Tag Archives: Heinlein

SmorgasBlog Post III: Worldcon, Woops and WATTYS 2015!

Robert Slater saw Robert Sawyer at a Spider Robinson play, while Spider joined us by Skype! I saw and heard Robert Silverberg’s hilarious, tambourine accompanied plea for peace like they had at the 1968 Worldcon in Berkley. In between the tear gas and cannabis smoke wandered the Hari Krishnas chanting calmly. Also got to nod a greating to him. Hadn’t seen him in about 10 years. He looked great.

I missed the Heinlein Blood Drives and my autograph session was mostly a bust other than as a test run for the download cards from Greenerside Digital I’ll discuss below. I ended up spending a lot of time in my hotel room putting finishing touches on Straight Into Darkness.

I ignored the funny sounds that seemed to be coming from my laptop speaker which was, of course,  muted. I should have known. Unfortunately, I didn’t follow my own advice, and when the darn thing crashed with a Fan Error and refused to boot I have not backed up my in three or four eventful writing days. I recovered much that I had done on GoogleDocs, but what was done in my Scrivener file? It’s still there as I my two day shipping on the fan turns into three or four as well.

I nearly cried when I couldn’t find a scene that I had written. I sucked it up and used the school computer to create a new Scrivener document, so that I could release an updated version of the one I’d uploaded to CreateSpace a good two weeks before. Sigh…

So, all that to say, I should have taken note of the apocalyptic sun that greeted me in Spokane and been more wary! I may or may not Download cards Medhave print books at the release party. I will have download cards like these. The four e-books included would cost $16.96 on-line and you would not get the cool credit card sized cover art. They are good for one download each in either epub/kobo/nook/itunes or mobi/kindle formats. Your cost Friday at Village Books? $11.99, the same price as the paperback of Straight Into Darkness all by itself. I am willing to sign and mail these as well. I don’t have them up on the store yet, but if you want a set, let me know and I’ll send you a paypal invoice. Shipping is pretty cheap compared to a full book, too!

Please don’t forget to TWEET something like this: Check out my favorite for the Wattpad People’s Choice Awards. ‘s

Thanks. Hope to see you all soon for a reading near you.

Radcon Schedule

Holy moly. How is Feb 6th already? Here’s my schedule for RadCon 6C in Pasco, Washington next weekend: NEW SESSION ADDED on Young Adult Fiction.

Friday, Feb 13 5:30:pm-6:30:pm
Student Writers: Tips for Growing as a Writer
Our visiting writers and editors give out tips and tricks to our aspiring young writers! If you are a student writer, interested in improving your writing, this is a “must attend” panel!
Alma Alexander, Laurel Hill, Frances Anne Pauli, Robert L. Slater.

Friday, Feb 13 6:30:pm-8:00:pm
Sex, Violence, and the Modern YA Story
The Current trend of sex and violence in young adult books seems alarming…but is it really? Or is it a good thing? And is there a proper way for the author to approach it?
Jaleta Clegg, Sam Knight, Anna Sheehan, Kaye Thornburgh, Robert L. Slater.

Saturday, Feb 14 11:00:am-11:30:am
Robert L. Slater: Reading Room
Robert L. Slater reads fro his selected works.

Saturday, Feb 14 12:30:pm-1:30:pm
Can Not Put It Down Pacing
What distinguishes the book you can not put down from an interesting character story or a stylistic triumph? Is it the same for everyone?
Maggie Bonham, Harold Gross, Elizabeth Guizzetti, S. Evan Townsend, Robert L. Slater.

NEW Saturday, Feb 14 5:30:pm-6:30:pm
Young Adult Fiction
A quickly growing genre, what does it mean to write young adult fiction? Discuss the challenges and rewards of writing for young adults.
Alma Alexander, Frog Jones, Kaye Thornbrugh, Robert L. Slater.

Sunday, Feb 15 11:00:am-12:30:pm
Energy Independence
Coal, solar, oil, hydro-electric, bio-fuels, nuclear (gasp!)… the possibilities for energy seem endless. How can we become energy independent? Are some options “better” than others? Discuss the driving factors behind various energy options and what the common consumer can do.
Hugh Gregory, Vandy Hall, Guy Letourneau, G. David Nordley, Robert L. Slater.

