Tag Archives: Brandon Sanderson

Twelve Authors to Binge on in Science Fiction and Fantasy

img_1018Santa will soon be sliding into town and my rushing around to get ready is taking time from writing and reading. But in attempt to get you ready for the holiday doldrums, I’ve come up with twelve binge reading ideas.

Because once the hooha dies down, there may come days in a row where you are tired of parties and company and would like to do a little binge reading.

I’ve picked out twelve authors randomly (for the twelve days of Christmas) who offer a good binge-reading experience.

1. Frank Herbert’s Dune Series. Dune is a classic with incredible world building and intriguing characters. After Frank Hebert’s death, his son, Brian Herbert and fellow writer, Kevin Anderson, added a number of readable prequels and additions to the storyline. Just out in September 2016 is Navigators of Dune that tells about the strange ship navigators that can fold space.

Fool's Quest2. Robin Hobbs and all her Realm of the Elderling books are good. Start with the Assassin’s Apprentice and read on up to her current Fool’s Assassin.

3. William Gibson’s Sprawl Series. William Gibson is the father of Cyberpunk. Neuromancer is his Hugo winning start, but the rest in the series : Mona Lisa Overdrive, Count Zero Interrupt, Zero History etc. are interesting, particularly if you look at the dates when they were written and current technology and events.

4. Lois Bujold’s Vorsigan Series. Read how the irrepressible Miles Vorsigan deals with life. I even enjoyed the more recent Captain Vortapil’s Alliance and Miles wasn’t the main character. Bujold has won numerous awards for this series and others in the fantasy realm.Barrayar

Visitor

5. C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner Series. Start at the beginning, but her latest, Visitor is seventh in the series and an amazing study on how to handle first contact with an alien race. Also, Cherryh has an Alliance-Union Series of merchant ships caught in the politics of war among planets. My all-time favorites of Heavy Time and Hellburner are in this series. Rimrunner, Merchants Luck, and the Hugo award winning Down Below Station are stand alone stories that also take place in the Alliance-Union Universe. I also want to mention a good fantasy series of hers called the Fortress Series

Expanse Collection6. James Corey’s The Expanse Series. Recently this exciting series hit television with some interesting visual effects. In January, the second season is due to fire up and continue the storyline. Start with Leviathan Wakes and read up to the new Babylon ‘s Ashes just published December 6. Space Opera at its best.

7. Joe Abercrombie ‘s First Law Trilogy. A fantasy trilogy that you won’t be able to put down. It starts with The Blade Itself, Before They were Hanged and ends with Last Argument of Kings. If you’re a delicate reader, this one gets gritty… Fair warning.First Law Trilogy

8. Brandon Sanderson has several series. His Mistborn Series breaks into two trilogies. The most recent just out is Bands of Mourning. (See my blog on it) Also his The Stormlight Archive with Way of Kings and Words of Radiance is quite good. Doorstoppers, both of them.

The Lies of Locke Lamora9. Scott Lynch and his Gentlemen Bastards series has also been a favorite of mine. The first is The Lies of Locke Lamora, then Red Seas Under Red Skies and The Republic of Thieves. Soon to come out is The Thorn of Emberlaine. Great adventure in the life of Renaissance swindlers.

10.  L. E. Modesitte has written sixty books! His Saga of the Recluse Series is very popular and his Imager Series just had its seventh book released today called Treachery’s Tools. He has several other series that are more hard science and futuristic. One of my favorites is Gravity Dreams and the Octagonal Raven. Lots to binge on with this author.   Imager

Ender's Game

11. Orson Scott Card. Can’t forget his Ender’s Game, one of the most popular science fiction books of all time. (made into a movie) Spin offs from this series are still popping up, so start now and be on the look out.

12. And last but not Least…Sheron Mccartha’s The Alysian Universe series. Now you knew I would have to mention it. For all the books in this series look right and see my listing.

These are just a few series or large books to binge on over the holidays when you want to escape the madness of the holiday or the frenetic relatives. There are more equally as good I haven’t yet mentioned (and might). Do you have any favorites? Let us know.

Until then,

May the Christmas Spirit be with you.

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Filed under Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, fantasy series, first contact, Hugo winners, Mistborn series, science fiction series, science fiction space opera

Science Fiction Series: Brandon Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning

photoI always do a happy dance at the start of spring. Warmer weather and longer days are near at hand, and summer lies not far away, full of promise.

