Category Archives: book fairs

A Science Fiction Author Greets the Holidays

IMG_0165The holidays are upon me.

Christmas horn

I’ll never get everything done.

I say this every year and, somehow, Christmas happens…but right now, I’m overwhelmed and my feet hurt. Once a year, my daughter and I do a Christmas window shopping excursion at the mall complete with a tasty lunch, laughter, and lots of gift suggestions. Everything she tries on, she looks great in. This year her mother-in-law, Nancy, joined us and made it even more festive.

We don’t buy, we just take notes. Then I go back and pick out what I want to give her/them.

Why am I telling you this?

I haven’t been reading, and I have barely been writing. I am finishing up edits and working on marketing in addition to the usual household craziness.

I’m makingChristmas horn excuses for a late blog.

Since I’m writing the next book in the Terran Series provisionally called Somewhat Alien, I’m focused on writing tips. I could go on a rant about all the current rules of writing…especially “show don’t tell.” Critiques concentrate so much on the details of writing that often they miss the forest for the trees.

Luckily, I have an author in my writing group who questions pacing and the overall balance of plot and characters. Sometimes it’s good to back up and get a viewpoint on your overall story.

A recent blog on this that I just read is: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/11/rhythm-and-pacing-of-writing-the-final-flourish/

Read through to remind yourself to back up and look at the overall story as you are writing.

On the marketing front, on Cyber Monday, I offered Someone’s Clone for free on Booksends. I figured lots of people would be checking their e-mails for deals, and there I’d be.

The results were disappointing for all that brilliance of thought, the follow-on sales thin, although follow on results have just begun. I don’t know if this is due to the ad site or mostly how busy everyone is. This book is rarely offered free, so if anyone else has used Booksends, I’d be interested in their results. Not long ago, I mentioned Jason B. Ladd’s website where authors are recording results from various add sites to compare which works best. Of course, the book itself plays an important part in success or failure of the effort.

http://www.jasonbladd.com/indielisters/

However, not to be dissuaded, I’m once again offering my first in a series, Caught in Time on December 19 on Book Barbarian. For the price, it got good results recently. I’m thinking people will be buying new tablets as gifts and will be looking to load exciting stories onto them. Then on December 26, I’ll offer it again. Readers should be done with parties and want a quiet read. I’ve picked Fussy Librarian as my ad booster site then. It has gotten good reviews with a low cost.

I’m not doing book fairs or signings. In the past, they have been expensive and not cost effective. If they have worked for you, tell me how…I’m interested.

tinkers-daughterThis week I’m going to mention a suggestion given to me by another avid science fiction reader. Ted Blasche has written The Rust Bucket Chronicles, a military science fiction with humor and romance along the lines of Lois Bujold. He e-mailed me and suggested I read the Tinkerer’s Daughter by Jamie Sedgwick. When I went looking for an Amazon best seller, there it was.

Breeze is an outcast, born of an elven mother and a human father, who is recalled to a war between elf and human that has been going on for a thousand years. The safest place he could leave her is with a tinker who makes noisy inventions and dangerous machines. Kids at school bully her, and she has to hide her elven ears to protect herself from the townsmen who see her race as the enemy.  Then, she gets an idea that could stop the war and save the planet if it works. If it doesn’t she could be hunted down for treason and killed.

Mixed reviews suggest you consider whether this is your style of story, but my friend gave it two thumbs up, and I plan to read it soon.tinkers-war

If you’re looking for other ideas, there are a number of series that I haven’t had time to follow up on : Chris Rehner, (Catalyst), Bella Forest (The Star King), any Sharon Lee and Steve Miller in the Liaden series, and maybe you might consider my Alysian series. The later books get even better. Or scan through my two years of blogs on great science fiction reads.

Whatever you have time for, I hope your holidays are filled with fun and good company. Laugh, love, visit with friends, and have a good time.Christmas horn

Advertisements

4 Comments

Filed under Best selling science fiction, book fairs, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Liaden Universe, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, Political science fictionLois McMasters Bujold, science fiction, science fiction series

Time to Read: Bone Clocks

IMG_9512

Interesting science news:

Currently I’m writing about space travel. It’s a story called Worlds too Far and has been a blast to write. I had the convoy of ships stop at an asteroid field for water and minerals…then I saw this great article on space.com.

