NaNoWriMo

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, otherwise know as NaNoWriMo.  I have never participated in this before but decided this year I would.  I had planned to write a SF novella, but after a couple of days being stuck on that, pulled out my old first novel, the love story I had tried to write two plus years ago, and decided to revisit it.  The NaNoWriMo rules say no previous words, so this likely won’t count for credit.  I have copied a few dialogue sections from the old novel, but mostly rewritten everything else.  In any case, I don’t care.  I love this story and believe it deserves to be told, and I’ve learned a lot about my craft since I first started to write it.

One of the refreshing things about it is the switch from my usual genres.  Having crafted science fiction and fantasy novels and dozens of speculative fiction short stories since giving up on this novel, I was getting burned out.  All I’ve written and read has been those two genres.  I feel very refreshed to be stepping away from that for a bit, and I hope that freshness carries over when I return to speculative fiction after this novel draft is finished.

9452 words in three days.  3 whole chapters.  Feeling pretty good.  I can tell the structure and writing is much better than the last time, although I definitely will need to do some more drafts to work on the descriptive prose and emotional arcs.  First goal is to get the story and basic character arcs down.  Once I know the themes, all the rest can fall in place much more easily.

Likely I’ll take another pass at my fantasy novel before revising this one, but then I’ll have to move on to a sequel for “The Worker Prince” as I prepare for its publication.  I will want to get that done and to the publisher by the time the book comes out next Spring so I can stay on schedule with that series for one book a year.

In any case, it feels good to be writing daily again.  It’s taken some time away from job hunting and editing, but I need to do this for me.  Almost five months of barely writing has really left me depressed and discouraged about my writing career.  Professional writers can’t afford that kind of time off and if I want to reach that goal, I can’t either.

I’ll keep you informed as I keep chugging along.  Whatever the case, it’ll be nice to have three novels instead of one by the Spring next year.  I just hope these two have better luck helping me get an agent than “Worker Prince” did.

For what it’s worth…

The Wronging of Elizabeth Moon

These comments very much address how I feel about the Elizabeth Moon controversy and unfair treatment and villianizing of her by other parties.  And in general, they also address how the Left browbeats anyone who doesn’t agree with them in the name of intolerance, showing their own intolerance as they do so.  Both sides are guilty of this, but the Left in particular has gotten way out of hand.  If Moon had said the same things she said about Muslims about Christians, no one would have objected.  Which is just as wrong as saying it about anyone else.  The difference?  Christians are acceptable villians to the Left.


I did not make these comments, and I am lifting them without permission from a Listnet, so I will neither take credit nor offer it but I agree 100%.  I do not 100% agree with Elizabeth Moon, however, she does demonstrate how many Americans stereotype Muslims.  The way to address that is not with vitriol but reasonable discussion to reveal the falseness of the stereotypes and assumptions being made.  Her one point I do agree with is that groups often want special treatment they won’t extend to others.


Here are the comments I endorse:


1. Moon’s comments make explicitly clear that she is not talking about an
entire group of people.
 

2. It is true that the Convention has the right to do what they did, but
likewise those of us who do not agree with their actions have the right to
criticize them for political correctness (which is exactly what this is).


3. The comments weren’t made on the convention’s “dime,” and there is not
reason to expect that she would make political comments at the convention,
so the “not on my dime” rationale doesn’t hold up.

It is unfortunate that in today’s America, the left/progressive side of U.S.
politics is the bastion of a new McCarthyism, where you can’t say something
that is not-PC, or hold a view that is not an approved viewpoint. It is
particularly unfortunate to me, because I’m very progressive/liberal on
social issues, and when I was younger and first became politically active, I
bought into the idea that the left/progressive side was the side of
tolerance, free-flow of ideas, etc. It is anything but that. Both sides have
their villains in this regard, but the left is far worse than the right,
which strikes me as ironic.  

Lastly, when I read stories they stand on their own merit (or fall on it),
and I really couldn’t care less about the person views of the author. So
an author is against homosexuality – that’s may be somewhat expected given his
religious views. The fact that I am in favor of gay rights and gay
marriage, etc. doesn’t prevent me enjoying one of his stories, if it is a
good story. Same for Elizabeth Moon. But this goes back to the sort of
McCarthyism I was talking about above, where it isn’t just enough to
criticize or disagree politically with one’s opponents, but where instead
they have to be vilified personally to the point that you can’t even
separate the person’s political views from a piece of science fiction.

