Merry Full Moon Christmas!

Full moon Christmas Beirut

This is a photo of last night’s full moon, shining through the star atop a Christmas tree in Beirut (from AP, via NPR). This is the first full moon on Christmas since 1977, and the last until 2034! Our skies are cloudy here in Boston, but I hope you get to enjoy it!

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas! To those who don’t celebrate Christmas, blessings on your day!

Oh, and Happy Birthday, Jesus! Many happy returns!

 

SpaceX Lands a Rocket the Way God Intended!

SpaceX_launch-landing

Straight down, on a tail of fire, that’s how. Anyone who’s read science fiction of the 1950s (Tom Corbett: Space Cadet being a particularly fine example), or seen Destination Moon—or, come to think of it, watched any Apollo landing on the Moon, knows that.

After several attempts, and several failures, SpaceX succeeded with a nighttime launch on December 21, hurling a satellite into orbit, and sending the first stage back to make a soft landing at Starbase Canaveral. It’s not just for show, though the sight was a beautiful one. The purpose is to bring down the cost of space travel by making it possible to reuse these rockets, instead of letting them burn up in the atmosphere or slam down in the ocean.

This is a remarkable achievement for SpaceX, and another step toward more affordable space travel.

Great photos at theverge.com

SpaceX_landing2

and a comparison of this achievement with the recent landing of the New Shepherd rocket from Blue Origin. (Hint: New Shepherd was an outstanding achievement, but this one went higher, faster, harder—and launched an actual satellite in the bargain.)

 

Finding the Christmas Spirit

Like many people I know, I’ve been finding it hard to believe that Christmas is almost upon us. It just doesn’t feel like it; maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather, or maybe it’s the feeling that we’re whirling round and round the sun faster every year.

See if this helps. It’s the U.S. Air Force Band, making a flashmob appearance at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum last year. Enjoy.

Happy Easter!

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Here’s wishing a happy and blessed Easter to all who celebrate Easter! And a happy and blessed fine Spring* evening (or day, if you’re far enough west of me to still have daylight) to everyone regardless of what you celebrate!

We had a lovely day of gathering with good friends and good food (maybe a little too much of that last), followed by a good nap. I was intending to go for a bike ride when I got home from our gathering. But the recliner got to me first.

*Make that a fine Autumn evening for my friends south of the equator.

Smashwords to Offer Library Distribution

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For writers like me who are self-repubbing our backlist books as ebooks—and for that matter, for indie writers of all stripes—one tough if not impossible sell has been libraries. There simply hasn’t been a reasonable way for individual authors to get their ebooks into a system where libraries could buy them. Most library ebook (and audiobook) lending is handled through Overdrive, a distribution system you’ve probably dealt with if you’ve ever borrowed an ebook or audiobook from a library. (I myself download a lot of audiobooks, which I listen to on my Zune while walking Captain Jack or doing housework. They all come through Overdrive.) Well, Overdrive is not a friendly system to get your books into if you’re an individual author-publisher. Some of my colleagues have been trying and trying, and still don’t have their books in there.

Today Smashwords announced a distribution deal with Baker & Taylor, which has been around forever as a print book distributor, and one that many libraries order from. B&T now has an ebook distribution network called Axis360, which offers ebooks to public libraries. And books published through Smashwords will now be eligible for distribution through Axis360. This is great news for writers, and for libraries and library patrons (I hope).

The news from Smashwords also includes distribution to the Blio ebookstore and app. You can read the press release from Smashwords for more info.

SF Festival at Brown Bookstore

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If you happen to be near the Brown University campus today, specifically the Brown Bookstore, stop in and check out the SF Festival they’re having this weekend. I’ll be there in the afternoon, participating in a panel discussion at 3 p.m. Come say hello, and hear what we have to say! Other writers participating include Laird Barron, John Langan, Paul Trembley, Paul DiFilippo, and Daniel Pearlman. (I’m not sure who will be where, when, though. The bookstore website says the panel is at 4, but I was told it was at 3. Who knows?)

I’ll be driving down to Providence in the early afternoon. Here’s hoping the snowstorm doesn’t whack the I-95 corridor too badly, or too early. Nor’easter snowstorm—in October! Aiee!

Neptune Crossing Makes the Top 100 Free Books at Kindle!

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It’s amazing what you have to go through to give a book away for free. I’ve been working at doing that on Neptune Crossing (first of the Chaos Chronicles), and I’ve now mostly succeeded. The thing is, you can’t just do it—not in the Kindle store, or the Nook store. What you can do is make it free at Smashwords, then wait for the free price to migrate out to Sony, Apple, and so on—and then get your friends to visit the Kindle store and report a lower price elsewhere. If you’re lucky, Amazon will pick up on it, and your book goes to free in the Kindle store, the most popular by far of all the ebook stores. (So far, the Nook store hasn’t picked up on it; still $.99 there.)

Why go through this? Well, it’s no secret. I’m offering it free in hopes people will like it, and will want to go on to read the rest of the series, and then perhaps some of my other books, for which they’ll pay me. (Though they’re all pretty inexpensive.) Neptune Crossing: gateway drug.

The other thing is, if a lot of people take your free book, it improves your ranking at, for example, Amazon. The reason that matters is that Amazon gives better exposure to books that have higher rankings—and by association, more exposure for all your others, too. So it can be really good for business to give away a lot of books. A few hours ago, I checked and Neptune Crossing was in the top 100 free books in the Kindle store! It was also #2 in free science fiction!

So if you haven’t already downloaded Neptune Crossing from the Kindle store (or the Sony store, or Apple, or Smashwords), now’s the time! You’ll be helping me out by taking my free book! And send your friends!

Because, you know, I really don’t want to have to carry all these ebooks home after the sale!

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