Tag Archives: science fiction

Upgrading Your Novels and Mark Lawrence

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

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

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

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

Sales bumped up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I highly recommend the series.

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Second Chance for a Hugo Winner

Hey there:

Sometimes you have to give someone a second chance.

In this case, I tried to read N. K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and not only was I confused, but bored. Gods meddling with humans is not my thing.

So, I shunned her novels for years until the acclaim became so great I felt I should try again.

After all, winning the Hugo three years in a row is quite a feat. Lois McMasters Bujold, my favorite author, has won four times and only Asimov, Willis, and Vinge have won three times, and not sequentially. All other authors have won two or less… or not at all.

So I started with The Fifth Season.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I did enjoy the whole series. But first, I had to get over being angry. At the very beginning, Jemisin writes as if the reader is sitting next to her in an easy chair and Jemisin is telling her a story … that flips back and forth through time.

Her first sentence : “Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we? Get it over with and move on to more interesting things.”

Start at the end? Talk straight to the reader?

What she moves on to is a detailed description of the land using an incredible amount of telling in third person ubiquitous. She also describes two people, one a man who raises his arms and creates a gigantic earthquake and breaks the land. You have no idea who he is or why he does what he is doing. Even, how he can do it. His description isn’t woven in the story as so many experts tell an author to do, but told… Telling not showing.

We have an award winning author writing from a point of view that many so-called word police say you shouldn’t. Keep your author’s comments and voice out of the story, they say. Also, “show, don’t tell.”

She didn’t. Lots of description.
Voice intrudes throughout the series.

“Don’t jump back and forth in time, you’ll only confused the reader.”

She does.

Then after long descriptions of the land, a city, and a strange metamorphosis of rock to a human shape, in the next chapter, she switches to the second person to tell the story of Essun who discovers her son dead in her home.

Second person narrative. Tricky at best.

With little background at this point, the reader has no idea what is happening until Nemisin hones the story down to Essun, a middle-aged, impoverished woman who walks into her home to find her son murdered by her husband, his father.

So, now the reader is interested. Why?

We find out Essun is an orogene, which means she has the ability to move the earth and control certain elements of the ground … and other scary stuff.

Her kind is hated and feared, and she has to hide what she is. Her children are to be eliminated to protect humanity. So, her son is murdered by his father when he realizes what his son is. For some reason he doesn’t kill the daughter, but runs away with her with plans to kill her.

But how did Essun come to this state?

Next chapter, we skip back to her childhood where as a young child she is sold by her mother to frightening warrior called “a Guardian.” He takes her to the Fulcrum, a place where orogenes like her are controlled and trained. The first thing the guardian does, once he finds her hiding in the barn under the straw, is place a tracker inside the back of her head. He smiles and says nice words, but doesn’t mean any of it.

So, the story takes off. You become used to being addressed directly at various points in the story and the changes in viewpoints, and the jumps through time. The land becomes almost another character as it affects the lives of the beings on the planet, not all of them human.

By the end of the first book, when I realized the planet was unstable due to a missing moon, I was ready to read the second in the series, The Obelisk Gate. This follows Essun as she searches for her daughter to try and save her. Only her daughter is growing more and more powerful, and can do a few things of her own.

I was interested in following more of the life of Essun, first known as Damaya, and also other names. Keep track.

The second book jumps back and forth between her and her daughter’s experiences. Yes, a bit confusing, but I wanted to know how they were going to save the planet from the many episodes of upheavals called “the Stillnesses.” These are dramatic upheavals of the dangerous planet that create devastating events such as plagues, floods, etc. and can happen at any time and last ages, or not.

Would the moon ever return? And if it did, would ancient technology left by a previous race, enable them to capture it and stabilize the planet?

So, I read The Obelisk Gate and then The Stone Sky.

I was hooked.

I realized an original and interesting story often trumps certain rules of writing.

