Category Archives: Mars

A Self-Publisher Markets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m accumulating lots of lovely ebooks in my library. I used to spend a lot of effort tracking down good science fiction or fantasy by asking friends, researching award lists, or cruising libraries. Now, due to various ad sites, I find lots of interesting ebooks. I stash them away, expecting to read them some day, and often I get around to them. I’m not alone in this behavior. I select them because I sincerely plan to read them.

Many of the books are from new authors who I have never heard of before or who are not on some award list. It’s like dating. You need to find interesting guys to date, but they don’t just show up on your front steps if they have no idea that you exist. You have to get out there where the guys are, but a bar is not the best place to find a good date, much less a life partner. So these various ad sites set certain standards such as requiring at least a 4.0 star review rating or a given amount of reviews. They curate the book for you by genre so you can hone right in on what you like, but still make it easy enough that a shy new book can qualify and be accepted to the dance.

Am I stretching the metaphor too much? You get the idea.

So to meet the readers who are compatible, I’m offering one of my books again via FreeBooksy, but this time
Past the Event Horizon is the book at the dance. There are 90,000 science fiction readers subscribed through Freebooksy, and Past the Event Horizon will be there waving “Hello” on Friday May 12th. However, not to be shy, I have also scheduled the book free through the KDP Select Platform starting TODAY and extending through Monday.

Past the Event Horizon is a thrill ride through space as the twelve person crew of the spaceship The Seeker follows an alien signal through a star gate onto an alien world. What they find and how it changes them makes for an exciting story.

It’s rare that I offer this one free, so grab it while you can.

Accod of HonorThis month I’m highlighting a few ad site books starting with Accord of Honor by Kevin McLaughlin. It’s been over three years since I noticed Kevin on the Linked-In chat boards. He offered expert advice to an ignorant author who was desperate to learn all she could. I appreciated his willingness to share information for free on self-publishing. So, when I saw his book Accord of Honor, and it was an interesting space opera, I snapped it up.

Accord of Honor is a fast-paced space military adventure. The Lunar Accord has banned all individuals or nations from arming space ships for war. But Ex-Admiral Nicholas Stein knows the peace will not last, and in secret, he exiles himself on Mars to build ships with on board weapons that could result in treason and execution if he were discovered.

Then, outof nowhere, armed ships appear, attacking vulnerable space freighters and kidnapping their crews. Soon they threaten a helpless Earth and call for its surrender. Only Admiral Stein and his son, Thomas, with their weaponized ships stand in the pirates’ way.

Accord of Honor carries political overtones similar to the Expanse Series with friction occurring between Mars, Earth and space.

It is the first book in the Accord Series followed by Accord of Mars and the recently published Accord of Valor.

While the women are out for Mothers’ Day, relax with two new space adventure series at great prices. Or… If she’s a science fiction enthusiast like me, sneak a few new books onto her ereader and watch her smile.

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Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Mars, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, space ship

More than Science Fiction Novels

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Science fiction is not always about books. I was watching Orphan Black, wondering what I would talk about in my next blog and suddenly realized that I was looking at it. While I’m finding it hard to dig out good hard science fiction or space opera novels, there appears to be a blossoming of science fiction on TV and in movies.

20160721_153915I recently attended David Levine’s signing at Powell’s in Beaverton where he read from, and sang about, his debut book Arabella of Mars. Arabella of MarsQuite the entertainer. David is a long time friend from when I used to be in a Portland Author’s lunch group with him. He said that he had a hard science fiction book about Mars that he was shopping around and the traditional publishers didn’t accept it, telling him that science fiction didn’t sell well.

What!

Definitely this was before the best seller The Martian...and, by the way, a well done mMartianovie with a powerhouse actor. (I did a blog on the book)
No wonder it’s hard to find science fiction out there. The gatekeepers have slammed closed the gate. So to keep a writing career, David offered a fun Steampunk novel, and got accepted. Now, however, I fear the Steampunk fad is fading. Still, I recommend Arabella as a fun read…but even David admits the science became fantasy when he had billowing sailing ships plowing the space lanes.