 
Unfortunate.

[Disclaimer: I am not progressive/liberal but I do tend to be progressive/conservative and moderate on social issues. ]

It is indeed unfortunate and un-American when people handle controversies like this today, and I think it’s ruining our country.  I pray daily that it will stop.  For what it’s worth…

FIrst Book Signing

Attended my first book sale/signing this weekend at the La Viña Winery Harvest Festival.  We were situated right next to the very loud music stage in the El Paso Writers’ League booth.  The booth was nice and it was loaded with books by our members.  I sold 3 Saturday and 2 Sunday, but that was just my own.  I sold several books by other authors as well.  I am not and never will be real pushy.  My theory is: I want people to get the right book for them.  No sense having them mad at me for talking them into the wrong book plus badmouthing the book to their friends.  Better for everyone if they say: “I got it from El Paso Writer’s League.  The guy was really nice and the book was good.”  Good for me, good for EPWL, and good for the author.

Being the only SF book was a bit tough, but those to whom it sold seemed really enthusiastic about it.  I had hoped that my bargain price would make the book sell a little better, but it didn’t sell much when I wasn’t there.  So I am assuming it’s either my charisma or the lack of others’ knowledge of the book which made the difference.

It was a fun experience.  Fun to chat with the customers, other authors, browsers, and just to hang out in the clean air.  We had the world’s longest corndog, samples some wines, and even had a funnel cake.  Two weekends in a row.  You can’t beat that!

In any case, I hope to do more of these and start selling my book.  I really need to get the income and make back my investment, plus, I’m proud of the stories.  I think they’re enjoyable and a good tease of my writing, even if they’re shorter and simpler than most of what I do.

One weird thing about book signings is that sometimes people ask you to write things like “to my best friend” or “with all my love.”  I wasn’t asked to do that this time, thankfully, because I won’t do it.  To write anything untruthful just isn’t me.  But I did have a guy who wanted me to include “outlandish” in whatever I wrote.  So to him I wrote:  “May this book inspire you to dream outlandish dreams and reach for the stars.”  Pretty good improv, if you ask me, but then, I am a writer, so I’m supposed to have a way with words.

I’m going to offer a special deal.  The first 15 people to comment on this blog this week will get the discounted price from LaViña of $5 per book.  That’s $7.49 retail, so you ave $2.49.  You’ll either have to pay shipping or arrange to pick up your copy, but hey, everyone who’s read it has liked it, and you will too.

Okay, let’s start those comments…

Science Fiction Oddball

Sometimes I feel like a science fiction oddball. The stories I like most and like to write are good old fashioned space opera, like Star Wars or Star Trek, and sword & sorcery like Legend Of the Seeker, or high fantasy like Lord Of The Rings, etc. I don’t like slipstream. I don’t like stories which have no discernible speculative element. I don’t like preachy stories pushing a political agenda. And I don’t like stories with overwhelming amounts of science or magic which feel like textbooks. Tell me a story with good plot full of action and riveting, well developed characters.

Partly this is because I am a child of the media generation which are not the most die hard science fiction fans these days. I did not grow up on the old school science fiction stuff. I read some of it (Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Jules Verne, HG Wells, Lord Of The Rings, Lord Valentine’s Castle, the Narnia Books, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and more). I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek tie-ins and the movies and tv shows. Those were what I got my biggest science fiction fix from. And certainly I have enjoyed going back and discovering much old science fiction stuff along with the new, both of which I continue to do. But I still want those lovable characters with action as they fight bad guys, save the girl, and save the world.

I don’t write hard science fiction. What would be the point? Biology was the only class I flunked in college. I never took Chemistry. The only science class I did well in was Astronomy, in which I got an A minus. And I skip the long boring sections in Tom Clancy books where he spends half a chapter describing a gun or vehicle. Who cares? Tell me a story. So those kinds of things just don’t impress me. In large part, that’s because they don’t make me feel anything. Characters do.

As I prepare to get my novel deal finalized and figure out a marketing plan, I am hoping there are lots of others like me, because that’s what I wrote, and I fear that may make it less appealing to the standard science fiction crowd. The fans who attend ComicCon and DragonCon would love it though, and I hope to reach out to them. Not sure how yet, but that’s the goal. Every reader who’s read it so far has raved about the book, including two fellow writers and two professional editors. Two small presses are bidding on it. I believe it’s good and people will like it. But they have to read it first.

