Hugo Nominations: With Bits and pieces

IMG_0174A few quick announcements first.

One of my recently reviewed books is going to be made into a 10 episode adaptation of Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey to be aired on the SYFY channel. The series will be titled The Expanse. See the link below for all the information. This is an interesting series with a space opera flavor that combines a typical hard-nosed detective transposed onto a space station, mutating aliens, intergalactic war threats, big company politics and other juicy plot threads.

http://www.tor.com/blogs/2014/04/james-sa-corey-leviathan-wakes-the-expanse-syfy-adaptation

Leviathan Wakes

Also, Veronica Sicoe has done it again with a thought provoking blog on thirteen quantum leaps to consider for the future. The list is a goldmine for science fiction ideas and stories, starting with FTL travel. Check it out with this link:

http://www.Veronicasicoe.com

Next week I’ll talk about time travel and review Rysa Walker’s Timebound, an Amazon award winning novel on time travel. Get ready to transverse the timelines with me.Timebound

Then on to the Hugo Award Nominees. I also recently reviewed Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie and mentioned that whispers of a Hugo nomination were on the air.

I was right! (Mark it down. I’m keeping a record)

The Wheel of Time has been around for a long time, but still is rich writing that rather got overweighted in description and ran lean on the action part. Thank goodness Brandon Sanderson picked up the ball after Robert Jordan died and carried it to completion…finally. The other nominees may be good ideas for suggested reading for me. However, I notice the domination of large publishing houses and not very many Indie authors in the listing. Hmm. It helps to have a pr team behind you to throw around all that publishing weight.

I also notice there are some good best dramatic presentations (short form) I have been enjoying Game of Thrones…yes, in spite of my rant. And Orphan Black on the BBC.

Clones are my thing at the moment.

So here they are:

2014 Hugo Award Nominees

Hugo LogoBEST NOVEL

  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
  • Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross (Ace / Orbit)
  • Parasite by Mira Grant (Orbit)
  • Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia (Baen Books)
  • The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Tor Books)

BEST NOVELLA

  • The Butcher of Khardov by Dan Wells (Privateer Press)
  • “The Chaplain’s Legacy” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jul-Aug 2013)
  • “Equoid” by Charles Stross (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • Six-Gun Snow White by Catherynne M. Valente (Subterranean Press)
  • “Wakulla Springs” by Andy Duncan and Ellen Klages (Tor.com, 10-2013)

BEST NOVELETTE

  • “Opera Vita Aeterna” by Vox Day (The Last Witchking, Marcher Lord Hinterlands)
  • “The Exchange Officers” by Brad Torgersen (Analog, Jan-Feb 2013)
  • “The Lady Astronaut of Mars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor.com, 09-2013)
  • “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean Press Magazine, Fall 2013)
  • “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard (The Other Half of the Sky, Candlemark & Gleam)

BEST SHORT STORY

  • “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky (Apex Magazine, Mar-2013)
  • “The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt (Tor.com, 04-2013)
  • “Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar (Strange Horizons, Jan-2013)
  • “The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu (Tor.com, 02-2013)

Note:  4 nominees due to a 5% minimum requirement.

BEST RELATED WORK

  • Queers Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the LGBTQ Fans Who Love It Edited by Sigrid Ellis & Michael Damien Thomas (Mad Norwegian Press)
  • Speculative Fiction 2012: The Best Online Reviews, Essays and Commentary by Justin Landon & Jared Shurin (Jurassic London)
  • We Have Always Fought: Challenging the Women, Cattle and Slaves Narrative by Kameron Hurley (A Dribble of Ink)
  • Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fictionby Jeff VanderMeer, with Jeremy Zerfoss (Abrams Image)
  • Writing Excuses Season 8 by Brandon Sanderson, Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Howard Tayler, Jordan Sanderson

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

  • Girl Genius Vol 13: Agatha Heterodyne & The Sleeping City written by Phil and Kaja Foglio; art by Phil Foglio; colors by Cheyenne Wright (Airship Entertainment)
  • “The Girl Who Loved Doctor Who” Written by Paul Cornell, Illustrated by Jimmy Broxton (Doctor Who Special 2013, IDW)
  • The Meathouse Man Adapted from the story by George R.R. Martin and Illustrated by Raya Golden (Jet City Comics)
  • Saga Vol 2 Written by Brian K. Vaughn, Illustrated by Fiona Staples (Image Comics )
  • Time by Randall Munroe (XKCD)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM)

