Ancillary Sword and Exciting Science Fiction News

Image 1At this very moment, Cosmic Entanglement is #1 in Amazon’s Kindle eBooks> science fiction & fantasy>science fiction> space opera and #2 Kindle eBooks>science fiction and fantasy> alien invasion.
I say “at this very moment” because these kinds of things tend to be fleeting.

But still gratifying for all the hard work involved.

My heartfelt thanks to enthusiastic science fiction fans that have read my books, and especially to those who have left great reviews. Such is the lifeblood of an author. bk8_cover_print

More exciting news is that the proof for Time’s Equation is on its way, which means by the end of November the latest book in the series will be published. Here’s a short summary:

“Tempest Steele vows not to fall  again for the charms of Kayse Telluria, but when a murder occurs, and he is a prime suspect, he  jumps through a time gate in an attempt to track down the culprits.

Not thinking of consequences, she follows him to find a disturbing future and creates even more problems. But a math equation may be the answer, if only they can solve it and set the future back on the right course.

It won’t be as easy as it sounds.”

With all this happening, I did manage to read Ancillary Sword this past week. I have decided that if I start a series, there’s no problem in reading books in the rest of the series. I wanted to read a popular science fiction novel. This got nominated for the Hugo for best novel in 2015.

2015 Hugo Awards

Presented at: Sasquan, Spokane, Washington, USA, August 22, 2015
Hosts: David Gerrold and Tananarive Due
Base design: Matthew Dockrey
Awards Administration: John Lorentz, Ruth Sachter, Linda Deneroff, Ron Oakes, Dave McCarty, and Glenn Glazer
Best Novel (5653 final ballots, 1827 nominating ballots, 587 entries, range 212-387)
The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books): winner
▪ The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Sarah Monette) (Tor Books)
Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)
▪ No Award
▪ Skin Game, Jim Butcher (Orbit UK/Roc Books)
▪ The Dark Between the Stars, Kevin J. Anderson (Tor Books)

Ancillary SwordI really enjoyed it, but be aware that Ann Leckie uses the feminine pronoun in all cases and it can be annoying trying to decide whether the current “she” being discussed is feminine or masculine.

Having said that, it’s really cool that the viewpoint character named, Fleet Captain Breq Mianaai is a soldier who used to be a warship.

As the warship Justice of Toren, Breq controlled thousands of minds, but even though in one body now, she can access her crew while carrying on conversations on station and also monitoring events down planet. Even better, she carries on dialogue with her current ship Mercy of Kalr, and Athoek Station revealing that ship and station AIs have emotions…and strategies for getting what they want.

Anne Leckie plays with the idea of human emotion affecting machine intelligence and the relationships of humans with self-aware AIs.

Breq is sent by the multi-bodied emperor, currently at war with herself, to the only place she would agree to go and finds that Athoek Station and the adjoining planet are morally corrupt. Bodies from conquered races are being put in cryo chambers and sold into slavery for a profit, even though forbidden. Straightening the mess out impacts Athoek’s strongly ingrained culture and proves not to be easy.Ancillary Justice

The first in this series: Ancillary Justice was nominated for every major science fiction award in 2014 (won the Arthur Clarke, Nebula, British Science Fiction and was short listed for the Hugo)

See my 2014 blog for more details.

You might want to also enjoy Ancillary Sword, the follow up, and look for the next in the series.

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Marketing Day: Considerations of an Author

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As I have embraced the use of ads to boost my book exposure, I have subscribed to various free and discounted book websites. Robin Reads, Booksends, Freebooksy, Sweetfree Books, etc. Some I have abandoned, disappointed by the offerings, while some I have continued to use, delighted at the bargains I find. With the flood of books out there, curation is desperately needed in order to find the right books that will dazzle you, and yet be affordable.

