Authorguy's Blog

Archive for the ‘Promotion’ Category

No, this blog is not about my latest short story, you can tell, because all the words aren’t capitalized. My story is the jumping off point for this post, though, so it seemed appropriate. Nor am I doing yet another tedious post about all the myriad places one can get the inspiration for a story from, although those will become clear in the course of it.

A story is composed of many parts, you see, and just because you the author have an inspiration for a story doesn’t mean that it covers all the parts. I write slowly, and as I write my few words a day, that gives real-life a chance to subtly screw with my text, by giving me ideas that I would never have had, if I’d written this thing at a blazing run, tucked away in a home-office somewhere.

This post is something in the way of a shout-out, to those in general who supply such inspirations, and two people in particular. The first is Esther Friesner, editor of a series of comic anthologies with a series title of Chicks in Chain Mail. Titles include Chicks in ChainmailChicks Ahoy!, Mathemagics, Chicks N’ Chained Males, and lots of others. When I was writing Struck By Inspiration (see the caps?) I found myself introducing a buxom lass in a chainmail bikini. Why? Because it was funny. More to the point, this was a story about a story with two heroes, and a third almost-hero, who was the hero. (You’re confused? I had to write the damned thing!) In the first story in the series I had introduced an archetypes union called the FHA, or Fearless Heroes Association. Obviously I had to have another such union for the female heroes, because we authors know you have to take conflict where you can find it. I called it the CCM. Not because either of the stories in question had anything to do with Ms. Friesner’s series, or referenced any of the characters or storylines in any of the books. Simply because the phrase ‘Chicks in Chain Mail’ was funny, and it worked. So my thanks to Ms. Friesner for coming up with the phrase.

The other person I wanted to thank is W.S. Gilbert, of Gilbert & Sullivan fame, but he’s dead so I won’t. He wrote a comic opera (without Sullivan) about an author writing something called ‘sensation novels’, who had contracted with an occult entity to supply him with the inspiration to churn out one such novel a week. The characters were condemned souls, punished by being forced to appear as characters of the exact opposite temper they really possessed.

One such character was called the Yellow-Haired Panther, who was usually allied with a Wicked Baronet, whose job it was to seduce and ruin the Virtuous Hero while the Baronet did the same to the Innocent Maiden. Or some such. I forget the actual terms used but you get the idea. When I introduced my CCM-affiliated female hero, she was eventually given the name Yellow-Haired Panther, although of the good sort.

I kept the words (since sometimes they’re just the right ones), but changed the meanings. Because that’s what authors do.

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Well, not my first first event, but the first event at which I was on a selling floor trying to promote my book. It was at I-Con, a SF/F media con that takes place not far from where I live on LI. Shortly after Unbinding the Stone came out I was allowed to participate in the con as an author in their literary track. Lots of authors gathered together to participate in a variety of panels on various topics in SF/F literature.

A sidelight of this was a space at the author table down in the Dealer’s Room of the con. I was scheduled for Sunday afternoon, which is pretty much death for a selling event. Most of the people in the dealer’s room had bought what they wanted, spent all their money, and had no interest in fitting in a last-minute purchase of a book they’d never heard of by an author they probably still haven’t heard of.

We had two tables, me and this other author scheduled for the same time. The tables had no covers and looked like portable folding tables usually look, i.e., gross. The other author put a small stack of her book, a MMP, on the table, with a small stack of postcards for it right in front. Total space covered, about a half a square foot out of 24. Then she sat down and started to chat with an author friend in the next chair.

What’s wrong with this picture?

I looked at this; thinking “Do you really expect to sell any books like this?” And she almost certainly didn’t. I had higher hopes. I put my poster of the book cover on the table, covering a good amount of space. I took my stack of bookmarks and smeared it across the table, covering more space. And I took my copies of the book and CD and spread those out too, covering half the table. Then I stood up behind my table and started calling out to the people passing by, attracting them to come and over and see what I had. I didn’t sell anything but I at least got my bookmark into their hands.

