Tag Archives: Indie publishing

Throw Away Your Marketing Plan

Want to sell more books?

Get lucky.

I often write about marketing and how difficult it is… And then I read JA Konrath’s blog, Your Book Marketing Plan Won’t Work.

How did he know?

It was an eye opener. For the complete blog:
http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2019/06/your-marketing-plan-wont-work.html

He says social media won’t sell your books. How often do you buy books due to social media? However, he does go on to say you should have a social media presence. He suggests commenting on Facebook and writing a newsletter which mentions upcoming books, ways to pre-orders, and general information on your writing. He also endorses commenting on Twitter, but cautions that your time would be better spent on writing than desperately and endlessly engaging in every sort of social media.

Advertising also should be judiciously employed. He admits to throwing tons of money at advertising of all kinds and barely getting a return on his investment. Still, it does get the word out to those readers who might not know about you. But budget time and effort wisely.

How to Market books get a sneer. He has a good point. If an author knows how to write a best seller, why are they writing a marketing book, and not another best seller? He suggests you investigate the ranking of the author’s other books. If they aren’t in the top one thousand, the advice isn’t worth your time and money.

Forget publicity. The right kind is difficult to get… But if you can, then the pop in sales is normally fleeting.

I have found that he’s pretty close to the mark and refreshingly honest about this business of writing.

So, what works?

Luck. Right time, right place. And write books.

Oh, great. We have to depend on the whimsy of Lady Luck?

He admits that when Amazon came out with the Kindle, he had ten shelf books, rejected by publishers, ready to self publish. At the cheaper price for e-books, they were popular and sold well. So, he got more of his backlist from his publishers and was soon making over eight hundred thousand a year.

Nice!

Then, Kindle Unlimited came along and cut that income in half.

Still, he had traction with Amazon and that, along with writing more books, kept sales going.

So bottomline?

Write more books. Do a once a month newsletter. Chat in an informative manner on Twitter and Facebook and not in an annoying buy-my-book tone. Be consistent. Write in one genre with one name, and write five 75,000 word novels a year. That’s a more efficient use of your time and effort. Make sure they’re interesting, well-edited, and have attractive covers. Do some advertising and…

Your luck might improve.

So, good luck everyone.

****

For this blog, I’m going to suggest a book and author who has followed these guidelines with amazing success. She has written over seventy books in the science fiction genre, winning three Hugos and numerous other awards—one being the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award.

I’m talking about one of my favorite authors C.J. Cherryh. I have mentioned other books of hers in previous blogs, so check them out. She lives in the Northwest in Washington State, not too far from me. Alliance Rising takes place in the Alliance-Union Universe and is a prequel to many of the Alliance Universe stories. It’s been a long time since a book in that series has come out, and I eagerly awaited it.

Cherryh co-authors with Jane S. Fancher for this story. The partnership follows the same intense introverted style, retaining Cherryh’s familiar cadence of writing.

At first, I liked it, but eventually, I got impatient with all the nuanced, dense, introspection concerning an approaching Pell ship that has come to investigate an Earth Company ship, Rights of Man, docked at Alpha station and shrouded in ominous mystery.

We get an early peek at James Robert Neihart, captain of Finity’s End as his younger self and the developments that lead to the Alliance-Union-Earth war of the later novels. In fact, Captain Neihart is instrumental in putting together the alliance of merchanter ships that try to band to gather to protect their interests against the dominating Earth companies. Hence the title: Alliance Rising.

A story, not as good as some of the others, but well worth a read if you’re a fan.

4 Comments

Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, ebook marketing, Hugo winners, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

Squishy Robots and Book Ad Promotions

Are we Indie writers shooting ourselves in the foot, so to speak?

