Lexicon Hollow Free Book Offer!

dawnsong-ladystar-4The authors of the Lexicon Hollow Guild have come together to create our biggest book giveaway yet!  Whether you are a fantasy, science fiction, romance or business book fan, we’ve got the right book for you.  It’s free.  It’s simple and it’s easy!

Create a free Palace in the Sky Bookstore membership at bookstore.ladystar.net and check the newsletter option when you join.  We’ll send you a 100%-off coupon for your choice of one of four books:  Dawnsong by W. Scott, Flagship Down by Shane Black, Only a Smile Away by Lily Carwyn or Million Dollar Artist Book Two: Negotiate Like a Pro by Theodore Jefferson!

bandit-jacks-flagship-downThat’s right.  All you have to do is join the bookstore and you get a free book.  Just like that!

Only Lexicon Hollow and Palace in the Sky can make an offer like this, because we’re the only bookstore where you can get brand new stories from the web’s most prolific authors!  Plus, when you sign up for our newsletter you’ll get special offers, exclusive notice of new releases and of course more free books!  Don’t worry.  We can make more!

Join us!  We’ll see you at the bookshop!

The webcomic that started it all is back!

Palace in the Sky Productions and fantasy author W. Scott are proud to present the flagship comic of the world’s largest English-language webcomic association with over 70,000 daily readers and 250,000 fans worldwide! Read LadyStar: Fury of the Venom Legion! on its brand new home site right here on LadyStar.net! A new page published every Thursday!

Advanced Negotiations from the Million Dollar Artist Series

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It is always better to conduct high-value negotiations in person. In person you can employ a large number of psychological strategies that are either very difficult or impossible over the phone or via e-mail and texting. If the value of the deal exceeds $200, arrange it so you can see the other party during talks. Even Skype video chat or Go To Meeting is a good substitute if you can’t be there in person. Otherwise, eject. You’ll be putting yourself at a disadvantage if you try to do heavy negotiating where you can’t control the process.

Silence always works in your favor. Later we’ll learn about time and how time always works in favor of the seller. Don’t be tempted to fill all available quiet time with babble. Be quiet. Listen. Let your client get nervous and start running their mouths again. The more they talk, the more likely they are to talk themselves into hiring you at twice your normal rate.

Inexperienced people have a bad habit of talking instead of listening. By sitting there and watching your adversary, you are putting them in a position where they must demonstrate a mastery of the rules of negotiating superior to your own. Since you are reading this book series, the likelihood they understand the skill better than you is quite slim indeed.

As I have advised many of my clients before, I have negotiated with companies that could eat most American employers like a breath mint. I have marketed, studied and written about billion-dollar properties and consulted on million-dollar projects. You are getting advice from someone who has been in rooms full of people with average net worths in the eight figures. I’ve seen it all. You have to be quiet and listen if you want to land the big deals.

Commensurate with the concept of being quiet and listening is learning not to babble. Inexperienced negotiators have a disastrous habit of never using punctuation. Their sentences go on for page after page. Once they get started talking, they won’t stop. They start out the negotiation calm, cool and collected and four minutes later they turn into a Monty Python skit. And the more they talk, the faster they lose the deal.

So the rule is no sentences longer than eight words. Eight words and stop. Let your adversary speak. Use this rule early in the negotiations. As talks proceed, you can relax a little, but always be aware of the human propensity to get anxious and start pulling the cord on the outboard motor that overwhelms all other sound in the building and talks you out of the deal.

Also be sure to maintain eye contact. Don’t fidget. Don’t scribble. Under NO circumstances have a little fiddly object in your hand or hands. Put your phone away. Sit up straight, relax and look them in the eye.

This gives you a baseline relaxed frame of mind you can develop later in the discussions by getting up and walking around. Referencing objects or presentation materials, looking out a window or handing paperwork to your adversary are just a few of the things that are possible when you aren’t distracting yourself by rolling ball bearings in your hand and muttering about strawberries.

Eye contact also gives you the opportunity to establish an emotional connection with someone. When people think they “understand” you they are usually more likely to trust you. By maintaining eye contact and building emotional rapport, you will increase the likelihood of building such a connection and increasing the possibility your adversary will trust you more easily. This can turn a “well, I don’t know” into an “I’ll think about it” and that can often be the difference between a “no thanks” and a “when can you start?”

Get your copy of Million Dollar Artist Book Two today!

Jessica Defends the Renegade Fighters!

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Jessica bolted. Talitha reacted instinctively and dropped her own pack. She ran in a hopeless pursuit, attempting to stop her friend from doing something terribly reckless. Talitha knew better than to run towards danger. She thought everyone knew that. The only problem was Jessica was a faster runner.

