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Fake News and Incorrect Prognosticators

I’m tired of it. Headlines screaming out facts that aren’t true or are heavily biased. Same with mouthy broadcasters trying to make their mark or air controversial opinions. I also wish the politicians would quit trying to destroy each other and get on with making America better.

Notice I’m not going for great… merely better.

I wish other countries would stop preying on the gullibility of Americans. I’m not even sure the article claiming Macedonian teenagers created fake news to make big money and influence the vote isn’t fake itself. Although it has the ring of believability about it. Not so much the Indian accented guy who wants to help me fix my computer.

And my eyes keep crossing when I sit across a table and hear the other person assure me of what a well known person is going to do or what event will destroy us all, as if they had insight into the future. They need glasses.

From pollsters who assured us that Hillary would win, to market analysts who predicted a market crash if Trump won, to people on the street who were sure that ObamaCare was over–every one of those pontificating prophets were wrong.

No wonder I don’t believe anyone any more.

It’s just as bad in the publishing world as big publishing floats desperate “facts” either including them in serious sounding articles or whispering rumors into the ears of gullible authors.

Joel Friedlander, another excellent blogger who you should put on your must read list, addresses the truth versus fiction in the publishing world.

https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2017/04/fake-news-self-publishing/

Fake news busted. Now if we could only sort out the politicians.

This week I read The Dispossessed by Ursula LeGuinn. This is the required book for the Powell’s April reading group. LeGuinn is a well known local author living here in Portland since 1959. Back when science fiction was regarded as mostly pulp fiction, Ms. LeGuinn stood the genre on its head with her work. Using the medium of science fiction, her stories explore politics, society, gender, and other hot topics with a critical eye. She put a bright literary polish on what had been considered lowbrow fiction. She has won the Hugo Award, The Nebula Award, the Locus, World Fantasy and others, each more than once. My favorite of all her novels is The Lathe of Heaven, a unique novel of dreams versus reality.

In the the Dispossessed, Urras is the origin planet that runs on capitalism fueled by greed. It is opulent, corrupt and rich in resources. Back in Urras’s past, a band of anarchists escaped to her moon, Anarres, to set up their own socialist society and separate from the inequalities of the prevailing system. A wall of hate sprung up between the two.

Life on the Anarres is hard scrabble. The barren moon has to be coached to provide sustenance to its inhabitants. Everything is shared and under the philosophy of Odo, the greater good trumps the individual. Choices are limited and often not real choice. Years may separate a husband and wife as each is sent where the need is greatest according to their skills. Sacrifice is the mindset.

Shevek is a brilliant scientist on the verge of discovery. Several important scientists believe he is close to discovering the math for faster than light travel. He writes a thesis, but his department head, Sabul, who has access to the University’s printing press, will only approve and print the paper if his name goes on as a co-author with Shevek.

Shevek decides to go to Urras to break down the walls of mistrust between the two worlds, not realizing the ulterior motives beneath the welcoming smiles of the professors and leaders of the University there. Shevek is a scientist, who understands quantum theory and formulas, but not people.

The story starts with him taking off on his journey to Urras and contains interesting details on traveling through space. He is the only person to visit the planet since the exodus, and goes through a bit of cultural shock after he arrives. He is not used to the lush greenery and is startled by the singing birds, wealthy clothes, and wide variety of rich food.

The narrative jumps back and forth between present and past, revealing Shevek’s earlier life and struggles. The novel becomes a treatise on socialism versus capitalism as Shevek tries to create understanding but only causes a revolution.

Both societies suffer under LeGuinn’s sharp microscope. Both are flawed.

By the time I finished, I’d had enough of serious politics, and my next read will be strictly frivolous fantasy.

So there. Be warned.

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Authors Answer 104 – Best Advice for Authors

For any writers out there, some great advice from successful writers. The one I added to my arsenal was : “Write what you would like to read.” Thank you Thomas Weaver and congratulations for two years of interesting blogs.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

Welcome to a very special Authors Answer! This is our 104th edition, which means it’s the end of our second year. And just like last year, we have some guest authors giving their answer to this very important question. I’d like to thank authors Mark Lawrence, Michael J. Sullivan, Django Wexler, and Andrew Rowe for agreeing to participate. They were very gracious when I asked them to participate. And thank you to Jacqueline Carey for her response. Unfortunately, she has her hands full at the moment, so was unable to participate. I love authors who take the time to respond when they can!

This week’s topic is an important one. Authors sometimes need a bit of help, so we’re talking about the best advice we have received in our quest for being published.

fireworks Celebrating our 2nd anniversary!

Question 104 – What is the most important piece of writing advice anyone…

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Publishing Science Fiction

IMG_9503Lots of exciting stuff is happening at my place.

