Memory and Metaphor at Amazon February 1

I started this project in 2013, writing the first 15 thousand words in a fever during a long weekend. We all know what happened after that, right? Yeah, it progressed slowly, a couple thousand words at a time for two years.

I presented it at a Writers’ Clinic at BayCon in 2015, and the critics were generally impressed. Enough so that I was encouraged to press on and finish it. One of the panelists gave me the calling card for her agent saying, “She’s looking for a good space opera.”

Turns out she wasn’t. Or, at least, wasn’t looking for my space opera.

After putting the final touches on the book in the fall of 2015, I spent the next two years trying to find an agent. To no avail. Literary agents, it would seem, are much more difficult to impress than panelists at the BayCon Writers’ Clinic.

The project languished in my hard drive, all but forgotten.

Then there was WorldCon in San Jose, California. I was feeling pretty good about myself for reasons unrelated to writing. I had lost 30 pounds on a new diet, made some new, very cool friends in the Royal Manticoran Navy, and it was a gorgeous day in the South Bay. I wandered around the vendors’ area, purchased a few books for future reading, and admired the crafts of some very imaginative and creative people.

And stumbled upon the booth of Paper Angel Press. I don’t remember, at this late date, who it was crewing the booth, but she mentioned that they were looking for new writers.

Hmm. Maybe?

I took their business card, and when I got back home I dusted off the digital manuscript. Made some changes, and submitted the first 10 thousand words.

Then forgot about it. I went back to daily life, lost more weight, and considered ideas for a new writing project.

The publisher, Steven Radecki, sent me an email two months later. He wanted to see the rest of the manuscript!

So, here we are. Five months later, and the book will be available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble (bn.com), and Lulu on February 1.

Where do we go from there? A sequel, obviously.

Holy Crap! I have a publishing contract! Now What?!

I have aspired to being a published author since I was a child, and now I will be one.

    recumbent-mac-and-coffee.jpegI attended WorldCon76 in San Jose, California last August and met the lovely people of Paper Angel Press at their booth. I remember it quite vividly. I was looking quite dapper in my Royal Manticoran Navy Lieutenant’s uniform, with a daypack to carry all the books I bought. I don’t remember the name of the woman who was crewing the booth (I really suck at remembering names), but we had a lovely conversation and she invited me to submit a manuscript as they were actively looking for new authors. I took a business card, and continued my treasure hunt.

Upon arriving back home, I dusted off my last completed project, made sure it was in proper submission format, and sent it off. Paper Angel Press promised that they would respond within 30 days.

Forty-two days later, I received a reply saying that they are looking forward to working with me. They sent a draft agreement, and later a physical copy of the final draft arrived in my mailbox yesterday. It sits on the table next to the computer, and I have a pen in hand. Now what?

I have a feeling that after I sign this contract, my life isn’t going to be the same. I’ll be able to divide my life easily into two parts: Before Contract and After Contract. While I wrote prodigiously in my youth (usually when I should have been doing calculus homework), writing has been a hobby lately. Something I did for NaNoWriMo, or when I had a free weekend. Now somebody is going to pay me, not just for my wordsmithing, but also for the marketing of it, which comes part and parcel. Nobody is going to read it if I don’t do some marketing, and quite frankly, I suck at marketing as much as I do remembering names. I tried to be a salesperson once. It didn’t end well.

Now, writing will be a business. Assuming that I make a buck or two on the sale of the book, I’ll have to declare it on my taxes, list the expenses of traveling to science fiction conventions and book promotions on my tax forms, and all that other businessy stuff. And if the book sells well, I’ll be under pressure to write a sequel, or some kind of follow-up story, and people will be breathing down my neck for a deadline. If the book doesn’t sell well, I’ll be under pressure to write something better.

Time to stop procrasting and do this.

Robots don’t bleed motor oil.

I just wasted two hours of writing time calculating the specifics of a starship traveling from Epsilon Eridani to Rigil Kentaurus, little of which will be appreciated by the reader. We demand accuracy in other forms of literature, but for the most part, people are willing to give science fiction a pass.

I’m one of those people who cringe whenever we see spaceships flying like airplanes, when there’s sound in space, when robots “bleed” motor oil, or, and this is the worst, when aliens come to Earth to steal the water. It gets really bad when you see all of those in one movie.

