Reading/Listening for Lockdown

Hi Everyone!
I hope you are staying safe. Things are certainly frightening in many places in the world right now. In my own little corner of North Carolina, we’re seeing a big spike in COVID-19 cases–in fact, we’re one of the national hotspots, which is concerning, to say the least.

So I’m hiding out at home–even more than usual–and working on my writing and recording. I’m making progress on podcasting Trigger Warning, which I’m pre-releasing as a free episodic podcast before it comes out in all formats in September. (Reminder that you can currently preorder the ebook for just 99c, and if you email me your proof of preorder to sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com, I’ll send you an exclusive free bonus story. Universal link here).

If you’re interested in catching a few episodes of the podcast of Trigger Warning, it’s currently available on SoundCloud, Apple, Stitcher, and TuneIn. It will only be available for a limited time, so if you want to get a sneak peek of the audio version of the book, this is your chance!

As well as working on recording my own book, I’ve been listening to other authors’ audiobooks. I finally got around to getting my Libby app set up so that I can listen to audiobooks from my local library, which I definitely recommend! I’m currently listening to Look Alive Twenty-Five, the 25th book in Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Anyone else here a fan of Stephanie Plum? I think the first few books were my favorite, but I’m still enjoying the later ones, especially in audio.

What are you reading/listening to right now? Any stand-out recommendations?

I’m also working on my academic reading and writing, now that the semester is over. I’ve been doing some interesting, if rather dense at times, reading on the literature of trauma. Hopefully soon I will finish the revisions on my own book on trauma and Chechen war literature. Since this is a major source of information for the Rowena Halley series, I will be sure to keep you updated.

Take care everyone, and stay safe.

This week’s giveaway:

Romantic Suspense and Mystery

The Romantic Suspense and Mystery Giveaway on Bookfunnel is still going strong!

I’m Now Podcasting “Trigger Warning”

Hi All!

I hope you are all safe and healthy, and holding up as well as can be expected under lockdown. What special strategies are you using to stay sane?

My wild and wonderful semester is careening to a halt. We are all waiting with bated breath to see what the fall brings, but it only affects me somewhat, since I am supposed to be on research leave. My proposed project is on Anna Politkovskaya, whom I reference several times in the Doctor Rowena Halley series, so expect to hear regular updates about that.

Meanwhile, I’ve started working on the audiobook of Trigger Warning (preorder the ebook here for just 99c!). As with the previous books in the series, I’m planning to release it as a podcast first before putting it up for sale. You can currently listen to Episode 1 on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, and TuneIn. If all goes well, I should be adding 1-2 episodes a week over the next few weeks.

Recording audiobooks is a ton of work, but I also find it very satisfying artistically. Originally I was against the idea of doing voices, but when people started telling me they liked it when I did voices, I got into it, and now try to do distinct voices with distinct accents and speech patterns for each character. I can’t say that I’m always 100% successful, but it’s fun–okay, incredibly difficult and frustrating, but in a fun way–and people seem to like it.

To increase the fun, I’m contemplating doing a little Kickstarter project in order to make audio versions of the short stories I’m writing from the perspective of Dima, Rowena’s Russian ex-fiance. Stay tuned for more updates, and in the meantime, if you’d like a free e-copy of “Summer Break,” the first of the shorts about Dima, email your proof of preorder of Trigger Warning to sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com.

Stay safe, everyone, and have a great weekend!

This week’s featured free book event is the Romantic Suspense and Mystery Book Giveaway:

Romantic Suspense and Mystery

How’s Lockdown Going? Plus Free Review Copies of “Campus Confidential”

Hi All!

I hope you are staying safe and well. Things continue to be crazy, don’t they? How is lockdown going for you? Got any crazy stories?

In my case, we’re now at the end of a very strange semester. Like most institutions of higher ed in the US, my university switched over to all-remote instruction in March, and we’ve been doing that ever since.

A lot of people are very unhappy about it, although many understand the necessity. For me, it wasn’t that bad, although it was a fair amount of extra work. It seems like the pandemic has split professions into two groups: those that have a lot less work, and those that have a lot more work. Teaching mainly seems to have fallen into the latter camp. Fortunately for those of us in higher ed, we have the best of both worlds: we continue to be employed, but can work from the safety from our own homes. Sadly, many others are not so lucky.

What will happen to higher ed going forward, however, is anyone’s guess. Long-running systemic problems such as declining enrollment, rising debt, and increasing stratification between senior administration and junior flunkies are coming to an acute head because of the pandemic, and there’s a good chance that a lot of institutions won’t survive the next few years. And, pessimistically, I am guessing that a lot of Less Commonly Taught Language programs won’t survive, even if their parent institutions do. Trivial, trifling programs such as Russian are often first on the chopping block when budget cuts get pushed through.

So you know what that means! More fodder for my stories! Since I’m a few years behind current events in my story timeline, I don’t know yet when/if I’ll be able to fit in the pandemic, but I’m sincerely hoping I manage it. The Meet/Zoom/WebEx/FaceTime meetings alone are priceless. And if I don’t squeeze in a few scenes in which senior faculty try and fail to do basic arithmetic, I shall be very sad. (News flash: 18 divided by 6 is 3. Funny how often the times table turns up in real life).

