The Infinite Sea Goes Live at BVC, and Gets a New Look, Besides

My third Chaos book, The Infinite Sea, has been out as an ebook for quite a while, but I’ve been waiting to put it up at Book View Café until I could get a new cover designed for it. I’ve been wanting a new cover for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right art. (On my budget, the art on my books usually comes from stock art web sites, sometimes with significant massaging, or combining of images, by whoever does the design work for me. On my more recent books, that design work has been expertly done by my fellow BVC writer, Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff. Sometimes I can use the original art from the print edition, with permission of the artist, and that’s cool, when it happens.) But in this case, I just couldn’t find what I wanted: an undersea tableau on an alien world.

Enter Chris Howard, writer and artist, whom I first met when he enrolled in the Ultimate Science Fiction Writing Workshop that I’ve run from time to time with my friend Craig Shaw Gardner. Chris is a gifted writer. It turns out he’s also a terrifically talented artist. Take a look at his website, saltwaterwitch.com, and tell me he’s not. I commissioned a piece of original art from Chris, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the results.  

The Infinite Sea goes on sale today at Book View Café in its new clothes:

Original artwork (c) by Chris Howard

For those who like history, here’s what the future looked like in print from Tor Books, and also its previous ebook cover, which I created myself, using Chaoscope, a chaos image generator. I liked the Tor cover a lot, and I liked the chaos image, though my hand-made cover had a, well, hand-made look to it. I’m really psyched to be moving on to the new image, from Chris Howard (type design by Maya). It will replace the versions currently in all the other stores, as well.

 And these last two covers will retire, with honor.

Riding a Comet!

The successful landing of Philae on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko by the European Space Agency is a welcome bright spot in this month’s space news. Bright for science, and bright for the spirit of exploration. Well done, ESA!

As I type this, I don’t know if Philae has yet run out of battery power. In case you’ve been living in a mine this week, Philae dropped across space to a landing, but took a few unfortunate bounces and ended up resting on a precarious spot with too much shadow for its solar cells. I wish we could send it a light! I’d even contribute my Stanley car jumpstart battery, if it would help. Well, I’m sure Philae’s clever scientist-parents will make the most of it. And I can’t wait to find out what they learn. [Update: Apparently it has run out of battery power, after drilling into the comet, but before sending data back. Ow, that hurts. But there may be opportunity for it to recharge slowly, in the coming months, and maybe come back to life for a while. Let’s hope.]

It’s amazing how little we knew about comets until we started visiting them in robotic person. We used to think they were basically dirty snowballs. Now we see that they’re much more like asteroids, but with some snow and ice to provide outgassing for the halo.

As I looked at the pictures of the comet, I found myself thinking of John Bandicut, fictional space pilot in my novel Neptune Crossing. John had to smack just such a comet really really hard, to keep it from hitting Earth. Looking at those pictures of a real comet, I reflected on how Bandie was one mongo brave dude to do such a thing. Even if he did have alien science working for him, and was half out of his mind with silence fugue. When I wrote the scene, I knew he was brave. But I don’t think I knew just how brave.

Thanks, Bandie, for riding that other comet!  (Even if you are fictional, and in the future.)

I like XKCD’s view of the landing:

http://xkcd.com/1446/

New Covers, Going Free, and Like That

My friend Rich Bowker blogged recently on the reasons for making a book free for a limited time. He doesn’t mention what I think is the main reason for giving away books, which is to introduce your work to new readers who you hope will become returning regulars. But he makes a good case for doing it for the reviews you hope the giveaway will generate.

I’ve had Neptune Crossing free for a long time now, in hopes of introducing new readers to The Chaos Chronicles—and there are three more books already available for said new readers to spend their hard-earned money on (with one more in the writing, and one last book planned). And it seems to be working. But reviews are definitely important, too, and if you’ve read and enjoyed any of my books, I hope you’ll take a few moments to post a review (or several!) at the store where you shopped, or Goodreads, or another social networking site. Careful readers (or maybe I should say, compulsive readers) may note that I’ve been gradually updating my ebooks with requests at the ends for the appreciative reader to click a link and post such a review. They really make a difference—partly in guiding other potential readers, and partly because they can affect sales algorithms and whether a particular book will be accepted into a promotion such as Bookbub or The Fussy Librarian. Your vote counts!

Another thing I’ve been doing lately is getting some new covers made, to replace my early and rather crude efforts on the Chaos books. Here’s the new one I’ve just uploaded for Strange Attractors!

I still have The Infinite Sea to do. I’m still searching for the right image.

The BookBub Promotion Went Great

If you were reading here last week, you know I marked down my omnibus ebook of The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1-3 for a week, in conjunction with a promotion on Bookbub.com. The sale went amazingly, gratifyingly well. Better than I expected or dreamed. In fact, there are more than 2500 people out there with shiny new copies of my omnibus on their Kindles, Nooks, iPads, whatever. More than 1500 people grabbed it on the first day alone. We broke into the top 100 sellers of all books in the Kindle store, and briefly lingered at #65 among all Kindle ebooks. More importantly, I’ve already heard from one new reader who discovered my work through the sale and has already ripped through it happily and gone on to download Sunborn.

That’s the most gratifying thing about it, is the new readers. The extra income is nice, too, of course.

If you’re one of those readers, I hope you enjoy the book! And if you do, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d take a moment to post a review wherever you bought it, or at Goodreads, or anywhere, really. Word of mouth means everything. And thanks!

Bookbub Promotion on The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1–3!

