Sunday, February 5, 2012

Piers Anthony Guest Blog - Special 3 Day Sale!

Many folk speak disparagingly of horse opera, which surely bears little relation to the historical exploration of the American West, but is entertaining on a superficial level. Similarly they sneer at space opera, which is horse opera translated to space. Bat Durston jumps into his spaceship and warps to Planet X where humanoid monsters are terrorizing the colonists. He whips out his blaster and goes after the monsters. Bang bang, you're dead. The colonists are grateful.

Okay, I have trouble doing anything conventionally, so when I set out to do space opera, I started from the plight of the Vietnamese and Haitian Boat People in the 20th century, so that was my historical basis, and went from there. The refugees in the space bubble encounter the same sort of pirates and most are brutally slaughtered. But a few survive, one of whom is Hope Hubris, who goes on to become a naturalized Jupiter (America) citizen and finally comes to rule Jupiter. He is the Space Tyrant, in the sense of one-man rule, not evil. It's a pretty wild and gritty and often sexy adventure. Critics never liked it, being too dull to understand what I was doing, but readers, being smarter, loved it. Why don't you sample it and see what you think?

The complete Bio of a Space Tyrant series is on sale at Amazon for Kindles this weekend through Monday from my new publisher Premier Digital Publishing. The first book is FREE and volumes 2-6 are only $.99. Can't beat that.

Click Here to Get It NOW!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Piers Anthony's Garbage Garden

We had a grindalator thing under the sink that chewed up stray kitchen garbage, but it broke, so I started taking the garbage out to compost in our little flower garden square in the back yard. That worked, and also led to spot gardening adventures. Some of those leftovers were alive, and grew: potatoes, tomatoes, squash, avocado. I care for them as well as I can, trying to give them their fair chance to find their destinies, but this is not native soil for most and they don't do all that well. We do get tomatoes on occasion, but freezes take out the avocados before they can get big enough to bear fruit. This year when I was about to cut up a radish for our supper salad I saw that it was sprouting, and I thought if it was that eager to grow I should let it, and I planted it. It put out a fine cluster of leaves. Then something ate them off. We do live in a forest; wild creatures come. But it survived and grew new leaves, and flowered with little white four-petaled flowers. Things like to dig up our freshly-buried garbage, so finally I laid chicken wire on the ground, making it undiggable, and that helped. Sometimes I dose the garbage with hot chile sauce. But mostly I just water it and it's on its own. It doesn't look like much, but it's not for show anyway. I'm a vegetarian because I don't like to hurt animals, but neither do I like to hurt plants unnecessarily.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Piers Anthony on The Army