Today I’m running a promotion on Book Barbarian for Caught in Time. This is my first in series and I’m offering it free. Often the first of a series is the one that ad sites want. I did this to reach out to a pool of readers of science fiction who may be interested in my books. Discoverability is difficult for most Indie authors, and promotions are one easy way, but they cost. I chose Book Barbarian because it targets science fiction and fantasy and is at a reasonable cost. The top site is Bookbub where I recently ran into an article that was really a promotion piece, which raised some questions I wanted to ask.

Below is the last section from the piece I discovered on Flipboard that extols their site. Bookbub is considered the top ad site for books, difficult to qualify for, and very expensive. However, authors swear it’s effective. It’s the last sentence of the “article” that is causing me concern.

Book lovers are Obsessed with this Site. (Flipboard May 9)
By Bookbub.com

…”Book lovers have now become practically obsessed with this concept. In many cases, they’ve downloaded hundreds of books and saved hundreds of dollars using the service.

“I now have more books than I can read in a lifetime,” said Suzie Miller of Auburn, WA. She said she has downloaded more than 350 free ebooks using the service.”

As a reader, I use the service, and like Suzie Miller, (a real person?) I have downloaded more books than I will be able to read this year.

But is this a good thing for authors?

Your book gets downloaded, but may sit in a reader’s library for ages.
Or, maybe they read it and buy out the series.
I’ve had both things happen.
But I’m afraid authors are devaluing their hard work, and readers are not as eager to download the offerings as much as they used to, or buy books at retail. Why pay full price when you can get a similar book free or heavily discounted? Are we harming future revenue?

Am I right or wrong, or somewhere in between?

Do I, as an author, have a viable alternative?

No answer here. Just putting it out there.

NASA Develops Soft Robots for Future Space Missions

What do you think of when you hear the word robot?
Probably something made of metal with hard edges.

Maybe not. Often I throw in interesting science pieces and this article on building soft robots, with space in mind, caught my eye. I wanted to pass it along.

https://www.space.com/soft-robots-could-crawl-on-the-moon.html?utm_source=sdc-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20190509-sdc

…”The advantage of a soft robot is that it’s flexible and, in some ways, better able to adapt to new environments. Soft robots move in ways similar to living organisms, which expands their range of motion, perhaps making it easier to squeeze into a tight spot, for example.”

Also, probably easier to transport when weight is so much a factor.

…”By design, the actuator has chambers, or air bladders, that expand and compress based on the amount of air in them,” NASA said in the statement. “Currently, these two interns are operating the design through a series of tubes in the air bladders, allowing them to control the movement of the robot. By adjusting the amount of air in the chamber of the soft robotic actuator, the robot can flex and relax, just like a human muscle.

In particular, the interns are investigating four key properties of the actuators — mobility, joining, leveling and shaping — and how to use them in space exploration. Mobility refers to how the soft robot moves in its environment, while joining concerns how robots can link together (for example, to make a large temporary shelter). Leveling refers to how actuators can create a surface, such as filling in space underneath a lunar habitat, while shaping examines ways of adding strength to materials like dust shields.”

Once you hear the idea, it makes so much sense. Of course, I’m wondering about the computer components and how they operate the robot and the toughness of a material that can stand up against a space environment.

But NASA is working on it. Thinking outside the hard metal box.

This week I’m talking about Sea of Rust by Robert Cargill. Mainly because I mentioned robots in the blog, and this story is all about robots.

The story begins thirty years after the apocalypse and fifteen years since the murder of the last human at the hands of robots.

We’re extinct, and the world is dominated by an OWI or One World Intelligence that shares consciousness and is trying to upload all the remaining robots into its mainframe.

Enter Brittle, an independent robot trying to survive a wasteland that once was our Midwest. But its mind is deteriorating and body parts are losing function. The only way to replace them is by scavenging other parts from similar robots

So it’s a bit gruesome to start.

There are other solo machines wandering the wilderness, and they form a pack with Brittle, trying to escape assimilation.

If you can handle the grimness (think Madd Max), then the story is interesting from the robot’s point of view, and the interaction, almost human, of the robots that struggled to survive and evade assimilation makes for a worthwhile story.