Meanwhile, TV and movies are flourishing. I want to just mention a few you may or may not know about and, in this day and age, with streaming video, you may still be able to access some earlier seasons if you have missed them.

Currently, I am following Kill Joys on the Syfy channel. This is space opera. Think Firefly. They are kickass mercenaries with attitude and shadowy world corporate figure after them. They are hired on for jobs that occasionally are not what they first seem to be. A tough bunch that gets it done across the universe.

Orphan BlackAnother series is Orphan Black on BBC. Clones, clones, and more clones all done by one amazing actress. They are being hunted and have a dreaded disease for which they are desperately trying to find a cure. One line is female, and there is an alternative line of males. A unique series.

The Expanse will be starting season II soon. This is a well done series based on James Corey’s (Abramson and Franck) novels in the Expanse Series. (See several previous blogs on the books) I recommend you read the books first or the TV series can be confusing. Still lots of interesting sets of space stations and star ships.Expanse Collection

Dark Matter is another TV series I’m enjoying. This has a collection of humans on the run from shadowy corporate bad guys. One is a cyborg with mysterious powers, the other an angry mercenary, a young girl with mysterious background, a downloaded holographic with personality…you get the idea. The mystery is who is after them and why.

Let’s not forget the fairly recent movies of Independence Day 2, Enders Game, Hunger Games series, X-men: Civil War, and other super hero movies that are currently very popular.

Okay, I know you have more you want to mention, but that’s a taste.
I want to save room here in order to mention two very important blogs that I’ve recently read.
The first continues  Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog on publisher contracts and what to watch out for. Critical information for any author, Indie or traditionally published, and especially, if you are submitting to publishers big or small.

http://kriswrites.com/2016/07/20/business-musings-other-evil-clauses-contractsdealbreakers/

The other is a blog by my friend Mary Rosenblum who works with self-published authors to help them launch and sell their books. It’s a scary account of how one of her clients got wrapped up in the Amazon effort to clean up reviews. In their enthusiasm to get reviews, authors need to be very careful of new rules and oversights by Amazon or they might find themselves out in the cold. Being booted out by Amazon can be a career killer.

http://www.newwritersinterface.com/amazon-bites-author

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On a more upbeat note, I’m now going to pop off to the local Ponzi vineyard for some wine sipping and a plate of cheese and crackers on the deck. My newlywed daughter will provide charming company and insights into Pokemon.

Pokemon2                          Oregon summers are a delight.                  pokemon

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Clones, downloaded personalities, fantasy, gene modification, genetic manipulation, Hunger Games, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Mars, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

Science Fiction Selections for 2015

photo A new year is upon us, and there’s lots of excitement on the horizon, especially in the science fiction book world.

I get to select five books this week to put on my shelf to read for 2015. I may not read them all in a row or at once, but throughout the year, adding others as I go along. The selection process proved interesting. Various factor were at work, and good science fiction was hard to find.

But first, I finished the Martian by Tony Weir and eagerly recommend it. What I learned is that humans have ingenuity if they just keep trying and remain focused. Yes, some of the chemistry got heavy and Mark’s personality included offbeat humor, but it’s wonderful to read a book where the characters are decent people. People from all over the world worked together for a common goal of saving a life, no matter what the odds or outcome. Makes me proud to be human. I like that feeling.

Enough said…I don’t want to spoil it for you.

So how to chose?

Goblin Emperor by Katherine AddisonWell, word of mouth is one way. My friend Lea recently suggested the Goblin Emperor, and that will be my fantasy pick. Lea knows books, especially scifi and fantasy, having 24,000 in her home, give or take.

I was skimming through Goodreads and bumped into The Rosie Project again, where someone recommended it as one of their favorites for 2014. They say you have to see a product more than three times to buy, and I remember seeing this title on several recommended lists. So, it went on mine.Rosie Project

Free is the price I can best afford and factors into my choices occasionally. Since I have recently offered Cosmic Entanglement in my series free through KDP Select, I now browse the free lists and websites for interesting Starship Magetitles. Starship Mage attracted my attention. I thought I would give it a try.

