Category Archives: Medical science fiction

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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Clones in Science Fiction

photoIf you’re a writer and you haven’t seen this link yet, you should. It takes a look at the current trend for author dollars, showing with hard data that traditional publisher ebook sales are declining while self-publishing and small publishers are increasing. Even more interesting is where the data comes from and how sometimes the media gets it wrong.

If you like colorful graphs, lots of numbers, and care about the money flow for authors, check it out.

http://authorearnings.com/report/september-2015-author-earnings-report/

Another link I want to mention is to an article on nano advances at the molecular level. This is current hard science, that I consider back up data, which says nanobots in the bloodstream that can target viruses or cancers is a total possibility for the future.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/dna-based-nanodevices-for-molecular-medicine-an-overview

And since I’m currently writing about this as a medical approach, I wanted to mention it. Sometimes while I’m writing, real life jumps out and highlights what I’m writing. It happened with the meteor striking Russia practically to the day I wrote the beginning of Touching Crystal.

A bit scary.

No one has created a time gate, but as I pointed out in a previous blog, I have had dinner next to a physicist who is working on time reversal at the sub atomic level.

And…recently, Kurzweil’s newsletter came out with an article on creating wormholes. I think I’ll suggest a wormhole that lets my lost fleet jump several light years across the universe. However, I’m not the only science fiction writer to do this. It’s been used often enough in fiction that it seems it should be a forgone conclusion by now.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/first-known-magnetic-wormhole-created?

women-clonesI’m also writing about clones. Or will be again. The main character in my very first book, Caught in Time, Rowyna, is a clone. Did you notice the name Rowyna is a rearrangement of Arwoyn? Then, my novel Someone’s Clone also tells the story from a clone’s perspective.

I found there aren’t many books that use this viewpoint. The Fifth Head of Cerberus by Gene Wolfe comes to mind as a favorite, and recently on a must read list was Pamela Sergeant’s Cloned Lives. I attempted to read two others books on clones, but because of various flaws in the books, I abandoned them.Fifth Head of Cerberus

I am reviewing Sargent’s book because it follows the lives of the main character’s five clones in an effort to show how environment affects personality and how different aspects of Paul Swenson’s personality emerge differently in each clone. Sargent also addresses the prejudice that society might harbor towards such an act, asking the question of how far should government let science progress when it could threaten society.

While all this was interesting, the part I enjoyed most was Sargent’s portrayal of the world of 2000 to 2037 because I could compare reality with her fiction. Published in 1976, Sargent sees the world of 2000 with automatic highways. The book drags, however as she goes into too much detail about why things are the way they are, almost delighting in her predictions.

She has high speed trains, which the government subsidizes, competing with airlines While airplane travel supposedly is more economical and efficient, Paul and his traveling companion wait an hour due to a mechanical breakdown in the airline’s luggage conveyor. Then the train from the airport is halted because of a riot by a group who claims the end of the world is near and clogs the track.

Such are her pointed comments on the far future, now our present.

Cloned LivesIn Cloned Lives, a moratorium on genetic research, legislated in 1980, has recently expired. Paul’s best friend, Hidey Takamura, is a genetic scientist who moves swiftly to make his mark at the university where both men work by convincing Paul he should be cloned. When a nosy reporter discovers the clones, all hell breaks loose and Paul and the new clones are hounded by the media. Government quickly slaps on another moratorium, and Paul hires a couple to raise the five kids.

The book leaps to 2016 and Paul is offered a research position on the moon where scientists have established a presence. Also mentioned are microfiche readers taking over physical books. That part she was close to the mark; the colonization of the moon, not at all.

The clones are sixteen years old now and painfully teenage. Unexpectedly, Paul is involved in a crash on the moon and the clones are informed that he has died. For the next five sections of the book, Sargent takes a point of view of each clone, analyzing similarities and differences of personality as their lives progress. Here is where the book breaks down into too much internal dialogue of teenage and young adult angst. Each clone has difficulty making social connections, and after a while, I got tired of the whining.

As the book winds up to a surprising ending, the clones eventually get married, find new relationships, and embark on their separate tortured lives.

