Thoughts On The 99 Cent Pricing Debate

Twice now I have explicitly told my publisher no 99 cent pricing. My book is worth more. And I don’t say it with arrogance. My book is not a self-published book. 4 editors worked on it. Two independent editors I paid before it sold at considerable cost and two at the publisher. I don’t want people lumping it in with the non-vetted crap that’s out there. While there are good books at .99, there’s also a ton of junk. My book is higher quality and we need to distinguish it. But at the same time, I’m still pretty unknown and new and people don’t know my work. They won’t pay the $9.99 or $16.99 major trade houses want for ebooks (which to me is asking a bit much even) so we’re at $3.99. We will do a one week $.99 sale to launch the new year but I feel comfortable with my position. And I think it’s dangerous to all of us in publishing who are professionals to allow our work to become devalued to the point where $.99 is the norm (if it hasn’t happened already) because that makes it really hard to make a living.

To me it smacks of a certain desperation. “Oh it’s working for some people. I can’t compete if I don’t do it.” But that’s ridiculous. There are plenty of proven cases of authors making money on ebooks at much higher prices. The harder reality is you have to sell a lot of books at $.99 with publishers or others taking a cut to make a decent living. You really have to have multiple successful books. And can you sustain that long term is a much more important question.  Seriously. Tobias Buckell and others have done surveys and studiesshowing that books do sell at higher price points. In fact, Buckell convinced me $4.99 is a really good price point for novels. Mainstream publishers still can’t afford to price books that low but for those small presses and others who can, it’s not asking a whole lot. It’s close to half the price of a mass market paperback. We are, after all, talking about hours, months, years of someone’s labor most of the time. If you’re not spending that kind of time writing books, you’re in a different category and may well be writing stuff of the quality deserving of this low price point but most of of us labor hard and long through many drafts to get our work done and sell it and that has value. And people do consider price, quality of cover art, reputation, etc. when making buying decisions. I don’t feel uncomfortable at all with saying my work is of a certain quality and the price reflects that.

It worries me that we are letting the wrong motives control pricing. The music industry did that while fighting Napster and resisting ITunes and lost the battle. If we are more reasonable from the start but yet all work together to set fair prices, not greedy ones but fair ones, we will all be better off in the long run. And in the long run, we won’t lose sales. The market won’t go away. Trust me. If all people could find at $.99 was books of a lower quality or a few on special sales, they would jump to buy our $4.99 novels. It would not be an issue. They would not hesitate. People want to know they got something of value, even for $.99 and they prefer to be pleased rather than disappointed with what they get. If every author, self-published or not, priced books in the same range, the market would follow. There might be some resistance at first but people would get over it. And the people resisting are not the ones who really value your work anyway. Not the people you want to have controlling the cost of your labor. It’s really important to think about it.

Are we driving ourselves out of business if we let this pattern continue? Is it really worth it to have a sales boost now when you can never afford to live the real dream of writing full time? To me, it absolutely is not. And so I eschew such pricing schemes. If my book sells slower, which it is, so be it. My novel has gotten great reviews and some pretty high praise. I have yet to hear from a single person who read it and didn’t enjoy it. That is value. Doesn’t make me Mark Twain. Doesn’t make me an expert but I do feel professional. I am not Joe Blow offering you whatever rolled off my fingers into the keyboard that day. Neither are many authors who’ve surrender to this and I think that’s sad. It’s why we all really need to think about what’s going on and where we want to go with it and what it means.  I wonder how many of those $.99 wonders are getting long term repeat business. How many are selling crap and having buyers never return? There’s also a little thing called value by association. It happens in real estate. People perceive a neighboring property to be of lower value and low and behold your property value decreases. The same thing happens with book pricing, believe me.

Another issue. Publishers are more and more counting on writers to do the legwork of promotion. I have spent 16 times my advance (which was admittedly a token) promoting my debut novel. The results are worth it: I got Honorable Mention on B&N Book Club’s Best SF Of 2011 and listed on Suvudu a few times, etc. But I will have a hard time recouping that, a fact I used to my advantage in negotiating my contract. Meanwhile, my publisher had authors lining up to sign with them because of the publicity I generated. So I bought them value. At 99 cents, I would be screwed at ever hoping to recover it. And that is becoming more a norm. Things like Cons, book fairs, etc. which you need to do to get out and meet readers, often don’t pay your way unless you’re invited and an elite pick. You pay those out of pocket and they are expensive. And then there’s the independent editors I hired before selling my novel whom I used to help me whip it into shape. Those don’t come cheap either. Add to that other costs of writing, time, etc. and it’s quite an investment. If we continue to underprice our labor and our costs, we will bankrupt ourselves.

In any case, I continue to be vehemently opposed to this model. I wish more people came alongside me on it, because I think a book which has been professionally edited and vetted by knowledgeable people has more value than a book someone did alone at home and threw on the market. I don’t appreciate it when I get a book that is not professional quality–filled with typos, bad prose, bad plotting, bad characterization, etc. I feel cheated. And I never want my readers to feel that way. It doesn’t mean my work is perfect or that there isn’t plenty of room to grow. It just means I am approaching it with a concern for delivering the best I can with people who help me achieve it. And that costs money to do. And it deserves to have a certain price. Period.

That’s my take on the whole phenomenon. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎

4 5-star & 11 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Dialogue: How Golden Age SF Influenced The Worker Prince

This post originally ran on Jamie Todd Rubin’s blog as part of my blog tour for The Worker Prince. Jamie gave me permission to rerun it here so more of you can find it.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt: Well, Jamie, thanks for inviting me to your blog. I am a big fan of Golden Age Science Fiction, as are you, and I enjoy your updates as you take your nostalgic trip back through the pulp zines of old. In particular, I am a huge Leigh Brackett fan, but, of course, I’ve also been influenced by Robert Silverberg, who started out in the pulps, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, James Blish, Henry Kuttner, Edward Hamilton…so many. So much so, in fact, that when I wrote my space opera novel, I wanted to capture some of the magic feel I found in the pulp stories. Good v. evil, with clear cut bad guys, larger than life heroes, sidekicks, interesting aliens, space guns, space fighters, and also that good clean family fun. So many of those stories were meant to be read by fans of any age, and I wanted the same for The Worker Prince. If people can get lost in my world and escape into some fun for a bit, I’d feel very successful with it.

Jamie Todd Rubin: Let’s see, I’ve encountered Brackett, Asimov and Kuttner so far in my Vacation, but of course, I’ve read Silverberg, Blish and Bradbury elsewhere. One of the things that I find interesting is that these writers were, for the most part, at the beginnings of their careers. I’ve read 2 Brackett stories so far, and they haven’t been great, but over time you can actually see the improvement. You talk about stories that are meant to be read by fans of any age, and “good clean family fun.” I’ve often thought that at its heart, science fiction needs to entertain first and foremost, because how else can you expect to do anything else if you aren’t entertaining your reader? I’ve been criticized for this, but I still think it’s true and it sounds like that is what you are going for in The Worker Prince; something that anyone can pick up, start reading, and enjoy. That is not as common today as it was 70 years ago. There are some writers still doing this, but a lot of science fiction and fantasy writers are writing darker pieces, perhaps reflecting the time. I’ve listened to you interviewed and I know that The Worker Prince is more than just entertainment value. I wonder if you see part of it as a reaction to some of the darker fiction being published today?

 

BTSIt is interesting to see the development of writers like Brackett, Silverberg and others which you most certainly can over the course of their writing. I would say that I am reacting to the darkness of modern fiction, yes. I don’t personally enjoy over the top sex, foul language and violence. For me, it really has to serve the story and so often I think it’s there for shock value or a writer wanting to prove they reject “moral police” or something. It’s not even surprising anymore, that’s how over used it is. But more than that, in a time when we have faced so much darkness in the real world, where’s the inspiration stories of hope? Anti-heroes have, in a sense, become the new heroes. But the old fashioned heroes of old have disappeared. I remember when Captain America was ended because he had no flaws. He was too good for them to continue it. What is that? When did that become an issue? With moral problems in our politicians, celebrities and others being more and more front page news, perhaps our expectations have been forced to lower. But I still believe admirable heroes exist and that kids and adults both need them. Because they are so inspiring. Thirdly, I fell in love with science fiction as a kid and so much of that market today is questionably appropriate for kids below teenage and maybe even young adult. At least, parents should be aware of the content and involved in decision making. Call me old fashioned, I still believe parents screening exposure to some things for their kids is their responsibility and also healthy. I did some studies in college on the effects of content and they do influence people. I doubt that’s changed much twenty years later. So I wanted to write stuff like the pulps that kids and adults could both enjoy, something they could discuss as a family. Nothing preachy, per se, as I’ve mentioned on the podcasts, but something that inspires hope and a belief in heroism like so many Golden Age stories did. You have kids. How much do you monitor the content their exposed to and when would you stop wanting to?

JTR: It seems to me that this “shock value” was mostly (but not entirely) absent from Golden Age fiction in part because writers didn’t have television to compete with. I don’t watch much TV any longer (no time) but it seems to me that with rare exceptions, shows are aiming for shock value over storytelling. That said, there was a reaction to John Campbell’s notions of good fiction–what today we call “new wave” science fiction. But even the new wave stories didn’t seem gratuitous for the sake of being gratuitous. If anything, they were attempting to follow literary trends outside of science fiction to better legitimize the genre. Your question about suitability for kids is one that I am particularly interested in. I do have kids, but both of them are at this point too young to understand most of what appears in science fiction. I have, however, thought about how I would monitor what my kids were exposed to. I was fortunate. In my own case, my parents got me a library card and let me read whatever I wanted, telling me that if I had questions, I could come and ask them and we could discuss them. I think I’d want to do the same with my own kids. I don’t want to hem them in, but I want them to understand what it is they are reading, and be there for them to address any questions they might have about what they’ve chosen to read. Of course, as a science fiction writer and a big fan, I could certain urge them in the direction of works that I admire. But even this, I’d hesitate to do for the same reason that I try not to overtly make my boy into a New York Yankees fan: I don’t want him to rebel from it just because it is something I like. ;-)

It does raise a question in connection with your novel, however. As you’ve said, much Golden Age fiction was read by kids and adults alike. Do you find it difficult to write for such a wide audience? Or perhaps is the story clear enough for anyone? I recall Isaac Asimov writing that he never “talked down” when writing to children. The only change he ever made in his writing style was to take care with his vocabulary when writing for particularly young audiences. How is it that you write something that is accessible to both adults and youngsters?

BTS: My approach was similar to what Asimov described. I didn’t write down but I did watch my vocabulary. And I tried to be clear. I also tried to have a variety of strong characters, besides the leads, to connect with. And I found ways to incorporate elements in my world building which tie well to modern issues so people could recognize commonalities and connect, even kids. I avoided four letter words, sex and graphic violence and focused on descriptions which might stimulate the reader to fill in the gap. If you say “Xalivar cursed,” for example, every reader will fill in their own favorite curse word for you. I don’t have to explicitly state it. And the sophistication of the words will vary by age and other factors, of course. But I think that’s a great way to help readers become a part of the story, to draw them in. And I loved books that did that when I was younger. I can understand where you’re coming from about your kids, and certainly as one with no kids, I have limited experience. But I’ve read a lot of studies on how various content affects people and I certainly don’t want to be the one to negatively impact anyone so I tend to feel great responsibility for anything I put out there. And I also would likely want to oversee what my kids read at least to a certain age. I’d also follow your example and try not to push anything but also leave the dialogue open. That’s important. And my effort to write for a broader audience came from a desire to stimulate dialogue. I remember discussing The Hobbit with my dad and other stories as a family and how fun it was, how much I learned. I wanted to create an experience similar to that for readers through my book.

And I agree one hundred percent about the impact of television and movies. I think shock value is a selling point these days. And I think people are so used to more dark or gratuitous content and thus it’s become commonly accepted, even considered normal for good storytelling. But I do find that it often distracts because it can be done poorly in many cases. Not all, by any means. But I find that I work harder when trying to create tension and character and drama without using those shock tactics. I have to be more creative and that makes me a better writer.

JTR: There were some big works that emerged from the Golden Age. There were two Lensman novels by E. E. “Doc” Smith, for instance, published by the end of 1941. Between 1942 and 1950, Isaac Asimov published all of the stories that make up his original Foundation trilogy. Robert Heinlein published most of his Future History. For whatever reason, this established a pattern that lingers even today: science fiction lends itself to continuing story-lines and sequels. Indeed, in today’s market, it seems difficult to sell a standalone novel to a publisher, although often times, I find stand-alone novels enjoyable because there is less of a commitment–or perhaps because there is a deeper commitment to a single work. From the Golden Age, I think of L. Ron Hubbard’s Final Blackout as a fine example of a stand-alone. Today, a book like Robert J. Sawyer’s Rollback comes to mind. What are your plans with regard to The Worker Prince? Do you see this as a stand-alone novel, or is this a world that you want to revisit? Either way, where do you go next?

BTS: Well, I wrote The Worker Prince to feel like a standalone, although certainly strands remain which can obviously be explored further. The antagonist is still alive. And as I finished it I realized that there was more I could do, so it became a trilogy and I began to mentally map that out. I am almost finished with Book 2. Another polish pass and work on the ending. It’s called The Returning. Then Book 3, The Exodus will wrap things up. But if there’s demand, I’d love to do a prequel YA series of the adventures of Davi Rhii and his friends in their younger years. And then, after that, as is the trend, I’ll go back and change stuff I don’t like in the original trilogy to make them better, of course. (Just kidding).

I’m with you on standalones. Especially with the Chihuahua killing size of so many books these days. It’s just a real investment to ask a reader to make. Being not only a new writer but one who’s had that experience, I worked hard to keep my novel a smaller size and the sequels will follow that pattern. I also have an epic fantasy series which should be shorter than average and an urban fantasy series as well. I have a standalone steampunk book and a future steampunk book in the works as well. So much to write, so little time.


Jamie Todd Rubin is a science fiction writer and blogger. His fiction has appeared in Analog, Apex Magazine, and Orson Scott Card’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, and most recently through 40K Books. He writes the Wayward Time Traveler column on science fiction for SF Signal, as well as the Vacation in the Golden Age column on his website. Jamie attended James Gunn’s online fiction writing workshop in 2008. He is a member of the Young Gunn’s writers group, the Codex writers group, and the Arlington Writers Group. He is an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.‎

The Worker Prince is the story of a prince who discovers he was born a slave. When he raises objections about the abusive treatment of slaves, he finds himself in conflict with both friends and families. After a tragic accident, involving the death of a fellow soldier, Davi Rhii winds up on the run. He then joins the worker’s fight for freedom and finds a new identity and new love. Capturing the feel of the original Star Wars, packed with action, intrigue and interweaving storylines, The Worker Prince is a space opera with a Golden Aged Feel. 

4 5-star & 11 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

 

Goodreads Giveaway: The Worker Prince

I’m running another giveaway of signed copies of my debut novel. The book got Honorable Mention on Barnes and Noble Book Club’s Years Best Science Fiction Releases for 2011 alongside John Scalzi, Ben Bova, and more.

Additionally, it continues to get rave reviews.  Here’s the latest from Catherine Russell at Functional Nerds:

Review: The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

On December 21, 2011, in Book ReviewCathy Russell, by Catherine Russell

The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt takes the Biblical story of Moses to the stars and beyond. When Prince Xander Rhii – Davi to his friends – graduates from the Borali Military Academy at the top of his class, his horizon looks clear and bright. Privileged enough to grow up in the Royal Household, he’s spent his life surrounded by his friends, his devoted mother – Princess Miri, and his uncle Xalivar – the Lord High Counselor of the Borali Alliance. However, his mother has shielded him from his uncle’s dark side; an anger so black it threatens to consume Davi and all he loves when the young prince discovers the secret of his own past.

This book manages to do what many other science fiction novels haven’t; namely show existing religions in the distant future. The resemblance to the Biblical story of Moses is obvious, but the way it is told is engaging and not limited by the comparison. True, Lord Xalivar ‘will not let the workers go,’ but the workers themselves work toward their own salvation – rather than depending on their God to do it for them. The fact that the workers are monotheistic Christians – unlike the polytheistic Lords of the Alliance – emphasizes the culture clash that already exists between the peoples. The overlords feel superior to the enslaved workers, and use that as a reason to subjugate them – something historically common throughout slave-holding societies.

Throughout the plot, the strong ties of family are stressed. Loyalties are tested, both among the workers and the Royal family, and betrayals weighed against the greater good. As the plot progresses, main characters find themselves facing moral dilemmas, which adds to the physical and psychological tension.