First off, A World Too Far just got published! This is the first in a new exciting trilogy built around: The Ship, the Station and the Planet. I love to write about space ships and space stations. Our view of the universe has changed so much since I was in school. Yeah, yeah, I did learn the sun was the center, not the Earth, but black holes, dark matter, multi-verses– so much more has been discovered or speculated about over the last few years. I wanted to put some of that in my book.bk9_cover_a_world_too_far_ships_kindle

Next, I’m working on marketing… my style. This means I don’t have the funds for a blizzard of ads or the inclination to travel the country for low attendance signings. That gets expensive too. I haven’t built up a large local fan base, but my readers in Australia are amazingly enthusiastic.

Thanks, mates.

I want to go there some day. My daughter studied at Macquarrie for a term in Sidney and enjoyed the city. It’s on my radar.

I will be offering Caught in Time for free once more as a first in a series book on September 14th and on Free Kindle Books and Tips on the 15th. Here’s the link for Free Kindle Books and Tips: www.fkbt.com Check it out. I’d heard they were good and so far the process has been smooth and the cost reasonable.

The beauty of Indie publishing is that you can go back into the book and update to your current books in the front matter and give new links and information at the back. I also did another read through looking for punctuation and grammar corrections …and found a few. Fixed those.

I taught high school English, but commas still give me the fits.

Along with all this commotion, I’m writing the next book in the series and purely loving it. There are moments of panic when I wonder what is coming next, but the characters always come through with some new crisis that gets me scribbling away…er…madly texting. Human nature being what it is. Aliens being what they are–something always happens.

Also, I’m working on marketing A World Too Far and found a charming new reader who is a big science fiction fan. (my kind of guy) His son works at the Oilerie and just by mentioning I was an author, he showed interest, I showed my card…and the rest was fate. This is a shop that sells mainly olive oil along with a few other intriguing condiments. It’s become my go-to place.

Folks, real life is sometimes quirkier than fiction. And I’m richer for it.

I did a Facebook announcement and was overwhelmed by the response. Some of my former Bradford High School students that I taught back in the day in Florida, stay in touch. I get glimpses of their lives long after high school. It was also nice to reconnect with some of my earlier readers and catch up with them.

to-the-starsThis week I’m highlighting another ebook space adventure called To the Stars by Thomas C. Stone.

After a brief prelude, the story starts with the process of selecting a crew to go search for new worlds. Braithwaite Corporation is a conglomerate reaching out to develop new planets and they are sending out a ship. Our main character, Harry Irons, is put on standby but then gets selected for the crew through a suspicious death. So the flight starts out with some uneasiness with him wondering if a murderer is on board.

Of course, the crew doesn’t get along with each other. However, a serious romance develops between Harry and a smart, attractive girl named Kathleen. Their Captain, Fagan, has deep secrets and appears to be directing the expedition to a particular planet.

They land on a world that has large forests and a livable atmosphere, but questions concerning its evolution cause the explorers uneasiness. Then an indigenous species, very much like the aboriginal man, is discovered. There is a viewpoint shift as we see events transpiring through the eyes of two primitive men who are brothers.

But as the crew learns more about this world, another high-level species encased in a machine body shows up to hunt the humans.

While all this develops, tensions escalate among the human crew. Kathleen is kidnapped by the local cavemen where she learns about their primitive culture.

I enjoyed the description of traveling in space and the deepening mystery of the planet. Things were not fitting together, and it became more and more apparent through the character of Harry that their Captain, Fagan, had an undisclosed agenda and knew more than he let on.

I also liked the portrayal of the two different aliens. The plot moved along and the characters were believable. However, the cover could be better. Some readers didn’t like the treatment of other crew, calling it racist or biased, but I was fine with a varied crew, and I didn’t mind that it wasn’t politically correct for affirmative action bureaucrats.

It was not trendy scifi, but it was classic and enjoyable.

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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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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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Science Fiction Series

IMG_9512I am serious with series. I write the Alysian Universe Series and several other author’s series are favorites of mine. I’ve been hanging around Powell’s lately. My volatile reading group read Dies the Fire by S.M. Sterling, which is a post apocalyptic novel that takes place here in Oregon and also the Idaho area. Because of that, it was interesting. With a bit of hand-waving, Sterling causes all electricity to stop and gunpowder to become a small puff. Planes fall out of the sky, cars stop on the highway…you get the picture.

Society reverts to earlier cultures. Medievalists and woodsmen may love this for the details of that life style. I may pull my English sword off the wall and consider lessons…just in case. Another major character is Wiccan, so that culture becomes important for survival.Dies the Fire

The response from my reading group was mixed. Several really liked the story; others thought it contrived. So, fair warning.

