All posts by Ruth Nestvold

Ruth Nestvold's short fiction has appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov's, F&SF, Baen's Universe, Strange Horizons, Scifiction, and Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella "Looking Through Lace" won the "Premio Italia" award for best international work. Her novel Flamme und Harfe appeared in translation with the German imprint of Random House, Penhaligon, in 2009 and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. She maintains a web site at www.ruthnestvold.com.

Announcing my first Kindle Vella, Dragon Touched

You’ve probably heard about Amazon’s new serial fiction offering, Kindle Vella. “Vellas” are stories told in episodes between 600 and 5000 words long. The first three episodes of a Vella are always free to read, but if you want to read on, you have to purchase tokens. Amazon does give its customers 200 tokens to try out the service. The number of tokens needed to read an episode are based on the length — an author has no say in the price charged. Packages of tokens range in price from $1.99 for 200 tokens to $14.99 for 1700 tokens. Episodes cost 1 token per 100 words (rounded down), which means that for $14.99, you would get at least 170,000 words of fiction. That sounds pretty good at first, but if you are big fan of humongous epic fantasy novels, it won’t won’t go very far. Take my novel Yseult, for example: since it comes in at over 190,000 words, if it were a Vella, the largest package of tokens wouldn’t even get you to the end. Right now, Vella has only been rolled out for the US, probably as a testing ground.

It’s a testing ground for me as well. I have no idea if this will go anywhere, either for Amazon or myself, but one of the novels I finished during my “year of completion” (more commonly known as the Year of Corona), was Dragon Touched. It’s an experiment to start with, an urban fantasy with steamy romance elements and dragons, coming in at under 50,000 words — a much better length for Vella-style fiction. Another reason that I decided to try the system out with Dragon Touched is that it’s a bit of a departure from my usual historical fantasy and science fiction. I don’t know if that will go anywhere either, but it was worth a try. The description:

Kyla Drake has long been plagued by visions of fantasy creatures. What she doesn’t know is that the creatures are real, a war is about to break out between them — and she is at the center of the conflict …

This is the way it appears on Amazon as of this writing:


Link: https://www.amazon.com/Dragon-Touched-Book-Blood/dp/B099HX59WQ/

If you’re so inclined, check out my first attempt at urban fantasy — three episodes free, remember! And if you want to help me out a bit, a thumbs up would be nice. 🙂

Some notes on my experience for other writers who are also interested in testing the Vella waters:

The description. Amazon officially allows 500 characters for the book description of a Vella, but this is way too much. I started out with about 350 – 400 characters, but when I saw Dragon Touched on the Amazon page after I published the first couple of episodes, the description was cut off before the genre elements were even mentioned. It’s better to aim for something about the length of a tweet. As you can see from the above screenshot, even what I have now is a bit too much.

Formatting. Vella doesn’t allow any fancy formatting, only bold, italics, and underlining. It doesn’t even do tabs or centering. And if you cut and paste from your word processor into the text box, you will lose whatever formatting you have. I didn’t notice that right away, and I had to go back and put the italics back in for the first half-a-dozen episodes I published. It’s also possible to upload a doc or docx file, and I assume that would keep the italics. But who creates individual documents for every chapter of a book they’re working on? I write in Scrivener anyway, and I figured it was easier for me to compare the text box and my file on screen and reinsert the italics rather than exporting individual files for every single chapter.

Publishing. It is rather time consuming to publish chapter by chapter (or episode by episode). But on the other hand, for a Vella there is no need to worry about ebook generation and formatting. I create my ebooks with Vellum, and it typically takes me a couple of hours per book. So all told, publishing with Vellum is probably easier.

Free episodes. I thought at first that I would be able to set the number of episodes that would be free myself, and had planned to make it the first five. As a result, I created what I hoped would be a good cliffhanger at the end of chapter 5. When I started uploading my episodes, however, I saw that with episode 4, I had no option for making it free. As a result, I may end up compressing the first five episodes into three, which I assume means uploading everything again. So for now I’ll leave it as is. I want to get the last book in the Glassmakers Trilogy published first.

