If you like private eye novels, and if you like near-future civilization-grinding-down novels, and if you like great characters and witty dialogue and sharp writing, why don’t you check out my friend Richard Bowker’s new book, Where All the Ladders Start. Because it has all that, and more.
I got to read this one in manuscript—actually, in several different drafts—and it’s really good. I understand it’s available now in both ebook and paper. Check it out!
It’s that time of the month again. If you’ve subscribed to Bookbub.com (as I have so often exhorted you to do), you already know this: The Rapture Effect is on sale for a buck minus a penny, for a week and a day minus a day. Get it while you can!
The Rapture Effect was my first book after The Infinity Link, which I recently blabbed about. It’s about artificial intelligence and alien contact, two of my favorite themes, with overtones of music and dance. Oh, and an interstellar war. It has some great aliens, with names like Moramaharta and Dououraym. I think you’ll like it.
The Infinity Link, my fourth novel and my first biiig novel, is now available in an all-new ebook edition. The cover art is still the gorgeous David Mattingly painting that has been on every previous edition, from the Bluejay hardcover to the Tor paperback to the earlier E-reads ebook edition. But inside the cover, the ebook has gone through a complete reformatting and beautification, and I think it looks great. In the years since E-reads put out their edition, the tools for ebook formatting have improved dramatically, as have the reading devices themselves.
This 180,000 word novel started as a short story in my head, with just the main character and her plight (an impossible love, at the other end of a tachyon beam). It grew quickly into a longer story, and then a full novel. And then a big novel.
Funny thing about big (thick) novels: They seem to go in and out of style with remarkable speed. When the first paperback edition came out, the publisher lamented to me about the length. (I love your book. I just wish it weren’t so long. It’s hard to fit thick novels into book racks in drugstores and supermarkets, and even in bookstores you can’t get as many on the shelf.) To his credit, he didn’t ask me to change it; he just told me the facts of life as he saw them. Historical note: Back then, they actually sold SF books in drugstores and supermarkets, and those were very important parts of the marketplace.
A few years later, the same publisher reissued the paperback, with a different cover treatment (same art, but used differently), and they printed it on thicker paper, making the whole package thicker—yes, bigger and fatter. I never was given a reason for this, but could only conclude that that year, fat books were in.
Here’s the sales blurb:
Ancient alien travelers. Hopeless love. Astonishing encounter. Mozelle Moi’s life turns into a flight of fear and astounding discovery, as she becomes enmeshed in a secret government project to make first contact with visitors from the stars. Caught in a telepathic link with the Talenki voyagers, Mozy’s personal odyssey will soon be entwined with the fate of all of Humanity.
Combining visionary scientific speculation with passionate human characters, The Infinity Link is an epic work of transcendent science fiction and an exploration into the very nature of humanity. From the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End.
“A long, ambitious work, painted on a canvas as big as the solar system. The concept itself is even larger—the eventual linkup of various intelligent life forms of our galaxy, including humans, whales and several alien races. Carver carefully sets up his story and develops it in a meticulous fashion…it works very well.” —Publishers Weekly
“A complex, rich, and satisfying novel.” —Fantasy Review
There are more review quotes that you can read on the actual sale pages, if you want.
The Infinity Link debuts today at Book View Café, and is also available (or will be shortly) wherever fine SF ebooks are sold!
Over 4230 copies of Eternity’s End in the last week! A new Bookbub record? I dunno, but we just squeaked past the number they listed at the top of the range of sales for science fiction books! And as far as my own personal record is concerned? We knocked it out of the galaxy! KABOOM!
So, thanks, all of you bought Eternity’s End. And a double thanks to all of you who post reviews, which will encourage even more people to try it in the future!
I’m taking my writing group out to dinner, because they helped me make the book worthy of your time in the first place!
Here, have some extra exclamation marks. You’ve earned them. !!!!
Even if the popular demand is just from me the marketing department at Starstream Publications, we prove once again that we listen to our customers. My standalone novel, The Rapture Effect, is once more available in ebook format, this time from my own imprint and Book View Café!
Here’s the blurb:
War between the stars. It was started by an AI, and few humans even knew there was a war at all. But now people are dying, not just robots and aliens—and the AI wants it to stop. But a war is easier to start than to stop, and the computer can’t alter its course without outside help. When the Gnostic Control System searches for conspirators, it chooses its friends carefully…
Pali: a public relations director, who broods far too much on her unfulfilled ambitions.
Ramo: a flamboyant senso-dancer and sculptor, who prefers a musical jamdam to serious conversation.
Sage: an awkward systems designer, for whom the AI rapture-field is realer than life.
And three of the alien Ell: Harybdartt, who would rather die with dignity than betray his people; Lingrhetta, who tries to unravel the meaning of human dance and music, pain and love; and Moramaharta, the binder, who must persuade his fellow decision-makers to risk everything for the sake of a fragile bridge of understanding across the stars.