Sometimes after seeing a recommendation, I’ll read the summary to get a feel for the story. Departure is by A. G. Riddle, an author I have never heard of, but the blurb sounded intriguing. I may take off with this one. All the Light You Can See has been hitting the hot selection lists, but after reading that it was about Nazi Germany and a young, blind, Jewish girl, I gave it a pass. I’ve read enough about that shameful part of human history already. So, the summary or story blurb affects my choices also.Departure

Poor Man's Fight  by Kay ElliotTed Blasche (retired), my scifi military specialist, has been urging me to read a series that starts with Poor Man’s Fight. This is a self-published series that has been high in Amazon’s ratings and also suggested several times on my front page there…making it my military selection. I’ll give it a go. Thanks for the many suggestions, Amazon.

Ted is also in my writers group that recently had a spirited discussion on time and how it works. There were some back of the napkin drawings involved and various analogies with branching streams or electric currents. It sparked me to think that the past really isn’t a fixed event, but an entanglement of perceptions…that the past for each individual is different, and given events are perceived differently by each individual involved. New information can change the perception of a past event , so it’s not totally static. Also, how close you are to an event or how far away changes the impact and individual perception dramatically. If you experience a plane crash, that event is far different for you than for a disinterested viewer who sees it on a newscast and then goes about his daily business. We think of the past as static and absolute, while it really depends on the witnesses and how they record and perceive what happened.

Yeah, food for thought today. Have a happy New Year and may many great things happen in 2015.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, genetic manipulation, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, magic, Mars, military science fiction, New York Times Best Sellers, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing, space ship, space travel, time travel, war

Mars and The Martian

IMG_0165I figure you must be almost as frantic as I am coming down the holiday home stretch. Overwhelmed with things to do and vowing not to nibble that second Christmas cookies or sip the third eggnog, (So yummy) I am noticing the pounds climbing alarmingly upwards on my scale.

Or maybe you’re one of those cool-as-a cucumber types that has it all under control and smirk as we last minute shoppers scurry about.Christmas horn

(I’m making a rude gesture here)

Either way, I’m offering a quick, cheap idea where you don’t have to pay postage or even leave the house and get mired in insane traffic. If your gift is a mobile device…Kindle, iPad, iPhone 6, enhance the gift with a few interesting free books. Start with Cosmic Entanglement, which is being offered free 12/22 through 12/24 and also 12/26 through 12/28. A limited time offer, it’s one of my favorites, and although third in my series, it can stand alone or be the first one you read.

With time travel, you have that flexibility in your stories. This one is not heavy science…more of an Enders Game with a touch of James Bond. For more science in the area of space travel, Past the Event Horizon would be the choice. Even so, in several places I stretched the known rules of physics to support the story because, hey, we are learning new things about space every day. Yesterday’s speculations are today’s reality.

To find other special offers, goggle for free books and a number of websites will pop up with a vast array of free and discounted books.

Just a suggestion.

The MartianSo, I am halfway through The Martian by Andy Weir. The story is basically a Robinson Crusoe on Mars told through first person using a journal. So, I don’t know if he survives or we’re just reading a left behind journal. That keeps up the suspense.

Weir has a very personable voice. The reader feels like the writer is just leaning over a cup of coffee and telling his tale. For example he writes:

“The most important piece of the advance supplies, of course, was the MAV. The Mar ascent vehicle. This was how we would get back to the Hermes (orbiting ship) after surface operations were complete…

You can imagine how disappointed I was when I discovered the MAV was gone.”

What follows is the attempt to survive for four years until the next mission is due to arrive. For those that like hard science in their science fiction, the story will satisfy.

Understandably, there’s not much romance or personal interrelationships. Not even a volleyball with a face to talk to. But the left behind astronaut, Mark Whatney, does reveal the roller coaster of emotions from despair to hope to brilliant problem solving.

There’s a lot of chemistry as he tries to create water for his plants, but he spares the reader the heavy math.

