Tag Archives: C.J Cherryh

Ebook Marketing and Talking Starship Crew Members

IMG_9518Sometimes I can control time.

It’s a Talent I have.

I told myself I needed to wake up at 12:00 a.m. so that I can take my next set of pain pills. As most of you know, I did a little stair sliding recently and broke a shoulder bone..the humerus. So I’m not as funny as I used to be.

Not recommended at all! Very painful. I need my meds.

In pitch dark, my eyes blink open to see the digital clock click over to exactly 12:00 a.m. Time for my meds.

How did I do that?

And it happens on a regular basis.

With all of time swirling around me, how can I pluck out the exact moment that I need to wake up?

Do humans connect more subconsciously with the universe than we realize? Will we ever be able to use this connection? Do we already use this connection in some way? Or is it just a random event?

As you might know, I’m exploring ebook marketing programs. For me, the KDP Select platform has been successful. My numbers are still coming in, and last month I did very little with any marketing.

Remember the stair sliding/wall smashing bit?

In April I intend to do a guest blog over at my friend Diana’s website and interview her on my blog here. She has several intriguing fantasy novels published that I want to mention.

EarthriseThis week I went to my Kindle shelf to select Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth to review. I have signed up at various sites that offer free and discounted books. on a daily basis. To a certain extent, these sites curate books by price, genre, popularity (number of five star reviews) and other factors often selected by the customer.

This is a dramatic shift in how books are bought.

I am conflicted about this trend. I recognize the desperate need for a way to select out the better books from the overwhelming tsunami of books being currently published and shoved out to a bewildered public. I also see the need for Amazon to have competition. However, my email box is getting jammed with advertising by Bookbub, Freebooksy, Sweetfreebooks, ebooks daily and other such services that now proliferate the web. Okay, so I signed up and can unsubscribe if I want. But, cleaning out the various email boxes is becoming another boring time sink.

Surprising is the growth of my sales via Kindle Unlimited and The Kindle Library for Prime members. Based on the Netflix model of a monthly fee, my sales in that arena have skyrocketed. This a a double-edged sword in that Amazon doesn’t set a fixed amount for the sales, but sales are dependent on how many books are sold and how much Amazon puts in the coffer that month. The question for the author is: would this book have sold the usual way if not in the program or was the book an incremental sale? The income from this kind of sale is not considered a royalty, and the net profit to the author is set at the whim of Amazon.

And yet, it is an increasingly popular way readers are now buying books…especially the voracious reader. If your book was not there sitting on the KindleUnlimited shelf ready to be plucked off for someone’s Kindle library, would another book be the one chosen instead of yours? Would that sale have gone to another author? Let’s face it, after 10% of the book is read, Amazon pays you whether the reader finishes the book or not. Those nickels add up, and no initial fee is required from you, the author. Neither program costs a dime, except in the opportunity cost of sales on other sites due to Amazon’s requirement of 90 days exclusivity.

It was while scanning my email and discounted book sites that my eye caught Earthrise by M.C.A. Hogarth for $.99. Normally I don’t read science fiction where the aliens are talking animals or the aliens so alien that it is hard to relate to them. But the blurb sounded interesting, I got a deal on it, and soon found myself enjoying the story so much that I couldn’t put it down.Rosepoint

The story concerns Reese Eddings, a feisty, independent, black female who comes from a maternal culture that expects their women to return home and procreate. Instead, Reese scrapes together her funds, one being a mysterious loan from a very wealthy benefactor, the other from family resources, to gather enough to buy a broken down ship and pay her micro crew their salary. For several years she struggles this way, her nose barely above water.

She manages to assemble a fascinating and diverse crew onto her ship, Earthrise. The ship is run more like a family than a business enterprise. Irine and Sascha are Harat Shar, twin felinoids from the pelted universe. Think lusty cats that can fly space ships. Also on board is Kis’eh’t who is a Glaseahn and carries a centaurean body shape that includes two sturdy black arms, four black and white legs, feathered ears, a flicking tail and two small leathered wings. Kis’eh’t’s calm personality and strength come in handy slinging cargo around.

Image 3Next, Breyer is a Phoenix or a large birdlike creature with metallic plumage and hidden talents and abilities. Finally, there is Allakazam, the Flitzbe, that strongly resembles a Star Trek Tribble and communicates through touch, color, and internal emotions. It carries healing abilities.

Contemplating the need to crawl back to her family for yet more money in order to survive has given Reese an ulcer and digestive problems that she tries to solve by escaping into a good Eldritch and human romance story.