 

BUT…

Often the guidelines are there to strengthen your writing. Yesterday, I read Diana Wallace’s blog and finally understood “filter” words and how they weaken your writing.

Read her blog for more details at:

http://www.mythsofthemirror.com.

In commerce, the middle man is being taken out of the transaction. Amazon goes directly to the buyer, eliminating the publishing house or consumer. In the same way, words such as heard, felt, thought are filters that diminish the reader’s experience. Here is an example taken from Diana’s blog that will explain.

Ex:
Greta stood on her front porch. She felt the long-awaited spring call her with a rustling of leaves and patter of hummingbird wings. A smile brightened her face as she watched them battle around the feeder that she’d remembered to fill yesterday.  She supposed she wasn’t the only one enjoying the languid morning. On the porch rail, she saw her lazy tabby stretch and heard his rumbling purr as she rubbed his ears. She knew he liked the sunshine; she imagined he always had.

Correction without filter words:
Greta stood on her front porch. The long-awaited spring called her with a rustling of leaves and patter of hummingbird wings. A smile brightened her face as they battled around the feeder that she’d filled yesterday.  She wasn’t the only one enjoying the languid morning. On the porch rail, her lazy tabby stretched, and he rumbled a purr as she rubbed his ears. He liked the sunshine; he always had.

See the difference?

For more explanations and other great insights, check out her blog.

Yes, yes, I know that I just ranted and raved about a triple Hugo winner breaking all the rules, and then I turn around and give you a rule.

Who said writing was easy?

Not me.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Hugo winners, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, Writing Tips and Lectures

Hugo Announcements and Richard Morgan’s Thin Air

The Hugos are in. Wahoo.

The Awards were presented last night, Sunday August 18th, 2019 at a ceremony at the 77th World Science Fiction Convention in Dublin, Ireland, hosted by Afua Richardson and Michael Scott.

Winners for the 2019 Hugo Awards and the 1944 Retrospective Hugo Awards appear in bold.

Members of the convention cast a total of 3097 votes, all online except for eight paper ballots.
Congrats to the finalists and winners!

2019 HUGO AWARD FINALISTS

Best Novel

Calculating Stars

The Calculating Stars, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
Revenant Gun, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente (Saga)
Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik (Del Rey / Macmillan)
Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)

Best Novella

 

 

 

 

 

Artificial Condition, by Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
Beneath the Sugar Sky, by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing)
Binti: The Night Masquerade, by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com Publishing)
The Black God’s Drums, by P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, by Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
The Tea Master and the Detective, by Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean Press / JABberwocky Literary Agency)

Best Novelette

“If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again,” by Zen Cho (B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, 29 November 2018)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” by Tina Connolly (Tor.com, 11 July 2018)
“Nine Last Days on Planet Earth,” by Daryl Gregory (Tor.com, 19 September 2018)
The Only Harmless Great Thing, by Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Thing About Ghost Stories,” by Naomi Kritzer (Uncanny Magazine 25, November- December 2018)
“When We Were Starless,” by Simone Heller (Clarkesworld 145, October 2018)

Best Short Story

“A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies,” by Alix E. Harrow (Apex Magazine, February 2018)
“The Court Magician,” by Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed, January 2018)
“The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society,” by T. Kingfisher (Uncanny Magazine 25, November-December 2018)
“The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington,” by P. Djèlí Clark (Fireside Magazine, February 2018)
“STET,” by Sarah Gailey (Fireside Magazine, October 2018)
“The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat,” by Brooke Bolander (Uncanny Magazine 23, July-August 2018)

Best Series

A Closed and Common Orbit          A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

Wayfarers, by Becky Chambers (Hodder & Stoughton / Harper Voyager)
The Centenal Cycle, by Malka Older (Tor.com Publishing)
The Laundry Files, by Charles Stross (most recently Tor.com Publishing/Orbit)
Machineries of Empire, by Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris)
The October Daye Series, by Seanan McGuire (most recently DAW)
The Universe of Xuya, by Aliette de Bodard (most recently Subterranean Press)

*                                 *

For the complete list go to: http://www.thehugoawards.org/

Once again the women swept the awards, putting to rest the old belief that men dominate the science fiction genre. Still, as an author, I have to be aware that men read more science fiction than women. And as a female, I have to cheer the fact that we are doing so well in the genre. We don’t have to use initials before our last name to hide the fact as many female writers used to do.

