Category Archives: science fiction science

Books Translating into Media Forms

Have you noticed recently a lot of familiar book titles showing up on various streaming services? Movies? Television series? Then I read the last few blogs of Kris Rusch talking about licensing your work. Story content is at a premium in the war for streaming memberships, and she urges authors to look into the lucrative world of licensing.

Think about it. Star Wars has made a fortune on licensing games, dolls, cups, sweatshirts. Oh, you’ve seen all the stuff. Their products are everywhere, and it’s all from a story.

But, you say… I’m not famous. Well, according to Kris, you don’t have to be. Check out her blog and her experience at the Vegas licensing conference.

http://www.kriswrites.com/2019/08/07/business-musings..

However, it didn’t all come together in my mind until I read Tor’s blog on upcoming books adapted for media. (Movies, Netflix, TV, etc.)

Mind blown.

There’s too many to list here, so I’m just going to mention those books I have recommended in my blogs that I’m familiar with. I’m omitting the large quantity of graphic novels slated for production. Also, some went into contact and because of delays, the contracts have expired.

But still, the list is extensive.

First…those science fiction stories that are returning from an already broadcasted series and are in upcoming productions for an additional season.

The Expanse by James Corey.– This is an long series that is very good. So far the production has been outstanding. Coming on Amazon streaming service Dec 13 renewed by Amazon after being dropped by Netflix.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness broadcast– US /BBC April 2019. Second and third season has no date yet but is in production. (See discussion on this below). Well done as a broadcast.

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan (See trailer and review in previous blog) Season 1 was February 2018. It’s a gritty Cyberpunk murder mystery where people can be “sleeved” into other bodies or cloned. Far future. It has been renewed for eight seasons by Netflix and is in production to return in 2020.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman–Already available on Netflix, the first two seasons deal with a group of students at a college that teaches magic. They discover an alternate fantasy world through a book and soon are battling a variety of demons and bad guys while dealing with several romantic conflicts. Next in the series due out in 2020.

Man in the High Castle. By Philip K. Dick.–First two series on Netflix. Third season due out Nov 2019. It tells the story of an alternate universe during Hitler’s era where Germany and Japan have divided up the United States. However, there’s a secret film that has our timeline on it where Germany is defeated, and everybody is searching for it to take to the “man in the castle.”.

Outlander by Diana Gilbraldi. –several seasons already. Starz says that the fifth season of the Golden Globe-nominated original series Outlander will premiere on Sunday, February 16 2020. It will be the first time new episodes have aired since the season 4 finale in January. … Season five is currently in production in Scotland.
There are eight books in this romantic time travel series to date. My own Caught in Time has a similar premise of a woman traveling to the past and falling in love… Only my female protagonist is sent back to assassinate the king, but she accidentally falls in love with him because of mistaken identity.

The Umbrella Academy. First season on Netflix. No date yet for second season, but ten episodes confirmed. This is based on a comic book story of a dysfunctional family of superheroes who are now reunited to face a world threat.

The Feed by Nick Clarke Wundo. First season on Amazon Prime Nov 22 2019. Second season to date is neither canceled or confirmed. Based on science fiction thriller where technology is placed in everyone’s brain and people can read other’s minds.

The City and City by China Mieville aired BBC (Britbox) April 2019 but no date for U.S. yet. Science fiction crime thriller takes place in dimensionally overlapped cities.

These are a few of an already broadcasted series that I have mentioned in my blog or viewed.

There are many books or graphic novels that are in contract to be published in the media. Here are only a few I’m familiar with.

Artemis by Andy Weir. Film. 20th Century Fox
Artemis is a 2017 science fiction novel that takes place in the late 2080s and is set in Artemis, the first and so far only city on the Moon. It follows the life of porter and smuggler Jasmine “Jazz” Bashara as she gets caught up in a conspiracy for control of the city. Wild young lady who disrupt the moon community. (in blog)

Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie—to be announced. (In blog) Breq used to be the spaceship Justice of Toren, controlling countless ancillary soldiers, before an accident fragmented her. Now, in a single form, she is returning to the Imperial Radch to confront its ruler, Anaander Mianaai. adapted for Fox tv.

