Neptune Crossing to Be Narrated by Grammy Winner Stefan Rudnicki!

Great news on the audiobook front! While many of my older books have been available in audiobook for some time, my most recent work has never been recorded in commercially available audio.

Well, we’re about to start changing that! Neptune Crossing is coming to audiobook, and with a vengeance. I’ve signed with Skyboat Media and Grammy Award-winner Stefan Rudnicki to both produce and narrate the book. In short, I’ve just signed with one of the premier audiobook producers in the business! I could not be happier.

Stefan-Rudnicki1I have long noted Stefan as one of the narrators I most enjoyed listening to as a consumer of audiobooks. (Audiobooks are how I get most of my reading done nowadays. Some people use them to while away long commutes. I use them to while away long dog walks. In fact, my most recent listen was to Zeroboxer, a wonderful young adult science fiction novel by Fonda Lee, narrated by Stefan.) I have long felt that if Audible or any other audiobook producer were to ask me who I would like to narrate any of my books—and no, they’ve never asked—Stefan’s name would have been right at the top.

My road to getting Neptune Crossing into audio has been a rocky one. Tor Books, the original print publisher, controlled the audio rights, but didn’t exercise them. A few years ago, I started trying to get just the audio rights back, but it was a slow slog; and when I finally got a complete rights reversion, it came just too late for a particular window of opportunity. That was pretty discouraging, and for a time, I didn’t do anything further. But when one door closes, another opens. When a colleague of mine at Book View Café mentioned that Stefan’s Skyboat Media was open to new material, I thought, “What have I got to lose?” I queried, and sent them an ebook to peruse. About a week later, Stefan made an offer for a production deal, with Blackstone Audio as partners—and because he liked the book so much, he wanted to narrate it himself!

I didn’t have to think long about that. I brought my agent in to handle the contracts, and a few weeks later, we were signed. Stefan tells me we’re aiming for a release date of September 6, in both CD and MP3 download from all the major audiobook vendors.

This will be an important trial. If sales go well, the hope is to continue with the other Chaos titles, and maybe Eternity’s End. So everybody, Please pull with me on this one! Spread the word! Neptune Crossing hits the airwaves on September 6! If you don’t listen to audiobooks yourself, you probably know someone who does. What a great gift! Or get your local library to order it! That’s the ticket!

Thanks in advance!

Carver-Neptune Crossing600x900

 

2014 in Review, Personally Speaking, Part 2

I got a little sidetracked, but I want to finish my wrap of our last revolution around the sun, so I can move confidently into the future. Here are some of my thoughts on the arts for last year.

Some great films came out in 2014, and I even saw some of them. Here are some highlights for me:

Interstellar — A visual spectacular, with great acting, great emotional punch, and a storyline that’s interesting if not entirely successful. A thoughtful movie that trips here and there, but is well worth the ride. If you haven’t seen it, try to get to it on a big screen.

Mockingjay, Pt. 1 — Thoroughly engrossing, with great characters and excellent fidelity to the book. I was prepared for a disappointing “transitional” movie, laying the groundwork for the final installment, but it really delivered. Shortly before seeing the movie, I saw Jennifer Lawrence interviewed by Stephen Colbert, and she looked exactly like a young woman of her age—giggly, nervous, a little unsure of herself. Onscreen and in character, she is a dynamo, absolutely remarkable.

Maleficent — I didn’t see this in the theater, but caught it on Netflix. Surprisingly powerful and entertaining.

Big Hero Six — Another surprise. I expected to enjoy it, but in fact was quite taken by its charm, sweetness, and emotion.

Snowpiercer — Strange and powerful, and more than a little surrealistic. Does not stand up to logical scrutiny in the least, but I don’t think it was intended to. I was glad I saw it, but I’m not sure if I’ll want to see it again.

Guardians of the Galaxy — I already wrote about this, extolling its wit and humor. Suffice it to say that I loved Rocket and Groot, and rate this my favorite movie of the year.

What about books? That’s a little harder for me to write about, because so much of my reading (on the page or virtual page) was for critique, or for awards voting, or nonfiction that I dipped into but didn’t necessarily read from beginning to end (such as a history of World War II, an account of atomic disasters since the nuclear age began, and profiles of important players in the space program). I started a lot of pieces of fiction that I didn’t finish, sometimes because it didn’t grab me, and sometimes because something else would come along that I needed to read for one reason or another, and then something else, and so I never got back to the first piece. It’s a lousy way to run a railroad, and I want to do better this year. Like read more of the 1001 books I’ve added to my ebook library!