And then, after all those years, her long ago wealthy benefactor resurfaces and calls in the loan. Reese won’t have to pay back the money, however, but rather rescue an Eldritch prince out of the clutches of drug smuggling pirates.

Hogarth deftly has this ragtag crew bumble into the pirate’s den and attempt a daring, edge-of-your-seat rescue. Upon meeting him, Reese denies any feelings for the unusual and unbelievably handsome Eldritch prince, Hirianthial. The ship returns to Harat Shar for much needed repairs where Hirianthial would be better served if he listened to Reese and did the opposite of what she claims she wants. Meaning well, crew member Sascha recognizes the growing bond between their captain and the intriguing Eldritch and tries to give the bewildered prince some romantic advice, whether he wants it or not. A few stumbling blocks hinder the process. Eldritch cannot stand to be touched or touch others as he becomes overwhelmed by the memories and emotions of the other. Also, Hirianthial is at least five hundred years old, give or take a few. And, he knows something about the pirates that they are desperate to cover up. They will do anything to recapture him and search out the Earthrise with a vengeance. Then Fleet learns of Reese’s connection to the pirates and gets into the act, entreating Reese to act as bait so they can swoop in and close down the drug ring.

Think C.J. Cherryh’s Chanur series to get a feel for the book. I found myself drawn into Reese’s escalating problems. A delightful book, I’m looking forward to how Reese will figure out how to survive it all.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, C. J. Cherryh, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, gene modification, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Paranormal Romance, science fiction, science fiction series, Science fiction thriller, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship, space travel, The future of publishing

Clones in Science Fiction

IMG_0174I’m out and about.

Portland’s summer weather is beautiful. So come meet me for a book signing at Jan’s Paperback Saturday, August 9 from 1:00p.m. to 4:00p.m. (See left sidebar for more details)

Currently, clones are dominating my writing in my next novel entitled, Someone’s Clone, which is due out in the Fall. It starts with murder, then time travel, conflict between Terrans and Alysians and includes the enigmatic and alien Enjelise, Angel…a stew of delightful action with an explosive ending.

So I rummaged through my reading and decided to suggest some of my favorite novels that feature clones. Both have won a Hugo Award, and both are classics of the 80’s.

The Snow Queen The first is Joan D. Vinge’s Snow Queen. I first read this a while ago, when it won a Hugo for best science fiction, but I remembered the rich description of Tiamat and the beautiful cold ruler Arienrhod. Told from the viewpoint of Moon Dawntreader of the summer people, it is a story of love and the transfer of power. With a nod to Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, this story is set in the far future on the twin sun planet Tiamat that is isolated by a stargate and suppressed by the far flung empire of the Hegemony.

Moon Dawntreader of the summer people is in love with Sparks, her cousin, but he gets caught up by the ruthless winter queen, Arienrhod, when he travels to the city of Carbuncle. To save him, Moon goes through several trials and tribulations. In an effort to prolong her reign, the Snow Queen has eight clones sprinkled throughout the summer or lower half of Tiamat. Whichever one becomes the strongest and survives will be crowned the next ruler.

Guess who that might be?

The Snow Queen is followed by The Summer Queen and is also a good read. The new queen, Moon Dawntreader, realizes that ruling isn’t as fun as she’d expected. A hidden old technology, with a enormous data base, lies buried beneath the planet’s capitol. Manifesting as the Sybil, it holds together the old Empire’s society, but is now breaking down.The Summer Queen

With the rise of the summer solstice, a century of exploitation by the Hegemony passes. Summer Queen, Moon Dawntreader, appointed to lead her people back to the ancient traditional ways, chooses instead to prepare them to meet the return of the mighty Empire on equal terms.

Complex, with description and more character driven than action, this story contains a fascinating world and future.

 

CyteenAnother Hugo winner, and one of my favorite authors, is C.J. Cherryh. Her Cyteen series also is told from the viewpoint of a clone and is filled with political intrigue, murder and betrayal.

Set in Cherryh’s Merchanters’ Universe (which you should visit extensively), Reseune is a laboratory Empire that creates genetically modified humans for a variety of tasks from farmers to soldiers. These created humans have no legal rights. They are the Azi (short for from A to Z) socially stratified and task-defined slaves.

Ariadne Emory is the chief administrator holding the power in Reseune, but one morning she is found dead in her room. To hang onto her immense power, her advisors realize they can replicate her and program her personality to take the place of the dead original. They plan to manipulate her personality to control her.Cyteen The Rebirth

Cyteen the VindicationBut Ari has other ideas.

Those who love psychological drama, politics, and the struggle to be an individual in a repressive society will like this. Those who prefer the nonstop action of a James Corey will prefer another novel.