  • Frozen Screenplay by Jennifer Lee; Directed by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee (Walt Disney Studios)
  • Gravity Written by Alfonso Cuarón & Jonás Cuarón; Directed by Alfonso Cuarón (Esperanto Filmoj; Heyday Films; Warner Bros.)
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy & Michael Arndt; Directed by Francis Lawrence (Color Force; Lionsgate)
  • Iron Man 3 Screenplay by Drew Pearce & Shane Black; Directed by Shane Black (Marvel Studios; DMG Entertainment; Paramount Pictures)
  • Pacific Rim Screenplay by Travis Beacham & Guillermo del Toro; Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Legendary Pictures, Warner Bros., Disney Double Dare You)

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM)

  • An Adventure in Space and Time Written by Mark Gatiss; Directed by Terry McDonough (BBC Television)
  • Doctor Who: “The Day of the Doctor” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Nick Hurran (BBC)
  • Doctor Who: “The Name of the Doctor” Written by Steven Moffat, Directed by Saul Metzstein (BBC)
  • The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot Written & Directed by Peter Davison (BBC Television)
  • Game of Thrones: “The Rains of Castamere” Written by David Benioff & D.B. Weiss; Directed by David Nutter (HBO Entertainment)
  • Orphan Black: “Variations under Domestication” Written by Will Pascoe; Directed by John Fawcett (Temple Street Productions; Space/BBC America)

Note: 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST EDITOR – SHORT FORM

  • John Joseph Adams
  • Neil Clarke
  • Ellen Datlow
  • Jonathan Strahan
  • Sheila Williams

BEST EDITOR – LONG FORM

  • Ginjer Buchanan
  • Sheila Gilbert
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Lee Harris
  • Toni Weisskopf

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST 

  • Galen Dara
  • Julie Dillon
  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • John Harris
  • John Picacio
  • Fiona Staples

Note: category has 6 nominees due to a tie for 5th place.

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • Apex Magazine edited by Lynne M. Thomas, Jason Sizemore and Michael Damian Thomas
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies edited by Scott H. Andrews
  • Interzone edited by Andy Cox
  • Lightspeed Magazine edited by John Joseph Adams, Rich Horton and Stefan Rudnicki
  • Strange Horizons edited by Niall Harrison, Brit Mandelo, An Owomoyela, Julia Rios, Sonya Taaffe, Abigail Nussbaum, Rebecca Cross, Anaea Lay and Shane Gavin

BEST FANZINE 

  • The Book Smugglers edited by Ana Grilo and Thea James
  • A Dribble of Ink edited by Aidan Moher
  • Elitist Book Reviews edited by Steven Diamond
  • Journey Planet edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, Lynda E. Rucker, Pete Young, Colin Harris and Helen J. Montgomery
  • Pornokitsch edited by Anne C. Perry and Jared Shurin

BEST FANCAST

  • The Coode Street Podcast, Jonathan Strahan and Gary K. Wolfe
  • Doctor Who: Verity! Deborah Stanish, Erika Ensign, Katrina Griffiths, L.M. Myles, Lynne M. Thomas and Tansy Rayner Roberts
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast, Alisa Krasnostein, Alexandra Pierce, Tansy Rayner Roberts (Presenters) and Andrew Finch (Producer)
  • SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester
  • The Skiffy and Fanty Show, Shaun Duke, Jen Zink, Julia Rios, Paul Weimer, David Annandale, Mike Underwood and Stina Leicht
  • Tea and Jeopardy, Emma Newman
  • The Writer and the Critic, Kirstyn McDermott and Ian Mond

Note: 7 nominees due to tie for 5th place.

BEST FAN WRITER

  • Liz Bourke
  • Kameron Hurley
  • Foz Meadows
  • Abigail Nussbaum
  • Mark Oshiro

BEST FAN ARTIST

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Mandie Manzano
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Steve Stiles
  • Sarah Webb

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER

Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2012 or 2013.  Not a Hugo.

  • Wesley Chu
  • Max Gladstone
  • Ramez Naam
  • Sofia Samatar
  • Benjanun Sriduangkaew

April 20, 2014

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction

Calling on Angels

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If you’re one of my hard scifi readers, this week my writing has taken me off that path a bit.

I will return. (scramble, scramble)

Currently, I’m writing about one of my favorite characters–Angel. Angel is the offspring of two aliens who live on Alysia in seclusion. These are Enjelise that at one time protected the humans of Alysia and now have “evolved.” Modeled on our concept of angels, Angel doesn’t have wings like his parents, but he has been tasked with protecting Richard Steele’s daughter, Tempest, and it’s quite the challenge.

And fun to write about.

 While I was contemplating what to blog about, I recalled Sharon Shinn who wrote a whole series on a planet where angels ruled.

 Often as an author writes, great creative ideas seem to pop out of nowhere. I loved writing about the Enjelise and was rolling right along with them when I remembered Sharon Shinn and her series, and was surprised at how much they unconsciously influenced me.

