Category Archives: Women in Science Fiction

Upgrading Your Novels and Mark Lawrence

I’ve been writing for a while (years) and have reached the point where I want to pause and evaluate what I have done. The advantage of self publishing is that you can do this. Amazon permits you to revise and then re-publish at no cost.
For a Tweeker like me, this is a boon.

So, if you have written several books, especially those in a series, you might want to think about how you can refresh your work.

A new cover might be in order. You can retitle too. A few years ago, another author added her book to Amazon under the title Caught in Time. I was furious. That was my title, but titles are not copyrighted. So, too bad for me. You would think she could have done a search on Amazon to see if anyone else had the title, but she didn’t. Then a few weeks ago, the title Cosmic Entanglement came on and popped up ahead of me on the search list. Don’t think I was pleased about that. I thought about a re-title, but that would only confuse my readers. So, check out your title for a duplicate before you publish. Even so, I can re-title if I feel the need.

Back in the day, early writers were eager to get published and some drew their own covers or had an artistic friend put one together. That was good enough for a beginning author. Now, several years later, they have networked with other authors, attended conferences, and realize the advantage of a professional looking cover. I know a few who have revamped the look of their entire series.

Sales bumped up.

Okay, the outside is all spiffed up. What about the inside? If you are writing a series like I am, your earlier books don’t have your most recent books listed in the front matter. You might want to add them. Also, in the back matter, make sure you have a short teaser for each book with a link. Best time to catch a reader is when he has just finished and is interested in reading more of the story. One click and he’s there at your buy button.

Self publishing used to have a bad rap. Authors would read over their works and think it was just fine. We can’t see our own mistakes … trust me on this one.
Commas. And repetition. My downfalls. Try as I could, I didn’t catch them all, even though I have a Masters Degree in English, speech and journalism.

That’s why I’m now going back through my third book, Cosmic Entanglement and making it even better. Yes, it was edited by someone who was not only a science fiction and fantasy writer, but who also edited for several New York publishing houses. I paid a professional level fee, but still, guess what? … There were errors.

This time, I’m not going back in alone either. I use the ProWriting Aid program and Grammarly. It’s an eye opener. Prowriting Aid is reasonably priced at the premium level. ($70 per year) It gives a summary and then breaks down the writing for grammar, style, sentence structure, repeats, over-used words, offers correcting suggestions, and has a thesaurus for your words. Other reports are also available.

Grammarly is widely used. It has a free version, but mentions frequently that you have more errors which a premium version could fix. Unfortunately, it runs thirty dollars per month ($30) or cheaper per month if you pay either quarterly or in a lump sum. Lump sum is $139.95 which averages out to $11.66 per month. But then you are committed if you don’t like it.

I use the free version, however, if you’re writing hot and heavy, the premium might be your choice. It is cheaper than an editor. Or, is a good way to clean up before presenting to an editor, so her time isn’t wasted with minor spelling and grammar errors.

Now you know what I’m currently doing in the writing field. This aspect of the job is important, but it takes a different skill set than creating a story. Perseverance is critical. You must be able to forgive yourself for how many times you used the word just in the manuscript and never noticed. ( or various other words you may be fond of ) Editing again takes time, but it is time well spent.

Another place I’m spending time is in reading. I recently finished Mark Lawrence’s series Book of the Ancestor: Red Sister, Grey Sister, and Holy Sister.

I highly recommend the series.

If you like strong female protagonists, magical abilities and antics in an Abbey, you’ll like this story. I also enjoyed the allusion to a previous race that left behind strange technology, and a past starfaring race that visited the planet and incorporated bits of their genes into the current inhabitants, giving a select few extraordinary abilities.

Sound familiar?

Also, the world itself was intriguing. Covered in cold and ice, a narrow corridor rings the land, which is kept warm by an artificial moon. Its laser beam heats up this section at night, staving off the ice. Unfortunately, the sun is dying and the world’s getting colder. The corridor is narrowing. The people are getting squeezed for land, causing wars and violence as various nations fight for room and survival.

Into this mix arrives a young, dirty, recently orphaned girl called Nona. Kidnaped by a child trader and sold to the fight arena, she kills the son of the richest lord in the land by defending herself and a friend. She is saved from the noose by Abbess Glass who runs the Convent of Sweet Mercy and recognizes something special in her. But, there’s nothing sweet about the abbey or Abbess Glass who trains certain genetically gifted young girls to kill.

Four alien starships visited this world at one time, each carrying a certain trait now disbursed into the genetic mix. Nona is a rare child that carries three of the four. Speed, envisioning the path, and conjuring magic are her gifts. Size and strength is the fourth combination talent. A prophesy predicts one child will come with all four traits and save the world.

