Author posts her vampire novel online for free — and gets an awesome book deal


Can posting your unpublished novels online for free still lead to a nice book deal, now that the web is saturated with free fiction? It worked for author Marta Acosta, whose young-adult vampire novel will come out from Tor Books.

Acosta says she got tired of waiting for her YA novel, The Shadow Girl Of Birch Grove, to get a book deal. So she posted it online at Scribd, where it became the #1 selling YA novel and got some rave reviews from vampire sites. ( called it “Bloody brilliant.”) Acosta, who also writes the successful adult vampire series Happy Hour At Casa Dracula, tells us:

My book had been with Tor and a few other publishers since last October. We hadn’t heard anything back and I was beginning to despair. That’s when I put the book online as a free read. I don’t know that having it on Scribd inspired the offer, but I was able to get reviews that were presented to the editor who expressed interest. Also showing her the number of reads made a difference.


Why Radioactive Spider Bites Are Just Fine By Me

Source: A. Lee Martinez at

When it comes to fantasy, I don’t mind if a writer ignores reality. This shouldn’t be that odd. Fantasy is, by definition, an escape from reality. Or, if not an escape, at least a chance to see a world that might have been. The important element is that, either way, fantasy is just reality as we know it with a tweak here or there that allows the impossible to happen.

I go into fantasy with eyes wide open, knowing that reality can be, will be, discarded if it allows a human to teleport or an invasion of space robots. I don’t need a justification beyond this is fantasy, and that’s what makes it awesome.

I know writers who work hard to justify fantasy. Just the other day, someone told me that if they were going to write a story with someone who turned invisible, they’d have to come up with a reason why that person wasn’t blind at the same time. It’s a legitimate question, or it would be if becoming invisible was something that could actually happen in real life. But it can’t, and unless the goal of your invisible man story is to make someone think being invisible would stink, then it’s counter productive.


The Lasting Appeal of Urban Fantasy

Source: Laura Anne Gilman at

I’m not an academic or a critic, and the thought of writing an essay about genre filled me with a sense of…not exactly dread, but hesitation. I have opinions, sure, but they’re mine, not something I’m going to insist everyone else take as any kind of gospel (see: not an academic or critic).

But I have been mucking about with fantasy—and specifically urban fantasy—since back when the calendar still started with “19” rather than “20,”—so I do have a few thoughts on the genre.

First is that, despite all the press around this generation of writers, urban fantasy is not “new.” We can point to Charles DeLint as the “father” of UF, with his fantastical Ontario, or Emma Bull’s seminal War for the Oaks, but my classic example is Peter Beagle, and my favorite book of all times, A Fine and Private Place, which is set in then-modern (late 1950’s) NYC. So yeah, we’ve been writing, and reading, “urban fantasy” for a while.

And there’s a reason for that and why, even when other sub-genres eclipse it in sales, it remains.


In The Harry Potter Era, An American Fantasy

Source: Rebecca Serle at

American fantasy is not a genre we think about too often. Sure, we are familiar with the worlds of English boarding school houses and castles and fairies but true American fantasy, fantasy that is built on the land of this country, is hard to come by. That is, until you meet Newberry honoree and National Book Award finalist, Kathi Appelt. I had the great honor of sitting down with her this past week to talk about her books, writing for children, and the everyday magic of this country.

Both The Underneath and Keeper are fantasies but they are also deeply rooted in America. Just when we think we’re in some faraway land you remind us–nope, still Texas!

That’s actually a big part of what I want to do and what I am interested in and I’m giving a lecture on American fantasy this week, so the timing could not be more appropriate! You know a lot of my students want to write fantasy and they tend to fall back on the traditional terms–castle, fairy, etc. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that but it does take us out of America. What I’m interested in is the notion of how you create fantasy using an American ethos.

A lot of the fantasy we read and hear is centered on a “chosen one,” which stems from the notion of a divine life. If there is a chosen one there must be a chooser, whereas here in the United States we are chosen by the people. A chosen one doesn’t really work for us, it’s not a part of our narrative heritage.


Night Shade Books placed on probation by SFWA


It has recently come to light that Night Shade Books, a speculative fiction publisher since 1997, went against several contractual and legal agreements it had with authors, concerning royalty statements and book distribution. Because of this, John Scalzi, the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has announced they are putting the publishing company on a year-long probation as a qualifying SFWA market.

What does this mean? First off, in order to become a member of the SFWA, an author must make a professional sale to one of the markets on the SFWA’s qualified list. For the next year, Night Shade Books will no longer count as such–though any author who has made a sale to them prior to this will not be affected.


Bestselling Arabic dystopian novel finally coming out in English


The Arab world’s most prolific and best-selling science fiction author, Ahmed Khaled Taufiq, will finally appear in English, thanks to Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing. In autumn 2011, we’ll get an English version of Taufiq’s novel Utopia, which isn’t really utopian.

According to The Tanjara:

BQFP describes Utopia as a grim futuristic account of Egyptian society in 2023 which takes readers on an adventurous journey that ventures out of the gated communities insulating the wealthy from the bleak realities of Egyptian life. “A young man and a young girl break away from the idyllic bubble of affluence they know, and delve into the harsh existence of the impoverished Egyptians that live right outside the fortified gates of their compounds. Utopia’s twists and turns will certainly leave readers in suspense until the very last page.”


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