My family is Quaker, more properly the Religious Society of Friends, one of whose prime tenets is pacifism. So I had a thorough childhood indoctrination in the doctrines of peace. But I was small for my age, being the shortest person in my class in ninth grade, male or female (I later grew most of another foot), and that meant that I made early acquaintance with the bully in the schoolyard. In due course I learned to fight, and that improved my situation. I did not seek fights, but I could take anyone within ten pounds of me and some well beyond that, which actually helped me avoid fights. I remember once when a boy about 40 pounds heavier bragged how he had taken me in a friendly tussle. He had, but for some reason that brag didn't bother me; it sort of made my point for those closer to my own weight. I concluded from personal experience that pacifism ultimately did not work; you do have to stand up for yourself if you want to live in peace. It's a philosophy I carried with me when dealing with publishers. So in the end I did not become a Quaker, and when the time came for me to register for the draft, as was required in those days when you turned 18, I did so. The alternative was prison, and I concluded that the Army would do less damage to my person and my philosophy, not to mention my marriage, than prison would. So while my family was shocked by my decision—I saw the jaw of one acquaintance literally drop—I did serve two years in the US Army and I believe today that I made the correct decision. It is said that there's the right way, the wrong way, and the Army way. That is true. I'm sure it's true in the other military services too. I remember in a humorous TV program someone said “The Navy works in mysterious ways its blunders to perform.”
As it turned out, the Army wasn't all bad. I had timed it cleverly between the Korean War and the Vietnam War, so avoided dangerous action. I expected trouble so wasn't surprised when I got it. I studied hard in basic training and finished first in my Survey class, and became a survey and basic math instructor. I got trough meals as a vegetarian by gulping down extra milk and stuffing rolls in my pockets to eat later, because they gave us seven minutes to eat and I'm a slow eater. But something bothered me, and finally I went to the Protestant (my specified religion was No Preference, which they took to mean Protestant) head chaplain with my concern. It was that while I was not a pacifist, neither was I a killer, and if they sent me to the front somewhere, put a rifle in my hands, and told me to kill some enemy soldier who I knew didn't want to be there any more than I did, I would not be able to do it. My tests with a rifle indicated I was close to an expert shot, but only at an inanimate target. It was a moral crisis, since the major purpose of the Army is to fight and kill if necessary, and I was a soldier in that Army. What should I do? He looked at me sadly and said “I'm sorry your patriotism isn't greater than that.” I did not argue the point; it was clear there was no worthwhile help or advice here. I saw that for all his religion the man was morally about knee high. That is part of what I judge religion on, and I remain firmly agnostic.
The Army paid my way at a time when my home area was in a recession and it was hard to get any job, let alone a decent one. I was newly married and wanted to support my wife. Prison surely wouldn't have done that. The Army gave me an allotment for my wife, and when she had a her second miscarriage it covered the medical bills that would have bankrupted us. For a time I was on orders for Ping Pong (properly Table Tennis), representing our battalion. But that too is another story. I also got my American citizenship with Army help; I had been born British, in England. Army life was not great, but it was a life.
Then came the time when I exercised my supposed right to say no. It is said that the Army can't make you do something against the rules, but it can make you wish you had. That is true. They had a campaign to make soldiers sign up for savings bonds, with about five dollars taken from your pay each month (of $168 monthly pay). We were exactly in balance, financially, and couldn't afford it, so I declined. What was the cost of that? They blacklisted me for promotions; I was a PFC at the time, due for promotion, but I left the army a PFC. They summoned all off-post personnel to report for early morning revile, letting them all know it was because of me. They hauled me from the survey class I was teaching and put me to work with a spade leveling the sand of the parking lot. Finally they kicked me out as instructor, though before I had been unable to take leave because they couldn’t spare me, and I was sent to another unit. Was any of this legitimate? Of course not, but this is the way the Army operates.
But when I got out, they paid me for about six weeks of unused leave time, and that helped us survive in civilian life until I could get a job. A clerical error put me in Ready Reserve when I was supposed to be on Standby, and so had they called up troops for the Cuban Missile Crisis I could have been called. Missed a bullet, that time. Overall the Army was a waste of time, but it did pay my way when I most needed it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Piers Anthony on the Future of Xanth

One of my readers, Mark Geatches, suggested that I set up a FAQ section for the convenience of readers, which should also spare me the inconvenience of answering similar questions repeatedly. I pondered, and finally decided to do that here. He suggested some questions, and I'm adding more, and will add others as they come up. But be warned; I seem to be incapable of giving a simple answer to a simple question.

Will there be a new Xanth novel? 

Yes, as long as the market holds out. I have two more novels to go to complete the alphabet in titles (many letters duplicate), and after that we'll see. Xanth is easy, it's fun, and it sells well. Everyone likes it except the critics. So for the next few years, there'll be one new Xanth a year. The one due this year is Well-Tempered Clavicle, about Picka Bone the walking skeleton who discovers he can remove his clavicles (shoulder bones) and play music on his ribs. Princess Dawn hears him play so beautifully that she falls in love with him, but she's not his type, because of all that meat on her nice bones. But a princess is not accustomed to hearing the word No, if she even knows what it means. For 2012 it will be Luck of the Draw, wherein an 80 old Mundane man gets youthened and hauled into Xanth to court the last of the multiple princesses: sixteen year old Princess Harmony. It's not his idea or hers, emphatically; it's a Demon contest. Therein lies a story. Demons really don't take No for an answer.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Piers Anthony on his Erotic Fantasy e-Book, EROMA

