A Helping Hand

In honor (belatedly) of National Author’s Day (November 1) I’d like to share with you links to some books I recommend. They are by author friends, works I enjoyed, and a couple are even my own work. With the Holidays coming up — and one just past — these make perfect gifts for someone on your list. Some of them are horror-related: I try to keep the Holiday Spirit in my heart year ’round. 🙂
Please note that these links generally lead to sites where you can purchase e-books: if you prefer dead-tree editions, please consult your favorite local, independently-owned bookstore. I’m sure they’d be happy to get copies of anything they have access to for your reading pleasure. Here’s a couple of my favorites: A Room of One’s Own, Mystery To Me, and Starcat Books.

First and foremost, I’d like to recommend Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans, and including stories by Nisi Shawl, Lucien Soulban, Lucy Snyder, Alex Bledsoe, and Nayad Monroe, among many others. It’s a great introduction to Steampunk if you’ve ever wanted to check out the genre, and has a strong multicultural theme to it as a bonus. This is one of my favorite anthologies of all-time.

Sarah Hans is not only an editor, she’s an author as well, and a very talented one. She has two books of her own fiction out right now: An Ideal Vessel is a novella tying together demon possession, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and a self-aware automaton. Dead Girls Don’t Love is a collection of short stories, some originally published elsewhere and some new. Both of these are on top of my to-read pile.

Sean Patrick Little writes from his local Culver’s restaurant, his office away from home. Besides writing a series of books tied in to the TeslaCon Steampunk convention, the first of which is Lord Bobbins and the Romanian Ruckus. The second volume, Lord Bobbins and the Dome of Light will be available later this month. His other current series is a post-apocalyptic survivor’s story, the first book of which is After Everyone Died, about one person’s struggle to cope with survival and crippling loneliness in a world decimated by a viral plague.

Nan Sampson is a mystery author and we’ve become friends over the last couple of years, often attending the same sci-fi conventions — her supporting her kids, and me for, well, me. The first book in her Coffee and Crime series of cozy mysteries is Restless Natives, with three more available in the same series. I also hear she’s working on a steampunk-themed mystery, due out in the near future…

I couldn’t post a list like this without mentioning the newest work by Monica Valentinelli. Just out in print is the Firefly Encyclopedia, covering everything you ever wanted to know about everyone’s favorite sci-fi-western TV series.

Self-promotion is not something most authors are good at: in fact, many of them HATE having to promote their own work. I have no such qualms, so please indulge me while I offer a few of my own, older works for your consideration.

Sidekicks, edited by Sarah Hans, is a collection of stories about – well, sidekicks. My own story, “In the Shadow of His Glory” is smack in the middle of this book. Also features stories by Patrick Tomlinson, Alex Bledsoe, Nayad Monroe, Steve Lickman, and many more.

My story in Haunted: Eleven Tales of Ghostly Horror is titles “A quiet House in the Country” and is about a group of ghost hunters who get in over their heads on a case. This anthology includes stories by Chuck Wendig, Rich Dansky, Jess Hartley, Jason Blair, and Alex Bledsoe.

For the gamers out there, my addition to the White Wolf Community Content page is Madison By Night, a guide to my home town set in the world of the Vampire: the Masquerade tabletop RPG.

‘But Bill,’ I hear you ask ‘what if I can’t afford to buy any books right now?’ The answer is simple: request books from your local public library. Libraries buy books too, and the more copies sold overall, the more bankable authors are in the eyes of publishers. Another easy way you can help: Write reviews. They don’t have to be long and involved, or feature perfect grammar and punctuation. The important thing is that reviews — even ones where you didn’t like the book — help sell books to other people. Post your review to Amazon.com, Goodreads, Facebook, Library Thing, your own blog — anywhere where people might see it. In the case of anthologies, be sure to call out a couple of your favorite stories and mention their authors by name. That helps too.

Now more than ever, it’s important to support artists whose work you enjoy. With funding cut for arts programs at every level nationwide, we need to support artists like never before. Being an author is already tough, and very few make even a passable living at it. Anything you can do to help your favorite authors and artists will help keep us all going. More than the money, the encouragement a positive review with a name-check can bring is worth more to many of us than the sales it might encourage.

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