Along the lines of marketing: Last week, I placed two ads. One was with Choosy Bookworm and the other with Free Kindle Ebooks. I selected the enhanced Choosy program for $70 and kicked in the $25 Free Kindle on the following day. Oddly enough, the Free Kindle program did better. Unfortunately, if you’re not marketing in some fashion, sales drop off. In this program I came out ahead, although downloads were less than before and I didn’t get as much follow-on buying of the rest of the series as in past campaigns.

Still, I’m happy with results but need to plan for next month.

A quick interesting science note from Kurtzweiler’s newsletter. The link is long, but it appears a new fabric has been developed that cleans itself through exposure to light. Wow! That could be revolutionary. As someone who does a lot of laundry, this was intriguing. Check out the details.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/nano-enhanced-textiles-clean-themselves-with-light?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0eaf0340c9-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_147a5a48c1-0eaf0340c9-281983297

Bands of MourningThis week I was excited to review Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is a science fiction writer at the forefront of the genre. (see past blogs) He completed Robert Jordan’s bestselling series The Wheel of Time, after Jordan’s death and has several other series in his own name. He is best known for his Mistborn trilogy, which if you haven’t read yet, you should read first. The Bands of Mourning is the third in a series that takes place in the same world, but jumps ahead to the nineteenth century. Hence, there’s a Steampunk flavor along with the Western theme. You also have a highly thought out system of magic that uses metallurgy. Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn. He has both Feruchemical and Allomantic abilities. Burn some metal, then fly through the air sounds like fun, but he fights against evil and constantly puts himself in harm’s way where he relies on burning certain metals that activate his “magic” in order to save himself.

But basically, the story is a quest…a quest for the Bands of Mourning, which is a metalmind and gives the finder immense power. It is said to be hidden by the supposedly dead Lord Ruler in a hidden mysterious castle-like structure off in the cold northern mountains. So, we get a bit of Indiana Jones in the storyline too. Of course, our companions find the place booby-trapped.

Nothing is ever easy or works out as expected.

A Dangerous Talent for Time HQ (1)I love a good quest and used that plot line in my second book, A Dangerous Talent for Time. In my story, the characters search for the answer to a riddle to save them from attacking northern barbarians intent on conquering their kingdom.

Also, Bands of Mourning, explains why Wax left Teris to become a lawman and develops his relationship further with new wife, Steris. I needed to understand why he might marry her and why the relationship worked…or didn’t. I also liked getting motivation for his choice of being a lawman in the Roughs.

Of course, I loved reading more about Wayne, Wax’s quirky sidekick. Sanderson does a great job with battering dialog and a buddy relationship.

Bands of Mourning has everything. It starts off a bit Steampunk, turns Western, goes into a quest and ends up magical.

Sanderson writes for action and adventure, yet develops interesting characters. I look forward to the next and last book in this part of the series.

Shadows of SelfMistbornOther books by Sanderson you might want to check out:ElantrisWords of Radiance

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Filed under alloy magic, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction series

An Author’s Outrage

IMG_0193Outrage.

Several Linked-in discussion groups and bloggers are outraged at Amazon for requiring the table of contents be located at the front of all their books.

Holy Mackerel, where else would you put it? The table of contents purpose is to give the reader an overview of the contents of a book.

Hummmm…turns out scammers are putting the table of contents at the back to get a large page count so they will be paid by Kindle at a per page rate through the Kindle reading platform.

Blog rantings and ravings at big bad Amazon are appearing.

What?

It costs nothing to fix if you are self-published, and if you aren’t, you shouldn’t care because you aren’t getting paid–your publisher is. Put it at the front where it belongs or just skip it.

Sounds like the same kind of people who complained when Amazon took down paid and associated reviews that plumped up the ratings. Authors were swapping reviews with each other under promises of five stars whether they read the books or not.

Screams and yells erupted when reviews were pulled. And yes, a large number of honest reviews got axed. Me included. The honest, paying once again because of scammers. Gee thanks.

Save us from those who are trying to scam everyone nowadays. It’s pervasive. I’m tired of receiving annoying phone calls from someone with an Indian accent claiming they are from “windows” and I need to fix the virus in my computer right now…and if I just open my computer, he will help me.