 Where do we get our inspiration from? Sometimes I think an idea or concept is rolling around out there in the ether just waiting for creative people to harvest it, and at other times it’s buried in the subconscious and bubbles to the surface when needed.

 Well, I was bubbling.

 So I wanted to at least mention this author in case you’re inclined to this style of story.

Because I am.

I first read Sharon because the title of a particular book was so compelling, and then the reviews were also good.

The Shape-Changer's WifeThe Shape Changer’s Wife was such an intriguing title I wanted to read the book to see what the author would do with it.

 So authors, your title is important. It should draw in a reader.

 I enjoyed the story of Aubrey who decides he wants to learn more than his current University’s training offers and seeks out the most accomplished wizard of shape changing, Glyrenden. Odd events and and dark rumors cause Aubrey to try to figure out what is going on in the wizard’s household. Often Glyrenden goes off for long periods of time and leaves his wife, Lilith, alone. She carries a sad secret and Aubrey tries to help her. As he helps her, he discovers a lot about himself.

Archangel Because I liked that story, Sharon Shinn’s name came onto my radar screen, and then I discovered her Samaria Series. Samaria is a world dominated by angel like creatures that are beautiful, have wings, live high in the mountains and sing. Once each year the reigning Archangel and angels gather with the lesser humans and sing a chorale praising Jovah so that God will not smite the planet. The praising must be a duet of the Archangel and his wife.

Gabriel is the newly selected Archangel who will be elevated at the next celebration. Several challenges face him. First, the previous Archangel has created a division of poor and rich upon what had been an egalitarian society. The world is worse off, but Raphael doesn’t want to relinquish his power and step down and plots to thwart Gabriel’s election. Meanwhile Gabriel has delayed in seeking a wife and when he finally visits the oracle to learn who she must be, he finds out his chosen is a slave in an oppressed culture who dislikes the angels and is quick to tell him what is wrong with the world. Neither one is happy about the choosing and would rather marry another, but to save the planet, they try to make it work. However, Gabriel’s delay means he has only six months to do that.

The clock is ticking…and no one is co-operating.

Jovah's Angel An interesting love story with several twists and turns.

The series continues with the second book in the series, Jovah’s Angel and concludes with the Alleluia Files.Alleluia Files

 With the Alleluia Files, Shinn takes a fantasy series and sharply twists it into science fiction. Here’s where I had forgotten Shinn’s book and when I saw her name recently on a new series, it all started to resurface. In The Alleluia Files, a rebel Jacobite, Tamar believes the “God” of their world is more technology than deity and searches for the files of an angel, Alleluia, who proposes that a satellite ship circles Samaria controlling the weather and interacting with the angels when they sing, fulfilling the role of “God.” The current Archangel, Bael, is out to squash this idea and has ordered all Jacobites killed. But Tamar teams up with Jared, an Angel with an open mind, to discover the truth. This is an interesting finale to the trilogy.

 Sharon Shinn flavors her stories of Samaria with bible references and weaves a complex world of angels and humans, of love and conflict that you may enjoy.

Thirteeth House I also want to commend her Twelve House series. Here she revisits magic and shapeshifters. I loved The Thirteenth House, Reader and Raelynx,  Mystic and Rider and Dark Moon Defender–to name a few.Royal Airs

And recently out, her new Elemental Series, Troubled Waters, the first in the series, came out in April 2013 and the newest offering is Royal Airs out last November. In this series she works with the five elements that control everyone’s life in her created society. The society is full of court intrigue and dangerous liaisons and could take place in any of the European courts from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

Once again, an intriguing world with magic and romance, danger and dark deeds.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, genetic manipulation, Paranormal Romance, Wizards and magic

What Comes Next? Science Fiction Series Conumdrum

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One of the things I try to do when blogging about a series I want to suggest, is to start with the first book in the series. The problem with that is, if I like the series, then I want to read the next book, and the next, and that gets time consuming. In addition to reading a book a week (or more) for my blog, I am writing and editing my next book in my own series…

Which brings me to another dilemma.

When someone asks me to tell them what book they should read first, I hesitate on what to suggest.

Of course, it should be the first in the series…which I like…but the first one is a very different book from some of the others. The first is a time travel romance with adventure. Fun stuff…but…

The second one is a young adult with flavors of fantasy while the third is espionage and mystery and takes place at Sunpointe Space Academy. And because it’s time travel, you can start with this book also.

In the fourth, all action is on a space ship and is more hard science, Star Trek and first contact while book five is genetic manipulation and alien invasion. Six is apocalypse and alien crystals with some romance.

See what I mean?

They are all science fiction, but they’re all very different, and yet they deal with the same characters along a timeline on the planet, Alysia.

