If you follow my blog, you might have read my story about being randomly invited to join a large group of Baen writers for lunch at Ravencon. I met Kacey Ezell at that lunch, and she's proven to be a good writer in the short form (which I struggle with) in addition to co-writing the below novel.
Fennec Fox Press Recommends...
One of the best forms of marketing for a writer is "Word of Mouth marketing." That means someone recommends a book (or other project) to another person, and so that other person buys a copy to see what the first was talking about. So, in the interest of "paying it forward" (and maybe to try and earn a little something on the affiliate links), here are books and other products that Fennec Fox Press recommends. (If you're looking for novel recommendations, you'll have to keep going to the end. Sorry!)
If you just don't have the budget for the Paperwhite, consider this one. It doesn't have the front-light (or any light, for that matter), or the free 3G, and you'll have to put up with an occasional ad at start-up, but if you read a lot of eBooks, it's so much better on your eyes than a cell phone that it's worth it.
I first met the two authors of "Welcome to Outcast Station" at Ravencon my first time as a guest. I was picked to moderate my very first panel, my first ever convention as a pro, but these two put me at ease and worked with me to make things run smoothly. Turns out they can also write pretty well, too.
I was at a convention a few years ago, where Toni Weisskopf (publisher and editor at Baen Books) was asked what style guide she favored. She said she preferred Words into Type, but warned it was a little dated. While not my favorite, I find it far preferable to the Chicago Manual of Style.
Section One: Style Guides
I believe every self-publisher should develop their own House Style, but it should also be informed by existing style guides. I think style guides are better read in print, not in ebook form, so with that in mind, here are a selection of style guides to go through.
The other British-English style guide I'd recommend goes by two different names: "Hart's Rules" and "The New Oxford Style Manual." I have no idea why, but it seems to swap names ever other edition. The more recent edition is the one you'll find below.
If you've ever enjoyed the Schlock Mercenary webcomic, you need to read its semi-official prequel, the Troy Rising series by John Ringo.
Alexandra Butcher is always happy to promote other writers, usually through author interviews and "character" interviews (answering questions from the perspective of a book's main character) on her blog. This is the first book of her flagship series... but be warned: This one ain't for kiddies!
Donna Royston was the copy-editor for the anthology, and a pretty good one. She doesn't have much listed on Amazon, but she is credited as appearing in a couple anthologies...
To prevent this page from getting too cluttered, I'm only listing one book per author, but I think there's a lot to learn from many of the WMG Writers Guides. A caveat: Some information you find in earlier volumes gets repeated in later volumes; check the table of contents before ordering.
This is something a little in between a desk encyclopedia and an atlas. Between the search engine of your favorite choice and wikipedia, I'm not sure there's much need for this kind of thing any more, but this is one of the better ones. If nothing else, it is useful to have for those times the internet goes down.
This is a true classic. There are free ebook versions of it in most places where you can find eBooks, but you might prefer a paper version of it.
Keith R.A. DeCandido was the editor of my novel, The Kitsune Stratagem. He is also a prolific author in his own right. Mostly he works on tie-ins, but he does have some original works, including the Dragon Precinct series, which somehow blends the epic fantasy and police procedural genre.
Harry "Jack" Heckel (it's a pen name, I think?) writes delightful tales about dragons. He also carries a dragon around with him at cons. I now have a trio of fennec foxes for conventions (one clipped to my badge, one my laptop bag). I neither confirm nor deny that there's a connection.
Christine McDonnell is an author I've run into a time or three at Ravencon. This is a prequel to her flaghip series of short fiction. Opinions as to whether you need to read the short stories first is divided; I read the prequel before the shorts and didn't have a problem, but your mileage may vary.
Barbara Friend Ish is another writer I consider something of a mentor. She encouraged me to try self-publishing for the first time. A few years back we were running in some of the same convention circles, but she's now moved to a different coast.
And that just leaves one other author from the anthology, Jeff Patterson. Among his other credits, he's one third of the Three Hoarsemen podcast.
Chuck Gannon was the other panelist for that first-ever Ravencon panel I moderated. He's also the writer of 50+ works, a PhD, a Fulbright Fellow, and a member of the so-called "Sci Fi Think Tank," the SIGMA project.
Section II: Other Important References and Self-Publishing Guides
Of course, you need more than just grammar guides to write your book and publish it. Some of these references and guides are included to help my fellow writers make career decisions, and others are just for general research.
This book almost went into the style guide section, because it talks a lot about style. However, it's also a useful tutorial on the process and technique of editing as well, and if you're at all interested in editing (either your own or someone else's work), it's worth having.
If you do a lot of typing, you're going to need a good keyboard. This one might be... inspirational. (Aesthetically, my favorite version of this keyboard is no longer for sale, but if you can find the one with black faux-leather and gold accents, get that one!)
I have six publications to my credit. Isaac Asimov had nearly six hundred during his lifetime (I have some catching up to do). A bunch of his shorter works can be found in this one volume.
I mentioned I like historical fiction, right? This is another prime example of the well-researched version of the genre. The notes that Kenneth Roberts took writing this novel are often cited in history textbooks. And its a fun yarn, too....