Right.

Not to mention the “IRS” calls, the bogus credit card offers, the email attacks… need I go on?

Now we have scammers stuffing junk, copied material from anywhere, putting on a cover and title and publishing it in order to reap the profits from KNF. And they are reaping large profits out of a set amount that is divided up by other authors. In other words, if the amount is, say fourteen million, that pie is divided out among the Kindle Unlimited qualifying authors who get less per page if the count is big. One blog did a screen shot of over thirty thousand in royalties for one month by a fifteen year old kid.

And authors are yelling at Amazon?

Bottom line is, dear authors, most likely you wouldn’t have a book published if it weren’t for Amazon, or have you forgotten what publishing was like ten years ago?

It’s a shame our free society gets punished by charlatans out to weasel a buck from the unsuspecting public who, in turn, point to the self publishers and accuse them of putting out shoddy books. It gives self-publishers a bad rap.

Then when Amazon tries to fix the problem, authors set up a hue and cry.

Is any one else getting tired of these scammers and ripoff artists? Or tired of ungrateful authors who don’t have a publisher grabbing out a large chunk of their royalties because they can now publish free through CreateSpace? Remember editors turning down tons of good manuscripts because of the flood of submissions they encountered every month in their inbox, never accepting do-agains.

Unfortunately, Amazon is the target because they have revolutionized the publishing industry by providing an alternative and cheap way to publish.

No longer do new writers have to jump through hoops of query letters, finding agents, and a system where only a small percentage of eager writers get to make it through a very subjective process.

All I have to say, as an author with nine books and counting, is thank you, Amazon.Bands of Mourning

I appreciate you trying to fix the problems that deceptive people create so that readers (me) can get a true picture of what they’re buying, and authors (me) receive a fair portion of the Kindle kitty.

See the books at right? Real stories. Most near four hundred pages with honest reviews. Unfortunately, not enough….but I didn’t pay for a one.

Once again, thank you Amazon, for making them possible and providing a way a modest income author can fulfill her dream.

And next week when I catch my breath, I hope to review Brandon Sanderson’s new book, The Bands of Mourning. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Amazon publishing, blog information, Book reviews, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Self-publishing

Holiday Magic

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Christmas hornHappy Holidays

Holiday parties and holiday shopping are making it hard to wedge in any leisure reading.

In addition, checking over a final proof for Time’s Equation also kept me busy.
Beta readers got delayed by new jobs or new babies.
Meanwhile, there is a stampede to get a slot for holiday book advertising, but I decided to pass. I don’t think people have the time now to download ebooks. Maybe after Christmas when they are trying to fill up shiny new iPads or tablets.

What is your best month for sales? Tara Sparling, data hound extraordinaire, recently wrote a blog about this exact subject and highlighted May and December. Nick Rooney also added the following advice:

“Mood and market reception are really important. Certain books work better at various times of the year.

  • January – April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
  • May – August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
  • Sept – Nov: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
  • Dec – Jan: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books.”

It’s a general guide. There are no hard and fast rules. Try and tie your book into an event or occasion when you want to promote it.

Christmas appears to be a great time for hardback books that make nice gifts. January and February appear great for ebooks when the weather invites an indoor snuggle with hot chocolate and a good read. Some of my best sales have been February and then May as people fill their Kindle libraries to prepare for summer vacation reading.

Shadows of SelfMy book for this blog is Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self that continues years later in the Mistborn Series. I must admit I’m enjoying the action and the intriguing system of magic that uses metals. January 26 the next in the series, Bands of Mourning, will be coming out. Unfortunately, because it is a very popular series, TOR has decided to charge $14.99 for a Kindle edition. Why? Most likely because they can. Old line publishers are pushing up ebook prices, but as both an author and reader, I’m conflicted about the practice. As an author, I would like to make more money by charging more, but as a reader, I spend a lot already on books. Reminds me of the drug company pricing.

What the market can bear.Bands of Mourning

In Shadows of Self, Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn, able to use both Allomancy and Feruchemy, the dominant magical modes on Scradrial. He uses various metals as both weapons and protection. An example of this is the ability to fly through the air by shooting out steel to propel himself. His eccentric sidekick, Wayne, and a young constable, Marais, sister to his fiancee, help Wax untangle the conspiracy that threatens their city.