I’ve been pretty busy with the end of this crazy semester, but I have managed to put my books up on other retail sites as part of my strategy of “going wide” and distributing on all platforms–including libraries!

I’m still waiting for the books to show up in Overdrive and Bibliotheca (the library systems), but in the meantime I *am* trying to get reviews up on other platforms. So if you’ve read Campus Confidential in the past and feel moved to leave a review, it would be most appreciated! Reviews left anywhere are very welcome, but I’m particularly looking to get them on non-Amazon sites like Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

And if you haven’t read Campus Confidential yet but you’d like to, just reply to this post or send me an email at sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com, and I’ll send you a free review copy!

Well, that’s about it for this week. Stay safe, everyone, and happy reading.

And now for this week’s giveaway:

Gripping Reads

Check out the Gripping Reads Giveaway on Bookfunnel!

It’s a Brave New Remote World

Hi All!

I hope you are all doing well and staying safe. It’s a crazy, crazy world out there right now, isn’t it? My thoughts go out to all of you, especially those of you living in Italy, Spain, New York, and New Orleans.

I’m pretty much in lockdown here–which is not that different from my regular lifestyle, except that I’m teaching remotely instead of in person. Those of us with chronic health conditions are welcoming everyone else into our world, with only a little bit of side eye.

Ah yes, remote teaching…the world of education, as I’m sure many of you are aware, has just undergone a massive sea change. What will come of it, other than a bunch of extremely frazzled teachers? Too soon to tell. There’s a prediction that this will lead to a huge move away from residential colleges to online degrees. Of course, we’ve had those predictions before and it hasn’t happened yet, so who knows?

What we *can* be sure of is that there is much fodder for fiction here! I’m not quite ready to start working it into my own fiction, but I am definitely taking notes. Expect hilarious hijinks in the medium future…

I don’t really have a good segue from there to my standard plug to preorder my upcoming release, Trigger Warning (currently just 99c on preorder!), so I won’t bother to finesse it. Other than to say that if you send me your proof of preorder (email me at sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com), I’ll send you a link to a free short story set in Donetsk in the summer of 2015, which might take your mind off your troubles for a bit. I’m also most of the way through a draft of a novella that will be a follow-up to Trigger Warningso I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

The universal preorder link is here.

Stay safe, everyone, and keep your sense of humor!

This week’s selection of giveaways

Sneak peek promo banner

Want to get the goods before the competition does? Check out the Sneak Peek Giveaway!

Notorious Criminals Crime Giveaway

Find some new crime fiction in the Notorious Criminals Crime Giveaway!

 

Living in Interesting Times

Hi All!

I hope everyone is safe and sound and at home. We live in interesting times, do we not? Of course, so do most people. If you’re feeling apprehensive/panicky/outraged at how everyone’s losing their dang minds, maybe now is the time to watch my favorite inspirational speech of all time:

There are other forces at work besides the will of evil.

The good news, from my point of view, is that my university, like many other universities around the country, has mandated a switch to remote learning for an indefinite period into the future. This is good because proactive closing of schools is supposed to be one of the most effective measures you can take to stop the spread of disease. It’s a little irritating for those of us who had our disability accommodations request to study or teach remotely denied because it just “didn’t meet our rigorous standards” or was a “hardship” for our programs, but it is an amusing lesson in karma, I suppose.

It is my sincere hope that in a few weeks we’ll all look back on this and wonder what the big fuss was about. Successful contagion-containment measures always look like overkill. And that’s okay. Better to be safe than sorry.

Meanwhile, for those of us who do mainly intellectual/creative labor, perhaps being trapped at home will bring about a tremendous burst of productivity! As someone who’s mainly trapped at home all the time, I can testify that there’s nothing like it for getting your creative/intellectual work done.

For example, Alexander Pushkin, Russia’s most beloved writer, had one of his most famous bursts of inspiration and productivity while under quarantine at a family estate in the country, as cholera ravaged Russia. He was untouched by it, and wrote some of his most magnificent works, including the wonderful A Feast in Time of Plague. If you’re casting about for something to do while in self-isolation, maybe check it out! Get the entire collection of his Little Tragedies! See what wonderful things can come of quarantine, alongside all the bad stuff.

This also, of course, seems like a great time to plug my own writing, so as a reminder, Trigger Warning, book 4 in the Doctor Rowena Halley series, is currently on pre-order. I’m in the process of transitioning everything to “wide,” meaning available on all stores, not just Amazon, so the link for Trigger Warning is a universal link that will take you to your preferred store.

Trigger Warning Cover 4.5 Small

Currently trialing yet another cover.

And if you preorder Trigger Warning now (it’s just 99c!) and send me your proof of preorder, I’ll send you an exclusive short story, completely free! What’s not to like? Email me your proof of preorder to sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com or reply to this post, and I’ll send you the link for Summer Break, a little side story set in the war zone in the Donbass.

