Boskone 2012

It’s Boskone time again. Boskone is a regional science fiction convention, drawing attendees from all over New England, NYC, and parts farther away. It’s one of three major conventions held every year in the Boston area (Arisia and Readercon being the other two). I’ll be there this weekend: Friday evening, Saturday during the day and perhaps the evening, and Sunday morning. The con is held at the Boston Westin Waterfront.

I’m on several panels Saturday, and will be autographing at 5 pm Saturday afternoon. Sunday morning, I’ll be doing a panel on audiobooks with two estimable colleagues, Bruce Coville (author and founder of Full Cast Audio), and Bob Kuhn, audiobook narrator (including my still-in-progress audiobook of Neptune Crossing). 

If you’re at the con, look me up! 

Tales from the Backlist

If you like short stories and variety in your reading, give this book a try. It’s a collection of short fiction by nineteen authors representing various genres, including science fiction, fantasy, mystery, contemporary romance, regency romance, and probably a couple of others I’ve forgotten.

What these authors have in common is that they (we) are all members of Backlist eBooks, a collection of widely published authors in all genres who are bringing our previously published, out-of-print books back into circulation through self-published ebooks. The group includes bestselling authors and winners of many literary awards, including the Hugo, Nebula, and Rita awards. To help make ourselves better known, we’ve released Tales from the Backlist, filled with (appropriately enough) backlist short stories.

Tales is now on sale in the Kindle and Nook stores, and Smashwords, in DRM-free editions. Soon it will be in the Sony, Apple, Kobo, and Diesel stores. (No matter what kind of reader you have, or none at all, you can get a format that works for you from Smashwords.)

For a limited time only, the regular price of $3.99 has been knocked down to just $.99 at all stores.  Check it out at http://www.backlistebooks.com/2011/11/tales-from-the-backlist/, where you’ll find purchase links for the store of your choice.

On Writing Retreat Again

This week I’m in beautiful Gloucester, Mass., for a few days to get away from it all and try to wrap my head about this elusive book. Allysen set me up with a B&B overlooking the harbor. Here’s the view from my window:

Not bad, huh? The waterfront is actually a lot closer than it looks in the picture. It’s about a five minute walk. The Cape Ann Brewery and Pub is a ten minute walk. (Their fish & chips are good; their beer is excellent.) My next seafood foray will probably be Gloucester House Restaurant, tonight.

When I drove in yesterday, there was an enormous honking cruise ship anchored in the harbor. Here’s a fuzzy picture of it (I really should set my cell phone camera to a better resolution, if I’m going to keep using it for these things):

When I got back to my room, I hopped online to marinetraffic.com, where you can identify just about any ship anywhere in the world at any given moment. You just zoom in on the map, click the icons, and learn—for example—that this cruise ship is called the Eurodam, and it was anchored, but ultimately en route to Bar Harbor, Maine. Indeed, shortly after I took this photo, it moved out of the harbor and headed north.

Writing-wise, it’s taking longer than usual to settle in. My mind is still all over the place; but slowly, slowly, some important issues about the story are starting to ooze back into focus. Here’s hoping it all comes back soon.

Cape Cod Writing Retreat

I’ve just come back from a four-day writing retreat on Cape Cod, in the town of Sandwich, just over the Cape Cod Canal which marks the boundary of the Cape from the mainland of Massachusetts. Allysen set me up at a great B&B in Sandwich (the 1830 Quince Tree House), and I reveled in having time to myself, time to spend near the water, time to write, time to rollerblade along the bike path that runs most of the length of the canal. It was fabulous! Even in such a short time, I started to get more traction on the book. 

Here are some pix I took with my cellphone camera, most of them shot from the bike path while I was skating.

Foot traffic on the path, near the beginning in Sandwich.
In the distance to the south, you can just see the Sagamore Bridge.

Having passed the Sagamore Bridge,
now looking back north toward it.
A little farther on, looking south toward the Bourne Bridge,
and the RR bridge in the distance

The bike path begins near a long jetty that extends into Massachusetts Bay from northern end of the canal. I could have spent a week just watching the boats go through the canal (though I never did catch any of the commercial ships that are supposed to account for half the traffic). Not far along the coast are the beaches, and the salt marshes just inland of the dunes.