A thought-provoking novel of the not-too-distant future, from the Nebula-nominated author of Eternity’s End and The Chaos Chronicles.
“The Rapture Effect is a lively dance of ideas—first contact, interstellar war, artificial intelligence, alien culture—and it moves at a rapid pace, from Earth through cyberspace to the Horsehead Nebula, and various points between. It’s well-worth the trip ticket.” —Roger Zelazny
Art by David B. Mattingly, cover design by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff
Q. Then the . . . war . . . is being fought by . . . AI-units? A. Yes. Q. And who is the enemy? A. Unknown. An alien race. Q. You mean our first contact with an alien race is a war? A secret war? A. Yes. Q. Who manufactures the AI-units? A. The Company. Q. Who is conducting the war? A. The Company. Q. Who knows about this? A. The Company, the government, and you.
I’ll be your server this week, Mesdames and Sirs. We only have one Special this week, but it’s one I’m certain you will enjoy—and an amazing value for your entertainment dollar. That’s right—this week we’re offering Eternity’s End for less than that dollar, in fact a mere $0.99. That’s less than you tipped the parking valet to get into this joint. And it’s way less than the regular price of $5.99! Can you believe it?
I’ll be honest—at first I thought it was a misprint. But I checked with my manager. And yes, it’s $0.99, with no limit on the number of copies you can buy! One for the bathroom, one for the bedroom, one for the living room, six to give to friends! Oh wait, it’s an ebook, so I guess you don’t need to buy one for each room. But you could, if you wanted to. For one week only.
Eternity’s End is a big-scope science fiction novel. I mean, BIG scope. In one place you can peer all the way from one end of eternity to the other! (Except that eternity has no end, unless, um… well, never mind that.) Eternity’s End is set in my Star Rigger universe, and it was a finalist for the Nebula Award the year it was first published. It’s also a book that I feel very good about having written, a book that I would have wanted to read, if someone else had written it. Plus, it has a dog in a minor role, and cool amphibious aliens, and space pirates who might not be all they seem. Oh, and a Flying Dutchman of the stars.
I did some further upgrading of the interior formatting of the book for the occasion. If you’ve already bought the ebook, you should be able to download the newest version of the book from the store where you bought it. I can’t swear that every store allows this, but if they don’t, they should.
Yes, I’m working with Bookbub again—conspiring, I hope, to sell a lot of copies and become rich beyond my dreams of avarice. Or at least, you know, to sell a lot of copies. Some of which, I hope, will generate favorable reviews. Which will help, down the road, in drawing in even more unwary readers.
If you’ve held off before, why not give it a try? What have you got to lose? The supersize option on your next Starbucks coffee? You shouldn’t be drinking that much coffee anyway!
Happy New Year, everyone! Here at the Starrigger Ranch, we celebrated New Year’s Eve by watching Guardians of the Galaxy, this time on Blu-ray—and by completely forgetting to note the actual time of transition into the new year.
Space selfie, from my vacation home on the Moon
I thought I’d give a few highlights of the last year, from my own perspective. By and large, I’m going to ignore the big, public events, which you already know about anyway. (Okay, let’s get it out of the way. Politically it was a depressing year in the U.S., where everything that was already broken got even more broken. Overseas, the words ISIS, Ukraine, and Russia pretty well set the tone. But, the landing of the European probe on a comet was a breath of fresh, minty air, and so was the first test flight of NASA’s new Orion spacecraft.)
It was a pretty good year for the family. Our older daughter made two trips to the Middle East, pursuing her interest in building bridges between the Muslim world and the Christian world. Our younger daughter accompanied us to London for the SF Worldcon, which was an adventure for all of us. (For me it was mostly an adventure in trying to enjoy a trip while gradually being brought down by bronchitis or pneumonia, depending on which doctor you believe. But my wife and daughter had a great time.) Our two furballs, Moonlight the cat and Captain Jack the dog, remain in good health.
Julia with furballs Moonlight and Captain Jack
Writing-wise, I continued to make slow progress on the rewrite of The Reefs of Time. It continues to be a hard book for me to write, and I don’t know exactly why, but I’m getting there, and God willing, I will finish it this year. After all, I still have The Masters of Shipworld to write when that one is done. And none of us is getting any younger, at least not that I’m aware of. People say that writing is a lonely business, and it is. But I get lots of support, for which I’m eternally grateful: from my family and friends, including my long-standing SF/F writing critique group, and also my writing and spiritual support group through my church, and also my fellow writers at Book View Cafe. I write alone, but I don’t feel that lonely in it.
In 2014, a lot of my work time was devoted to issuing new ebook editions of my backlist, and I’ll still be working on that into 2015. It’s way more time-consuming than you might think (a subject I’ll explore another time), even with the ton of help I’m getting with the formatting. But it’s also a lot more rewarding—gratifyingly so. 2014 was a year in which many of my colleagues reported declining sales—battered by rising competition, changing sales algorithms at the retailers, new subscription models (especially at Amazon) that cut into sales, and who knows what all. I was more fortunate, thank you. My own ebook sales took a quantum leap upward, primarily owing to a steady series of successful promotions. This means not just more income, but new readers.