If you’re coming to RADCON 5C, please consider bringing Classic SF novels for donation to the Heinlein For Heroes [H4H] Program.

Coming to the end of 2014! Thanks and more…

Looking forward to 2015 as we wrap up 2014!

What’s to come? 2014 was amazing for me as an author. It was everything I hoped for, if not everything I dreamed of. Where is that contract for the foreign rights, and the option on the screenplay? 😉

indiereadernextpicsSeriously, I hit some top ten lists, got reviewed by Don Sakers for Analog magazine, won an award, rubbed elbows literarily with Veronica Roth and Scott Westerfield and literally with Hugh Howey, who complimented my pagination! In addition to Hugh, I met Matt de la Pena, Corinne Duyvis and Mark Leslie. I sold more than half of my first printing, plus a whole lot more e-copies. I’ve exchanged e-mails with Mindy McGinnis and been retweeted by Neil Gaiman himself!

I wrote more than 100,000 words of new Dystopian-compactfiction by the 1st of December, setting a new record. I am sending out a newsletter tomorrow with information on how to get beta-reader copies of my Deserted Lands novella, TOILS AND SNARES. I’m filling in the gaps in the ALL IS SILENCE sequel STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS.

WattPadWorldMap-AiS
Readers of ALL IS SILENCE on Wattpad. Darker blue is more reads! No one is reading me in Mongolia. Neither upper nor lower.

As of tonight ALL IS SILENCE has had 91,000 reads on WattPad–over 1000 folks have read the first 12 chapters. AiS averages about 150 unique readers each day, 27% of which are in the Phillipines! It hit #2 behind Scott Westerfield’s UGLIES back when Wattpad allowed each work to be listed in two categories. Now that it’s only listed in Science Fiction it has gotten as high as #13. Maybe tomorrow it will break into the top 10! Thanks to Amanda Hagarty for all the advice and support. And to everyone else who has been so amazing this year:

  • The readers. The readers. The readers.
  • My beta readers, my family, my students, my friends… [many of you fit more than one of these categories.]
  • Brendan, Sam, Christina, Paul, Rachel and everyone else at Village Books
  • Don Sakers and Analog
  • Kiffer Brown and Chanticleer Reviews
  • Bellingham Writer’s Group and Cozy Corner Coffee and Books for hosting it and selling my book, too!
  • The Hoquiam Timberland Regional Library
  • Harbor Drug in my hometown.
  • Mark Leslie and the crew at Kobo Writing Life
  • Whatcom Community Library System
  • Bellingham Public Libraries
  • My editors, proofreaders
  • Upstart Crows and the Whatcom Writers & Publishers
  • Pintado for an amazing cover
  • Damian Vines for amazing author photos
  • The Heinlein Forum on Facebook
  • All the writers who inspired and inspire me
  • And everyone else I forgot!

THANKS FOR THE AMAZING YEAR. See you in 2015!

The Doldrums, Rising Tide and Banned Books

The last month has been a hard one in terms of writing. Though I wrote 55,000 words this summer, probably more than I have ever written, it was not the 75,000 and the finished rough drafts of a novel and a novella. Instead, I have unfinished drafts of two novels and a novella. I also hit some walls in terms of writing everyday, one of the biggest was my day job as a teacher coming back into 45+ hours a week focus.

My sales also fell, despite being involved in two sales for e-books. My book is no longer new and no longer getting lots of attention. Now is the time to be gearing up for the next book, but the state of the next book is not where I want it to be which is also somewhat crippling.

I’ve had a steady increase of readers and reviews on GoodReads, followers and readers on WattPad and followers on Facebook. Twitter has stabilized at about 1000 followers and my e-mail list at about 130. I feel like I am in a good place, but the doubts of the doldrums decimate my desires. [Can you tell I’m teaching poetry and literary devices?]Hot#3WP

On the other hand, the good news is really good. On WattPad the number of people who read the first section and go has been trending steadily upward from approximately 3% to 4% and now over 5.64%. It’s broken the top hundred in Science Fiction and hit #3 on the SF/Teen Fiction list! At this rate I’ll hit 100,000 reads in April as I release book two, Straight Into Darkness.