Or you could be like me, and like both.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, genetic manipulation, Hugo winners, Political Science Fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Mystery, Science fiction world building

Species Symbiosis: Pets in science fiction

IMG_0193Two new kittens tear across my feet, jump and land in a tussle of ferocious claws and fur, wrestling with each other. Tails flick, haunches wiggle and soon one is soaring through the air with a mighty pounce.Image 3

Nothing like two new cats  to distract my gaze from the wet, chill weather that has moved into the Northwest.

So, throughout history and even into fictional alien worlds has humanity attempted to bond with other species.

A treecat in David Weber’s Honor Harrington series springs to mind. A sense of communication and symbiosis wrapped around Honor’s neck much like a pelted scarf.OnBasiliskStation

Sky DragonsOr the dragons of Pern by Anne McCaffrey that humans imprint on the hatching grounds and forge a telecommunication link that can transcend even time.

Robin Hobb also carries out this theme of telepathic dragons in her own dragon series. The more recent ones being Blood of Dragons and City of Dragons. Also in her Farseer trilogy, the young boy hero bonds with a wolf.Royal Assassin

The Zero StoneAndre Norton’s The Zero Stone starts a series where the ship’s cat ingests a strange seedpod and evolves into an entity that names itself Eet and follows the hero as his companion into adventures.

Timothy Vaughn writes in Dragon and Thief about a dragon alien, named Draycos,  that blends onto the young hero’s back and legs, but can leap out into three dimensions to interact at need. Talk about getting a wild tat.Dragon and Thief

In the Liaden universe,  several family cats are cameoed and even a tree appears to communicate with the Delm of Korval, dropping magical seed pods whenever necessary.

John Scalzi’s hero, Jack Halloway,  battles to prove sentience in a small furry creature that he befriends in Fuzzy Nation.  Human and creature face off in a legal battle against the big business of  Zaracorp that has its own plans for their alien world.51CG59JWAeL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_

If you’re searching for a story of alien and human bonding, here are just a few samples of species symbiosis in science fiction .

Do you have any favorites?

We humans form friendships and alliances with other species on our own Earth, so why not with aliens from other worlds? From dolphins to horses, cats to dogs, many other species have enriched our life and eased the drear of coming winter with adorable gamboling and warm, cuddly affection.Kittens copy

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Anne McCaffrey, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, dragons, Liandon Universe, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, Uncategorized

Summer Science Fiction

IMG_9512

Summer is here!

Life has interrupted all business activities of writing and reviewing as I have traveled across country, and family from across country have traveled to me.

For the past few weeks I have attended a wedding, the Nashville Factory  (craft and art venue), my book signing and presentation, the Nashville Repertoire’s “Look-In” on a developing play and hot, hot card games with relatives. (No, I had no chance of winning there)

(Deep breath)

I have been at the Portland Zoo, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, Tiilamook Cheese factory, cycling on Canon Beach, flying kites on said beach, blueberry picking, outlet mall shopping, and wrangling four visiting kittens.

God, I love summer.

So, what kind of reading have I done?

Imager's IntrigueA lot of follow up reading in series where I loved the first book and wanted to continue more in the series. In some cases, I’m well into it as in the case of L. E. Modesitt’s third of his Imager series: Imager’s Intrigue.

As in most of Modesitt’s books, the action started off relaxed and slow. You soon fall into the flavor and rhythm of his style.

The main character, Rhennthyl is now married to Seliora and has a five year old child.There is a lot of detail concerning his daily activities and quite a lot of political proselytizing. His Imager powers have increased, and so have his enemies who fear him. He starts off as a Captain in one of the precincts where a new dangerous drug is spreading and causing concern. Random people are dying and Rhenn feels that the situation is being manipulated by more than just the drug lords, possibly an enemy country trying to destroy them from within.

Just when the reader is wondering if anything is going to happen, a surprise attack on the Collegium of Imagisle leaves Rhenn second in charge of the Imagers and the only one who can discover where the attack came from. The story becomes a detective story as different events and pieces of the puzzle come together through Rhenn’s efforts.

I enjoyed the story. Would give it four stars. Several critiques complained that Rhenn is thinly drawn with little emotion, but I quite liked him. The details Modesitt goes into about his everyday life drew me into the world that has the flavor of a French Renaissance period. He shows how people who have great power, or fame, often pay a large price in their personal life with loss of freedom and fear for their security.

Another series I’m reading is the Liaden Series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. However, the books on Amazon in this series are fairly expensive, (even Kindle version) and as I mentioned at the beginning, I have been so busy, that I haven’t had much time to read. So, I decided to try some of their novelettes that are $2.99 and run 50 to 70 pages.

