Going to the Dark Side

IMG_0180Summer is a wonderful time of the year here in the Northwest. We have cooled off to high seventies in temperature, and other than gardening, I have time to read out on my shady deck under tall pines.

Lately, I have been restless, trying to find a good cutting-edge future science fiction tale. I dove into cyber punk with mixed results in Gibson’s The Peripheral and Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE. (See previous blog for further comments).

Since I have been advertising my books on different websites, also with mixed results, I decided to download a few free and discounted books from Freebooksy and Sweetfreebooks. In my several marketing campaigns, Freebooksy and more recently the Midlist have given me the best results. The vaunted Fussy Librarian and Book Gorilla have cost me money while delivering poor sales. Having said that, other authors claim good results from them. Once again, various factors of timing, cover, taste, and reader who just wanted a time travel book at that moment, come into play.

Post HumanSo I chose the Post Human Series by David Simpson, Mirrored Time J.D. Faulkner and Star Wanderers by Joe Vasice. Why? The Post Human series had far future humans with transhumanism where humans are using technology and science to evolve past being human. Also, there was a suggestion of inter-dimensional realities that intrigued me. I’ll admit that so far the story is chock full of future science and action. The writing flows well with few grammar or punctuation errors.

The early episodes, however, are short and choppy, skipping over large spans of time. All that I could deal with, and did, until I got snagged on the changing point of views. Rapidly switching point of view with no warning or break is a new writer’s curse, and often the writer isn’t aware of what he’s doing until it’s pointed out to him. In this case, three pov jumps in one paragraph, and I put the book down. I may pick it back up later because of the interesting ideas and technology.Mirrored Times

Sometimes I’m not strong of will and cross over to the dark side. When the temperature hit over ninety last week, I reached for chocolate Haagen Daas to cool off my mouth and make my taste buds dance.

What diet?

At the same time, I reached for a fantasy in the form of Mark Lawrence’s The King of Thorns sitting soKing of Thorns seductively on my reading table. I had read his Prince of Fools and liked it. The reviews said King of Thorns was even better. I would be traveling into the realm of dark fantasy and knew it.

Now, there is also a Prince of Thorns that you should read first, but like chocolate Hagen Daas, I didn’t mind not having another flavor at the moment and confused the earlier book with Prince of Fools.

King of Thorns is a can’t-put-down book. And that’s just what I wanted. The writing is gorgeous with gasping wit, heart-pounding action, and tear-filled emotion. A bit gritty, but bearable.

You continue the life of Jorge Ancrath who at age nine has vowed to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother, and punish his father for not doing so. Now at age eighteen, Prince of thornshe is King of Renar, having taken the land through slaughter and death from his evil uncle. Jorge is not a delicate lad. He’s on a mission to rule the world and doesn’t play by the rules.

The story begins outside his castle where he is surrounded by thousands of the Prince of Arrow’s men. Orrin Oildan, Prince of Arrow, also hungers to be Emperor and sweeps kingdoms into his hand as he marches victoriously across the land until he reaches Jorge’s rough castle. Unlike Jorge, who is beset by sorcerers at every turn and considered mean and ruthless, Orrin is the fair-haired ruler whom everyone calls great and good. Every sorcerer and witch prophesies the triumph of the Prince of Arrows for the Emperor’s throne until Jorge is weary of hearing it. But it doesn’t slow him down a whit.

The book jumps back and forth in time, starting with Jorg’s wedding day, and then returning four years into the past. There he travels with his band of disreputable friends across the land from one wild adventure to another. Adventure and wedding flip back and forth moving closer in time as the book progresses.

Clever, haunted, and powerful, Jorge has the touch of necromancy in his fingers and carries a dangerous box of memories everywhere he goes. Trying to save a young fire Mage, he also learns to play with fire.

There are also hints of science fiction within the fantasy-flavored tale when Jorge refers to “the Builders” who seem to be great men from Earth’s past. He meets a holograph who is a downloaded personality of a past scientist. The holograph tends a forgotten machine deep under Jorge’s maternal uncle’s castle. Along the way, Jorge also accumulates artifacts from the past that become important to his survival.