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. Put pilot for TV. NBC. (In blog)
With an approaching asteroid on a collision course with Earth, the end of the world is just months away. But as civilization frays at the edges, police detective Hank Palace is determined to stay on the job and investigate the crimes everyone ignores. (In blog)

Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey is a high fantasy series called Kushiel’s Legacy. At this time, it is unclear if Lionsgate is planning a film franchise or looking to bring the series to a cable channel as a series in the vein of Game of Thrones or Outlander, which all had successful leaps from page to screen. (in blog)

Name of the Wind. By Patrick Rothfuss—optioned by Lionsgate for Film, TV, or possibly gaming. (In blog)
The Kingkiller Chronicle is a fantasy series by Patrick Rothfuss, which recounts the story of Kvothe, an adventurer and musician. The story is narrated from the third person, but mostly consists of Kvothe narrating his life to a scribe in the first person.

Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin optioned for TV. (In blog)

Lies of Locke Lemora. By Scott Lynch —TV. Tba
The Lies of Locke Lamora is a 2006 fantasy novel by American writer Scott Lynch, the first book of the Gentleman Bastard series. Elite con artists calling themselves the “Gentleman Bastards” rob the rich of the city of Camorr, based on late medieval Venice but on an unnamed world. (In blog)

Fifth Season. By N. K. Jemisin TV. TNT in progress (In blog)
At the end of the world, a woman must hide her secret power and find her kidnapped daughter in this intricate and extraordinary Hugo Award winning novel of power, oppression, and revolution.

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Heinlein (In blog)

The Peripheral by Gibson—Amazon series
Neuromancer by Gibson. Film looking for screenwriter (In blog) Gibson is the father of the Cyberpunk genre. Hugo award winning novel.

Redshirts and Old Man’s War– Scalzi up for option on Old Man’s War. Netflix (In blog)
An adaptation of the John Scalzi science fiction novel “Old Man’s War.” Released in 2005, the novel tells the tale of a futuristic army, the Colonial Defense Forces. An intergalactic Earth military, the CDF’s soldiers are placed in updated versions of their own bodies and have their DNA enhanced by nanotechnology. At age 75, retired writer John Perry enlists and is given the gift of youth at the cost of military service.

Rivers of London by a Ben Aronvitch TV series (In blog) Also titled Midnight Riot.
This bestselling UK series follows Peter Grant, an ordinary constable turned magician’s apprentice, as he solves crimes across London in a sensational blend of inventive urban fantasy, gripping mystery thriller, and hilarious fantasy caper.

Sand Hugh Howey. TV at syfy channel, tv.
a story about a world covered in dunes in which a select few “sand divers” are able to retrieve lost relics from beneath the worldwide desert brought about by ecological devastation.

Seveneve’s Gaiman. Ron Howard adapting for movie
A colony of survivors living in outer space try to return to Earth thousands of years after it was evacuated.

Shipbreaker Paola Bacigalupi. In production. For film by Cinamablend beginning 2018
Shipbreakers is a thriller that deals with the ecological breakdown of Earth. The Polar caps are melting and New Orleans is under water. (in blog) YA

Spin Robert Charles Wilson syfy mini series now on backburner (In blog)

The Strange Case of the Alchemists Daughter by Theodora Goss. TV (in future blog)
Based on some of literature’s horror and science fiction classics, this is the story of a remarkable group of women who come together to solve the mystery of a series of gruesome murders—and the bigger mystery of their own origins.

Stranger in a Strange Land. Heinlein optioned for TV. Famous classic Hugo winning novel

Time Salvager Leslie Chu for film (In blog) optioned in 2015 tba
Centuries in the future, a burned-out time traveler breaks society’s highest law for love and the chance to restore a toxic Earth.

The Telling (aka The Disposed) Ursula Le Guin. Film (In blog)
The 2019 Sundance Film Festival began on January 24 and runs through February 3, 2019. “The Dispossessed” is part of the Shorts Program at Sundance Film Festival.

The Time Travelers Wife Already a movie, now optioned for TV (In blog)
Problems one faces when your husband is an involuntary time traveler.