Also turns out that oxygen has been found within a comet. There’s more out there in space than man can imagine…. except for we science fiction types.

http://www.space.com/30582-asteroid-mining-water-propulsion.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=more-from-space14-space-future-spaceflight

In the marketing information section:

This month I’m back to marketing. I will be trying out the Amazon Countdown for Caught in Time January 22 thru 29 and combining with Booksends on January 22 @ 99 cents and Bargain Booksy @ 99 cents on the 23rd. With Countdown, the price goes up every two days so get in early for the best price. I like that doing it this way encourages readers to act immediately rather than put off a purchase. Caught in Time is my first book, although often I’ve said that with time travel you can read any of the the first three and be fine. Each book in the series has a stand alone story. I’ve tried to model Lois McMasters Bujold’s concept of a series having a timeline with each book complete in itself.

November’s marketing strategy turned out well using Booksends for Cosmic Entanglement and carried over into December where I was too busy to do much marketing. Now’s a new year and I want to keep momentum going.

Figuring out marketing is difficult. Personal signings require a large local fan base and craft shows aren’t always successful. Having said that, one of the authors in my writing group sold 70 books at a local book fair over the holiday. So, you never know. The word got out.

Bone Clock D. MitchellBook Review:

This week I’ll report on one of my 2016 selections. A lot of people have read this to mixed reviews. It is different– Urban Fantasy with a background of paranormal.

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Voice. Sometimes a story has a character with a distinctive voice brought on by unique dialogue and particular behaviors.

Bone Clocks tells a story unlike any I’ve read in speculative fiction. Actually, it’s four sections told from different viewpoints that intersect each other, going from 1950 to the far future.

The start is the strongest part of the book, as fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes has a row with her mother and hies off to live with her boyfriend only to discover him in bed with her best friend. A fifteen year old, torn by betrayal, doesn’t stop to consider the dangers and struggle in store for a homeless and penniless young girl as she runs off aimlessly and grief-stricken.

But Holly is no ordinary girl. She hears “radio voices” and, as a young girl, was visited frequently in the night in her bedroom by a strange and ghostly woman who would have conversations with her. Something is going on behind the curtain, but Mitchell is shy about revealing all too soon.

We skip to Hughe’s part in the story. Hugh Lamb is the opposite of Holly. A rich kid at university with low morals and a clever mind, Hugh manipulates his friends, eventually causing one to suicide. In the end of the second section, he briefly meets up with Holly but selects to follow strange, shady beings who promise immortality and awesome power. We leave the dangerous Hugh tripping off with his new companions. The timeline then continues with Ed, a wartime journalist and Crispin, an embittered author, past his prime.

Eventually two factions reveal themselves in the background. One powerful and immortal faction fights for the survival of humankind; the other immortal aliens, are trying to consume humans. The ending is a bit of a let down and confusing for me.

However, the strange and powerful immortals in the background fighting for power while only certain human with psychic powers are aware was interesting.

Still, if you are looking for a different slant to a speculative novel, you might enjoy the Bone Clocks.

Some readers did; some didn’t.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Comets and asteroids, ebook marketing, hard science, Lois McMasters Bujold, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Space opera, time travel, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy

Science Fiction Author Signing

IMG_0174One more program left in my marketing endeavors and the results will be in for this summer’s attempts. I’ll let you know which was the most successful: online or face to face.

On August 16, Cosmic Entanglement will be eligible for the Amazon Countdown Deal. It will be $.99 for 16/17, $1.99 for 18/19, $2.99 for 20/21, $3.99 for 22/23, then back to regular price. It’s a seven day special. Cosmic has never been discounted before, so this should be interesting.

It’s the third in the series, but, hey, we’re dealing with time travel here, and it makes a nice introduction to several other books. You get to see Rowyna as a young clone, you meet Braden and Richard as kids and discover how each finds his own path: Richard into the Timelab and Braden out into space on the Seeker. Also, you experience a pivotal scene that provided the inspiration for my current novel, Someone’s Clone due out in late Fall. Someone’s Clone begins with a murder, goes to a time jump into the future, and then involves a developing war between the Alysians and invading Earthlings.

Yes, invading Earthlings. A bit of a twist.

I want to thank Jan’s Paperback in Aloha, Oregon for supporting Diana and my authors’ signing. It was a well organized event and I very much enjoyed myself. Thanks Debbie and Jody.photo

Diana Peach (Myths of the Mirror, Sunwielder) has been a great companion author throughout all our book festivals and signing endeavors. In spite of the wind blowing over my roses and splashing water all over her at the festival, and then me juggling a water glass that landed in her lap at the signing, she weathered all liquid events with aplomb and a gracious smile. A true lady.