And finally,

I want to give a shout out to Tabby’s fantastic book club. They were a warm and amazing bunch. I don’t think they expected someone who could talk as much as I did. Enthusiasm does that to me. So, thanks for your hospitality.

It was a fun way to meet new people… and show off my books.

5 Comments

Filed under artificial intelligence, Best selling science fiction, Dystopia Earth, hard science, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, Robots in science fiction, science news

Black Holes as Gentle Portals?

At last!

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

Weight of Gravity.  By me.

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

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

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

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

I love a desert adventure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Ray Bradbury if that can work.

But a few readers protested the scene.

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

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

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

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

At least as far as I’m aware.

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

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

But isn’t it fun to speculate?

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

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

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

7 Comments

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

A Way to Expand Your Readers

Sometimes a light bulb goes off in a person’s head, and he or she suddenly understands something they had not been aware of before.

Such was the case with me this morning.

I’ve been writing about Earth humans landing on an alien world where the indigenous species is similar to them, but different enough to cause conflict. So, when I saw the blurb on Lisa Locke’s novel, Between Mountain and Sea: Paradisi Chronicles, free on Freebooksy recently, I went to snatch it up. Turns out, I had already downloaded it. It tells the story of a migration from Earth to an alien planet where the natives are very human in appearance.

That sounded similar to my Terran Trilogy, so I wanted to see how another author handled that theme. I started reading from my Kindle library. The story is very readable, although I figured out the big secret a quarter of the way through.

Mei Lin is a young Chinese girl who is descended from the powerful Yu family that now dominates the Earth colony of New Eden. Due to Earth’s climate change, cyber wars, nuclear proliferation, ten people called the Founders, come together to create the Paradisi Project which has the objective to find a habitable planet and build a fleet to escape Earth for a better place to live.

Many years later, the project succeeds in discovering such a world in the Andromeda Galaxy and sends ten ships with 10,000 people each, mainly from the Yu family, their staff, and loyal supporters. One ship, the S.S.Challenger is left behind as a prototype for more ships to follow.

Mei Lin is a descendent from these originals and was born on New Eden where men dominate the family. She is the only girl of six brothers and, after a botched eye surgery, is sent to recuperate at their estate, Mrnyddamore. The estate is far out in the country close to villages of the planet’s original inhabitants. She forms a bond to these simple people who have hidden psychic abilities.

So the story has a similar flavor to my Terran Trilogy. And… the name Paradisi Project was tickling my memory. Still authors occasionally use the same title as other authors. Since I’ve published my first book, Caught in Time, three other authors have come out with the same title, which doesn’t make me happy. Anyway…

I kept reading.

Mei Lin finds a hidden diary written by a long ago descendant who was one of the First Founders and who built Mynyddamore, the estate where she is recuperating. She writes about her life to a young boy who was supposed to come on the S.S.Challenger and join the colony later, but she hears nothing about the ship. From there on out, the book jumps back and forth between the story of Mabel, her great, great, great grandmother and Mei Lin’s current life.

Of course, there is tension between the indigenous people and the growing colony, along with Mei Lin and her own family. As Mei Lin learns more about the early colony and herself, she is drawn into events and soon becomes embroiled in its conflict.

I liked the story and was intrigued by the author’s telling of a similar theme as mine. Then, I came to the back matter in the book.

That’s when the light bulb went on.

The Paradiso Project is an open source world where authors are invited to write their own stories within that world. Sixteen authors are listed along with their books. I recognized two of them immediately.

I had read Andy McKell’s novel, Faces of Janus and have its sequel, Janus Challenge,  in my library, ready to read. Also, in my library, is Cheri Lasota’s Sideris Gate.

Andy is a frequent commentator on my blog and has several more novels out in the Paradisi Universe. As does Cheri and other authors.

