Tag Archives: space ships

Publishing Wrap-up 2016 and Five Scifi Selections for 2017

IMG_0174January has certainly gotten off to a contentious start. How does that affect book sales? I would imagine that readers are turning on the television to get the latest incendiary news distortion or taking to the streets to loudly voice their opinions…

…rather than quietly reading.

Kristine Rusch has a lengthy blog that talks about Indie publishing as a business and some current trends. She discusses the fact that sales were down in 2016 and the reasons why. Publishers say there was no breakout novel. Election noise took away reading time. The ebook publishing business is leveling off.

My sales were good until November, and then, I also saw a downturn. I’m seeing it in January, but I’m blaming politics and a lack of marketing enthusiasm. I’m a bit burnt out on marketing at the moment. I need to catch up on my writing and fill up the piggy bank because having the necessary funds to see you over the down part only makes good business sense.

She mentions that also. Here’s the blog: http://kriswrites.com/2017/01/18/business-musings-2016-disappointments/

January is one of the most fun months of the year for my blog because I get to select books to read for the year. Sometimes a book doesn’t meet the publication date (Thorn of Emberlain ) and sometimes I decide the book isn’t up to my standards and don’t mention it. (Split Second) However, it’s a way to prime the pump and get enthusiastic about reading. I have found lately that good science fiction is hard to find. There’s a mishmash of books out there but very little in the “got to read” category.

Anyway here’s my next five:

all-the-birds-in-the-sky1. All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders. I keep seeing this on recommended lists. I have avoided it because I really don’t like apocalyptic novels. They tend to be downers rather than contain interesting science. There’s always a struggle with the environment, and too often zombies show up. But this is about a young girl who is involved in magic. A long ago geek friend she knows from Middle School gets back with her. Also, it takes place in San Francisco, and I lived in the Bay area for eight years. So, it’s on the list.

2. The Unquiet Land by Sharon Shinn: I’ve been waiting on this one. I’ve read the previous books in the series (Elementals) so I know I will like this. (Rubs hands together)the-last-year

unquiet-land3. The Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson. New release. Time travel. Amazon best list. Charles Wilson (Spin) I’m in.

4. The Traitor ‘s Blade by Sebastien De Castell: Peter who works in Powell’s at Cedar Crossing has been their science fiction expert for a long time. He’s the liason for our Science Fiction Book Club. He knows his stuff, and when I whined about wanting a good book, he stuck this in my hand. Of course, I bought it and put it on the list.traitors-blade

5. Night Without Stars by Peter Hamilton. A hardback library find. Well, I’d actually been seeing this on a few a-night-without-starsrecommended lists. I’ve read earlier novels in the series also. It’s a big book which means it will take a while to read, but this is a far future space opera, and I’m ready for that.

By the way…don’t forget the second season of the Expanse starts on television tomorrow night February 1, Syfy channel. Watch that rather than the political insanity. Or, maybe the politics of the future there will look frightening familiar, and you can get a two-for-one.

the-expanse-620x412

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New Year Science Fiction

IMG_9512Welcome to a new year 2017.new-year

This is the time everyone decides to improve their life; whether it be by dieting, more exercise, more family time, or finding a new job. Having a point in time to evaluate your situation is always good.

This year I plan to complete book two, Somewhat Alien, in my new series called The Terran Trilogy and write at least half of book three. I’m midway through the writing of book two and am really having fun with it. Also, I’m blessed in that I’m not reliant on my writing to pay the mortgage. However, I make enough to keep me busy and add to the family coffers. (A Snickers anyone?)

Usually, I pick out five books the first week of the new year and five books the second week that I plan to read sometime during the coming year.

But first, I want to mention a blog by Written Media that makes ten predictions for 2017 in the publishing world. Check it out : http://bit.ly/2hVpPOQ

You’ll notice at the bottom of Written Media‘s blog is a link to Mark Cocker’s 2017 predictions. He has a lot to say but is very anti-Amazon. My only comment is that I tried to sell through Smashwords for four years and sold one book. They are a distributor that did nothing to help me promote or sell, even though they put your books out on various platforms.

Amazon is constantly trying to figure out ways to help authors promote their books. Unfortunately, scammers have leaped in and given valid authors a bad rap. And, in trying to weed out the miscreants, Amazon has hurt a few legitimate authors.

Nonetheless, I sell very well through Amazon. After fifteen years of writing and submitting to traditional publishers, I’m thankful to be able to publish my exciting series through Amazon.

Enuff said.

Thorn of EmberlainMy first pick to read in 2017 is The Thorne of Emberlaine by Scott Lynch. Why does that title sound familiar? Because I picked it last year when they said it would be published. Didn’t happen. Rather than being upset, I’m actually relieved that such a famous author from a traditional publishing house would be so late. I always angst when I run behind schedule, but I’m realizing others do so too. (You hear me Pat Rothfuss and George R. R. Martin?)

