spec fic

SciFi From Around The World

There’s a cool article in the Guardian today for anyone looking for links so they can start reading scifi that isn’t default American/English.

Scifi from all corners of the globe has always been around, but recently some of those works have been hitting the mainstream, culminating in this year’s Hugo Awards, where the Chinese novel, The Three-Body Problem, walked away with Best Novel. There are so many stunning, unique, fascinating and entertaining stories out there now, coming from completely new and original points of view.

There are also writers, like myself, who take the old myths and legends, stir them up with beloved scifi troupes and try to find a story that’s fresh and unexpected in it.

The same thing is happening in Fantasy, and across spec fic. It’s been a long time coming, but we have spec fic in the Western world that’s beginning to show a little of the huge market that’s out there.

I think that’s cause for celebration, don’t you?

Dancing reaction gifs

Okay, maybe not quite like that…

Best part of this article for me is that a former OWW member, Aliette de Bodard, is mentioned. Hurrah for my writing workshop! For those of us who have been there forever, hurrah for the Zoo and the good old OWW! It’s amazing how many truly great writers have left the OWW and gone on to great things: CC Finlay, Elizabeth Bear, Aliette de Bodard, Jim Butcher, Rae Carson, Fran Wilde, N.K. Jemisin…the list goes on and on.

The great thing about these writers is they’re all doing their part to push against the boundaries and turn spec fic on it’s head in the best way possible. By giving a voice in the mainstream to those who had no place there before.

Congratulations to all you guys for being part of a revolution! This is only the beginning, because we have a lot more stories left to share and new writers all around the world popping up and joining the club every day. Welcome everyone, and congrats. Keep it coming!

Have a great weekend and stay thirsty, my friends.

Excerpt: The Nightward – A Battle Approaches

I’m a bit busy today, so I thought I’d post a tiny excerpt from The Nightward wherein the Lady Gretchen and her Amazores prepare to do battle with an ancient weapon called the Dark.

The Amazores waited in the cold.  Even the walls above were empty of their presence.  Behind Lady Gretchen, the sounds of banging doors and dragging furniture drifted out from within the Court.  She didn’t look back.     

“Your swords.”     

Metal shrieked as over seventy swords, all engraved with the same script as the Lady’s, were drawn and piled neatly on the colorful tile.  Lady Gretchen added her sword last, then stepped back from the heap.  Palms forward, she chanted a short spell, the words taut as the expressions on the Amazores’ faces.     

The Lady’s sword began to burn a fierce yellow.  Then golden wraithlight with a heart of green slid along the edge of the blade, limning it with a cold, magical glow.  The wraithlight kept going, jumping from blade to blade, circling each one until the entire heap shone with its light.    

Lady Gretchen lowered her arms and gestured at the Amazores to take their swords.  They did so in silence, the wraithlight throwing multicolored shadows on the gold armor.  Around them, the wind howled and tiny veins of frost began to spread in the cracks in the tile beneath their feet.     

She motioned the archers forward, directing them to pile their quivers on the ground.  Another spell and yet another heap glowed with the unearthly light.  The archers collected their property, dropping the straps over their heads and settling the quivers against their backs.     

“Be warned,” the Lady shouted above the wind.  “Each time you plunge your sword into the Dark, it will take away some of your wraithlight.  The sword is useless without the magic.  If it fades, retreat.  Do not attempt to engage the Dark without it or you will die.  Now, to your positions.”      

See you later, alligators!

Happy New Year! Time to Start Writing Now.

Yep. We had a great time eating the food and drinking the drink. Marathon watching TV shows on Netflix and going to the cinema to cheer for the final chapter of The Hobbit. So we are all refreshed now and should be ready for what comes next.

A year of great storytelling.

We will be writing until we are done, my friends. So get a good chair, crack your knuckles and be sure to check back here three times a week to see how you and I have done. Feel free to leave your word count, page count or sentence count when you visit. I’ll be happy to know I’m not the only one down in the salt mines. I’m giving you today off because it’s New Year’s Day and we know what you did last night. But no mercy tomorrow.

And weekends count for extra. Or you can just leave them for your family and fun, as I plan too. I have to recharge often, and weekends do that for me. I have too much to do in those two days, so I’d rather use my spare time to get ready for the rest of the week.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year, lots of writing and plenty of online friends (me included!) to share your trials and tribulations, successes and achievements with.

Welcome to 2015!!

And just for fun, here’s how a writer’s mind works most of the times…

Kameron Hurley Gets Real With Writers

I read this piece today at Chuck Wendig’s blog. It said what I believe about the writing business, but in a much more elegant way. There is, for example, a reason I called it a business. But when award-winning writer Kameron Hurley says it, it sounds so much better.

Must be that whole ‘award-winning writer’ thing.

Seriously, I wish every author would read this article and take note.