I have mentioned that I have met and talked to Mary Robinette Kowal, and she is a delightful person who used to live in the Portland area. (Bit of name-dropping here)

Her Calculating Stars is on my 2019 reading list, and now I’m more than ever eager to read it. So stay tuned. I’ll let you know what I think. I have mentioned several of her other novels in earlier blogs.

Currently, I’m reading Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few and enjoying it a lot. I’ll discuss my reactions once I’m finished. I also have blogged about her other novels in the Wayfarer Series.

Thin Air

However, this blog needs to catch up, so I’m going to report on Thin Air by Richard Morgan. Richard Morgan is more a male’s read with lots of violent action and gritty dialog.

I just re-binged Altered Carbon, his more famous novel that was made into a series for Netflix. Watch it if you haven’t yet. Lots of clones, re-sleeving (putting a consciousness into a different body), violent fights, artificial computers who act like humans, and a twisty murder mystery.

Thin Air follows this trend with an ex-corporate enforcer who is stranded on Mars and just wants a ticket back home to Earth. Hakam Veil has all the equipment a military-grade body needs, along with plenty of attitude. When the Earth Oversite Corporation offers him a way home in exchange for finding a missing lottery winner, the gig sounds too easy and Hakan grabs the offer.

But, of course it isn’t.

As Hakan digs deeper into the disappearance, the once easy job gets more and more complicated … and dangerous.

I love the action, the high tech gizmos, and the future worldview. Just make sure you’re ready for what Morgan dishes up as he pulls no punches.

Here’s the trailer for Altered Carbon on Netflix:

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, downloaded personalities, genetic manipulation, Hugo winners, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series

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.

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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

2019 Hugo nominees, Nebula, and a Murderbot

Often awards are a way to curate outstanding books. In the science fiction and fantasy field that means the Hugo and the Nebula. Nominees for 2019 are now in for both, and may offer several interesting reads. (See below)

Still, I feel there’s a lot of politics involved, and I have said so before. However, it’s easy to stand on the sideline and make critiques while others work hard to improve the genre. Mary Robbinette Kowal is a lovely lady who used to live here in the Portland area, and I have met her several times at events. I want to note however, that she was past Secretary and then Vice President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America who sponsor the Nebula Awards. This past January she ran for President and then withdrew her nomination. Similarly, past president John Scalzi has won a number of Hugo awards. Coincidence? I don’t know. I know he writes well and is prolific, and I like his series. I plan to read Mary’s recently nominated book, The Calculating Stars, because she is a local author and a charming person. I’ll let you know what I think.

The other books on the nominating list I plan to read are: The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang and Artificial Condition by Martha Wells.

 

Here are the Nebula nominees for 2019:

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is pleased to announce the finalists for the 2019 Nebula Awards, including the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation, the Andre Norton Award for Outstanding Young Adult Science Fiction or Fantasy Book, and for the first time, the Nebula Award for Game Writing.

The winners will be announced at SFWA’s 54th annual Nebula Conference in Los Angeles, CA, which takes place from Thursday, May 16th through Sunday, May 19th at the Marriott Warner Center in Woodland Hills, CA.

