fails in the middle of a storm, Zack and Daniel turn to their father, John Malone, for comfort. Feeling that the boys are old enough to learn the truth about his childhood, John divulges a family secret, one he’s kept locked away, a secret that changed John’s life forever.
In a small Pennsylvania town called Lizardville, Johnny and his friends set out on a weekend camping trip along the banks of Big Fishing Creek. On the first night, as the boys gather around the campfire, Parker shares the legend of the Ax Factory murders. Soon after, strange, mysterious things begin to happen. Little do the boys realize, they have awakened a spirit called Annabelle. She is searching for something and knows the boys are hiding what she seeks. Could the secret lie in an old puzzle box?
As this spine-tingling, edge-of-your-seat adventure unfolds, one question remains: will they survive the weekend?
by Kait Disner-Leugers
Blood is a powerful magic, but love is even more so.
Lily Everett comes from a long line of powerful witches. It’s her duty to continue the Everett line and pass her gifts down to future generations. But Lily has fallen in love with Albert Hsu, a vampire, and her family is less than thrilled about their relationship.
With Lily fighting against her family to defend her love, a new threat arrives in town that threatens everything Lily and Albert have built together. Thirty years after running away from his vampire family, Albert’s maker and his brood of vampires return to claim Albert once again. Can the love of a witch and vampire overcome their blood families, or will they have to sacrifice their happiness to appease old hostilities?
by Nick Savage
After Jack’s death, the young Legends of West Haven are forced to face the changing landscapes of their lives.
A mysterious stranger called Ashby is selling promises of self empowerment to the town’s misguided youth via a mysterious drug which seems to be doing more harm than good. As the death rate rises, Ashby arms himself with lies that could destroy The Nation.
With the adults distracted by their own problems surrounding The Nation, the Legends will have to reach out to the Normals Duncan and Rex to help track down the elusive drug dealer. The team falters, however, as Bri and Duncan’s relationship grows stronger; something not lost on Allison, who still struggles with feelings for Bri.
Together, the friends must help Rex through his revelation that West Haven is not as quiet as it seems, stop Ashby, and overcome their own insecurities about who they are before believing the falsehoods they are told.
My GIF is Bigger than Your GIF
by Nova Embers
Jake has a talent for fixing broken office equipment and satisfying uptight office ladies.
Charlotte is an overanxious perfectionist with a propensity to wait for the last minute before turning in her work. When her company Erotic Overseas Adventures tasks her with finishing the fall’s marketing campaign, Charlotte does what she always does: she procrastinates. When she finally gets to work mere hours before the deadline, she finds that the copy machine is broken.
Jake Ryan fixes copy machines for a living. He’s handsome and meticulous– and definitely not a corporate spy.
Charlotte thinks he’s up to no good. He thinks she’s crazy—hot, but crazy. When she finds out she’s mistaken, she will have to do a whole lot of groveling on her knees if she wants the copy machine fixed.
What’s a girl to do?
# # # # # # # # # # #
These are but a taste of the exciting books you can get at
FROM THE AUTHOR’S DESK:
Depression is a word thief. It shuts down the creative mind.
Recently I have been having conversations with other writers about isolation and depression and how it affects their writing. The most common theme has been the isolation imposed by the pandemic. This separation from social contact with other creatives has had a more profound affect on the mental health of the writers I’ve spoken with than the fear of the virus.
It turns out that although the act of writing is a solitary one, most of us writers are very social creatures. We have gotten very creative with technology, building Zoom groups for learning, teaching, socializing, critiquing – all of those vital activities that keep our minds throwing out new ideas, new plots, new worlds. The use of soial media and face-to-face technology has saved us from total isolation.
Nevertheless, depression and anxiety seem to be hanging on, even as the restrictions from a weakening virus have started lifting. Conventions are happening, but fewer people are going, and the social distancing we have learned or decided to put in place create a wall between us as writers and the people to whom we are speaking.
I would like to think that our creative use of communication technology has made up for mingling, but obviously it has not. While there are obvious examples of severe depression among writers – Sylvia Plath springs to mind immediately – for the most part our predecessors who had to rely entirely on in-person contacts seemed to fair better than we are even post-Covid. We have come to rely upon technology, anxious and fearful of the last remnants of the pandemic and the potential for new and equally deadly viruses (afterall, we are constantly living in a state of mind that creates potentials rather than dwelling always in reality).
My conclusion is that technology, as wonderful as it is, has not made up for our need for in-person contact with other human beings. This is not true for everyone, but appears to be the case for most of us. So I am urging you, get out there and see people again. Wear a mask if it makes you feel safer, but for the sake of your mental well being as well as the quality of your writing, get out there.
J.D. Ray has just published the first book in his Lives In Time Series. He describes the book as follows:
When a young couple with the gift of multi-century lives finds themselves thrown back in time with no resources, can they survive long enough to return home?
Marko and Celeste are young, with long lives ahead of them. Their families are wealthy, and their lives ones of leisure. So when they find themselves thrown back in time with no resources, they must unwind the mystery that sent them through time while surviving in a world that is not their own. Can they learn to work together, avoid changing the timeline they remember, and get back to the lives they had?
You can purchase the book at:
Fred’s Front Porch
Fred’s Front Porch Podcast, at https://www.patreon.com/Freds_Front_Porch/posts, has some brilliant observations on money, poverty, and related topics this month. He also deals magnificently with the concept of Woke. And as a new feature, you can find previous podcasts and transcripts at www.fredsfrontporch.com
I have partnered with Fred Eder to create videos of some of my work. Our first can be found on YouTube at:
I hope you will subscribe, as there will be many more videos coming, thanks to the incredible skills of Fred.
SE: Measure of a Man seems very timely with the sudden explosion of AI created art and text. Which leads me to the following questions:
Do you believe AI will someday become sentient? What does it mean to be sentient?
MS: I think we are still a few years from an actual sentient A.I. manifesting, but the tech is advancing exponentially, so it could happen sooner. Well, I laid out three possible rules for sentience in Measure of a Man — intelligence, self-awareness and consciousness — which is the closest description I can find. I don’t believe in souls, but what is it that makes humans different from something like Chat API? Philosophers have been arguing about that for centuries.
SE: If AI becomes sentient, will it still be morally correct for us to use it?
MS: Probably not because then they are functionally our slaves. Elon Musk fears A.I. and believes that if it ever happens it will destroy humanity. Since humanity will have created it I’m hoping this new life form will be kind and indulgent with us.
SE: How do you think the next ten years will look in terms of AI based technology?
ME: I wish, I could predict, but I can’t. I do think there will be terrible dislocation for low level workers. Companies will happily replace human workers with A.I.s if they thought they could. At that point societies have to start thinking about basic income so people have food, housing and at least minimal health care.
I reached my hand to the stars
And pulled back a handful
Oh such joy, that here
On this my last journey,
The long slide into eternity
That I should reach the stars
And hold the moon in my wrinkled hand.
My doctor says it is fancy,
Longing for things to last.
But he is bound to the need to keep me here,
To prolong my stay upon this speck in space,
This waystation in the universe.
It is you, my love.
You I touch and hold,
Smell the scent that’s only yours
And the moonlight in my hand
Is the love
Reflected from the children we both made.
I am going,
Slipping slowly, joyously,
Into the stars, to become stardust,
Sparkling in the sunlit sky.
Reach out to me someday,
My dearest starlit love.
Hold close our dear creations,
‘til you join me in this joy.
Death is eternal parting,
Until bliss and laughter
Brings us back again.
Farewell, my love.