And that may change too.

I’m thinking of going out to other worlds with my guys.

Meet new people, er, aliens, er whatever.

The second part of this dilemma is that over time, and through much work, I hope that I have improved in my writing.

Shouldn’t an author get better as he or she writes? If you care about what you are putting out to the public, then hopefully you are improving. (Although where to put commas still drives me crazy)

My writers group says this last one is the best one so far. Someone’s Clone is a mystery thriller with transhumanism. Starts off with a murder and the main character is hunted down and he doesn’t know why. To disguise himself, he undergoes a dramatic operation that equips him with an implanted computer and superhuman abilities. Think the bionic man. Then he is caught up in the middle of a conflict between the invading Terrans and the native Alysians for control of the planet.

So it’s hard to know what to say when they ask what they should read first. It depends on what their science fiction hot button is. This is the dilemma of the series writer. What is the best book to offer first so as to hook your reader?

Trilogy of Dune Sometimes, sequels don’t have the same dramatic impact as the original. Here I’m thinking of the Dune Series by a Frank Herbert. His son Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson have continued adding prequels and sequels to the original series and, for the most part, have done a good job. But the first book, Dune, is the best in my opinion. But now, it’s no longer the beginning in the series of their timeline, but more in the middle.

However, Lois Bujold has kept up the quality in her Vorsigan Series and her last one, Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was  unexpectedly good. The same could be said for Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s Liadon series. However, Lois has kept going forward along her timeline while Lee and Miller have hopped all around, offering earlier stories and later ones. It can be confusing except they’re stand alones with complete stories. Still.Captain Vorpatril's Alliance

So after a reluctant review of The First Blade by Joe Abercrombie, I found myself drawn into reading the second book of The First Law Trilogy. With a trilogy, you have to start with the first one to make any sense of what you’re reading. The action is one continuous story.

It wasn’t the writing as much as the subject matter and what the characters did that put me off the first book…like cutting off fingers and staggering bloody through mud, etc. One character reminded me of Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, only instead of a dwarf, he is a crippled who was tortured by the enemy and now serves as Inquisitor for the king. Each step Glatko takes, each move he makes, brings pain, and the reader winces along with him.

However, the second book Before They Are Hanged was quite good. I found myself becoming invested in the characters. I grew to look forward to the biting wit of Glatko, the Inquisitor, and the evolution of his character as he actually shows courage, intelligence and selected compassion along with his torturing.

Each of the characters goes through a dramatic evolution. Jezel, the shallow, silly dandy of a Lieutenant becomes disfigured and assumes some humility and compassion. Logan, an ugly, scary, brute of a Northman, proves to be the most capable when the chips are down. Lieutenant West, the solid loyal self-made man, loses control after a devastating battle and commits the unspeakable crime. As each one struggles to meet what life throws at them, they change, adapt and as Logan constantly reassures himself with, “I’m still alive,” the reader is amazed along with him at the fact.

In this case, I’m glad I continued in the series and recommend it. Now, let’s see how it all ends with the final book.

Before I leave, I want to let anyone know that isn’t aware that we’ll have a total eclipse of the moon April 15 (some celestial comment about my taxes?)

The good news is that a full eclipse will appear in the western hemisphere. The bad news is that it starts at 2:00 a.m. for you night owls and goes to 4:00 a.m. or so. Here’s the link that gives all the details.

http://www.space.com/25390-total-lunar-eclipse-april-preview.html

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, fantasy, Liandon Universe, Lois McMasters Bujold, modifying humans, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Space opera, space travel, time travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

Growing up with Robots

IMG_9512How do you view events around you? Some say everything a person does or says is a result of how they personally interpret the world through their mind’s viewpoint.

For authors, point of view controls the reader. Using first person point of view enables the author to funnel all the events of the story through one person’s vision. With omniscient or third party viewpoint, the reader can be aware of people and events outside the main character, thus providing additional information on the story or an interesting contrast.

For a long time third person point of view was  the one most used by writers. However, recently, the first person viewpoint is gaining popularity.

The Hunger Games, Divergent, some of the New Adult (think 30s) novels use first person.Human Sister

So, I was intrigued how I would respond when I realized that my selection, Human Sister by Jim Bainbridge was written in the first person point of view.

I found Human Sister through Bookbub, which offers free or discounted EBooks. What hooked me was subject matter and an interesting blurb. Then, I went to Amazon and the reviews were very positive, even mentioning a Hugo possibility. So, when it was offered free, I downloaded it and put it on my to-read list.

One of the frustrations that I’m finding with self-published authors is that they don’t know the bread and butter aspects of producing a book.