My only complaint with the story is that in two critical instances, the author uses my own tricky plot twist to escape an almost impossible situation. One I use in Caught in Time when the bandits try to rob and rape Rowyna, and the other in A Dangerous Talent for Time when Brand de Fyre Elitas, like Jorg Ancrath, faces overwhelming odds in a battle.

Not fair!

Mark Lawrence will be remembered for the plot twist over me, I’m sure. Just like, since July 15, another author has come out with the title Caught in Time. The second one came out last year, well after my publication. (Sound of moaning and hair-pulling)

Oh well, I liked it when I wrote it, and I liked it again in Mark Lawrence’s story. In fact, I liked his whole story a lot. It made the chocolate ice cream go down so cool and sweet, as I slipped over to the dark side.

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Locus Award Winners

photoThank you to all the readers who took advantage of my limited free offering of Someone’s Clone on July 5 through 9th. It rose to #1 on Kindle> free> science fiction> time travel and #1 on Kindle> free> science fiction >genetic engineering.

Quite the heady experience. I hope you are enjoying the story and explore other stories in the Alysian Universe. (See right panel for summaries)

Saturday, July 18th, I will be offering Caught in Time for a limited time at a bargain $.99. I am exploring various marketing plans. I will advertise on the Midlist so it should be interesting to see how well it does. Recently, a fellow author commented that Indie authors are hurting their sales by offering these special deals. I want to explore that idea in an upcoming blog.

What do you think?

And NOW…

The winners of the science fiction/fantasy Locus Awards have been announced. I was intrigued that many of the winners were books that I selected to comment and review in my blogs. Can I pick them, or what?

You can find my blog on Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie who won the 2014 Hugo, and now her follow up, Ancillary Sword wins the 2015 Locus for science fiction.Ancillary Justice

I also recently recommended The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. (January 29 blog)

Thoroughly enjoyed it.

First Law TrilogyCurrently, I hold an advance copy of Half a World by Joe Abercrombie on my reading table. I recommended Joe’s First Law series and wrote a blog on it in 2014. Really liked the trilogy. I may have to start the series with his Half a King before I read Half a World. I like a series, but sometimes it’s a pain to have to go back and read the first book or sit around tapping your toes waiting for the next book.

You hear me, George R. R. Martin?

Last week, I mentioned William Gibson’s The Peripheral…having been quite a fan of his other novels, but so far, not so much this one. I haven’t finished it, however. I also mentioned Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE, which ended up being quite good once I got into it. If you’re a gamer, you’ll like it. (P.s. That’s how he spelled the title)51wHalting State0l9FLDeL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_

Nancy Kress is also a favorite author, and although I don’t often read short books, I may have to put her Yesterday’s Kin on my reading table.

Finally, I have read several of Jay Lake’s novels, and as he was a Portland author,  I had lunch with him before he died. His battle with cancer was heroic, and many local authors and fans miss him. Winning for Last Plane to Heaven is a fitting tribute.

LOCUS AWARD WINNERS
Winners for each category appear in bold.

SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL

Winner: Ancillary Sword, Ann Leckie (Orbit US; Orbit UK)Ancillary Sword
The Peripheral, William Gibson (Putnam; Viking UK)
The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu (Tor)
Lock In, John Scalzi (Tor; Gollancz)
Annihilation/Authority/Acceptance, Jeff VanderMeer (FSG Originals; Fourth Estate; HarperCollins Canada)

FANTASY NOVEL

Winner: The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison (Tor)Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear (Tor)
City of Stairs, Robert Jackson Bennett (Broadway; Jo Fletcher)
The Magician’s Land, Lev Grossman (Viking; Arrow 2015)
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley (Angry Robot US)

YOUNG ADULT BOOK

Winner: Half a King, Joe Abercrombie (Del Rey; Voyager UK)
The Doubt Factory, Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
Waistcoats & Weaponry, Gail Carriger (Little, Brown; Atom)
Empress of the Sun, Ian McDonald (Jo Fletcher; Pyr)
Clariel, Garth Nix (Harper; Hot Key; Allen & Unwin)

FIRST NOVEL

Winner: The Memory Garden, Mary Rickert (Sourcebooks Landmark)
Elysium, Jennifer Marie Brissett (Aqueduct)
A Darkling Sea, James L. Cambias (Tor)
The Clockwork Dagger, Beth Cato (Harper Voyager)
The Emperor’s Blades, Brian Staveley (Tor; Tor UK)

