Tag Archives: writing

Exciting Time Dimension Scifi Series

Kris Rusch’s recent blog has hit a nerve. She addresses the problem of author burnout. According to her, a number of authors after going hot and hard at writing and marketing are finding that they need a break. I’m in that category right now. I’ve been publishing for over eight years and writing far longer than that. Eleven books comprise my two series with an additional anthology and novella. I’m very proud of the stories, and as a prolific science fiction reader, feel they are of a quality to match any of the good writers of science fiction out there.

However, I’m finding that, with the completion of my Terran Trilogy, I’m floundering for ideas for a new series. A few have suggested I follow the path of the Fallen and tell their story while others expressed interest in what motivated the fleet to leave Earth. I would be interested in any comments you might have either along those lines or for new suggestions.

Meanwhile, the clamor for new artwork from me increases. My daughter has bought a new home and her walls are too bare. She wants a vineyard painting to accompany the wine fridge we gave them last Christmas. A few in-law have commented that they would like one of my pieces, and I have some ideas in mind for them. I’m rekindling the excitement I used to have for painting.

Kris warns against getting a waning enthusiasm in writing and suggests ways to combat it. Luckily, our income doesn’t depend on my writing. So, that pressure isn’t there. I used to be able to promote my work visa social media and adds such as Freebooksy etc, but lately the return doesn’t justify the expense. Besides, I’m not a big social media person, either, and I’m growing less and less enthusiastic due to what I encounter in many of the blogs or comments. My ebook library is brimming with interesting books that I grabbed for free or at a good price from the free or discounted book sites. I’ll never get them all read. But it’s great to have choices when you are looking for something to read. Other readers may be in the same situation and not loading up as much as they used to.

In addition, I’m noticing Christmas on the horizon which brings with it a deluge of birthdays, including mine. I’m expecting this to be one of the best Christmases in a while, and want to fully participate in the joy of the season. (Barring the vitriol of those who prefer to tear apart our country rather than offer solutions) I’m aware of the amazing country I live in and am grateful for the life I have been given. (a bit of a Thanksgiving message there).

Nevertheless, I’m excited about this last book in the Terran Trilogy called the Weight of Gravity. It may be one of the best yet. I’m currently working with professional designer Toni Boudreault to craft an exciting cover. The publication date had been pushed back due to various events outside of my control, but then both  G. Martin and P. Rothfuss have more than eclipsed my mere few weeks delay by years for their works without much suffering. Still, this last work will be published in 2018, and that’s a hard deadline.

After reading Kris’s blogs about her writing path, I decided to plunge into her Diving series. I scooped a novella from one of her promotions and realized that the series didn’t have anything to do with the ocean, but rather her female protagonist was after salvaging old spaceships for historical value. Well now, that sounded interesting.

The first in the series, Diving Into the Wreck, introduces the lead character who goes by the name of Boss. She searches for old abandoned spaceships, interested in their historical value. What she finds is a five-thousand-year-old derelict called a Dignity ship with dangerous, malfunctioning jump technology. Several divers in her crew die. The lost technology bends time and space, moving ships through dimensional space so they can travel huge distances in a short period of time.

This powerful technology is just what the Empire is searching for in order to tip the balance of power in its favor. Not wanting that outcome, Boss and her team go off the grid and try to work under the radar. The discovery leads them to the Room of Lost Souls where as a child, Boss watched her mother disintegrate and crumble with old age under the influence of the ancient technology.

But even though she was in the same room, Boss stayed unaffected. The experience scarred her, but now a client wants her to return and solve the mystery of that haunted and hidden place. However, the more they discover, the more dangerous she realizes the tech is.

Okay, so the story was way more intriguing than I expected. I liked the time jump idea and the lost technology from an Earth five thousand years ago and light years away in distance. The story was well-written with no grammar or plot problems except the tantalizing mystery of what they called a Dignity ship and its connection to the Room of Lost Souls.