Cheri Lasota is another northwest author who I met personally at a book talk a few years back. When I saw her book in an ad site, I tucked it into my library. Now I plan to be even more diligent in reading these two authors to see how they interpret this universe.

In an explanation about the project, Lisa Locke says that the inspiration for the collaboration came from world renown author Hugh Howey. He opened up his own world of Wool to other authors who have written their stories in that universe and encouraged her to do the same.

If you are writing space opera or building a world, inviting other authors to write in your world may be one way to expand your reader base. Bundling several of these stories into an anthology may be another step to increase awareness of your work and build sales. Fans from one author may be lured over to another author’s work.

Of course, you may want to have some control over the stories and agreement with the other authors so that they are well-written and reflect favorable on your world. But a collaboration could be fun and profitable for all concerned.

As the Indie wave of writers increases, clever authors are looking for new ways to be discovered in order to expand their readers and their sales.

This idea may be a way for you to do just that.

*Hello from Oregon*

enjoy the rain

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Hugh Howey, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series

Publishing Trends for 2019

Happy New Year!

Christmas horn

I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. I remember a song about the year 2020 and thinking that it was so far in the future as to be a science fiction dream with flying cars and colonies on the moon.

And now we’re a year away.

Usually about this time a number of known people in the business blog predictions for the coming year. I’m looking for what Mark Coker of Smashwords will have to say. But at the moment, I found a few predictions on Anne Allen’s blog by Laurie McLean that offers up some good debate. I’ll give her headlines and offer my comments. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section. I welcome your opinion.
https://annerallen.com/2018/12/2019-publishing-predictions-laurie-mclean/

1. Diversity continues its dominance. With the advent of self-publishing, stories featuring diverse characters of color, creed, gender bias, and expression no longer must succumb to the whims of the publishing gatekeepers. It’s a free-for-all out there and the market has seen a deluge of books of all kinds. My personal opinion is that this is a double-edged sword that leaves the reader either bewildered or delighted to at least find books in certain niche genres or be completely overwhelmed by choice. I feel more and more ways will be found to curate the outpouring of supply. My blog is an example of that in the science fiction field.

2. The resurgence of Indie book stores. Actually to me, this feels like a bit of wishful thinking. I attend Powell’s Bookstore once a month for the interaction and ideas from local science fiction enthusiasts. If it weren’t for the delightful friendships and book ideas, I wouldn’t make the trip across town. The local library is just around the corner and their books are free.
Even better is to settle in a comfy easy chair and e-read from a wide selection tucked into my personal curated library.

3. The rise of smart phones as e-readers. Seriously. Who can read on that form factor unless you read five words to a page. Erm… maybe I’m giving away my age here, and the millennials eyesight is better. Also, men carry phones rather than tablets because they fit more easily in pockets and can be used for important phone calls like letting the wife know he’s on the way home.. But have you noticed the increase in the iphone form factor? Getting bigger.

4. Audio and podcasts are more popular than ever. Well, duh. People with long commutes multi task and, with self driving on the horizon, listening to a good novel has appeal. The self-driving car is coming. I have a Tesla, and it’s awesome. Not the least is that the next generation is more visual, thanks to the effects of television, iPhones, and gaming.

5. Nonfiction will be king a while longer. All I have to say here is people seem to like to read the dirt. With the recent elections, politics will get even worse and anyone looking to make money may write an expose and call it a book… truthful or not. Sir Truthfulness has packed his bags and left town for the year. The biggest selling books this past year were of this ilk, and it’ll probably get worse in 2019. Whatever happened to learning stuff? Ummm, Utube?

6. We’re in love with RomCom. Laurie makes this sound like a new thing. Women have always sneaked romantic bodice-rippers into underwear drawers while men hid Playboy under the mattress. Now it’s the internet. With Indie publishing, tons of erotica and romantic offerings have come out into the open, unfortunately creating scammers in the genre in 2018.

Laurie points out negative trends that might be possible for 2019.