Oh, this is a delightful little bit of fluff and fun! There are several books in this set. Get them all! (And I'll make the rare recommendation to get them in print; the illustrations look a lot better in print than they do in ebook form)
One thing writers often need to concern themselves with is symbolism, but they don't always know the symbolism they're using. Having this book on hand for those occasions can be quite helpful... and you might just find it an interesting read, even if you do know your symbolism.
I'm not a fan of the Chicago Manual of Style (see CJ Cherryh's "Do you hate S's" rant for part of the reason why), and it wasn't originally written with fiction in mind, but it is considered the gold standard by a number of writers, today.
David Keener was the anthology's project manager. He runs the Loudoun County (Va) Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers group, focusing on short fiction. My story in the anthology would not have been nearly as good without his input.
Finally, the Novels!
And now for what (I assume) you've been going through this page to find -- the novels! I'm only doing one book per author, so if you are one of these authors, that's why I don't have your other books listed. After the first four books, they're listed in no particular order.
Cedar Sanderson likes helping other writers, writing blogs on the process of writing and self-publishing. She also writes her own amazing stories, and occasionally even artwork.
As you might expect, I'm starting with the co-authors of my anthology. Martin Wilsey runs the publishing house with put that book out, and his own books are pretty good, too!
While I sell the odd print book or so, I know that most of my readers prefer eBooks. A lot of people read eBooks on their phone or their tablet, but I think a dedicated eReader is the way to go for reading books. This my favorite model; it has all the bells and whistles I like.
There are some people who seem to feel that Sci-Fi should be stiff and serious. Those people should stay far away from this series... (though I suggest you stop at book four; the fifth book fell flat to me)
This is the style guide CJ Cherryh recommends, I believe. It also hasn't been updated in a while, but Webster's has always been a bit timeless.
The Catmage Chronicles are a delightful concept done well. This is the first book in that series.
Sarah Hoyt (aka Elise Hyatt) writes s.f.\fantasy prolifically, and once composed an essay that was highly influential in my decision to become a self-publisher... but honestly, I think her hilarious Dyce Dare mystery novels are my favorites.
If you've EVER been to a convention of any sort, you need to read Kate Paulk's Vampire Con series. It is to the writing convention scene what Galaxy Quest is to the Trekkie convention scene. A must read, even if (like me) you usually stay FAR away from anything related to vampires.
Even as a self-published writer, you'll occasionally have to deal with contracts (working with anthologies, for example). This can really help you avoid the pitfalls of those contracts....
I did say one per AUTHOR, not one per series. If you only buy one of the WMG writers guides, I'd recommend this one.
Allen Wold was a best-selling author, writing tie-ins to the V series and several original novels, before taking time out of his career to raise his daughter. Now he's working as an indie author and giving writing workshops at conventions up and down the East Coast. I think of him as a bit of a mentor
The Associated Press came out with a style guide for journalists. A lot of writers who aren't journalists use it, however, and it's probably the second-most commonly used style guide in the U.S. Just like the Chicago Manual of Style, however, it isn't intended for fiction.
I mostly write in the sci-fi or fantasy genre, but I've said, before, that my favorite genre to read is historical fiction. I don't feel I could do the genre justice. I don't have the time for that much research. Consider how much went into this...
Things Which Aren't Books
Let's be honest, you were hoping for my novel recommendations by now, weren't you? Well, sorry, but I did say I was leaving them until the last section; this is just the next-to-last section. And it's an important one: Things I think you might need, either as a reader or as a writer, nowadays.
When your name is L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright (what a name!), and you give a couple of your kids the names of Orville Wright and Just(inian) Wright, you must have a great sense of humor. Her Rachel Griffin books put that on display, even if the Harry Potter-esque YA series isn't a comedy.
I received a free copy of this book at a convention, and didn't think much of it at first. Zombies, vampires and werewolves? Not my thing. But then I looked closer. Fat, balding vampires and redneck werewolves saving the world? Hmm....
Sadly out of print, you may be able to find the odd used copy if you follow this link. An invaluable reference for any creative, not just writers, but unfortunately out of date. Still worth reading despite its age, however.
Anyone who has ever participated in the SCA, done any programming at any level, or fantasized about being yanked into a world of magic should read this series. If you've done all three, WHY HAVEN'T YOU READ IT ALREADY?
If you get to be a big enough name, you're going to need to start signing books. It might be nice to have a high end pen when you're doing it...
Jim Bernheimer has spent the last few years putting humor back into the superhero genre. Well... make that the supervillain genre.
Sir Terry Pratchett is a legend, and the Discworld series is his most famous. These two books are the start of that story... (though it can get pretty convoluted if you want to read them all in order)
Of course, the English language is not solely used by Americans. If you're making your own house style guide, there's nothing that says you can't draw some precedents from British English even if you aren't British. Fowlers is one of the two most popular style guides used in England.
Fennec Fox Press
Sadly, this first book is now out of print, but this is a delightful YA sci-fi story where a couple kids accidentally stow away on a UFO, following the trail of other Human visitors like... Harry Houdini? A must read!
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