My second pick is a library find called Castaway Odyssey by Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor. I haven’t mentioned these two well known authors yet, and the story of survival on an alien planet after crash landing there intrigued me. Rather a Swiss Family Robinson with a twist.castaway-odyseey

Kevin McLaughlin has graciously offered his expertise and advice on LinkedIn time and again.

Thanks, Kevin.

accord-of-honorI have found your comments accurate and helpful–especially during my early days of self publishing. So when Kevin came out with a science fiction book with a cover that featured an awesome ship against an alien planet, I was in. I even paid money. Accord of Honor by Kevin McLaughlin is my third choice.

However, I am guilty of grabbing free or discounted books off of add sites at any moment. (I’m just that cheap) Actually, I have built up an embarrassing library of books I plan to read any day now. That’s great, except Amazon keeps e-mailing me and asking how many stars I would give to books I haven’t read yet. Since I do like time travel, I’m choosing Split Second by Douglas E. Richards and whittling down the stack.split-second

Finally, my fifth choice is part of a series that I discovered last year. The title drew me in and the book proved entertaining. Dome City Blues by Jeff Edward delivered a combined detective and science fiction story. My two favorite genres. So, I’m planning on reading the next in the series, Angel City Blues.Angel City Blues

I feel that my writing has improved, and the later books in my own series are even better than the first ones, but everyone wants to start with the first book. I’m not sure how to overcome this situation, except with time and discovery. It has taken me a year to get to the second book in Jeff’s series. So, as I often say to my daughter, “Patience is a virtue.” Usually, I just like the scrunched-up face she makes when I say it.

There you have it. It’s only a rough plan, and as you know, subject to change. I always add in other books as they come along. I’ll add five more next blog.

May 2017 be a fulfilling year where you enjoy lots of good science fiction.

I’ll help you with that.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling science fiction, blog information, ebook science fiction, Marketing and selling novels, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, Space opera, The future of publishing, time travel

Book Reviews: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Image 1A lot has been said and heard about the terrible editors and publishers who totally ignore or devastate eager new writers. With so many writers out there, the traditional publishing funnel is getting smaller and smaller. I know, I tried to squeeze into one of them. I wasted two years waiting for Baen books to get around to turning down my first book after expressing interest and asking for a completed manuscript.

TWO YEARS! ONE BOOK!

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and ouch, it pinches.

Because I write science fiction and have read it for years, I thought it would be fun to share that wisdom with others.

What could go wrong???

I was always eager to hear about a good book. Not many people around me read science fiction, and I was always on the lookout for something worthwhile to read. Through my blog, I could spread the word about my favorites, so other readers could find what I liked.

Amazon has solved that problem for me, somewhat. But I still thought it would be a good idea to blog about it… and I am having fun doing that. But a new monster has raised its head, and that’s the monster of declining reviews of authors’ books. I’ve been flooded with more review requests than I have time for while garnering very few for myself.

So far, I have had wonderful writers who have been more than gracious when I have said, “No, thanks.” A while ago, a new UK writer e-mailed asking me to review a story about booze crazed alien slugs that unleash unspeakable terror on the world, and only an array of broken cleaning attachments can save the day.

It was tempting, but I felt a need to decline in that I don’t review appliance fiction. (for your future reference) and it sounded a bit sucky, to tell the truth.

We’ll probably read about it on Amazon’s best seller list.

I also got a request from Richard Flores who wrote an intriguing blog on this matter. His blog is entitled “Form Rejection.” Since he also reviews, he thought he would respond to writer’s submissions he had to reject with advice on how to make the manuscript better. You know, the personal touch. Being helpful.

He came to the conclusion that writers, on the whole, didn’t appreciate his help in making their manuscript better.

Turns out there is another side to this dance. Writers can get downright snarky if you call their baby ugly. He said that some used foul language and threats.

Hence the use of form rejections by publishers, editors and agents that are vague and non judgmental. “Doesn’t fit into out current offerings.” Etc.

A nice “No thanks” for those that don’t want a home fire-bombed.fireworks

Now, so far, I have been lucky. Please, all writers be aware that just because one person backs away, doesn’t mean it’s a bad book or story. I recently said no because I couldn’t deal with the graphic description of the main character immediately dying from cancer, even though the writing was good. It’s just I have to make a judgement call on what I put my name on and, in the publisher’s case,… it’s their money, or for some, it’s their career. This doesn’t excuse certain behaviors that I have encountered in editors, but it has certainly opened my eyes to their side of things.

Just saying.

So, I’m not taking any more review requests at this time as it’s too painful to turn down very nice authors with books that don’t quite ring my chimes but may thrill another reader. Also, I have gotten embarrassingly far behind in reading and following up on reviews that I have already accepted.

Just so many hours in the day.

mortalis-beyond-the-starsHaving said all this, I still owe the gracious Larry Crockerham and his book Mortalis:Beyond the Stars a mention.

The premise of a female military leader discovering and colonizing an inhabited world intrigued me as I’m currently writing a similar book. I wanted to see how another author handled that kind of story.

The writing is edited well on the technical side. I wasn’t finding spelling and grammar errors. The covers are gorgeous. The story was reasonable and plotted out well. My hang-up came with becoming involved with the main character. I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t “connect.”