Currently, I’m scheduled on Booksends for Cosmic Entanglement November 14 and it will be offered free November 14 thru 16 on Amazon through their KDP Select program. So mark your calendar. Think Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy meets Ender’s Game.cosmic_ent_cover_kindle copy


While this is the third in the Alysian Series, with time travel, you can start here. Book one begins close to this time and jumps into the past with time traveling clone, Rowyna Gray. Cosmic Entanglements starts at the same point, but moves forward with the birth of Richard and Braden Steele and their childhood. So either can serve as a starting book.

What I noticed in the science fiction genre is the trend toward shorter fiction for a first book to tantalize the reader into a series. This first book is offered free or at a low price. Then later, these first few shorter novels get bound together into a book set or compiled together into one larger book that is then marketed at a higher price.

time-jumper-kindle-finalUsing this idea, I stirred the marketing pot even more. I have just published Call Me Time Jumper, a short novella (56 pages),  about a twelve year old boy who tumbles through time, visiting people and places in each of my books. It’s a delightful romp through the Alysian Universe complete with drama, fast-paced action, humor and love.

Here”s a sample of the beginning of chapter one:

“His mother’s name was Tempest Steele Telluria. Yes, Steele. She was the daughter of Richard Steele, Time Master, who ran the Timelab for ages until he shut it down–out of fear.

And his father was Kayse Telluria. Yes, Telluria, that infamous genetic line of temporal Talents. Kayse had proven that clones could reproduce. And when your father was the clone of the notorious Arwoyn Telluria, ex-king, genetic experimenter, time traveler, and overall fate manipulator, well, everyone watched him–especially Trace Walker, Director of I.N.Sys., protectorate for the Democratic Union. They all gazed at him from the moment he was born as if he were some bomb ready to explode.

So, he didn’t disappoint.”

Just published yesterday. Brand new. A short sweet read.

Better WorldSince I’m currently writing about a generation ship desperately lost out in the Milky Way, I have been selecting spaceship stories to read to see how others write about the experience. One I selected from Freebooksy that I would recommend is Better World by Autumn Kalquist (154 pages)

The story is about Mauve who is a metal worker toiling in the blistering sub levels of a three hundred year old Ark ship named London. All over the ship parts are breaking down, resources failing. A hierarchy is well defined within the ship that invites abuse throughout the levels.

The destination planet, however, is in view and Mauve is among the first to land on the toxic planet with the expectation that all in the first landing party will die.

The story has a lot of interaction and tension within the various relationships on board. While giving the story drama, a few times, I thought the emotions excessive. However, I found the story overall enjoyable and if you’re looking for a story involving life on a starship, you might like this.

bk8_cover_printFinally, before Thanksgiving, my most recent book, Time’s Equation will be published and available on Amazon. This is a full length novel (420 pages) that involves Tempest and Kayse in a murder. The murder, however, is not your ordinary murder, but possibly time travelers from the future visiting the present to change their current timeline. A mathematical equation is discovered that can predict the future and even be used to manipulate time itself. Chock full of action and romance, don’t miss this time travel special.

Holidays are approaching. I wish you joy in your holiday experience, but don’t forget to find time to enjoy a good read among the hectic activities .

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An Author’s Life

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I’m coming down the home stretch.

The latest book in the Alysian Series is gathering momentum as the publication date comes in sight. Toni Boudreault, my cover designer, just sent over the cover for me to approve.

What did I consider important in the cover design?
First, I wanted to use the same font as I used on the others in the series to tie them together.

Second, I wanted a title short enough to fit comfortably on the cover, while indicating the theme of the book. I wanted the letters big enough to be able to read in a thumbnail.

A central theme in the story involves an equation that not only predicts, but can manipulate the future. It took a long time and several working titles to finally settle on Time’s Equation as the final choice.

Next I wanted the background to show interesting equations, but I didn’t want the cover to look like a math book. Several of my immediate readers don’t like people on the cover. They prefer to imagine what the characters look like. For science fiction, about half have people and half have images of ships, worlds, planets, etc. So some of mine do, but most don’t show faces on the cover.

But this story is about time travel along with the development of a romantic relationship. Consequently, we settled on hands reaching out to touch through a swirling timegate. The story contains both mathematical science and romance.

I chose the blue background because it’s cooler and contrasts against the warmer tones of the hands.