Audiobooks, now—those I’ve been enjoying, because I can read while I’m out walking Captain Jack. I don’t think any of my favorites are new titles, but they’re new to me, and that’s all that matters, right?

Stephen King’s Gunslinger series — Riveting, well told, and with terrific narration. I’ve listened to the first few volumes, and have the next one queued up in Audible for the near future. 

Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Radio — An award winner some years back. I’d never gotten to it, until last summer, when I listened to the audio version. Terrific, thoughtful storytelling, with an unnerving and scarily believable premise. Get ready for the next stage in our evolution, and the ensuing social chaos.

Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mysteries — Private eye stories told from the viewpoint of the PI’s dog Chet. Charming and funny, with great narration.

Larry Bond’s Cold Choices — A submarine thriller, told with realism and tension, as the crew of a U.S. nuclear sub risks everything to save the lives of the crew of a crippled Russian sub. This may be for submarine fans only, because of the amount of detail about life on a sub, but I enjoyed it.

A word about the Jack Reacher novels, by Lee Child, which I’ve been enjoying for a few years now in audio. The last few have been disappointing, including this year’s entry, Personal. If you’re thinking of trying a Reacher novel for the first time, I strongly recommend earlier novels, such as Die Trying, Without Fail, or Bad Luck and Trouble. And I can only recommend the audiobooks versions, because that’s the only way I’ve ever read them. 

Doh! How could I forget? (Sometimes when you read friends’ books in draft form, you forget to note when they’re out in the wild.) I don’t actually remember when these hit pixels, but I think of them as having arrived in the last year or so. Writer/artist Chris Howard issued a graphic novel version of his SF novel Salvage. Former Ultimate SF workshopper Lisa Cohen published a YA novel, Derelict. And for some completely silly, completely fun fantasy, it’s hard to beat Craig Shaw Gardner’s Temporary Magic novels, complete with Bob the horse!

And in case you didn’t catch it from my last post, yes, I’m still working on The Reefs of Time, and making progress!

Writing as an Act of Faith

As I said in my last two posts, I’m on a writing retreat to work on The Reefs of Time. There’s an interesting faith component to this retreat. While the act of writing is almost by definition a leap of faith (Will this book I’m spending years writing actually turn into something good?) there’s a little more to it this time. As part of my church’s annual Leap of Faith experiment during Lent, I have been praying for a creative breakthrough, and also in particular that my writing wouldn’t just sell, but would touch readers in meaningful and uplifting ways. I mean, really, if it doesn’t do that, is it worth all the work and mental anguish? (Yes, aspiring writers, sometimes it definitely feels like anguish.)

Well, on my first night I settled into a comfortable chair with my laptop, in front of a crackling fire (I have a really nice room at this B&B), to begin writing new material. Not moving stuff around, not taking notes, but doing the hard thing: new stuff. No sooner was I settled in than an email came in. Really, I should have been ignoring emails at that point, but I caught out of the corner of my eye, in the little notification window, something about The Infinity Link. Now, The Infinity Link was one of my early novels, not much noticed nowadays, but in my writing career it was a breakthrough novel in many ways. (Not the least of the ways was that it started small, grew large, and took me bloody forever to write—not unlike the book I’m writing now.)

So I read the email. It was from a reader new to my work. He’d found The Infinity Link in a used bookstore a while back, and read it. He’d just read it again, this time via the Audible audiobook. And he was writing to tell me how profoundly the story and some of its images had touched him—and he just wanted to let me know, and to thank me for writing the book!

Before answering the email, I sat there for a few moments, dumbfounded. I don’t know how you would take it, but that sure felt like an answer to prayer to me.

The writing came easier for the rest of that night.

Another Audiobook You Should Listen To

From a Changeling Star, by me. Okay, I guess that sounds like the usual author self-promotion, and on one level, I suppose it is. But I actually just finished listening to it, and I really liked it!