NOVELLA

Winner: Yesterday’s Kin, Nancy Kress (Tachyon)
“The Man Who Sold the Moon,” Cory Doctorow (Hieroglyph)
We Are All Completely Fine, Daryl Gregory (Tachyon)
“The Regular,” Ken Liu (Upgraded)
“The Lightning Tree,” Patrick Rothfuss (Rogues)

NOVELETTE

Winner: “Tough Times All Over,” Joe Abercrombie (Rogues)
“The Hand Is Quicker,” Elizabeth Bear (The Book of Silverberg)
“Memorials,” Aliette de Bodard (Asimov’s 1/14)
“The Jar of Water,” Ursula K. Le Guin (Tin House #62)
“A Year and a Day in Old Theradane,” Scott Lynch (Rogues)

SHORT STORY

Winner: “The Truth About Owls,” Amal El-Mohtar (Kaleidoscope)
“Covenant,” Elizabeth Bear (Hieroglyph)
“The Dust Queen,” Aliette de Bodard (Reach for Infinity)
“In Babelsberg,” Alastair Reynolds (Reach for Infinity)
“Ogres of East Africa,” Sofia Samatar (Long Hidden)

ANTHOLOGY

Winner: Rogues, George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, ed. (Bantam; Titan)
The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-first Annual Collection, Gardner Dozois, ed. (St. Martin’s Press)
Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Rose Fox & Daniel José Older, eds. (Crossed Genres)
Reach for Infinity, Jonathan Strahan, ed. (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
The Time Traveler’s Almanac, Ann VanderMeer & Jeff VanderMeer, eds. (Head of Zeus; Tor)

COLLECTION

Winner: Last Plane to Heaven, Jay Lake (Tor)
Questionable Practices, Eileen Gunn (Small Beer)
The Collected Short Fiction Volume One: The Man Who Made Models, R.A. Lafferty (Centipede)
Academic Exercises, K.J. Parker (Subterranean)
The Collected Stories of Robert Silverberg, Volume Nine: The Millennium Express, Robert Silverberg (Subterranean; Gateway)
MAGAZINE

Winner: Tor.com
Asimov’s
Clarkesworld
F&SF
Lightspeed

PUBLISHER

Winner: Tor
Angry Robot
Orbit
Small Beer
Subterranean

EDITOR

Winner: Ellen Datlow
John Joseph Adams
Gardner Dozois
Jonathan Strahan
Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

ARTIST

Winner: John Picacio
Jim Burns
Shaun Tan
Charles Vess
Michael Whelan

NON-FICTION

Winner: What Makes This Book So Great, Jo Walton (Tor; Corsair 2015)
Ray Bradbury Unbound, Jonathan Eller (University of Illinois Press)
Harry Harrison! Harry Harrison!, Harry Harrison (Tor)
The Secret History of Wonder Woman, Jill Lepore (Knopf)
Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century, Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better: 1948-1988, William H. Patterson, Jr. (Tor)

ART BOOK

Winner: Spectrum 21: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, John Fleskes, ed. (Flesk)
Jim Burns, The Art of Jim Burns: Hyperluminal (Titan)
The Art of Neil Gaiman, Hayley Campbell (Harper Design)
Brian & Wendy Froud, Brian Froud’s Faeries’ Tales (Abrams)
The Art of Space: The History of Space Art, from the Earliest Visions to the Graphics of the Modern Era, Ron Miller (Zenith)

Enjoy the reads.

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Science Fiction Marketing and Cyberpunk

IMG_9503Someone’s Clone just hit number #1 in Kindle’s free Books on Genetic Engineering and number #1 on Kindle’s free books on Time Travel. Wahoo! AANNDD…The day is not over, either. #28 in paid Kindle Science fiction. Exciting stuff.

But like my days as a stockbroker, sales change hour by hour, and today’s heady success is tomorrow’s tough struggle. Market on Indie authors.

However, today I’m thrilled. (A brief humble bow ensues)

Why the spike in downloads? I enrolled Someone’s clone in KDP Select for July 5 through July 9. It is one of my favorite books in the series and can be read as a stand alone. But since it is positioned at the end of the current series, it was languishing in sales as readers were picking up the earlier books. I figured anyone reading it for free, might become interested in the rest of the series. (which is happening) This is a limited time offer for this book, and will not often be repeated.

