Tag Archives: Greg Bear

2015: Waiting to get off the roller coaster…

2015 had its highs and lows. Unfortunately the low spots were way lower than the highs were high.

For the lows, I lost two students in June and had two more suffer significant injuries. Then this month I lost my new grandson, Nolan Luther. You can read my posts about these here. Scroll through the few personal blog posts that I wrote this year. The two most significant start with the word Sad.

It is through this haze of sadness that I write today. Because that’s what I do. Working through my grief, building shelves, cooking food for family and writing. I don’t have it in me to write fiction and I’ve wrote most of what I can for now. I’ll finish with some of the things that went right in 2015.

A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.
A stand-alone parallelequel to ALL IS SILENCE.

My birthday, February 15th, marked twenty years as an professional educator. I released the first o f two books: The short Deserted Lands novel, TOILS AND SNARES, on my oldest brother’s birthday, February 28th.

Following the sad end of the school year, Elena and I took my youngest son, Ian to Italy for his high school trip, a tradition started by my parents with all his older siblings and cousins. We saw great art, opera, a street cellist, and many wonderful places: Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona and the foothills of the Dolomites. Other than intense heat, some allergies for Ian and my phone left behind in Vancouver, B.C., the trip was splendid.

After sending Ian to England for some time with his mom, aunt and grandmother (and a lot more chilly weather) Elena and I headed to Torino to visit her cousin. We loved Torino, the museums, the lower heat and the food. Then we headed south through Genoa to Cinque Terra for a night and then back to Rome and home.

At home, I headed to the finish line to STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS, the sequel to my debut novel ALL IS SILENCE. I was pushing hard, but it was going hard. My deadline was a release party at Village Books on August 28th. I went to Worldcon, the Science Fiction and Fantasy convention, in Spokane. We arrived to an apocalyptic red sun from all the forest fires. I spent most of my time in the room trying to finish book II. But, alas, my computer died. The fan stopped working and I could not even get it to start for long enough to back up. My backups to the cloud had inexplicably stopped a few days before we left for Spokane. I took the last day to see people. Greg Bear remembering me was the highlight. He accepted a personally inscribed copy of my debut novel, and signed a copy of his new novel, WAR DOGS.

I came back to Bellingham, we managed to print 25 Advanced Reader Copies for the release party, which was well attended, and sold quite a few books, a shirt and some download cards for Village Books and me. I spent that next week before school started turning out a better copy and printed 25 more copies. After I printed the next 25 I realized there was no identifying that STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS was Book II. So if you have a copy of it that doesn’t say Book II, you have one of the first 75 printed! Hopefully, that will mean something someday.

Our school year started really well, despite a bunch of changes in staffing and less students than we had hoped–a building year in both senses. Part of my building has been working with another wonderful student teacher who has become a friend and a writing critique partner, Tegan Shelton. You can check out her first book here.

Having such a capable student teacher enabled me to begin building a school library. With two student book drives and a bunch of help from the last years worth of TAs, and Ro, a Windward parent and librarian at Whatcom Community College, it is coming together.

Then third quarter started at the end of November 30th, (a date that marks six years together with Elena! Yeah!) and I am teaching English 11/12, Drama AND Spanish I (for the third time in 20 years.) I have found myself challenged and overwhelmed, but exciting to be teaching again.

The year has ended not well, but with another outpouring of love. Please keep my family in your thoughts in the days ahead. Pay it forward with some Random Acts of Kindness, please.

Wishing you a Happy New Year and much peace and joy.

rob-sign-Trans-blue

 

My Path to Indie Publication: Part X—Finding Equilibrium

Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V. Part VIPart VII. Part VIIIPart IX

Part X—Finding Equilibrium: the agony and the ecstasy of new authorhood. *

With the success of the three readings equaling sales of more than 70 books, I was very hyped about attending Norwescon 37. I created and ordered bookmarks—5000 for about $200 including shipping. They had special pricing codes: $3 off either a signed print book or a Kobo eBook as well as a note to find me on social media and I’d meet them at the con and sell them a signed copy for a great deal without the shipping and handling. Elena and I went down to the stuffing party to help put 3500 of my bookmarks into the swag bags. The result? [Because, I’m following Kris Rusch’s rule of not offering a deal unless you can track whether it is successful or not.] Nada. Zip. Zilch. The only book I sold was one that was already promised months before to a beta reader. She bought a second book, because I didn’t have change! Sheesh.