I see the same pattern at many of the events I do now. Ugly displays, displays that block off the seller from the customer. Vendors who just sit their, waiting for eager customers to swarm up, begging for the chance to buy their products.

I’ll tell you right now, It don’t work like that.

Today it is my privilege to host Karina Fabian, here to tell you all about how her new novel, Mind Over Mind, came to be. Take it away, Karina!

***************

Deryl Stephen’s uncontrollable telepathic abilities have landed him in a mental health institution, where no one believes in his powers.

But when Joshua Lawson, a student of neuro linguistic programming, takes part in a summer internship, he takes the unique step of accepting Deryl’s reality and teaches him to work with it. As Deryl learns control, he finds his next challenge is to face the aliens who have been contacting him psychically for years—aliens who would use him to further their cause in an interplanetary war.

***************

Click here to BUY NOW!

 Sometimes, a story does not leave you, but isn’t satisfied with its first generation.  Perhaps it’s a short story that demands to be a novel; or a side plot that demands its own time.  In the case of Mind Over Mind, it was a first novel that eventually ended up a trilogy. 

I started this story in college as a short story for a science fiction class:  simple boy-meets-alien girl/boy-saves-alien-world scenario.  I wrote it more out of spite than anything; my midterm paper got a B because the professor didn’t like my analysis of some story I’ve long since forgotten.  He loved the story, gave it an A, and thought I should make it into a novel. 

I spent the next year working on that novel.  I had played with it over the summer, generating an entire notebook of notes, dialogue, etc–which I lost the first weekend at college.  So I decided, “Ah, the plot was stupid, anyway,” and rewrote it.  I sent it out to several publishers, who all sent me very nice form rejections.  So I gave it up, stuck the hard copy on a shelf, finished college, became an officer in the military, got married and had kids, then started a writing career in earnest in 1996. 

In 2001, I was homeschooling two kids and had a toddler and a baby at home, so doing a lot of writing was out of the question, but I didn’t want to lose the habit.  I decided to brush off the old novel and try again.  I thought it’d be easy to revise until I saw how, well, shallow it was.  The character, Chaz, was a cool college Mary Sue with psychic powers, and Joshua was a hick sidekick.  TRIPE!  Ten years of living had given me some perspective, and I realized I needed to rethink the whole thing.  I did love the premise, though, and the planets (Kanaan and Barin) and the character Tasmae (known as the Miscria.)  So I rethought poor Chaz until he ended up with a tortured history and was living in an asylum.  His name changed to Deryl along the way.  Joshua became a protégée intern (and went from country hick to Black kid from the suburbs–don’t ask how; I don’t question these things.)  

The book then had enough meat to become a trilogy, where I could explore the character’s past, build the worlds of Kanaan and Barin more fully, explore the relationship between The Miscria and her planet, and have some really incredible, exciting scenes.  I also had a lot of deep issues come up–from insanity to suicide to abortion.  This was a rich universe with complex characters, and has been as much fun to write as to read. 

I started sending the book around.  I still got rejection letters, but these were more personal.  Still, it took another ten years to find it a home, but I’m pleased as punch to have DragonMoon publishing it. 

Don’t be afraid to tear apart an old story and rebuild it in a new way.  You may surprise yourself at what you find.

 Unlike her characters, Karina Fabian lives a comfortably ordinary life.  Wife to Air Force Colonel Robert Fabian and mother of four, her adventures usually involve packing and moving, attending conventions, or giving writing and marketing advice in one of her many workshops.  She’s always had an overactive imagination, however, and started writing in order to quell the voices in her head–characters who insisted on living lives in her mind and telling her their stories.  Winner of the 2010 INDIE award, winner and finalist for the EPPIE and finalist for the Global e-book awards, she’s glad people enjoy reading the tales her characters tell.

Website: http://fabianspace.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212

Excerpt: 

Ydrel threw himself into wakefulness with such force that he sat up in bed. Still, the nightmare images clung to his mind: the beat of a hundred hearts, the smell of sweat and fear. He clutched his stomach and fought the urge to scream.

