Tag Archives: science fiction

Blue Defender – finally

Blue Defender CoverMy daughter has watched me writing up a storm for the last few years. Her question, why didn’t I write a story about her? Fair question. After all, shouldn’t she always be uppermost in my thoughts? How could I be writing about strangers?

A tricky thing that. How could it be done right?

Some writers I notice write real people into their stories. Clive Cussler mentions himself as a car collector or a marine archeologist in several books. One I recall the characters even had a conversation with Cussler. David Baldacci auctions off the privilege to have your name used as a character with the proceeds going to charity.

So, putting various concerns aside, I started writing. In secret. I did have one issue, being that I while I have a dedicated writing computer in a nook, I do spend some time writing on a laptop at the breakfast table.

Chances were, she would glimpse her name on the screen. So I changed her name in the manuscript for the duration of the writing of the book. Matti-Jay became “Bleu”, in part because I decided to title this secret manuscript “Blue Harvest“. Some of you may know that title as the secret working title of a well-known movie from last century.

So, in Blue Harvest, fifteen year old (yes I gave my daughter a few extra years – kids like reading about kids older than themselves) Bleu set about her adventures. When she was done, the magic of search-replace change Bleu to Matti-Jay.  The title became Blue Defender.

Next step: would she like it? To try it out, I formatted and uploaded it through my usual channels, and obtained a proof copy. When that arrived, it became our bedtime read for a couple of weeks.

I must have done a few things right, because the end of a chapter was frequently met with a “Keep going” (usually reserved for books like “Mortal Engines” or “Homeroom Diaries”), and the end of the book was met with “start writing the sequel now”.

That’s heartwarming for a dad, let me tell you. Better than any five star review.

Blue Defender is available as an ebook and in print through usual outlets. $5.99 for the ebooks. $14.99 for print.

Print

Amazon Kindle

Smashwords

Kobo

Barnes and Noble

Apple

 

 

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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.

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

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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.

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