Then, last night I attended a Robin Hobb’s signing as she introduced her second book, Fool’s Quest, in her new trilogy. I’m currently reading it, so look for my opinion in the near future. I love her work, particularly the Assassin’s series and the earlier Fool’s and Tawny Man trilogies.Fool's Quest

Which brings me to Nemesis Games by S.A. James Corey. This Expanse Series has been a favorite since book 1: Leviathan Wakes where I wrote a positive blog a while ago. It garnered the Hugo Award in 2014 and will become a series on the Syfy channel in December 2015. Look for it.

Nemsis GamesAnd book 5: Nemesis Games didn’t disappoint. The crew of the Rocinante: Amos, Naomi, James and Alex have been through a battle (Cibola Burns) and their ship needs repair and refitting. They settle at Tycho Station, between the Belt and Earth. This massive complex is considered the pride of the Outer Alliance and Fred, a favorite character, runs it.

Soon everyone from the crew is restless and finds reasons to take off. At that point, the book splits as it follows each one to various ends of the solar system. Amos goes to Earth, Alex ends up on Mars, Naomi is captured by old acquaintances of the Belt, and Fred and James are put in peril as Tycho Station is attacked and the protomolecule stolen.

I enjoyed this part of the series as old characters came back on stage, action ramps up and the reader learns more about the personal lives of the crew. What starts off as an r&r gig, soon involves terrorist raining down rocks that massively damage Earth, betrayal and disappearing ships within the Martian military, and a kidnapping by a megalomania from the Belt. Chunks of Tycho Station are blown up. Enough action to keep most people reading.

Right now good space opera is hard to find and, for me, Nemesis Games delivered.

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New Authors in Military Science Fiction

IMG_9512New this month

I’m running a special on Caught in Time for three days after Mother’s Day. May 11,12, and 13th. I will offer this first book in the Alysian Series free, free, free.

The story concerns a time travel romance and adventure to medieval times, along the lines of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, except it takes place on an abandoned alien world rather than Earth.

Lots of adventure, intrigue and a pinch of romance bubble through the story.

Available on Amazon or through the Fussy Librarian. The Fussy Librarian is a new venue that I’m experimenting with, so I’ll let you know if it proves successful or not.Five Element Anthology

Also our Beaverton Writers’ Five Elements Anthology will also be free on Amazon for a limited time. (May 7-11) I have a short story in it called “The Peace Treaty” that was fun to write.

Furthermore, I’m excited that Ted Blasche has finally published The Rust Bucket Chronicles. Ted is ex-military and has a wicked sense of humor. He loves military scifi and often suggest books for me. Lois Bujold is one of my favorite authors, and Ted has that same flavor of military action, humor, and adventure with a touch of romance that has made her so popular.

Ted

The Rust Bucket Chronicles takes place on one of Earth’s long abandoned colonies. Russell Buckley is a back alley kid who loses his mother to the plague, but is saved by a medic of her Majesty’s Third Rifles. From then on, his goal is to join that special military unit. When he finally secures an interview with Queen Arrabella to qualify for the unit, he lands smack in the middle of a palace coup attempt where he is the only one left to save the young queen. Danger and narrow hiding spaces soon make them close companions as they thwart the rebels’ attempts of a takeover.

Rust Bucket ChroniclesWhile he sees Arrabella as the woman of his dreams, she sees him as a troubleshooter who she can use to solve her many political problems. Within six months, Rusty finds himself on the nearby world of Garbasso battling mud, incompetent officers and ten foot lizard-like aliens that are eager to have him for lunch. His courage, his daring and common sense help save him and his unit, while his candid observations and determination to change the system lands him in trouble. In anger, one of the officers call him “Rust Bucket,” and the nickname sticks to haunt him for the rest of his life.

This adventure is the first of many in this fun new series. Check it out on Amazon.

Another military series catching on is Ryk Brown’s Frontier’s Sagas. Often I recommend the first book in the series, but have little time to go back and read the rest. This time the first book Aurora CV-01 was so fast-paced and exciting that I was determined to check out others in the series.Rings of HavenAurora

So I just finished reading the second book, The Rings of Haven, which is calmer, as you are introduced to an alien planet far from Earth. Young Nathan Scott, son of a rich senator, finds himself Captain of a damaged spaceship far, far from Earth and home.

Having survived two unexpected battles with alien humans, he has guided his surviving skeleton crew and ship to a planet called Haven on the advice of dodgy alien rebels. His ship is running out of food and supplies, and he must somehow repair the ship and figure out how he can return them all safely back to Earth. The only way appears to be through the prototype jump drive that got them so far out in the first place. But nearby enemy Tarkans are very interested in such devices and would do anything to get their hands on it. Who can he trust? And how can he get his ship home?

While I liked this next episode, it didn’t have the fast-paced action found in Aurora CV-01. Still, the new world was interesting as Captain Scott and crew try to gain allies in order to find their way back to Earth.

Legend of CorinairSpread the word of my limited free offer for Caught in Time and have a wonderful May.
I love Spring!

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