So I dove (heh, heh) into the next book of the series called City of Ruins. At this point, years have passed. Boss has a salvage company with four ships and several crew. After finding the first Dignity ship with ancient stealth tech, she is quietly searching for more. A lead to a planet with mysterious holes that erupt without reason suggests ancient tech may be at work.

But the planet’s government is hesitant to let her explore too widely, saying that those who enter the caverns created by the holes are found dead by unknown forces. This information only fuels her interest, and she assembles a crew to investigate the underground caverns. She selects within her crew four others who are immune to the ancient tech’s effect because she senses its nearness.

A parallel story runs through the book of Captain “Coop” Cooper. He is one of many ships in the fleet defending Earth five thousand years in the past. During a vicious battle, he tries to jump away just as his ship is hit. The result traps him and his crew in foldspace where they may linger forever if they can’t figure a way out.

Far in the future, carefully exploring a cavern where several deaths occurred, Boss eventually discovers an enormous cavern where she senses the ancient tech she has been searching for. While investigating the area, someone activates the machinery and it pulls Coop’s trapped ship out of foldspace into what Boss comes to realize is a secret landing bay.

Wary at first, but relieved at landing in a repair bay, the crew of the Ivoire notices the arrival of strangers into the room and the odd timeworn condition of the bay. Several attempts at communication result in success wherein Boss shocks the Fleet’s crew with the information that they have traveled five thousand years into their future.

The third in this series is Boneyards. Captain “Coop” Cooper and crew are desperate to find a way back to their fleet and their old life. Boss wants to find stealth tech to combat the Empire. The Empire, meanwhile, is frantically trying to develop stealth tech on its own but doesn’t realize what it is and is making deadly mistakes. This book features “Squishy,” one of Boss’s crew members who worked for the Empire on stealth tech in her past and killed many people in the process.

The book jumps back and forth in her past and in Coop’s story. Squishy wants to find the tech and destroy it to absolve her sins while Coop is frantic to return to his time period and the fleet. Boss suggests they investigate old landing sites that were being constructed in the Fleet’s early days in order to find the tech to repair his Dignity ship.

Coop has to decide whether to help Boss attack the Empire or risk losing his way back with Squishy’s plan to destroy it.

So, the series was so much more exciting than I thought it would be. The characters are well drawn, the action interesting, and the plot of ancient stealth technology and time jumping was really cool. I plan to read more.

You should do a little investigating on your own with this one.

Kris’s blog: click on link

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universe Stories, Best selling author, Experiences in writing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Publishing Trends, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, time travel

Seven Concepts for Writing Aliens in Science Fiction

 

A quick reminder that the Perseid Meteroid Showers are raining down on us. This year should be more impressive due to a diminished moon. But if you’re in a smoky environment because of fires, or the night is cloudy, then visibility could be poor. Check your weather.

Best of luck in viewing an amazing event from Earth.

                                      Aliens in science fiction  

The best place to find extreme characters or divergent world views is in science fiction because when writing, or reading best selling science fiction, usually there are aliens. As a writer, this can get tricky. For if your aliens are really different, i.e. alien, then most likely, your readers won’t understand or relate to them. This does not usually make for a good story. Your readers need to get engaged and identify with the characters in your book.

That is the reason I went with the Earth colony idea and threw in variances caused by a different environment. I wanted to write about characters that my readers could relate to.

Most of my characters are humanoid because it’s hard to love a slime worm or rancid igrot. Still in Past the Event Horizon just as they rediscover the alien signal, the crew on The Seeker discuss what might be out there in space, and what the aliens sending the signal might look like:

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Idly Joel said, “What do you think they look like?”

Everyone paused.

“Surely someone has a bet?” commented Braden.

“I’ve got money on blobs that float,” answered Glaze. “They live in the ether and inhale methane.”

“Blobs?” Icabar snorted. “That’s ridiculous. You need dexterous digits to build a stargate.” He grinned and flexed his hand. “I’ll take your bet, and I’ll take your money.”

“It’s not a big bet.” Glaze shrugged.

“My money’s on a hive mind and insect-like creatures.” Icabar looked up. “The leader has a big brain and lots of worker bees.”