Stay safe, everyone!

And last but not least, here are this week’s selection of giveaways:

Sneak peek promo banner

Check out the Sneak Peek Giveaway to get an exclusive preview of upcoming releases

The Art of Murder

Get an armful of murder mysteries in the Art of Murder Giveaway!

Preorder “Trigger Warning” and Get an Exclusive Free Story

Hi everyone! Happy March!

In Russia it’s the first day of spring. Feels a lot more spring-like here in North Carolina, however, than I imagine it does in Russia. Wherever you are, I hope you’re enjoying the changing seasons.

I have another short and to the point post today: Trigger Warning is on preorder! For 99c! I’ve decided to “go wide” with the series, so it’s available at most major retailers (Google Play is being a little slow, but it should appear there soon). The universal link is here.

And, as a special exclusive treat, I’ve written a short story that I’ll be giving away just to people who preorder Trigger Warning. Just send me your proof of preorder to sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com and I’ll send you a link to download your copy of “Summer Break,” a short story from Dima’s point of view.

Happy reading, everyone!

This week’s selection of free books is The Art of Murder giveaway on Bookfunnel

The Art of Murder

Get a Very Early ARC of “Trigger Warning”!

Hello everyone!

Well, it’s practically sort of wintry here right now, with temperatures below freezing. This is after a bunch of 60-degree days in December and January, and an actual tornado last week. Luckily it didn’t get too close, but any sort of tornado event anywhere within a three-county area knocks me out pretty good. One of the side effects of my health issues is that I appear to have become a weather witch. Who knew?? Has anyone else experienced a sudden ability to read the weather like this? The researcher in me is fascinated by this.

But magical powers are not the topic of this email–Advance Review Copies of Trigger Warning are! You can get an e-copy of it on Bookfunnel here.

It’s still cover-less, since the vote that many of you so kindly participated in the other week returned an almost exact 30/30/30 split between the three covers. So I’m going to have to do some more testing with them. But in the meantime, I thought I’d start letting my most dedicated readers have first crack at the (coverless) book itself. You’ll have plenty of time to read it and, if you feel moved, leave a review on Goodreads, because I’ve tentatively set the release date for the first week of September.

I decided to set the release date so far out for several reasons. One is that I’m also working on my academic non-fiction book, and I’m hoping to wrap up the revisions by the end of this semester. Another is that I’m planning to “go wide” with my books and release them on all retailers instead of just Amazon. This means that they will no longer be available on KU, which is a bummer, but on the flip side, anyone can request them through their local library. And, of course, I’m always happy to send readers free review copies 🙂 But it will take a little while to get everything up and running on all the retail and library sites.

The third reason I’m waiting so long is because I’m hoping to get A) the next book in the series (tentatively titled Honor Court) finished by then so that I can release them in rapid succession, and B) I’m planning to write a series of short stories from Dima’s point of view that interweave with Rowena’s main storyline. They will be available as exclusive preorder or download bonuses, so stay tuned for that! But it will take me a little while to get them all written and edited.

But enough about future hopes and dreams! Once again, if you would like to get an ARC of Trigger Warning, the link is here. It’s on a restricted list so it should ask you to provide your email address again in order to have access to it. If you have any problems with it, just let me know at sidstark@sidstarkauthor.com and I can email your the files directly.

A note about the content: A major topic in the book is gun violence in schools. This is something that I care about deeply. Not only is it something that all teachers have to consider these days–my friends and I have discussed our plans for what we would do in the event of a shooting more than once–but in the past two years there have been fatal shootings both at my BA alma mater and at the college where I currently teach. There have also been multiple fatal off-campus shootings of students at my PhD alma mater. The one at my BA alma mater was a typical “school shooting,” while the one at my current campus was the result of gang violence, but in both cases young people were gunned down by other young people who strolled onto campus and into a school event with loaded firearms.

If you find this upsetting–YOU SHOULD! Channel those strong emotions into political action.

So Trigger Warning takes on the topic of gun violence, as well as bullying and incel culture. A lot of it, as usual, is based on my own experiences and those of my friends, colleagues, and students. It’s fiction, but it’s the type of realist, partially autobiographical fiction that Toril Moi has identified as a trend towards what she defines as modern existential character-based fiction.

That’s a fancy way to say that it’s supposed to feel super-real to the reader, while dealing with “big issues” questions. So like all of my books, Trigger Warning has its dark moments. But also like all of my books, it also has a lot of comedy (I’m going for a chiaroscuro effect), and very little on-camera violence or gore. So you can go into it knowing that some difficult questions might be asked, but there is not going to be a high body count or explicit scenes of violence. Explicit language, yes :), explicit scenes of killing or torture, no.

Wow, that was a lot of writing! We probably all need to get on with our days, so without any further ado, here’s that link again to the Trigger Warning ARC.

And here’s this week’s selection of giveaways!

Listen to Books in 2020

There’s just a few more days of the Listen to Books in 2020 giveaway!

And check out the Short Story Suspense Promo, going on all this month!