Category Archives: ebook marketing

Survival in science fiction

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This has been one of the snowiest winters I’ve ever experienced in the northwest
Which means I can stay in and read or write.

Yeah

The writing has slowed down as I’m trying to figure out how to get the the next series of events down on the page in an interesting fashion. Debates rage in writing circles on whether to be a pantser (writing by the seat your pants) or an outliner. For me, I do a broad outline and then charge ahead, putting myself in the head of my characters. Often they present surprising twists and turns in the action. I’m involved in one now and scrambling to see how my main characterIMG_0174 is going to get out of the pickle he’s got himself into.

It all makes writing fun.

I’ve been reading too. I usually put together a list of ten books to read throughout the new year, but this time I’m having difficulty coming up with an exciting list. I keep going back to authors that I have enjoyed in the past. I made a conscious effort to try new self published works last year and kept getting disappointed. Giving reviews became frustrating, particularly since I was not getting reviews myself.

I’m wondering what’s happening to book marketing. If you’re not tied to a large publisher with a big fan base, then book signings are not worth the time, expense or effort. I found add sites very effective for a while. Lately, not so much. As a reader, I’m not seeing exciting offerings and as an author, there are some I have used several times and my return on investment isn’t as rich as it used to be. It feels as if ebooks are becoming more and more devalued.

We probably brought it on ourselves with all the giveaways and promotions. But, hey, you have to get out there and offer something worthwhile to pique a reader’s interest. If you don’t put your name out, no one will know about you. I really feel these are great stories that readers will enjoy if they got to know about them.

As for other books… I still feel it is important to suggest good science fiction and, occasionally, fantasy. I want to keep a dialog going.

castaway-odysseyThis week, I read a book that caught my eye when I was library browsing. Publishers price new books expensively and often make them only available in hardcover for the first year. But, of course, those books are often found in the library for free. I picked a new book co-authored by Ryk Spoor and Eric Flint. Both are well known midlist science fiction authors. Their most recent book, Castaway Odyssey appears to be a later book in the Boundary Series, but I had no trouble with reading it first.

The story goes: Sergeant Samuel Morgan Campbell finds himself in a desperate situation when their starship the Outward Initiative shatters and disappears, leaving him and four boys on board a lifeboat during a practice drill. Outside on the hull, inspecting their actions for the drill, Ltd. Pearce Halley sustains life-threatening radiation exposure. Unexpectedly, the Sargeant and his untrained crew find themselves stranded in the depth of space, light years from any known colony, and with all electronics dead on the cramped lifeboat.

Boys ranging from Xander, recently graduated at the academy, to Francisco, who is an emotional nine years old, Sergeant Campbell has to calm and manage the occupants in this life-threatening situation.threshold

For fans of McGyver, this book is packed with interesting science written in an easy to understand manner as the novice crew has to repurpose equipment and find a way to survive far from any help. The second half of the story continues the survival theme once they discover and land on an unknown planet. Here, the reader gets a taste of the Swiss Family Robinson story as the crew now battles a dangerous alien planet that throws several lethal surprises at them.

I enjoyed the book as a light read with a YA flavor. It is always interesting to see what an author considers important in a survival situation in space. It does not have the detail and intensity of The Martian, but may appeal to that audience, nonetheless.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling author, Cutting Edge Science ideas, ebook marketing, first contact, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction science, science fiction series, space travel, YA science ficiton

Military Fantasy

IMG_0174The holidays are almost upon us. I thank all my readers for becoming a part of the Alysian Universe. This yearhas been an adventure, and I was glad so many came along for the ride.

For December, I advertised through Book Barbarian, a science fiction and fantasy adsite. The cost was low, but it has proven the best of sites this year for return on investment. Several readers bought the whole series.

2014-12-17-14-20-22A blog I recently read that writers might like is a blog by Judith Briles. It talks about a check off list of important elements to consider before publishing your book, or even after publication, if sales are lagging and you want to investigate why.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/12/does-your-book-suck-or-soar/

Then another important link is a blog by Katie Force that offers some startling data concerning Indie authors. With a response of 2000 authors, over half Indie, half hybrid, 1543 or 49% averaged 0 to 5 books per day. At the other end of the spectrum, eight or .43% reported selling over 1000 per day on an average day.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Most were women between 41 and 53 years who responded and wrote in the romance genre. Still an interesting blog on the current state (as of October-November 2016) of genre Indie sales.