Solanje shook her head. “Insects stay small on Alysia because they can’t support a heavy exoskeleton under our gravity. No, I think maybe something with tentacles and eyes that shoot out on stalks. Something tall and skinny that survives in a light gravity.”

Glaze twirled around. “Tessa thinks they’re living plants with wavy fronds that walk on stalk legs.”

“Geesh, she would think something like that,” commented Icabar. “Just like a botanist.”

“Maybe they’re all hairy with ugly sharp teeth and red eyes,” offered Bashar.

“Putting money on that?” Icabar gave a grin.

Bashar smirked and shook his head.

“What about ghosts?” Joel blurted out. “Ghosts that glow in the dark.”

“I think bird creatures with wings,” Solanje chime in, flapping her arms.

“Yes, wings,” mumbled Joel.

Braden pursed his lips and thought. “They need digit-like hands so they can manipulate materials and build stuff. The need eyes to see and sensory equipment…feet and legs to walk with.”

The crew realized that they were parameters and rules that would dictate what an alien might look like, or how it might act.

Over the ages, science fiction stories have depicted many kinds of aliens.

Here are seven concepts to think about when writing aliens and my comments:

1. Aliens should be alien. This sounds pretty straight forward, but be careful with it. The problem is that it’s like trying to visualize the fifth dimension. One dimension…easy, two dimensions…easy, three dimensions– also easy. I live with them every day. The fourth dimension, dealing with time, I kinda get, but go past that and my mind starts to turn to jelly, trying to understand what other dimensions might look like. Same with an alien. If it’s truly alien, then how can I understand it or even try to write about it? Would my readers even care whether it lives or dies if they can’t understand it or empathize with it. So, maybe, somewhat alien? (Great title for a book… oh, one of mine.)

2. Aliens have their own history and story. What fun to construct a culture and history for an alien race. Going wild here.

3. Aliens that are naturally telepathic won’t grasp the concept of language. I have a few telepaths in my stories. In my most recent book, The Weight of Gravity, (coming out in September 2018) I have a very fun chapter where two characters can read minds at an Alysian Ball. What humans think to themselves in a crowd of others makes for hilarious writing. I have a language for the nontelepaths in the society because if your characters are all telepaths and don’t need language, then how on God’s green Earth are you going to write a book? Ummmm. No words.

4. Aliens that can’t hold a tool, won’t invent space ships. Love this one. So if your alien is a blob, or chittering insect, better have flexible mandibles if they are going to go far…like outer space.

5. If aliens have a different body chemistry (and alien means that they do) then they aren’t going to eat human food. And a corollary to that is that humans won’t be able to eat the alien food. Makes sense, but I bent the rules a little here. So if you have your characters land on an alien planet, they’d better be well supplied or they could starve. Still, playing around with humans reacting to alien food can be a lot of fun in a story.

6. If they don’t look human, then they most likely have a different definition of beauty. Silky filaments probably turn on the Jovian worm lord, but for you, me, and our reader…ugh. Maybe the males on Cassiopeia don’t appreciate the fine curves of Marilyn Monroe. Heh! Finally. I don’t mind competing with the three-eyed felix from Raegon … unless the judge is the three-eyed male felix.

7. Aliens should conform to their world’s environment. A tall skinny plant form would not grow successfully on a heavy gravity planet. Thus, if your alien is aquatic, his world would be dominated by water, or if his world is dry, his culture and physical form would reflect that. Remember Dune, and how that environment affected the natives there? How the spice affected them?

So here are seven concepts to consider when inventing aliens and an alien world. Maybe aliens aren’t visiting us because their worlds are too different, and our environment would kill them. Think of War of the Worlds. A very clever book.

So, writing about aliens provides rich fodder for your science fiction story as long as you keep a few concepts in mind.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, science fiction

A Few Different Thoughts on Writing

Writing and editing use two different areas of the brain. When I’m writing, I need a quiet environment and total concentration. I fall into the story, entering another dimension where sometimes I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I don’t want to be distracted and pulled out of the world I’m in.