There’s also aliens, androids, clones, cyborgs, nano viruses, you know… the usual.

That’s my process for working with Toni to get a cover. I’m lucky that she listens to my ideas and then goes off to make magic. Towards the end, she is patient with my many tweaks and suggestions because we both know how important a cover is for attracting readers.bk8_cover_proo4

Also happening is the incoming comments from Beta readers. One of the things that I work hard on is to get the writing right. Through a writing critique group and then Beta readers, I’m able to polish the writing. It isn’t easy and takes months of hard work.

Occasionally, I hire a professional editor, but they can be very expensive and sometimes not worth the price.

I format as I go so I can estimate the length of chapters and start most chapters on the right side page. Often I add or delete sentences during writing to keep the formatting professional.

Finally, I have scheduled Cosmic Entanglement for a free run on KDP Select from November 13 through November 16 to set up some buzz on the series.

I apologize that I’m not an avid social networker. My life isn’t chock full of excitement (thank goodness) because most of my time is involved in writing or editing.

And currently, a wedding.
My daughter is getting married in February, and that’s taking up a bit of time and will accelerate as the wedding approaches.

My recommendation for this week is to read Caught in Time as a start to Cosmic Entanglement…although I’ll tell you a secret.

Cosmic Entanglement works very well as a first book. You can do that with time travel. Both Caught in Time and Cosmic Entanglement start around the same time. One just goes back in time while the other goes on to normal time events.

Here I have given you a sneak peak into an author’s life this week, and now I have to go do some more writing and editing. See you next week with a new recommendation for science fiction or fantasy.pumpkin

Powell's books

ps. Here’s photo of Robin Hobb’s signing at Powell’s.          HAPPY HALLOWEEN




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Book Trailers


No, not the kind you live in…the kind that keep popping up on a blog, Facebook or Utube.

We’re not anything if we’re not a media generation.
And the media is currently appearing all over mobile devices.

Recently two writers in my group put together their own trailers to promote their books.

Ted Blasche’s The Rust Bucket Chronicles has a trailer link in his e-mail signature.

Using Animoto, Clayton Callahan whipped together this trailer for an anthology, Five Elements, in which I’d contributed a fun story called, “Peace Treaty.” (See right panel) He posted the trailer on Facebook. I’ve noticed this year a lot of short videos are being posted on my Facebook.

Then I was on TOR’s blog. TOR has been using trailers for a while to announce new shows and new books. I recently saw they had a trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes series I have been waiting for, so I eagerly tapped on the link. Are you eagerly waiting also?

So trailers are easy to make (Clayton did so), cheap, and popular on several platforms. Add interest to your blog, Facebook, e-mail, or Twitter. Send a trailer out to enthusiastic fans.
It’s another arrow in your marketing quiver.

Liars KeyThis week I read Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence. I’m into several series, and this is second in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen Series. The first in the series is the Prince of Fools.Prince of Fools

Very much like the book I’m currently writing, Worlds Too Far, it’s in the same universe as a previous series, the Broken Empire, but has totally different characters at another part of the world and is considered a separate series. The Dead King is mentioned several times and the main character, Jalan, comments in a conversation on his cousin, Jorg of Ancrath, as a blood thirsty king. (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns,)King of Thorns

Liar’s Key is a buddy adventure that continues the story of Jalan, Prince of Red March, a self-centered scoundrel, who only wants to return to the palace and resume his hedonistic lifestyle. He has no desire for kingship or power, but prefers women, wine and leisure rather than his current position of poverty and the cold North. He rationalizes his cowardly deeds, which ironically often end up appearing heroic by happenstance. Preventing him from returning to the palace is his Viking companion and big-hearted Snorri Snaggonson. (yes that’s his name) Snorri has somehow finagled Loki’s key that opens all doors in hopes of opening the door to death and retrieving his family. Jalan has been magically tied to Snorri by a powerful mage, the Silent Sister, his aunt, consequently where Snorri goes, so goes Jalan.