The finalists are as follows:

Novel
The Calculating Stars, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor)
The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (Harper Voyager US; Harper Voyager UK)
Blackfish City, Sam J. Miller (Ecco; Orbit UK)
Spinning Silver, Naomi Novik (Del Rey; Macmillan)
Witchmark, C.L. Polk (Tor.com Publishing)
Trail of Lightning, Rebecca Roanhorse (Saga)
Novella
Fire Ant, Jonathan P. Brazee (Semper Fi)
The Black God’s Drums, P. Djèlí Clark (Tor.com Publishing)
The Tea Master and the Detective, Aliette de Bodard (Subterranean)
Alice Payne Arrives, Kate Heartfield (Tor.com Publishing)
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach, Kelly Robson (Tor.com Publishing)
Artificial Condition, Martha Wells (Tor.com Publishing)
Novelette
The Only Harmless Great Thing, Brooke Bolander (Tor.com Publishing)
“The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections”, Tina Connolly (Tor.com 7/11/18)
“An Agent of Utopia”, Andy Duncan (An Agent of Utopia)
“The Substance of My Lives, the Accidents of Our Births”, José Pablo Iriarte (Lightspeed 1/18)
“The Rule of Three”, Lawrence M. Schoen (Future Science Fiction Digest 12/18)
“Messenger”, Yudhanjaya Wijeratne and R.R. Virdi (Expanding Universe, Volume 4)

Also in are the 2019 Hugo nominees.

The 2019 Hugo Awards will be handed out at this year’s WorldCon 77, which will be held in Dublin, Ireland, between August 15th and 19th. Here is a shortened list of nominees for this year’s awards.

BEST NOVEL

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers
Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee
Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente
Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

BEST NOVELLA
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
Beneath the Sugar Sky by Seanan McGuire
Binti: The Night Masquerade by Nnedi Okorafor
The Black God’s Drums by P. Djèlí Clark
Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach by Kelly Robson
The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard

BEST NOVELETTE
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again by Zen Cho, Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections by Tina Connolly, Tor.com
Nine Last Days on Planet Earth by Daryl Gregory, Tor.com
The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander, Tor.com
The Thing About Ghost Stories by Naomi Kritzer, Uncanny Magazine
When We Were Starless by Simone Heller, Clarkesworld Magazine

BEST SHORT STORY
The Court Magician by Sarah Pinsker, Lightspeed Magazine
The Rose MacGregor Drinking and Admiration Society by T. Kingfisher, Uncanny Magazine
The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington by P. Djèlí Clark, Fireside Magazine
STET by Sarah Gailey, Fireside Magazine
The Tale of the Three Beautiful Raptor Sisters, and the Prince Who Was Made of Meat by Brooke Bolander, Uncanny Magazine
A Witch’s Guide to Escape: A Practical Compendium of Portal Fantasies by Alix E. Harrow, Apex Magazine

BEST SERIES
The Centenal Cycle by Malka Older
The Laundry Files by Charles Stross
Machineries of Empire by Yoon Ha Lee
The October Daye Series by Seanan McGuire
The Universe of Xuya by Aliette de Bodard
Wayfarers by Becky Chambers

BEST RELATED WORK
Archive of Our Own, a project of the Organization for Transformative Works
Astounding: John W. Campbell, Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, L. Ron Hubbard, and the Golden Age of Science Fiction, by Alec Nevala-Lee
The Hobbit Duology (a documentary in three parts), written and edited by Lindsay Ellis and Angelina Meehan
An Informal History of the Hugos: A Personal Look Back at the Hugo Awards 1953-2000, by Jo Walton
The Mexicanx Initiative Experience at Worldcon 76 by Julia Rios, Libia Brenda, Pablo Defendini, and John Picacio
Ursula K. Le Guin: Conversations on Writing by Ursula K. Le Guin with David Naimon

There are numerous other categories with nominees that you can find on the website:
http://www.thehugoawards.org/

I have read and commented on other books by Becky Chambers, Naomi Novik, Mary Robinette Kowal, Martha Wells, Yoon Ha Lee, and Charles Stross in previous blogs. All have been nominated for other books in other years. It seems the same people get nominated repeatedly. Nonetheless, several authors have been nominated more than once for various books over the years in both the Hugo and Nebula. It seems a common practice.