With the exception of an attempted rape scene, essential to the plot yet handled delicately, there is no sex. Despite the dire circumstances, there is no swearing or profanity of any kind. The plot is strong; the language straightforward. In the end, the novel has a glossary to explain some of the new terms the author introduced, but in my opinion context was enough to render further explanation unnecessary.

While the high stakes were up for grabs until the very end, my only complaint would be that the plot addressed everything a bit too neatly. Almost every character takes part in the final battle. Every plot point is resolved – for good or ill. However, since the next book in the series is due out next year, things must not be as tidy as they appear.

This book works on several levels. While other science fiction novels shy away from mentioning modern day religions, this book manages to succeed in doing just that without feeling preachy. The religious overtones cannot be ignored in the story, nor should they, for they add to the realism of the plot. The people of this future feel as real as any family member or despot of the modern world, and they deal with the same issues. I recommend this both as both as a science fiction delight and a good family read.

About the author

Catherine Russell

Author bio: Catherine Russell is an author living in NE Ohio. Her work has been published in the ‘Best of Friday Flash – Volume One’ anthology, Lightning Flash magazine, and Flash Me magazine. She shares her life with her high school sweetheart, their son, and two ferocious puppies in the Wilds of Ohio while writing and learning more about the craft every day. More of her writing can be found on her blog – http://www.ganymeder.com

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Worker Prince by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

The Worker Prince

by Bryan Thomas Schmidt

Giveaway ends January 08, 2012.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

12 Reads Of Christmas: 2011 Personal Year’s Best

It’s that time of year again. And I find myself reflecting on a year filled with books. I read 52 books a year just for SFFWRTCHT alone. And this year, between guest blog posts, reviews, research, and more, I added at least 23 more books on top of that. I lost count, truthfully, and I’m not going to go through Goodreads to find out. So we’ll say I read 75 and call that close enough. In any case, this list is not a ranking of everything I read. Instead, I’ve chosen to list books which most impacted me as far as opening my eyes to possibilities. The books on this list either showed me new genres, new ways of looking at old genres, or new approaches to them in ways which have stuck with me and left me thrilled and challenged as both writer and reader. With that in mind, here’s my 2011 Personal Top Reads:

1) The Flying Machine by Andrew Mayer — Okay, steampunk’s been done already. Cherie Priest mastered it, we’ve all heard. Gibson, Powers, Jeter and Blaylock launched it. But wait. Here comes a new writer whose not only done it but added superheroes and written a tale the likes of which we haven’t seen since Jules Verne? The Society Of Steam series launched with The Flying Machine and steampunk has never been so fun. A great read, with fun characters, good action and good humor.

2) Soulless by Gail Carriger — And speaking of humor, nothing made me laugh more than Gail Carriger’s Soulless, the first of four Parasol Protectorate books in her original series and now she’s just about to launch a new one. Werewolfs, vampires, Victorian England, even the Queen herself appear amidst the quirky characters. This is fun and funny. A great read.

3) Greywalker/Downpour by Kat Richardson — Harper Blaine was just your average, small time Pacific Northwest PI until a man  beats her to death. In those two minutes, while she’s dead, something changes her forever. When she comes back, Harper can see dead people. Not in a ‘Call Bruce Willis, Mommy, this is odd” kind of way but a “Hey, Drac, you been taking your vitamins? You’re pale as a ghost kind of way.” Vampires, Ghosts, magic and witches transform her life. Written in 2006 I can easily understand why this urban fantasy novel took off, and the sixth book, Downpour, from 2011, is just as good. Harper’s now used to her powers, so to speak, and so are the undead used to having her around. This time she witnesses a ghostly car accident whose victim blames a nearby small resort community. When Harper goes to check it out, she finds a sinister cabal gathering forces with a dark art and she must stop them before it’s too late. Great characters, great use of Pacific Northwest locations, great mystery elements and pacing that carry you suspensefully through to the end.

4) Diving Into The Wreck by Kristine Kathryn Rusch — Kris Rusch is no stranger to most of you, she also writes mysteries as Kristine Grayson and edited the mighty Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for several years.  In this great new space opera series of which two books are out this year and another follows in early 2012, the protagonist, Boss loves to dive historical ships found adrift between the stars. Sometimes for money, but mostly as a historian. She wants to know about the past—to experience it firsthand. Then one day, Boss finds the claim of a lifetime: an enormous spacecraft, incredibly old, and apparently Earth-made. It shouldn’t be here. It can’t be here. And yet, it is. Boss is determined to investigate and so hires a group of divers to explore the wreck with her,  but the past won’t give up its treasures without blood. Really good stuff based on several short stories which have appeared in Analog.

5) The Disappeared/Consequences (Retreival Artist) by Kristine Kathryn Rusch — her other series started from short stories, about former cop turned retreival artist Miles Flint starts with The Disappeared and continued through 7 novels with an 8th coming out this month. Flint helps hunted innocents, convicted of crimes against alien races which they don’t really understand and didn’t intentionally commit, to hide themselves and start new lives, to disappear. But somehow his clients turn up dead. Someone is hunting them or revealing their identities and Miles has to stop them. Great books with a combination of space opera SF and mystery-police procedural elements. A whole lot of fun. With some well developed, interesting alien cultures.

6) The Unremembered by Peter Orullian — A musical magic system where spells are sung? Need I say more? Well how about this, if you’re mourning the coming end of The Wheel Of Time, you’ve got seven books ahead of you in Orullian’s Vault of Heaven series. Yep. And this first one reminded me how much I love epic fantasy. It’ll remind you too. Great characters, great worldbuilding, epic good v. evil. And musical magic. Who could ask for anything more?

7) The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams — Ok this one’s been around a while. 1988 copyright. But I’d never read it and I am having a ball. It’s a long, dense book with lots of characters and description and there are three more books to follow, the last in two parts, but there’s a reason this series has been hailed as epic fantasy on a Tolkien-esque scale. An epic evil is rising and two brothers are fighting over their father’s throne, threatening to divide a kingdom. Great stuff, rich settings, action, and characters with politicking, dragons, trolls and more.

8 ) Goblin Corps by Ari Marmell –Ari Marmell has written D&D adventure packs and tie-ins, but in Goblin Corps he writes a heroe’s adventure with the bad guys as heroes. That’s right,  top goblins including an orc, a kobol, a bugbear, a troll, a doppleganger, an ogre and a gremlin are sent by the Goblin king to recover objects of power that will reverse the course the Dark Lord’s defeat, only to uncover a more sinister plot that threatens them all. They’re not the easiest group to like or root for yet Marmell pulls it off and never stops entertaining with good action and humor along the way.

9) Black Blade Blues by John A. Pitts — John A. Pitts’ urban fantasy series about apprentice blacksmith Sarah Beauhall was one of the best surprises of the year for me. Anyone who’s ever hung out with SCA members or gone to a Ren fest will appreciate this story, about dragons taking over the financial power as brokers and businessmen who come up against an ancient dragon killing sword when Sarah uncovers it while doing props for a movie. They come to destroy it and try and destroy her in the process and Sarah fights back to save her lover and her friends. Great coming of age drama, good humor, and a lot of fun. A great read all around. And book 2 arrived late this year.

10) Pathfinder Tales: Plague Of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones — Howard Andrew Jones, Managing Editor at Black Gate Magazine and editor of many anthologies of classics from the likes of Harold Lamb, etc. burst onto the scene with two terrific novels this year, Desert of Souls, with Asim and Dabir–follow ups coming in 2012 and beyond– and this Pathfinder Tales D&D tie-in. I’d never read any D&D books before and I imagined silly stops in the action for the characters to roll dice and other game-play nonsense but there’s no such thing. This is good adventure, sword and sorcery fantasy with strong characters, a well thought out world and magic system, and a lot of fun. I had a blast. Made me want to get back into D&D regularly again after twenty years and I’ve read several others since. Good stuff for the fantasy lover in this line.

11) Firebird by Jack McDevitt — The third SF title on my list is part of an ongoing series about the antiquities agent Alex Benedict  and his assistant Chase Kolpath as they help wind up the estates of the deceased deep in a distant solar system only to uncover deeper mysteries surrounding the objects and the people themselves.  This time reknowned Physicist Christopher Robin has disappeared and left a trail of   interstellar yachts flown far outside the planetary system where they too vanished. Following Robin’s trail into the unknown puts Benedict and Kolpath in danger. McDevitt writes like a classic Golden Age writer, which anyone who’s read my posts here knows sold me right away. Just a lot of fun with good SF elements to boost the mystery.

12) The Black Prism by Brent Weeks — Gavin Guile is the Prism, the most powerful man in the world, high priest and emperor, a man whose power, wit, and charm are all that preserves a tenuous peace. But Prisms never last, and Guile knows exactly how long he has left to live: Five years to achieve five impossible goals.  When he discovers he has a son, born in a far kingdom after the war that put him in power, he must decide how much he’s willing to pay to protect a secret that could tear his world apart. Great magic system. Great characters. Great action. Epic fantasy in a unique setting with lots of tension and excellent pacing. Weeks was new to me but he already has the best selling Night Angel Trilogy and you won’t want to miss this new one either. Book 2 comes in Fall 2012.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, a Barnes & Noble Best SF Releases of 2011 Honorable Mention, the collection The North Star Serial, Part 1, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Unbelievable Day

Today started out badly. But never has a day so quickly turned completely around and gone off the map. I mean toilet overflow with chunks kinda day. Yep. That’s what I dealt with first thing this morning. Disgusting. Sorry to share. But there’s a point.

Then, just reading my Facebook wall, I find this: http://bookclubs.barnesandnoble.com/t5/Explorations-The-BN-SciFi-and/The-Best-Science-Fiction-Releases-of-2011/ba-p/1241244

As usual, I check it over and prepare to send it out for others to see. Then I get to the Honorable Mentions. Just scanning, mind you. And my mind is blown.

My debut novel is listed.

I know Paul from Facebook and B&N Book Clubs. Nice guy. We’ve chatted a few times. He invited me to send my novel, so I did. In August. Never heard a word. I figured he didn’t review it. Maybe he didn’t like it. Maybe it just didn’t catch his interest.

I am stunned, amazed, humbled and honored.

I feel legitimate in a whole new way. And so privileged.

If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out here http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/the-worker-prince/

And if you’ve read it, please review it on B&N, Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Sales are steady but slow. And I guess I feel like there’s an audience out there who would enjoy it I’d like to see discover it.

Thanks to all for the support and encouragement!

Especially those mentioned on my Book Day Thanks. Thanks to Paul Goat Allen as well!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.  Honorable Mention on Barnes & Noble’s Best SF Releases of 2011.

Write Tip: The Importance of Heroines

A modified version of this post first appeared on the blog of author Jeremy Ship on October 27th. A companion piece on heroes appeared around the same time on Adventures In SF Publishing’s blog.

One of the traditional tropes of much science fiction and fantasy has long been the damsel in distress. Naturally, modern women often find such characters hard to relate to. They certainly find them hard to admire. So in revisiting the Golden Age style for my debut science fiction novel, The Worker Prince, one trope I was determined to avoid was the damsel in distress. In the end, I wound up with four strong female characters in major supporting roles. Here’s a break down:

Tela—pilot, slave rebellion leader, young but very smart and very independent.

Miri—Boralian princess, spoiled but yet independent. Refuses to accept the history and philosophy officially espoused by her ruling family, instead educating herself and her son, Davi, with exposure to diverse sources. Unafraid to question. Unafraid to confront her brother, who rules the Boralian Alliance, when necessary.

Lura—slave woman long separated from her husband who disappeared along with their only son, Davi, twenty years before. Nonetheless, she takes care of her sister’s family and stands firm in her faith and conviction and hope for the future.

Kray—sole female member of the ruling Boralian Council, life-long friend of Miri, independent, strong-willed, not intimidated by the powerful men around her.

One advantage in writing strong women characters is that I grew up in a family of strong women. From my mother to my grandmothers to my twin sister, the women in my family were taking no guff, and believe me when I say I tested those boundaries. But you quickly learn to respect women who are not pushovers. It’s amazing to be both loved well and scolded well by the same people. Yet you learn that their passions for both run deep, and it makes you a better man.

To me, the importance of strong heroines is twofold. First, for inspiring young women to grow up to be proud and comfortable and secure in their identities. And second, to raise young men who will respect and appreciate those women for all they have to offer.

Literature is influential. It teaches even as it entertains. If all we provide for young readers are examples of weak heroines, they will, in some way, grow up expecting that’s all they should find in the real world. All human beings have their weaknesses, of course. No two humans are exactly alike, we are all individuals. So writing characters as individuals is vital. And offering examples of the infinite possibilities available to our young people, I believe, is an author’s responsibility. A part of this is modeling behaviors which such strong individuals might exhibit. Being strong women does not automatically mean bitches. That is one old stereotype we can all do without. At the same time, strong women can cry and express a variety of emotions. Showing emotion is not a weakness. It’s just something women in society have learned to do better than men. In many ways, they are fortunate in that opportunity.

For me, the trick to writing strong women is to write them like men. But remember key things. Women are all about communication, especially emotional communication. Whereas men tend to prefer action to show their emotions and don’t tend toward long emotional discussions, those things are the opposite with most women. Of course, women also have different priorities and often different concerns. From child birth to homemaking, etc., women do have different societal expectations to wrestle with than men. Whether your characters go the traditional route or buck the trend, the questions must be asked and answered and can be used in building their characters.

One important clarification point: when I say I write them like men, what I am saying is that if I treat women characters like men in initial approach it’s easier to make them stronger and write them with the same considerations I give male characters. Because I, like many male writers, never claim to understand women, there is a tendency to write weaker women and feel uncomfortable with approach but if I approach them the same as male characters, it becomes easier. Then I apply the key things mentioned to focus on aspects which address femininity and differences like the importance of emotional express and communication and it works well for me. Female readers, at least, respond to it.

There’s also certainly nothing wrong with male heroes rescuing or helping their women. Some women in real life even fantasize a bit about this. But you can have a woman in jeopardy without her being weak and defenseless. Especially in larger than life space opera settings, such as mine, the odds against characters are often larger than life themselves and require teamwork to overcome. A male hero leading the way is not all bad if that character has knowledge the female character would rely on to help get them out of the trouble they’re in. The woman can use her skills as well to contribute and work with the man to extract themselves to safety.

I think the key to keeping heroines strong while still building dramatic situations with real jeopardy and challenges for the characters is to emphasize the individual strengths of the characters and think about how those can be used for each character to react differently to the various circumstances you put them through. It’s also not wrong to have the woman rescue the man sometimes. In my case, having a woman partner who can do that is a big turn on. I like to be taken care of, too. Don’t you?

It doesn’t make me feel week to rely on someone else’s strengths. It make me feel loved and safe, and that’s a good feeling. So employing these things in your story just makes it more relatable for readers. It also makes it more fun and connected to their contemporary reality, and that, when writing in the speculative realms, can only make your stories more accessible and successful.

There are many ways to approach this, of course, but here’s one technique you may find helpful:

Make three lists:

1) Traits typically associated as typically associated with men

2) Traits typically considered associated with women

3) Traits your story will require characters to have

Be sure and write these lists in context of the world you are creating. In other words, if it’s not set in the contemporary world, think through how things might be different in the period/place in which you are writing from the contemporary world in which you live and employ those ponderings in making lists of traits which would exist in that world.

Then pull items from the first two lists to create characters which meet the needs of the third. Consider specifically how these traits can be used to surprise readers, not in a “that’s unbelievable” way but in a “I didn’t expect that way.” Remember, they still have to believe the character could exist. Part of that depends on setting, situation, etc. of course, but don’t overshoot the mark either. You can use traits appropriate to a made up world which might seem different from the contemporary one. You just have to set them up properly through world building. The key here is to be aware of what you are doing and work deliberately to sell it in the context of the story.

So don’t forget about the need for strong heroines. What are some ways you can employ them to make your stories rise above the rest?


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. The sequel to The Worker Prince is forthcoming in 2012, The Returning. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

The Worker Prince is the story of a prince who discovers he was born a slave. When he raises objections about the abusive treatment of slaves, he finds himself in conflict with both friends and families. After a tragic accident, involving the death of a fellow soldier, Davi Rhii winds up on the run. He then joins the worker’s fight for freedom and finds a new identity and new love. Capturing the feel of the original Star Wars, packed with action, intrigue and interweaving storylines, The Worker Prince is a space opera with a Golden Aged Feel. 