The Three-body Problem by Cixin Liu. Six movies… Already finished shooting in 2015, but the release date is still unclear. During China’s Cultural Revolution, a secret military program sends signals into space to initiate first contact with aliens. Years later, a physicist uses a virtual reality game to uncover what the aliens actually want from Earth. (in blog)

The Way of Kings Sanderson (In blog) DMG three movie sets.
The Stormlight Archive is set thousands of years after disastrous cyclical wars ravaged the storm-swept planet of Roshar—a time when the Heralds of the Knights Radiant and their ten powerful swords, the Honorblades, have been reduced to legend. Even the ancient Voidbringers, who once swept the planet in invasions called”Desolations,” are now a mystery. The nations of the world squabble amongst themselves, until the threat of a final Desolation known as the Everstorm rears its head at the end of The Way of Kings.

Uprooted by Naomi Novik (In blog) Warner Bros film along with co-producer Ellen Degeneress won rights in 2014. Air date to be announced.
Follows a young woman who lives near a corrupted woods where people rely on the powers of a wizard to keep the evil at bay.

Wool Hugh Hugh Howey (In blog) AMC developing TV series.
Tells a post-apocalyptic story that follows a sheriff, his wife, and their larger society forced underground due to toxic air on the surface of the planet.

These are just a few I cherry picked from a large list that I have already talked about in my blog. For a more complete list go to:

(Almost) Every Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Comic Book Adaptation in the Works

 

This blog idea came about when I received a free ARC copy of A Discovery of Witches and then noticed it was a series on Netflix.

Netflix did a good job with the adaptation that spans several episodes.

The story is about a descendent of one of the Salem witches who denies her powerful magical abilities until she is forced to use them to protect herself and acknowledge her legacy. She is a professor at University and when doing research on alchemy in the library there, one of the books she takes off the shelves is a sought after book by several supernatural creatures. A prominent professor, secret vampire, notices and stalks her to gain the book and its secrets. However, a difficult romantic entanglement ensues, and he decides to keep her safe from the clustering werewolves, vampires, witches, and other fey creatures who want the book for their own reasons. Time travel gets involved.

There are three novels in this trilogy and Times Convert, next on my list to read, is the second in the series. I look forward to the Netflix version when it airs.

Just waiting on Christmas

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, award winning scifi, Computer implants in science fiction, Cyberpunk, Dystopia Earth, first contact, Hugo winners, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction science, supernatural

Black Holes as Gentle Portals?

At last!

Pop the cork and pour the champagne. The last book in the Terran Trilogy is published.

Weight of Gravity.  By me.

Now I just how to figure out the marketing and letting my readers know about it. Spread the word.

A lot of advisors urge authors to begin marketing months in advance, but it worked out better that no firm date was set and no program was in place. That would have been embarrassing because the Beta readers delayed, my cover artist had life setbacks, and the holiday interrupted my work. Then the editing began.

And now, the final publishing date has been made all the sweeter.  YEA.

In this final Terran version, Elise lands on the planet Alysia, but her start there is a struggle. Terrans and Alysians clash. The Alysians abduct several female invaders to sell into a slave ring, and Richard Steele is called upon to find them and get them back … two from the harem of Khalib Allfyre.

I love a desert adventure.

But that is the least of his problems. Time-traveling daughter Tempest shows up from the future to warn him of a probable attack from hostile aliens. He scrambles to once again set up a defense for Alysia.

This time, the ships are identified as part of the Fleet of the Fallen, the ships that attacked both Elise’s fleet and Braden Steele’s ships. Definitely hostile, they are searching to take over Alysia and make it their own.

I love this story and there’s a lot of action and character interaction in it.

But I do want to stand on my soapbox and rant a bit. Because when you have a blog, you can … judiciously.

When an author writes science fiction, he or she deals a lot in imagination mixed with science. Some of that science, such as wormholes, faster than light travel, and other stuff is accepted in the science fiction circles while not fully proven in the real realm.

One thing I hear constantly repeated in the many documentaries I view is the scientists saying that what they found was not what they expected. I’m amazed at how new discoveries are radically changing our knowledge and vision of the universe since my days of studying astronomy in high school.