So, yet another new publishing adventure in my old age. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments, either about Kindle Vella, or Dragon Time, or urban fantasy, or even old age. 🙂

A New Book (Finally!): Facets of Glass

I am pleased to announce that the second book in the Glassmakers trilogy, Facets of Glass, is now available on most ebook retailers.

Facets of Glass

When Chiara Dragoni learns that her beloved stepsister Minerva has been enchanted by a witch in the service of her enemies, she must leave the safety of Bohemia and return to Venice, where her life is in danger. Will she be able to break the spell without being caught by the Dowager Princess?

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For those who prefer to read in hard copy, I have not yet completed the formatting or the wraparound cover for the paperback version, but it should only be a matter of days now.

To celebrate the event, I have lowered the ebook price of the first book in the series, Island of Glass, to 99c (or the equivalent wherever you are on the globe).

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

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Paperback

If the sale price is not available for you, please let me know in the comments, and I will try to fix it!

I realize I have made readers of the first book in the series wait atrociously long for the second book, and I apologize. But in order to not make the same mistake twice, I wrote the final drafts of books 2 and 3 (Shards of Glass) simultaneously. According to my beta readers, Shards of Glass still needs some work regarding the pacing, but I promise it won’t take anywhere near as long for me to finish as the second book. Shards of Glass should be available by summer at the latest. 🙂

My books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/13yzpZv
My books on iTunes: http://bit.ly/12Ehva0
My books on Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/17ONHvK
My books on Kobo: http://bit.ly/Z5g9H3

Note: The Amazon listings contain affiliate links to help me track sales.

The Voice Germany Senior: My granddaughter’s art teacher

We just had a very exciting evening here in our living room in Bad Cannstatt. Since Mira’s mom wanted to watch “Tatort” (a German crime series) like she does every Sunday, the granddaughter came over to watch “The Voice Senior” with us — a new format for singers over 60. And one of the old folks who had made it into a team was her art teacher, also the guy who plays the guitar for her school band.

The coolest art teacher in Germany

Here’s the link to his performance of “Smoke on the Water” (I can’t seem to embed it):

https://www.sat1.de/tv/the-voice-senior/video/13-wolfgang-thunderwolf-schorer-smoke-on-the-water-clip

Of course, the teacher from Mira’s school was the last act of the evening, and she was hopping around all over the place by the time he finally performed. And he made it into the finals. 🙂

Genre Tropes and the Transmissibility of Story

By Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold

Story is not automatically story, especially when dealing with genre and its tropes. Trope can be a rather difficult concept to grasp, seeing as it includes so many different elements in literature. For the purpose of this article, we are using the term “trope” in the sense of a familiar and repeated symbol, meme, theme, motif, style, character or thing that is common in a particular type of literature. Such tropes are closely related to genre. Examples of this kind of trope in horror include the mad scientist or dark and stormy settings. Tropes can also be plot elements, such as the science fiction trope of an alien invasion that is deterred at the last minute.
The transmissibility of story is dependent on an understanding of (and, we would argue, interest in) the themes, motifs, props, and characters of the genre in question, from the wise old wizard of fantasy, to the plucky gal of chicklit, to the foreign planets of science fiction. But literary and mainstream fiction are not free of tropes either: the gut-spilling, angst-ridden, pseudo-autobiographical protagonist is a figure that appears repeatedly and almost exclusively in stories categorized as literary and mainstream.
When familiar tropes are missing or unfamiliar tropes present, this can lead readers to reject a story outright. Within our field, witness the endless skirmishes between the old guard of Silver Age science fiction and the various innovations which have proliferated since the New Wave arrived – in recent times famously exemplified by critic Dave Truesdale’s emphatic rejection of the Karen Joy Fowler story, “What I Didn’t See.” (2002) For readers who find confessional narrative self-indulgent, semi-autobiographical fiction may strike them as dishonest; for readers who prefer their fiction a step away from memoir, anything that cloaks the story in the kind of tropes used in science fiction and fantasy will be too far away from reality for them to be interesting. The transmissibility of story is dependent on an acceptance of those tropes.
We’ve written before about Samuel R. Delany’s concept of reading protocols and what Gardner Dozois calls “the furniture of science fiction.” To simplify, protocols are the experiences and assumptions that a reader brings to a genre work – the shorthand that enables understanding without repeated explication. “Furniture” refers to the signifiers for these protocols – the standard props and elements that characterize a genre. These concepts are closely tied together and work in concert with each other.
For example, a science fiction writer might use the term “FTL.” A reader with even the most modest experience in science fiction will understand this to mean “faster than light,” and most will be conversant with the basics of Einsteinian physics and the implications of supraluminal travel. A reader with no experience in science fiction might well not even be able to parse the acronym. Those who look up the term and find out what it stands for may still lack the theoretical background to understand the implications a regular reader of science fiction will immediately comprehend.
In genre, we have stockpiles of tropes of varying familiarity. These elements serve to enhance the transmissibility of the story. When a writer takes up a standard trope, either to serve in its stock role or to invert it for their own purposes, they are tapping into the traditions and shared referents of their genre.
One thing that distinguishes genre fiction from naturalistic fiction is that these shared tropes are a result of specific, self-selected reading experiences, rather than coming from the normal course of life in the culture where the story is set. Philip Roth doesn’t have to explain the details of Alexander Portnoy’s life, he merely cites them.
Without these tropes and the shared assumptions they signify to serve as lubrication in the machinery of plot, genre stories would be heavily constrained by the need to explain.