It’s a book that I put down after awhile, but then, I picked it back up to get a feel for what it might be like to live in such a different environment as Mars. Just a quick note that the reviews have nearly 4600 five star reviews, so a lot of people really like this one.

MarsCurrently there are several experiments that address what it might be like to survive on Mars. Last year I wrote a blog that carried a link to David LeVine’s gripping experience in a habitat that attempted to recreate conditions that might be found on Mars.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcuOwpdkWCM&appDavid Levine

Life on Mars… or at least a close facsimile (KGW-TV, 2/20/10)

http://bentopress.com/mars/ David’s journal of his “Mars” experience.

Mars is getting more and more notice as we gaze past the moon to what might very well be the next planetary body we visit. This book gives you a realistic taste if you can’t afford the ticket.Holly

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Filed under Alien worlds, Best selling science fiction, hard science, Hard science fiction, Mars, science fiction, science fiction science

Current Science Concepts or Themes in Science Fiction

IMG_9503Have you noticed?

I have.

Certain current science concepts and themes are cropping up in best selling science fiction.

One theme sparked by current science discoveries is the search for new habitable planets. Thanks to the Kepler mission, scientists are now sorting through hundreds of possible candidates for a new Earth.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

Interestingly, our scientists are sending robots first to investigate other worlds…just like the alien robot that crashed onto my world of Alysia.

Hmmm. Maybe it came from Earth?

Because that’s what we’re doing now on Mars.

Nanobots is also a current theme. I sent a link two blogs ago on remote control miniature robots. One of my favorite scenes in my forthcoming novel Touching Crystal (out in November 2013) concerns saving two hostages using remote controlled flying nanobots.

Lots of fun.

The Risen EmpireScott Westerfeld has a great scene in his Risen Empire that also does this, only he sends in a horde of nanobots and you don’t get to sit in the “cockpit” with  Richard Steele like my readers do in Touching Crystal.

Several recent novels by well known prolific writers touch on the theme of robots that are self-replicating and can reconfigure themselves into whole new forms as their environment changes.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/10/07/m_block_self_assembling_cube_robots_mit/

Self replicating nanobots are the source of possible world disaster in Larry Niven and Matthew Harrington’s new novel The Goliath Stone.

The Briareus mission took nano machinery out to divert an Earth crossing asteroid and bring it back to be mined, but things go wrong and nanobots go wild, creating a whole new entity that threatens Earth.The Golith Stone

Dr. Toby Glyer, is the genius behind the nanotechnology and uses it to effect miracle cures on Earth…long life, disease free humans with strong libidos. Now he must find his partner, William Connor, and stop the incoming danger.

While the concepts and technology of this novel were intriguing, the dialog and action bogged me down.

A lot of sitting around and guessing what game the elusive William Connor played.

New EarthWell known and prolific writer Ben Bova just came out with his newest in a series called New Earth. He uses both the theme of discovering habitable planets and medical nanotechnology that enables health and long life.

Of course, everything gets carried much farther than current technology.

Science fiction writers do that….Until eventually, it becomes reality.

Like Niven, he ascribes a dangerous element into his nanobots, but does not ban them from Earth like Bova does.

Maybe he should have.

In both, the current themes and science are interesting, but the writing could have been better and more engaging.

In Bova’s New Earth, a long term exploration ship is sent to an exciting new world that appears habitable for humans. While the eighty year trip to New Earth takes place, the passengers are put in a cryogenic sleep, unaware of a global warming crisis on Earth.

Here is another current theme much discussed nowadays…global warming.

In the story, global warming has caused Earth’s cities to be inundated and weather to shift. Economies are on the brink of disaster.

A global weather shift is also a theme I use in my forthcoming novel, Touching Crystal, but that event is caused by a destructive comet.

Several popular movies, Deep Impact and Armageddon  in 1998 portrayed how we might respond to an advancing asteroid or meteorite. Recent asteroid activity and the crash of a meteorite in Russia has reignited this theme. (See Feb. 2013 blog)

In the novel New Earth, the political leaders choose to abandon the expedition in order to attend to their own world crisis.