Even worse, my father earnestly said that we would never leave the Earth because we didn’t have enough power to get the velocity to escape Earth’s gravity.

Well … that proved to be false. Ask a few astronauts,

And, our knowledge continues to expand as we send out more and more probes and craft such as the Voyager 1 and now Voyager 2, which just left our solar system for interstellar space.

We’re finally getting out there for a better look, but the going is slow due to the vast distances we have to travel. Until we see up close, then, we can’t know for certain what a black hole is or how it reacts. In fact, not many years ago, they were considered merely theoretical, and non-existent by some.

Now we accept them, and in fact, scientists are saying there is one at the center of most solar systems. They also add that there are several types of black holes, each with different behaviors. After reading the following report, I decided to include a black hole in my first book, A World Too Far, because, it was just too juicy an item to leave out of a spacefaring story. Because this genre is called science fiction, I wove the known science and my imagination together to serve the story.

Ask Ray Bradbury if that can work.

But a few readers protested the scene.

What I want to say is that we know very little about black holes, even now. In fact in the following link, Gauray Khanna, Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and his Ph.D. student Caroline Mallary built a computer model in 2016 that captured the essential physical effects on a spacecraft, or any large object, falling into a large rotating black hole like Sagittarius A. Professors Khanna and Lior Burko have been investigating the physics of black holes for over two decades, so they are not novices to the subject.

What Mallary discovered was that “under all conditions an object falling into a rotating black hole would not experience infinitely large effects upon passage through the hole’s so-called inner horizon singularity.”
Not only that, … “under the right circumstances, these effects may be negligibly small, allowing for a rather comfortable passage through the singularity.”

In the film, Interstellar, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey’s character) survived his fall into a supermassive rotating black hole.

No one blinked. No one ranted. The response was…science fiction… how interesting.

At least as far as I’m aware.

So, believe it or not, I do a lot of research for my stories, and then add in imagination that serves the story. In fact, for Weight of Gravity, I used an actual transcript from a shuttle launch at NASA to try to get the dialogue right.

Okay, I’m going to step down. But I want to point out that there is a lot we still have to learn about our universe and possible other universes out there, and no one has all the answers yet.

But isn’t it fun to speculate?

Here’s the link for the whole story:https://theconversation.com/rotating-black-holes-may-serve-as-gentle-portals-for-hyperspace-travel-107062

Spring is on its way. Unfortunately, this weekend, so is possible snow.

Stay warm and read a good book. I’ve got a good suggestion. (see above)

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Filed under Cutting Edge Science ideas, first contact, science fiction, science fiction science, science fiction series, time travel

Publishing Prediction for 2017

Mother nature is throwing fits.

In Oregon, just west of us, forty thousand areas of beautiful forests are burning near Multnomah Falls. Here in Portland the sky glows an apocalyptic orange and ash sprinkles all over, dusting my car and home.

In Florida, where both my husband and I grew up, and some family still resides, a monster hurricane roars toward land and residents flee before it.

What is going on?

My brother in Winter Garden, Florida, commented that the two events should meet and cancel each other out.

If only it were that easy.

Maybe an author could use the two events to pen an apocalyptic novel. They seem so popular nowadays.

Meanwhile, there’s hope for the future. While the hurricane is still whirling toward Miami, our winds have changed course today and are blowing the smoke away from us. (cough, cough)

So, hopefully, we resilient humans will survive nature’s tantrums.

Looking into the future, Written Word did a survey at the beginning of 2017 on publishing, and since I’ve been in full blown survey mode lately, I thought to pass along the results and implications for you as an author. The caveat is that Written Word sponsors ad sites such as Freebooksy, Bargain Books and others and is ebook friendly.