The best thing to happen at Norwescon was that I got to see Gordon Van Gelder, he had seen somewhere, a bookmark maybe, that I had a book coming out. He asked if I’d send him a review copy, which of course I was happy to do as I could then send him one of the new and rare copies with the Dante Rossetti Award announced on the cover. Will it lead to a review in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? Who knows. But , alas, if this one doesn’t break with him, perhaps the next one will.

I still have about 1500 bookmarks and will be taking many of them to ALA14 to see if anything happens this time around. I also gave out a couple handfuls at Vikingcon in Bellingham with no discernible sales off site. I think bookmarks are cool, but don’t spend $200 and expect to get it back. I actually prefer the postcards that I made in cover-shaped format, a better way to get the name and the graphic out there. 

Vikingcon was really awesome. I met a bunch of cool people, and renewed my acquaintance with Greg and Astrid Bear. I met Greg at a Vikingcon in the 1990s and then got to be on a panel about Robert Heinlein with him in 2005 at Norwescon. So, I got to hang out with Greg Bear, I got a free table in the conference hall to sell my books and I got to meet really cool people. I am a fairly terminal optimist, so I signed 10 books with my name and inscribed Vikingcon 2014! But none sold before the panel with Greg. The panel on technology in SF, “Text me, Scotty.” went well. After the panel, my daughter Sheridan, womanning the booth with her daughter and younger sister, had sold two copies. A few people who had attended the panel came by and bought books. Then the Vikingcon folks came to pick up the signed copy I’d promised them. And as the Vendor’s hall was closing I sold the last of the 10 books. Maybe next time I should pre-inscribe 50? Nah. Lesson learned.

The biggest bump of sales not related to meeting people directly came from a friendly source. Dean Kahn, the Bellingham Herald editor who had guided the Serial Science Fiction story Memories of Light the previous year asked his readers to nominate the best books set in Bellingham. Four fans [also friends] wrote in praising my book. The day it came out I sold 9 ebooks and 2 print books in the next 24 hours and several more over the next few days. Yeah!

I’m currently sending out some short fiction set in the same universe to magazine editors in the hopes that a story might lead people to the novel. I’m also planning to release a standalone Deserted Lands novella, Toils and Snares, in the fall as an ebook. As I write this sales have gone flat, but they’ve already been better than I expected. I’ve got more readings set up and a trip to Las Vegas for the American Library Association convention followed by a drive up to Provo where the next book, Straight Into Darkness takes place.

The long awaited hardcover of All Is Silence will be here soon as will summer with more time to write. I’m doing a PubSlush campaign so I can pay my editors and cover artists more. The benefits will be commensurate with the crowd-funding amounts. More to come after school comes out.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been a roller coaster for me, but as this ride continues, I feel more and more certain that choosing the Indie Publishing route was absolutely the right decision for me. As I have more insight into this amazing process, I’ll blog a bit more, but for now… I’ve gotta write on…

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top

Vikingcon, Novella Cover Art, and other news…

VIkingcon 2014 was awesome. 17 newsletter signups, panel with Greg Bear, Jason Andrew, Susan Matthews, met Alma Alexander, Jennifer Brozek, and John Patrick Lowrie. Hung out with daughters & grand. Sold 9 novels and donated one for the WWU Associated Students Raffle. Had some cool conversations about books, apocalyptic fiction and music. I love small cons! Looking forward to next year.

I have now sold 200 of the first 500 hundred books I ordered and had delivered to my house! Also, have sold an additional 200 in ebook, through distant bookstores, and to libraries, none of which touched my hands! Would love to sell out of the first printing before the end of the year.

Hardcover faced additional delays. The proof copy is on the way, but I already know I need to resubmit the interior text. I didn’t click the right boxes in Scrivener. So, all the extra font work I did for the print version disappeared and that first proof copy will essentially look like the mobi file on a Kindle. Grr… Also, somehow, added an ‘s’ to my dad’s first name in the credits!

toils&snares3

Sneak preview of a possible cover for Toils and Snares, a Deserted Lands novella, I plan to release in the fall. It’s set a month or so before All Is Silence in Portland, OR and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The story will be a prologue of sorts for a later book set 15 or so years in the series future.

This is the first cover art I’ve ever created that I begins to approach saleability. Mostly due to the work of Pintado. Now, back to writing.

Photo by Ian R. Q. Slater
Cover design by Robert L. Slater 

VikingCon 2014

This coming Saturday I will be selling/signing books and paneling at Vikingcon 2014 at Western Washington University. Would love to see you there. Here are the planned panels (May be subject to change). Or look at the Program here and notice that I get to be on a panel with Greg Bear. Oh, my… I was on another panel with him once. THE STEALTH HEINLEIN HEROES: David M. Silver (M), Greg Bear, Robert L. Slater at Norwescon 2005. SOooooo Coooollll.