4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Kansas City Area Book Signing: The Worker Prince

KC. area people, I’m doing a book signing at Prospero’s Blue Springs Saturday Dec. 17 12-3 (week from tomorrow) if anyone’s interested. I’ll also be doing a reading or two if enough show up who are interested in hearing it. This is the store on MO-7 Highway off 70 about 2 miles south on the East side. (see maps)

I will happily sign any of the books I’ve been involved in or other items related to me, including my CDs. I don’t sign other people’s books. It’s not appropriate to my way of thinking. Books will be on sale on site and I’ll be there ready to chat and even help you find books if I’m free. Hope to meet many of you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎4 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

An Interview With Lord Xalivar

This interview originally ran at Nicole Peeler’s blog as part of my first blog tour. Thanks to Nicole for the invite to visit her blog on my tour. I wanted to rerun it again here because it was a fun post to write and because I wanted to share it with you. This is a fictional interview with the antagonist of my debut novel. I wanted to sit down with one of my characters, the deposed High Lord Counselor of the Boralian Alliance, Lord Xalivar, for a chat.

Xalivar: Deposed? I was not desposed! I was violated!

BTS: Sorry. So Mr., Xalivar should I call you?

X: I prefer, my Lord.

BTS: Uh, ok, my Lord…that’s weird for me.

X: Yes, that’s what my enemies said and now they’ve written that scandalous tome of lies about me.

BTS: Well, I wrote it, actually, just as they told it to me.

X: So you’re a co-conspirator! Why should I trust you?

BTS: Well, I really did want to get it right, so if there’s something you’d like to set the record straight about, I’m listening.

X: (clears throat) It didn’t happen like that.

BTS: It didn’t happen like what?

X: I thought you said you were listening.

BTS: I am.

X: No, you’re not. You’re interrupting. It’s not the same thing. I am the High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance. Interrupting me is tantamount to treason!

BTS: Actually, you were deposed…

X: Shhhhhhh! LISTEN!

BTS: OK, sorry.

X: My family served the Alliance for generations. With honor! We have always done what was best for the Alliance and her people.

BTS: Some would argue with that.

X: Because they’re fools! Fools who don’t know what’s best for them. That’s why they need leadership. Wise leadership, like I have always provided.

BTS: I see.

X: Stop interrupting or my LSP men will arrest you.

BTS: Oh, well, I don’t want that.

X: (laughs) No, you don’t. Anyway,  as I was saying, the accusations made against me were made of ignorance, from a total lack of perspective.

BTS: Allegations of abuse of slaves? Enslaving fellow humans? Trying to usurp the Council?

X: Lies! Why are you spreading them? I already told you these were lies.

BTS: But the existence of slavery is documented—

X: Yes, but I did not enslave them. My grandfather did. I merely preserved the system. It was working just fine for both of our peoples.

BTS: The slaves might beg to differ.

X: Slaves always do, but they are not intellectually capable of making such statements with any accuracy.

BTS: They’re human beings.

X: That’s your opinion. Not a fact.

BTS: But they came from Earth to colonize the stars just as your ancestors did.

X: Earth has many species.

BTS: But only one species of humanoids—humans themselves.

X: Evolved from apes. Some of us evolved longer and more advanced than others.

BTS: So there are levels of evolution?

X: There are levels to everything. It’s the natural order of things.

BTS: The Vertullians don’t believe in Evolutionary theory. They believe in creation by their God.

X: See? They haven’t intellectually evolved enough to understand Evolution. And here you and everyone else go writing their story as if it’s history, as if it’s truth. It’s a total sham! Slander! I should sue you all!

BTS: They just wanted the same rights as your own people. Is that so bad?

X: You have to earn rights. They are not inherent.

BTS: Well, the workers believe differently.

X: Because they’re inferior.

BTS: I see. Anything else?

X: I did not betray the Council. The Council listened to lies told them by my sister.

BTS: I heard you two were very close.

X: (laughs) I thought so once. I was wrong. It’s clear our family had some weak genes which she was victim of.

BTS: So she’s not evolved?

X: She’s lesser evolved than I am, yes.

BTS: Wow. Ok. And Davi Rhii? He was raised as your nephew and heir, yet you betrayed him.

X: I did not. He betrayed himself. He set out to destroy our superior Alliance and was revealed in his ignorance.

BTS: You didn’t send men to kill him?

X: I did not. And I never abused the slaves. They were treated as slaves deserve—like property, herded and directed, incapable of making proper decisions on their own and born to serve their masters. It’s natural, not abuse.

BTS: I see.

X: It’s a matter of perspective. Creatures of their level of low intellectual ability are prone to exaggerating because they don’t fully grasp reality.

BTS: But the Council and many of your citizens agreed with them?

X: Low intellects all.

BTS: So anyone who disagrees with you is less intellectually developed?

X: Isn’t that obvious? They replaced me with one of their own, tried to arrest me. They criminalized me by slandering my reputation. It’s all a manipulation and distortion by inferior minds.

BTS: Some might regard your attitude as arrogance.

X: Only intellectually underdeveloped persons would think so.

BTS: I think we’re done here.

X: I have not even begun to give you the correct story.

BTS: You believe I’m too intellectually inferior to understand it.

X: Ah ha! You’re on their side, despite your earlier denials.

BTS: I tried to be a neutral third party but they seem more credible.

X: Credible? Ha! Barely more than apes!

BTS: I have a headache.

X: I’ve worn out your inferior brain. Told you!

BTS: Thank you very much for your time.

X: It’s really sad you can’t handle the truth.


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Xalivar Rhii, once the High Lord Counselor of the Boralian Alliance, the continuation of an honorable line of fine leadership, now spends his days fighting to redress the injustice done to him by others. An innocent victim, he and his minions hang at their favorite secret hideaway preparing to enact revenge with great vengeance and restore balance to the Universe.

 

ChamBana Con Schedule Nov 25-27, 2011

Well, I had to wait until I arrived but here’s my schedule for this weekend at ChamBana Con in Urbana. Have already run into old friends here which is a surprise but a cool one. Looking forward to making new ones. Guest of Honor: Geoffrey A. Landis and his wife Mary Turzillo. Also here Glen Cook, Don Mead, Tom Smith, Juanita Coulson, Sam’s Dot Publishing and artist Ray Van Tilburg.

Friday, November 25, 2011

5-7:30 pm – Dealer’s Room hanging with Glen Cook and Sam’s Dot Publishing who are selling my book.
8:00 p.m. – Salon E, Reading from The Worker Prince
9 p.m. – Hanging in Kilarney Room/Con Suite

 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Free day. Signing in Dealer Room.

10:30 a.m. – Stroll With The Pros

 

Sunday, November 27,  2011

9-11:45 a.m. – Signing in Dealer Room
12:00 p.m. – Salon E, Panel: So You Want To Be An Author with Geoffrey A. Landis, Glen Cook, Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Mary Turzillo,  and Don Mead

1-2 p.m. – Signing until Dealer Room closes.

2 p.m. – Hit the road

Hope some of you in the area will stop by!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

 

Write Tip: The Dichotomy Of Writing Life-Dealing With Criticism

Two of the most valuable skills one must cultivate as a writer are being hypersensitive to write passionate, powerful, emotion-filled prose, and having a thick skin to handle criticism. Ironically, these two skills are often diametrically opposed. How can you be thick skinned and sensitive at the same time? In truth, I don’t know anyone who can.

Criticism hurts, no matter who’s giving it or what it says. No one who puts themselves out there, especially artistically–pouring their emotions, thoughts, ideas, and heart into their work–enjoys it when people criticize that work. It’s just hard to hear. Some may claim to be immune, but being used to it and being immune are not the same thing. One can certainly learn to accept that criticism is often a daily, or at least weekly, part of the life of an artist, especially when work is newly released. But I don’t honestly know how one can ever totally get to the point where it doesn’t sting. After all, any serious artist, of whatever medium, works hard to do their best at what they do. From studying craft, learning tools, and experimenting to long hours conceptualizing and planning, serious art takes work.

Having my first novel out there for seven weeks, it’s been hard to hear that I didn’t do it perfectly. The human side of me, which knows all of us are imperfect and that I still have lots of room to grow as a writer (always will), knows that people will find fault with my work. But the artist side of me cringes and feels a jab in the heart region every time they do. Mostly I have learned to bite my tongue and just keep it to myself. Occasionally my publisher and I discuss it. It’s hard sometimes to keep your mouth shut when you feel the criticisms are unfair (which is not every time). I’ve made a mistake a time or two but, in every case, I made sure to learn anything I could to apply in future novels so I won’t have to hear the same criticisms again. My goal is to make them work hard to find faults. It may be difficult to reach that point, but that’s what I’m shooting for.

I think it was especially hard with the first novel because it was, for me, my legitimization as a serious professional writer. Not self-published, not a free zine, this was someone paying me an advance against earnings for something I wrote, spending money on editing, printing, cover art, etc. Serious professional writers were writing blurbs and reading it to do so. For me, this book sent a message: Bryan Thomas Schmidt is for real about being a professional writer. He’s a peer.

It’s hard to explain that feeling to someone who hasn’t gone through it or isn’t preparing to, but, in part, it’s a sense of not wanting to let anyone down. People have supported and helped and encouraged me, and I wanted those efforts to have been worthy of the work I put out in the world. Of course, even name writers like Stephen King and Orson Scott Card and Mike Resnick get bad reviews. We all get criticized but if my book is sharing the shelf space, I just want to feel like I belong there. Do you know what I mean? Shelf space in bookstores and on bookseller tables is in high demand and all the more so as stores like Borders go bankrupt. It’s a competition just to get your book on the shelves, so if I ask someone to carry my book, I want them to get some income to make it worth their while. If not, why should they ever support me again?

Also, publishing a book feels so permanent. This is something which may one day make it into collections or library shelves. People may hold on to it and pass it down to kids, grandkids, pass it to friends, etc. My name and my picture will forever be associated with it. So I want that association to be a good thing, not one I or anyone else regrets. No frowns. Smiles. That’s what I want when people think of Bryan Thomas Schmidt and fiction. And when they criticize it for faults, I feel like I failed in that.

It’s best, of course, to remember that opinions are subjective. What’s the old saying? “Opinions are like buttholes. Everyone has one.” That’s crass, yes, but it’s true. And the reality is not everyone is going to like your work. Taste is a huge factor. Some people just don’t get science fiction or fantasy. Some people won’t like anything without serious, hard researched science involved. Some people won’t like your book because the characters aren’t like them. Some won’t like it because you had a male antagonist and not a female. The list of reasons can go on eternally. But in the end, those are just opinions. Your target audience will rarely be “everyone.” There are always specifics. So if you aim to please those people and yourself, I think you can find satisfaction.

For example, I knew when it went out that my book wasn’t perfect. I knew that from the first agent query rejection and publisher rejection. Not everyone liked my book or thought it was perfect. Okay. But I knew that would never be the case. I could never please everyone. It’s that way with everything in life. Instead, I focused my attention on how to make the book the best it could possibly be right up until the final deadline. If I wrote The Worker Prince today, I’d do things differently. In many cases, I’d do things better. Writing book 2, The Returning, was so much easier for a reason: I learned craft in the past two years I didn’t have when I wrote book 1. Every book has lessons learned which you automatically apply to future works, so every book should be easier and better, in theory. So my goal was to release the best book I could at that point in my writer’s journey and to know I had to be satisfied that I did my best. It’s all I can ask of myself.

How do you be sensitive enough to write characters who come alive with emotion and touch readers and still have a thick skin for criticism? I don’t have the answer. The best advice I have is to focus on what you can change and let the rest go. If you can find tips to improve your writing in the criticisms, use it. If you can’t, let it go. If you can do that, you can’t ask much  more of yourself. Sorry if you were looking for easy answers. I don’t have them. But as long as you remember that writing is a journey and a process that  never ends and stay on the road of discovery, I think you can recognize you’re growing and so will your works and that makes it easier to accept the bad with the good in critics. At least, that’s my approach.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. His second novel, The Returning, is forthcoming from Diminished Media Group in 2012. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chatevery Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

‎3 5-star & 8 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS.

Write Tip: The Importance Of Business

There’s this little thing referred to in Hollywood script talk as “business.” It also gets a mention in Phil Athans’ excellent The Guide To Writing Science Fiction and Fantasy from Adams Media. “Business” in this instance is those little actions characters do underneath dialogue in scenes. You know, they’re having an argument and one washes dishes while the other shuffles paperwork on a desk, or they’re on the phone and each is doing something else while talking. What they’re doing in both examples is “business.” Using “business” in your fiction is a great technique to make your writing more vivid and realistic and reveal character at the same time, as well as move your plot forward.

For example, say you have a couple who are detectives but also date. At some point, you have them investigating a crime scene but while they’re doing it, they’re having a couple fight about some issue between them. That’s “business,” and, in this case, it moves two storylines along simultaneously if you do it right. Also, the mannerisms and actions of the characters can reveal things about them: their emotional state, their attitudes toward each other, their focus or lack there of, etc. Because “business” is something we all do in real life–sometimes hiding from it with the label multi-tasking–having characters do it adds depth to your story by bringing realistic life to scenes. So “business is a writing technique you want to learn about and practice whenever you can.

Let’s look at examples. One from a script, one from a novel.

First, because it’s popular and a lot of people have seen it, here’s a scene from the pilot of The Walking Dead TV series:

INT. A PARKED POLICE CRUISER - DAY

 

... revealing a SHOTGUN in its floor mount. CONTINUE
DRIFTING past a dangling DAY-GLO NET BAG containing a few
spare 9MM AMMO CLIPS and .357 5PEEDLOADER5 ...

 

SHANE (Offscreen)
In my experience? Never met a
woman who knew how to turn off
a light. It's genetic. They're
born thinking the switch only
goes one way -- on.

 

WE DRIFT past rubber-banded notebooks. A stapler. A dashmounted
cup of mismatched pens and pencils. All the little
telling details that show a cop car is a working office ...

 

SHANE (O.S.)
It's like they're struck blind
when they leave a room. Every
woman I ever let have a key,
swear to God, I come home and
my house is lit up like a mall
at Christmas.

 

We come to a GREASY TRAY-BOX OF FRIES on the dash. We
hear rustling fast-food wrappers, slurps of soda ...

 

SHANE (O.S.)
So then my job, apparently
because my chromosomes are
different, is to go through the
house and turn off every light
the chick left on.

 

A HAND reaches in, grabs fries, dips ketchup ...

 

SHANE (O.S.)
This, then, is the core basis
of the male-female dynamic. The
yin and the yang.

RICK (O. S.)
That right?

 

FOLLOW THE FRIES TO: OFFICER SHANE WALSH, County Police,
in the passenger seat outside a fast-food restaurant.

 

SHANE
Yeah, baby, Reverend Shane is
a'preachin to ya now ...

 

He shoves the fries in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully.

 

SHANE
The same chick, mind you, will
bitch about global warming.
That goes double if you want to
drive something with a decent
V6 under the hood, in which
case you're a selfish prick
killing baby polar bears.

 

He grabs the box of fries off the dash, passes them ...
REVEAL: Rick Grimes at the wheel, looking way more spitand-
polish than in the teaser, half-heartedly picking at
his burger. Rick's a quiet, Gary Cooper-type, has long
experience when it comes to listening to Shane.

 

SHANE
So Reverend Shane quotes from
the Guy Gospel: Well, darlin',
maybe if you and every other
pair of boobs on this planet
figured out the light switch
goes the other way too, we might
not have so much global warming.

 

RICK
You say that?

 

SHANE
The polite version. still. Earns
me a look of loathing you
wouldn't believe. Out comes
this Exorcist voice, out of
nowhere: "You're just like my
goddamn father! Always yelling
about the power bill and I should
turn the goddamn lights off!"
(looks to Rick)
See, to us it's just lights. To
them it's a traumatic flashback
that dredges up all their father
issues.

RICK
What do you say to that?

 

SHANE
I know what I want to say. I
want to say: Bitch, you mean to
say you been hearing this shit
all your life and you're still
too goddamn stupid to learn how
to turn off a switch?

 

Pause. Shane looks over.

 

SHANE
I don't actually say that,
though.

 

RICK
That would be bad.

 

SHANE
I do the polite version there
too.

 

RICK
Very wise.

What can we read from this business? We have two cops eating lunch in a cop car. They seem friendly and comfortable with each other.  Neither is watching their manners in how they eat or how they talk, so we can infer that they are likely, in this case, partners, and used to sharing private details about themselves with each other, maybe even seeking advice. Also, they have to be ready at a moment’s notice to answer emergency calls so they eat on the run which means in the car and fast meals they can consume with limited time and hassle, hence the fast food. Can you see how much we’re learning about them already through this “business?”