The expedition lands and discovers highly advanced friendly aliens that carry human DNA. The natives claim to have been born on the planet, which turns out to have a hollow metal shell. They deny having interstellar travel capability, but insist that they are human. Everyday technology is highly advanced, yet no cars, or manufacturing are visible. Nothing adds up.

The Earthlings are suspicious and the exploration team divides into several factions. The main character falls in love with one of the human appearing natives and trusts their leader’s offer of friendship. Other factions in the landing team mistrust the natives. They continually warn that the natives have ulterior and dangerous motives. The story sets up a nice conflict among the two groups as to who can be trusted and what motives drive both humans and aliens.

While parts of the story bog down a bit, Bova throws in a surprising twist towards the end, which keeps the reader flipping the page.

For me, what carried the story were the interesting dynamics of psychology: from the world leader abandoning the expedition for his own local concerns to the whole exploration of the human psyche and how various individuals reacted to first contact.

Humans can be a bit paranoid when confronted by new and unknown things…and aliens, well, who knows whether they can be helpful friends or world destroying enemies?

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial nature, Ben Bova, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, Disaster Fiction, Discovering new a Earth, first contact, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Hard science fiction, Mars, Medical science fiction, Microbots in science fiction, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, space travel, Uncategorized

Does Science Fiction have a Gender Bias?

IMG_9503Is reader gender important in science fiction?

I’ve been led to believe that men and women read different types of stories.

In our writer’s group we have four women and two men. When we only had one male, the criticism was always…give more description and detail. What do the walls look like? What are they eating? Wearing? Facial features?

Then we added another guy.

Suddenly we were talking about action in the story!

Myths of the MirrorI put a lot of action in my stories, but our fantasy writer does eloquent description and engaging characters. Check out Myths of the Mirror by D. Peach. I have been learning a lot from her on how to paint details and characters into my story.

Now, suddenly, with another male voice in the mix, the comments have become…when are they going to DO something?

We don’t know what color his protagonist’s hair is, or if  eyes are blue or green…but Ted writes compelling military action stories.

Check out  http://www.perihelionsf.com/archives/blasche001.htm “To Dance With the Ladies from IO6” by Ted Blasche. When the women fussed at him, he said that he wants the reader to engage his own imagination to create the character…and plot and action drive his stories.

Both work.

Why am I blogging about this?

Because as a writer, I need to figure out my audience, and I’m not so sure science fiction is as male dominated as some might think. Or that women are all about pretty description and intense emotion in a story. I know I’m not. I like both.

I was brought up short when one of the female readers from my book group critiqued Rendezvous With Rama by commenting that she really liked how clean and straightforward the writing was. Several chimed in that David Weber just put in too much description.

Is such a thing possible?

I had thought Rendezvous With Rama dry and needing more description. I wanted to meet the aliens or have the ship on some dramatic mission, rather than have our solar system be just a fuel stop.Rendezvous with Rama

Plot, character and description is a three pronged stool and the writer needs to keep in mind the audience he, or she is aiming at while writing.

Thank goodness, science fiction is also malleable. It can be intellectual with lots of science like Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy, or laden with love and emotion like The Time Traveler’s Wife by Niffenger. It can be a mystery like Kathryn Rusch’s Retrieval series or military like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War.

The fun is that you can write a variety of sub genres under the cloak of science fiction. Caught in Time is a basic time travel romance with a war thrown in for the guys. A Dangerous Talent for Time is more a quest story, almost young adult, as two main characters are in their late teens, early twenties. Then, Cosmic Entanglement has a murder mystery. Past the Event Horizon takes place on a starship and is very Star Trek with a space battle and emphasizes the science and physics of space . Space Song involves pieces of all elements: romance, military, mystery, science, young adult.space-song-cover-smashwords

So, today I’m wondering how to connect with my audience, and is there a gender bias there? Anyone know of any research along those lines?

Next week I’ll be in Nashville giving a talk on “Time Travel and all things science fiction,” and signing books. Also, a big wedding, and later, a hot card game with relatives. So, timing on when I get my blog out may be influenced by wild social activities. Fingers crossed.