Her friend was racing directly into the teeth of a raging onslaught. Talitha knew under any other circumstances all her friends would agree this was certainly no place for a sixteen-year-old girl. Talitha also knew better than to try and predict the actions of a girl in love.

Only her natural cautiousness saved her life. Talitha hesitated for only an instant, and that prevented two oncoming enemy soldiers from flanking their position. They would have surrounded the two girls had Talitha not turned to confront them. Instead they charged right at her. All she saw was burning yellow eyes, green skin, tusks and helmets.

An arrow sliced out of the darkness. Talitha turned away, putting her hands up out of instinct. She felt power surround her, then heard the arrow’s shaft splinter against her shield. She opened her eyes just in time to see one of the nearby tree branches fall out of the leafy canopy above them and slam against one of the creatures, knocking it to the ground with a thudding grunt.

The other creature took a crossbow quarrel in the back and pitched over past Talitha, landing on its twisted, grimy face. The bespectacled girl stood there holding her breath, trying to process what had just taken place.

Jessica wouldn’t have believed she could run as fast as she did. Enken was perhaps thirty yards ahead of her, and the oncoming group of vicious-looking attackers was another twenty yards ahead of him. She felt like her heart was on fire. She gathered huge desperate breaths and the adrenaline surging through her legs and arms felt sharp and knife-like. She flew into the camp like a windstorm, hair twisting and swirling behind her.

She knew she was going to die right there, right then. All she could see was Enken. All she could think of was the look in his eyes when he held her hands close to his heart. She was ready to accept whatever happened, as long as she was by his side. She would have given anything at that moment to be in his arms, even if they were dying and she had given her life as well.

She knew he was real now. He wasn’t just a dream. She wanted him to know she was real too, and that she understood what he was trying to say. Even if his words hadn’t inspired the dull men he had tried to lead honorably, his words had inspired Jessica. She wanted him to know she would follow him. She would follow him anywhere for one chance to call him by name again and see him smile.

She was ready to give her life for one kiss from her beautiful, handsome boy.

All she could see was Enken. She didn’t notice what was happening around her. She didn’t see what she was becoming.

Had someone been on the scene quickly enough and asked Talitha what she saw, they might have gotten a straight answer one minute and a different one the next. All she knew before she saw the bright light was her friend, Enken and roughly a dozen enemy soldiers were converging at breakneck speed.

She could have sworn she saw Jessica carrying a sword, but she couldn’t say for sure where she had found it. The fires in the camp reflected from its golden blade. Enken engaged the creatures with a mighty cross-parry and mortally wounded one before a second raised its own blade behind him.

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The Vicereine Wants Her Rings Back

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A knock sounded at the door. There was instant silence. Jessica felt her muscles tense. Talitha’s grip on her arm tightened. The bearded man got to his feet quietly and knocked twice. Two knocks answered. He removed the barricades. Enken entered with two women wearing dark shawls. They quietly gathered the two children Jessica had rescued and led them away.

“We have to hurry. Time is short.” Enken invited the girls to follow him. They all hurried to the front door where he hesitated and then ducked suddenly. “Too late!”

“What? What’s out there?” Jessica whispered urgently. The light of angrily burning torch fires danced outside the dirt-smeared windows.

“The owner of your ring.”

“Which one?” Jessica asked.

Enken’s face blanched when he saw Talitha’s ring and the gleaming emerald setting.

“I did not think it possible!” Enken whispered, gazing at his hands as if trying to come up with some reasoning for the unexpected. Jessica leaned forward on her knees and placed her hands on the floor. She moved close and looked him in the eye.

“Are you going to tell us what’s going on?”

“Nobody knew what happened to the other rings. They were only legend!”

“Well now they’re jewelry! Who is out there? Why are you hiding? What is so special about these rings?”

“I stole it.” Enken said with a sheepish grin. “I thought I could use Dawnsong against our enemies. And the Vicereine wants it back. Seems I can’t hide from her for long.”

“Why didn’t you just use it yourself?” Jessica asked insistently.

“It’s too small for me.” Another sheepish grin.

Jessica’s expression told Enken she was not amused.

“Who is the Vicereine?” Talitha asked.

Another shout followed by a cry of pain sounded from outside. Jessica and Talitha lifted themselves up with tense fingers just high enough to peer out the house’s front windows. The grounds of the outer keep were bathed in shadows. The torches were still burning with a brilliant hot orange light, but their flames seemed choked by encroaching darkness. A figure stood at the entrance where the two guards used to be.