Take formatting. (Please do) For a paperback, the title page should appear on an odd page in the front matter. The copyright information on the even page after it. Most chapters should start on an odd page, although a few start on even nowadays to save paper. Notice the first sentence after a chapter heading is not indented…and so forth. There are guidelines that the reader subconsciously is familiar with and comfortably follows, and the Indie author should be aware of them, whether Ebook or paperback. If you are an Indie author, you need to study several ebook  and paperbacks to understand how to construct your book.

Both are different..

So it was refreshing when Jim Bainbridge presented a format that showed the proper form. With no typos or grammar mistakes I noticed, I was soon knee deep in a compelling story.

The story begins on an airplane where the main character, Sara, starts chatting with the man sitting next to her. He turns out to be an FBI agent who proceeds to take her into custody to interrogate her about her parents activities.

The interrogation turns vicious for the young girl. Sara lives in a near future society that has outlawed artificial intelligence. Sara’s grandfather is a forerunner in the field and her parents have created a sentient group of androids led by “First Brother” who has awareness but little caring emotion. Sara tries to elicit emotion in this first series of androids but fails.the brain

To fix this lack, Sara’s grandfather secretly, in their Napa Valley Estate, creates a biodroid from Sara’s own nerve cells and devises a means that “Michael,” the biodroid,and Sara can physically connect into each other’s thoughts and emotions.

Sara then tells the story of growing up in secrecy, hiding from the government the existence of Michael as she tries to train him to become human. Alternating chapters appear in the viewpoint of First Brother as he enters the tale.

Sara is an innocent used by her grandparents whom she loves, and daughter to emotionally cold parents who are part of a robot rebellion. As the United States and China try to hunt down and destroy the robots, the parents and their creations escape to Canada and then to Mars, leaving Sara to get caught in the crossfire with devastating results.

Human Sister is a thought-provoking tale on the dangers of artificial intelligence, and how one young girl grows up with and loves what is not quite human.

This theme of robots is a popular one and Jim Brainbridge provides a story that will cause you to think about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, ebook science fiction, Hunger Games, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, science fiction

An Argument for Self-Publishing

IMG_0174Two years ago I wrote an article for Morgen (‘with an e’) Bailey explaining why I turned to self-publishing. Morgen has a robust series of websites for the writer, http://www.novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com being the one for book authors. She lives in the United Kingdom and it’s fun to check in on what’s going on at her many websites

Now three years later after deciding to self-publish, I did an evaluation. While I’m not yet paying the monthly mortgage with royalties, I do have my books being read in France, Australia, England, Canada, not to mention the United States, and around the world. Not a month has gone by that I haven’t made something in royalties. Money is always in the “mailbox.” That’s exciting. Manuscripts that moldered in a draw for many years earning nothing now have bright covers and exciting stories within them and line my office shelf.

Total so far–six with one on the way.

It’s been hard work. I struggle every day over perfecting my grammar (and I have a Master’s degree in English and taught high school English) and trying to figure out how to market. That has been the biggest challenge. The English language is full of quirks and odd rules whereas marketing is even more difficult. I am not one who likes to tout my books, even though I am very proud of them. I have no idea what to tweet about or put on Facebook, but I love to talk about interesting science fiction and enjoy writing this blog.

My mind is challenged constantly, and this tech idiot is on a steep learning curve concerning formatting, downloading, social media, and general computer skills. But, I am learning and feeling a certain sense of accomplishment. I have made many new friends and acquaintances that I value within the book world over Linked-in, twitter, email and face to face.

I maintain complete control over the story, the cover, the pricing, the marketing, the deadlines and my career. If I need help, I now know where to go. Toni Boudreault is a professional graphic designer and knows that business. Not only is she competent, but a pleasure to work with and I love the covers she does. I have hired several professional editors at reasonable prices while the Beaverton Evening Writing Group offers excellent suggestions on a biweekly basis as to how to improve each submitted chapter.

So, I’d do it again. And here’s the reasons that prompted me to self-publish in the first place and the article that explained my decision.

Should I Self-Publish?

So you’re thinking about self-publishing? Right? You just read that list of those authors who have made more than a million sales at Amazon.

You know that most likely it won’t be you…but why put up obstacles? Who really knows? I would settle for just a nice living from my writing. I would love to do what I am passionate about and have fun every day…well almost every day.

Still, you run into them, you know, the writers who angst about not getting a response from their 200 query letters and can’t imagine not formatting and sending in a killer synopsis, and first three chapters all doubled spaced in Times Roman font. All following big publishing rules for submission. And then waiting forever.

Or, the person who mumbles, “Oh you’re self-published? I heard that authors that self-publish write terrible books.” …as if they had statistics and accurate knowledge that would validate such a conclusion. As if there has never been any poorly written books put out by legacy publishers.