Here’s hoping this is one case where being an oddball doesn’t leave me standing on the sidelines at the big game.

For what it’ worth…

NOVEL EXCERPT: Prologue from The Worker Prince

This is the first chapter of my forthcoming science fiction novel The Worker Prince. It’s a space opera in the vein of Star Wars and Star Trek. If you enjoy it, please spread the word.

Prologue

Sol climbed to the top of the rise and stared up at the twin suns making their daily ascension. Yellows and oranges faded under the increasing blue of oncoming daylight, leaving a red glow on the horizon.

For as long as he could remember, he’d started each day with an escape from the heavy, polluted air and the noise of people, factories and traffic. He’d hoped the peaceful, quiet sunrises would calm him as usual to face the day ahead, but today he had no sense of peace, and the silence of the city’s edge drowned beneath the clamor within him.

My precious son! My God, don’t forsake us now!

The wait had been interminable, punctured by endless prayers to God for a precious gift. Now they had to send him away—their Davi! Was there no justice in this universe?

He glanced at his chrono and sighed. Wouldn’t want to be late to serve the Borali Alliance! After one last look at the twin suns, he turned and hurried back along the path toward Iraja and the starport stretched out on the horizon near the city’s edge.

He labored more with each breath as heavy air filled his lungs. The depot occupied a strategic site at the center of the planet ensuring easy access from all regions. Ignoring the droning soundtrack of the city awakening, Sol timed in on the chrono and greeted Aron, his co-worker and lifelong friend.

“Regallis,” Aron said, smiling.

“Regallis?” Sol asked. It seemed so far away—one of the outer planets in the system.

Aron nodded. “It’s perfect. Good population, frequent tourists, fertile plants, peaceful, no pollution. Best of all, no slavery. Davi should find a very happy life there.” Sol smiled at the thought. “I plotted coordinates for the capital. Figured it would give him the best chance.”

Sol clapped Aron on the shoulder, as the idea blossomed. “Thank you, Aron. We knew we could count on you.”

Aron, short and bulky, filled out the blue-green uniform jumpsuit, leather boots and tool belt both wore more fully than the thinner, taller Sol. They moved across a hangar toward their workstation, despite the deafening racket closing in around them—the constant hum of machinery, men raising their voices to be heard over it, the roaring of engines, the staccato hammering of tools. The sounds, the chaos of starships in all states of repair and the smell of fuel and sweat combined to make the hangar a place most visitors preferred to avoid. Sol didn’t even notice.

“What do you have left to do?” Aron asked as their eyes scanned the daily work assignments on their terminals.

“Test the seals and navigation system, replace injector. Then I need fuel.” Sol sighed, ticking the tasks off on his fingers like always. There would be no time to work on the courier today.

“My friend at the fuel depot has left over military fuel cells. They almost never ask for them back. He volunteered some for the courier.”

Sol beamed. If he’d ever had a brother, he hoped it would have been someone like Aron. “What did I do to deserve a friend like you?”

Aron shrugged. “Some people are luckier than others.” Sol laughed at Aron’s silly grin as they set to work on their assigned tasks.

As they commenced with their work, Sol stared through the hangar’s transparent roof at the clear blue sky overhead. Through a break in the gray, polluted clouds, the clean purity of a blue sky contrasted with his daily existence. He and Lura had adored every moment since the birth of their son. Every giggle, smile, or sign of personality sent waves of warm amazement coursing through him. There was not any more precious gift than that of this little creature who’d come from their love.

Lord Xalivar’s decree had taken the planet by storm. All first-born worker sons would be slaughtered for the gods. There were rumors that the crisis resulted from one of the High Lord Councilor’s nightmares, but no one knew for sure. Xalivar didn’t need a reason. Concerning the slaves, his word was law.

The gods! Gods our people don’t even believe in would dare to take away our Davi! Sol and Lura desperately wondered what they could do to save their precious boy. After hours of discussion, they’d found a single choice.

The next morning, Sol had begun modifying the round, silver craft designed to carry supplies and papers between planets in the solar system. Being a mechanic at the depot put him in the perfect position. He installed a vacuum sealer and oxygen vents and hollowed out the carrier cavity to hold the cushion on which he would place their tiny son for the journey.