I struggled to finish, but Pamela Sargent is a well-respected author and the subject matter was interesting. The storyline is strong, but Sargent bogs down in too much internal emotion and characters who should have been so much more than they were portrayed.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, Predictive Science Fiction, science fiction, science news, The moon in science fiction

Asimov’s World Fair Predictions 1964

IMG_0174After reading Timebound by Rysa Walker where the main character time travels back to the World’s Fair in Chicago of 1899, I stumbled into an article that talked about the fifty year ago predictions of science fiction author, Isaac Asimov, for the future at the 1964 World’s Fair. I thought it was interesting to learn some of his predictions and whether they came true or not. Can science fiction authors predict the future or are they just writing good stories?

He actually nailed some of them and some he missed the mark on. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-27069716

He predicted:

We would be able to see and hear any conversations.

With the advent of Skype and Facetime, this is possible. However, I think FaceTime hasn’t reached the popularity Apple or the world thought it might, mainly because I’m not ready to show my face bright and early in the morning before make-up has been applied. The little picture in the window is never as flattering as I wish it could be. Maybe the young kids use it much more often than we more mature (read wrinkled) generation, but I’m surprised at how overlooked it is. Do you FaceTime?

We could direct dial to any spot.

downloadPretty much true.

 

 

Robots would not be common, but would exist.download (1)

A lot of research is going forward developing amazing robots. Recently Cosmos, a new tv show, talked about a four-legged robot that could go over any rough terrain and carry several hundred pounds. It’s a mechanical packhorse. I own a romba (named Robbie)  that cleans my rugs and floors, and this is rather commonplace. IRobot also makes robots that go into dangerous places or war zones to investigate possible bombs. Currently robots can do surgery and, of course, manufacture cars. Manufacturing uses a lot of robotic functions. Amazon is talking about having drones deliver packages.Microrobotics

3D television and wall screens will be common.

While large flat tv screens are in most homes, the acceptance of 3D television has flopped. No one wants to pay the extra money and wear the goofy glasses.

There will be conversations with the moon.

Except if you call, no one will answer.

Robots will make coffee.

My morning coffee is set up at night so all I have to do is push a button and it’s percolating. You can schedule it to go on automatically if you want. Pretty much automated except I put in beans and water. There’s no robot picking beans for me or bustling around the kitchen that early.

We will have algae grown and vat made meat that will taste not so bad.vat meat

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2013-08/first-lab-grown-hamburger-served

This just happened where a pseudo burger was developed in a lab. However, the not-so- bad taste is still in question.

We will have fusion and solar power and other sources of alternate energy.download (2)

While the fusion power is still a dream of the future, large solar arrays in the desert and house-top solar panels are growing by leaps and bounds. We are making progress, but it still isn’t in every household. Electric cars are gaining traction…buy Tesla stock.

Vehicles will drive with robot brains. Jetpack’s and hovercraft will be common modes of transportation. http://www.google.com/about/careers/lifeatgoogle/self-driving-car-test-steve-mahan.html

While most vehicles use computers and high tech devices for gps, video and audio, self driving cars are still in the developmental stage. (but see the link on this progress) However, they are coming. Jetpack’s and hovercraft displayed at the Fair are still not used extensively, although they exist.

Not all will enjoy the gadgetry in full, but the majority will be better off than present, but many will be further behind.

There is a new class division developing between those that have access to tech and can use it and those that are falling behind. Tech is developing and changing at a breath-taking pace and those that can keep up will forge ahead, leaving many in luddite dust. Some of this is generational. My daughter has integrated high tech more deeply into her life than I have, and understands it far better, but my mother doesn’t even own a computer or understand the basics of our current tech world. She can barely comprehend the complicated world of social media that now exists and the wide array of aps and websites that proliferate.

If you could hop in a time machine and power ahead fifty years from now, what would be one technology now in the developmental stage that you might find integrated into society?

PS: On Mother’s Day through the 15th I have enrolled in the KDP Select program that will offer Caught in Time free. Check out the right panel for synopsis and more details of the book.

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Filed under gene modification, hard science, Medical science fiction, Microbots in science fiction, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction Predictions, science news, time travel

Growing up with Robots

IMG_9512How do you view events around you? Some say everything a person does or says is a result of how they personally interpret the world through their mind’s viewpoint.

For authors, point of view controls the reader. Using first person point of view enables the author to funnel all the events of the story through one person’s vision. With omniscient or third party viewpoint, the reader can be aware of people and events outside the main character, thus providing additional information on the story or an interesting contrast.

For a long time third person point of view was  the one most used by writers. However, recently, the first person viewpoint is gaining popularity.