As if.

Millions of readers say otherwise. Millions of readers are reading ebooks and ordering paperbacks. I doubt they check who is publishing the book they read. Does a publisher’s name influence your choice? Is that how books are bought? I don’t think so.

You’ve heard the naysayers who cling to the old ways like a drowning man onto a plank of wood in a tossing storm.

So why should you self publish?

1.  Times are tight and publishers are even tighter. It’s getting hard to get in with any fiction unless you’re Amanda Hockings with a million books sold already and a fan base, or Steve Jobs, and he’s dead. Reality check time. Big publishing houses have missed the boat sometimes on figuring out blockbuster hits. Scholastic picked up Harry Potter, for crying out loud, after twelve publishing houses turned it down.

2.  You’ve tried for ten years to publish and you know you have a book that people will like. Get it out there. Let the readers decide rather than a few gatekeepers who often choose at a given moment, and then never reconsider their decision. No second chances in that game. And the rejection may be not because it wasn’t good, but just because they accepted a similar one last week and that slot is now filled.

3.  People ask me if I’m making money. I answer, “More than gathering dust on the shelf. That made me $0.” What have you got to lose? Just be wary of the scams. Yes, another blog for another day, but so far all revenues have covered any expenses. So it can be done, but it does take work.

4.  Maybe you are retired, currently unemployed, or have time on your hands. Or have room for a part-time side job. I worked full time for years and wrote on the side. Then, they closed down the art gallery where I worked and the economy turned terrible. Finding a new job where I wanted to work wasn’t easy. Okay, I was picky. Now, instead of depression and feeling useless, I’m learning exciting new skills and getting paid for the experience. My life has purpose and I’m having fun. There is a psychological side to it—a sense of purpose…a sense of accomplishment.

5.  You are your own boss and set your own schedule. You decide on the cover, what your write, how you price it and no one else tells you what to do.  I don’t have big gas bills and I have a short commute. No stop lights. Plenty of coffee in the morning.

6.  You have exciting conversations at parties about your book and you give speeches and show what you have written. Long lost college roommates e-mail you and tell you how much they liked your work. You amaze your mother who is astounded that her own child has written a novel, or two, or more.

7.  You love to write and your dream is to see you book in hand. Now. Facts: It takes a long time to get published. It took eighteen months to get Baen books to ask for my entire manuscript after countless other queries to other publishers, and then a year after that they said, “No thanks.” I wasted two years because they said, “No simultaneous submissions.” They make up all these rules and like sheep, wannabe authors follow them afraid to rock the boat or ruin their chances.

Even if you were accepted right this second, acceptance in hand today, it takes a year or more to hit the shelf. Most likely two. Will those shelves be there in two years?

7.  What is everyone getting for Christmas? Most likely a Kindle Fire, an Ipad2, a Nook, or an iPhone. Why am I a self- published, Indie author? It just makes sense for me in my place and at this time. Why not? Why wait any longer?

8.  And if you are successful, didn’t a big publishing house offer Amanda Hockings an amazing contract? You can put both oars in the water if you want. You can do both and no one will arrest you. Ask Dean Wesley Smith about that. It isn’t an “either, or” situation.

9.  If you’re smart about it, you have nothing to lose. Hey! Don’t these babies look great and fun to read? (check out my right panel) Why don’t you try one? An ebook is $2.99-$3.99. Less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks.

10. Think about it.

Find my books at http://Amazon.com/author/sheronmccartha.  Also at Smashwords multiplatform formats, Kindle, in paperback at Amazon.

Caught In Time or Cosmic Entanglement are good starts, but all have stand alone stories in the Alysian Universe.

Check out http://www.AlysianUniverse.com for further information on my books and the world of Alysia, including map, character listings and dictionary.

Some small publishers are springing up to help the new author and are worth looking into if you need a helping hand, but be careful of the many scams out there. Editors and Predators is a website that highlights those to watch out for.

If you decide to self-publish, I welcome you to a whole new experience.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Indie authors, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing, social media

Debut Author in Fantasy Noir: Joe Abercrombie

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Being recognized as an emerging author can be tough nowadays. Although the powerhouse publishing houses are said to be having a rough go, I still feel they have a powerful advantage when it comes to marketing their stable of authors.

They know how the system works.

Many newbie Indie authors don’t or are intimidated by it. (Finger points to me)

Getting reviews is key for authors because often readers check out what others think about a book in order to decide whether they want to buy it or not. Knowing this, I still shy away from leaving reviews on Amazon and suffer guilt pangs later knowing how important it is for authors. I promise to do better.

Big publishing Houses, such as Tor and Baen, have contacts into channels for various important awards and distribution catalogs. They have an extensive network built up over many years of being in the business. They know that libraries and bookstores across the country rely on certain catalogs to pick out their next offerings and make sure their authors are represented.