Stock market declines may pinch spending. So if the market continues to collapse, eventually the consumer will cut back on superfluous items such as paperbacks or e-books. Ah, maybe. There’s a lot of noise in the market right now, but as an ex-stockbroker, the economy still looks good on the consumer side. So many variables out there are bouncing around. Trade wars, interest rates, Europe and China’s economy, not to mention the occasional Black Swan Event. And if things do decline, well, good escape fiction is a place to go for very little expense. Say, some exciting science fiction…or is that shameless promoting?

Probably.

People are spending less time reading books. Got any hard data here? However, with a political election heating up, Netflix and Amazon streaming video offering better and better content, and people spending more time on the internet, I might be convinced of it.

It’s an ecosystem, support it all. Well, choice is nice. I don’t skip around on different devices as much as Laurie suggests, but my daughter might. Once I start a book, I usual stay there, but, my daughter moves at twice the speed of sound, multi taking as she goes. One thing is certain. The way the newer generations read is changing and diversifying.

Mostly for the best.
So Happy 2019.

Next blog suggests some science fiction reading I plan for 2019. . what was your favorite read for 2018, and what are you looking forward to reading for 2019?

8 Comments

Filed under Amazon publishing, Future of Publishing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

Authors Behaving Badly

 

Over the years I have been blogging, I have included marketing ideas for my reader/authors. I have heard about the importance of search optimization for algorithms that boost books up the best seller list, and how many authors are putting together boxed sets either with other authors or as a solo collection. Many authors were exchanging reviews to build their best seller presence and qualify for choice promotions. (read Bookbub) I figured there was a secret marketing formula only certain publishers knew, but I would share what worked for me, and what didn’t, because it was a hard game at best.

But recently, an interesting blog came out concerning the marketing machinations of romance writers in an attempt to game the system. Lately there has been an uproar over what is being called Cockygate. Sarah Jeong from the Verge explains the details in her blog and various other questionable marketing strategies employed by a group of romance writers. They skirted the edge of legitimacy using Kindle Unlimited in an attempt to make big bucks.

And make the big bucks they did… at readers’ expense.

Here’s the Link : Sarah Jeong’s article in Verge titled “Bad Romance.”

Does it seem that lately a vomiting of bad behavior has dominated the headlines of the day? Yes, journalists know that exposés make for more readers and, in the past, the news pandered to sensationalism; but recently, I’ve been appalled and exhausted by the constant stream of humans behaving badly. And now, a group of romance writers has given genre authors a bad name.

As Kris Rusch says, we should write our books to tell the story we have to tell, not because a particular story is in vogue or other writers in your genre dictate a certain storyline.

This summer seems to be a round of cleaning up messes: whether it’s Facebook and Twitter taking down bot and fake accounts, or women outing sex offenders, or Amazon cleaning up reviews–and more. I own a Tesla and love it. I am incensed at the flagrant lies being bandied about by short sellers, and maybe oil interests shills, on a company trying to do some good for this world. Besides, the car is a…a…awesome.

Okay. Sounding like a soapbox? Sorry. I get worked up in my advancing age at stupid, self-serving antics.

However, along these lines, and because of bad behavior, we now have to include some statement concerning privacy in our blogs. I’m a bit confused about it. It pertains mostly to the EUROPEAN countries and a new law they have there, but since a lot of my readers come from there, here it goes. The secret here is that I’m not someone who wants or even knows how to sell others’ personal information. I’m daily fighting off unsolicited trick phone calls and email scams of my own that are very clever at deception in order to gain information and steal my identity. They finally arrested some of those IRS callers who threatened to send out the cops if I didn’t give them money for alleged debts owed. (Yikes!)    I need a kitten picture… Thanks.   

Okay, back on track… the statement :

Privacy Policy

The following is an attempt to comply with the currently unclear requirements of the European Union’s GDPR regulation.
This new law became effective on 25th May 2018.
“GDPR” means the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the free movement of such data and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation).

