Category Archives: writing

Pre-sale for Ginnie Dare: Crimson Sands

So here’s the cover art for the novel. This is all feeling very real now. I need to do some edits and make sure this is the best book possible for you (and for me) so I’m still shooting for a May, 1st 2011 deadline. I feel like that will give me plenty of time and I work well with deadlines.

So here’s where you step in. If the cover or the previous write up inspire you to support me on this, you can pre-order now. I’m doing this so that I can pay ED at Peculiar Comics for the work he’s done (something you haven’t seen yet) and so I can secure some other odds and ends for this. The more pre-orders/support I get the more awesome this whole thing will be.

So, here are the tiers for support:

Tier One (Seraph) – For $5 you receive an electronic version of Crimson Sands, signed, dedicated, and numbered as well as a Twitter icon indicating your level of support.


Tier Two (Cherub) – For $10 you receive a paperback version of Crimson Sands, signed, dedicated, and numbered as well as a Twitter icon indicating your level of support.


Tier Three (Archangel) – For $15 you receive the benefits of both Tiers One and Two plus a bonus short story in the Ginnie-verse that only you will see (bonus story will be in e-book form).


Tier Four (Principality) – For $25 you will receive the benefits of Tier Three plus your name and URL will be listed on the back page (if you so desire).


If you don’t want anything in exchange and you just want to kick a buck or two my way, this is also an option.


Thanks again for your continued support! If you have any questions please drop me a comment or shoot me an email or a DM. As we get closer to launch I’ll be looking for podcasts and blogs to come on.

Pre-sale Thoughts

Soon and very soon I will be making my novel Ginnie Dare:Crimson Sands available for sale. There are lots of plans percolating in the background that I can’t make public just yet. Suffice to say there will be a paperback, an electronic version, and an audio version. They will be available in various places, for various prices.

Before that happens I will be opening up the lines for pre-orders. I have a wonderful artist who’s putting together cover art for me and I have to pay him. I also need to buy an ISBN or two. To make that happen I need some angel investors. I’m still ruminating on pricing and what exactly you’d get for your money. Here are my thoughts and I’m interested in what you think of them (whether you plan on helping me out or not).

I’m thinking of doing a tiered approach, letting people help me as they are able:

Tier One (Seraph) – For $5 you would get an electronic version of Crimson Sands, signed, dedicated, and numbered as well as a Twitter icon indicating your level of support.
Tier Two (Cherub) – For $10 you would get a paperback version of Crimson Sands, signed, dedicated, and numbered as well as a Twitter icon indicating your level of support.
Tier Three (Archangel) – For $15 you would get the benefits of both Tiers One and Two.

My plan is to make these available by May 1st. I want to carry copies of the book with me to Balticon and see if I can sell some there as well. If you have any thoughts, criticisms, or suggestions on this please drop me a comment or shoot me an email. This is a grand experiment and I’m more than willing to hear that this is a bad idea or an awesome idea.

To give you an idea of what you’d be getting, here’s a brief synopsis:

Ginnie Dare is the communications officer for her family’s space faring shipping company. They arrive at Eshua for a routine supply drop and discover that the entire settlement’s population has vanished. Their search of the site reveals nothing out of place except the people, but ends in a tense confrontation with the natives. During the conflict Ginnie discovers an alien artifact that may be the key to diffusing the conflict. Can she decode the artifact before it’s taken by the Sector Defense Force and will it help them to discover the missing colony’s fate? Or will the whole thing spark an interstellar war?

My hope is that this story will hearken back to the sci-fi I grew up with and will be enjoyable to a wide range of age groups. It’s a story I feel more than just comfortable with my ten year old daughter reading. I hope she will read it and find a protagonist that she can identify with and be inspired by.

Aspire?

Earlier today I tweeted, “You’re not an “aspiring writer”. You either write or you don’t. Do, or do not. There is no try.” I added the hashtag “meantwithlove” since I did not want to appear overly harsh. It’s just that, I saw the phrase on the profile of someone who I know IS an author/writer and it maddens me to think that they don’t believe that about themselves.