Okay, now let’s look at how the same thing plays out in a novel. Here’s a scene from my debut novel The Worker Prince:

She stood in the shadows as he began looking them over. Two mech-bots entered through another tunnel and began working on some of the Skitters behind him. As she stepped out of the shadows into the cave, Davi looked up at her.

“Hey,” she said, with a slight wave and a smile.

“Hey,” he said, going back to examining the Skitters.

“How’d the rest of the session go?”

He shrugged. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Not even eye contact. So maybe he was upset with her. “Sorry I left. I needed some air.”

“I was disappointed you didn’t stay for your turn,” Davi said as he examined another Skitter. “Seeing someone actually succeed on the simulators would have been encouraging. I sure could’ve used it.” His voice sounded tired.

“Was it really so bad?”

“You tell me. You saw how some of the students did,” Davi slid into the seat of a Skitter, fiddling with the controls.

“Some of them are a long way from being flight-worthy,” Tela said, watching the mech-bots working behind him.

“Some make me wonder if they ever will be.”

It saddened her to see him so discouraged. He had always been so positive and supportive of the students. She wanted to do something to cheer him up. She took a seat on another Skitter and turned it on, hearing the steady hum of the engine and feeling it rise up off the floor to float on the air as she adjusted the controls.

“Come with me.”

“For a joy ride?”

Tela smiled. “Sure. There’s something I want to show you.” She waved toward the Skitter he’d been examining.

He shrugged, climbing onto the Skitter. The engine hummed as it rose into the air. “Okay. Lead the way.”

In the larger picture of the narrative arc, Davi has been crushing on her and she’s blown him off, but here she’s starting to at least warm up to him as a friendly person who’s going through some difficulty because of other people he doesn’t deserve. Students have been harrassing him in class because he’s the former leader of their rival group and Davi’s just trying to teach them well and frustrated with their attitude getting in the way.   Here, Tela is concerned about Davi but there’s an awkwardness. He is hardly paying her any attention while she is completely focused and trying to engage with him. We are in her Point Of View, so snippets of her internal dialogue tell us how she’s feeling but it’s the “business” which tells us what might be going on emotionally and mentally with Davi. In the end, because he’s so focused on the Skitter’s (flying motorcycles essentially), Tela decides to shift tactics and use that to engage and takes him on a ride. But the tone of her interest and his disinterest initially says a lot about the status of their relationship. Notice, in this case, that the “business” also has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Again, multi-tasking is so common for us today, it’s a great way to add realism to a scene.

There are many ways to use the concept of “business” in writing. What are some that you can think of? How can you use this to enhance your own prose? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

For what it’s worth…

Blog Tour Roundup: The Worker Prince

Well, my first book tour and first ever blog tour was a lot of fun. Truly a blast. And I think all the bloggers and readers who participated. The comments were encouraging and helpful. The posts were fun to write and participate in. Timing was fairly smooth in most cases. And I think we provided worthwhile and diverse content for everyone. So thank you. I look forward to the next one and I look forward to hosting blog tours as well.

Here’s a list of all the posts broken down by category/type for easy access. I hope you continue to enjoy them and, please check out The Worker Prince. You can purchase it here: 1 5-star & 6 4-star reviews THE WORKER PRINCE $3.99 Kindlehttp://amzn.to/pnxaNm or Nook http://bit.ly/ni9OFh $14.99 tpb http://bit.ly/qIJCkS. If you do, please review it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.com and send us a link. You can get a free chapter from the sequel before it releases next year.

 

Guest Posts: (Blog/post title)

SFSignal: 15 Science Fiction Classics With Religious Themes

Juliette Wade: The Worker Prince, Worldbuilding & The Clashes of Culture

Mary Pax: Coming Of Age & The Quest To Belong

Bibliophile Stalker/Charles Tan: 7 Tips For Being A Good Beta Reader

Functional Nerds: Working With A Small Press For Authors

Matthew Sanborn Smith:  My Approach To Storytelling

Jeremy C. Shipp:  The Importance of Strong Heroines

AISFP: Why I Like Old Fashioned Heroes

Patty Jansen: How To Promote With Social Media Without Offense

Moses Siregar: Relatable Characters

Livia Blackburne: SFFWRTCHT & How To Run A Social Media Event

 

Dialogues:

Jamie Todd Rubin: Dialogue: Golden Age SF’s Influence on The Worker Prince

Laura Kreitzer: Laura & Bryan Talk Writing

 

Worker Prince Novel Excerpts:

Anthony Cardno:  Exclusive Excerpt From Chapter 10

Grasping For The Wind: Exclusive Excerpt of Chapter 3

Mae Empson: Interview & Excerpt: Chapter 7

Andrew Reeves: Author Spotlight/Excerpt from Chapter 5

Simon C. Larter: Excerpt

 

Reviews:

Jaleta Clegg: Review: The Worker Prince

Apex Reviews: Review: The Worker Prince

Grace Bridges: Review: The Worker Prince

Rick Copple: Review: The Worker Prince

Raymond Masters: Review: The Worker Prince

Jenn Baker/Pony Tails Book Reviews: Review: The Worker Prince

Lyn Perry: Review: The Worker Prince

 

 

Interviews:

Anthony Cardno: Author Interview

Brian Knight: Interview with me & Davi Rhii/Author Bio/Blurb

Travis Perry: http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/ – Author Interview

Nicole Peeler: Interview with Lord Xalivar (antagonist, The Worker Prince)

Grasping For The Wind: Author Interview

Gene Doucette: Author Interview

Sarah Hendrix: Author Interview

Mae Empson: Interview & Excerpt: Chapter 7

William J. Corbin/Silverthorn Press: Author Interview

L.M. Stull: Interview

Andrew Reeves: Author Spotlight/Excerpt from Chapter 5

 

Other:

Podcast: Functional Nerds Episode #78 with Bryan Thomas Schmidt (hey, that’s me!)

Residential Aliens: Rivalry On A Sky Course (Davi Rhii prequel story)

Grasping For The Wind: Mediation Between Xalivar and Davi Rhii

 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

Apex Reviews: The Worker Prince – 4 Star Review

This one’s not so easy to find online. I don’t even have a link, so I’ll reprint a jpg here so you can see it for yourselves.

 

Why I Used A Real Religion In The Worker Prince & Why You’ll Enjoy It Anyway

Boy, we live in strange times. That’s never been more clear to me than by watching the way some people blanch at the audacity I must have to put a real religion in my novel. The Worker Prince is the story of Moses retold as space opera. The story of Moses is a story of ideological and racial bigotry. How do you tell that without ideology? I think the real objection is that I chose Christianity. I chose Christianity for two reasons: one, I grew up in it so I know it very well. Two, ideological bigotry against Christians is growing in the world today. And thus, it gives my story a relatable culture for readers. Yep. I am not going to assume that those taking issue are all ideological bigots nor that they all are the very ones who are discriminating against Christians today. Why? Because most of that bigotry is done by well meaning people who have bought political pundits’ hyperbole and failed to look into the facts. But at the same time, it saddens me a little to see people write the book off because of it as some seem to be doing.

I spent a lot of time thinking through this novel before I ever tried to write it. 25 years, in fact. And the time spent writing and revising, this was one of the issues foremost on my mind. I grew up in a culture where ideological and other differences used to be respected. The country was founded on freedom, after all. I’m not writing about Klu Klux Klan or other hate groups here. I am writing about a large group of believers who make up one of the largest faith groups in the Western world. I also spent time vetting the story with non-Christian readers. The majority of people who blurbed my book and beta read it were people who do not share my faith. Why? Because, honestly, I am not writing an evangelistic book. I am writing entertainment. I have no desire whatsoever to use The Worker Prince to change your mind about anything except perhaps the fact that ideological bigotry is just as evil as racial bigotry and other forms. That’s the sole agenda.

Take a look at the reviews (you can find links at the bottom of this page as well as blurbs). Not one accuses me of being preachy. Even the one who didn’t finish it because she doesn’t care for books with religious themes (that’s her reason–she raves about the book in other aspects) specifically said it’s not preachy. I worked hard on this aspect because I respect readers. I hate being preached at. The last thing I want to do is do it to you. So I was very careful what and how I present any religious content. In fact, the Christian Bookseller’s Association members who publish speculative fiction wouldn’t touch it. That’s right. This book isn’t Christian enough for them.

It’s odd to me that people have such an issue these days with reading books they know will be outside their worldview. I do it almost every time I open a book. The majority are not written by Christian writers, and, even when they are, no two people share the exact worldview so there are always differences. And in science fiction and fantasy, you especially find few religious writers. Should I just not read it then because I don’t share their views? It particularly bothers me when writers show this bias, because as writers, we cannot hope to understand our world and write about it if we don’t examine it well. And even more so, if we stay inside our box, how can we write characters different from us in a way that readers will believe it? How can we address the topics we want to address believably if we don’t examine them from many sides? I honestly don’t know a way. People of faith live all around us. Don’t you think getting a long with people is easier when you can respect their beliefs? And how can you respect them, despite disagreeing, if you don’t take the time to learn about them? The same applies to them respecting you.

It’s hard to write about a religion of any sort and not be preachy. It’s hard with strong world views, in fact. Try it. You’ll see. I put a lot of work into this. It was not easy. So it’s actually a matter of pride I take in my craft that I accomplished that. And I think anyone could read it, regardless of their beliefs, and get enjoyment. It’s a fun story. Again, check the reviews on this  page, if you don’t believe me. I am getting mostly 4-star or higher reviews. Most from non-believers. That should tell you something about the book.

Do you like action? Humor? Larger-than-life characters? Fast paced plotting? Space ships and laser guns? What about family politics? What about societal political manuevering? What about romance? Friendship? They’re all in The Worker Prince and more.

So, if you like Golden Age stories and old fashioned heroes (plus modern heroines–none of those weak damsels in distress for me, no), I encourage you to give The Worker Prince a shot. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Okay, it’s a first novel, it’s not perfect. I’m still learning my craft. Doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it. In fact, my beta readers all are raving about book 2. The Returning will be out next Spring or Summer. Maybe you can learn from watching my craft evolve. They say it’s way better. (It’s harder for me to see from the inside, of course, but some aspects were a lot easier to write this time around). I even toned down the religious stuff because a) I’d already established that in book 1 and b) I am sensitive to reader’s feelings. It’s the only real barrier people seem to have: the inclusion of a real religion. Otherwise, the story entertains, engages, carries them away. Isn’t that what good stories are meant to do? I’d sure like to read more of them.

If you agree, check out my book. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback/Epub/Mobi · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook  · Publication: October 4, 2011

Trade paperback only

 EPUB or MOBI — please specify in notes on order


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

Conclave 36 Launch Report

Well, it’s Monday and I’m supposed to post, right?I know. It’s my usual day. Some of you come here looking for an interesting post to start your week, so here I am. I’ve been lying on bed post whirlwind Con Launch trip, trying to motivate myself to write and feeling overwhelmed. But I’ll do my best.

The Con itself brought many opportunities.

It began when I registered and dropped books with Larry Smith and Sally Kobee, the friendly dealers who graciously agreed to carry my books despite my ignorance of proper percentages and pretty much everything else. They had a huge table and I was honored to have them allow me any space. Thank goodness I finally had a few sales to give them something for their kindness! (Yes the photo is badly out of focus but stupid me forgot to take another in my rushing insanity of talking with readers so it’s the best I have. Apologies.) Sally and Larry frequent 36 cons a year and I remembered them from World Fantasy 2010 in Columbus.

 

1) My first panel as an Author. That was titled “The Death Of The American Author” and was supposed to cover the changing face of publishing, which we did. But we couldn’t decide if the title really was relevant to our beliefs about where publishing is going. My fellow panelists were new writer Gary W. Olson, whose debut novel is coming in December from Damnation, the same people who publish Realms Of Fantasy in its latest incarnation; Jim C. Hines, DAW author of seven fantasy novels about goblins, princesses and more; and L. Warren Douglas, author of 8 novels in the 90s and 2000s from Del Rey and other sources. To add to the pressure, Hines decided my first panel was the perfect spot to make me moderator. I, not wanting to fail to prove my mettle, took his challenge and rose to the occasion fairly successfully from what I could tell (and was later told). I don’t know that we solved any problems but the discussions was interesting.

After that, Hines, Olsen and I stayed put for the panel “Self Promotion and Marketing” with Hines moderating. This was an interesting discussion on self-promotion through social media, blogging, and other means as well as networking strategies and why it’s important at all to do it, but also to be true to yourself and your comfort zone. After all, bad publicity can be harmful and counter its opposite so working outside your comfort zone is not something to undertake without care.

Next, my first exposure to filk came with Seanan McGuire’s concert. The filk band Wild Mercy backed her. And unfortunately, late due to the panel, I then saw only about 20 minutes before my publisher texted to say he’d arrived with a shipment of my book, which I had not seen an actual final copy of yet. So naturally (and understandably to Seanan who later forgave me instantly upon hearing the reason), I rushed out the door to get my hands on those!

It was fun to meet Tim Ambrose, who’d accepted and suggested I make a series of my “North Star” space opera stories at Digital Dragon Magazine and

Next, on the free table, I discovered some real finds in great condition and snatched those up. These included Asimov and Leiber mint condition paperbacks from 1957 and A March 1967 and June 1968 issues of Analog featuring stories from the likes of Ben Bova, Harry Harrison and Poul Anderson and edited by John W. Campbell. Yes, that’s right, I said FREE!

Saturday began with “Keeping In Character,” a panel on techniques for characterization where Seanan nominated me to moderate, and so I again did. This panel had Emmy Jackson, a new fantasy novelist, Christian Klaver, and J. Warren Douglas on it in addition to Guest of Honor Seanan McGuire and myself, and devolved quickly with Mr. Douglas’ poorly chosen examples of points he tried to make which made the GOH wish to strangle him along with many attendees. To make matters worse, he proceeded then to continue trying to explain himself because “if we’d just understand him all would be fine.” Moderating such a situation is challenging to say the least but it did make for the most talked about panel at the Con, which I moderated, so I get that feather in my cap, I suppose.

Next, I had lunch with my publisher, Tim Ambrose and we discussed sequels, future projects, contracts and the con at a local middle eastern restaurant where our waitress vocalized her disappointment at my choice of Fish N Chip rather than middle eastern cuisine which 1) was what I was in the mood for and 2) would have meant choosing something I was unsure about and chancing dissatisfaction when Tim was paying and I was in dire need of my first meal of the day. So no thanks.

After that, I hung out in the dealer room a bit before joining Jim Hines, Emmy Jackson and Joe Ponepinto for a panel on “Writing Groups” wherein we gave insider tips on how to find a group, when you need a group, how groups operate, problems with groups, etc. Attending were such fun people as Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell from Elder Signs Press and Con security friend Laura (she and her husband Bill were a lot of laughs, especially the time I tested Bill’s security training by pick pocketing him).

Then it was rush back to my room and prepare time as I had a reading. I read through the passage again twice, ate a quick bite, and rushed back to the Con to await my most feared moment which then proceeded to go very well and wound up with everyone present except my unsupportive publisher (wink wink) buying a copy. I mean, gees, Tim, support your writers already… This led to my first autograph request, as opposed to earlier when I’d run through the Dealer Room signing every book in sight with the author’s name as a “courtesy” to future buyers. Despite Dealer’s complaints, I really do think those autographs were later a hit.

After that I hung out until Saladin (sal-uh-deen) Ahmed did a great reading from Chapter 3 of his forthcoming “Throne Of The Crescent Moon,” which he’d also read from at World Fantasy. And then hung with Saladin, Jim Hines, Christian Klaver, Tim Ambrose, and Seanan by the bar for a while. Here’s a picture of us pretending we actually like each other at Jim’s suggestion.

On Sunday, I pretty much hung out in the dealer room, after a nice breakfast with Charles Zaglanis and Christine Purcell, and spending time with Serena, my Brazilian website programmer, who came by just to see me and make sure I got to the airport. I think the city decided they’d had enough of my antics and wanted to be sure I left. Not sure. I do know that as soon as I got through security, they called my row and I had to bored so I was left little time for further mischief locally. And that was Conclave and the book launch of THE WORKER PRINCE, my novel debut.

My Schedule: MCC-Longview Literary Festival

Next weekend I will be apeparing at the two day MCC-Longview Community College Literary Festival with other authors of diverse genres and backgrounds. Here’s my schedule. I will be around much of Saturday and in and out Friday because of my panel being late afternoon.

