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Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Oubliette, by E.M. Prazeman

The first piece for Today’s Boosting the Signal doubleheader comes from fellow NIWA member E.M. Prazeman! She’s the author of the Lord Jester’s Legacy trilogy, and having laid personal eyes on her covers, I can report that they got a LOT of attention at Norwescon this past April. I’m looking forward to checking out her work, although from what I’m seeing in this piece, one will clearly want to tread lightly around her bad guys. She’s going to let you into the head of one of them now.



E.M. Prazeman writes secondary world fantasies with strong historical leanings. Current works include The Lord Jester’s Legacy Trilogy (Masks, Confidante, and Innocence & Silence) and a short story which will appear in an upcoming anthology that will go on sale in November. Current works in progress are The Poisoned Past (Oubliette, Penumbra and A Dark Radiance), sequel series to The Lord Jester’s Legacy, and The Kilhellion, a sword and sorcery fantasy. The Poisoned Past will go on sale this summer. Oubliette looks good for an early June release! Now, please let me introduce to you a certain person from Oubliette whom you would not want to meet under any circumstances. If he succeeds, you’ll all get to see him again in Penumbra.


I’m a villain. I like it, and I’m good at it. I wouldn’t have become one, if people weren’t slow, stupid liars. Are you afraid? I don’t care if you are. Not anymore. I used to like fear, and blubbering, and people pissing themselves. I’m not sure what happened. For a while I thought I got bored with it, but honestly … don’t you look for a way to escape when I’m talking to you. I thought you weren’t as idiotic as the others, otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered with you. That’s a compliment, and a gift. You’re exceptional. Too bad for you, hmm?

Anyway. Years ago when I raped a man, something went wrong. He liked it, in a way. He killed himself later, but that wasn’t what changed me. I’m pissed that he changed me, by the way. He and his wife. I can’t stop thinking about that look in his eyes. Release. A strange joy behind his fear, as if I’d set him free. He wanted to die then. I didn’t want to kill him. Fuck, I wanted more from him. I wanted to make him mine forever.

I find it curious that both people I harmed who liked it were men. I should have enjoyed it better, I think, if they were women, but a hole is a hole when it all comes down to it, don’t you agree? No? It’s all right if you disagree. I don’t mind. Truly. As if I would care what people think of me.

Anyway, since then, for the most part, I kept my work simple. I interrogated, mainly using my wits and their lack thereof. I tortured people sometimes if I thought they’d respond in the way that normal, rational people do when they’re in pain, but that seemed risky to me. I should have trusted my instincts. Because that boy.

That boy.

I can still hear his exquisite voice calling my name softly down the dungeon hall. Cock. His mouth cupped the word like he wanted to take me in. A Trace. A lover’s whisper. Cock, a trace. Cockatrice.

Oh for pity’s sake you didn’t know who I was? Am? Whatever. It’s so obvious to anyone who’s paying attention. They called me Cock in school. I deserved it, earned it, both for the good and the wicked reasons, though they tried to humiliate me and make fun of it. And then, when I graduated, I took the name Trace. Cock. Trace. I have no idea why no one makes the connection between Trace the Master Jester and Cockatrice, the dreaded highwayman. It’s not even that clever. What can I say? I was young and I think part of me wanted to give the people who hunted me a little help because I didn’t feel hunted. I wanted to play the fox to their hounds and I wanted them to get close because that is about as thrilling as you can imagine. But they never got close to catching me, no matter how many sacred guards they sent after me. Now I’m employed rather than a free agent. I work alongside sacred guards every day. My employer would protect me if I was accused, but the pathetic nut rubbers that try to play mavson these days still haven’t caught on.

The boy, you ask? None other than the infamous regicide, that dreaded and feared little boy, Lord Jester Lark. Have you seen him? He’s as short and slight as they describe, with his angelic little innocent face. You’d never dream he was dangerous at all, especially when he’s not wearing his jester’s mask. I made the mistake of hurting him. And oooohhh, how he yielded to me, gave in to the pain. How he took strength from his endurance. I wanted to whip him bloody and then force myself upon him.

I’ve gotten quite carried away. Hand me that drink.

Thank you.

He got away and I want him back. I don’t want you. But I need you. Not like I need him. I need your skills. Track him for me. They say he ran off into the woods. That’s rather like saying he sailed away across the wide ocean, isn’t it? But you’re going to find him for me. It shouldn’t take you long. I know where he began, and I think I know where he’s going. We need to intercept him. And when you find him for me, I’ll be so preoccupied with my prize you’ll be able to slip away from me. I won’t care. I’ll happily let you go. Here. I’ll even pay you in advance.