Conversely, I’ve edited several stories on the couch watching television. Usually, it’s a golf match or financial show (I’m an ex -stock broker) where I can split my attention. Editing means hunting for misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, badly used grammar…things like that. I can do that in bits, whereas in writing I need to keep a train of thought going.

I like to edit; it’s like cleaning a room. You can see the improvement, and you feel as if you have accomplished something. However, our English language is complex, and the grammar rules don’t always make sense. Comas are my downfall. I probably have a better grasp of the rules than most, (Master degree in English) but it still poses a never ending battle that I’m not winning. That’s why Nicolas Rossis’ blog on My 4 Golden Rule of Writing was refreshing and worth reading.

https://nicholasrossis.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/my-golden-rules-of-writing/

1. Don’t let your writing get in the way of your story.
2. Grammar’s aim is to make the written word as clear as possible.
3. Creativity trumps conformity.
4. As long as it has a beginning, a middle and an end, it is a story.

Nicholas blasts some of the conventional wisdom found in rule books to put forth common sense thoughts on how to write. He even brings in Shakespeare and word creation. I’ve followed his blog for awhile now. Besides, he’s Greek, and my daughter just returned from a lovely vacation there. Check it out.

I’m back to limited marketing at the moment. I ran a promotion for A World Too Far on Freebooksy recently and, heads up, I’m running a 99 cent promotion starting June 6 for Caught in Time on Fussy Librarian and extending it out a couple of days. If you haven’t had a chance to get a deal on this starter to the Alysian series, now’s the time.

Meanwhile, I’m working on an innovative marketing platform that I’ll let everyone know about as soon as it goes active. It could be the next revolution in publishing.

This week I floundered around on my selection for my blog readers. I had elected Neil Gaimon’s Neverwhere.

Halfway through, I thought, Neverwhere… Nevermind.

However, there were a good number of readers in my Powell’s book club that liked it. So, you may too. I just didn’t like wandering around in the sewers of London meeting weird characters. After awhile, I felt I needed a shower.

Then I tried an Indie story that is getting a lot of buzz on Amazon called Crossing in Time. Both were on my to-read list that I make at the start of each year. This one I read halfway into the story until the main characters end up together in a different time dimension… which is kinda cool. When the female character goes back in time to the other dimension, she reverses aging, so she is also a teenager. There she meets the earlier young love she missed out on and is determined they should not separate in that timeline like they did in her original timeline. From there on, it became a juvenile romance novel. I did finish it, but may not be moving on to the next. So, fair warning.

Don’t get me wrong, I like romance in my science fiction, but for some reason, this lost the science fiction elements that I’d been enjoying in the first half of the book and became something else. However, I did finish it.

Now, I’m reading A Thousand Faces: A Shape-Shifter Thriller by Janci Patterson.
Free on Amazon.

So far, so good. The price is right.

I want to leave you with a smile on your face. My daughter is fostering kittens and I just couldn’t pass up showing you one of them. The ears jump up and down as he drinks. Quite the show.

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, Book reviews, Indie authors, Marketing and selling novels, Post Apocalyptic, science fiction romance, Science fiction thriller, time travel, Writing Tips and Lectures

Sexuality and gender in Science Fiction

Recently, a TOR blog by Liz Burke posed an interesting discussion on: Where are the SFF stories about pregnancy and childbirth?

I’m not a feminist, but I believe in the humane treatment of all individuals. What I object to is others dictating who I should like or associate with based on their criteria. Let me make the friends I want regardless of race, color, or creed. Let my fellow humans make their own. Let us all treat each other with respect.

I was criticized at a conference by an editor who read only a small sample of my work. He indicated that my female characters were too compliant. I wanted to tell him that I felt that we were getting too many stories of ass-kicking females with bad attitudes, and great bodies. We need to think about what role models we put up for our children, females and males alike. As in real life, I have an enormous range of female characters from the kickass Commander Elise Fujeint to the compliant females of a Sunglast harem… and every flavor in between.

