Category Archives: Alien pets in science fiction

Science Fiction NEW RELEASE

One of the most exciting days in an author’s life is the launch of a new book. Finally putting a book out into the universe carries the weight of hours of plotting, planning, writing, editing and packaging… plus lots more.

Somewhat Alien is now available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook. It is the second book in the Terran Trilogy Series. Because readers like to start with the first book in a series, I’m offering A World Too Far free Tuesday through Friday (7/25-7/29) And to sweeten the pot, the second book, Somewhat Alien will be reduced to $.99 for three days.

I won’t do this often, but this week is special for the debut of my latest series.

What’s the series about, you ask?

The first book is a science fiction starship adventure.

Starship Captain, Elise Fujeint, is yanked our of cryo to take control of a ship ready to mutiny. For hundreds of years the fleet of sixty Earth ships have headed towards a planet that over time had become an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland.

Now the fleet’s in chaos. Forty out of the sixty ships jump with Elise, only to find themselves lost in an uncharted sector of the Milky Way Galaxy. Challenges spring up both inside the ship and outside in space as the beleaguered ships, running low on resources, try to find a world where they can make a home.

Somewhat Alien carries on the adventure through Elise’s clone as she struggles with human-like aliens who view the fleet’s arrival on their planet as an unwanted invasion. The are consigned to a space station by the natives out of fear of contamination. Politics and diplomacy are the tools to win the day if only Elise could ignore her feelings for a powerful Alysian leader. This one has a bit of romance sprinkled in.

Diana

I’m doing a guest blog for fantasy writer D. Wallace Peach who has a few extraordinary series under her own belt that you should check out. You can find Diana’s blog at https://mythsofthemirror.com. And follow up on her other informative, fantastical, and hilarious writings.

Recently one of my blogs talked about trends found in a survey by Written Word. This week another ad site, the powerhouse Bookbub, gives seven tips on international trends. Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/2u1v7S2

A short summary:

1. While 76% of Bookbub’s worldwide readers are woman, the UK has the largest amount of male readers. (29% versus 24%) Science fiction tends to male readers, so this is a target market for me.

2. Different regions have different reading preferences. Australians like science fiction and fantasy. For me, that’s important, and my experience confirms this as Australia is my second strongest region for sales, followed by the UK as third. Of course, the US outsells both of them by a wide margin.

3. Readers outside the US are more likely to be retired.

4. Of Bookbub’s subscriber base, 73% don’t have children at home. (That’s how they are able to read)

5. UK subscribers read close to a book per day. (37%) while only about 26% of the worldwide subscribers read that much. Lots of books out there, but lots of readers reading lots of books, too.

6. Readers outside the US are more likely to pay full price for a book. (6% more likely) So that’s a consideration when you price both paperback and eBook. You might go higher.

7. Readers like both ebooks and paperback. 82% outside the US read ebooks while one-third of them frequently read both ebook and paperback. (I know I do) Here, you want to offer both an ebook and a paperback of your work to cover all bases.

Marketing implications? Since I’m under Amazon’s distribution, I can reach readers worldwide. Knowing the differences among the regions helps shape my marketing approach.

Now for balloons and champagne to celebrate.

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Trends in Science Fiction

IMG_9503I’ve been noticing an interesting trend among authors I know. After a reasonable amount of books and years, they are taking control of their work, redoing the cover, and polishing their earlier writing.

It used to be that once a book was written, that was it. Set in stone. Now, authors can improve their work as they become better writers.

And many are doing just that.

Because of the constant updating of software in various programs, apps, and cell phones, the current society is becoming used to constant improvement and change.

I think this is a good thing…for the most part. I have gone through Caught in Time and re-proofread and fixed some of my earlier punctuation and grammar mistakes. Graduating with a Masters degree in English certainly didn’t make me perfect.

But as a more, ahem, mature woman, I find that as soon as I learn one program, phone, etc., I have a new “improved” version thrust on me that I have to figure out. Sometimes I want to scream. You hear me, Word and Windows?

Phew. Now that’s out of my system.

Alliance of EqualsToday, I want to mention an old favorite that has come out with a new book in an extensiv, ongoing series. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a great series in the Liaden Universe that I have enjoyed over the years.

My own Alysian Universe has been heavily influenced by their stories and format. While I submitted to the traditional houses, I continued to write. I didn’t get discouraged. Well, I kept going, shall we say? When Kindle and Createspace emerged, I had a number of books already drafted. Even so, it has taken several years to get them all published. This gig isn’t easy.

I didn’t have the courage, the knowhow, or the time to be able to distribute them using the computer. I remember vividly sitting at a table at Orycon with TOR editors and being told that if I put my stories out over the Web, I would be blackmailed by traditional publishers and my books would never be published.