For the more “action types” who like stories with more plot and not a lot of touchy-feely, they may like this story. There were a number of five star reviews. There were also a number of reviewers who felt the character wasn’t fully developed and had issues with that part of the writing. I did too and don’t know why.

Larry also has a sequel that came out last April. This one interests me because it has time travel in it. The main character, Marion, finds a time gate and from starship and world wrangler, she travels back to Civil War times where she had to evade a Civil War officer. She finally escapes, but lands in the World War II era of our history where his grandson pursues her. Sounds interesting.the-mortal-beyond-the-cosmos

I feel this was a good study for me on what engages a reader and what doesn’t… the essence of storytelling. I still haven’t reached a final conclusion in this case.

What I have realized, through Powell’s book club, is that no two readers feel the same way about a book, and even the best books (Hugo award winners) have readers who don’t like them for some reason or another. The Powell’s group is an opinionated, out-spoken and diversified collection of science fiction lovers who never wholly agree with each other, or me, but I love them all.

However, I think you’ll find some great science fiction and fantasy if you scroll through my blogs and often the cream does rise to the top.

I can only present what I find worth reading in this blog, and you are invited to take it from there.

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Filed under Alien worlds, aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, Discovering new a Earth, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction space opera, Science fiction world building, space travel, terra forming

Counting Spaceship Colonists

IMG_9518Writing science fiction often takes you off into the weeds of future speculation. When I took on the Terran Series and started writing A World Too Far, I had to figure out how many people and ships would be traveling. I also had to state a reason for the mission.

I didn’t want the reason to be that the Earth was annihilated or destroyed. I hope that as time goes on we do things better and more efficiently. Stephen Hawking says that we need to expand out from Earth in order to survive long term. The “Not Everyone in the Same Basket” theory. I think we have enough people like Elon Musk that we don’t need a catastrophic event to push people out into space. So I made the reason for the expedition the fear that humans need to diversify to other planets in order to survive…and the plain old human drive of seeking adventure and new worlds.

Okay, how many then? Two names kept cropping up. One was John More who said 160 was enough. Local Portland University anthropologist Cameron Smith said 14,000 to 40,000.

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Wikipedia:

Estimates of the minimum reasonable population for a generation ship vary. Anthropologist John Moore has estimated that, even in the absence of cryonics or sperm banks, a population capacity of 160 people would allow normal family life (with the average
individual having ten potential marriage partners) throughout a 200-year space journey, with little loss of genetic diversity; social engineering can reduce this estimate to 80 people.[6] In 2013 anthropologist Cameron Smith reviewed existing literature and created a new computer model to estimate a minimum reasonable population in the tens of thousands. Smith’s numbers were much larger than previous estimates such as Moore’s, in part because Smith takes the risk of accidents and disease into consideration, and assumes at least one severe population catastrophe over the course of a 150-year journey.[7]

Cameron Smith in Acta Astronautica
April–May 2014, Vol.97:16–29, doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2013.12.013

Estimation of a genetically viable population for multigenerational interstellar voyaging: Review and data for project Hyperion

I find that previously proposed such populations, on the order of a few hundred individuals, are significantly too low to consider based on current understanding of vertebrate (including human) genetics and population dynamics. Population genetics theory, calculations and computer modeling determine that a properly screened and age- and sex-structured total founding population (Nc) of anywhere from roughly 14,000 to 44,000 people would be sufficient to survive such journeys in good health. A safe and well-considered Nc figure is 40,000, an Interstellar Migrant Population (IMP) composed of an Effective Population [Ne] of 23,400 reproductive males and females, the rest being pre- or post-reproductive individuals. This number would maintain good health over five generations despite (a) increased inbreeding resulting from a relatively small human population, (b) depressed genetic diversity due to the founder effect, (c) demographic change through time and (d) expectation of at least one severe population catastrophe over the 5-generation voyage.

That’s quite a range.
What to do?

I started with sixty ships with two hundred per ship that worked the ship and two hundred in cryo. But then as the ships approached the designated planet, a population campaign increased the live colonists to five hundred per ship, give or take. That put us in the range of thirty thousand along the lines of Cameron Smith’s estimate.

Besides, I liked Babylon Five, the TV series, and wanted several ships on the journey for diversity and interest.

When the target planet was found toxic, forty ships decided not to land and jumped away. Of course, problems started happening immediately and the population underwent a severe reduction.

I needed a more manageable number of characters. I was trying to read The Dark Between the Stars by Alan Dean Foster and too many main characters overwhelm a reader. I got overwhelmed and didn’t finish the book.

As ships sought ways to increase the population, space found ways to destroy ships.

Now as I’m writing the next stage that deals with survival on a space station and alien planet, numbers again play an important role. Only so many can fit on station, and those stranded on the orbiting ships create a nice tension to those on planet that don’t want a horde of aliens invading their home and try to keep them on the station or ships.

Readers often don’t realize how much science fiction authors need to balance science plausibility with attention-keeping fictional plots and often wander off into the weeds of research.