Here’s the link : http://bit.ly/2hVpPOQ  

Their Findings:

  1. The Majority of Fiction Sales will Come from eBooks.  What does this mean for you? For a first-time fiction author, publishing your work as an ebook is an affordable and easy way to enter the market.
  2. Indie Authors and Small Presses will Dominate. Fifty percent of fiction’s market share consists of small presses, Indie authors and Amazon imprints. Competition is increasing and pricing alone is not enough.
  3. Amazon Imprints will Command Top Spots. Amazon now has thirteen active publishing imprints, each in a given genre. If you can market your book in conjunction with an Amazon imprint title, the number of readers who see your book may go up.
  4. Kindle Unlimited Readership will Grow. The subscription based model is catching on all over. While belonging to KDP Select puts your book in front of more readers and enables you to be paid by the page, this trend may over time decrease single unit sales as readers stock up their libraries with “borrowed” books.
  5. Crowding will Result in Increased Competition. Books are no longer short term. There is a long tail that an author should cultivate. Check out Katherine Rusch’s blog on marketing and branding. (see previous blogs) Think out your strategy. For some authors, it may involve getting back rights, re-invigorating old titles with new covers, and bringing them online.
  6. Audiobooks will Gain in Popularity. Already I’m hearing readers talk about how they listen to books in the car, on the job, at home. Expand your horizons to include other formats such as paperback. The more formats you have, the wider your audience.
  7. Marketing will Determine the Winners. More and more, this is becoming true. This survey was done by an ad site that offers various ways to pay for marketing, but even so, I feel this is true. Marketeers are springing up to provide the dreaded marketing service, so once again, author beware of what you are paying for. Research how you plan to market your work and then work your plan.
  8. Amazon Marketing Services ads are likely to become the next big thing. Maybe. The point here is that this is a rapidly changing business. Keep abreast of what is working and what has played out. Don’t be afraid to try new techniques when it comes to selling your books.
  9. International Audiences Provide for Growth. Mark Lefebvre of Kobo talks about the growing trend in international publishing. I sell a certain percentage of my books to the UK, Canada, and Australia through Amazon. “Going Wide” may be a way to extend an author’s reach and generate more sales.
  10. Author Will Band Together. I already see a rise in book bundling. Authors such as Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck have bonded together under the pen name of James S. A. Corey to write international best sellers and produce a popular television series. Others join with authors in a similar genre and publish together in a set. Each brings their fans to the table and expands the fan base of the others.

Are there trends that you are noticing? What do these trends mean to authors and how can we adapt to them?

This week I wanted to support a small press offering that I discovered from an ad site. Chimera by N. J. Tanger has received 260 reviews with a 4.6 rating. Pretty impressive.

The story: For over  a decade, Earth’s first colony has been waiting for word. No contact, no resupply from the mother planet is causing the colony to slowly go extinct. The only way to make contact is through the ancient colony ship Chimera. But the onboard AI is asleep and the ship derelict. It needs extensive repairs. A selection process is put in place for a young crew, and one desperate teenager hacks his way onto the list.

Another young girl has piloted a trawler illegally for her alcoholic father, and through a chance encounter onboard the Chimera, makes contact with the AI when no one else can.

An interesting story with a YA flavor due to the main characters, but adults will like it for the characters and developing plot. This is the first in what looks to be an enjoyable series.

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Filed under Alien worlds, artificial intelligence, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, science fiction science, space ship, YA science ficiton

Science Fiction: On the Edge

I live in Oregon and the whole region around me is a-twitter about the coming total eclipse. I live an hour away from the coast area that lies in its path. However, my husband is not a fan of big crowds, so I expected we would view what we could from home. Then a week ago, he ups and says, “It’s a once in a lifetime experience. We have to go see it.”

A million people converging on the area, and he plans to drive somewhere to view it somehow. Details were sketchy.

Heaven help me… And it did.

I was moaning about this turn off events while bringing in the garbage cans, when my neighbor (doing the same) offered an invitation to join her and her husband at their place in Pacific City. We can leave a day or two early and hopefully miss some of the traffic. They are fun to be with, and what at first sounded like a disaster, is turning into whaeclipset could be a very memorable weekend.

It is exciting to be in a place where such a unique astronomical event occurs.

Something to tell my grandchildren about. If that ever happens. Something to mutter in my old age, “I remember when…”

***

This week I finished Edge of Dark by Brenda Cooper. It was nominated for the Campbell Award. I must mention that it is tied to previous books The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep. I was unaware of this until I encountered a rant by a reviewer on Goodreads. Frankly, it didn’t disrupt the story for me at all. In my own series, several of the books are separated by spans of time and are also stand alone stories about future generations of the originals.

