Tag Archives: science fiction

Beyond the Stars: Unimagined Realms: a space opera anthology

IMG_20180826_151033My deep space adventure story “The Old Fighting Goose” appears in the latest of the Beyond The Stars series, subtitled Unimagined Realms.

I’m stoked to be sharing the contents page with some wonderful writers. Plenty of bestsellers among them, so you know you’re in for some good reads.

The book is on special for the next few days at .99c (until the end of the month), so grab a copy quick. $2.99 from then on.

The other authors are:

 

David Bruns

T.R. Cameron

Marion Deeds

Patrice Fitzgerald (also the editor)

G.S. Jennson

Joseph Robert Lewis

J.E. Mac

Craig Martelle

Chelsea Pagan

R.A. Rock

Mark Sarney

 

G. S. Jennsen made a nice universal Amazon link for the book here
Here are other links:
Also a shout out to Ellen Campbell for her awesome editing.
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Rebranding as if I know what I’m doing

I write in a few series. I like the novels and have fun in the writing of them. I’ve attempted a few branding things, but like many aspects of this indie publishing business, I’ve got a lot to learn. A whole lot.

I got some feedback on my covers recently so my new publications are gaining a different look. I then had a go at updating some of my older covers. Specifically for my deep space pulp adventures in the Captain Arlon Stoddard series. There are just three books so far, with a fourth possibly out later this year.

I like the new look. Smaller author name, same layout, even a strip with the series name at the top. I’m sure that any professional (or even some amateur) designers could find a dozen or a hundred (or more) things I’ve done wrong.

I’ve also updated the blurbs. Aiming for more active language and hype. Funny thing, looking back on those now, I can already see some things that need to be changed. Ah well, I’m getting there.

Anyway, the series of three is out now as ebooks and in print. The latest one, Ship Tracers is hefty by my standards – most of my novels come in around 60,000 words, and this one’s 76,000.

cas screen grab

Another thing on the branding is pricing. I’ve pushed these to $3.99 for the ebooks, and kept the print book prices as low as I can manage (Asteroid Jumpers is $14.99, Ice Hunters is $10.99 [yes, it’s shorter than 60,000 words] and Ship Tracers is $18.99).

The fourth book in the series is Core Runners, and that’s about as kooky as the series gets. So far. I’m enjoying the characters, so chances are there will be a fifth, and maybe even a sixth book. Maybe even more. Next year and on.

Right now I need to go back and look at redoing the covers for my Karnish River Navigations series. When I did those, I thought they looked great. Now, not so much. That will keep me busy for the next little while.

(Cover images copyright by Luca Oleastri (Asteroid Jumpers), Algol (Ice Hunters) and Victor Habbick (Ship Tracers)

Series on Amazon – here

Series at Smashwords – here

And available at your favorite ebook retailer.

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.

 

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.

Q&A with me at Asimov’s From Earth to the Stars editor’s blog

asimovs march april 2018I neglected to give anything more than a passing mention that I got interviewed at the Asimov’s blog, specifically about my story in the March April 2018 issue.

The interview is here. I talk with the editors about my process for creating “The Billows of Sarto”, and my general writing process, and a few other things.

Check out the other interviews on the site too. You’ll build up a pretty good picture of authors writing for Asimov’s today.

 

My story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles” wins the Sir Julius Vogel Award

asimovs-cover-jan-2016
A few weeks back I mentioned that I was honoured to be a finalist for New Zealand’s Sir Julius Vogel Award in short story category, for my Asimov’s story “Crimson Birds of Small Miracles”.
Well it turns out that, ahem, another small miracle has occurred; the story won the award. I’m amazed and surprised. The other stories on the ballot (at least those I had the chance to read) were excellent, and the authors of those stories read like a who’s-who of New Zealand science fiction: Grace Bridges, A.J. Fitzwater, Andi Buchanan, Octavia Cade.smFront-v5

Yeah.

With other commitments, I was elsewhere during the presentations, but I thank Lee Murray for collecting the award and reading my little speech.
This is my third time on the final ballot, so it’s heartening to pick up a win.
My congratulations to the other winners – a full list here: SJV Winners 2018.
Great to see some others I know in there: Darian, Dan and Lee, and Grace, but well done all.

sjv winners 1

I will be publishing the story as a standalone ebook (and print) in the near future, with a wonderful alternative cover by Maurizio Manzieri.
And, while I’m sharing good news, I have signed the contract for another story, titled “Ventiforms”, set in the same universe, which will be coming out in Asimov’s either later this year or early next year. More news on that closer to the time.

Manzieri_CrimsonBirds_previewb

Writing sales copy – still learning

I like to think that I’m growing and learning as a writer (and despite a string of university qualifications, I’m starting to  wonder if I’m a slow learner. Perhaps a topic for another post). As I learn, I hope I’m getting better a writing blurbs. Blurbs are a whole other language (did I mention somewhere that I struggle with learning languages?).

Stories seem to fall out of me, yet blurbs are more like that old story about pulling teeth.

It strikes me that a blurb, as in sales copy, must describe the book, but not reveal the book. They must be punchy. Rather than saying, ‘well, you might enjoy this book’, they should say, in effect, ‘READ THIS NOW! Your life depends on it!’ I’ve been looking back over some of my blurbs and starting to get a sense of how they miss that. By a wide mark. Sometimes wide means something like the gulf between galaxies.Raven Rising thumb

My recent book Raven Rising started out with this goofy blurb:

“Practically swallowed up by alien forest, the wreck of the Raven offers few clues to the team eager to discover why the ship wrecked so violently. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson faces an enormous task. Will she be able to find the answers before time runs out? An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning
author of The City Builders.”

I think this blurb has some good moments (the last sentence kind of works), but frankly overall it’s pedestrian. Where’s the good reason why a reader might be interested in the book?

All right then, I’ve had a go at another iteration:

“Light years from home, Starship Raven went down in an plunging blazing wreck. Crack investigator Angelie Gunnarson and her team love this kind of impossible mystery. But the Raven might have more secrets than even Angelie can handle. An action-packed short sci-fi novel from the award-winning author of The City Builders.”

Hmm. Not quite sure yet. Don’t quite know what the next iteration will be.

I am, however, going to take a course in Writing Sales Copy, to see if I can’t get a better handle on this.

Then of course there’s work to do on the covers… and all the time work to do on the craft of writing too…

All this is pretty fun.