Location: MCC-LONGVIEW

500 SW Longview Road,
Lee’s Summit, Missouri 64081-2105
Telephone: 816.604.2000

Friday, October 14, 2011

2:00 p.m. – Setup [Education Center]

4:00 p.m. – Connecting With Readers Through Social Media (Panel)[BU103A]

Panelists: Toriano Porter, Linda Rodriguez, Bryan Thomas Schmidt 

5:00 p.m. – Killing Off Characters (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Marti Verlander, Steven F. Murphy, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10:00 a.m. – Meet-N-Greet Authors [Education Center]

12:00 p.m. – Self-Promotion 101 (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Karin Gastriech, Lewis Diuguid, Toriano Porter, Spencer Wendleton, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

1:00-2:15 p.m. – Autographing at Table [BCU103A]

2:30 p.m. – Creating Characters That Come Alive (Panel) [Education Center]

Panelists: Lindsay Martin-Bowen, Marti Verlander, M.C. Chambers, Bryan Thomas Schmidt

A Book Day Thanks

We all have our Writer’s Journey and it’s different for everyone. Although I thought of this story idea in my teens, it wasn’t until 2008 that I actually began to seriously dream of being a published novelist. To be there three years later, is still unbelievable. Here’s the Acknowledgements from my first novel, reprinted here because these people all deserve so much thanks.  In this case, I just don’t have words.

Acknowledgements

The idea for this story came to me when I was a young, fifteen-year-old science fiction fan living in a small Kansas town where it sometimes felt like dreaming was the only way out.  Over the years, I lost my original notes, but the idea in my head and the names Xalivar and Sol stayed with me.

It took me twenty-five years to start writing it and I wrote daily through some of the toughest trials I’ve experienced in my life.  So this book you hold in your hand is a victory in many ways, and I’m very excited and proud of it and hope you’ll enjoy it and share it with others.

Thanks go first to Lost Genre Guild for inspiring me to try writing for Digital Dragon and to T.W. Ambrose for encouraging me to write more space opera stories, and then agreeing to publish them. An abridged version of the prologue to this novel first appeared in Digital Dragon’s May 2010 issue.

Secondly, thanks go to fellow authors like Blake Charlton, Ken Scholes, Jay Lake, Mike Resnick, Leon Metz, Jason Sanford, Moses Siregar and Grace Bridges who have supported, encouraged and advised me time and time again, no matter how silly my questions were or how many times they’d heard them before.  Special thanks to Blake and Grace for taking time to read and offer more specific advice to help me grow as a writer and to Mike Resnick for advice in figuring out this crazy business.

Thirdly, thanks to first readers and friends like Larry Thomson, Tim Pearse, Jeff Vaughn, David Melson, Todd Ward, Mike Wallace, Andrew Reeves, Chris Zylo Owens, and the members of the FCW-Basic Critique Group for actually seeming to enjoy my writing even in its roughest form and for giving me feedback which helped me to improve it greatly.

Fourthly, thanks to friends like Charlie Davidson, Aaron Zapata, Mark Dalbey, Nelson Jennings, and Greg Baerg, who, along with some of the guys above, have helped me escape from behind the desk and keyboard and laugh a little bit when I needed it.

Fifthly, thanks to Mitch Bentley for actually reading the book before creating the awesome cover art.  And thanks to Randy Streu, Jen Ambrose, Paul Conant and Darlene Oakley for their editing and advice, the El Paso Writer’s League for encouragement and fellowship, and Mike Wallace for the science of the Boralis solar system. Thanks also to Jeana Clark for the solar system map which brought it to life for me.

Thanks to you, the reader, for taking a chance on a new, unknown writer.  I hope you like it enough to come back for more.

Thanks to God for making me in His image and giving me the talent and inspiration to do this and continually opening the doors. I look forward to seeing what’s behind the next ones.

 

Let me add a few names of people who weren’t mentioned but would have been at this point if I wrote that today, including blurbers and others who’ve supported me so much: Mitchell Bentley (what a cover–sorry, I meant to add you in!!!!), Maurice Broaddus, Saladin Ahmed, Jaleta Clegg, David Lee Summers, my parents–Ramon & Glenda, whose thanks comes in the book’s dedication, Jamie Pearse, Sarah Hendrix, John H. Stevens, Kaolin Fire, Lee Gunter, Louis B. Shalako, Michelle Ristuccia, Shaun Farrell & Adventures In SF Publishing, Kevin J. Anderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Kat Richardson, Sam Sykes, Patrick Swenson, Eric Reynolds, Johne Cook, John DeNardo, Charles Tan, John Ottinger, Lyn Perry, Mike Ray/RedstoneSF, Anthony Cardno, David Rozansky, John A. Pitts, Brian Knight. I know I’m still forgetting someone, but at least this is a better list.

 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

My Conclave Schedule

Well this coming weekend, October 7-9, I go to Detroit, Michigan for my first Con as an Author Guest. The Con people have been very welcoming and helpful, even though it took a while to get in touch, including hooking me up with a dealer to sell my books for me (so a) I don’t have buy a dealer table and b) I don’t look silly with my one book, 2 anthologies). They offered me a reading, a membership discount, and a good price on a program book ad, which is prominently displayed. And they also put me on four interesting panels. So, for those who can make it or are otherwise curious, here’s my schedule:

ConClave XXXVI

Science Fiction Convention

October 7-9, 2011–Romulus, Michigan

Literary Guest of Honor

Seanan McGuire

Filk Guest(s) of Honor Wild Mercy
Fan Guest(s) of Honor Ray and Barb VanTilburg

Other expected attendees include: Jim C. Hines, Juanita Coulson, and more.

Friday, Oct. 7, 2011

5:00 pm – Dealer’s Room Setup/Supper

6:30-8:00 pm – Ballroom 5: The Death Of The American Author? (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Doug Lugthart, Gary W. Olsen

Ebooks. Anyone with a computer can format a novel and sell it on Amazon for download. What does this mean for the future of books, for the future of publishing? Why should it matter? Do we need to redefine what constitutes of literature? And will the democratizing of publishing redefine what is what it means to be a writer and a reader?

8:00-9:30 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Self-Promoting And Networking (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Jim C. Hines, Gary W. Olsen

It’s not just about the promoting writing, it’s about promoting yourself, whether it’s in search of a new job, or keeping the one you have. What is your digital footprint? How can you clean it up? How can you get people to “like” you online? What are some do’s and don’ts for Twitter and Facebook? How can you build a circle of professional and personal contacts?

9:30-11:00 pm – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

 

Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

10:00 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Keeping In Character (Panel)

Panelists: Seanan McGuire, Doug Lugthart, Bryan Thomas Schmidt,
Emmy Jackson, Charles P. Zaglanis, Christian Klaver, Joe Ponepinto

All good stories center around character. If this is a truism of writing, then why is it so many authors seem to struggle with building believable characters and having them do believable things? What are some short-cuts for character building, and what are some of the absolute must-haves? What elevates a character from a stereotype to a memorable literary figure? How do you develop internal and external conflict? What about Point of View?

1:00-2:30 p.m. – Lunch Break

2:30-3:25 pm. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Ballroom 5: Writing Groups (Panel)

Panelists: Bryan Thomas Schmidt, Emmy Jackson, Jim C. Hines, Joe Ponepinto

The good, the bad, the unattractive. The first part of this panel is a discussion on the group process as it applies to critiquing; panelists will discuss some of the basics, and then role-model the critique process by critiquing LIVE the work of someone present. Be ready for much crying and whining.

5:00-6:00 p.m. – Dinner Break

6:00-7:30 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Reading

7:30-9:00 p.m. – Ballroom 6: Saladin Ahmed Reading (attending)

9:00-11:00 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:00 pm. -? – Party, Party, Party

 

Sunday, Oct. 9, 2011

10:00 – 11:45 a.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing, hanging, etc.)

11:45-12:45 a.m. – Check out/Lunch

12:45-1:15 p.m. – Dealer’s Room (Signing briefly then pack up and head to airport)

 

They have gaming, filk concerts, and much more as well. Really looking forward to my first Con this year, especially go launch a book. It’s a privilege to get to go. So if you’re in the area, please come out!

 


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

The Worker Prince Blog Tour–Schedule & Introduction

WP Blog Tour stops:

Being a small press, Diminished Media Group can’t afford to send me to big cities on a book tour. Instead, I am doing the tour online. Thanks to generous friends, I will be appearing on 29 blogs and 1 podcast as part of this tour. Here are the dates, links and a description of what you can expect to find. I hope you’ll check it out. For general information on the novel itself, click here. NOTE: Since the links don’t go live until the date scheduled, clicking links early will not find the specific links. Please keep that in mind.

Oct. 1 www.bryanthomasschmidt.net – intro and schedule/ Residential Aliens: Rivalry On A Sky Course (Davi Rhii prequel story)
Oct. 2 Anthony Cardno –  Exclusive Excerpt From Chapter 10/Author Interview
Oct. 3 SF Signal – Guest Post: 15 Science Fiction Classics With Religious Themes
Oct. 4 Brian Knight –Interview with me & Davi Rhii/Author Bio/Blurb
Oct. 5 Juliette Wade – Guest Post: The Worker Prince, Worldbuilding & The Clashes of Culture
Oct. 6 Jaleta Clegg – Review: The Worker Prince
Oct. 7 Travis Perry http://travissbigidea.blogspot.com/ – Author Interview
Oct. 8 Grace Bridges – Review: The Worker Prince
Oct. 9 Nicole Peeler – Interview with Lord Xalivar (antagonist, The Worker Prince)
Oct. 10 Grasping For The Wind www.graspingforthewind.com – Exclusive Excerpt of Chapter 3/Author Interview/Mediation Between Xalivar and Davi Rhii
Oct. 11 Rick Copple – Review: The Worker Prince
Oct. 12 Mary Pax – Guest Post: Coming Of Age & The Quest To Belong/Book Blurb
Oct. 13 Gene Doucette – Author Interview
Oct. 14 Sarah Hendrix – Author Interview
Oct. 15 William J. Corbin/Silverthorn Press  – Author Interview
Oct. 16 Mae Empson  – Interview & Excerpt: Chapter 7
Oct. 17 L.M. Stull – Interview
Oct. 18 Jamie Todd Rubin – Dialogue: Golden Age SF’s Influence on The Worker Prince
Oct. 19 Bibliophile Stalker/Charles Tan – Guest Post: 7 Tips For Being A Good Beta Reader
Oct. 20 Andrew Reeves – Author Spotlight/Excerpt from Chapter 5
Oct. 21 Raymond Masters – Review: The Worker Prince
Oct. 22 Laura Kreitzer http://laurakreitzer.com/ – Laura & Bryan Talk Writing
Oct. 23 Jenn Baker/Pony Tails Book Reviews – Review: The Worker Prince
Oct. 24 Functional Nerds  – Guest Post: Working With A Small Press For Authors
Oct. 25 Simon C. Larter – Excerpt
Oct. 26 Matthew Sanborn Smith – Guest Post: My Approach To Storytelling
Oct. 27 Jeremy C. Shipp – Guest Post: The Importance of Strong Heroines
Oct. 28 AISFP  – Guest Post: Why I Like Old Fashioned Heroes
Oct. 29 Patty Jansen – Guest Post: How To Promote With Social Media Without Offense
Oct. 30 Moses Siregar – Guest Post: Relatable Characters
Oct. 31 Livia Blackburne – Guest Post: SFFWRTCHT & How To Run A Social Media Event
Nov. 1 Functional Nerds Podcast #78 – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

These bloggers and I have worked hard to give you quality, unique content every day. Even the interviews are different. So I hope you’ll take the time to visit their sites and poke around a bit to see what they’re all about. They’re good people all and I’m honored by their friendship and support!


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

The Worker Prince Book Trailer (Video)

The Worker Prince: Saga Of Davi Rhii Book 1 Trailer from Bryan Schmidt on Vimeo.

Put together by talented fellow author Brian Knight from my script, with Voice Over from Randy Streu, one of my editors, art from Miranda Jean and lots of free stuff of the web, may I present my first book trailer: Worker Prince Trailer with Music (click to play). Working on literally no budget, they did an amazing job.

The You Tube version can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h992LgdprT8

For more information on the book, look here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/the-worker-prince/

326 pp · ISBN 978‐0‐9840209‐0‐4 ·Trade Paperback · $14.95 tpb $3.99 Ebook · Publication: October 4, 2011

Available now for 20% off on preorders!!!

Trade paperback only

 EPUB or MOBI — please specify in notes on order

The Worker Prince Cover Is Here!!!

Designed by artist Mitch Bentley of Atomic Fly Studios, here’s the front cover for my debut novel, the space opera beginning of a trilogy. Mitch Bentley has designed art for Sam’s Dot Publishing, WolfSinger Publications and more. I met him in May 2010 at the ConQuest 41 convention art show and knew right then I wanted him to do the cover. So glad he did. He actually read the entire book before drawing this. I think he did a great job capturing the energy and Golden Age feel. (Click the photo to enlarge)

Lessons In Letting Go: The Author And His Babies

One of the more important lessons I’ve learned since I started on the path to writing professional fiction in 2008 is about letting my babies go. There is a point with every manuscript where you are so close to it, you want to just hold it tightly and keep chipping away its deficiencies, molding it gently and lovingly into the best baby it can be no matter how long it takes. And don’t get me wrong, revision is a good thing. Striving for quality is important and professional. Insisting on perfection, however, is not. Did that just rock you in your boots? Was it unexpected? It shouldn’t be. If there’s anything writing should teach you it’s that you’re not perfect.

Writing is often like holding a microscope lens up to the world and pointing out all the flaws and tears and imperfections. And the more you do it, the more uncomfortable it can sometimes be as things hit close to home and remind you of your own failures, weaknesses and imperfectness. Do you know what I mean? So many parts of me as a writer wind up there glaring at me from the page. And so many things come out through the writing which wake me up from my vain self-ignorance and glorious denial to provide a reality check. There’s always that point where I just can’t stop rewriting. I tell myself time and again “Just another little polish on those adverbs” or “Just another little trimming of expositional diarrhea” and the next thing I know I’ve done a whole new draft. Sometimes I even recognize myself putting back in things I’m sure I took out before as unnecessary. And that’s the first sign it’s time to set down the manuscript and think about what you’re doing.

Does anyone out there know what I’m talking about? And the more you study craft and listen to writers talk about it and read reviews and critiques and read other writers, the worse it can get. You realize “maybe I’m not there yet. I’m not good enough.” And you  know that if this work gets published it will be out there forever representing you. And you just can’t let that be your legacy. Am I right?

Why am I thinking about this on the eve of the release of my debut novel? It’s because my friend Patty saw the 4 star review I posted of my novel on Goodreads and lambasted me for giving my own novel anything less than 5 stars. I started researching and found bestselling novelist Kat Richardson, a friend of mine who’s also on Goodreads, has given her novels 4 star reviews. So I asked her for advice.

She said this: “I believe in honesty, not self-inflation. I don’t think the books are perfect and I think 5 starts ought to imply near-perfection. I have rated some higher than others because I, as the author, feel some are actually better realized products of my intent. ”

And that made me reflect on the times since I handed in the manuscript when I’ve gone through and nitpicked the novel, worried what reviewers will say, worried what readers will think, worried about the pros I respect whom I asked to blurb my book. And then the blurbs started coming in and they were so positive. And although yes, the authors may not be telling me the flaws they see, they are willing to have their name associated with my book in a sort of endorsement and that means something, right? It’s like being accepted into an exclusive club of sorts…like my writing just became legitimately professional level. Even if it’s beginning professional. After all, it doesn’t matter how big a name, every author had a first novel. And most of them have written better books since. So letting go is part of the process, isn’t it? And as hard as it is, it’s a healthy part of it.

For me, I would never rate my own book 5 stars out of 5 because I know it’s not perfect. I know I’m not perfect. I mean, I gave Robert Silverberg’s “Lord Valentine’s Castle” 5 stars. I gave “The Lord Of The Rings” 5 stars. My book can’t even begin to compare. In fact, by those standards, I’m thinking three would be stretching. I am no Silverberg. And I am no Tolkein. But Silverberg and Tolkein started somewhere, didn’t they? And it’s probably a place very similar to where I am right now as far as how they felt about their own work. Silverberg has criticized his own early work as not very good. I read it and thought it was still brilliant. So given that reality, should I really feel too concerned about putting something out there at this time that’s not the best I’ll ever write? My answer to that is: Of course not! What I have to worry about is putting out something right now that’s less than the best I can do at this moment.

