Loose Id has closed

My primary publisher, Loose Id, has alas closed as of 7 May. My books published through them are now out of print, although you may see them on third party distributors for a short period while the out of print notices work through the system.

I do intend to make the books available again, but that takes a lot of time, which is a resource I’m rather short of at the moment. I’m also waiting on Loose Id to finish working on the rights releases for the cover art I’d like to re-use. I’m focusing on writing new material for now.

If you’re still looking for something of mine to read, I do have books at NineStar Press under the name Storm Duffy, which are still available and will be for the foreseeable future.

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Stationery review – Le Yogi writing slope

I’ve been intending to post this for the last two months… Never mind.

I have neck problems and instructions from the physiotherapist to remember to use a good posture, so went in search of a writing slope to use at home. It needed to be relatively light, big enough to hold an A4 page in both portrait and landscape orientation, sturdy enough for an adult to use, not require me to lean hard on the paper with my non-writing hand to pin it down, and have a lip to catch any escaping paper sliding down. This ticks almost all the boxes, for a reasonable price as such things go. The one thing it misses is “portrait A4”. The surface is big enough, but there is a pen rest groove cut into the slope 2 to 3 cm below the top, and the top edge of an A4 sheet resting on the bottom lip will lie over this — something to note if you want to write/colour to the very edge of the page.

It’s made of a sturdy sheet of acrylic folded into shape, with a nonslip silicon strip on both surfaces in contact with the table, and another along the bottom edge of the writing service as a lip, thick enough to hold a colouring book in place but thin enough not to press too hard into my arm. I’m mostly using it to write on A5 paper, and finding it much better for my neck than writing with the paper flat on the table. It will also take the weight of an iPad 2, which is handy when I’m playing with electronic jigsaws. The only fault I found is that the gloss surface reflects overhead lights. Mine’s black but it’s also available in white, which may or may not be better for the glare problem. For me it’s worth every penny of the 20 pounds I paid. Oh, and you get an email with a link to a downloadable colouring book. :-)

Amazon UK

Stationery review – Schneider refills

In the never ending quest to tidy my room, I decided to have a cull of the pen herd. I have many, many pens of various types accumulated over the years, some dating back to when I was at university [mumble] years ago. I can tell, because they’re in the biscuit tin I used as a pen case.

I was going to be ruthless about throwing out the ones that didn’t work anymore, but some of the ancient and venerable have sentimental value, or are promo pens in a barrel style that I find very comfortable to use, so I set about investigating the availability of refills.

First port of call was the Cult Pens website, a wondrous cavern of everything pen. It turned out they were having a three for two special deal on Schneider products, and Schneider make All the Refills, or pretty close to it. I already had a Schneider disposable courtesy of a sample in a previous order, so I knew they made decent cheap pens. Cue buying bingeā€¦

I needed a selection of refills, and I haven’t had a chance to do much with most of them yet, but so far — nice refills. They write smoothly and don’t need much pressure to get them started. I really like the Slider 755, which is a Parker style G2 filled with Schneider’s ViscoGlide hybrid ink. It writes very smoothly with no skipping and almost no pressure once it gets going, but can write on gloss paper without smearing even if it gets wet. It’s described as combining the best features of ballpoint and gel pens. It’s moderately expensive but I think well worth it if it continues to perform like this. I do love my fountain pens for not needing any pressure to write, but this refill comes close and is waterproof to boot.

The refills are all clearly labelled with brand, model number, colour and tip size, even the tiny D1 format multipen refills. This might not sound important, but when you’ve just opened an envelope full of miscellaneous loose refills, it’s very useful for matching refill to pen. Definitely for my “buy again” list.

You can find the Schneider range in lots of pen shops, and as of the time of writing there is still a three for two offer at Cult Pens for the entire range.

Stationery Wibble – Prologue

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things:
Of fountain pens and sealing wax
of binding combs and rings.”

I’ve been on a bit of a binge on stationery and office supplies of late for a number of reasons. Chief amongst these is the latest medical reason for staying away from a computer, but it doesn’t help that the WIP features a hero with a passion for pens beyond even that seen in racsf’s collective obsession with writing paraphernalia. I can’t type, but I can put ink on paper and dictate the results into Dragon, and only look at the screen to set the transcription running and then error-correct the result. I have a genuine justification for having acquired a breeding herd of fountain pens over the last few months, inasmuch as a good fountain pen needs no pressure at all to glide over the page, and this is an important consideration for those with RSI. All of this is to explain why there may be stationery-related wibble in lieu of anything else I can focus on for long enough to write a blog post. You have been warned.

book log 2015: 15) Luke Young — Friends with partial benefits

Sweetly funny milf erotic romance novel – but be warned that the characters spend an awful lot of the book being interrupted before they can actually do something about their attraction. Successful romance writer Jillian divorced her no-good husband a while back for cheating on her, and hasn’t had much luck in the dating game since then. So when her son comes home from unversity for vacation and brings his friend Brian with him, Jillian can’t help but notice that Brian’s very nicely put together. He’s also her son’s friend, which puts him off limits.