A hundred bodies crowded around him, crushing him against the splintered wood of the boxcar.

No, this isn’t real!

No room to move. No air to breathe. Suffocating. Drowning.

No, this isn’t me!

Confusion and fear. Fear the trip would never end. Terror of what waited at its completion.

NO! These aren’t MY memories!!

*

Ydrel threw up shaky mental barriers. The visions faded, just slightly. He forced his eyes open, drinking in reassurance from familiar objects.

He sat in bed, an oversized twin, backed up against pillows rather than splintered wood. Pre-dawn light shone softly through the blinds. On the nightstand, Descartes regarded him with one button eye. The only thing left from before his mother died, he’d slept with that bear until an orderly commented on his “abnormal attachment.” Since then it had stood watch over him instead, braced against the lamp. Even now, without any orderlies around, Ydrel resisted the urge to clutch it close to his chest, but he reached out to touch one tattered foot.

On the shelf beside the window sat a portable boom box, a gift from his first birthday here—his thirteenth. Five years ago, today. The maintenance man had disabled the volume control after Ydrel played it too loudly. Thereafter, he’d found other ways to block out the moans and occasional screams that penetrated the closed door. Happy birthday.

The stereo held up several books. He was studying them in case it called. He both dreaded and longed for the calls. Each episode only gave them more reason to keep him here, yet there was something as familiar and comforting about it as his old bear.

He turned his gaze to the far wall and the framed pictures of a nebula and the solar system by his half-empty closet. On his sixteenth birthday, he’d been allowed to decorate his room and he’d chosen those posters and a mild blue paint to replace the still–lifes and the institutional burgundy-and-pink color scheme. While it had been a relief to his eyes, it was also a constant reminder that they never intended for him to leave.

This is my room, he thought. In the asylum. Even after five years, he’d never call it home. He’d never give Malachai the satisfaction.

*

Calmer now, his mental barriers in place, Ydrel allowed himself to examine the vision that awakened him. Hundreds of bodies packed into a train car not suited for twenty. Most had traveling clothes, but had shed them against the heat. No room to move. The air was stifling and stale. No one knew where they were going. Some suspected, but said nothing. The destination was worse than the trip.

Ydrel sighed. Isaac was on the train to Dachau again.

Ydrel threw off the covers and dressed quickly in a blue t-shirt and jeans, socks and generic sneakers. Already Isaac’s projected fear was breaking down his mental defenses; Ydrel’s fingers trembled as he fumbled with the laces.

Once out in the corridor, he hastened to the old man’s room, forcing himself to keep his pace smooth, his face composed. Someone would stop him if he hurried or looked distressed, and any delay would be unbearable. As he walked he got into character. His stride lengthened; his face hardened. He held his hands relaxed but ready by his hips. When he got to Isaac’s door, he cast a wary look down the hall, then slipped in.

The old man lay on a standard hospital bed, his wide, wild eyes staring at the ceiling but focused on his inner horrors. His hands fluttered helplessly on the thin coverlet. He labored for each ragged breath.

Ydrel sat beside him and composed his own vision.

The train stops so suddenly that people would have been thrown down if they hadn’t been so tightly packed in. The sound of gunfire and shouts in German. The boxcar door opens with a rusty screech. Someone yells in Yiddish, then German: “Out! Now! Quickly, to the woods—to the south!” Relief from the press of bodies, then a new pressure as the flow of people pushes him through the door. Someone grabs his arm—

Ydrel grabbed Isaac by the arm as he pushed the new vision into the old man’s mind.

Isaac blinked, twisted toward Ydrel, then smiled, his eyes bright with tears. “Gideon! Old friend. Thank God!”

We’ve all read them, those lines that speak in dread foreboding of grim and ghastly events to come. Lines like, “That’s funny, my watch stopped too”, or “What do mean all the lights are out?” When the phone lines are down you know something dire is in the wind.

Well, I don’t want you to write anything like that.