Sex is pervasive in science fiction, but actual childbirth and parenting, I’ll have to admit the content is sparse. Lois Bujold is most mentioned in Burke’s blog with her Vorksigan series that deals with Mile’s birth, the Betan replicators that replace pregnancy, and the parenting of Mile’s own children briefly glimpsed in Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance.

The recently late and deeply missed Ursula LeGuinn explored sexuality and gender bending with her Left Hand of Darkness and child rearing is addressed in The Dispossessed.

Also mentioned that deals with pregnancy and child rearing is Octavia Butlers Lilith’s Brood. There are others, but the list is short.

Can you think of any other science fiction that focuses on or even mentions pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting?

Why did this topic catch my attention? Two reasons made it immediate.

The first is that once my character of Elise got pregnant, I had to deal with the consequences of her pregnancy, namely Tempest, her daughter. As once Commander of the Fleet, she was made to come to terms with her new role of wife and mother. It’s tricky to write about children, and yet, they can’t be ignored. After all the exciting sex, there’s diapers and bottles in the aftermath. But it’s the children that keep the species going.

The second reason this topic struck me was that I had just finished Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel. In this story was a secondary character who was very pregnant. As captain of a generation space ship with many children on board, the pregnancy highlighted a cultural difference between the Earth military culture and the PSI. In addition, Captain Guanyin Shiang agrees to take her ship into a battle to help save a dubious ally. The main male character, captain of an Earth military ship, needs her help in saving a sister ship under attack but is very much flummoxed by her condition and the vulnerability of her children when he asks her ship to help him save the ship under attack. In the Earth’s military rank and file, pregnancy is a reason for a female to be discharged. Medical and physical protection against pregnancy is mandatory. In military science fiction, rarely are pregnancy, childbirth or child rearing a focus of the story.

So with all the commotion about #Metoo, the topic was current. Not only was I dealing with the issue of pregnancy and child rearing in my writing, but the book I had just read also highlighted this aspect of the female struggle.

Since this is a current social issue, we may see an influx of books in the science fiction field address this issue that had long since been a topic in general literature.

Now you know that my book for this blog is Remnants of Trust by Elizabeth Bonesteel. This is the second book in the series. I blogged not long ago that I liked her first book, The Cold Between and recommended it.

Due to events in the first book, engineer Elena Shaw and Captain Greg Foster are court-marshaled. But instead of a dishonorable discharge or prison, they are sent back out on the Galileo to patrol supposedly empty space in the Third Sector. Not soon after, they receive a distress call from the Exeter, a sister ship, claiming they are under attack by raiders there. A PSI generation ship in the area agrees to help, and the two drive off the attackers but leave ninety-seven dead.

Investigation into the attack points to sabotage and, indeed, both the Galileo and the PSI generation ship, Orunmila, experience sabotage attempts on their ships. Someone wants them dead.

The Raiders are tracked to an Earth colony that has been ravaged by an environment gone rogue. In an attempt to terraform the planet, the machines have destroyed the planet’s environment, and the colony is left to suffer. Cover up activities and mistakes reach high up into the military’s brass and involve a prior mission from Elena’s past.

I enjoyed this book because of the rich characters and emotional interplay. Along with a battle, politics and mystery, Bonesteel brings to life the struggles of military life in space.

It’s a quality military science fiction read I would recommend.

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Filed under Alien worlds, artificial nature, Discovering New Worlds, environmental issues in science fiction, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series

Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading List for 2018

Happy 2018 to everyone. Yes, it’s hard to believe we have a new year starting again, and although there was plenty of tumult around me, this past year was a good one.

I’m currently working on the third book in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. This trilogy is part of the overall Alysian Universe series, but from a completely different prospective. It makes the tenth book I’ve written, along with other shorter works in anthologies. Kristine Rusch talks about author burnout, and I’m battling a bit of it myself. Maybe the new year will energize me.

When I set out to pick ten books for the upcoming year for my blogs, I noticed that my kindle library was bursting with books gathered from various ad sites that I promised myself I would get around to reading. So, that’s where I will draw from for some of my selections. I’m worried that ebooks are getting cheaper and cheaper, many are offered for free, and personal libraries are filling up so buyers don’t need to purchase quite as much to satisfy their reading needs. A lot are free. As a reader, I like it when I don’t have to spend tons of money on books, but as an author, I wonder where the trend is going, and will I be able to keep up my income? Are we reading more or spending less? Or both? Or does it even out?

