Tag Archives: Speculative Fiction Serial

Digital Book Day/Guest Post/Word Counts/Steampunk Festival

Welcome, all new visitors and everyone who took part in Digital Book Day. Thanks to CJ Lyons for all the hard work and the wear and tear on the servers. Thanks to all you readers out there who find new books, review them and tell your friends about them.

Today I have a guest post up on Selah J Tay-Song’s blog about creating a fictional near future world. Though blogging and guest posting may cut into the fiction writing time, it is fun and it forces me to reflect on my methods. I’ve written 16,000 words of non-fiction this year and 30,000 of fiction. Only 152,500 to go! I am pounding out the words for the next novella and the Toils & Snares novella at a steady if slow pace of 676 words a day for the last 27 days. Hoping to pump it up this week with some extended writing time.

SEVEN more days until the hardcover and paperback go back to pre-ALA prices. So, if you’ve been thinking about ordering a signed copy, now is the time to do it.

Saturday I’ll be appearing at the Fairhaven Steampunk Festival sponsored by the Bellingham Steampunk Society and Village Books. I’ll be reading parts of Memories of Light, the Bellingham Herald’s serial science fiction story I got to co-write last summer. In addition I will be participating in a panel: Steampunk Community of Writers Networking and Discussion Opportunity. Come join a variety of local authors, including Amanda Hagarty, Karina Cooper, Rob Slater and Rachel McCausland. I’m not very steam-punky yet, but am interested in writing it when my schedule is less blocked. I have always had a soft spot for Dickens and the Victorian age. 

Until next week.  Write on… Read on… 

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

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

My Path to Indie Publication: Part IV–Synchronicity

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. Part IIPart III.

Synchronicity *

I had a book. I had a title. I couldn’t stand the ending. Rewrote it. Waited. Fiddled. Hated it. Cut it. Waited. Rewrote it. Close.

I discovered the Speculative Fiction writers group at Village Books and was chosen for the Bellingham Herald’s annual serial story, Speculative Fiction this year, six writers, 800 words each, released on consecutive Mondays.

I attended the Children’s Literature Conference at WWU and stalked author Michael Grant for a couple days. He didn’t seem to mind. He gave me advice on blurbs and marketing and asked me what I thought of his choice to use “swore” instead of including the profanity as part of the dialogue. As a school teacher I assured him, that for his audience it was the perfect choice. He declined my request to read All Is Silence. I also managed to reconnect with Tamar Clark, one of two Teen Services Coordinators at the Whatcom County Library System. She and her partner in crime [fiction], Aubri Kelerman, have been great helping me understand the public library systems.

With great guidance by Dean Kahn, the Serial Story: Memories of Light, came together quickly and cleanly, leaving me with the issue of wrapping up the ending. I had volunteered, thinking that since I wasn’t great at endings, forcing myself to come up with one and not let my fellow writer’s down was a good challenge. Amanda Hagarty was the writer before me and she left me in a place where I didn’t know I could write myself out of in 800 words. My first draft that got to the ending was 1200! But with the help of Amanda and the other serialists, I cut it down.

Cory Skerry, local writer and slush-pile reader at Tor.com stalked me enough to decide I would be open to him contacting me by e-mail. He invited me to join the Bellingham Writer’s Group that included fellow serialist, Amanda. She became my Story Editor for All Is Silence and her fixes and suggestions made it from a 103,000 word mess into a too trim 88,000 words with some suggestions on adding some muscle to that taut frame.

The Chuckanut Writer’s Conference at Whatcom Community College added value and excitement. I met Alice Acheson, connected more with Kiffer Brown of Chanticleer Reviews and joined IBPA, The Independent Book Publishers Association.

Post-NANOWRIMO, I did the Book Doctors Webinar, a deal at $70 for NANOWRIMO. Arielle and David were most helpful. Then I entered their online Pitchapalooza, which since I had already purchased The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published for some ridiculous sale price of $2.99 or something, got me a 20 minute telephone conference with David. Killer advice on the pitch on going traditional or indie and how to get good cover art. In order to be truly professional when the novel came out I needed to pay for a cover and editing.

One of his suggestions was 99Designs. I set up a contest on 99Designs, and after a scary first few days, started to get really exciting designs. I ended up with 146 designs from 30 designers.

As I began to think of ways to develop buzz for my novel and learn the process of self-publishing, I decided creating an e-book of my published fiction would help both goals. Along the way I decided that it made sense to include some new fiction set in the Deserted Lands Universe. I contacted the runner up in the novel cover contest, Portugal—Alexandre Rito, for the cover design of the Outward Bound eBook.

This post is chocablock full of links because I put myself out there where I could run into people who could help me. And run into people I did. I accepted offers and invitations and I asked people what I could do to help. My meager assistance for many of these folks has been returned sevenfold and continues to ripple through my universe.


Coming next week: Part V–Reality and instability of Time, or learning to use Scotty’s Law of Estimation.

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

Successful Reading & TWO days left to sign up to be a Beta reader.

The reading Saturday night at Village Books for the Bellingham Science Fiction Serial “Memories of Light,” went really, really well. It will be broadcast on 3 local radios stations, dates to be announced: KMRE, KSVR and KAVZ.

Also connected with a few more Beta readers and Sam, the Kobo guy for Village Books. I may get to be the featured author for their Kobo newsletter at some point.

If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter (above and to the right) you have TWO days to do so in order to be a Beta reader for my novel ALL IS SILENCE. If you have signed up for my newsletter you will be getting an update next week and your own personal e-copy of the Beta Version of ALL IS SILENCE.

It’s going well, and even with the edits it’s sticking really close to 90,000 words, about 276 pages or so. Thanks for your support. Tell your friends to sign up, too.

Rob

eARCs almost done. Reading Saturday at Village Books.

Hey folks,

If you’ve signed up for my newsletter (above and to the right) you will be getting an update next week and your own personal copy of the Beta Version of ALL IS SILENCE.

The work has been hard, but I can see how much improvement has happened.

Saturday at 7pm The Bellingham Science Fiction Serialists will read “Memories of Light.” Come listen and ask us about the process.

Thanks for your support. Tell your friends to sign up, too.

Rob

Author Appearance: Memories of Light reading at Village Books.

Come see Rob and his fellow Serial Writer’s at Village Books on October 12th at 7pm downstairs in the reading room.

Also, recruiting BETA readers and reviewers for an October 15 eARC release date. Sign up for my newsletter and you will receive the sneak peak at All is Silence. If you provide feedback and/or forward it to reviewers/librarians/book-bloggers, you may get your name as special thanks in the published version.

You may also earn a FREE SIGNED COPY. Click on the link at the right for more information.

Thanks,
Rob

One Week. [Yes, I am a Bare Naked Ladies fan.]



One week and you can order my short story and speculative poetry collection: Outward Bound. The following week my concluding chapter in the Bellingham Herald’s Serial Science Fiction Story: Memories of Light comes out.

Getting excellent feedback from my editor and other beta readers. Want to be a beta reader? Get my newsletter for free stories and information.

Photo for Serial Story article and new story

Got my picture taken in the bowels of the Bellingham Herald building for the Serial Story: Memories of Light. Also, we will be doing a reading of the serial at Village Books at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct.12.

Finished the 2nd draft of the opening story for my Fiction and Poetry collection. It is a Deserted Lands short short story. I haven’t written a ‘writer’ story as such, so this is a first. What would a middle-aged writer faced with the end of the world do? This story provides one answer.