So I didn’t.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also continued writing exciting stories in an expanding universe and eventually were picked up by Baen books where they now have a new novel coming out, much to my delight.Koraval's Game

Alliance of Equals is their newest offering. In fact, I received an ARC (Advanced reader’s copy) The book is due out July 5, 2016. So be one of the very first to know about it. Hot off the press. Sizzle!

The story continues for clan Korval of the Dragon-and-Tree. Master trader Shan yos’Galan and his heir and apprentice trader, Padi yos’Galan, are on a mission to re-establish their trading routes while hoping to add some new ones. Their whole clan has relocated to a planet called Surebleak (now there’s an inspiring name) after being banned from their home planet of Liad. Funds are low. Unfortunately, their Liaden enemies from the Department Of Interior are still working against them and trying to destroy their trading business by various methods.

As they visit different ports to rebuild their trade routes, they encounter problems. While this is going on, Padi hides a dangerous secret that could threaten her coming off age and even her life.

I love the descriptions of the spaceship and the various ports. Intertwined with the science, Lee and Miller develop characters that hold mystic powers. These supernatural powers are really interesting and add a drop of fantasy flavor to a basically science fiction story.

Dragon Variation vol.1Continuing to innovate, Lee and Miller were among the first to bundle their stories into what they called Omnibus Volumes. Three or so earlier books were grouped together and a new title and cover added.

This idea, several years later, is a hot tend among authors. Some group according to topic. For example, there ‘s a new book bundle out on stories of clones by popular authors. Others pick stories with a certain theme.

Lee and Miller have taken their short stories and put them together in “story collections.” The Liaden Constellation Vol. 3stories are often related, told from different character’s viewpoints, and all are set in the Liaden Universe. I have read Volume One and Volume Two already. Now, three is out.

The process of how we read is changing, thanks to new technology and innovators such as Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

And it will continue to change.

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A Discovered Science Fiction Favorite

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The hardest part of being an Indie author is the marketing. For May I tried The Fussy Librarian for $16.

And you get what you pay for.

Five hundred free orders (KDP select) so far, which is a far cry from the 4500 free orders of a year ago at this same time through Sweetfreebooks.

In addition, last year, readers immediately started buying the other books in the series, and I sold through June, also, at a record rate. Not yet so far.

There may be certain readers who comb the sites looking for bargains, and they already have my book by now. I also know The Fussy Librarian is still in the building stages, maybe the reason they were not as effective. Ah well, this marketing endeavor is an experiment for me to see what works and what doesn’t.

So, I have checked this off for me, but It may work better for you.

Look at this interesting report comparing various author earnings. It makes me feel that I’m doing the right things. http://authorearnings.com/report/the-50k-report/

Forerunner FactorIn the last several blogs, I have talked about current authors, known and unknown. This week I read an old classic that I never got around to reading in my early days. I enjoyed her. Andre Norton has extensive works on the Forerunners, The Witch World and Solar Queen series to name a few better known ones. The book I read is called The Forerunner Factor. It contains two of her previous works.

 The story tells of Simsa, a Barrows orphan who scrounges underground in a Labyrinth of caves , living with an elderly eccentric woman who collects old “treasures” found in various nook and crannies of her world. Found as a babe in an old Forerunner’s ruin, Simsa’s odd appearance of ebony black skin and silver curly hair set her apart from all others on her world so that she slinks about at night with her head covered so as to escape notice.Time Traders Norton

When her mentor and protector dies, Simsa is just a young woman, and she gathers the old woman’s artifacts together, hoping to sell a few in order to survive. Through a series of incidents, she is thrown in with a star traveler named Thorn, who arrives on her world searching for any information or remnants of a long lost civilization known as the Forerunners. Needless to say, Simsa’s strange sculpture she tries to sell and her odd appearance captures his attention and the attention of the current Overlord who also is interested in old artifacts and strange tech.

Also, Thorn’s brother went missing while searching for Forerunner artifacts on Simsa’s world, and Thorn is determined to discover what happened to him. Along with Simsa, is her pet Zorsal named Zass who she can mind-link and is trained to her commands. Zass is an alien bird-like creature, utterly loyal and very useful.Gates to Witch World

Together the three scrabble ahead of the Overlord’s hunters who follow them, and eventually they stumble into a lost ruin deep in the Hard Hills that changes their lives forever.

This is a story of a scramble for survival and a hunt for treasure. At times, it goes on a little overmuch, but the premise kept me interested. There are two parts to this bundle, and the second part is similar in that Simsa tries to escape from captors and lands on a barren, but dangerous, planet, once touched by the Forerunners. Thorn comes after her, and again the two try to survive in a dangerous alien world that harbors ancient secrets.