To give you a handle on what I’m talking about, let me throw out a few rough numbers. Here are some approximate totals of ebooks I sold in the last few years through my own imprint (there were additional, modest sales through various publishers):
2011 — 4000 ebooks 2012 — 8100 (including a big jump in the UK, for unknown reasons) 2013 — 7800 (the UK jumps even higher, while the US declines) 2014 — 22,000 (the UK craters, while the US vaults)
Let’s put that into perspective. For guys like George Martin and Hugh Howey, that last annual total would probably be a disappointing month. For many equally talented writers, it’s an impossible dream. Me, I feel blessed and thankful to have gotten here. I have no idea what caused the UK surge in 2012 and 2013, or what made it stop in 2014. But I do know what caused the big total upswing in 2014: my almost monthly promotions in concert with ads through places like Bookbub. Also, bringing more of my books under my own imprint, where I can design my own covers, set my own prices, do my own promo. Publishing direct at Kobobooks also helped, in concert with promotions Kobo sponsors. Many of those new sales were at steeply discounted prices. But the specials brought along waves of readers to other books selling at the regular prices. Bottom line: I reached more paying readers with more different books this year than in any year I can remember. And that’s good for the family budget. It’s also good for connecting with whole new populations of readers. And that may be the biggest reward of all.
From time to time, I like to brag about some of the great work my former students are doing. (I may be taking too much credit in calling them “my students.” They participated in my writing workshops, but they came loaded for bear with talent.) One of them, Chris Howard, created the cover art for The Infinite Sea, and is working on art for Seas of Ernathe. Another, LJ Cohen, has come out with several books, both SF and fantasy, leaning toward young adult.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned KJ Kabza before, but the time is long past due. KJ is a short story writer more than a novelist, and as such he is one of the brightest and most original new talents I’ve seen in a long time. He’s been selling to magazines such as Fantasy and Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction, and Nature (yes, that Nature, the one with all the science). He’s come out with not one but two collections of his stories, available right now in ebook format.
You’ve squandered another perfectly good hour listening to… no wait, that’s Car Talk.
This is Bookbub. That’s right, starting today, I’m practically giving away another book: Star Rigger’s Way, which only recently came back into e-print via my Starstream imprint. Ninety-nine big ones for this novel, for one week only. That’s 99 Lincoln pennies, neatly lined up with all the dates right-side up, please. That’s less than a dollar, and much less than half of a Starbuck’s coffee! What’s not to like about that?
Fun facts about Star Rigger’s Way:
1. A minor character in this book, Legroeder, became the main character of a later book, Eternity’s End. 2. Characters only mentioned in passing in this book—i.e., space-faring dragons—became the central element of two other novels, currently available in one omnibus, called Dragon Space. 3. The original Dell paperback cover for this far-future saga appeared to feature a guy in a NASA-issue spacesuit, taking a space walk from Skylab. (Remember Skylab?) It was a very pretty cover. But a tad anachronistic.
You can get this deal in any of the following book pubs:
I’ve just finished spending a lot of time over several days fixing typos that a reader found in the three-book omnibus of The Chaos Chronicles. The irony is that I had just put up a new version of The Infinite Sea, with a new cover—and with several typos (or formattos) fixed that I had found myself while rereading the book. (I’ve been reading through all the Chaos series, to refresh my memory on the story details as I write the fifth book.) The very next morning, I received an email from Kindle support, listing four typos that “readers” had reported in the Chaos omnibus. I checked, and sure enough, they were real typos. They were also spread across all three books—so I had to correct, not only the omnibus volume, but all of the individual novels as well. (The two in The Infinite Sea were different from the ones that I had found in my own reading.)
I have no idea how many times these books have been gone through, by me and by others, trying to catch any lingering mistakes. It just goes to prove how blasted hard it is to catch everything.
I’ve written before about how time-consuming it can be to fix typos in ebooks, especially when you have several slightly different versions distributed across a bunch of different outlets, in two different ebook formats. I took the opportunity this time to fix something that was already on my to-do list, and that was to change all the quotation marks from straight quotes to curly quotes. When I first created these books, ebook reading devices could not be counted upon to display curly quotes correctly, and I avoided them like the plague. Now, though, it’s normal to have curly quotes in ebooks, and the lack of them in these books made them look a little less professional than I would have liked. So, that’s done now. (Changing them is quick—a simple Find and Replace in Word. Checking for all the insidious ways in which Word can screw it up is not nearly so quick.)
If you own any of the first three Chaos Chronicles ebooks, you should be able to go back to the store where you got them and download updated versions.
And if you’re one of the readers who reported the typos to Kindle support . . . (sigh) . . . thanks. I really do want the books to be as error-free as humanly possible.