Now to be fair, it’s possible that they are defining “writer” as “a writer who has been published” and perhaps that’s a valid definition. It was even proposed by Indiana Jim that “author” was the word for that and that the person might be an aspiring author, not having been published yet. I could, and am tempted, to quibble and say that Webster makes no such distinction, but as a writer I know that words have connotations separate from their dictionary definitions.

Rich Asplund is probably being a bit more honest when he said “that’s why I call it as it is I’m a wannabe soon as I get off my ass and do it consistently I can remove wannabe”. Being a consistent writer is part of being a successful one, but even if you’re not consistent you are still a writer if you write, an author if you are creating. What “consistent” means may vary from person to person, but I think that writing a few hundred words daily is a good place to start. With that your writing should improve and it will become easier to write more. Are you in the place Rich is, and do you wanna stay there? He doesn’t.

If you aspire to be something, whatever it may be, and the power is in your hands, then stop aspiring and do it! Arguably the “getting published” part is not something in your control, but if you aren’t writing regularly and submitting what you write are you really aspiring? If not, that’s not a bad thing by itself. It just means you should leave that word in the dust collecting at your feet. Remember that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the very definition of insanity.

The problem with the word “aspire” is, too often it’s used in the past tense. “He aspired to a career in medicine.” (Maybe he just should have gone to med school?) I would hate for anyone who wanted to be a writer or a painter or a doctor to never arrive simply because they took no steps towards the goal. So to you, writers, I say strip that word from your profiles. Write! Paint! Cut people op- Go to med school! If you aren’t going to do something about it, then you have no recourse when you fail.

To put it another way I will quote J.C. Hutchins:

Step 1: Do nothing.
Step 2: Complain about results.
Step 3: Do nothing.
Step 4: Wonder about same results.
Step 5: Whine.
Step 6: Repeat.

Is that who you wanna be? No! So, get out there and do, or do not. There is no aspire.

Slave, Please

As a writer I don’t shy away from using strong language or imagery. If you’ve listened to Archangel, particularly the story that I put up in between novellas, “Power in the Blood”, then you know that. That’s an extreme example and not one for the kids (or even some adults), but if someone wanted to come along and replace every swear word or violent scene with something less offensive I wouldn’t be thrilled. I do think changes like these, as well intentioned as they might be, do damage to the text. But is that always a bad thing?

These thoughts have come about thanks to the whole Mark Twain/Huck Finn fiasco. For those of you that haven’t heard, a Mark Twain scholar has released a version of the book that replaces the word “nigger” with the word “slave”. This article lays out some of the history of the book and the different versions that have been released. Since it’s out of copyright, it’s open to people doing this type of editing. No one’s rights are being infringed upon, certainly not Twain’s. I don’t know that anyone can clearly say what he would have thought of this, but I would like to think he’d have a sense of humor. You can blame this on “liberal” political correctness, or on over-sensitivity, or on white guilt. Or perhaps it has to do with the editor’s own insecurities.

Whatever the reason, in this particular case, I don’t think this is a bad thing, per se. The government isn’t doing this, the original version still exists, and as stupid as replacing “nigger” with “slave” is (as evidenced by this post’s title), I think getting “up in arms” about it is even more ridiculous. If it means more kids will get to read Twain’s work, I’m okay with it. As it stands right now, fewer kids are getting assigned it, because of that word. For the record, while I think that’s even more stupid than the idea of a new “whitewashed” version, kids should be reading the classics. That’s true even if they (or possibly because they) will embarrass some of us about the true nature of the past, but better to read a slightly mangled version than none at all.

Whichever version kids get exposed to though, I want them reading books like Huck Finn. Of all the things I remember from reading it as a boy the use of that word isn’t one. As an adult I can appreciate why he may have chosen to use it and can dialog with someone about that. Good fiction reveals and means different things to different people.

Gettin' Paid

So one of the things that makes its rounds in my circles is how difficult it is to make a living as a writer of fiction. I once bemoaned that fate to Mr. Sawyer and he, once again, called bullshit on it. It can be done. It takes dedication, hard work, and a few other things (not to mention a dash of luck) and we talk all about it in this conversation.

Let us know what you think, particularly if you disagree and why.

PS – Here’s part one.

Moving Ass – Literarily Speaking

Dan Sawyer laid down a challenge back in June of this year. He called it The Great Ass-Moving Experiment. He wanted to get off his backside and send his written works out to publishers and he wanted to take some people with him, make it interesting.