This year, I had my highest month ever, and lowest, in royalty income. Several authors mentioned a similar situation of lower royalties, blaming it on the distraction of the election and following political commotion. Since my lowest month was January, I’m buying into the theory. Luckily, the summer months brought a welcome increase in sales with August my best month ever. A number of authors have commented on this seasonality of book buying, and I’m thinking to research this further in another blog.

In my December blog, I always select five books to add to my reading list for the year. This time, I wanted to consider a mix of stories with time travel and space opera foremost but also include a bit of fantasy. I wanted to suggest both traditional and self-published novels. Last year, I discovered a few new authors who wrote in a series, and I decided I should continue their works. Along that line, the Expanse Series is coming back to television, so I picked the newest release, Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey. I’ve read the earlier novels and blogged on several of them, so check it out if you want to know more. If you haven’t read the books, the television version can be confusing, but I love the special effects, even though I disagree with the choice of actors who play the characters.

The second book on my to-read list for 2018 is Angel City Blues by Jeff Edwards. Yes, I know that I selected this last year and don’t know why I didn’t read it. I loved the first book, Dome City Blues and this will bring in an urban cyberpunk genre that will be a fun contrast to my other choices.

My next choice is Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn. This fantasy just appeared to be a fun book to read. Any book that starts out saying, “Sneaking out of the palace may not have been one of Aniri’s best ideas” has me hooked. As third daughter, Aniri is under no pressure to marry and hopes to wed her fencing instructor lover. Then, she gets a marriage proposal from a barbarian prince in the north who has his own secrets and… Not science fiction, but it sounded too good to pass up.

Time travel is a favorite of mine, so when I saw Crossing in Time advertised, I stuck that in my kindle library. The blurb asked, “If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?” Turns out, the main character would go far into the past to change events in order to get back a loved one, and that idea intrigued me.

Finally for now, the fifth selection comes from a popular author that I never got around to reading until a year or two ago. Andre Norton has become a favorite of mine, and I have been eyeing her Time Traders sitting in my kindle library. Time to read it.

There you have my first five. In January, I’ll add five more. As you know, other books may be selected as I see fit. Sometimes, publishing schedules change, or other ideas take precedent, so this is not cast in stone, but only serves as a guide. I offer suggestions and comments for books I think readers will like, but I’m not a professional reviewer and don’t take review requests any more. However, I’ve been reading science fiction and fantasy for years and love to share this passion with fellow enthusiasts.

This time around, I noticed that a deciding factor was the blurb. Cover and blurb are so important in a reader’s selection process. So, authors, put extra effort into those two elements to help sell your stories.

Here they are to start:

Third Daughter by Susan Kaye Quinn
Angel City Blues by Jeff Edwards
Crossing in Time by D. L. Horton
Time Traders by Andre Norton
Persepolis Rising by James S. A. Corey

Also, for the new year, I would like to recommend you check out Kristine Rusch’s blog on the state of publishing. Not only does she live in Oregon like I do, but she is in the traditional publishing arena along with being a strong advocate of self publishing, having self-published many books herself. She has written several series in several genres under various pen names and is thoughtful and knowledgeable about the total spectrum of publishing, both Indie and traditional.

Here’s the link:
http://kriswrites.com/2017/12/27/business-musings-the-year-in-review-overview/

With 2017 ending, and 2018 about to begin, I wish a bright future for everyone… and happy reading.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien worlds, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Classic science fiction, Cyberpunk, ebook science fiction, fantasy series, Future of Publishing, Indie authors, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Publishing Trends, science fiction romance, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space travel, The future of publishing, time travel

A Writer’s Insights and An Assassin’s Fate

With the stress of the holidays, or maybe just the distractions, many authors are finding it hard to stay on track with their writing and marketing. I’m reading blogs that mention burn out. For me, it’s both. I’m thinking of what to get my family for Christmas, and I’m shopping with my daughter at the mall. There are parties and plans that preempt my writing. Meanwhile, I’m losing the momentum of the story.