Since handing in The Worker Prince final draft to my publisher, I’ve written short stories and most of the next book in the trilogy. I have found myself breezing through certain aspects of the writing which I really struggled over and agonized through when I wrote Book 1. How can that be? And through my chat with Kat and considering Patty’s pushing me I realized it’s a natural part of growing as a writer, learning craft and internalizing what you learn. Of course things you’ve learned get easier over time because they become like instinct. And other things need to be learned. I’m sure when I finish Book 2 and turn it in, I’ll be wondering if it’s good enough. Book 3 as well a year after that. My whole career I’ll probably release every novel I ever write with the same reservations. It’s natural. It’s normal. But that doesn’t mean it’s not time to let them go.

In so many ways for novelists, our books are like babies. We do our best to guard them, nourish them, raise them up to the best they can be. But then they reach 18 and it’s time to set them free, let them face the world on their own two feet and come into their own. It’s a natural part of the lifecycle of a novel or short story. And I’m pretty sure after what I’ve experienced that as flawed as my first novel is no one is coming to stone me or insist I retract it or apologize to every other person who’s a real novelist for besmirching them by daring to label myself the same, you know? Okay, it doesn’t release until October 4th so I may be wrong, but somehow, I don’t think so. Somehow I think I’m ok. And you know what? That’s a good lesson to learn.

For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

AISFP 136 – Bryan Thomas Schmidt

September 10, 2011 By Shaun Farrell

This episode is brought to you by MAYAN DECEMBER, the exciting new science fiction novel from Brenda Cooper.

Dr. Alic Cameron is a famous scientist devoted to studying ancient Mayan culture. In December 2012 she finds herself on the Yucatan Peninsula with her daughter, Nixie, fellow scholars, end of the world crazies, and even the President of the United States. It all sounds wonderful until Nixie disappears into the past. Featuring a handsome dreadlocked time-traveler, an ancient shamam, a high ranking Mayan couple, a computer nerd, and an eleven year old child, Alice must traverse the past in a search for the meaning of life and a way to save two worlds.
You can follow Brenda on Twitter, and please tell her Adventures in Scifi Publishing sent you!

http://aisfp.media.farpointmedia.net//aisfp/AISFP_136_092011.mp3

Show Notes:
Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of THE WORKER PRINCE and creator of the Twitter #SFFWRTCHT weekly interview series, which has featured an impressive list of guests, joins us to discuss religion in science fiction, working with a new publisher, writing good characters, his love of Star Wars, starting books off with an emotional punch, and much more. Read the untwittered transcripts at Grasping for the Wind. Once THE WORKER PRINCE is available for order, which should be any day now, we’ll post it here.

Links to things I mentioned in this interview:

http://www.jamierubin.net/ — SF writer Jamie Todd Rubin who blogs about Golden Age SF and more.

http://www.facebook.com/TimothyZahn?ref=ts — Timothy Zahn has yet to set up a website but he does have this Facebook page where he’s very active at communicating with fans

http://www.wordfire.com/ — Website of Author/Editor Kevin J. Anderson

www.bryanthomasschmidt.net/sffwrtcht — Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat which I host and which also has a Facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sffwrtcht-Science-Fiction-and-Fantasy-Writers-Chat/144219588975058

www.majipoor.com — the closest Robert Silverberg comes to an official website.

http://sciencefictionfantasybooks.net/ — Moses Siregar III’s site. He’s cohost of the podcast and author of “Black God’s War” which I highly recommend.

http://www.brenda-cooper.com/ — Author of “Mayan December” who blurbed my novel and is mentioned also above as sponsor of this episode

http://www.diminishedmediagroup.com/Home_Page.html — my publisher’s page

The Worker Prince: Moses Meets Star Wars Why?

When I was growing up, I loved stories. I loved been read to by my parents and grandparents, reading with others, etc. But a few select stories connected with me in a special way. I loved The Mouse & The Motorcycle series, for example, and The Littles. At an even younger age, I loved Richard Scarry’s books and Dr. Seuss. But when I got older, when those books became “less interesting,” the stories which stuck with me and still do today were two in particular: space opera and Bible stories. The adventure and heroics of space opera always thrilled me. I loved the laser gun fights, the fighter duels, the damsels in distress and, most of all, the good conquering the evil. In some ways, that last point in particular relates a lot to the Biblical stories I loved–stories of men and women relying on faith to defeat the enemy of disbelief and evil. I thrilled to the story of Joseph and his many colored coat. Loved the story of Zaccheus the wee little man. I loved the story of the leprous Roman officer who doubts Elisha but winds up cured. And I loved the story of Moses.

I remember the first time I saw Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. Is it any wonder I became a Heston fan, in spite of his fanaticism for the NRA (which I loathe)? I really loved the way he played heroes. I loved the power of his voice, his facial expressions, the way women swooned after him. As Moses, he was a strapping hero, bringing to life a larger-than-life character in a way only a larger-than-life movie star could. Later, he did Planet Of The Apes, which I also loved. I liked him so much, I even found watchable The Colbys, something few Americans at the time did, which explains its immediate cancellation.

So it’s no surprise that teenaged Bryan, the creative dreamer, came up with the idea which became The Worker Prince– an epic space opera about a prince who was born a slave and discovers his secret adoption as he begins to learn who he is. Given the coming of age nature of the story, and the fact that no space opera thrilled me more than Star Wars, capturing the feel of Episode IV: A New Hope became a natural fit in my storytelling pallet as well. I had to create an adventure younger Bryan would love.

Given that both Star Wars and the story of Moses involve religious conflicts of sort, that aspect also seemed natural to my world building. The current evolution of societal attitudes toward Evangelical Christians, in particular, seemed the perfect backdrop. With Evangelicals being marginalized and labelled incorrectly as “fundamentalist” by many on the Left, for disagreeing with the Left’s attitude toward abortion, homosexuality, etc., it points to a possibility of an “us v. them” which could very much become even more of a reality than it is today, as I posit in the story. Such a conflict is ripe with emotions which are very strongly felt by each side, embuing the situation with the perfect tension and level of division for a story like mine. A fan of West Wing, I found myself also imagining how political aspects of the conflicts already described could play into and complicate the story. Thus, both political and personal betrayal and scheming play significant roles in the plot and ensuing complications.

Although I would have loved to have robots characters more predominant, I stuck to the background bots such as waitbots, cabbots, barbots, etc. because who can compete with R2D2 and C3PO? I sure didn’t want to try. I did what blasters and fighters, although my VS28s differ a bit from the X-Wings, I believe. And I did want speeder bikes, thus Skitters were born. But I also borrowed from Superman, Back To The Future and even Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor saga in my world building and settings. In part, I wanted to pay tribute to all those stories because they’d thrilled young Bryan so much. But I also wanted to have a familiarity I knew they’d evoke, yet make them new by making them my own. So the Skitter chase through the forest was born as was the airtaxi race between Davi and his rival Bordox. The opening scene where Davi’s parents, Sol and Lura, send him to safety in the stars evolved. As did scenes of the VS-28s in battle.  Readers familiar with scenes from those other sources will recognize the tribute but also see that I’ve made scenes of mine own out of the borrowed elements. It evokes fun memories but it’s still a unique tale.

As I wrote, I referred a lot to Lord Valentine’s Castle in worldbuilding and the Timothy Zahn Star Wars books for reference in writing action scenes. I also borrowed pacing, of course. And like the films mentioned, my heroes are humanized with humor. They are imperfect, struggling with their role of being heroes. But, at the same time, they are the kind of people readers would like to hang out with and know. They’re friends in the making, you might say, and the comments from readers which please me the most are when they express their fondness for the characters that way. Because like Star Wars, Superman, Lord Valentine’s Castle, Back To The Future and the story of Moses, The Worker Prince wouldn’t work without the characters at its heart. Ultimately, they are who the readers connect with and how their interest is maintained through all the twists and turns.

Above it all, though, I wanted a story, like the classic science fiction I grew up with, which could be enjoyed by people of all ages with parents and children watching together, discussing, and sharing their impressions with each other. As a result, I avoided profanity, sexuality and extreme violence. The story does have sexual tension and romance, and it has violence. People die. People get hurt. And characters are truly evil in their attitudes and actions. But I worked hard to tell a believable, intense story without including elements which might alienate a portion of the desired audience. So far, per all feedback from beta readers, critics, etc., that seems to have been a success.

As I hold the finished book in my hand, and as I continue writing the sequels The Returning and The Exodus, I am still amazed to see it all come to fruition from that teenager’s dreams. It’s a life long accomplishment in a way, and one I am quite proud of. The book is far from perfect prose, of course. I am a beginning novelist, and it is my second novel, the first to be published. But as imperfect human beings, writer’s work can always be criticized for weaknesses. What I hope is that the strengths still outweigh that and will capture your hearts and imagines in ways which enable you to overlook the few faults which exist in the craft and author behind it.

In any case, that’s how The Worker Prince and The Saga of Davi Rhii came to be. I hope you enjoy them as  much as I have enjoyed writing them. For what it’s worth…


Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host ofScience Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 11

In this scene, Davi and his Squadron of worker pilots take on the Boralian Alliance forces on their own soil, fighting for their freedom against the oppressive regime. One of several battle scenes from the last part of the book, although there are action sequences throughout.

Davi pushed the joystick forward and his his VS28 fighter dove out of the cloud cover to rejoin the rest of his squadron. As he slid into the pole position, he glanced over at Tela in position off to his right. She smiled and waved.

“Imagine seeing you here,” he said over the comm-channel with a smile.

He heard Tela laugh as the squadron formed up around them, doing so without the usual chatter. Davi knew they were all as tired as he was.

His comm-channel beeped. “Squadron One, commander,” he answered.

Uzah’s yelling voice came through, struggling to be heard over at the explosions and laser blasts in the background. “Squadron One, we request immediate response. We have enemy forces pinned down on the east edge of the government complex. Please intercept vehicle traffic.”

The Alliance had been making use of Shuttles and Floaters to launch attacks and move troops around. His pilots strafed enemy launch sites as well as ground craft.

Davi keyed the comm-channel transmit button. “Roger, Ground Leader, ETA six minutes.” Davi ran down the pilots’ various skill levels and successes, devising a strategy he hoped would work. It all depended on the actual positions and activities of the enemy once they arrived.

The fighters glided over the tops of the buildings at close range, staying low to confuse the radar and maintain good line of sight with the ground. Davi divided the squadron into two groups of six fighters, assigning Tela to head the second group. “You go after ground weaponry emplacements first. We’ll try and take out any vehicle traffic.”

“Roger,” she said. They exchanged one last look before steering their craft apart as their assigned groups formed up around them.  Then each group vectored off toward their target areas.

A few minutes later, the government center came into view. Two columns of large Floaters moved up parallel corridors, attempting to flank the WFR forces. Their dark blue coloring made them hard to spot through the smoke on the ground but the shiny Alliance emblems reflecting light on both sides gave them away.

“Dru and Virun, form behind me. We’ll take the group to starboard. The rest of you form behind Jorek and take the group to port.”

“Roger,” the pilots responded in unison as they split into subsquads.

Davi smiled, remembering when Jorek and Virun had pulled him aside after the air raids on the enemy starports.

“We owe you an apology,” Virun had said.

“We’re sorry we gave you such a hard time,” Jorek said. “It was just hard to believe we could trust you.”

Since then, they’d become two of his strongest leaders.

“Go for their weapons capabilities first,” Davi instructed.

“Ah come on, boss! Total destruction is much more satisfying,” Jorek said over the comm-channel.

“You can destroy them after you’re sure they can’t fire back,” Davi said, knowing that despite his enthusiasm, Jorek’s focus never waivered.

“You got it,” Jorek responded, not big on comm-channel protocol.

Both squads executed the plan perfectly, swooping in on the Floaters from above, strafing them with laser fire. Outside his cockpit, multiple flashes appeared followed by booming explosions as Davi’s blasts disabled the front vehicle in the column. The next Floater in line swerved to avoid it, but the driver misjudged his position, running over troops fleeing the first Floater to seek cover, before crashing into the third Floater in line.

“Three down with one shot, not bad,” Davi said to himself. He adjusted his targeting and fired again, this time aiming for the laser cannons on the three Floaters. He shifted in his seat as the VS28 vibrated with each blast. The cockpit started feeling stuffy as the temperature rose along with his excitement and adrenaline.

Laser bolts flashed outside his blast shield. Spotting rooftop snipers, he didn’t even bother to dodge. Blasters wouldn’t do much good against the VS28’s shields even at close range. He circled around and watched Dru and Virun dispatch laser cannons on four more Floaters. Several more bright explosions boomed before the Floaters split up onto separate corridors in an attempt to avoid their fire.

“They’re trying to keep it interesting for us, boys,” Davi said over the comm-channel.

“Good. Moving targets are so much more fun,” Dru responded. To Davi’s amazement, Dru had become one of the better target shooters among the pilots.

Davi and three others swooped down in tight formation and fired. Laser blasts exploded around the Floaters again. Davi’s and Dru’s blasts hit their marks, taking out more laser cannons. Virun’s missed, but he aimed again and blasted the Floater’s engines, bringing it to a sudden stop.

Troops jumped clear, seeking cover as Virun chuckled over the comm-channel. “That had to hurt.”

Virun’s fighter rocked with an explosion and orange flashes appeared on its port wing. “What the—”

Davi looked over to spot a laser cannon zeroing in on him again from the top of a nearby building. “Laser cannon, top of the Acron Industries building. I’m on him,” Davi said over the comm-channel. G-forces slammed him back against his leather seat as he put his VS28 into a steep turn and dove down, targeting the rooftop of the office complex.

Jorek’s voice came over the comm-channel. “Keep your eyes out for laser cannons on the rooftops.”

“How’d we miss those?” Dru wondered aloud over the comm-channel.

“Keep your eyes peeled for others. He really did some damage,” Virun warned them.

Davi’s targeting computer lit up as it locked on the target. Lining up visually on the guides, he strafed the rooftop. Alliance soldiers dove to each side as the laser cannon exploded. “One cannon down.”

“Thanks, boss,” Virun replied as Davi steered into position above Virun and to the right.

Virun’s starboard wing had black burn marks from the impact and a tear in the metal. “The damage doesn’t look unmanageable from here. Can you still control her?”

“I’m not out of this yet,” Virun replied turning the fighter for another run.

Davi and Dru both maneuvered into formation around him. Without further chatter, knowing what to do, they took out the laser cannons on the four remaining Floaters, and then targeted their engines.

As they circled around, Davi glimpsed Jorek’s squad making similar runs. In a few more minutes, the remaining Floaters had been disabled and the squadron reformed around Davi, heading to assist Tela’s team. Davi brushed his clammy brow against the sleeve of his flight suit.

They arrived at the government center to find charred remains of more laser cannons and Alliance equipment. One of the barracks was smoldering. In the beginning, the WFR had hoped to preserve as much infrastructure as possible, but Alliance resistance had made it so difficult they’d decided to do what must be done and worry about it later. They could always rebuild.

“Leave anything for us?” Jorek said as they circled Tela’s team.

“We were about to ask you the same question,” Tela responded as she joined their formation. The rest of her team formed up behind her.

A squadron of seven Alliance VS28 fighters appeared heading straight for them with laser cannons blazing. “Heads up, here they come!” Tela called into the comm-channel.

Davi spun his fighter into a dive as two laser blasts exploded off his starboard wing. “We need to capture that starport.”

“Let’s knock these boys out of the sky!” Brie said over the comm-channel.

Davi chuckled. She’d come a long way from the lost teenage girl he had known in training. Davi glanced over to see one of his fighters crashing into the top of another office building, as the Squadron divided itself into pairs and began targeting the enemy fighters.

“We lost Kinny,” Tela said over the comm-channel.

Davi pounded a fist into the side of his fighter. Kinny was an experienced pilot who had joined after the initial attack. “Wingmen, cover your leaders!” They didn’t really need the reminder, but losing one of his pilots switched him into teacher mode again.

Tela lined up on an Alliance fighter and unleashed a burst of fire from her cannons. The enemy fighter exploded, spiraling toward the ground. Tela let off a victory yell, “One down!”

Davi lined up another in his sights, firing several sloppy blasts through its wing. It spun out of control. “Make it two.”

An enemy fighter swooped in from above, firing on Dru at close range. Explosions rocked the hull of his fighter.

Smoke trailed from it, and Davi could see the damage out his blast shield. “You okay, Dru?”