Fans have complained to the creators and writers of Star Trek that warp speeds are not consistent, and that’s probably the least of Star Trek’s sins. I understand that the point is to tell a story, often one of social commentary, not give a physics lesson.

In the television show Firefly, there was no sound in space, but they abandoned this convention in the movie Serenity. In the book The Making of Star Trek, Stephen E. Whitfield describes how the showrunners actually added the Whoosh! in the credits after the fact, because it didn’t feel right when it wasn’t there.

If we encountered these kinds of factual errors in a murder mystery, we would cut the author no slack, because details are important.

Well, they’re important in science fiction, too. Or, they should be.

The Party of MAGA

It doesn’t surprise me that the MAGA party would condemn Weinstein and defend Moore. I predict that Moore won’t step down, and that he’ll win the election.

What does it mean when your party is more important to you than justice, than a balanced government, the lives of your children, and even your God? What does it mean when your love of your party is so important, that there is no line you won’t cross just to get another check in the W column?

Damned if I know. I’m an independent. But I wish somebody would explain it to me.

Why the dinosaurs went extinct. A short story.

     After decades of debate, name calling, and late night talk show jokes, a group of researchers got together and decided to determine, once and for all, why the dinosaurs went extinct. Was it an asteroid? Climate change? STDs? What?
     So they built a time machine, set the auto-pilot for 65 million years BCE and took a bunch of cameras with them.
     Much has changed in 65 million years, and while plants and animals evolved, so did microbes.
     ”Oops,” said one of the researchers, as they watched all the dinosaurs die from runny noses and upset stomachs. “How are we going to explain this?”
     ”What do you mean, ‘we’? This wasn’t my idea.”
     ”Crap! My career is over!”

Maheux, the planet nobody wants to visit.

The planet Maheux is a frontier planet orbiting Epsilon Eridani, 12.61 yl from Rigil Kentaurus. Native species are mostly insectoid, though none are sentient.

Named after famous entomologist who classified many of the species found there.

M = .9E   Atmosphere: 63% N2; 34% O2; 0.05% CO2; 2.95% other including variable amounts of water vapor. Sea level atmospheric pressure: 586 mmHg.

Maheux is not on anybody’s list of the ten places to see before you die. It is not considered picturesque, or romantic, and it’s over twelve lightyears away from anything civilized. The temperatures tend to be chilly, the atmosphere is mildly toxic, and there are few emergency services beyond the Bureau of Frontiers. Mineral rights are strictly regulated, and there are vast land areas where humans are forbidden due to the danger of contamination of the Maheux biomes.

You need to understand that nobody will care if you are killed by local organisms. They authorities will ask you to sign no fewer than five different forms stating that you understand that it’s a dangerous place to visit before you’re allowed to land. However, they will prosecute you to the fullest extent if you contaminate the place, even accidentally. So pack your garbage out!

Maheux has no major moon. The largest satellite is an artificial one, built on site by humans in order to regulate human commerce. Due to the lack of a moon, the planet has neither tides nor the stabilizing effect of the Earth’s moon. Over the aeons, Maheux’s axis tilts wildly. Without tides, there are no tidal zones or broad coastal tidal flats for evolution to get a good foothold on dry land.

Life on Maheux is at least as old as life on Earth, and biologists are eager to debate the subject if they think you’re even tangentially interested. There are lots of fish on Maheux, but no land based vertebrates. Just bugs. Insectoids of all shapes and sizes which would see any newly emerging life-form from the seas as a tasty morsel.

One of the major factors limiting the size of insects on Earth is the oxygen content of the atmosphere. Three hundred million years ago, the Earth’s atmosphere was over one-third oxygen, and terrestrial insects were much larger then. It’s the same with Maheux insectoids.

Maheux only has two large continents. Sort of like Pangea with a sister. Maheux as almost no tectonic activity, and planetologists love studying it for this reason alone. Without significant tectonic motion, there are no new mountains. Several major rivers drain the polar ice sheets, and without mountains, they flow across featureless desert plains, meandering like the Mississippi. The major parts of the continents that are separated from the seas by hundreds of kilometer of dry land are referred to as “vast inland deserts.”

There are researchers who claim that, while there is little overlap between biological chemistries between Maheux and other human occupied planets, there is too much overlap.