 
Sandwich salt marsh

Another highlight was taking a scenic ride on the Cape Cod Central RR, along the canal and past the cranberry bogs. It was a foggy evening, but that just made the canal eerie and beautiful in a different way. (For more money and an advance reservation, you can have an elegant dinner or a family-style supper on the train. That’s definitely on my to-do list with Allysen.)

The Sagamore Bridge, in the evening fog.

The last evening I was there, I got it into my head to skate the length of the bike path (6.5 miles) and take a picture of the train going over the beautiful 1930’s lift bridge at the south end of the canal. I succeeded, though the picture didn’t come out very well, so here’s a shot of the train passing along the canal, right next to the bike path.  And another of the RR bridge against the setting sun. Once I saw the train cross the bridge, and the sun setting behind the bridge, I realized that I’d just watched the sun go down, and I had six and a half miles of skating between me and my car! Flank speed! I just made it before the light failed.

Cape Cod Central RR dinner train, rumbling along the canal. 
The RR bridge at sunset, in the lowered position. 

Finally, I got to enjoy my favorite beer, Cape Cod IPA—and (somewhat to excess) my favorite foods, fresh fish and chips, scallops, and shrimp.

I’m ready to go back!

Interview at Two Ends of the Pen

Today I’m the interview subject (Don’t hurt me!) at a blog called Two Ends of the Pen, which is worth looking at if writing interests you at all. (I mean the blog is worth looking at, though I would hope you find my interview interesting, too.) My host at Two Ends is Debra L. Martin, who it turns out is just a stone’s throw down the road from me, at MIT. This one focuses on writing, and also some of the differences between publishing the traditional way, and the indie way. For a look, go to  http://twoendsofthepen.blogspot.com/. (Here’s the permanent link.)

Speaking of MIT, my friend and SF colleague Joe Haldeman is scheduled to be interviewed this Thursday on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” with Neal Conan from 3PM to 3:40PM. According to his wife Gay, he’ll be talking about the effect his experience in the Army (and presumably in Vietnam) has had on the rest of his life. Definitely should be worth a listen.

Interviewed Today at Kindle Author

Moi is interviewed today at the Kindle Author blog, a spot that features a lot of authors who publish at Kindle and elsewhere, both indie and traditional. (Their main focus is indie, but these days the lines are really blurring. Many traditionally published folk, like yours truly, have a second—or maybe third—foot planted in the indie category, too.)

Anyway, I won’t repeat here what I said there, so why don’t you take a look at the interview? Here’s the permanent link, but if you go to the main page (at least today), you can read my interview and then scroll down and read some other interviews, as well. A fair number of my fellow Backlist Ebooks authors have been sighted there in recent days.

(In other news, tax time is still right around the corner, and I’m now immersed in the Quicken Sargasso, bringing a year’s worth of business records up to date. I’m a walking example of the assertion that some people never learn.)

New Book Projects

I got an email from a reader not too long ago, asking if I was ever going to write a sequel to my star rigger novel Eternity’s End. That got me thinking that I haven’t posted an update lately on what I’m doing in terms of new book projects. So here you go, a writing sitrep.

First of all, the answer to the question is yes, I plan to write a sequel to Eternity’s End. I started jotting down notes for it before that book was finished. The question is, when—because I first have to finish The Chaos Chronicles. So, yes, but don’t start asking at the bookstore quite yet.

Right now, I’m dividing my time among three projects:

The Reefs of Time
The next Chaos book is still coming—still a lot more slowly than I’d like. For the benefit of people who haven’t heard me say this before, part of the reason for this is some serious challenges in my family’s life in the last year, and part of it is that it’s a complex story. We’re going back with Li-Jared to his homeworld of Karellia, along with Bandicut. In related events, other members of the company are journeying back in time, way back in time, and to the center of the galaxy to boot. And there’s always that question, are Julie and Bandicut ever going to meet up again? And what’s this about Dakota? And a fracturing of authority among the Shipworld Masters? Ai caramba. Don’t worry, we’ll get there.