They chase a nonhuman kandran named Bleeder that can assume the shape of any animal or person it digests. Normally aides of the God Harmony, kandran act like angels, but this one has gone mad and is on a murder spree. High Lord and lawman combined, Wax pursues the paranormal enemy, uncovering corruption and rebellion within his city.

Because, Shadows of Self is set in a turn of the century time period, it has a steampunk flavor along with an intriguing magic system.

Brandon writes well. He has a worthwhile writing lecture series on uTube that is taped at Brigham Young University. 

http://brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice/

Exciting action, interesting characters, unique magic, and clear writing all add up to a book that I recommend. Good news is that it’s available at your local library if you’re willing to wait.

Image 4Happy Holidays to you and yours and may 2016 be the best ever year.Image

 

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy, fantasy series, Hugo winners, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, YA science ficiton

Fantasy vs. Science fiction

photoMy writing group has a mix of both science fiction and fantasy writers, and I’m coming to some conclusions on how these two genres differ in regards to writing styles.

One differences is the extent of world building. Sure I put a map in my second book, but I just finished Brandon Sanderson’s Words of Radiance tome, and he has not only an extensive map but extensive illustrations of the flora and fauna in his world, the fashion of his world, and the social hierarchy. Science fiction writers paint a world and then get on with the action; fantasy writers dally in the landscape and admire the scenery more.

Fantasy seems to be more character driven while science fiction is more plot driven. The reader doesn’t get too deep into the complex psychology of the Splinkx, whereas in Fool’s Assassin, the complex emotions of FitzWilliam is a focus for the story and provides the impact at the end.

And the science fiction writers like their high tech gadgets and cutting edge science almost as much as fantasy writers like their magic. Sometimes the two are very similar. (see sidebar quote)

In my series, there is time travel. Poof you’re here; poof, you’re there. Sorta magical.

Both may involve large battles. However, in Lord of the Rings, the battle is mostly on the ground while in in Star Wars or Star Trek, the battles are usually out in space with lots of lasers and gunships.

The enemy tends to be ugly in both genres. Whether it’s Klingons or Orcs, it’s not a pretty face. Our allies, however, are attractive. Legolas and Aragon make me drool, although we should skip the characters of George R. R. Martin as he is changing this trope a bit . Princess Leia and Hans Solo are also easy on the eyes…but the occasional hairy Wooki does pop up. And some of our friendlier aliens often exhibit odd behaviors.

In writing group, the fantasy people are always telling me to put more description in my story while I’m always asking them to stop admiring the scenery, the dress, character behavior and get on with the action and storyline.

This interplay makes for better writing on both sides of the aisle. Still, as a writer, you must recognize your genre and the style that your reader expects, and accommodate that expectation to a certain extent.

I recently read a blog by Tara Sparling and even though it is dated, the numbers are interesting. It’s data on the best selling books of 2012 with charts and graphs. Check it out here: http://tarasparlingwrites.com/2013/08/21/2012-bestselling-book-data-visualised/ 

Words of RadianceThis week I finished Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson. (Huff. Huff) The over one thousand pages looked overwhelming, but they were actually easier to do than I expected– although it entailed a few really late nights. Way of Kings is the first in this series and I reviewed that last year and really liked it. Brandon Sanderson is a favorite of mine.

If you like chunky epics with detailed world building, you will love this one. The characters are compelling and the magic, as ever with Sanderson, is interesting. There are three major point of view characters: the doctor’s son betrayed into slavery and clawing his way back, the king’s uncle and stalwart hero who battles both in the trenches and in the  evil court, and the abused beautiful young girl who searches for the strength to become a powerful woman. Each has a story and each interact with the others. The stories start slow, but build beautifully.Way of Kings

Sanderson writes with passion and a good storyline. That combination always makes an excellent read and is worth being a little sleep deprived at times.

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Romance in Science Fiction for Valentine’s Day

photoLove is in the air. Valentine’s Day is here. Today is dedicated to recognizing the special people in our life and telling them that we love and appreciate them.

Too often we’re too busy to mention how important they are to us.

So take some time today and let them know.

You probably have it already on your agenda.

You know I’m working on marketing, so I want to make sure that you’re aware that my time travel romance, Caught in Time, will be offered free on Amazon today February 14th through the 18th.