Hence my blog is late, and my writing even more behind schedule. My editor is yelling at me and my publisher is disgusted with my procrastination.

Oh, wait…

That’s me.

The hardest taskmaster of them all.

To feel better about this author experience, I offer several blogs for writers intent on becoming authors. The first, if you haven’t read it already, is Hugh Howey’s blog on becoming a writer. If you have read it, now’s a good time to re-read it. He offers great insight into the writing process.

1. His first insight is that the only obstacle to writing is you. To become an author you have to start writing. As simple as it sounds, many authors use various excuses to block their goal of completing a novel.

2. You can’t compare your rough draft to books you’ve read. Those have been polished and edited by professional people.

3. There is no special qualification required…to write.

4. The best writers are the best readers.

5. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep it in mind, oh impatient one.

6. Whoever works the hardest will get ahead. In this insight, High mentions that it is easier to work hard if you are passionate about what you do. I find this very true.

7. Competition is complicated. The number of books out there isn’t important. Your book may be the inspiration or escape needed for a particular reader. Don’t let the numbers swamp you.

8. Be helpful and engaged. Authors should help and encourage one other.

9. Know your readers

10. Know your industry. Treat your writing as if it were a business.

These are the highlights of his discussion with important and insightful comments to support them. To read the complete blog, go to:

http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/165774835635/writing-insights-part-one-becoming-a-writer

Then, I recommend reading his follow-up blogs starting with writing rough drafts. I swear he was a fly on my wall. I do a lot of my writing in my head in the shower, before I fall asleep, or generally while driving. Then, I put words to these scenes I have created. He describes this same process for his writing.

Who knew?

At the moment, I’m at what he calls “the crux.” Noting that it was a normal phase in writing relieved a lot of my current frustration. I eagerly read where he describes how to get out of this impasse. Give me that machete so I can cut my way out.

http://www.hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-two-the-rough-draft/

There are several more blogs on the writing process that I’ll visit in a later blog.

The second blog I recommend is the Passive Voice. PG (passive guy) writes a lot about how Amazon has changed the industry in this blog and ends up with these statistics on author earnings that I found interesting.

You may, too.

A few facts from Author Earnings (emphasis is PG’s):

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/publishings-greatest-challenge-might-surprise-you/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%2

In 2016, two-thirds of traditionally-published fiction and non-fiction books were sold online.
• About 75% of adult fiction and non-fiction books (including both traditional and indie published) were sold online (77% of fiction, 72% of non-fiction) in 2016.
• In early 2017, Big Five publisher sales on Amazon were 20.8%–or barely one fifth–of all Amazon US consumer ebook purchases.
• As far as the earnings of individual authors who have debuted in the last three years:
◦ 250 Big Five authors are annually earning $25,000 or more from Amazon sales
◦ 200 recent small or medium publisher authors earn $25,000 or more from their Amazon sales annually
◦ Over 1,000 indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years are earning more than $25,000 per year from Amazon sales
• Looking at earnings of debut authors from the past five years, more indie authors are now earning a $50K-or-better living wage from Amazon than all of their Big Five and Small/Medium publisher peers put together.
• Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authors and 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
PG suggests that traditional publishing’s greatest challenge is demonstrated by numbers like this.

Lots to think about.

Another reason this blog has been delayed is that I was reading the 800 page tome by Robin Hobbs called Assassin’s Fate. I have been an avid reader of all Hobb’s books, and I am particularly fond of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

There are eighty-eight percent five stars out of 755 reviews. So, I’m not alone.

The story: Fitz Chivalry’s daughter, Bee, is kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society that uses dreams of special children to mold the future, often for their own benefit. Fitz Chivalry and the Fool believe Bee is dead, and they embark on a revenge mission to wipe out the whole island where this sect lives to destroy them utterly. The Fool had vowed never to return to where he grew up, was tortured, and finally escaped. But now, he joins his closet friend to wreak vengeance on his earlier persecutors.