Here’s the proposition:

We’ll go from now till the end of the year (or perhaps we should go to next Balticon?). Everyone bets $10. Every story we submit gets 3 points. Every novel proposal we send in gets 4 points. Every nonfiction submission/query gets 1 point. Every sale – of any fiction – gets 8 points. Every sale of nonfiction gets 3 points. Any sale that pays money and has a contract counts. Non-paying and/or clickthru and/or under-the-table markets do not count.

At the end of the year, the person with the most points wins the pool (which will operate on the honor system – those of us that lose will paypal our $10 to the winner).

I, and several other authors, took him up on it. Recently he skipped way ahead and I wanted to know how he did it, since it looked like he was bending “the rules”. (Not the rules of his game, the rules of the publishers’ game.) I wanted to know why and this conversation resulted.

If you want to know how to move your ass, give it a listen. You should also check out the Association’s website too.

Free Beer!

I had the pleasure of going to the first Great North Carolina Beer Festival in Clemmons, NC this past weekend. Overall it was awesome. It was hot and there were literally around nineteen-thousand people when all was said and done. I had beer from the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, Thomas Creek, and Foothills. There were also big names there that you’d recognize and they all had out what passed for (and in some cases what I’d consider) craft beers.

A craft beer, in my opinion, is a product that the manufacturer truly put some time, energy, and passion into developing. Maybe they take a BIG chance (as one home brewer did with a smoked Weizenbock that was awesome) or maybe they were just wanted to do something a little different (as Newcastle did with their Summer Ale). Regardless, in most cases they tried to put their best foot forward and they were doing it for free.

“So Scott, is this the beer blog now?”

Well maybe from time to time, but this post is about passion. A few of these people had it in spades. I think that the homebrewers that were their had it the most. There was nothing for them to sell. They literally couldn’t legally sell their products even if they wanted to. All they can do is give it away for free. Why? Because they want to share something they made and believed in. So these guys were standing in the only shade around, pouring their beer for the thirsty public (who may or may not give a darn about what they were drinking), and having a grand time.

The next step up were the microbreweries. In quite a few cases the faces you saw at those tents were owners. In some cases they were employees, but there was more of a connection there. They wanted you to know about their beer, their brewery, and in what time they had available would tell you all about it. Yeah they wanted to sell stuff. A few local breweries were selling full pints or glasses and other nick-knacks. They wanted to spread the word and incidentally sell some beer.

There was less passion from the Big Beer tents. The people pulling taps their were likely employees hired just for the day. They had no connection to the process of making the beer or selling the beer. They were just pretty faces. No need to spread the word so much since most of us consumers already know about Guinness or Leinenkugel or Bud. So I guess they were just there as sponsors and in a few cases to get out the word about a particular new product. It was one hundred percent a business arrangement. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

So here we are, three “tiers” if you will and all giving away all the free samples you were willing to queue up for. Sure it cost you $25, but my feeling is that that went to the music and other expenses (designated drivers still had to pay $20).

This whole day struck a chord in me. There’s a great deal of passion in the podiosphere for giving away stuff for free. Those that choose to do it are doing it for the same reasons that the homebrewers and microbrewers are doing it for. In the one case maybe they can’t sell it (or haven’t tried) and are just honing their craft until they can take the next step. In other cases maybe they have started selling, but they still feel the need to build some name recognition. Regardless, there’s still that passion in creating and putting out their wares for people to sample.

The part that’s missing from this analogy are the big boys. While there are some “big names” out there giving away free samples, it doesn’t sound like that’s catching on with the bulk of big story business. There’s a fair amount of fear (perhaps founded, perhaps not) of things like piracy or watering down the brand. And big publishers put a lot of money into developing and selling what they have and want to recoup those costs. It’s all about the business for them.

So, is there a lesson to be learned in this? I think if you’re passionate about what you’re doing, if there’s a way for you to give some of it away without cutting your own throat, do it. I understand the notion that if you’re writing short stories, you don’t want to give them all away if your short term goal is to sell those particular stories. So maybe you write a story or two just to give away? Share your passion with people and once you’ve hit the “big leagues”, where it most cases it’s still hard scrabble when it comes to making a living from wordsmithing, maybe drop a freebie from time to time. Remember that you got into this writing business not do much to make a million dollars (cause that just ain’t gonna happen for most of us) but to tell that story that made your brain itch. Pour a pint every now and again for your fans and I think you’ll find it will pay off in the long run.