Recently I’ve noticed that many of the best selling science fiction novels are priced on Kindle at $9.99 and up. Run a finger over some of the well known authors and see what the bigger publishers are asking for a downloaded book. Right now Amazon is engaged in several battles to get prices down while being painted as the bad guy in the negotiations. When the cost of ebook production is so low, those margins are outrageous. The customer is paying for infrastructure and salaries of the big publishers. Also, they are supporting flying best selling authors all over for signings, thus making them even bigger best selling authors. Recently, John Scalzi tweeted that he was tired of traveling so much. The small publisher, like me, doesn’t have the deep pockets to do this. I go where I can drive. But you, the customer, are paying for these big named authors out of the prices larger publishers put on ebooks.

I’ll step off the soap box. Sorry, these rants just spontaneously combust.
So…

For those science oriented readers who are feeling slighted by a recent lack of hard science news…I have an interesting tidbit for you. With the caveat that I discovered this on the internet, and all that implies, check out the following link.

http://www.space.com/26713-impossible-space-engine-nasa-test.html

14-space-future-spaceflightTwo independent labs claim that a means of space propulsion has been validated using what they are calling the ” em drive,” or vacuum plasma thruster. The idea is to bounce microwaves around in a closed container. These microwaves are generated by using electricity powered by solar energy. The engine can work forever as long as the hardware holds out. In 2009 a team of Chinese scientists built it and claimed they could produce 720 millinewtons, which is reported as enough to build a satellite thruster.

Then, Guido Fetta and a team at Nasa Eagleworks at the Johnson Space Center has produced a paper that demonstrates a similar engine using the same principles does indeed produce thrust…but only 30 to 50 millinewtons. There’s a far ways to go, but think of the advantageous of not having to carry fuel on board, but be able to get your thrust from solar energy.

Wow! Not having to carry a heavy load of fuel would be a major advance in the traveling to Mars program. Now, how fast can it get going?

Hmmm… going to Mars for an author’s signing? Wonder when that might happen? I would think they’d have lots of time to huddle indoors and read great scifi on the red planet, eh? A future market?

2 Comments

Filed under Aliens in Science Fiction, book fairs, ebook marketing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing

Summer Marketing Programs

IMG_0174A shout out to locals that I will be at the Northwest Book Festival this Saturday July 26 with special deals on my paperback versions of the Alysian Universe Series. Come by Pioneer Square in Portland, Oregon from 11:00 to 5:00 p.m. I’d love to see you at booth #14.

There will be candy.

And loads of great reads.

Also…(da dum)

On August 9 from 1:00 p.m. To 4:00 p.m. at Jan’s Paperbacks on TV Highway in Aloha, OR, I’ll be signing books and chatting with everyone. Meet me there.

As you can see, summer weather stirs the body and our recent gorgeous weather means I just have to get out and about to enjoy the company of others. (sorry Jo Walton)

Lately, I have been experimenting with several of Amazon’s marketing programs to see which is more effective.

In May, I enrolled in KDP Select and made Caught in Time available for free for five days after Mother’s Day.

As I reported, 4,500 downloads all over the world resulted. And then, my other books in the series took off.

Readers appear to read the first and then continue on with the series.

I was so excited with the program that I couldn’t see how the Amazon Countdown could be any better.

But I was willing to experiment.

I started the Countdown Deal on July 5th, and extended it through the 12th. Once again, I enrolled Caught in Time since it deals with the earliest events.

The surprise is, that now near the end of the July, the net revenue of both programs is within a dollar of each other.

The only difference is that I still have a large number of books sitting on to-read shelves from the free downloads, and once read, hopefully readers will want to continue on with other exciting stories in the series. I’m curious to find out how the long tail plays out.

Because I write time travel, Cosmic Entanglement can also be read as a first book. Therefore, I decided to offer it this August 16-23 under the Amazon Countdown Program. It will start at $.99 and every two days increase in one dollar increments for seven days.

This one is a nice summer read roundup.

 

After reviewing Sharon Shinn’s Angel series, I discovered she has started another series.

And there was a book in the Twelve Houses Series I hadn’t read, actually a companion piece put out after the series wrapped up.

So….I couldn’t resist.

Fortune and FateFortune and Fate proved very satisfying.

The story centers on Wen who is one of the fifty elite riders sworn to protect King Baryn, only she is fighting at his side when he gets mortally wounded from a rebel attack on the palace. On top of that emotional blow, her lover marries another and Wen runs away and changes her identity, roaming the land, trying to save others as atonement for not saving her king.

Unexpectedly, she saves from abduction and rape, young serramar Karryn, noble lady to one of the rebel houses. With her father dead, her uncle Jasper Pallamar looks after Karryn and her scatty mother. Upon returning the young lady to House Fortunalt, Wen notices how poor security is, and comments to Jasper. The uncle is more intelligent nerd than brawny soldier and convinces Wen to stay for a short period of time to organize a home security guard. Her subsequent experiences at House Fortunalt are touching and exciting, and worth a read.