Ha! You’ve never seen five sol together in one palm? Well now you have, in your own hand, my friend. I might give you another five if you find him.

But. If you don’t find him, I’ll have to take my money back and try to satisfy myself with you. For this boy does inspire a strange lust in me, and the closer I get to him, the stronger my lust becomes. Now, don’t you worry about him. He’ll be far more interested in me than you. He might be strong enough to kill me, which will be a great relief to the living world. But I’m betting he won’t hurt me. I’m betting that he felt the same thrill I did when I gripped his hair so hard that some tore free from his scalp, when I forced him against that cold, hard stone.

A shame we were so rudely interrupted.

Compared to him, you’re not at all interesting. But if you’re all I’ve got, I will use you. So go get him for me. And make it quick. I’m more patient than I was as a youth, but that does not make me a patient man.


Buy the Book: Oubliette is not yet released, but follow the author for news on when it becomes available!

Follow the Author On: Official Site | Facebook | Goodreads


The Norwescon 2015 report, and what I learned running merch!

This year at Norwescon was a totally new experience for me, since I spent the vast majority of the convention attempting to sell stuff!

I got in a bit of a trial run with that last year, working with Brad and a couple other folks in NIWA to run our table then. This year I did that again, only this time I turned out to be one of the primary people working the table–because Lee French and I were the two at the table with actual Squares, so we were the ones ringing up transactions. Jake Elliot, Connie Johnson-Jasperson, and Madison Keller were also helping work the table, and we got in a pretty good groove going, engaging with folks. Luna Lindsey popped by periodically, but she was also on a lot of panels, so she was only able to check in every so often.

Here are a bunch of things I learned from that:

Continue Reading

Publishing, Site Updates

Victory of the Hawk cover copy, site housekeeping, and SFWA

In the midst of all this HEY BONE WALKER IS OUT excitement, do not forget, Victory of the Hawk is ALSO on its way. And there’s official cover copy for it now and everything, so I have updated the official Victory of the Hawk page with it! AND, I have also found it up on iBooks for preordering goodness, so I’ve added that link to the page too.

I have also taken the time to update various high-level pages on the site to be current with the status of Victory and of Bone Walker. The About Me, FAQ, and Books pages have all been updated too with current data, including how to get print copies of Faerie Blood and Bone Walker by ordering via Bandcamp!

Likewise, I have made sure that the current main places to get all of my books are called out on the overall Books page. This includes the direct links to go to the Crime and the Forces of Evil merch pages on Bandcamp, where you can order the aforementioned print editions.

It ALSO includes a direct link to the Audible page for the audiobook edition of Valor of the Healer, which IS a thing that exists, let me remind you all. 😀


Last but not least, I saw the news break last night courtesy of James Nicoll’s LJ that SFWA has opened membership to self-pubbed and small press authors.

To wit, awesome.

I still don’t qualify for membership by the criteria they’re discussing, which are based around “how much income do you pull in from your writing?” They are setting that bar at a level that’d be the equivalent of what authors can get from an advance from a traditional publisher. And honestly, that seems reasonable to me.

Now, though, this changes my likelihood of ever joining SFWA from “well, THAT ain’t gonna happen” over to “possibly feasible, if I keep growing my available titles and sales”. And this does please me. So as I said on the comment I left on the post, I would like to thank the folks in SFWA for making this policy change.

Meanwhile, I am still very pleased that NIWA is a thing that exists, and have renewed my membership with them. The opportunity to be in an organized group of independent authors IS very valuable–if nothing else, the chance to team up to sell books at local conventions is very, very welcome. And I do recommend that fellow indie authors who aren’t yet at SFWA-qualifying levels of sales consider checking them out.

Boosting the Signal

Boosting the Signal: Underground, by the Northwest Independent Writers Association

This is another out-of-band Boosting the Signal post, which I’m doing mostly to support the 2014 NIWA anthology, and because I can! So y’all remember I’m in NIWA, right? There’s an anthology coming out TODAY! It’s called Underground, and one of the participating authors, Roslyn McFarland, sent me in a piece called “Soldier Boy”, which is a prologue to her piece in the anthology. Enjoy!




Soldier Boy


How long has it been?

Swords rose and fell accompanied by a cacophony of sound: the clashing of steel, the thudding impact of a weapon meeting its mark, the screams and moans of the dying. As a soldier of Scotland, ’twas my duty to play the part as directed by my superiors. This primarily involved the bloodying of my hands, an occupation in which I did not revel despite my unusual—let’s say, aptitude.