Or maybe they do. Maybe they require it.

fortunes-pawnThis week I read Fortune’s Pawn by Rachel Bach as it is a Powell’s science fiction readers group selection. I really enjoyed it…so much so that I’m now reading the sequel Honor’s Knight.

It’s even better.

Devi Morris is a super gung-ho mercenary from the military planet Paradox where the king reigns supreme. The universe is full of inhabited planets and ships travel all over via jump technology.

However, there is an unknown dangerous threat lurking at the edges of the universe.

Devi’s favorite possessions are her battle armor, which she has named Lady Gray, and her weapons. (Also named). She polishes them and talks about them a lot. Being a merc, she has few friends. Being aggressive and battle smart… she has few friends.

In order to accelerate her career, she has taken a job in a beaten up trading ship called The Glorious Fool. The ship has a dangerous reputation but it’s rumored to be a fast track to the rank of Devastator, the name of the king ‘s elite guards, a rank Devi aspires to.honors-knight

On board, an interesting assortment of aliens form the crew. The navigator is a cranky aeon, a birdlike species; her doctor is from a race of crablike insects that are enemies of most humans, and the cook, Rupert, well, he’s incredibly handsome and nothing like he seems.

Nothing.

Actually, nothing is as it appears and soon Devi is wrapped up in secrets that are world heavens-queenshattering with the real possibility of not surviving her tour.

But she’s a stubborn, resourceful, and surprisingly capable mercenary who soon finds herself with a few deadly secrets of her own.

Fast page-turning action with a passionate love story makes this one of my favorites, and one I recommend.

Happy Halloween!pumpkin

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, artificial nature, Classic science fiction, genetic manipulation, modifying humans, Non fiction Science for science fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism

Cover Reveal and Survey

IMG_0180Yeah, yeah, I know. The blog’s overdue.
But I have excuses. You do know it’s summer and that means vacations.
We took a mini vacation last weekend to go camping at Paulina, Oregon. (Pronounced like North Carolina…I never got it right)
See the gorgeous photo in the banner heading.

The other excuse is: I was waiting on my covers so I could do a splashy cover reveal.
There is an ongoing argument among my readers and the writing clique on whether a science fiction novel should have a face on it or not. So far it’s evenly split.

One-third argues strongly that people want that human connection, and a face or faces should be on the cover.

One-third counters with the argument that they would prefer to envision the being in the story using their own imagination and not some artist’s rendering.

The other third says it doesn’t matter to them. They only want to read the blurb and the story itself is what will sell them.

To this end, I had my graphic artist Toni B0udreault do two covers, and I may experiment a bit with which one gets the most sales.

bk9_cover_v6_face_final

bk9_cover_a_world_too_far_ships_kindle

 

 

 

What do you think? Which cover would you be most tempted to buy?

Why?

 Speaking of marketing…I wanted to include this interesting link.

 https://www.amarketingexpert.com/indie-authors-7-marketing-trends-no-longer-work-can-instead/

 Over the last five to six years the publishing industry has been transforming at a dizzying pace. What worked earlier, may not work now. Traditionally published books may be handled quite differently than a self-published fiction, and that is handled differently from a non fiction work.

For authors using small publishers or self publishing, the learning curve is steep and often changes.

 If you are using ads, check out http://www.Indielisters.com

Jason Ladd is trying to get a handle on which ad websites are worth the expense.

Okay on to the book of the week:

This week I read The Catalyst by Chris Reher. Chris has a full series out called the Taragon Tales and The Catalyst is book one. Like my series, each book stands alone, but characters from different books intertwine in the series. She also has several other series as well.

Once again, I discovered Chris through an ad site and Amazon’s newsletter marketing.

The Catalyst starts with Nova Whitesides, lieutenant, who is sent to escort an octopus-like alien to a distant star system. When her transport is attacked by pirates and the alien’s housing broken, it attaches itself and deposits a mysterious substance inside of her.

In order to survive the attack, Nova relies on a past lover, Seth Kadran who has aligned himself with the rebels, bent on taking down the Commonwealth. He comes in with the murderous pirates but during the attack he saves Nova’s life, helping her escape.

 Nova needs to discover what’s inside her and whether she can trust Seth to help her. Will personal attachments trump political differences, and which side is her former lover really on? As things get more complicated, Nova may soon go from MIA to AWOL or worse, in spite of her high level military father. Trying to do the right thing places Nova in questionable circumstances that could lead to military charges and a ruined career if she isn’t careful.

 A developing war has Nova wondering whose side she really should be on as greedy corporations face off against saving a world and an entire intelligent species.

 Chris Reher crafts an interesting story with twists and turns, full of romantic tension and dramatic action.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, science fiction space opera, Self publishing a cover, Space opera, space ship

Science Fiction Romance

IMG_9518Summer is going by too quickly.