Caught in Time Cover1.1 2Travel back in time to a medieval period…on an alien planet. Rowyna Grae is a regendered clone from the last dying time traveler and is sent into the past to kill a king who is considered the origin of those with special abilities called, Talents.

However, instead, she falls in love with him while dealing with no running water, lack of heat, a barbaric people, betrayal at the royal court, and a looming war.

Think Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court…only Rowyna Grae is no simple Connecticut Yankee and King Telluria’s court can get complicated to a young woman from the future.

Enjoy yourself. It’s FREE for a limited time only.

Currently, I am watching the Brigham Young University series by Brandon Sanderson and really am enjoying his lectures. I gave a link on a former blog. I am thinking of reading Words of Radiance since I have read and reviewed the first book of this epic fantasy, Way of Kings, already and liked it. Unfortunately, it’s over a thousand pages long. I can’t do that in a week. But I’ll probably try.Way of Kings

MistbornWord is that sequels to his Alloy of Law series will also be out later this year. So heads up there. The earlier Mistborn series by Brandon Sanderson is a favorite of mine and many other fantasy readers. If you haven’t read it, you might give it a glance.

Since I’m constantly in edit mode nowadays, I bought Self Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown. I usually use an editor, but it helps to edit myself first before I hand it off. One of my favorite bloggers just came out with a long list of books to help the struggling writer of today and that is where I discovered this title. Check out http://www.veronicasicoe.com/blog/2015/02/writing-advice-books-list/ and her latest blog for ideas and comments.

Then, don’t forget to hug someone significant and tell them that you love them.

XXXXX

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, alloy magic, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, fantasy, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, magic, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

Writing Science Fiction and a Military Scifi Review

photoIf you are an author or writer, I have three interesting links for you to check out. The first is a lecture series on Utube given by Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, Way of Kings, etc.) for classes at BYU. Seventy-two fascinating lectures cover all aspects of writing: characters, setting, plot and the business end of getting published the traditional way: networking, queries, agents, etc.

You might want to grab a bag of gummie bears before you start. A great lecture series from one of our current best, free on Utube.

The second is a link to the short story market. Where to put a short story if that’s what you write.

Http://wwww.duotrope.com.

The third is a survey by Freebooksy, an advertising site for free and discounted books. (So they are biased) The author signs up and when his book is offered free on KDP Select, Freebooksy features it for the date requested. Readers sign up and get e-mails of these free and discounted books at no cost for the service. Sometimes, the sites that do this charge quite a hefty fee to the author for a promo and are picky about what books they list. Still, the numbers in the survey are interesting.

http://freebooksy.com/author-blog/2012/9/18/freebooksy-report-the-state-of-kdp-select-free-promotions.html

Poor Man's Fight  by Kay Elliot

This week I read Poor Man’s Fight by Elliot Kay. This is the first in a series recommend by my ex-military reader and I quite enjoyed it. Bonus is that it is a well-written Indie published series; a gem glittering in a pile of self published novels. To see a self-published author take care with his story and presentation makes me proud.

Having said that, the plot isn’t dramatically new or the characters unique.

And that isn’t a bad thing.

Tanner Malone’s stellar school performance comes to a unexpected end when family problems and a rigged test cause him to flub his final exam for college placement. His poor performance requires him to go deeply in debt if he is to continue on to college.

Rather than go into debt, he enlists in the military that is ramping up its forces to combat the increasing threat of space pirates.

A large portion of the book deals with his trials and tribulations at boot camp. Then, the story picks up the viewpoint of the pirate horde and their grievances against the current government practices. The author flashes back and forth between the two.

Kay balances his characters nicely. You have both good and bad in both camps. In addition, he does a nice job of portraying Tanner Malone as a highly intelligent nerd caught in the grinder of the military boot camp where physical prowess and guts counts for more than independent thinking and intelligence.

Even in the pirate’s camp, brute viciousness is balanced with a likable leader and his capable, but deadly, female boatswain.

As you enter both worlds, you feel the inevitability of them meeting with violence and a lot of fighting.

If you like military scifi…future worlds with spaceships and battles, I suggest you gear up and try this one. Rich Man's War

Reviews on the sequel, Rich Man’s War,  are even higher.

 

 

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