 Eroma a composite of EROtic ROMAnce, is phrased as a virtual reality game in which the players' avatars participate. It is a sexual game; not only can avatars have sex, they are required to, to advance their positions. Every point is scored sexually. The players are connected so that when their avatars have sex, the players themselves experience thirty second orgasms, male and female, simultaneously. It is hard-wired, so to speak: when the male penetrates to operative depth, his member flips the buried switch that evokes an immediate climax for both parties. Naturally all male avatars are handsome and all female avatars are beautiful, and they throw themselves into the competition with a will. There are several settings; in each one, half the players are eliminated, until it is down to two, one man and one woman, and then at last a single winner.
We follow one man, Pedro, and one woman, Fotina, as they compete but befriend each other as avatars, and in the course of the game come to love each other. That love becomes personal as they meet outside the game and discover the limitations of sex where mutual orgasms are not programmed and details can be messy. No wonder many players prefer game sex. Then they are the finalists, when only one can win, complicated by their real emotions as contrasted to their game setting roles.
The settings range from a pleasant forested landscape where they must have sex to score points, to a dangerous alien planet where trees feed on players by sexually luring them into traps. In the first setting they must find private places for sex, or it can't happen; but most are already occupied by other couples. So players must be clever not only in their choice of partners, but in their choice of locale. Half are not clever enough. Those eliminated in one round may return in later rounds as obstacles: the surviving players must have sex with them, or avoid sex with them, depending on the situation, but they do not cooperate. It's quite a challenge.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Piers Anthony on Songs


Songs constantly run through my head. Some are popular ones I hear on the radio; many are folk songs I know from way back. Some are just incidental ones from anywhere. Each has its spot emotional history. For example “Cool Water” wherein two men trek through the desert, burning with thirst, dreaming of an oasis with plenty of water. “All day we faced the barren waste without the taste of water—cool, clear, water.” It's a lovely song. My mother wasn't much for the radio, but one day she turned it on, and they played that song. “I just somehow knew they'd play that one,” she said. When I mentioned it to a schoolmate, he said his favorite was the one on the other side of the record (in those days all we had was 78 RPM records that played about three minutes on a side), “Tumbling Tumbleweeds.” That one's lovely too, about drifting along with the tumbling weeds, cares fading away. Westerns are not my favorite, but these are wonderful melodic songs. Another is “Ghost Riders in the Sky,” wherein an erring cowboy sees the riders in the sky, their horses' feet flashing fire, and one paused to warn him that if he doesn't change his ways he will wind up riding with them forever. What a message! But there are peripheral; other tunes dominate my skull. More on those another day.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Piers Anthony Blogs If Formal Training Helps Writers Get Agents

One of my readers, Mark Geatches, suggested that I set up a FAQ section for the convenience of readers, which should also spare me the inconvenience of answering similar questions repeatedly. I pondered, and finally decided to do that here. He suggested some questions, and I'm adding more, and will add others as they come up. But be warned; I seem to be incapable of giving a simple answer to a simple question.

Does formal training help new writers get agents? This is the question, so I'll address it, but the simple answer is No. I had formal training, in the form of my BA in Creative Writing, but it still took me six years after college to make my first sale. Agent? An informal group of us aspiring writers queried all the agents listed, and not only got nowhere, some didn't bother to answer. Folks, Parnassus—that is, traditional print publishing, is essentially a closed shop and a Catch 22. Many publishers buy only from agents, and most agents won't even consider unpublished authors. The ratio of aspiring writers to available publishing slots is somewhere south of 100 to 1. As one established writer told me, the fat hogs have their snouts in the swill and they aren't about to let the new little piggies in. So forget about agents; if you're new, you can't get a good one, and you sure as hell don't want a bad one.
So how did I make it? I went first for the magazines, where you don't need an agent, and kept sending in stories for eight years, two during college, six thereafter. Finally, by persistence and luck, I made a sale and a whole $20. Thereafter it was easier, as I gradually became known. I made only a pittance; my wife had to work to support us. Then, faintly known at least by magazine editors, I went to novels, and sold my first novel four years after my first story. But there's more competition today, so I think it's harder for a new writer to break in. That's why I say you need luck: to have your manuscript on the right desk at the right time.
Fortunately today there are better options, some of which I have helped promote, such as self publishing and electronic publishing. So you don't need formal training, or an agent; just write your best and try the new markets and hope to get lucky. The question is irrelevant.