Fair warning.

Next question is: Does science fiction have an age bias? What kind of science fiction is read by young, middle-aged and the mature audience? Is it different? Is there a preference that is determined by age? I know my twenty something daughter, who rarely reads science fiction, got caught up in The Hunger Games trilogy. Was it the plot or the characters? Maybe both.

And what group or subset is reading the most science fiction? Young kids? Old guys? Housewives?

Today, we ask questions of the universe. Tomorrow we seek answers.

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Trying Something New: Seven Steps

Sometimes it’s good to get out of the old rut and try something new…a new lipstick, a new dress, a new recipe, a new friend, a new job..or a new author.

Earth Shattering, I know. But bear with me.

Recently, I had to tear my favorite authors from my cold hard grip and take a flying leap off the cliff’s edge into the abyss of a new author.

Well, maybe it wasn’t that dramatic, but I did take a deep breath.

In selecting a new author, what does a reader look for? I recently selected Dissolution of Peace by Richard Flores IV and here is the seven step process I used.

1. The Cover:  They say that you can’t tell a book by its cover and that’s somewhat true. Recently, I tried a story because it had an awesome cover of a beautiful girl with wires coming out of her head, but the story was about a Jesuit Priest in a jungle. So, the cover brought me to the book, but I felt betrayed by the story. Then, there’s the horrible cover, such as Lois Bujold’s first cover for Mirror Dance, but I already knew that Lois could deliver a good story, so I bought the book anyway. The back part of the cover is important also. Often, I will check the back for a summary of what the story is about. If it sounds good, then I might buy it.

Still, a good cover with a tempting blurb on the back can tantalize readers with the promise of a good story and often is the first step towards them buying it. New author Richard Flores had a gorgeous cover that was spot on about his story.

2. The Interior: Next, I usually flip through the pages to how the book is formatted. This is more important than you might suspect in that poor formatting, ill-placed chapters, wonky fonts, often shout out that the author doesn’t care about his or her reader. At first, Richard had  reasonable front matter. Plain, simple, but clean. But the paragraphing indents were off. Annoying.

Now here’s the thing.

I, myself, am struggling with the new flowable text. My paperbacks look beautiful. Everything stays in place and behaves. However, when it goes to e-books and flowable text, everything changes around. What looks professional on my iPad, reconfigures to some weird formatting on my kindle. Or visa-versa. The formatting just won’t stay put.

That is the beauty of the e-book. For us older folks, we can enlarge the print without having to sneak a large print book off a store’s shelf under our coats. And I have over one hundred books on a light weight iPad or kindle for anytime reading with no pending library fine.

Still, having the paragraph indents change bothered me. Set up the book to either have reasonable indents or space between paragraphs. Readers need the eye relief. Long pages of blocky print with a three space indent, or changing indents is exhausting. Easy fix.

3. Technicals: We are talking about grammar, sentence structure, spelling and word choice.

All the stuff your high school English teacher talked about. At least I did when I taught.

You insult your reader if you don’t at least make an attempt. Now, these mistakes are like fleas on a cat. No matter how hard you, as a writer, try to eliminate them, there are always more lurking in your text.

Gads! I know. I have read through my own work a multitude of times, given it to a professional editor, had beta readers look it over, my writing group, a professional workshop critique, and still the odd comma, the shy apostrophe, the computer respelled words crop up. Even in a traditional press book this happens. But if it’s flagrant, then the reader is kicked out of the story. Do that too many times and you lose your reader.

As I began reading Richard Flores’ book, this wasn’t  a problem. His sentences flowed smoothly and his grammar and spelling made a sturdy framework for the story. I could delve deeply into the book without the distraction of poor grammar or bad spelling.

4. Action: It used to be that a story began calmly at the beginning with describing the world and the characters and gradually picked up pace. Not so any more. Editors are expecting action on the first page and they want to be hooked by page two or your story’s in the dumpster.

Wham, bam, start the story strong.

I’m ambivalent on this. Where can a writer go from there? I am the personality type that likes to look around and get my feet under me before things go wild.