For every sure-fire spinetingler, there are a lot of wanna-be lines, not quite losers, definitely not winners. These are the lines that deserve their moment in the, umm, halogen headlight of fame.

Write a line that has the shape, the form, the structure of one of these classics, but without the content. Lines like, “That’s odd, there are no fire hydrants along this entire stretch of road”, or “Buy why would only one show be missing?” Perhaps “Bob, why would the kitchen smell like spinach when we had peas last night?” has occurred to you, but since I just used it, you can’t.

Prizes are as follows: The winner (chosen by me) will receive the entire corpus of the Author Guy oeuvre, yes, both short stories will be yours! That’s ‘Chasing His Own Tale’ and ‘Chasing His Own Tale 2: Struck By Inspiration’, for those of you who haven’t looked to the right yet.

For you non-winners out there, you will have the inestimable pleasure of reading all the entries to this little contest, which is prize enough for any sane man. They should be put into the comments, of course, but if you want you can email me instead at mvonkann2000ATyahooDOTcom, and be sure to put VPP+$TR_01 in the subject header so I’ll know that this is an entry into the Author Guy Vaguely Sinister Contest.

It’s not really possible to synopsize Readercon, there are just too many things going on, and not all of it is of interest to all participants. I was mostly interested in the panels on trans-genre subjects, much less so in the panels on colonialism, paranormal romance, or brain structure. I was lucky that the panels I wanted to see were so neatly arranged around my stint in the book room.

After the book review panel on Evaporating Genres ended, I went up to the author and asked him if the book was available at the event as I would love to get a signed copy. As I was talking to him one of the panelists came up and handed him a copy of the book, since it was his own. I asked, “Can I buy that one?” He gave it to me and said I could pay him when he came to the signing table. He appeared in the bookstore a few minutes later, not his scheduled signing time, and I made myself known to him. I had the money in one hand and a copy of St. Martin’s Moon in the other, and he decided to take the book in trade! One of the panelists appeared a few moments later, also a reviewer, and I put a copy in his hand as well. I only hope either of these gentlemen actually review it! On Sunday as the event was winding down I told Mr. Wolfe how much I had enjoyed the title essay of the collection, but I noted that there was nothing in it about SF crossed with Gothic, which was my own story. He got this faraway look in his eye…

Saturday in the bookstore was pretty busy, and we sold quite a few books. Sunday we sort of expected to be like Saturday, only more so, since most of the cons we do have the veteran shoppers doing a lot of comparison on the first two days but they don’t actually buy until Sunday on the way out the door. Many cons we sell as many books on Sunday as we sold on Saturday only in less time. That was unfortunately not the case this time. We did, however, have a remarkable success on Sunday with our set of ebook coupons. These are pieces of paper with the book cover on one side and instructions on the other. We put on a coupon code when you buy it so that the user can enter the coupon code at the website and get the story for free. This is a great way for us to sell something tangible that is still an ebook. We had many people come up who were much more interested in them than paper books. The only bad thing was that we didn’t have the coupons out the whole three days, just on Sunday. We won’t be making that mistake again! I can see stocking-stuffer and greeting card potential with these.

One important aspect of the con that got small attendance was the debrief at the end, when the con managers asked for feedback on how the con had performed this year. Not only did I pass on my pleasure at the panels that I’d attended, I also passed on some negative reports I’d received from people who were not present to make them. One negative I’d experienced for myself was the line to the signing table, which extended up the aisle and effectively cut off the vendors on the wall fro the customers. More than once I had to call them over, through the line. One of the signers was sitting right behind me and commented how unhappy he was, that he couldn’t talk to people as he signed their books, since the line was in everyone’s way and he felt rushed to trim it down.

There were also some children who could have used some parental supervision.

I had an idea for a panel, and will be suggesting it on the appropriate email line when they open in September. I would also be interested in participating in a panel or two. I’m actually not sure if going back as a vendor would be especially profitable, as I doubt we’ll have that many new books out by then and I don’t know if the turnover from one year to the next is very great. On the other hand, the most common answer I received when I asked people what they liked to read was “Yes”, so hopefully I can interest them in the mysteries and whatnot next time around.