1. Data Collection
All signups and subscriptions to my publications including, but not exclusively, blog posts and newsletters are voluntary.
1.1. Blog Posts: subscribers choose to click the “Follow Me” link on my posts.
1.2. Website: subscribers choose to sign up via links in my novels, on social media, on my email footer, or as part of a giveaway or promotion or contest.
I never have and never will use addresses purchased from or shared by any sources other than sharing updates on my work if given permission.

2. Information Collected
1.1. When you choose to sign-up to follow my blog posts at https://www.scifibookreview.com my blog hosting provider collects for me:
Email address.
1.3. When you choose to apply to be a beta reader or advance reviewer my mailing list provider collects for me information used to assess your eligibility such as, but not exclusively:-
Given name and family name.
Email address.
Which of my books you have read or liked best.
Which other books you have been a beta reader for and/or reviewer of.

3. Privacy Guarantee
I never have and never will sell or voluntarily make available to anyone else the details you provide to me.

4. Unsubscribing and Right of Removal
The unsubscription is instant and automatic. You will not hear from me again, except to receive a “Confirmation of Unsubscription” email.
At the foot of every newsletter and blog post notification I send out is an Unsubscribe link.
WordPress users are able to Unsubscribe from my blog posts via https://wordpress.com/following/manage/.
Other subscribers to my blog can Unsubscribe via https://subscribe.wordpress.com/.
If you have any queries or contributions to make, please address them to me at shmccartha@gmail.com.

 THE SPARK by David Drake

Have I gotten you stirred up enough? Maybe you just need to find a good book and immerse yourself in another world and escape this for a bit. Now if you want a world of medieval magic with a King Arthur flavor, then try The Spark by David Drake.

Ages ago, the universe was united, but now the world is broken, chopped up into small town enclaves with pockets of wilderness holding evil humans and hostile alien monsters. A leader called Dun Add is trying to bring back civilization through his Champions that travel on roads of reality throughout the world where they dispense law and justice.

In the many wastelands of this world, artifacts leftover from an ancient civilization are found that certain men called makers can fix so they work again. Pal is a young country boy who has the gift, but he dreams of becoming a Champion. He travels to the capital city intent on his bright dream where he meets a very Merlin-like wizard who is a powerful maker. They become friends, yet Pal insists on pursuing his goal of being a Champion for Dun Add and fighting for justice and law.

To be a Champion, one must pass grueling physical tests and wield weapons skillfully. So gear up for some swashbuckling episodes with electronic swords.

For any reader who likes the King Arthur legend with a science fiction twist, I recommend this book.

And escape the irritations of our current reality for an adventure of swashbuckling fantasy combined with a science fiction mystery.

9 Comments

Filed under Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, blog information, Current Lawsuits in Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Medieval Science Fiction, Science fiction world building

Authors Using Technology: Blessing or Bane?

Technology : Blessing or basin of authors.

There! Right there. I typed bane not basin. My computer decided I meant something else.

I love the ease of Swype where I can glide my fingers effortlessly across the keyboard, but it comes at a price. I often face a battle over how to spell words and even what words I’m writing. I can’t fathom where my computer finds these words. Sometimes, I try to write a very simple word several times, and computer boy wants something else. Yelling and shouting at the keyboard does no good. It’s deaf.

Many times, I have threatened to leave the program. But like a bad boy you can’t give up, the program reactivates, and I come slinking back just for the feel of the glide on my fingers and the ease of typing. And like a bad boy, I have to keep an eye out and constantly check up on what the program is saying for fear of some outrageous word cropping up… Like basin for bane, and then name, and then… until I’m pounding the keyboard in frustration.

Does technology do that to you? Do you bless and curse it all in the same breath? What technology do you use as an author that helps you?

As my writing circle shrinks, I’ve been exploring editing programs. I’m now familiar with Grammarly, Ginger, and Prowritingaid. Autocrit, Hemingway, Slickwriter, and Scrivener are a few others.