***
With that settled, I’m currently working on marketing. I have a promo on Fussy Librarian April 25 for Caught in Time. The tricky part with promos is figuring out all the rules and logistics. Fussy expects at least ten reviews with a four star overall average. If it is in a series, they’ll only take the first book. But… They will take a new release if you can show ten reviews with four plus average rating on your other books. Fussy is also cheaper. Twenty-five dollars for science fiction and thirty-eight for romance. However, they recently updated their website and guess who got totally confused?

Yup. Me.
Somehow I found myself opening up yet another Facebook account. Yipes!

BUT … They had a good messaging system, and when I yelled for help, they responded promptly and took care of me, listing me as a romance for ten dollars more. Oh, well. They can reach 175,000 readers through their free newsletter, and they will advertise your novel on Facebook. Check the website for complete up-to-date details.

I’ll let you know the response I get and if it was worth it.

Free on May 9, 10 and 11th, I’m going back to favorite ad site, FreeBooksy for May 10. My last promo in March for Somewhat Alien gathered 1,898 downloads with a happy quantity of follow-on sales.

That’s what I want to see.

No specific amount of reviews are required, but the book has to be free. (FREEbooksy) That means setting up your free days through KDP if you are on that program, which I am. If you want to charge or have a specific genre like romance, there are other promos available. The price depends on the category of your book. Science fiction is $70.

I’ll promo Caught in Time because that evening will be my book club venue, and I want to offer several special deals to the group.

Stay tuned. I’ll let you know if I found any of this a worthwhile part of any book marketing plan.
***
For my book recommendation this time around, I’m going to mention Martha Wells’ Artificial Condition since it made both the Nebula and Hugo nomination list this year.

The books in her series are short, which puts them in the novella category. The cost for a 160 page hardcover is $17 and the Kindle version is $9.99. A lot of readers have protested the blatant attempt to squeeze as much money as possible out of the series by her publisher. It’s caused quite a kerfuffle.

I, however, made use of the public library and paid nothing, but was irritated at a publisher’s manipulation of readers to make as big a profit as possible.

I’m getting to be a cranky old woman … I know, I know.

However, I have read three of the Murderbot Series and enjoyed them all very much. (See previous blog comments)

Artificial intelligence passing as human is a current theme in science fiction. Martha Wells’ AI calls itself Murderbot due to a mining incident where a number of humans were massacred by AIs, and it was present.

Somehow, the narrating AI managed to disengage his controller and escape, avoiding the “reset” or wipe performed on the other robots by the company. Robots, like Murderbot, are designed for fighting and violence and frighten ordinary humans. They normally are kept under tight control, but our narrator runs for it, attempting to pass for human under a disguise of cloak and helmet.

Its memory is still hazy about the incident, so, it decides to return to find out what happened. Murderbot negotiates to hitch a ride with an artificial-intelligence operated Research Transport Vehicle named ART in return for downloaded media goodies. Their interactions form some of the more hilarious parts of the story, and make it a worthwhile read, even at an inflated price.

As the story goes, humans in the story do irrational things and cause Murderbot to wonder at their actions. However, as it absorbs the human soap operas and recorded movies, it acts more and more human until the reader is charmed and also wants to know the truth of what happened.

Unfortunately, that will take another book.

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Filed under artificial intelligence, artificial nature, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Hugo Nominations, Marketing and selling novels, Nebula nominations, Robots in science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction series, science fiction space opera

Science Fiction Selections for 2019

Marketing your book—some people love to do it.

But no one I know.

As my blog readers know, I just published my third book in the Terran Trilogy, Weight of Gravity.
I tried to cover the obvious marketing essentials :

An exciting book cover. Check.
Editing as thorough as my writers’ group, several editors, Beta readers, and I could do. Check.
A compelling blurb. Check.
A cohesive story. Check.