Someone who is doing a wonderful job helping Indie authors understand the myths and realities of self publishing is Dean Wesley Smith. He pops ten myths of publishing writers believe.

See his blog: http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=12014 The most recent blog talks about the myth of how only big name published books get into the bookstores and outlines how self publishers or Indie authors can put their books on bookstore shelves too.

It’s easy, and it isn’t.

If you want to.

For me to opt in to Amazon’s extended distribution, I would have to price myself almost too high for an unknown beginning author. With my 400-500 page books, the question for me is will I make more selling a few in bookstores or more selling a lot at a lesser price on Amazon?

Wide distribution is great if you’re going to sell, but not so great if no one knows you’re huddled on some back corner of a bookstore shelf and priced too high, leaving no margin for royalties–that is if you even get the attention of the buyer to be put there in the first place.

Being in the catalog is not the same as being in the bookstore. Only the buyers put you on the shelf.

And I’ve sat on Smashwords website with three books because someone argued that the concept of wider distribution means more sales…and I’ve sold very little there. I’m trying to find out where my readers are and target that area.

The Blade Itself2This week, I selected a debut novel to read and review to help push along a promising author. Joe Abercrombie’s trilogy: First Law is worth a look. The Blade Itself is the first of the trilogy and was published by Pyr. Pyr is a science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometeus Books with a few surprising authors such as: Kay Kenyon, Ian MacDonald, Kristine Katherine Rusch, Mike Resnick and others.  Interestingly, the Blade Itself was published in 2007 and is now gaining momentum. So writing can be a long tail business that with patience could eventually pay off.

But I’ve mentioned that before. (Mantra)

This trilogy came to my attention by word of mouth and a hazy recollection of having seen it on an Amazon recommended list. They say you have to see a product name several times before you are prompted to buy. So when expert writer D. Wallace Peach extolled the book as the best writing she’s ever read, I had to check it out.

Fantasy Noir. Not really my wheelhouse, but then…

For me this is a new sub genre term. Think George R. R. Martin. The four major characters are: Sand Glotka, an imperial inquisitor crippled in an enemy prison camp and now giving back his own; Captain Jezel Luthar, an egotistical and shallow rich high society soldier of the king’s guard; Bayaz, a balding heavyset wizard that everyone considers a sham, until he does a few amazing things; Major Collem West, a stout-hearted commoner who fears he will turn into the brute his father was, but hard work and intelligence enables him to rise high in the Adua military and Logan Ninefingers, an ugly battle-scarred barbarian from the North who turns into a killing machine if pushed too far.

Everyone has a flaw, and everyone has a strength.

If you can get past the first several chapters where Glotka is torturing confessions out of fat and wealthy merchants because the head inquisitor or prime minister wants their business and family destroyed, then you should like the rest.

Somehow Abercrombie makes this motley collection of characters endearing as each struggles with the corruption and conflict around them. The insufferable soldier falls madly in love with Major West’s sister as he faces an important, possibly deadly, dueling match. The sister, Ardee West, is witty, charming, but drinks too much and has been abused by her father. After their father’s death, she seeks protection with her brother, Major West, of the high standards until he finds his sister slipping around with his friend Captain Jezel of the loose morals. To his horror, West discovers that he has become his father when in a fit of temper he hits Ardee.

Gradually, as each story is told, the group comes together, at odds with each other, but coerced by Bayaz to form a company to travel on a quest to the end of the world.

If you like fantasy with crunch and chew…interesting characters and the wild humor within their wretched condition, then you’ll love this series

And don’t forget we authors need your reviews if you like our books. Pass it along so others can enjoy what you like. Don’t be shy.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, fantasy, fantasy series, Indie authors, magic, Marketing and selling novels, Noir Fantasy, Uncategorized, Wizards and magic

Science Fiction Gender Bending

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Him, her, IT!

In science fiction you can have both in the same body or alternating genders. Ask Northwest author Ursula LeGuinn or read her classic, The Left Hand of Darkness. In her novel, gender fluctuates due to monthly cycles called kemmer.Left Hand of Darkness

Currently in my work in progress, I have an angel like alien that is androgynous. There is a bit of a question about the gender, and the reaction in the humans over the uncertainty. The Enjelise can shift genders, but for most humans they remain genderless as there are only three now left on the planet. But, oh, the one still left is powerful. For me, it makes for an interesting character in my story. And fun to play with.

However, in Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie, gender goes through the wringer. Told in the first person narrative, the reader is informed that the speaker can’t recognize gender.

