Tag Archives: Sheridan

30 years ago and 25 years ago today…

As a preview for April, National Poetry Month, when I will share ShuttleNasaPDmore poems.

I don’t write a lot of poetry, but I do write it when inspired. I wrote this six years after the Challenger loss. This was near another more pleasant anniversary, the first birthday of my daughter, Sheridan M. M. Slater. When the Columbia Seven lost their lives I wrote a song. I suppose these were intended to be song lyrics, too, but no music ever came. Columbia was eighteen years later, also in January, but I don’t recall anyone mentioning it two weeks ago. [Author note: Oops. 1/16/03 was the launch date, and the accident occurred on reentry 2/3/03.] I remember where I was for that, too. I will post the lyrics and hopefully a recording of the song.

Happy birthday to my daughter and Ad Astrato the stars for the astronauts. May their service not have been in vain.

Rocket Tears – January 28

I remember the day quite clear as if it were yesterday
A day that had dawned bright and clear, soon would be torn away
I walked into a room, full and hushed, stunned into silence and sorrow
Their spirits were broken and crushed as the blast took away our  tomorrow

Smoke clouds of billowing white; next few moments flash by in a blur
We see the fire as the engines ignite, then the unthinkable occurs
I see the flash and then hear the sound as it replays again on the screen
There I stand and ask why as she crashes down into the sea

There I stood and I cried. . . rocket tears
Sorrowful tears in my eyes
As rain from the skies
Obscures the clouds and our fears

Five years later on that January day, I drove to see a new life arrive
The clouds have now drifted away and now we once again strive
The birth of a baby brings hope of a renewal of life and of dreams
As for death use the pain for our growth, see what the future reveals

From death there will come life again as the phoenix arose from the fire
Please don’t let our dreams fade with the flames of the funeral pyre
Tell the story to daughters and sons of the lives that people have given
In the dream of pursuing the sun they’ll remain in our memories living

Here I stand and I cry. . . rocket tears
Hopeful tears in my eyes
As rain from the skies
Obscures the clouds and the years

January 1992.

Author’s Note: Yes, this is where my publishing company name, Rocket Tears Press, comes from. 

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 

My Path to Indie Publication: Part V–Reality and the Instability of Time

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.

Reality and the Instability of Time, a.k.a. Learning to Use Scotty’s Law of Time Estimation (or even less well known, how to a write a blog post with too long a title…)*

[Author’s Note: Sorry this is late. It’s at least slightly ironic that this blog-post was late, no?]

When I “finished” the first draft of And Everything After… [Third working title. First was Zombie Zoo, Second was Where Have All Your Children Gone?] I decided I wanted to publish in August of 2013—TEN MONTHS after I’d written the first words. Hubris? Yeah. There have been lots of humbling moments in response to this presumptuousness.

As part of my NANOWRIMO prizes, and on the recommendation of my new editor, I bought Scrivener Writing Software for half-price–a steal at $20. Reasonable at the usual price. I bought the Windows version to format Outward Bound, the Science Fiction & Poetry collection. I had struggled with the NANOWRIMO 45 day free download of Scrivener and given up on it.

After the stress of finishing the first draft of the novel, I found that taking already existing documents and uploading them into the software was easy. Then turning it all into an e-book was even easier. The only real issue I had was formatting the poetry. One poem graphically moves across the page like a spiral galaxy; getting it to look right in an ebook was challenging. I had hoped to release Outward Bound in April or May as a way to build interest in the release of All Is Silence In the World [the penultimate title]. But as June came, it was not yet ready for prime time. Luckily, as a self published author the only deadlines one has to hit are ones own.

Meeting Alice Acheson at the Chuckanut Writer’s Conference helped me figure out a more reasonable plan for marketing and releasing the novel. All Is Silence. Alice suggested waiting until February because when bookstores get a book at the holiday season or soon after, there is so much going on that it may not get noticed. So I picked February 11th. It seemed like a long way off.

With my final installment of Memories of Light, the Science Fiction Serial, appearing in the Bellingham Herald in August, I wanted to maximize that press opportunity. But the novel was not nearly finished. I decided that releasing Outward Bound instead of the novel in mid-August with a sampler chapter of the novel made the most sense.

In late July I submitted the current draft of the novel to CreateSpace to see what it looked like in print. I went with a generic cover and the wrong title, Deserted Lands, not wanting anything to go wrong about having the book out too soon. I had printed a slipcover for it featuring the amazing art of Pintado. ALL IS SILENCE.  I was thrilled to hold it in my hands. For about 30 seconds. Well, maybe five whole minutes. This now svelte title, cut down due to reading a blog from Mark Coker of Smashwords, [Web editor’s note: Rob’s daughter Sheridan suggested cutting the title to ‘All is Silence’ months before he] housed a manuscript that needed a similar svelteness.  If I had published it at this point I would have been deeply embarrassed, yet many of the self-published books I have tried to read seemed to be released at this point.

The weeks leading up to the release of Outward Bound and my “chapter” of Memories of Light became full of marketing and formatting and uploading and re-editing stories and poetry I hadn’t read in years as well as the new Deserted lands works. On a challenge from Holly Lisle, I had started three short stories set in the Deserted Lands universe intending to include them in the collection. The first two came easily, but I realized the third was not a short story. It told about a European stuck in the U.S. due to the pandemic and trying to figure out how to get home to his lover who had also miraculously survived. This novel, about a bunch of non-sailors trying to cross the Atlantic, is now slated for #10 in the series, I think. Might be #7.

More delays coming. Which leads into Part VI: Playing the Professional.

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

Debuts of another sort.

Secret’s out. I’ve got my new glasses on. My hands look wrinkly. “Jes call me, grampa.” Poppy actually. Sitting here with Nonna Elena. Toasting the new babe with dark chocolate and a Syrah.

Sheridan M. Musick Slater and Cameron Caya had a baby girl, my first grand-kid: Elliot Marie. 8 lbs. 19.5 inches.

Not a lot of sleep last night, but I did sleep on three chairs pulled into a “couch” and my 9 year old’s purple pillow pet.