Schedule:
11:00 – 12:00pm         Panels Session #1
•    From Silver Age to Silver Screen: Superhero Cinematic Universes
•    Lights! Camera! Kickstarter!: How to Make an Epic Kickstarter Project
•    The Women of Webseries

12:15 – 1:15pm           Panels Session #2
•    TBA
•    To Batwoman and Beyond!: Queer Heroes and Representation
•    Young Justice: How Heroes Affect Children

1:45 – 2:45pm             Panels Session #3
•    Text Me, Scotty: The Blur Between Science Fiction and Fact
•    The Making of “Legends of the Knight”
•    The Boogeyman’s Journey: Shifting Roles of Monsters in Fantasy

3:00 – 4:00pm             Panel Session #4
•    Terraforming the Tabletop: World-Building in Tabletop RPGs
•    8-bit to Orchestral: Video Game Music Masterpieces
•    Cosplay & Prop-Making 101

 Text Me, Scotty: The Blur Between Science Fiction and Fact
“The imaginary worlds of science fiction creators have always been linked with real-life science, technology, and innovation – like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy + the iPad and Wikipedia. Explore the relationship between science fiction and actual science in this panel, where we will learn where local science fiction creators draw their inspiration from and see how sci-fi creations can steer the course of the future.​”

Path to Indie Publication: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

My Path to Indie Publication Series is a companion series to Marshall Ryan Maresca’s Path to Publication. I have been avidly reading Marshall’s posts since I discovered his blog. Read Part IPath to Indie Publication.

2003 Breakout Year *

101 submissions. Three sales. A Semi-Finalist in the Writers of the Future contest that earned me a K.D. Wentworth critique. I rewrote the story and sent it back out. Strange Horizons requested a rewrite. Alas, the rewrite, though it met their criteria, seemed to lack whatever would push it into the realm of a sale. In terms of my writing career, 2003 was a success.

I rode that wave of success to three convention appearances as a “professional” writer and panelist, well… the wave and my connections to fandom through the Heinlein Society.  I had some wonderful moments participating in panels with Alan Dean Foster and Greg Bear, but I felt like a pretender. I hadn’t written many new stories. I continued to teach Creative Writing at my high school and write some poetry as examples while I taught.

For the next few years my energy to submit fiction waned. I had spent fifteen years, collected 485 rejections, 14 short fiction sales and quite a bit of frustration. I puttered in short bursts on fiction, wrote reminders to myself about stories to write someday and gradually wound down to complete inactivity as a writer. This corresponded with a particularly hard time in my personal life. My creative energy went into theatre with Shakespeare NorthWest, and a few new songs and poems.

2010. The Future. Arthur C. Clarke had regrounded his future in 2010, why couldn’t I? I sent out a single submission. #500. For some reason that carried more weight. It didn’t sell. It took me a year to send out another, but I finished 2011 strong with 70 submissions. No sales. 2012 saw 37 more submissions up to August.

Sometime in 2012 I stumbled upon NANOWRIMO. I had an idea—a girl, an At-Risk teen, her DNA made up of 48 teen-age girls I’d worked with, surviving a realistic apocalypse. The basic setting was one I’d come up with back in 1997, not long after my first reading of Lord of the Flies. In world where almost everyone dies, even the worst humans will generally do the best they can. Not like Golding’s golden boys. So, I made a plan, created a list of nearly 40 potential scenes in the life of Lizzie. Then I wrote it. My brain had been thinking about it long enough and it pulled in all the things I knew. At the end of November I had 68, 000 words! And it was good. Rough, but good. I’d let a couple teen-aged girls read it as I was going along. It stuck with people. With o’ermuch hubris, I decided I would publish it the following August. The working title had gone from Zombie Zoo [Petty] to Where Have All Your Children Gone [Hooters] to All Is Silence In the World [Springsteen]. Finally, after reading a post from Mark Coker of Smashwords who said too long titles don’t sell well, I shortened it to All Is Silence.

In December, I cut the last couple thousand words and wrote 20,000 more trying to get the right ending. As the new year came I had finished a book. By January 2nd I’d decided I hated the 2nd attempt at an ending. Sigh.


Coming next week: Part IV–Synchronicity

* Adapted and expanded from the Foreword to Outward Bound: Science Fiction & Poetry, a collection of some of my published and unpublished works. Top