Learning to trust my sub-conscious

Deuterium Shine POD cover3I’m deep in the heart of a writing a novel at the moment. Tritium Blaze, book two of The Jupiter Files series (Deuterium Shine, the first book should be out later in the year, then book two sometime next year. Cover image by Philcold | Dreamstime).

I write into the dark, as in, I have no outline (see Dean Wesley Smith’s take on this).

Smith talks about how the sub-conscious, having been exposed to ‘story’ since childhood, knows how story works. If a writer lets the sub-conscious out to play, it knows where the story is going. Even if the conscious mind doesn’t.

It seems, even, that it’s useful to get the conscious mind well out of the way. It can be a know-nothing spoiler. Even a saboteur.

I’ve written into the dark for many years now. Sometimes that means I have to go back in earlier in the story and add something. You know, if a character knows how to fly a jet, but it hasn’t been mentioned yet. A sentence or two in an earlier chapter can do wonders.

Now with this novel I’ve had to smile. Without giving too many spoilers, my character’s spacehip has been in dry-dock getting refurbished from the outset. Now that’s kind of odd, since this is hard science-fiction and my characters need their ship to, you know, do space stuff.

And then, last night, as I’m writing–40,000 words into something that will probably be about 60,000–the reason became apparent and clear and absolutely serving the story.

I am so looking forward to writing the next chapters.

My sub-conscious set it up from the very outset. It’s taken years of training my conscious mind to keep out of the way and last night I really felt like I’d made another little step toward that.

 

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Trusty old submissions tracking book.

trusty tracking booktrusty tracking book interior pageEver since I’ve been writing and submitting manuscripts to publishers, I’ve needed a way to keep track of those submissions. I’ve been around long enough that those first submissions went as a printed manuscript, inside a full-sized envelope, with postage on a slightly smaller envelope inside. To match the very physical nature of this, my tracking system also exploited the benefits of paper and ink. An accounting book, to be precise. And mostly pencil, since it lends itself to updates more readily than ink.

I’ve continued the practice into the present day. I’ve just come to the last page of my second book.

I do subscribe to Duotrope, which has a built-in tracking system for stories. That might be the way to go. But I do have another blank book all set. Starting next week, when my latest story will be ready to venture out into the wilds.

Sci-Fi July Redux out now

I mentioned earlier that my little novel Raven Rising is in an awesome bundle with some amazing books from some extraodinary writers. I feel so honored to be dragged along in their wake here.

$7.99 has got to be a bargain.

Available from Bundlerabbit, also Kobo, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks

 

“And we’re back! Different authors, different books, but still here to entertain you through the summer and beyond with some neat space opera!

What you will find in this bundle: clones, FTL drive, mystery, bodyguards, conspiracies, romance, nanotechnology, space colonies, seeders, mercenaries and bounty hunters, alien empires, starship battles, space pirates, skymining operations, robots, generation ships, breeding experiments, starships, adventures and other space trouble with aliens and humanoids alike!

Ten novels, some longer, some shorter, of space opera and adventure.”

Raven Rising in a new bundle – Sci-Fi July Redux

scifireduxad
My deep space adventure novel Raven Rising will be out on July 4th in a new bundle, featuring novels by Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Kevin J. Anderson among others.

Barbara G. Tarn, the curator, has put together a cool promo video trailer here

The books in the bundle are:

Veiled Alliances
by Kevin J. Anderson

New California
by Raymund Eich

Trek This
by Robert Jeschonek

Adventurer (Star Minds Lone Wolves)
by Barbara G. Tarn

Stealing from Pirates
by Stefon Mears

Cradle of the Day
by Meyari McFarland

A Jack By Any Other Name
by Lesley L. Smith

The Runabout
by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Sector Justice
by Dean Wesley Smith

Raven Rising redoIn the meantime, I’ve updated the cover layout of the novel from its version on Bundlerabbit. I’ve had a little advice on design, and reviewed a course I did a while back, and also am working on adapting to changes (not that I’m ever a good example of someone who adapts well to change) – such as the size of my name on there.

I’ve also tinkered a little with the blurb for the novel.

“Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in a horrific blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team thrive on these kinds of impossible mysteries. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author.”

The bundle  is available for $7.99 from usual retailers. A pretty good bargain for all those books.

Crimson Birds of Small Miracles now available as a standalone ebook, and in print

asimovs-cover-jan-2016

So, this is my little story. This is the one that pushed me out of the Writers of the Future Contest.

That contest is for non-professional writers. The contest rules, as with the Science Fiction Writers of America, count professional as three professional sales. Professional as in rates from (I think) six cents per word. That’s venues like Asimov’s, Analog, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, Clarkesworld, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and numerous others.

With Writers of the Future, you are allowed to enter until the publication of your fourth professional story.

I had been a finalist in the contest, once, and a semi-finalist three times. That’s kind of cool. Finalist is top eight, semi is top sixteen. Apparently they receive thousands of entries.