The reason I just listened to it is that I’ve started going through all my books that come before The Reefs of Time, to refresh my memory of what happened, in hopes of avoiding continuity blunders. Also, in hopes of picking up inspiration from some of the things I cleverly put into the story, but have since forgotten. Fortunately, I can listen to several of them in audio, so I can be working while I walk the dog. Two of them, From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars, are not formally part of The Chaos Chronicles, but they’re about the creation and use of the starstream, which provides the backdrop for Reefs. Plus, the robot Jeaves first appears in those stories.

Listening to someone else read your work can be pretty difficult. Wrong pronunciations, wonky intonations, “character voices” that don’t sound right to your inner ear. Things probably only you the author will notice. Sometimes you just flat-out don’t like the sound of the narrator’s voice for your book. This one isn’t entirely free of those problems, but it’s way better than some others I’ve listened to, and on the whole I thought narrator MacLeod Andrews did a fine job. Next for me, Down the Stream of Stars.

Audiobooks I Liked Last Year

In keeping with my tradition of never getting this stuff up at the same time everyone else is doing it, here’s my belated list of books I enjoyed listening to last year—mostly while walking the dog. Jeez, I must spend a lot of my life walking the dog!

  • The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
    I refused to see the movies when it first came out, because I didn’t want to watch kids killing kids. By the time the second movie arrived, I’d heard so much about how great the story was that I watched the first on Netflix—and to my surprise, really liked it. So I listened to audiobook and really liked that, too. 
  • A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter Miller, Jr.
    This is an SF classic that I read decades ago, one of the great post-nuclear-war novels, set mostly in a monastery somewhere in the American Southwest. I gave it a listen on audio, and found it held up very well—perhaps a little long in places, but with more humor than I remembered.  
  • The Gunslinger, by Stephen King
    Years ago, I bought a print of the Michael Whelan painting that was the original book cover (I think) for this book. But I’d never read the book until I decided to give it a try via audiobook. Excellent narration, and a story that did not initially grab me, but had me hooked by the end. 
  • The Winds of War and War and Remembrance, by Herman Wouk
    I don’t know what made me decide to try these very long novels about a Navy family in the lead-up to World War II in the first book, and through the war in the second. Maybe it just seemed like a good deal—a whole lot of hours of listening, for the same price as any other book. Anyway, I was thoroughly engrossed. There were places where it got slow, but overall, I was quite satisfied and moved by the story. 
  • Cloud Atlas, by David Mitchell
    This is another book I decided to try after enjoying the movie. In this case, the book is quite different from the film, and much more complex in its plot. I liked both, but in different ways. I want to try more by this author, but haven’t decided which to listen to next. 
  • The Mote in God’s Eye, by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven
    Another SF classic, which I’d read years ago on paper. It was a good listen. What surprised me most was how much of it I misremembered. There were scenes I recalled with great clarity from my first reading. The thing is, they either weren’t in the book at all, or were very different. Memory is a tricksy critter. 
  • The Dog Who Knew Too Much, by Spencer Quinn
    This is a private eye novel narrated by the P.I.’s dog Chet. The story is good. The dog viewpoint on it all is great. The author really knows how to get into the dog’s way of seeing things. Very funny. There are more Bernie and Chet mysteries, and I’ve got them in my wishlist for the future. 
  • Failure is Not an Option, by Gene Kranz
    This is for space aficionados only, but if you’re a fan of the space program, you’ll enjoy the inside look at what the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo days were like for the mission control teams at NASA. It presumes you already know the excitement and doesn’t even try to recapture the thrills. But it does make you feel like you were there, trying to work your way through the life-and-death decisions.  

This one I read as an ebook, but I’m listing it because I really liked it:

  • The Red: First Light, by Linda Nagata
    The story of an augmented soldier, this takes us into the world of the near future, where small wars are basically the bread and butter of defense contractors (more so than they are already, I mean). Artificial intelligence has become a necessary adjunct to the working soldier. But exactly where are the AI’s leading? Well thought out, and well told, by a Nebula-winning author. The first of a series. 

Some of these I bought, and some I downloaded from the public library. The options for us as readers just keep growing!

Edit: I forgot to mention the Jack Reacher books, by Lee Child, narrated by Dick Hill. I can’t remember exactly which ones I listened to last year, but most of them are good. Exceptions: A Wanted Man, which was way below par, and One Shot, the basis for the Jack Reacher movie, which I also found below par. Pick another, any other.

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