This weekend I got to hang out with readers and writers at The Chanticleer Conference, Awards Banquet and Books By the Bay festival. I sold more books than in the previous month and got to network with some awesome authors.

I’ll be starting my PubSlush campaign October 17th to crowd-fund higher payments for cover art and editing on book two so that it is an even stronger book than All Is Silence was. Glad you’re along for the ride!

Oh, check out my Banned Books reading from Robert A. Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. “I grok humans, Jill.”

 

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really!

Notes from a Commencement Address to Windward High School’s Class of 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Class of 2014. Sunscreen. Really

What is Rob known for? Not throwing things away? Recycling? So the best way to offer advice? Recycle it. Borrow from the best. So, I’ve got advice from Shakespeare to Suess, Anne Frank to Ani Difranco, Heinlein to Hemingway, Mother Teresa to Twisted Sister, Spider, My Aunt and the Beatles, Tolkein to Rowling, and Socrates to Slater [cough].

Dr. Seuss: Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.

RELATIONSHIPS
Ernest Hemingway: The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them

Accept, embrace, seek out diverse ideas, people, experiences.

Ani DiFranco: There is strength in the differences between us. there is comfort where we overlap.

Mary Schmich from Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen. “Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.” or your family’s. If they are, tell them “We’re not gonna take it.”

Don’t try to save anyone who is not already trying to save themselves.

Find at least one friend to tell your secrets to. Be a good shoulder to cry on and find a good shoulder to cry on when you need it.

Follow your instincts! If someone makes you nervous there are reasons, even if you can’t put your finger on them. Don’t be paranoid, but do be careful. Travel with friends. Maya Angelou: Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.”

Accept chivalrous actions, but don’t be blinded by love, roses and repeated apologies. Be wary of promises. If you ever hear, “You would do this if you love me,” run. Run fast. Run far. If you’re interested in dating, watch how the person treats their parents. Watch how the parents treat each other. This is not infallible, but is a strong predictor.

Spider Robinson: “Shared pain is lessened. Shared joy is increased.”


MONEY

Beatles: “Can’t Buy Me Love.” You won’t have to worry about money problems if you follow these rules.

  1. Pay yourself first – Out of your very first paycheck, [out of your graduation gifts] take 10% for you to spend on yourself right now, put 10% away for long-term [retirement], 10% for emergencies.
  2. Pay bills on time – If you can’t make a due date call them before the date and tell them. Ask them if they can be flexible. Most of the time they can and will with reasonable people.
  3. Don’t run up loans, credit cards, for anything less than your house, your education, or your car. (And not for the car if you can help it.

Socrates: Wisdom begins in wonder. Read, Read, Read!

Don’t be a pirate. If you find a book, a movie, a song that touches you enough that you want to experience it again. Try to pay the person who gifted the world with their art. Share it with friends.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
Dance! Sing! Laugh!

Be responsible to yourself. Take chances on new friends, and on new experiences, but not in a car! 6% of Drivers are under the age of 21, but are involved in 11% of accidents.

Learn to say “I’m sorry.” Even if you don’t mean it, it begins a healing process. Nothing else will soothe your soul and other’s souls as quickly.

Forgive quickly and try not to hold grudges. Get angry and let it go.
Be generous with your thanks. As Mother Teresa: “We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.” Notice all the beauty that is around you and swim in it.

Abraham Lincoln, who suffered from depression, said, “Most people area as happy as they make their minds up to be.” Make your mind up to be happy. Ask for help. Depression is real. Sometimes being unhappy can be cured by a little exercise, especially outside in the fresh air. Get some sun, but not too much. Sunscreen. Remember.

Relax. Learn exercises to help you focus your mind and body like Tae Kwondo, Tai Chi or Yoga. Learn to recognize when your body is tense. Then learn to relax it.

Robert A. Heinlein: “Always listen to the experts. They’ll tell you what can’t be done, and why. Then do it.” Make lists of things you want to do today, tomorrow, next year and the rest of your life. Mark each one off when you do it so you will feel accomplishment and progress. You can even add things that you have already done to the lists. Give yourself credit. Give others credit.