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2016/12/survey-indicates-indie-publishing-is-pot-of-gold-for-some-work-in-progress-for-many/?

Cursor's furyLast week I wrote about binge reading and offered several series that were my favorites. This week I want to also mention Jim Butcher’s Codex Alera series. I reviewed the first two books earlier and just finished the third called Cursor’s Fury.

The story of Tavi continues.

King Gaius recognizes a coming war with the power hungry high Lord Kalarewho makes a pact with the Canin, a savage beastlike enemy of the Realm.

Gaius pulls Tavi out of the Academy and sends him under an assumed name to a newly formed Legion with inexperienced soldiers who are poorly equipped. The unit is sent supposedly out of harm’s way. But a surprise invasion of thousand of rabid Canin set Tavi’s ragtag unit square in the forefront as the only means of protecting the Realm.

This is a very military action book with interesting strategies and surprising twists and turns. You discover Tavi ‘s secret origins and get a little romance along with ferocious battles and non stop action.

I liked it a lot, and it made a great escape from some of the holiday madness.20161222_160215

I have two busy snowshoe Siamese cats who delight in holiday decorations and presents. Keeping an eye on them is a full time job, but they are fun to watch as they deal with all the commotion.

Hope your holidays are filled with lots of fun commotion and writing or reading success.

Christmas horn

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Military in Fantasy, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing

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

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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

E-Book Marketing

Image 1The holiday season is barreling down on us, and if you plan any book marketing, you might need to get it in place soon. Selecting how to market is like running through an obstacle course. Each site has different requirements. Most want at least five reviews, which sounds easy except for the new Amazon rules, and if the book is a new release, you may have very few. However, several sites will take a new release if you have other books with fifty strong reviews from Amazon.

Just when I found a book I would consider offering that meet all the criteria, I realized it had no more free KDP select days. I get better results offering one free, and then readers buy the others. Back to the drawing board.

Finally, I got it all in place. I have offered Someone’s Clone free on Cyber Monday November 28 through Booksends, but it will also be free through KDP from November 25 to 29 since I estimate a lot of people will be online looking for deals… And viola, there I’ll be.

Free, free, free.

At least that’s the rationale.

I have something set up for December after Christmas when the commotion has died down and new Kindle and tablets are wanting to be filled. Caught in Time will be free December 26, mainly because Fussy Librarian was filled the other days I wanted.

I’ll let you know how each one performed.

Kathryn Rush did an interesting blog with numbers and math that indicated retail sales across the board were down in October due to folks concentrating on the election. I know mine were. I wondered why. I thought it was because I didn’t do a promotion or much advertising because I was so busy launching A World Too Far.

She said relax. Low sales were not any authors’ fault. Data going back several other election years showed the same trend for October and November.

I feel better.

crosstalkThis week I’m mentioning Crosstalk by Connie Willis. Connie has won numerous Hugo Awards and Nebulas making her a top science fiction author and a favorite of mine. If you ever thought it would be a good idea to be able to read minds, this will change your opinion. If, like me, you feel you are being overtaken by technology, especially the new Alexa, Google, and other devices that are intruding into our homes, in addition to the ever present smart phone, iPad, etc., this will confirm that feeling.

Briddy Flanigan is a young thirtieth professional woman who works at a cell phone and communications company competing with Apple. She is constantly on her phone checking and getting texts, emails, and calls from everyone who knows her business before she even does. Trent, the hot VP at the company, and her obsessively career-minded boyfriend, has convinced her to get an EED. This is an implant that allows a couple to be aware of each other’s emotions and often gotten prior to marriage to bring two people closer together.

So, now everyone in the company is a buzz, thinking there’s an engagement coming… And Briddy is already overwhelmed by communication in her life that includes her intrusive family of a paranoid mother, a younger precocious sister, and a single desperate older sister who constantly falls for the wrong guys and runs to Briddy for consolation.crosstalk-paperback

The high profile doctor who will perform the implant assures her that nothing can go wrong. But this is a story by Connie Willis, so, of course, chaos breaks out.

