Story Con Author Jason Gurley Signs With Crown Publishing!


On Wednesday, Story Con Author Jason Gurley announced on his website that the rights to his breakout novel, Eleanor, had been acquired by Crown Publishing. You can read the full story over on Jason’s website.

EleanorJason has found huge success with, Eleanor, selling over 10,000 copies in his first few months of indie publishing, and he is excited to bring Eleanor to a larger market through a traditional publisher. Jason has gathered an a-list team to help him do just that. He is represented by agent Seth Fishman who also happens to be the agent for Ann Leckie, John Joseph Adams, and Randall Munroe. This summer freelance editor David Gatewood looked Eleanor up and down, and Crown Publishing, a division of Random House, is the publisher of The Martian, which also started as an indie book. If the advance is the measure of how much faith the publisher puts in the book, then Crown is backing Eleanor 110%. Jason said he was hyperventilating when he told his wife the sum.

Jason will be discussing Eleanor at 2:30 PM in the Columbian room during our On the Shoulders of Giants panel at Story Con and he will be doing a reading in the same room at 3:30 PM.



Book Profile: The PSS Chronicles by Ripley Patton

RPatton cover

What genre do you write, primarily?

I write young adult paranormal thrillers. Think Hunger Games or Divergent or Twilight with less romance and more thrill. That’s not to say that there isn’t any romance, but it isn’t the driving force of the narrative. When I set out to write GHOST HAND, I wanted to create a page-turner that people just couldn’t put down until they were done. And I’ve been told by my readers that I succeeded.

Tell me a little about your series? 

The series is called The PSS Chronicles. PSS stands for Psyche Sans Soma, the paranormal birth defect I created to inflict on my characters. In the world of my series, Olivia Black has been born with a right hand made of ethereal energy instead of flesh. Thus, the name of the first book, GHOST HAND,which was a 2013 Cybil Award Nominee and a semifinalist for the Kindle Book Review Best Indie Book Awards. The second book, GHOST HOLD, was released last year. And I am thrilled to announce that GHOST HEART, the third book, is coming out October 14th, just in time for StoryCon.

How many books planned in the series?

Four for sure. GHOST HOPE will be coming out fall of 2015. I think that will be the last book of the series, but you never know. Story has a mind of its own, I’ve found.

What is the target audience for the series? 

The book is targeted at young adults and onward. I say onward because I know from studying the market that YA is read by adults of ALL ages, and I see that in my fan base as well. Young adult designates the age of the main characters in the book, not the readers. Don’t believe me? Then be sure to come to my panel at StoryCon titled “I read YA: Why Young Adult Themes and Stories are for Everyone,” and let me convince you.

What will I enjoy about this series when I read it?

I’ve been told that the paranormal element is unique and yet realistic. If you’re tired of predictable vampires, werewolves, angels, and demons in your YA, PSS might be just what you’re looking for. And despite how weird PSS sounds, it’s actually based on the real phenomenon experienced by amputees known as Phantom Limb Syndrome. I did a lot of research for the series with my best friend who’s a nurse, and I frequently get comments from readers saying that PSS seemed so viable they actually looked it up, thinking it was real.

Secondly, I think you’ll like the characters, especially snarky, goth girl, Olivia Black–the girl with the ghost hand. Olivia is no damsel in distress. I modeled her after the teen girl I wished I’d been brave enough to be and my 16-year-old daughter, one of the strongest, kick-ass females I’ve ever known. Both my teens beta read all my books to make sure I keep the teen element current and real.

If you were to make a pie chart of your book using Nancy Pearl’s four doorways, what percentage would each story element contribute to a reader’s enjoyment of the book?

Plot; 40%  With the originality of PSS, the fast pace, and the surprise twists most readers don’t see coming, I think this one is big.

World Building (Setting, culture, magic system, technology, time and place etc.). 15% The setting of the series is our world in modern times, so not heavy on world building. However, I do explore how society reacts to the PSS phenomenon, both positively and negatively.

Characters: 35% Olivia and Marcus are flawed, complex, realistic characters that most people would love to know in real life. I also develop my side-characters in ways that tend to surprise readers.

Language: 10% I tell a good story, but I try not to let my writerly desire to impress people with my craft get in the way. Personally, I would rather read a good story told in simple language, than a poor story told poetically. Let me explain what I mean, I’ve read “language rich” books where I stopped to jot down an amazing quote, thinking “Wow, this author has a great command of language.” As nice as that is, I’ve just been pushed out of the story to think about the author. And many times, I haven’t finished those language-heavy books because the story gets lost under all that impressive wordiness. Writing should serve story. Not the other way around.

A Different Way to Find Great Books.


We need a better way to find our next great read. Genre tags don’t tell us that much, and while online star ratings may tell us that somebody liked the book, they don’t tell us whether we will like the book. Your tastes aren’t mine.