What makes a genre story transmissible, which is to say, accessible and meaningful to the reader, is its use of genre tropes. Viewed from that perspective, the tension for the genre writer lies in the balance between the degree of familiarity of the trope and the degree of novelty of the writer’s innovation within the story at hand.
While every genre has tropes, including mainstream and literary, the tropes of science fiction and fantasy are for the most part unconcerned with the emotional dimension of the story. Where character-driven tropes such the epiphany or the emotional framework of marital infidelity are broadly recognized in mainstream and literary fiction, science fiction and fantasy concern themselves first and foremost with the variation between the first world of the reader’s experience and the second world constructed within the story. These are mechanical, technological, magical, even sociopolitical elements – for example, romanticized feudalism in fantasy, or technocracy in science fiction – far more often than they are internal or emotional: plot and setting-driven tropes, rather than character-driven. Even the character-driven tropes our field does embrace at times tend towards the emotionally superficial – clouded succession to power, romanticization of certain roles (the scientist-as-hero), standard archetypes such the Dark Lord Brooding on His Obsidian Throne.
Examples of this distancing effect in genre abound, especially in the earlier history of the field. Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (1951) is famously clinical in its approach to characters and their stories, focusing instead on the concept of future history, which was established as a core trope in the field, in large part due to Asimov’s work. Other major works in science fiction where the genre tropes intrude on the emotional experience of the story include Frank Herbert’s Dune (1965) and its successor books. The fantastically realized world-building and sociopolitical gymnastics which are the core joy of that book to millions of readers are combined with characters who are either archetypical or lacking depth, depending on how one chooses to view the text. In either case, are not readily viewed as rounded, emotional human beings.
On the other hand, any story strongly felt can use genre tropes to its advantage, creating gut-wrenching emotional experience on the page as effective or more so than some fiction regarded as literary. One of the most famous short stories of post-WWII science fiction is “The Cold Equations” by Tom Godwin, published by John W. Campbell in Astounding magazine in August, 1954. The emotional impact of this story is so profound, echoing across the decades since, largely because it inverts the scientist-as-hero trope to conform to the stark realities of engineering in a deconstruction of the same classic SF tradition that produced such classics as Foundation.
The transmissibility of story itself is not a function of these emotional transactions, however – with perhaps the exception of such genres as romance, which demand the emotional dimension through their very nature and definition. The intention and realization of story moves from the writer to the reader through the tropes of genre, naturalistic fiction no less than science fiction or fantasy, taking here the word “genre” in its looser sense of meaning. Even naturalistic fiction has its tropes: coming-of-age plots, familiar setting, and firm grounding in a recognizable cultural context. Story happens in the context of the shared expectations of writer and reader, and the controlled management (or violation) of those expectations during the course of the narrative.