The book is a biting social satire on what happens when there is too much human communication. Events spin out of control for our heroine, resulting in hilarious situations that proceed at a breathtaking speed. Bundled in all this shenanigans is a touching love story.

It’s a fast-paced, near future read, written with a light heart that asks some deep questions, and one you don’t want to start too late at night.

Also by Connie: Hugo award winner To Say Nothing of the Dog.dog

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling author, ebook marketing, Hugo winners, Implanting humans, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, science fiction romance

Review of Dome City Blues: A science fiction murder mystery

Image 1How do you buy your books nowadays?

Do you saunter down to the local bookstore and browse the shelves, picking out twenty-five dollar hardback or fifteen dollar trade paperbacks?

Or do you open Amazon and check out the suggestions on the front page, then click on best seller and free lists by Indie publishers at $2.99 to $4.99 or free?

Or do you grab a cup of coffee and open your iPad email to see what books certain ad sites are offering for free or discounted ?

Or do you check out your books at the library?

I must admit that I do all the above. Lately, however, I have been picking up books off the ad sites more and more. Stashing books on my Kindle takes up little room, and they don’t degrade over time or have overdue fines.photo

I used to concentrate on the list from the Hugo and Nebula awards. I thought that a popular vote had to result in a good book. Often this was true. Now, I notice that the books presented mostly are from traditional houses with a strong marketing team…TOR, Orbit, etc. and seem to repeat certain authors.

Don’t get me started on how disappointed I have been lately with the Nebula offerings I have read.

Still, as you can tell from my blog, if I like a particular author, ( Bujold, Asaro, Lee and Miller, Lynch, Gibson etc.) I quickly pick up their next book in the series in any of the above ways.

Powell's booksAlso, word of mouth or blogs (similar to mine) still impact my choice. Powell’s has a dynamic science fiction and fantasy reading group, so I often ask fellow readers what they are reading and will buy several books after our lively meetings. Powell’s also offers special deals and pricing on various books, but are constricted by purchasing through the catalogue. (there are exceptions) I must admit, they support local authors and have a robust author signing schedule.

Jan’s bookstore also offers used books with good prices and partners with Kobe for ebooks. They are friendly and helpful, but I’m getting lazy and don’t often drive across town for a book as much as I used to.

A lot of fans attend conferences and conventions to discover or support authors. Portland has Orycon and the Willamette Writers Conference. I used to attend every year, but more as an author for the panels than as a place to suss out my next novel to read. Still, a lot of traditional authors sponsored by bigger publishers with a bigger budget than mine go that route with great success.

Studying how books are bought can help an author decide what marketing path works best for his or her situation. Putting a book in a bookstore hasn’t worked for me. Attending conferences can get expensive and exhausting. Orycon is getting insular with the same locals appearing on panels and no top selling names as in the past. There is a definite traditional publishing bias and a bit of snobbery against Indie publishing. So, I quit going. Things may have changed since I last went, but I’m skeptical.

Last time I went to Willamette Writers, there was little to no science fiction offered on the panels or by interviewing agents, and I paid over five hundred dollars to attend. (that didn’t include the dinner). Now, I’d rather spend that on a good cover and editing. What is working for me is publishing more books and ad sites. It’s a spiral both ways. The more books you sell, the more your name gets out, the more books you sell.

Of course, the critical factor is to write a really good book. It helps to have a good marketing team with a lot of money to splash around and get the word out at the launch. I don’t, so I have to build slowly. I doubled sales and income last year from the previous year, and am on track to double again. Right now, sales are great. But I need more reviews…especially if they’re good. (hint)

So remember, it’s a long game now, and persistence and patience often are a winning combination.

Dome City BluesLast week, I talked about the trend of blending genres. When the author no longer has to figure out what section of the bookstore to place his book, or abide by a publisher dictating genre rules, then he or she can write a story that mixes genres. Science fiction romance, science fiction murder mystery, etc.