Nona’s abilities gradually unfold as she trains at the Abbey, becoming an instrument of destruction for whoever crosses her path. She finds friends, makes an enemy of the richest lord of the land, his older son, and the deadliest woman of power. Within the girls themselves hide spies and traitors. Be prepared for twists and turns, betrayal and loyalty. Plan to lose sleep if you read at night.

Mark Lawrence writes a powerful book with a powerful storyline that I hope you’ll enjoy.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling science fiction, Experiences in writing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Women in Science Fiction

Current Female Authors in Science Fiction

Women. Hooray!
Mumble, grumble… “There they go again.”

Okay guys, what would you do without us? Life would be really boring. So, as promised, I’m giving you five current female science fiction/ fantasy authors who I  think should be mentioned. Yes, yes, there are oodles more, but here’s my five. Deal with it. Feel free to add your own in the comment section.

 

First, Anne Leckie.

Ann Leckie won a Hugo in 2014 with her debut book Ancillary Justice. Her novels are interesting because the narrator’s point of view comes from an A-I who once ran the computers on a large military ship. Unfortunately, it confuses the reader by its utter disregard for gender, and you’re not sure if the human it is speaking about is male or female. That certainly pointed out to me what a gendered society we live in. There was also some confusion with clones in Ancillary Mercy as the leaders of several worlds are clones who are at war with one another, so, of course things get confusing.
Now Anne’s back with another Hugo nomination from that series with Provenance. It’s on my TBR list.

Next, Jacqueline Carey

Jacqueline Carey has a fantasy series, Kushiel’s Legacy that I read and enjoyed. The main character was a spy working undercover in a house of pleasure. So fair warning that some of the scenes are a bit pornographic. Okay, really pornographic. Her new series that starts with the Starless Sky, so far is not, but I’m still in the early stages of the story, and really enjoying it.

It balances on the edge of science fiction with an overhead sky devoid of stars and hints of ancient ones who walked their world. The story follows Kai, destined from birth to protect the princess Zariya. Childhood training on how to kill and employ stealth takes place in the deep desert as Kai prepares to face a startling destiny. True to form, Carey portrays a rich world with interesting characters and non stop action.

Thirdly, N.K. Jeminsin.

I could hardly overlook Jeminsin who won the Hugo in 2016 for her novel The Fifth Season, the 2017 Hugo for The Obelisk Gate, and now she’s nominated for the 2018 Hugo with The Stone Sky. All are in her Broken Earth Series. I started her first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and couldn’t finish it. Gods come to Earth to wrangle with humans wasn’t my cup of tea. But with so much acclaim, I’m going to have to try again with her new series. I would be interested to hear any opinions from readers who have already read it.

How about Becky Chambers?

A strong science fiction novel, Chambers charms with her series, starting with a A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. This is a light-hearted adventure of a human female, Rosemary Harper, who, in running away from a mysterious past, joins the crew of the patched-up ship the Wayfarer. On board is a zany crew who adopts the distant young woman and makes her part of their family. From Sissex, the reptilian pilot, to the chatty duo of Lizzy and Jenks, engineers who keep the ship running, to the noble Captain, Ashby, Rosemary finds love and adventure. Her next in the series, A Closed and Common Orbit is on my list to read this year.

And last, but not least, is Mur Lafferty with her exciting novel Six Wakes. This is a debut novel already nominated for the 2018 Hugo and was also nominated for the Nebula. I was ready for a strong science fiction adventure and Lafferty delivered.

Six humans crew a ship of selected Earth citizens, now in cryo, who expect to settle a new world and start over. The six awake from their replicator chamber to be confronted with a bloody massacre of their previous clones. Billed as a fresh start, no one’s past is recorded, but this time even personal memories of events and personalities are erased. The clones try to unravel the mystery of the murders to discover who among them is guilty … and why he or she is attempting to hunt and kill the crew. In the process, they uncover shocking information about who they are and what they have done.

Be prepared for twists and turns, flashbacks that offer clues, and a satisfying story of what makes for human behavior and personality.

In summary:

Jacqueline Carey. Starless
Anne Leckie. Provenance
N.K. Jeminsin. The Stone Sky
Mur Lafferty. Six Wakes
Becky Chambers A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

p.s.  I’ll be offering my first book in the Terran Trilogy, A World Too Far this Friday July 13 (12 a.m. PDT), July 14 to Sunday, July 15 (11:59 PDT) for free, free, free on Amazon or through Book Barbarian. This is a nail-biting journey of forty ships, lost in the Galaxy, trying to find a planet to call home. Space is dangerous, but humans can also be deadly if driven too far.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Clones, Discovering New Worlds, downloaded personalities, fantasy series, genetic manipulation, Hugo winners, Nebula nominations, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, Women in Science Fiction

Favorite Women in Science Fiction

Outstanding Women in Science Fiction

Science fiction is often thought of as a male genre with its space battles, male warriors, and gruesome aliens.