For over a half century, Andre Norton has written a huge number of enjoyable stories, achieving the Grand Master Award for Fantasy and Science Fiction. She now resides in Murfessboro, Tennessee, still writing.

Norton has an easy to read style and intriguing story lines. I don’t know how I missed her stories, but you shouldn’t.

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Costume Ideas from Science Fiction

 

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Halloween is coming, so get ready! Do you have your costume yet?

What Urban Fantasy book could you enjoy and get lots of ideas?

Why, that would be Skin Game by Jim Butcher, the latest in his Harry Dresden Series.

Jim Butcher writes Urban Fantasy, and although I’m not usually a reader of the genre, I am a fan of this series.Skin Game

Throughout the first several books, Harry has dealt with Vampires, Werewolves, the Fae, Chicago gangsters and every fantasy creature imaginable, including his faithful Foo dog and Bob, a genius spirit that resides on a shelf in a skull.

We have watched Harry develop from a sketchy, part-time detective, cooking up amateur potions in his underground basement, to becoming a full fledged wizard that gets killed and returns from the dead. He is now a warden of the White Council while serving as Maab’s Winter Knight…

A juggling act if ever there was one.

And when he yells, Forzare, Disperdorius, Lumios, or Artispinae, step back because powerful magic is about to happen.

Now in Skin Game, Maab, Queen of the Fae, lends him as her Winter Knight to assist Nicodemus Archleone of the Blackened Denarius as payback for a favor. Nicodemus pulls together a team that he plans to take into The Underworld in order to steal the Holy Grail. They have to blow up a Chicago mobster’s vault and pass through the three gates of Hades: the Gate of Fire, The Gate of Ice and the Gate of Blood.

Ghost StoryThe team consists of: Hannah Asher, expert of fire, Anna Valmount, safecracker extraordinaire, Goodman Grey, fantastical shapeshifter, Genoskwa, Bigfoot style monster who can go invisible, Binder who controls an army of men that leap from the ground and dissolve back into dirt, Deirdre’s, Nicodemus’s demonform daughter, Karrin Murphy, ex-cop and weapon obsessed sidekick to Harry, and Harry Dresden, wizard. Harry is traveling in dangerous company, most wanting to eliminate him from this world all over again, so he has to watch his back at all times.

However, Knight of the Cross, now retired, Michael Carpenter, takes up his sword again for Harry’s sake, and the Archangel Uriel makes an appearance, along with several other familiar Dresden characters, including Kris Kringle also known as Santa Clause and Hades, Greek god of the Underworld.

Plus, Waldo Butters…who?…well…you’ll just have to read the story.Summer Knight

In spite of the fantastical creatures that populate Dresden’s world, the story contains real human emotion as Harry and Michael struggle to protect their family and the world against evil.

Storm FrontIt also provides an array of imaginative creatures, any one of which would make a great Halloween costume.

So now, you have some ideas.

I have seen the power of offering free books. I’ve read where many believe that free or discounted books, once downloaded, sit somewhere on readers digital bookshelves, collecting digital dust where they never get read. So it was interesting to see the blog: Eleven Things You Don’t know About Bargain Ebook Buyers from Bookbub that indicates otherwise. Keeping in mind that Bookbub provides discounted and free books, I still found the information worth mentioning. Follow this link: http://unbound.bookbub.com/post/87615381745/11-things-you-dont-know-about-bargain-ebook-buyers for more specific data and information, but here’s the top eleven conclusions concerning Bargain Ebook Buyers.

  1. They are Power Readers
  2. They read everywhere: at home, while traveling, in bed, at work,
  3. They read primarily on Tablets
  4. They don’t just read e-books but read paperbacks and hardbacks also
  5. They have higher than average income
  6. They are genre readers: mysteries, thrillers, romance
  7. They buy full priced e-books
  8. They read the books they download
  9. They try new authors
  10. They become loyal fans
  11. They recommend the books they like.

As an ebook author, it’s food for thought I wanted to share.

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The Overwhelmed Author

IMG_0180Are there other authors and writers out there overwhelmed by all they are told they need to do and little time in which to accomplish it?

With Amazon opening the floodgates of self publishing in 2009-2010, I am now hearing the moans of authors saying, “I have no time to write anymore.”

Marketing has reared it’s ugly head.