So I took a sharp right turn from my usual fare and picked up a book from an ad site. The title Dome City Blues by Jeff Edwards caught my attention. The title says it all. Mike Hammer meets Blade Runner.

I was in the mood for it.

David Stalin is a retired detective and war veteran. He lives in a fun place controlled by an artificial intelligence (even gets his coffee) under a dome that is one of several that cover parts of Los Angeles. His world is badly polluted and humanity lives mostly in domed cities.

The story uses the gumshoe detective trope and decorates the action with futuristic trappings. A beautiful, distraught prostitute pleads for David to investigate her brother’s case and clear his name so she can receive compensation. It appears to be an open and shut murder with a video of him confessing to the crime of killing young girls and ripping out their hearts before he records himself blowing out his own brains.

At the moment, David is still grieving over his wife’s death where they were working a case together and she got killed, put on ice, and partially sold for parts. He has isolated himself from others, except for an old war buddy who was shot in the spine during a fight and David saved him by carrying him out. Now, this friend, John, can only walk encased in a robotic exoskeleton, but has an obsession to find a way to be whole again.Angel City Blues

David picks at the case and gets drawn in deeper. Hacking into police files uncovers a similar murder of a young girl and a public self-confession several years ago. David takes on the case, uncovering more dead young girls with missing hearts. Getting too close, he is drugged and set up to take the fall for the murder of his main suspect. With a prominent citizen dead and all evidence pointing at him, he becomes a man on the run from the police. A shadowy figure also puts out an underground contract on his head. So, all the punks and criminals are out to kill him and collect.

The case becomes more complex as an underground movement called, “the Convergence” becomes involved. They are fighting a war against the blending of man and machine. David connects with this underground resistance force that is trying to stop this next step in evolution.

While some reviewers criticized Edward’s technology, saying the convergence of man and machine will happen sooner than he predicts, I disagree. Technology is moving faster and faster, but only recently have we been able to get a robot to walk as well as a human. And many have been working a long time on the problem. We are complex creatures. Even though, we’ll have automated driving, it will also take awhile to get a complete infrastructure that supports hovercraft and self-driving cars. Considering this was written in 1992, I think Edwards did a good job of portraying a futuristic world.download (1)

Besides, not all famous authors accurately predict stuff. Right Bradbury? (Martian Chronicles) And how long has it been since we’ve had any manned flights? Forty, fifty years?

I just hope we aren’t as polluted fifty years from now as Edwards expects. Global warming aside, electric cars and environmental activism make me more optimistic than portrayed in the book.

There is a lot of dramatic action, especially toward the end, and a good dollop of emotion, both in the anger of a lost love and the terror of being hunted. Even though I got irritated at the constant smoking that the main character indulged in, I enjoyed the story.

If you like the Blade Runner style of writing, you might want to check this one out. I have no  affiliations with the author, but it is now available for $.99 and was a decent deal.

And if you like the science fiction murder mystery genre, check out my Someone’s Clone. It’s a bit of a genre blend also. (see at right). Murder, time travel and clones.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, Book reviews, Cutting Edge Science ideas, downloaded personalities, Dystopia Earth, ebook marketing, environmental issues in science fiction, Implanting humans, Marketing and selling novels, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Transhumanism

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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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, dragons, ebook marketing, Liaden Universe, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space ship, The future of publishing

Science Fiction and Reviews

Image 1I’m blogging about all different types of science fiction lately. This week I want to suggest a more traditional style that balances characters, action and science.

My father loved E. E. Doc Smith and his Lensman series. Lots of action, romance and in the later books of the series, family. His own family was aware of his enthusiasm; so much so that my younger sister slipped a few books from the series into his casket during the funeral when no one was looking.

We all knew she was going to do it and approved. We figured that he would need something to read while hanging out before the pearly gates or on Charon’s boatride over the River Styx. If heaven got boring, he would have a good book nearby to keep him entertained.