Royal Airs

The new series, Elemental Blessings, starts with Troubled Waters as book 1 and continues with the second book Royal Airs. I started with Royal Airs first because of availability,  and may pick up Troubled Waters now.

I enjoyed the light romance between the mysterious professional gambler Rafe Ardova and Princess Josetta. Shinn deploys a new and interesting magic system based on the elements: air, fire, earth, water, plus wood. Each element pairs up with human attributes. However, when blessings are drawn for Rafe, they are either extraordinary blessings or blanks. Then he is told that his parents are from another country. Several mysteries develop over Josetta’s position in the royal ascension and Rafe’s true origins.

A light and enjoyable fantasy read.

Summer is flying by. Enjoy every juicy bit of it and I hope to see you out and about.

Leave a comment

Filed under book fairs, Book reviews, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing

Fresh Science Fiction and Holiday Sales

IMG_0165The results are in…Are holiday bazaars a good place to sell books at Christmas?

The answer is NO!

Maybe if you had a targeted non fiction book such as one that explored the local area, or highlighted a certain hobby…

But even then, I would say, probably not.

http://kriswrites.com/2011/04/06/the-business-rusch-promotion/ recently wrote a blog that confirmed this conclusion. (Wished I had read it before I signed up) She is a well known prolific Oregonian author writing under several pen names, depending on the genre her book falls into. I have mentioned her before in recent blogs, so check her out.

She said that even when she attended a cross genre book signing event, success wasn’t strong.

Best results for her came at the recent Powell’s book signing last November when thirty popular science fiction writers cozied up around a table directly after the close of Orycon. (Local science fiction/fantasy convention) People came specifically for the books and to meet their favorite science fiction authors. They loaded up.

Even then, she and her husband, Dean Wesley Smith, went for the reunion with old friends, rather than any staggering profit.

So, that marketing avenue investigated and crossed off.

I may, however, attend the Northwest Publishers Convention here in Portland in July. Anyone coming there is coming to buy books, not holiday trinkets.

And I won’t freeze to near death.download

I did have time to read a very interesting new scifi book this week called The Humans by Matt Haig. It uses a concept I have thought about myself and have explored a bit in my next book.

The story is about an alien that comes to Earth and assumes the form of Professor Andrew Martin, a famous mathematician who makes a break through discovery on the Reimann Hypothesis that would advance civilization light years giving them immortality and a disease free existence. The leaders of the Vonnidorian civilization feel the humans are not ready for the advances it would bring, so they want to obliterate all traces that would lead anyone to it.

Our alien protagonist is put to the task.

the humansIt lands on Earth and assumes the body of Professor Andrew Martin after others have abducted and killed the original. The alien finds himself living in a dysfunctional family whose son has been ignored and the wife put second to the Professor’s most important career. Feelings are bitter and estranged.

His job is to find out who knows about the discovery and erase all knowledge of it by killing them, using his extraordinary alien powers. These powers  enable him to control bodily functions, such as stopping a heart or influencing human thoughts.

Of course, he gets caught up in the lives of the individuals of his family and his fellow mathematicians. What at first he judges as contemptible and ugly, he grows to understand and value.

A very interesting book with comments on what it means to be human as an alien mind stumbles around trying to make sense of our world.

As an example: He leaves his supposed son a list of ninety-seven thoughts on his computer. Number seventy-four says, “A quark is not the smallest thing. The smallest thing is the regret you will feel on your deathbed for not having worked more.”

A quirky book of laughs, pathos, philosophy and action that most will enjoy.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Book reviews, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction in modern day

Marketing books through holiday fairs

IMG_0174Jingle Bells! Whew. There’s so much going on this past week that I haven’t had time to read.

Instead, I want to let you know about a t.v. series hosted by James Wood called Futurescape on Tuesday night at seven o’clock Pacific Time that deals with cutting edge science and future concepts. Immortality, altering the genetic code, and future exploration are only a few topics covered in the last few shows. It’s well done with radical future concepts grounded in current research. For example, powering a spacecraft through plasma gas. Since writing Past the Event Horizon where I had to consider how the starship the Seeker would be powered, I have been interested in any new ideas coming from current research. Using plasma gas to power a ship is a new intriguing idea to me.

touching-crystal-thumb-1 Also, I want to whop and holler since I have just published my sixth book in the Alysian series called, Touching Crystal. This is an exciting novel that starts out with a comet colliding with one of Alysia’s moons and goes from there to one heart stopping adventure after another.