Dru sounded rattled. “She’s a little shaky but I can still fly her.”

Davi and Tela both dove in to provide cover, blasting in unison at the enemy fighter trying to escape. It disintegrated with a bright flash.

Dru’s voice rose in excitement. “He won’t do that again! Thanks, guys!”

“Don’t mention it,” Tela said.

“Let’s clean this mess up!” Jorek said.

Davi watched as the enemy fighters retreated. “They’re running,” Nila said.

“Jorek, take the squadron and chase them down if you can. We’re escorting Dru back to base,” Davi said.

“You got it, boss,” Jorek said.

“Don’t let them lead you too close to the starport. They might launch reinforcements,” Tela warned.

“Don’t worry. We’ll be okay.” Jorek said as the others formed around him and peeled off after the enemy fighters, leaving Tela and Davi flanking Dru.

“I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m hungry,” Dru said.

Davi heard Tela’s laugh over the comm-channel as he keyed the transmitter. “Let’s go home.” They flew in formation back toward the WFR base.

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

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

The Worker Prince: The Genesis Of A Saga

A lot of readers are curious after reading books about where the idea came from. So I thought I’d share with you here a bit about the story of “The Worker Prince, Book 1 of The Saga Of Davi Rhii.” I have stated often that the genesis occurred when I was 15 years old. I don’t remember exactly but I know it was while I was in early high school, and I’m 42 now. It’s a long time ago. The kinds of movies and books I was into then were Star Wars, Star Trek: The Original Series, Planet Of The Apes, Space 1999, Superman — noticing a pattern here? I liked my genre stuff and I liked it larger than life with good v. evil and heroes who were clearly good v. bad guys who were clearly bad. As a young kid, raised in a Christian home, listening to Sunday sermons and Sunday school stories, reading the bible, and reading these books, I dreamed of grand adventure. I wanted to be the dashing hero. I wanted to save the world. That was the start of it.

Also in the midst of this, I struggled with being adopted. Being adopted challenges your sense of belonging by forcing you to ask: why didn’t they want me? The irony of this, of course, is that the adoptive parents who love you chose you and wanted you. But somehow your mind and heart just dwell on the rejection part and tend to gloss over the other, at least for a while. Add to this sense of unwantedness my sense of being an outcast amongst my peers as a geek, a Christian, and a kid who wasn’t afraid to follow his own drumbeat, then you have someone whose life was and has often remained focused on questions of: who he is and where he belongs. So those elements combined into the Davi Rhii coming of age story and his quest, upon discovering his own adoption, to figure out who he is.

The movie The Ten Commandments ran on TV annually back then on the big networks, and I often watched it. I have always loved Charlton Heston despite his annoying association with the NRA.  The movie was so well made and the saga so dynamic. It seemed to lend itself well to the large stage of space opera as I loved it. I dreamed up the saga, then titled The Exodus, as a huge miniseries involving a group of slaves breaking free and fleeing from their captors much as the Israelites did in the biblical story. I came up with the father of the main character, a man named Sol, and the antagonist, an evil ruler named Lord Xalivar. I even wrote the first line of the novel: Sol climbed to the top of the rise and stared up at the stars in the heavens — later changed during editing to: Sol climbed to the top of the rise and stared up at the twin suns as they climbed into the sky. I made pages and pages of notes and story outlines and dreamed of the day I could go further and write the story.

Then I went off to college and life happened and somewhere along the way those notes got lost–or at least buried in a box where I have yet to find them. But the names Sol, Xalivar, that opening line, and the basic plotline stayed with me, gestating mostly in the closets of my mind, but occasionally popping out for air. I did continue to read Science Fiction and Fantasy whenever I could and revel in the way they stimulated my imagination.

In the Fall of 2008 I made my first attempt at a novel–a love story a la Nicholas Sparks which I still hope to write some day–written without any knowledge of craft and little of the genre. I finished it around 60000 words, then prompting rewrote it several times before discarding it as crap and me as unfit as a novelist and began studying my craft. I bought various books, read author interviews, got into On Writing by Stephen King, etc. I also returned to reading novels, a habit I developed as a preteen and continued for years but then dropped after college in favor of nonfiction and other research and rarely revisited. Over the next year as I read, I suddenly rekindled my passion for science fiction and fantasy. And, of course, the Davi Rhii story came back to me again and again. I practiced my craft, studied it in novels I read, and then, finally, in August of 2009, sat down and wrote those words: Sol climbed to the top of the rise…

From August 15 through November 15, I wrote 89000 words, day after day, sometimes writing as much as an entire chapter in a day, sometimes only a few scenes. I wrote every morning, first thing when I woke up for a couple hours. Then worked my telecommute job for the day, wrote a little at lunch, and then did more writing in late afternoon before dinner. I was cooking along, despite restarting Chapter One over after realizing I’d started it in the wrong spot. The story just flew out of me with very little planning–pantsing all the way, being as surprised as I hoped my readers would one day be. Despite my wife’s hospitalization for mental illness by a judge and all the ensuing stress, I wrote every day, the only time I got stuck being on the final chapter, Chapter 13, which somehow took me three weeks to write. Finally, I wrote the quick Epilogue in one day and wrote: The End.

Then, following the encouragement of author Ken Scholes, whom I’d met and talked with on Facebook, I set about to write short stories while I let the first draft gestate a while. For a month, I wrote around 2 stories a week. Then I went back and read The Worker Prince again, finding it wasn’t half as crappy as I expected it to be. In fact, it might actually be good. The draft that comes out October 4th is probably around number 18 or 19–counting even partial drafts or drafts to eliminate -ly adverbs–but I did it. The book went from 89000 down to 85000 and back up to the 89700 it is now along the way.

The story developed in the process. I added a lot of political intrigue, a story of divided belief systems which reflects our own U.S. culture today, I added subplots, twists, and even various characters, and I somehow divided my original idea into three books, even though I wasn’t sure what the other two would be yet. All I knew was, there was no exodus in the book I’d come up with so I had to find a new title. The slaves being called workers, the hero being a prince born a worker, I then devised the title and I was set. I found fascinating the way belief systems and cultures interact and cause clashes and wanted to write a more realistic world than is often depicted in stories with Christian characters by Christian novelists because I thought this story was one which would appeal across belief lines and from the feedback I get from early readers, I hope I’ve accomplished that.

The Worker Prince is not a Christian novel in my mind, even though it has characters in it who engage with that belief system. I made a conscious effort never to stoop to proselytizing because I don’t like to be proselytized either. And I have as many or more non-Christian characters as Christians in major roles. It was the milieu of conflicting beliefs which fascinated me as a setting for a space opera which I have not seen explored and which led me to write it.

The journey of the idea to publication is an altogether different story, and at some point, when it’s been out a while, I may break down the nuances of the various plot lines, twists, and motifs which ended up there, but for now, that’s a summary of how The Worker Prince and Saga Of Davi Rhii came about. It’s an incredible accomplishment in my life. My greatest writing success, and I am truly grateful to that 15-year-old kid for having such a great idea, and also grateful for life keeping me from trying to write it until I had the depth and wisdom to do it right. I could have log ago tried, failed, ruined it and given up, then where would I be now. It would be sad if no one got the chance to read this story because so far, people love it. So here I am on the cusp of my debut novel which had quite a journey, grateful for every step.

For what it’s worth…

To read a synopsis of book 1, The Worker Prince, click here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/2011/01/22/the-worker-prince-synopsis/

To read excerpts of The Worker Prince, click here: http://bryanthomasschmidt.net/tag/excerpt/

Blurbs so far:

“Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s “The Worker Prince” will appeal to readers of all ages. Bryan deftly explores a world where those who believe in one God labor against oppressors, and a single man may have the power to change their situation for the better. But will he be able to rise above all that his powerful uncle has taught him?” — Brenda Cooper, Author of “The Silver Ship and the Sea” and “Mayan December”

“I found myself thinking of stories that I read during my (misspent) youth, including Heinlein juveniles and the Jason January tales, as well as Star Trek and Star Wars.” 
— Redstone SF on “The Worker Prince” series (Book 1 forthcoming, October 4,  2011, Diminished Media)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 7

As Davi Rhii gets to know the workers on Vertullis, he also meets an intriguing fellow pilot, a woman named Tela, who takes an instant dislike to him. The problem is, Davi can’t keep his eyes off of her or her off his mind. Here’s some of what ensues…

A week after their argument in the corridor, Davi found Tela sitting at the controls of her shuttle, reading through maintenance charts. He took care to make noise as he entered the cockpit so as not to sneak up on her. She turned her head and frowned when she saw him.

“We seem to have gotten off on the wrong foot,” Davi said, sitting in the copilot’s seat. “I’ve been trying to figure out how it happened.”

“Maybe your charms won’t work on me,” Tela said. “I’m pretty good at seeing through people. Especially men.”

“Well, that’s just it. You seem to have taken some of the things I’ve said the wrong way,” Davi said, hoping she’d take another look.

“Like what?” Her eyes remained on the charts.

“I didn’t bring up your name in class to isolate you from the other trainees,” Davi said. “I was trying to pay you a compliment. I’m impressed with the way you flew the shuttle.”

“Well, thank you,” she said, still avoiding eye contact, focused on her charts. “But the last thing I need is people thinking you’re showing me special treatment. I’m there to learn the same as them.”

“And I’m there to teach you,” Davi said, “but someone with your flight experience is an asset for the entire class. You can help me to help them learn what they need to know.”

“I didn’t sign on to be a tutor,” Tela said.

“I won’t ask you to be, if you don’t want to,” Davi said. “All I’m asking is if they don’t understand something I’m trying to explain, maybe you can jump in and help me clarify it.”

“See?” She said, looking up for a moment. “You’re asking me to teach. No thanks.” Her eyes turned back to the charts as Davi wondered why he always seemed to choose the wrong words when he talked to her. A familiar buzz filled his stomach as heat rose within.

“Whatever you feel comfortable with,” Davi said. “The last thing I need is someone getting killed because they didn’t understand.”

“I wouldn’t let that happen,” Tela said.

“Good. I can use all the help I can get,” Davi said. “I’ve never been an instructor before. And I’ve never been a worker before either. It’s all new to me. I pretty much have to relearn who I am.” I wish someone would teach me how to talk to you!

“You’re doing fine. You explain things well,” Tela said, her blue eyes meeting his for a moment.

“Was that a compliment?” Davi melted inside like icicles in a desert. He smiled. “I might have to write that down. It might be ages before I ever get another compliment from you.”

She laughed, rolling her eyes. “Don’t get too cocky, okay? There’s always room for improvement.”

“Okay, so don’t get mad at me when I suggest areas you can improve,” Davi said. “It’s my job as your teacher.”

“You can’t improve on perfection,” she said, smiling. Was she joking?

“Now who’s cocky?” He teased as she laughed. “Some of the cadets seem to resent me because of my past. They don’t seem to realize, I’m on your side.”

“Can you really blame them?  You’re the Prince.”

Davi sighed, disappointed. “No, I suppose not.”

She slid back in the chair and her face softened a bit. “Give them time. They’ll come around.”

“I don’t suppose you could put in a good word for me?”

Tela’s face crinkled. “First I have to convince myself.”

“But you saw me at the rallies! Do you really believe—”

He stopped as Tela broke into laughter. “You’re giving me trouble?”

She smiled and nodded. “I couldn’t resist.”

“Well, I’d better let you get back to your work here. I wouldn’t want anyone to know we actually had a civil conversation.”

She smiled at him and his heart fluttered. “You like making jokes, don’t you?”

“When it makes you smile like that,” Davi said. Her eyes turned quickly back to her charts. “Okay, well, thanks for letting me explain.”

She nodded. “See you in class, professor.” It sounded so formal. He contorted his face, and she laughed again, twirling strands of her hair around her index finger. “I’m trying to work here.”

He nodded, stood, and backed out of the cockpit. The conversation went better than he’d expected. She’d laughed and joked with him. It was a start. And she’d twirled her hair—was she flirting with him? Best not to make too much of it. For some reason, all the way back to the command center, he found himself whistling a happy song.

***

After two weeks spent covering the basics of flight, Davi allowed the first of his students on the simulators. His class had doubled in size since it started, with Aron and the leaders adding more and more candidates with each new rally. Davi had done his best to keep the new students up to speed with the others. Some of them had the advantage of prior flight experience, while others had skill with Skitters. He still had neophytes to train, but at least some had a head start.

At the moment, Dru, Brie, Nila and another boy their age occupied the four simulators. Tela and the other students sat at desks behind Davi, observing as he took them through their first mock battle. Each student pilot sat in a mock cockpit, with controls similar to those of VS28 fighters—a screen where the blastshield would be simulated stars and incoming enemy fighter craft. The simulator itself moved as the trainees moved the joystick. Combined, the effect was a sensation reminiscent of being in an actual fighter during a battle.

“Keep your tails up there,” Davi instructed. “Easy on the joystick, Brie. It’s sensitive, designed to move as one with your body. Dru, you’ve got one on your tail. Evasive action!”

The trainees reacted to his instructions. Dru tried hard to stay out of the fire of the enemy on his tail as explosions flashed in front of him on the screen with each hit.

Brie steered her fighter toward the enemy behind Dru. “I got him!”

Davi realized that her excitement was distracting her. She was coming in at an odd angle and way too fast. “Slow down, Brie! You’re going to hit him!” Too late.

Brie’s screen erupted in flashes of yellow light and her console went dead. “What happened?” Brie asked, confused.

“You’re dead,” Tela said.

“You got him off my tail though. Thanks,” Dru said, chuckling.

Brie stuck out her tongue at him. “You’re welcome.” She turned to Davi with a sheepish grin. “I’m not getting it, am I?”

Davi smiled. “It takes practice.” For some more than others.

Brie cocked her head to one side in a flirty way. “Can you show me one more time please?”

Davi smiled. “Okay. Look.” He leaned over her from behind, holding his hand around hers on the joystick. “Pull back a tiny bit, like this. Enough to make her go the direction you want to go. Not too hard though.”

Brie smiled, looking up at him. “Oh, right. I gotta practice it.” Davi let go and she tried what he’d showed her. “Like that?”

Davi nodded, ignoring her flirting. “Much better. Keep practicing.”

He turned back to the other students and saw Tela shaking her head and heading out the door. Virun and a couple of others followed her.

“Wait a minute! Class isn’t over. Where’s everyone going?”

The others looked at him and shrugged.

      What’s wrong with her?

Brie and the others climbed out of the simulators as other trainees took their place.

“Okay,” Davi said, “let’s try this again.”

The second group was better than the first. A third did better still. At the end of the session though, Davi walked away discouraged. Some of the students would improve with practice, but others had him wondering if they weren’t wasting their time. He wished Tela had participated. She would have handled herself quite well, he imagined. Her performancce would have at least been more encouraging.

He left the classroom confused and wondering why she’d disappeared.

 

***

      Tired of watching Brie throwing herself at Davi, Tela had stormed out of the training room. It was disgusting, shameless—totally inappropriate in the classroom. She’d grown more and more irritated, until deciding she needed a breath of fresh air.

As she wound her way through the corridors, she started feeling silly. Why did it bother her so much? You don’t like him, remember? She’d known women who acted like Brie before. It wasn’t like she had any claim to Davi. They were barely friends.

Sure, things between them had settled down since they’d talked in the shuttle. He’d asked Tela’s opinion from time to time, and she’d done as he requested, helping him explain things when the trainees didn’t understand. So what was the big deal? Brie had every right to flirt with him. She’d acted like a fool. Why did she have such a tendency to do that when Davi was around?

She spent a few moments calming down, then turned back toward the classroom. Rounding a corner near the classroom, she spotted Davi exiting and heading up the corridor away from her.  He looked very discouraged. She hoped not because of her.

She followed him across the hangar and into a smaller cave on the far side, where the Skitters sat parked in several rows.

Long slender bodies topped with leather seats and two handlebars attached to a control panel, Skitters had been designed for recreational use, but were so fast and easy to handle, they’d been adapted for other uses. Borali Alliance ground patrols used them on a regular basis.

She stood in the shadows as he began looking them over. Two mech-bots entered through another tunnel and began working on some of the Skitters behind him. As she stepped out of the shadows into the cave, Davi looked up at her.

“Hey,” she said, with a slight wave and a smile.

“Hey,” he said, going back to examining the Skitters.

“How’d the rest of the session go?”

He shrugged. “We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

Not even eye contact. So maybe he was upset with her. “Sorry I left. I needed some air.”