Of the three I use, the most value from the program for me comes from Prowritingaid. For forty dollars a year, I bought the premium version. It’s fairly easy to use, but can be overwhelming. It offers a critique summary which tells you your reading level, grammar mistakes, word repetitions, spelling, sentence lengths, punctuation and much more. I feel there is too much, but then I pick and choose what I want to change, and my writing is better for it.

Next I like Ginger. This editing program has a free version that is quite adequate. You import your section, and it tells you grammar errors, punctuation problems and offers a fix. The free version has limited word count of five hundred words at a time, but you can do it  piecemeal. If you have the patience, what Ginger has that the others don’t, is a program that goes sentence by sentence and offers several alternative words and sentence structures. Often, they will suggest a word that makes the meaning sharper. Instead of she walks, they’ll offer she ambles or struts. Sometimes, like my Swype program, they’ll offer a total off-the-wall suggestion. One of the choices might say: The queen rained. You just blink your eyes and move on.

Grammarly is also good and very popular. There, too, you can get a free version. Just be aware that you must put up with the constant sales pitch, and slyly, they won’t tell you all the errors, saying you must upgrade to their thirty dollars a month version to get a full critique. I don’t feel the upgrade is worth it.

Still, the free version does an adequate job, even though it harps on my use of articles for various nouns, or rather my lack of them, and my negligence in adding commas between compound sentences while completely ignoring the lack of punctuation at the end of a sentence.

I never liked Hemingway’s compact and sparse prose. I’m more of a Faulkner writer with his long involved sentences and intricate descriptions. Juicy. So, I didn’t explore the Hemingway editing program.

If you use an editing program or a writing program, which one is it, and what do you like about it? What is your opinion–technology: blessing or bane?

This week I want to suggest reading two of my favorite books : Heavy Time and Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh.

I’m now having fun writing the third novel in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. Previously, I’d become stuck in the middle of the story as often happens to writers. I knew I wanted to write about the conflict between Alysians and Terrans as the Terrans try to settle on Alysia. I wanted to add urgency to the story with the threat of an attack, and that’s when I remembered reading Hellburner.

But I had to start with Heavy Time because Hellburner was hard to find, and also because Hellburner happens earlier and continues the story with the same characters. Rimrunner also takes place in the same universe.

Heavy Time has strong political overtones and tells about the struggles the small independent spaceship miners have against the big company asteroid mining conglomerates. Pilot Paul Dekker is discovered drifting in a tumbling mining spaceship and half dead without memory of what happened. His crew appears to have been murdered, and he is the number one suspect. Paul is half out of his mind and keeps calling out for his lover and crewmate, Cory. With great reluctance, Ben Pollard answers his distress call and brings him in, complaining about the cost and inconvenience. Paul ‘s constant frantic rantings after his missing girlfriend annoys Ben, and he abuses Paul in order to stop it.. Once on station, Paul’s former fellow crewmate, Bird, takes pity on him and is the only person who tries to clear his name, but it doesn’t prove easy.

Hellburner continues Paul’s story.

After testing Paul to see what skills he might have, the military discovers through an incident that he has extraordinary piloting skills. A powerful executive in the Mars Company, Cory’s mother, is out to crucify Paul as she believes he is responsible for her daughter’s death. She tries to bring him off station to Earth to try him for murder.

But the military has a secret warship in development and needs Paul’s skills to pilot their prototype. They offer him refuge from prosecution if he will pilot the ship. However, within the various divisions of the military, conflict develops as to who will control the program, and Paul ends up right in the middle of the fight with several murder attempts aimed at him. Against his will, Ben is pulled in to bring a drugged Paul back to sanity where he uncovers a secret plot within the military.

Fast-paced, the story is typical Cherryh. Told in various first-person viewpoints, it’s solid science fiction with a lot of emotional heat. She keeps you guessing as what is really going on until the very end.

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