Before I review this week’s book, I want to talk about reviews. Currently, I’m setting up my summer marketing program, and I find that the later books don’t have enough reviews to qualify for several ad sites. It’s rather a chicken and egg thing. If you have enough reviews, you get accepted, which brings on more reviews. But if you don’t have many, you can’t advertise your book on sites like Booksends, Freebooksy, etc. and, therefore, don’t get more. I thought to offer Touching Crystal on a special deal. This great book is full of action such as: a comet smashing into a nearby moon, an extra-vehicular space walk to board a runaway space ship, invading aliens, a plane crash, and more.

But not enough qualifying reviews.

Amazon has clamped down on reviews by family or friends, so what’s the an author to do?

Offer something special.

For any reader who puts up a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I’ll send free my novella Call Me Time Jumper. After you post the review e-mail me at: shmccartha@gmail.com and I will send you a pdf or epub copy.

Here’s the intro:

“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.”

One review for any of the books. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or deep. Reviews are the lifeblood of authors and help readers evaluate the worth of the read.

Thanks.

The Cold BetweenThis week I was excited to read The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel. This is a debut novel by a young female author. And we know how hard that can be in the scifi realm.

Chief Engineer, Elena Shaw sits at a bar on the colony world of Volhynia where her ship the Galileo has been recently diverted there for mysterious reasons. Realizing that she is drinking too much, she doesn’t care. She wants to drown the pain of a recent break-up with Danny, a ship board lover, and an increasingly complicated and perplexing relationship with her captain.

After gently rebuffing an interested fellow drinker, she decides to leave, but an older, dark-haired PSI officer comments on her kindness of words in turning the guy away. Even while knowing PSI crew have a reputation as “pirates,” she stays and they talk more. Drawn to him and lonely, she decides to go home with him. As they walk out, a very drunk and violent local makes a play for her and yanks her away from her intriguing stranger…who lays him flat on the floor.

After a wondrous night of sex and companionship, she returns to her ship and her captain, Greg Foster, to discover Danny was murdered in an alley that night and her new lover is being held and tortured in jail for the murder by the very drunk man he decked. To make matters worse, she has to explain why the notorious PSI captain is innocent to her own captain, who has conflicting emotions about her, and isn’t happy at her revelation.

A looming wormhole, corporate intrigue, a corrupt military, and an emotional love triangle all combine to make a satisfying read. Even though he yells at her, Captain Foster guards her back as she tried to get her new lover, Treiko Zajec out of a hostile jail before they kill him.

But it isn’t easy and things get even more complicated. Although now retired, Trey Zajec was a notorious captain of the PSI in his day, the very same organization accused of firing on and destroying a ship coming back through the wormhole…a ship that Greg’s mother crewed on and died due to mysterious circumstances.

And then things get even more complicated.Remanants of Trust

The writing is action-packed and well written. The characters are complex with deep backstories and emotions. There is a strong romance flavor so fair warning to the geeks out there who prefer stronger science in their scifi. The wormhole and what it hides provides some of that. But I liked the mystery and political intrigue also. What really happened and why will keep you turning the pages.

This appear to be the start of a new series as Remnants of Trust continues the tale.

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, Book reviews, ebook marketing, Marketing and selling novels, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction romance, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera

Science Fiction Hugo Winning Series: Bujold’s newest

IMG_0165Keywords in marketing. Why can’t I just write a good book and be done with it?

Because readers aren’t telepathic. Nowadays most authors do a lot of their own marketing, and keywords play an important role in being found by readers looking for a good story.

Friend Mary Rosenblum explains the importance of keywords and categories for Amazon analytics and how you can make your book more discoverable. She describes how your title and blurb are important in pulling in readers who are searching for your kind of book, and also for getting you on important lists at Amazon.

Check out her informative blog. http://www.newwritersinterface.com/blog

Variety makes the world go round, and certainly there are science fiction readers of all kinds. That’s why I talk about different types of books. Last week I mentioned The Water Knife that dealt with the issue of declining water reserves, especially in the southwest. The book concentrated on the external environment, and was heavily political and brutal with graphic sex and nonstop action.

This week I want to talk about Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Lois Bujold.Gentlemen Jole and the Red Queen

The two books couldn’t be more different.

While Bacigalupi’s characters are two young, strong-willed girls and a ruthless killer, Bujold’s characters are much older and face internal struggles of grief, choosing new life paths, and finding love, rather than dealing with much external physical conflict.