Brian thinks Jillian’s pretty hot, even if she’s old enough to be his friend’s mother. In fact, she *is* his friend’s mother, which puts her off limits…

While some of the situations they end up in are frankly implausible, the lead and supporting characters are well-written, and Jillian and Brian’s ever more frantic efforts to first hide and then give in to their attraction are entertaining. This isn’t going to be to everyone’s taste; but if it appeals to your sense of humour, it’s a lot of fun.

This is the first of a series, but there’s closure at the end of the book. The ebook is free as a hook for the series, and I think worth downloading to try it out.

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Kobo

Out now: Stormy Nights

Release day for my new book. :-) This is a collection of short stories, some reprints and some new to publication. It’s available now from all good ebook sellers (and you would not believe how long I spent at the weekend tracking down All The Amazons). Full details including all those buy links are on the page for Stormy Nights on the Storm Duffy site, and you can see the cover below. I don’t have an approved-by-publisher excerpt as yet, but will endeavour to provide some snippets over the next few days.

Sex and love, lies and truth, shades in between. Happy endings and might-have-beens. Nine tales of these things between men.

Stormy Nights contemporary gay romance

Book log – Hugo 2017 short stories

I wrote some notes as I went along with the Hugo short story nominees, which I then failed to post soon enough to be of any help to anyone else. Never mind. Here they are anyway…

Given in the order in which I read them. I’d be happy to vote for any of these, and picking an order is going to be difficult.

A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers by Alyssa Wong

Two sisters, both weather workers, both capable of bending time back on itself and trying another timeline. It starts with one burning up in her own flame; it ends with the other still searching for a timeline in which her sister can live. In between we learn much about them and the different paths they have taken. It’s raw emotion delivered in skillful prose, and not only supports but demands a second reading to understand the layers. The idea of a fan or network of timelines spreading out and being able to step from one strand to another is not new; but this use of the concept is an emotionally wrenching read.

Published by Tor.com and available free online, or for purchase as a DRM-free ebook. Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon US

Seasons of Glass and Iron by Amal El-Mohtar

One woman is required to wear out seven pairs of iron shoes. Another sits atop a glass hill too slippery to climb. El-Mohtar considers what might happen when the woman of one fairy tale walks into the other story, and subverts the subtext of both. “Subverts” is rather too weak a word here – it dances on the subtext with hobnailed boots. Possibly too much so, but then there’s a lot of subtext in fairy stories that needs to be dragged into the light and examined. This particular happy ending is one that I can believe has a chance at being happy ever after. It’s sweet but not saccharine.

There’s a lot to like in this story, but I was especially taken with the short scene in which the women run a scientific experiment with the golden apples meant to be a reward for the Hero who manages to climb the mountain. It left me wanting to buy the anthology it was originally published in.

First published in the anthology “The Starlit Wood” . Reprinted in Uncanny Tales (available free online). There’s an interesting discussion of it at Short Story Squee and Snark.

Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies by Brooke Bolander

A short tale of a harpy’s sweet revenge. Too short to review without giving away too much, but fabulous use of language that brings the narrator to vivid life in a commentary on modern media’s portrayal of women.

Published in Uncanny Tales (available free online)

That Game We Played During the War by Carrie Vaughn

“The people of Gaant are telepaths. The people of Enith are not. The two countries have been at war for decades, but now peace has fallen, and Calla of Enith seeks to renew an unlikely friendship with Gaantish officer Valk over an even more unlikely game of chess.”

A short story that explores some of the ramifications of full telepathy, and does so through a pair of fascinating characters and their unfolding friendship. The chess game is indeed a metaphor for the war, and gives some idea of how a non-telepathic nation could have held its own against an army of telepaths, but it’s the characterisation that makes this story shine. Calla and and Valk have each been a prisoner under the control of the other as fortunes have shifted over the war; Calla working as a nurse in her own side’s military hospital treating prisoners of war that include Valk, and then as a trustee prisoner in a Gaantish hospital desperately in need of nursing staff. The chess game starts as a way to pass time, a way to take their minds off the situation they’re in, and becomes much more.

Published by Tor.com and available free online, or for purchase as a DRM-free ebook. Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon US

The City Born Great by NK Jemesin

Great cities come alive, and in this short story they do so in a most literal fashion. But there are things out there that feed on new life, and a city needs a midwife to guard it as it struggles to birth itself. Our protaganist is a young black man in New York who half believes, half disbelieves a new friend’s tales of living cities and his role in New York’s story – right up until the monsters try to come for him. Stunning fantasy story deeply rooted in a deftly depicted metropolis.

Published by Tor.com and available free online, or for purchase as a DRM-free ebook. Kobo, Amazon UK, Amazon US