After reading that, I meandered on to this article, also a guest post by Hurley. This one really hit home, particularly since I’ve just published a book myself, quickly realising the things she spoke so eloquently of here.

I think every writer should read this article too. Because it’s inspirational.

I’ve been psyching myself out over a bad review here and there, and fretting over my lack of success, as I saw it. But recently, my sister helped me put some things in perspective. She reminded me that even when things were darkest in my life, I kept writing. Now, at the beginning of the writing career I’ve always wanted, I’m talking myself out of doing what I’ve always loved because of my doubts.

Talk about acting senselessly.

This is the one thing I’ve always come back to. The one thing I feel I can do better than most people. Something I love to do. And I’m actually talking myself out of it because of some misguided sense that I haven’t achieved anything.

Kameron is raw and real here and she shares some really personal things.  Thank god she talked about how important persistence is. And how it’s really not about getting to the top, because there is no top. There is simply the journey.

That made me remember that I decide what success is. I am the one who can stop me from achieving. No one else. If I want to continue writing, I can. I just have to remember that it’s all about action. I can’t write if I don’t write. And if I want to do this for a living, I can’t not write.

So I’m going to write.

The Best Thing I Ever Ate

Lawrence M. Schoen–who needs to teach me the Klingon language some day–graciously invited me to partake of his unusual feature, ‘Eating Authors’, in which various authors recall their most memorable meal.

Find out what was my favourite meal ever and why.

Just click here.

And if you came here because you found me through Dr. Schoen’s blog or my Twitter feed:

Thank you reaction gifs

What Everyone Who Loves Books Needs to Know

This is your writer speaking.

And what indie writer Ninie Hammon has to say is what EVERY writer–famous our not–would love to say if they weren’t worried about coming off as pushy, demanding, ungrateful or off-putting.

In today’s world, your open and vocal support has become something we cannot do without.

Once upon a time, a writer could just leave it up to the Fates whether their book caught on or not after the usual period of publisher hype. Now, there IS no hype–particularly for indie authors like myself–without the help of readers who like our work. If those readers don’t talk about us on Facebook, add us on Goodreads, review us on Amazon or rave about us on Twitter, we will most likely go nowhere very fast.

I didn’t realise just how much things had changed until my publisher recently informed me that without more reviews on Amazon, I could not ‘unlock’ better promotional support from Amazon itself.

Most people indie or self-publishing now don’t even realise the game changed last year, six months ago, even last month.

Think you’ll get traction by joining Goodreads? Maybe. If you give away a lot of books you might get a few reviews back, and thank your luck stars for those. Now let’s just hope they liked it.

Twitter freak who can charm anyone in 140 characters? Guess what? There are more writers following those writing/reading/publishing accounts on Twitter than readers. Yup. You’re mostly likely trying to sell your book to someone else who’s trying to sell you their book too. And in any case, are you really more charming than Neil Gaiman or Chuck Wendig? ‘Cause they’re your real competition.

Great blog you worked on for years? See Chuck Wendig’s site. Then go cry in a corner. Oh, and don’t be surprised if your blog followers are interested in…you know, your blog. People don’t usually follow other people just to buy stuff from them. In other words, be grateful if your followers love you enough to give your book a read. Be over the moon if they review it. A blog isn’t a marketing tool to readers and just talking about your stuff is no guarantee anyone will buy it.

Think you can join Wattpad and get more attention that way? Traditional authors are already way ahead of you. If you weren’t there already, building up a loyal fan base and adding friends and getting down with the community, prepare to roll up your sleeves before you see any real results. And if you do adult scifi like I do, then you run into the wall of YA love that puts every paranormal, urban fantasy or contemporary YA a la John Greene way ahead of you in the queue. Don’t expect millions of readers no matter how good you are. Do expect to compete for attention with long established writers like Cory Doctrow.

Facebook master? Good for you. I hope you have a lot of friends. Because whatever that number is, divide it by 1000 and that’s how many will actually share your writing updates or requests for reviews. And the writers groups are usually about supporting and critiquing and not cool with promotion, so you make a nuisance of yourself and end up getting kicked out if you try the hard sell. And if you do join a group that’s cool with promotion–you’ve most likely just entered the same game that Twitter has going.

Giving your manuscript away for free on NetGalley and LibraryThing so you can get more reviews and buzz? Even if you book is amazing, the number of reviews is usually quite low because EVERYONE is doing the same thing, and overwhelming the good-hearted readers on those sites. While we’re at it, sending off requests to people who joined sites and offered honest reviews in return for free books no longer works either. They’re even more overwhelmed than the NetGalley guys.

What about paying to get reviews from sites like Kirkus or sending your book to Publishers’ Weekly? Standard practice. For everyone. Kirkus reviews do nothing for most people in terms of sales. And even if Publishers’ Weekly likes you, that doesn’t reach readers as much as it reaches the industry.  Readers see those tags on the backs of every book they pick up–and their eyes go right over it.