Sol enlisted Aron, who had access to navigation charts for the entire system, knowing together they could find a place where Davi would be found and cared for. The courier’s sub-light drive would cut travel time to no more than a day to anywhere in the solar system.

Lura wouldn’t eat and barely slept, sitting with Davi and refusing to leave him. At least Sol’s work kept him occupied. He couldn’t bear watching her suffer, and if he didn’t act, Davi would be sacrificed with the others. Healing would come when they knew he was safe. Sol was, even now, working on a tracking device, which would send back a signal to the depot when the craft landed. They might never see Davi again, but at least they would know he’d escaped to a new life.

As the suns’ rays warmed the space where he stood, it comforted Sol to know their baby boy would see the same suns wherever he wound up. Shadows crept away like their quat, Luci, who loved to sneak around feeling invisible with her arched back and long tail. Luci would miss the precious little one, too. Sol offered a silent prayer of thanks for the time they’d had with their precious son then turned back to his tasks.

***

“LSP Squads are landing and moving toward our neighborhoods.” A co-worker appeared beside Sol’s worktable, his fearful eyes darting around like flies hovering over a corpse.

“We don’t have much time,” Sol said to Aron as the co-worker hurried off, and they abandoned the hulking barge to finish the courier.

Aron tested the navigation system, while Sol checked the seals. Less than thirty minutes later, the first reports of methodical killings came in—first-born males of all ages slaughtered by LSP squads moving from home to home.

“I hope Lura heard the news.” Sol couldn’t stand still.

“I’m sure everyone on the planet knows about it by now,” Aron replied as both did their best to hurry without making any mistakes. “She’s probably on her way here already.”

Sol nodded, fighting the tension rising within. She would follow their plan and head for the depot with Davi. With his supervisors watching, he couldn’t run home and warn her. He’d risk encountering the LSP squads, who tended to shoot first and ask questions later of citizens who interrupted them in action.

The supervisor was upon them within the hour. “There’s no courier on your worksheets.”

His gray jumpsuit bore not a blemish or wrinkle, unlike theirs which were covered with grease and grit. The stare from the green-scaled supervisor’s disproportionally large orange eyes might have been intimidating if Sol hadn’t already grown used to it. Tran hurried over waving the two lower arms extending from either side of his rounded, voluminous stomach. Two parallel arms extended out of his shoulders above them, one holding an electronic translator which translated his words from his native Lhamor—a series of clicks and clacks—into the common used standard, the official language of the Alliance.

Sol’s throat tightened, but Aron remained calm. “It’s the courier for Estrela Industries, Tran,” Aron said as he typed calculations into the navigation system’s computer. “We got notification they’ve moved up the testing. It’s for a top-secret program authorized by Lord Xalivar himself.”

Sol and Aron had long ago devised the story about the courier belonging to an important defense contractor. They’d seen too many other workers killed just for failing to meet their quotas. Since couriers were a part of their regular routine, it was easy enough to excuse their working on it from time to time if anyone asked. Before now, no one had.

Tran mulled this over, staring at them as if he could read their minds. “It’s almost done—a few minor adjustments.” Sol used a wrench to finish checking bolts on the courier’s hatch.

“Well, you can’t leave today without finishing your assignments.” Tran’s eyes reddened with suspicion before he whirled and marched away. At least they’d bought themselves time.

“If he goes to the manager—” Sol shuddered at the memory of past tortures for disobedience.

“He won’t. He flinches at the mention of Xalivar’s name,” Aron reminded him, as they hurried back to work on the courier. Sol’s breathing normalized again, and he hoped Lura was on her way there.

A clerk in a red jumpsuit appeared, handing Aron some parts for another project. As Aron signed the laser pad to acknowledge receipt, the co-worker looked at Sol. “They’ve started in your neighborhood. We just heard.”

Sol and Aron exchanged a frightened glance as the co-worker slipped away. Sol’s muscles tightened as his heartbeat climbed. He jumped at the communicator’s beep, then double clicked the talk button. “Station sixty-five.”

“Your wife is in the lobby,” the auto-bot receptionist responded. The line went dead.

Sol’s shoulders descended as he turned to Aron. “Get the pod to Test Pad Seventeen-A. We’ll meet you there.” Aron nodded as Sol hurried toward the lobby.

Lura waited with Davi wrapped in a blanket, rocking him in her arms. She wore a simple white jumpsuit and tan leather shoes, her long brown hair flowing down her back. As it had for fifteen years, her beauty took his breath away. The most perfect human he’d ever met had chosen him. He felt like a leprechaun from an Old Earth fairy tale grasping a pot of gold.