Next weekend is Confluence!

This is an interview I did for one stop of my recent blog tour that for some reason or other never happened.

1. Who is Marc Vun Kannon and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city? 

It’s a small city, filled with very dull people. Seriously, I am a husband, father, and author, in that order. I also write computer code during the day. I build bookshelves at need, and I started a small travelling bookstore when none of the bookstores I could find would stock my book. In short, I’m a reasonable guy who occasionally experiences some unreasonable things, and then I do what I have to do to make things reasonable again. 

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you? 

I like bluegrass music, as well as Gilbert & Sullivan. The G&S might not surprise them, though. The lyrics and extraordinarily witty and hard to sing so naturally I’m drawn to them. I love to learn patter songs (such as ‘I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General’ or ‘The Matter Patter’) and Gilbert was the master of that form. 

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a nuclear scientist? 

I am a computer programmer by profession, the writing is something I do whenever I can fit it in, although I’d like to reverse that. It wasn’t a question of interest, though. My stories pick me to write them and won’t leave me alone until I have. 

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? 

My own favorite authors are Lois McMaster Bujold, for her Vorkosigan series but especially The Curse of Chalion (in my opinion the best book of the decade), Dave Duncan, who created a unique story of technological progress in a primitive world in his Seventh Sword trilogy, Tanya Huff of course, Lawrence Watt-Evans, who writes about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. (It should be borne in mind though that just because I love an author’s work doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll love the author. But I live in hope.) 

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company? 

It’s pretty much the same answer in both cases. My stories are about people and the events of their lives. The reader should be able to put themselves in his place, feel what he feels every step of the way. In fact the reader should have to work at it to stop it. Beyond that, one thing I want in all my books, and what I look for in other people’s books, is a story that can be read and re-read with equal enjoyment. My books tell a story about characters, not gizmos. The problem with gizmo-centric books is that once you’ve read them they’re pretty much done. You already know everything the book has to say. A character-centered book, on the other hand, is a book that you put yourself into, and the so the character and the book changes as you change. It’s not the same book the second time around because you’re not the same reader. 

6. Share the Marc process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites. 

I don’t really have a process, although as I write more I discover some techniques that work and hold onto them.

I have only one real rule: If you’ve seen it done before don’t do it again. Which means I’m always looking for some unique spin to put on an old trope, and I never write the same book twice.

As a reader I had any number of pet peeves with the books I read, so when I became a writer I developed a style that avoided those things, such as descriptive prose. I don’t write in my own voice, I try to present everything in the story from the point of view of whatever character is looking at it. I discover the character as I write about him, spinning out his character logic to see what he’ll do. The character changes and grows over the course of the story, and these changes are shown in the way he perceives his world. A lot of people call this sort of thing head-hopping, but it’s the only way I know to show the scene, and it makes the whole process more dynamic.

I didn’t used to outline, but I will try to develop places to aim for during the course of the story. If the character’s logic allows him to go there he will, although how this will happen is something I never know until I write it. Since the story can only progress based on what has gone before I have to occasionally go back and remove/add text to support the storyline as it develops, so I have very little editing to do once the story is done. Everything in there serves a purpose. I don’t know how one would compare this sort of incremental process with first drafts and rewrites, so I don’t try. Every story I’ve submitted has been a first draft. The only exception was my first novel, Unbinding the Stone, which was on a computer that crashed, and I had no backup copies, so I had to rewrite it almost from scratch.

My latest novel, St. Martin’s Moon, is the only one I’ve had to do ‘research’ for. It’s a werewolf adventure set on a lunar colony, so I did a little checking into techniques that would make the colony as I presented it plausible. But my focus is on the people not the place, so most of what I needed I got from all the classic Universal wolfman movies I’ve watched over the years. 