Writing the novel was the fun part. Editing, formatting, marketing and running a business was the tough part.

This past weekend I attended a large craft fair in Portland in freezing temperatures. Record cold. We were in an outside plastic tent and if it hadn’t been for the warm friendships of fellow authors and the large attendance, I would now be a Popsicle.

downloadUndaunted, this Saturday I am one of 79 vendors at the Hip Hop Happening in Sellwood, Oregon. If you’re in the neighborhood, please drop by and say, “Hi.” I’ll let you know how it goes and if I’m still “hopping” afterwards. Luckily, we are supposed to be indoors this time around.

And it should be warmer.

Fingers crossed.

This is a marketing experiment that may or may not be worthwhile. But as I have been saying lately, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”  Also, right now a lot of fairs and gift parties are going on. All kinds of marketing avenues are out there, and in this new world of publishing, authors and publishers are still trying to figure out what works.

Hope you can keep warm, and stop now and then to enjoy the excitement of the holiday season.

And if you’re looking for gift ideas, don’t forget books for those that read so they can be taken away to worlds unknown on wonderful adventures.

Leave a comment

Filed under book fairs, Comets, ebook marketing, first contact, Hard science fiction, Medical science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science news

Selling Science Fiction

IMG_9518Officially, it’s the Christmas Holiday.

At one time I loved this holiday, but lately…not so much. I feel like I’m deluged by ads and retailers trying to get me to buy, buy, buy. Brown Thursday, Black Friday, Cyber Monday…aargh! My email boxes overfloweth.

What happened to good old fashioned holiday cheer? Or the true meaning of why we celebrate this holiday? The birth of Christ.

At one time having a birthday the day before Christmas felt exciting, but lately…also not so much.

Time sure flies.   2014 you say?

So, I decided to perk up the holiday and sign up for several holiday bazaars and book signings in order to increase book sales, and get in the spirit. Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not a marketing guru…far from it, but for me person to person sales is the most fun and often the most effective way to sell. I can twitter and tweet like a bird all week long and it doesn’t impact sales.

I love exploring science fiction via my blog, but I’m not sure it sells that many books.

I am following the current advice to write another novel and today my proof is due, and my sixth book in the Alysian Series, Touching Crystal, will be published within a week.

But, book signings and holiday bazaars usually sell my books the best.

It’s the person to person thing.

Also, I’m hoping all the decorations and buzz will propel me into the holiday spirit. And maybe sell a few books at the same time. I’ll let you know.

A side note: Looks like the supposedly spectacular comet Ison fizzled out when it came too close to the sun.New Image of Comet ISON

But, that’s a good thing, right? Besides, there’ll be others sparking up our night sky. (Apophis is one that will threaten again in 2029.)

And hopefully, they’ll all go their own merry way, too.

Book Review: I’ve been talking about newer science fiction books recently, so I thought I’d mention a classic this time around. It seems odd to me with the deluge of new books out, I’m finding it hard to discover a really exciting new science fiction novel.

the man who folded himselfI had put The Man Who Folded Himself  by David Gerrold on my book list a while ago, and then my book club assigned it to read. It was nominated for both Hugo and Nebula. Also, Gerrold is known for his Star Trek episode of “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Recently, he has several other new books out.  Maximum Gerrold: Thoughts on Technology and the Future was a non fiction that looked interesting. Also, “The Martian Child” was made into a movie and won Hugo and Nebula.

Time travel is a theme I write about, (it’s also briefly in the new book coming out) so I eagerly looked forward to reading this selection.The Far Side of the Sky

David Gerrold takes time travel to the extreme, and if we actually had time travel, it might work that way. So, maybe it’s better we don’t. He postulates that every time his character goes back in time, he creates a new timeline. He compares it to painting over a painting. The character goes back in time and creates or “repaints” a whole new universe of events.

The Martian ChildNow, I get that, but soon Gerrold’s book is populated by iterations of the same man caused by his dancing in and out of time. A future him visits the current him while both travel to a younger version in the past. A constant party flows with versions of the protagonist that pop in and out at all stages of his life.Maximum Gerrold

While the book espouses several interesting concepts and moral questions concerning time travel, I soon was overwhelmed by the various characters of the same person and the inclusion of several sex scenes. At one point there are passionate sex scenes, not only with several male versions of the main character, but there crops up a female version from another timeline

And she has a whole spectrum of her time traveling self.

Still, it is a short and interesting read if you are a time travel enthusiast

Which I am.

Leave a comment

Filed under Alternate Universes, award winning scifi, book fairs, Classic science fiction, Uncategorized