Of course Loki is the trickster god who created the key, so nothing happens in a straight forward way. Many powerful beings covet the key and try all manner of means to possess it.

Prince of thornsI laughed at and loved this adventure. Mark Lawrence wrote Jalan perfectly as the rogue who unwittingly does good, and towards the end actually makes a few sacrifices. Snorri is the perfect foil, full of valor, loyalty and everything heroic who constantly drags the band toward danger and death, putting them in impossible situations. Often in an attempt to bed a woman or run away, Jalan unwittingly saves the day.

Guiding the group through the power of his key, the reader never knows what the trickster god Loki will cause to happen next. That surprise along with the character of Jalan kept me laughing and interested in this fun adventure. Lawrence’s writing is so fluid the reader becomes immersed in the story and the crazy adventures of the foolish Jalan.

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Clones in Science Fiction

photoIf you’re a writer and you haven’t seen this link yet, you should. It takes a look at the current trend for author dollars, showing with hard data that traditional publisher ebook sales are declining while self-publishing and small publishers are increasing. Even more interesting is where the data comes from and how sometimes the media gets it wrong.

If you like colorful graphs, lots of numbers, and care about the money flow for authors, check it out.

Another link I want to mention is to an article on nano advances at the molecular level. This is current hard science, that I consider back up data, which says nanobots in the bloodstream that can target viruses or cancers is a total possibility for the future.

And since I’m currently writing about this as a medical approach, I wanted to mention it. Sometimes while I’m writing, real life jumps out and highlights what I’m writing. It happened with the meteor striking Russia practically to the day I wrote the beginning of Touching Crystal.

A bit scary.

No one has created a time gate, but as I pointed out in a previous blog, I have had dinner next to a physicist who is working on time reversal at the sub atomic level.

And…recently, Kurzweil’s newsletter came out with an article on creating wormholes. I think I’ll suggest a wormhole that lets my lost fleet jump several light years across the universe. However, I’m not the only science fiction writer to do this. It’s been used often enough in fiction that it seems it should be a forgone conclusion by now.

women-clonesI’m also writing about clones. Or will be again. The main character in my very first book, Caught in Time, Rowyna, is a clone. Did you notice the name Rowyna is a rearrangement of Arwoyn? Then, my novel Someone’s Clone also tells the story from a clone’s perspective.

I found there aren’t many books that use this viewpoint. The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe comes to mind as a favorite, and recently on a must read list was Pamela Sergeant’s Cloned Lives. I attempted to read two others books on clones, but because of various flaws in the books, I abandoned them.Fifth Head of Cerberus

I am reviewing Sargent’s book because it follows the lives of the main character’s five clones in an effort to show how environment affects personality and how different aspects of Paul Swenson’s personality emerge differently in each clone. Sargent also addresses the prejudice that society might harbor towards such an act, asking the question of how far should government let science progress when it could threaten society.

While all this was interesting, the part I enjoyed most was Sargent’s portrayal of the world of 2000 to 2037 because I could compare reality with her fiction. Published in 1976, Sargent sees the world of 2000 with automatic highways. The book drags, however as she goes into too much detail about why things are the way they are, almost delighting in her predictions.

She has high speed trains, which the government subsidizes, competing with airlines While airplane travel supposedly is more economical and efficient, Paul and his traveling companion wait an hour due to a mechanical breakdown in the airline’s luggage conveyor. Then the train from the airport is halted because of a riot by a group who claims the end of the world is near and clogs the track.

Such are her pointed comments on the far future, now our present.

Cloned LivesIn Cloned Lives, a moratorium on genetic research, legislated in 1980, has recently expired. Paul’s best friend, Hidey Takamura, is a genetic scientist who moves swiftly to make his mark at the university where both men work by convincing Paul he should be cloned. When a nosy reporter discovers the clones, all hell breaks loose and Paul and the new clones are hounded by the media. Government quickly slaps on another moratorium, and Paul hires a couple to raise the five kids.

The book leaps to 2016 and Paul is offered a research position on the moon where scientists have established a presence. Also mentioned are microfiche readers taking over physical books. That part she was close to the mark; the colonization of the moon, not at all.