I’m also hoping that readers will like it and write a good review. (hint, hint)

I don’t know how other books get so many reviews. Some have big publishers behind them, and others become popular and get on lists that help sales. If a book is good, it deserves good reviews. I have no problem with that. I have not gotten involved in review swaps or traveled all over for book signings, but friends and family have often supported my books…honestly. Others in the family, not so much. “I don’t read science fiction.”

Now with Amazon’s new policy on reviews, it will be interesting to see if reviews change at all or continue along the the same path. I understand why Amazon is cracking down on reviews. Fake reviews and paid reviews have gotten out of hand so that the customer no longer trusts them. Amazon is all about protecting the customer, so they have stepped up to the plate and cracked down. I just think the process will be harder for the unknown Indie author who likes to write and is not such a strong marketer to get the reviews he or she needs.

As a friend of mine says often, “We’ll see.” Peripheral

This week I am reading Cyberpunk. Normally, I like William Gibson, but I am finding his new book, The Peripheral, a struggle. So I switched over to Charles Stross’s Halting State. Both deal with virtual reality and events inside an internet game. Gibson is harder to piece together what is happening because of his constant point of view shifts. In both cases, nerd-tech language is used lavishly and often there’s an inside joke or innuendo. Also characters are not delineated clearly in Gibson’s book. I had to reread an entire chapter trying to find a name to pin to the person talking in the chapter and still couldn’t figure out who it was.

Finally, I read the summary which enlightened me to the fact that one of the main characters, Wilf Netherton, lives seventy-five years in the future. The story begins in an apocalyptic near future where jobs are scarce and money is tight. Flynne Fisher earns what she can by assembling product at a 3-d print shop. Her brother, Burton, tries to live on money from the Veterans Association since he is disabled, and often takes on online gaming jobs to augment his tight income.

Burton persuades his sister, Flynne, to take over a few observation shifts in a game for him, promising her that the game isn’t a shooter. Still, the crime she witnesses there is plenty bad.

Wilf is a high-powered publicist in a world seventy-five years in the future where reaching into the past is considered no more than a hobby. He is working online secretly as security in some on line games. Both Flynne and Wilf will soon meet and realize the impact each other’s world will have on the other.Neuromancer

Okay. Confusing in parts for me so far. But, I love most of Gibson’s other books, so I’m soldiering on. His Neuromancer is the book that began the whole Cyberpunk sub genre and won a Hugo.

51wHalting State0l9FLDeL._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Charles Stross is a Hugo winner also, so I picked up his book Halting State on a recommendation. Be aware that Rule of 34 is the second in this series.

Now in Stross’s Halting States, a crime also takes place inside an online game. Susan Smith of the Edinburgh police is called in on an unusual robbery where orcs and a dragon rob a bank inside the virtual reality land of Avalon Four. The company that owns the game, Hayek Associates, is a dot.com start up that just floated onto the New York Stock Exchange and whiffs of impropriety could crash the stock, affecting a number of powerful investors and worldwide financial empires.Rule 34

This one was easier to follow, and not because of my stock broker background. Each chapter is titled with the name of the character in which point of view it is written. However, Stross uses second person which is a bit disconcerting, but is what the gaming world uses in their instructions. Stross also uses a lot of gaming technology and inside tech-nerd slang and information.  So far the story is edgy enough to be interesting, but I’m like investigator Smith, who wonders what is all the big fuss about? The more she investigates, the more complex and bigger the case becomes. Looks like a worldwide conspiracy is using Hayek Associates to funnel money around.

Sell your Bitcoins before it’s too late.

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Indie Marketing and a Techno-Science Thriller

IMG_9512You can’t do it alone any more. A year or two ago an author could take ten minutes and set up a KDP Select program (Kindle Digital Platform) and garner 6,000 to 4,000 or more free downloads of the book over the five free days and if she, or he, had a series, a slew of retail sales would follow. Back in 2014 I did this with 4500 free downloads of Caught in Time and subsequent hand clapping sales.
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To be fair, I also scheduled signing and book fairs which were expensive and exhausting. I wasn’t backed by a TOR publisher or on the New York Times bestseller list…which meant I had to do the work myself.

Welcome to Indie publishing.