Results from my Freebooksy ad were mixed. Cosmic Entanglement made #1 in the Kindle> free> space opera category…briefly. But Yea! Ironically enough, #2 was The Star King by Susan Grant that I had already planned to review this week. (Stay tuned)

While there was an exciting pop for the rest of the series that day, the retail sales tailed off more quickly than usual, but now have picked up again with the start of a new month. I’m wondering if there isn’t a seasonality for ebooks. An unofficial guess would be that March through July, possibly August, sells best because of summer vacations and generally more leisure time. In addition to that, are there certain days of the month that readers are more likely to buy? In the past, my sales slow in September due to readers returning to work or getting kids off to school. I think November and December are best for hardback or paperback books that can be given as gifts because few people have time to leisurely read over the holidays. The big publishers also market hard during the holidays and bring out their top authors. (unofficial survey) I will keep an eye out for this year’s results.

I’m in the throes of working with my graphics artist on the cover for the first book in the Terran Trilogy. Toni Boudreault is easy to work with and understands the technicals of cover making…bleed, 300dpi, etc., along with a strong design sense and a willingness to try my suggestions. (crazy as they may be) So my next blog should contain an exiting cover reveal.

Being an independent publisher means juggling many tasks, but I love taking part in the creative side of designing the total look of the book. I also enjoy the business aspect, and too often can be found checking on sales or planning a marketing program. I live with guilt that I’m not marketing enough or effectively. However, I can pick what I like doing best, in most cases, and having that control is worth a lot.Armed Professions

I want to give a quick shout out for Clayton Callahan’s new book, Armed Professions: A Writer’s Guide. This is a fun nonfiction read on dangerous professions such as: military, police, firefighters, spies, etc. Clayton covers fascinating details starting with the history of these professions on up to current events, all with an eye to the writer. He writes from personal experience and that adds depth to the material. He also mentions relevant books and movies and suggests plots while providing a comprehensive understanding and terminology of each profession.

If you write these types of stories or need a good reference for a story with military titles (which can get confusing), a spy thriller, or firefighters, this is a valuable manual to have.

Because Clayton is in my writing group and known to me, Amazon has flatly said I cannot review him on their website. That’s a shame because this is a unique book that I think is worth having, but I understand and appreciate their initiative to eliminate influenced reviews.

The Star KingThis week I picked The Star King by Susan Grant. As of today, it’s still on free offer, but you hard core military guys stand down. While Lt. Jasmine Boswell is a military fighter pilot, the main story is a love story that transcends worlds and has a lot of heavy breathing in it.

Okay, I know you guys like romance too. At ease.

Lt. Jasmine Boswell crashes her military plane in the desert and blacks out. When she revives, she encounters a stranger with golden eyes as alien warships thunder overhead, targeting them. He pulls her down beneath a rock overhang and saves her life. She, in return, tells him that he must “crush the darkness” and encourages him to carry the fight.
Light years apart, on different worlds, they each save the other.

Against his father’s wishes,  Prince Romlijhian B’kah, known as Rom, watches his only brother shot down and killed by enemy forces. Since his father is king and high nobility, that leaves Rom as sole heir. Both defied their father’s order to not go, and now his brother is dead because of his influence. Devastated, he wants to die, but encounters Jas who encourages him to live. He passes out and when revived is captured by their leader, the ruthless Sharron. He brutally attacks Sharron, gets away, and is rescued by his own men.

Nineteen years pass on Earth.

Jas is now divorced with two children and still haunted by the encounter with the golden-eyed stranger.

Then, Earth receives a message from Jupiter that aliens called the Vash wish to land on the planet and establish diplomatic relations. In a news broadcast, Jas recognizes the man from her vision.

In the meantime, Rom has been disenfranchised by his family and is a renegade merchant trader. The military leader, Fleet Commander Lanat, is reluctant to let Rom land with him on Earth, but Rom sensing a market for precious salt connives a landing berth for his ship the Quillie by quoting treaty regulations at him.

The rest of the story is how both Jas and Rom overcome obstacles of all kinds to finally be together.

Susan Grant begins with an emotional and action-packed start. At times, the writing gets a bit over the top for me, but the story is cleverly done and the reader cheers for the two dream-crossed lovers.Star Prince

This is the beginning of a series, and like me, Ms. Grant offers this first book free, hoping the reader will want to read on.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, ebook science fiction, first contact, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, science fiction romance, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space ship

Changes in Publishing and Book Sales

Publishing keeps changing and it’s hard to keep up.

First off, I waphotont to offer a link to a recent blog I read by Kristine Katherine Rusch.

http://kriswrites.com/2016/06/22/business-musings-the-midlist-rules/

If you haven’t read it, you should. Kristine is a prolific writer who writes under several names and across genres along with her husband Dean Wesley Smith. She was editor for The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction a while back. (1991-1997) They also live in Oregon, not far away from me.

A few points she makes in the blog are fascinating. She is an Indie advocate who has extensive experience in both traditional publishing and self-publishing.

The discussion starts by talking about authors making $100,000 and compares Indie authors to traditionally published authors.