The clones are sixteen years old now and painfully teenage. Unexpectedly, Paul is involved in a crash on the moon and the clones are informed that he has died. For the next five sections of the book, Sargent takes a point of view of each clone, analyzing similarities and differences of personality as their lives progress. Here is where the book breaks down into too much internal dialogue of teenage and young adult angst. Each clone has difficulty making social connections, and after a while, I got tired of the whining.

As the book winds up to a surprising ending, the clones eventually get married, find new relationships, and embark on their separate tortured lives.

I struggled to finish, but Pamela Sargent is a well-respected author and the subject matter was interesting. The storyline is strong, but Sargent bogs down in too much internal emotion and characters who should have been so much more than they were portrayed.

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A Self Publisher Markets and John Scalzi’s latest

IMG_0193This self publishing gig isn’t as easy as it’s cracked up to be.

“Tell me something I don’t know,” you mutter.

There is a world out there willing to give advice, but how good is that advice for your situation?
Who knows?

I can only tell you what works for me…and what doesn’t.

With some success last month, I once again threw myself into the marketing fray. Since I had extra funds in the marketing budget, I decided to advertise two places during my KDP Select free book week.

Robin Reads has been getting buzz lately as an upcoming site still reasonably priced. For $20, I got the number one spot. That was sweet. My criticism of Robin Reads as a reader is that I haven’t figured out how to select out the genres I prefer, so every day I get a list of all types of books which is a pain to page through. I’m not into steamy romances or zombie thrillers…but many readers are.

However, as an author and advertiser, I received fourteen hundred downloads in one day (9/19) for my anchor book, Caught in Time. Not great, but better than I expected for the price. Now usually, a program like that is immediately followed by retail sales of other books in the series.


Added to Robin Reads, I spent $70 at Freebooksy for one day (9/21) where I have had great success, so I was rubbing my hands together in excited anticipation. I got almost a thousand downloads that day. So, over two thousand plus free downloads.

Retail sales? Crickets.

April Aasheim author of The Witches of Dark Root,  reports good luck advertising on Facebook. I’ve been reluctant to try. Anyone having good luck with that?

Meanwhile, The Fussy Librarian sent this out in their newsletter. I thought it interesting. It talks about an article that claims paperback sales are picking up and Ebook sales diminishing.

Seriously? I find that hard to believe. My sales are mostly in EBooks, although paperbacks are readily available.

The End of All Things2This week I’m suggesting a favorite author. John Scalzi is deeply entrenched in traditional publishing in many forms: hardback, paperback, iBook, audio, short story serials etc. He recently came to Powell’s again to promote his new book The End of All Things.

Now there’s a catchy title. It’s available in hardback for $24.99…thank you, big publisher (TOR)…or free at the local library, no taint involved in the free price.

This science fiction soap opera takes place in The Old Man’s Universe, meaning in the universe of his John Campbell Award winning book, Old Man’s War.

True to form, Scalzi does something different. Humans have expanded into space, only to find it populated with thousands of alien species. The Colonial Union formed to protect humans but kept Earth ignorant of aliens so as to provide colonists and soldiers by using consciousness of old people in repurposed bodies.Old Man's War

Many of the alien species threatened by these superhumans formed their own alliances called the Conclave.

Then Earth found out it was being used and got angry. It stopped providing experienced conscious minds and bodies. Without Earth to provide bodies for fighting, the Colonial Union found itself in trouble.

Unbeknownst to the Colonial Union, bitter infighting and politics now threatens to tear the Conclave apart.

The first story of the book is told by the sole survivor of an ambush on the ship the Chandler. A mysterious splinter group known as the Equilibrium has been secretly pitting the Conclave and the Colonial Union against each other. This secret third faction is made up of individuals from the different groups who plan to overthrow all other contenders. While all on The Chandler and any escape pods are ruthlessly killed, Rafe Daquin, recently hired as third pilot on the Chandler, is allowed a consciousness in order to pilot the ship, but he is separated from his body and reduced to operating as a brain in a box.

