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I Published A New Collection And I Liked It

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Fine, okay, there were some bits that are never fun. Like building an ebook table of contents or going through a bunch of stories written in standard manuscript format and deleting all the tabs so they won’t screw up the ebook.

But yeah, I liked it. There are 21 science fiction stories in there, arranged roughly from the nearest future to the most distant. From the most plausible to the most conjectural. From the least to the most alien-to-us-today vision of humanity.

There are self-driving cars and artificial intelligences in love and undersea civilizations and killer climate change and all sorts of other good stuff.

You can preorder it from Amazon right now. Or from Barnes & Noble, or Kobo, or Smashwords. Or Google Play Books. Or the iTunes bookstore. Or… there are others. How many others I cannot guess. The internet is big. ūüôā

The release date is December 24th. Who doesn’t need something to read on Christmas Eve? I do. Ugh, the stress!

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Brittany And Dustin Are Free…

…or at least the happy little solarpunk short-short they star in is free!

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I have often said that I hope that someone — anyone, government or private or whatever — builds a really decent retirement home on the moon or in geosynchronous orbit or at L5 in time for me to retire to it.

This is a story about two people who are retiring to just that sort of place. It’s a good idea for a few reasons — the reduced ‘gravity’ of a spinning habitat or the real low-gee of the moon may be enough to avoid the health troubles of microgravity while also avoiding the health troubles of living in full Earth gravity as an elder. Good times!

In the story, Brittany is happy to move to orbit. Dustin, however, is really unhappy at the idea of leaving Earth behind forever. Resolving that conflict forms the base of this happy little story.

Give it a peep — because it is FREE, and because my career as an author is still getting off the ground and every single one of you who reads it increases my chances of being seen by new readers by making my work more visible to everyone.

Your support is VERY MUCH appreciated! (If you’d like to lend even more support, I’m on Patreon, too)

Here’s where to find it:

Thank you for reading!

 

THE CRAYFISH — Microfiction!

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Here’s a little bit of microfiction for you to enjoy. As happens often in fiction, it’s based on a real place and a real experience. I’ll leave you to decide which parts are fiction and which are not.

The Crayfish

Copyright 2015 S.A. Barton

     The eighteen-wheelers roar by above; the bridge over the creek is shorter than they are long.

     Below, in the creek, cool water parting for thin boy shins, sun beating his back darker, darker, the boy crouches, peering down.

     His hands part the toy cataract above a stone wearing a sleek skirt of algae filaments.

     Backwards, the greeny-brown crayfish flees into the shadow gathered under the stone.

     Another eighteen-wheeler approaches; low diesel thunder.

     Little fingers chase after the crayfish, darting through the dark under the stone. Above, thunder, thunder, thunder, closer.

     The boy grunts, smiles, flips the stone, algae skirt flaring wild.

     The crayfish squirts backwards all in a burst.

     THUNDER the truck mounts the bridge.

     Long, long, bony arms streak out of the dark under the little bridge, faster than crayfish and boys, stretching out of a lank green shadowed crouchy shape.

     Overhead the truck thunder recedes and dissipates into the distance.

     The shallow creek waters fill, then pass over smooth a lost shoe mired fast in the mud.

     The crayfish climbs inside, taking refuge.

END

Familiar Adversary: More Adventures In Cover Design

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This post has happened before, with different examples. It happens often enough that it has its own tag, “cover art”.

This familiar old story is about self-publishing on a shoestring. Self-publishing when the often reasonable prices of people who design covers for a living are out of practical reach. And trust me, paying someone else to make covers would be nice, and I might have found a way to make it work if I was writing novels. But, as of this writing, I have 71 distinct titles out, because I’m silly enough to write a bunch of short stories instead of just a few longer works.

Trust me when I say that paying for 71 professionally designed covers is beyond my means.

So I’ve been making covers for a while now. I keep them simple, believe me. I’ve seen some of the videos and blog posts that professional designers make, showing them making covers with (a slight exaggeration, perhaps) 849 layers and who knows how many cool ‘shop effects.

I’ve kept it simple, and cheap. When in unfamiliar waters, stick to the basics and learn them very well. So around the beginning of 2012, I downloaded GIMP, free image-manipulating software that is a distant cousin to Photoshop, and started figuring this cover design thing out.

Through practice, I’ve gotten better since January 2012. Above, the cover on the right represents my skills in October of that same year. I’d gotten slightly better — some of my earlier covers were even less appealing — but not much better. The left/top/better-looking cover is one I made tonight, because I had done a bit of writing and hit a point where I had to put the story I was working on down and do something else. So I made dinner, and then I decided that poor old Adversary, long burdened by one of my early cover attempts, deserved better.

It does deserve better, it’s a good story. Of course, I always say that, because I wrote the thing. Nevertheless, I think it’s good and it deserved some new ‘clothes’.

I could, maybe, have gotten away with keeping the base art. Or — wait — no. It’s too monotone. Too ‘someone stirred the tomato sauce a bit too hard and got froth in it’. But even worse than that, those white fuzzy drop shadows. Ugh. I can’t believe I thought that looked good.

Perhaps worse is the tagline in front of my byline. “A short story by,” I have come to understand, is shorthand for “I am very new at this.”

There are worse things than being a n00b. But it puts some people off; despite the old saying we really do judge a book by its cover, even those of us who say we don’t. We do, we definitely do. It’s just that some of us have realized that a cover is not always the whole story and make it a point to check out the contents. In a perfect world, nobody would have to bother with learning how to make a prettier book cover. But this isnt’ a perfect world, and for every person who says ‘even though that cover is ugly, I’m going to read the blurb and see if it sounds like a good book’, twenty scroll right past looking for a prettier cover.

So that “A short Story by” tagline had to go. You’ll note that I did the one-word-title-in-giant-stacked-letters thing. I’ve seen that style knocking around on a few recent books, so I thought I’d give it a go, too. Maybe it’ll fall out of fashion and I’ll find myself redoing this cover again in a few years because that style will have become cliche by then. Or maybe not.

In any event, I think the title, and the whole cover, look much better now. It’s still a very simple cover, but I think that it has a bit more impact and just plain looks more appealing. And the top-heavy layout of byline and title left me with a blank at the bottom that was a nice place to put a little one-line teaser tagline, which I like to do once in a while.

That might be a n00b move, but I don’t care. As long as it doesn’t say “A short story by” anymore.