Sol hugged Lura, seeing the fear in her eyes. “Come with me.” Grabbing her arm, he steered her away from the four-armed auto-bot, which sat permanently affixed before a huge communications console. He tried to relax, knowing it was a mech but as they neared the door, Davi began crying.

“Is that a baby?” Tran’s voice came from behind them, and they turned to see him frowning as he approached.

“It’s our son,” Lura commented, then put a hand over her mouth as Tran reached for a communicator on the wall.

The clerk who’d delivered supplies to Sol and Aron earlier entered at a run. “Tran, Station Thirty-Four has no fuel.”

Tran stopped reaching for the communicator and turned to face him. “What do you mean they have no fuel?”

As Sol pushed Lura through the door, Tran whirled back around, scowling before the door slammed shut behind them.

Lura’s tears flowed as they zigzagged through the chaotic hangar toward the test pads. They almost couldn’t hear Davi crying above the din.

“I’m sorry…” Lura’s hand shook as she clung to his arm.

“Let’s hope Aron’s got the courier ready.” Sol tapped three numbers into a security door and it rose into a ceiling cavity with a loud, whooshing sound. He ushered her down a dimly lit corridor.

“I don’t know if I can let him go,” Lura said, as she had over and over since the decree’s release.

“If we want our son to grow old, we have no choice, love.” Sol’s practiced emotional burying failed and his voice cracked as they moved past numbered doors toward Test Pad Seventeen-A.

The dark walls and floor of the narrow corridor absorbed what little light the reflector pads overhead provided. If Sol hadn’t known the way, they would have progressed more slowly. They stopped before a gray door marked seventeen-A as Sol entered another key code into the security pad.

The door swung up and Sol rushed Lura and Davi onto the test pad, where Aron was busy double-checking the courier’s navigation system. Mounted on the launcher, the courier appeared bigger and taller than it actually was. Upon seeing it, Lura clutched Davi tightly to her chest.

“Lura, we must hurry!” Tiny daggers danced and sliced at the surface of Sol’s pounding heart.

“I’ve got the coordinates programmed. And I borrowed fuel for the sub-light drive from Station Thirty-Four,” Aron said and Sol winced. “It should take them a while before they miss it.”

Sol climbed a small ladder and examined the courier one final time. “Tran’s already been alerted. Why’d you do that?”

“There was no time to go anywhere else,” Aron said, his face registering alarm.

Sol motioned to the courier. “Let’s get the engines prepped. They don’t know where we’ve gone.”

Aron and Sol hurried about the final launch preparations as Lura held Davi and cried. After a few moments, Sol stepped down from the ladder to join her.

“He’s going to Regallis, Lura. Aron checked it out himself. He’ll be in the capital. Someone will give him a life we never could.” Tears flowed as his hands carressed the feathery down atop his son’s head.

“How can this be happening?” Lura said through her sobs. “We’ve waited so long for a child!”

Sol’s arms wrapped around her, holding his family for the last time. “We have to have faith, Lura. God will protect him. It’s time for him to go.” He reached for Davi. Lura resisted a moment, then kissed Davi’s forehead and surrendered.

His infant son lay so light in his arms—soft and warm. The eyes looked to him with total trust, but instead of cuddling with him as he wanted, Sol hugged the tiny boy to his chest and hurried up the ladder to the courier. Placing Davi in the molded cushion, he wrapped the safety straps around him, put the life support pad in place and turned it on. Its LEDs lit up bright green. The note he’d written for whoever found Davi rested secure in the info pouch on the side wall. Everything was good to go.

Lura rushed up the ladder beside him. She removed her necklace his mother had given her before their joining ceremony and set it beside their son. Since the ceremony, Sol had never seen her without it. Tucking the family crest emblem inside the blanket where it couldn’t float free and scratch their son, he reached for the hatch, bending down as he did to kiss Davi’s head.

“Always remember we love you,” he said, the last words his baby son heard before the hatch closed over him.

Sol clasped Lura’s hand and led her down the steps. He nodded as Aron entered the launch code in the computer, and they all moved out of range to watch. The courier’s engines ignited, humming as they rose to full power in preparation for launch. The room vibrated around them as the courier’s engines shot out twin columns of orange-red flame, rocking the pedestal upon which it rested, before launching into the sky on its journey to the edge of the solar system. Sol wrapped his arms around Lura as she collapsed against him, sobbing. Security forces arrived, surrounding them, and Sol glimpsed Tran’s orange eyes peering in from the doorway.