Along the way, I had three stories published in Asimov’s. “Walking Gear”, “The Molenstraat Music Festival” and “Wakers”. Honored and surprised and probably proud that I’d achieved that. Thank you, Sheila Williams, for your faith in my stories.

As I went I continued to enter the contest.

Then I got a fourth acceptance from Asimov’s.

That would put an end to my career as a serial Writer’s of the Future entrant. It’s run four times a year, and I entered in twenty-six consective quarters (I think, I’m not sure of the exact count).

With that acceptance, I had three entries left. Just. The story came out in January 2017, and I submitted my last entry in December 2016.

I didn’t win.

But the cool thing – very cool, in fact so cool I’m still surprised – was that this story, the one that meant I would never win Writers of the Future, went on to win a couple of awards itself. It took New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award for best science fiction story 2017, and it won the Asimov’s Readers’ Poll for best short story of 2017.

I kind of like that, without blowing my own trumpet too much (or have I already done that?).

Isn’t there a saying that when one door closes, another opens? I feel as if that’s what’s happened here.

Oh, it was also the cover story. I know plenty of you have had cover stories, but this was my first ever and that’s as overwhelming as anything.

Also cool, I just discovered that the previous story of mine in Asimov’s, “Wakers” got listed among the Honorable Mentions in the late Gardner Doizois’s Best Science Fiction 2016. It’s a long (long) list, in a huge book, but still, that’s kind of heartwarming.

Gardner’s passing leaves a huge hole in the science fiction world. I never had the opportunity to meet him, but I feel it. Go well.

crimson birds ebook cover smCrimson Birds of Small Miracles is now available in print and ebook.

The cover is by the marvelous artist Maurizio Manzieri, who also painted the cover for the Asimov’s issue where the story first appeared. I’ll write another post about that, I think. This is already too long.

ebook, $2.99: Smashwords, Kindle
print book, $5.99: Amazon

Thanks for reading.

If you’d like a free copy, comment here and I’ll send you a coupon for smashwords.

The value of persistence

IMG_20180420_072542So I’m posting here a photo of my Sir Julius Vogel award. It’s cool, and I guess I’m bragging a bit. But see those three folders underneath? Those are my rejection slips. You know, the letter you get from a publisher who for one reason or another isn’t taking your story. Gathered over more years than I care to admit.

I think there are about two thousand. I have a feeling I’ve lost some over the years.

Most of them are form rejections. Some are very nice personal rejections. One is a disappointingly rude personal rejection (I haven’t submitted to that magazine since).

And there, standing on the shoulders of all those rejections, is an award. To me this is the value of persistence. I mean this to be encouraging. Keep at it. Keep going. Pursue what you love doing. It’s not about the award (though that’s nice), it’s about loving doing it.

The Map Maker of Morgenfeld

The Map Maker of Morgenfeld thumb

I have a new novel out, and this one has a bunch of intriguing things about it. Intriguing to me, anyway.

First, it’s a fantasy, which I don’t often write. That said, there are no wizards or magic or dragons, no vast armies of conquest, no hero smiting demons with a terrible swift sword. This novel grows out of my younger self’s love of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series (I even shamelessly bastardized the name).
My style is very different from Peake’s. Well, of course, writing has changed over the years, and while Peake wrote some wonderful books, they are a product of their period. I like to think I’ve captured something of their essence in my own world.

Secondly, I wrote the novel while traveling. In April and May of 2017 we had a fabulous voyage to Santiago, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, Quito and the Galapagos Islands. Almost six weeks away.

I wrote every day. Usually stolen moments in the evenings, at kitchen tables, or in dining rooms. Once or twice in noisy cafes.

The trip was awesome. But it was cool to maintain that writing momentum throughout. Especially with the focus on a project. I suppose elements of South American culture and lifestyle may well be wrapped up somewhere in the book.
Thirdly, or perhaps this should be my first item, I wrote the novel on a phone. We traveled light. Carry-on luggage only. Taking a laptop, with a bulky charger, would have been a nuisance. I discovered the cool little Rapoo bluetooth keyboard. I bought the Docs2go app, which allowed me to format the document nicely as I went, and also to track my word count.

I designed and 3D-printed a stand for the phone. I bought a travel wallet, one intended for money and cards and documents, and used that to create a neat little package for the keyboard, stand and phone so they could all just drop into my backpack easily.

All of those elements make The Map Maker of Morgenfeld perhaps my most unusual novel so far. I’m sure that traveling influenced the writing. I’m sure that the restriction of the phone influenced the writing.

I hope it all worked out into a readable, enjoyable book.
The cover illustration is near-perfect for me anyway. By Grandfailure | Dreamstime. It really shows the clutter and maze of Morgenfeld better than I’d pictured it.

Available all over, in print ($12.99), and as an ebook ($5.99), KindleSmashwords, and so on.