Those items are under my control and are the first steps of marketing my book. Then, I need to get the word out. Here’s where I have difficulties. Unfortunately, I don’t have millions of Twitter readers or Facebook followers. After all the privacy revelations, I’m afraid to put anything on Facebook. I want the right sort of people to know me, not the chirping automated voice of Becky who says she’s been trying to call me to offer a free vacation, health monitor, heating system, computer diagnosis, or credit card rate. You can fill in the blank. You’ve probably heard from her already, or her sister, or her Indian cousin.

To get the word out to readers, I returned to my favorite ad site, Freebooksy, and offered the second in the Terran Trilogy series for free. I had already placed A World Too Far last year when it first came out and was happy with the downloads, but I needed reviews for Somewhat Alien (it’s feeling lonely) and wanted to see how a promotion would do with that book.

So, free on Amazon or through Freebooksy, the second in the Trilogy, Somewhat Alien, will be free, free, free March 5 through 7. And please… On bended knee… leave a review. Doesn’t have to be fancy, and hopefully, it will make me smile. Deep thanks.

Yey!

Then you might like to continue the story with my latest book, Weight of Gravity.

This book has an adventure in a Ching T’Karre harem with an attempted rescue of kidnapped Terran women, an involvement with an obstreperous lompir named Matilda (very camel like), an unexpected meeting of human-appearing robots, lots of secret clones milling about, and a wild space battle to name just a few of the things you might encounter.

Finally, I’ve been honored to be invited to talk to a Portland book club in April. This is the best part in a marketing program, and I look forward to meeting new friends.

Meanwhile, I’m pursuing other venues and will keep you informed to give you ideas for your own book marketing endeavors. Comment below on what has worked best for you in your marketing experiences. We’ll share.

Each year in January, I select ten books to read for the coming year.

Oops … you say it’s already heading into March? Where does the time go?

Well, I better get to it then. Here are the suggestions for books that you may find interesting in the science fiction or fantasy world that I have put on my to-be-read pile for 2019. I will add in others as they crop up.

1. Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill. Well, robots are in fashion, thanks to Anne Leckie and Martha Wells. Like their stories, this is also told from the point of view of a robot but is rather a Mad Maxx meets Asimov’s I-robot. Should be interesting.

2. Red Sister by Mark Lawrence You may have read Mark Lawrence and his First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself...) or his Broken Empire Series (Prince of Thorns... ) or his Red Queen’s War Series (Prince of Fools…) I have mentioned several of them in my blogs. They are gritty and violent with main characters that you’re not sure you would want as friends … but, oh what reads they are. So, I put this on my list. Grey Sister, book two, is also out with Holy Sister arriving in April 2019.

3. Getting away from the developing red color theme above, I plan to read Stone Sky by Jemisin, the first in her Broken Earth series. (another broken theme) So much acclaim has been offered her for her writing in the last couple of years, (winning a Hugo for the last three years, and more). I need to see what she is all about, even though I normally don’t like apocalyptic fiction. I’m always hoping for a better future for my descendents.

4. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness is next. This has been mentioned by several people, and I was given the sequel, Time’s Convert, at my Powell’s book club meeting, so, of course, I have to read the first one first.

5. And finally, The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang. This was also given to me. Peter, the science fiction expert at Powell’s, saw that I had it under my arm and gave me an enigmatic grin. He said, “I would be interested in what you think about that one.” I’m not sure what he meant, and now, I’m worried. But, we’ll see.

So that’s the final selection for my 2019 list. I will add in books as I go along. I follow up with comments, opinions, and sage wisdom on the books I think are worth mentioning in an effort to bring what I consider interesting science fiction to you, my readers.

Ps: Don’t forget this Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, March 5-7 and download Somewhat Alien … and possibly check out the others too.

Then, enjoy.

Spring is coming and no snow this weekend!

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, Clones, fantasy series, first contact, Hugo winners, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, Robots in science fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism

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)

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