The themes of genres vary widely as well. The story of epiphany, for example, is a strong thread in twentieth century naturalistic fiction, beginning with James Joyce’s classic The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), and continuing with various related forms of self-revelatory and semi-autobiographical fiction such as Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963). In this tradition we could also count the consciousness-raising novels of the women’s liberation movement in the seventies, such as Marge Piercy’s Small Changes (1972) and Marilyn French’s The Women’s Room (1978). Of course, only a small percentage of mainstream and literary fiction is fictional self-examination of this sort, but it is interesting to note that this particular impulse is almost non-existent in science fiction and fantasy.
Our genre has not in general been so concerned with emotionally revelatory writing, certainly not autobiographical or semi-autobiographical revelation. There is a thread of stories built on a strong emotional dimension – novels such as John Crowley’s Little, Big (1981), for example, Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn (1968), or short stories such as David Levine’s “The Tale of the Golden Eagle” (2003), but more often than not the genre-related tropes seem to be more important than the emotional underpinnings.
This is not to say that the emotional structure of speculative fiction is suppressed, only that it serves the foreground concerns of genre. Often, the emotional transaction seems to come along for the ride rather than serving as the core driver of the story. Due to the primary payout of the genre experience – the exploration of the second world developed by the author, with the attendant thrill of discovery and sensawunda – few stories in science fiction and fantasy are written to be epiphanic or emotionally revelatory. Rather, they address some aspect of the tropes of the genre, using emotion as an optional tool to reach their point. Many of the strongest examples of the genre, however, do go the extra step and explore the emotional dimension of their subject.
It is interesting to note that a number of genre novels with a greater emotional underpinning appeared during and after the New Wave, when many of the elements of literary fiction were adopted by science fiction and fantasy writers. Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness (1969) stands out in this regard, as do the novels mentioned previously such as Peter S. Beagle’s The Last Unicorn.
By the same token, when literary writers adopt science fictional language, while still employing their core emotional tropes, the result is often oddly unsatisfying to genre readers. Kirstin Bakis’ Lives of the Monster Dogs (1997), Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), and Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow (1996) are examples of this trend. Reading them with genre expectations impedes the transmissibility of story because the tropes are misaligned. An experienced genre reader has expectations of genetic engineering, time travel and interstellar travel stories which can impede the enjoyment of such works. Excellent as these books are, genre trope expectations are not met in them.
The story is transmitted to the reader at least in part because of the tropes. Some are emotional, some are external. The transmissibility of story is both enabled and restricted by the tropes of the genre within which the story – and the reader – are functioning.

This article was originally published in the Internet Review of Science Fiction (IROSF) in February 2007. I have made slight editing changes and updated the links.

Works Referenced

Asimov, Isaac. Foundation. New York: Gnome Press Publishers, 1951.
Bakis, Kirstin. Lives of the Monster Dogs. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux 1997.
Beagle, Peter S. The Last Unicorn. New York: The Viking Press, 1968.
Crowley, John. Little, Big. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
French, Marilyn. The Women’s Room. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
Fowler, Karen Joy. “What I Didn’t See.” SCI FICTION, July, 2002.
Godwin, Tom. “The Cold Equations.” Astounding, August, 1954.
Herbert, Frank. Dune. Philadelphia: Chilton Books, 1965.
Joyce, James. The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1916.
LeGuin, Ursula K. The Left Hand of Darkness. New York: Walker and Company, 1969.
Levine, David. “The Tale of the Golden Eagle.” The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, June, 2003.
Niffenegger, Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife. San Francisco, CA: MacAdam, Cage, 2003.
Piercy, Marge. Small Changes. New York: Fawcett Crest, 1972.
Plath, Sylvia. The Bell Jar. (1963) New York: Bantam, 1972.
Roth, Philip. Portnoy’s Complaint. New York: Random House, 1969.
Russell, Mary Doria. The Sparrow. New York: Villard Books / Random House, 1996.

New Blog Feature: Reprinting IROSF Columns Written with Jay Lake

Almost 15 years ago now, Jay Lake and I started writing a (mostly) monthly column in IROSF (Internet Review of Science Fiction), which we kept up for over three years. Topics varied from writing advice to observations on genre to literary criticism in the broadest sense.

Even after IROSF folded, they maintained archives so that the articles they had published could still be accessed. Just recently, however, I received an email from someone who had followed a link to one of our pieces and could no longer get it. Sure enough, the archives had been taken down.