You are at the beginning of the most freedom you will have in your life. Choose to enjoy it. Soon enough you will have lots of responsibilities. Let them come in their own time.

Anne Frank: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Improve the world a little at a time by being a good friend, by smiling, by cleaning up after yourself wherever you go. And that recycling thing? No aluminum in the paper and no paper in the bottles and cans or garbage!

Ralph Waldo Emerson: appreciate beauty, find the best in others; leave the world a bit better, whether by a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.

Stand out. Weird is not necessarily a bad word. Be outstanding in your field, even if it’s a real field full of muddy pigs! Work hard at something you enjoy. Expect to have to work for everything you want, then when things come easier you will really appreciate them.

Keep a journal to help you remember now, this time, today. You think you’ll never forget, but as you get older things fade. Write in it your lists of things to do. Write the things you want to say to people, but can’t. Someday you’ll be able to. Write a song, a poem. Write when you’re angry. Then burn it. In a safe place and then make sure the fire is out.

In a commencement speech Jim Carrey said that fear will be a player in life, but you get to decide how much. You can spend your life imagining ghosts, worrying about the future, but all you have is this moment. Many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. What we really would love to do seems impossible, out of reach and ridiculous. So we never dare to ask the universe for it. Ask for it. You can fail at something you don’t like, why not try to succeed at something you Love? Love or Fear? Your choice.

And last, for now anyway, but certainly not least: Love! Keep falling in love. With life, the sun, the stars, the rain, a person, a song, a thought, an ideal, a book, a movie, a food, or a flower. Be good to each other. Dream a little. And This above all: to thine own self be true.

[Then I played Get Real. Here are the lyrics. Here’s the song.]

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

My Path to Indie Publication: Part VI–Playing the Professional.

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 Path to Indie PublicationPart IPart IIPart III. Part IV. Part V

Playing the Professional *

I had started marketing as soon as I knew I would be publishing the novel. I took my Twitter account created the previous year, created a similar named Google+ account and began posting on Facebook. I began building a emailing list for semi-monthly newsletters with a goal of having 100 names by the end of the year. The Twitter goal was 1000 and though I didn’t have numeric goals for Facebook and Google+, I intended to be actively involved and grow my ‘friends’ lists/circles.

I had purchased the desertedlands domain at the beginning of 2013, excited to find it not already parked or purchased. I began blogging using WordPress on both www.robslater.com and www.desertedlands.com in March and May of 2013 respectively.

On August 7th, I woke to a happy surprise, an email from Analog reviewer Don Sakers, a friend of a friend on the Heinlein Forum on Facebook. He requested the opportunity to read All Is Silence, warning me that he wouldn’t publish a bad review. I thanked him and promised an Advanced Reader Copy [ARC] by late September. My writer friends told me how rare it was for a reviewer to request an ARC. I was flying high.

By August 22nd, the release of my chapter of the serial, Memories of Light, in the Bellingham Herald, I was posting to the blogs 2-3 times a week, but mainly little updates, nothing resembling content. When Memories of Light came out, I got a huge bump in traffic that has not yet been surpassed. I humbly explained my changes of plans and the updated release dates and continued to stumble forward with the rewrites. The updated goal was to have a completed manuscript to enter into Chanticleer Reviews’ Dante Rossetti Young Adult Fiction contest by late September.

So, a new school year started and my day job resumed, with the added bonus that I got to teach a NANOWRIMO: Young Writer’s Program class, I began with 15 students all planning on writing at least 30,000 words. This gave me time during the day to plan when my students planned and write when they wrote. With early October approaching and a reading at Village Books for the Herald’s serial story I was scrambling to get Electronic Advanced Reader Copies [eARCs] out to be followed by print ARCs. When I sent off the manuscript to Chanticleer, it was complete, but not finished.

The next professional appearance was the reading at Village Books for the Herald serial story. I ended up getting to be the Master of Ceremonies and read Larry Goolsby’s section, the first ‘chapter’ and my own, the last. It went well we had a good house of about 35 people and I handed out a bunch of postcards with my two covers back to back. I dressed up in a button down shirt and did my best to ‘be’ the pro writer I wanted to be. After the reading I made sure to thank Sam, our Village Books host, and he asked if I’d be willing to be a future featured author in the Kobo e-book newsletter VB sends out monthly. Of course, I said yes.