She wore a dusty tattered robe and a threadbare cowl. Locks of long gray hair were visible across her shoulders. Around her waist were iron chains anchored by bleached skulls. Slung across her back was a malevolent-looking scythe with some kind of black fluid dripping from its blade. On her shoulder was a tiny black horned owl.

Confronting her in the moonlight were two men. One was armed with a knife. The other had a formidable looking club. Jessica’s heart almost stopped when she saw the woman’s eyes glowing red from under her cowl. Chilled air seeped under the door. Talitha saw frost floating over the ground outside. It scattered the moonlight across the water and bloodstains.

The man with the knife advanced a few steps. Talitha was almost sure she heard him growl a threat of some kind. Jessica gripped the windowsill tightly as his body spasmed. The shadowy woman squinted. A moment later his knife seemed to take on a life of its own. It turned in his hands and suddenly the man was staggering and fighting his own weapon. His arms trembled desperately as he put every ounce of strength into keeping the razor-like blade away from his belly. His comrade looked on in horror as the man staggered once again. The knife was inches from his body. The woman stood motionless as the man stabbed himself up to the knife’s hilt. His body slumped in the mud, impaled.

The other man backed away. Icy particles in the air swirled around him. Still the woman did not move. Jessica heard an otherwordly shriek. The two girls looked up into the darkness. Talitha gasped, her face white in the moonlight. A winged fiend that looked very much like a gigantic vampire bat dove towards its hapless victim. The man turned to run, but the creature swept across the ground and was upon him in an instant. It wrapped its wings around his face and drove foot-long fangs into his neck and shoulder. His body absorbed the spectral black wings and wicked claws. The creature sank into his skin, leaving only the man’s desiccated ashen body frozen on its knees, head thrown back in a motionless scream that nobody would ever hear.

The woman casually produced a gnarled walking stick and advanced into the outer keep’s courtyard. She looked stooped and moved laboriously. Nevertheless, Jessica realized she would be at the door in moments.

“Maybe I shouldn’t have stolen that ring.” Enken sounded like a teenager home long after curfew.

“It’s a good thing you’re cute,” Jessica said.

“Why?”

“Because if you weren’t, I would pinch you so hard right now.”

Get your copy of W. Scott’s LadyStar: Dawnsong today!

The Spruance and the Constellation Attack!

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Petty Officer Isabelle MacAllen activated the Spruance’s dorsal autosystems. A rather significant portion of the vessel’s circuitry suddenly came to life as the battle computer drew power from the vessel’s main reactor assembly and activated the cruiser’s defensive weaponry. What Isabelle didn’t know was the communications system she had just verified was using the Perseus command net to activate autosystems in all the other vessels at the same time. Formerly quiescent circuitry, processors, battle software and weapons aboard six other vessels responded. Isabelle watched it all happen on the main viewscreen in a series of attractive overlays around the edges of the display.

“What’s happening?” she asked, confused by what she was seeing.

“You just told the ship to get out its big club and go hit the bad guys with it.”

A brilliant flash of light filled the Spruance bridge. Then another. And then a third. The angry white bursts of weapons fire reflected from the face and eyes of Petty Officer MacAllen as she sat motionless at the pilot’s station, watching in open-mouthed awe as the Task Force’s datalinked battle computers she had just ordered to open fire launched a defensive strike at the incoming enemy formation.

From aboard the nearby destroyer Constellation, the scene was no less impressive. Spruance’s main batteries thundered away, firing in skillfully echeloned sequence. Thousands of miles distant, the first wave of proximity bursts shook the enemy formation to its core. Ten megaton blasts slammed battle screens and disrupted communications. Moments later, the Sarn battlecruiser Venom opened up with its rapid-fire disruptor batteries as it broke range.

Spruance shook like it had been caught in an avalanche.

“Fasten your shock harness, Isabelle.”

Aboard the Constellation, Lieutenant Commander Ray Flynn had been issuing orders quickly and efficiently since the first detonation, and now he was about to answer the Sarn fleet’s challenge with everything his fairly substantial vessel had to offer.

“Report!”

“We have three full spreads of wide-spectrum weapons standing by!” shouted Tactical Officer Ria Cooper from her multi-level advanced combat station. Around her glowed curved displays featuring sliding status updates on all twelve of her vessel’s missile batteries. As the prototype and namesake for its class, the DSS Constellation was the most “broken in” of Skywatch’s missile fleet. Its weapons systems had been studied, improved and optimized to the point where her engineering staff, tactical officers and crew knew more about space missile combat than any other group of 100 people in the known universe.