Starting today, and for one week, The Chaos Chronicles: Books 1–3 (an ebook omnibus edition) will be steeply discounted, down to $1.99! That’s for three complete books—and would be a great price for just one book! Here’s another exclamation mark, for good measure! This is my second promotion through Bookbub, and I’m hoping it does as well as the first.

These three novels are enough to get you well into the Chaos story, starting with Neptune Crossing, and continuing with Strange Attractors and The Infinite Sea. I hate blowing my own horn, so can I let some others do it for me? Here are some honest-to-God quotes from other people:

  • Neptune Crossing – Called one of the best SF novels of the year by Science Fiction Chronicle 
  • Strange Attractors – “An irresistibly readable story line reinforced by fascinating speculative science.” —Booklist 
  • The Infinite Sea – “Another splendid adventure, with intriguing puzzles, first-rate problem-solving, and an impressive array of alien characters, motives, and methods.” —Kirkus Reviews

The Chaos Chronicles — click to biggify

It’s available at Nook, Amazon, Smashwords, and iTunes. It’s now also marked down at Book View Café. And at Kobobooks.

If you haven’t already added this set to your ebook collection, what are you waiting for?

A New Look for Neptune Crossing—and First in a Series at Itunes!

A lot’s been going on since I last wrote. One exciting thing is that I’ve put a new cover on Neptune Crossing, which will join my list at Book View Café next Tuesday. It’s still free everywhere, both as a thank-you to my readers and as a way for new readers to discover my work.

In addition, Neptune Crossing has been selected as part of an iBooks promotion called “Free First in a Series at iTunes.” This is via my Smashwords edition which distributes to the Apple store, so a big thanks to Mark Coker of Smashwords for that. To see all the books being promoted as free first books in a series, go to the iTunes store, click on Books, and browse the front-page banner until you come to it.

Here’s the new cover, designed for me by Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, fellow BVC author. In her spare time, she’s now working on a new cover for Strange Attractors.

Neptune Crossing cover

I have to get back to doing my taxes now, but look for another book-related announcement in a few days.

First Writing Retreat of 2014

I’m on Cape Cod for a few days, to clear my head and try to get some traction in the rewrite of The Reefs of Time. I’ve got the whole book loaded into Scrivener now, with notes all over the place, and Scrivener has already proved its usefulness in letting me move the chapters of different subplots around like chess pieces. I think I’ve got them lined up the way I want them, though of course I might feel differently as the rewriting proceeds.

Part of what I love about coming to the Cape is a chance to walk along the beach and the dunes, and refresh my brain with ocean air. Whenever I do that, I seem to see patterns in nature that somehow connect with what I’m writing. The tide coming in over the sand, for example, creates little ephemeral rivers that remind me of the starstream, a cosmic structure of my own imaginary design which figures prominently in the new book. (See From a Changeling Star and Down the Stream of Stars for more about the starstream, which was born of a supernova and a long cosmic hyperstring.)

I’m not sure what these vistas of sand dunes remind me of, but I felt strongly that they symbolize something in the story I’m writing. I guess I’ll find out what, later.

In case you think I just stole these pictures off the internet, here’s one of me standing where the dunes give way to the beach and the water. (Would you trust this guy with your daughter? Hmm.)

How about this guy? (He claimed to be rollerblading. But it was way too cold to be rollerblading. What was he really doing?)

The Reefs of Writing — Scrivener?

I’ve been poring over the first draft of The Reefs of Time and taking copious notes on what I need to change as I rewrite it. To my surprise, I found more places that seem to call for further development than places that need extensive cutting. (There’s always a need for cutting and tightening; that goes without saying. But I’m talking about the light-saber approach that’s sometimes needed to excise long, rambling detours. I didn’t find too many of those.) That’s both good news and bad news. The good part is, the first draft is better than I expected. The bad part is—well, remember the picture I showed you of the first draft? The second draft could be longer.

Not what I expected.

To deal with the complexity of the book—I wrote several different subplots as standalone documents, figuring I would figure out how to braid them together later—I have decided to give Scrivener a try. Scrivener is a writing tool designed especially for people like fiction writers, with all sorts of organizational features, including the ability to easily move sections around, as well as keeping notes and research materials at your fingertips. That seems like just what I need. It offers many things that Word does not. Unfortunately, it also lacks a few of Word’s features that I use all the time, such as support for paragraph styles and keyboard macros. An uneasy tradeoff.

I’ve spent much of the last two days with the trial version of Scrivener, loading all my different documents and notes into it, and slicing the book into chapters for easy manipulation. My current plan is do the heavy rewriting in this environment, and then port it back into Word for the final polish. That’s what some of my colleagues do, and it seems to work well for them. (Here’s one such report, from Charles Stross.)

This is all subject to change, as I test things out. Stay tuned.

“Read an E-Book Week” Specials

It’s that time of the year again! Smashwords is sponsoring their annual Read an E-Book Week blowout sale. Tons of books discounted or free, through March 8. I’ve put up two boxed sets at 50% off. Just use the coupon code REW50, which you can also find on the books’ product pages, in case you forget it.

My colleague Doranna Durgin has not only put a slew of her own books for sale, but also invited other authors to list theirs. (I imagine a list will begin growing on Doranna’s blog over the next day or two.)

And I say, why not? If you’re an author with a book or books on sale, list it here in the comments section! The more, the merrier!

By the way, my Bookbub promotion has been very successful, and Eternity’s End is still on sale, through March 7.

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.

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