Librarian Nancy Pearl has a brilliant solution to this problem. Her Four Doorways rank books based on the significance of four important story factors: plot, character, setting, and language. Each book and each reader have a different taste profile when it comes to these elements. According to Pearl, the trick to a great reading experience is to match the reader’s profile to books that have a similar profile.

Pearl has argued that a website should exist which would allow readers to brows books based not only on reviews, but also on the taste profile of the books. Readers could vote on what they think were the most significant elements in a given book. Over time a clearer picture of a book would emerge allowing readers a quick way to sort through books to find those that better match their reading preferences. Think of it as a kind of “personality test” for books.

Here at Story Con we want to try an experiment. Periodically you will see polls like the one below. When you see them vote if you have read the book. With enough votes, we can begin to get a sense of what elements made a given book work for its readers and which are less important. The goal is to make it easier for you to sort out books which may be highly rated by other readers but still aren’t your cup of tea.

To test this concept out, we figured we would give it a go with something many people have read, The Lord of The Rings. I’m interested to see what we find out. To be clear, you can vote more than one element. For me three elements play significant roles in my enjoyment of Tolkien’s book, so I voted for all three.


Which Elements Matter Most in JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings?

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    photo credit: Ian Wilson via photopin cc

    Hard Science Fiction Pioneers: The Female Vanguard You’ve (Mostly) Never Heard Of


    Even now, in 2014, there’s a misguided notion that women don’t read — much less, write — “hard,” or even “medium-hard” science fiction (SF).

    This notion’s an artifact of history. Women still are outnumbered in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM fields). And the fulcra of the “hard’ SF aesthetic is rigorous adherence to scientific plausibility; the plots of this type of SF extrapolate future sciences and technologies accurately (but imaginatively) from current research and breakthroughs (adding the modifying “medium” to “hard” SF doesn’t dilute the expected meticulousness — it simply hints that in such books, the future science doesn’t play the most central role. It’s there, but not the star).

    But, women do write hard/medium SF.

    I do. My own work betrays my obsessions with human biology (aging and new diseases) and space exploration (alien first contact, colonization in a post-colonial time).

    I’m not special (sorry, mom). I’m extremely privileged to have excellent contemporary colleagues in my “sub-genre,” such as Kameron Hurley, Justina Robson, MJ Locke (so many others I could name-check) . And all of us, are, in turn, privileged to be part of a grand tradition of women science fiction writers. We stand on the proverbial shoulders of giants, writers who cleared the path, whose work punched through the expectations and prejudice of their time…and whose work, is often unknowingly (woefully!) overlooked by readers outside academia (or who’re trying to cobble together a career writing in the genre).

    So, grab your library card or e-reader, and check out the following books and stories. Many are now in the public domain and freely distributed, and a choice few have been thankfully reprinted. And, enjoy, dear readers: this list isn’t just a history lesson; it’s a map of some of the most delightful, intelligent science fiction — by women — (all but one) you’ve never heard of.

    1. The Description of a New World, Called The Blazing-World, Margaret Cavendish, the Duchess of Newcastle (1666): Published alongside Cavendish’s scholarly Observations upon Experimental Philosophy, The Blazing-World (as it’s commonly known) is a funny, readable depiction of an alien, utopian world — reachable by traveling to the earth’s North Pole. In it, Cavendish uses her own scientific knowledge to skewer the time’s politics of gender, power, and even science itself.
    2. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley (1818 anon, 1823 credited): Though you’ve definitely heard of this one, chances are you haven’t read it since high school. Shelley’s attention to detail (such as making the monster so tall because of the impossibility in replicating, perfectly, tiny anatomical components) was staggeringly erudite given the scientific knowledge of the day, and her insightful portrayal of society’s anxieties about the implications of scientific discoveries is still relevant.
    3. The Heads of Cerberus, Gertrude Barrows Bennett, writing as Francis Stevens (serialized 1919, published in book form 1952): Hailed as the first full-length alternate history science fiction book to be written in English (by male or female), the plot paints a hellish portrait of a Philadelphia in the year 2118: a terrifying dictatorship filled with destructive machines and out-of-control technology.
    4. “No Woman Born” (novella), CL (Catherine) Moore (1944): Best known for her work co-written with her husband, Henry Kuttner (including the basis for “The Last Mimsy” movie of recent years), in this short novel/novella, the brain of a horrifically burned dancer is placed into a cyborg body. Through Deirdre, Moore captures the tension between humanity and technology, as well as addressing the gendering/sexuality of machines.
    5. “And Be Merry” (novella: also published as “The Pyramid in the Desert”), Katherine MacLean (1950): A biologist performs — successful! — radical life-extending procedures upon herself (with, of course, resulting shenanigans). While many of the processes described by MacLean’s heroine (new, radical scientific theories at the time) have since been accepted common knowledge, the fears and moral questioning about extending lifespan are as fresh as ever.
    photo credit: zigwamp via photopin cc