The Hunger Games, Divergent, some of the New Adult (think 30s) novels use first person.Human Sister

So, I was intrigued how I would respond when I realized that my selection, Human Sister by Jim Bainbridge was written in the first person point of view.

I found Human Sister through Bookbub, which offers free or discounted EBooks. What hooked me was subject matter and an interesting blurb. Then, I went to Amazon and the reviews were very positive, even mentioning a Hugo possibility. So, when it was offered free, I downloaded it and put it on my to-read list.

One of the frustrations that I’m finding with self-published authors is that they don’t know the bread and butter aspects of producing a book.

Take formatting. (Please do) For a paperback, the title page should appear on an odd page in the front matter. The copyright information on the even page after it. Most chapters should start on an odd page, although a few start on even nowadays to save paper. Notice the first sentence after a chapter heading is not indented…and so forth. There are guidelines that the reader subconsciously is familiar with and comfortably follows, and the Indie author should be aware of them, whether Ebook or paperback. If you are an Indie author, you need to study several ebook  and paperbacks to understand how to construct your book.

Both are different..

So it was refreshing when Jim Bainbridge presented a format that showed the proper form. With no typos or grammar mistakes I noticed, I was soon knee deep in a compelling story.

The story begins on an airplane where the main character, Sara, starts chatting with the man sitting next to her. He turns out to be an FBI agent who proceeds to take her into custody to interrogate her about her parents activities.

The interrogation turns vicious for the young girl. Sara lives in a near future society that has outlawed artificial intelligence. Sara’s grandfather is a forerunner in the field and her parents have created a sentient group of androids led by “First Brother” who has awareness but little caring emotion. Sara tries to elicit emotion in this first series of androids but fails.the brain

To fix this lack, Sara’s grandfather secretly, in their Napa Valley Estate, creates a biodroid from Sara’s own nerve cells and devises a means that “Michael,” the biodroid,and Sara can physically connect into each other’s thoughts and emotions.

Sara then tells the story of growing up in secrecy, hiding from the government the existence of Michael as she tries to train him to become human. Alternating chapters appear in the viewpoint of First Brother as he enters the tale.

Sara is an innocent used by her grandparents whom she loves, and daughter to emotionally cold parents who are part of a robot rebellion. As the United States and China try to hunt down and destroy the robots, the parents and their creations escape to Canada and then to Mars, leaving Sara to get caught in the crossfire with devastating results.

Human Sister is a thought-provoking tale on the dangers of artificial intelligence, and how one young girl grows up with and loves what is not quite human.

This theme of robots is a popular one and Jim Brainbridge provides a story that will cause you to think about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, ebook science fiction, Hunger Games, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, science fiction

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.

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

Ebooks: What’s Going On?

IMG_0174Several interesting developments have happened to me recently in the world of Ebooks.

First, my science fiction book club selected Amped as the book to read this week. Dan Wilson also wrote Robopocalypse, which made the New York Times Best seller list. He’ll be coming out with  sequel, RoboGenesis, in 2014.

He’s a young writer with a promising future and came to talk personally to our group…old school marketing style. His credentials are strong as he has a Phd in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University and consulted with several professors on how such a device would work. He said that Random House is his publisher and really got behind him with a strong marketing campaign to get his book out there.

I would say, it worked. Color me green.

AmpedThe book is about a device implanted in the brain that increases intelligence, motor function and overall performance. In Amped, the device is implanted into the handicapped and lower class person, setting up discrimination against those “Amped.”

Already, we have many devices implanted in the brain to augment deficits…cochlear implants being one, Parkinson aids, pacemakers, and others. I actually know people who have each of these right now. So, the idea is not too far future.

There is the flavor of Flowers for Algernon and a bit of Slan, except technology is used instead of chemicals or genetics to elevate performance.

Needless to say, a class war ensues and Wilson brings in some weighty questions as to who should be augmented and how the ordinary Joe will react to those chosen to be augmented into superior beings.

A lot of politics and back room maneuvering for power develops. Events turn nasty…and he starts with a suicide.

However, what I found interesting was that to get the book, I went online to my local library, and downloaded the story. Thrifty person that I am, it cost nothing, and I didn’t even leave my chair. I used an app called Overdrive that made it easy.Robopocaypse

Even for a techno idiot like me.