Constellation was the only Perseus vessel with the “globe” configuration and design for its tactical station. The operator was surrounded by displays which were fixed on a freely rotating frame which allowed them to “spin” around the operator. This only operated in two dimensions, of course, as upsetting a bridge officer’s sense of which way is “up” had been tried and failed several times. The configuration itself was spherical, with the tactical officer seated on a magnetically suspended shock frame and able to read displays below floor level, at eye level and above as well.

What this configuration did make possible was the hyper-efficient control of all of Constellation’s missile batteries and most importantly, their timing. There was simply no such thing as an idle weapon aboard the Constellation. If a rack was capable of firing, it had already fired. If it needed to reload, it was already reloading. If the scanner systems were tracking missiles and one or more detonated, they were replaced by fresh warheads within fractions of a second of the firing order.

Then came the spectrum. DSS Constellation had always been capable of configuring missile tracking systems to do just about anything their technology was capable of and several things it was officially incapable of. She could fire track-on-motion, track-on-signature, track-on-radiation, track-on-signal and track-on-targeting warheads. She could set her weapons to go dormant for several minutes and then wake up and attack again. She could configure missiles to track on each other so they couldn’t be jammed. Missiles could be set to attack from as many approach vectors as there were weapons to fill them. There were rumors her tactical section once programmed a missile barrage to look as if it had malfunctioned, turned around in space and began attacking its own ship, only to have it turn back on the enemy at a most inconvenient moment.

Constellation was also capable of conducting positively lethal planetary bombardments with its “Ironwing” class ultra-dense kinetic warbirds. These were essentially 1000-ton nano-particle constructed iron molecule lattices formed into shapes that could be fired from a Constellation class missile rack and equipped with a short-duration anti-orbital rocket. They were rated to impact a planet with Earth-like gravity at roughly 1% of light speed and even without a warhead could cause an impact detonation in the 1000 megaton range.

The Perseus missile ship’s opposite number was the Battle Frigate Ajax, which was able to defend against enemy missiles with very nearly the same deadly efficiency as the larger destroyer. The two vessels operating in concert were like a veteran quarterback and wide receiver. In fact, more than a few of the Perseus crew members referred to the two ships colloquially as “Law and Order.”

“Confirm incoming sequence telemetry with Spruance.”

“Aye. We have active missile slots one through sixty. Spruance is cycling weapons autosystems aboard Revenge, Exeter and Minstrel.”

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“Very well. Lock autosystems response codes in echelon order and stand by for a firing solution. Signals, open a hailing frequency to the lead Sarn vessel and engage automatic translation and records computers.” Commander Flynn settled back in his large and intimidating-looking command chair and waited for the inbound signals to clear up the image on the Constellation bridge main viewer.

“We have a bearings match and waveform lock on the battlecruiser, sir.”

“Hailing frequency open, captain and you are patched in.”

“Attention unidentified vessel. This is Lieutenant Commander Raymond Flynn of the Skywatch Destroyer Constellation. We have you under our weapons. You are ordered to surrender your vessel and prepare to be boarded.”

It’s only here for a limited time! Get your copy of Shane Black’s Praetorian Courage today!

It’s the PLuto is a PLanet Event!

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Theodore Jefferson’s The Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon is on sale in February for a limited time, and he is calling all the Lexicon Hollow Authors to assemble! Founding members W. Scott, author of LadyStar, Kin Kan Musical Universe and Fat Guys on Tricycles with Bazookas, Lily Carwyn, author of the 19-title First Kiss Romances Series, and Shane Black, author of the Bandit Jacks Sci-Fi series are all contributing their top titles to make this our biggest book giveaway yet!

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Right now, if you buy the Incredible Untold Story of Sailor Moon EPUB edition from the Palace in the Sky Bookstore at up to 30% off the cover price, you’ll get W. Scott’s Kin Kan Musical Universe Book One (a $5.99 value) absolutely FREE!

Better Stories

The LadyStar series celebrated its 15th anniversary in 2015. Since the day Jessica Halloran appeared in her first adventure, nearly 300,000 readers have found heroes in the pages of our books and comics.

All LadyStar fans can find someone to root for. Our readers experience friendship and teamwork right alongside their favorite character and they can experience what it is like to achieve victory through courage, sisterhood and just a little bit of magic.

Visit our bookstore, and experience what we have built together over the last 15 years. LadyStar has been a video game, a manga series, an industry-leading webcomic, a critically-acclaimed book series, a dramatic audiocast and an animated television show. Our characters endure because they have something to say that largely absent in today’s fantasy. In Jessica Halloran’s world, anything is possible.

I would like to personally invite you to take a look at what we’ve accomplished. If like me, you believe better books are a worthy goal, and that we can aspire to better stories and better role models, I think you’ll find LadyStar to be a unique world you can return to again and again.