FREE E-BOOK: "Playing For Keeps" + new short story

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It doesn't get any cooler than this, folks. To celebrate the upcoming mainstream print release of her superhero novel Playing for Keeps on Aug. 25, author and podcaster Mur Lafferty has released the full text of the novel -- and a never-before-seen short story called Parasite Awakens -- as a free PDF download. The PDF also features original comic book cover-style artwork by Jared Axelrod, Natalie Metzger and me, and was assembled by Paul Fischer and Martha Holloway.

Podcast subscribers should automatically receive a dowload of this PDF to thier podcatchers. Folks can also manually download the file, below.

I've been promoting Mur's work here on the site and in the podcast feed for a week now, and there's a reason for that: it's worthy of all the attention. Playing For Keeps both celebrates and satirizes the superhero comics genre. Defying expectations, Mur's novel is an awesome exploration of heroism, the life of an underdog, and the corruption of power.

It's pretty damned funny, too.

Here's a synopsis of Playing For Keeps, from publisher Swarm Press:

The shining metropolis of Seventh City is the birthplace of super powers. The First Wave heroes are jerks, but they have the best gifts: flight, super strength, telepathy, genius, fire. The Third Wavers are stuck with the leftovers: the ability to instantly make someone sober, the power to smell the past, the grace to carry a tray and never drop its contents, the power to produce high-powered excrement blasts, absolute control. over elevators.

Bar owner Keepsie Branson is a Third Waver with a power that prevents anything in her possession from being stolen. Keepsie and her friends just aren't powerful enough to make a difference. at least that's what they've always been told.

But when the villain Doodad slips Keepsie a mysterious metal sphere, the Third Wavers become caught in the middle of a battle between the egotistical heroes and the manipulative villains. As Seventh City begins to melt down, it's hard to tell the good guys from the bad, and even harder to tell who may become the true heroes.

It's great stuff, so check out the free PDF, and please be sure to support Mur Lafferty's rush on the Amazon.com charts on Aug. 25 by purchasing a copy of Playing For Keeps!

--J.C.

OBSIDIAN: Episode 9 "Voices From the Darkness" VIDEO

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It's the second video "Voices From the Darkness" episode, and this one's terrific. All contributions seen in this vidcast were created by 7th Son fans from across the globe.

Behold the 7th Son universe during the blackout, as witnessed by its victims ... and captured for all the world to see.

Contributions by:

Coming up next on 7th Son: OBSIDIAN: A brief Clone Line episode, and then a short story by novelist Mur Lafferty.

Purples and Tigers and Fire, Oh My!

Something not many folks know about me is that I'm an amateur graphic designer. I used to do it for cash ... but these days, I do it for fun, and for friends. For instance: Nearly all of the typographical elements you see in the 7th Son covers and here at JCH.net were designed by me. I'm no pro; it's just another way to flex my creative muscles.

When time permits, I lend my meager pixel-pushing talents to worthy causes -- namely, my friends' projects. One such pal is Mur Lafferty, author of the Playing for Keeps podiobook. Each week, I collaborate with brilliant writer and artist Jared Axelrod (and more recently, Natalie Metzger) to create the "comic book" covers seen in the free Playing for Keeps PDFs. But when Mur informed me that she had an idea to reward her faithful evangelistic Street Team members, I was stoked, and wanted to help.

Behold the fruits of that collaboration: Personalized online avatars and images for Street Team members. Folks who spread the word about Mur's novel will receive a cool "Third Waver" picture and avatar, complete with spiffy name. (Since I'm one of the many regular contributors to Mur's project, I'm a "First Waver.") You can use the avatar on Twitter, LiveJournal, etc. ... and you can post the larger image on your site, or blog. Mur has created yet another "first" in podiobook promotion! Very cool.

Visit the Playing For Keeps site, sign up for the Street Team and get evangelizing. Those who do will receive a custom-made hero and name (created by Mur Lafferty herself), and these whiz-bang cool rewards!

--J.C.