She says that in the past, traditional publishers focused authors on the number of books to be sold rather than the amount of money earned over time. Authors made money on advances that were paid out over several years because they rarely earned out enough to collect royalties…her example used six years.
In the old days, the book’s launch was expected to sell the most copies right out of the gate–usually hardback, then paperback. (if the author was good enough) Rusch states that often during that first month she would sell the most books because of the hype and as time went by, sales would tail off and the book would be pulled from the bookshelves to make room for newer books.

Now, with the advent of ebooks, sales often increase over time. Ebooks stay available and, with marketing, can continue to do well. My sales in 2015 doubled over the previous year, and I’m on track to double that in 2016.

Also, she said selling several series is more profitable. Along those lines, I’m coming out with my next book World Too Far, and it will be the first in the Terran Trilogy. So, I will have two series, but they will relate to each other.Version 2

Ms. Rusch goes on to make some interesting points, comparing what it takes for an Indie author and a traditionally published author to make $100,000.

There’s math involved, but she keeps it simple. What she fails to mention are the expenses that Indie authors must now incur with book covers, hiring editors and ad sites. Traditional publishers used to bear those costs.

However, a 25% royalty for a traditionally published author is really 25% of the 70% royalty a publisher gets from an ebook on Amazon. So, 70% of say a $5.00 ebook equals $3.50, but the royalty for the author is 25% of that or around $.875. The Indie author gets the full $3.50; the traditionally published author gets $.875 per book. Traditional publishers may offer advances (or not), however, but no royalties are received until the advance is covered. And that’s only for the publisher to know when that happens.

Honestly, I’d rather have control over what my work looks like and how it’s marketed. I want to know how each book is selling at every point in time. Also, I want to control the timing of the release of my next book and not be waiting, maybe years, for the publisher’s timetable or be under a stressful deadline I might not be able to meet.

This week I’m going back to old favorites and want to suggest several series in the space opera/military genre.Fortress Earth

A few names I have recently run across are Ryk Brown, B.V. Larson, Michael Hicks, Vaughan
Hefner, Nick Webb,and Jasper Scott. All sell on Amazon. There are others. What are your favorites?.

Specifically I want to highlight Space Carrier Avalon by Glyn Stewart. Again this was offered at a good price from an ad site and bought through Amazon. If you’re one of those readers that like the military and science details included in a good story, you might like this first book in a series.

Space Carrier AvalonThe spaceship Avalon is the highest decorated battleship of the Castle Federation, and the oldest. Because of increased pirate raids and rumblings at the outer planets, it is making one last tour before heading off to theshipyard to be retired. Captain Blair comes on board, but it is CAG Kyle Roberts who is the main character.
The refit and refurbish uncover a number of irregularities. Stuck in a backwater area of space, the previous crew had gotten lax, and certain officers became engaged in black market selling of the more current fighter planes on board. Kyle has to ferret out the culprits and clean up the mess before they head out.

Of course, right away, Kyle and Captain Blair sense that something is wrong, and the “pirates” are more an undercover plot by the Terran Commonwealth, an old enemy, trying to defeat the Castle Federation.

The book has several strong characters and some nice battle action. Romance also blooms among officers, creating problems and touching moments. The reader is drawn in emotionally to the main characters.

The writing is engaging, but I did scan past several in depth descriptions of battle armaments and weaponry.Starship Mage

Ark RoyalI didn’t realize that this was the same author who wrote Starship’s Mage until I was more than halfway through the book. I recently reported on that book and liked it also.

If you liked Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall, this is a similar book, but is only one of a trilogy in the Castle Federation Book Series.

*********

A final note. Caught in Time. The first in my Alysian Series will again be offered free June 29 through July 1. If you’re registered with Robin Reads, you might see my ad on June 30.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at the sales results from Book Barbarian. For the cost of $25, I had a lot of follow-on sales. I’ll let you know how Robin Reads does.

My beautiful daughter claims that she told a number of Australians about my books who were on her cruise around that time. I had quite a number of readers go and buy the whole series package. That was exciting.

Thanks, mates!

After the US, Australia rang up the biggest sales in June. Knowing what a great sales person my daughter is, I believe her, and attribute a number of those sales to her. She interprets for the hard of hearing who evidently like science fiction and read a lot, especially on cruises.

Thanks, again for spreading the word.

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Trends in Science Fiction

IMG_9503I’ve been noticing an interesting trend among authors I know. After a reasonable amount of books and years, they are taking control of their work, redoing the cover, and polishing their earlier writing.

It used to be that once a book was written, that was it. Set in stone. Now, authors can improve their work as they become better writers.

And many are doing just that.

Because of the constant updating of software in various programs, apps, and cell phones, the current society is becoming used to constant improvement and change.

I think this is a good thing…for the most part. I have gone through Caught in Time and re-proofread and fixed some of my earlier punctuation and grammar mistakes. Graduating with a Masters degree in English certainly didn’t make me perfect.

But as a more, ahem, mature woman, I find that as soon as I learn one program, phone, etc., I have a new “improved” version thrust on me that I have to figure out. Sometimes I want to scream. You hear me, Word and Windows?