Cordelia Vorsigan returns to the planet Sergyar as their Vicereine where she met her beloved and powerful husband Aural Vorsigan. But an aneurysm killed him over three years ago, and she has kept a stiff upper lip, staying single as she carried on with her duties of ambassador and Countess of Barrayer.

Now she returns to contemplate retiring and begin defrosting the five female embryos she and Aural had secretly left on Sergyar. At a ripe old age, she wants to start a second family, and begin living a peaceful life after one filled with violence and death.

Commander Oliver Jole is the base Commander and secret one-time lover of her bisexual husband, Aural. Being Betan and open-minded, Cordelia approved of Jole’s emotional support and physical protection of her husband during a difficult period in Barrayaran politics. She brings Jole a fiftieth birthday present of zygotes from her husband that Jole can fertilize to create five male offspring if he decides to take them on.

Meeting again after several years apart, their affection for each other and shared grief for Aural, sparks romance. The two well-known figures have to evade public scrutiny as they attend important meetings and events. There also have to figure out how to tell Cordelia’s forty-year old son, Miles, who now has his own brood, and no clue about his father’s more private past. There is also King Gregory of Barrayar to inform who depends on both of them to help him rule wisely.

Bachelor Jole is torn by a plum career offer back on Barrayer and the prospect of staying on Sergyar to retire and raise five boys at a country manor.

Sex is covered with delicate manners, and violence is past history. Humor abounds through the awkward moments encountered by two aging people finding love again and contemplating starting all over as they sneak around hiding their affair. A birthday celebration for Jole begins to spin out of control, and time starts to run out for both of them to decide which lifepath they want to choose.

Mountains of MourningBarrayarMirror Dance

The Warrior Apprentice

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bujold has won the Hugo award four times, matching Robert Heinlein’s record. The Mountains of Mourning in 1990 won both Hugo and Nebula, The Vor Game in 1991, Barrayar in 1992, Mirror Dance in 1995, and Paladin of Souls in 2004. She also has two other fantasy series: The Chalon Series and the Sharing Knife Series.

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Curating the Curators

Image 1At first, there was whatever a select group of publishers deemed worthy. Then, because of Amazon, a flood of books of varying quality swamped readers. Who could tell which books were worth a person’s hard-earned money? And among the hordes of new offerings, how could authors connect to readers who wanted to read their genre? Curation became a popular word, and hence Bookbub was born. Now, hundreds of websites are jumping on the lucrative bandwagon to unite reader and authors.

Some are great; some are a waste of money.

Which means, any author wanting to forego the wear and tear of cross country book signings, or who just doesn’t have the name or money for it, can advertise on one of these sites and get out to readers. For a fee. Rates vary.

But to entice the buying reader to allow his e-mailed to be invaded, the author has to offer his book free or severely discounted. It takes a lot of sales for a $.35 royalty or a free first in a series. Readers are loading up and getting used to lower prices and free fare. A bit dangerous for authors who work long and hard on a story.

But some ads sites are worth it. What else can an author do? Tweet for all your worth? And what does that accomplish for actual sales?

So now we have Jason B. Ladd, who writes a blog that encourages authors to share their ad buying experiences. http://www.IndieListers.com Very interesting. I found it a great help.

We’re curating the curators because ad buying is ridiculously expensive and indie authors are using the term roi (return on investment) more and more frequently.

What’s next in this reading evolution? An inquiring mind wants to know.

While I have decided not to take review requests any more, I recently was asked to review a new Indie author whose book sounded like one I might enjoy. Okay, yell at me, but put down that tomato.

Beyond Cloud NineBeyond Cloud Nine (book 1)and Beyond the Horizon (book 2) by Greg Spry were pitched as starship adventures. Since I’m currently writing a starship space adventure (Worlds too Far), and one of my titles is Past the Event Horizon (see at right),I was intrigued. I also want to promote good indie writing, but too often it is riddled with format, story or grammar errors. Writing isn’t as easy as you might imagine.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised, and this first book in the series, Beyond Cloud Nine, is worth recommending. You have Brooke, a kickass female pilot with a drug addiction and guilt issues, her twin sister who is a reporter, and a series of exciting space battles with a mysterious English speaking alien. Life gets complicated when Brooke discovers a human conspiracy at the highest levels within her own government that puts her life at risk. The story moves along well with some nice plot twists, and very few distracting grammar or spelling errors. I got lost in the story.