But not so fast. There are a number of good female authors who have made their mark in the genre.

In the spirit of the new feminism, and a different kind of #metoo, I thought I’d mention my  favorite female authors.

Even the guys will like these compelling writers.

In no particular order of preference, I’ll start with Connie Willis. Although, Connie isn’t as prolific as some of the others, when she writes, she often wins awards… Usually of the Hugo variety. Ten Hugos (includes short stories and novelettes )and nine Nebulas make her worth mentioning.
Hugo award winner To Say Nothing of the Dog is a rollicking trip through time, searching for a seminal event that has affected the future. Hold onto your hat as this one is fast and funny and explores Victorian England.

In contrast, Willis’ Hugo winning novel, The Doomsday Book is grim. Accidentally transported back in time to the plague in Europe, the main character struggles to survive. A double novel Blackout and All Clear portrays several characters trapped in time during the raid on London in World War II who also try to figure their way out to safety. Be prepared for wild action and constantly missed connections. The last Willis I read, and reviewed, was Crosstalk. This near future story takes smart phones and our interconnected internet crosstalkonto a whole new level. Again, Willis’ character becomes frenetic when an experimental phone connects so fast it’s like mental telepathy. Imagine if you could read other people’s minds. The experience becomes disorienting to say the least.

 

Only two authors have won as many as four Hugos for best novel, and one is a female.

Yes. Think about that.

The next with three for best novel is Connie Willis, Isaac Asimov, and Vernon Vinge.
But my favorite author, Lois McMaster Bujold, has won four.

Unlike Willis’ stand alone novels, Bujold is known for her Vorkosigan Saga that follows her main character, Miles Vorkosigan through many escapades in his life. But like Willis, she displays a sharp humor when writing about human behavior. Start with her first book, Shards of Honor and nibbled (or gulp) your way through the series. She has added a few Barrayarother novels such as Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance where the main character is not Miles but his swinging bachelor cousin who gets caught up in…well, I’ll let you find out what. She has packaged several of the books in omnibus style, so heads up there. In addition to her science fiction, she is prolific in several fantasy series. Enjoy those too.

 

Another female author who is prolific in both science fiction and fantasy is C.J. Cherryh. Her Down Below Station was a Hugo winner that fits into her Alliance-Union Universe series. A prolific writer like Bujold, Cherryh has so far written over eighty books, which also includes several fantasy series. Her most current science fiction saga is her Heavy TimeForeigner series. While her Alliance-Union novels can be read in any order, her Foreigner Series follows a timeline. Bren Cameron is an ambassador for the humans having landed on an alien planet and gives insight into a human struggling to understand an alien culture. Cherryh immerses her character so deeply into the culture, and because she tells tells of his experiences through the first person, the readers almost begins to think like the atevi. Bren’s life is fraught with danger in a culture that had fourteen words for betrayal and not a single one for love.

Another Hugo winner is Catherine Asaro. Her series on the Skolian Empire/Ruby Dynasty pit two star flung dynasties against each other. The Skolian Dynasty is known for their jaggarnauts with faster than light capability and the Kyle Web, while their enemy, the Eubians, thrive on slavery and cruelty. Not to be outdone, her novel The Compass Rose also won a Hugo. Recently, she has started a new offshoot of this so far fourteen book series called the Major Baahjan Series. A few characters from her first series make appearances, but the series deals mainly with a new female character who becomes a detective on an alien planet. Lots of mystery and action with an underground culture.

 

While I have picked ten authors, I’m going to end this blog with my fifth pick and finish the rest in the next blog with a full review on my most recent favorite female author.

Hastur LordBut in the mix of prolific female writers, I had to include Marion Zimmer Bradley. Her Darkover series has elements of fantasy, but takes place on an alien planet and also deals with humans from Earth trying to colonize a planet they consider alien. The natives are humans from a long ago landing who have interbred with a native alien species that carried strange powers, but are almost now extinct. The more elite of the human natives carry psychic powers received from this interbreeding. At one point, the current Terrans leave, but politics and conflict continue among the natives. This series is extensive and has invited other authors such as Mercedes Lackey and Deborah J. Ross to co-write several of the novels. There are also collection of short stories dealing with the Darkover story in an anthology series, and also an Omnibus series. There is a timeline of events, but each novel stands on its own and is complete. So, don’t be afraid to pick what looks interesting.

Next time, I’ll talk about five more outstanding female science fiction authors who are my favorites. Tell me who is your favorite female science fiction author.

All great summer reading.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Discovering New Worlds, Hugo winners, Lois McMasters Bujold, Political science fictionLois McMasters Bujold, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Women in Science Fiction