Unbeknownst to them, Bee survives and is dragged across the land and sea by her sadistic abductor, who believes she is the chosen one. She brings along a small group from the island who bend to her commands. One minion, when given the spit of the dragon, can control the minds of those around him, except for Bee, who has special talents she hides. She can dream the future also, but she doesn’t reveal this fact to her tormentor. Others bend to her kidnapper’s vicious demands and also bully Bee.

So, yes, there are dragons and ships and magic and many old familiar characters from several of her other books that make a cameo appearance.

Read the earlier books first, write up all your apologies for chores being left undone, appointments missed, late blogs, and then enjoy this fine conclusion to the story of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

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A Space Opera Selection

Who do you listen to when you write?

Dean Wesley Smith has written more than a hundred books over many years along with his wife Kristine Kathryn Rusch who has written equally as much. Both are Oregon Coast writers who know what they are talking about when it comes to writing and publishing. So it was interesting to read a blog where Dean advocated not having Beta readers or even writing groups.  https://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killing-the-sacred-cows-of-publishing-beta-readers-help-you/ His point was that in the cacophony of advice, the author ‘s voice may be lost among the mumble of suggestions, and the story damaged or diluted.

I work with both a writers’ group and Beta readers because I find their input helpful in making my story stronger.

But he has a point. A very good point.

Some writers want to polish each word to a literary high gloss, while others encourage a stampede of action and excitement to keep their readers turning the pages. Others drench their characters with emotion much like a teenager in the throes of first love. And you, as the writer, may be pushed and pulled by their suggestions.

In The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon  (mentioned in my last blog) I delighted in brilliant metaphors and similes until it became too much and felt like every third sentence was a finely crafted metaphor to show off how clever the writing was.

I love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Series, but the strong emotions of the characters take center stage, leaving descriptions and action to tag along.

And anyone reading space opera science fiction or a series like The Expanse knows that action is paramount. Authors are told to have the first chapter start bang with strong action that hooks the reader and fill out the characters and setting later.

So a writers should decide what his or her voice is, or it could become a hodgepodge of other people’s suggestions.

Make no mistake, suggestions are helpful and often make for a stronger work, but only after asking the question : Do I know what my voice is and is this suggestion consistent with my voice and how I want my story written?

In my last blog, I mentioned the international aspect of blogs. Writers are blogging with other writers from all over the globe. It’s quite international. But now we have come to a whole new level when Google translate can instantly translate a blog into many different languages. My friend Diana Peach wrote a guest blog today for Christopher Graham. (copy/paste)

https://thestoryreadingapeblog.com/2017/10/03/world-building-from-imagination-to-reality-guest-post-by-diana-peach/?c=128961#comment-128961

The blog was excellent, but what attracted my attention was the ability to tap the drop down in the upper right hand corner and immediately have Google translate the blog into a bewildering number of languages. Take your pick.

Think about that one.

I return to space opera this week for my science fiction suggestion. David Drake is a prolific writer of science fiction with several series, and I have been meaning to read him for some time now. Written in 1992, Starliner came out in trade paperback this past June with additional content.

Third officer, Lieutenant Ran Colville, receives his staff side position of making sure all goes smoothly on board the newest and largest starship, the Empress of Earth. Even with the efficient help of the attractive lieutenant Wanda Holly, politics, greed, young love and war threaten to disrupt the orderly passage of the luxury ship with its high class passengers. And Ran’s job is to see they are happy and safe. Different chapters describe various landings on interesting worlds, each one presenting a challenge to the ship. All through the story is the threat of pirates or a military fleet from a warring planet that would love to add this majestic ship to its fleet. Jumping through wormhole, exploring exotic world, dealing with dark politics, and fending off panting women all keep Ran hopping.The Spark

Drake writes a fast-paced story but keeps in mind his characters and their various emotions that drive their actions. This book is a stand alone, but I’m certain to try out other of David Drakes stories having read this one.  Maybe this latest one.

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