So, in the Dissolution of Peace, the story begins with one of the protagonists on a shuttle coming toward the warship that she will be serving on.

After trolling through back alleys of Urban Fantasy, I was ready for this military style world and outer space adventure. The description of the ship, the internal dialogue that told me that Janice Kanter hated space, her enigmatic partner who just arrives from a fellow officer’s funeral, all intrigued me, and set me comfortably in her world.

Chapter two introduces Captain Christina Serenity, a recently injured ship captain, who is the youngest captain in the fleet. She has just survived an attempt on her life and is covering up her injury in order to get back into duty so as not to lose her ship. Someone is out to kill her, so she has been assigned two bodyguards to protect her. She has a conversation with her commanding officer, Admiral McCorvick, who appears to want to discredit her and get her away from Earth. The Mars colony is building a fleet and a war is brewing between Earth and Mars. So, there’s lots of conflict, even though no one’s been shot just yet.

Okay, I’m in.

A reader wants a story that gives him an experience… To go “Where no man has ever gone before.” Or possibly, can’t go at the moment because his couch isn’t space worthy and the wife doesn’t want him off fighting Martians around dinnertime.

5.  Believable Characters: Along with exciting events, the reader wants a satisfying emotional experience…to feel strong emotions at the right time in the story, to live through another person’s eyes and be more than he can be in his own skin. So, the reader can’t be told how the character feels, but must experience the character’s life. Feel his dreams, hopes, fears, love.

In other words, “Show don’t tell.”

Yes, that’s me screaming in the background. This is a struggle I have, and the hard part of writing but vital.

This was done well in Dissolution of Peace. You had several  characters that were all dealing with emotional conflict. I wasn’t overwhelmed by it, but then, I remained reasonably involved. Captain Serenity’s courage and determination to duty against the pull of true love is well done. Janice Kantor’s character arc as she changes from hating space to becoming a competent bodyguard in space is also good. The feelings and emotions of Corporal Mike Carlson, the secret admirer and captain’s bodyguard is also good.

6. Story Arc: This is the stream that carries the reader along and is important to keeping him in the story. There is an arc to every story…a beginning, a middle and an end. In Dissolution of Peace, Richard starts with conflict that is interesting enough to engage the reader. A brewing conflict between Mars and Earth. Okay, fine.

Then, just when there’s a bit of a pause, an unexpected alien race comes on scene, and Serenity has to deal with a first contact situation. Then another alien race shows up.  And the two are deadly enemies. One to side with Mars and the other to side with Earth and we’re not sure if either can be trusted. Add in an old friend who turns out to be leading a terrorist  group that is trying to start a war.

Amp up the tension and suspense.

Next is another attempt on the brave, young, and beautiful Captain Serenity’s life, and we’re turning pages at one o’clock in the morning.

Throw in unrequited love between captain and her body guard…that no one can know about, or they’ll be thrown out of the military, and she’ll lose her ship…well…you see my point.

There is a rhythm to a good story that keeps the plot line and emotions moving higher and higher, so the reader keeps turning the pages, and then twists the story and makes the reader gasp.

7. Ending:   Of course I can’t tell you the ending of the story. SPOILER! But all endings must have a climax where everything is at risk and something awesome happens and then a resolution that makes the reader close the book with a satisfied smile after being on  emotional roller coaster. You want to have everything explained and tied up.

Unless you’re writing a series.

Which I am. And apparently, Richard Flores is.

His ending is explosive, but not final. I didn’t go, yes, wow, done…rather, now I want to read the next book.

And that can be okay. Most likely I will. His story is good. Lots of action, good emotional points and I love the landscape…or rather the wide open void of space that he traverses. I left my soft chair and became a love-crossed, beautiful captain of a starship who protects Earth and tries to stop a war.  And I sneaked into the world of a strong, competent bodyguard on a military spaceship who saves the life of the woman he loves, but can’t let anyone know how he feels about her.

Okay now…You try something new. Check out my right hand column for a few suggestions.

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven LEAP!

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