The Uncial Letter – May 2014

The other day an acquaintance of ours said, “I’m thinking of getting rid of my smart phone, reconnecting my landline, and buying a dumb phone.” We rolled our eyes, but then we started thinking of life before cell phones.

We couldn’t run Uncial Press without our cells because our offices are eighteen miles apart (a 45-minute drive in weekday traffic). Star keeps track of her kids by texting, has done since even before the youngest was old enough for a phone of her own. Jude only last year moved up to a smartphone, and spent way too much time trying to figure it out. Now she wonders why she put it off for so long.

Pretty much everyone we know does have a cell, but there are still some holdouts. We have a friend who refuses to get one, even though he is often in the field, far from civilization. We wonder what would happen if he broke a leg–or worse–and couldn’t call for help. Of course, where he goes probably doesn’t have cell coverage anyway…

Aside from this issue–being in touch with civilization at all times–cells have other advantages. We keep track of our lives on our phones (calendar apps), monitor our health/diet/exercise (fitness apps), keep our pantries stocked (list apps), and all sorts of other necessary, everyday activities that used to involve calendars on the walls, notepads/diaries on our desks, memo books in our purses/pockets, and Post-Its stuck to the front of the refrigerator, on the dashboard, and even on the bathroom mirror (except when we used lipstick instead).

We suggest you give a thought or two to how your life has changed since you got your cell phone. Or if you haven’t taken the plunge yet, how sometimes you feel like the only person in the world who is off the grid. But if you do have one, take a moment to think of life without it. Kinda scary, huh?

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”–Clarke’s Third Law (SF writer Arthur C. Clarke, that is). And truly, there is something magical about holding in your hand a little gadget that connects you to the world, manages your life, holds your photo album, and will entertain you with music, videos or the world’s finest literature at the poke of a button.

And literature is, after all, what we are about.

Lark Dodge’s marriage has been under a strain and her father has been ill. Where better to find a peaceful refuge than Ireland, green and peaceful? So maybe finding a body in the cottage they’ve rented isn’t the best way to start a vacation. Lark is caught in a web of lies, passion and revenge, when she attempts to be a good neighbor.When her husband comes to her rescue, he only makes matters worse. And then he disappears. In Malarkey Sheila Simonson will take you on a picturesque tour of Ireland, while keeping you captive to an exciting, complex story. (ISBN 978-1-60174-182-0; $6.99; )

Another kind of travel happens when Alyssa follows the instructions that come with her sixteenth birthday gift from her eccentric grandmother. From the time she picks up her ticket–a mouse named Miss Lilse–nothing that happens makes sense. A bear driving a bus? A preadolescent witch with long blonde pigtails? A road that leads everywhere but the direction she wants to go? When she attempts to purchase an elixir that can help her mortally-ill grandmother, she discovers she must pay a price both higher and stranger than she could have imagined. F.I. Goldhaber spins a whimsical fantasy that will have you wishing for your own Ticket to Faerie. (ISBN 978-1-60174-183-7; $2.99, )

We’ll bring you two very different stories in June. Linda Palmer’s Somewhere in the Middle is about two rather ordinary–on the surface–high school kids. But Everly is a science whiz and Roone is, well, let’s just say he can do stuff the ordinary guy can’t. And we’ll be starting a new series too, with Fallen, the first of Ann Simko’s thrilling Coyote Moon books.

Be adventurous. Try reading (our ebooks) on your cell.

Star and Jude

Alyssa searches Faerie for a way to save her grandmother's life.

Alyssa searches Faerie for a way to save her grandmother’s life.

Lark Dodge escapes to Ireland only to find murder and mayhem in County Wicklow.

Lark Dodge escapes to Ireland only to find murder and mayhem in County Wicklow.

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