For that reason, I have decided to republish those articles here on my blog. I will start with the one requested, “Genre Tropes and the Transmissibility of Story” — once I can find it, that is, and as long as I am not interrupted by the birth of the next grandchild. 🙂

It’s certainly a good reason to revive this flagging blog. On that note, I wish you happy reading.

Entering story

Aphra Behn and Chameleon in a Mirror

Usually I try to post every year on the death date of Aphra Behn, the first professional woman writer in the English language. I missed it this year (April 16) for a number of reasons, the main one being that I was preparing for the Villa Diodati Workshop, reading stories and writing critiques.

But I have a consolation prize this week: for those who have not yet read it, my time travel based on the life of Aphra Behn, Chameleon in a Mirror, is on sale for only 99c on Amazon until April 28. 🙂

Chameleon in a Mirror

Here’s a short excerpt, based on an incident from Aphra’s life:

Aphra entered the playhouse with more confidence than she felt. The portly playwright, poet laureate of the realm, was giving instructions to the actors and actresses. “Wait here,” she said to her maid. Katherine nodded.
She approached a dark-haired woman standing on the side of the stage. “Prithee, can you tell me where I might find Thomas Killigrew?”
“He’s not here right now, lass,” the actress replied. “But if you want a part in the play, you can speak with Mr. Dryden.”
Aphra felt a surge of sick disappointment. “Nay. I wanted to give him this.” Aphra took the linen cover off the basket she was carrying and pulled out a feathered headdress. The actress gasped.
Aphra’s courage returned. “I brought it and several others back from America. I heard the King’s Company was staging a play where they might be of use.”
“The Indian Queen,” the actress murmured, taking a colorful feather between her fingers. “They would be perfect.”
The playwright joined them so abruptly, they were both startled. “What is the attraction here, Mrs. Marshall? There is work to be done!”
“I had no lines, Mr. Dryden. And you must see what this young woman brought — perfect for The Indian Queen!”
Dryden took the headdress from the actress’s hands, staring at the clever arrangement of colorful feathers. “This is incredibly good,” Dryden said, looking up from the feathers and into Aphra’s face. “Where did you get it?”
Aphra made a hurried curtsey. “I am fresh arrived from the colony of Surinam, Mr. Dryden. I brought the headdress with me, and several others as well. I also brought an assortment of unusual insects …”
Dryden waved his hand in a gesture of dismissal. “You can present those to His Majesty for his zoology collection. But this … this we could use.”
“I would be happy to present them to your company.” The words nearly stuck in her throat in her excitement. “When are you expecting the master of the company, Mr. Killigrew?”
“He did not plan to come to the theater today, to my knowledge,” Dryden said, and Aphra’s face fell. “If you leave the headdress with me, I will give it to Mr. Killigrew.”
“I had something particular to give him,” Aphra stammered.
“I am one of the shareholders of the company, Mrs. …?”
“Johnson.”
“I will make sure it gets to Mr. Killigrew.”
Aphra pulled a sealed letter out of her basket, along with the painstakingly copied manuscript of The Young King, and handed them to Dryden. “This is a letter of introduction from my foster brother, Thomas Culpepper, and a play I wrote while I was in America.”
“A truly American play,” Dryden said with a sarcastic smile. “Not like our London Indians.”
“Oh no, nothing of the kind,” Aphra hastened to reassure him. “’Tis based on a classical precedent!”
Dryden raised his eyebrows but said nothing.
The actress shook her dark head and smiled. “The times are changing, are they not, Mr. Dryden? Women are already actresses. Perhaps playwrights next?” Dryden didn’t look pleased, and Mrs. Marshall gave Aphra a conspiratorial wink.
“I will give these to Mr. Killigrew, Mrs. Johnson,” Dryden said in a tone of dismissal. “Good day.”
“Good day, Mr. Dryden, Mrs. Marshall,” Aphra said curtseying, and turned to leave.