Now, even that isn’t enough. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program appears to have satiated the freebie market to a certain extent. After it’s introduction many authors noticed a drop in their KDP Select downloads, me included. (Kindle Unlimited sales, however, increased quite a bit) I have no hard data, just several comments by other authors that noted lesser downloads.

Granted, each author makes his own way to find out how to sell best, but currently an overwhelming number of sites offer to advertise your book if you discount it, usually for one day and charge you for the ad…usually from $300 (depending on factors and genre) to $5.00. Be aware that these sites post your cover and blurb, then link to Amazon for the buy. Amazon pays them a fee for being an affiliate. You set up an Amazon KDP Select or Kindle Countdown program and pair it with ads..as many as the budget allows.

A huge number of websites are hopping on this bandwagon as desperate authors are willing to severely discount their book and pay to advertise if it will boost sales and bump them up the bestseller chart. No one will buy your book if they don’t know it exits. At least, that’s the thinking.

I was #1 on the free kindle science fiction space opera chart…

…For two days.
Then my program went off and I was down in the paid mob at Amazon again.

Blog posts are lighting up suggesting which advertisers work and which ones don’t. Because if you spend $300.00 or even $70. You need to sell a lot of books to make it worthwhile, and usually the site requires the book be under a certain price or at least discounted by a given percent. That’s the draw for the subscriber.

Most often, the book itself, the cover, and the genre determine the success of the program. Some of the programs are scams and you may never see the ad. Pirating is a growing problem. So be selective and do your homework.

While many Indie authors are offering their books at cheaper and cheaper prices, the big publishers are going in the other direction. Agency pricing was the big contract fight between Hatchette and Amazon. Check out the new listings for books by established authors with major publishers. EBooks are running $10 to $15 dollars. Hardbacks are offered for preorder at $25 and $27 dollars.

I’m shaking my head at the craziness of the book market while keeping an eye on what other media is doing. Sometimes they lead the way. Remember Napster? Think about Netflix. Let me know what you have found that works for you. Let’s compare notes.

NexusAre you ready for science fiction with transhumanism, a drug with a nano driven software platform that enables mind to mind control and big ethical questions concerning how far should science go?

Then, you might want to read Nexus by Ramez Naam.

Nexus is a Techno-spy thriller with kidnapping, murder, an undercover beautiful Homeland Security operative, and mind blowing science. When Kade Lane develops the experimental nano drug Nexus that can cause minds to link and read each other’s thoughts, U.S. Homeland Security gets involved and will do whatever it takes to shut the program down.

But Kade has a vision of a transcendent, unified humanity while being aware of the dangers the drug poses if it falls into the wrong hands.

The Chinese also are dabbling in Nexus and when Kade develops an even more powerful Nexus 5, capable of changing the very definition of what it means to be human, then he becomes a target for both the U.S. Government and the Chinese.Crux

Winning the Prometheus Award, the Endeavor, and selected NPR best book of the year, this book combines thriller like action with futuristic tech that asks big questions. How far should governments and society allow science to transform what it means to be human?

ApexWe need to examine these questions as science is now outpacing regulations in many areas. We can already use mind control to move cursors on a computer and have shown the ability to clone animals. If you haven’t already, check out Kurtzweil’s newsletter for current discoveries.

What will we do as a society if such a drug as Nexus gets developed? Do we offer it to everyone or totally stamp it out to protect ourselves?

While the book has a exciting story, it also makes you think long after you put it down.

p.s. I explore a computer implant in a human brain in Someone’s Clone if that’s your flavor.

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Magic and Spaceships

photo

Hugh Howey started it, and now others are using the technique. Write a short novella, give it away and sell the next three or four episodes at cheap prices. Get a fan following and bundle. Not because it’s cold, but to collect the first five books together and sell at a reasonable price.

It’s like a teaser or lost leader at the retail store, and it works because a lot of readers like a free taste before they gulp the whole meal.

Which reminds me to tell you that Caught in Time, the first of my series, is being offered for .99 through June 20. If you haven’t clicked the button yet, now is the time to get a deal before it goes back to the regular price. And if you’ve already read it and like it, please leave a review as I’m short on those. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks.

On to this week’s science fiction suggestion.