What makes this book worth reading is its approach on the issue of transhumanism. Each chapter is titled with a character’s name and represents his or her viewpoint. (three main characters)

Charlie stands for the environmentalist. He is a ranger on a planet called Lym that at one time had been mined and polluted. Under the rangers’ care, the wildlife and environment are being restored. The wildlife, however, can be very dangerous and the planet represents raw nature.

Nona comes from the Diamond Deep, an immense space station out in the depths of space. Her mother is dying, her father dead. Both were too late to receive the cocktail of life, now given to their daughter. Upon her father’s deathbed, she promises him to see a sky and watch a sunset. As her mother is dying, she reminds Nona of this promise and asks her to talk to a powerful relative, Saryana. Reluctantly, Nona does and learns that she owns her own spaceship and an inheritance. She’s rich. Saryana directs her to Lym and hires Charlie to be a tour guide for the young woman so she can experience what a planet feels and looks like.

Charlie expects her to be a spoiled rich spacer, but of course, I smiled as I watched a bit of impossible romance bloom between them.

Nona’s best friend is Chrystal who lives in the High Sweet Home, an outer ring space station. She lives with three others: two men, Yi and Jason, and her friend Katherine. They are scientists living in a commune and breeding genetically modified stock.

Outside beyond the dark are the banished cyborg and artificial intelligent robots that call themselves the Next. Far more intelligent than humans, and physically able to modify themselves, they do not need to eat, sleep or breathe. They are powerful beings who want to return and claim portions of planets, such as Lym, for the metal resources there. They capture the High Sweet Home and take Chrystal and her group, destroy their human bodies, and download them into robot bodies that resemble their original form to use as liaisons with the humans.

Chrystal’s chapters are chilling. They are first person narratives where the reader experiences the emotions of a human mind forced into a powerful mechanical body against her will. Not all survive the transformation, and in fact, Katherine doesn’t make it.

The Next make the three, Crystal, Yi and Jason their ambassadors and lure Nona out to the Diamond Deep to save her friend. Charlie is persuaded to go as Lym’s ambassador. Since he’s never been off planet, adjusting to space is a challenge for him.

Brenda Cooper neatly presents all sides of the artificial intelligence debate. Charlie is the human who wants to keep his planet pristine and natural. Nona is the child of ship and station who only knows life in space. Chrystal experiences the vicious prejudices of the terrified humans who call her a thing and refuse her humanity. Even her own mother repudiates her. And Jhailing is the robot who teaches Chystal to survive her difficult transformation. She learns to speak to the other robots using a kind of mental telepathy. No longer does she need to eat, sleep, or breathe. Her powerful body can pick up a human and kill him with a throw. As many humans who are repulsed by the robots, an equal amount are intrigued with the thought of becoming a robot in order to gain immortality, great intelligence, and the strength of such a form.

The reader gets a glimpse of the frightening things that the shadowy, more advanced robots can do, including shape shifting and duplication and wonder at their true purpose in returning. The humans are given a choice of Uphold, Allow or Help as the council votes on their human response to the approaching fleet of Next.

The Spear of Light continues the story. Also, Cooper just released in June, The Wilders.

***

 Monday the world will go dark in the middle of the day. A reminder of the frailty of the human species in a powerful universe.

But it will only be for two minutes, and the sun will return.

President Trump will tweet something, and somewhere a terrorist or protester will commit a violent act, and we’ll return to the insanity of our vulnerable world.

With only science fiction to warn us that we should behave better or face the consequences.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Cutting Edge Science ideas, environmental issues in science fiction, gene modification, genetic manipulation, Hard science fiction, modifying humans, Robots in science fiction, science fiction science, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

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

Time to Read: Bone Clocks

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Interesting science news:

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

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

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

In the marketing information section:

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

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

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

Bone Clock D. MitchellBook Review:

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

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some readers did; some didn’t.