The actress and the playwright watched the copper-haired woman and her maid leave the theater. “A woman playwright would be quite a novelty, would it not?” Anne Marshall said, baiting the playwright, not well-liked among the actors.
“That it would,” Dryden agreed.
“Enough of a novelty to mean serious competition?” the actress added, a malicious gleam in her eye.
Dryden glanced through the pages of fine handwriting, quickly skimming a passage. He was relieved to see that the writing was bombastic and artificial, and although the public was often pleased with much less these days, he probably would have little difficulty persuading Killigrew not to take it. “Only if she wrote better than this one does,” he said. “Come, Mrs. Marshall, it will soon be your entrance.”

One of the things I love about Aphra Behn is the way she managed to succeed despite the odds. 🙂

Testing Kindle Scout: Cutting Edges; Or, A Web of Women

My most recent indie experiment is actually based on something fairly old: my hyperfiction piece, Cutting Edges; Or, A Web of Women. I put the hyperfiction* version of Cutting Edges up on the web over 20 years ago, in a fit of literary experimentation when I still thought my future might lie in academia.

Well, it turns out that both hyperfiction and my future in academia didn’t have much of a future after all. Cutting Edges got a fair amount of attention at the time, but has now been languishing mostly unread for well over a decade.

So I decided to turn it into a more traditional novel and use it to test the Kindle Scout platform. You can check out the campaign here.

Cutting Edges

Lyssa Strutter only wants to make her magazine, Cutting Edges, a success. But then the unthinkable happens…

Mercy Kennedy Flunk is dissatisfied with her life and her marriage, but she feels stuck. And then the unthinkable happens…

Diana Archer is looking for a new band in need of a singer. But then the unthinkable happens…

These women and their friends respond with something unthinkable of their own: they organize a strike in bed in order to put an end to rape.

Sound like a fairy tale? It is.

But if we want to change our lives, we have to change the myths.

If you’re unfamiliar with Kindle Scout, it’s a platform where readers can browse unpublished books and vote for their favorites, thus giving them a better chance of being published through an Amazon imprint — including all the promotion that entails. The royalty rates are lower, but since Cutting Edges doesn’t really fit with my other published fiction (other than the fact that it’s feminist), I decided to run it through Kindle Scout. And who knows, with it’s theme of women’s reaction to sexual harassment and rape, it would be a good companion to the #metoo movement — if anyone notices. 🙂

* Hyperfiction is (or was) an experimental genre in which the narrative could be read however the reader chose, via the links provided in the text. If you are curious as to what I mean, you can try out my story “Triple Helix,” which was originally published in Ideomancer in 2007, but is no longer available on the site. You can now read it here: http://www.nestvold.de/helix/helix.htm

Recent Changes to CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing Paperbacks

I was wondering when Amazon was finally going to make their print service less crippled. 🙂

chrismcmullen

CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing

Recent Updates to Paperback Features

Amazon has recently added new features to KDP’s paperback self-publishing option:

  • You can now order printed proofs from KDP. This is a vital step toward ensuring that your book is ready to publish.
  • You can similarly order author copies from KDP. This makes it viable to stock your book in local stores and libraries, and creates marketing opportunities like advance review copies, paperback preorders (through Amazon Advantage), press release packages, paperback giveaways, and book signings.
  • UK and Europe authors should be particularly excited, as KDP introduced a new feature that you can’t get at CreateSpace: author copies and proofs printed and shipped from Europe.

The first two changes simply bring KDP up to speed to make it a viable alternative to CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

But the last change offers authors in the United Kingdom and continental Europe something…

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Goodbye to a woman who revolutionized science fiction: RIP Ursula K. Le Guin

There are two books that that were integral to my decision to become a writer of science fiction and fantasy, and both are by Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed. When I read those as a young adult, I was blown away at the way her thought experiments in those novels could leave me stunned and amazed — and considering the world in a very different way than I had before. One of the lines I absolutely loved (and I’m quoting from memory here, so it might not be accurate): “The king was pregnant.”

The Left Hand of Darkness

I used to say jokingly that I wanted to be Ursula K. Le Guin when I grew up. It was one of the greatest honors I have ever experienced when a review compared my fiction to that of Le Guin.

I read her revolutionary works in the seventies, and they may not be as eye-opening now as they were then. On the other hand, when you look at the present political situation in the U.S., revolutionary thinking seems to have gone by the wayside.

RIP Ursula K. Le Guin. May your brilliant thought experiments soon be revived and social progress not be in vain.