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Shafter Paperback – December 17, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Shafter is a science fiction novel that had its start as a short story in one of the best writing classes I took in college. A graduate student got permission to teach a speculative fiction workshop focused not just on writing and editing but on submitting your works to markets. Back then, it was unheard of.

At the time, I had not mastered the speculative short story because I get sucked into my characters' worlds. I had not yet learned the balance of information for a short story when I had a universe worth of fascinating things to reveal. Even as I learned the differences with short stories, Shafter refused to be confined. It blossomed into a long novel during the National Novel Writing Month some years ago.

Thanks to excellent feedback, the story has undergone radical changes. Some were to deal with length, cutting beloved characters and stripping out subplots to make it more in line with length expectations, while others were to improve the story itself.

As with the short story issue, the first version of this novel contained more than the story could support at a reasonable length. I mourn the removal of some layers in the culture of Ceric, but like all my worlds, it's full and complete in my head. Ceric colony has an origin story that may someday see the light, and a history built of generations born and raised in an alien landscape with extreme challenges both among their communities and with survival itself.

You can read more about its history, and read a short story that was cut from the novel, on my website.

About the Author

Margaret McGaffey Fisk is a born storyteller whose tales often cross genres and worlds to bring the events and characters to life. She currently writes romance, science fiction, and fantasy but will go wherever the story takes her. A daughter of diplomats, her early years were filled with many cultures, those very much alive and those long turned to dust, as well as people who both pondered the great thoughts and were grand pranksters. Whether from wild adventures into the desert to climb sand mountains, poking around little known archeological sites, or visiting bazaars and inner cities, she came out of that time with a love of culture and an all too sharp awareness of culture clash. She currently lives in a Nevada desertscape with her husband, and a rotating collection of cats and sons. When not exercising her creative muscles, she has been known to tame the relatives of beasts in the wild—feral cats. In a different time, you’d find her before a bonfire or with a mug of ale and a lute spinning tales for all who are in earshot. Now, though, you can read her explorations of loyalty, love, and conflict wherever you might be. Her newsletter is published monthly with questions for readers, notes on what she's publishing or working on, and excerpts of works in progress. Her website is:
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: ACOA; 1st edition (December 17, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1631390015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1631390012
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

More About the Author

Margaret McGaffey Fisk was born overseas during her father's first full post with the US State Department. She grew up in the diplomatic and ex - pat community, a place of mixed cultures, philosophical discussions, and grand pranksters. Between wild car rides into the desert to climb sand mountains, the discovery of little known archeological sites, and visits to various bazaars and inner cities, she developed a love of culture, language, and the point where these cross over and often clash.

Add a theatrical father, largely British teachers, and a return to the United States that was the epitome of culture clash, and Margaret was left with story fodder crossing the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and romance, with a sprinkling of real-world stories as well.

Join her in wandering foreign lands, stepping foot on new planets, or exploring the inner workings of the heart along with many other journeys of the imagination that offer entertainment mixed in with a thought or two to ponder.

To learn more about Margaret McGaffey Fisk, and maybe take up one of her blog challenges yourself, please visit her website:

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. M. Smith on December 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not all books hold my attention that way. I purchased it a few days ago and was finally able to read it today...sadly. Sadly, because it ended. I would like more of this tale, even though the ending was satisfying. Trina is a tough-as-nails protagonist against her sister, Katie's desire to stay at home and care for their mother. It could be a case of necessity begetting personality. Staying at home is not the cozy experience many of us can relate to. The life of the Shafter is ugly and lacking in the barest of essentials, like food, water, things we take for granted. Trina has to risk going to the surface to take care of her family, but she has dreams. What happens when those dreams conflict with those of her sister? What happens when she becomes a pawn in someone else's scheme? someone she should be able to trust with her very life? The book was tightly written and moved quickly, but not so quickly as to sacrifice character depth. It was intriguing to see how the sisters dealt with the changes in their lives, the longings and the losses. Another thing I thoroughly enjoyed about the book is the way the author painted her people and places well enough that, in my mind's eye, I could see them yet not be overly constrained by knit-picky details. I felt like everything I needed was there, and my imagination was invited into the mix, as well. I would recommend this to adults who want a fast adventure and don't mind young adult fiction, as well as to any young readers I know. It was a refreshing read and I do hope there will be a few more books tracking these characters in the future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Twelve year old Darlene would have LOVED this book. Yet at 64 I love it even deeper. As a kid, reading about Trina's adventures on her home world while dreaming of space travel would have captured my heart, as that was my dream. As an older adult, I can see the fuller picture that includes the choices Trina and her sister, Katie, must make as they grow to become adults.

Feminism embraces these choices. The old world explorers knew some of these choices. Stay with the family you know or explore. Meeting new people and finding yourself in new family happens, our population wouldn't be so large if that wasn't the case. But then which dream to do you follow? Do you stay or do you go? Can you live without your loved ones? Would they want you to? All these questions are addressed within a tight, well-written story I didn't want to leave. You know those tales you leave with sadness, that make you read slower to savor your time with the characters but the plot won't let you? Yeah, that's what happened to me with this book.

I am so glad to know Margaret McGaffey-Fisk! Maybe I can put peer pressure on her to make this a series? What an excellent read!
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Format: Kindle Edition
Another amazing story by Ms Fisk. I absolutely loved this book from start to finish. It's not just a "science fiction", but a human story with drama and political twists, about seeking acceptance and love and the chance to stand on your own feet. The cultural is well done, very different in many ways from our own, but not so different in others. I loved the relationships, how they grew and developed but above all -- it's simply a good story.
(I purchased this elsewhere but wanted to review here as well)
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