Then came the change.

Years? Decades? Centuries? So long since I’ve even bothered to keep track, I have no idea.

The pervasive harmonies of trauma and war stilled as soldiers returned to their homes or were committed to the grave. I stand alone amid the echoes of their memory. I don’t know why. Why me? Why this trail, this path, this lake? Mine is not to know, only to protect. I assume that’s what I am, what I do. A protector. Any who come upon me shouldering the mantle of darkness or bearing a soul full of anger and fight, soon meets the specter I cannot. Death will come to call within a fortnight, claiming yet another soul not my own.

Therein lies the crux of the situation. Though neither food nor drink pass my lips, rest also purely optional despite my ceaseless wanderings, I do not die. I live. Alone. Endlessly alone. Human contact is as surreal a concept in my waking days as the possibility of an endless sleep claiming me in the night. It doesn’t happen. It can’t happen.

It is my destiny. My curse.

I walk through the mists and weeds along green shores, forsaken, the burden of the souls lost by my hand weighing down each step.

Then she came.

The lass with the bright eyes and fiery spirit, who either doesn’t know my tale or doesn’t care. Whose odd accent and stranger clothes, products of a new era, do nothing to disguise the strength of a soul bearing its own heavy burdens. Whose touch, soft skin, cocky yet kind smile, blow warmth through the husk of what I am, relighting embers I thought long since withered away, buried by the ash of time and death.

How long has it been, since I felt the warmth of human touch?

How long before my curse takes her?


Anthology Blurb

What does “underground” mean to you?

This anthology from the Northwest Independent Writers Association presents fourteen “underground” stories, each with a different interpretation of the titular theme. In these pages, you will visit a murderer’s hideout, walk the road to the afterlife, plunder a dragon’s lair, uncover a mysterious archaeological artifact, glimpse human existence after an environmental apocalypse, and delve deep into dark secrets, crime syndicates, forbidden worlds, sacrifice, and the human psyche.

Featuring stories by:

Mike Chinakos • Amber Michelle Cook • Pamela Cowan • Jake Elliot • Jonathan Ems • T.L. Kleinberg • Jason LaPier • Maggie Lynch • Roslyn McFarland • Cody Newton • Dey Rivers • Steven L. Shrewsbury • Dale Ivan Smith • Laurel Standley • Jennifer Willis

The Northwest Independent Writers Association (NIWA) supports indie and hybrid authors and promotes professional standards in independent writing, publishing, and marketing.


Buy the Book: Amazon (print) | Amazon (Kindle) | Barnes & Noble (Nook) | Kobo

Follow NIWA On: Official NIWA Site | Twitter | Facebook

Follow Roslyn McFarland On: Facebook |

Faerie Blood

A rare Faerie Blood sighting

Dara and I went to Norwescon a few weeks ago, of course, and I didn’t get to post much about what happened there since the con fell in the middle of my being ill. I didn’t do much at the con except rest and periodically do stints at the NIWA table in the dealers’ room.

But since I was in fact at the NIWA table, and paid my share of the table fee, that meant I was able to actually have copies of Faerie Blood on sale! I didn’t sell many, just one each of my paperbacks and ebook CDs. Still, this was a moment I had to capture in a picture. Those of you who follow me on the social networks may have seen this pic already, but I wanted to post about it here too!

Faerie Blood on Sale at Norwescon

Faerie Blood on Sale at Norwescon

Some of y’all may see Faerie Blood in dealers’ rooms at future PNW cons, since I gave the NIWA treasurer, Brad Wheeler, custody of three of my paperbacks and three of my CDs so that he could take them to other events and sell them on my behalf. So if you happen to go to a con in Washington or Oregon that I can’t get to, tell me if you see the book!


One more SFWA post, and also, hi I’m joining NIWA

Because yes, this conversation is ongoing, and I keep seeing commentary that’s worth attention.

From Seanan McGuire, Sexism, the current SFWA kerfuffle, and “lady authors.”.

From N.K. Jemisin, her Continuum GoH Speech, including her commentary on what it’s like to be a PoC in Australia, and how she extrapolates from that to what advances she’d like to see in the genre as a result of what’s going on.

From Chuck Wendig, 25 Things to Know about Sexism & Misogyny in Writing & Publishing.

And, linked to by Wendig, Delilah S. Dawson adds On Sexism in Publishing, or Why I’m Writing this Now Instead of Two Days Ago.

I decided after absorbing the ongoing commentary about this from many sides that it would be worth my time to put down the dues to join NIWA, the Northwest Independent Writers Association. Because for the time being, while I do have a title out from Carina and expect to finish my trilogy with them, I’m still an indie/hybrid author.