Speculation

I’ve been charged by my buddies at Flying Island Press to participate in defining sci-fi and fantasy. That’s a mighty big elephant to eat. My response on Twitter was “As far as what SF/F is or is not, in my case I sort of know it when I see it. Which is why I like the umbrella term speculative fiction.”

That was kind of a cop out, but defining things in 140 characters or less is a bit more than I’m up to before lunch. Now in a blog post I think I can take a stab.

Science fiction is incredibly broad as a genre. You’ve got everything from Jurassic Park to Ender’s Game. It can be gritty and “hard” where science is king and every jot and tittle needs to be explained and “realistic”. Or it can be soft and take place in such a far flung future that the science almost takes a back seat. Almost. I think that science needs to be an integral part though. There needs to be some aspect of technology or a rational explanation of the universe and its hard core mechanics that forms a significant part of the story.

For me character always comes first and the science might be a part of that character. A good example of that would be PC Haring’s Cybrosis. The main character is a cyborg and her tech is fully integrated into the plot of the novel as well. That’s not to say that the science necessarily needs to be completely accurate. When you’re supposing what the world might by like in a hundred or a thousand years the details are by necessity fuzzy. Most writers are no more scientists than they are wizards and research can only take you so far. Still it should be sound. Master that technobabble!

As big as science fiction is as a genre, I’d argue that fantasy is even larger. In SF, the distinctive element is, well, science. In Fantasy I’d say it’s the numinous. Most, if not all, fantasy has something of the spiritual about it. That’s not to say that it has to be religious (though I’d argue that most Christian fiction falls into the Fantasy realm), but it often speaks to things that can’t be observed or measured. The more important elements in the story, be they plot, mechanics, or character, should focus on the mystical or the transcendent.

A good example of that would be South Coast by Nathan Lowell. And that’s an interesting one too, since it takes place in a far flung future with space ships and the like. It has that in common with Star Wars. Both are Fantasy pieces since, imo, both have a stronger connection to the mystic than the motor.

The wonderful thing about these genres is that they lend themselves well to being crossed over/blended/mashed/folded/spindled. After all, the Dune series has elements of both. The Dragon Riders of Pern does as well. Science Fiction and Fantasy can easily be just like a Reese’s Cup, though that’s not everyone’s favorite candy bar.

So that’s my stab at a definition. Look for a post later today over at Flying Island Press to get more on the ins and outs of defining these genres.

If at First You Don't Succeed

Well, in case you haven’t heard (and if you’re reading this you probably have) I have my first publication credit! I have a short story called “Power in the Blood” for which I’ve been paid (in pounds sterling!) and you can find it it at Hub Fiction.

I wrote this story years ago and actually podcast it as an interstitial podcast episode between Valley of the Shadow and Legion. I submitted it to PseudoPod before I did that and it got rejected. The editor was very kind and gave me some feedback. When I recently decided to get serious about getting published, this was one of the first ones I picked to send around. As you can see, persistence sometimes pays off.

So that’s what I want to tell you. If you’re gonna write and try and get that writing published, don’t let the first few rejections throw you off your game. Keep plugging away at it.

And if you read the story (fair warning, it’s graphic) and feel like dropping a comment, here’s the place to do it.

E-Book Chat

James Melzer, Drew Beatty, and I have a nice chat on ebooks, podcasting and publishing.

Mentioned:

Drew Beatty
http://www.drewbeatty.com/
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/drewbeatty
http://twitter.com/drewbeatty

James Melzer
http://jamesmelzer.net/
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jjmelzer
http://twitter.com/Melzer

Scott Roche
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/ScottRoche

Paul E. Cooley
http://shadowpublications.com/?q=node/167

Zach Ricks
http://www.madpoetfiles.com/

Jennifer Hudock
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/jennybeans
http://jennybeans.net/2010/04/10/the-dark-side-anthology-project/

Critters.org E-book Pricing Survey
http://critters.org/surv/

Jake Bible
http://jakebible.com/