ConstellationI consider it much like a tasty candy bar of summer reading rather than a full blown meal. I picked The Courier Run and will soon let you know what I think of this different way of reading. It got five stars from all eighteen reviewers; so here’s hoping.Courier Run

To that end, I have written two stories in my own Alysian Universe and may offer them as tasty tidbits around Christmas.

If you want the full meal, Constellation just came out in June, and Amazon is offering Trade Secret as a presale that will be available January 2014. Constellation is a series of shorter works, seventeen stories from Chapbooks this duo has written and is the first volume with 384 pages.

Trade SecretTrade Secret tells the story of human Jethro Gobelyn who is adopted by the Liaden clan after an ill directed bow that insults a major Liaden clan noble and jeopardizes the human’s life. Jethro wants to win his trader’s ring, but instead finds himself wrapped in interstellar intrigue and Second Board on a scout ship facing danger. He has to learn to balance his Terran heritage while learning Liaden rules of survival.

A final sad note on the passing of Iain Banks from a brain tumor. I had just started getting into his Culture Series and looked forward to many more of his books. Alas. We will miss this Hugo award winning author.

Savor summer and enjoy some good stories.

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Filed under alien life forms, artificial intelligence, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, ebook science fiction, Hugo winners, Political Science Fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Space opera, space travel, super computer

Best Selling Military Science Fiction

IMG_9503When I think about being on board a spaceship that feels real, I think of C.J. Cherryh’s Alliance Universe series.

Finity’s End was a surprise in that I expected an end of the universe story, and got a space ship named “Finity’s End” instead. The story deals with the transition from war to peace and how the merchants who travel space have to survive in the uneasy new alliance. Also in this series is Tripoint, which is the story of a young boy whose mother was raped by a ship’s captain and has preached revenge to her young son his whole childhood. The boy is kidnapped by his step-brother onto his father’s ship where he has to deal with strained family ties, and the truth.

Merchanter’s Luck, also in the series, is about the merchant ships who ply the spaceways and the big conglomerate ships who starve out the small independent ships. It has the feel of spaceships and the details of living on them that Cherryh is so good at.Downbelow Station

Others: Rim Runner, and Down Below Station. (received a Hugo) I am currently interested in this series because I am editing my novel about a space voyage on board a ship in Past the Event Horizon  and want to get that same virtual feel that Cherryh gives.

Another good space voyage novel is Timothy Zahn’s Icarus Hunt.

This is about the pirate captain who you can’t help but like. Again, the gritty life among the stars that holds danger and starvation at every turn as crew and captain try to hold the ship together at all costs. A surprisingly good read. With a touch of romance thrown in.
The Lost Fleet 1When I asked my writers group what their favorite science fiction was, my military guy said, “John Campbell and his Lost Fleet Series.” This is a popular series of a renegade military ship on several space adventures. Black Jack Geary, is pulled out of “survival hibernation” to lead a fleet of ships against the alien enemy. He has to overcome his earlier hero persona and the myth that has grown up around him over the last many years. I have read the first three and agree that it’s good, but I think you military types will enjoy it even more. Now the most recent (May 2012)The Lost Fleet:Beyond the Frontier has come out and continues Geary’s story. This time he is caught between two alien enemies and an antagonistic high command.

Ouch.
I showed up at Powell’s bookstore the other night thinking that Richard Morgan of Altered Carbon (won a Hugo) fame was speaking. It turned out that a book club had read him and was discussing his novel. Still, I met some nice ladies and had a good discussion. Interesting that one saw a religious tone to his book. I considered the question of how would our world be changed if we could be immortal? If we each had a cortical stack with a back up locked away. The group read it as a mystery. The mystery being that a murder is committed and the protagonist has been “backed up” and brought back to life, but the time of the murder is missing in his memory and evidence suggests that he was the murderer. What happened between his last saved identity and recent events?

Here us a list of two great Military Science Fiction Series:

John Scalzi:                                      Richard Morgan

Old Man’s War                                Altered Carbon

The Last Colony                             Broken Angels

Red Shirts                                         Thirteen

Zoe’s Tale                                          Woken Furies

I may be female, but I like a good rousing fight ‘em up, get the bad aliens type of macho book. I read Old Man’s War before I knew that John Scalzi was popular. It was an unexpected discovery and I remember saying, “Hey, this is interesting. Why hasn’t anyone said anything before?”

Well, they had.