Starship Mage, book 1 is a novella of only 63 pages, that begins a series of short books, which Glynn Stewart bundles into an omnibus of 299 pages. I didn’t realize it at the time I chose it and put it on my book list last January. I was attracted to the cover and the title, and didn’t read the fine print that noted page length. As readers, we need to start doing this in this age of the ebook. The idea of mixing magic and spaceships just intrigued me.

Besides, the first episode was free. (By now you know that I like a deal)

Starship MageStarship Mage, book 1 is about a newly graduated Jump Mage, Damien Montgomery, who needs a job, but doesn’t have the normal family connections to get him a berth on a starship. Jump Magi are an elite circle of people whose magical talents are trained to power starships for faster than light speeds. They have the ability to “jump” ships over huge distances but at a price.

After an attack by pirates, the damaged starship Blue Jay is towed to port to the planet of Sherwood. The crew has survived solely due to a brave magi who jumped too much and too soon in order to save the ship and died in the attempt.

Unfortunately, the planetary Governor of Sherwood is the now dead mage’s father and blacklists Captain David Rice of the Blue Jay in a moment of anger and grief.

Desperate Captain David Rice connects to desperate Mage Damien Montgomery and the Blue Jay acquires a new jump mage, finishes repairs, and heads out. But the ship is a marked vessel, and young Damien Montgomery doesn’t realize that his life is going to get a lot more complicated and dangerous. He will have to think outside the box to save his crew as both pirates and the law pursue the soon-to-be embattled spaceship.Starship Mage2

Starship Mage omnibusI found the first story a fun blend of magic and space adventure and plan to continue the series. Think of the Firefly series with magic sprinkled throughout. Not deep and stirring, but an enjoyable space adventure that I recommend.

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Amazon Marketing

IMG_0165

I have been asking myself lately whether enrolling in Amazon’s KDP Select was worthwhile. I know of writers who swear they sell more on Smashwords or the iBookstore, but for me Amazon sells more, hands down. I kept two of my books up on Smashwords just to compare as my ads reach all platforms. Sold two this year compared to hundreds on Amazon. That’s an enormous difference. However, I have noticed in the last three months that my Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime sales are starting to compete strongly with my standard retail sales.

Bear in mind that a recently broken shoulder caused all marketing efforts to dramatically halt. Now I’m in restart mode and evaluating past efforts. The question becomes: “Would those sales have happened, or would they have gone to someone else if I hadn’t been on KDP Select?”

Sales on KOLL are dependent on what Amazon puts in the kitty and over time have averaged around $1.62. My usual royalty is around $2.75 or more. Am I winning or losing with this strategy? That’s why Nicholas Rossis’s blog that interpreted Hugh Howey’s author earnings was so interesting. (See previous blog for Howey’s link). Rossis states that Indie author’s using KDP Select earn 13% more and with KOLL, Amazon is providing incremental earnings to Indie authors. Yea!

Check out his interesting blog.

http://nicholasrossis.me/2014/10/25/kindle-unlimited-conclusions-from-hugh-howeys-latest-author-earnings-report/

For June, I’m experimenting with Book Gorilla and have scheduled an ad for June 15th when Caught in Time will be offered for $.99. The special will run to June 20. I’m hoping to catch those readers who are looking for an adventurous time travel summer read and are stocking up their Kindle, iPad or Nook now.

Falling SkyThis week I am discussing Falling Sky by Rajan Khanna. This book came into my hands through my Science Fiction Book Readers that meets once a month at Powell’s. Before each meeting, Peter passes around Advanced Reading Copies (ARCS) and various books he has on hand that he thinks we might like. I grabbed Falling Sky because of the cover. And it was free.

Also, I was looking for an unknown current author to present to my blog readers who might be a diamond in the rough. In addition, Khanna mentions that the seeds of the story started at Clarion West in 2008 (near me) and his teacher there, my friend Mary Rosenblum, suggested his short story be turned into this novel. So I had an interest in seeing if he suceeded .

Falling Sky is a post apocalyptic near future that takes place in North America where a disease has turned humans into little more than rabid beasts called Ferals. Ben Gold has managed to survive by taking to the air in his family’s airship, scavenging abandoned buildings and homes for food and supplies while trying to avoid Ferals that roam on the ground. The danger is that contact with any infected human fluids transmits the disease, causing that person to become a Feral.