So your narrator for the first section is a brain in a box who tells the events of the attack and how he thwarts his enemies working without a body.

The Last ColonyThe second part of the book tells events from the point of view of Hafte Sorvalh, the second most powerful individual in the Conclave, or the advisor to Tarsem Gau, the Conclave leader. This story is political theater at its best and Scalzi is a master of clever dialogue. Subtle nuances of behavior by politicians during a Conclave Congress reveal that this powerful body of aliens has its own problems, and act more like humans than most imagine.

The third section brings in favorite character Harry Wilson from the other books in the series who thwarts an Equilibrium attack and interrogates one of their leaders in an attempt to unravel their plans. This section reads more as a spy thriller.

Scalzi admits to frantically trying to finish writing on time and missing deadlines as he travels around for signings and marketing. It makes the book choppy. You can imagine him writing a section, dusting off his hands and sending it in.


I enjoy Scalzi’s interesting science and clever dialogue. He makes reading science fiction both fun and enlightening…

And that’s the way it should be.

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Women of Fantasy


A startling insight came to me after reading a blog by Leona Henry. I did not realize the dominance men have had on the fantasy genre. I thought that problem lay more in science fiction.

Apparently not.

Supposedly J.K Rawlings was told to use her initials in order to hide her gender. I was curious why my fellow writer Diana Peach wrote under the name D. Wallace Peach. Now I understand better. Another example is Margaret Astrid Lindholm Ogden who skyrocketed into fame after taking on the gender neutral moniker Robin Hobb.2013-MAR-Robin-Hobb-209x300

When I surveyed my reading so far this year, my fantasy picks have been Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie, both male. Therefore I have added to this travesty…with some enjoyment I might note.

So when Robin Hobb came out with her new trilogy, The Fitz and the Fool , I jumped on the feminism train and grabbed her books. After all, we must unite to right a wrong.

Okay, so I was going to read them anyway because I loved her Farseer Series, and this continues the tale.

Assassin's FoolFool’s Assassin is the first in the series, and I recently discussed it in a previous blog. Now I’m reading Fool’s Quest, the second in The Fitz and the Fool Trilogy.

Last week Robin visited Powell’s in Beaverton for a signing. She lives locally in the Northwest and comes there at least once a year. (At least Peter said so, and he is Powell’s science fiction and fantasy expert and moderator)

I made an effort to go. The room used for signings was packed, standing room only. She answered a lot of questions from the audience on her writing, and of course, signed a lot of books.Fool's Quest

The Fool’s Quest continues the story of FitzChivalry Farseer, supposed bastard of the king’s brother, who is hiding out as Tom Badgerlock, having devised FitzChivalry’s death. In an attempt to save the Fool’s life, he returns to the palace with him and soon becomes swept up in court intrigue and distracted by the perilous health of the Fool. Believing his strange daughter under the protection of those at his manor home, he leaves her there while he administers to the Fool. With that brief inattention, she is kidnapped by a cult known to the Fool and taken to their island where she is regarded as the Shaysim. This is a rare being able to read the lines of the future. She is acclaimed the “Unexpected Son” by those who do not realize that she’s really a girl.

The first half of the story drags as FitzChivalry tries to please all at court while worrying about his daughter. He does a lot of handwringing and guilt trips, but doesn’t seem able to launch a rescue. There is lots of angst over the Fool, over the captured daughter, over his old mentor Chade, but no action. After a while, it gets frustrating. A few interesting twists and turns to the story add a richness, but FitzChivalry dallies overlong for my taste.

Meanwhile, Bee, the daughter, in order to save her life and that of her companion Shun, keeps the fiction going of her true gender

…maybe much the same as Robin Hobb did herself.


I am once again putting my first book of the Alysian Series, Caught in Time free from September 18 thru the 22nd thru KDP Select. I plan to advertise in Robin Reads on the 18th and Freebooksy on the 21. I’ll let you now how it turns out. Meanwhile, if you haven’t garnered Caught in Time yet…now’s the time.

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