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Indie Marketing and a Techno-Science Thriller

IMG_9512You can’t do it alone any more. A year or two ago an author could take ten minutes and set up a KDP Select program (Kindle Digital Platform) and garner 6,000 to 4,000 or more free downloads of the book over the five free days and if she, or he, had a series, a slew of retail sales would follow. Back in 2014 I did this with 4500 free downloads of Caught in Time and subsequent hand clapping sales.
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To be fair, I also scheduled signing and book fairs which were expensive and exhausting. I wasn’t backed by a TOR publisher or on the New York Times bestseller list…which meant I had to do the work myself.

Welcome to Indie publishing.

Now, even that isn’t enough. Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited Program appears to have satiated the freebie market to a certain extent. After it’s introduction many authors noticed a drop in their KDP Select downloads, me included. (Kindle Unlimited sales, however, increased quite a bit) I have no hard data, just several comments by other authors that noted lesser downloads.

Granted, each author makes his own way to find out how to sell best, but currently an overwhelming number of sites offer to advertise your book if you discount it, usually for one day and charge you for the ad…usually from $300 (depending on factors and genre) to $5.00. Be aware that these sites post your cover and blurb, then link to Amazon for the buy. Amazon pays them a fee for being an affiliate. You set up an Amazon KDP Select or Kindle Countdown program and pair it with ads..as many as the budget allows.

A huge number of websites are hopping on this bandwagon as desperate authors are willing to severely discount their book and pay to advertise if it will boost sales and bump them up the bestseller chart. No one will buy your book if they don’t know it exits. At least, that’s the thinking.

I was #1 on the free kindle science fiction space opera chart…

…For two days.
Then my program went off and I was down in the paid mob at Amazon again.

Blog posts are lighting up suggesting which advertisers work and which ones don’t. Because if you spend $300.00 or even $70. You need to sell a lot of books to make it worthwhile, and usually the site requires the book be under a certain price or at least discounted by a given percent. That’s the draw for the subscriber.

Most often, the book itself, the cover, and the genre determine the success of the program. Some of the programs are scams and you may never see the ad. Pirating is a growing problem. So be selective and do your homework.

While many Indie authors are offering their books at cheaper and cheaper prices, the big publishers are going in the other direction. Agency pricing was the big contract fight between Hatchette and Amazon. Check out the new listings for books by established authors with major publishers. EBooks are running $10 to $15 dollars. Hardbacks are offered for preorder at $25 and $27 dollars.

I’m shaking my head at the craziness of the book market while keeping an eye on what other media is doing. Sometimes they lead the way. Remember Napster? Think about Netflix. Let me know what you have found that works for you. Let’s compare notes.

NexusAre you ready for science fiction with transhumanism, a drug with a nano driven software platform that enables mind to mind control and big ethical questions concerning how far should science go?

Then, you might want to read Nexus by Ramez Naam.

Nexus is a Techno-spy thriller with kidnapping, murder, an undercover beautiful Homeland Security operative, and mind blowing science. When Kade Lane develops the experimental nano drug Nexus that can cause minds to link and read each other’s thoughts, U.S. Homeland Security gets involved and will do whatever it takes to shut the program down.

But Kade has a vision of a transcendent, unified humanity while being aware of the dangers the drug poses if it falls into the wrong hands.

The Chinese also are dabbling in Nexus and when Kade develops an even more powerful Nexus 5, capable of changing the very definition of what it means to be human, then he becomes a target for both the U.S. Government and the Chinese.Crux

Winning the Prometheus Award, the Endeavor, and selected NPR best book of the year, this book combines thriller like action with futuristic tech that asks big questions. How far should governments and society allow science to transform what it means to be human?

ApexWe need to examine these questions as science is now outpacing regulations in many areas. We can already use mind control to move cursors on a computer and have shown the ability to clone animals. If you haven’t already, check out Kurtzweil’s newsletter for current discoveries.

What will we do as a society if such a drug as Nexus gets developed? Do we offer it to everyone or totally stamp it out to protect ourselves?

While the book has a exciting story, it also makes you think long after you put it down.

p.s. I explore a computer implant in a human brain in Someone’s Clone if that’s your flavor.

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