Books By People I Actually Know

I know. I’ve heard your sighs in the dark before the dawn, when you thought no one was listening. I’ve seen your eyes slip over the bookstore windows, your fingers brush the keys as you open a browser to Amazon. It’s okay. You can tell me.

You nod. “I don’t mean to complain, Laura, but…. It’s just that, well, I keep reading all of these amazing household-name authors — people like Patrick Rothfuss and Neil Gaiman and Stephen King and George R. R. Martin and other superstars. And don’t get me wrong, I love superstars, but….” You sigh wistfully. “What I really want is some recommendations for mid-list or less known authors. Ones I can brag on having read early on, you know, before. And — I know it’s too much to dream, but if they could be writers who you actually know, Laura, that would just be perfect.”

Well, grab your hipster glasses, because here are some recommendations for 2013 titles by authors I know, and you’ve probably never heard of them. Yet.


Stormsinger, by Stephanie Cain

Stephanie and I met on Twitter, discovered that we lived within a couple of hours of one another, made arrangements to meet, and then bumped into each other a week early. She writes urban and epic fantasy, and she has angered me by sending a picture postcard from her research trip into sailing and tall ships. Grr.

That trip was to research her newest project, all about piracy and privateering and ocean magic, which is in progress. But like me, Stephanie met the 8-Hour Book Challenge and produced a novelette set in the world of Amethir, featuring the privateer captain Arama Dzornaea and a prince, a stormwitch, and a singer as their conflicting longings twine while Captain Dzornaea conducts the prince to his arranged marriage.

Moving Violations

Moving Violations, by Nicole Amsler

I met Nicole at a writer’s conference — my first, in fact — and soon afterward we found ourselves in a critique group together. Nicole and I tend to write different genres, but still we really enjoy each other’s work. And so I’ll point you toward her anthology of short stories.

Death and transportation aren’t just archaic legal options; in Moving Violations, every story hinges upon one or both. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Re-hearsed” stuck in my brain for days. “Beauty and the Beast” has a great premise:

The idea of going to O’Hare airport in my red negligee to protest the TSA’s overzealous searches sounded clever two days ago, after four Mojitos and surrounded by my sorority sisters.

And “Death in Tandem” is the perfect ending note for the collection.

Edit: I just learned that Moving Violations is going free for a few days, starting today. So I’m bumping up this blog post by a couple of days so you, dear reader, can take advantage. Go click now!

Four ‘Til Late

Four 'Til Late, by Eric Garrison

I met Eric Garrison at a short story party. A group of local writers decided on a short story week, a bit like an ultra-compressed NaNoWriMo, and we met for a formal kickoff party and then again a week later to read aloud our results. Eric’s story “Spectral Delivery” was about a pizza delivery guy who finds his regular clients, the HeyDudes, are being haunted by a disgruntled ghost. I laughed aloud repeatedly.

Four ‘Til Late is similarly paranormal, as our heroes hit the road to New Orleans and find more spirits than beer. (And please note the d20s dangling from the rear view mirror on the cover. I love it.)


Coda, by Emma Trevayne

Okay, I’m cheating here, because I haven’t ever actually talked to Emma face-to-face. But some day I’d like to, and in the meantime, we talk on Twitter, where we met. Also, this book has been getting more media attention than the others.

But Emma gets in anyway because of the really cool premise of her book Coda. The great war depleted antibiotics and painkillers, and medics were left to treat the injured only by playing music to soothe their pain. But if music can produce endorphins, surely enhanced music can produce more, right? until now, music is a literal drug, addictive and strictly controlled, both bread and circuses for a discontented populace.

My mother was a music journalist, and I spent much of my youth backstage at concerts. Today, my brother-in-law is in a chart-climbing band, and even as I type this my sister is posting pics of the album release party she’s attending. So Emma’s tale of music-cravers gets included.

Well, that should be enough to tide you over ’til the bank reopens until the next superstar release. By the by, the covers above are all Amazon affiliate links. I hope you find a new fave and later you can say, “Yeah, I was reading her before it was cool.”

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  1. Thanks for the mention! :) And thanks also for pointing me in the direction of some other fun writers. I’ll definitely be checking out the books mentioned here.

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