Even those carrying contracts with big and little publishers are tasked to do the lion’s share of their marketing. Everybody has turned to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest,Google+, Goodreads, Librarything, LinkedIn, etc. and finding social media can create a black hole in their time and energy without any knowledge of what return is gotten on sales. Everyone’s experience is different. Some swear by social media, while others question its effectiveness. As old ways shift to new strategies, we feel like we’re on unsettled ground.

In addition, the Indie author is struggling with formatting, editing, cover design and downloading protocol. It’s doable, but time consuming unless you farm it out…and then beware. Everyone has a book to sell on marketing or book design. Various publishers are ready to rip off the uninformed writer who has no time to research what a good contract should look like, what distribution is best or just the basic business of writing.

Check out http://kriswrites.com to help you. It’s an exciting world out there to be sure….but overwhelming.

And if you’re writing, I am hearing the complaint that there’s no time to read anymore. Welcome to my world…and I write a book review blog. Gah!

This week I strayed off course (“Again!” you say.) and picked up Constellation 2 (just out) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Constellation 1 is also out.

Constellation

As some know, I’m deep in the Liadon Universe series and this is a compilation of short stories published over the years for various magazines and venues.

The interesting point here is that these authors kept writing and putting out work while they tried to find a publisher. They kept on. And on.

And developed a fan base, or what everyone is now calling “a platform.”

Think persistence if you want to be successful. Remember the parable of the tortoise and the hare? So, because of their persistence, they also have a wealth of content that they are bundling into anthologies. In addition, they are taking their novelettes and putting two or three together, adding a new cover and title and republishing to a new and building readership.

If you own your copyright, you can do this. Hear me Indie author…the power is yours.

Constellation2Constellation 2 is a delightful group of stories. Lee and Miller have a way of making their characters feel alive. In each story, the plot is interesting and the action strong.

For example:

In the first story, a young girl struggles in a world where women are controlled and repressed. Father has several wives picked out by his father. Women are not taught to read and are expected to stay home and serve their chosen husband . But Ina Bhar is the mousy third daughter with a clever mind and her father, a scholar, lets her into his world by teaching her to read and think. He bequeaths her the Curiat, a dangerous book that brings about his death at the hands of those searching for it. Using the book, she plots to escape her bonds, her world and those that would kill for its secrets.

Not one normally for anthologies, these stories feel like quick additional peeks into the lives of characters I have read about over the years. They are a side venture, not explored with the major plot but vignettes that adds depth and deeper understanding to characters and events already introduced in the series. They are familiar characters or situations that I am eager to learn more about.

So, here is an example of two authors who are getting creative with their efforts, and stories written long ago for other venues are finding new markets, and adding some efficiency to the role of the Indie author.

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Species Symbiosis: Pets in science fiction

IMG_0193Two new kittens tear across my feet, jump and land in a tussle of ferocious claws and fur, wrestling with each other. Tails flick, haunches wiggle and soon one is soaring through the air with a mighty pounce.Image 3

Nothing like two new cats  to distract my gaze from the wet, chill weather that has moved into the Northwest.

So, throughout history and even into fictional alien worlds has humanity attempted to bond with other species.

A treecat in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series springs to mind. A sense of communication and symbiosis wrapped around Honor’s neck much like a pelted scarf.OnBasiliskStation

Sky DragonsOr the dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey that humans imprint on the hatching grounds and forge a telecommunication link that can transcend even time.

Robin Hobb also carries out this theme of telepathic dragons in her own dragon series. The more recent ones being Blood of Dragons and City of Dragons. Also in her Farseer trilogy, the young boy hero bonds with a wolf.Royal Assassin

The Zero StoneAndre Norton’s The Zero Stone starts a series where the ship’s cat ingests a strange seedpod and evolves into an entity that names itself Eet and follows the hero as his companion into adventures.

Timothy Vaughn writes in Dragon and Thief about a dragon alien, named Draycos,  that blends onto the young hero’s back and legs, but can leap out into three dimensions to interact at need. Talk about getting a wild tat.Dragon and Thief

In the Liaden universe,  several family cats are cameoed and even a tree appears to communicate with the Delm of Korval, dropping magical seed pods whenever necessary.

John Scalzi’s hero, Jack Halloway,  battles to prove sentience in a small furry creature that he befriends in Fuzzy Nation.  Human and creature face off in a legal battle against the big business of  Zaracorp that has its own plans for their alien world.51CG59JWAeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

If you’re searching for a story of alien and human bonding, here are just a few samples of species symbiosis in science fiction .

Do you have any favorites?

We humans form friendships and alliances with other species on our own Earth, so why not with aliens from other worlds? From dolphins to horses, cats to dogs, many other species have enriched our life and eased the drear of coming winter with adorable gamboling and warm, cuddly affection.Kittens copy

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