So spend a little and pay to get on a email list like BookBub then, right? Nope. BookBub has so many people banging on their doors, they’ve become very select and more traditionally published books are on their lists than indie books now because traditional publishers usually have the Goodreads and Amazon ratings needed to meet their high standards and they have the cash to take the big deals too. Indie books generally get on if they have hundreds of good ratings–and they’re offering the book for free. Which sort of defeats every purpose except maybe hoping to get a review back. But since these lists operate to give readers cheap new books, not authors new reviews, a review is a possible and hoped for by-product, not a guarantee.

Well, the great God Amazon will be your saviour.

Wrong. Amazon is in business to make money. And if you’re not part of their imprints, you are a distant second. So those ‘recommended’ listings you see, those ‘people who bought X also bought Y’ ratings, even your place in the rankings after sales–they can all be paid for by traditional publishers. Indie and self-publishers can’t depend on that. And remember how you could just put out a good book with a nice cover, get a bunch of high ratings, climb the charts and reap the extra attention all the way to Hugh Howey sized success?

No longer.

Amazon changes their formulas regularly just to make sure they can’t be gamed again like they were in the past by those guys who sell review packages. It’s a constant battle between unethical authors, shady review providers and Amazon that has led to draconian measures like not letting authors review for other authors, and even deleting reviews from close family, usually the only guaranteed reviews authors can count on. Thanks a lot, RJ Ellory and friends.

I could go on and on. As a recently published author, I can tell you I’ve tried just about everything in terms of marketing and promotion. Some things worked okay, some things not at all. Nothing has been a sure-fire winner. And the advice other authors and sites give about how to market is already outdated or has been taken by every other author out there competing with me, so by the time I try to follow it, the paradigm has changed and it’s no longer effective.

Only one thing hasn’t changed. The power of the reader and word of mouth.

If you love a book, if you think it was good, if you enjoyed something recently, then help a writer out. Talk about it. Leave reviews if you can. Follow a blog. A twitter feed. A Goodreads account. Tell your friends. Pass the book on. Say a few words on Amazon or Goodreads. Whatever little you do, it multiples for that writer a thousand-fold and it will be appreciated so much you won’t even understand.

Readers, your casual mention is the difference between us being able to write the next novel, and having to give up so we can work another job. We authors understand that like us, you have busy lives with your own concerns. We don’t expect reviews or social media campaigns. We know it’s not even realistic for most people. But just walking into a Barnes and Noble and asking for a book can make a difference. Passing your copy on to a friend makes a difference. Dropping a rating on Goodreads makes a difference.

On behalf of Ninie and other authors out there, I want to say thank you to all those who have done these things and more for their favourite authors. You are helping deserving writers keep their heads above water in a world inundated with books, good and bad. And what I want to leave you with is the idea that if you want to see more work from someone you read recently, consider lending a helping hand in some way.

Because it’s a new world and the rules are different every day and the only thing that hasn’t changed is that readers and writers both want more good stories out there.

A Public Service Announcement for Luc Besson

Dear Mr. Besson,

I’ve been a fan since I first saw ‘Fifth Element’. A huge fan. And as such, I think it’s important that I share something with you.

You know that tag line you’ve been endlessly selling your new film ‘Lucy’ with? The one about her being the first human to use more than 10% of her brain?

Well…it’s actually not true at all. She won’t be the first human. Not even close.

In fact, the levels of untrue your advertising campaign has achieved is truly mind-boggling. Particularly when you consider the fact that Google exists.

So, as a long-time fan and someone who definitely plans to see ‘Lucy’–despite it’s flawed premise–can I ask you for one tiny favour?

For the love of all that’s holy, PLEASE stop using that blasted tag line.

Sincerely,

Someone You Don’t Know and Don’t Give a Damn About Who is Nevertheless Entirely Ready to Shove Lucy Out a Window Herself if it Will Get Morgan Freeman to Stop Being a Scientist Who Says Really Inaccurate Shit.

I give up reaction gifs

A Chance to Win A Free Copy of LEX TALIONIS!

I have a new interview up at the GetLostInAStory blog.

This is great news for you because anyone who comments on the blog gets a chance to win a free copy of LEX TALIONIS!

So head on over for a quick read and a chance at free stuff.

Feel free to tell all your friends and share the link.

Stay thirsty, my friends!

LEX TALIONIS at The American Book Center, Holland

You totally have to see this.

Yes, this is my book. On an actual bookself. In the Netherlands. For sale and everything.

Notice, I am right next to…NEIL GAIMAN!!

Guess my last name is one hell of a blessing 😉 Never even thought of that.

Bq-Toy3IQAEuBGu

 

In other news, doesn’t my book look pretty and everything? Almost like I’m a real writer lol.

Stay thirsty, my friends. Never give up. If you do, you will end up here, on top of the world, drinking a beer with me.