Phew. Now that’s out of my system.

Alliance of EqualsToday, I want to mention an old favorite that has come out with a new book in an extensiv, ongoing series. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have a great series in the Liaden Universe that I have enjoyed over the years.

My own Alysian Universe has been heavily influenced by their stories and format. While I submitted to the traditional houses, I continued to write. I didn’t get discouraged. Well, I kept going, shall we say? When Kindle and Createspace emerged, I had a number of books already drafted. Even so, it has taken several years to get them all published. This gig isn’t easy.

I didn’t have the courage, the knowhow, or the time to be able to distribute them using the computer. I remember vividly sitting at a table at Orycon with TOR editors and being told that if I put my stories out over the Web, I would be blackmailed by traditional publishers and my books would never be published.

So I didn’t.

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller also continued writing exciting stories in an expanding universe and eventually were picked up by Baen books where they now have a new novel coming out, much to my delight.Koraval's Game

Alliance of Equals is their newest offering. In fact, I received an ARC (Advanced reader’s copy) The book is due out July 5, 2016. So be one of the very first to know about it. Hot off the press. Sizzle!

The story continues for clan Korval of the Dragon-and-Tree. Master trader Shan yos’Galan and his heir and apprentice trader, Padi yos’Galan, are on a mission to re-establish their trading routes while hoping to add some new ones. Their whole clan has relocated to a planet called Surebleak (now there’s an inspiring name) after being banned from their home planet of Liad. Funds are low. Unfortunately, their Liaden enemies from the Department Of Interior are still working against them and trying to destroy their trading business by various methods.

As they visit different ports to rebuild their trade routes, they encounter problems. While this is going on, Padi hides a dangerous secret that could threaten her coming off age and even her life.

I love the descriptions of the spaceship and the various ports. Intertwined with the science, Lee and Miller develop characters that hold mystic powers. These supernatural powers are really interesting and add a drop of fantasy flavor to a basically science fiction story.

Dragon Variation vol.1Continuing to innovate, Lee and Miller were among the first to bundle their stories into what they called Omnibus Volumes. Three or so earlier books were grouped together and a new title and cover added.

This idea, several years later, is a hot tend among authors. Some group according to topic. For example, there ‘s a new book bundle out on stories of clones by popular authors. Others pick stories with a certain theme.

Lee and Miller have taken their short stories and put them together in “story collections.” The Liaden Constellation Vol. 3stories are often related, told from different character’s viewpoints, and all are set in the Liaden Universe. I have read Volume One and Volume Two already. Now, three is out.

The process of how we read is changing, thanks to new technology and innovators such as Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.

And it will continue to change.

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Science Fiction and Reviews

Image 1I’m blogging about all different types of science fiction lately. This week I want to suggest a more traditional style that balances characters, action and science.

My father loved E. E. Doc Smith and his Lensman series. Lots of action, romance and in the later books of the series, family. His own family was aware of his enthusiasm; so much so that my younger sister slipped a few books from the series into his casket during the funeral when no one was looking.

We all knew she was going to do it and approved. We figured that he would need something to read while hanging out before the pearly gates or on Charon’s boatride over the River Styx. If heaven got boring, he would have a good book nearby to keep him entertained.

Before I review this week’s book, I want to talk about reviews. Currently, I’m setting up my summer marketing program, and I find that the later books don’t have enough reviews to qualify for several ad sites. It’s rather a chicken and egg thing. If you have enough reviews, you get accepted, which brings on more reviews. But if you don’t have many, you can’t advertise your book on sites like Booksends, Freebooksy, etc. and, therefore, don’t get more. I thought to offer Touching Crystal on a special deal. This great book is full of action such as: a comet smashing into a nearby moon, an extra-vehicular space walk to board a runaway space ship, invading aliens, a plane crash, and more.

But not enough qualifying reviews.

Amazon has clamped down on reviews by family or friends, so what’s the an author to do?

Offer something special.

For any reader who puts up a review on Amazon or Goodreads, I’ll send free my novella Call Me Time Jumper. After you post the review e-mail me at: shmccartha@gmail.com and I will send you a pdf or epub copy.

Here’s the intro:

“His mother’s name was Tempest Steele Telluria. Yes, Steele. She was the daughter of Richard Steele, Time Master, who ran the Timelab for ages until he shut it down–out of fear.

And his father was Kayse Telluria. Yes, Telluria, that infamous genetic line of temporal Talents. Kayse had proven that clones could reproduce. And when your father was the clone of the notorious Arwoyn Telluria, ex-king, genetic experimenter, time traveler, and overall fate manipulator, well everyone watched him–especially Trace Walker, Director of I.N.Sys., protectorate for the Democratic Union. They all gazed at him from the moment he was born as if he were some bomb ready to explode.
So, he didn’t disappoint.”

One review for any of the books. It doesn’t have to be lengthy or deep. Reviews are the lifeblood of authors and help readers evaluate the worth of the read.

Thanks.

The Cold BetweenThis week I was excited to read The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel. This is a debut novel by a young female author. And we know how hard that can be in the scifi realm.