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”  

My method is almost guaranteed not to work for you. Everybody has their own way of writing. I discovered mine by simply writing and doing what felt comfortable to me. The only real advice I can give is to pay attention to your life. Everything you will have to put into a book comes from there. Write the kind of book you want to read. Classes may help you refine the craft elements, but be careful they don’t also eliminate what makes your book yours. Remember, all they can teach you is what has been done so far. 

8. I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life? 

Life is a story that you are writing for yourself as you live it. It’s up to you to make it a good one, and to give it a happy ending. 

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you? 

As usual I have several projects running at any given time. Depending on my mood I’m working on either Ghostkiller, a novel about a man who kills ghosts for a living, or perhaps Tales of Uncle, the third book in my Tarkas series. 

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects? 

My website has many links and other info about my various projects, especially those that have been completed already. For projects in the works I blog about those extensively.

Yeah, I know, but I go to South Carolina for the Book Festival they have in Columbia, and I don’t go to Alabama at all.

Speaking of the Book Festival, I just got back from there on Monday after spending four marvelous days in weather that wasn’t rainy and was warm. This time around they decided to hold the festival in May instead of February, and I was lucky that my local festival, Duck Pond Day, wasn’t the same weekend. Actually it was my publisher who was lucky since I wouldn’t have traveled 800 miles for the privilege of losing money if an event literally down the hill from my house was waiting for me. Duck Pond Day is next Sunday, so life is good.

It was also the weekend my new book came out. Yes, St. Martin’s Moon is officially released, although at this moment it only appears on OmniLit.com and the sister site All Romance Ebooks.  I also got a fabulous Triple Espresso review.

At I-Con last month I got to use my new handmade wooden bookshelf on wheels. At SC I was able to use both of them, although I think I’ll have to get some new wheels, the big ones I have don’t fit right and the shelves tilt. We had no room for anything else, there were lots of other authors sharing the space and space was at a premium. Having a lot of shelves was very handy. I even sold a few electronic copies of some of my short stories, that’s never happened before.

The other authors were Sam Morton and Connie Hullander, both of whom apparently live in Columbia or thereabouts. Everyone else had to travel a bit, Sean Hayden and his son Connor came up from Florida, Kieryn Nicolas came down from PA, Marlis Day came out East again and Gale Borger traveled the furthest of all. Even better, almost every one of them had a new book out, and this festival was where it was going to debut (at least the paper version)! I picked just so many new titles to read! And I have to read them, of course, otherwise how could I promote them to all the lucky patrons of my other bookselling events?

One thing we had no room for was a place to sit. I spent every hour of both days on my feet and moving around. You can imagine how stiff I was when I finally got a chance to sit down. If you’re lucky you can’t.

The trip home was less fortunate, in several respects. I left SC on Sunday night after the event ended, making it about halfway through North Carolina before stopping at a motel. After getting lost twice. The motel, a Best Western, was a little pricier than I would have liked but I wasn’t really motivate to try the non-name brands down the road. At least they had a decent complimentary breakfast, and a busload of friendly tourists who were no doubt occupying all the cheaper rooms. And Julia, my daughter who was doing the event with me, got to use the pool. Yay. Well, at least she was happy.

The next day I was supposed to stop in at my publisher’s warehouse and pick up my books, every copy of A Warrior Made I could find. I’m pretty sure most of them were buried, I never saw so many boxes of books in my life! People, you gotta get out there and start buying Echelon books. I mean, seriously.

Anyway, for the last part of the trip I had a thousand pounds more weight than I was used to, and of course that was when a serious accident on the NJ Turnpike closed the road and forced us to make a detour onto Rte. 1, at rush hour. I don’t think we made much better time than the parking lot we left behind. When we finally got back to LI we had to deal with the crappy paving job that I felt every pothole and crack of, thanks to the aforementioned extra thousand pounds. And I was too late to catch the season finale of Chuck. Thank God for VCRs, except of course something went wrong. Thank God for Hulu.com!

Next month, Chicago!

See you there?


Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

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St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

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Ghostkiller

Chasing His Own Tale

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Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

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Steampunk Santa

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Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

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Click here to buy NOW!

Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

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Off the Map

Reality TV...without the Reality!

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