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook  · Publication: October 4, 2011  · Diminished Media Group
Available now for 20% off on preorders!!!

Trade paperback only

 EPUB or MOBI — please specify in notes on order

The Worker Prince: Book 1 In The Saga of Davi Rhii

AUTHOR’S TIP: Playing The Waiting Game

I think one of the hardest parts of being a writer is the waiting. You wait to hear back on submissions, wait to hear back from beta readers, wait for checks to arrive, wait for books to arrive, etc. And if you’re anything like me, waiting is probably not your forté. So what do you do to get through it?

Here’s a few suggestions:

1) Keep multiple projects going. Once you send out the latest manuscript to your betas or a slush pile, get to work on the next one. Okay, you can allow yourselves one evening to celebrate your satisfaction, but, after that, back to work. After all, even if this one gets accepted, careers don’t happen on one submission. You have to keep building your business.

2) Regard it as a business. All too often I meet writers who talk as if their writing is a hobby, yet act as if acceptance or rejection is something their life depends on. I have few friends whose hobbies are so important to them. If you’re that invested, it’s not a hobby, so stop pretending it is and treat it like a business. Work on your craft, including writing classes, reading a lot, studying what other writers do and how they describe their own craft and struggles. Set up a database for you submissions and your income and expenses. Treat it like the business you want it to be.

3) Blog about it. That’s what I’m doing and it’s therapeutic. There are lots of people going through the same thing and sharing with each other is an encouragement and learning experience.

4) Remind yourself that finishing and submitting your work puts you a step ahead of many others. Lots of people say they are writers or want to be, but only those who actually write, complete it and submit it have the chance to actually make it as professionals.

5) Offer Reader Incentives. This one won’t work with the markets you submit to, but it might work with your beta readers. Of course, it all depends on your budget. But think about running little contests with your betas for the person with the most helpful notes, the quickest response time, etc. You can offer everything from gift certificates for a cup of Starbucks to writing lessons or services. It might be a way to keep your betas motivated. After all, if they’re not writers, they probably don’t realize how hard the waiting is or how important their input is to your success.

Everyone’s situation is unique, so I’m sure you can think of better ideas than I can. See what you can come up with to make the wait time pass more quickly. Whatever works for you might not work for me. The point is to use the time to further your career, instead of regarding it as holding you back.

Good luck with your writing.

For what it’s worth…

Write Tip: Making Perfect Bound Arcs With Create Space

After almost a year, nine drafts, two independent editors, a series of beta readers, two critique groups, and a few rejections, I was tired of looking at the word file that was my novel’s manuscript. I still believed in the story and characters and felt good about my writing though. Both the professional editors I’d worked with and the betas had raved at about, as had my crit group members. I’d polished and polished. But still had not achieved what I wanted — holding the finished book in my hand.

Then I remembered the process I’d used to self-publish my short story collection using Create Space. If you format the cover and book interior yourself, there’s no set up cost. And if you don’t click “Submit For Publishing,” Create Space never releases the book to Amazon or stores. This could be the perfect way to get to that next phase, I thought.

I went through the manuscript again and polished it some more, addressing a few issues I discovered with the main character’s arc, polishing and tightening words and sentences and making sure it was ready. Then I sent it out to two betas for corrections and final notes.

After their notes came back, I implemented them into the manuscript, made a copy of the Word file and started reformatting the copy to meet Create Space’s instructions for the interior of a 6×9 trade paperback. Locating a free temporary cover image off the web, I trimmed that down and used Photoshop to fit it into Create Space’s cover template. Then I sent both files off to a friend who was experienced with Photoshop to double check and polish.

When they were ready, I sent them to Create Space for file approval.

Up to this point my total cost: zero. Much cheaper than print cartridges and paper reams would be.

A day or two later, after Create Space approved the files (which took a couple of tries with the cover because Create Space’s instructions aren’t any more understandable than anyone else’s), I ordered a copy for proofing.

Looking it over, I made a few changes, resubmitted the files, and, a week later, had another proof.

What a great feeling it was to finally hold the book I’d dreamed up 25 years before in my hand looking like a real book. Oh sure, I still had to find a publisher, but at least I knew it would look good that way, and reading the paperback was much easier than reading a backlit .doc file.