Greg Spry nicely balances action with character. Not only does Brooke ferociously battle aliens physically in warships and fights against a conspiracy, but also emotionally battles her twin sister and an addiction to a drug that amps up her ability to fly. Beyond the HorizonShe needs the drug to fly her best and win that first FTL pilot slot that she badly wants. That experience reminded me of Star Wars and the space jump to FTL. There is also some nice interaction with an A1 implant in her brain that works with her and has a cute personality. I could use one like “Bob.”

All in all Beyond Cloud Nine is a really fun book for science fiction enthusiasts. The second in the series, Beyond the Horizon is on a stacked reading desk that I plan to read in the near future.

Enjoy spring.            Daffodils-006

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Furious Series in Fantasy

Image 1If a reader likes one book in an author’s series, chances are that he will like another. Or if he likes one series from a given author, then chances are he’ll like a second series by the same author.

This was actually my reasoning to offer Past the Event Horizon free on Kindle Select for the first time ever, and put an ad on Freebooksy. Today it is listed in Freebooksy, but it will be free for a few more days through Amazon. Hint. hint.

So, with this cunning insight, why did it take so long for me to read Jim Butcher’s stepchild series, The Codex Alera? This series has lived in the shadow of the hugely popular Dresden Series. This was supposed to be Butcher’s main series, but Harry Dresden took off with the popularity of Urban Fantasy, and the rest is history.

I’ve read every single one in the Dresden Series in spite of being a sci-fi reader. There are times that I slip up and slide into fantasy.

Okay, I’ll admit it. Mea Culpa.

Furies of CalderonSo with the enthusiastic endorsement of a Powell’s bookstore cashier, I bought and read Furies of Calderón by Jim Butcher.

While I like new and fresh, I still take comfort in old tropes. The orphan boy, the cunning aging king, twists and plot turns, loyal sidekicks, budding romance– all these are favorite story elements for me.

I’m not into zombies or werewolves. So, fair warning.

I was surprised to find the book was written on a dare. If you are expecting Harry Dresden, he isn’t here. However, like the Dresden Files, once you get past the setup, it ‘s page turning action. So, wear a seatbelt or tie yourself down.

Tavi is a shepherd boy living in the sleepy Calderón Valley of Alera. In this world, children bond with elementals of air, water, fire, metal or earth. But Tavi ‘s parents are dead, and he lives with his stalwart uncle who runs the homestead and amazing spinster aunt. They both wield strong magic. Tavi, however, is the only one in the whole homestead who has no elements to do his bidding. He herds the sheep. But don’t count him out.

Far away at the palace, an heirless king faces plots to dethrone him and sends a newly graduated young female spy to the Calderon valley where he suspects treachery is afoot. There is a strong flavor of Rome in the story starting with the king’s name of Gaius Sextus. Other Roman elements also appear throughout the story.Princep's Fury

It was part of the dare.

The king is right to suspect wrongdoing, as his longterm trusted advisor has thrown in with a powerful Lord to depose him through collaboration with a barbarian horde–the Marat. They plan to invade the valley and take over the kingdom.

Amara, the royal spy, gets caught in a storm brought on by Furies while traveling to the valley. Tavi saves her life, thinking that she is a mere slave because she has disguised herself by wearing a slave collar and tatty clothes. Sometimes men don’t look past surface appearances.

Soon Amara uncovers the plot and is dismayed to find her old mentor, Fidelias, is a major player in treason against her king. Butcher portrays him as a vicious villain. Grab a tomato.

But no one has accounted for the brave shepherd boy who controls no furies, yet proves that courage and right action contain the strongest of all magics.Academ Fury

Cursor's furyThe first few pages introduce the characters, and then the action plunges forward and doesn’t stop until the end.

For writing a book from a dare, then turning it into a series, Jim Butcher did very well, and I recommend this to start.

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