What I thought was my unique discovery turns out to be the number#1 book on the recent TOR’s best science fiction of the decade list. Not to mention it made the Hugo nomination in 2006. Do I have good instincts or what? I went on to read Last Colony which was nominated for a Hugo 2008, Ghost Brigade 2007 Prometheus award nomination and Zoe’s Tale, also nominated for a Hugo in 2009.  John Salzi started by winning the John W. Campbell award best new sfwriter in 2005.

So I checked him on twitter and found out that he is a seriously funny man. Best twitter notes ever.

He just came out with a new book, Red Shirts. Check it out.

Scalzi takes old men and downloads their experience into young buff military bodies and sends them off to fight aliens in order to protect Earth. Richard Morgan does the same, but his guy is more of an interstellar mercenary. His series takes on a cyberpunk noir type atmosphere. NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. Both writers use the idea of disposable bodies–which is perfect in a military setting. Both writers put their protagonist through an identity crisis. After reading all the above books, I was having a bit of one myself.

For you geek people. I found a blog on gravity that argues that it is faster than light. It’s rather interesting and seems to be the basis for Ursula LaGuinn’s ansible, which is a space communicator that is instantaneous. Since I have an alien space communicator in Past the Event Horizon (did I mention soon to come out? See side panel) this was very interesting to me.   http://www.metaresearch.org/cosmology/speed_of_gravity.asp

What do you think? Hello, hello. Why does my iPhone do everything but have a decent phone conversation?

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, downloaded personalities, ebook science fiction, Hugo winners, military, military science fiction, Nebula nominations, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Science fiction world building, space ship, Tor's Reader's Choice, war

Making a List for 2012

A new year (sound of hands rubbing together) Time to make a list for 2012. (eager anticipation)

I would like to think that I am adventurous, knowledgeable reader, one who pushes the boundaries and tries new things. Alas…it’s not true. I find that when I’m looking for a new book to read, I run and huddle next to a favorite author, unless the cover is awesome and the subject matter intriguing. Even then, it’s a chancy thing.

Makes it hard for us new authors.

So, when I looked at what I wanted to read for this new year, the shock was that it was books from authors that I knew and loved. Many of them wrote a series…some have written several series. And that is my goal at the moment. To write a compelling series. I call it the Alysian Universe and it follows a timeline of events. Check them out.

But I digress…

First on the list for 2012 (fanfare) is Ashes of Candesce by  Karl Schroeder. Okaaay. This is a fairly new author that I have recently discovered and the story is unique. This book is five in the series: Sun of Suns, Pirate Sun, Queen of Cadesce, the Sunless Countries and now Ashes of Candesce. This universe exists inside a giant weightless bubble. The cities float and all is in darkness unless a sun is lit, which makes a huge difference to the existing life. Several sun systems float about and a young boy’s parents have discovered the secret to creating a new sun. Politics and intrigue ensue. This is innovative world building at its best that uses interesting science while maintaining the fun of space pirates, treasure hunts and an unusual love story. I enjoyed how Karl dealt with weightlessness.

2. Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson. The is the latest book in the Mistborn series, which has gotten a lot of positive feedback. The Alloy of Law, jumps a few generations, but takes place in the same world as Mistborn. Add in some steampunk, the laws using the various alloys, and an interesting adventure and I’m in. Been meaning to pick this one up for a while now.

3. Intruder #13 in the Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh. Hey, it’s by Cherryh, local fellow author. Everything she writes, I love. I just finished Betrayer and enjoyed that, although it did feel a bit like the formula is starting to be repetitive. I am curious as to what happens next in this world.

4. Naamah’s Blessing by Jacqueline Carey. Carey’s series is more chick lit with a sharp edge. Still, I find myself caught up in the action, the characters and the blatant sex. Carey came on the writing scene with Kushiel’s Dart and that series. The main character was friend of the queen and a masochistic spy and savior. Some of the sex scenes got rough. I came back for more, however, and finished the series. Naamah is a god of love, and not as rough as the god Kushiel. There is still royal intrigue, great adventure and passionate characters. The summary looked intriguing.


5.Ghost Story by Jim Butcher. I included this, even though it isn’t science fiction because…well, they killed Dresden off in the last book and I thought that was that–end of series. Now, this title is about a ghost and I am intrigued at how Dresden is going to survive and work his magic.

That’s five that I have to start with. I will add five more next week. Let me know what you like. I am particularly looking for Indie books that are not an endorsement by the author, but by a reader that was pleasantly surprised by a good story and wants to mention it.

Keep those resolutions. January isn’t even over.

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Filed under alloy magic, erotic fantasy, hard science, karl schorender, magic, Naamah, science fiction, science fiction series, supernatural