Since I never submitted for publishing, Create Space never released the book for sale so no one except me and Create Space even know it exists. I sent a few copies to faithful betas and a couple of reviewers and then submitted to small presses.

Now I am awaiting word from two who are interested in bidding for it. Altogether a very useful tool for getting professional looking book copies inexpensively. Total cost per ARC: $7.50 + shipping.

For what it’s worth…

Favorite Speculative Fiction

For those curious or just looking for good reads, here are some of my speculative fiction favorites in no particular order:

Robert Silverberg, Majipoor Books (Lord Valentine’s Castle is one of my all time favorites but there are 6 more and numerous short stories from this master)

Stephen R. Donaldson, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (the first three thrilled me in high school. I have yet to read the latest but I have them in my queue)

David Eddings, The Elenium and Tamuli books (3 of each and great storytelling)

Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time (Just getting started on this one but a great read so far, 12 total)

Terry Goodkind, Sword of Truth series (12 total, just getting started as well, but the basis of one of my favorite TV Shows “Legend Of The Seeker”)

Orson Scott Card, Ender series (still catching up on the latest ones, but great reads and highly influential)

Timothy Zahn, Thrawn series (5 books, great Star Wars reads; almost like watching a movie, a better movie than Lucas’ last three)

Timothy Zahn, Quadrail series (4 books from a master of space action, suspense)

Ken Scholes, Psalms of Isak (5 total, 2 are out. I can’t wait for the others)

Jay Lake, Clockwork Earth series (3 books so far, good steampunk adventures)

George RR Martin, Song of Ice and Fire (4 so far, but more coming. Great read)

If you are a fan of specfic, I’d be surprised if you didn’t enjoy any of those on this list.

Sharks in Publishing

I just got an exciting email this past week: an anthology wanted to publish one of my own favorite short stories. Having not yet made a professional sale in fiction (so far I have had fiction work only appear in ezines) and given that he was paying the professional rate, I was naturally excited. Until he broke the terms out. He wants me to hand over the copyright to DE (his company) and that’s for life. He wants to have his editor rework my story to meet his needs with no input from me (I did negotiate and finally got him to agree to give me approval), and he wants to restrict my sale of the story in the future unless he gets paid.

I have submitted to a lot of professional fiction and nonfiction markets. This is the first time I was ever asked to give up a copyright. I sent out the question to three groups I am involved with, including American Christian Fiction Writers. The combined membership of the groups is easily several hundred. Of the fifty responses I got within an hour, only one person had ever been asked to give up copyright and she had refused. Another friend told me it is unethical to even ask.

DE’s reasons were to protect his investment in the anthology he was creating. He wanted total control so he could market it. When I offered him First Serial Rights and Electronic Rights, he told me that was archaic and the way of the past. He was working in the way of the future. If he’s able to foretell the future, that is indeed impressive, but every fiction market I research online still asks for the rights I offered, never copyright. Not even book publishers ask for that. So I guess he’s the only one who’s really hip and ahead of his time then.

I pulled the story and refused to agree unless he changed terms, so I lost a nice pay check and a chance to be published. It made for a depressing day, but imagine what would happen if one of my favorite stories was suddenly in demand by Hollywood for a film or TV production and I didn’t own it. If I wanted to someday do a collection of my short stories (if I ever do sell any and become respected enough) and couldn’t use this one. Imagine if someone wanted to give me an award and include it in their award anthology and I couldn’t allow that?

DE justified this additionally by saying he was buying stories from Indian writers for $10 each and was offering me thirty times that, so he was treating me more fairly and helping me get exposure. Well he’s exploiting the Indians and he wanted to exploit me, because this is his first publication venture. He has no track record, no distribution and isn’t even sure which stories he’ll end up using and whether it will be print or ebook. The more we emailed, the more I realized he doesn’t know what he’s doing, and that made me even more convinced I’d be a fool to turn over my intellectual property rights to him.

To all you writers out there, it sucks to lose a sale. I get that, believe me. But don’t get so desperate you lose your self-respect and sell out. It’s not worth it, and it will come back to haunt you. Take my advice and those of lawyers and others and stand up for yourself. I hope someone else buys this story, because I really like it. But at least if they buy it, it will be from me and not someone else.

Wouldn’t you prefer it that way with your stories?

For what it’s worth…