Then, last week I went to a seminar put on by Kobo, which is an ebook seller worldwide in over 150 countries. They are partnering with independent bookstores to put in  QRcards for ebooks.

Jan’s Paperbacks, an independent local bookstore, hosted the event and over eighteen area authors came to greet their readers and swirl carousels to distribute cards with their cover and a QR code on the back. The cards took you to Kobo where you could download the book for free. The idea is to offer a free book in order to get your name out there and entice readers into other books you have written.

However, some books cost…and I bought a card for DIY Publishing for $9.99 and went online to Dropcards.com to download it through an access code found on the back of the card. Worked quite well.

So we have both libraries and brick and mortar bookstores offering Ebooks, some free and some at a good price.

Interesting.

A final note to the awesome Peter at Powell’s Bookstore in Cedar Hills Crossing, Beaverton. The reading group just celebrated their tenth year, and Peter has worked with the group offering sample books, helping us pick out available authors and generally existing as a font of science fiction knowledge. Thanks for all your help. Ten years for a reading group to stay together is amazing.

Leah Day and John Bunnell are part of the reason why.

Leah has over 27,000 books in her home and contains an incredible knowledge of science fiction. John remembers esoteric details of all things science fiction and is also amazing.

Thanks to everyone for all your hard work in keeping this group going.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, hard science, Hard science fiction, Implanting humans, Medical science fiction, modifying humans, New York Times Best Sellers, Political Science Fiction, science fiction science, Transhumanism

Man and Beast

IMG_0165

Recently two books came to my attention that deal with the mingling of humans and beasts. With the coming of Halloween where people adorn themselves in bizarre outfits and prowl the streets like animals, I thought these two unique and edgy new novels would be perfect for my blog.

The first is The Melding of Aeris by an astounding new author, D. Wallace Peach. It tells of a blasted world slowly recovering from science gone wrong. Scientists tinker with drugs to cure diseases and discover Pathway, a distillation that enables the grafting of skin across species.

Melding of AerisSoon rich women are smoothing down soft animal fur on their shoulders like epaulets or admiring serpent skin as elegant as black lace over their arms and chest. Men embed the razor teeth of sea-beasts into the bones of their forearms and cover their backs with wolf pelt to enhance their appearance.

Then they bear children, and the next generation arrives as monsters; creatures created from the vanity of their parents.

Aeris, child of such altered parents, hides in shame in his father’s castle covered by serpent skin and hideous to gaze upon. He longs to look human.

However, his father is rich and uses his influence to get him human skin. Happy at first, Aeris soon learns the dirty secret of the murdered flesh he wears. The Bestiary where the animals are cultivated to supply the parts, the Alchemary where the various vials of distillations are kept, all are part of a secret underground operation run by certain powerful people.

Horrified as he discovers the existence of the black market of flesh and animal parts, Aeris joins a ragged rebellion of misfits to destroy the Pathway drug and bring down the Alchemery at all costs.

And the cost is great. Personally.

Well written, with a nice romance, a unique story and lots of action, I enjoyed The Melding of Aeris a lot.

The second book is reminiscent of the Island of Dr. Moreau. In Halfkinds by Andrew Vu, science has also advanced to the extent that the intelligence of certain animals has been Halfkindselevated so they can use language and live in human society. But all humans are not happy with this arrangement.  The story opens with a prostitute that has raised a family of halfkinds in secret…and then is discovered and murdered. Her “children” flee in fear.

Told from the first person point of view, various viewpoints of the halfkind family are unique and different as each member of this strange inter species family struggles to survive and tell his perspective. They are hunted by an inter species team led by Simon Trevor and although various members of the family group care about others, there is still dissension and betrayal from within the family itself as they run and hide from outside killers.

I found it strange to be in the first person viewpoint of a half frog, half human.

Not to mention the lion and others.

Normally, this would not be a book I would read. It did contain the thoughtful concept of: if you don’t have a chance for a fair life, should you be brought into the world in the first place? It also portrayed a far future where intelligence across species has been enhanced significantly.

This is the first book of a series. I looked at several reviews as I wasn’t a fan, but a number of people really enjoyed the twists and turns in the plot while others didn’t like it at all. So, I finally decided at least to mention this very different story.

So, you’ll either love it or hate it.

But Halloween is approaching, where bizarre beings haunt our streets and sidewalks during the dark of night and beg on strangers’ doorsteps to feed a candy addiction.

Trick or Treat.

pumpkin

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