“Frozen, bloodied and bruised as she was, I knew her. She was Sievarden Vendaai, and a long time ago, she had been one of my officers, a young lieutenant, eventually promoted to her own command, her own ship. I had thought her a thousand years dead, but she was, undeniably, here.”

Ancillary JusticeAre you getting an image of this character in the snow? Tell me what it is. As a reader we fight to visualize the story in progress, to engage our imagination. But this character is face down in the snow with very little details given, and those at best are confusing.

And intriguing. You did see the thousand years dead part too?

And the narrator saying the person was one of his/her/its officers? What are you visualizing? Can you?

Then, as the narrator goes in a bar to get help for the injured human, rent a sled, get correctives that help heal…it explains, “I wasn’t a person, I was a piece of equipment, a part of the ship.”

Oh…Scramble, scramble. The reader is trying to get a visualization of the narrator now and with not much detail. We know the narrator has a human body at this point because of the reaction from the bar’s customers, thinking it’s a conquering Radchaai citizen, whom they hate. But…these characters are not fitting into the neat little boxes we are so used to. The narrator tries to explain while in the bar getting help.

“My own language doesn’t mark gender in any way. This language we were now speaking did, and I could make trouble for myself if I used the wrong forms.”Ancillary Sword

Okay, reader…you have been warned! Get ready for trouble…for you. But, I blithely read on, not realizing what I waded into.

The narrator admits near the end of the first chapter, “I knew Sievarden was male–that one was easy.”

No it isn’t! This little aside is surrounded by action, she referents, dialog and slipped right past me.

Then, “Nineteen years pretending to be human hadn’t taught me as much as I’d thought.”

Great! My narrator is not human, but a piece of ship equipment pretending to be human, has gender recognition problems and hints that a thousand years is nothing to it. I’m squinting trying to get a read on this person/once officer that my narrator has decided to save, nevermind the narrator himself/herself/itself.

 Chapter two explains what my narrator was originally. It was a ship…a troop carrier, the Justice of Torens, a two thousand year old troop carrier that nineteen years ago (give or take) had ancillaries connected to the A1 that ran the ship. A networked mind troop carrier aware of every muscle twitch and breath of its ancillaries. Awesome. A multi mind artificial A1.

Ancillaries?

Read on, oh reader. Ancillaries are humans from subjugated or “annexed” worlds defrosted at need, implanted with slave minds and used as soldiers for the conquering Radchaai who are led by a thousand bodied leader, Anaander Miandaai (me and Ai?) whose mind is networked among her/his cloned self.

The DispossessedDizzy yet? Keep going.

The second story line develops in Chapter two. The narrator goes back twenty years where it is now a twenty ancillary unit from Justice of Torens One Esk (Esk is a ship level of soldiers) that are dispatched with human Esk Decade Lieutenant Awn to complete the annexation of the world of Ors. There you get a full description of the subjugated world. Lots of jungle. A head priest. Yada, yada. Stolen weapons. Oops.

Now the author gets to mess with your mind even more because One Esk only uses female pronouns and you’re digging hard to figure out Lieutenant Awn’s gender. Gradually, you notice how deeply One Esk is devoted to Awn and admires the lieutenant even when there’s an affair with Lieutenant Skaait, another officer of a higher social rank and a free thinker. (stay tuned for him/her later) But which one is male; which one female? I need to visualize using the shortcut of gender with the subtext that goes along, and I’m not getting it. You’re forced to study behavioral clues. And not finding much.

Or being deliberately mislead.

Unfortunately, a main character (Remember Sievarden Vendaai from the snowbank?) that we know is male acts like a female at times, but with the constant use of the feminine gender when the narrator talks about Sievarden, I keep falling into a female box as I try to visualize this character. I still haven’t figured out what my narrator is now as far as gender. (Except maybe a toaster in human form)

Then, the reader meets the leader of this vast star flung empire of Radchaai who reveals that he/she/ it is battling with its many selves (over a thousand) for  power. And keeping secrets from her/his other selves and covertly dabbling with The Justice of Toren’s programming.

Our narrator. Oh dear.

How far can you push an A1 embedded into a human body, and influenced by human emotion until it does something unexpected? Like murder. Can a machine love more than a human? Feel as deeply as a human? Override its programming?

An act of betrayal destroys the ship and One Esk becomes splintered off from all components, surviving under the name Breq. One Esk, former ship, now named Breq tries to act human and more, plots to destroy the multi bodied leader and bring down the far flung Radchaai Empire by itself by recovering a hidden and dangerous weapon.

Already being suggested for a Nebula, this novel is challenging, convoluted. You’ll love it, hate it or think about it too much and the messages it sends on what it means to be human and gendered.

Sometimes being an author can be fun when we create unusual thought provoking societies, their worlds and the interesting characters that live in them.

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