Air colonies have formed to protect those uninfected humans from those on the ground, but air pirates raid these colonies scavenging for food, weapons and goods. Ben discovers a group of scientists in one colony who are searching for a cure, and one, named Miranda, attracts his attention. But then an attack loses Ben his airship, and he has to fend for himself on the ground among Ferals. He vows to go after the pirates to reclaim his ship, but Miranda comes back into his life, and he has to decide whether to help her or go it alone.

Recently I have noticed a lot of Apocalyptic science fiction coming out. For example, MADD Max: Fury Road is showing in theaters. That kind of genre is not my usual fare, but the flavor of Steampunk percolates through this story making it palatable.

The writing is very readable and the story contains a lot of action as airships soar over deadly ground, trying to survive in a world overrun with human savagery.

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Time Traveling Neutrinos and Time Travel Romance

photoIn April, I found myself sitting near Thomas J. Weiler, who has a PhD. in theoretical physics from the University of Wisconsin and is a professor at Vanderbilt University. My sister, Sallie Mayne, is affiliated with the Chinese Arts Alliance in Nashville, and I was there for my mother’s 90th birthday. Sallie has organized a special once a month dinner party of adventurous Chinese dining, and I was invited. We ate at a round table and met some fascinating people. One was Tom Weiler. I mentioned I wrote science fiction time travel, and Tom smiled and commented that he was going to be on a television show called “Through the Wormhole.” Did I know it?

It’s one of my favorites. I TiVo it regularly.

Not thinking too much about it, as he was a friendly but unassuming gentleman, I made a point to record it and recently watched the show. I discovered that Dr. Weiler is investigating a theoretical subatomic particle called the Higgs-Singulaire that he believes can go back in time. If fact, he wrote and collaborated on a paper called “Neutrinos in Time.” (among many other papers). If he can discover and plot this elusive, now theoretical, particle, he may prove that time travel into the past is possible. Currently, there are conflicting experiments on the possibility.

I was blown away when I saw his segment and what he was doing. He also has a Ted lecture on neutrinos on Utube. If you want to know more, check it out.

Time travel

I write a lot about it because I think it’s interesting. My first book, Caught In Time deals with a created replicant of the last dying time traveler. She goes back to a medieval era on an alien planet to kill a supposedly mutant king. Since it’s a bit of a romance, love trips her up.

Other books in my series deal with cloning, alien invasions (yes, more than one), a comet crashing onto a nearby moon, space travel, the universe as a mathematical equation, and other science fiction concepts. Not all the books deal with time travel, but time travel is a predominate theme of the series.

That’s why this week’s book, Daughter of Time by Sarah Woodbury, intrigued me.Daughter of Time
What were the factors that drew me in? First, the subject matter was one I liked. Two, the cover and blurb were well executed. And last, the book was free on one of those free book sites. My price. I had nothing to lose. I actually bought it without checking reviews.
Okay, I’m lazy.

The main story takes place on Earth in Wales circa 1268, while the beginning is modern day.
A warning to any hard core military scifi fan– this leans more toward female tastes. Yes, you have both male and female point of views. The first is the female modern day protagonist who finds herself catapulted into a Wales of the past and has to deal with culture shock. The other main character is the stalwart Prince of Wales, who finds her beauty and attitude captivating, but has his hands full of nobility, including Edward, King of England, who wants to conquer his land and make it a part of Great Britain. Intrigue and double dealing distract Lord Llywelyn.

 

Footsteps in TimeI was pleasantly surprised at how well Ms. Woodbury sucked me into the characters and storyline. Because I had never Crossroads in Timeheard of her, I wasn’t expecting a lot.
I should have checked the reviews as she has a large, enthusiastic, fan base. Now I’m contemplating reading other books in the series.
That’s part of my marketing strategy, also. So if you like time travel romance a la Diana Gabaldon and me, you most likely will enjoy this series too.

Ps.

Weiler is a frontrunner in the use of neutrinos to elucidate new particle physics and astrophysics. He has previously won the Distinguished Alumni Fellow Award from the University of Wisconsin, received the Alexander von Humboldt Senior Research Career Award from Germany’s Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and served as an elected member of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory board of directors. He is one of only 17 Simons Foundation Fellows in Theoretical Physics for 2014-15…and is a very nice dinner companion.

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