Chief Engineer, Elena Shaw sits at a bar on the colony world of Volhynia where her ship the Galileo has been recently diverted there for mysterious reasons. Realizing that she is drinking too much, she doesn’t care. She wants to drown the pain of a recent break-up with Danny, a ship board lover, and an increasingly complicated and perplexing relationship with her captain.

After gently rebuffing an interested fellow drinker, she decides to leave, but an older, dark-haired PSI officer comments on her kindness of words in turning the guy away. Even while knowing PSI crew have a reputation as “pirates,” she stays and they talk more. Drawn to him and lonely, she decides to go home with him. As they walk out, a very drunk and violent local makes a play for her and yanks her away from her intriguing stranger…who lays him flat on the floor.

After a wondrous night of sex and companionship, she returns to her ship and her captain, Greg Foster, to discover Danny was murdered in an alley that night and her new lover is being held and tortured in jail for the murder by the very drunk man he decked. To make matters worse, she has to explain why the notorious PSI captain is innocent to her own captain, who has conflicting emotions about her, and isn’t happy at her revelation.

A looming wormhole, corporate intrigue, a corrupt military, and an emotional love triangle all combine to make a satisfying read. Even though he yells at her, Captain Foster guards her back as she tried to get her new lover, Treiko Zajec out of a hostile jail before they kill him.

But it isn’t easy and things get even more complicated. Although now retired, Trey Zajec was a notorious captain of the PSI in his day, the very same organization accused of firing on and destroying a ship coming back through the wormhole…a ship that Greg’s mother crewed on and died due to mysterious circumstances.

And then things get even more complicated.Remanants of Trust

The writing is action-packed and well written. The characters are complex with deep backstories and emotions. There is a strong romance flavor so fair warning to the geeks out there who prefer stronger science in their scifi. The wormhole and what it hides provides some of that. But I liked the mystery and political intrigue also. What really happened and why will keep you turning the pages.

This appear to be the start of a new series as Remnants of Trust continues the tale.

 

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Weddings: Real life and Fantasy Fiction

IMG_9518When you are writing as an author, often outside life events interrupt a somewhat disciplined schedule. Thankfully this time, the event was a happy one–the marriage of my only daughter.2016-02-06 16.56.48

And what a wonderful wedding it was…filled with longtime friends, treasured family, whirlwind activities, last minute panics, and satisfying solutions. Laughter, dancing, tasty food and toasts filled a church steeped with her new family’s tradition. The church’s hall where we celebrated bore her new husband’s name.

So writing and marketing fell by the wayside. A blog went overdue and edits ran late.
The world didn’t collapse

My latest marketing experiment was to see if discounting my first book in the series, Caught in Time, would be more profitable than offering it free. I used the Amazon Countdown to retain the 70% royalty and listed it on Bargainbooksy. I had previously listed it on Freebooksy to surprising success, and had heard the free path returned more. (Mark Coker blog)

He was right. Although I got paid with a discount, last year the free download generated three times more full retail sales through the sales of follow-on books in the series. This time I had very few follow-on sales from other books in the series.

What does this mean?

There could be many answers. One is that Caught in Time has been offered free several times and interested buyers already have it. Maybe I need to vary the ad site.

Or, January isn’t the hot month for ebook sales I thought it was. Too much getting back into the routine for extracurricular reading. Then, maybe with no outside marketing, people weren’t as aware. With all the wedding plans, I did no Facebook, Twitter, phone chats or any other spread the news stuff, other than a mention on this blog. I was distracted.

Who knows? I’d be interested in your experience as an author as to what has worked best for you, and what fell flat. Maybe we can share a little.

photo1.jpgMeanwhile, I’m commencing my writing and am writing about a spaceship’s encounter with a black hole. Nova is on my Tivo watch list and has been invaluable in helping learn the physics involved. Our understanding of the universe has expanded greatly over the last few decades, and Nova and the Discovery Channel have done a superb job of passing along that knowledge to the public.Jeweled Fire

Last week, I was excited to read the latest book by an old favorite author…Sharon Shinn. She has a series called Elemental Blessings and deals with a place where “Primes” have power over certain elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

Jeweled Fire is the story of tempestuous and fiery Corrine, one of the four princesses of Welce, who thought to be queen. Unfortunately, circumstances change for that path, and to carve out a royal life, she stows away with her bodyguard, Foley, onto a ship bound for the country of Malinqua. There she plans to make a play to marry one of the Empress’s four nephews, maybe rule as a queen.

But her training and expertise in navigating a royal court don’t prepare her enough for the intrigue and danger she finds there. Each nephew has a serious flaw, and soon she finds that she isn’t the only princess hoping to win a crown. Three other young royal women arrive at court, vying for a kingly hand in marriage, only to find themselves hostages rather than guests.

Corrine encounters more than she anticipated, and it is only with the loyal protection of Foley and her new friends that she can hope to survive the deadly game that she must play.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? More for the female romance reader than the serious hard core science geek, but if you fit that mold…enjoy.

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