“I was disappointed you didn’t stay for your turn,” Davi said as he examined another Skitter. “Seeing someone actually succeed on the simulators would have been encouraging. I sure could’ve used it.” His voice sounded tired.

“Was it really so bad?”

“You tell me. You saw how some of the students did,” Davi slid into the seat of a Skitter, fiddling with the controls.

“Some of them are a long way from being flight-worthy,” Tela said, watching the mech-bots working behind him.

“Some make me wonder if they ever will be.”

It saddened her to see him so discouraged. He had always been so positive and supportive of the students. She wanted to do something to cheer him up. She took a seat on another Skitter and turned it on, hearing the steady hum of the engine and feeling it rise up off the floor to float on the air as she adjusted the controls.

“Come with me.”

“For a joy ride?”

Tela smiled. “Sure. There’s something I want to show you.” She waved toward the Skitter he’d been examining.

He shrugged, climbing onto the Skitter. The engine hummed as it rose into the air. “Okay. Lead the way.”

She slid the Skitter into gear and drove it out of the cave into a small tunnel. Davi accelerated his own Skitter and followed along behind her.

They emerged into the dense forest along a path. Sunlight streamed through the tall cedars, creating a patchwork of dark and light areas on the ground. The chirping of birds and insects blended with the hum of the Skitters as a light breeze tousled their hair. The sweet smell of cedar filled her nose.

Tela sped up, forcing Davi to speed up behind her. She admired the fluidness with which he maneuvered the Skitter. She’d never seen him fly, of course, but it seemed to her he must be as skilled as the commanders said. She wondered if he’d had much time to explore the forest around the base yet. She hadn’t seen him in the Skitter bay, but then she hadn’t been there much until the past few days herself.

She led him through several twists and turns then around a bend into a clearing where she pulled to a stop and waited for him to come alongside.

Amid cedars at the edge of the course on both sides there were several wood pylons with various markings. As his Skitter pulled alongside hers and stopped, she smiled. “Well, here it is.”

“What is it?” Davi said, trying to make sense of the pylons and markers.

“Our Skitter training course,” Tela said. “Aron asked me to set one up.” Why was she so anxious waiting for his response?

Davi’s looked around and smiled. “You did all this yourself?”

“Well, I may have borrowed some from a schematic of one of the Alliance’s training courses. With a few minor adjustments to compensate for ours being on land and not in outer space.”

Davi nodded, looking pleased. “This is impressive. You amaze me!”

      He’s impressed! She almost blushed. Why did she care so much what he thought? She’d never had time for men, not since her father’s disappearance. She’d been too busy for much of a social life.

“Thanks. Wanna give it a try?” She opened the side pocket on her Skitter and pulled out a helmet. “Gotta put on the helmet to see how it works.”

She slid the helmet on as Davi opened the pocket on his own Skitter and retrieved the helmet. As he began to put it on, Tela flipped the switch to activate the weapons simulator on her Skitter.

After they’d both adjusted their helmets, Davi nodded. “Ready.”

Tela accelerated and took off like a flash, zigzagging in and out between the pylons. Wind nipped at the skin of her face like tiny bugs. Trees passed almost as blur as she focusd on the markers and pylons. She glanced down at her control panel, verifying the weapons simulator was fully charged. The visor of her helmet showed a targeting frame as she passed the next pylon. Everything seemed to be working right.

The next pylon she came to, she maneuvered the frame to aim at the pylon and then hit the fire button. The visor image flashed as she hit the target.

She flipped her communicator on and keyed the switch. “Flip the red switch on to activate the targeting simulator. The black button on the joystick is for firing.”

She slowed down, allowing Davi to pull alongside as he fiddled with the controls. “Do you see it?”

“Yeah,” his voice came in through the helmet. “You did all this?”

“Well, I had some help. Go for a run,” Tela said, accelerating again and aiming as she came to each target.

Davi raced his Skitter alongside her, also aiming and firing. They raced in and out of the pylons, keeping pace with each other. The visor kept count in the bottom right corner of hits and misses. So far she had been dead on.

The total time for the course at full speed was less than four minutes. They reached the end in what seemed like a few seconds. She pulled to a stop as Davi stopped beside her.

“How’d you do?”

“Missed two.”

She smiled. “I didn’t miss any.”

“Well, you designed it. It’s my first time.” He said with a shrug, but she saw disappointment in his green eyes.

With an exaggerated shrug, she laughed. “Excuses, excuses.”

He scowled. “Wanna go again?”

Gotcha! She grinned and accelerated her Skitter like a rocket.

Davi raced to catch up with her.

They followed a curving path which took them back to the start of the course, and then both launched into it again. Davi gave it his best effort. She had to accelerate a few times to keep up with him.

As they neared the end of the course, he zipped in front of her. Her Skitter misfired. She groaned in frustration, pulling back alongside and getting back on course. He laughed as they raced onward, finishing the course in less than four minutes.

“Perfect score,” he said with a smirk.

That’s the Davi I know. She shook her head. “I missed because you distracted me.” But she knew his move to cut her off hadn’t been the only distraction. She had butterflies in her stomach.

“Oh right, like the enemy won’t ever try that,” he said, shooting her a look.

She laughed. He was right. They couldn’t count on total focus in a real battle. Maybe there were some things he could teach her on her own course after all.

“Shall we go again?” he asked, shifting excitedly on his seat. His voice had regained its usual energy, and she noticed the usual sparkle had returned to his eyes. The smell of adrenaline mixed with sweat wafted to her nose.

“Wanna switch sides?”

He nodded. “Catch me if you can!” He took off like a rocket.

She raced to catch up, determined that this time she’d be ready for any distractions.

 

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

NOVEL EXCERPT: The Worker Prince Chapter 5

In previous excerpts, we’ve met the protagonist, Davi Rhii, and his friends and family and rival Bordox. Now let’s meet the main antagonist, Davi’s uncle Xalivar. Xalivar is a complicated character. Hopefully this will give you an idea what Davi’s up against. In this scene, Davi has been called back before his uncle, High Lord Councilor of the Borali Alliance, because he disobeyed orders and left his post on a distant base where Xalivar sent him to avoid criminal charges to come back and wrestle with his new identity as slave-born (worker-born).

Manaen escorted Davi as far as the throne room, but let him enter alone. Xalivar stood beside a window, staring out at the city.

“I gave you your orders,” Xalivar said, without turning to face him. Davi heard the anger in his voice.

“Can’t we talk about this?”

“Soldiers obey orders or they are disciplined. Don’t think because I’m your uncle, you’ll be given special treatment.”

“I’ve already been given special treatment,” Davi said.

Xalivar whirled around, glaring at him as his fists clenched. “Do you know what I had to go through to get the Council not to pursue murder charges against you?”

“I appreciate everything you’ve done for me.”

“And this is how you show your gratitude?” Xalivar turned away again.

“I serve you best by being honest with you, don’t I?”

“You serve me best by doing as I instruct you without raising unnecessary questions,” Xalivar said.

Davi flinched at his uncle’s anger. What could he say to make him understand? “I’ve been reading history. I don’t understand why things are the way they are,” Davi said.

“Maybe it’s not your job to understand.”

“Before the colonists left Earth to settle on other planets, the Legallians and Vertullians were at peace for twelve years,” Davi continued. “When the Vertullians discovered they’d settled the planet next door to us, they didn’t fight, they sued for peace. Instead, we conquered them and turned them into slaves.”

Xalivar turned back to him. Their eyes met. “They cannot be trusted.”

“They sued for peace and we betrayed them, yet they can’t be trusted?” Davi saw from his eyes that Xalivar really believed it.

“Twelve years of peace during a time when everyone was distracted by other concerns,” Xalivar said. “After hundreds of years of wars.”

“Extremists and terrorists brought us together. Why would we forget all that when we settled here?”

“Do you know how many of our people have died at their hands? How many communities they destroyed?” Xalivar demanded.

“How many of them have we killed? Can’t the past ever be the past?” Davi asked. He’d begun to wonder. His uncle’s anger seemed pretty intense over something that happened so long ago. “Twenty years ago, I was supposed to die because of your decree, yet here I am. You let it go and protected me, because I’m your nephew.” Xalivar’s face changed when Davi mentioned the decree. Had he forgotten? Maybe he wishes I hadn’t survived.

“I protected you, yes, and here you are trying to undo everything I’ve done!” Xalivar threw up his hands in dismay as his pupils narrowed and his face turned gray with worry.

“How can I stand by when my own family is living in slavery?”

“Do you wish so badly to join them in their plight?” Xalivar said. “Everything I’ve worked for, everything my father and grandfather worked for could be undone by this, Xander! Do you not care about this family any longer since you’ve found a new one?” They both turned at the sound of the door opening behind them.

Miri’s feet shuffled on the carpet as she rushed in. “Why didn’t you tell me you were here?” she said, looking at Davi.

“I didn’t have the chance yet, Mother,” Davi said.

“He was too busy arguing the evils of our oppressive Alliance with his uncle,” Xalivar said. “He won’t let this go. I should have raised him myself, disavowed him of his moral illusions.” He stared accusingly at Miri.

“I raised him to think for himself,” Miri said.

“Well, he’s decided this family is the enemy now,” Xalivar said, fists clenching again.

“You’re still my family. I care about you,” Davi said with frustration. Did his uncle really believe that?

Xalivar waved dismissively to Miri. “I cannot do what he asks. You talk sense into him.” He turned and stopped beside the door to his private chambers, punching a code. The door slid up and Xalivar disappeared inside, leaving them alone.

“You’re trying to fight a system which has been in place for generations, Davi,” Miri said.

“It’s wrong, mother.”

“It won’t change overnight,” Miri said.

Davi knew she was right but was convinced he had to try. “Someone has to speak for the workers. People know who I am; maybe I can make them listen.”

“Or you will make more enemies than you ever imagined,” Miri said.

“So you would have me stand by and do nothing?”

“No, but I would have you recognize there will be more to convince than just your uncle,” Miri said, frustrated.

“I have to start somewhere.” Davi turned away, knowing she was right. “I won’t give up. I can’t.”

“Do you want to go to prison? Do you want to be killed?” Miri’s voice was tinged with desperation; worry filled her eyes.

“I’m willing to do what it takes to change things for my people,” Davi said as their eyes met.

“The Lords or the workers?”

“Both, Mother. I belong to both,” he said with a sigh.

“I can’t protect you.” Her voice was pained.

“I know. I would never hurt you, mother; I hope you know that.” He looked at her with love and smiled.

“I only want what’s best for you. Your uncle, too,” Miri pleaded.

“Can’t you see I have to do this?” Davi said, as tears ran down her cheeks. He hurt for her. He raised his arms and she rushed into his embrace. He stayed there holding her awhile.

***

Xalivar watched the Royal Shuttle depart with Davi aboard from his private quarters. How could he have been so blind? He’d forgotten all about the decree! He’d forgotten all about the nightmares which kept him awake, night after night. He’d never given much credence to dreams, but after his scientists had reported an increase in male births on Vertullis, Xalivar issued a decree and sent his Special Police squads to destroy all first-born males. They’d seemed so real to him then, but twenty-one years had passed. No one had arisen to challenge him in the decade that followed. He’d ultimately come to believe the dreams had been nonsense, but now…

How could he have been so wrong? He would do whatever it took to protect the Alliance. He loved the boy, but love wasn’t enough sometimes. Davi would have to be watched, although he didn’t want him harmed. Not yet. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that, but he was prepared to do what was necessary. Miri would object, of course, but neither she nor her son really grasped what was at stake. Anyone was expendable if they rebelled. It couldn’t be tolerated.

The Council was scheduled to meet that afternoon, and he knew what must be done. He had to keep Davi close, and he had the perfect means right under his nose. Funny, he’d almost failed to see that, too. He’d been all ready to order Davi back to Plutonis. I must be growing weary. I need to get more rest. I have to stay on top of such things. He smiled. Yes, it was the perfect plan. So perfect, it would almost seem like a natural course of events beyond even Xalivar’s control.

 

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

It’s here!!!

I couldn’t resist apply my own post on making ARCS in Create Space to create a custom copy of the edited version of my novel. Other than copyedits, this is the version which will be going out soon for blurbs and to reviewers, and ultimately, to you readers. It’s just a good feeling after a crappy, stressful week to hold this in my hand. Very proud of how an idea I had 27 years ago and have worked on since August 2009 to write and polish has turned out and can’t wait to share it with you.

Lessons From Editing

We finished the final edit on my debut novel The Worker Prince today. And while there’s still a road to publication, from sending out ARCS for reviews and blurbs, to racheting up marketing, to copyedits, artwork, etc., it’s a good feeling. This was my first time working through this process with an editor. And I put on hold writing the second book in the series to do it. Am I glad I did.

Amongst things my editors did, besides grammatical corrections and questioning passages for clarity, was to help me bring out nuances and aspects of the characters and story which I had glossed over or failed to exploit fully. This will make the novel richer and more meaningful overall, and it also had the bonus of helping me identify strains which can be exploited in the sequel. Their insights also went to worldbuilding, allowing me to exploit things like terraforming which are appropriate to my world but which I had not specifically touched on. Overall, I know the finished book is a lot stronger than it would have been without their help and I will be forever grateful to Randy Streu, Jen Ambrose and earlier editors Paul Conant and Darlene Oakley for their insights.

I continue to evolve in not just my craft but my approach to writing, and experiences like this only push me to self-examination and discovery of new ways to approach my work. For example, The Worker Prince being only my second novel, I have done more drafts of this book than I will of future novels, I suspect. In this case, my first draft was a basic concept of plot, characters and scenes. A lot of the gritty nuances and details came out in later drafts, where I sought ways to lend not only balance but connectivity throughout using various elements. For example, my protagonist has two names: his birth name, Davi (Dah-vee) Rhii, and his adopted legal name Xander Rhii. For much of his life, he goes by Davi, a name his adoptive mother liked because it was unique and non-stereotypical in their culture. But many of his colleagues and his uncle refer to him as Xander. As Davi seeks to come of age and discover who he is as a man, he really comes to own one name over the other. But the nuances of having some characters refer to him by one name over the other were important aspects of characterization and development of story I missed–which we discovered during editing.

There were also times I overstated things, either by repeating them too much or telling too much, which I could do better in showing or hinting at and letting the readers sort it out. Those are areas where my editors’ voices helped me find a wiser path for which I am grateful.

There were also little details, such as using more military-style language in battle and fight scenes, and setting up even minor characters as potential catalysts for action in the sequels, which came out in the editing. These things helped point me to a more focused understanding of what Book 2, The Returning, needs to be, and even to discover the arc of that story in a clear way I had failed to even as I’d started writing it. I typically write with a let the story unfold as it comes approach. But writing a three book series where the story has to flow from one to the next and the overall arc has to be well considered, this editing process on The Worker Prince helped me come to clearer understandings of the books to follow in ways that still allow some “letting the story come as it will” while also writing with a clearer plan. That will, no doubt, make those books stronger and better, and I am indebted to my editors for their assistance with that.

I don’t always get as detail oriented as I should in drafting stories. I tend to go back and add those things later, but learning to note little details and how they can be used throughout a story to bring out themes and deepen the world has been a great lesson for me.

So how does this help you?

1) Names/Language Matter–not only in the origins and meanings they may imply but in how they are employed by characters. How can you utilize the formality and informality with which characters address each other to not only reveal their relationships but deepen tension and characterization? How can you use terminology better in your story? Adding military language or creating formal language for various settings enriches the realism of your world for readers and adds a richness in texture to your story.

2) There Are No Little Things–little things like the necklace a character always wears, a notebook he/she always stops to write in, etc. can be employed to develop not only character but deepen the symbolism of the story. Do you employ any off these and are you using them to their fullest? Every little detail you include has the potential to be exploited for stronger nuance in the story. A few throwaways may exist but be careful to examine what you include and why and how they can be used to provide stronger meaning for readers.

3) Don’t overtell–We’ve all hear the warnings about Showing v. Telling but sometimes we feel the need to revisit plot aspects or character details we’ve already introduced because we fear the reader might not remember them. It’s a fine line to know when to do this and when not to but seeking specific feedback from betas and others on it can be of great help because this is one area where you can end up talking down to readers and nothing turns them off more than that.

4) Consider Future Stories–if you go in knowing you will be writing multiple books, spend time looking for ways you can exploit characters, props, and other details in the first book to set up things which will complicate or be expanded upon in later books. You may not be able to see it in the first draft or two, but as you move further in, you need to really look for this and develop those things well enough that readers will remember them by the time the sequels roll around.

Just a few lessons which I hope can help you on your writing path as they have helped me.

For what it’s worth…