I held off sending it off to Don Sakers of Analog until I’d done another pass on the manuscript. I was torn between not meeting deadlines I’d already extended and sending off something I knew needed to be better. I compromised with myself, did another edit and sent it to Don.

Straight into Darkness, the next book in Lizzie’s story, had begun to take shape. I hit 1732 words on November 1st. But the Scrivener to Print formatting had a learning curve took a major bite out of my time when I wanted to be writing. What I haven’t figured out yet, even as I try to be a pro writer by acting like one, is how to balance the writing and all the business: marketing, production and distribution.

Next: Part VII–The Harder I work the Luckier I Get.

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

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

Path to Indie Publication: Part II–First Sale

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.

First Sale *

So after following Kris and Dean to that Rustycon workshop in Tacoma where I learned THE SECRET of breaking through in publishing, I focused on short fiction. It made sense. My pace was somewhat off the mark for one a week, closer to one a month or so. I managed 17 submissions in 1996 and 88 in 1997. In 1998, submission #141, “Shooting Star,” sold to Millennium SF&F. The story was inspired by an off-hand remark by Dean, I still hear his voice when I read the last lines of that story. It took me about 20 minutes to write the first draft. It went on to sell two more times totaling over $30 and let me call myself a published and paid writer. It also helped me believe in Kris and Dean’s suggestion that writing fast was not necessarily writing bad.

I continued to write and submit short fiction while I puttered away at a traditional fantasy novel, which I will publish along with its unwritten, but envisioned sequels at some point. I submitted it to the same slushpiles as the other novel. Again, no luck.

I went to conventions, Worldcons in 96-97 and many other local cons, collected rejections, took workshops, participated in Schrodinger’s Petshop Cyber where I re‘met’ Holly Lisle. Holly was a friend of a friend through the Heinlein Forum and the Galactic Citizen contacts and I bought and loved her first book, Fire in the Mist, and its follow-ups. I participated in the Critters online critique group and attempted to create and fit in with other in-person writer’s groups.

I kept up a steady stream of submissions and discovered Slater’s First Law of Submissions. If one had enough stories in the mail, they didn’t sting much when they come back. Its corollary is when one has gone without seeing or thinking about a story for weeks to months, an honest reading and rewrite is easy when it finally return. [This editing breaks one of the Roberts’ Rules of Writing, but I think fits within the developing yourself as a writer piece.]

The Second of Slater’s Laws of Submissions is more of a guideline or probability—Maybe Slater’s Rule of 12. Whenever I managed to have 12 stories submitted at one time, I would sell one by the time the other 11 came back. [Hhhmmm… 11.]

Over the next few years I sold several more stories, started many more and finished quite a few of them. Was I ready for prime time? No. Not by a far piece of hard road. I had racked up 300+ submissions, gained a pretty thick skin and hated it when people gave me critiques of, “this is good.” I wanted to get better.

My next near-big breakthrough happened the year I managed 101 submissions.


Coming next week: Part III–2003: Breakout year?

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

Electronic Advanced Reader Copies are out!

Hey folks,

It feels amazing. I wrote the first words to All is Silence November 1st 2012. It’s original working title was ‘Zombie Zoo’ (from Tom Petty) then ‘Where have all the children gone?’ (from the Hooter’s All you Zombies {also a Heinlein Title}) then ‘And Everything After’ (From Counting Crows) then “All is Silence in the World” (from Springsteen’s Jungleland) shortened to “ALL IS SILENCE.”

If you did not receive an e-mail regarding eARCs [aka galleys, aka the ‘last’ draft before line editing] and you should have send me an e-mail at rob@robslater.com.

Now I’m finishing out some pre-chapter quotes and formatting for print. I should have print ARCs/Galleys in about two weeks to send out to major reviewers.

Prepping to write the next book “STRAIGHT INTO DARKNESS” from the Tom Petty song of the same title. It’s about six months since the pandemic hit and Lizzie has choices to make. Stay tuned here for updates.

Rob