Neptune Crossing Audiobook
Have I mentioned this before? My wife Allysen and I have undertaken as a little “side project” to produce a full-cast audio production of Neptune Crossing. She started the ball rolling as a birthday and Christmas present, and we’re now in the early stages of production. The voices include both of us (Bandicut and Julie), our daughter Julia (Napoleon and possibly Copernicus), and a number of folks from around town with drama or reading talent. I probably shouldn’t name names at this point, but we have an experienced reader with a fabulous voice doing the narration for us, and we’re still trying to figure who of our other volunteers are best for some of the other parts. I think this is best characterized, at this point, as a semi-professional production. We hope to get a salable audiobook out of it, and certainly serialized podcasts, but we’re under no illusions about the work ahead of us. Our model of how this is done is the wonderful productions by our friend Bruce Coville’s Full Cast Audio, and Bruce has generously offered us advice from his own experience.

Dragon Space—a dragons omnibus ebook
My omnibus ebook of the first three Chaos Chronicles volumes has been so successful, I’m now preparing a combined ebook of Dragons in the Stars and its sequel Dragon Rigger. Those two books are already out in individual E-reads editions, but E-reads has generously allowed me the rights to do my own omnibus under my Starstream Publications imprint. I’m close to finishing the formatting of the book files—it’s astounding how long that can take, even when you start with files you think are in good shape (partly because I keep learning tricks that help make well-formatted ebooks)—and my favorite cover designer is working to fit me into a busy schedule.

And every once in a while, it hits me—Oh frak!—tax time is right around the corner!

(If you don’t hear from me for a while, you’ll know why.)

The Heart of Dog

One of my writing friends, Doranna Durgin, has a beagle named ConneryBeagle who’s sick and has expensive vet bills. Doranna put together an anthology of SF and fantasy dog stories, all proceeds to benefit Connery. She’s written a bunch of stories herself, but nine more reprints were contributed by her writing friends, including Julie Czerneda, Tanya Huff, John Mierau, Fiona Patton, Jennifer Roberson, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, John Zakour, and me. Do check it out. It’s only $3.99 at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.

With a Little Help from My Friends!

I wonder if you folks would be willing to help me out a little. Many of you have been remarkably supportive, and have even gone so far as to buy my books. (Thanks!) What I’m asking now is not that you buy my books, but that you help other people buy my books.

Common wisdom has it that word of mouth is the best way to sell. I always love it if you tell your friends and relatives and near-relatives about my work. Now I’d love it even more if you’d help tell some strangers. Here’s how: by posting reviews, and by tagging.

I’m going to talk now of Amazon, but I’m sure there are variations of this in a hundred places. If you know them—please, by all means. Anyway, here’s Amazon, and here’s what I’d love you to do: go to my Amazon Kindle page. From there, you can click each of my ebook titles, which will take you to the product pages.

Once you’re on each book’s page, you have the option of posting a review. Please don’t do anything that you’re uncomfortable with, or that isn’t honest. But if you’ve read the book in question, and you liked it, and feel moved to post even a very brief review, that would be wonderful. Still, reviews are just one way to help.

Amazon has a tagging feature for each book. Those tags help select books shown to browsing customers. There’s no value judgment. The tags simply characterize the books: this one’s about alien contact, or artificial intelligence, or rutabagas in Spain—whatever’s appropriate. My books already have these tags. What I’d like you to do is agree with them. The more people agree with tags, the more weight the tags carry in searches. Here’s how:

When you get to the page, type “tt” quickly—just the letter T twice. (Edit: Click on the page first. You can also just scroll down, but you have to scroll quite a ways.) That’ll take you right to the tags, and open up a little dialogue with the existing tags. (You might have to be logged in as a customer.) If you just check all those tags, or copy and paste them into the little box, then click Save, you’ll register another vote for the tags. It might offer you a chance to Agree with them, or to See All the tags. That’s a good thing to do, too. If a lot of you do that for me, it should bring my books to more people’s attention. You don’t have to say it’s a great book, or lie about how you stayed up all night reading it, or anything like that. Just agree that I know what the books are about. Add more tags, if you like. (Edit: If you feel comfortable clicking the “Like” button, that’s helpful, too.  You can also do this in the Nook store.)

This is a big favor to ask. But if you have a little spare time and would be willing to do it, I’d be eternally grateful. You might not be literally saving my life, but you sure could help me push this writing business one step closer to actually earning a living! Big thanks!

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