Because if there’s one thing this ongoing controversy is teaching me, it’s that it’s important for writers to make their voices heard. And I’d like to support an organization that gives a voice to authors in my position. I’m looking forward to seeing what this association will bring for me. But at the same time, I’m hoping that SFWA will be listening to the voices being raised, and that moving forward, there will be progress.

ETA: Editing to add Chrysoula Tzavelas’ excellent suggestion to help fight -ism’s in publishing by signalboosting authors who have been overlooked because of their gender, their race, their sexual orientation, or anything else that may have gotten them tagged too unusual for the market.


SFWA brouhaha followup

As the SFWA controversy still rumbles around the Net in various writing circles, I’ve seen the topic come up of whether, if SFWA is inaccessible and/or irrelevant to a lot of today’s working writers, is it time to fire up a competing organization? That very question has been raised to me in comments, and I’ve seen it raised on at least two other blog posts. Like Cora Buhlert’s Revenge of the Girl Cooties post, as well as the World SF blog, which is asking whether SFWA can continue to be relevant in an increasingly global writing market.

Over on her own blog, Dara has now addressed the question of, if a competing organization were to arise, what would that actually mean? Picosummary: a lot more work than many might think. I encourage you to go give her a read.

I’ve also seen people suggesting that perhaps SFWA should follow the example of RWA and admit members who aren’t published writers yet. I think it’s certainly an idea worth considering. Though me, I’d be just as interested in seeing them open up a tier of membership allowing members who have sold to professional markets–even if they aren’t advance-paying markets.

Now, I get it. I get that a publisher who actually pays you an advance is still going to be the most Serious Business thing you can do for your career if you’re a writer. But the problem is, that still pretty much means “a publisher who can get you into print”, because I have yet to hear of any serious digital-only markets that will pay advances. (If such markets exist, I’d love to hear about them!)

And as the number of aspiring writers continues to rise, the advance-paying markets, the ones who can in fact get you into print, become harder and harder to sell to. I’ve personally experienced an advance-paying market telling me I had a good novel–but they didn’t want it because they had no room in the schedule for it, and they were sure some other market would take it. (And I had to wait well over a year to get that response.) Fewer and fewer advance-paying markets are taking unsolicited submissions, just because it’s become so easy to submit a novel to markets these days that they’re drowning in tidal waves of slush. They have to lock down their submissions queues if they want to get any work done at all.

Which of course means that aspiring writers have to then court agents instead, if they want to get to those otherwise inaccessible advance-paying markets. But this doesn’t solve the problem, because the agents that are taking unsolicited submissions are also drowning in slush. An author still has to wait, often upwards of many months, before an agent may get back to them. And that’s assuming the agent doesn’t have a policy of “if you never hear from me, that means no”.

Given all these things, I cannot be surprised in the slightest that many writers who tell absolutely lovely stories are turning to digital markets instead. I’ve read quite a few of them from Carina now. I’ve gone this route myself, of course, and y’know what? I’ve never had anything less than a professional experience working with the team at Carina. I will say with pride that Valor of the Healer is an infinitely better book because of the editing it received from Deb Nemeth, my editor.

And yet. Because I sold to a digital market, one that didn’t pay me an advance, I’m still not eligible for SFWA.

I may eventually be. I do have an agent, and once I have my trilogy with Carina out of the way I do plan to have her shop my other forthcoming works around to hopefully higher-profile markets. But realistically speaking, at best it’ll probably be four or five more years before I could make the necessary sales. And by then I’ll have at least five digital novels out–Faerie Blood, Bone Walker, and the entire Rebels of Adalonia trilogy. I’ll also have novellas in the Warder universe, which I will be putting up for public sale as soon as I finish them and get them to my long-patient Kickstarter backers. And I have every expectation that as I continue to work with Carina as well as on my independently published works, my craft will improve and I will grow as a writer.

Yet not a single one of these words will make me eligible for SFWA. And I have to admit, if a competing organization that could pull off the same level of professional competence arose, one which would accept digital, independent, or hybrid authors, I’d be looking very seriously at joining it. I will in fact be looking very seriously at the Northwest Independent Writers Association, though so far their scope is limited to the Pacific Northwest and I’d like to see something more national, if not global.

But it sure would be nice if SFWA would consider opening up an auxiliary tier of membership for those of us who have sold to professional digital markets with good track records of paying their authors. I’d absolutely pay dues for that.

Until then, I’ll be over here working on my books.